The final battle was thought to take place between Huang Jiuge and Bai Ze, as both were heirs of two figures ranked in the top five of the Barren Sky Ranking, which meant that the powers that came from their lineages were too fearsome to gauge.
All three did not seem to have any intention of going into battle on their own. As such, Yu Sheng made his move. He scanned the four other than Ye Futian and fixed his eyes on Huang.
Huang detected Yu Sheng's gaze and walked out. Every step brought a chill to the battlefield; a cold that was bone-chilling. He did not wear shoes, which meant he walked barefooted on the battlefield. His steps were light, his long, black hair billowing, and his rags flapped about, all of which spoke of coldness like no other. Wind blew across the battlefield soon after, and the sky was soon filled with snow. The battlefield turned to look like a dead, cold wasteland, like the extreme south of the Barren State heard in legends—incredibly barren, shriveled, and cold.
"Yu Sheng, better take this one seriously," Ye Futian reminded his friend. He was able to feel that Huang was someone formidable.
Yu Sheng stood as his demonic might boiled. Dark golden demonic armor encased his body. The spiritual Qi around him went berserk, coalescing in his direction, fueling his demonic aura and making it increasingly powerful. A devil seemed to stand tall and proud in a snowy wasteland, his feet firmly planted on the ground, not moving an inch.
A large cold broadsword appeared in Huang's hand. The blade shone with a cold gleam. A fearsome storm whipped about Yu Sheng's body at the very moment Huang picked his blade up, as if broadsword will in the thousands gathered around him, lashing out at Yu Sheng. However, Yu Sheng's devilish armor and physical constitution were so durable that the broadsword wills whipping about in the storm were utterly useless in breaking his defenses.
Huang naturally knew that. He sprinted in the storm before leaping into the air. He held his blade with both hands before bringing it down on his opponent from above. The extremely cold will reached its target before the blade itself, and Yu Sheng felt as if the blood in his body was about to stop flowing. The cold that encroached his body was so extreme that he was unable to evade the slash that was to come.
Boom. The cold air burst and a Devil Halberd was seen on Yu Sheng's hand. He went on to lash out with overbearing demonic power. However, the Devil Halberd snapped right in the middle as the weapons clashed, and the attacking broadsword was shattered as well.
Huang took to the air, coalescing yet another blade in his hands. Even fiercer storms whipped up quickly, encasing Yu Sheng's body in ice. The blade which he held high above his head radiated bone-chilling coldness. His bearing grew even more ferocious as he brought his blade down on his opponent again.
A shadow of the devil appeared with a roar, encasing Yu Sheng's body. Terrifying demonic will was lashed out at Huang's body. However, the terrifying will did nothing to deter his blade. The blade, which seemed to pack icy storm-like powers, came down without hesitation, and Huang's hands did not flinch at all when he swung the blade down.
Yu Sheng's body continued to devour Spiritual Qi in a crazed manner, rendering the dark golden demonic storm more ferocious. The storm turned into an incredibly huge dark golden shadow of the devil, the form of which grew increasingly tangible. Yu Sheng punched, and the shadow behind him punched with him. The air shook from the ferocity of the attack.
Crisp sounds were heard soon as the blade was brought down on its target. The fist of the devil was cut open by the blade, and the golden devil shadow that was about to take solid form shattered as well, exposing Yu Sheng's body to his opponent. However, the blade was once again shattered from the impact.
Even more ferocious storms of ice whipped around Yu Sheng's body, seemingly out to bury him alive. Huang seemed like he was walking in the storm in the air. Another blade appeared in his hand, which looked stronger than the ones from before.
Yu Sheng remained standing where he was, feeling his blood about to stop flowing. He seemed to be experiencing the extreme cold in the midst of the icy storm that seemed endless. The Spiritual Qi that he had absorbed seemed to have turned into devilish flames within his body, burning within to dispel the encroaching cold. The ice and snow around Yu Sheng melted rapidly. He was able to make out a silhouette carrying a blade in the storm.
Dark demonic fires continued to burn within, destroying the icy storm around him. The flash of his opponent's blade soon came for his head together with the storm.
Boom. The shadow of the devil coalesced once again around Yu Sheng. Spiritual Qi of the world combined to create the most powerful devil, as wisps of dark golden demonic currents whipped around in the air. Devastating storms seemed to have appeared. The Heaven-tempering Power of the demonic arts was unleashed, and Yu Sheng seemed to have turned into a true devil.
