Chapter 180: A Difficult Victory

Demoness's Art of Vengeance

Breaking through in the midst of combat was one of a cultivator’s greatest fears. In rare and fortunate cases, the cultivator would barely succeed in breaking through. That said, the consequences were generally grievous injuries to say the least. Those who were less fortunate would even find their cultivation crippled, or worse, even implode and die.

To put things into better perspective, the odds of a “rare and fortunate” case was no more than one in ten thousand. In other words, out of ten thousand cultivators who broke through in the midst of combat, only one would successfully breakthrough there and then, completely unscathed. Everyone else would invariably find themselves suffering from injuries to different extents.

Jun Xiaomo’s cultivation was still fairly low, and she had slightly higher odds of successfully breaking through without a hitch. But even then, the odds of something slightly higher than ten-thousandth was still far too low.

Bear with it. Whether I win or lose, I’ll finish this battle before I breakthrough. Jun Xiaomo gritted her teeth and told herself.

That said, suppressing the changes to one’s Dantian and meridians was an incredibly painful and even unbearable process. Jun Xiaomo’s head began to spin, and her speed and ability to avoid Liang Yulong’s attacks naturally dwindled substantially.

Her thoughts began to drift to that last time she battled together with Ye Xiuwen. At that time, Ye Xiuwen had also been fervently suppressing the urge to breakthrough his cultivation bottleneck even though he was on the brink of ascending to his Foundation Establishment stage of cultivation.

In her stupor, the scene of Ye Xiuwen falling down the crevice replayed in her mind once more –

“Martial brother!” Jun Xiaomo yelled out in her discombobulation. Just then, a powerful shockwave filled with innumerable frost blades swept ferociously towards her body and smashed straight into it. Jun Xiaomo was sent flying back on the arena and she slammed hard on the ground.

“Pfft--!” Jun Xiaomo spat out a large mouthful of fresh blood. The pain from her fresh wounds were far more excruciating than the pain swelling from within the depths of her body, Dantian and meridians. Thus, she was forcibly pulled back from her state of stupor, and she returned to her senses once more.

What am I doing?! I’m still in a fight right now!

Just then, in the Dawn Sect’s seating area, Liu Qingmei stood up anxiously and cried out, “Mo-Mo!” Moments ago, Wei Gaolang had also been bouncing up and down excitedly at his seat as he cheered his martial sister on. Yet he froze up completely when he saw this scene unfold before his eyes. Rong Ruihan clenched his fists tightly, while the veins on his forehead bulged slightly, reflecting the tensed state of his heart…

Among all these people, the only person who watched this sight with glee was He Zhang. He had mistaken Jun Xiaomo’s condition to be the manifestation of the Bedeviled Grass within her body. He was completely unaware of the fact that she was in the process of breaking through.

He eagerly and expectantly watched Jun Xiaomo, and his lips curled up with a faint yet unmistakably victorious smile.

On the arena, Liang Yulong was momentarily taken aback after he sent Jun Xiaomo flying. He had just sensed Jun Xiaomo’s anomalous state and realized that she had been in a stupor. Otherwise, there would be no way his attack would have struck her so easily.

“Are you alright?” Liang Yulong walked over to Jun Xiaomo’s side as he asked her.

He chose not to press the attack at this moment. After all, he knew that there was something wrong with Jun Xiaomo’s condition right now, and he couldn’t find it within himself to take advantage of his opponent’s predicament for the sake of victory.

Yet Dai Yanfeng had seen all this, and he once again knitted his brows together as he bellowed, “Liang Yulong, what are you doing? Is this really the time to behave like a gentleman?!”

Liang Yulong heard Dai Yanfeng’s complaint, but he chose to ignore Dai Yanfeng completely.

Jun Xiaomo wiped off a slither of blood from the corner of her lips before she smiled faintly and replied, “I’m fine. Let’s continue.”

“You…” Liang Yulong was about to advise Jun Xiaomo not to force the issue, but Jun Xiaomo immediately shook her head and interjected, “Brother Liang, we’re competing now, not sparring. You should never have stopped earlier. That was the best opportunity for you to force me off the stage and claim victory. But now that you’ve given me the opportunity to continue with the competition, I’m not going to give in so easily.”

As she finished speaking, she painstakingly clambered back up to her feet and squared off against Liang Yulong once more. Her breathing had returned to her earlier calm and composed state, and her eyes were once again filled with determination.

She would not give in until the very last card in her hand had been played.

