“Another Lantis Republic Luminary has taken the stage,” Shizen called out from his stands. “Shin, you should be thrilled.”
“Yeah…” Shin mindlessly gave a reply. Through watching Qilong Hu compete, youngling had gained a new perspective on how he should proceed with his cultivation. Shin used to assume that the best way to use his Spiritual Body Enhancement was to outmanoeuvre his opponents through superior speed. However, Qilong Hu showed that resorting to hand-to-hand combat wasn’t the only way. Qilong Hu’s expert use of domains and masterful play in controlling his Spirit allowed him to keep Lorian Yang, a Spirit User whose speed was far superior to anyone else in the Summit, at bay.
Even if Shin was at the Spirit Spectre realm, there was no way that he could tread the needle and break through Qilong Hu’s domination of the field. And all of those insights were from one match. What would he see from Meijing Bingying? The one called the Pearl in the East and the most talented cultivator from the Lantis Republic? Shin was eager to find out.
“Shizen, you should be thrilled as well. The Flower of the North also possesses a deadly plant-type Spirit. The insights that you will gain is enormous.”
“Ah… She does look strong.” Shizen rubbed his hairless chin with an inquisitive look on his face. He had seen many powerful plant-type Spirit Users when Principal Erudito first brought him into the Himmel Empire. Shizen had even sparred with a handful of Spirit Spectres and Spirit Lords in an attempt to further his understandings of his Spirit, and among those he fought, the Flower of the North seemed, by far, the most dangerous.
“Looks like we’ll both benefit from this match.” Shin laughed and continued to spectate the match.
What he didn’t know was… In the same manner in which he was watching the match, someone was fervently gazing in his direction.
Meijing Bingying had rubbed off the unpleasant feelings that she had for her dreadful senior brother who did whatever he wanted and proceeded to focus her full attention at the beauty from the Emei Church. A phantom of a gorgeous white narwhal appeared right above of the girl’s head as her eyes began to glisten in an icy hue. Unsheathing her sword, Meijing Bingying sent a large amount of mana into the Spirit Armament to coat in a misty wreath.
“Your sword looks well-built…” Sierra Glynrel initially felt shocked. However, it didn’t take long for her to regain her wits.
“Your dagger as well.” Meijing Bingying scoffed. “From the looks of it, just one hit from it would result in catastrophic results, am I right?”
“Hehe… Just don’t get hit from it.” Neither confirming or denying her opponent’s claim, Sierra Glynrel levitated into the air and intensified the mana supply to her Iordral Lotus. “Let’s begin the match, shall we?”
Not giving Meijing Bingying a chance to reply, the Flower of the North released a cloud of green smoke, which immediately proliferated itself multiple times until half the arena was covered. Curious but cautious, Bingying created an icicle and launched it straight into the smog, only to find it melt into oblivion within a fraction of a second.
‘Dangerous!’ The Pearl in the East immediately countered with her own drastic actions.
The sword in her hand shone brilliantly as more and more icy mist flowed out from its core. As the mist collided with the green smog, the two neutralised each other as chunks of ice fell onto the floor. That was the nature of the Spectral Reaver blade. By adding in ice-elemental spiritual energy into it, the Spectral Reaver would generate a mist capable of freezing all beings, living or not, within a matter of seconds.
‘Merge.’ At the same time, Meijing Bingying cast her own Spiritual Body Enhancement. A pale white horn that was shaped in a drill rose up from the centre of her forehead, while her skin turned even more white than it already was. In fact, if someone described her as a phantasma that had somehow manage to manifest itself in the physical realm, no one would doubt them.
Obscured in her green smog, Sierra couldn’t help but release a smile.
‘That’s right, Pearl in the East… Show me what you’ve got.’
With a snap of her finger, seven petals fell from the lotus in her left hand and manifested themselves into beautifully crafted clones of herself. They had the same stoic expression, as well as the same dark dagger in their right hands. Still high up in the skies, Sierra floated backwards until she was out of reach from any range attacks. It was finally time to begin her assault.
The seven clones immediately got into a formation, each one releasing their own form of mana. Each one shimmering like a luminous star, the seven clones created an outline of a boiling pot on a stove. Through the thick green smog, Meijing Bingying could see the glistening lights as if she were gazing up in the night sky.
‘The Big Dipper Formation!’ Wasting no time, the experienced maiden leapt back like a frog and immediately cast her most defensive ability. The tip of her single horn shone with great light as a giant wall of ice blasted itself into the air and separated her from the eventual death from the skies.
A thunderous roar broke through the eardrums of those present, requiring the force field that was protecting the audience to increase its protection. The ice wall that Meijing Bingying had created crumbled into pieces and seven clones that had lost over ninety per cent of their mana jumped down to challenge the girl in close combat.
“She can use the Big Dipper Formation all on her own… I guess that’s to be expected from an Emei Church Luminary.” Jimga mumbled to himself.
