Chapter 22: Crushed!
Translator: Novel Saga Editor: Maggie
"The Thirteen Series of Gale Force Blade! Seven Cuts in One Breath!"
Shi Mu's body suddenly began revolving wildly like a gyroscope. The long knife in his hand created shadows one after another, stretching and morphing. Each time he moved the knife, it created seven shadows. Eventually, a miniature mountain was created through the shadows, which emitted shrill sounds every now and then.
However, the mountain was not made of stones, but of deadly gleaming blades.
Wang Tian Hao's six fireballs disappeared into the mountain at the speed of shooting stars. Immediately afterwards, six 'booming' sounds exploded from the mountain. A violent and heavy rain of sparks sprayed in all directions, heating up the entire room.
Simultaneously, whizzing noises were heard on the floor of the ring as hundreds of blade marks were cut into the floor. This was the same spot where that mountain of blades had exploded. Each mark was three inches, both in depth and length, creating a huge circle that appeared to have been carved by a ruler.
Peng! A deafening noise was heard.
As though rammed by an invisible burst of energy, Wang Tian Hao tipped over in mid-air and then thudded down onto the floor. Unable to steady himself, he stumbled and took seven steps back. He left a trail of seven, half-inch deep, footprints on the floor.
His face turned ashen once he finally managed to come to a stop. His hands couldn't stop trembling, and he was barely managing to hold his spear now. The front end of the spear, which used to look imposing, had now had either vanished, or had melted away because of the heat.
All the instructors below stared at the lower portion of that melting mountain of blades without blinking their eyes. Disciples, including Feng Jun, were even more shocked than their instructors; in fact, some were even holding their breaths.
After the last shadow from his knife had faded from the ring, Shi Mu's silhouette suddenly became visible. He was standing straight, holding his knife with a single hand. The only thing that seemed unusual was that, he was blushing from the heat while his shoulders and hair were slightly burnt. His knife had many notches on its edge, as if it had been struck repeatedly by something hard.
However, Shi Mu clearly knew why his knife had all these notches. It had gone out of control at the impact of the fireballs, and thus had cut directly into the floor. This had pocketed the edge, and was also the reason why there were numerous knife marks around him.
"I can't believe you took my six fireballs head-on!" Wang Tian Hao exclaimed in disbelief as he observed Shi Mu's body closely, unable to fathom that Shi Mu had escaped unharmed.
"It's all because of my advanced blade art. Otherwise I wouldn't have been able to defend your last strike," Shi Mu said, without looking triumphant. On the contrary, at this moment he actually had some reverence for Wang Tian Hao.
"Seven Cuts in One Breath! My defeat was certain since you have progressed this much in your 'Gale Force Blade' Art. But the spear I used in this match was made out of ordinary iron and not a refined one, which is why it couldn't withstand my overwhelming flames. If I had used a refined one, then you wouldn't have come out of the match safe and sound. But I won't break my promise. I'll retire from the match since you've managed to resist my attacks," Wang Tian Hao said in a grudging tone after letting out a sigh. He then jumped out of the ring as promised, and went straight for the gate of the hall.
"Hold on for a moment, Tian Hao! Please excuse me," Uncle Xu chased after his nephew after a hasty goodbye. Flustered by the scene, and he hurried away, leaving the other Jin Gang members behind.
The other instructors and disciples were left staring at each other as they saw this; it was surprising enough for Shi Mu to have accomplished his Seven Cuts in One Breath, but the result of the challenge had astonished them even more so!
"Wow... Liu Feng club wins! Shi Mu wins! A young hero indeed! But as explained earlier, little brother Shi now has two choices. He can either choose for the fight to be deemed as a winning challenge against Jin Gang club, in which case he can retire now and fight later in the next round. Or, he can remain in the ring and wait for the next challenge from the other clubs' disciples. If no one can defeat him, then Liu Feng club will naturally come first in this year's competition," the military officer announced the result as he stepped into the ring again. He then began to measure Shi Mu from head to toe in a very surprised manner.
This result had obviously created a commotion around the ring.
Although most of the disciples were impressed with Shi Mu's earlier performance, they were well aware that he had lost his energy after that bitter fight. Furthermore, even though Shi Mu wasn't badly injured, his strength would not last for long in the next fight, especially since his weapon had been ruined in his previous fight. Moreover, the conventional rule stated that if Shi Mu decided to take the next challenge without a rest, he would be denied the chance to have a new weapon.
A few instructors, including Feng Leng Chan, grew upset when they heard this.
"Brother Li, you should ask Shi Mu to come back and rest for a bit. If he can get a new weapon, we, the Liu Feng club, will definitely win the competition," the red-faced instructor Min hurriedly urged Li Cang Hai to call Shi Mu back. He was the one to finally perceive the difficulty of the choice.
"There is no need. I know this little guy better than anyone else. Right now, he will not listen even if he is commanded to retire," Li Cang Hai took a deep breath and smiled bitterly.
Just then, Shi Mu replied without hesitation, "Since I'm already here, I won't quit until I'm defeated."
"Well then, the challenge shall proceed," the officer nodded with a look of approval.
The disciples below began to mutter to each other. Because of the condition he was in, no one dared to challenge him since winning such a match would earn dark looks from people, and they would say, "You just took advantage of Shi Mu's state." This was an embarrassing prospect which made most of them flinch.
Li Yun Feng and Sun Jun exchanged a look of astonishment, gaping at each other, as if daydreaming.
"Ha ha, then let me have the honour of seeing Brother Shi's techniques," Feng Jun said as he made his way through the crowd. He sneered and leaped into the ring, stretching his arms and pulling them back to his sides. His fists were now clad in a pair of black iron gloves! The knuckles were fixed with fine steel so that he could move his fingers freely as he willed.
"Fist art? Good, I was hoping to fight with my fists as well," Shi Mu narrowed his eyes.
"Such a coincidence! I have practised the 'Wind-Blowing' Fists, and I..."
"Humph, stop talking and start fighting! Here, take my first punch," Shi Mu said as he snorted coldly and moved. He stretched out his arms in a blur, and smashed at his opponent.
Feng Jun was enraged by Shi Mu's sudden move. He wielded his arms bluntly, welcoming the incoming fists with his two iron gloves.
He punched at Shi Mu's two bare fists.
Crack! Crack! Two crisp sounds were heard.
Feng Jun was left screaming in agony, with his body being pushed back at an overwhelming speed. After colliding with Shi Mu's fists, the black gloves had expanded like a cloud of smoke. Subsequently, the two gloves exploded like confetti, exposing his bleeding hands underneath.
"The accomplished level! You must have reached the accomplished level in the 'Stone-Breaking' Fist!" Feng Jun cried out shrilly in astonishment, as if he had seen a horrible monster.
However, Shi Mu continued to pursue his prey, and lowered his body as he approached Feng Jun. He then punched Feng Jun while his fierce movements stirred up strong winds.
Feng Jun's hands were already badly mutilated, and were completely defenceless in the face of the in-coming fist attacks. He had no option but to howl and squat. Suddenly, the part of his body that wasn't covered by clothes began to turn blackish grey. In an instant, it looked as if he was wearing heavy black armour!
This time Shi Mu pounded Feng Jun's stomach heavily, and the blackish grey skin vanished in the blink of an eye. Feng Jun's body was sent flying backwards for five feet, which then slammed into the ground, stirring up a large amount of dust.
The hall became so silent that one could hear a pin drop.