A trace of bewilderment flickered across the depths of his eyes, and undulating ripples of emotions spread out from his heart.

He smiled, “Alright.”

As he said that, he immediately launched another attack straight at Jun Xiaomo without giving her the opportunity to react. But given that Jun Xiaomo had already returned to her senses, she managed to avoid the attack without a hitch.

From then on, Liang Yulong attacked Jun Xiaomo without letting up a single bit, even though he was aware of the extent of Jun Xiaomo’s severe injuries. He knew that the best way to show respect to an opponent like Jun Xiaomo was if he fought seriously and with his full strength.

She did not care about winning or losing, and she did not need anyone going easy on her either.

Just like that, the fight between Jun Xiaomo and Liang Yulong escalated to a climax. Each of them released powerful attacks after attacks, ostensibly without regard to their own spiritual energy consumption. The audience watched with rapt attention. It was incredible; it was enthralling.

The audience had initially thought that this fight was going to be a simple walkover given the disparity in their cultivation levels. Yet not only had Jun Xiaomo held out for such a long time, she had even forced Liang Yulong to use the full plethora of his ice spells against her. One after the other, a splendid display of dazzling spells exploded on the arena, yet the seemingly disadvantaged Jun Xiaomo somehow managed to avoid most, if not all of these spells. On the other hand, her fiery-red whip seemed to have a life of its own under Jun Xiaomo’s adept control. As her whip lashed out time after time in an incisive fashion, her clothes swished about behind her gracefully as though it were the dance of a flickering flame.

Simply put, this was a riveting battle.

Then, just as everyone was about to get themselves comfortable for a long-drawn battle, both parties on the arena suddenly paused in their steps.

It was as though time had come to a complete standstill on the arena for that very moment. Liang Yulong’s frost arrow had penetrated Jun Xiaomo’s left shoulder, but Jun Xiaomo’s whip had wrapped itself tightly around Liang Yulong’s neck.

Fresh blood began to pour from the wound in Jun Xiaomo’s shoulder, but a smile crept up the corner of her lips, and her eyes gleamed with a bright sparkle.

“I’ve won.” Jun Xiaomo panted lightly as she declared.

Liang Yulong bitterly chuckled as he responded helplessly, “That’s right. This is your win.”

Jun Xiaomo was now in a position to take Liang Yulong’s head at any moment, and there was nothing that he could do about it. Therefore, the victor of this battle was naturally Jun Xiaomo.

He had never expected Jun Xiaomo to be so reckless to allow her left shoulder to sustain an injury in order to create an opportunity to deal a fatal blow to her enemy.

If his frost arrow had changed its trajectory by just that little bit more, it would not have penetrated Jun Xiaomo’s shoulder – it would have penetrated her heart.

Of course, the reason why the frost arrow failed to strike her heart could very well be a result of Jun Xiaomo dodging that blow at the very last moment as well. Therefore, Liang Yulong was fully convinced of his loss – even though Jun Xiaomo’s cultivation was not high, her wealth of combat experience was something that more than made up for her deficiency in cultivation level.

The only question left on his mind was where Jun Xiaomo had managed to glean this wealth of combat experience.

Liang Yulong lowered his stance and relaxed his body as he slowly raised both hands into the “surrender” posture. At the same time, Jun Xiaomo also loosened her whip around his neck.

The panel of referees on the side huddled together for a discussion. Moments later, the main referee stood up and declared, “I hereby announce that the victor of the third battle on the seventh day of the Secondary Inter-Sect Competition is…Dawn Sect’s Jun Xiaomo!”

As soon as the referee announced the winner, the entire audience exploded into an uproarious celebration and applause. Apart from those from the Heavenly Peak, several other people from other sects stood up to give Jun Xiaomo their sincerest round of applause to congratulate her as well. At this moment, everyone had forgotten the fact that they had once called Jun Xiaomo a “piece of trash”. After all, as a cultivator at the fifth level of Qi Mastery, Jun Xiaomo had managed to overcome the large disparity in cultivation levels and defeat Liang Yulong, a cultivator at the eighth level of Qi Mastery. There was no better testament to her hard work and her true abilities.

On the other hand, the Eternal Summit Sect’s response was the complete converse of everyone else’s response. The Eternal Summit Sect remained seated in the audience in a complete daze as they stared at the arena with disbelief. No one had expected such a result at all.

