The fight between Xu Yuanzhi and Si Xingkong grew extremely fierce. No one thought that a student of Omen Ridge could struggle against the fourth-ranked master among the Saint Xu Gentry juniors for so long.
"The Omen Ridge student seems to have only reached the Mid Stage of the Heaven Realm," an outstanding individual from the East Region Saint Mansions observed. "He is withstanding Xu Yuanzhi with physical qualities, rather than profound cultivation."
Thanks to reaching the Dawn State of the Heaven Realm, this person had gained insight into Si Xingkong's own realm.
"If memory serves me, Xu Yuanzhi has reached the Advanced Stage of the Heaven Realm. Is the Omen Ridge student superior to Xu Yuanzhi in terms of physical quality?"
The outstanding individual from the East Region Saint Mansions shook his head. "Not necessarily," he said. "Xu Yuanzhi hasn't yet used his full strength during this duel. However, the student of Omen Ridge has been pushed to the limit; he'll be defeated any moment now."
On the Stairway to Heaven, the the gifted students of the Saint Xu Gentry assaulted Si Xingkong and Chang Qiqi more fiercely.
Seven or eight gifted students launched their attacks at the same time, besieging Si Xingkong and Chang Qiqi. The students strongly pressured the two with all kinds of martial techniques, including Celestial Bodyshield Genuine Qi and the Light of Thunderbolt.
Even after they had refined Dragon Blood and attained ample strength, their opponents were still not weak; they were students of the Saint Gentry, after all.
"Xu Yuanzhi; if you can't defeat him, I'll disable him for you," A dark-hued female student of the Saint Xu Gentry said coldly.
Her name was Xu Su. She had strong power thanks to reaching the Advanced Stage of the Heaven Realm. She ranked fifth among the juniors of Saint Xu Gentry, a little bit lower than Xu Yuanzhi.
Xu Yuanzhi laughed grimly. "He's just a hillbilly from a backwater. Who says I can't defeat him? I was just using him to practice my palm techniques. If I display my full strength, I'll disable him with just three moves."
This was why Xu Yuanzhi fought with Si Xingkong for so long; he wanted to display his strength before all the people present.
He rarely got the chance to fight on the Stairway to Heaven. Only in the Saint Academy examination could he have such an opportunity to stand in the limelight.
Perhaps even those at the Half-Saint level would become invested in this battle.
"Such nonsense. Who said prodigies can't be born in a backwater like Omen Ridge?"
Duanmu Xingling rushed up the Stairway to Heaven. She mobilized the Genuine Qi and released the golden Dragon force within. Two small dragon horns grew on each side of her forehead.
Golden lightning arced between the two horns, pouring forth and surging through her entire body. Lightning gathered in her palm.
She threw her palms outwards. Two students of the Saint Xu Gentry were blasted back down the Stairway, spitting blood from their mouths.
Duanmu Xingling shook out her arms, and condensed the golden lightning into a long lightning sword. She swung her sword toward the void space, piercing through the Celestial Bodyshields of three gifted students at the same time.
"Cloud-Churning and Rain-Making."
"Vigorous Qi of Nine Serenities."
"Overbearing Fist Strength."
Three students immediately unleashed their martial techniques. Some threw palms and some swung fists. None of them, though, could withstand Duanmu Xingling's Sword Breath. They tumbled down the Stairway like gourds bouncing on the ground.
Because her Sword Breath contained ice power, these three students were coated in a layer of white ice crystals.
Warriors weren't alloyed to carry weapons on the the Stairway to Heaven. However, if one reached the Peak of Sword Following the Heart, they could use Celestial Bodyshield Genuine Qi to condense a sword.
Duanmu Xingling condensed an enormously powerful Genuine Qi sword, containing both the lightning of Thunder Dragon and the force of Icing Cold. No ordinary student could withstand such congealed power.
"Has another Omen Ridge powerhouse appeared?"
"Omen Ridge is just a barren wilderness. How can it give birth to so many powerhouses?"
Duanmu Xingling's performance shocked the audience; many couldn't believe their eyes.
At the same time, Duanmu Xingling's recent comments had displeased and offended nearly all the attending Sage Gentries and descendants of Half-Saint families.
A descendant of one Half-Saint family snorted. "How dare these Omen Ridge students act so haughtily while displaying their slight skills before us?" he said.
"I hope that the Saint Xu Gentry is strong enough to crack down on these inexperienced, greenhorn hillbillies," Another Half-Saint family descendant said coldly as they flexed some of their finger joints. "I don't feel inclined to intervene myself."
Zhang Ruochen had long known that Duanmu Xingling loved throwing the world into chaos and had a knack for stirring up trouble. This time, though, she had surpassed all expectations and dared to involve all the Half-saint families and Saint Gentries.
How will this all end?
Everything had gone out of control. The gifted students of Saint Xu Gentry were very angry. Additionally, those Saint Gentries and descendants of Half-Saint families were also eager for a fight to chastise the students of Omen Ridge.
"Have you discovered whether Duanmu Xingling's power is much stronger than Eldest Brother's? Chen Xi'er asked. "Does she hide her actual strength most days? Is she displaying her truth strength today?"
