In reality, noon.
In a large factory in the suburbs of Jinmen City, there was nothing but a small number of desk equipment in the corner and two maintenance robots.
A short fat man stood barefoot in the empty factory. He held a shield in his left hand and a saber in his right.
He took a step forward, and his figure blurred as he traversed more than ten meters. He swung his saber, tearing through the air with an explosive sound.
He took another step and traversed another ten meters. He struck out with his shield, producing a boom in the air.
Forward Hacking, Forward Smashing… Step after step, the short fat man practiced in silence. His feet caused the ground of the factory to tremble, and his smashing and hacking caused the air in the huge factory to rumble.
What looked like simple actions would’ve left experts dumbfounded.
The momentum generated from his forward movement was completely converted into the force of a cleave or the force of a shield bash, allowing every strike to have terrifying might. Most terrifying of all, these moves were already as easy as eating and drinking to the short fat man. He didn’t need to think too much about it; it was completely instinctive.
The factory door opened, and a slightly plump woman walked in with a large lunch box. The door automatically closed after she entered.
“Senior Brother,” the slightly plump woman greeted with a smile.
Tie Lianyun stopped and looked back to see the woman smiling. He put down his shield and saber and walked over. “Honey, what are we eating today?”
“Of course, it’s your favorite.” The slightly plump woman walked to the dining table in the corner and unpacked the layers of small lunch boxes. She placed them on the table—five dishes, a soup, and a large portion of rice.
“It smells great. I’m famished.” Tie Lianyun washed his hands in the sink beside him before sitting down and wolfing down the food.
“Look at you. You already have the virtual world. It’s fine if you spend 16 hours a day practicing, but you still do so in reality?” his wife said. “You don’t care about your children at home, and you don’t care about business either.”
“Don’t I have you?” Tie Lianyun smiled and said, “I joined Team Golden Roc because you asked me to! Moreover, we don’t lack money. We’ll just let nature take its course when it comes to business. As for our children? Honey, it’s been tough on you.”
“I knew what kind of person you were long ago. I was already mentally prepared when marrying you,” his wife said helplessly. “But you’re not young anymore; you’re almost 40. Are you going to be so tough on yourself your entire life?”
“Honey, you may find it tough, but I enjoy it,” Tie Lianyun said. “How interesting it is to pursue being world champion and becoming the world’s strongest! The appearance of a powerful opponent compels me to come up with ways to defeat him! The feeling of surpassing an opponent is wonderful.”
His wife nodded. “Are you confident about the second round?”
“No.” Tie Lianyun said, “That junior brother of mine, Xu Jingming, is a true genius! If he wasn’t too monstrous, he wouldn’t have entered the World Martial Arts Tournament too early. Given another two years of preparation, he stood a chance of becoming world champion in his early twenties. What about me? Among Master’s many disciples, my talent is only considered average. I’ve long been aware of this.”
“But you became world champion three times. You hold the most number of world championship belts in China,” his wife said.
“Because I train the most hellishly,” Tie Lianyun said. “I train day and night, training all the time other than bedtime. When my body is tired, I just practice simple moves. When my body is sufficiently recovered, I train my body.”
“I train until mealtimes; even during mealtimes, I’m thinking about martial arts. When I’m asleep, I dream about martial arts. Naturally, I became one with my martial arts techniques,” Tie Lianyun said.
The plump woman looked at her husband and felt an invisible pressure from him.
“Master is extremely talented, and he became world champion in his old age. Lei Yunfang is also very monstrous, and he has the world’s best movement techniques upon his debut! As for me? I stumbled and lost to many opponents,” Tie Lianyun said, “but I also surpassed one opponent after another and eventually became world champion time and time again.”
“I believe that perhaps I will fall behind for a while, but… I will definitely be the ultimate world champion!” Tie Lianyun stated. “Because they merely practice martial arts. As for me? I’m a part of martial arts!”
Tie Lanyun’s eyes burned.
His wife watched this scene with a smile. That one night, she was drawn to the barefooted man practicing his saber on the national team’s field alone.
“I believe you will definitely be world champion,” his wife said.
“Becoming world champion isn’t the most mesmerizing thing,” Tie Lianyun said. “The most mesmerizing thing is the process of becoming world champion—defeating powerful opponents!”
After lunch, Tie Lianyun picked up his shield and saber and practiced alone in the factory.
He needed an unwavering heart to endure this loneliness forever.
That night, the second round of the Firestarter Cup National Tournament officially began.
“The competition has begun.” The six members of Team Pearwood gathered and sat in the stands, watching the exciting battles.
In the first match, Liu Hai’s Elderly Team vs. Team Frost Song!
“Dad and the others won’t have it as easy as the first round,” Xu Jingming observed and said.
