The cauldron stood at seven feet tall with three thick legs in the shape of a dragon tail. Crimson gems decorated the surface. Inside were ninety-seven plumes of star-like fire. Even a Giant couldn’t see through this concealment.
The princess wore a ceremonial outfit, golden with ribbons. Below her feet were draconic runes. Her royal aura was in full swing, overshadowing the crown prince standing nearby.
Not all members of the royal family would have the aura of a dragon king. Only those meant to be kings would be able to cultivate this golden aura. Luofu was one of them; her aura was three times stronger than the crown prince, dividing themselves into forty-five visible strands.
A golden veil still covered her face but this wasn’t enough to deter her beauty. The prodigies on stage became fixated. All men wanted to conquer such a noble and beautiful woman.
Standing before the cauldron, she flipped her sleeve and the first fireball flew out. She easily crushed the flame and read the first name: “Beiming Potian, of the Beiming Clan.”
Next, the second ball flew out. She announced: “Qian Mohen, of Grand Sword Palace.”
The minister confirmed: “The Heaven stage, Beiming Potian versus Qian Mohen.”
She continued to take out more balls until she found Dongfang Jingshui. She glanced over at Consort Hua before speaking: “Dongfang Jingshui can skip the initial rounds and fight the final battle.”
Jingshui - still with his signature red cloak - protested: “Why can’t I fight in the initial rounds?”
The princess strongly replied with a sharp glare: “Because I have chosen you to be a groom candidate, so you may skip to the last fight.”
He didn’t give her any face: “I don’t care much about being the imperial groom and only joined this competition to fight my heart out, so stop thinking otherwise. I want to fight everyone, so come, be brave and fight like men on stage.”
Who knows how exasperated the princess was right now behind the veil? Anyone else would be ecstatic for this opportunity, but someone as arrogant and lawless like Jingshui was a different story.
“I guess he really took in too much water as a baby or something, if I were in his shoes, I would be kissing the princess right now to thank her.” Ningshuai quietly said.
Feiyun replied: “Unfortunately, she doesn’t care for men, only the throne.”
“Be honest now, Feiyun, if you win this competition, will you marry her?”
“Obviously, but only if she is willing to become my concubine.”
The two gave each other a stare before laughing together.
Due to the odd number right now, if Jingshui accepted this, then the rest could be one-on-one. Alas, if he must fight, then one person would be left out.
This was naturally a good thing. All the participants were prodigies. Skipping one round would increase the probability of winning the whole thing.
Who will this lucky person be?
Fewer fireballs were left in the cauldron. These prodigies knew their first-round match and began to think about battle plans, advantages and disadvantages for the match-up.
Ningshuai’s opponent was a young king at peak fourth-level Heaven’s Mandate, just a tiny bit more and he would be at the fifth level.
“So much pressure..” Ningshuai murmured and decided to change the topic: “Oh right, who is your guy?”
Feiyun said: “I haven’t been chosen yet.”
A while later, only one ball was left but Feiyun still hasn’t been called.
“Damn, don’t tell me you’re this lucky?! So unfair! The heaven is blind!” Ningshuai gritted his teeth, thinking that a good guy like him should deserve this chance.
Sure enough, the princess took out the last one and read: “Feng Ergou.”
The minister added: “A vagrant cultivator of Grand Southern, Feng Ergou will move on to the next round.”
“Such dogshit!” Ningshuai complained again.
Feiyun didn’t care much about fighting so he was naturally happy: “I’ll be cheering for you, friend.”
“Don’t, your opponents will be Potian and Hongye. Since you have time right now, you should be watching their fight. Knowledge is power, so do it to win and take Princess Luofu as your concubine.” Ningshuai joked.
A proud princess like her would never become someone else’s concubine. But he was also right about the first half. The others certainly prepared plenty of ace cards to win, so this was a good time to find out more.
Two hours later signaled the end of the first round. 48 have been eliminated, so there were 49 left including the lucky Feiyun.
He sat inside a palace and enjoyed his wine and fruits, served by two maids.
This was a resting place for the participants. Numerous recovery pills were laid out and ten alchemists stood ready. Even the heavily-injured could be cured within an hour back to their peak condition.
Ningshuai rolled in, charred completely without a single strand of hair remaining. He cried out: “Help me! I’m gonna die!”
Feiyun and two alchemists rushed over and helped him on a stone bed flowing with spirit liquid. The two alchemists checked his wounds and became relieved: “Just an external burn, one second-ranked pill is enough.”
One of them took the pill out.
Feiyun said: “It’s nice to be alive, don’t worry about losing.”
“Who told you that I lost? I won.” Ningshuai got up to retort but he screamed again. His behind was especially burnt so when he sat down, the pain was excruciating.
“Who burned you then?”
The guy lay back down and sighed: “A Netherfire Talisman.”
Feiyun’s expression changed: “Hmm, that talisman should contain a flame similar to a Second Dark Underworld Flame. Even a half-step will be injured from carelessness. Your opponent had something this strong? Looks like cultivation alone isn’t enough to win, maybe some Dominating Armaments will show up too. Oh, how did you defeat this talisman?”
“... Cough… cough… I was the one who used it but misjudged the power so I burned myself…”
This fella is unfathomable. First, he had a technique from the Dao Scripture, now, a Netherfire Talisman? Ordinary people couldn’t possess these means.
He was afraid Feiyun would pry further so he changed the topic: “Yeah, did you go watch Potian, Hongye, and Xiaonan? What did they use?”
Feiyun shook his head: “The so-called devilish geniuses can’t last a single move before them, so they didn’t reveal anything.”
“That’s why they’re at the top of the young generation, worthy of their fame.” After taking the pill while bathing in the medicinal liquid, his burned skin healed at a visible rate.
Just a second later, he jumped out of bed and started to stretch while laughing: “I can fight again now, no problem. My next guy is a fifth-level genius, so much pressure again! What about you?”
“Another free win.” Feiyun said.
“You’re joking, right?” Ningshuai almost jumped from disbelief.
The second round had another drawing ballot but Feiyun got lucky again?
The chance was so low yet the guy stole it twice. Ningshuai almost went crazy just like all of the other jealous geniuses.
“The balls are sealed by flames created by Giants, so no one can see the names. Cheating isn’t possible or I would think that you are conspiring with Princess Luofu.” Ningshuai thought that he had to risk his life to make it to the second round while this guy sat there and drank wine. So unfair!
After another two hours, only twenty-four geniuses were left, and Feng Feiyun.
He didn’t need to fight at all and still got placed in the top twenty-five.
“Help! Save me!” Ningshuai screamed and crawled into the palace while vomiting blood. The blood contained icy powder; parts of his body were frozen too.
Feiyun and the two alchemists came over again and lifted him back on the stone bed.