Duanmu Xingling's power was so strong that five geniuses of the Saint Xu Gentry had been defeated in an instant.
Zhang Ruochen long suspected that Duanmu Xingling had an extraordinary identity she concealed by hiding her cultivation. "Perhaps," he said furtively, "she hasn't displayed her actual strength. What is she trying to do?"
Zhang Ruochen had always assumed that Duanmu Xingling was more that a brainless woman with shapely breasts. Her provocation of the Saint Gentries and Half-Saint families was too effective to be anything but deliberate.
As the Saint Maiden of the Moon Worship Demonic Sect, Duanmu Xingling definitively wasn't entering the Saint Academy to become a common Saint.
Instead, she wanted to become a disciple to a Half-Saint or even a fully minted Saint.
This was the only way she could become a high-level member of the School of the Martial Market and Martial Market Bank.
Originally, she had chosen to deceive the public by practicing at the Martial Market School of Omen Ridge, lest the School of the Martial Market discover her real identity.
Who would have thought that the Saintess of Moon Worship Demonic Sect had been training in Omen Ridge for so many years?
If she had originally entered the School of the Martial Market of East Region Saint City, the huge Intelligence System in the Martial Market Bank headquarters would have discovered her true identity early on.
After practicing for a long period of time, the School of the Martial Market would grow less suspicious of her, making it more difficult for people to discover her real identity.
Today, however, was different.
Today, she needed to show she had a sufficiently high aptitude in order to be noticed by the high-level figures.
The bigger the sensation, the more high-level figures of the Saint Academy would pay attention.
Therefore, upon taking action, she immediately declared war on all the Half-saint families and Saint Gentries.
Of course, Zhang Ruochen, Huang Yanchen, Luo Shuihan and Duanmu Xingling's other team members were roped into this mess due to her behavior. The Half-saint families and Saint Gentries found them all equally offensive.
As the Saintess of a demonic sect, she had no other recourse.
The shame and unease she had felt over her plan had caused her worried look earlier that morning. Despite that, she said nothing when Zhang Ruochen asked whether something was on her mind.
"Such boldness! I would witness your abilities myself to understand why you dare set yourself against our Saint Xu Gentry!"
Xu Su, fifth-ranked among the young powerhouses of Saint Xu Gentry, glared down at Duanmu Xingling from her place on the 37th step. She immediately swooped straight down and simultaneously threw out her palms.
Two wisps of Genuine Qi burst from her palms and turned into a pair of phantasmal pythons. They bared their fangs to bite down Duanmu Xingling.
Duanmu Xingling, reluctant to show any weakness, brandished her combat sword of Genuine Qi and displayed a sword technique.
Duanmu Xingling raised her arms and channeled Genuine Qi into sword. With a sudden stroke, she chopped the two pythons into pieces.
Xu Su's handprints suddenly became formless and powerless.
In the blink of an eye, Duanmu Xingling darted in and stabbed at Xu Su's left rib.
Xu Su displayed profound martial arts of her own. She turned into a residual shadow and moved at an angle to avoid Duanmu Xingling's sword stroke.
The two people engaged each other in a dog fight. Duanmu Xingling subtly gained the upper hand, suppressing Xu Su and forcing her to constantly retreat.
In the other direction, the battle between Xu Yuanzhi and Si Xingkong flared incandescent.
Rather than concealing his cultivation, Xu Yuanzhi abruptly launched a series of attacks, displayed three increasingly fiercer palm techniques that hit Si Xingkong like three overlapping ocean waves.
The palm's power broke Si Xingkong's Celestial Bodyshield. Struck in the chest, he was forced nine steps back.
Thanks to the protection of Dragon's Blood, he suffered a minor injury, but nothing major.
Huang Yanchen, who had already climbed to the 47th Step, had a perfect vantage point to see the chaos below. More than ten gifted students of Saint Xu Gentry were besieging Duanmu Xingling, Si Xingkong and Chang Qiqi.
With a solemn look on her face, she turned back to jump down. "You're disgracing the name of the Saint Xu Gentry by bullying others with your superior numbers. As a student of Omen Ridge, today I want to personally witness the difference in power between my school and the Saint Xu Gentry."
Huang Yanchen waved her arms and conjured a wind-blade more than seven meters long. She slashed at the gifted students of the Saint Xu Gentry.
After Huang Yanchen's participation, the fight between Saint Xu Gentry and Omen Ridge intensified once again. The current situation was out of control.
Zhang Ruochen forced a smile onto his face and glanced at Luo Shuihan. "I suppose this fight was inevitable this day," he said.
Luo Shuihan, feeling helpless, sighed gently.
Neither Zhang Ruochen nor Luo Shuihan hoped this battle would go so far. After all, the Saint Gentry were influential and powerful, and their fame was widespread. At the moment, they could not predict the outcome of this battle. Supposing they won today, all the attendees would think that the Saint Xu Gentry was unworthy of their name. How would the Saint Xu Gentry be able to endure after that?
With their current strength, offending the Saint Gentry so severely was a useless endeavor.
And yet, as they watched the how the conflict escalated, they found they could not bear to watch Si Xingkong, Duanmu Xingling, and others fight the whole Saint Xu Gentry. They had to join the fight.
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