Thirty-six contestants from the last four groups were going to be disqualified because their places would eventually be taken by the thirty-six geniuses of the seven great emperors instead. Competition was very intense at the bottom of the rankings because of that, with eight geniuses launching successful challenges at the end of the battles.
The final segment came right after that. Some disqualified geniuses were now given their second chance. They had to have been beaten by a contender in the top thirty to qualify for a second chance, with this chance being their final attempt. They would have to challenge the 164 finalists for the Genius Rankings. There weren’t that many unlucky cultivators worthy of a second chance amongst the disqualified, but Wei Jie was one of them. However, there was one more genius disciple from a great clan that had been even more unlucky than him. He was defeated when he was still talking.
Roughly a dozen contenders claimed their second chance, but only Wei Jie and the great clan disciple succeeded. Wei Jie had chosen his opponent very carefully. After a hard battle, he finally won and took over his opponent’s place. He was now ranked 156th. With that, the Genius Rankings finally came to a close.
164 contestants from the Genius Rankings and thirty-six geniuses under the seven great emperors were now going to fight for a spot in the Ranking of Young Lords. Only thirty-six of them would qualify for the Ranking of Young Lords. Many contestants among the Genius Rankings were only lesser characters when compared to the true geniuses. Probably less than ten of them were actually qualified to challenge the Ranking of Young Lords. However, there probably wouldn’t be more than three that would successfully enter the Ranking of Young Lords.
The Ranking of Young Lords battles had an entirely different set of rules than the previous two ranking battles. Thirty-six successors of the seven great emperors were already listed in the Ranking of Young Lords. The other 164 geniuses were merely given the opportunity to challenge them. Each contestant only had one chance and one specific target to challenge.
Those in the first group of the Genius Rankings were only qualified to challenge the twenty-first ranked genius of the Ranking of Young Lords, while those in the second group were only qualified to challenge the twenty-second ranked genius. This pattern continued all the way down to the sixteenth group that could challenge the thirty-sixth ranked genius. The ten geniuses in each group were only given one chance, and they all had to face the same opponent.
Jiang Chen’s first challenge was naturally the twenty-first ranked genius since he was in the first group. The top twenty geniuses in the Ranking of Young Lords were not required to accept any challengers at this stage. Only those ranked twenty-first to thirty-sixth were required to defend their places in the Ranking of Young Lords as an arena lord. This stage of the tournament often ended with the total defeat of all challengers in past tournaments. In fact, it was commonplace for the geniuses affiliated with the great emperors to occupy all the places in the Ranking of Young Lords. This time, however, many were optimistic that a few could possibly overcome this challenge. Everyone had placed their hopes on the first group.
The rules of the challenge were quite brutal. If a genius within the first group was able to successfully defeat the twenty-first ranked candidate, the other geniuses in the first group would have to move up the list and challenge the twentieth ranked genius in the rankings. If two were somehow able to succeed, then the rest would have to challenge the nineteenth ranked genius. The same rules applied for the other groups as well. However, the possibility that the other groups could succeed was close to zero. Geniuses who managed to win the challenge had historically come from the first group. Those who couldn’t even manage to enter the top ten were unlikely to defeat their opponent in the Ranking of Young Lords.
The geniuses in the first group had already battled amongst themselves. Now, their common enemy was the twenty-first ranked genius. His name was Gu Zhenshan, a true disciple of Emperor Mountaincrush. Gu Zhenshan possessed a very impressive cultivation level, and was ranked third amongst the geniuses under Emperor Mountaincrush. However, Jiang Chen didn’t seem to know much about him.
Geniuses under the great emperors didn’t often engage with the commoners. A great number of citizens in Veluriyam Capital weren’t even familiar with these young lords. These young lords pursued their own dao and had their own plans. Those who kept a high profile were more well-known, but those who kept a low profile were so secretive that even their peers weren’t sure of their cultivation levels.
The geniuses in the Ranking of Young Lords were actually ranked by the seven great emperors after an internal discussion amongst themselves. However, this also meant that the rankings sometimes didn’t precisely reflect their true capabilities.
The first genius to challenge Gu Zhenshan was Alchemist Xi from the Rising Tide Clan. Jiang Chen had a few impressions of Alchemist Xi. Alchemist Xi was actually quite talented in martial dao. However, the alchemist seemed to enjoy pill dao more, and was actually one of the weakest amongst the top ten in the Genius Rankings. This of course meant that he wasn’t even capable of giving Gu Zhenshan a warmup. He was promptly kicked out of the arena in just three strikes.