The Big Dipper Formation was a speciality martial art formation of the Emei Church. Using seven disciples, the Emei Church could launch a deadly one-off attack that could melt through even the toughest of defences. Not to mention, the scale of the attack was solely dependent on the casters’ spiritual level. If seven Spirit Venerates from the Emei Sect had gathered together to execute the Big Dipper Formation, even the Lantis Republic’s Obsidian Xuanwu’s defences would be melted down in a blink of an eye.
“The Meijing Clan girl isn’t one to be underestimated either.” Yeunghi eyes were shaking as she watched Bingying single-handedly deal with the seven clones that were thirsting for her flesh. The swordplay that she had displayed far surpassed the average swordmaiden’s as was basically on par with her own Ice Fairy Sword Dance. If Bingying weren’t part of the Lantis Republic, Yeunghi would be scrambling to sign her into her faction.
Changing her gaze from the arena to the audience members, Yeunghi caught sight of a young simple-looking girl who was grasping her sheathed sword in excitement. Her eyes flashed a hint of insight, and if not for the young man holding her back, Yeunghi was confident that the girl would rush onto the stage to test out her new moves.
“Look, Haeun is getting motivated. Perhaps when all of the matches are done and dusted, we could ask the Meijing girl to give Haeun some pointers.”
“You know that it’s impossible.” Jimga sighed at the ludicrous idea. Why would a Luminary from the Lantis Republic make time to spar with a Rank 29 Spirit Core cultivator?
“You’ll never know if you try…” Yeunghi smiled. She knew how outlandish the idea sounded, but for the sake of the development of Haeun, it was worth a shot.
While the two swordmasters from the Dalgeom Sect were fantasising over potentially fixing a match against Haeun and Bingying, the sky-blue haired maiden had just cut down the final clone that Sierra had sent to test her. Up till this point, the two beauties had only been feeling one another out. However, with the final blow that Bingying and landed, that was all about to change.
Nine petals spun out from the Iordral Lotus that was in Sierra’s hands and orbited around the arena like the planets moving around the sun.
Bnnngg Bnnnggg Bnnnggg!!!
The nine petals released an ominous sound, bringing the world to a standstill. Charging… Charging… The petals continued to shine brighter and brighter, blinding the lowly peasants at the bottom within seconds.
Without warning, one of the nine petals burst into a ball of light and thick deadly energy beams, sped to the ground at a speed that was incapable of tracking by the human eye. Sensing danger, Meijing Bingying subconsciously dodged the falling petal strike and watched as the floor beneath her melted at the impact.
At the same time, more clones created by Sierra launched themselves out of the thick green smog, forcing Bingying to go beyond her physical limits for the first time in the match.
‘Tskkk, so many pesky attacks.’
From the skies, eight floating petals could explode at any moment. On the ground, a cloud of thick green smoke that could melt any entity that walked into it and hid the deadly clones which wielded a copy of the deadly obsidian dagger. With no other option, Bingying was forced to play her trump card.
‘There’s no other choice.’
Stabbing the Spectral Reaver blade into the concrete floor of the arena, Bingying summoned out all of her mana to cast the one ability that she had hoped to save in case she had to face Lukman from the Kori Federation or the Crimson Ghost from the Himmel Empire. Nonetheless, now that she was forced into a corner, there was no other choice than to execute this ability.
A phantom of the Enigmatic Narwhal made out of blue celestial particles jumped out from the depths of her soul and splashed into the ground like it was a whale jumping out of the ocean in the middle of the deep blue sea. The particles being released from the impact spread out like wildfire, freezing anything that it had come in contact with.
“Another domain?! Do domain users grow on trees in the Lantis Republic?!” One journalist cried out in horror. Qilong Hu had just demonstrated his ability to control his surroundings through his superior rain domain, and now, Meijing Bingying was displaying her own version of the legendary spiritual ability.
Not caring about the constant talk, Bingying allowed the blue particles to spread out as wide as they possibly could and in less than three seconds, the entire field had turned into an artic landfill.
‘Hoho… Now that’s a problem…’ Still obscured in the thick green smog, Sierra Glynrel let out a sigh of praise. Domain users were rare for a reason. To alter their surroundings as they deem fit while enhancing their own spiritual powers was a heaven-defying act. For Spirit Users to learn such a technique, not only must their comprehension levels be off the charts, but their mana reserves must be colossal as compared to the average joe. Hence, it was typical for Rank 60 Spirit Kings and above to learn a domain as their next spiritual ability, not a mere Rank 40 Spirit Spectre.
To put it in perspective, the Kori Federation had fourteen Luminaries participating in the Summit. Of the fourteen of them, only one of them had learnt to create a domain. Yet, the Lantis Republic had shown two talents capable of such a feat.
‘Why don’t you get out from that smoke!!!’ Meijing Bingying was oblivious to the high praise that her opponent had for her and created dozens of ice spears from her control over the ice field.
Threatened by the icy hail of spears, Sierra Glynrel was forced to defend herself using the petals being created by her Iordral Lotus. At the same time, the domain formed by Bingying allowed her to generate twice the amount of frost mist, at half the resource cost. In just a brief five seconds, the green smog was eaten up by Bingying domain, bringing the Flower of the North’s sultry body, that was drenched to the bone by sweat, to full view.
