Those that survived the culling of the first day immediately became hot commodities in many people's eyes. After all, they had already displayed their strengths and abilities.
Some teams would secretly send someone over to contact these people, and once a consensus was reached, these teams would immediately kick out the weaker members of their team. There were also teams that would go the other way round and kick their weaker members out first, much like the group that was trying to recruit Hong Jian's party of three earlier on.
Those with low cultivations were already in a state of restlessness to begin with, and the sudden revelation of being kicked out of the team was like a bolt from the blue on top of that. And no matter how hard they pleaded, it was to no avail.
Reality had always been, and would always be, so cruel and merciless. Some people would decisively cast aside those weaker than them in order to survive.
The brutality of the first day that saw only a fifth of the participants surviving had opened many people's eyes to the truth. They immediately cast aside all notions of pity and compassion, and many of the originally completed teams were suddenly breaking apart. The weak continued to be cast aside, while the strong continued searching for other equally powerful people to pair up with.
In just one night, most of the participants had reformed new groups, with the stronger teams growing even stronger, and the weaker teams becoming even more powerless. One's cultivation was the sole determinant of whichever circle one could join.
In the end, a large number of new teams were formed. From Blue Lotus Ninth Grade all the way to Blue Lotus First Grade, all these new parties were distinctly segregated based on their members' grade of cultivation, and the rift between different grades became highly apparent.
While the strong were drinking and celebrating with their newfound members, the weak were pitifully huddling up together and encouraging one another to believe that they would be able to survive until the end.
Gu Sanzheng and the others were walking out of yet another cave. Naturally, they too hoped to recruit powerful candidates to increase their chances of survival. However, this was already their fourth rejection so far.
"Senior Brother! Senior Brother! On account of us being fellow disciples, you can't just abandon us like this! We are brothers of the same sect!"
"It's not that we want to abandon you. But if this keeps up, none of us will be able to leave. We have to think for the benefit of the sect as well. Stop pulling on me already. Let go!"
"Senior Brother, didn't you say you liked me before? The truth is, I've always liked you too!" a woman cried out in a terrified voice.
"Junior Sister, don't you think it's a little too late to be saying things like this? What happened to your principles?"
Gu Sanzheng and the others had just stepped out of the cave when they bumped into another group of people approaching through the darkness. These people were closely followed by several others, who at the moment, were pulling on their clothes and pleading for them to stop. They were practically on the verge of tears.
However, the people in front simply swept their hands and ruthlessly brushed them aside. As they passed Gu Sanzheng's group, both parties sized up one another. The former then quickly revealed a smile and walked into the cave that Gu Sanzheng and the others had just stepped out of. "Brother Li, sorry for the wait. I've brought my Senior and Junior Brothers here to meet you all."
The sounds of joy and laughter could be heard inside, whereas a group of people stood outside, their faces either covered in shock or resentment. There was even a relatively beautiful woman standing amongst them.
Gu Sanzheng and the others exchanged glances. From the looks of their attire, these people should belong to the same sect. However, it seemed as though even fellow disciples were not spared from the cold fate of being thrown aside now.
"Let's go!" Gu Sanzheng said with a wave of his hand, and the seven of them continued on their way under the night sky.
Pi Junzi was growing more terrified as time passed. Regardless of who they looked for, the first thing the other party would always say was to have him kicked out of the team. With his cultivation and strength, there was absolutely no hope for survival unless he had an expert protecting him.
When he saw how the other group had even abandoned their fellow disciples, he became even more horror-struck, and he couldn't help asking, "Brother Gu, you guys won't abandon me, right?"
Tao Yongchun's eyes glinted. He was worried about the same thing as well. Truth be told, with Gu Sanzheng, Ye Xin, Tan Lao, Zhao Fei, and Sikong Wuwei's Blue Lotus Ninth Grade cultivations, they could find a much better team at any time. However, not a single one of them had even mentioned abandoning him and Pi Junzi.
Gu Sanzheng walked over and placed his hand on Pi Junzi's shoulder. He then smiled and said, "Rest assured! The only reason we were able to survive the past few years without a hitch was due to your efforts. There's no reason we would burn this bridge at the final stretch after you'd contributed so much!"
