Numerous bonfires burned in the enormous barracks, chasing away the darkness of the night as they illuminated half of the sky.
At the very center of the barracks was a wide platform, several bonfires burning around it. Every bonfire was surrounded by soldiers who were happily drinking and eating, making noise that soared into the heavens.
Zhou Yuan, Yaoyao, Su Youwei and Lu Tieshan were seated at the center.
Opposite Zhou Yuan and his group, Wei Qingqing shot a look at at the two girls beside him and said, “It must feel great to have beauties accompany you everywhere.”
Yaoyao merely glanced at the Wei Qingqing and did not say anything. On the other hand, Su Youwei could not longer tolerate this girl’s treatment towards Zhou Yuan. Hence, her red lips parted slightly as she retorted, “Since deputy-commander Wei is also a lady, why do you treat other women as objects to be admired?”
As she spoke, Genesis Qi trembled around Su Youwei, displaying her Qi Nourishing stage strength.
Wei Qingqing was stunned. There was now an additional trace of seriousness when she looked at Su Youwei. The fact that she was able to reach the Qi Nourishing stage at her age definitely meant that she was a genius, and in no way a mere pretty vase to admire.
“I was blind, my apologies.” Wei Qingqing was rather straightforward and immediately gave Su Youwei a slight nod, showing that she was sorry.
However, Wei Qingqing’s frown grew even deeper than usual when she looked towards Zhou Yuan again, as if she felt that the company of such an outstanding girl was truly wasted on him.
At this moment, Qi Hao suddenly smiled from beside Wei Qingqing and asked, “Hehe, your highness, there are many brothers in Canglan army that are dying to exchange pointers with the brothers of the imperial guard and liven up the place abit. We hope to know his highness’ opinion.”
Loud cheers from the numerous surrounding Canglan army warriors followed. Their eyes were filled with the desire to battle.
Zhou Yuan looked towards Lu Tieshan. The latter nodded and loudly said towards the imperial guards, “Make sure to properly receive all challenges, do not lose the face of the imperial guards!”
“Understood!” The ones who had been dispatched this time were the elite of the imperial guard, and hence naturally proud individuals. They had long been itching to respond to the repeated provocations from the Canglan army.
A muscular figure shot out, landing on the stage as a powerful voice echoed, “Imperial guard, Tong Wudi. Which brother from the Canglan army wants to have a go?!”
Genesis Qi swirled around this figure, displaying his initial Qi Nourishing stage strength. He was one of the officers in the imperial guard.
“Haha, great! Canglan army, Sun Meng. I will entertain you!” A figure also shot out from the Canglan army side. He was clearly not any weaker than Tong Wudi.
Cheers erupted from all around the moment both individuals got onto the stage.
Both parties did not waste any time with words. After cupping their fists together, ferocious attacks exploded, causing dust to fly. Punches and kicks flew one after another, making the intensity of the fight more than clear.
The atmosphere below the stage was explosive, troops from both sides madly shouting and cheering.
The fight lasted for quite some time before ending in Tong Wudi’s narrow victory, causing countless cheers to sound out once again.
After the opening act, experts from both sides ascended the stage one after another. The intensity of the fights made the cheering around the stage rise and fall like waves.
Zhou Yuan eagerly relished each fight. All of these warriors had been tempered by blood and fire, and their attacks were decisive and fierce, far surpassing the bouts between the students of the Great Zhou Institute.
As the atmosphere grew more and more lively, Qi Hao suddenly stood up and said with a seemingly casual smile, “I heard that your highness managed to turn around a pretty desperate situation during the class ranking exam and become pretty famous in Great Zhou. This has made us Canglan army brothers rather curious about your highness. Will you show us a thing or two to broaden our horizons?”
The surrounding eyes swept over and stared at Zhou Yuan in interest. Everyone had heard of the rumors that their prince was unable to cultivate, and were thus very surprised when they heard news about the recent class ranking exam.
“He target is me after all.”
Zhou Yuan’s expression remained unchanged. He just knew that Qi Hao wanted to cause trouble for him tonight. The latter was clearly planning on making Zhou Yuan lose face in front of the Canglan army in an attempt to hurt the both his reputation and the royal clan’s. So even if Wei Canglan chose to side with the royal clan in future, the Canglan army soldiers would feel that the royal clan was useless, allowing for other thoughts to rise in their minds.
A seemingly small matter was in actuality filled with Qi Hao’s evil intentions.
Qi Hao grinned as he looked at Zhou Yuan. With a wave of the former’s hand, a thin man stood up. “I’ve heard that his highness defeated my younger brother while he was using the Channel Breaker art to unlock all eight channels. So our Canglan army will send a true eight channel expert to test his highness abilities!”
The smart Qi Hao did not send out a Qi Nourishing stage expert because no one would find it disgraceful for Zhou Yuan to lose. Therefore, someone who had unblocked all eight channels but had yet to open a Qi Dwelling was the most suitable opponent. It was more than clear that Qi Hao had put quite a lot of thought into this decision.
“Hehe. It is fine if your highness feels that there is no need. After all, us common folk and your highness live in completely different worlds.”
Qi Hao sighed deeply as if he fully understood, but his intentions were extremely malicious. If Zhou Yuan were to reject at this point, the Canglan army soldiers would feel that he was looking down on them due to his status as prince. As such, their impression of him would naturally become rather negative.
By the side, Wei Qingqing’s expression changed. She had just realised Qi Hao’s intentions and was about to speak up.
