"Of course!" the attendant explained with a smile. "There can be significant differences in the fighting prowess of cultivators despite the cap of cultivation here, and there would be no one who would be willing to challenge a person whom they know they can't win in the dueling ring. The main purpose of the dueling ring is to temper one's combat techniques, and this can only be done with a suitable opponent. Thus, in order to allow for better pairing of opponents, the dueling ring is divided into various tiers too!"

Zhang Xuan nodded in realization.

Take him for example, competition at such a level couldn't even trigger his motivation at all, let alone sharpen his skills.

"The dueling rings are divided into primary, intermediate, and advanced. If you are able to win ten rounds consecutively in a certain tier, you will be allowed to proceed to the next tier," the attendant explained.

"You currently have eight rounds under you, which put you very close to intermediate tier. However, given the prowess you have displayed, it's unlikely that ordinary cultivators would dare to challenge you. If you really wish to push ahead, you might have to put down a reward, and as long as someone accepts the challenge and you are able to win two rounds consecutively, you will be qualified to enter the intermediate tier and fight with even stronger experts!"

Zhang Xuan nodded in response.

Such a design was indeed logical. He would have done the same if he had been in Kong shi's place too.

"I'll propose a challenge then!"

"Sure. How much money do you plan to put at stake?" the attendant asked.

"5,500 Ethereal Coins," Zhang Xuan replied as he passed his Ethereal Card over.

As he had spent most of his earlier fortune on buying pills for the Dongxu Gourd, he only had this much money left.

"5,500 Ethereal Coins?" the attendant shook his head with a bitter smile. "That's too low. It'll be hard to get anyone to take on your bet…"

If there wasn't much to be earned from a duel, who would be willing to take it on?

Under normal circumstances, the reward would have to be at least 50,000 Ethereal Coins for it to attract anyone at all. Only then would cultivators be willing to try their luck even if the odds were way against them.

5,500 Ethereal Coins… That was way too little!

Just as the attendant thought that Zhang Xuan was being a little too stingy over here, a young man suddenly walked over with large strides and said, "I'll accept his challenge!"

The young man appeared to be in his mid-twenties. There was a sword in his hand, which indicated that he was a sword practitioner. Beside him was a beautiful lady in her late teens by his side. 

They were none other than Huo Jianghe and Xue Qin.

However, as those two had altered their appearances too, Zhang Xuan was unable to identify them either.

"You are willing to take up my challenge?"


Not expecting an opponent to come for him so quickly, Zhang Xuan heaved a sigh of relief. Putting on a harmless smile, he asked, "Since that's the case, are you willing to take up my bet too?"

Hearing that it was another bet, Huo Jianghe's face immediately turned livid as he remembered the unpleasant situation he was in earlier in the day, "What kind of bet do you want to make?"

"Simple. If I were to lose, I'll give you 100,000 Ethereal Coins. On the other hand, if you were to lose, you'll have to give me 100,000 Ethereal Coins!"

Zhang Xuan's initial thought was to raise the stakes to 500,000 Ethereal Coins, but he was afraid that it would scare his prey away, so he eventually chose a lower amount. He could tell that the other party had come here specially to challenge him, especially given the fact that the other party had accepted his challenge so quickly despite the low returns. While he did need an opponent at the moment, his primary goal was still to earn Ethereal Coins, and the easiest way to do so was through a bet!

"100,000 Ethereal Coins? Can you even fork out such a sum?" Huo Jianghe sneered coldly.

As an expert of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion, 100,000 Ethereal Coins was really nothing much to him. Nevertheless, he still had no intention of allowing others to take advantage of him.

"I think the problem over here is whether you are willing to accept my bet or not. I don't mind having a duel with you if you are willing to accept my bet, but otherwise, I don't really want to waste my time fighting with you…" Zhang Xuan waved his hand dismissively.

From the Sword Intent the person before him was emanating, Zhang Xuan could tell that the other party, just like Soaring Clouds and the others whom he had killed earlier, was a disciple of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion.

According to Dan Xiaotian, disciples of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion were highly esteemed in the Azure. The fact that the other party had come all the way here to challenge him likely meant that he was here to seek vengeance for those who were slain by his sword. Since that was the case, this meant that he could try pushing the other party a bit… 

Besides, it was hard work to suppress his cultivation down to a twentieth of what it was. He couldn't execute most of his techniques, and it was extremely stifling for him. It was only natural that he should be rewarded handsomely for his efforts!

If he hadn't suppressed his strength, his opponent could very well be scarred for life.

"Audacious! It's your honor that Senior Huo wishes to challenge you to a battle. How dare you put on such an attitude before him!" Xue Qin bellowed coldly, displeased at World's Edge's dismissive attitude.

