"Such talent is worthy of being called Heaven's Favorite!"
The mysterious man observed Ling Xian with delight. The more he watched him, the more he liked him.
Heaven's Favorite was a name given to a promising young cultivator whose perceived potential far outweighed that of a 'genius' or 'protégé'. This was the highest honor of recognition one could possibly receive.
This was a name reserved for the most prominent young cultivator of his, the previous, and foreseeable future generations.
Throughout the entire history of the Taoism Community, anyone who had been bestowed with such a title, unless tragedy takes that person before his time, is certain to climb to the top and become the ruler of the universe and guardian of humanity.
The elderly man had seen it all in his lifetime. For him to bestow this title on Ling Xian was a true testament to Ling Xian's strength and potential. Clearly, inside the House of Wan Jian, no one came close to being worthy of this title.
He was also pleased with his decision to stay behind and watch the events unfold. Had he been less curious, he would have missed him. What a loss that would be to his Clan?
As the minutes passed, he grew increasingly convinced that he needed to take this man with him.
One Ling Xian was more valuable than a hundred average youth protégés.
As he was formulating a tactic on how to convince Ling Xian to go with him, the battle in the sky resumed.
Fang Ming Yuan was now set on killing his opponent. Ling Xian could not be allowed to live.
His powerful spear lit up and unleashed a magnificent dragon out of its tip, headed directly for the kill.
Ling Xian did not stir. Raising his sword with his right hand, the Sword of Extinction expanded rapidly until it reached a hundred feet in length. The weapon radiated a terrifying shade of dark red, the shade of blood.
The giant sword tilted and aimed it tip at Fang Ming Yuan then, after a moment of pause, came speeding down towards its target.
The dragon rose to meet the sword head on. But as they collide, the sword split open the dragon's head and the glittering beast vanished.
An earsplitting crack sound broke through the air. The dragon spear had cracked at its handle. Clearly, the Sword of Extinction had penetrated the source of the spear's power.
The spear was an incredible weapon. It had managed to stay intact after dozens of rounds against the much more powerful sword.
Ling Xian did not manage to defeat the spear and completely render it useless because he was, at the end of the day, a cultivator of the meditational level.
"Goddamn kid, I will kill you!"
The loss of his precious weapon dealt Fang Ming Yuan a huge blow. It had taken him a decade to tame it. To him, the spear was as valuable to him as life itself. Looking down at his broken spear, he felt as though Ling Xian had penetrated his own flesh.
Unfortunately for him, he was now consumed by the thought of vengeance that he could no longer think clearly or strategically.
Ling Xian's practice was lacking compared to Fang Ming Yuan. However, his weapons were infinitely more superior. This more than made up for the gap between them.
To put everything in perspective, the foundational level can be thought of as a giant rock, the Undefeatable Realm of the meditational level a metal pole, and weapons a hammer. If you try and smash the rock with a metal pole, you could never succeed. But if you aimed at the rock with the pole and hammered it down into the rock, then the rock will crack.
Fang Ming Yuan had been too confident and too focused on the fundamental difference between the two levels. He had therefore overlooked this important factor.
Or perhaps he did realize that this was the case but simply didn't care. Since the very start, he had never doubted his ability to kill Ling Xian.
"If your skills end here, then today I shall send you on your way." Ling Xian's expression was as cold as ice. In a blink of an eye, Ling Xian reappeared inches away above his head, raised his right foot and stomped with the intention to kill. An enormous wave of energy descended on the spot where Fang Ming Yuan stood.
Faced with certain death, Fang Ming Yuan reacted instinctively. Pressing down on his thumbs he expelled a curious red smoke from his body. The smoke turned transparent and surrounded his body in the form of a protective cocoon.
A deafening noise erupted the moment the foot met the cocoon. The cocoon did not shatter. But it cracked under the enormous pressure. Millions of tiny fissures ran down on all sides. Clearly, this last layer of defense was giving out.
Fang Ming Yuan had miscalculated. Ling Xian was indeed only a cultivator of the meditational level, but Ling Xian had fought enemies much stronger than him.
For his miscalculation, Fang Ming Yuan would pay dearly.
The protective shell continued to crack until it could no longer withstand the pressure. The giant foot fell square onto Fang Ming Yuan's chest as the shell finally shattered into a million pieces.
The force of this tremendous blow threw Fang Ming Yuan backwards. He regained his footing only after support came from his fellow fighters.
"I'm actually injured. A nobody in his meditational period made me spit blood." Fang Ming Yuan was too stunned to feel anything. He felt blood dying to rush out from his mouth. He redistributed his energy and swallowed it back down his throat.
Another loud gasp traveled from one side of the large crowd to the other.
"Are you seeing this? Fang Ming Yuan is coughing up blood! Ling Xian is unbelievable!"
"Yes! Meditational defeats Foundational, Ling Xian was on top from beginning to end!"
"What a future this man will have. There will be none like him for centuries!"
For the residents of the City of Qing, foundational cultivators ranked way above those still in their meditational period, whom could only be considered as mortals. But now, a mortal had defeated an immortal. This was scandalous.
