Chapter 332: The Ten Best Practitioners (Two)
By the fourth day of the competition, most of the 500 men had been quickly eliminated so that only 31 men remained. Senior An had been eliminated in the earlier round, leaving Jian Chen and Ming Dong. At the same time, Dugu Feng, Tianmu Ling, and Huang Luan were all still in it.
By this point, everyone within the top 31 were not weak at all. Their strength was plenty, their experiences ample, and each had a battle skill to compliment them.
The identities of the three Radiant Saint Force cultivators had long since been revealed and they had been put on close watch by Jian Chen. Unfortunately, the opponents all three men fought weren’t very strong, so the amount of strength they displayed had only been the tip of the iceberg.
Aside from them, there was only one other competitor that had caught Jian Chen’s eye: the one named “Jue”. Reaching the fourth ranked spot, she was a high ranking woman with a black robe and a dagger like weapon. Not only that, but she was a wind attribute cultivator, meaning her speed was incredibly fast.
From her appearance, she looked to be around twenty five or twenty six years old, but there was no definite proof of her age. Although her appearance was not yet beautiful enough to cause nations to fight over her, she could not be said to be ugly either. She was pretty in appearance, and her natural disposition was far beyond what Tianmu Ling could boast of, meaning not a single man could dare ignore it. Her eyes however had a bone chilling stare that could freeze the spirits themselves as a terrifying expression adorned her face constantly as if to hide the killing aura emanating from her. Every single one of her opponents had not been able to survive and died by getting struck through the heart each time. Her speed with the dagger was comparable to only Jian Chen’s sword speed.
That night, Jian Chen spent time by himself in his room to study the Illusionary Flash. Tomorrow morning would establish the top sixteen, and by then, the top ten would be established.
Experts within the Tian Yuan Continent were like clouds, there was simply no shortage of outstanding civilians. Although Jian Chen had only heard of the five experts during his time collecting the tokens, they were not the only experts in the competition. In their midst were people who were excellent at keeping a low profile, and it was only when the final started that their identities were revealed. Otherwise, all of the men that had came across them were killed off so that their strength would not be revealed.
Right now, Jian Chen felt that he was quite narrow-minded. Starting tomorrow, each and every match would have an unknown variable to it since by this point in the Gathering of the Mercenaries, all of the weaker mercenaries had been weeded out. The remaining 31 people were the elite among the elite and would be stronger than Dugu Feng at the very least.
At that moment, a knock on the door could be heard.
Jian Chen slowly opened his eyes from his contemplative meditation. With a wave of his hand, a gust of wind unlatched the metal bolt on the door, “Come in!”
As the door opened, four expensively dressed elders walked in. Among them were two white robed men with black hair and kindly expressions. The third man wore a black robe and had hair that traveled down to his shoulders and a scarred left eye. Only his right eye remained open, giving him a rather fierce looking expression, evidently he had been injured a long time ago. The last elder wore a simple red garb that covered his small build, but his skin was rather dark.
Jian Chen measured up the four elders with a rather serious expression. None of the four men had bothered to hide their presence, and judging from that, Jian Chen was astonished to discover that all four of them were Heaven Saint Masters.
As Jian Chen was measuring them up, the four of them were also sizing him up. Since the patriarch of the Tianqin clan had given him a way for him to hide his own strength, despite the four men being Heaven Saint Masters, they were unable to discern Jian Chen’s strength.
“Four elders, what business might you have?” Jian Chen asked as he spoke to the four in a normal tone of voice.
“Young brother, you are Jian Chen?” One of the elders spoke with a kindly voice.
“This one is.” Jian Chen replied.
“Brother Jian Chen, we have heard that the third lord of the Shi family, Shi Xiangran was killed by you. Is that matter true?” The same elder spoke with a calm tone.
Without a twitch in his face, Jian Chen spoke, “Who might these elders be?”
With a laugh, the elder began to stroke at his long beard, “Others have called us four as the four brothers of the Cai family. Presently, we serve as the Shi family’s handlers of the law.” Then, the elder briefly stopped talking for a moment before saying once again, “Brother Jian Chen, we have already investigated the matter, but we bear no malice toward you. We merely hope that brother Jian Chen will return the Seal of Treasure Mountain. That cannot be permitted to fall into an outsider’s hand; if it remains with you, it will only bring you trouble.”
