Translator: StarveCleric Editor: Millman97
There was a total of twenty Grade-1 candidates from the Hongyuan Master Teacher Academy, and Zhu Xi was ranked twentieth among them. In other words, he was Hongyuan's weakest candidate.
To make things even clearer, if the eighty Grade-1 candidates of the Four Great Master Teacher Academies were arranged in terms of strength, he would be ranked eightieth.
Even Luoqing's champion of the Grade-1 internal selection had been sent flying with a saber, wasn't it practically suicide for a person as weak as Zhu Xi to challenge Chen Zhu?
Everyone couldn't help but stare at him as if he was a fool. There were even a few who couldn't help but cover their eyes, unwilling to see the cringeworthy sight that would unfold very soon.
"Forget it, I will have to go up sooner or later. It is just a question whether I lose now or later." Chuckling softly with an edge of despair in his tone, Zhu Xi leaped onto the dueling platform without any hesitation.
In truth, from the power display itself, he already knew that it was impossible for him to become a combat master with his strength.
But even if he were to lose, he couldn't allow anyone to think of the Hongyuan Master Teacher Academy as a den of cowards!
"Interesting. To think it would be weaker one who has more guts than the others. Very well! Just try to withstand one move from me, won't you?" Chen Zhu smirked coldly as he licked his lips. Driving his zhenqi, he flicked his saber, and the air whimpered loudly under the sheer pressure of his saber.
"I also hope that I can withstand one move," Zhu Xi muttered before taking a deep breath.
Flicking his wrist, he whipped out a spear as he tried to recall the knowledge that Principal Zhang had imparted to him earlier on.
He had paid careful notice to the duel between Xu Tai and Zhu Jian earlier, and it seemed that the latter had used the techniques that Principal Zhang had taught them. Since the worst possible situation was just failure, he wanted to take a leap of faith and give it a try.
As soon as the duel started, Zhu Xi immediately opened his eyes wide as he thrust his spear forward abruptly with great momentum.
Principal Zhang has said that the greatest advantage of a spear lies in its reach. When against a shorter weapon, one should make full use of its advantage. An inch shorter, an inch riskier. 1 While the other party's saber does wield incredible strength, it is lacking in reach. I can make use of this to draw in the opponent and make him lower his guard. As the words of their principal resounded in his mind, Zhu Xi pushed his spear forward furiously, creating afterimages after him.
"Humph!" On the other hand, seeing Zhu Xi's offense, Chen Zhu sneered coldly.
With a slash of his saber, a furious burst of saber qi sliced the air before him in two to meet the spear ahead of him.
Now is the time! Seeing that the other party's countermeasure was identical to how Principal Zhang had analyzed, Zhu Xi's eyes lit up as he continued pushing his spear forward. At the same moment, he lifted his leg to kick the other party's groin.
True strikes should always be fixed amid feints in combat. The furious charge of the spear made it seem as if Zhu Xi was intending to capitalize fully on the advantage resulting from the length of his weapon, but the true threat was actually concealed beneath that—his leg.
Principal Zhang had once explained to them the various common flaws a cultivator would tend to expose when executing certain moves. Considering the furious might that the saber in Chen Zhu's hand wielded, it was apparent that the other party had focused all of his might on his upper body. Naturally, this meant that his lower body was open!
The crisp sound of a foot sinking deeply into flesh was heard by all, and Chen Zhu instantaneously narrowed his eyes.
He gasped in indescribable pain as his body instinctively leaped up as if shocked by lightning.
After which… his entire body collapsed to the ground, curled up like a shrimp.
As this was the first time Zhu Xi had utilized Zhang Xuan's teachings in battle, not to mention the overwhelming strength of the opponent he was facing, he had inadvertently used his full strength in the kick. Furthermore, the crotch was a huge weakness for any man. With that kick, Zhu Xi had nearly crippled Chen Zhu for life.
"This…" Completely stunned, Zhu Xi scratched his head blankly.
He had only intended to give it a try, thinking that the worst that could possibly come was defeat. He didn't really think that his kick would really be able to strike his opponent's vitals and incapacitate the other party.
Wasn't that fellow extremely powerful?
How did he fall so easily to a kick from him then?
Zhu Xi wasn't the only one who was surprised by this turn of events. The crowd below also stared at one another with eyes widened.
Wasn't that Zhu Xi fellow the weakest of them all?
Yet, the weakest one actually incapacitated Chen Zhu in just two moves?
"T-this…" Even Zhuo Qingfeng himself had stiffened from shock.
Others might not have been able to see through the profoundness behind the maneuver, but as a Hundred Men Commander among the combat masters, he was able to see through it clearly.
