After taking a moment to regain his bearings and clear his mind, Shin resolutely stared down at the arena, where Suji was lying in wait. The fact that Suji could fight in the air came as a surprise to Shin, but now that he had peace and quiet, the black-haired youth now had the freedom to analyse the new technique.
‘Based on his movements, Suji probably can only change directions three times in the air.’ Shin thoroughly reflected on the sinewy youth’s aerial combat. ‘Removing his final move, where he would change directions to return to the ground, Suji can only chase me twice in the air. That gives me an opening to strike!’
Raising his hands, Shin created dozens of water tendrils as he slowly dropped towards the arena. As much as he wished to battle on the ground, Suji’s electrified pool made it impossible for Shin to hold any kind of advantage. Which meant that Shin only had one option if he wanted to fight Suji.
‘I must force him into aerial combat!!!’
Utilising the cover of the pouring rain, Shin fired all of his water tendrils towards the ground, hoping to bring Suji up into the air, and for the most part, the Son of War took that challenge head-on. Unafraid of Shin’s aerial dominance, Suji spun his Purple Dragon Crescent Blade and leapt straight at the black-haired youth.
Thunder clapped as Suji’s body seemingly turned into a bolt of electric current. Charging into the skies, Suji swung his Guandao at Shin. His senses heightened, Shin exploded the water orb that was on his ankles and flew hastily in the other direction. With his blade hitting empty space, Suji somersaulted once and kicked the air, changing his trajectory to give chase to Shin.
Eager to test his theory, Shin evaded the attack once more and allowed Suji to pursue him in the air. As expected, after his second directional change, Suji was forced to kick the air and fall back to the ground, giving Shin the opportunity to attack.
While the Son of War was falling to the earth, Shin exploded both water orbs on his ankles and rapidly descended alongside Suji, as if he were a falcon diving for its prey. Sensing danger, Suji twisted his body mid-air to face the oncoming threat. Regrettably, he was just a tad too late.
“HARGHHH!!!” Shin hollered out as he punched through the electric field protecting Suji.
Landing his punch right at the Du Mai meridian, Shin’s mana-infused blow pierced through the tight defences that Suji had put up, forcing the youth to cough out a mouthful of blood. However, Suji wasn’t the only one who got injured from that short exchange.
To attack the tiger, one had to brave its claws. The lightning coils that surrounded Suji flowed effortlessly through Shin’s extended hand and shocked many parts of the black-haired youth’s internal organs.
Fortunately, with his added resistances and self-healing abilities, Shin was able to emerge from that attack relatively unscathed. However, if he were to continually challenge Suji’s electrical field, there will come a time where his body won’t be able to handle the stress anymore.
‘I can’t prolong this battle!’ Shin cried out mentally.
Since aimlessly shooting water spheres wouldn’t do anything to the Son of War, Shin had to resort to high powered exchanges where he sacrificed his body just to inflict enough damage onto Suji. As much as he wanted to protect his skin from turning into a dried pigskin, it was a price that Shin was willing to pay.
Plop! Plop! Plop!
Shin used the Dance of the Valkyrie to rapidly switch directions midair, trying to gain a better position while Suji was still recovering from the shock that Shin’s punch had caused him. Finding an opening, Shin spun down rapidly, allowing his heel to gain a substantial amount of momentum for a finishing blow.
Before Shin could even get near to Suji, the tanned, sinewy youth raised his hands and allow a thunderbolt to flow out from his body, hoping to turn Shin into a fried chicken in the process. Forced to call off his attack, Shin created a water wall and connected it to the flooded arena, sending the current straight towards the floor.
Leaping up once more, Shin danced about in the air like a ballerina and only stopped until he had reached an acceptable distance away from Suji. The war between the two prodigies came to a standstill after that brief exchange, giving them some time to recover and replan their the next approach.
‘I still have to tire him down so that the mana strengthening around his meridians are weakened… Tch, how much mana does this monster have?!’
With Suji’s constant discharge of electrical currents and Shin’s relentless pounding, one would assume that the tanned youth should be out of gas by now. However, no matter how many times he attacked Suji, the Son of War never tired. It was as if his mana reserves were as bottomless as the ocean itself.
Of course, the truth was, Suji was already starting to feel the strain. He had hoped to end the match within the first twenty odd moves. After all, his forte lay in the explosiveness of his attacks. Unfortunately, Shin was a slippery one. Countering his martial arts, flying around in the air to avoid the electrified pool, and even figuring out his three directional change restriction in the air. All of his moves that were capable of ending a match quickly had all been neutralised, and he had less than half his mana remaining.
‘I can’t even let go of my electric field since he can easily attack my meridians then!’
Suji tapped on his body to find the Du Mai meridian that Shin had attacked. Although he had been mildly shocked by the damage, his mana flow wasn’t sealed, and neither was it causing any significant after effects to his movements.
‘This fight can’t go on for too much longer!!!’ Suji resolved himself to end the match quickly, even if it meant putting himself in even more risky scenarios.
