The nine mighty ones of the nine states stood in the battlefield area on the forum stage. Countless eyes from the grandstands, be it from those from the sacred grounds or common people, all turned to the direction of the stage center.
The first battle was the start of the Nine State Forum and all nine states saw it to be a very important battle. All who were standing there had sounded the Law Bell before without any exception. All of them were nobles at the pinnacle of their planes who had developed matured rules, and the battle would be a clash of titans.
"The Eastern State. Student of Xihua Sacred Mountain, Xu Shi. Pleased to meet you all," Xu Shi of Xihua Sacred Mountain said.
"Summer State. Xia Li of Xia clan, pleased to meet you all," the young proud son of Qi clan said.
"Qi State. Qi Ao of Qi clan, pleased to meet you all."
"Cloud State. Su He of Li Palace, pleased to meet you all."
"War State. Mo Gong of Holy Temple of Ten Corners, pleased to meet you all."
"Feng State. Yan Zhan of Fengdu House, pleased to meet you all."
"Ocean State. Lan Yu of Celestial Cliffs, pleased to meet you all."
"Yu State. Zhan Yao of Zhisheng Cliffs, pleased to meet you all."
"Barren State. Yu Sheng of the Holy Zhi Palace,"
With the words spoken by Yu Sheng marking the conclusion, all nine mighty ones were done announcing their names and backgrounds, and as predicted by everyone present, all hailed from the top sacred ground to be found in the respective state.
Ye Futian turned his eyes at the crowd and felt his mind stirring. He had gone searching for materials regarding the nine states, and each one announced earlier were from forces that stood at the very top of the hierarchy in their respective states. They were all gathered on one stage. Although Yu Sheng was undoubtedly powerful, he probably would face immense pressure at the final battle. As for the others, Ye Futian had no certainty if they were able to get good rankings themselves.
"Zhisheng Cliffs, Zhan Yao." Ye Futian eyed that young man from Zhisheng Cliffs of Yu State and he found him to resemble Zhan Xiao somewhat. At that moment, Zhan Yao turned his eyes to look at Ye Futian with an incredibly cold expression. His elder brother, one of the nine Sons of Zhisheng Cliffs, ended up being killed in the Barren State. It was a vengeance that Zhisheng Cliffs was unable to do anything about, due to Emperor Xia's decree. On that very day, Zhan Yao vowed to kill Yu Sheng on the very stage of the Nine State Forum.
It was entirely compliant with the rules of Nine State Forum to kill one's opponent outright before they lost combat capacity or yield. However, it needed to be a one-shot kill that could only be pulled with extreme advantage. There would be no second chance to pull anything like that on the stage. Furthermore, many of those who participated in the Nine State Forum hailed from sacred grounds, which meant that they would not go too far in attacking their opponents. However, there was no way Zhan Yao would have pulled punches against people from the Barren State.
It was only natural for Yu Sheng to feel the murderous intent from Zhan Yao. Yu Sheng had fought Zhan Xiao at Taihang Mountain back then, and there was no way he would not have recognized Zhan Xiao's younger brother, who was standing right before him.
At the side of the grandstands where Zhisheng Cliffs was, Kong Yao looked down with a cold expression and said in a low voice, "Zhan Yao will reap some interest for his brother in this battle.
"Zhan Yao's talent is no weaker than that of his brother. I wonder if he will be able to emerge as the number one of this battle," Qin Zhong, who was beside Kong Yao, said. Only the number one among all nine was allowed to remain. All the other eight were to be eliminated. Even if a clash of titans were to happen, it would have changed nothing. If one were to be eliminated early, one only had their luck or one's lack of strength, to blame.
The rules were incredibly cruel, as no one knew who their opponent would have been and how strong they actually were.
The air of different rules permeated the nine corners on the forum stage. Violent gales erupted on the stage all of a sudden. Worldly Spiritual Qi ran amok and formed a terrible whirlpool. However, all nine participants remained standing where they were without budging.
At the moment, Xu Shi lifted his head a bit and eyed Yu Sheng, who was standing opposite him, and said "You said that you intended to withdraw from the Nine State Forum. You remain standing on the stage now, but I still feel compelled to grant your wish. As such, you will be the first one to be eliminated in the Nine State Forum."
The Nine State Forum this year was hosted by Xihua Sacred Mountain, yet Yu Sheng went out to cause trouble before Saint Xihua even announced for the forum to begin. As the host, the saints were required to keep their composure while dealing with one of the younger generations. However, Xu Shi was a student of Xihua Sacred Mountain, and they were then standing on the stage of the battle of the Nine State Forum. As such, there was no need for him to hold back and there was no need for him to talk about keeping composure. He would be the one to eliminate Yu Sheng from that round, fair and square.
Be it Yu Sheng or the Barren State, doubting Xihua Sacred Mountain and wanting to prove their pride through demonstrating one's power, eh? I'll let everyone from the Barren State know with my power, what 'overextending oneself' means.
"He is mine." A cold voice was heard. It was Zhan Yao's voice. His eyes were as sharp as blades as he looked at Yu Sheng. He was reminded of the time when his brother taught him the Void-tearing Blade Techniques when they made a promise to each other to reach the peak of Zhisheng Cliffs together, becoming one of the most powerful figures in all of Yu State. Yet his brother ended up leaving him for good on that trip to the Barren State.
"I do not care who will be the one doing the deed so long as he gets eliminated before everyone else," Xu Shi said plainly. All of them were prideful people.
A dazzling light shimmered and a blade appeared. The blade, which was the materialization of Zhan Yao's Life Spirit, landed in his hand. A terrifying flash of blades went tearing apart the space they were in, his body at the center. Streak after streak of blade will of rules went tearing at Yu Sheng.
