“Feng Ling, now!” Fang Zhao held the Wind Calling Rapier in his hands as he used his basic source-ranked battle art, the Whizzing Wind Steps. Within seconds, he was in front of Li Tianming, his rapier pointing directly at the latter’s forehead.
“Li Tianming, let me show you what I have achieved in the past three years!” Fang Zhao flourished his rapier, forming sword ki that enveloped Li Tianming completely. As for the little chick, he had ignored it completely.
“Welkin Cyclone Sword!” That move was an intermediate source-ranked battle art, one that was only taught to disciples in the journeyman class. It was an honor to be able to learn such battle arts; if Fang Zhao were to return to his hometown now, even the governor had to respect his power.
As Fang Zhao sealed Li Tianming’s moves with his rapier, the Whirlwind Zestful Crane had taken to the air, its huge wings stirring up an even stronger gust. The crane was no less threatening than its master, its beak and claws as dangerous as his rapier.
A beastmaster and beast duo’s combat style would evolve as their cultivation advances. At Beast Vein, the focus was on martial arts and beastial arts, while in Spiritsource the lifebound beast would develop spiritsource abilities and become the main focus of the battle. Once they reached Unity, the duo’s cooperation would reach a peak, and battle as one in their unity field.
As such, while Fang Zhao used the Welkin Cyclone Sword, the crane was using its feathers and claws to wield the beastial art portion of the move, the Welkin Cyclone Claw. Its claws were like the sharpest daggers, tearing through trees and branches in its way as it went straight for Li Tianming’s head.
For an old classmate, Fang Zhao sure wasn’t about to show any mercy.
“No longer a wimp now huh? You definitely changed a lot in the past three years.” Li Tianming found it funny. When they first entered the institute, Fang Zhao was cowardly and easily bullied. It seemed like the training at the institute had given him not only knowledge but courage as well.
“Li Tianming, the tables have turned, don’t think you can still push me around now!” Fang Zhao’s sword got even faster, as he got more enthusiastic.
Li Tianming was trying hard not to burst out laughing. Fang Zhao wasn’t wrong, except that Li Tianming was not part of the group that bullied him. In fact, Li Tianming was the one that stood up for him when others bullied him.
Under his opponent’s suppression, Li Tianming focused his newly-gained ninth level Aeternal Infernal Beast Ki. Fang Zhao might be fast, but Li Tianming wasn’t going to lose to him when it came to speed. Li Tianming gradually dialled up his speed, forming fiery mirages around him as if the atmosphere around him was burning. Ying Huo used the Confounding Mirage Walk too, its tiny figure even harder to track.
Fang Zhao and his Whirlwind Zestful Crane pressed on even harder, their strikes strong enough to break rocks.
“Are you done yet?” Li Tianming suddenly spun around to face Fang Zhao, the Thunderfire Chain shooting out of his hands like a spear. Entwined with bolts of lightning and sparks of flames, the chain pierced right through Fang Zhao’s attack!
At the same time, the Whirlwind Zestful Crane had prepared to flank Li Tianming, but was stopped by a sharp pain on its back. It turned its head to find a blazing little chick standing on its shoulder, digging into its flesh and pulling out its feathers.
“Whatchu lookin at, you ugly fowl?” Yinghuo flew off, scattering into fiery mirages.
An elegant crane getting disgraced by a mere chick? How could the egoistic crane take such a taunt? Consumed by its anger, the crane chased after the little chick, not realising that it was almost impossible for it to catch that little fireball.
Without his lifebound beast’s support, Fang Zhao was forced to step back to dodge Li Tianming’s chains. Ashamed that he had the lower hand, especially when he was still being watched by his friends, he struck out once more with his Wind Calling Rapier.
Alas, Li Tianming was too fast for him. The Thunderfire Chain was way too nimble for him, while Li Tianming’s movement art was faster than his. In that split second, the chain and the rapier had clashed a dozen times in mid-air, their clinking sound echoing through the courtyard.
Fang Zhao could feel the force of the chains travelling through his rapier each time their weapons clashed, its impact threatening to tear the rapier out of his hand!
“Impossible! A Beast Vein cultivator can’t be this strong!” Fang Zhao was not feeling so confident right now; in fact, he was even frightened by the predatory gleam in Li Tianming’s eyes. Fang Zhao was never someone with a strong will to begin with, and as Li Tianming doubled down on his assault, his moves began to falter.
At that instant, the Thunderfire Chain sped up once more, the metallic chains fully enveloped in flame like a blazing dragon. It was so fast that it even left afterimages behind, making use of Fang Zhao’s hesitation to pierce his line of defence. With a few swift whirls, the chain had tied itself around Fang Zhao’s waist.
It was the intermediate source-ranked battle art, the Skyfire Soulbinder! It was Li Tianming’s first time using it in battle, and honestly, he could hardly say he had done the move justice. Luckily for him, Fang Zhao wasn’t focused, allowing him to execute the move successfully.
With a swing of his wrist, the Thunderfire Chain had tangled itself onto Fang Zhao, binding and tying him up into a bundle. His Aeternal Infernal Beast Ki coursed through the chains, charring Fang Zhao’s skin.
Of course that wasn’t all that the source-ranked battle art could do. To the audience’s horror, Li Tianming swung his arm, throwing Fang Zhao into the air. With a shriek, Fang Zhao spun several rounds in mid air before landing behind Li Tianming.
Fang Zhao’s body crashed onto the ground, the impact almost shattering his bones. In his pain, he could only let out an agonizing cry. “Feng Ling, SAVE ME!”
On the other side, the crane was still playing hide and sick with the little chick, not expecting its master to be trashed so easily. When it saw Fang Zhao slamming into earth with the Thunderfire Chain tied around him, it was instantly enraged!
