Chapter 102: Core Protégé Tournament (3)
The first round of the martial competition was over quickly.
Eighteen core protégés had competed against each other and only nine core protégés had advanced to the next round.
Lu Qingyun was one of the nine that had advanced to the next round.
Nangong Yu and Cheng Wuzi were the two only known core protégés that were fourth realm experts and they were also the favorites to advance to the next round. They did not fail the expectations of the crowd and they had naturally advanced to the second round.
Leng Qiuyue the icy beauty had also advanced to the second round.
As she won her match, she lit a faint smile as she walked past to Lu Qingyun.
Lu Qingyun who was closely watching all his opponents’ matches keenly was startled when he had suddenly noticed that she was smiling at him. He thought, “Why is she looking at me like this? But she has the right to mock me. Her sword stances are really seasoned. She will be a strong opponent…”
However Leng Qiuyue was actually silently saying, “Senior brother, did you see that? Are you impressed with me?”
Now that the first round of the martial competition was over, Elder Ouyang announced. “Before we go to the second round, we are going to have another ballot to choose a defeated candidate from among the eliminated and the picked candidate will be allowed to go to the second round.”
“In a battle, one’s luck plays a big part too. Therefore whether you will be picked to the second round will depend entirely on the heavens!” As he said that, he took a quick glance at Lu Qingyun as he sighed softly.
The reason why he had agreed to rig the ballot with the sect leader was because Qin Keqin had told him, “Elder Ouyang, this is the first time that my Yun’Er is entering the core protégés martial tournament. He is the clan’s Senior Brother. I hope that you understand that if he loses, it will be such a terrible loss of face for him and for me, your sect leader…”
If Lu Qingyun were to lose his first match, then this bailout ballot will be used for him to re-enter the second round.
But since he had won…
Elder Ouyang put his hands unhurriedly into the cauldron to pick a ballot to name the lucky person who would be given a second chance.
Most of the common protégés were not interested in any of the defeated candidates and were more interested in the upcoming second round. However, all nine of the defeated candidates were all looking at Elder Ouyang and the cauldron with great anxiety. To them, it seemed like it was an eternity…
Qin Keqin was laughing jovially as she watched Elder Ouyang.
To the others, they had no idea why she was equally excited at the ballot result. This was not as exciting as the actual competition.
Qin Keqin turned to ask the group as she chuckled, “So, who do you think will be picked?”
Ouyang Xue said quietly, “Zhang Gang.”
There was a slight flush on Qin Keqin’s countenance and her smiles were stopped half-way.
Elder Ouyang was heard announcing loudly, “Zhang Gang. You are picked. You are allowed to go to the second round…”
Everyone was staring at Qin Keqin and Ouyang Xue as though they were saying, “How did you know?”
They had noticed Qin Keqin’s sudden halt in her expression and were suspecting that she may have known of the result beforehand.
Qin Keqin suddenly chuckled as she looked solemnly at Ouyang Xue, “You didn’t conspire with your father to rig the result, didn’t you? How do you know the result of the ballot before we do?”
Ouyang Xue: …
Yun Xing looked at Ouyang Xue while thinking with a weak smile, “She is the sect leader. Even if she did rig the ballot, we can’t expose her…”
Mu Han, Wang Ming, Kong Guxin and Shi Guanyin were all smiling weakly and pretending that they knew nothing.
Lie Xingyuan was gasping as she looked at Qin Keqin, “Don’t tell me that this ballot is rigged by sect leader?!”
Only Yin Shisi was quietly watching the stage without any distraction.
Below the stage, Zhang Gang was overjoyed and he had jumped up. To think that he would be so lucky to be given a second chance!
Earlier, he had to admit that he had been too careless and he was quite demoralized that he had been defeated by Lu Qingyun with just a single stroke.
In a battle, it was not skills alone that mattered. Luck was also an important factor as well. Zhang Gang now believed that lady luck was in his company and he was suddenly spirited!
As he jumped to join the other core protégés that were waiting for the second round, he heard some mutterings from the common protégés that were sitting on top of the stage.
“Zhang Gang is only a second realm good-for-nothing cultivator. Why is that he can be a core protégé while we can’t?”
