Waves of astonishment and flabbergasted voices filled the competition grounds.
From the performances Grai had shown in the previous 2 matches, his proficiency in twin daggers and a runic sword were both outstanding. In fact, either of the weapons would not affect his combat performance, and wouldn't go so far as to cause astonishment to people. However, the crucial factor was that he was currently up against a heavy soldier!
"Choosing to use twin daggers means that his combat style would definitely be inclined towards an assassin's litheness and speed. Traditionally speaking, a heavy soldier will more or less be a direct counter to an assassin. However, that would only apply up to a certain level, before the counter becomes mutual." Ruo Zhi did not go along with Wind God's rhythm. "Compared to a traditional choice of sword and shield, Grai's choice indicates that he has already made preparations to head into a decisive fight. This will be an extremely close-ranged fight!"
Waves of shrieks and shouting rang out across the competition grounds and Skylink. If this had happened in the previous matches, Tianjing might very well be killed by all the spit heading their way. However, the greater majority of the audience was already used to such shocking sights. It wouldn't be Tianjing's style if no tricks were unleashed. All Mouthy King developed this subversive trait, and now, he has integrated it into the Tianjing squadron.
"Good luck, Grai! Our heavenly harem group will always support you!"
"Go go mighty bro Tianlong! Smash all the thieves and rascals, and go to hell, pretty boy!"
The atmosphere of the arena had already reached a boiling point. Everyone already knew that the core of this showdown would be between the kings and princes of both squadrons. Although it sounded bad, this first duel meant everything for Tianjing. If Grai lost, Tianjing could literally pack up and go home, as Wang Zhong would be unable to change the outcome of this match by himself.
The two men took their positions on stage.
Faced against Grai, Zhao Tianlong could feel the calm and tranquil heart of the former. This was a completely different experience as compared to watching him through those videos. His hidden sharp edge beneath this tranquil demeanour had already reached the realm of being able to be restrained at will.
If he had to classify the nature of the person standing before him, Zhao Tianlong would say that Grai felt a little like Mo Wen, the man hailed as the strongest person within the Federation's younger generation. That hidden BOSS was also that abstruse, with his sharp edge hidden and concealed. Nonetheless, he would give people the feeling of an invisible pressure bearing down on them when they stood before him. At this level, the confidence in one's self was of the utmost importance. Zhao Tianlong similarly possessed this trait. However, he would not look down and underestimate Grai, as fame and face were matters that would not confound any genuine expert.
Grai was Tianjing's lynchpin. Settling him was equivalent to solving Tianjing. At the same time, he was currently the most unfathomable and enigmatic individual within the entire Tianjing squadron! This didn't mean that he was stronger than All Mouthy King, but rather, that he had concealed himself even deeper than All Mouthy King. To any expert, the less one's opponent revealed about themselves, the greater the uncertainty and danger that opponent would pose.
Zhao Tianlong agreed with this perspective. Instead, this caused him to feel even more excited. Deep down in his core, he also had an aggressive personality.
He slammed the tip of his Heaven Reaching staff into the ground in front of him, causing the entire competition stage to shudder slightly while producing rumbling sounds.
Narrowing his eyes, and aura akin to a mountain radiated out from Zhao Tianlong, as a wave of overbearing Soul Power surged out from his body. Like a gust of wind, it rapidly swept out in all directions, causing Grai's shirt to flutter madly!
With a faint smile, Grai gave a slight bow.
Shrieks instantly rang out from a stretch of lovestruck fans in the arena. It was at this instant…
The competition bell rang.
Both parties took action almost simultaneously, with the short ten metres between them being quickly narrowed down.
Before they came into range, Zhao Tianlong's Heaven Reach staff had already arrived, piercing forwards in a sword-like manner. Grai had just done an evasive manoeuvre when the direction of the staff changed, changing from a stab to a sweep.
The change in the staff's direction was too quick! It swept towards a location exceedingly close to Grai's face, only for his body to appear as though it had snapped as he stepped backwards forcefully. The Heaven Reaching staff swept across his chest, drawing a semi-circle in midair, before relying on its momentum to soar through the air.
