"I concede!"

The words, tinged with desperation and despair, echoed throughout the arena. The roaring crowd quieted down, disappointed by the sudden concession. Whether they realized it or not, by now, most of the crowd was eagerly anticipating John's fights. While most still rooted against him, they by now learned that his power was quite formidable at the very least, and they wanted to see what the true extent of his power was.

However, Helaranth's concession ended the fight, and the opportunity to learn the truth about John's limits. John slowly lowered his scythe, the lightning fading and his aura vanishing. Still covered in blood and grime from his training sessions with Zuri, he stood tall and poised, as if this battle was merely a steppingstone on his journey through this tournament.

He studied Helaranth for a moment, who looked at the ground in utter despair. He had hoped to bring pride to himself and his sect, but all he had brought was shame.

"It's not shameful to admit defeat when there is no hope of victory," John said. "Your instincts are sharp, and that you can be proud of. Do not let this defeat become a permanent cloud on your cultivation journey."

After saying that, John took to the sky while the Yang-Dao Sect Elder announced his victory. All eyes followed him as he landed by Zuri and Naelia, then disappeared within the nearby tunnel. He made his way back to the Prime Shadow's room, and continued his training with Zuri.

"How disappointing," the Mage-Sovereign said, her mouth curled into a small frown. "I was quite interested in seeing that scythe art of his. The aura alone was quite formidable."

The Yang-Sovereign nodded his head in agreement but said nothing, remaining silent and stoic as usual.

"As for that scythe of his, I'm still caught up in its quality and profundity," the Mage-Sovereign continued, looking at the Prime Shadow. "A weapon of such power and quality cannot just appear out of thin air, and I've heard no rumors or claims of its creation. Such a…peculiar oddity, don't you think?"

The Prime Shadow smiled but said nothing. The Mage-Sovereign studied him for a moment, then continued.

"I heard a rumor the other month, about twin comets falling from the sky over the Human Continent about a year ago. One of those comets has been confirmed," the Mage-Sovereign said, casting a quick glance to Lilian who sat a distance away near the Sword-Saint. "Since one of those comets was confirmed to be her, it's not unlikely that the other was another person. I wonder, just who could that person be? It's surely not the youth from your Guild who showed up out of the blue, wielding a remarkable weapon of mysterious origins, could it?"

"And if he is? Would that change anything" the Prime Shadow said, meeting his gaze.

"Oh, not at all," the Mage-Sovereign waved her hand dismissively. "As long as his interests align with the rest of us, his origins do not matter. It's just a shame…"

"A shame?" the Prime Shadow asked.

"A shame that he was found by you first," the Mage-Sovereign sighed. "It would have been quite lucrative for my sect if he had joined us instead."

"Is it that, or is it the fact that you have a…unique taste for younger men?" the Prime Shadow asked.

The Mage-Sovereign looked at him with an even expression, then smiled coyly. "I can't help it that young, strong, talented men are the most…pleasurable to enjoy. And I can tell that your…successor…would be more enjoyable than any I've tasted before."

"You should really learn the meaning of modesty," the Yang-Sovereign said while giving the Mage-Sovereign a pointed glance. She smiled and him and then shrugged, returning her focus to the arena for the next fight about to start.

The crowd roared with wild passion as Ji'Han floated down from the platform to the arena, ready for the next fight.

In the Shadows of Death guild library, Grandmaster Darkcloud sat at a table, pursuing various documents on the table before him. He held a thick book in his hands, titled 'History and Accounts of The Sword-Dao Sect.'

He flipped to a section of the book, titled 'History and Accounts of Azurae, the Crimson Swordmaster', then began reading.

"The Skyfire Empire huh?" he mused to himself.

After reading the section on Azurae, he closed the book and returned it to its original location, then strode out of the library.

"I've learned of the location of Azurae's birthplace. I am making my way there to look for any clues into this matter," Grandmaster Darkcloud sent to the Prime Shadow through a sound transmission, then stepped on a transformation platform, vanishing a moment later.

"Heyyyyyy!" a loud, youthful voice boomed throughout the training room, causing John and Zuri to pause their battle midway.

Both moved over towards Naelia, who stood next to the training room door. John wiped his face with a towel, removing some of the blood, sweat and grime on his body. "Is it time for the next fight already?" John asked.

"Already? It's been three days since you last fought," Naelia replied, eyeing him up and down with a disapproving pout. "And I knew it. I knew you would be in the same condition as last time. Don't you have any pride in your appearance?"

John gaze Zuri an amused glance, as if to say he was surprised and impressed by Naelia's growing confidence in dealing with him.

"Anyways, I figured this would happen, so I arrived an hour early this time," Naelia continued.

"An hour early?" John asked.

"Yes, so go clean up and make yourself presentable for the next fight," Naelia said in a commanding fashion, causing John to exchange another amused glance with Zuri and chuckle. He then nodded, thanked Naelia for her concern, patted her on the head, and walked past.

An hour later, John left the washroom, fully washed and relaxed. He wore a fresh robe, one black in color with red trimmings. Naelia eyed him up and down, then nodded with approval, satisfied with his appearance.

"Good, let's go," she said, then turned, leaving no time for John or Zuri to reply.

They shared another amused glance, then followed behind. The roaring of the arena washed over them as they appeared on the same balcony as before, some seven miles up one side of the arena stands. Ten million plus cultivators came into view, most of them rowdy with excitement. It was truly an electrifying feeling to be standing, fighting, in front of such a crowd.

Without pause, John hopped off the ledge and flew down towards the arena, where his opponent was standing. Naelia raised an eyebrow as she saw a girl barely older than her standing on the arena, then went wide eyed with sudden realization.

"Oh no!" Naelia exclaimed nervously.

"What is it?" Zuri asked curiously.

"His opponent! It's Rafinia of the Mage-Dao Sect!" Naelia exclaimed.

"So? What about her?" Zuri asked. She was not as well versed with the tournament and the entrants as Naelia was.

"She's trouble! Damn. I should have told John about her before he left!" Naelia cursed angrily at herself.

"He'll be fine!" Zuri patted Naelia on the shoulder.

"You don't understand," Naelia shook her head. "Rafinia isn't like the others. She's a soul cultivator, and an extremely tricky one at that. If she lands her soul art on John, I don't know if he'll be able to withstand it."