Chapter 203 – A Swift Victory
When it came to Ye Xinglan, Tang Wulin believed his efforts toward her were just and acted confidently. To him, bringing up how much he ate was illogical.
Since she looked down on him, why did he have to pay for her? From the beginning, they existed in two different worlds, two parallel lines never meant to touch.
The event grounds were buzzing with activity. Since junior division competitors in the individual competition wielded three soul rings at most, the space provided wasn’t much. Each arena spanned about thirty meters in diameter. Arranged next to each other, the rings of battle showcased dazzling duels between all sorts of martial souls and soul skills.
Tang Wulin watched the battles with the eyes of a hawk, understanding that every participant was a potential opponent. He possessed a single soul ring; he’d need to grasp every advantage possible to win.
Not long after, the third heat commenced.
Tang Wulin glanced at his number plate. According to the lots drawn yesterday, his first appearance would be in the third heat in arena 16.
A soul barrier encased the circular arena so that the audience wouldn’t be harmed by any stray attacks.
Although it was his first time participating in this sort of competition, Tang Wulin carried not an ounce of anxiety on his being. After his adventures in the spirit ascension platform and his real life combat experiences, all he felt was excitement coursing through his veins. Just how far can I go?
His opponent soon arrived. It was a petite kid shorter than Tang Wulin. His opponent’s eyes failed to mask the confusion and anxiety running rampant beneath their outward posturing.
Every arena had a referee and theirs was a middle-aged man.
“The rules are simple. You may use any means to attack without worry. I will interfere if the need arises to ensure your safety and the result will be decided when one side concedes. In the event that participants cannot or will not concede, I will judge when one side is no longer able to continue fighting. I will also judge if the gap between contenders is too great. You both have thirty seconds to prepare. I will countdown the last five seconds. You may begin preparing now.”
The moment the middle-aged man finished speaking, Tang Wulin’s opponent summoned two dazzling yellow soul rings.
Don’t we still have thirty seconds? Tang Wulin was baffled by his opponent’s actions since unleashing one’s martial soul consumed soul power. Is he trying to show off his martial soul?
His opponent’s martial soul was a long, silver staff. A black dragon coiled around its length. It was the Coiling Dragon Staff—an impressive martial soul.
It has dragon in its name, so maybe…
Tang Wulin’s heart hammered at the thought, pushing away his last remnants of fear toward his two-ringed opponent.
His opponent seemed to have realized his mistake and quickly recalled his martial soul. He stared back at Tang Wulin.
“Five, four, three, two, one, begin!”
Following the end of the countdown, Tang Wulin stomped forward with his left foot, launching himself like an artillery shell. He wasn’t an agility-type soul master, but in that hairbreadth of a second, he exploded with speed. It took a few swift steps to close the thirty-meter distance between him and his opponent.
Once again hIs opponent released his martial soul. The Coiling Dragon Staff appeared in his hands yet no soul rings lit up; this was a clear sign he had yet to use any soul skills.
This was because he was startled by Tang Wulin’s frightening speed, completely forgetting about his soul skills.
The youngster heard a cold snort before a dizzying wave swept through his brain, all while watching as Tang Wulin’s fist drew closer. The golden-scaled fist glittered beneath the sun. An indescribable feeling of terror gripped him.
The sudden draconic might coupled with his nervousness caused the boy to fall back onto his butt.
Tang Wulin slapped away the Coiling Dragon Staff then, placing his scaled hand on the boy’s head. Naturally, he neither grabbed the boy’s head nor revealed his Golden Dragon Claw.
“Stop!” The referee appeared in front of them in an instant, blocking Tang Wulin’s hand. Of course, the referee could feel the lack of strength circulating through his limb.
“You’re too lacking in combat experience! How can you even think of participating in the competition like this?” The referee reprimanded the pale-faced boy on the ground.
“B-but my soul skills are really strong. I thought I could…”
The referee snorted. “Go back and gain some real combat experience first. Even if your soul skills are powerful, you still need to be able to use them. Tell me, did you even get a chance to use them?”
Essentially, Tang Wulin’s first match in the knockout round was a victory.
The referee nodded in approval before granting him a new number plate for his second match.