“Elder brother speaks correct.” The one eyed person spoke without a single hint of emotion, “The Seal of Treasure Mountain is an heirloom of the Shi family that came to be after a special refinement method. Only those of the Shi family will be able to wield its power. To you, the Seal of Treasure Mountain will be an useless piece of iron that you cannot use.”
None of elders had tried to threaten Jian Chen and instead tried a simpler approach in hopes that Jian Chen would hand the Seal of Treasure Mountain over.
Jian Chen cupped his hands together in an apologetic manner, “I give my apologies, but the Seal of Treasure Mountain will not be given back.”
“Young brother, you must understand, if you do not return the Seal of Treasure Mountain, then the Shi family will not let you go. This item will only serve to destroy you.” The elder spoke honestly and kindly.
Shaking his head, Jian Chen didn’t give a second thought, “This shouldn’t be something that elders should worry themselves with.” Jian Chen knew that even if he were to hand it over, the Shi family would not let him be.
“If young brother is determined on this path, then we have no choice, we shall leave.” The elders spoke no more words and left the room quickly.
After exiting the inn, the single eyed man sighed, “Big brother, what shall we do now, the one called Jian Chen refuses to hand over the Seal of Treasure Mountain.”
“Our responsibility lies only with protecting the young lord, not the retrieval of the Seal of Treasure Mountain. For now, let us report this to the Shi family and let the leader deal with it.” The leader spoke in a neutral voice.
“This time not only did the Shi family’s plan fail, but the third lord has died as well while also having the Ruler Armament snatched away. This is truly an example of giving away the bride and then losing the army. The Shi family will definitely be shaken down to its core.” The red robed elder laugh, they were not truly affiliated with the Shi family.
“Forget it, we have no business with this matter. Let the Shi family deal with its headaches. We are nothing more than the business dealers for the Shi family, not a scapegoat for their troubles. Let us all remember, do not think that the person the Shi family has offended is someone that we have offended. This time, the Gathering of the Mercenaries has amassed a large amount of strong combatants. While they themselves are strong, the powers supporting them are not. Furthermore, some of these powers are people even the Shi family cannot afford to offend. Especially the one called Qin Ji. I have heard that he is the sole prince of the Qinhuang Kingdom. It is possible that he is the next emperor to be of the kingdom; this type of person is someone we definitely should not offend.”
By the second day, Jian Chen had entered the competition area earlier to draw his lot before entering the Space Gate to start the match.
Not too long after he had entered, his opponent entered the arena as well. But the moment Jian Chen saw his opponent, his eyes widened in shock; it was Dugu Feng.
Dugu Feng returned the stare with a bitter laugh, “I didn’t think that I would be fighting against you.”
Even Jian Chen felt helpless as he shrugged his shoulders, “This is nothing more than a coincidence.”
Quickly, the announcement to start the fight could be heard, but neither Jian Chen or Dugu Feng made a move.
“Jian Chen, I hope that you will achieve the number one spot.” With that, Dugu Feng admitted defeat.
In this match, Jian Chen had won without fighting.
Exiting the arena, Jian Chen stuck around in order to observe the other matches. After this round, only sixteen would move on. In the end, three men were killed and two heavily injured. One of the casualties had been from Jue’s dagger stabbing into a man’s heart, drawing his final breath. This was something even the strong Radiant Saint Masters had found impossible to reverse.
Both Jian Chen and Ming Dong had managed to advance into the top sixteen. Qin Ji and Tianmu Ling had advanced as well with their Ruler Armament causing major injuries to their opponents. Although Huang Luan had her Solunar Bow, within the constrained arena, her Solunar Bow was heavily handicapped. She herself only had the strength of a First Cycle Earth Saint Master, so she lost since her opponent had been one of the Radiant Saint Force attributed men with impeccable strength.
Because of an untimely match with fate, Dugu Feng had been eliminated from the tournament while the other two Radiant Saint Force attributed men advanced on. The three of them were true to their rumors and were extremely strong. One of them in particular was a Fourth Cycle Earth Saint Master with a strong repertoire of battle skills.
