AGM 355 Trial of the Battle Drums
The voice of Old Man Tianji cut through the entire space and resounded in everyone's minds. The hearts of everyone in the crowd couldn't help but to pound furiously when they heard what he'd just prophesized.
Even the spectators could feel hot blood coursing through their veins. The destiny of Grand Xia had already taken form? And would be orchestrated by one among the current contenders taking part in the ranking battle?
Who exactly would control the future of Grand Xia?
Old Man Tianji's features remained composed as he gazed downwards at the countless silhouettes looking up at him. This batch of contenders who wanted to participate in the ranking battle, who wanted to wrest away the luck and destiny, numbered over ten thousand. They were the same as countless other cultivators in the past.
The majority of these ten thousand cultivators all had a cultivation base at the ninth level of Yuanfu. Without having substantial power, they would never be confident enough to participate in the ranking battle.
Although ten thousand may sound like a huge number, in the perspective of Grand Xia, ten thousand people was just like a grain of sand in the endless desert.
Not only that, many among these ten thousand would be eliminated. They would first need to prove that they had the qualifications to step upon the sacred pathway.
At this moment, Old Man Tianji spoke once again, "All of you can now begin, if you are unable to sound out more than nine echoes from that gigantic drum, don't waste time and just forfeit."
The drum was the first barrier, designed to eliminate their numbers.
It was of immense difficulty to make the nine-sided gigantic drum echo out even once. The criteria was this: if one couldn't get the drum to echo nine times, they didn't have the qualifications to step into the Ancient Kingdom.
Not only that, the contenders were allowed to channel their attacks unceasingly onto the drum. Yet if the echoes were cut off halfway, it was useless even if they continued on.
The ten thousand contenders advanced forward, stepping on the ninety-nine azure dragon steps one after another. The atmosphere grew increasingly solemn. None were allowed to soar in the air, they had to walk up all ninety-nine steps, each successive step an indication of their respect for the sacred pathway.
And right now, the first contender was advancing towards the nine-sided gigantic drum situated in the centre of the first step. The long robes covering his body fluttered as a mighty aura exuded from him. Maintaining the distance of a single step away from the drum, several armor-type divine weapons covered his body, adding to the sharpness of his aura. It seemed as though he himself was a divine weapon, instead of a human.
"It's Wang Jue. As the first contender, is he trying to tell the others that he's here today to contend for the position of the top ranker?" The gaze of the spectators landed onto Wang Jue.
Wang Jue, a Heaven's Chosen from the War Continent's Wang Clan, ranked #6 in the Heavenly Fate Ranking. He's definitely qualified and might even be one of few combatants here with the strongest chance of ranking within the top three.
At this moment, Wang Jue's fist turned a silvery white as he punched out, slamming his fist into the drum. An instant later, booming sounds of reverberations echoed out and shook the heavens.
The fearsome afterwind fluttered Wang Jue's hair, as the booming sounds continued without pause, all the way to the ninth echo. A terrifying rebound force momentarily landed onto him, yet Wang Jue stood there unmoving, as sturdy as an ancient tree.
"Since we're contesting for the rankings, how can I lose out to others right on the first test." Wang Jue's voice rang out, and before the nine echoes faded away, his fist slammed forth again, containing within them an incomparably terrifying sharpness.
The drum reverberated three more times, and by the last echo, the after-wind was so fierce that it almost lifted him off his feet.
Gritting his teeth, he took another step forwards as he unleashed a flurry of blows onto the drum. Regardless of how terrifying the after-wind was, he refused to be budged.
Standing beside Wang Jue, the next contender watched on in stupefied amazement, as though he had forgotten his purpose there.
Finally, Wang Jue sounded out eighteen echoes, the sound lingering for long moments as it rang throughout the Heavens and Earth.
"A total of eighteen echoes... According to the past records, anyone who managed to sound out eighteen echoes were all eventually ranked within the top ten rankings." Several in the crowd silently mused, this Wang Jue had stolen the show by letting the world know of the determination in his heart with his eighteen echoes.
Those from the Wang Clan all had smiles on their faces accompanied by looks of satisfaction flashing in their eyes. Going all out from the very first test, this was Wang Jue's determination.
Contending for positions on the Heavenly Fate Rankings? In that case, one should go all out right from the start.
After Wang Jue, the contenders tried the drums in successive fashion. The majority of those after him could only manage to sound out fourteen echoes and below. Only a few were able to sound out a fifteenth echo, but those people were already rankers on the previous Heavenly Fate Ranking.No one else managed to sound out eighteen echoes.There was only one attempt every three years, everyone didn't dare to slacken when it came to the first test.