Akin to a flying dragon, Zhao Tianlong swept his staff down in a ferocious cleave. Splitting the air and forming waves visible to the naked eye, the staff smashed down fiercely like a falling comet.
With his body bent forward in a く shape, making evasion an impossibility, the twin daggers instantly crossed each other to counter the incoming staff.
The Power of the staff Floods the Heavens!
Despite blocking the incoming smash, Grai was unable to completely resist the incoming force. Tilting his body slightly to a side, the dagger slanted to the left, directing the staff to the ground.
The massive force caused the ground of the entire arena to shudder slightly. In the next instant, the ferocious staff technique had already transformed into a soft, flexible one. Completely negating the rebounding force and inertia present from the earlier smash, Zhao Tianlong borrowed the surface of the ground to launch an inclined sweep, causing his attack to flow like quicksilver, without the slightest bit of delay!
Like a top, Grai quickly did a 720-degree spin in the air, evading the incoming staff while simultaneously striking back, his kick accompanied with the chilling glow of his daggers.
However, with the short reach of the daggers, Zhao Tianlong merely leaned backwards slightly, causing the daggers to miss.
At this moment, leaning his left foot forward, with his left hand gently grasping the staff's body, and right hand holding tightly onto the staff's end, the soft staff technique turned quickly back into the hard and ferocious style he had used previously. With his right hand moving back and forth, the other end of the staff was unleashed towards his front like a roaring dragon!
In that instant, the staff seemed to have thousands of afterimages shooting across the stage like an endlessly surging wave, instantly submerging Grai's entire being within them!
The audience watching in the arena and via Skylink was already stunned by the spectacle unfolding before their eyes. Although they already knew that this fight would definitely be an astonishing one, never did they expect for it to erupt with such speed and ferocity!
Frankly speaking, Zhao Tianlong's performance had caused the people's image of him to crumble. To a layman, he was one of the 5 great Mo's List heavy soldiers, with his indestructible body being his signature characteristic. Therefore, the ordinary audience would treat him in accordance with the standards of a heavy soldier. However, the actions that he had displayed in the fight so far were completely different from what was expected from a heavy soldier.
It was hard to imagine a figure over 2 metres tall actually pulling off such exquisite attacks. Those were moves unlike what a heavy soldier could do, Instead, he appeared more like a soldier!
"Grai's in a bit of trouble!" Wind God's voice rang out at this opportune moment. The earlier exchange between the two had happened too quickly, with the series of attacks and defences being too much for people to take in, what more about analysis. "He had chosen to wield twin daggers against Zhao Tianlong most likely for the sake of using their light weight and deft characteristics to take advantage of the clumsiness of heavy soldiers. However, Zhao Tianlong's staff techniques aren't just blindly hard and ferocious! They also contain a matching element of softness that allows for no delay between attacks! What's more, his movement is also rather nimble and agile! With this, Grai is unable to gain an advantage with his speed and agility. On the contrary, he has been completely suppressed by Zhao Tianlong's attacks, with the situation not boding well for him!"
Not only was Wind God not foolish, he was also in fact also extremely intelligent. According to the norm, it should have been his senior, Ruo Zhi, who dictated the pace of the casting. However, with the situation on the stage being as clear as day, he needed to pull the rhythm towards the Divine Dragon squadron! If not, he would lose all of his accumulated credibility and fame under Ruo Zhi's radiance! If he took the initiative and chose to support Divine Dragon, Ruo Zhi would have no choice but to choose Tianjing.
Frankly speaking, he used to worship Ruo Zhi very much. However, at this instant, the casting podium was his battlefield!
At this moment, Grai had extricated himself from the myriad of staff afterimages surrounding him. He had too transformed into countless shadows. However, unlike the assassin's pursuit of the ultimate speed, Grai's movements appeared like a fluttering swallow. In fact, one could see the leisurely and elegant stance he had while moving around at such speed. They appeared to be slow and unhurried bodily movements, though the speed at which he moved at was astonishingly quick.
