The Head of the Black Demon Sect looked towards the elder of the Xian Tian realm and sighed.
There used to be more than twenty Xian Tian elders in the Black Demon Sect. But, four or five of them had died while fighting with the barbarian race on the frontier. Now, only less than twenty of them were left.
However, the barbarian war hadn’t been completely useless.
The junior disciples of the Sect had gathered at the place. They were huge in number even though their number was comparatively lower than that of before the war. Moreover, a huge progress had been made in their cultivations after the experience of several years of war.
And, this point had been confirmed in the competition.
Suddenly, the Head of the Black Demon Sect looked on his side, and saw that Jin Xiao Chai looked a little absent-minded.
"Xiao Chai, why do you look as if you don’t have any spirit these days?" the Head of the Black Demon Sect asked.
"It’s nothing. It’s just a random thought. Thank you for your concern, Head," Jin Xiao Chai turned her beautiful eyes with a splendid smile on her face, and replied in a soft tone.
The Head’s grizzled eyebrows moved as he looked away from her. After that, he stood-up and took two steps forward.
The disciples in the crowd near the ring became quiet as soon as they saw this. Then, they became ready to listen to the instructions of the Head of the Sect.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the second-grade disciples have been ranked now. Today is the last day of the annual competition. So, the top-ten-ranked disciples among the second-grade disciples will challenge the first-grade disciples. After that, the first-grade disciples will challenge each other… and the top-ten disciples amongst them will be determined. I believe that everyone knows the process already. So, I’ll not give unnecessary details," the voice of the Head of the Black Demon Sect wasn’t too loud. But, it still reached the ears of the people standing at the rear.
"I want to announce one more thing before starting the competition," the Head of the Black Demon Sect changed the topic of discussion and said.
Bai Shi, Xiao Ming and the other people stood near the ring; their bodies shook as they heard this. They moved their eyes towards Shi Mu, and saw that Shi Mu was in a calm state; there hadn’t been the slightest change in his expressions. They couldn’t help but admire his calm attitude.
"Disciple Shi Mu went to the war against the barbarian race… and went to the barbarians’ wasteland all alone. Moreover, he helped our Union to have peace-talks… and made the barbarians sign an agreement to form alliance with the human race. He has provided a great service to the Union." The Head of the Black Demon Sect looked towards Shi Mu, who was standing among the audience.
All the disciples were shocked as they heard this. They all moved their eyes towards Shi Mu. Even the top ten first-grade disciples shifted their gazes to look at him.
Shi Mu’s face was expressionless. He didn’t react to the attention of everyone present in his surroundings.
"Shi Mu returned yesterday… and missed the chance to participate in the competition because of this. So, the elders and I’ve decided that we would make an exception… and give him one more opportunity. Before we proceed with the annual competition… I would let him choose anyone from the second-grade disciples to challenge. He would take his opponent’s position of he wins," the Head of the Black Demon Sect said in one breath.
Everyone started to discuss among themselves as they heard this. But, nobody objected to the Head’s words.
"Well, now that you have no objection… Brother Zhen, it’s your turn," the Head of the Black Demon Sect said to an old man standing next to him; he was dressed in a grey robe with a goat-beard. He then went over to his seat and sat down.
The gray-robed old man nodded. His figure flashed like a grey light as he landed on the ring.
"Yesterday, the Head of the Sect sent a man to ask Shi Mu about this offer. Shi Mu has accepted the decision. He has decided to challenge the disciple having the first place among the second-grade disciples – Duan Qian Li," the grey-robed old man turned towards the audience, and declared in a clear voice.
The disciples among the audience exploded like a boiling pot. Duan Qian Li had amazed everyone with a single feat in the competition, and had won the first position among the second-grade disciples on the previous day. Anyone could see that he was extraordinarily valiant. But, Shi Mu had challenged him.
"Shi Mu and Duan Qian Li, both of you come into the ring." The old gray-robed man paused for a while. He then said.
