"Ah ..." Smiley-face finally could not maintain his smile any longer — the shock was clear on his face — but he very quickly collected his wits, and said exasperatedly, "Have you gone mad? This is an initiate disciple we're talking about, initiate — if the elders in your family find out, you'll be in deep sh*t."
"I'm optimistic about that crew cut boy's future." Coffin-face's expression was very calm, as if telling Smiley-face that he was worrying for nothing. "Besides, didn't you say those two brats are just like we used to be?"
He was still the one who understood Smiley-face the most. Qi Long and Luo Lang's fight had reminded Smiley-face of when they had first met, bringing up feelings of nostalgia. On top of that, in terms of both looks and character, Luo Lang closely resembled Smiley-face, which was why Smiley-face had been moved to take Luo Lang on as an initiate disciple. Of course, another reason was that Luo Lang's personal qualities were also very exceptional — otherwise, no matter how similar they were, without any cultivation value, the thought of taking him on would never have crossed Smiley-face's mind.
Coffin-face's words left Smiley-face unable to continue to try and dissuade him. Smiley-face's lips flapped soundlessly for a moment, but he finally settled on saying, "Perhaps they can inherit our dreams."
"I hope so." Coffin-face looked towards Qi Long's direction, and when Smiley-face wasn't looking, a subtle smile silently appeared on his lips, instantly gentling Coffin-face's typically austere look considerably.
The arena matches for the advancement of the top 13 into the top 7 were all held simultaneously, so after Ling Lan and the other two of her group exchanged encouragements, they all went to their respective stages.
The matches officially began, and most of the crowd had gathered around the stage where the Ling Lan vs Qin Yi match was being held. Some of the Class-A students who had already been eliminated came personally to the combat hall just to watch this match.
Of course, the feelings of the Class-A students were complicated, unsure whether they wanted Ling Lan to continue her one-move advancement streak or wished for someone to break it so that Ling Lan would return from that untouchable distance to a more manageable distance before them.
However, regardless of what the students thought, Ling Lan and Qin Yi appeared to be extremely calm. When the referee called out the start of the match, Qin Yi first dashed to one side of the stage, while Ling Lan remained standing in the middle of the arena, facing the other from a distance.
Just like that, the two of them froze. Time slipped by slowly — an unknown number of minutes passed — and the audience themselves couldn't help but become impatient.
At then, one of the two finally moved.
Ling Lan was the one who moved. Not because her patience was worse than Qin Yi's, but because she felt that continuing to wait like this was just a waste of time. Qin Yi's stance was defensive, so it was obvious that he didn't intend to strike first.
Qin Yi had taken such an approach because after studying Ling Lan's previous battles, he had found that those students who had been defeated in one move by Ling Lan had all attacked first. Although he didn't know if defending and counter-attacking would be effective, Qin Yi was hopeful. He settled on the strategy of waiting for Ling Lan to attack first.
Qin Yi still had confidence in himself. He believed that if he put his full attention on tracking the opponent's movements, he should be able to see the other's attacking style, and perhaps would be able to stop the opponent's attack.
Ling Lan knew what her opponent was thinking, and so decided not to waste any time; this time, she initiated the attack.
Ling Lan charged forward, her right hand forming a fist and striking out at Qin Yi. Her punch actually emitted a loud explosion of air — you could just see how terrifying its speed and power was.
This time, the teacher in charge of refereeing their match was no longer the one from Ling Lan's previous matches. However, when he saw this attack of Ling Lan's, his gaze revealed a trace of astonishment. This astonishment was not due to Ling Lan's speed or strength, but rather due to the move itself.
Ling Lan's consecutive advancements with just one move had piqued the curiosity of many teachers, who had then gone on to observe the recordings of Ling Lan's fights. This teacher referee was one of them, and Ling Lan's current attack move had been recognised by him.
This was an attack move of Ling Lan's first opponent in the ranking battles. Of course, when Ling Lan executed it, the attack speed and strength was much faster and much fiercer, and at the same time, the opening that appeared when she swung her fist was subtly fixed by crossing her left hand over her chest in preparation for a counter. In other words, the opening was no longer an opening, but a hidden trap.
This was the result of Ling Lan and Little Four's research. Ling Lan had lacked proper moves suited for arena-style fighting, which had given her no choice but to appropriate moves from the other students. Finally, she had managed to synthesize around ten moves from her research, and this was the first time she was using any of them in battle.
In contrast to the students' bewilderment, the experienced teacher had been able to tell the origins of this move with one look. This was the reason behind the astonishment in the teacher's eyes.
Qin Yi saw Ling Lan charging at him, and he reacted nimbly, dodging with a quick turn of his body. Ling Lan's attack missed, and before she could follow up with a second attack, Qin Yi had once again dashed away with a few quick steps, putting a distance of roughly 7 to 8 metres between him and Ling Lan.
"Wow, he's being really cautious. But Boss, why did you decrease your speed and strength by 70%? If you had just attacked with your normal speed, he would never have been able to dodge." The watching Little Four was very puzzled. It was obvious that one move would have been enough — why had Boss held back?
"No matter what, I must drag the fight till about 10 moves. I don't want to see the teacher's resentful eyes anymore." Ling Lan was truly afraid of that and had decided to first take it easy for a bit.
