The real focus was on the ranking tournament later. Each sect would send out five pupils and each of their rankings would be aggregated to determine the real ranking of each sect. It was also the stage to find the strongest among the younger generation.
After that, it was just more matches between ordinary disciples of a few sects. There was basically nothing to see; it was only contests between those using basic skills at the most. Without any Secret Martial Arts, they were only slightly better than general hobbyists.
Finally, the match between ordinary disciples of Celestial Circle Gate and Crimson Sand Sword ended. The elderly judge raised up the bell in his hand and was no longer listless like before.
"Next, we'll begin the official ranking tournament. Each sect will send out disciples to participate as individuals and the overall ranking of each sect will be determined by a fixed formula."
The old man waved his hand and a few beautiful young ladies appeared. They were wearing short skirts and stockings, while their hair were tied into ponytails. One of the young ladies was carrying a large box as she stood next to the old man.
"Could each sect please send out their representatives to draw lots! Then head toward your respective rings for your qualifying matches." The old man pointed toward the surrounding buildings. "The rest of the matches will take place within the surrounding buildings. The previous top three sects will automatically enter the finals and need not participate in the drawing."
Andrela from Celestial Circle Gate smiled toward Beo from a distance, then turned around and walked into the building behind him. He could not be bothered to continue watching the lot drawing.
Beo snorted and not wanting to be outdone, left as well. The two of them were far stronger than the other disciples. There was no need for them to worry that a new opponent would suddenly appear. They only had each other as opponents from the start.
Garen was queuing up within the crowd as he watched the both of them leaving. He could feel the powerful confidence and pride from the two of them. He did not understand how strong they were, but he knew that the average person would not be able to ignore all of the Secret Martial Art practitioners there and calmly leave. It was a sign of confidence from having great power and success.
He could not help but recall the words of his senior sister, Rosetta. "Every single victory will nourish your confidence… and make you more powerful."
Soon, the people in front of him had drawn their lots and it was his turn.
Garen walked to the front, then nonchalantly reached into the box and pulled out a lot. The number written on the white paper was 24.
He stood on one side as the rest of the disciples from White Cloud Gate drew their lots as well.
"Could the participants who have drawn their lots please proceed to their respective rings. The winner of each match will proceed to the next ring according to the referee's instructions. Participants that have lost will all return to this ring to participate in another round of ranking. Everyone will be given a chance to challenge any other participant, other than the winner, for their rank. Once the matches has ended, the top ten will proceed with the finals," the old man loudly announced.
Garen and the rest of the disciples from White Cloud Gate went on separate ways and headed for their respective rings.
Garen's lot number was 24. After entering a large building, an attendant escorted him through a series of corridors to a spacious workout room.
The room was white and was the size of a large conference hall. There was a white, circular ring in the middle and there was ropes surrounding it just like a boxing ring.
A young female referee in black clothing was already waiting in it.
There were also some other young people standing in the room, who were there to watch the fight.
There was also a bald and muscular man—who was so muscular that his muscles was slightly deformed—standing next to the ring. He was staring at Garen the moment he entered.
This man was wearing a black leather pants while his upper body was naked. His muscles seemed to throb along with his breathing and the muscles on his shoulders looked like malformed roots growing out of the ground.
"Could the contestants please come to the stage," the female referee on the stage loudly said.
Garen stopped appraising his opponent. He slowly walked to the side of ring and somersaulted into the ring.
Even though he was muscular as well, there was still quite a difference between him and his opponent. It was like the difference between an adult and a child. His opponent also got into the ring.
One of them was big and the other was small. On one side, his skin was dark and he was wearing a black leather pants. On the other side, Garen's clothing was entirely white and his skin was fair. As the two of them stood on the stage, the contrast between them was clear.
At that moment, a pair of man and woman entered the room as well. They were the two that went to receive Garen and his master: Jaden and that crossdressing girl who tried to sound out Garen but ended up crying.
"Junior sister, this is the ring of that Garen from White Cloud Gate. This is his first match,"Jaden whispered to the girl while his gaze naturally landed on Garen.
"This guy is pretty lucky: his opponent looks strong." The girl gloatingly whispered while giggling, "He deserves it for being so arrogant at the station! This time he's definitely going to suffer."
"His opponent is Benjamin, the third Holy Fist disciple from Holy Fist Gate, and has been practicing Secret Martial Arts for three years. Even though Holy Fist Gate's rank is only twentieth and isn't strong, the strength of its third strongest disciple definitely isn't ordinary. If I were to meet this Benjamin, I can only admit defeat as well. I heard that this Garen was only accepted as a Secret Martial Art disciple a while back. The difference between them is very clear."
"In addition." Jaden added, "That Garen's defense isn't bad. He's definitely going to be beaten up for a long time." After finishing, he could not help but laughed as well. "He's going to suffer this time."
Within the ring.
Garen moved his head from side to side while calmly analyzing his opponent. His opponent's size was indeed giving him a lot of pressure. This type of body size was already similar to his second senior brother, Farak, and the power is definitely very scary.
When Jaden and that girl entered the room, he saw them from the corner of his eye. It was obvious that they were there to watch the show.
"To meet me in the first match, you're unlucky." The muscular man grinned, revealing a set of pearly white teeth. "My name's Benjamin, the third holy fist disciple from Holy Fist Gate. You should feel honored for losing to my fist."
Garen was dumbfounded. His opponent was so egoistic that he was proclaiming his victory before they even fought.