Zhan Yao put his blade behind him and walked towards him step by step. Blade flashes filled the air, breathing terrifying power of rules and tearing at the space between them. There was also another powerful pressure bearing on Yu Sheng.
"Two-layered rules." Everyone stared at Zhan Yao, thinking that he was indeed a proud genius from the sacred ground of Zhisheng Cliffs to fight the first battle. Kong Yao's expression was a sharp one. He had been anticipating Zhan Yao's performance with the Void-tearing Blade Techniques.
As Zhan Yao walked closer and closer to his target, the blade wills became stronger and stronger. Blade flashes shimmered through the air, encompassing the space surrounding Yu Sheng, as if he found himself in a world of blades.
"He actually remains standing there. Many went on to look at Yu Sheng, who was then being surrounded by the power of two-layered rules. But he is just standing there. Does he have a death wish or what?
Zhan Yao's steps were incredibly steady. He did not speed up, as the power of the blades grew stronger with every step. If Yu Sheng wants to die so badly, I'll be glad to grant that for him.
Power rules of gravity bore on Yu Sheng's body. Zhan Yao moved. It was as if he had fused with his blade. He leaped into the air and went straight for Yu Sheng without bothering to make any redundant moves. There were also no flashy blade techniques to be had. The Void-tearing Blade Techniques simply cut through the air.
A blade sliced air, looking like a straight line, as the move was executed. The thousand-meter blade flash went straight for the forum stage in a terrible might. Everything before the blade flash was cut in half.
"Is he crazy?" Many could not help themselves but yell as Yu Sheng did not even budge. He simply went looking at the move coming at him.
The move of the Void-tearing Blade Techniques was so fast that many could not help but shy away, as if they were about to see the bloody scene of Yu Sheng being bisected right there and then. However, at that very moment, a terrifying air current emanated from Yu Sheng's body. He lifted his left arm and blocked the trajectory of the move.
The move did not stop. Zhan Yao's murderous intent was terrifying and that move would have simply cut down Yu Sheng's arm before bisecting him.
A sharp, deafening sound was heard. Zhan Yao did not feel his blade cut down on a body of flesh and blood; he felt an extremely powerful force blocking his blade instead. He looked down and found Yu Sheng's elbow blocking the edge of the blade. The cold, bone-chilling blade did not go on to easily cut Yu Sheng's arm and kill him right as expected.
Dark golden air current of rules coursed throughout Yu Sheng's arm and covered his entire body like ferocious armor. The power of that rules seemed to have merged with his body of flesh and blood into a single being. The surrounding air current coursed through Yu Sheng's body in a frenzy as the light of the armor of rules grew increasingly terrifying.
Zhan Yao's blade was stuck there.
Many shuddered violently deep down. Blocking the Void-tearing Blade Technique with a flesh-and-blood arm.
Crack. Kong Yao's fists tightened and his expression changed slightly, looking grim instantly. He knew without a doubt what that scene meant. The genius of Zhisheng Cliffs, Zhan Yao, was unable to break Yu Sheng's defense. What hope will he have in continuing the battle?
Zhan Yao had, of course, knew what it meant as well. The pride and arrogance displayed earlier were torn to shreds in that very instant. He glared at the scene before him, feeling a shock deep down that he had never felt in his life before. He knew what he was capable of with a blade. There were hardly any sages who dared to take on his blade head-on like that.
Yet, Yu Sheng did just that.
Yu Sheng's elbow slid along the edge of his blade as Zhan Yao was still dazed. He then bent his hand and took hold of Zhan Yao's wrist, which was holding the blade. Zhan Yao snapped back to reality and wanted to back away, but he soon found the force of the hand that clamped onto his wrist was something he was unable to do anything about. His body remained suspended in midair, unable to retreat.
Yu Sheng's right hand moved. It lifted and threw one punch forward.
The wind whooshed about and dark golden flowing lights shimmered, driven by the arm flung at Zhan Yao's body.
The minds of many tensed up as they stared at that scene.
Boom! There was little left to the imagination. Yu Sheng's fist landed directly on Zhan Yao's chest. The sound of bones breaking and shattering was heard with unnerving clarity. It seemed as if the internal organs were torn apart as well. Zhan Yao bent his body a bit as the fist will penetrated right through him, emerging from his back, as if a fist had actually just gone right through him. His body was sent flying, spouting blood in midair, like an arrow, before crashing onto the ground.
The space was silent. Many looked at Zhan Yao, who was lying on the floor as blood oozed out from his mouth. Zhan Yao looked at the sky with dazed, lifeless eyes. He knew without a doubt that the insides of his body thoroughly shattered. He would be rendered a cripple even if he ended up surviving the ordeal. His heart felt as if it was being torn to shreds. He had come so far with his training, becoming one of the proud geniuses of Zhisheng Cliffs. Why did the first battle turn out to be like this?
One punch was all it took.
That punch did not just hit Zhan Yao's body; it had also hit Zhisheng Cliffs' face. Kong Yao and Qin Zhong both looked incredibly awkward. Ye Futian had not been the only terrifying one, as it turned out that Yu Sheng, whom nobody noticed before, was surprisingly terrifying as well.
Yu Sheng did not look at Zhan Yao. He had, of course, felt Zhan Yao's murderous intent and knew that Zhan Yao wanted revenge, but he too recalled the bloody scenes back in Taihang Mountain that day. Many of the golden great apes of Taihang Mountain perished. Even he and Ye Futian had almost died at Zhan Xiao's hands. As such, he saw no need to hold back with that punch.
Doom. A footstep was heard and many eyes returned to Yu Sheng. He was seen taking one step after another, walking forward. At the end of the straight line he was walking on, there was Xu Shi of Xihua Sacred Mountain of the Eastern State.
Xu Shi had claimed that he would make Yu Sheng the first one to be eliminated!
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