Lorian Yang ignored the searing pain from his lower torso. Lorian Yang didn’t care about the fact that he had been blown away in one hit. Lorian Yang bit his lip as he watched the world turn greyer and greyer as Qilong Hu’s domain had been completed. There was no winning this match. He knew that. Just from that one exchange, it was evident that Qilong Hu was on a whole other level.
Lorian had fought other Spirit Spectres before. His seniors in his clan, the training partners that the Dalgeom Sect had sent to hone his skills, and even a handful of Luminaries from the Kori Federation. While he was able to beat or draw with some of them, he had equally tasted crushing defeats. There was one man, in particular, that could overwhelm him in a matter of seconds. And Qilong Hu was of the same calibre of that man.
So what was it? What was it that pushed him forward? What was it that allowed him to get up when all seemed lost? Lorian Yang didn’t really know…
However, he did realise one thing. Lorian knew that he had to push on. The three radiant suns that oscillated around his body began to glow with great fervour as if they had reached the peak of their maturity. Hot, white steam rose up from his athletic body as he evaporated the raindrops the moment they fell upon him. He had no big finishing move like Kanari’s Lunar Beam, and neither did he have a solution to deal with the domain that seemed to be thickening by the second. Nonetheless, Lorian Yang will continue to push with all his might. To struggle to be the greatest.
Disappearing from his original position, Lorian took less than a blink of an eye to speed behind Qilong Hu, in an attempt to injure the levitating Spirit Spectre. However, as anticipated, the Seven-Headed Hydra wouldn’t allow its master to get hurt while it was around. Whipping its tail once more, the boulder-sized beast cleared that air behind Qilong Hu by creating a miniature storm, saving the well-built man from a mountain of hurt.
‘Spiritual Manifestation! I knew that something was amiss!’
Under normal circumstances, a Spirit was unable to interact with the material world through physical touch. They were capable of creating world-changing alterations through the usage of their mana and control over the spiritual energies that surrounded them, but they were incapable of touching any form of matter in their astral state. However, there was one sole exception.
A Spirit User could decide to learn Spiritual Manifestation in which for a temporary time, their Spirit would be able to interact with the world around it, and potentially aid their masters in whichever goal he or she wishes to pursue. In this case, Qilong Hu was using the Seven-Headed Hydra to act as his defensive barrier while he expertly dominated the arena.
“Spiritual Manifestation and Spiritual Body Enhancement at the same time?!” It wasn’t just Lorian who was stunned by his opponent’s show of force, even Shin had to rub his eyes to make himself believe that he wasn’t dreaming. “There’s also a domain… Qilong Hu is really strong.”
It wasn’t shocking that the top Luminary from the Lantis Republic would be powerful. However, as the old adage goes, seeing was believing. Shin thought that Lorian Yang would at the very least, give some sort of competition to his opponents after the first battle. Yet, the Nine Suns Clan heir was unable to land a single blow on Qilong Hu.
“My turn.” Now that his preparations were ready, it was finally time for Qilong Hu to shine.
BAMMM BAMMM BAMMM
A collision between the raindrops in the air intensified drastically, bringing about thousands more water droplets and it continued to go on and one until they became finer than a grain of sand. If anyone felt the touch of one of these droplets, they would barely be able to feel anything. However, what if there were billions of them? Lorian was about to find out.
“Tempest.” Qilong Hu spread out his five fingers on his right hand and almost instantaneously, Lorian felt his world go grey.
The domain that Qilong Hu had created showed its true colours for the first time. Billions upon billions of raindrops targeted the tenacious youth as if they were homed in bullets and had forced Lorian to endlessly guard, with no mode of retaliation. Taking advantage of his weakened state, Qilong Hu used his Seven-Headed Hydra to shoot out water jets as they did before, drilling even more holes in Lorian Yang’s body.
Overkill… Was an understatement to describe what was happening in the arena. Lorian Yang was fast. Perhaps faster than any of the Luminaries present. However, he couldn’t outrun billions of raindrops and rapidly firing water jets. The dampened floor turned crimson as a vast amount of life fluids flooded the arena.
Only after ten seconds of continuous onslaught, was Qilong Hu satisfied. Releasing his domain’s hold on Lorian, the Spirit Spectre waited to see a response from his motionless opponent. Fortunately, while Lorian wasn’t capable of moving a finger, his three suns were still burning bright. Bit by bit, the wounds sustained by the young man closed, bringing a smile to Qilong Hu’s face.
“Looks like you aren’t dead yet.” If it were anyone else, Qilong Hu was certain that he would have succumbed to his wounds and at the very least, pass out in agony. Thankfully, Lorian Yang wasn’t the average man. “Do you still want to continue?”
While he had ceased his assault, Qilong Hu still had his domain, Spiritual Manifestation and Spiritual Body Enhancement riled up. At any given time, he would have the capabilities of continuing his attacks.
As much as he wished to continue, Lorian swallowed down his pride and said the dreadful words. If it were a battle to the death, there was no way that the valiant soul in him would throw in the towel. However, the arena was just an exhibition match to showcase each one of the superpowers’ best talents. There was no need to get even more beat up than he already was.
“You fought well.” Now that the match was over, Qilong Hu released all of his spiritual abilities and reverted back to his normal human state. Walking over to Lorian, the colossal man helped his fallen opponent to his feet with a strong hand. “You can stand proud. You’d forced me to use all of my spiritual abilities to take you down.”