The two fighting on stage had reached a deadlock, with staff afterimages and body shadows overlapped as they crisscrossed with one another, coming back and forth in a hyper-speed weave.
The two moved at astonishing speeds around the stage, and so was their switch between offence and defence. In the blink of an eye, they had switched places over a hundred times!
Wang Zhong was unable to take his eyes off from the fight. While a layman would watch for enjoyment, an expert would watch for the underlying techniques being used. Both Zhao Tianlong and Grai were first class experts at the top of their leagues. At their level, the factors towards victory were no longer as simple as speed or strength. Instead, it was one's understanding of fighting and weapons!
The Zhao Family was known as the sacred land of weapons, and had always been recognised throughout the Federation to be the strongest in their understanding of cold weapons. One could see that just from Zhao Tianlong's staff techniques, with weapon movements that did not conform to any reason. It appeared to be a weapon with a long reach, yet it was also extremely useful for close-ranged attacks and defence when held in the middle. Even when the daggers Grai had chosen to use had cut into it, he was not able to obtain any suppressive effect.
As the fight continued, Wang Zhong was reaping benefits every single second it went on for. It was inevitable that his target for today's match was their opponent's captain, Zhao Yi Long. Perhaps he might be able to get a glimpse behind the unique traits of Zhao Yilong's spear techniques from Zhao Tianlong's staff techniques.
As an old saying goes, "3 points of staff techniques, 7 points spear", the wielding techniques of a staff and spear were mostly interchangeable. The only difference was the emphasis of the techniques, with the so-called spear travelling in a straight line while a staff went around. The essence of staff techniques laid in its multi-directional attacks.
Not only did Zhao Tianlong's staff techniques contain softness within hardness, he also had an even more frightening control over the direction of his attacks. Take for example, the ferocious stab and sweep he sent out earlier. Coupled with his successive advance and retreat, it was a clear-cut indication of his extremely accurate judgement of distance. Regardless of how Grai changed his movements and figure, he was still unable to enter the most optimum distance for him to unleash his attacks.
What Grai wanted to do was to break this advantage his opponent had! Every single step and movement he made was so that he could inch closer and closer to the middle of his opponent's staff.
Heavy soldier vs soldier, yet they had forcibly turned the fight into a battle for distance!
However, with both of them shifting and changing positions while maintaining a distance no more than 2 metres apart, such close distance combat was of a much faster tempo, far more stimulating, and far more dangerous than the battle over distance between a ranged soldier and a close combat soldier! There was no space for even the slightest of errors! As long as one's speed were to drop by a sliver, what awaited one was a lethal attack from their opponent!
The attack and defence of the two continued on at an extremely quick pace. Even the laymen within the audience were able to see how splendid this fight was. Although they weren't able to understand the dangers the two were facing on the stage, just the spectacle that was unfolding was already enough of a shock factor to them.
Waves of cheers and support erupted throughout the arena and on Skylink. Be it the supporters and fans of the Divine Dragon Academy or Tianjing, their greatest satisfaction was to able to watch the most spectacular matches. Admittedly, although a one-sided suppression was delightful, obtaining victory over an expert was even more satisfying! At this moment, there was absolutely no one that who would spit at Tianjing. As of now, Tianjing was no longer the weakling that was disregarded and scorned by people. Looking down one's opponent would only result in a stain on one's victory.
Continue on, and advance the assault!
Shadows crisscrossed within the stage, though the one feeling the pressure now was Zhao Tianlong, who had started the one-sided suppression!
Grai's movements were too deft and nimble, making it extremely difficult to "catch" him. The only thing Zhao Tianlong could do was to confront him head-on. The range where his staff techniques could unleash the greatest might was from tip of his staff to approximately 1 foot out. Furthermore, it allowed for an easier transition from hard to soft and vice versa. This was the sweet spot for his strength, and a distance he would have an advantage in.
