Hart had undergone such a drastic transformation that others could no longer even recognize him. He raised his head to gaze at the peak above him, with a blatantly haughty expression. His brother had been a Realmbreaker in his challenges, and he had even challenged Explorers as a Melder. For Hart, defeating a Limiteer Realm Area Master was not his limit. He had already metamorphosed through his phoenix bloodline and become another lifeform. His new goal was to defeat a Realm Master; Lu Yin was no longer sufficient.
Many knew that this Astral Combat Tournament would attract many powerhouses to compete, but they never expected that the first elimination round of the tournament would result in so many Area Masters being eliminated. They were Area Masters! And in previous tournaments, Area Masters would generally last till at least the third round before one of them was matched up against a Realm Master. But now, multiple Area Masters had been eliminated in the first round, which was unprecedented.
At this time, a blazing inferno roared to life and enveloped the skies, changing the temperature of both heaven and earth. Countless spectators looked over to see a man floating high in the sky and arrogantly looking downward. The fiery blaze roared all around him, as this was not just a firestorm simulated through star energy, but rather a true conflagration. The flames had a tinge of black at their center, and the inferno created a distortion in the void. A black color accompanied the inferno as it distorted the void; the temperature had climbed high enough to cause cracks to appear in space.
On the stage below the flames, a woman was kneeling with a terrified expression on her raised face.
The man in the sky laughed wildly and he flew further up until he was eye level with the peak overlooking the valley. Then, as if he were an equal to the student leaders seated there, he said, “Feng Shang, I never thought that you would become a Realm Master after not seeing you these years.”
His words shocked many people, but on the peak, the leader of Astral-8, Feng Shang, was puzzled. “You are?”
The man laughed before replying, “Old friend, have you really forgotten me? It was I who burned you to a crisp back then. It’s been so many years. Do you have anything to say?”
Many were dumbfounded when they saw the exchange unfold on the screen.
Feng Shang’s face suddenly turned cold. “I remember now. So it’s you, Arikar.”
“Finally! I never thought that that impulsive junior would end up becoming a Realm Master. You’re really capable.”
“When you lost that battle for the title of Realm Master to Brother Neru, you actually dared to mount a sneak attack after that. If you rejoined the academy after going missing for so many years, it seems that you must have frozen yourself to preserve your bone age.”
Arikar’s eyes beamed as a frigid expression flashed across his face. “Don’t mention the matters of the past to me. I only came out of hibernation this time to erase the shame from that year. Neru already died on the frontier battlefield between the star expanses, so you’ll have to stand in for him and pay me back for everything that happened to me.” Arikar then slapped down with his palm, causing the void-shattering inferno to transform into a black palm that covered the entire arena. With a bang, the woman battling Arikar vanished along with a good portion of the arena floor.
Many were shocked by this reveal; this person had actually fought against the previous Realm Master of Astral-8, and he was a frozen genius as well.
Feng Shang’s face sank. As he scanned over the destroyed arena, he recalled the battle scene from when he had just joined the Astral Combat Academy. That battle had overturned his conception of strength, and this person had been one of the participants in that battle.
“What a powerful attack,” Lu Yin marvelled, “Why is this person’s attack so similar to the Blaze Realm’s?”
Feng Shang replied, “Because he’s from the Blaze Realm. He was the previous champion before Jared on the Blaze Realm Rankings.”
“No wonder he seems to need a beating,” Lu Yin muttered.
Beside Lu Yin on the ninth seat, Liu Yin removed his headphones with a dazed expression. “It’s so hot. What happened?”
Lu Yin glanced at him strangely. Is this fellow really a leader of his academy?
The first round of the lottery battles had eliminated half of the students, with 217 advancing onto the second round. The arenas on the plains changed again, and the 217 arenas from the previous round merged into 108 larger arenas. A number once again appeared before each competitor, and without the need for any reminders, they all lightly grasped the number before them. The scene shifted before their eyes as they appeared in an arena facing their next opponent. One short male remained in his original position with a blank look on his face, confused.
“Uhh, Mentor, what about me?” asked the short male as he raised his head.
“You’ve advanced onto the next round.” The loud voice made the crowd jump.
The short youth was delighted by this news. Since there was an odd number of contestants, it was normal for one to receive a bye and advance to the next round without competing. He was the lucky one in this instance.
Coco looked at him enviously and almost cried when she saw her opponent. Before her stood a huge, muscled man who was at least three meters tall. He had a square face and did not look like a pushover. Why did I end up with such a person?
“There will be a three hour break. Then, the tournament will resume,” the loud voice declared once more.
A strong wind suddenly appeared in the middle of each arena, separating the two opponents.
This break was not just for the competitors; it had also been implemented out of consideration for the countless spectators. With such a large audience, it was not appropriate to end the Astral Combat Tournament too quickly.
From the start of Three Academies Guarding the Gate to the conclusion of the first elimination round, a full day had passed. The Astral Combat Tournament had to last for at least three days, which meant that there would naturally be a break between each set of battles, and the breaks would also become longer and longer as the finale approached.
A sense of superiority filed Lu Yin as he sat on the tenth seat atop the highest peak. It was quite reasonable for him to feel this way as this seat was a goal of all students.
Since the competition was temporarily on pause, everyone looked at the ten student leaders, as they were the ten strongest, or at least, so it was on the surface.
Aside from the first seat, all of the other nine seats received intense scrutiny, especially Lu Yin, who was sitting on the tenth seat. After all, he was the only Melder among them.
