Chapter 49 - Finals
Chem Au was slightly…, actually, he was really, really annoyed. Throwing your swords away? How dare you look down on me.
“Soaring Crane!” White light wrapped around Chem Au’s legs as he ran towards Li Qinli.
Li Qinli tried to hide the bored look on his face as he too ran forward to meet his enemy. Even without using a skill, his speed was pretty fast.
They met up at the center of the stage.
Chem Au threw the first punch, but his fist hit nothing but air. Li Qinli had stepped to the side, then returned to strike Chem Au twice, before Chem Au threw a kick in retaliation. Li Qinli deflected it and then threw one more punch before jumping away.
Most of the audience nodded like this was expected. In the first exchange, Li Qinli was able to land three hits, while the village kid hit nothing.
The two opponents stared at each other, then they charged in again.
The fight continued like a fiery blaze. Again and again, Chem Au would come in with a wide swing and each time Li Qinli would dance away before returning with a quick strike of his own. Chem Au's martial arts was like a rough charging animal, while Li Qinli fought with elegance. He would often swerved his strikes like moving water, weakening Chem Au's straightforward attack.
Li Qinli felt nothing but calm while looking down on Chem Au, wondering if he didn't have that much experience fighting strong opponents, or at least human opponents. The village kid's attacks looked like he had fought with beasts and such, and while those straightforward attacks would work on beasts, they were nothing against a person who studied martial arts, where their attacks and defense were more maneuverable.
Well, it was about time to allow the village kid to hit him. Li Qinli subtly spread his arms out, leaving a small opening at his chest.
Chem Au took the chance and threw a punch.
A thunderous sound rang around the field as Li Qinli flew backwards until he made a quick flip, allowing him to land on the ground with his two feet sliding backwards, gouging out two lines in the dirt.
"Oh, would you look at that? When that village kid hit those other cultivators, they couldn't even get back up."
"Yeah, but Li Qinli was able to land perfectly. Goes to show the difference between the tournament champion and those other cultivators from noble clans."
Conversations like this spread through the audience when they saw how fine Li Qinli was at taking that strike, but then suddenly everyone froze when they saw him cough out blood.
Blood splattered the ground in front of Li Qinli as he held his stomach. After taking that punch, he could only think of one thing.
That fist was ridiculously heavy! What the hell was it made of?!
Li Qinli finally understood why those other cultivators fell to such an attack. It was like being hit by a mountain. If he was just a little bit weaker, he might have also been struck down by such a fist.
It was a good thing he wasn't trying to win, otherwise he would be nervous right now.
While waiting for the village kid to charge in for another attack, Li Qinli circulated his profound energy to speed up the healing of his internal injuries.
But something strange happened. Chem Au just stood there.
As for the reason why, it was because Chem Au felt that there was something off about this match. Even though Li Qinli was able to hit him plenty of times, he barely suffered any injury; just a few faint bruises. Even though his body had been fortified by the Hard Earth Pill, it shouldn't be to this extent where someone whose profound strength was a whole five levels higher could barely hurt him.
At first, Chem Au thought it was because Li Qinli was using fast strikes. There was a saying that quick attacks make for light attacks. Still... shouldn't his strikes be a little heavier?
That wasn't the only thing that was off. Whenever Li Qinli got a chance to hit him, he would only launch two strikes even though there had been plenty of time for three or four.
All of this, combined with throwing away his weapon and not using any cultivation skills yet, Chem Au couldn't help but feel that Li Qinli was going easy on him.
Needless to say, having thought about all this, Chem Au was growing ever more pissed.
Finally, just as when everyone was wondering why the two cultivators was standing still, Chem Au charged forward. He was not happy.
He moved in with a double strike, but Li Qinli easily dodged and then returned two of his own. However, what was different now was that Chem Au didn't even bother trying to block. Li Qinli's attacks easily landed.
It was just as Chem Au thought. He hardly felt any pain.
Growing angrier, Chem Au rushed in again. It was said that men could talk with their fists, and this was what they were saying to each other.
Chem threw a punch. "I know what you're doing."
Li Qinli swayed away, then threw a kick. "What am I doing?"
Chem Au didn't bother to block it, and then he hit back. "You're going easy on me."
Li Qinli dodged and struck again. "Of course I'm going easy on you. You're too weak."
Chem Au threw an angry punch, then a kick. "No, this feels different. You don't seem that nice. Why the hell are you going easy on me?"
Li Qinli threw his own angered punch. "You don't need to know."
Chem Au caught his fist, then returned his own. "Yes, I do. Tell me why!"
