The red-robed woman sensed Shi Mu’s eyes on her. A furious and shocked look appeared on her face. She tightened her grip on the sword-hilt around her waist with a desire to step out.
She then took half-a-step forward. But then, Shi Mu’s vision moved towards Qiao Zhi’s body.
So, the red-robed woman kept her foot hanging in the air. She neither advanced nor withdrew it. Her complexion turned red and blue. But, she felt relaxed in her heart without knowing the reason.
Qiao Zhi took a tight breath as he saw that Shi Mu was looking at him. Fortunately, Shi Mu’s vision didn’t stay on him for too long, and shifted past him.
Shi Mu swept his vision – neither too quickly nor too slowly – from left to right.
His vision had fallen on all the people in less than half-of-a-breath’s time. The reactions of the first-grade disciples differed as his vision went over them. But, all of them felt as if they were preys who were being watched by a hunter.
This half-of-a-breath’s time felt like a very long time to them.
A few of them even had beads of sweat oozing from their foreheads.
Suddenly, Shi Mu’s vision fell on a silver-haired youth who was standing on the extreme left side. He then said, "I’m Shi Mu… and I challenge Brother Mo Ning."
Shi Mu’s voice wasn’t too loud, but his words caused an uproar in the crowd. Everyone issued shouts in surprise, and started to raise several questions.
"He challenged the first-ranked disciple of the first-grade?"
"This is… too arrogant. The difference between the first-grade and the second-grade disciples isn’t less… eh!"
"Well, this time it would be a good show to watch."
A cold light flashed in Mo Ning’s eyes. His face exposed an ice-cold killing intention. He then slowly walked into the ring without speaking a single word.
Shi Mu carried his meteoric hammer in his left hand. He was also carrying his black blade on his back. He then walked into the ring.
He didn’t plan to use the blade. He had kept it in Bai Shi’s room when he had challenged Duan Qian Li. But then, he had requested Bai Shi to bring him the blade while he was resting.
A white light flashed, and a layer of firm boundary shrouded the insides of the ring.
"You dared to challenge me. Well, I’m worried that you’ll soon regret it," a light of fierce look flashed in Mo Ning’s eyes as he spoke in a cold voice.
Both of them had observed each other with the help of their eyesight before the match had started. Mo Ning had already made a plan to defeat Shi Mu. He was proud and arrogant, and he wanted Shi Mu to regret his decision. He was impatient to teach his opponent a lesson.
"Pull out the blade," Mo Ning said coldly. A blue-light flashed in his hand, and a watery-blue and long sword appeared in his hand.
The blade of the blue sword was gleaming – like the surface of water. Multiple waves were faintly circulating on its surface; it seemed to be a magic tool.
Shi Mu moved his hand, and drew out the black blade from his back as he heard this. But then, he rolled his wrist, and threw the black blade on the ground.
Half of the blade pierced into the ground of the ring with a ‘tut’ sound.
"I’ve pulled out," Shi Mu looked towards Mo Ning, and replied with an expressionless face.
All the disciples outside the ring opened their eyes wide as they saw this. Then, they began to issue hoots of laughter.
"You’re courting death!"
Mo Ning was stumped for words; he became extremely furious. Then, his figure went out flying towards Shi Mu in a flash.
Several blue rays were emitted from the long sword in his hand. Then, blue sword-Qi emerged on the sword – in the manner in which a peacock spreads its tail. Then, the sword-Qi went stabbing towards Shi Mu.
Shi Mu narrowed his eyes. These blue sword-Qi were certainly real. They came towards him while cutting the air and issuing a sky-splitting sound. It seemed that the sword had created a shadow owing to the real Sword Qi — not because of its quick speed.
"It’s… releasing real Qi!"
Shi Mu’s vision flickered as he groaned coldly. Then, he shook his arm, and lifted the meteoric hammer in his hand – like a viper. It then turned into a black light, and darted out with an extremely quick speed.
Mo Ning stopped moving. Then, his body fell backwards.
A rumbling sound echoed.
The meteoric hammer and the blue sword-Qi collided. Then, the ten or more blue sword-Qi broke and split open.