Many now held the opinion that Astral-10 had a gift for creating miracles. Silver had successfully defended the final section of the valley, Lulu had beat the battle drums, and Xia Luo had lit the ancient incense stick. These were activities that usually could only be accomplished by Limiteers, but Astral-10 had successfully sent out Melders to complete it all. But no matter how good they were at creating miracles, a Melder could not possibly compare to an academy leader. Throughout the history of the academy, only the Ten Arbiters had been able to do so. In that case, what qualifications did this person have to join the other leaders?
Lu Yin’s identity was revealed layer by layer, but there was nothing exciting to discover. The Great Yu Empire was just a weak power to the Innerverse, and no one had even heard of Earth before. Even so, countless people in the Great Yu Empire and Earth were cheering for him. However, there were just too few of them, and they were like specks of dust to the rest of the universe.
Despite all that, Lu Yin sat there with a clear conscience. He did not mind what others said, although he did feel that his chair was a little stiff.
Feng Shang looked at Lu Yin curiously. Lu Yin could feel his stare, so he turned around, smiled, and said, “Senior Feng, do you have any advice for me?”
Feng Shang smiled. “I had thought that I was ambitious, but I never thought that someone would surpass my drive. Junior, how does it feel to be seated here?”
Lu Yin nodded. “Not bad. Everything is great, aside from this stiff chair. Oh, and it would be nice if they provided some snacks for us.”
“Haha, how interesting,” Feng Shang said with a small laugh, speaking no further. He could not sense any significant power from Lu Yin, so this person was either extremely adept at concealing his strength, or he truly was just a distraction sent out by Astral-10. Regardless, only the Ten Arbiters had ever been able to stand besides the Realm Masters when they were mere Melders. It was impossible for this person to be the same as an Arbiter; Astral-10 was most likely just being too careful. They must be afraid that others would target them and destroy their dream of rising up again.
On the other side of Feng Shang, Liu Xiaoyun was intently focusing on a particular arena where a very young man was sitting. He seemed to be about the same age as Lu Yin, and he was sitting down, cross-legged, with a rusty iron sword on his lap. That sword was actually condensed purely from star energy. He only sat silently there, but Liu Xiaoyun’s attention never left him once; that person was Liu Shaoqiu.
Lu Yin’s gaze swept over Feng Shang and the other student leaders before it landed on Nightqueen Yanqing. Apart from the leader of Astral-1, Lu Yin was the most curious about Nightqueen Yanqing. This woman was from the same Nightking clan as Qingyu, and she was miles above the rest of the Daynight clan.
He still remembered the topmost name inscribed on the stone when he had walked into the Daynight clan’s corridor of inheritance, Nightking Zhenwu. He still wondered what sort of status that person held.
When Nightqueen Yanqing sensed Lu Yin’s gaze, she glanced over with a frown.
Lu Yin averted his gaze, closed his eyes, and quietly exhaled.
Nightqueen Yanqing snorted, disgusted that trash like him was actually allowed to be seated alongside her. It was a pity that they had not been allowed to wipe out Astral-10 back then and that they had only chased them out of the Innerverse: a true pity in her eyes.
Within the Innerverse, in the Erudite Flowzone, the massive Astral River’s tributary flowed through it, decorating the heavens. It looked beautiful beyond comparison, but it was a danger that could take even a Hunter’s life.
Outside of the Erudite Flowzone’s Astral River tributary, there was a giant protective net formed from planets. It extended out for an unknown distance and was one of the boundaries that separated the human star expanse and the astral beast star expanse.
Within the control room of a giant war spacecraft, a thin man of average height stood there. Although his height was average, his mere presence seemed to emit a boundless charisma that caused the surrounding soldiers to become more zealous. He was Shui Chuanxiao, the Grand Marshal of the warfront at the Human Domain’s border and praised as the best strategist in human history.
As he looked at the screen depicting the Astral Combat Tournament, he smiled strangely as thoughts that no one could decipher ran through his mind.
Three hours quickly passed by before the energy dividing the arenas dissipated, signalling that the second battle round was about to start.
At this point, most of the spectators had targets of interest that they were fully focused on. Feng Shang was staring intently at Arikar, Nightqueen Yanqing was looking at Cang Shi, and the crowd and spectating organizations watched the various well-known Area Masters that they supported.
Jared’s face was sullen, as Arikar’s appearance had stolen his limelight. The Blaze Realm had concentrated all its resources into Arikar when he emerged from hibernation, and even the Blaze Realm’s inherited battle technique, the Karmic Flame Sword, had been given to Arikar. Jared had been stripped of everything, but he was not resigned to this fate.
He looked at the student charging towards him, and his suppressed anger exploded. He waved his hands and sent out a peculiar ripple that phased through his Limiteer realm opponent. A mere instant later, the student’s eyes lost focus and they immediately dropped to the floor, dead.
Many witnessed this scene, especially Craynor. He had been watching Jared, and a chill ran down his spine when he saw that scene.. This was a battle technique that Jared had inherited while in the Dao of Illusion, and it was immeasurably strange and confusing.
Jared was not the first Area Master who revealed a hidden card in this round. The appearance of Arikar and other such hidden experts had caused the various Area Masters to feel a hint of danger. As more hidden experts began to reveal themselves, many commonly mentioned battle techniques were revealed, giving the eyes of the countless spectators a visual feast.
The Astral Combat Tournament’s effect was beginning to show as more and more people believed that, with so many powerful students in the Astral Combat Academy, the other star realms definitely would not be able to compare to them. Many others were even dreaming of one day showing off their own abilities on this glorious stage.
Now that a considerable portion of the universe was connected to this network, this glorious stage would be available for all future tournaments. This possibility of universal glory aroused dreams and ambitions within youths everywhere.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Choco
Edited By: Neshi/Nyxnox
TLC'ed By: OMA