Li Qinli suddenly landed a barrage of attacks. "Do you really want to know? Huh? Do you really?"
Chem Au stepped back, but he didn't hit back, and instead prepared himself for Li Qinli's continued attacks.
Li Qinli kept hitting. "Why am I going easy on you? It's because I'm weak, that's why! I don't want to admit it, but I'm weak. And I will do anything to try to get stronger!"
Chem Au stumbled under the onslaught, confused. He fumbled a punch. "I don't understand."
Meanwhile, Li Qinli sped up his attacks. "How can you ever understand! Someone like you, a weakling from a small village thinking that he's strong. You're just a frog in a well, while I am destined to be one of the strongest cultivators in the Continent. And yet ... and yet ... I am the same. I found out that I'm just a frog in a well too."
Li Qinli finally stopped his attacks. He seemed to be going through something....
But Chem Au didn't care as he smashed his fist into Li Qinli's face. This one fist seemed to say, "You seem to have some circumstances. Whatever they are, it doesn't matter. You just have to get stronger and beat every obstacle in your path. But first you'll have to beat me. Of course, it's not like you can actually beat me even if you fight me with your full strength!"
Li Qinli flew back, then crashed into the ground after suffering that thunderous blow. It seemed like he had been knocked out, which stunned the audience.
But no... Li Qinli got up.
Although his legs were shaky, there was some new vitality in his eyes. He glared at Chem Au as he brushed the blood off his mouth. He then thrust out his two hands and slowly circled them like swirling water. “Hands of the Rapid King!”
The audience got excited.
"Ooh, the Li clan's famous 'Hands of the Rapid King' cultivation skill! I always get excited seeing it!"
"I'm more surprised that the village kid was strong enough to make him use his skill."
"It looks like the match will be over soon."
"Finally," Chem Au said when he saw Li Qinli practically flying towards him, his glowing hands ready to strike. It was going to be a good fight. Putting his own hands up, he got ready to defend himself. He had seen Li Qinli use this cultivation skill before earlier in the tournament. He just hoped that he could survive it.
Li Qinli closed in. The moment before he threw out a strike against Chem Au, his hands started to blur like there were multiples of them. "Hands of the Rapid King - One hundred Man Fury!"
What looked like a hundred fists fell on to Chem Au one after another. Chem Au didn't even bother to dodge; even with the Soaring Crane cultivation skill, he wasn't fast enough. Instead, he tried to block as many punches as possible and hoped that his body would put up with the rest.
Chem Au got pummeled. These attacks were heavier than before. It even felt like some of his bones were turning into broken dust. But with only a few grunts of pain, he held on. In fact, he even tried to counterattack with his own heavy punches. However, Li Qinli simply deflected it with his many hands like water pushing away rock.
With one final strike of a hundred fists hitting at the same time, Chem Au was sent flying. He landed in the ground in a spectacularly humiliating fashion.
Most of the audience cheered.
A few seconds later, to the surprise of most, Chem Au got up with a loud groan, looking bloody and bruised. Fuck! Those hits felt harder than they looked. It was one thing to see those attacks while standing among the crowd, and another to be smashed by them.
This was going to be harder than he thought.
Chem Au charged in, causing Li Qinli to put up his glowing hands, ready for another round. Suddenly, Chem Au jumped up then smashed the ground with his fist when he landed, causing dirt and dust to fly everywhere.
Li Qinli stepped back as clods of dirt flew at him. A dust cloud had formed. Shit! He couldn't see anything. He had to hurry to get out of this cloud. But then he sensed something behind him, and before he could react, a fist struck the side of his face.
The audience saw someone fly out of the dust cloud. At first they assumed it would have been the village kid, but no, it was Li Qinli!
He was unable to balance himself in mid-air so he crashed into the ground. This was the third time he had been hit by that mountain-like punch. He didn't know how much more he could handle.
Coughing blood, he tried to reorientate himself as he was standing up, but then he saw Chem Au closing in again.
Not again, Li Qinli thought when Chem Au jumped into the air and landed on the ground. This time Li Qinli was ready. He immediately ran out of the rising dust cloud. Just in time too, because he saw a fist just miss him right at the edge. How did that village kid find his location in the cloud?
Damn, he might actually lose at this rate. Li Qinli held onto his body because of how broken it felt, thinking of how he needed to keep his distance. It was then that he remembered his swords.
Where were they? Li Qinli looked around and spotted them, then he desperately ran.
Where were they? Li Qinli looked around and spotted them, then he desperately ran.