“Non… sense…” Still gasping for air, Lorian spat out in protest. It was hardly a contest. Just like how he decimated Abraham Banks before, Qilong Hu had squashed Lorian as if he were a housefly.
“That’s the truth. If I didn’t use my domain from the start, perhaps I would have been in your position. After all, I can’t match your speed.”
The ending of the second bout was just as beautiful as the match itself. Instead of looking down on his opponent, Qilong Hu nobly helped him Lorian up to his feet and exchange words of praise for the steadfast warrior. That show of compassion was directly in line with the message of the Summit, and the Alliance that the superpowers were striving towards. Even if they had their differences, at the end of the day, the two were champions that would do their nation proud.
“What a match!” One of the audience members screamed out. “If only my father were alive to see this.”
“Haha, the Nine Suns Clan heir is really a work of art! Thankfully, the Tempest Hydra agreed to fight. Otherwise, we would have been robbed of this epic match!” Another spectator agreed. The audience was enthralled by how powerful each competitor was.
“Hmph! Why did the Crimson Ghost reject that fight! Is he a coward?”
“That’s right! Lorian Yang challenged him first, and he declined! We’re fortunate that the Tempest Hydra had a much bigger heart!” The songs of praise soon turned into deceitful scorns for the Himmel Empire and their leading Luminary.
“Don’t take their words to heart. What you did was right.” Eikyo gently tapped his subordinate on the shoulder as he flinched slightly at the words of disdain.
Up in the highest stands, Zhangyu Yaoguai’s iron face flashed a rare smile. He had ordered the youngsters to humiliate the Himmel Empire, and Qilong Hu’s first move had done so spectacularly. Not only did he show that the Lantis Republic had the bigger disposition in accepting the lesser match, but the Tempest Hydra had stamped his dominance on the international stage by displaying his overwhelming power. If he were the leader of the Himmel Empire, Zhangyu Yaoguai would be livid by now.
Sneaking a glimpse at Prince Koshaku, the head of the Zhangyu Clan couldn’t help but raise his chin in superiority, and the haughty stare didn’t go unnoticed.
‘Tskkk… Giving me that look. If Kanari was a few years older, do you think that we would swallow this bitter pill?’
Prince Koshaku knew that the Crimson Ghost’s idea was correct. They had fewer Luminaries and lacked sufficient manpower to deal with the terrifying talents that the other two superpowers had. Hence, they had to do their best to conserve their energies for the real fights. Nonetheless, it didn’t hide the fact that they felt the sting of the degrading words.
“Honoured dignitaries… I have shown my all. Please relieve me as I forfeit my right to continue my challenge.”
Instead of continuing to challenge others, Qilong Hu opted to return back to his seat. If he were to stay on stage, the Tempest Hydra would be forced to call out opponents that were worthy of his challenge, and if he were candid, there were only two others that would prove a decent challenge. Lukman from the Tuareg Sect and the Crimson Ghost from the Himmel Empire.
As everyone would expect, for two leading talents of each superpower to collide, that could only be the main event. If Qilong Hu challenged Lukman or the Crimson Ghost, no other matches that follow would be able to compare.
“In my place, I nominate my nation’s Zheng Kieren to take the stage.”
“Permission granted.” Ingram, the Blacksmith’s League President and the Chief Judicator for the exhibition matches, granted his wish.
“Who’s that?” A journalist from the Himmel Empire asked his compatriot from the Lantis Republic.
“Zheng Kieren is a prodigy that had been brought into the Qilong Clan as a retainer. While he wasn’t talented enough to become a Luminary, he did manage to reach Rank 33 when he was twenty-five. Qilong Hu is probably doing the boy a favour by letting him show his talents on the biggest stage there is.”
“Wow, what a compassionate guy. Looking out for his junior.”
The two reporters were once again amazed by Qilong Hu’s chivalrous attitude. In the eyes of the common man, the stock price of the Lantis Republic had skyrocketed while the Himmel Empire was akin to a pile of mud.
“What a marvellous move played by Qilong Hu…” Kanari frowned from her executive seat. “Now, we look like the lesser nation.”
While Shin had to hide in the shadows, the four girls from Imperius Academy didn’t have to act so secretly. They could openly view the exhibition matches from the private booth that was provided for those from the Himmel Empire.
“Does it really affect the Himmel Empire that much?” Elrin was confused. From her perspective, it was strategic for the Crimson Ghost to deny Lorian Yang of the chance to challenge him. After all, if random Spirit Adepts kept calling out the Luminaries, soon the Himmel Empire’s forces would be exhausted beyond repair.
“On the surface, it doesn’t really matter. However, the Lantis Republic is playing a game of perception with the rest of the world. They want to show that they have the moral high ground and when the time comes to decide Shin’s fate, they would have the support of the masses behind their backs.”
“Isn’t that too far-fetched? This is just a friendly exhibition match!” Ella exclaimed.
“You don’t understand.” Kanari sighed. “Just wait and see. If nothing is done, the public perception of the Himmel Empire will go further down the drains. Hah… If only we were just a little bit older…”
In Imperius Academy, there were a handful of talents that were on the path to attain their Luminary status. Suji, Danroy, Elrin, Shizen, Isadore, Ella, Emma. Not to mention the two monsters that were Shin and Kanari. If they were all twenty-five, there was no doubt in Kanari’s mind that the Himmel Empire would give the other nations a run for their money.
“Let’s just watch on and hope for the best.” Kanari made the grim statement before returning her gaze back to the arena down below.