Shi Mu walked to the ring as he heard this announcement. The disciples in the surroundings got out of his way as they saw him coming.
He hadn’t brought his black blade as its hilt was slightly damaged. Instead, he climbed to the ring with the meteoric hammer in his hand.
"What kind of a weapon is this? It seems from its appearance… is it the meteoric hammer?"
Bai Shi and others were startled as they saw the meteoric hammer in Shi Mu’s hand.
They all knew that Shi Mu was an expert in using blades. But, they had never seen him using this kind of a weapon.
Many other disciples standing outside the ring stared blankly, and issued a roar of laughter.
Shi Mu’s meteoric hammer looked too simple and crude. Its model looked extremely ugly.
It couldn’t even be called a meteoric hammer in the true sense. It seemed as if iron chains had been tied to a piece of stone.
Everyone looked towards the chains tied to the meteoric hammer. But, they were made of ordinary steel. So, it was easy to chop them off even though they were extremely thick.
Shi Mu was going to participate in the annual competition with this simple and crude weapon. It was simply ridiculous.
The Head and other elders of the Black Demon Sect also exposed traces of amazement on their faces. Jin Xiao Chai looked towards Shi Mu’s feet.
His feet weren’t very wide, but they sunk with each of his steps.
There was amazement in Jin Xiao Chai’s eyes also. The corners of her mouth curled-up like an arc.
A shadow of a thin and tall man also flashed on the opposite side of the ring as soon as Shi Mu climbed over. It was none other than Duan Qian Li.
Everyone issued bursts of exclamation in admiration. But, the strengths of the disciples in the audience was too weak to see his shadow.
"Brother Mo, what do you think? Who would win?" Qian Xiong touched his fat belly, and asked a silver-haired youth standing beside him.
"This Shi Mu’s cultivation has already reached the consummate-level of the Hou Tian realm. But, his weapon looks quite heavy. He must’ve cultivated his spirit powers also. That Duan Qian Li has an appreciable speed. Both the men have their own qualities in martial arts. But, Duan Qian Li is a famous spirit-grade magician. So, his chances of winning are more than Shi Mu’s," Mo Ning said with some hesitation.
"Brother Mo has sharp vision. You’ve analyzed all this in a single glance," Qian Xiong spoke with a loud laughter. He seemed to acknowledge Mo Ning’s opinion.
Bai Shui Xiu stood on his side, but she didn’t say anything. However, a sneering expression could be seen on her face.
"What’s wrong? Does Sister Bai think that I’m wrong?" Mo Ning sensed the expression of Bai Shui Xiu. He then said in a cold tone.
"How can this girl dare to think like that? No matter who wins – Shi Mu or Duan Qian Li… he’ll certainly challenge us after that. So, it would be better if we carefully examined their strengths instead of guessing the outcome of the match between these two. We won’t have to be ashamed in front of everyone that way," Bai Shui Xiu replied in a sarcastic tone.
"Haha… these two have just reached the consummate-level in martial arts. They’re no threat to us. Does Sister Bai think so highly of them?" Mo Ning laughed and said.
Bai Shui Xiu gave cold expressions. She turned over, and stopped paying attention to the two of them.
Qian Xiong touched his belly, and abstained from speaking any further.
A ray of light flashed in Mo Ning’s eyes. But, he also kept his mouth shut.
Shi Mu looked at the tall and thin man in front of him and smiled.
Duan Qian Li thought of showing-off. After all, his speed was extremely fast.
"Shi Mu, I’ll make you regret this decision." Duan Qian Li sized Shi Mu up and down with a cold and viper-like look. He then said in a cold voice.
"Oh… Let’s wait and see," Shi Mu replied with an expressionless face.
An angry look flashed in Duan Qian Li’s eyes. He waved his hand, and a long and slender sword appeared in his hand. That sword was emitting a faint-green light. Anyone could tell that it was a high-level magic tool.
