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Chapter 1: A Jealousy-Fuelled Battle
“Come and have a look; Qi Ying says he’s going to battle Duan Renshan on the dueling platform!”
This piece of news spread like wildfire over the grasslands. News passed quickly from mouth to mouth and within a few minutes, the entire Celestial River Academy had heard the news. Thus, many of the disciples within the academy began to focus on that event and discussed spiritedly among themselves.
“Qi Ying? Isn’t that the new disciple that just entered the academy a month ago? The guy with the silver glove on his left hand?”
“What?! He’s got some nerve! He’s only at the Seventh Strength Martial Stage and he’s challenging Duan Renshan, who is already at the Energy Martial Stage?”
“On top of that, doesn’t Qi Ying hail from an undistinguished family? He even brought a blind woman with him, when he came to the academy. In contrast, Duan Renshan is the young master of the Duan family from the Celestial River County! How did they end up in a duel together?”
Once people stepped onto the dueling platform, they had to be ready for a potential demise! Even if they were beaten to death, it would just be a case of bad luck!
There were often short-tempered and vigorous youths who wanted to fight due to certain disagreements and conflicts. As such, it was far from a rare occurrence to see two disciples battling it out on the dueling platform; it was not an event that should have attracted so much attention. However, the difference was that in one corner, there was a Strength Martial Stage disciple who came from an unknown family, while in the other corner was the Young Master of the Duan family, who was already at the Energy Martial Stage. It was quite the eye-opener to all of the disciples in the academy.
Duels had to be held between individuals of the same socioeconomic status. If one was brought up by a poor family, it would be difficult to defeat a noble who had access to better cultivation methods and more resources. Even if they were capable of defeating a noble, they still had no choice but to endure bullying from the nobles, as retaliation would result in the nobles deploying servants to smash the windows on their houses!
Thus, everyone was completely befuddled by this situation, especially when they learned that Qi Ying was the one who had instigated the duel.
Since when did undistinguished people like him dare to challenge a noble?
“Qi Ying and Duan Renshan have already stepped onto the dueling platform!”
“Hurry up! We have to go and see it!”
Several hundred disciples flocked to the large courtyard within which the dueling platform was situated. They looked up to discover that atop the meter-tall ring that was paved neatly with white stones, there were already two youths about fifteen or sixteen years of age.
There was Duan Renshan, who was slightly taller and broader than his opponent; his hair was neatly-combed and he was wearing a suit of spirit cloth armor with golden stitching on the edges. He was looking at the thin and somewhat lanky Qi Ying from the corners of his eyes. Qi Ying was wearing a set of brown cloth garments with a silver glove on his left hand, and he was quite a bit more handsome than Duan Renshan.
Duan Renshan harrumphed after making this comparison. “Qi Ying, let me stress the fact that you were the one who challenged me to this duel! I didn’t force you to do this and if I beat you to the point of disability, I’m not going to pay for your medical bill!”
Qi Ying responded nonchalantly.
“What kind of attitude is that?!” Duan Renshan was feeling quite humiliated by the one-syllable response to his words and said, “You challenged me to this duel; shouldn’t you be speaking a bit more?”
Qi Ying gave a two-syllable response this time.
All of the spectators around the dueling platform erupted into boos.
During a conversation, responding with a single syllable like ‘Oh’, or giving a two-syllable reply like ‘Hehe’ was pretty much the biggest insult one could deliver. It was even more scathing than hurling abuse and taunting the opponent.
“Does anyone know why this duel is happening?”
An answer was immediately provided, “It’s all because of An Ruyi! She’s a man-eater!”
Many people were enlightened by the response.
An Ruyi was from the upper class An family of the Celestial River County. She was currently sixteen years of age and was like a budding flower ready to blossom. Furthermore, she was a Goddess in the hearts of countless young men, regardless of whether they were noble or low-born.
The event taking place today within the Celestial River Academy was like something taken straight from a fictional novel. Despite the fact that An Ruyi was of noble birth, she showed particular interest in Qi Ying, who was of low socioeconomic status, but was quite handsome. Many disciples bore witness to An Ruyi cutting off Qi Ying at the gate of the academy before taking the initiative to hold hands with him. That scene had enraged Duan Renshan, who had a crush on her, so he began to verbally provoke the innocent Qi Ying. However, what was different from the stereotypical novel storylines was that Qi Ying was the one to propose a duel, in order to settle their differences!