The fighters of the Fang Clan and the Qi Clan who witnessed the previous scene stood in terror. The Lings, on the other hand, celebrated in jubilation. They now firmly believed that Ling Xian was going to save their Clan from destruction.
"Fang Ming Yuan, now you pay for the crimes you have committed here." Ling Xian flapped his wings and threw out a punch.
Fang Ming Yuan was not keen on giving up so easily. He was increasingly frustrated by the fact that a mere mortal managed to wound him so badly. This was a monumental embarrassment.
He screamed as he picked up his broken spear and raised it to meet the punch. But before he completed the motion, a figure appeared to stop him.
It was the former Leader of the Qi Clan.
He had just witnessed Fang Ming Yuan's defeat. While he felt his anger, he was more worried about their plan. If Fang Ming Yuan had been killed, their plan would go to waste.
He had no choice but to take a leap forward and join Fang Ming Yuan in finishing Ling Xian.
The rotten smell of death suddenly filled the air as Clan Leader Qi pulled out a stamp. Instantly, a thick, dark, toxic cloud of smoke expanded in the sky.
"Get out of here!"
Ling Xian barked at him as he withdrew his fist mid-punch. Instead, he flapped his wings furiously. As the feathers fell they transformed into a giant fan which quickly dissipated the toxic cloud.
The Clan Leader Qi frowned in displeasure. He wanted to perform another maneuver, but Ling Xian beat him to it by launching the Wave of Flying Swords, forcing him away from the battle.
"Now, it's just you and me." Ling Xian took a step closer towards Fang Ming Yuan and said, "Let's finish this your way."
"It's time. Letting a nobody like you live until now will be my greatest shame." All colors drained from Fang Ming Yuan's face. Streams of air poured off his body. The air felt and smelled of evil.
"Great energy, let's do this then. The loser loses body and soul." Ling Xian curled his lips and revealed a victorious smile.
"Then, I invite you to die. But don't fright, I will make sure many more join you not far behind. You won't be lonely on your path to hell." Fang Ming Yuan returned a smile as he summoned every ounce of power left in his body. The broken spear above him expanded into a giant weapon.
Their roles were now reversed. The giant spear, with its tip aimed directly at Ling Xian's head, crashed down at full speed.
Ling Xian saw it coming. Flashes of multicolored lights shot out of his eyes of black and white. However, he did not plan on using the Eyes of Execution this time. If he wanted to finish off Fang Ming Yuan once and for all, the Heaven Shadowing Palm Technique was a better choice.
The sky above them darkened instantly, millions of stars rose up into darkness and lit it up. A gargantuan hand came into view. It descended slowly at first, covering seemingly thousands of miles of earth.
"What is this?"
Fang Ming Yuan watched the terrifying palm close in. This was an unsettling omen.
He was not the only one stunned by this development. The entire City of Qing was left speechless by what they were witnessing.
"This is the Heaven Shadowing Palm Technique! One of the most powerful of the six types of Taoism."
"What? Isn't this only breakable by someone of the supreme level?"
"Yes, according to legend. But the legend also states if a cultivator is of incredible natural born talent, he can break it sooner."
"Then Ling Xian is truly destined for greatness. He's only in the meditational period! My God, I can't fathom how far he will go!"
"Go to hell!" Ling Xian hollered. The palm extended across the black sky and came smashing down onto its meek target. Mountains and the Earth itself could be flattened with one strike, let alone a mere cultivator.
An earth-shattering noise erupted again as weapons met. After a moment of stalemate, the giant hand advanced forward, shattering the hapless spear into a million pieces and landed dead on the chest of Fang Ming Yuan.
Fang Ming Yuan spat a huge gulp of blood this time. As a kite snipped away from its string, his body smashed into the Earth.
But Ling Xian understood the importance of leaving no chances. Supported by his wings, Ling Xian reappeared in front of Fang Ming Yuan and threw another deadly punch.
A loud cracking sound signaled the breaking of multiple ribs. Aside from the fear of dying, Fang Ming Yuan also felt a hint of regret.
"What you just said to me, I return to you word for word." Ling Xian was unmoved and oblivious to the inner struggles of his victim in these last moments. He threw another punch which punctured a hole in Fang Ming Yuan's chest.
"Go to hell! I will make sure many more join you not far behind. You won't be lonely on your path to hell."
Fang Ming Yuan survived long enough to hear these final words.
The immortal was dead.
Killed by a mere mortal.
The City of Qing fell into a chilling silence. Every face showed an expression of either shock or mourning.
They were witnesses to the implausible defeat of a foundational cultivator at the hands of a youth. This feat had inspired the hearts and wills of every cultivator, especially cultivators of the younger generation. Regardless of one's experience or station, everyone fell into an absolute state of pure shock.
Ling Xian was only a youth of 15. His incredible achievement had just outshone everyone there was, inside the City of Qing or out.
Including that of the mysterious man who observed in silence. Although this achievement was not unprecedented, throughout history, there had been few and far between.
"He is indeed a Heaven's Favorite. With some guidance, he will undoubtedly become a keeper of the earth and guardian of humanity."