Chapter 40: Shadowbird
The arenas marred by all the preliminary battles were left empty as the final eight participating students had been found. These top eight students all had engaged in closed door training during the few days of rest which followed, each and every one of them wishing to refine the final bit of essence in the hope that this might be the drop that could tilt the tide of victory to their side.
The fact that Rong Ming lost his battle shocked the entire audience as he had been the top seed for the entire competition. This, in turn, brought a lot of theories as to who would rise up and become the champion of the competition.
Currently there were two nine-star Disciple ranked participants. One was Gao Yan and the other was Li Shing. Li Shing was the oldest student currently standing within the tournament and his age and high rank gave him a certain advantage.Therefore, most people expected Li Shing to win.
Some of the audience assumed that the winner would be Wang Ju Long considering his ability to deal with Rong Ming. The majority of the supporters of Wang Ju Long were nobles who attempted to build up a relationship with the Wang family.
Other nobles were betting on Gao Yan, and had the theory that since he always moved around with the Rong twins he was likely to have learned some middle ranked martial art skills. If his skills were superior, then he was likely to win the match.
And then there were still others who were expecting Hui Yue to win. These were mainly the people who had remembered, from the leaflet, that Hui Yue still had an attack he had yet to use, along with the fact that he had never before been seen going all out.
It was obvious to everyone within the audience that Hui Yue had a past which had provided him with great advantages, nevertheless, he was still a Student ranked cultivator.
During these discussions Hui Yue had ignored everyone who had come to greet him. Instead, he had focused solely on the sword-form of his Transforming Weapon skill and a smile was appearing on his face, quickly to be replaced with a frown.
‘Controlling a sword is much harder than two knives’, he sighed while looking at the sword which had manifested itself from his solidified Qi. Unfortunately, it only stayed in shape for around three minutes before it turned into mist which evaporated into the air. Each sword took up roughly a fifth of his internal Qi, and with the short time it lasted it was obvious that Hui Yue was still unable to rely on the sword in a real battle.
Still happiness was spreading within the smaller boy as he saw how the sword now manifested itself, if even for only three minutes, it was still a great improvement from the previous mist which had swirled around in a long pipe-looking shape.
Sighing, Hui Yue sat down below a tree in his courtyard as he prepared to once again enter meditation when a thought hit him.
Wang Ju Long was currently training within the courtyard next to him, and although he had defeated Rong Ming, Wang Ju Long had won due to Rong Ming messing up. It was obvious that had Rong Ming attacked at the start, then Wang Ju Long would not have had enough time to produce these twenty Qi lightning bolts that were waiting to land on his opponent.
Although Qi Lightning was a high ranked skill, which worked for both defence and offence, it obviously had one downside to even out its strength. That downside was that it required time to channel essence into Qi lightning bolts.
The current Hui Yue was certain that he could defeat the Qi Lightning with his Transforming Weapons and a certain disappointment hit him like a cesspit in his stomach.
Winning due to having a more high ranked martial art skills would not feel like the win Hui Yue deserves. It was a win which could be expected, and as a result Hui Yue climbed his tree and looked at the nextdoor courtyard.
Entering into the courtyard was impossible. Around each courtyard was an inscription guard ensuring only the teachers and the owners of the courtyard could enter. Not even sound would escape the inscription guard, however, inside the courtyard sounds from the outside were easily heard, such as knocking on the door.
Hui Yue sitting at the top of his tree was able to look into the courtyard next to him, and as he did he picked up a branch which he threw into the middle of Wang Ju Long’s home.
As Hui Yue had expected, the branch didn’t land softly on the ground, instead it hit an invisible force field midair and ended up breaking into small pieces like sawdust.
Nevertheless, the branch had served its purpose as a loud bang had sounded out within the courtyard, causing a frantic Wang Ju Long to rush out into the courtyard.
At first, Hui Yue was confused as to why the frantic look had appeared on the other’s face, but as he looked at the boy in the middle of the courtyard, he suddenly noticed that something was not adding up.
With a yelp, Hui Yue felt himself losing balance and fell from the branch on which he had been seated. For one, he was immensely grateful that no one outside of the courtyard could hear him, as right now he did not want anyone to get close to him.
His face was scarlet red and his mind reeling in confusion.
‘He had breasts’, Hui Yue gaped while looking at the stone wall which separated the two geniuses of year one. ‘real ones’, he continued, ‘small soft peaks.’
‘It was a shame they were wrapped up’, Lan Feng commented with a hint of perversion causing Hui Yue to cough at the damned bird in embarrassment.
Wang Ju Long who had entered the courtyard was wearing the usual black silk training pants, however, ‘his’ top was only covered by a set of silk ribbons which had been tied hard to reduce the size of her chest.
‘What are you going to do now?’, Lan Feng asked curiously. For him this was entertainment. He had never felt any threat from the small humans within this minor city. Hui Yue, on the other hand, had gotten stuck on Wang Ju Long for more than half a year now, but Lan Feng had felt how that enmity had completely changed within moments.
‘I will fight her, as I promised, and then I will pretend to know nothing’, Hui Yue finally sighed. ‘She relies on an ability which I can easily defeat. Lets leave it at that.’
