The second round of competition finished perfectly. There were no dark horses and no miracles. All sixteen seeded warriors advanced to the top thirty-two.
And although the rest of the battles were brilliant and varied, there were no surprises. Basically, those with strong power had made the cut. And the lesser people had been defeated.
Among the top thirty-two, the lines of Tan Zhongchi had received a great harvest. Seven disciples had made it!
Last year, only six disciples from the Green Cloud Palace had made it. And this year, there were seven!
Of course, Qin Wushuang’s appearance had been the decider.
For your information, even the line of the Head Palace Master had only nine qualifying candidates. The remaining sixteen spots was split among the other three Palaces.
The Core disciples from the Elders and the Shakyamuni had been completely and unequivocally defeated.
After this round of competition, the situation had become heated. Next, it was another resting day.
This day of rest had given many disciples a chance to relax. The battles from the second round had drained many disciples of a lot of energy.
Within the main Palace, Zhuo Buqun gathered all nine disciples who had advanced.
"My disciples, good performance, keep it up." Zhuo Buqun encouraged with a smile, "For our result, I am not too worried. With your Senior Brother, the result would not be bad."
Wei Yi smiled and said humbly: "Teacher, it’s all thanks to your teaching. Or else, with just me alone, I could not carry the lifeline of our palace."
"Yes, use everything you’ve got. This ranking competition happens every year. Don’t hold personal grudge over gains or losses. If you have met some opponent that is beyond your abilities, don’t fight with your life. We need to prevent damaging our internal harmony. Yi’Er, I am sure that the other Palace Masters are giving their disciples similar talks. They will admit defeat without a fight when they meet you."
When Zhuo Buqun said here, he smiled: "Of course, today, I gathered you all since I wanted to tell you that if you have the power to aim for the top ten, go for it. If not, then you must read the situation. Or else, I don’t want it to influence your next year’s training if you get serious injuries. In our Stargaze Palace, we encourage the blooming of many flowers. I know that this time, you are somewhat worried about the rise from the line of the Second Palace Master. But…"
He glanced around with a pair of stern eyes and said slowly: "Just as I had told Yi’Er before—A single blooming flower does not represent the spring. In order for our line to become the leaders of the Stargaze Palace, we must rely on true strength and honest methods. We need justified and moral actions to lead the future Stargaze Palace. In the past, I turned a blind eye to your outside tricks. In the future, you must restrain yourselves."
Apparently, Wei Yi had spoken with those disciples earlier. They knew that their teacher knew about what they had done at the Nature Manifestation Valley and the Virtuous Cloud Main Summit. Hearing the words from their teacher, they were all extremely ashamed.
"Initially, I should not be coming to find you to talk about this. At least, I should have gathered you all after the ranking competition. However, I changed my mind midway. Do you know why I had changed my mind?"
Wei Yi shook his head helplessly after being stared by his teacher. He said: "I could not."
Zhou Buqun sighed: "Nothing else. Only, I heard two great saying from that Qin Wushuang when I watched the battle on top of the martial arts stage. He said—No strong or weak sword techniques, but a difference in stages. He said—For either true men or men of lower social status, sword techniques do not define them, but their breadth of mind."
"Yi’Er, I’ve already talked to you about the principle of the stages last time. The heights would determine your insights. And your insights would determine your breadth of mind. And your breadth of mind would decide your stage."
"On today’s martial arts stage, that Qin Wushuang has already demonstrated his heights on the stage. It is a completely different Qin Wushuang who had rampaged at the Subordinate countries. I can see that this person has been cultivating his temperament towards the perfect stage. Today, he was competing on sword techniques with that Xia Feihong. He could have hurt him, but he controlled the sword Qi smartly in the last moment. He utterly convinced the heart of Xia Feihong. This is the stage. To win with the sword, and to use the morality to persuade people."
"What breadth of mind, this is it! When Xia Feihong swore at him for not being a true swordsman, he had used such method of responding with kindness against hate to defeat Xia Feihong. For that point, that Xia Feihong would surely become Qin Wushuang’s loyal friend. This is the stage!"
As Zhuo Buqun talked frankly with assurance, all Wei Yi and the other disciples listened with a solemn face and could not help but sweat.
Especially Wei Yi since he had remembered the battle with Xia Feihong from last year. Although he had beat him off the stage, Xia Feihong had been persuaded by his power.
However, deep in his heart, Xia Feihong would most likely not worship him. During that battle, Wei Yi did not show any actions to persuade people with his morality. Thus, Xia Feihong would not feel grateful to him.
"Ok, go back think hard on these words. Tomorrow is the resting day, take your time." Zhuo Buqun laughed and waved his hand to motion everyone to disperse.