“The tables have turned…” Yeunghi started to find herself rooting for the Meijing Clan heir rather than her own country’s Flower of the North. “How will Sierra escape from this situation?”
“You know that lass…” On the other hand, Jimga wasn’t really that concerned. He knew how resilient those from the Emei Church really were, and as their representative, there was no way that Sierra would give in without a fight. “She will come up with a solution.”
Meijing Bingying reversed the entire battle situation with the flick of her wrist and the cast of a domain. Generating chunks of ice and propelling them at high speeds, the Pearl in the East kept Sierra constantly moving, to prevent any form of counterattack.
‘How long can she resist?’ Bingying wondered. While the situation seemed to be advantageous for the young woman, keeping the domain up and running was taxing. In just a few short minutes, Bingying would be forced to release the domain or risk the danger of bringing herself to total mana exhaustion. Thus, she had to finish the match as quickly as she could.
However, Sierra was tricky. Her Emei Shadowless Steps enabled her to move at phantom speeds, and each time an ice spear seemed to pierce into her flesh, Sierra immediately turned into a petal and reformed herself as if she were an illusionist.
‘As expected of the Pearl in the East… She’s much stronger than anyone else in the Church!’ Sierra compared her opponent to her fellow maidens. She had always dominated the rankings since joining the Church and other than Lukman, there was no one else in the Kori Federation that could match up to her abilities.
‘I’m glad I came to the Summit… Thank you, Pearl in the East. Thank you for existing… And thank you… For becoming prey to my blade!!!’
Only by facing tough opponents would Sierra improve. If she could squash her foes with one slash of her blade, what was the point in training?
Sierra broke open the plastered-on seal on the black dagger, allowing a black mist to flow out from its core. Almost instantly, the veins on her right hand began to pop as the redness inside of Sierra’s body turned charcoal black.
‘Power… This… Is… POWER!!!’
The pure and chaste Lotus in her left hand trembled in fear at the foreign power but eventually allowed itself to be corrupted through the will of its master. A changed woman, Sierra sped forward at thrice her original speed and reappeared right behind of Bingying.
‘Hmph! Do you think your Spirit Armament is the only one capable of raising your strength?!’ Bingying scoffed at the ignorance of Sierra. The Spectral Reaver released a torrent of icy mist, and with a swing of her arm, the air behind of Bingying immediately turned into a colossal iceberg. Unfortunately, the ‘Sierra’ that had attacked Bingying had long turned into a petal.
‘Another one of the Emei Church’s mimicry! Shit! Where is she now?’
Bingying looked around frantically. Losing sight of your opponent during a bout was tantamount to throwing the match. She heightened her senses, but all she got was the lingering scent of petals and a dreadful feeling of fear for not knowing what was going to happen next. In desperation, she turned to her allies in the Lantis Republic’s tent, hoping to get some clues. However, what Bingying had found had horrified her to her core.
‘A-b-o-v-e?’ Reading the lips of Jingyu Taiyi, Bingying finally understood where Sierra had disappeared to.
Alas, it was too late.
The moment she glanced upwards, a deathly cold blade could be seen just inches away from her eye. There was nowhere to run. No way to dodge. The only thing that Bingying could do was to accept her fate as the loser and pray that she wouldn’t die from the exchange. Closing her eyes in prayer, the young woman shivered in fear as the blade continued to descend.
However, the collision that she had anticipated to happen didn’t come to pass. As she opened her eyes, Bingying could see a wrinkled hand grasping the black dagger by the tip of her long fingernails.
“Sierra… You tried to kill her, didn’t you?” An aged voice echoed into Bingying’s ears.
“What did I tell you about using that power? Are you trying to break the commandments laid down by the Emei Church?”
“No! Master, I would never! I… Got carried away.”
Releasing her hold on the dagger, Sierra immediately knelt down, shivering. It was said that the Flower of the North was by far the most valiant female warrior of the Terre Continent, and even death couldn’t bring her to her knees. Yet, that very same brave soul was now begging with tears in her eyes.
“Carried away… That just shows your immaturity. Twenty-five-years old and yet you let your emotions decide your actions. When we get back, I’ll have to properly discipline you. Go! Return to your place!”
The old woman sealed the dagger with her own spiritual signature and kept it in her pocket before turning to the stunned Pearl in the East. Putting on her most maternal smile, the woman helped Bingying to her feet.
“My apologies. My disciple has broken the rules and used a power far superior to the level of a Spirit Spectre. The win is yours.”
“I applaud your strength. Sierra would only use that power if she felt threatened. Nonetheless, she shouldn’t have done it. I understand that just a mere apology wouldn’t suffice, so I’ll send some gifts your way after the Summit. I hope that you would forgive our Church.”
Unable to properly formulate words since she had just escaped from a near-death experience, Bingying simply nodded unknowingly.
“Wonderful! Ingram, our Kori Federation forfeits the match!”
“If the Cardinal says so…”
The first match between the beauties of the world ended with a no contest win for Meijing Bingying. While the history books and newspapers would laud her as the reigning top beauty of the world, only those who spectated the match would truly understand the intricacies behind the whole fight…