Zhao Ling ran headfirst into the barrier of light released by the yu character and bounced straight back.
“What is this?!” He focused his eyes and saw Lu Yun meditating behind the barrier, slowly recovering his internal energy.
“The Yu Talisman!!” Lethargy evaporated, Chen Xiao shot to his feet and stared at the calligraphy with stark disbelief. “That’s a talisman that’s been lost for almost ten thousand years. It’s normally displayed as an antique, since there’s such a limited number of them.
“It’s now worth as much as a first-rank immortal city.” Chen Xiao paused his stammering to suck in a breath. “It’s as valuable as ten Dusk Provinces, but that spendthrift activated one without batting an eye!!”
The destitute Dusk Province was worth less than one tenth of a first-rank immortal city, while the talisman was as valuable as one! Other than Chen Xiao, many immortals present were also staring at the talisman with a pained expression. For old fogeys partial to collecting lost artifacts, things like the Yu Talisman and Aurum Openia Pill were more precious than even the heritage of the ancient lord.
“Did Lu Yun loot the tomb of a ten-thousand-year-old heavyweight? Is that how he has these treasures?”
The Nineteen Cerulean Sword Dragons technique was another clue. Dusk Province was poor, but great resources lay hidden in the ancient tombs here.
“A Yu Talisman?” Zhao Ling rubbed his swollen forehead. “It’s just a turtle shell. I’ll smash right through it!”
Dense golden light enveloped his body, imbuing his skin with metallic attributes. Then, he approached the barrier and punched it.
A slight tremor shook the character over Lu Yun’s head as it released a jade-like glow to offset Zhao Ling’s attack. The challenger staggered back unsteadily.
“Gaaaaaaaaah! Break!!” Guttural roars accompanied each punch against the same spot on the light curtain. Sheer velocity and force formed afterimages of his fists.
Again and again, he was thrown back, but he always recovered with the fastest speed possible and returned to the same spot, smashing out punch after punch. Light pulsed through a body that seemed to contain an endless supply of enormous strength.
Eyes twitching, the crowd noted a very slight crack in the barrier of light.
“What a waste, what an utter waste!” Chen Xiao pulled at his hair. “What a waste of a great treasure!” He wanted nothing more than to hop onto the stage, punt the two youths away, and take the breaking talisman for himself.
“Break!!” Zhao Ling howled with determination, transforming his body into a figure of metal.
The talisman finally broke under the torrential downpour of punches and slowly scattered into dots of light.
“Die!” Without pause, Zhao Ling stepped forward and hurtled his fist at Lu Yun’s head.
The governor didn’t even move, but simply fished out another talisman and leisurely flung it into the air before the attack landed.
Another golden yu manifested above Lu Yun’s head, matching the color of Zhao Ling’s body. Caught off guard, the young man was again sent sprawling by the talisman and almost fell off the stage.
“You bastard!!” Wide-eyed, Zhao Ling almost retched a mouthful of blood—not from the impact, but from anger. He’d finally broken the last talisman after tens of thousands of punches, but then the brat just took out another one!
Wasn’t the talisman worth a first-rank immortal city? Since when had it become a common weed by the side of the road that could be pulled out one after another?
Chen Xiao sat back on his recliner and huffed, “His pockets seem incredibly deep. Hmph hmph, if he wants to become my cousin-in-law, I demand a good deal of betrothal gifts!”
Qing Buyi glared grimly at him. “That’s my sister you’re talking about. Any betrothal gifts are coming to me first!”
Their voices were kept low and the Qing members didn’t dare listen in, so no one knew what the two demons were talking about. Qing Han, on the other hand, threw them a murderous glare.
Chen Xiao and Qing Buyi hurriedly put on apologetic smiles and transmitted a litany of explanations. The disguised girl quickly alternated between flushing beet-red and scowling blackly in turn.
“Lu Yun!!” growled Zhao Ling. “Are you going to face me like a man, or not?!”
The young man slowly opened his eyes and responded weakly, “My apologies. Fighting three opponents in a row has exhausted my energy. Give me fifteen minutes to recover my stamina, then we’ll have a proper fight, alright?”
In lieu of a response, Zhao Ling stepped forward and threw another punch at the barrier, his jaw set.
“What a troublemaker!” Lu Yun sighed in resignation. “You’re keeping me from digesting Mo Chenfeng’s stroke.” He waved another talisman onto the stage.
With a flash of earth-tone brilliance, the talisman turned into two calligraphic characters.
The Tai Talisman!
Mount Tai was said to be the supreme divine mountain of the ancient world of immortals a hundred thousand years ago. All of the past celestial emperors had been crowned there.
The characters crashed onto Zhao Ling with the force of towering mountains, pressing him into the stage face first with his limbs sprawled out. The weight of the entire world bore down on him.
Lu Yun closed his eyes again, digesting what he’d learned from the previous fight. He’d long recovered his energy, but had been staying put to study Mo Chenfeng’s wave-like sword art. He could’ve returned to the Gates of the Abyss to do this.