This was something that many lowly disciples dreamed of doing, but when something of the sort actually happened, all of them felt like An Ruyi and Qi Ying had both gone insane.
“Look! Over there! It’s An Ruyi!” Someone yelled. Everyone turned to discover a slender young woman with inky-black hair and skin as fair as snow. That young woman was none other than An Ruyi.
However, to everyone’s surprise, An Ruyi did not appear to be concerned about Qi Ying in the slightest. She did not wear an expression of anxiety and concern as everyone had expected; it was as if she didn’t even care if Qi Ying lived or died. Instead, she was eagerly looking up at the dueling platform, with the type of expectant smile one wore in anticipation of a thrilling show.
“The duel is about to start!”
A burst of commotion rang out within the crowd and everyone turned their attention away from An Ruyi before focusing on the fight.
On the dueling platform.
Duan Renshan let loose a loud cry before lunging forward. He clenched his right hand and a layer of light yellow energy enveloped his fist.
Many of the Strength Martial Stage disciples looked on with expressions of admiration and envy.
This was the signature trait of an Energy Martial Stage warrior; True Energy!
Materializing True Energy allowed one to cultivate in the basic cultivation methods, thereby enabling one to truly embark on the path of cultivation. The most direct benefit of possessing True Energy was that one could utilize it to unleash battle techniques in order to wound their enemies from a distance.
In a direct confrontation, it was often the case that Strength Martial Stage warriors wouldn’t even be able to get close to an Energy Martial Stage warrior, before being blasted flying by their battle techniques. That was an almost insurmountable gulf in strength.
Everyone’s attention was focused on Duan Renshan as he unleashed a punch.
The light yellow energy around his fist detached itself from his fist and quickly expanded to become a massive fist projection over a meter in diameter.
The fist projection struck Qi Ying, who had just adopted a horse stance and hadn’t even had time to raise his arms as a shield.
Qi Ying was blasted flying like a stone that had been thrown into the distance. He flew high into the sky and drew a parabolic curve through the air before landing heavily outside the dueling platform, sending a burst of dust and debris rising around him.
Duan Renshan: “…”
An Ruyi: “…”
All of the academy disciples: “…”
What the hell?
Duan Renshan was indeed quite powerful, but he was only at the First Energy Martial Stage. He had only attained True Energy not long ago and wasn’t even well-versed in any battle techniques. Qi Ying was at the Seventh Strength Martial Stage, but he couldn’t even take a single attack from Duan Renshan?
At this moment, Qi Ying clambered to his feet and dusted himself off before pressing his silver-gloved left hand to his stomach. His brows knitted together in an agonized expression. “Duan Renshan, you’re so powerful! I admit my inferiority and concede to you wholeheartedly. From now on, An Ruyi is yours. I won’t speak to her ever again!”
On a secluded forest path situated on a mountain behind the Celestial River Academy.
Duan Renshan emerged from behind a tree before quickly cutting Qi Ying off on the narrow path.
Qi Ying’s footsteps faltered and he raised his eyebrows. “What do you want? I lost and An Ruyi belongs to you. I’ve already promised to never speak to her again; what more do you want from me?”
Duan Renshan’s lips twitched. “Hmph! You challenged me to a duel but intentionally threw the battle. You must be afraid of coping a beating from me! Not only are you being referred to as a coward after that battle, you’ve even brought shame upon me! There are even rumors going around that I bribed you prior to the duel! You little sh*t, I’m going to beat you to death today!”
Qi Ying looked around at his surroundings, assessing that there was no one else aside from Duan Renshan and himself.
“You want to fight?”
“That’s right! Are you too scared to fight me?”
Duan Renshan raised a fist in provocation and light yellow True Energy began to appear. In that secluded forest, he could do anything he wanted to Qi Ying as long as he didn’t kill him.
Qi Ying gave another two-syllable reply.
However, last time, his face had remained completely expressionless. This time, he was smiling.
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Translator: Si Mei / Siew Editor: B E E P/ Avis