Inside the arena was a sea of happy people.
The cheering and the applauses weaved together to form a clamorous ocean.
At this very moment, the tables have turned for the collateral siblings as they just became heroes thanks to Ling Xian. They were clapping; they were boiling.
Ling Xian stood on stage. It was as if his body was emitting endless divinity; he was shining bright like the rainbow, blinding and dazzling.
"Alright, this year's combat competition ends now. I first want to congratulate all those who achieved good rankings this year. I hope you will continue your hard work and move forward courageously! Second, for those who were not ranked today, do not be disheartened. There are plenty of other opportunities. You might not have done well this year, but there is always next year. Do not give up easily!"
A faint smile bloomed across Ling Tian Qing's face. He gestured, and ten poorly dressed servants walked onto the stage with trays in their hands. Each tray was covered with a red cloth, appearing very mysterious.
"Now, the top ten Ling Siblings come up to accept your rewards."
When he finished talking, the other nine placeholders in the combat competition walked up onto the stage. Each one of them had a joyous and excited expression on their faces. Due to the rewards being very handsome this year, those who rose above the competition were extremely happy. They deliberately checked out Link Xian in admiration and respect.
After the Energy-Freezing Dans had been rewarded to the fourth to 10th place winners, it was time for the top three.
"Ling Fei, you placed third. Here is one token to the Hidden Territory and 2000 spiritual stones." Ling Tian Qing then glanced at the crowd before his gaze landed on a young woman dressed in a light blue dress.
"Thank you, uncle."
Ling Fei had a delicate face and a slim figure. She slowly walked before Ling Tian Qing and accepted the storage pouch. She then looked at Ling Xian and sweetly suggested, "Hey Ling Xian. When I have time, I will find you, and we can hang out."
Ling Xian frowned. Ling Tian Xian alone was enough to give him a headache. He did not want to involve himself in any more rumors. He rejected sternly, "Sorry, I have been training alone these days. I have no time."
Ling Fei's pupils dilated in disbelief. She was the daughter of the second elderly and the second beauty of the Ling Clan. So many men have paced around her and did everything they could to please her. Many men would laugh for days if she simply talked to them. What was happening? She was rejected?
The other collateral siblings were also in shock. Their tears dampened the floor as the crowd whispered in confusion. People sure react differently. If this Goddess talked to them in this manner, they would've jumped three meters high and turned bright red from excitement. How could they have the heart to say anything, nevermind reject her like Ling Xian did?
Looking at the extraordinary man before them, whose expression was unchanging and heart unmoving, they couldn't believe that he blatantly rejected her without any room for discussion. This was a form of confidence and a way of showing how he simply did not care.
Envious, jealous, and hateful.
The entire collateral siblings of the Ling Clan looked into the sky without a word.
"He has zero understanding of the situation and spoiled the enthusiasm." Ling Tian Qing silently judged Ling Xian. He then quickly smoothed things over. "Fei, don't make a big deal out of it. Ling Xian meant he will find you when he takes times off from training. Be patient and wait for him."
Ling Xian thought silently how that was not at all what he meant. However, he did not argue. Rejecting her once was enough. If he rejected her again, others would say he was pretending to be lofty, and he would be hated.
Ling Fei bit her red lips and looked at Ling Xian hatefully before turning and walking off the stage.
On the stage, second elder Ling Tian Jiao was deep in thought and said to himself, "Talented boy, beautiful girl, a match made in heaven. If Fei can marry a rare genius like Ling Xian, I bet her life will be very delightful. If this marriage works out, I can make sure he stays loyal to the clan, and have others be envious of me for having such a successful son-in-law. I can kill three birds with one stone."
"You old fox sure are indulging yourself in wishful thinking. Sadly, by his attitude towards your daughter, no way your dreams will happen."
"Who said that?"
Ling Tian Jiao became furious. As the second elder of the Ling Clan, he had the most intelligence in the clan, and he was also very sensitive and very cunning. Who just insulted him and called him an old fox?
He turned around and saw a pair of clear and cold eyes. He couldn't help it but chuckle. "Oh, it's our little sister. Even though I am nicknamed old fox, but save me some face before the third elder."
"Calling you an old fox is not at all crossing the line. You are using your daughter for your wishful thinking," Ling Tian Xiang scoffed.
Ling Tian Jiao knew that Ling Tian Xiang was blaming him for wanting to marry his daughter off to Ling Xian. However, he was too scared to say that out loud. His expression turned worrisome, but he simply laughed it off.
Ling Tian Xiang did not notice the worried look. Gazing at Ling Xian, who was shining brightly, she remembered his cold attitude towards Ling Fei, and she beamed in response. She suddenly felt better. The sadness she felt when Ling Xian rejected her disappeared as well.
"Next, the second placeholder. The reward is one token to the Hidden Territory, and the training mantra for the first three stages of the Tidal Sword Technique."
Ling Tian Qing saw Ling Zhan for the first time today. He hasn't seen him for a few days, and he gained another few pounds of muscle. Ling Tian Qing said helplessly, "You bastard. I have talked to you many times about not focusing on pure physical training. You can play around with it, but shouldn't neglect the other forms of training. Everyone attacks with techniques these days, you cannot even approach them or engage in close combat if you don't improve the other aspects of training. Sooner or later you will suffer because of it."
"Hehe, leader, I am a simple guy. I just think the feeling of my fist against physical bodies is very satisfying. It suits me," Ling Zhan scratched his head.
"Alright, I won't say anymore. You have your grandpa who lectures you. Here is your reward," Ling Tian Qing shook his head. He felt a bit regretful toward Ling Zhan.