Last night, she had trained in the learning space for the entire night — which had been prolonged to a duration of two months — and had finally settled that problematic after-effect of hers. Adding up all the time spent before and after, she had spent almost half a year's time (in the learning space) to eradicate the problem. This was why Ling Lan could control her own speed and strength today, otherwise, even if Ling Lan planned to take it easy she would have been unable to.
Getting his answer, Little Four said nothing more. He still remembered Ling Lan's warning to not make noise and disturb her unnecessarily when she was fighting. If the opponent hadn't dodged far away, and Ling Lan hadn't stopped pushing her attack, Little Four wouldn't have voiced his question.
Ling Lan saw that Qin Yi had prepared himself once more, so she charged forwards again, and the moment she got within range, she threw out a side kick. In order to successfully drag out the fight to over 10 moves, Ling Lan had no choice but to be a bit careful, and pay close attention to Qin Yi's condition. She didn't wish to pull back her strength and speed only for the opponent to be defeated anyway because he wasn't prepared to take her attack. That would undoubtedly be an extremely tragic thing.
Of course, the teacher who had studied Ling Lan before could tell that this side kick was also an attack move of one of Ling Lan's previous opponents. However, Ling Lan had simplified this side kick. It no longer had the initial preparatory spin to accumulate strength.
Although that sort of strength-accumulation method could indeed increase this side kick's power by 30%, this one spin not only decreased the attack speed, but also created a large weak point. During the spin, there would be a moment when one's back would be to the opponent — if the opponent grabbed hold of this opportunity, not only could they easily break this move, but they may even counterattack to injure the user heavily instead. This was the reason why Ling Lan had been able to send the original user flying so easily in her previous match.
Thus, Ling Lan decisively discarded that one spin, choosing to throw the side kick right after a half turn. The motions had been simplified, but the strength boost was partially retained. According to Ling Lan's estimations, even though the strength accumulation was weaker, there was still a 15% boost, and if the move was handled better, even 20% was possible. As such, only 10% of bonus strength was lost, but with this little loss, a large weak point could be fixed, and the attack speed would also go up. It was undoubtedly worth it.
Perhaps this kick came too forcefully, for although Qin Yi had already been mentally prepared, he was still frightened by this ferocious kick of Ling Lan's. He abruptly realised why Ling Lan had been able to kick her opponents off the stage with one move — it was this strength, which was definitely of a horrific calibre. At that moment, Qin Yi was still oblivious that this was already the result of Ling Lan holding back 70% of her strength and speed.
Qin Yi's reaction time and speed once again proved that he was exceptional. Facing Ling Lan's powerful side kick, he again managed to evade.
At this time, the watching students began cheering for Qin Yi. Ling Lan's performance in her previous matches had been too unbelievable and aberrant, so the students couldn't help but view her as a common enemy. So, when they saw Qin Yi managing to last for two moves, they all started voicing out their encouragement, hoping that he would end Ling Lan's legendary winning streak.
Under the students cheers, Qin Yi's initially tense spirits relaxed. He felt that his initial strategy wasn't wrong. Ling Lan must definitely be someone who was good at finding his opponent's weaknesses; he had been able to catch hold of his opponents' weaknesses when they attacked first in his previous matches, which was why he had been able to defeat them in one move. However, when Ling Lan was the attacker, the roles were switched around, so Ling Lan was no longer as invincible as they had thought him to be.
Very quickly, Ling Lan had launched several more consecutive attacks. If Qi Long, Luo Lang, and Han Jijyun had been here, they may have been shocked and puzzled, because these few moves of Ling Lan would have been both familiar yet strange to them at the same time. That's right, these moves had all been appropriated by Ling Lan when she had fought them. However, these moves, under the combined study of Little Four and herself, had undergone a certain degree of modification. This is not to say that Qi Long's and the others' moves had any problems, but Ling Lan had modified these moves to better suit her own physical capabilities.
"Ah, Boss, it's the 10th move now." Little Four wasn't just a simple observer; he was seriously helping Ling Lan to count the moves being exchanged.
"Now? Finally I can let loose." Holding back her strength and her speed, as well as keeping track of the opponent's reactions — these ten moves had been extremely frustrating for Ling Lan. Hearing Little Four say that her imposed 10-move limit was up, her mood brightened immensely.
At this time, Qin Yi had already gotten used to Ling Lan's attack speed and strength. He felt that he was able to handle Ling Lan's attacks now, and had begun thinking of ways to counterattack. After all, he would never win by purely defending. Although he was very wary of Ling Lan's strong ability in catching an opponent's weakness, he believed that even if he was caught by Ling Lan, he would be able to handle the situation with his speed and reflexes.
So, he decided to make a tentative attack, and his choice of attack was one of the moves from his family-inherited martial arts, one that was best suited for spontaneous adaptation.
"He's attacking," Little Four called out. Qin Yi's constant dodging, slippery as an eel in water, had annoyed Little Four immensely. Now, seeing the opponent finally planning to attack, he was understandably thrilled.
"An attack that isn't an attack, a defence that isn't a defence ... there must be something more." Qin Yi thought that his speed was very fast and that the changes in his move were very subtle, but in Ling Lan's eyes, his speed was rather slow, and some of the changes were obvious at a glance. Moreover, her senses had already pinpointed a defensive blind spot in his move's defences.