Shi Mu wrinkled his brows. The power of the meteoric hammer was enormous. But, he hadn’t expected that the blue sword-Qi would be defeated so easily.
Then, his complexion changed.
The fragmented blue sword-Qi hadn’t really dissipated. It had flashed and got transformed into a disc of white drizzling watery-fog. It then started to attach and diffuse at a very fast speed. It transformed into a faint cloud and mist in the blink of an eye. Everything around them gradually became hazy and fuzzy.
Mo Ning’s figure disappeared into the cloud and mist around him. Even his traces faded away.
"The Art of the Concealed Cloud Sword … So, that’s what it is," Shi Mu said in his heart.
The blue sword-Qi flew and darted out from his side. Then, a man’s shadow flashed from the depth of the fog.
Shi Mu’s complexion became cold. He waved his arm, and the meteoric hammer got transformed into a black dragon. Then, the blue sword-Qi was routed and dispersed easily.
The speed of the meteoric hammer increased. It transformed into black lightening, and rushed forward while carrying a strong airflow from the surroundings; it rapidly hit the man’s shadow.
It ripped the shadow apart as the black light flashed and passed through it.
Shi Mu’s complexion sank because it hadn’t hit the real man. He then waved his hand, and pulled the meteoric hammer back.
The fragmented sword-Qi got transformed into white fog, and rapidly got diffused. The mist in the surroundings became denser.
The ring had limited space. So, it quickly got filled with rolled-up fog, and the range of the field of vision rapidly decreased. Nothing could be seen beyond a few feet.
Shi Mu’s complexion sank.
Bai Shi and the others looked worried as they saw this situation.
"He could release real Qi. Mo Ning has already started to coagulate his Qi. He seems to be just half-a-step away from entering into the Xian Tian realm," an elder of the Black Demon Sect said with a smile; he was sitting on the platform beside the ring.
"This Shi Mu’s strength is also not weak. His chances of success would’ve been good if he had challenged some other low-ranked person of the first-grade. But, he chose Mo Ning… " another elder with a long beard shook his head and said.
"Hehe… perhaps this man has lost his mind because of his previous victory. He’s extremely impudent. The Art of the Concealed Cloud Sword will slowly reveal its wonders after Mo Ning enters into the Xian Tian realm."
"Young disciple’s actions will inflict a lot of hardships onto him."
Shi Mu stood inside the ring with closed eyes and attentive ears. It seemed that he was trying to listen to the sounds of activity in his surroundings.
Suddenly, a man’s shadow appeared inside the fog. It was flying towards Shi Mu.
Shi Mu opened his eyes, and golden awns flashed through his pupils. He then issued a loud sound from his mouth. The meteoric hammer in his hand went out hitting towards that man’s shadow.
The fog behind Shi Mu’s back fluctuated. Then, an arm appeared, and a sword shot noiselessly towards Shi Mu’s back.
The air fluctuated, and an invisible sword-Qi shot out. But, it didn’t issue any sound.
The fight was seemingly going to end.
Mo Ning’s Art of the Concealed Cloud Sword was his trump card. He could easily defeat his opponent in a close combat owing to this art.
However, who would’ve imagined that Shi Mu would bend the corner of his mouth at this moment? Suddenly, he turned around – like lightning. He then moved his fist towards the sword. His fist was sparkling – like jade.
Suddenly, the air around them shook. Several round and clear ripples could be seen appearing from Shi Mu’s fist.
"Kacha!" Several bone-breaking sounds were heard.
Suddenly, an arm was broken in the fog. It got twisted and deformed to an abnormal angle.
The fist-wind whistled while arousing a whirlpool in the air. It pushed aside the fog in the surroundings, and revealed the figure of Mo Ning inside it.
Mo Ning was looking at his broken arm with a shocked face. His figure flashed, and moved back into the fog.
"You want to run away!"
Shi Mu sneered. He then waved his arm, and the meteoric hammer – looking like a black meteor – caught-up with Mo Ning’s figure in the blink of an eye. Then, a gigantic power violently surged-up.
Mo Ning’s complexion changed. He then waved his intact arm, and the blue sword in his hand got transformed into sword-shadows. He then kept it in the front of his body in order to block Shi Mu’s blows.