Suddenly, all the feathers on the crane’s body started glowing. With a terrifying burst, its feathers launched at Li Tianming like thousands of daggers. It was the crane’s spiritsource ability, the Supernal Windblades!
Undoubtedly, it was a threatening move, and even with movement arts, it was hard to dodge the feathers completely. Sadly, the two had made the mistake of not using this trump card earlier. With another swing of his wrist, Li Tianming had dragged Fang Zhao back to him, before brandishing his newly acquired human shield.
“AHHH!” Knowing that the move could easily kill him, Fang Zhao let out a blood-curdling scream. With a sharp shudder, a puddle formed underneath his legs, accompanied by the sounds of water falling. Li Tianming rolled his eyes — Fang Zhao had not really changed in the past three years.
The crane did not expect such a play from Li Tianming, and it could only try to abort the attack and retract the feathers back to its body. But the crane had forgotten about the little chick, who suddenly emerged to slap its wings with the Netherfire Ghostclaw. Unprotected by its feathers, the slap shattered the crane’s wing, sending the bloodied crane to the ground.
Having dissolved the crane’s attack, Li Tianming flung the still-peeing Fang Zhao to his classmates.
“Take him away from me. Oh and remind him to change his pants.” Li Tianming kept his Thunderfire Chain, an unruffled smile on his face.
The group hurriedly scattered, causing Fang Zhao to crash into the ground yet again. After all, no one wanted to catch someone who’d just peed his pants!
“LI TIANMING! I will make sure to return all these humiliation to you ten times stronger!” Rage pulsed through Fang Zhao’s veins, as he trembled to crawl back up and stared at Li Tianming with bloodshot eyes.
“Change your pants first before talking about making a comeback...” Li Tianming said. Fang Zhao looked too pathetic right now, and the audience were trying hard to contain their laughter.
“What are you all waiting for?” Fang Zhao stared at Lu Guanxiong and the others in disbelief.
They briefly exchanged a few looks with each other, before coming to a quick conclusion. They had arrived together with Fang Zhao, and if they were to just leave with Fang Zhao being crushed so easily, they would surely become a joke amongst the journeyman disciples.
Then again, they were shocked to see Li Tianming’s triumph too. They had expected to be able to easily crush Li Tianming, given their three years advantage in cultivation. But Li Tianming’s victory was plain shocking, to the point that Fang Zhao had even pissed in his pants. Their attitudes towards Li Tianming had taken a drastic change, and at least they no longer treated him as that fool who returned to the institute to be shamed.
That being said, they weren't afraid either. They would suppress Li Tianming together to tell him that he had messed with the wrong people.
“Li Tianming, for someone who just returned to the institute, you seem to have forgotten the rules here. From what we see, you probably need a good beating to remember who are the seniors here,” Lu Guanxiong said, as the group of them closed in on Li Tianming with burning eyes.
Fang Zhao was but the weakest amongst them. Lu Guanxiong, for example, was in third level Spiritsource, and should they team up against Li Tianming, there was nothing he could do.
“Kudos to you for having the face to say such things.” Li Tianming was speechless at their utter lack of shame. Must they go to such an extent to just flex their sense of superiority?
“Who gave you the courage to talk back to us?” They were already within reach of Li Tianming.
All of a sudden, Li Tianming started grinning after a peek over their shoulders, and said, “Are you all going to gang up on a fresh disciple in the Muwan class? For someone who only just graduated from her class, you might want to show her a little more respect.”
“Cut your bullshit,” Lu Guanxiong sneered. He knew that Li Tianming was trying to use Chief Mentor Mu Wan’s name to scare them off.
“And who’s bullshitting?” Just then a sinister female voice sounded from behind Fang Zhao’s group. The voice was like a bolt of thunder, causing them to jump in shock, as they slowly turned behind. And when they saw the owner of the voice, their faces were flushed of all colors.
“Chief mentor, please avenge Fang Zhao! Li Tianming shamed and injured him, and we were just trying to help him seek justice…” Lu Guanxiong tried to salvage the situation.
“Excuses, excuses. Coming back here to act cocky just days after graduating to journeyman class, and you still want to blame others when you get defeated? You all better hope you don’t need medical attention after I’m done with you all.”
Fang Zhao’s group could only tremble in despair when Chief Mentor Mu Wan announced their sentence. For the next ten minutes or so, each of them received a good beating from Mu Wan before they could crawl out from the courtyard crying. Even the already injured Fang Zhao wasn’t spared, and the only one that got out of the hook was Lin Qingyu, who wasn’t one of those threatening Li Tianming.
“Next time you all want to try this again, better come prepared for what I can to do to you all.” Mu Wan smiled menacingly. That caused the group to scatter off even faster, and poor Fang Zhao nearly peed in his pants a second time.
“Scram.” With a fierce stare, the watching freshmen hurried off as well, having seen how intimidating their chief mentor could get.
One thing they knew for sure was that no matter what the rest of the world thought of Li Tianming, Chief Mentor Mu Wan seemed to take particular interest in him. Some were angry with Mu Wan, while others jealous of Li Tianming, but there was nothing they could do. After all, Li Tianming had just defeated their senior from the journeyman class, a feat hard to imagine from an apprentice disciple.
Soon, only Li Tianming and Mu Wan was left in the courtyard. But a moment later, a middle-aged man appeared behind Chief Mentor Mu Wan. He wore a golden robe, his long hair combed neatly behind his back. The man had a clean-shaven face, and golden sparks seemed to shoot out from his eyes.
The man had an aura of a real expert, even making Mu Wan look tame when he stood beside her. He was no doubt one of the titans of the institute.