Right from the start, the sense of competition in the air could already be felt emanating forth from the contenders.
Naturally, there were also many others who couldn't even sound out nine echoes. Reality was harsh, the truth was often cruel, and so they could only retreat with heavy reluctance and try again in three years time.
After this, another name caused a stir in the crowd. This person was Li Yu, from the Thousand-Jue Alliance.
"There are actually so many failures, how fearsome is this nine-sided gigantic drum?" Fan Le gazed at the giant drum ahead as he silently mused. This first test had already eliminated more than half of the ten thousand contenders. This elimination method couldn't help but invoke a chill in the hearts of everyone who had yet to step up.
After all, those who dared stand here today were all the extreme geniuses of their own locations. Each of them had an unwavering belief and confidence in their own power."Nineteen echoes..."
At this moment, an earth-shattering resounding boom echoed through the air. Fan Le stared at the silhouette with his mouth wide-open. Over half of the ten thousand contenders failed to make it past the nine echoes, yet this man in front of them sounded out a total of nineteen. How terrifying was that?
"Di Feng!" Qin Wentian stared at the familiar silhouette in the air.
"It's Emperor Azure." The rest of the crowd caught on to his identity as they exclaimed in wonder. Ranked #5 on the Heavenly Fate Ranking, Emperor Azure (Wang Cang). His surname was Wang as well, yet he had surpassed Wang Jue, eclipsing his earlier glory of eighteen echoes. Yet the vast majority of the crowd had no idea that Emperor Azure wasn't surnamed Wang."Emperor Azure, how powerful. I wonder if anyone else can break his record?"
"Ouyang Zheng also went up, yet he could only sound out seventeen echoes."
Those beside Di Feng, despite the fact that seventeen echoes was already extremely impressive, were all overshadowed by him.
Ouyang Zheng was a Heaven's Chosen from the Ouyang Aristocrat Clan, ranked #10 on the Heavenly Fate Rankings.
Although the number of echoes couldn't determine one's ranking, but it in itself was also a kind of competition. Especially when Wang Jue opened with an astounding eighteen echoes, the rest of the contenders weren't willing to appear weaker compared to him.
After which, a series of powerful characters made their moves.
Yang Fan from the Star-Seizing Manor, sixteen echoes.
Zhao Lie from the Sky Ember Sect, sixteen echoes.
Hua Feng from the Hua Clan, fifteen echoes.
Duan Qingshan, sixteen echoes.
"Shi Potian is making his move." At this moment, the gazes of the crowd were all focused on a single person-Shi Potian from the Shi Clan.
Shi Potian sounded out twenty echoes, refreshing the record.
"As expected of someone from the Shi Clan. The ancient primordial beast blood flowing through his veins is truly fearsome indeed." The spectators silently mused.
For the ranking battle this time around, there were no doubts that the loudest cheers belonged to Chen Wang and Shi Potian.
Great Solar Chen Wang, and Shi Clan, Potian (Breaking the Heavens). Who could contend against these two monsters?
"Huh, that black-robed figure?"
At this moment, Qin Wentian's eyes couldn't help but flicker when he noticed a familiar black-robed figure appearing next to the drum. Wasn't this the fellow that cultivated the Devil Arts?
Devil-might coated the entire body of the black-robed figure, as he blasted out with a palm strike that caused the drum to violently vibrate. In quick succession, he sounded out nine echoes with impending booms still on the way.
However, this didn't quite capture the attention of others, and it was only when the black-robed figure had reached a total of fifteen echoes before people began focusing on him.
As the sixteenth and seventeenth echoes reverberated, the black-robed figure finally halted his attacks. It was obvious that he still had strength remaining, yet he chose to give up at the seventeenth echo, seemingly indifferent about the results.
"He's actually a cultivator of the devil path, who is he exactly? I have never heard of such a person, could he be a dark horse?"
"Maybe that he is a she, notice how he stayed cloaked in black? He must be hiding his identity."
"Chen Wang, Great Solar Chen Wang is finally making his move." Chen Wang took a step forward, as the crowd burst out into crazy cheers. Ranked #2 on the Heavenly Fate Rankings, without Hua Taixu, he was the person most likely to obtain the top ranking this time around.
The light from the sun was incomparably resplendent, Chen Wang didn't disappoint his supporters. Similar to Shi Potian, he sounded out a total of twenty echoes.