Zhu Xi had exerted his full might in his spear, not holding back in the slightest. Facing such an attack, Chen Zhu had also instinctively focused his attention and strength on his upper body to fend off Zhu Xi's spear. It was with such a set-up that Zhu Xi had been able to successfully take Chen Zhu by surprise and land his kick on the latter's groin accurately. But as easy as it sounded, it was not that easy to execute. Without a masterful grasp over one's combat timing, Chen Zhu would have surely noticed the kick in advance and dodged it easily.
Even for a person with Zhuo Qingfeng's mastery of combat, he wouldn't have been able to exploit such a flaw against Chen Zhu either if he were to fight against the latter with his cultivation suppressed.
For the last ranking candidate of Hongyuan to easily achieve a feat that even he was incapable of… what was going on?
It took a very long time for Chen Zhu to recover. Getting back to his feet, he glared at Zhu Xi with raging flames burning in his eyes.
He had intended to exact vengeance for his friend, but who would have thought that an even more tragic plight awaited him?
Zhu Xi scratched his head sheepishly. "I don't have any idea how I won either… Do you want to go another round?"
It was just a few moments ago that he had received Principal Zhang's teachings, and there hadn't been sufficient time for him to fully make sense of them. In the battle, he had only executed the moves as Principal Zhang had taught him earlier, so even he himself was unsure of how he had managed to subdue his opponent.
However, this feeling of victory was truly addicting. If the other party wanted to go another round, he was more than willing to accompany him. In any case, this would be a good opportunity to practice and internalize Principal Zhang's teachings.
"You are seeking death!" Seeing how the other party even had the audacity to challenge him after what he had done, Chen Zhu's veins popped out from anger. With a deafening roar, he threw his saber out with astounding momentum.
This was the very same secret move that he had used to defeat Zhang Qingshan earlier!
With his strength augmented by the immense rage coursing through his veins, the flying saber seemed to harness far greater force than before. Slicing through the air furiously, it seemed as if it would have been able to tear apart even a mountain of metal in two easily.
Seeing the same move that had left him defeated being executed once more, Zhang Qingshan's face paled in fright, and his body began to tremble uncontrollably.
He couldn't help but imagine his plight had Chen Zhu executed the secret art against him with such force earlier. There was no way he could have gotten off that easily against that! Perhaps, he might have really been split in two by now!
It seemed like the other party had gone easy on him in the duel.
As expected, it is this move…
Upon seeing the flying saber, Zhu Xi didn't panic. Instead, his eyes lit up.
When he had witnessed Chen Zhu executing this move against Zhang Qingshan from below earlier, he had immediately analyzed it carefully with Principal Zhang's teachings out of curiosity, wondering if he could find a flaw in the technique.
To execute this secret art, Chen Zhu had poured his full strength into his saber to launch a decisive blow against him. However, it was in the moment of a powerful offense that one's defense would be the weakest.
As long as he was able to exploit this flaw against Chen Zhu, it shouldn't be too difficult for him to curb the other party's move.
Thus, Zhu Xi raised his spear and jabbed it forward consecutively toward the empty air like serpents leaping at their prey.
Ding ding ding ding!
A series of crisp metallic reverberations rang out as the spear strikes accurately struck the openings of the saber's strike.
The saber did possess overwhelming momentum, but under the several hundred jabs from Zhu Xi's spear, it was eventually worn out.
Fending off strength with speed!
This was also something that Principal Zhang had talked about in his lecture. Under the circumstances in which one was faced with overwhelming strength far beyond one's means, one could gradually wear their opponent's might thin with continuous light jabs, thus making up for quality with quantity. Even a droplet of water could form a torrent if a sufficient number of them gathered!
Zhu Xi was only intending on giving it a try, but who could have thought that he would actually succeed!
After neutralizing the might of the other party's spear, Zhu Xi charged forward and sent a kick right toward Chen Zhu, just like before!
After executing such a powerful attack, Chen Zhu was in an extremely brief state of frailty, requiring a moment longer before he could regain his momentum.
As the famed saying goes, 'while he's ill, go for the kill!'
Every opportunity in a duel only had a brief window to it, and naturally, Zhu Xi couldn't allow this chance to slip past his fingers.
On the other hand, Chen Zhu had intended to decapitate Zhu Xi with his saber in his moment of wrath, but to his astonishment, the other party had actually managed to neutralize his attack easily and even sent yet another kick toward him. Horrified, Chen Zhu immediately conducted an evasive maneuver to the side, but he suddenly saw a palm enlarge before his eyes.
The kick was a feint, and the true strike lay in the other party's palm!