"You dared to come in the ring with this kind of a weapon. You’re acting in a reckless manner," Duan Qian Li looked towards the meteoric hammer in Shi Mu’s hand, and spoke in mockery.
"Thank you so much for your concern," Shi Mu laughed and replied.
Then, a strange awn swept across his eyes. He started to shake his iron chains softly.
The grey-robed old man recited an incantation and waved his hand. The four black pillars near the ring started to emit white light, and quickly got interlinked together. Then, they formed a white transparent boundary around the ring.
"The competition begins..." the grey-robed old man shouted and moved his body backwards.
Duan Qian Li looked in front of him with a dull expression as if he had absolute control over Shi Mu. Suddenly, an intense hatred appeared in his heart towards Shi Mu.
He shouted loudly. Then, a green light flashed and covered his entire body with a layer of faint-green light. It was the Body Lifting Technique.
Duan Qian Li’s shadow flashed. Then, his movements extended to its maximum speed, and he transformed into yellow shadows. He then rushed towards Shi Mu.
The long green sword in his hand released a green light. Suddenly, ten or more thick sword-shadows went drizzling towards Shi Mu.
Duan Qian Li made a strange gesture with his other hand at the same time. He then waved it heavily towards Shi Mu.
Five green blade-winds appeared, and went rotating towards Shi Mu.
Duan Qian Li exposed a proud smile on his face. Shi Mu could only retreat or try to defend himself in order to confront so many attacks at once.
Duan Qian Li had planned to put all of his strategies to use in this manner. He wanted to defeat Shi Mu as early as possible.
Duan Qian Li looked towards Shi Mu. He wanted to take a look at Shi Mu’s frightened face. But, he saw that Shi Mu’s face revealed tranquil expressions; he looked calm and composed.
Duan Qian Li’s heart thumped as he felt that there was something wrong. Suddenly, Shi Mu shouted, and shook his arm. Then, his real Qi rushed out from his right arm.
He then swung the meteoric hammer in his hand; the hammer-head carried a fierce gale force –as if it was a meteor. It then got knocked against the sword-shadows and the blade-winds.
‘Bang! Bang!’ A couple of loud sounds echoed.
The sword-shadows and the blade-winds shattered like eggs before the hammer-head.
Duan Qian Li couldn’t even get any time to react. Suddenly, he found a shadow flashing in front of his body. The meteoric hammer had almost reached his body in the blink of an eye.
Duan Qian Li felt shocked; it was too late to dodge the attack. So, he promptly moved his hands to form a strange gesture, and spit out something from his mouth.
Then, he shouted.
Suddenly, a green drizzling wind-shield appeared in front of his body. Then, small tornados began to rise-up on its surface.
The wind-shield had appeared in a flash. The meteoric hammer ferociously bombarded on the wind-shield.
A ‘chi… chi’ sound rang out in the air.
The wind-shield and the tornados broke down with a loud rumble as soon as they were hit by the hammer.
The momentum of the meteoric hammer was unstoppable. It went bombarding towards Duan Qian Li’s chest.
Duan Qian Li’s complexion changed. His mouth issued wild shouts of despair.
It was a crucial junction of life and death. Suddenly, a grey light was shot by one side. Then, a grey-light shield was formed in front of Duan Qian Li’s chest.
‘Bang!’ A stuffy sound echoed.
The meteoric hammer and the grey-light shield collided. Then, several light rays flashed from the shield in a violent manner. But, they got shattered in a span of a breath’s time. After that, the meteoric hammer hit heavily against Duan Qian Li’s chest.
The meteoric hammer had smashed two shields in succession. So, its formidable power had been reduced. Blood started to spurt out of Duan Qian Li’s mouth. Then, sounds of cracking of unknown number of chest-bones were heard.
Duan Qian Li’s body was sent out flying upside down – like a broken sack. It got knocked against the boundary of the ring, and fell to the ground.