"I am Garen, disciple of the seventeenth ranked White Cloud Gate. Can we start?" He looked toward the referee.
The female referee nodded and shook the silver bell in her hands.
"You may begin." She quickly got off the stage, so that she would not be accidentally injured.
Garen narrowed his eyes and analyzed this Benjamin.
This was the first time he fought with a disciple from the true Secret Martial Arts World. He had Mammoth Secret Technique but his opponent had their own Secret Martial Art as well. Obtaining victory depended on the difference between their experience and strength.
"I'll test his strength first."
With his mind set, Garen slowly took a standard White Cloud Combat Arts stance.
"Your stance isn't bad, but let's see how your strength is. Rank seventeenth, don't disappoint me." Benjamin laughed and walked toward Garen with a boxing stance.
His right fist extended and instantly disappeared into the distance. It turned into a black line as it smashed toward Garen's chin.
It was a simple uppercut but the speed was fast and the strength was strong. Before it even reached, Garen felt a slight blast of wind pressing on the skin of his chin.
"What a powerful strength." Garen quickly reacted and his stance immediately changed. His right elbow swung forward and accurately arrived in front of the fist.
As their fist and elbow collided, both of them took a step back.
Garen narrowed his eyes as he looked at his opponent.
"He's very strong; his strength should be close to 2. If this was his normal strength, in addition with the force of impact and speed, he should be able to hit as hard as me. He's indeed strong. However, I am stronger!"
His current Strength attribute was at 2.45. Even though his body size did not stand out, the muscle density of his body was extremely high. He might not be eye-catching, but his actual explosive force was far stronger than most people.
"Kill him, Benjamin! Kill him!" the girl beside Jaden suddenly loudly shouted. Raising up her fist like a little girl, she continously waved. "That fellow from White Cloud Gate said you're a big piece of shit! He even said that he can beat you using only one hand!"
"What a dumb way to goad someone, even an idiot wouldn't fall for it." Garen was speechless. He looked toward his opponent.
He was even more speechless when he looked toward his opponent.
Benjamin's forehead was bursting with blue veins and his eyes were bright red. It was evident that he was really angry.
"You brat... " He heavily panted. "Tyrant Star!!"
He suddenly roared. Both of his fists started to darken, turning from a normal suntanned color to a pitch black ink color.
"I am going to smash you to death!!" Benjamin charged toward Garen like a mad rhinoceros while panting heavily. The stage was trembling under his heavy footsteps, generating a series of disintegrating sounds.
A straight punch!
Benjamin's fist was like a blackened piece of metal as it rushed toward Garen's chest. It was like a heavy, gigantic hammer was fiercely swung at Garen.
"Shoot! Charge! Step!"
Garen suddenly shouted. He lifted his elbow and knocked aside the punch, then his body moved forward and charged into his opponent's chest.
Benjamin's face went pale as his body flew backwards from the impact.
Garen chuckled as his right leg rose up and stamped forward.
Benjamin was knocked down from the air and heavily landed on the ring, causing it to shake violently. He lay there with froth coming out from his mouth and had already fainted.
With three simultaneous moves, Garen was able to knock down Benjamin—who had already been sent flying—into the mat of the ring.
With his White Cloud Combat Art having reached intermediate level, he was already considered a seasoned veteran. Dealing with someone who had not gone through brutal combat was simply too easy for him.
The intermediate level of White Cloud Combat Art allowed Garen to swiftly switch between his Four Big Forms. He was also adept at baiting his opponents with deliberate flaws in his stance and exploiting that moment to strike. On the other hand, Benjamin's combat level was still at the beginner level. The difference between them was too large. The fight was already over before Garen even used half of his strength. His opponent's Secret Martial Art did not have any effects at all.
The entire hall was silent. The referee, who was standing at the side of the ring, did not expect the fight to end so quickly as well. She was stunned for a moment before she quickly went into the ring and shook her bell.
"Winner! Garen from White Cloud Gate! The next match will take place at ring no.17!"
That was when the spectators finally reacted. With the referee's announcement, a huge uproar occurred. A few members of the Holy Fist Gate quickly went into the ring to check on Benjamin. They breathed a sigh of relief when they discovered that he had only fainted.
Jaden and that girl were dumbstruck as well.
"What a high combat level!"Jaden muttered, "Out of all of the disciples that I've seen, his combat level is enough to rank within the top ten!"
That girl who previously goaded Benjamin was dejected at the moment. Even with her level, she could tell that she was not his match.
Garen got out of the ring and headed toward the entrance while tidying his clothes. Seeing that Garen was heading toward their position, the two of them quickly got out of the way.
As Garen was walking past the two of them, he glanced toward the girl. He slowly reached out his hand and stopped in front of her neck, then suddenly clenched his fist.
"Kacha." He mimicked the sound of bone breaking with his mouth.
The girl shivered and her face went pale. She was like a pitiful little lamb.
"Little fellow, you're still too inexperienced." Garen laughed as he left. He followed the attendant standing outside to ring no.17.
Her senior brother, Jaden was also held down just now by the aura that Garen deliberately emitted. He felt that he would be instantly crushed if he tried to move. He could only watch as his junior sister was being bullied and did not dare to move.
He was only able to relax when Garen left.
"Junior sister… Are you alright?" He could tell that Garen did not have any ill intentions against his junior sister. That was just a small punishment for her previous actions.
The girl started to wail out loud as tears flowed out of her eyes.