“He was only lucky to be picked by Grand Elder Wang Ming that day…”
“He has even lost to Senior Brother Lu who is only a first realm cultivator…”
“If he has any shame, he should step down immediately and surrender the chance to a more worthy defeated candidate…”
Zhang Gang: …
As he walked to join the second round core protégés, he hung his head in great awkwardness…
Elder Ouyang announced, “Now for the start of the second round of the martial competition…”
The common protégés were all cheering and talking excitingly. Finally the second round of the competition will be starting soon!
Elder Ouyang picked the ballots and read out aloud, “Senior Brother Lu Qingyun versus Zhang Gang!”
All of a sudden there was a few seconds of stunned silence from everyone as the noises suddenly died down before it resumed into a thunderous confusion…
“What?! Senior Brother Lu Qingyun is up against Zhang Gang again?”
“This fight, it isn’t rigged right?”
“What are the odds of this happening…”
“The two lowest level cultivators are fighting again…”
“What is this?”
Many of the female protégés were however overjoyed with their sheer luck. If Lu Qingyun did manage to get into the third round, they would be able to win a huge amount of payout.
“Aiya, I should have placed more of my money on Senior Brother Lu…”
“I think I am going to be in debt…” many of the common protégés were bitterly complaining.
There was a type of bet that was called the reverse betting. These common protégés had betted against Lu Qingyun unable to advance into the second, third or even higher rounds. If Lu Qingyun did manage to enter the second round, they would lose double their bets. If he could enter the third round then they would lose a quadruple amount and so on and so forth.
That was why there was a stunned silence from the common protégés whether they were supporters or betting against Lu Qingyun.
Some of the elders almost vomited blood. They were richer than the common protégés and had betted more against Lu Qingyun…
Even Zhang Gang was stunned for a while, “What? I am going to fight Senior Brother Lu again?…” But he was soon glad. It was because he stood a greater chance against Lu Qingyun than the others.
Behind him, Nangong Yu was cursing angrily. “He can just go to the third round just like this? Just because he has a weaker opponent?”
When Elder Ouyang had announced the match, he too, was feeling quite sheepish now. His back was now burning and he was feeling quite awkward. This was a big oversight on his part and he did not predict that the reaction of the crowd would be so exaggerated.
When Qin Keqin said to him, “On the second round, I hope that my Yun’Er will be the first competitor against Zhang Gang. In this way, he will be able to have more time to rest for the third round…”
He had blindly followed Sect Leader Qin’s script and now he was feeling that it was a little too obvious…
Qin Keqin was smiling with great delight, “My Yun’Er is going to fight Zhang Gang again! Alright, let have some side bets. I’m betting on my Yun’Er to win. So who is going to bet against me?”
Everyone had a stunned expression as they looked at Qin Keqin.
Was this too obvious that the result was definitely rigged?!
Even Yin Shisi was doubtfully looking at Qin Keqin as she softly said. “Isn’t this too much of a coincidence?”
Qin Keqin chuckled, “This is just a lucky occurrence. It will only be a coincidence only if it happens again.”
All the grand elders were looking at one another and shaking their heads at the ‘coincidences’…
Even Lie Xingyuan was smiling bitterly in her heart, “If it really happens for the third time then it will be too shameless and will be such a weak facade…”
“Elder Ouyang Xue, who do you think will win this time round?” Qin Keqin asked Ouyang Xue.
But this time Ouyang Xue was not going to reply her. If she replied that Lu Qingyun would be the victor then Qin Keqin may shamelessly accused her of rigging the martial competitor with her father.
She was actually thinking, “My father has actually conspired with the sect leader? My old father, I hope that that is not the case. How do you expect your daughter to face anyone in the future…”
Below the stage, Lu Qingyun and Zhang Gang were awkwardly facing each other again.
Lu Qingyun said weakly, “We have met again.”
Zhang Gang was smiling bitterly, “Indeed. This time I won’t be careless. So you have better be prepared to be eliminated.”
Lu Qingyun returned an awkward smile, “Actually I am not prepared to be eliminated. I really want the Divine Profound Pill for myself.”
Zhang Gang smiled coldly, “You won’t be able to defeat Nangong Yu and Cheng Wuzi. They are the powerhouses of the core protégés. So you have better worried about getting past me first.”
He added, “Since heavens have given me a chance again, I believe that it is a sign that I will be able to defeat you today. As the saying goes, you can’t fight against the heavens.”
