Even the head of the Lie family, Lie Fenglan, was extremely disappointed in his son. He had concentrated his efforts on his daughter Lie Yun, but her current condition left him with no choice but to send Lie Sen to represent the Lie family in his stead.
“Oh? You think you’re all that?” Lie Sen sneered, glancing at Pi Batian.
After the seven representatives got on stage, a character was taped to each of their backs—the name of the family whom they represented. Li Mo had the character for ‘Pi’, Feng Yicheng the character for ‘Feng’, and so on.
“As usual, the seven representatives will draw lots to determine their competitors,” the middle-aged judge announced. By the edge of the stage was a black box embossed with gold, and the seven representatives stepped forward and drew from the box one by one.
Li Mo didn’t know how the Pi and Feng families had managed it, but when he opened the slip of paper in his hands and found the character for ‘Wu’ written there, he glanced at the massive Wu representative, then exchanged a look with Feng Yicheng.
The judge explained the rules to the representatives and the crowd. Rather than a one-on-one round-robin tournament, all seven representatives would be fighting in the arena at the same time: they would have to try to eliminate their target without being eliminated themselves.
This was part of why the tournament was so exciting. The competitors each knew their own target, but they didn’t know who would be targeting them. When they attacked, they had to defend against six cultivators, and the battle would test both the limits of their cultivation and the depths of their combat experience.
Of course, a sufficiently advanced cultivator could deal with all six other competitors at once.
This explained why the arena was so large—otherwise, it could hardly support seven cultivators brawling at the same time.
“Competitors, identify your targets,” the judge announced. The seven representatives all looked warily at each other, waiting for the judge to signal the start of the match before attacking their target.
“The reason the seven cities’ tournament is so interesting is that everyone knows who their target will be, but none of them know who’s hunting them,” Pi Batian explained to Pi Yang. He had been the Pi representative last year, but had ultimately been defeated by Feng Bo at the conclusion of the match.
Yun Ruoyan stared at the stage. All the competitors had retracted their aura so as to hide their true cultivation. Although she knew that Li Mo possessed the highest cultivation amongst the gathered crowd, she couldn’t help but worry. While the other houses’ representatives were no match for Li Mo one-on-one, they were nothing to scoff at. Lie Qiao’er’s charm technique had been at the level of a peak ninth-rank blademaster. The cultivators from the other five families were at least as strong as Lie Qiao’er, and they would have a fighting chance against Li Mo and Feng Yicheng if they worked together.
However, Li Mo had a plan of his own. The competitor he had to defeat was from the Wu family, and the competitor who had to defeat him was Feng Yicheng. He didn’t have to be wary of Feng Yicheng’s attacks; instead, he could focus solely on defeating his opponent, the Wu swordsman.
According to Pi Yan, the Wu swordsman trained in gold-attuned techniques, whereas the Wu swordsman’s target, the Zheng swordsman, trained in earth-attuned techniques. Gold specialized in attack, and earth in defense; Li Mo planned to have them exhaust each other with their fighting before taking care of them both.
“The competition shall begin!” With the judge’s announcement, the cheering of the crowd abruptly halted, and all eyes focused on center stage.
The Wu swordsman was the first to react, drawing a golden broadsword from his back and chopping at the Zheng swordsman. The Zheng swordsman’s weapon of choice was a pair of twin knives. He reacted surprisingly rapidly, defending against the chop with one knife and throwing the other toward his target, the Hua swordsman. As the knife flew out, the Zheng swordsman generated a field of dust that blinded his opponent before he could react.
The Hua swordsman was a thin young man, who instantly conjured up a shield of ice to block the dust billowing toward him. Immediately afterwards, however, the Zheng swordsman’s thrown knife splinted his barrier to pieces. He only managed to dodge the lethal blow by rolling on the ground, after which he stood up and saw the Chen swordsman battling with the alluring cultivator from the Lie family. The Hua swordsman clawed the air and conjured a long spear of ice, which he raised high into the air and threw at the Chen warrior.
The Chen warrior was fully invested in fighting the alluring Lie cultivator when he suddenly felt an icy breeze prick his neck. He glanced back and tried to dodge, but the Lie cultivator instantly took the opportunity to tie the Chen swordsman down with her whip. He only stilled for a moment, but it was enough time for the spear of ice to pierce his chest.
“Thanks, Senior!” The Lie swordswoman threw a coquettish glance toward the Hua swordsman.
The Hua swordsman was looking straight at the Lie swordswoman. When their gazes met, he felt a sudden sense of vertigo overwhelm him, followed by a sharp pain by his neck, and then nothingness.