Sikong Wuwei placed his hand on Pi Junzi's other shoulder, laughing as he said, "Don't be afraid. If we go up to battle, just stand behind me. I'll make sure you're safe."
Zhao Fei chimed in as well, saying, "You've known Brother Miao longer than we have, so you can be considered an old friend of his. There's no way we would abandon you, not after Brother Miao risked his life to save us!"
Pi Junzi sheepishly looked at everyone. When he saw the gentle smiles on their faces as they tried to reassure him, he immediately felt a comforting sense of warmth, and two teardrops actually streamed down his cheeks. He quickly lowered his head, sniffling as he wiped his nose. For the first time, he felt it was truly nice to be human.
"Gross! This rat spirit actually started crying!" Sikong Wuwei hastily pulled back his hand from Pi Junzi's shoulder.
Everyone burst out into laughter. Gu Sanzheng then turned towards the mountain region, looking at the flickering lights inside the caves as he said, "Let's continue looking around. If all else fails, we should just find those participants with a relatively lower cultivation. It's always better to have a few more helping hands than not."
To be honest, he was feeling quite worried himself. Without the Thunderclap Flying Swords, he didn't have much of an advantage over other Blue Lotus Ninth Grade cultivators.
The group continued on their path in the dead of night, hoping to find a ray of light within...
Meanwhile, within the halls of the wooden mansion in the Devil Nation's camp, things were getting incredibly rowdy as the sound of Yun Feiyang's crazed laughter constantly echoed about.
Yun Feiyang was absolutely ecstatic today. After all, his camp had benefited the most from the first day due to Miao Yi's spear, which completely had everyone aghast. After that, none of the other five representatives dared to command their members to issue a challenge to Yun Feiyang's camp. They were all afraid that they would provoke him into sending out the grim reaper that was Miao Yi.
The result of that was obvious—only Yun Feiyang's camp could challenge whoever they wanted, whereas no one else dared to challenge his camp. Thus, his camp suffered the least amount of casualties, and this naturally meant that his profits were the greatest as well. Hence, not only did he benefit greatly today, he even had the pleasure of having the other five representatives bend to his whims. The moment the battles were over, and he returned to his wooden mansion, Yun Feiyang immediately broke out into laughter. It was simply too exhilarating to be able to oppress the other five representatives to the point where they couldn't even fight back, and he quickly commanded his subordinates to put together a celebratory feast.
With one hand on his waist and the other waving a chicken drumstick about, Yun Feiyang sprayed saliva everywhere as he incessantly blabbered on.
In contrast, Miao Yi was just sitting quietly beside him like an old monk, still in the middle of recovering.
Originally, he wanted to return to his quarters to rest, but he couldn't refuse Yun Feiyang's fervent invitation, and he was forcefully dragged here in the end. After all, he was the guest, so he had to show some face at least.
Suddenly, someone rushed in and reported, "Young Master Yang, Fairy Yue Yao is requesting an audience with you!"
"What is she doing here?" Yun Feiyang was taken aback. However, he then waved his hand and declared haughtily, "Big deal, she's just a pretty face anyway. This young master has already seen plenty enough women with beautiful faces. I won't miss not seeing hers. Ask her to get lost!"
Yun Feiyang felt a boiling fury every time Yue Yao's name was mentioned, simply because his loss that day had been too humiliating. And now, that incident was practically common knowledge among the participants. If Miao Yi hadn't refused to fight and instead followed his instructions, Yun Feiyang would definitely have had Yue Yao lose until she was stark naked before his anger could be sated.
"Yun Feiyang, you arrogant bastard!" Yue Yao's voice came from outside.
Miao Yi immediately opened his eyes to look. Everyone turned their heads to gaze outside the house as well. They then saw that Yue Yao was already at the door, sitting on top of her Jade Lion.
Yue Yao and her group quickly dismounted and were about to head inside the house, when suddenly, Yun Feiyang barked out, swinging the drumstick in his hand, "Hold it! I have my own set of rules here too. Only the pretty girl is allowed to enter. As for the rest of you, I dare you to try and set foot inside here!"
This bastard was clearly getting payback for the time his subordinates were denied entry into Yue Yao's residence. He really was a bitter and petty guy through and through.
However, Yue Yao didn't seem to care much for his attitude. Tilting her head, she told Lan Ruo and the rest, "Wait for me outside." She then proceeded into the main hall alone.
