"Who do you think will win this round?"

"Obviously, Asami. No offense to Skye, but the difference in cultivation is too wide."

"I agree. Even if Skye is more talented than Asami, which is questionable, the gap between the Nascent Soul Realm and Soul Transformation Realm isn't small."

"I don't know. I think Skye could pull it off."

"Hah~! Wanna bet?"

"Hell yeah! How much?"

"100 Mid-Grade Spirit Stones."

"You're on!"

The crowd buzzed with anticipation as Asami and Skye made their way to the arena. They already knew a little about Skye's prowess, her Azure Drake bloodline, and [Azure Dragon's Wrath] technique series. However, Asami hadn't shown much. She was in the 2nd Stage of the Soul Transformation Realm, but that's about all most people knew.

All most people knew was that she traveled with Celaine, another unexpected talent, a lot and used her Darkness affinity to take her opponents down.

On one side, Skye stood with a fierce aura radiating from her that resembled the legendary tempests. She stared at her opponent with fierce eyes, the way a conqueror might eye their next target.

On the opposite end, Asami's presence was more enigmatic. She radiated a uniquely powerful yet silent energy. Not many knew that she had obtained the Nightshade Roc Bloodline and Lunar Silhouette Physique.

In her hands were two fans, which she held gracefully. Although she used to be relatively strong with them before, after she entered the Secret Realm, she was able to improve her techniques and come up with a series called "Midnight Gale Dance." There were seven parts to the technique, each used for a specific purpose.

"Don't think you can win just because you have a higher cultivation than me!" Skye suddenly shouted, alerting everyone. "I might be weaker, but I will make it to the next round! If I can't, then I'm taking you down with me!"

Asami just looked at the girl and shrugged. "You're welcome to try."

"That's right, Skye! Take her down!"

"WOOO! Go Skye!"

"No! Destroy her, Asami! My money's on the line!"

"Fuck you! I bet my life savings on this match! You better win, Asami!"

The crowd cheered for different reasons, but when the barrier went up, things settled down as it signaled the beginning of the match.

The initial stillness in the barrier-encased arena was palpable. While Skye was determined to prove her worth, Asami remained unyielding, confident in her superior cultivation.

With a swift movement, Skye drew upon her [Azure Dragon's Wrath]. The ground trembled as a massive azure-colored dragon formed, coiling around her, roaring to life. With a swift gesture, the dragon lunged at Asami, its sharp claws glistening in the sunlight.

In response, Asami initiated her first move of the technique, [Whispering Shadow Waltz]. She nimbly danced across the field, leaving shadowy afterimages behind. The azure dragon, taken aback, hesitated momentarily, swiping at illusions rather than its intended target.

Using the dragon's momentary confusion, Skye jumped into the air, shouting, "Azure Vortex Strike!" Twirling her sword, a powerful whirlwind took form, pulling everything in its vicinity. Asami's shadowy decoys were instantly annihilated.

However, Asami was ready.

Drawing upon her [Nightshade Cyclone], the second move, a whirlwind imbued with dark energy, formed to counteract Skye's vortex.

The two whirlwinds clashed, dark and azure energies swirling together, creating a dazzling spectacle for the audience. Their energies met in a stalemate, canceling each other out and leaving the field covered in a mist of energy residues.

Skye, without missing a beat, channeled her [Azure Dragon's Roar]. From her position, a sonic wave erupted, disorienting everything in its path. Asami staggered, momentarily blinded by the sheer force of the soundwaves.

Seizing this advantage, Skye aimed her sword, executing the [Tempest Surge], sending forth a stormy tidal wave that covered the arena.

However, Asami was not one to be easily defeated. Channeling the power of her [Lunar Silhouette Physique], she activated her [Lunar Mirage Drift], the 3rd move.

Multiple moonlit silhouettes appeared, all mimicking Asami's movements, dispersing Skye's energy blades amongst them.

Skye gritted her teeth, realizing she needed to up her game. She summoned the protective [Azure Dragon's Shield] around her, concentrating her energy on her next move.

Asami, taking advantage of this brief respite, utilized her [Dusk Zephyr Blade], the 5th move. With graceful flicks of her fan, crescent-shaped blades of wind imbued with darkness energy cut through the air, aiming at Skye.

