Translator: Silavin & Tia
Translation Checker: PewPewLazerGun
Editor and Proofreader: Leo of Zion Mountain & Dhael Ligerkeys
The rewards for every Martial Gathering were extremely generous; after all, if the rewards were not good enough, then they would not motivate the people to try their hardest in the competition. Under normal circumstances, the rewards were jointly prepared by the top three Sects while Star Soul Palace would also contribute. The prizes usually included pills, Secret Arts, and Secret Techniques that were highly coveted.
What excited the tens of thousands of participating cultivators further was that the first place in the individual and group rankings would not only receive generous rewards, but they would also obtain the rights to enter the Restricted Areas of the top three Sects to cultivate for a time limit of one month each.
Each of the top three Sects in the Southern Territory had their own special cultivation zones. Azure Sun Temple had the Divine Ascension Mirror World, Heavenly Martial Holy Land had the Martial Intent Temple, and Orthodoxy Temple had the Outer Astral Wind, each with its own advantages. There was no need to explain much about the Divine Ascension Mirror World as it was naturally a place for cultivating the Soul. On the other hand, the Martial Intent Temple was a Restricted Area to perceive various Daos while the Outer Astral Wind of Orthodoxy Temple was an excellent place for Body Tempering.
These areas of the three top forces covered the cultivation necessities of a cultivator. If one could visit each of these three places then their future would be boundless. Who wouldn’t be moved by rewards like these? Things like cultivation resources were auxiliaries, while one’s own strength was their foundation. In addition, the first-place winners would also have the right to choose to join any one of the top three Sects and be nurtured as one of the Core Disciples within that Sect.
As soon as the rewards were announced, all the cultivators in the mountain valley became short of breath and beside themselves with excitement.
Having said that, the first-place winners of the past Martial Gatherings had always belonged to the three top forces. Moreover, they were all Core Disciples of their respective Sects, so while these rewards might be hugely attractive to 99% of the participants, to the disciples of the three top forces, they were nothing more than an extra flower in a bouquet.
The reason for putting out such a reward was so that the cultivators, other than ones in the three top forces, would be motivated to go all out and strive to obtain the best ranking they could get. In all the years that the Martial Gathering was held, upsets had certainly been seen. Moreover, they had happened more than once. Those existences that had originally been unknown had emerged victorious in the Martial Gathering and were taken in by the three great forces as a result. In the end, they would eventually achieve extraordinary results.
The rewards for second place were slightly inferior in comparison. They could still choose to join any one of the three top forces as a Core Disciple; however, the reward of entering all three Restricted Areas was reduced down to only two. The rewards for third place dwindled once again as they could only choose to join any one of the three top forces and enter any one of their three secret areas.
Further down, the cultivators would only receive material rewards. They could no longer choose to join the top three Sects nor received the chance to cultivate in the Restricted Areas.
With the announcements finished, the tens of thousands of cultivators in the mountain valley rolled up their sleeves and secretly vowed to themselves to perform well in the competition; after all, this was their chance to achieve great things.
When Feng Ming finished reading out the rules and the rewards, he turned back to glance behind him. Xiao Yu Yang smiled at Feng Ming slightly, indicating that he had nothing to say. Only then did Feng Ming raise his hand and shout, “Let the competition begin!”
The deafening sound of gongs and drums resounded throughout the valley from somewhere. Following that, figures flew out from halfway up the mountain. Each figure was a different colour stream of light, which made it look as though a meteor shower was falling out of the sky. One after another, they landed on the stages that were scattered across the mountain valley like chess pieces.
Yang Kai was among them. As a Referee, it was only natural that he was the first to appear on the stage. Speaking of which, it was quite funny that he was acting as a Referee for the first time in his life. Nevertheless, he was rather calm about it since he had the knowledge and life experience to adapt.
Standing on the Eighth Arena, he took out a jade slip and used his Divine Sense to check the contents. The jade slip contained a series of numbers, and each number represented a cultivator. The order of appearance and their respective opponents had been pre-arranged, so all he needed to do was call out the numbers of both parties, monitor the match, and make a fair ruling at the end. Lifting his gaze to look around, he loudly announced, “Round 1. No. 3018 against No. 15611!”
As soon as his voice sounded, a petite figure flew out from below the stage and landed firmly on the arena. That person bowed at him and greeted him crisply, “Greetings, Senior.”
[I became their Senior just like that?] Yang Kai sniffed a little. [I seriously wonder whether I am older than this girl.]
However, with his current strength, not many people across the entire Star Boundary could still stand on equal footing with him, much less claim to be his Senior.
As such, Yang Kai nodded and smiled at that person, only then studying her carefully. It turned out to be a petite woman with two delicate ponytails at the back of her head. Her black hair swayed in the wind, and her modest dress set off her exquisite and curvy figure. She certainly did not look very old as the aura of youth had yet to fade from her face. Additionally, her cultivation was fairly good. She was in the Second-Order Dao Source Realm, but he could not tell which Sect she came from.
While Yang Kai was still studying her, another person appeared on the other side of the arena. It was a brave and heroic-looking young man dressed in black attire that flapped wildly in the wind. He had an assertive aura, and his eyes were filled with a fierce light, making him appear extremely dangerous.
[A Third-Order Dao Source Realm!] Yang Kai glanced at the man and secretly thought to himself. [This is going to be difficult for No. 3018.]
Not everyone was capable of fighting above their realm or killing opponents that were supposedly stronger than themselves like Yang Kai could. Most of the time, the difference of one Minor Realm was enough to create a huge disparity in strength. If not for that, why else would everybody do their best to cultivate in hopes of a breakthrough? It went without saying that these kinds of things could not be generalized of course and in a life-or-death situation, mental state, grasp of the situation in the battle, and ability to adapt to changes were the keys to determining victory or defeat. That was why there were so many examples of the weak defeating the strong.