However, at the end of the day, hell was a broken world filled with the energy of ruin. Returning to the netherworld might scatter the burgeoning inspiration in his mind. Hence, he chose to block Zhao Ling’s attacks with Yu Talismans and take his time to digest the sword art. Recovering his stamina was merely an excuse.
“Another long-lost talisman,” Chen Xiao mouthed, dumbfounded by the characters keeping Zhao Ling flat on the ground. “The Tai Talisman… just whose tomb has he raided?!”
“Unfortunately, my dear sister refuses to tell us what’s going on with Lu Yun,” grumbled Qing Buyi. “She’s completely taken his side!”
“That’s a good thing!” Chen Xiao said seriously. “That means Lu Yun is honest to Little Yu, and Little Yu honors this trust! If Little Yu told us about Lu Yun, I would wholeheartedly disapprove of their relationship.”
Qing Buyi stared incredulously at Chen Xiao and forced a grin that was uglier than tears. “That’s my blood sister!”
“So? She’s old enough to get married. We can’t protect her for all her entire life.” Chen Xiao’s tone took a despondent turn. “That is, if she has a lifetime to live....”
“Don’t worry, didn’t you say her accursed spirit root has been removed? I believe Lu Yun will cleanse her of the strange poison in no time.” Qing Buyi was much more optimistic.
Chen Xiao nodded slowly. “Yeah.”
Meanwhile, Zhao Tiefeng kept bellowing his frustration, but didn’t dare question Lu Yun any more.
The dao of immortals followed the rules of the heavenly dao, under which lurked all kinds of dangers. In their pursuit of heaven’s path, immortals needed auxiliary paths to assist them. Equipment, pills, formations, and talismans were the most potent among the supplemental options.
Auxiliary daos were allowed in clashes between immortals and cultivators. The Coretrial Arena could seal one’s cultivation, but the four auxiliary daos weren’t restricted. Thus, it wasn’t against the rules for Lu Yun to use the Yu and Tai talismans. The only problem was the sheer power the talismans possessed.
“Done!” After some time, Lu Yun opened eyes that twinkled ferociously while sword aura rose from his body and pierced the sky. With a wave of his hand, the heavy Tai Talisman vanished in a band of light.
Zhao Ling struggled to his feet, half dead from being pressed into the floor.
“Senior Zhao Ling of the Exalted Immortal Sect,” Lu Yun offered with a tinge of abashment, “Shall we take a break before fighting? I can wait an hour for you to recover.”
“Die!!” Eyes bloodshot with fury, Zhao Ling took Lu Yun’s words as a personal affront and charged with an angry howl, turning into a blur of gold.
“Ai… you’ve wasted your constitution by not utilizing the right fighting style. What a shame that a good talent like you joined the Exalted Immortal Sect.” Lu Yun manifested a flying sword with a twist of his wrist.
“This is a sword art I created by combining senior brother Mo Chenfeng’s billowing waves technique and my Nineteen Cerulean Sword Dragons. I wonder how powerful it is.” Tracking the incoming golden blur, Lu Yun murmured, “I name it… Vast Dragon Seaturner.”
He formed a seal with the sword, detonating into countless replicas circled around Lu Yun as he vanished into thin air. The stage now seemed to be a deep blue, upon which a white dragon comprised of sword energy overturned the seas and rivers, flicking tall waves into being that threatened the sky.
“That’s my sword technique!” Mo Chenfeng’s eyebrows shot into his hair. “No, that’s not it. He extracted only the essence and combined it with his Nineteen Cerulean Sword Dragons....” He could hardly believe his eyes.
“That’s the mark of a true genius, Chenfeng,” said a smiling, grey-haired old man next to him. “After fighting you, he was able to garner your strengths and turn it into his own, while you only gained some meager battle experience. That is the gap between you and a top genius.”
“This junior understands the wisdom in your words, Patriarch! Chenfeng will work harder.” Determination flicked through Mo Chenfeng’s eyes.
The old man nodded in approval.
“Why, why! He’s just a piece of trash in Dusk, an insect. How can he surpass and walk in front of me?” Feng Yin fussed with anger, shocked and envious of the powerful dragon thrashing above the stage. He wanted nothing more than to tear Lu Yun to pieces.
“Quiet,” said a frowning man next to him. “Observe their fight closely. It will benefit you greatly!”
Feng Yin quieted down, but his eyes were filled with crazed hatred. Trash, trash! I’ll kill you once you leave the arena!
The assembled cultivators stared avidly at the battle, drinking everything in. Every move and technique could bring them inspiration that they’d never encountered before.
Lu Yun was in the throes of creating a novel sword technique. Being in its infancy, he needed others to feed him various attacks to help mature and polish it.
Zhao Ling was the perfect candidate. He was an experienced fighter, but the Mount Tai talisman had exhausted him. That put him at a perfect level to serve as Lu Yun’s training partner.
They fought for more than a hundred breaths, then Zhao Tiefeng suddenly called out, “Forfeit, Zhao Ling! He’s using you to improve his sword art! Don’t let him!”
Realization dawned on Zhao Ling. With a glower that encompassed every violent intent in his body, he dodged a slash and unhesitatingly jumped off the arena.