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Chapter 344 – An Even More Troublesome Existence

Along with the appearance of the nine figures, a system notification quickly followed.

System: Break the barrier sealing off the pathway to the second floor and enter the temple’s second floor while surviving against the nine doppelgangers. There is no time limit for the trial. You will be automatically teleported out of the Ancient River’s Heart on death.

!!

The system notification repeated three times for all ten players in the Ancient River’s Heart. Upon seeing the notification, all ten participants showed varying reactions. Some carefully observed the nine doppelgangers before them, while some attacked the doppelgangers into action without hesitation.

A minute later…

In a certain temple plaza in the Ancient River Secret Land…

Currently, a holographic screen was displayed above the plaza, and the screen showed a list of names that everyone was familiar with. However, whether it was the players who remained in the secret land or the people spectating the Rookie Competition through a live broadcast, they all wore confused expressions on their faces as they looked at the list.

“What’s going on?”

“It hasn’t been more than three minutes since they entered the Ancient River’s Heart, so why are there six people disqualified already?”

“If I remember correctly, the Rookie Competition’s finals were supposed to be a point-based tournament, and every participant had to fight nine matches before the rankings were decided. So, why are the results out already?”

When the participants competing for the Rookie Competition’s top 20 positions saw the ranking list suddenly appearing, they couldn’t help but grow confused. It was especially so when they saw the paragons, who had gotten into the finals, get teleported into the plaza with frustrated looks on their faces.

The Rookie Competition’s finals this time wasn’t just a rare event for ordinary players. It was also a highly anticipated competition for the new generation of geniuses. Many geniuses believed that the finals would be a battle between dragons and tigers, so they were all prepared to spend big money to buy battle videos from participants who had gotten into the finals.

Yet, now, before the Rookie Competition’s top 20 participants have been decided, six people have already been disqualified from the finals. This situation was completely outside of everyone’s expectations.

“What happened over there, Grave? Why did you get disqualified so quickly?” Desolate Fury asked, his face colored in surprise and confusion as he looked at a white-robed male Oracle who had just been teleported into the plaza.

The Oracle’s name was Slumbering Grave, and he was one of the Ancient River Kingdom’s Ten Great Paragons. If compared purely in terms of combat standards, he was superior to even Saint Three. He was also an independent player. Although he wasn’t as popular as Saint Three, he was very well-received by the Ancient River Kingdom’s independent players.

During the earlier years of his career in God’s Domain, Desolate Fury had been part of the same adventurer team as Slumbering Grave. Even after he had joined the Purple Melody Alliance, he would often hire Slumbering Grave to help him with special dungeons or quests.

So, Desolate Fury had a good understanding of Slumbering Grave’s strength. In fact, in Desolate Fury’s opinion, Slumbering Grave even had a chance of competing for the top three positions.

Yet, now, Slumbering Grave was among the first six players to get disqualified. Moreover, the Oracle was disqualified from the finals in under a minute…

“The difficulty of the competition this time is simply absurd,” Slumbering Grave answered Desolate Fury with a bitter smile. “Not only did I have to fight against the doppelgangers of the nine other participants simultaneously, but those doppelgangers were also perfect copies of their originals. They even have the same combat standards as their originals. There’s no way to win against them with those few monsters mixed in. Even Gods will probably fall to their joint attack…”

“Fighting against the nine other participants simultaneously?” Lightning Chaser was surprised and shocked when he overheard Slumbering Grave’s response to Desolate Fury. Then, he continued with a shudder, “Doesn’t that mean…you had to go up against Empress Blood Arrow and the Undefeated Battle Maniac together?”

Empress Blood Arrow Leroja and the Undefeated Battle Maniac Cross were apex individuals of their era. Even if one searched the Myriad Forest Empire and the dozen or so neighboring kingdoms, one wouldn’t find more than ten people who could match them in a one-on-one duel. Lightning Chaser couldn’t even begin to imagine how anyone was supposed to win against the combination of Leroja and Cross.

Lightning Chaser wasn’t the only one shocked by this revelation. Desolate Fury also got goosebumps when he imagined himself facing Empress Blood Arrow and the Undefeated Battle Maniac simultaneously.

While there existed people stronger than those two individuals in the Myriad Forest Empire and its surrounding kingdoms, as far as Desolate Fury knew, not one of these people could win against the two should they work together. In fact, it was unlikely that anybody had ever considered the possibility of those two people fighting as a group.

“No, those two aren’t the problem,” Slumbering Grave said, feeling a little exasperated when he saw the responses of Desolate Fury and Lightning Chaser. “The real problem is Black Flame. Leroja and Cross might be incredibly precise in their attacks and timings, but I can still fend off their attacks. But against Black Flame’s attacks…I cannot block them at all. My only option is to evade. Yet, as it just so happens, Black Flame can cast a perfect World Creation. Under its suppression, I can’t even dodge Black Flame’s attacks…”

Black Flame is even more difficult to deal with than Empress Blood Arrow and the Undefeated Battle Maniac?

Lightning Chaser gaped in shock. Although he found it astonishing that Black Flame had instantly killed nearly 30 experts in one move previously, such an achievement wasn’t anything special when compared to Leroja’s and Cross’s past achievements. Yet, now, Slumbering Grave, one of the Ancient River Kingdom’s Ten Great Paragons, was saying that the combination of those two people was easier to deal with than Black Flame.

Lightning Chaser couldn’t help but feel as if the heavens were playing a joke on him.

Ancient River’s Heart, first-floor hall:

“Dammit! How is his Strength above mine?!” Saint Three cursed under his breath as he held his spear defensively against the inconspicuous Swordsman standing in front of the barrier, a look of confusion on his face.

Ever since he acquired the Legendary Equipment Dark Realm Gauntlets, he thought he would be unrivaled in the Strength Attribute among Tier 4 players.

The Dark Realm Gauntlets provided him with an incredible boost in Strength. Moreover, this boost would further improve as his Stamina, Concentration, and HP decreased.

Currently, he had already lost over two-thirds of his HP. He had also depleted a significant portion of his Stamina and Concentration through the use of various Advanced Silver Combat Techniques.

When all three of these parameters were at 100%, he could block Leroja’s and Cross’s attacks with relative ease. Now that his Strength was boosted even further, he could already send Leroja and Cross flying. Yet, when he went up against Shi Feng in this boosted state, he remained thoroughly suppressed. This was simply unbelievable.

However, before Saint Three could catch his breath, Shi Feng raised the Eternal Ashes he wielded before abruptly swinging it down.

Third Sword, Holy Annihilation!

Immediately, Saint Three felt the space around him becoming a prison that trapped his body. Even with a piece of Legendary Equipment equipped, his Movement Speed still fell significantly, and he could barely hold his spear up to defend against Shi Feng’s attack. He couldn’t execute any proper defensive or evasive maneuvers at all.

After blocking Shi Feng’s attack, Saint Three couldn’t help but doubt his eyes when he saw his empty HP bar. Despite being a Tier 4 Berserker with a piece of Legendary Equipment, he had lost over one-quarter of his maximum HP after blocking Shi Feng’s attack with his weapon. Moreover, that was only because that was all the HP he had left…