The following ten combatants would be decided from the top eight of the sixteen combatants. From the losers bracket, the top two would be given another chance.
Because it was still daytime, the competition resumed. After choosing his lot, Jian Chen stood on a stool and waited for the next round. The other fifteen fighters stood by Jian Chen in the isolated area away from the crowd.
“Hey, Jian Chen, you have to get number one okay? Don’t let us all down, we all have high expectations for you.” Ming Dong slapped Jian Chen on the shoulder and laughed.
“Hehehe, little brother, the experts here are as numerous as the clouds. Although you were able to win over me, the others will not be as weak. Do you think you will be able to claim number one among them all?” Tianmu Ling spoke from in front of Jian Chen. Both of her eyes stared at him with her words sounding like an enchanting spell that could entice any man.
Jian Chen stared back and then moved his eyes to the outside of the arena, “I can only say that I will try my best and try when the time comes.”
As soon as Jian Chen finished talking, a peculiar voice could be heard from behind, “Hmph, to try your best? Kid, you’re only so old, do you not know how vastly far you are from the number one spot? Do you take the rest of us as trash?”
Turning his head, Jian Chen could see a middle aged man around the age of 45 or 46. He wore a white robe and his appearance was quite familiar to Jian Chen, since he was one of the three Radiant Saint Force attributed cultivators.
By the middle aged man’s side, another man not too far away in age stared at Jian Chen with contempt before speaking absent mindedly, “Forget it, Caraga. Don’t bother with the words of a brat, he is nothing more than a braggart.”
At the words of these two, Jian Chen’s eyes narrowed before his stare turned cold in temperature. Even Ming Dong grew angry as he spoke with a warning, “You two should best hope that I don’t come across you in the arena.”
The two men instantly grew furious as Caraga exploded, “Such an ignorant brat, if this place were not Mercenary City, this one would have cut you into multiple pieces!”
“Kid, you must be Ming Dong. Allow me to offer you a word of advice, if you ever come across me in the arena, surrender at once. Otherwise, I swear that you will not leave the arena alive.” The middle aged man right next to Caraga spoke with killing intent leaking from him. If it were not for the place they were in, then the two would have struck out earlier.
Ming Dong sneered before leaking out his own killing intent, “Then we’ll see if you can stay true to your words.”
Jian Chen’s face grew dark as he stared at the two men before speaking, “Caraga, Ka Zhafei, I will remember your words. We will see who lives and who dies in the end.” These two were the first and third ranked men so their names had long since been memorized by Jian Chen.
“Hmph, two kids who don’t know the immensity of the heavens.” Ka Zhafei laughed as he mocked both Jian Chen and Ming Dong.
“That’s enough, you two truly don’t know shame. You’ve grown this old yet you are bullying the younger generation? I feel as if I must feel shame in your place.” The remaining man in the middle finally spoke.
Hearing that, the two men’s stares were redirected toward the third person, “Zhar, this is something between the two of us, there is no need for you to butt in.” Ka Zhafei replied to him.
“Could it be that you two think that bullying the juniors is a glorious task? How silly, if word of this were to be announced, then disgrace would fall upon us Radiant Warriors.” Zhar’s words were like ice.
“Enough!” Caraga stared at Zhar with a look of embarrassment, “Zhar, don’t forget your place. Just what side do you belong to if you side with an outsider?”
Zhar sneered, “Don’t give such a preposterous argument, I am helping no outsider. I only cannot approve of you two. You two bring shame to us Radiant Warriors.”
“You…” Caraga and Ka Zhafei both growled as they trembled in anger, but no words escaped from their mouths.
At that moment, the barrier suddenly changed color before disappearing rapidly. In the next second, all of the arenas in front of them suddenly began to descend before disappearing without a trace into the ground, forming a single flat clearing without any dents or bumps.
Jian Chen was shocked by this sudden development. He hadn’t thought that the Mercenary City would be capable of such a mysterious event. Jian Chen had no idea how the arenas descended into the ground and then suddenly rise up again as a single giant piece of land. This single piece of land was far bigger than the arenas and was about five hundred meters in width.
As the single arena ascended up, another transparent barrier completely encompassed it before two Space Gates opened up on opposite sides of each other.