Doom. A loud rumble was heard. Yu Sheng made no attempts to evade and stepped forward without any hesitation. He punched, his fist clad in endless demonic might, seemingly capable of shattering anything.
Boom. Terrifying storm will was soon unleashed, and a terrifying tornado whipped up before Yu Sheng. The blade did not come down, and Huang Jiuge was nowhere to be seen. He retreated far away, standing in the cold storm. Yu Sheng's fist rumbled in the storm, shaking the air. The storm before him was completely destroyed.
"He sheathed his blade." The audience looked at Huang, thinking that he was terrifying. If Huang was to fight anyone else but Yu Sheng, the ever prevalent icy spells were more than enough to restrain the movements of his opponents, even preventing his opponents from moving at all. That, coupled with his fearsome blade work, enabled him to easily kill his intended target. However, he did not bring his blade down in his previous attack.
The icy storm continued raging on the battlefield. Huang Jiuge looked at Yu Sheng where he stood and then turned around to leave the scene. "I'm not here to put my life on the line fighting you." If Huang had gone all the way with his blade, both of them would have lost and suffered serious injuries. Huang was known to be a madman in the south, yet Yu Sheng proved to be even more crazed than he was.
Huang returned to his spot. He came to the Holy Zhi Palace with the intention of studying the ways of the sacred ground of Barren State, refining and improving his powers in the process. He deemed himself to have done enough. Winning and losing never mattered much to him. He lost many fights, yet the ones he was able to defeat did not live to tell the tale. He saw life and death to be of utmost importance. He knew it at a very young age when he was left to die in the icy cold storms. He was a crazy one, yet he valued life above all else.
Yu Sheng did not leave the battlefield. He scanned the other three. With the exception of Ye Futian, only Huang Jiuge, Bai Ze, and Xu Que were left.
"That guy…" Many looked at Yu Sheng.
A silhouette was seen walking onto the battlefield. His expression was composed, and a tinge of fleeting arrogance was seen in his eyes as always. Yet, at the very moment he stepped into the battlefield, his aura had Yu Sheng trapped.
Xu Que of the Tingxue House.
It was natural that Yu Sheng would not challenge Ye Futian. Huang Jiuge and Bai Ze thought too highly of themselves to make a move, and thus, he was left to clean things up. Yu Sheng was very powerful, yet he stood no chance in front of Xu Que. Xu Que himself had absolutely no doubt about it.
"This is the first time I meet a monster in human form like yourself. Not even the mighty ones among the demons proved to be your match. But my abilities naturally counter yours. As such, I'd advise you to just walk out of this one yourself." Xu Que then added, "Top five is good enough for you."
No one in the audience thought Xu Que was being arrogant with his words. Yu Sheng's strength had long been recognized, but as Xu Que himself put it, in one such battlefield, Xu Que was probably the opponent that Yu Sheng should have avoided at all cost.
One's planes and levels were inadequate to fully determine the outcome of one's battles. There were natural counters to certain abilities, by way of nothing other than the nature of a cultivator's profession. As such, to a certain extent, jack-of-all-trades type of cultivators had an edge over others. For example, Ye Futian, and his battles so far suggested that he had always been the one to counter the abilities of others.
Yu Sheng did not say anything. The demonic might coursing through his body proved to be a better response than any words. Xu Que smiled. He saw no other way of going about things but to fight if his opponent deemed his advice unnecessary.
He stepped out slowly. Streaks of sword will out to kill coursed throughout his body and grew in power. His movements gained speed rapidly until he looked like a beam of light, appearing right before Yu Sheng in an instant.
Boom. Yu Sheng stomped on the ground and punched hard. The attack shattered Xu Que's body, which he quickly found to be just an afterimage. A killing intent lashed out at Yu Sheng's side with a flash, drawing a perfect arc in the air. The sword cut right on top of Yu Sheng's defense, tearing it open right there and then. The armor on Yu Sheng's arm was torn to shreds, and his clothes were quickly reduced to tatters. Both men flashed by each other and ended up standing with their backs facing each other.
"Do you still feel like fighting?" Xu Que asked.
Ye Futian frowned. Xu Que's specialty lied within his eerie speed, which, when coupled with his killing sword, served well as a natural counter to Yu Sheng's abilities. Yu Sheng's combat capacity was incredibly ferocious, but he was unable to do anything so long as Xu Que avoided clashing head-on with him. Anyone who was to fight Yu Sheng would probably have doubts, yet Xu Que had no such doubts. He trained in the art of the killing sword, and his blade was meant to do nothing but kill.