Just as these disciples were walking away, Wei Yi suddenly asked: "Teacher, with your prediction, to what extent would this Qin Wushuang arrive at in the end?"
"With my prediction, if he does not meet with you at the earlier stage, he would surely become one of the top ten." Zhou Buqun glanced at Wei Yi meaningfully, "Yi’Er, the ranking is after all, an imaginary thing. If you cannot even let go of the ranking, then in the future, I don’t think you will fight on par with Qin Wushuang."
Wei Yi was speechless. The year he had advanced to become a Core, he had ranked eleventh. Thus, he wanted to know very much what placement this Qin Wushuang would achieve in his first year as a Core.
In the end, he could not let go those thoughts of competition. Hearing his teacher sighing, he could not help but be shocked inwardly and felt embarrassed. In his memory, his teacher had never spoken to him with such a tone. Could it be, that his teacher was truly disappointed by his performance?
He didn’t know that Zhou Buqun was criticizing him because his love.
After all, in this Stargaze Palace, Wei Yi was the only with the natural Spiritual Roots. Even Zhuo Buqun did not have such talent. With a disciple with such talent, of course, he wanted Wei Yi to achieve a grand destiny and surpass him. He wanted him to lead the Stargaze Palace, and the Great Luo Empire into a prosperous future.
If it was possible, Zhuo Buqun would rather Wei Yi to suffer a defeat during the Core ranking competition.
Perhaps, with one defeat, Wei Yi could understand the so-called stage.
Since he had always stood on top of all the younger generation, any form of verbal teaching was, in the end, empty and unconvincing. It would also not carve these experiences deep into his heart.
Only, Zhuo Buqun would not wait for this defeat. Apparently, this year was not possible.
"Perhaps, maybe after three or five years, when that Qin Wushuang grows up we can let Yi’Er experience the feeling of defeat. Haha, if the other Palace Masters knew I had such thoughts, they would for sure feel that I am not considerate of them. How could one wish for their disciple to experience defeat? Stage…"
Zhuo Buqun smiled helplessly. There were many elite warriors at the entire Stargaze Palace. Each of the five Palace Masters were rare warriors at the Advanced stage of the Spiritual Martial Force. Although their strength was not much less than him, for many occasions, Zhuo Buqun still felt isolated due to his position and found it hard to find someone to talk to.
He knew that it was not their fault. The other four Palace Masters were not in his position. It would be tough to see many problems in this position.
When the resting day had passed, the third round of competition started.
This time, only thirty-two Core disciples were left. After today, another sixteen would be disqualified.
"For this round, seeded warriors will not enjoy anymore special benefits. All participants will be equal! When we draw the names, the two of you will become opponents. In other words, we will use the evasive method in between the seeded warriors. For this round, for sure, you will encounter a seeded warrior!"
The Head Palace Master smiled and waved his arm: "Are you all prepared?"
"Yes!" Everyone answered in unison.
"Ok, since we have reached this point, we should stop talking about extra things. Your draws are all inside. As before, the five Palace Masters will take turn to do the draw. Each two numbers drawn will be opponents."
The Head Palace Master waved his hand to let Tian Zhixing, the Fifth Palace Master, move forward.
Soon, the order was set.
For this round, Qin Wushuang did not meet seeded warriors again.
His opponent was the disciple that ranked twenty-six last year. Qin Wushuang glanced over and could not help but feel inwardly shocked.
"How is it such a coincidence?" Qin Wushuang smiled bitterly.
For this person, after examining his body and weapon, Qin Wushuang knew that this opponent was the one he had fought in the last round at the gambling competition.
If he remembered correctly, that person should belong to the line of the Head Palace Master.
Apparently, that person also recognized Qin Wushuang. The Violet Sun Sword and that soft snake-shaped whip had left a deep impression on him.
Last time, he had nothing to say after he had been defeated. One could almost say that Qin Wushuang had swept through him. Regardless of how he tried to predict the possibilities, in the end, he could not shake Qin Wushuang’s defense. Even more, he could not evade his ghost-like Middle Sword technique!
And this opponent who left him unable to counterattack was Qin Wushuang. It was someone that his teacher had praised and compared him to a superior figure like Wei Yi.
His teacher’s reminders lingered in his ears. Inwardly, this Twenty-Six gave a sigh and started to calculate. In the end, with sadness, he found that regardless of which methods he used, he could not shake Qin Wushuang’s absolute advantage.
"If you cannot make to the top ten, you must learn to judge the situation. If you get serious injuries during the competition, it will affect your training for the next year…"
His teacher’s words seemed to still linger inside his ears.
Twenty-six shook his head helplessly and walked beside the judge. He sighed with sorrow: "Mr. Butler, for this fight, I admit defeat."
"Admit defeat?" That Butler judge was stunned.