Lu Qingyun sighed softly, “Then I can only ask for your pointers…please give your instructions!”
“Is Senior Brother Lu sighing?”
“Maybe it is only luck that he has defeated Zhang Gang on the first round…”
“It is said that Zhang Gang is the youngest prodigy in the Heavens Ridge Villa with heaven-defying talents…”
“Indeed the same move cannot be used twice against a monstrous genius like Zhang Gang…”
Zhang Gang did not step forward this time but taken two steps to the back as he said sharply, “The first time that I’ve lost to you is because I have underestimated you. You had lured me into making the first move first and had made use of my brief opening to defeat me. This time, I won’t place myself into a position of complacency…”
But before he could finish what he was saying, Lu Qingyun had flashed his sword and knocked him aside with a swing. “You talk too much.”
Lu Qingyun had no wish to put down on his opponent. He was never someone who would put down an opponent with words. He had fought with numerous desolate beasts in the mountains and he knew that the desolate beasts would never give anyone a chance to talk. Therefore this advice to Zhang Gang had come from the bottom of his heart.
Zhang Gang blinked his eyes. He did not even see Lu Qingyun moving and he had already knocked him on the ground?!
He could not believe it!
And even before he could regain his senses, Lu Qingyun’s sword was already pointing at his throat as he said. “You have lost.”
Zhang Gang was staring in disbelief. What was going on?!
Elder Ouyang was also staring with some disbelief at the sudden end of the duel. He announced with some strangeness, “Senior Brother Lu Qingyun has won this duel!”
The thousands of common protégés were all staring with disbelief. Zhang Gang did not even make a single move and he was defeated.
“Why is Zhang Gang just standing there and allowing Senior Brother Lu Qingyun to make his move?!”
As the common protégés were all watching intently above the stage, they could see Lu Qingyun making his move as they had a better perspective of the stage. But for Zhang Gang, he had allowed himself a brief moment of distraction by talking too much.
“This…this is rigged?”
“This is over even before it is started?!!”
“Look at how impressive Senior Brother Lu is! He is going to the third round next…”
“Senior Brother Qingyun is really so dashing…”
“I cannot believe it…”
“This…can’t be happening, right?”
“But then Zhang Gang had already lost to Senior Brother Lu in the first round. So this result isn’t too surprising…”
“I don’t believe, I don’t believe this result at all…”
“How is it possible for a second realm expert to lose to a first realm expert?”
Lu Qingyun’s supporters were arguing hotly with the unbelievers, “That is because he is the core disciple of our sect leader and has the superior swordplay!”
“That stroke that Senior Brother Lu had just used must be the Winds Entropy Dance. Did you see how fast his sword strike was earlier?”
Zhang Gang said bitterly to Lu Qingyun, “I am not ready yet. How can you attack me even before I am ready?!”
Lu Qingyun protested weakly, “I had thought that the duel had already started…” This was the truth. The exchange of formalities was already over when Lu Qingyun had asked for the pointers from his opponent. Anyone would have thought the same.
Moreover Zhang Gang had made the first move by moving his steps backward. It was just that Zhang Gang was trying to use talks to destabilize the morale of his opponent. But it had actually backfired because Lu Qingyun was only focused on defeating his opponent with his sword stroke.
Qin Keqin was smiling with even greater delight than before, “Did you all see that? My Yun’Er has won! He is able to enter the third round. I am so happy for him…”
Yin Shisi was smiling too as she looked at Qin Keqin, “He…has really won!”
All the grand elders were smiling weakly. They had no idea why their sect leader would be so happy over such a small victory.
There were a sudden flash in their eyes as they turned to look secretly at Mu Han. If the rumor that was spread by Mu Han was true that their Sect Leader Qin and Senior Brother Lu were in a secret relationship, then this would explain things…
As for Yin Shisi, it was too obvious to the rest that she was showing too much interest on Lu Qingyun. It was because she had an nonchalant look for the other competitors but when it had come to Lu Qingyun, she was nodding and smiling…
Lie Xingyuan was secretly observing Qin Keqin. “She doesn’t look like she is upset with Senior Brother? But why are they behaving so weirdly on that night…in fact, the way she is looking at senior brother isn’t exactly the look that a master would give to a disciple…it more like a maiden looking at her love interest…”