For a quarter of an hour, no one dared to issue a challenge, despite that the plaza was teeming with eligible challengers. Gradually, the originally clamorous crowd sank into a total silence.
Shi Mu was also affected by this heavy atmosphere. He had seen many new disciples itching to have a go, the desire for triumph burning in their eyes. But now they must be all waiting for the boldest among them to launch the first challenge, so that they could, at least, come to the ring with some lessons learned.
When he turned to look around, Shi Mu found that Stone Bai and Xiao Ming were, unexpectedly, a little nervous, but just as he tried to say something to ease the tension an exasperated voice resounded, ” Listen carefully, you new disciples! I shall call it a day if no one makes a challenge in the next hour!”
The origin of the voice led Shi Mu’s eyes to a platform near the black stone monument, which recorded the rank of primary disciples. An elderly man, with white hair, was sitting lazily on a wisteria wood chair with a wine canteen in his hand.
His voice was, in fact, not a sonorous one, but spread out over the plaza like an explosion that took people’s breath away. Right after he had finished speaking, the crowd began to boil with excitement. There were discussions between new disciples, but more noises came from the sneering of old disciples at the freshmen’s “lack of guts”.
“I will be the first!”
There came out a loud shout from a ring not far from Shi Mu.
A figure appeared in the crowd, with his arms spreading like a big bird flying into the air. He jumped and landed in the center of the ring steadily.
“This is Kang Yong, who wants to challenge senior Jing Han, who ranks No.1342.” The man clasped his hands to the junior disciple judge and said. This No. 1342 was one of the lowest ranked of the old primary disciples. The crowd, again, broke into a heated uproar of discussion.
Shi Mu fixed his eyes upon the challenger, who had bright and clean eyes. Judging from his strong build and fighting spirit, he was definitely a nobody.
“Kang Yong? The name rang a bell.” Shi Mu thought to himself.
He soon recalled that this Kang Yong ranked twelfth in yesterday’s competition, with his Art of Nine Postures of the Windy Cannon. His fist was as fast as the wind and had great explosive force.
“Is Jing Han on the plaza? Come to accept the challenge! You have three seconds to come out, or you give up your rank by default!” The judge first looked Kong Yong up and down then shouted to the crowd.
Just after his announcement a young man with a fierce look jumped out of the crowd, flipping through the air before he, to0, landed in the ring steadily. A head shorter than Kang Yong, he was not short of a vicious air in the slightest.
“I ask for senior to give me some pointers!” Kang Yong had seemed extremely strong and bold when he came to the ring earlier, but now he seemed to be dwarfed by a man much shorter than himself. The man’s malicious look sent chills down his spine. But still, he steeled himself, straightened his back and answered as politely as he could.
“Don’t talk rubbish, come on!” The fierce young man glared at him and spoke poisonously.
Hearing these words, blood rushed to Kang Yong’s face. His feet trampling on the ground, he twisted his waist and soon darted to Jing Han’s back. His fist was glowing with green light as he punched his opponent mercilessly.
The scornful look on Jing Han’s face evaporated. He turned his body and approached his opponent, rather than evading him. As the two clashed, a green and a red ray clashed too, glaring for a second before dying out.
A muffled noise resounded, and Kang Yong was knocked into the air, like a falling kite, falling out of the ring. When he hit the ground he was already unconscious. Obviously, Kang Yong was badly injured.
The vicious-looking man patted his hands and stepped down the ring as if nothing had happened.
All the new disciples, around the ring, were thrown into a panic. Actually, the fight ended so fast that few clearly saw what happened when the two had clashed. But they did witness the tragic end. Now even those who had been harboring a secret illusion of winning had to face the harsh reality.
Shi Mu’s face also fell.
Though he was not near to the ring, he had seen every bit of the process, with utmost clarity.
Kang Yong was really quite fast and his fist was traveling accurately when it had almost hit on Jing Han’s body. But Jing Han had stronger Qi, so Kang Yong was struck into the air by his fierce fist of the fire element, like a scorched bird.
The old disciple’s vicious air still lingered over after he left. The first challenge ended up with such a fearful result that, for some time, no one dared to make another challenge.
Just as Shi Mu was recalling the details of the last match, Stone Bai leaped onto the ring with a long laugh from close by. He chose to challenge a disciple called Gongchun Peng, ranked 1341st.
Soon, an ordinary-looking young man, with a dark complexion, appeared in front of Stone Bai, and the match began after they had saluted to each other.
Stone Bai started with a violent attack. The muscles on his arms protruding from his skin and his fists bombarded the other like torrential rain. His fists brought the wind with them and loud explosions resounded. Hot air waves spread around the ring, the heat even reached many disciples near the ring.
Shi Mu concentrated on Stone Bai’s movements.
Stone Bai had, undoubtedly, strengthened his real Qi to a great extent, after joining the Holy Spirit Group. He must have reached a higher stage of the All-Yang Art, and the faint red glow above his fist proved his substantial progress in martial arts too.
However, the black-robed young man did not show the slightest traces of concern. He stood still, without moving his body, and lifted his red hand gently, producing, out of nowhere, a vast screen of faint blue, which looked like a phantom. The power of this phantom was substantial and Stone Bai’s attack was instantly dispelled.
Stone Bai was shocked for a brief moment, but his arms continued to grow even stronger, with every muscle swelling to twofold its original size. Simultaneously, the blue screen also expanded greatly, shrouding the black-robed young man like a shield of boiling air. Just then, the black-robed young man finally moved his body!
He rotated once on the ground, after which an unusual blue cyclone emerged swirling from nowhere, breaking the fist shadow around him; at the same time, his figure swayed into three black shadows dashing toward Stone Bai.
The sight dazzled Stone Bai, and he only saw something flashing before his eyes before he found that the black-robed young man had already approached him. Under great shock, he took back his arms to cover his chest, but a great blue palm as hard as steel had followed closely, leaving him no time to defend.
“Peng” A loud sound echoed.
Stone Bai only felt a brute force pressing upon him like a giant mountain, making him unable to breathe. His arms were numb and his chest was exposed.
But before he could grasp for a breath, the black figure had flashed to his side, the opponent’s right leg stomping Stone Bai’s chest like a spear thrust. Stone Bai wanted to vomit all the contents in his stomach, but his body trembled so terribly that he could not even lower his upper body to vomit. The next moment, he was hit by his opponent and flung out of the ring, like a useless broken sack, thrown away by its owner without the least sympathy.
Under the ring, Xiao Ming got a terrible shock seeing what had happened, but he soon darted out and caught Stone Bai in midair. The strong force took him three steps to steady himself.
Though the process seemed quite complex, it actually finished only in an instant. Most of the new disciples under the ring only saw Stone Bai dashing amid numerous phantoms of fists, that the figure of the black-robed young man flashed for an instant, and that Stone Bai was down the next second. Astounded, they tried to talk away the shock and fright with their equally shocked companions.
Under Xiao Ming’s help, Stone Bai slowly sat down, legs crossed. He rested with his eyes shut for a long while before redness gradually returned to his cheeks.
“Are you all right Brother Bai?” Shi Mu came with a concerned face, asking seriously as he saw the footprint on Stone Bai’s chest.
Stone Bai opened his eyes and threw Shi Mu a bitter smile that explained everything.
Meanwhile, Shi Mu caught a glimpse of a figure he was familiar with. Stone Bai and Xiao Ming also seemed to have spotted it too. The three cast their eager glances in the same direction and found Blue Phoenix standing proudly on a ring, dozens of meters away. She had already chosen her competitor, who was a beautiful girl in a pink skirt, now standing opposite of Blue Phoenix.