A rumbling sound was heard.
The black meteor hammer got knocked against the blue sword-shadows. It easily tore them apart. However, its speed didn’t decrease. Then, it dashed to hit Mo Ning’s chest.
Mo Ning exposed an extremely frightened look on his face. This meteoric hammer had an astonishing power. This had become clear from this move.
He shouted out loudly. Then, layers of white light appeared on his neck. It turned out to be a white jade necklace. The white light got condensed into a layer of light-curtain. It defended his body from the front.
The meteoric hammer ruthlessly whipped the light-curtain, and the curtain broke down with a ‘kacha’ sound.
Mo Ning’s two defense strategies had failed. The meteoric hammer’s speed and might had also become slower. However, it severely hit Mo Ning in his chest.
‘Bang!’ A stuffy sound echoed. Mo Ning’s body was sent out flying – like a piece of stone. It then got knocked against the sealed boundary around the ring. He then opened his mouth, and a mouthful of blood gushed out from it.
A cold light flashed in Shi Mu’s eyes. He kicked his foot on his black blade that was inserted into the ground.
He poured his real Qi from his foot, and attracted the blade with his toe.
‘Whiz!’ A whooshing sound was heard.
Suddenly, the black blade got transformed into a black light. It went out – like a black dragon – and pushed aside the clouds and the mist. It then went stabbing towards Mo Ning’s left shoulder.
The power of this graceful blade was extremely fierce. It would’ve destroyed the entire arm of Mo Ning if it had hit his shoulder.
The meteoric hammer had hit Mo Ning’s chest a short while ago. Now, he couldn’t resist most of the attacks even though he was holding his real Qi in his body. His internal organs got rolled-up, and budged out from his body.
His face had turned ashen. Then, a grey light appeared from his side, and hit the black blade.
A loud clanging sound echoed. The direction of the black blade got deviated by the grey light. It slightly touched Mo Ning’s shoulder, and stabbed the firm boundary around the ring.
A buzzing sound was heard.
The firm boundary swayed-up violently. Rays of light flashed, and it almost collapsed. However, it still stood firm.
The grey-robed old man’s figure appeared. He had an embarrassed look on his face.
It was he who had released the grey light. But, he had also underestimated the power of the black blade. It was almost impossible to save Mo Ning.
"Mo Ning is unable to continue the fight. So, you don’t need to make any more moves now," the grey-robed old man said.
Shi Mu raised the tip of his brow and nodded.
The grey-robed old man took out a healing magic charm, and pasted it on Mo Ning’s wound to stabilize the condition of his injury. He then waved his hand, and undid the boundary around the ring.
He waved his sleeves, and a gale rose-up out of nowhere. It made the fog in the ring disperse, and exposed the situation inside the ring.
"Shi Mu has won the challenge. He has now attained rank one among the first-grade disciples."
The environment outside the ring flared-up like boiling water as the grey-robed old man’s voice resounded. The faces of most of the people were filled with incredible colors.
The remaining nine disciples of the first-grade were dumbstruck. Mo Ning was the strongest among them. So, they hadn’t expected that he would be defeated in this manner.
They hadn’t been able to witness the fight owing to the curled-up clouds and mist in the ring. Nothing was visible to anyone; except for a fuzzy shadow of a man.
Mo Ning was clearly winning the fight a moment ago. He had trapped Shi Mu with his sword skills. It was highly unexpected that things would take a new turn in the blink of an eye. Now, Mo Ning had been defeated. But, Shi Mu had only used a limited numbers of his moves.
The trick with the hammer and the blade was extremely neat and tidy. It wasn’t sloppy at all.
The Head and the elders of the Black Demon Sect had an astonished look across their faces. They had thought that Shi Mu was impudent. Now, their faces became red, and they remained speechless for a long while.
Shi Mu had defeated the number one disciples among the second-grade and the first-grade disciples on the same day. This had never happened in the history of the Black Demon Sect.
Jin Xiao Chai looked towards Shi Mu’s extraordinary splendor with the pair of her wonderful eyes. Then, her vision flickered. It seemed as if she was thinking about something.