"Mu Feng is here as well, although I heard that he was grievously injured just three days ago."The gigantic drum sounded out nine echoes before Mu Feng walked away, ignoring the opinions of others.
Although this was the case, no one dared to belittle Mu Feng. Even Heavenly Dipper Sovereigns would fear his poison.
Regardless of Chen Wang, Shi Potian or Mu Feng, none of these three should be underestimated.
After which, there was another name worthy of attention. That person, was Situ Po, a Heaven's Chosen from the Sword Extinction Sect.
At this moment, Qin Wentian turned his gaze over. Mo Qingcheng perceived his actions and as he finally stepped out, a mischievous smile flashed past his eyes.
Qin Wentian and the rest mirrored her actions, all of them stepped onto the sacred pathway and moved towards the nine-sided gigantic drum."Zhan Chen is finally making his move. I heard that his infatuation with Mo Qingcheng hasn't lessened despite the countless rejections he's faced."
"Who's that maiden? She's actually so beautiful, almost on par with Mo Qingcheng." The spectators all exclaimed in awe when they noticed Yun Mengyi. Although Yun Mengyi was famous in the Unmatched Realm, not many outside that area knew of her."Xuan Yan, Xuan Yan went up as well."
"So many beautiful girls, this is just like a feast for our eyes in a banquet of beauty."
Mo Qingcheng, Yun Mengyi and Xuan Yan went up at the same time.
Zhan Chen had yet to act.
Other than these, the ones remaining were none other than Qin Wentian, Ouyang Kuangsheng, Chu Mang, Fan Le and Bailu Jing.
A total of nine contenders coincidentally matched up with the nine-sided gigantic drum.
"Fatty, I want to see how many echoes you can manifest," Xuan Yan spoke in a low voice. Evidently, she was talking to Fan Le.
Fan Le was lacking a little in confidence, the situation this time around was different from the past.
And what was interesting was that these nine contenders all made their moves at the same time. In the next instant, the nine-sided gigantic drum echoed out in unison.
The total power unleashed created a chaotic stream that devastated the surroundings. Qin Wentian's strike was beyond overwhelming, sounding out nine echoes with a single strike. Yet in spite of this, no one noticed him because the main focus of everyone's attention was Zhan Chen and Mo Qingcheng.
Occasionally, the gazes of the crowd would also turn to Yun Mengyi and Xuan Yan.
The crowd only saw Zhan Chen immersed in a golden light as countless fearsome sharp swords lacerated outwards. Momentarily, he had already sounded out the fifteenth echo yet it was extremely clear that he wasn't done yet.
Mo Qingcheng had already halted her attacks, she stopped the moment the ninth echo rang out. Although she still remained there, nobody complained, it was an enjoyable thing to steal a few more glances at her before she retreated.
Eventually, Fan Le, Chu Mang, Ouyang Kuangsheng and Bailu Jing all halted their attacks. Among them, the ones with the greatest number of echoes, were Bailu Jing and Chu Mang, with a total of sixteen echoes each.
Xuan Yan gathered her strength and sounded a total of seventeen echoes, awing everyone in the crowd.
Yet they discovered that there were still three people who hadn't halted their attacks. The beautiful maiden akin to a snow lotus on the right actually sounded out eighteen echoes. The sword technique she executed appeared simple and elegant, yet contained a mystery of such profoundness that it could rival the grandness of the Heavens.
"What's going on, why is this group of people so powerful?"
Xuan Yan sounded out seventeen echoes while Yun Mengyi sounded out eighteen echoes.
Zhan Chen and Qin Wentian had already reached the eighteenth echo mark, yet both of them were still going strong. Among the drum reverberations, a strong sense of enmity could be felt.
With a cold laugh, nine swords combined into one as Zhan Chen pierced forth. The nineteenth echo was born-it seemed as though he had no intentions of stopping, he wanted to challenge the record today, to reach the twentieth echo.
Yet the rebound force from this echo contained an overwhelming strength, the wind-force was so strong that Zhan Chen couldn't even keep his eyes open.
Qin Wentian's countenance looked extremely solemn, his blood gurgling within his body as he imbued his fist with unparalleled strength. He punched out once again, incorporating within his fist the rhythm of the world's boundless energy, blasting all out upon the surface of the drum."BOOM!" The nineteenth echo, reverberated.
"How is this possible?"
Within the crowd, several had expressions of incredulous disbelief etched on their faces. This was the first time they had witnessed two contenders both surpass the eighteenth echo in a direct confrontation with each other. And not just anyone, the unknown young man was contending against Zhan Chen!