Between the direct descendants, the most talented one was not Ling Chen. Rather, it was the tall and sturdy muscle man standing before him, Ling Zhan. At 18 years of age, he could already match his physical training with his spiritual training and at the same time advance his qi-training to level six. It really hasn't been easy.
As everyone knew, physical training was very formidable. When one could train their body strong enough for others to become tongue-tied, then the individual would not need to fear soldiers or techniques. When engaged in close combat, there was no need for any tactics because the physical body alone would be enough. In the history of Qing, out of the famous strong men, seven out of the 10 of them exclusively trained their physiques.
If this was 20,000 years ago, physical training was highly respectable and effective. Sadly, these days, a strange change occurred that nobody could understand. The community has lost the way to create treasures required to accompany those with physical training. Without these resources, nobody could reach the peak of physical training, which led to a decline in this type of cultivation. Nowadays, in the entire Taoism community, there were not a lot of strong physique-focused cultivators.
Therefore, Ling Tian Qing wanted to talk Ling Zhan out of going down a dead-end path. Rather, he should take advantage of his spiritual talent and make something out of it. However, Ling Zhan was stubborn, and there was no way of getting through to him.
"Thank you, leader," Ling Zhan smiled as he accepted the rewards for second place. He then looked at Ling Xian as competitiveness flashed across his eyes. He asked, "if there is a chance, let's fight. What do you think?"
"Ok." Ling Xian did not say much else, only that one word.
Ling Zhan's lips curved up, and he stuck up his thumb. "You're alright! It's settled then. I'll wait for you inside the Hidden Territory. Even though you look thin and weak, you are very manly. I like that!"
Ling Xian nodded. He was very interested in physical training and saw Ling Zhan highly. He was straight-forward, blunt, and easy to get along with. He was not arrogant either. Ling Xian did not mind being acquaintances with him.
"Next, it's reward for first place. Here is a token to the Hidden Territory, three sixth-ranked Energy-Freezing Dans, and three sixth-ranked Strengthening Dans!" Ling Tian Qing smiled kindly and said meaningfully, "Ling Xian, I hope you can train well and reach new heights. The future of the Ling Clan will fall on your shoulder one day."
Before a thousand pairs of eyes, Ling Xian stepped forward and accepted the reward for being first place. He casually put them in his pouch. His expression was calm, and there was no hint of excitement.
All the Ling Siblings were staring at the six Dans passionately. They were sixth-ranked medicinal Dans. Most of the people here have never tasted them, and of course, they wanted them bad. What they didn't know was that Ling Xian did not care about them at all. If he puts in a little effort, he could brew eighth-ranked Dans. Why would his heart shake for sixth-ranked ones?
"Ling Hu didn't come to compete. Now that I have an extra token to the Hidden Territory, I can gift it to him," Ling Xian thought silently. He bowed to Ling Tian Qing and said, "Leader, I have some errands to run. I will leave first."
Ling Tian Qing nodded and genuinely said, "If you ever run into any difficulties, you can always reach out to me for help. You are the hope of Ling Clan. Remember, do not put yourself in difficult situations."
Ling Xian nodded and fled off the stage. He walked toward Ling Hu's house.
He was very worried about Ling Hu. Therefore, he hurriedly walked away.
At that, the combat competition concluded.
People began to disperse until Ling Tian Jiao, and the other elders were the only ones left. He asked, "big brother, the way you dealt with today's situation was admirable. Though Ling Chen will have to suffer, you avoided tension between the collateral and the direct siblings. That is the most important issue. Before the war, we cannot have internal conflicts."
"There is nothing pitiful about what happened to that bastard. He deserves his punishment. The master himself sent out the order," Ling Tian Qing sneered. When Ling Chen was mentioned, he was more than disappointed and hurt, he was enraged.
With a corrupted moral, one cannot achieve greatness.
"Alright big brother, calm your anger. Maybe after locking him up for three years, he will mature," Ling Tian Xiang consoled.
"Maybe." Ling Tian Qing gently sighed. He then said something that made the others freeze in astonishment.
"Ling Xian is overwhelmingly talented, calm and composed, and has great integrity. I wish for him to be the next clan leader. What are your thoughts?"
Ling Tian Ao was the first to oppose. "Big brother, we cannot do this. I admit that Ling Xian is a seed of hope for our clan, but he is a collateral sibling. This is against principles."
"What did I just say to our people? The Ling Clan is an entirety, and we should not be separated into collateral and direct siblings. Why do you still have discriminative thoughts? Also, I did my research on him. He does have the Ling blood flowing through his veins, meaning that he is not necessarily a collateral sibling." Ling Tian Qing stared Ling Tian Jiao down.
"Even if that's true, I still oppose this proposal," Ling Tian Ao said coolly.
"Big brother, this issue requires some serious thought. I am not on board with this either. Why don't we discuss this at a later time." Ling Tian Jiao also stepped out and tried to stop Ling Tian Qing.
As for Ling Tian Xing, even though she only wants the best for Ling Xian, this issue on hand was too important and too political. She also did not completely agree.
"You... if that's the case, then we can talk about it at a later date." Ling Tian Qing took a long sigh and asked, "where is Guard Ying Wei?"
A ghost like shadow suddenly appeared. Dressed in a tight black bodysuit that covered his face, he kneeled before Ling Tian Qing. "Ying Wei is here. What are your orders?"
"Allocate someone who is well-trained and smart to protect Ling Xian. Remember, do not let him notice this person. Also, do not invade his privacy. If anything goes wrong, I will hold you responsible," Ling Tian Qing said in a dark tone.
The shadow then disappeared without warning, just like how he had appeared.