An even more ferocious demonic might was soon unleashed, absorbing Worldly Spiritual Qi and converting it into formidable demonic aura. The shadow of a devil appeared, melding with his physical body. Yu Sheng looked like a devil himself at the very moment.
"You never learn," Xu Que spoke again, and a dazzling streak of his movements was seen as soon as he finished. Yu Sheng did not bother evading. He turned around and waited for his opponent's sword to reach him instead.
"That crazy b*stard." Many in the audience looked stunned. Xu Que was more than just educated in spectral movements; his sword was known to be the sword of destruction.
"You seem to have a death wish." Xu Que's face was cold. He lashed out with his sword, which cut right through Yu Sheng's armor and devilish physique, going for his heart without stopping.
Yu Sheng extended his hand and grabbed hold of the sword. The sword cut his palm open, breaking through his dark golden layer of defense. Blood was soon seen on the wound, but Xu Que felt a looming danger at the very same time. An enormous palm like that of a devil soon lashed out, going straight for Xu Que's head. Xu Que retreated in a hurry and soon heard rumbling noises around him. A Devil Halberd after another fell from the sky, cutting off his escape. He swiped with his sword with a roar. A bright, dazzling flash was seen, as all of the halberds were snapped in the middle. Xu Que lashed out like he was a sword himself.
Boom! Another palm lashed out. Xu Que extended his hand and pointed in the air. His sword aura penetrated its intended target, but the palm landed on his body all the same. Xu Que's body was sent flying with a loud boom, landing hard on the ground. He spewed blood, feeling all organs within ruptured. If he had not used his killing sword aura to fend off most of the force of the attack on his body, the attack would probably have destroyed all his internal organs, killing him right there and then.
At the same time, countless Devil Halberds whooshed at Xu Que. He quickly retreated behind, evading the incoming attacks like a specter.
"You crazy b*stard," Xu Que quipped coldly as he steadied himself. Blood was still dripping from Yu Sheng's hand. He felt a tinge of frustration as he stared at Xu Que. He failed, and a chance like that was hard to come by a second time.
"Sword!" Xu Que shouted in rage. Countless killing storms descended around him, turning into countless killing swords circling Xu Que's body before coalescing into one blade.
Xu Que's silhouette disappeared in the very next moment. Terrifying killing storms engulfed Yu Sheng's body. Many saw shimmers of blades within, as well as ferocious attacks dealt by Yu Sheng. However, Yu Sheng avoided clashing with Yu Sheng altogether. Sword aura gradually whipped about with Yu Sheng at the center, and a killing storm was soon built up. The crisscrossing sword aura threatened to destroy the space.
"Yu Sheng, that's enough." Ye Futian yelled, "He surrenders."
Xu Que's silhouette appeared somewhere in the air. The endless killing storm was dispersed and Yu Sheng's body was seen clearly again. The armor on his body was severely damaged, yet his eyes remained shining with overbearing coldness as he set his eyes on Xu Que. He lifted his head to look at Ye Futian, seemingly insistent on finishing what he started.
"Step down," Ye Futian said gently. Only then did Yu Sheng nod and walk away.
Xu Que looked at Yu Sheng's back. If his abilities were not capable of countering Yu Sheng's, it would be difficult to tell who would have emerged victorious in the fight. He saw Yu Sheng to be a madman, and he had no intention to continue fighting one such madman. He flashed and returned to his spot in urgent need of rest.
Yu Sheng, however, looked like nothing ever happened to him. He returned to his place before saying to Ye Futian, "It's just you now." Yu Sheng had intended to clear Ye Futian's path for him, and he did not expect to stumble upon a wall at that stage.
"It's alright." Ye Futian said, "Go get some rest."
"Right." Yu Sheng nodded. Many turned to look at Yu Sheng. While it was true that he lost, no one dared to say that Yu Sheng was weak. In actuality, had Xu Que's abilities not been natural counters to Yu Sheng's, Xu Que might have actually been the one to lose the battle. Furthermore, Yu Sheng was still just a grade nine noble, and that meant he would grow into a terrifying being.
Only four cultivators were left on the battlefield: Huang Jiuge, Bai Ze, Xu Que, and Ye Futian. The first three were deemed the most powerful, and they indeed had been able to make it to the very end. It was, however, completely unexpected that Ye Futian, the dark horse, was able to make it this far as well.
Should he just roll over and make way for the remaining three then?