And thus, a bitter struggle soon ensued.
Fueled by his desire to end the bout, Suji’s attacks started to get more and more ferocious. His Purple Dragon Crescent Blade swung about in the air while Shin carefully evaded each one of his strikes. Every so often, Shin would land a clean hit onto Suji’s meridian points, but that in turn gave Suji the opportunity to brutally maul Shin’s extended limbs.
Bit by bit, the battle wore down the two geniuses. Tasting the bitter flavour of iron in his mouth, Suji would remind himself of his motivations and how desperately he needed to win. The adrenaline pumped into his brain nullified the pain of Shin’s hits, giving the Son of War a clear mind to launch vicious attacks, that pierced through Shin’s scaly flesh.
As good as he was at evading hits, whenever Shin committed to an attack, he was leaving a significant part of himself unguarded. Suji capitalised on the gap and sliced through the tender meat of Shin’s body, giving rise to countless cuts and bruises. Thankfully, with his superior agility, Shin could dodge the life-threatening blows, but it was generally by the margin of the width of a hair.
“BANG!!! BANG!!! BANG!!!”
The violent aerial exchange lasted for a good two minutes, mixing the stench of blood amidst the torrential monsoon rain. During that short period, Shin and Suji exchanged fists dozens if not hundreds of times. Each palm strike was meticulously backed up by a series of feints and mind games, and each brutal attack was struck with the intent to cripple.
Shin dealt with Suji’s thunderbolts by employing water walls that diverted the electric charge elsewhere while the Son of War neutralised Shin’s aerial superiority with a combination of well-timed attacks.
Hundreds of precise cuts appeared on Shin’s scaly skin, and his vision had started to get impaired. Even though his self-healing body was sufficient to deal with the deeper injuries, the severe loss of blood wasn’t something that he could replenish that easily. Suji wasn’t having a good time either. Shin’s constant bombardment on his meridians severely depleted his mana strengthening, and it wasn’t long until a breakthrough occurred.
On the surface, the two-minute exchange was an equal one. Each contestant was feeling the other up, hoping that he would make a mistake that would end the match. However, deep down, they both knew who held the upper hand.
‘This black-haired asshole! How many more water walls can he create?!’ Suji was appalled.
The Son of War, who seemingly had an infinite supply of mana, was now running low on fuel and has less than twenty percent of his mana left. On the other hand, Shin still had a significant portion of spiritual energy, due to his Spirit Core, which could rapidly convert the water elements around him into mana, and conservative fighting style. Of course, he was quickly losing blood, and his consciousness was escaping him bit by bit, but Suji wasn’t able to tell.
If the equivalent exchange continued on further, Suji would eventually suffer the same fate as his childhood friend. Defeat through mana depletion.
‘Time for an all or nothing attack!!!’ Suji’s face turned red as he jumped up a hundred metres into the air in the blink of an eye.
Shin feel a chill run down his spine as the tanned youth continued to propel himself higher and higher into the clouds. He had heard of this attack from Isadore. Suji’s ultimate finisher and the only attack that couldn’t be parried or evaded. Adding to the fact that his senses were diminishing, Shin could only defend and hope for the best.
‘No! This is an opportunity! To end this match once and for all!’ Always the optimist, Shin decided to implement the final stage of his plan. If Suji executed his finisher, the Son of War would immediately become vulnerable due to the excessive mana flowing out from his body.
Dropping down until he was two metres above the electrified water surface of the arena, Shin created ten water spheres and congregated them into one unified, humongous lance. Oscillating his hands, Shin willed for the lance to spin rapidly, as if it were a whirlpool that sunk fishermen boats to the very depths of the ocean.
The heavens above darkened even further as the Son of War reached the precipice of the firmament. His mana surged exponentially as all the lightning elements in the vicinity danced with joy. Raindrops fell from the heavens as thunder clapped, bringing a sense of dread to those living on the surface level.
Suji’s Purple Dragon Crescent Blade was exceptional, even among all of the Spirits awakened by the Himmel Empire nobility. The amount of electricity it could generate was staggering, and its explosiveness was ranked among the best in the Empire. Coupled with the Lasgeor lineage, where only the mightiest of warriors were born, Suji’s all-out attack could rival that of ordinary Spirit Adept cultivators. If not for Kanari creating the Lunar Beam, Suji’s Heavenly Punishment would undeniably rank as the best pure offensive ability in their generation.
Furthermore, the Heavenly Punishment that Suji was executing combined the remainder of his mana and the inescapable technique that the Lasgeor family had created. It would take a miracle for Shin to get out of the move completely unharmed.
“With this blade… I SHALL REIGN SUPREME!!!” Suji hollered out.
The heavens split in two while the raindrops falling down distorted. Turning into a bolt of lightning, Suji fell straight towards the ground, where Shin was lying in wait with his gigantic lance spun even faster, hoping to mitigate the Son of War’s all-out attack.
‘This is the final move!!!’