“Team Frost Song has Gu Chong, Lian Shuang, and many other experts,” Li Miaomiao said. “Four against five… Uncle and the others are still lacking.”
In this match, the four elderly members of Liu Hai’s Elderly Team had good teamwork and were proficient in their moves. But after Sharpshooter Zhou Fan was killed by Team Frost Song during their storming charge, the team fell into a disadvantage.
Liu Hai only finally made a move when the dual shield-wielding Xu Hong was the only one left.
The remaining two members of Team Frost Song cooperated and attacked Master Liu Hai.
With a flash of his saber, he sliced through two members of Team Frost Song, tearing through their heavy armor and light armor.
Liu Hai’s Elderly Team won!
“This is what it means to be world champion!” Liu Xin couldn’t help but say, “He can even split open heavy armor with a single strike, and he killed two people with it.”
“The strength of the world’s number one is terrifying.” The male guest, Jin Fan, said, “Other experts can’t even withstand a single strike from him.”
The female guest, Ju Wenqing, smiled and said, “As of now, only six people in the world have cleared the Cosmos Tower’s third level. Master Liu Hai cleared it a month ago! He cleared it the moment the Cosmos Tower was opened! His strength gives him a huge advantage over the others on the rankings, much less ordinary experts.”
“Teacher Lei Yunfang will be participating in the next match. He’s world number one when it comes to movement,” Liu Xin said. “He hasn’t fought Master Liu Hai publicly in the virtual world.”
In the second match, Team Lei Yunfang versus Team Hundred Sparrow.
“The four teammates Senior Lei Yunfang chose are somewhat weak.” Heng Fang looked and sighed. “Although Master Liu Hai chose civilian contestants, all of them have powerful means. The four civilian contestants that Lei Yunfang chose are much more mediocre.”
“Senior Lei Yunfang alone is enough to win,” Wang Yi said.
Xu Jingming watched as well.
Lei Yunfang’s four teammates barely managed to pin down two opponents.
Senior Lei Yunfang wore cyan clothes and had two sabers on his back. His footwork appeared casual, but he was terrifyingly fast. His figure turned into a blur as he quickly caught up to the enemies.
Every time he approached an enemy, he would deliver a strike! Although he had two sabers on his back, drawing one was enough.
He forced three members of Team Hundred Sparrow to assemble and fight Lei Yunfang, but he still easily dispatched them with a single strike. The members of Team Hundred Sparrow couldn’t even touch Lei Yunfang’s clothes.
After his teammates killed one person, Senior Lei Yunfang killed four and ended the match.
Why is his movement technique so terrifying? Xu Jingming focused his attention.
His footwork was still stuck at Lv. 2 99%, and Senior Lei Yunfang’s movement technique had reached Lv. 3 the moment the virtual world was launched. It was even more magical now; Xu Jingming found it a work of art.
He had only taken two steps, but it was as if space had changed.
In the third match, Team Shield and Ax vs. Team Pure Sword.
“Qin Ge of Team Pure Sword is a very talented civilian expert. He should be able to grow stronger with enough time,” Xu Jingming praised. “But his opponent is Xiong Tianshan, who has broken through to Lv. 3. He has plenty of combat experience, so Team Pure Sword has no chance at all.”
A crushing victory.
In the fourth match, Team Thunderclap vs. Team Cloud Mountain.
“Oh my god.” Yang Qingshuo stared.
“The carnage!” Heng Fang exclaimed in surprise.
Xu Jingming also watched seriously. This match was unexpectedly exciting, and both sides were locked in battle.
“A total of five contestants from China have taken first place in the World Martial Arts Tournament, and Yang Yu and Gao Chong are two of them,” Liu Chongyuan said. “Their teamwork is very strong. As for Huo Qingshan and Chang Qingpeng from Team Cloud Mountain—although they have never been world champion, they are also martial arts masters. With these two masters working together… they aren’t disadvantaged at all.”
Of the two teams’ core members, one side had Gao Chong and Yang Yu, while the other than Huo Qingshan and Chang Qingpeng. The other teammates were clearly inferior.
The strength of the two teams is very close. It all depends on how they perform on the spot. Xu Jingming could also tell that the two teams were exchanging blows, each calculating and cooperating for the next move.
This battle surprisingly lasted for more than nine minutes. In the end, only Huo Qingshan—who had lost his arm—was left.
Team Cloud Mountain won! Team Thunderclap was eliminated!
“This match is the most evenly matched of the first four matches,” Wang Yi praised.
“It’s our turn next,” Xu Jingming said. Wang Yi, Heng Fang, Yang Qingshuo, and Liu Chongyuan were also filled with fighting spirit thanks to the first four matches.