Chapter 102 – The Focus of All Eyes
But today, the Martial Stage was packed to the brim with people. These people were all extraordinary characters; there were the talents and geniuses of the Seven Profound Martial House, the heroes of Sky Fortune Kingdom’s martial artists, the nobility and aristocrats of Sky Fortune City, various famous and respected families, and important political figures.
Lin Ming was an inestimably rare talent that would appear only every 100 years at the Seven Profound Martial House. His rising star and bright halo was enough to attract the attention of most martial artists. Zhu Yan was also a first-class master of the Seven Profound Martial House; he had the possibility to be one of the top ten future talents of the Seven Profound Martial House. These two people’s match symbolized a duel between the top geniuses of Sky Fortune City’s younger generation.
If it was just this alone, it would not have attracted the nobility of Sky Fortune City and the political figures to gather here.
They did not belong in the circles of martial artists. No matter how strong Lin Ming or Zhu Yan were, this would be of no relation to any of them.
The reason this match would cause them to pay special attention was because there was political significance behind it!
The news of Lin Ming and Zhu Yan’s match had spread out far and wide long ago.
Everyone was aware that the Tenth Prince’s mother, the imperial concubine, came from Green Mulberry City’s Zhu Family. This Zhu Yan also had a very high possibility of being the next head of the Zhu Family. Zhu Yan was without a doubt a person of the Tenth Prince.
But Lin Ming had rejected the Tenth Prince’s advances when the Tenth Prince had tried to win him over a month ago, and instead was in favor of the Crown Prince. Moreover, according to reliable sources, Lin Ming and Zhu Yan had some sort of enmity between them, and Lin Ming and Mister Muyi were friends between generations. By virtue of these points alone, Lin Ming had an almost absolute possibility of being a person of the Crown Prince!
This match, while being a duel between Lin Ming and Zhu Yan, also symbolized the struggle between the Crown Prince and the Tenth Prince. These past few years, the hidden conflicts between the Crown Prince and the Tenth Prince had occurred often, but the Crown Prince had lost nearly every time! Although most of these battles had not genuinely wounded the Crown Prince’s strength, they had without a doubt weakened the Crown Prince’s momentum!
It was not a secret that the Tenth Prince wished to snatch the throne away. In this case, the Crown Prince had repeatedly suffered setbacks, and all of this perpetuated the notion that the Crown Prince was inferior to the Tenth Prince. Therefore, the people who supported the Crown Prince unavoidably panicked and were flustered, and less and less people supported the Crown Prince. Instead, the Tenth Prince’s influence only grew by the day!
Many of the nobility and aristocracy came today not to see the contest between Lin Ming and Zhu Yan, but the contest between the Tenth Prince and the Crown Prince! The sooner these people supported the man they thought would be the dragon who would ascend the throne, the larger the advantage they could obtain in the upcoming throne battle!
Because of the appearance of these nobles, there were special protections at the Martial Stage, and bodyguards to protect these important guests.
Due to too many important people attending, the disciples of the Seven Profound Martial House were pushed far away. This made them angry, and criticize these nobles in their hearts.
Lin Ming had already arrived. He stood quietly on the empty Martial Stage, his body as straight as Penetrating Rainbow.
Faced with the eyes of everyone looking at him, and so many of them being important people, Lin Ming closed his eyes and meditated, his mind calm and tranquil like a still lake.
In a battle between two of similar strength, one’s state of mind became very important. Even a slight change would affect the outcome of the battle.
The best condition for a martial artist’s mind before a battle was to be tranquil and still like water, not having even a single distracting thought. Though saying this was easy, a battle usually involved great significance; how could a martial artist settle down and keep their heart still under this condition? In addition to the disturbance from so many other possible factors, there were very few martial artists who were able to achieve this calm and tranquil mental state.
However, Lin Ming had comprehended martial intent and had achieved this state. To him, this was as easy as turning his hand over.
It was half an hour from the agreed match time. At this moment, a sharp, high-pitched voice suddenly called out; this was the unique sound of the palace court eunuch. “The Crown Prince arrives!”
Everyone was shocked; even Lin Ming who had been standing on the Martial Stage opened his eyes. His Highness the Crown Prince had unexpectedly come!
Accompanied by the clear clip clip clip sounds of hoofbeats, several Snow Dragon Horses appeared and started to come into view. They were led by a young man wearing a purple gold crown and a silk imperial robe. He wore a pair of Kirin styled boots, and delicate eyebrows framed his fair face. He had a broad forehead, and a very handsome face. His movements were filled with an innate, distinguished atmosphere.
This man was His Highness, the Crown Prince.
At the Crown Prince’s side was an old man wearing green clothes. His face had a warm and friendly smile, yet it gave off an immeasurably deep and unfathomable aura. This person was the Crown Prince’s teacher, the outsider from the Marshal’s Quarters, Mister Muyi!
“His Highness, the Crown Prince!”
Seeing these two famous figures come together in unison caused everyone present to feel awe. They cleared a path for these to come forward.
Muyi looked at Lin Ming with a smile and a nod, and Lin Ming smiled in return. There was much goodwill and friendship between Muyi and Lin Ming.
But good things came in pairs. Similarly, after a half quarter hour, the Tenth Prince, the Cloud Prince, also arrived!
The Cloud Prince’s appearance and the Crown Prince’s appearance were somewhat similar. His appearance was only more resolute, his eyebrows were like swords that angled towards his temples, and above the center of his forehead was a vague purple cloud hidden under his skin. This was the legendary Purple Air Comes From the East, the King of Air!
At the Cloud Prince’s side was also a slender young man in silk clothes. This young man was Zhu Yan.
As soon as the Tenth Prince saw Lin Ming, he smiled with a ‘haha’. “Little Brother Lin, you’ve come very early. This is our first time meeting; it’s nice to meet you!”