The Purple Dragon Crescent Blade heavily collided with the rapidly spinning water lance, splitting it in two like the tale of the Red Sea. Losing a significant amount of his momentum after the initial contact, Suji’s figure could be seen emerging out from the lightning bolt, but he had no intentions of slowing down.
The Guandao in his hands continued to descend at a blinding speed, so much so that even Shin couldn’t see the youth’s visage until it was too late. Hurriedly bringing some of his created water to form a wall, Shin hoped for some last minute protection, but alas… Suji’s strike proved to be too mighty.
Piercing through Shin’s chest, Suji continued to dive down until both of them were pinned to the ground. An impact crater, the size of a dining table, formed underneath Shin’s collapsed body, forcing the poor black-haired youth to open his mouth in horror as fresh crimson blood flowed out.
“SHIN!!!!” The twins cried out in terror from the stands. For the first time in their lives, they had witnessed the fall of their beloved family member. Kanari and Shizen, who was waiting in the contestants’ resting area, also cried out in fear, not knowing if Shin was able to get out from the match alive.
“That fucking!!!” In the VIP seats, Lady Seph had a similar experience. Watching her beloved disciple fall to the hands of Suji brought out a primal rage that she thought she had buried over the years. If she were given the opportunity, Lady Seph swore that she would tear apart the good-for-nothing tanned bastard, limb from limb. And well, she was just about to do just that.
Leaping out from her seat, Lady Seph swung her hands and broke the window glass, in preparation to rescue Shin and murder Suji in the process. However, before she could act any further, Lady Seph felt a firm grip on her wrist as a tranquil voice started to advise her.
“Venerate Seraphim, I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”
“FUCK YOU, BITCH!!! DO YOU WANT TO DIE?!” Screaming at the Duchess of Highgarden, Lady Seph raised her spiritual pressure output, choking many of the weaker VIP guests in the area. Naturally, being a Spirit Venerate herself, the Duchess was mostly unaffected and continued on her explanation.
“Have a look at your disciple, before you ruin his golden chance to win!”
Turning her attention to the ring, Lady Seph saw her precious disciple, who had a Guandao firmly lodged into his chest, grabbing the weapon that impaled him as dozens of electrified floating needles spun about in the air. Finally realising what Shin was trying to accomplish, Lady Seph’s anger mildly diminished and the spiritual pressure being released instantly dissipated.
“Shin… You bloody moron…”
‘Hah… Hah… I won…’ Suji cheekily grinned as he glanced down at the fallen Black-Haired Tyrant at his feet. Shin’s meteoric rise to the top, had finally been stopped, and Suji will reclaim his rightful place.
‘One down… One to go!’ Thinking that it was finally over, Suji set his sights on the final hurdle in his path to becoming the strongest.
“*Cough!* *Cough!*.” Almost half a litre of blood escaped Shin’s body, as the feeble youth tried his best to hold onto Suji’s Guandao. His body riddled with scars and the colossal amount of blood being lost should have crippled the youth by now. However, Shin somehow still managed to muster up his strength for one final struggle.
“Not dead yet?” Suji scoffed. “I must admit, you’re tough… But just lie still as a loser should!”
“Who… said… I… lost?”
“You’re… the… one… who… lost!!!”
“You fuc-!!!” Before Suji could react to Shin’s words, he lost all control over his body. The mana that used to flow freely had been cut off, and all of his motor abilities had been sunk into the high seas. The only thing that Suji could do was to quiver his pupils in horror, as his mind spun, hoping to find out the cause of his paralysis.
With its mana source gone, the Purple Crescent Dragon Blade faded into nothingness, giving Shin a chance to tend to his own injuries. At this point, he didn’t care if his secret of a being healer was revealed. Creating an orb of healing water, Shin covered the enormous scar on his chest. At the same time, he used some of the remnant needles to stop the flow of bleeding.
Tumbling as he got up, Shin limped towards the encumbered Son of War, who still had no clue about what had happened. Smiling, Shin leaned his weight on Suji’s shoulder as he pushed the silver acupuncture needle at Suji’s Du Mai meridian, deeper into his meaty flesh.
“Now, the Divine Needle Binding is complete…”
‘This! Don’t tell me, he dropped all of his silver needles earlier on the match just for this moment?!’ Suji cried out mentally.
At the time, the Son of War thought that Shin was underestimating him and didn’t pay too much attention to the needles on the floor. However, now that he could reflect on that time, Shin’s previous attack to the needle throw, the water sphere toss, was just to coat the needles with his created water, so that he could control them later on.
‘Everything else was just a diversion, to hope that I lose my mana strengthening and electric field! How far did he plan ahead?!’ Suji couldn’t believe how thorough Shin was with his planning. Not only had his martial arts been neutralised, but every single move that he did was in accordance with Shin’s master plan. From the start, Suji never held any chance to win.
“Senior… Please, anno-, *cough* *cough,* the… match…”
Now that Suji had been bound, it was clear to everyone who had won the match. In the battle of the Gods, there could only be one victor, and it was time for him to reap the rewards.
“Winner, SHIN IOFIEL!!!”