A sigh escaped Hui Yue as he had finally calmed himself down. It was definitely important that no one knew about what he had seen. This ought to be one big secret which the Wang family did not wish for others to know about.
Everyone within Riluo City seemed to have plenty of secrets which others were not supposed to know about. Hui Yue had Lan Feng, Deng Wu had little dragon, and now Wang Ju Long hid the fact that he was a girl.
‘Well nothing for me to do about it’, Hui Yue finally decided after which he sat down under the tree from which he had fallen and once more started to cultivate.
Outside of Riluo City seven black cloaked men finally made their way to the city gates. As soon as they were spotted guards from the City Lord’s mansion arrived to escort them back to the City Lord’s mansion where Lord Rong Liang was waiting for them.
Within the Office Hall of the City Lord’s mansion Rong Liang sat inside of his office. Although every important person within Riluo City had gone to the Academy Rong Liang did not have the luxury of leaving behind the City Lord’s mansion, and instead he had sent some of his officials to observe and record the battles in memory stones.
After hearing that both Rong Ming and Rong Xing had finished before the top eight he felt neither rage nor disappointment as others might have expected. Instead, he felt great happiness, as he saw Rong Xing had begun to understand her own inferiority when it came to determination. He was also satisfied with Rong Ming’s forfeit, because he understood his son’s passive reaction at the start had caused him his defeat by Wang Ju Long.
Lord Rong Liang was a righteous man who did not care about something such as a tournament for the younger generation. Considering that he was a peak nine-star King rank he was likely to break into the Emperor rank at any moment.
For him, becoming the City Lord was not something he had aimed for, nevertheless, he had been given the position by a royal decree when the Wang family had problems. Rong Liang was a very loyal and hardworking man, and due to this he had been working hard every day to live up to the expectations of the Royal Family.
“Lord, sir”, a servant had opened the door and called out with fear to the City Lord. He had knocked several times without gaining any answer, and as he slipped his head inside the office he noticed that the City Lord was viewing memory stones and sorting his paper-scrolls.
“What do you want?” He hissed at the servant who had interrupted his work. Although he had been greatly annoyed, Lord Rong Liang quickly rose to his feet and gave a deep bow towards the seven men who entered through the door not waiting to be invited inside.
“Esteemed crusaders, the humble Rong Liang greets you. This lowly one wonders why such magnanimous figures such as yourself have returned to this lowly city.” Lord Rong Liang retained his bowing posture for a moment showing the utmost respect before slowly straightening his back again.
Rong Liang was not certain as to what kind of experts these crusaders were. What he did know was that the Royal Family of the Taiyang Kingdom had given an order to every city lord to always cooperating with the crusaders. They were to be treated as the king himself.
Knowing this, Rong Liang could only follow the order and did so gladly. Because Rong Liang was willing to do anything for the Royal family.
The black cloaked figures seemed as if they had not heard a word of what Rong Liang had said. Instead, the one at front flicked his hand and a memory stone appeared within. The memory stone floated to Lord Rong Liang who quickly placed it on his forehead.
“Assist these crusaders in catching the Saint ranked expert which sold those skills. His name is Sang Young”
This was the only order which rang through the head of City Lord Rong Liang. Although this was a short order, it was one which left Rong Liang in complete confusion. The Saint ranked expert who had arrived to town was a woman and her name was Li Fen, not Sang Young.
Lord Rong Liang could understand if this unknown expert had masked herself, nevertheless, it was impossible, even for a Saint ranked expert, to turn into a woman for a disguise. Rong Liang sighed as he realised that he would have to inform and assist them with catching Li Fen no matter what, and he picked up an empty memory stone which he placed on his forehead.
Within his head, a copy of all the knowledge he had about ‘Li Fen’ transformed into a silvery mist which then exited the forehead and floated into the lacklustre black memory stone within his hand.
As soon as he had finished, Rong Liang passed the stone along to the seven crusaders.
“Attend me!”, Lord Rong Liang yelled and within a few seconds the office door was opened by a servant.
“What does milord request?”, the servant asked frightfully as he glanced towards the seven black-cloaked men. Although these servants knew nothing they could still feel how their lord was humble towards them along with the fact that their inscribed black cloaks invoked fear within their hearts.
“Prepare a remote courtyard for these esteemed experts, and provide each of them with a City Lord’s Medallion”, Rong Liang said, with a tired voice, after which he once again bowed towards the esteemed experts.
As soon as the crusaders had been placed within the courtyard one of the experts moved around, making incantations and writing down inscriptions around the courtyard itself while another was merging with the information within the memory stone they had been given by Lord Rong Liang.
When he finished absorbing the information within the memory stone it caused no display of feelings from the crusader instead he made a few hand gestures, and a shadow wrestled itself free from the black cloak then turned into a black bird.
This bird was unlike any other bird. It had no eyes nor did it have any voice. This bird was nothing but a shadow. Nevertheless, this shadowbird was sitting on the shoulder of the crusader.
Slowly, the shadow opened its mouth and the crusader put in the memory stone after which it vanished within the bird; instantly, the shadowbird rose to the skies flying towards the icy castle far within the beast mountain.