The imposing, overlapping shadows of tombs didn’t faze Dongfang Hao at all. His sword aura shone ever so brightly like a second sun in the sky and cut straight into them.
“Violetgrave’s aura has morphed into a collection of tombs!” The spectating immortals marveled at the mausoleum manifested from the sword.
The environment around Dongfang Hao changed as soon as his sword aura slashed into the mausoleum. Gone were the heavens and earth, as well as the crowd. He seemed to have entered a different world.
“Where are we?” He looked around warily, holding his position in midair with his sword at the ready.
“Inside Violetgrave’s sword aura.” Lu Yun faded into existence. “I haven’t been walking the dao of swords for very long, and the amount of knowledge I’ve grasped for this weapon pales in comparison to yours. I can only rely on Violetgrave’s inherent power.”
Lu Yun’s sword aura was the boundless sword ocean. Using its presence to deploy the sword dragon was the basis of the Vast Dragon Seaturner technique, a self-created technique that had exceeded the caliber of the original Nineteen Cerulean Sword Dragons.
The mausoleum was Violetgrave’s own power, which may have been forged by the swordsmith, or its previous master.
“It’s very impressive that senior brother Lu is able to activate the aura of a ninth-rank sword!” Sword aura swirled around Dongfang Hao to defend against the purple sword energy, admiration in his eyes.
He was using a third-rank sword—the best of the inferior rank swords—which was the most he could manage. Wielding a sword over that level would only hinder, rather than empower him. For cultivators, the best weapon wasn’t necessarily the one of the highest rank, but the one that best suited oneself. Being able to wield a ninth-rank sword at the core realm and activate its aura at the nascent spirit realm made Lu Yun a very rare exception.
Of course, the world of immortals was vast, and there was no shortage of great talents. There were even rarities that were born as immortals, like the people of the ancient times. Therefore, Lu Yun might be an exceptional case, but not so far out of the realm of acceptance.
Dongfang Hao’s eyes gleamed ever more passionately with battle intent. Sword aura blazed to the skies again, then slashed at Lu Yun.
Lu Yun and Dongfang Hao grappled in an intense fight within the violet light, neither gaining the upper hand. Outside the battlefield, Wu Tulong, Zi Chen, and Mo Qitian faced their own opponents as well.
News of the Five Youth Sovereigns had reached all parts of the world of immortals, making its way to the ears of geniuses like Lü Guhong. In response, talented cultivators from the monster spirits of the ten lands, dragons of the four seas, and even the divine and demonic races had gathered to challenge the five youths.
“Totally on purpose! Those nine old farts did this on purpose! Hahaha!” Chen Xiao and Qing Buyi hadn’t taken to the air. They were still in their seats and had their heads tilted up to the sky.
Chen Xiao snorted, scoffing for a brief moment. “The tournament itself wasn’t a big enough of a draw. Many geniuses in the world don’t give a damn about the ancient lord’s heritage and thus haven’t paid the province a visit. That’s why the nine came up with the Five Youth Sovereigns moniker to lure them here!
“This is a very good occasion. No matter what comes of this, the tournament will greatly benefit cultivators around the world. Many people have already recorded the battles between the young geniuses so that their own sect disciples can study the fights. What a cunning plan and execution! If the nine celestial emperors from eighty thousand years ago could’ve set aside their differences and come up with such a plan, our world would’ve long since recovered a tenth of the ancient world’s prosperity.”
“Not only that,” Qing Buyi remarked bemusedly, “but I wonder if the nine old farts already know what the buried heritage actually is. Is it really just the Sword Pogoda? Just an ancient lord’s treasured possession?”
“Let’s wait and see.” Chen Xiao exhaled deeply. “Those nine fossils picked the right person this time. Lu Yun has not only met their expectations, but exceeded them! They originally chose Wu Tulong and the other three kids, but after the governor’s sudden emergence to stardom, they added him to the lineup.
“Lu Yun is displaying all of his tricks with abandon, even treasures like the Emerald Mistfire and Formation Orb, precisely because he’s guessed the celestial emperors will support him.”
“Little Yu’s picked the right man!” Qing Buyi capered, beaming widely. “Wedding bells, wedding bells! Let’s propose a match! I’ll take Little Yu to make an offer tomorrow! He, and no other, will be my younger brother-in-law!”
“Hold on.” Chen Xiao pushed his cousin back down with a shake of his head. “Little Yu hasn’t told Lu Yun about her real identity. We can’t do that for her; we’d end up doing more harm than good. Let them sort this out themselves. Besides, the world of immortals is about to fall into chaos.”
Qing Buyi paused. “Oh?”
“In addition to the Nephrite celestial emperor, the other eight celestial emperors are entering closed door cultivation as well! The nine emperors set up this tournament to encourage exchanges between all cultivators everywhere. What do you think the nine of them want to do?
“They’re going to attempt a joint breakthrough!”
Qing Buyi trembled. Once the nine celestial emperors had all entered closed door cultivation at the same time, the world of immortals would be bound to dissolve into disarray.
In the air, the intense duels between the four pairs of geniuses lasted for three full days.
Increasing numbers of cultivators arrived in Dusk Province, tightly crowding a fifteen hundred kilometer radius around Dusk City. Meanwhile, immortals retreated outside the circle and observed from afar, yielding the closer vantage points to the cultivators.
The world of immortals is only as powerful as its cultivators. Many accepted Lu Yun’s words as truth over the past three days.
The eight geniuses pulled out all of their tricks to defeat their opponents, which in turn greatly benefited the audience. A good number of cultivators took to the three arenas to test their cultivation against each other, or, barring that, exchanged a few moves on the ground.
The provincial seal still hovered above the Spiritrial Arena, but almost everyone had forgotten about the one thing that could lead them to the heritage of the ancient lord.
On the fourth day, there was a sudden explosion. A bedraggled figure fell from the sky, his sword broken into pieces and a trickle of blood trickling down the corner of his mouth.
“I concede!” White hair slightly unkempt, Dongfang Hao locked his gaze on Lu Yun.
Wavering, the Dusk governor was barely keeping himself upright.
Dongfang Hao’s sword aura was far too powerful for his sword ocean to buck off. Even though Lu Yun had called upon Violetgrave’s sword aura, it was only enough to help him stay toe-to-toe. Moreover, Dongfang Hao’s cultivation was also much higher than his.
“By your grace,” Lu Yun exhaled the impurities in his body. “I only won because of the inherent might of a ninth-rank treasure.”
“No.” Dongfang Hao shook his head. “The ninth-rank sword is part of your strength. It’s not luck that allowed you to defeat me; if we fought as cultivators of the same level, I wouldn’t be your match.”
“No one cares about cultivation level in a fight of life or death,” Lu Yun said. “The only thing that matters to cultivators is power. Your superior cultivation is part of your strength as well!”
Dongfang Hao blinked and nodded. “Well said.”
“Let us fight, Dongfang Hao, Lu Yun!” Another two cultivators came forward to challenge them.
“I have some theories to test after sparring with senior brother Lu. Let’s fight!” Fueled by towering heroism, Dongfang Hao put away his broken sword and manifested a weapon created from sword aura alone.
“We fight!” Lu Yun didn’t back away either. They rushed toward the two challengers in two streaks of light.
“Remaining humble after victory and driven after defeat. Boldly pushing oneself to the heights of ambition and constantly seeking improvement. That is what the celestial emperors saw in the youth sovereigns.”