Though his voice was loud, there was no arrogance in it. Instead, it was very comfortable and pleasant to listen to.
Lin Ming silently thought, “This Tenth Prince is also a character. I refused him at first, but he doesn’t seem to bear a grudge. On the surface he talks and laughs joyfully with me, as if nothing had ever happened before.”
“There seems to be some sort of silly misunderstanding between Little Brother Lin and Zhu Yan. The warriors of my Sky Fortune Kingdom have always resolved their hatred in a martial way. I happen to think that both of you are fine heroes among men. No matter what sort of misunderstanding or unhappiness occurred between you two, as soon as this fight is over, how about we sit down for a chat and see if we can put an end to these hostilities, and turn swords into plowshares?”
‘Turn swords into plowshares? I’m afraid Zhu Yan wants to eat my meat and flay me alive.’
Lin Ming understood that the Tenth Prince had said these words because he didn’t want to be his enemy. He politely responded, “I did not expect Your Highness the Cloud Prince to watch this match. It is my utmost honor and greatest pleasure to see you here.”
Lin Ming’s words were neither arrogant nor servile. He directly responded to the Tenth Prince. The Tenth Prince only smiled, and no longer said anything.
At this moment, Zhu Yan dismounted and slowly stepped up onto the Martial Stage. As soon he saw Lin Ming, he confirmed that this boy had made a breakthrough in this month!
Large Success of the Third Stage of Body Transformation!
Zhu Yan felt the enormous pressure, but did not feel that anything was wrong. When Lin Ming had challenged him with a deadline of one month, Zhu Yan had expected Lin Ming to make astonishing progress during this time. He had probably comprehended some kind of martial intent.
Zhu Yan arrived on the other side of the Martial Stage, and stood distantly opposite of Lin Ming.
There was a quarter hour until the decisive battle!
Lan Yunyue was among those in the crowd. She was distantly looking at Lin Ming and Zhu Yan on stage. Her heart had overturned, and it was like all the good and bad emotions and feelings in her life had mixed together.
She was the one who was most unwilling to see this fight happen. Regardless of who was victorious or who was the defeated, each option would be a knife to her heart! Her eyes still reverberated with a phantom echo of those words Zhu Yan had said to her one month ago, “He wants me to… divorce you!”
She did not even dare to think what would happen if Zhu Yan were to lose, and how she would face life afterwards. She did not even have a chance to regret…
Although Lin Ming and Zhu Yan had already arrived, the battle had not started. Zhu Yan closed his eyes and meditated, adjusting to his own peak condition.
To him, Lin Ming was a formidable and daunting opponent. He had to adjust his pre-battle condition to its maximum, and display 120% of his strength!
Only half a year ago, Lin Ming had been an irrelevant loser, unworthy of even mentioning. Even if Lin Ming had defeated that child of General Wang, Wang Yigao, it was nothing to Zhu Yan.
In Zhu Yan’s eyes, Wang Yigao was a good-for-nothing playboy that was not fit to be called a martial artist.
Zhu Yan had not thought that there would be a day where he and Lin Ming would be standing against each other, and fighting on the Martial Stage in front of so many important people. Even the Crown Prince and the Cloud Prince had come to watch this fateful battle.
And beyond that, Lin Ming’s strength had also grown to the point of threatening him!
To prepare for this battle today, he had tortured himself for a month, and had even caused the foundation of his cultivation to be a bit unstable by enhancing his strength as much as possible with precious pills!
In the face of this battle, he too wished for a calm heart to face critical situations, to adjust his condition in this quarter hour before facing this great enemy!
This was a battle he could not afford to lose!
The victory and defeat of this battle not only concerned Zhu Yan’s future, but it concerned his dignity as a martial artist, and more so, his dignity as a man!
As the sundial shadow began to gradually move, it finally became noon. Lin Ming’s eyes suddenly flashed open.
With a loud ringing sound, Lin Ming flourished his spear, Penetrating Rainbow. It was just like a dark purple flood dragon that shivered as it fell into Lin Ming’s hand! At this moment, Lin Ming had not fought, but his indomitable aura had already been released and it billowed outwards. Everyone present, even if their cultivation was higher than Lin Ming’s, felt an invisible pressure pushing down on them!
“This aura… is this really something that a martial artist at the Third Stage of Body Transformation can release!?”
“This Lin Ming is too strong, his imposing manner and aura are enough to make one feel breathless!”
Even the disciples of the Seven Profound Martial House were fearfully startled. This Lin Ming’s power was rising too fast! They hadn’t seen him in a month, and his strength had already risen to another level!
Zhu Yan took a deep breath and slowly drew out his treasure sword. This sword in his hand was a low-grade human-step treasure, one of the best among its kind. Its name was Scarlet Flare, and it had already accompanied him for many years. He had long ago been able to communicate with his sword.
Facing Lin Ming, it was impossible to count on his opponent being weak. He could only ask that his own strength was stronger!
With a light sound, Zhu Yan’s sword lit with flames visible to the naked eye! Substantializing true essence and giving it tangible form! This was a stage that only those a step away from reaching the Pulse Condensation Period could achieve. Generally only those who were at the Large Success of Bone Forging were able to reach this realm, but Zhu Yan, who was only at the early Altering Muscle stage, had already achieved this!
Lin Ming and Zhu Yan had not fought, but with just a few random movements, they had already displayed their frightening strength as the pinnacles among talents. This was a fierce struggle between two evenly matched opponents!
The entire Martial Stage audience was silent; even the sound of a pin dropping could be heard. The audience was silent with bated breath, and they steadily looking, with unblinking eyes, at the stage that held two solitary figures, for fear of missing even a single thing.