No. 3018 bowed upon seeing her opponent enter the stage and politely greeted, “Yu Zhuo of Luo Sha Sect!”
Regardless of how the battle progressed later, the necessary etiquette should still be maintained. Besides, the Referee was still watching from the side.
On the contrary, the young man in black attire did not seem to share the same sentiment. He simply lifted his hand, pointed at this Yu Zhuo from Luo Sha Sect, and expressionlessly demanded, “Scram. You are no match for me.”
His tone was not arrogant but simply matter-of-fact. It sounded as though he was just stating the truth, and he was certainly qualified to speak in such a manner. His cultivation was higher than his opponent by a whole Minor Realm after all.
When Yu Zhuo heard those words, a flash of anger flitted across her face and she bit her red lips lightly and rebuked, “We haven’t even fought yet! How can you be sure that I am no match for you!?”
The man in black attire replied, “Do not refuse a toast only to be forced to drink a forfeit.”
Yu Zhuo was livid, but nevertheless, she abruptly took a deep breath and calmed the rage in her heart. Turning to look at Yang Kai, who was standing there calmly, she asked, “Senior, may we start?”
She was already standing here, so how could she be chased away with just a few words from her opponent? Even so, the other party’s belittling attitude had truly incensed her. If not for her good upbringing, she might have already attacked without even caring to check with Yang Kai.
Yang Kai lowered his gaze and folded his arms in front of his chest in a calm and easy-going manner and nodded, “Of course.”
The truth was that those two could have started fighting the moment both of them stepped onto the arena, but Yu Zhuo’s respectful attitude had gained her some favorability.
As soon as the words left Yang Kai’s mouth, the man in black attire lunged toward Yu Zhuo like a whirlwind. A sword as tall as a man appeared in his hands and flashed with lightning. He appeared in front of her in an instant and brought his sword slashing down on her head. There was no holding back just because she was a woman and from his posture, it seemed like he wouldn’t be satisfied unless he cut her in half.
Yu Zhuo was shocked as she had not expected her opponent to attack without any warning. Moreover, his attack came so abruptly and there had been no prior indication at all. In a flurry, she hastily summoned a soft whip that she used to immediately protect her vitals.
A series of clashing sounds rang out and sparks flew everywhere. Two figures moved across the arena swiftly, with one falling back while the other pressed forward. The young man in black attire was pursuing his opponent closely and the power behind his sword was extremely heavy, each swing he made wide and sweeping. His posture was completely focused on attacking and he did not put any effort into defending whatsoever. His attacks pushed Yu Zhuo so hard that she could barely keep up with them.
His cultivation was one Minor Realm higher than hers; furthermore, he had momentum on his side as he had launched the first attack, so it was only natural that he had the upper hand in the fight. Be that as it may, Yu Zhuo wasn’t bad either. The soft whip in her hand was like an extension of her arm and despite losing the initiative in the fight, she had instantly defended herself against her opponent’s sudden onslaught of attacks. Although she was a little out of breath and even showed some signs of being defeated, she displayed neither weakness nor vulnerability.
Yang Kai watched the scene before him with a slightly raised brow and began observing seriously. He had no choice but to be serious here as he was the Referee of the Eighth Arena, and it was his job to prevent unnecessary death or injury. In other words, he had to stop the fight as soon as he noticed that one side’s defeat was clear and before unnecessary harm was done. It was only the first battle on the first day of the Martial Gathering, so he didn’t want anything to go wrong either.
If he had to be honest with himself, he was biased towards Yu Zhuo from a personal standpoint. It had nothing to do with gender, it was just that Yu Zhuo had been polite to him while on the contrary, that man in black attire’s arrogant attitude annoyed him. [I am the Referee of the Eighth Arena. It’s bad enough that you didn’t greet me as ‘Senior’. But, what do you mean by not even looking my way even when you come up to the stage?]
However, Referees could not be partial to any one party, so Yang Kai could only watch the situation and sigh inwardly at the same time. [This Yu Zhuo is at a great disadvantage. Not only is her cultivation lower than her opponent’s, but she also lost the initiative in the fight. If nothing changes, the victor will be decided soon.]
The two continued their high-speed chase in the arena and reached the edge of the ring in the blink of an eye.
Yu Zhuo had been forced to retreat all the way here, so she didn’t have the time to pay attention to the situation at her feet at all. By the time she lost her footing and noticed that something was wrong, it was too late. She would lose the moment she fell out of the ring whether she could still fight or not. The sudden change made her panic and she let out a cry of surprise as her body fell backwards unstably.
Conversely, this was exactly what the young man in black had been waiting for. He had been in pursuit all this time, so he saw from a different perspective and noticed something Yu Zhuo couldn’t; thus, he smiled savagely as he shouted, “Fall!”
While speaking, he slashed his sword down at her body.
Yang Kai nearly couldn’t stop himself from making a move, but at that critical moment, Yu Zhuo’s body bent at an incredible angle. She had one foot holding onto the edge of the arena as her body bent backwards just enough to avoid the blow from the man in black. Immediately following that, she flicked her soft whip and wrapped it around her opponent’s sword and used it as leverage to twist herself up and landed softly behind him.
Their positions were reversed in an instant.
Many cultivators watching from the audience were stunned while a certain group of cultivators cheered wildly. They were, without a doubt, Yu Zhuo’s fellow Sect members that were cheering for her.
Even Yang Kai was stunned as he had not expected Yu Zhuo to find a way out of that desperate situation under those circumstances. He could tell that she had not planned for this to happen as her reactions and the panic on her face when she lost her footing just now had not been faked. She simply overcame the crisis and prevented herself from falling out of the ring entirely by relying on her ability to adapt and react to the situation.