“After you!” Lu Yun brightened in anticipation.
Mo Chenfeng was around the same age as Feng Yin, but carried himself with considerably more composure. Lazuli was one of the strongest majors, one of the very few that boasted parity with Aureate. The Mo Clan occupied a very lofty position within Lazuli, much like the Qing Clan did in Nephrite.
A multicolored sword emerged from Mo Chenfeng’s body. He pointed a guiding finger, sending his sword on a luminous trail toward Lu Yun.
Anticipating the trajectory of the strike, Lu Yun leaned to the side in the nick of time. However, an endless crescendo of follow-up attacks pressed in on him, as inexorable as the crashing tide.
“What an incredible mastery of the sword!” he gasped, then rapidly stepped away to evade, leaving a series of afterimages.
As Mo Chenfeng followed through on his gesture, his iridescent sword wove a net of blades all around the arena. No matter where Lu Yun darted, the strike pressed in on him.
Yes! He could see it very clearly, Mo Chenfeng had only struck once. A single attack had been enough to envelop the platform in power.
This challenger’s sword art was different from Feng Yin’s. The majority of Feng’s sword light had been illusory, but every inch of Mo’s relentless flood was real. None of the radiant trails dissipated, instead building upon each other as time passed to increase their overall potency.
“Well met!” roared Lu Yun, leaping into the air. Violet light covered his entire body in a coat of bladed scales, almost draconic in appearance. He twisted nineteen times in midair, then crashed down with fang and claw, his transformation complete.
“Nineteen Cerulean Sword Dragons!” someone shouted from below.
“That’s an ultimate sword technique, lost for thousands of years!”
“Why is it here, of all places?!” Many immortals shot to their feet when they saw the technique. They stared at the sixty-meter-long dragon formed of sword aura that had appeared onstage.
“That’s right, that’s the one! I’ve seen an image of that technique in an old book!”
Upon the Coretrial Arena, Lu Yun’s technique of Nineteen Cerulean Sword Dragons was frolicking between Mo Chenfeng’s sword waves.
The two youths’ blades clashed countless times in an explosion of violet and rainbow light. When everything calmed again, Lu Yun and Mo Chenfeng only stood three meters or so apart.
“I concede.” Mo Chenfeng suddenly flashed a grin. “Thank you for going easy on me, Brother Lu.” He bowed politely. “If your sword had gone an inch further just now, I wouldn’t be walking down from this stage.”
“Not at all, Brother Mo, I merely relied on the strength of my treasure.” Lu Yun cupped his fist, returning the courtesy.
“Not at all.” Mo shook his head. “Your treasures are part of your overall strength. The fact you can use a ninth-rank treasure as a golden core cultivator is your own ability. Compared to you, my sword technique and abilities are both inferior.”
Saying this, he deftly hopped off the stage. The surrounding audience members drew in sharp breaths.
Not many people knew of Mo Chenfeng, since the young man preferred a low profile, but Lu Yun’s usage of the lost sword technique had universally astounded them.
“Is there some faction supporting this governor from behind the scenes?” Many scanned the crowd with glittering eyes, keenly looking for clues.
“The answer’s right in front of us. That sword he wields is Violetgrave, a blade that belongs to Nephrite’s Qing Clan. That’s his benefactor and master, no doubt.”
“Has the Qing Clan gotten its hands on the Nineteen Cerulean Sword Dragons technique then?”
The Qing Clan members were as confused as everyone else. The only actual connection they had to Lu Yun was through the accursed Qing Han. They didn’t even understand themselves how the boy had befriended the Dusk governor. Hadn’t his original goal been to kill the governor and take the seal?
“If Lu Yun intends to rely on the Qing Clan, he should offer up the Nineteen Cerulean Sword Dragons as tribute!” A white-haired old man beamed merrily as he stroked his beard.
“Indeed! We can’t back him for free. His Violetgrave was a gift from us… one that we expect great recompense for!”
Others began chattering in discussion.
“Short-sighted rats.” Qing Buyi wanted to smack his kinsmen out of existence.
“All of you, shut up.” The laid-back Chen Xiao finally spoke. “If Lu Yun wants to give you the Nineteen Cerulean Sword Dragons, he’ll do it without you saying so. If you try to rob him, don’t blame me for taking you to task.”
He raked a scathing glance over the Qing clansmen, who involuntarily shivered before shutting their mouths with embarrassment. Chen Xiao was only a maternal relative; his aunt was the official wife of the head of the Qing Clan: the mother of Qing Buyi and Qing Han. Even so, his name was widely feared among his relatives, an oft-mentioned horror story told to children.
When certain members of the clan had poisoned Qing Han with rimesnake poison, Chen Xiao had taken up arms alone. Despite the lack of evidence, he slaughtered nearly ten thousand Qing immortals, wiping out several subsidiary branches in the process.
His actions had astounded all of Nephrite Major, but not even the celestial emperor had much of a response. That particular instance of bloodshed had stained Chen Xiao’s name red. Before that, he’d only been seen as a prodigal youth, one half of Nephrite’s ‘Twin Devils’.
Chen Xiao dished out the mischief, while Qing Buyi cleaned up after his messes. They were perfect partners in crime, in a crooked sort of way.
Upon the stage, Lu Yun was beginning to show signs of fatigue. His disheveled hair and ragged breathing were symptoms of exhaustion after three successive rounds.
“This Dusk governor is too uncanny. We need to get him off the stage first!” Zhao Tiefeng’s face was still sullen, rather displeased by Lu Yun’s victories. “Don’t let him recover. Kick him while he’s down! Zhao Ling, you’re up!”
“Yes, sir!” A golden-haired youth leaped onstage at his orders, pressing the visible advantage. “Zhao Ling from the Exalted Immortal Sect. Let us fight!”
His mane of hair strangely glowed as radiantly as the burning sun overhead, and his eyebrows and lips were dyed the same aureate shade.
“The goldspirit constitution! Exalted Major’s specialty!” Surprise sounded from beneath the stage.
In the world of immortals, there were many special constitutions in the same vein as spirit roots. A goldspirit constitution was also called the divine goldspirit constitution, for it was nearly divine in its resilience and quality, excelling in particular at aggression.
“Your ninth-rank treasure is powerful, but how many times can you use it?” Zhao Ling lunged immediately, not wanting to give the governor any breathing room. His body was as keen as the sharpest blade, charging toward his enemy in a straight line.
In response, Lu Yun produced a talisman before slapping it onto himself.
The resonance heralded the manifestation of a great calligraphic character over his head. Yu, for ‘Ward’!
Zhao Ling bounced off the veil of the light that was produced by the character.