Too preoccupied with dodging the kick, Chen Zhu had left his face completely open. Under the massive force of the palm, his face immediately swelled up as his body tumbled backward uncontrollably.
Zhu Xi had utilized his full strength in the palm strike. While his strength and zhenqi purity were beneath Chen Zhu's, ultimately, he was still at the same cultivation realm as the latter, Consonant Spirit realm pinnacle, and as a candidate qualified for the Combat Master Selection, he also wielded strength superior to ordinary Consonant Spirit realm pinnacle cultivators.
The strike knocked out more than a dozen teeth from Chen Zhu's mouth, and he crashed headfirst into the ground beneath the dueling platform, his body convulsing uncontrollably.
"I won…" Seeing that he had managed to defeat Chen Zhu once more, Zhu Xi's eyes shone in excitement.
Even though he had memorized every single word that Principal Zhang had said, he had never utilized his teachings in battle before, so he had been unsure of the might harnessed within them. It was only after using them against Chen Zhu that he realized… hell, those moves were truly convenient and exhilarating!
The feeling he felt at this very moment was as if he had gone to an examination knowing the answers and the detailed explanation behind them in advance.
To think that even the lofty combat masters would be nothing compared to Principal Zhang's teachings!
"What is going on?"
The many students, elders, and principals from Yunxu, Luoqing, and Qingzhu stared at one another, dumbstruck.
If they could still reason Zhu Xi's victory in the first battle as sheer luck, in the second battle, Chen Zhu had used his strongest technique but had been utterly defeated. It was apparent that there was something very bizarre going on.
"Isn't that fellow the weakest candidate from Hongyuan?"
"If even the weakest candidate from Hongyuan is able to defeat Combat Master Chen Zhu so easily, how strong must their strongest candidate be?"
"I really can't begin to imagine that…"
In the power display earlier, they had clearly seen that not only did the students of Hongyuan possess cultivation inferior to them, their comprehension of combat and battle techniques was also unimpressive. But why would they suddenly become so powerful as soon as the test started? It was as if someone else had taken their places!
This was simply too peculiar!
"Be it Zhu Xi or Zhu Jian, their zhenqi and cultivation are far beneath Xu Tai and Chen Zhu, but they were still able to achieve victory easily. This only goes to show that their comprehension of battle techniques and combat sense have already reached an inconceivable level," Wo Tianqiong said with his eyelids twitching uncontrollably.
He had also thought that Hongyuan's results would be unsatisfactory after watching the power display, but their results had truly exceeded everyone's expectations.
Even the few top candidates from his academy had been unable to withstand three blows from the combat masters, but the candidates from Hongyuan were actually able to defeat the combat masters easily.
"Indeed." Shen Pingchao nodded with a deep frown on his head, unable to comprehend what was going on.
Under normal circumstances, a cultivator's combat sense would usually be attributed to talent, especially considering how abstract a subject it was; there was no such thing as a 'solution' to combat. It was one thing for a candidate with such incredible combat sense to emerge from Hongyuan, but for two to appear simultaneously… The odds of it happening were too unlikely to just play it off as a coincidence.
It took a while for Zhuo Qingfeng to finally recover, and with twitching lips, he announced loudly, "Zhu Xi… is the victor! I hereby announce that he has cleared he selection."
"I succeeded…" Zhu Xi's eyes were gleaming in delight.
He had already given up hope on the matter, but who would have thought that he would successfully become a combat master just by following Principal Zhang's teachings?
"Un. The timing of your movements was extremely precise, allowing you to outmaneuver even Chen Zhu. Naturally, our Combat Master Hall welcomes someone as talented as you." Zhuo QIngfeng nodded.
It was hard to believe, but facts were facts.
From the very first time that Chen Zhu was kicked in his groin, he had already lost. The second round was no more than a farce.
"Thank you, Combat Master Zhuo!" Zhu Xi hurriedly clasped his fist and thanked Zhu Qingfeng. However, he suddenly realized something at that moment and asked, "If the two Consonant Spirit realm combat masters in charge of invigilating the test of the Grade-1 candidates are injured, how… will the test proceed?"
All in all, including Zhuo Qingfeng, there were thirteen men from the Combat Master Hall.
Putting aside the Half-Saint Wu Xu and Lu Cheng, from Consonant Spirit realm to Chrysalis realm, there were two combat masters to invigilate each of the five grades.
But of the two Consonant Spirit realm combat masters in the party, one of them was still spurting blood after being struck by Zhu Jian, and the other one still had his face planted in the ground. There was no one else to assess the Grade-1 candidates!
Seeing that it was unlikely for his subordinates to recover within a short period of time, Zhuo Qingfeng frowned as well.