Chem Au saw him running and figured out what he was going after when he saw the swords too. "Soaring Crane!" White light wrapped around his legs as he ran as well. However, there was nothing he could do because he was further away. Even with the Soaring Crane cultivation skill, he was unable to keep the swords out of Li Qinli's hands.
The audience was surprised when they saw Li Qinli pick up his swords. Heavens, was that village kid so tough that he could force him to use his swords?
Li Qinli was annoyed at the audience. What do they know? That so called weak village kid wasn’t so weak. His fists were like mountains. Just one hit can make you feel like you’re about to cough out your organs.
And what the hell was his body made of? Even though it was Li Qinli wailing on him, his own fists hurt like he had been punching a boulder for an entire day. Although the village kid looked beaten up, he still hasn’t fallen.
Li Qinli needed his swords.
They were forged specifically to absorb the profound energy of his cultivation skill, then fire it at a distance. These swords were perfect for boosting his strength.
“Hands of the Rapid King - One hundred Man Fury!” While holding the swords in his glowing hands, they started to blur until it looked like he was holding a hundred swords.
With a shout, Li Qinli swung forward and a rapid fire of sword beams flew towards Chem Au.
Damn! Chem Au put up his arms to protect his vitals. The sword beams struck with blinding flash after blinding flash.
When the light faded away, everyone could see bloody lines running throughout the village kid’s body. It was like he had stood in the way of a river full of knives. But… he was still alive!
Chem Au didn’t know how many more of those attacks he could take. He had to do something fast. While continuing to protect his vitals, he roared as he charged towards Li Qinli.
Meanwhile, Li Qinli circulated his profound energy for another round of sword beams.
They both shouted at the top of their lungs. This was it. Whoever could hold out would be the winner. Whether it would be Chem Au resisting the sword beams to reach Li Qinli, or the sword beams taking him out.
No matter what the result, through this battle, they could at least say they fought with all their strength.
Sword beam after sword beam cut through the charging Chem Au. By the time he reached Li Qinli, he looked like a bloody mess.
Seeing the village kid so close, Li Qinli roared as he sliced down with his twin swords, but miraculously, Chem Au managed to grab the blades.
"Impossible!" Li Qinli shouted, surprised. Even if the sword beams didn't cut his body in half, getting cut by his swords that was infused with his full profound energy directly should have at least cut off his hands, but no, instead only a thick line of blood ran down the village kid's palm.
Chem Au only responded by headbutting Li Qinli's already bloody nose, stunning him. Taking advantage of that one second of defenselessness, Chem Au threw one final punch with all of his strength behind it, striking Li Qinli's face and sending him flying one last time.
Coughing blood as he spun through the air, Li Qinli finally landed after rolling on the ground until he stopped some distance away.
The audience stood still with bated breath, waiting for Li Qinli to get up. But seconds passed … and nothing.
They couldn’t believe it, but they were seeing it with their own eyes. Slowly, ever so slowly, they were coming to realize it.
Li Qinli wasn’t getting up.
The crowd went wild.
“What the hell?! This is impossible!”
“Li Qinli lost…. Li Qinli lost…. Li Qinli lost…. I must be dreaming. Yeah, that must be it.”
“Noooooo! What am I going to do now?! I lost all of my money! My wife is going to kill me!”
As for the people from Chem Village, and all the other villagers that were here, they could only stare dumbfounded at the unconscious Li Qinli. Then they all switched their gazes to Chem Au; bloody, bruised, broken, and breathing so heavily it looked like he might pass out any second, but he was still standing.
Chem Au had won the Finals! A cultivator from a poor village became the champion!
They couldn’t believe it.
Meanwhile, little Chem Al was already heading towards the field with his bag full of medicine in hand.
“Such a mess…,” Chem Al said when he saw how beat up his big brother was. He looked like a bloody corpse that had died standing up.
Chem Au didn’t say anything, but when he saw his little brother, he collapsed on the ground with a smile. Ah, his entire body hurt. But everything was going to be fine now. That was his last thought before he fell unconscious.
Chem Al quickly got to work preparing the necessary pills. As he did so, he couldn’t help but worry. When the fight first began, Li Qinli did what he was supposed to do. Going easy, making the fight look good, and preparing himself to lose.
Then midway through the match, he started to get serious, making Chem Al worry. This was not part of the deal. However, to his surprise, Chem Au actually won. It was a hard victory, but he still won.
History was now right on course. He should have trusted his big brother more.
Soon, Chem Al was able to at least stabilize Chem Au’s condition. He still needed more pills and time to recuperate, but he was going to live. Then suddenly a shadow loomed over both of them, causing Chem Al to look up.