Ning left for the stage with the paper in hand. People cheered from outside, all more than happy to see him finally come onto the stage.

As the black horse of the entire competition, while he hadn't managed to enter the finals, they at least wanted to see if he had what it took to enter the top 3.

Ning flipped open the piece of paper and read what was written in. When he read it all, he missed a step in surprise at what was written on the paper.

'Is this real?' he wondered. He couldn't imagine it being real at all. He wanted to go back and ask the headmaster if this was some sort of joke, but his match was already starting, so he continued there.

He arrived on the stage, amidst the numerous cheers and waved his hands at everyone that supported him. Even the host gave a wide smile and walked up to Ning to say something when he paused.

His eyes narrowed for a second, almost unbelieving. 'Was that why he was late?' he couldn't help but wonder.

"You man," he called out to him. "You have finally arrived."

"My apologies, senior. I was told my match would start in 15 minutes, so I rested however long I could. When I did leave, I didn't expect to have to come this far for the match. I'm sorry if I made you all wait," Ning said.

"That's alright," the host said. "Come here, I have to say something to you."

Ning nodded and walked up close. When he did, the host placed his arm around him and brought him to one side of the stage.

"That pillar you created last time," he whispered. "Can you create it again?"

Ning nodded. "I can," he answered without hesitation.

"I see," the man said. "Well, I want you to not create it. Or do anything that will make us have to switch to another location for the finale. Would you mind that?"

"Not use my Earth Essence?" Ning asked. That was a request to accept. After all, it was the Earth sword that gave him the edge against most fighters here. If he couldn't use it then…

"Not that, just… keep it contained so that we don't have to spend hours on cleanup. Anything else, you can do whatever you want," the man said.

Ning thought for a moment. "So, I just don't have to go overboard, is that correct?" he asked. "If so, I can accept that."

"Good," the host said and finally walked away from Ning.

Ning thought for a moment about what he had accepted and he didn't really feel bad about it at all. It wasn't like he absolutely needed the sword to win this time around.

At least… not anymore.

The host announced the penultimate would begin now and walked away from the stage, letting four separate referees arrive on all four sides for the safety of the two fighters.

Once there, the referee looked at either side and waited for them to get ready.

The woman brought out no weapons, but Ning could tell she wore armor. He had known a little about the fights that had taken place and was aware that she wore Wind Armor.

As for himself, he brought out his sword.

The girl flinched at the sight of the sword, growing serious as she worried that she would be sent flying into the air at any moment.

Ning smiled and spoke to her. "Don't worry," he shouted. "I have accepted the committee's request to not use extravagant moves like the last one. You can rest easy that you won't get hit with what my last opponent did."

The girl gave a slight grin, but she didn't feel happy about it at all. Even anything that was considered tame compared to what he had shown earlier would still most likely be considered extravagant.

She could only trust herself and never her enemy's words.

The referee looked at both of them and once he got the confirmation that they were both ready, he started the match.

The girl wasted no time and brought out her Essence Soul. It was a giant humanoid Water Essence Soul with thick limbs like those of an elephant, with a head that looked like the girl herself, a shell in the back not very different from a turtle, and a tail that came out of the shell that looked more like a snake's tail than anything.

While she brought it out immediately, she did not attack so quickly. Haste would be her biggest enemy here, and she had to be ready for when Ning used his techniques.

Even without the sword, the Lightning Essence and the Space Essence were not something that she was used to handling. If she was careless, he could most definitely get the upper hand in the battle and easily win.

Ning looked at the girl and couldn't help but chuckle a little. She was so defensive that she didn't even seem like she was ready to attack.

He poured some essence into his sword, creating a few rocks around him that were sent flying toward the girl.

A Water whip formed in the girl's hand that she spun in front of her, hitting all the rocks that were flying toward her, breaking each one of them.

She got back into defense, but she also understood that she couldn't just keep defending, or else she would most certainly lose. She decided to start attacking herself when she paused and her eyes went wide.

She looked up front at the young man whom she had believed until now to be someone weaker than her. She just believed that he had more tricks up his sleeves than actual power.

However, what she was sensing right now told her that her idea about him could not have been further from the truth at all.

The power she sensed, the power everyone in the arena sensed, told them that this was not the same Ning they had seen before.

This was the Ning that had broken through to the Essence Soul realm.