Just as Wei Qingqing was about to speak, beside her, Wei Ting said to her ear, “Qingqing, we should take this chance to see exactly how capable our prince is. The atmosphere in Canglan County has become a little restless due to the recent news regarding the ruins. If the prince does not have any ability and is humiliated, he will likely be unable to take it and leave, saving the rest of us some trouble.”
Wei Qingqing hesitated a little upon hearing this but eventually nodded. Wei Ting did have a point. If Zhou Yuan was really not capable, returning to Great Zhou City would be the safer option so as to prevent inciting Zhou Qing’s anger if anything unfortunate happened.
Countless gazes turned towards Zhou Yuan at this moment, waiting for his reply.
Under their gazes, Zhou Yuan raised his head and looked at the grinning Qi Hao before suddenly smiling, “Since everyone is in such high spirits, I can’t possibly ruin the mood.”
How could he not know Qi Hao’s intentions. However, Qi Hao was a little too gullible if he believed that this would suppress Zhou Yuan.
Zhou Yuan stood up, jumped and landed on the stage as the Heavenly Yuan Brush appeared in his hand. The martial form was immediately activated, causing the brush to grow into a long spear.
The Heavenly Yuan Brush pointed to a ground at a slanted angle as a faint smile emerged on Zhou Yuan’s face. “Come on up, we’ll count it as my defeat if you manage to receive a single blow from me.”
“Oh oh oh!”
Zhou Yuan’s words instantly drew countless strange noises from the watching crowd. Soldiers from the both the Canglan army and the imperial guard could not help but cheer. Disregard Zhou Yuan’s strength for the moment, just his boldness alone was very to their liking.
Wei Qingqing was momentarily stunned before she remarked, “Bold words.”
Beside her, Wei Ting smirked in disdain.
Qi Hao chuckled softly before retrieving a long fiery-red blade and handing it to the lean man. “Go. If you win, this mid grade Genesis Weapon will be yours.”
The lean man quickly received the weapon, joy bubbling in his eyes. A mid grade Genesis Weapon was worth over a thousand Genesis crystals, something that a soldier like him would never be able to afford.
Blade in hand, the lean man leapt onto the stage, eyes practically burning as he stared at Zhou Yuan.
Zhou Yuan ignored the searing gaze, his expression akin to deathly still water. The surrounding Genesis Qi flowed into his body through his nose and a split second later, he suddenly shot forward, headed straight for the lean man.
“High grade Genesis skill, Flaming Blade Beheader!” The lean man did not dare to delay. With a roar, he grasped the blade with both hands and swung it downwards as flames emerged on its body.
It was an extremely deadly chop that gave off an air of violence. It was evident that the lean man’s strength was top tier amongst eight channel practitioners.
His attack was both fiercer and more ruthless than Qi Yue’s had been during the class ranking exam.
However, Zhou Yuan’s body did not even flinch in response to such a powerful blow. His charge continued, the tip of the Heavenly Yuan Brush bringing up sparks as it streaked across the ground.
Zhou Yuan suddenly took in a deep breath as Genesis Qi poured into his body. With a sudden jolt of the Heavenly Yuan Brush, green light spilled from its tip.
This time, the green aura extended several inches from the brush tip. This combined with the power of the Heavenly Yuan Brush far exceeded the time when Zhou Yuan had used it during the class ranking exam.
The Heavenly Yuan Brush was thrust like a spear as his body shot forward, accompanied by a piercing sound while it shredded even the air itself. In the end, the brush clashed against the flaming blade of the lean man under the watching eyes of the crowd.
The sound of metal against metal rang out as sparks flew.
At the same time, everyone watched as one of the figures miserably shot backwards, taking step after step on the ground, only managing to steady himself several dozen steps later.
While he was stabilizing his body, everyone looked towards him before bursting out into noise. The figure was the eight channel lean man.
No one had expected him to be incapable of handling even a single blow from Zhou Yuan!
The lean man’s face was filled with shock. He slowly raised the fiery-red long blade in his hand, only to discover the numerous cracks that had emerged on its body, before it shattered soon after…
Astonishment rose in the eyes the onlookers. Did prince Zhou Yuan just destroy a mid grade Genesis Weapon? Just how much power was needed to do that?
Near a certain bonfire, Wei Qingqing’s eyes widened slightly when she saw this. She could clearly feel just how destructive Zhou Yuan’s previous blow had been.
Even an initial Qi Nourishing stage expert would feel threatened by its power.
A sliver of amazement flashed in Wei Qingqing’s eyes as she stared at Zhou Yuan’s figure and mumbled, “So the rumors are true.”
On the stage, the Heavenly Yuan Brush in Zhou Yuan’s hand was slanted towards the ground as he smiled, “Thanks for letting me win.”
Qi Hao had believed that sending someone who was about to open a Qi Dwelling would be enough to defeat Zhou Yuan, but the former never imagined that Zhou Yuan had grown stronger after the class ranking exam and unblocked his seventh meridian channel.
It was likely that only a handful of people under the Qi Nourishing stage would be capable of receiving a single blow from the current him.
Countless Canglan army soldiers burst out into cheers below the stage. Respect and admiration was now present in the eyes that looked towards Zhou Yuan. His beautiful move had evidently won over all of these soldiers who respected the strong.
“Prince Zhou Yuan! Prince Zhou Yuan!”
No one knew who started it, but deafening cheers began to sound out one by one, echoing across the entire barracks.
Beside one of the bonfires, Qi Hao’s face appeared a little rigid under the fire light.
It was obvious that he never imagined his original plan to ruin Zhou Yuan’s reputation would instead do the opposite. The prince from Great Zhou City had gained the acknowledgement of the Canglan army warriors.
This was a little akin to a certain saying: go for the wool and come home shorn.