Ever since his opponent had pushed him into extremely close combat, Zhao Tianlong had always held the advantage, allowing him to suppress Grai until now. From the start, his opponent had not managed to land even a single counterattack. That meant that he already had established an invincible position. He merely needed to continue this battle of attrition and wait for the instant when his opponent made a mistake in his defence.
However, a problem had arisen. Without waiting for his opponent to make a mistake, Zhao Tianlong was able to feel himself losing more and more control over the initial superiority he had gained.
The distance that he had worked hard to control was being slowly eroded by his opponent assault. Despite blocking every single attempt made by his opponent, the feeling and pressure from the possibility of his opponent breaking through started to accumulate and weigh down on Zhao Tianlong's heart. What's more, Grai appeared to be growing increasingly deft and nimble!
This wasn't an increase in strength after accumulation, or a continual increase, as both parties had unleashed their full strength right from the start of the fight.
Zhao Tianlong was incomparably clear about the many complex and complicated factors that came into play during a high-level confrontation like the one he was currently engaged in. It was no longer a simple question of exhaustion and continuation, but more about one's adaptability to the fight!
He had adapted to Grai's movements, while Grai was adapting to his staff techniques! Clearly, the assassin's adaptability was a notch higher than his!
Grai's marvellous increase in speed caused his entire body to flutter and float into the combat range like a spectre.
He's through my range!
A ferocious glint flashed across Zhao Tianlong's eyes.
When a master of staff techniques engaged in combat with an opponent, he would make sure to keep his opponent within his attack range from start to finish by controlling the distance. The attack range of the staff extended from one's arms to the tip of the staff. If the opponent evaded out of the range, that was known as a retreat. However, if this range was pierced through, or when one moved into the opponent's range, that was known as the so-called inner circle!
The accumulated feelings of danger came crashing down in an instant. It was a mere 1 to 2 metre shift in distance, and in what seemed like a flash, Grai was already before him! The twin daggers stabbed out like blades of wind, unleashing the accumulated energy all at once!
Zhao Tianlong's eyes lit up like torches.
An ordinary staff master would only know how to control their attack radius. However, a top class staff master had to know how to dispel attacks in the inner circle!
An inch shorter would be an inch less of danger. Being able to use a long staff in short range combat was the highest realm one could reach in staff mastery!
At this instant, although Grai's penetration was sharp, it was within Zhao Tianlong's calculations, and he had long prepared mentally for it. The Heaven Raising Staff was instantly pulled back, allowing his hand to grab the tip of the staff. In the next instant, he shoved the other end of the staff into the ground. Using it as a platform, he rushed into the sky like a hawk, driving his feet with immense force as he rushed straight into Grai!
Grai's figure turned illusory, before being displaced akin to a remnant shadow. His entire being appeared right below Zhao Tianlong, before piercing the daggers in his hand right towards his opponent's big, exposed back!
A layer of golden light instantly gushed out from Zhao Tianlong's entire body.
He did not dodge or evade! Instead, he condensed the strength of his entire being and rooted himself to the ground. At the instant Grai's daggers made contact with the golden light radiating from his back, the feedback Grai received was akin to his daggers striking a metal plate head-on. That was definitely unlike the feedback he should get when striking the flesh of an ordinary human.
Under the terrifying collision of force, a runic dagger instantly shattered. The hand which once wielded the shattered dagger had been jarred to the point of turning slightly numb. However, he had no time to react to it, as his opponent had pressed their body right towards his face like a weapon!
A loud bang rang out, as Zhao Tianlong smashed his back onto the ground like a falling meteor. The tough and resilient blue granite floor instantly cracked and shattered. Kicking up a dust cloud, everyone's vision instantly obstructed!
"Oh my god!"
The shocked and astonished shrieks from the females in the audience swept across the entire arena.
"Did he get instantly flattened?!"
WIthin the cloud of dust, a figure rushed up ferociously into the sky!
Bang bang bang bang bang!
Before the figure flying in the air could adjust himself, dozens of black shadows shot out from the dust cloud below like hidden weapons.