It was very likely that Huo Jianghe would become an inner disciple by next year, and it should be the other party's honor to have such a powerful expert challenging him. Yet, the other party still seemed so reluctant, even demanding to hold a bet for it...

Know your place!

"Alright, that's enough," Huo Jianghe raised his hand to stop Xue Qin. He looked at World's Edge once more and said, "I don't mind having a bet with you… However, if you were to lose, I don't need your 100,000 Ethereal Coins. What I want you to do is admit your swordsmanship is beneath that of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion and follow me back to the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion to become an outer disciple!"

100,000 Ethereal Coins was a sum that he could afford to squander, but the reputation of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion had to be protected at any cost.

News saying that Yun Feiyang and the others had lost were already going around town, and if he were to continue remaining idle as their First Senior, it wouldn't be long before others begin saying that the disciples of the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion were weaker than mere unaffiliated cultivators. He couldn't let a minor incident like this mar the reputation of the sect!

Besides, he had much to earn by recommending budding talents to the sect too. It would be considered a huge contribution from his part.

"Very well!" Zhang Xuan nodded.

Those terms and conditions were nothing to him. Besides… 

Lose? How is that even possible?

That's a word which I have never written once in my life!

"Let's head to the dueling ring then!"

Having come to an agreement, the two of them quickly made their way over to the dueling ring.

"Look! World's Edge is here again… Is he going to fight with someone?"

"That's great! I'm finally able to witness his transcendental skills once more… I can't even tell you how impressed I am with his techniques…"

"Hurry up and call up those bunch of useless fools! If they were to miss World's Edge's match, they would probably hate us to death!"

"Who is the one he's fighting with?"

"A River's Glance? I don't have any impression of this person at all… Hmm, but the young lady that's beside him, Winter Zither, I think I have heard of her before…"

"Who is she?"

"Wait, let me think… Yes, that's right! She's the Second Young Mistress of Xuanjiang City. Her name seems to be Xue Qin or something. She's quite a beaut, and her swordsmanship is amazing too…"

… 

Discussions could be heard here and there.

Huo Jianghe's nickname, A River's Glance, was the same one that he used elsewhere too. It was just that he had never been to Starlight City's Ethereal Hall, so no one here had heard of it before.

However, it was different for Xue Qin. As the daughter of the city lord, she was a frequent guest at the Ethereal Hall, and she had made quite a reputation for herself here too. Thus, many people were able to recognize her swiftly.

This was similar to how top eSports players were well-known both on the net and in person, such as One Autumn Leaf Ye Qiu and Heng Sao Tian Ya,

"Xue Qin?"

Those words weren't spoken discreetly, so Zhang Xuan heard all of them loud and clear. He couldn't help but stop in his footsteps.

Surely it couldn't be so coincidental?

He was here just to buy a storage ring, but he still managed to encounter this rejected fiancee?

Speaking of which, if Winter Zither was her, wouldn't that mean that A River's Glance was the fellow from the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion who was here to recruit disciples? Earlier, the other party mentioned something like wanting to bring him to the Ascendant Cloud Sword Pavilion as an outer disciple too… 

Just as they were about to reach the dueling ring, Zhang Xuan abruptly turned around to grab Xue Qin.

His movements were so quick that it caught the young lady off guard. She instinctively raised her sword to protect herself, but by the time her sword was up, the other party had already retracted his palm. There was a gentle smile on the other party's face.

"What are you doing?" Xue Qin questioned impatiently.

She thought that an expert who had caught Senior Huo's eyes would at least conduct himself properly, but who could have thought that the latter would attempt to make a move on her.

"It's nothing much. I saw a mosquito on your head, and I chased it away for you," Zhang Xuan replied cheerily.

"You…" Xue Qin's breathing hastened in anger, causing her chest to bounce up and down.

Mosquito? Mosquito your head!

We are in the Ethereal Hall, existing only in consciousness. How could there be any mosquitoes here?

Can you at least be any more insincere with your lies?

Paying no heed to Xue Qin's rage, Zhang Xuan turned his attention to the Library of Heaven's Path, and just as he had expected, a book had been compiled. It was filled with Winter Wither's cultivation flaws, as well as a simple introduction about her.

"Xue Qin, the second daughter of the city lord of Xuanjiang City…" 

Zhang Xuan's lips crept up.

While it was possible to conceal one's appearance and identity in the Ethereal Hall, it couldn't deceive the eyes of the Library of Heaven's Path.

In other words, as long as the other party executed a battle technique, the Library of Heaven's Path would be able to compile a book on the other party and peer into all of the other party's secrets.

"Since it's her, things are going to get exciting then…" Zhang Xuan thought. Turning to He Jianghe, he pointed at Xue Qin and said, "This lass was disrespectful to me earlier. Why don't we do this instead? If you were to lose, not only will you compensate me 100,000 Ethereal Coins, you will give her to me as a maid too!"

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