Yun Feiyang turned and sat back down on the host's chair. Resting one foot on the other thigh, he took a bite of his drumstick, then said brusquely, "Hurry up and state your business. This young master is an extremely busy man!"
"I have no business with you. I'm here to look for a member of my Celestial Nation!" Yue Yao's eyes swept across the hall, before landing straight on Miao Yi. She then calmly said, "And he just so happens to be right here! Yan Beihong, come out for a bit. I have some matters to discuss with you."
Miao Yi was startled by her words. He suddenly felt a surge of emotion, thinking, 'Don't tell me Little Sister has figured out who I am? Could there still be someone alive in the Celestial Nation's camp who knew who I was and revealed to her my true name?'
He then stood up while trying to calm the swelling emotions deep inside his heart.
Yun Feiyang's eyes widened in shock as though something had just come to his mind. 'Don't tell me this woman is here to steal my guy?'
As he casually tossed his drumstick to the back, it landed on the head of Devil Sage Yun Aotian's esteemed sculpture. Yun Feiyang then abruptly stood up and said, "Hold it! If you've got something to say, say it here. Why do you need to be so sneaky about it? Don't tell me you're trying to do something sleazy?"
Yue Yao's expression instantly turned cold, and she felt the urge to rip Yun Feiyang's dirty mouth off his face. However, after some thought, she realized he did have a point. It was indeed easy for others to get the wrong idea when they see a lone man and woman sneaking off to have a talk. Perhaps some scandalous rumor really would arise from that and damage her reputation.
Slowly walking up to Miao Yi, Yue Yao stared straight at his face as she asked, "Yan Beihong, do you still consider yourself a cultivator of my Celestial Nation?"
Beside Miao Yi, Yan Beihong was utterly speechless. 'The real Yan Beihong is standing right here, okay? Oh, my Little Brother! You've really made your Big Brother famous now.'
From this distance, Miao Yi was able to get a clear look at Yue Yao's unparalleled beauty, and it was truly captivating indeed. He could even smell the gentle fragrance wafting from her body. Trying his best to control his emotions, Miao Yi nodded and replied, "I do!"
Yue Yao asked, "Then why are you not in my Celestial Nation's camp? Instead, you're working for the Devil Nation's camp. Is it because you cannot stay in my Celestial Nation?"
'She's clearly trying to poach him! This is bad!' Yun Feiyang immediately grew anxious, waving his hand as he said, "Time to escort our guest out! Yue Yao, it's time for us men to hit the sack. A woman like you shouldn't stay any longer. I'm afraid it will damage your reputation. Well, best be on your way then. I won't be seeing you off!"
Miao Yi raised his hand and stopped Yun Feiyang, then replied to Yue Yao, "It's not like that, Lord Sixth. It's because Young Master Yang was asked by an old friend of mine to protect me. All these years, he had been searching for me across the Sea of Constellations, and ever since he found me, he's been staying close by my side to ensure my safety. I am not serving the Devil Nation. I am simply under the protection of Young Master Yang."
"Did you hear that, Yue Yao? Let me be honest with you. Initially, one of my five free passes was reserved for him. However, he chose to step up to fight of his own accord. I'm different from you, only coming to find him when it's convenient for you. What were you doing before this, huh?" Yun Feiyang walked forward, chuckling as he continued, "There's no way he will go with you. Stop wasting your time and clear out already. We want to sleep!"
Yue Yao completely ignored him, and said, "So it's because you're being protected. Yan Beihong, if I recall correctly, I believe I saved your life once from Bai Ziliang!"
Yun Feiyang was startled, and he slowly turned his head to look at Miao Yi. Things were problematic now that Yue Yao happened to be his benefactor.
"That is indeed so! I dare not forget Lord Sixth's benevolence!" Miao Yi cupped his hands and said.
"You are a Celestial Nation cultivator after all. You should understand exactly where you should be standing. Back then, I wouldn't have saved you if you weren't a Celestial Nation cultivator. This is what you call a standpoint. I will be waiting for you at the foot of the mountain for one hour. You'd best think of what you should be doing. I will not force you!" Yue Yao did not beat around the bush, and after saying her piece, she immediately turned around and left.