The [Azure Dragon's Shield] absorbed most of the impact, but a few blades managed to pierce through, causing minor injuries to Skye.

Undeterred, Skye's eyes blazed with a fierce determination. "I will not be defeated!" She shouted, summoning the pinnacle move of her Azure Dragon's Wrath series.

Asami prepared herself, knowing that Skye's next move would be formidable.

True to her expectations, Skye unleashed a massive surge of azure energy, covering the entire arena. Asami activated her [Moonlit Eclipse Guard], the 6th move, just in time, creating a protective barrier made of rotating winds and shadow energy.

The azure energy clashed against Asami's guard, a loud, ear-piercing sound echoing across the arena as the two powerful forces met. The barrier shimmered and wavered but held strong, reflecting some of the energy back towards Skye.

Exhausted but not defeated, Skye launched her final desperate attack, [Azure Dragon's Ascension]. She poured all her remaining energy into this move, making it more potent than before.

Asami, realizing the immense power behind this attack, readied her ultimate technique, [Starfall Shadow Burst]. As she released the energy upward, the arena darkened, and moments later, a barrage of dark stars rained upon the battlefield.

A mix of all of Skye's earlier techniques combined into a single, illusory Azure Dragon. It floated behind Skye, staring down at Asami as if it wanted to eat her alive! It let out a soul-shrieking roar, causing all the weaker disciple's ears to bleed.

As the one who took the brunt of it, Asami appeared dazed for a moment, with blood dripping down the sides of her head, but she bit her tongue to remain focused.

The Azure Dragon took to the sky before swirling around and dropping onto Asami with the weight of a mountain.

The two attacks clashed mid-air, creating an explosive impact that sent shockwaves throughout the arena. The barrier trembled, nearly breaking under the immense force. Both combatants exploded backward as they slammed into the barrier, their clothes tattered and faces smeared with dirt, sweat, and blood.

As the dust settled, Skye lay on the ground, unconscious but alive. Asami stood on the other side, panting heavily, her fans dropped beside her. It was clear to everyone that the match had taken a toll on both fighters.

"Winner – Asami!" Aelina announced.

The barrier lowered, and the audience erupted into a thunderous applause, their shouts echoing in the vast arena.

"Unbelievable!" One spectator exclaimed.

"Worth every Spirit Stone I bet!" Another shouted.

"I knew she'd win! Pay up!" A woman yelled, shaking her companion by the shoulder.

Celaine quickly dashed onto the arena to check on her friend. She knelt beside Asami, helping her to her feet. Asami swayed slightly but, with Celaine's support, managed to stand tall.

Members of the medical team quickly made their way to Skye, checking her vitals and administering a healing elixir.

The atmosphere was thick with respect for both fighters. Regardless of the outcome, they both showcased extraordinary talent and resilience.

As Asami made her way out of the arena, leaning heavily on Celaine, several participants approached her, each offering words of respect and commendation. Even some of the older generation cultivators nodded in acknowledgment, a rare show of respect.

"That girl has improved quite a bit," One of the Outer Court Elders muttered. "It wasn't long ago when she was just a fledgling. While the Secret Realm was definitely amazing, her original talent isn't anything to scoff at."

Back at the resting areas, Skye was being attended to by her fellow clan members. The healing elixirs had worked wonders, and though she was still fatigued, she was conscious and alert.

"I… I lost, didn't I?" Skye whispered, her voice hoarse.

A young woman next to her, one that had followed her during the Crimson Slayer Sect war, held her hand, squeezing it reassuringly. "It doesn't matter. You fought with honor and showed everyone your strength. That's what counts."

Skye sighed but managed a small smile. "Thank you."

Asami, meanwhile, was in another area, recovering. The exhilaration of victory was slowly replaced by exhaustion, both mental and physical. As she lay on a soft cushion, she closed her eyes, recalling the fierce battle.

"I almost lost," she murmured.

Celaine, sitting beside her, gently brushed Asami's hair back. "But you didn't. However, I do have to admit that Skye was actually a tough opponent. I don't think anyone expected her to put up such a good fight. Next time, just try not to draw out the battle."

Asami opened her eyes, gazing at her friend with a mixture of gratitude and something else(?). "Thank you, Celaine. I promise I'll be even stronger for the next round."