Ji'Han raised an eyebrow, confused, and curious as to what was going on.

"Why would I enter the preliminary elimination trial?" Ji'Han asked. "It's nothing more than a waste of time."

There were millions of youths in each age bracket that took the annual exams and tests, hoping to receive their place in the Three Dao Tournament. Of those millions, only a few tens of thousands qualified, putting the success rate at just joining the tournament far below one percent.

Even then, tens of thousands of youths was still far too great a number to have a reasonable length tournament. The tens of thousands of youths who successfully managed to enter the Three Dao Tournament would then need to partake in the preliminary elimination trial, which was meant to cull another ninety percent or so of participants, leaving only the cream of the crop remaining. Without the preliminary trial, each age bracket tournament would take months to finish, putting the total tournament duration close to a year.

Those who had placed top one hundred in any Three Dao Tournament in the past were exempt from the first elimination trial. Naturally, Ji'Han's placements in the past tournaments put him in this category, as his participation was not only a waste of time, but strong youths like him were able to eliminate other strong youths that would normally place very well, but had the bad luck of running into someone like Ji'Han.

"I told you," the Sword-Saint gave Ji'Han a pointed glare. "There is someone you need to eliminate personally, and brutally, right at the start of the trial. If you do not do so, you will not have another opportunity to destroy this youth, not unless he makes the grand finals. You must take this opportunity now while its available, otherwise someone else will seize the glory of eliminating that fraud."

Ji'Han gave his father a confused look, as his father's irate rambling made no sense to him. Silently watching the discussion unfold, an amused smirk appeared on Lilian's face.

"Who are you even talking about?" Ji'Han asked, head tilted to the side. It couldn't be Jaxus or any of the other strong geniuses, as they would also be skipping the preliminary elimination trial. "And how are you so certain that I will only be able to meet this person in the finals? Surely there's a chance I'd run into him sooner."

"That's not possible," the Sword-Saint shook his head, his frown deepening as if just thinking of the matter made him unable to contain himself. He glanced over to the table where he had been eating, and spotted the formation disk sitting there. He waved his hand, and the disk flew over to Ji'Han.

Ji'Han took the disk and sent his divine sense into it. His eyes lit up with shock a moment later, as if he was unable to believe what he was seeing. He peeled his gaze away from the disk eventually, looking back at his father.

"Are these scores legitimate?" he asked curiously. He finally understood why his father wanted him to join the preliminary trial. With the score he read, that youth, John, would no doubt receive the number one seeding for the tournament. Ji'Han, who was expected to receive that seeding based on his record-breaking score, would receive the second seeding.

As such, the only round the two would run into each other would be the grand finals. With this the case, the Sword-Saint wanted Ji'Han to crush John before the tournament even started, and the only place to do that was the preliminary elimination trial.

"Of course not," the Sword-Saint scoffed. "But this boy has a powerful backer, one that even I cannot afford to offend. I tried to invalidate that boy's score and have him punished appropriately, but the Yang-Sovereign did not agree. With the Yang-Dao Sect hosting the tournament this time around, the Yang-Sovereign has ultimate decision-making authority on such matters. Not even the Sword-Sovereign himself could change this decision."

Ji'Han raised an eyebrow once more, while a curious expression appeared on Lilian's face.

'A powerful backer that even the Sword-Saint cannot offend? It seems like you've been quite busy,' Lilian mused silently, her smile widening for a moment before vanishing. She had expected John to hear word of her bet and thus find a way to join the tournament, but she had never imagined he would also have the backing of someone so powerful so shortly after arriving to this world.

The Sword-Saint exchanged a few more words with Ji'Han, then turned and strode out of the room. His quick, forceful steps and frowning expression revealing he had yet to overcome his frustration and anger with this situation.

Ji'Han watched his father leave, then returned his focus to the disk in his hands. He studied it for a while, his expression changing several times.

"I would suggest not following your father's advice, and refraining from joining the elimination trial," Lilian said, her advice surprising Ji'Han.

He gave her a curious expression, silently awaiting an explanation. Lilian ignored that look, instead sending her focus back to the tome in her hand, resuming her study of the battle art.

"Why do you say that?" Ji'Han broke the silence, asking directly for an explanation.

Lilian shrugged, keeping her focus on the tome. "John's scores are legitimate, and so is his strength. Joining that trial and targeting John will not be beneficial for you."

Ji'Han studied Lilian silently for quite some time before speaking again.

"You used his name as if you are familiar with him. Do you know this John?" Ji'Han asked curiously.

Lilian remained silent, studying the tome instead of answering the question.

"Why are you so sure of his strength?" Ji'Han asked again, a bit more commanding this time, as if silence was not an acceptable answer.

Lilian glanced upwards at him, then returned her focus to the tome. "Your father mentioned he has the backing of someone strong enough that even he cannot afford to offend them. That puts that mysterious person on the same level as the Yang-Sovereign or Sword-Sovereign. Do you truly think someone that powerful would cheat? Their reputation amongst the others would be completely and irrevocably ruined. I don't know who this mysterious person is, but I'd like to believe someone that powerful wouldn't stoop so low as to cheat this tournament."

Ji'Han remained silent as he contemplated Lilian's words. He nodded a long while later, agreeing with her.

"Your words make sense," Ji'Han said thoughtfully. "My father's actions are fueled by blind anger right now, and he is clearly not thinking straight. While I do not fear this John by any means, I also agree that his scores are more likely legitimate than illegitimate. If that is the case, then I will wait for him in the grand finals, and if his strength is real, he will find me there as well."

Lilian glanced up from her tome, locking eyes with Ji'Han for a moment. She had obviously not expected Ji'Han to so easily agree with her. The only reason she had even given him that advice in the first place was that he had treated her rather well since her 'captivity,' giving her no reason to wish for his embarrassing downfall so early in the tournament.

"Those scores of his suggest he is the most talented tournament participant ever," Lilian said. "Do you not fear his strength if those scores are true?"

Ji'Han smiled lightly, his smile filled with calm confidence. "Fearing others because they are strong is the mentality of the weak. As a sword cultivator, my true purpose in life is to fight the strongest, thus becoming the strongest. I only hope his strength is enough for me to use my full strength, so that I may finally push myself to my absolute limits against someone my age."

Lilian raised an eyebrow, impressed with Ji'Han's confidence and attitude. She smiled, then returned her focus to the tome in her hand.

"Your attitude and resolve will take you far in life, of that I have no doubt, and I have a rather high opinion of you from our conversations so far. So I will give you just this one piece of advice," she said.

Ji'Han looked quietly at her, awaiting this advice she spoke of. "And what advice would that be?"

"Tread carefully when you fight John in the grand finals. He most likely already holds a grudge against you, and he is not someone you want to fight when there is anger and hate in his heart. If you do manage to anger him to a point beyond reasoning, the only thing that will await you then will be your death, and not even your father will be able to save you."

Ji'Han studied Lilian for a moment, then closed his eyes, resuming his cultivation. Swords materialized in the air, blinking in and out of existence all around him.

"So, you do know him."