Tang Wulin won his first battle without using his martial soul.
After this match, he was brimming with confidence since his opponent had been so weak.
Because he had finished his morning matches earlier than expected and the team competition wasn’t until the afternoon, Tang Wulin headed back to the hotel.
When he reached his destination, he found that Gu Yue and Xie Xie had arrived before him. Xu Xiaoyan didn’t leave the hotel at all.
“How did things go for you guys?” Tang Wulin asked.
“Of course I won without a hitch! We’re strong after all!” Xie Xie stated proudly.
Gu Yue nodded in agreement.
A smile appeared on Tang Wulin’s lips. “Then we’ve already passed the first round. Congratulations everyone.”
Gu Yue said, “Isn’t our goal to become the champions? Then we need to win in the team competition too.”
Tang Wulin sighed. “Experience is extremely important here. My opponent was a two-ringed Soul Grandmaster, but he was somehow defeated before using his soul skill. Of course, he couldn’t believe he lost, but if it had been a real battlefield, I would have already killed him.”
Gu Yue said, “The process isn’t important; only the outcome is. Strength has always been a combination of multiple things, with soul power and soul skills being just a part of it. Even a powerful soul master could be killed by a child’s dagger strike if they let their guard down. Therefore, actual combat experience is crucial as it hones one’s reaction time and vigilance.”
Tang Wulin let out a chuckle. “I just hope that I don’t get matched up with you next round.”
Gu Yue was taken back for a moment before she regained herself, smiling warmly. Indeed, she didn’t want to meet Tang Wulin in battle either.
“It seems we all did pretty well. So boss, what’s the plan for this afternoon?” Xie Xie asked Tang Wulin.
Tang Wulin answered, “Our opponents shouldn’t be that strong, so we can just fight as we always do. We don’t have to worry about our strength in the first round; we should be able to win without a sweat.”
“Mn.” The other three nodded in agreement.
Long Hengxu lead Tang Wulin’s group to the team competition grounds, since Wu Zhangkong was off somewhere else.
“Are you brats ready?” Long Hengxu smiled pleasantly at the children.
He did not want the children to participate in the individual competition originally, but after checking their results for today, he changed his mind. They had an excellent start to the tournament.
Needless to say, he still wasn’t aware of Tang Wulin’s participation in the blacksmith’s competition.
“We’re ready.” Tang Wulin answered for his entire team.
Long Hengxu nodded with approval. “I’ll be watching you all then. I don’t know if Teacher Wu told you this, but due to the high resources invested into such a small class, this tournament is being used to test your class’s success. So you should aim for the best result. If you can get a good ranking, then in the future, the academy might invest more resources into your class. Especially you, Tang Wulin. I’m sure you’re aware that you’ve eaten away all of the academy’s funds. So, good luck kids!”
Tang Wulin nodded. “We’ll definitely do our best.”
Wu Zhangkong hadn’t spoken to them about these matters, but when Tang Wulin heard the director’s words, his heart stirred. Teacher Wu has been bearing all this pressure for our sake! What’s the best way to repay him? Of course it’s victory!
The space provided for the team competition was much grander than the individual competition’s. The arenas for the three versus three team battles were each fifty meters in diameter.
Their opponents this time came from a small town called Seafare City, which was a level below Skysea City. It was about the same level as Glorybound City, but the former’s economy fared much better and it managed to retain an intermediate academy.
However, the three versus three team competition wasn’t that popular. That was because powerful academies would all send seven-man teams to compete instead. Only academies lacking in people or already possessing a main seven-man team would have a three-man team.
This was another fact that Wu Zhangkong had neglected to tell them, which they learned from Long Hengxu.
‘Win regardless of the opponent!’ That was Wu Zhangkong’s philosophy.
After observing several matches, Tang Wulin and the others came to the conclusion that they had no serious competition within the junior division’s three-man team event. Nothing of note occurred while they watched.
“Boss, why are these matches making me so sleepy?” Xie Xie said helplessly.
Tang Wulin said, “That’s because we haven’t seen anyone strong yet. But don’t get careless; we’re only observing one part of the stadium. Let’s plan our strategy now…”