It wasn’t that Alchemist Xi was so weak that he couldn’t even handle three basic moves from the young lord. Jiang Chen could tell that Gu Zhenshan had used very powerful techniques right from the beginning to set an example. He wanted to scare the other competitors with his might and show the disparity between them. He had killed a chicken to scare the monkeys, so to speak. True enough, the few geniuses next in line after Alchemist Xi were also easily defeated. They couldn’t even manage to last more than fifteen minutes.
Jiang Chen had begun to understand Gu Zhenshan a little more after these fights. He was worthy of being a true disciple of a great emperor due to his exceptional talent, but he was just a little too petty and narrow-minded. He was definitely not the one who would eventually succeed Emperor Mountaincrush. Of this, Jiang Chen was quite sure of. He was a fair judge of character. Gu Zhenshan wasn’t fated to be the patriarch of a great emperor clan, but was rather a suitable elder candidate.
People continued to challenge him, but they all lost. It was soon young master Liuxiang’s turn to challenge him, which he still lost after fighting a hard battle. According to the rules, the arena lord was allowed a few hour’s rest after every three rounds. It was already Gu Zhenshan’s sixth consecutive victory by the time he’d defeated Liuxiang. He decided to rest when he considered the difficulty of the battles from there on out. The four remaining contenders were Sunyu Xiaosheng, Ji San, Mie Chenzi, and Jiang Chen.
To prevent accumulation of fatigue from previous bouts, the arena lord was given an option for six hours’ rest after every battle from the fifth round onwards. This was to prevent fatigue and also to prevent giving the person next in line an unfair advantage.
After six hours had passed, it was Sunyu Xiaosheng’s turn. Jiang Chen had been paying close attention to the frivolous wandering cultivator. This was a matchup which Gu Zhenshan could possibly lose. As expected, Gu Zhenshan started the fight by trying to overwhelm Sunyu Xiaosheng with a flurry of attacks. However, Sunyu Xiaosheng was able to suppress the attacks with his superior ability to control the flow of the battle. Gu Zhenshan felt like he was dishing out punches to a heap of cotton.
Sunyu Xiaosheng was able to control the flow of battle at an incredibly frightening level. Gu Zhenshan’s tried-and-true method of overwhelming his opponents was rendered useless, as he simply couldn’t bring out the full might of his punches. It could have been an incredibly entertaining match if Gu Zhenshan had been paired against a similar opponent to him. But unfortunately, he was paired against Sunyu Xiaosheng. Each strike only made him even more frustrated and depressed.
However, he was still a successor to a great emperor in the end. After a series of bitter exchanges, he finally decided to use the trump card of a great emperor’s true disciple. Through the might of his equipment, he was able to suppress Sunyu Xiaosheng and defeated him in a moment of carelessness. Sunyu Xiaosheng earned the respect of everyone present despite his loss. A wandering cultivator was able to break into the top ten of the Genius Rankings and almost make it into the Ranking of Young Lords? If Gu Zhenshan hadn’t overpowered his opponent through the might of his equipment, there was no say in how the fight might’ve ended.
Everyone present strongly believed that Sunyu Xiaosheng had caught the attention of the seven great emperors, even though he hadn’t entered the Ranking of Young Lords. If he made good use of this opportunity, he could possibly have a meteoric rise and become a great emperor’s true disciple. He wasn’t beneath Gu Zhenshan in terms of pure talent and battle instinct. He’d only lost due to the discrepancy between their equipment. Such was the flaw of being a wandering cultivator.
This only made Jiang Chen even more curious. Sunyu Xiaosheng had obviously been taught by an incredibly formidable master, so why was his equipment so inadequate? It was obvious that he’d only been using the type of equipment wandering cultivators had access to. Jiang Chen theorized that Sunyu Xiaosheng might have been taught by a formidable master, but he didn’t belong in any powerful clan or sect. Since Sunyu Xiaosheng was defeated, it was now Ji San’s turn to challenge Gu Zhenshan.
Gu Zhenshan no longer dared to belittle his opponents. He chose to take a rest instead of accepting consecutive fights, as his opponents were no longer slouches. Ji San also wasn’t the kind of person to capitalize on another person’s disadvantage. While his opponent was resting, he consulted Jiang Chen about Gu Zhenshan’s martial methods and abilities. Jiang Chen managed to give very important pointers to Ji San, as he was extremely good at deduction. In order for Ji San to have a chance of winning, they agreed that he would have to suppress Gu Zhenshan’s equipment advantage first.
1. Gu Zhenshan’s name also means Mountaincrush.