The Eternal Summit Sect’s disciple Liang Yulong has lost? How is this possible?! He’s lost to a piece of trash at the fifth level of Qi Mastery…

Practically everyone in the Eternal Summit Sect thought the same way. The present situation was incredibly surreal – it almost felt like a dream.

Yet the most infuriated of them all was naturally Dai Yanfeng. He was the first one to recover from his stupor, and he immediately leapt to his feet in rage as he berated Liang Yulong, “Rubbish! You’re a piece of trash! You can’t even defeat a cultivator at the fifth level of Qi Mastery. You’re a disgrace to your sect and your masters!”

Dai Yue was still rather stupefied by the sudden and unexpected conclusion of the battle. It was only when she heard her father berating Liang Yulong that she slowly came to her senses as well.

As she looked at the spirited Jun Xiaomo basking in the glory of her victory and the uproarious applause from the audience, Dai Yue instantly clenched her fists in fury.

“This can’t be right. Jun Xiaomo can’t be so strong. Brother Liang must have gone easy on her. That must have been the case!”

Dai Yue’s gaze grew cold and hazy, as though a layer of frost had grown over it. She gnashed her teeth and exclaimed with indignation, “Jun. Xiao. Mo! You’re not going to be so fortunate in the next competition!”

Up on the arena, Liang Yulong placidly glanced back at the Eternal Summit Sect’s seating area. As expected, he noticed that Dai Yanfeng, his master, had already leapt to his feet in fury.

A discreetly bitter yet contemptuous smile crept up the corner of his lips, before he shifted his attention away from them.

At this moment, Jun Xiaomo walked up to Liang Yulong and stretched out her right hand, “Brother Liang, thank you for the respect you’ve shown me on the arena. I sincerely appreciate it.”

Faced with Jun Xiaomo’s glowing smile, Liang Yulong involuntarily exclaimed in his heart – No wonder this young lady is so well liked among the people of the Heavenly Peak. It seems like it’s not just due to the fact that her father is the Heavenly Peak’s Peakmaster.

She truly had her own charms and intriguing personality. At the very least, there was no reason for Liang Yulong to feel upset losing to Jun Xiaomo in this battle at all.

“I also thank you for allowing me to experience such a thrilling battle.” Liang Yulong stretched out his arm and shook Jun Xiaomo’s hand.

Jun Xiaomo smiled. After they retracted their respective hands, she waved goodbye to Liang Yulong, and began to walk off the arena.

“Hang on a minute.” Liang Yulong called out after Jun Xiaomo.

She turned around and turned her attention back to Liang Yulong once more with a quizzical gaze in her eyes.

Liang Yulong grimaced. After a moment of silence, as though he had just made a difficult decision, he finally told Jun Xiaomo, “Dai Yue has managed to bribe one of the referees to ensure that she would be facing off against you. In other words, your next opponent might very well be Dai Yue in the next battle.”

Jun Xiaomo raised her eyebrows curiously, “Oh? It’s her…That’s fine. We’ve got a bet with each other anyway, and it’s only a matter of time that we face off against each other.”

“That’s not the problem.” Liang Yulong earnestly explicated, “Dai Yue has already attained the ninth level of Qi Mastery. But she had consumed a medicine to forcibly suppress her cultivation level to deceive the tests before the commencement of the competition, and she had managed to remain within the Lower Category of the competition. Thus, it’s very likely that she would be harder to deal with than I was.”

“Wouldn’t the referees know if she had suppressed her cultivation level using medicinal pills?” Jun Xiaomo dropped her shoulders as she clarified.

“There are black sheep everywhere, even among the ostensibly fair and impartial referees.” Liang Yulong explained.

Jun Xiaomo revealed a faint smile, “I understand. Thank you for alerting me to this. I’ll make some simple preparation in the meantime, and I’ll deal with it when the time comes.”

Liang Yulong nodded, and he walked past Jun Xiaomo and motioned for the Eternal Summit Sect’s seating area.

“That’s right, brother Liang.” This time, it was Jun Xiaomo who called out to Liang Yulong.

Liang Yulong turned back, only to be met with Jun Xiaomo’s soft and radiant smile, “If there’s no longer a place for you in the Eternal Summit Sect, you could always consider the Heavenly Peak. I’m pretty sure my father would be pleased to have another disciple.”

A look of slight astonishment surfaced on Liang Yulong’s face. Moments later, he smiled as well.

“Thank you. I will consider that.”

The solidarity among the Heavenly Peak disciples is truly inspirational…

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