In the brief instant in which he was dazed, the Zheng swordsman had somehow crept behind him and slit his neck.
The spattering of blood on stage drew wild cheers from the crowd. Most cultivators on the Mingyuan continent were eighth-rank blademasters, and ninth-rank and up was considered above average.
Most of the representatives on stage today were at the level of a sword saint, and were rare experts in the crowd composed of common cultivators. It was even rarer to see blood from such cultivators, and the fresh blood from two sword saints was more than sufficient to draw such cheers.
With the Hua and Chen swordsmen down, there were five representatives remaining on stage. The Zheng and Wu swordsmen were still fighting hard against each other.
Li Mo stood by the side of the arena, as though he had no intention of stepping in at all. Meanwhile, Feng Yicheng and Lie Qiao’er finally confronted each other.
“Father, Lie Qiao’er’s target is Feng Yicheng, and Feng Yicheng’s target is Li Mo. If Li Mo and Lie Qiao’er work together, they can surely defeat Feng Yicheng,” Pi Batian muttered anxiously. “But it doesn’t seem like he’s going to attack at all!”
Pi Yan glanced at Li Mo, who was still in pristine condition. “Perhaps it’s because he doesn’t deign to work with Lie Qiao’er. After all, as long as the cultivators don’t team up on Li Mo, he has a strong chance of winning.”
The moment Pi Yan spoke, Li Mo finally made his move. The Zheng swordsman had ultimately lost to the Wu swordsman, whose fist catapulted him at least thirty feet away. He landed on the ground with a splat, severely injured but not quite dead.
The Wu swordsman then surveyed the field to see Feng Yicheng and Lie Qiao’er standing together. Although she wasn’t attacking, Lie Qiao’er was staring straight at Feng Yicheng, her eyes widened to their extremes and filled with a surfeit of spiritual energy. Feng Yicheng stared back, his body still. Someone who wasn’t in the know might have thought that they were a pair of lovers staring at each other in rapt desire, but they were actually engaged in a mental fight to the death.
Rather than face off against Lie Qiao’er, the Wu swordsman decided to come at Li Mo. A golden broadsword, crackling with lightning, flew toward Li Mo’s face. Based on the strength of the attack, Li Mo judged that the Wu representative was a first-rank sword saint, not at Li Mo’s level but not too far off, either.
Li Mo calmly deflected the attack, summoning his spiritual sword and using it to defend against the Wu representative’s broadsword. Its golden-yellow glow clashed with Li Mo’s sword’s blue-green glow so brilliantly that many spectators were blinded by the clash.
At the same time, Lie Qiao’er and Feng Yicheng’s mental battle neared its apex. The charm that Lie Qiao’er exuded would manifest as illusions in the target’s mind, and if the target had a cultivation lower than hers, then she would gain control over the target.
Because Feng Yicheng’s cultivation wasn’t far above Lie Qiao’er’s, he was only able to defend against her mental onslaught without being able to retaliate—until the glow from Li Mo and the Wu swordsman’s clash caused Lie Qiao’er to blink involuntarily.
Feng Yicheng seized the opportunity to step forward, unsheathing a shortsword and directing it to the side of Lie Qiao’er’s neck in a fluid motion. Lie Qiao’er closed her eyes expecting an impending death, but Feng Yicheng whispered in her ear, “Apologies, milady.”
Then, Lie Qiao’er felt a pain in her abdomen as she flew up into the air, kicked off the stage by Feng Yicheng. With a thud, her body landed out of bounds, and the judge announced her disqualification.
There were now only three representatives remaining on stage: Li Mo, Feng Yicheng, and the Wu swordsman. Li Mo and the Wu swordsman were still fighting against each other, with Li Mo slowly gaining the upper hand; although the glow from their clashes was still blinding, the crowd could sense that the blue-green light was slowly dominating the golden-yellow light.
But just as Li Mo’s blue-green light was about to swallow up the golden-yellow light entirely, both sword auras dimmed. Amidst the watchful eyes of a thousand cultivators, two bodies flew in a graceful arc up and over the stage, falling to the ground in two loud thuds.
“What? How could this be?!” Pi Batian stood up from his seat in shock, because one of those two bodies was Li Mo’s! The only one on stage was Feng Yicheng!
“The Wu and Pi representatives are disqualified,” the judge exclaimed, his voice resounding through the arena. “The Feng family is the victor of this year’s seven cities’ tournament!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter