Xu Tianran said, "I'm even more fascinated and interested in this battle after listening to your analysis. Let's just wait and see."
The judge had entered the arena by now. He announced the rules of the round robin stage before he added a final announcement. "Group one: the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy versus the Tang Sect. Participants, please enter the waiting area. Will the first contestants of the single elimination phase please step on stage?"
Both teams stood up at almost the same time, with the exception of Huo Yuhao. Their gazes met, and sparks seemed to fly in that instant. Huo Yuhao's eyes were still closed, as if he were actually sleeping.
Wang Qiu'er's eyes were ice-cold, but her eyes were locked on Huo Yuhao from the beginning to the end. She frowned involuntarily when she noticed that he hadn't opened his eyes at all. The Tang Sect had forfeited the last round, and she was incredibly displeased with their decision. Will they give this round up as well? No matter what happens, I will lead Shrek Academy into the next round. We have to defeat the Sun Moon Empire's team, and we will also have to defeat the Tang Sect. What should I do if they abandon this round once more?
Thoughts were still spinning around in Wang Qiu'er's head while the contestants entered the waiting area.
Nan Qiuqiu whispered to Jing Ziyan beside her over at the Tang Sect's camp. "Do you think we can win this round? That's the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy! They came in second place in the previous round, and I've heard that they've been second place for two seasons in a row. They have never lost to anyone else besides the Shrek Academy team."
Jing Ziyan answered mysteriously, "Does that mean you favor our opponents in this round?"
Nan Qiuqiu said, "Of course. We forfeited the last round, but why aren't we forfeiting this one? It's better for us if we conserve our strength and our energy to fight the other teams. This is the first round, and if we end up losing this round and we all end up wounded and exhausted, doesn't that mean we're going home?"
Jing Ziyan felt a little speechless. "Does that mean you believe we have the ability to defeat the Shrek Academy team? If we forfeit this round and we lose against Shrek Academy, how do we progress to the next round? Only two teams from each group can progress into the quarter-finals."
Nan Qiuqiu widened her eyes. "What? You think the Tang Sect, a sect without any reputation at all, can progress into the quarter-finals? Are you sure about what you just said? Unless every single one of them is as powerful as you are, how can they progress into the quarter-finals? It's just not possible. Their most optimal choice should be to try their best to win a few rounds in the group stage, so that they can have a good ranking at the end."
Jing Ziyan chuckled and said, "I wouldn't be so sure about that. How about, let's have a bet?"
Nan Qiuqiu had always been rather stubborn and defiant. "What are we betting on? How's that going to work?"
Jing Ziyan replied, "We can bet on who emerges victorious in this round. You favor the Sun Moon Empire's team, right? I am betting that the Tang Sect will win this round. If you win, I will take you Radiant City's most lavish and luxurious hotel for a delicious meal. But if you lose, you have to fight against me one-versus-one over ten different occasions, and split over ten different days. Your annihilation element is quite interesting."
The corner of Nan Qiuqiu's mouth twitched, and it was evident that she was reminiscing about a certain unpleasant memory. She deliberated for a little while, and she nodded vigorously as she said, "Alright, it's a done deal, then. You can't cheat, though. I feel like I can already see a sumptuous meal in front of me."
Jing Ziyan said arrogantly, "I will make this bet with you, in the name of the Tang Sect's glory. If I lose, so be it, and all I have to do is spend some money to take you out for a meal. It's a deal, neither of us can cheat."
Ji Juechen was sitting on Jing Ziyan's other side, and his mouth twitched, but his eyes were as calm as always. His gaze was fixated on Huo Yuhao. This epic battle will surely inspire me in some way. It's your show, Yuhao. But how much of your true abilities can you unleash with the state that your body is in?
Both teams were inside the waiting area at this point.
Xiao Hongchen gestured to one of the Sun Moon Empire's team members, and the youth immediately leapt to his feet and jumped onto the competition stage. He was big and tall, and his shoulders were extremely broad. His eyes were cool and collected, and he seemed very calm to the people watching him. He could be considered very dignified and rather dashing, with especially wide hands, with long and slender fingers. The audience could tell that he was quite formidable as soon as he got onto the competition stage.
Wang Dong'er patted Huo Yuhao's right hand gently over in the Tang Sect's camp, and she stood up from her seat.
Huo Yuhao finally opened his eyes as she stood up. His eyes were cold, and could even be described as grim and unfeeling. Huo Yuhao gave a faint nod back to Wang Dong'er, but he didn't say anything else.
Wang Dong'er tapped on the ground with her foot and drifted onto the competition stage. The protective soul barriers rose from the ground the moment she stepped onto the stage and separated the contestants from the outside world.
"It's Wang Dong!" Meng Hongchen was seated inside the waiting area, and she felt as if a bucket of ice-cold water had just splashed over her fighting spirit and extinguished half of it.
A strange smile broke out across Xiao Hongchen's face. "Looks like the heavens are on our side, and it was the right decision not to let you take point. If you accidentally lost to him, we would have had real problems in the subsequent rounds."
Meng Hongchen bit down on her lower lip and mumbled under her breath, "If only I had known Wang Dong was the first one, then I would have told Shi Xing to have some mercy and not land any killing blows. It's too late now! What should I do?"
Xiao Hongchen was clearly exasperated, but he didn't seem surprised by her reaction at all. "Whose side are you on? The question we should be thinking about is whether we can win this round!"
They were quarreling on their side, while Wang Dong'er and the youth from the Sun Moon Empire's team walked to the center of the stage.
The judge glanced at them both as he lowered his voice and said, "This is the first fight of the round robin stage. Be careful, you two, and try your best not to wound or cripple your opponent. I will immediately separate the two of you once I deem one party to be victorious, and neither party is to continue attacking. Otherwise, I will declare the violator disqualified. Do you understand?"
There were too many people who were either wounded or dead from the elimination rounds, and the organizing committee had shouldered quite some pressure. It was natural that they would require the judges to be a lot stricter than before.
The youth from the Sun Moon Empire's team nodded and said, "My name is Shi Xing. Remember my name; perhaps it will follow you for the rest of your life." He turned around towards the edge next to his camp as he spoke.
Wang Dong'er frowned and asked the judge, "Are youths nowadays all so ridiculous?"
The corner of the judge's mouth twitched. "Prepare for battle. This competition relies on fighting strength and abilities, not how powerful your mouth is."
Wang Dong'er said plainly, "Don't be biased. Otherwise, you will regret it."
The judge was momentarily stunned. He had been the judge for quite a few rounds during the elimination round, and this was the first time that he was encountering somebody that dared to threaten a judge! This fellow was a little outrageous!
Wang Dong'er was just about to turn around and return to her own side, but she suddenly saw someone waving to her from the other side... wasn't that Meng Hongchen? Wang Dong'er glanced at her helplessly, and she waved back at the same time before she retreated to her own side.
Meng Hongchen instantly became excited as she turned towards Xiao Hongchen and said, "Did you see that, brother? He waved to me! Did you see how exasperated and helpless he looked? It's clear that he doesn't want to face us in battle. We have to get him into our academy after the competition, no matter what! I can be with him that way!"
"Shut up! You're so hopelessly infatuated. I've had enough of you. Sit your ass down, you have utterly disgraced the Hongchen family." Xiao Hongchen was practically growling as softly as he could.
Wang Dong'er's eyes met Huo Yuhao's eyes when she turned back around and walked towards her own camp. Huo Yuhao's eyes were ice-cold at this moment, as if he was in an entirely different state altogether, and he made a gesture at her.
Wang Dong'er nodded softly to show that she understood.
She walked all the way to the competition stage's edge before she turned back around once more. However, she could see just as she was turning around that the judge's arm had already swung downwards to signal that the fight had begun.
Do you have to be so obviously biased? Wang Dong'er frowned faintly. She wasn't hasty to charge forward, and her eyes sparkled as a pair of dazzling wings extended from behind her back.
Enormous blue wings covered her entire back, and she was immediately blanketed with a beautiful bluish-golden layer of light. Her Radiant Butterfly Goddess' wings flickered with golden spots, and it felt as if these spots had come alive as a dense aura of light surged into the sky.
The first person to make a move was Shi Xing, who was representing the Sun Moon Empire's team. He took a step out and dashed forward as his flying-type soul tool extended out behind his body at the same time. It took two accelerations before he surged into the sky and flew high into the air. Four streaks of brilliant white light erupted from behind his flying-type soul tool and propelled his body into the sky like a shooting star.
A Class 4 scarlet-red explosive shell barreled toward Wang Dong'er as he soared through the sky.
This season was just like the last one, and soul engineers were not allowed to use stationary soul tools. Class 4 explosive shells had a similar reputation to Milk Bottles amongst Class 4 soul tools, and they were extremely powerful. However, a longer time was needed to charge them up. That Shi Xing could control his flying-type soul tool to rise through the air while firing an explosive shell so quickly meant he was quite adept with soul tools.
Wang Dong'er shifted her mouth indifferently as she flapped her wings gently and rose into the sky along with him.
The reason why Huo Yuhao agreed to let her take the first round was substantially related to the fact that she could fly. Sects and academies that consisted mostly of soul engineers had a higher win rate in the elimination rounds before this because of the tournament's new rules. The immense advantage that soul engineers had because they could fly was just too evident.
Wang Dong'er shot into the sky like an arrow, but a strange scene occurred immediately afterwards... the Class 4 explosive shell suddenly changed direction and followed closely behind her!