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Chapter 244: The Ring Appears

    Chapter 244: The Ring Appears

    He's from the Gen Family too?

    The man approaching towards them showed no signs of stopping. Cillin didn't move and simply watched him as he walked closer and closer. Suddenly, Cillin's pupils shrank as he angled his head slightly to look at a large tree next to the approaching man. Then, a woman appeared above the tree trunk.

    The woman had short, tidy hair that didn't go below the ear. Her gaze was sharp and created an invisible pressure on one's shoulders despite the smile on her face. A serrated knife was sheathed inside her leather-made ankle boots.

    Needless to say, everyone knew that the woman was a difficult opponent from how little noise she made despite landing on the tree at the speed she did. If Libero hadn't seen her appear on the tree with his own eyes, he wouldn't have trusted his hearing to catch her arrival.

    Just like that, the woman folded her arms and watched Cillin's group from the tree. The hint of a smile could be seen in her eyes. It was obvious that she was one of the previous term students.

    "I see your younger brother's here. No wonder you ran down this direction, Xingyao," said the woman before a sweeping glance at Gen Xingming hiding behind Cillin's back.

    Gen Xingyao didn't say anything. After he shot a glance at his younger brother, he focused his attention back onto Cillin.

    Bel poked his head out from behind Cillin and asked, "Hey Gen Two, can you cut us a break here and pretend that you've never seen us?"

    Gen Xingming kept quiet because he knew his older brother too well. There was no way his brother was going to let them go after he ran into them, so the only course left was to fight.

    Seeing that Gen Xingyao was ignoring him, Bel looked up towards the woman standing on the tree and asked pitifully, "Please be merciful, Sula, big sis!"

    Sula stamped her foot lightly against the ground, and the serrated blade inside her ankle boots was pushed into the air. Sula caught the blade between her fingers and shot a glance at Bel, smiling. "I'm very sorry, Your Majesty, but I cannot go against the rules. My pay will be deducted otherwise. You should know that the fixed allowance we students get isn't enough to buy even a car door, so I'll be forced into robbery if I lose this money."

    Knowing that there was no avoiding this battle, Bel, Gen Xingming and Ulaganuo backed off in unison. While they were retreating, Gen Xingming grabbed Teita by the collar and pulled him to the back too. They left the battlefield to Cillin, Libero, Ironhead and Walley.

    Walley looked at Cillin and his team staying at the front and Gen Xingming and friends at the back behind a tree. Then, he ran towards Gen Xingming.

    "Aren't you going to fight?!" The Three Dissolute Musketeers stared at him in astonishment. They thought that all AF1 examinees would be proactive.

    Walley shook his head and squeezed his way into Bel's group. "Please open up some space for me."

    Now, Cillin, Libero and Ironhead were the only ones left facing Gen Xingyao and Sula.

    Suddenly recalling something, Gen Xingming mustered the courage to run back towards Cillin and poke him, whispering, "Please don't use those two things unless absolutely necessary!"

    Then he ran back towards Bel and friends like his ass was on fire and waited for the battle to ensue.

    When Gen Xingming said "two things", he was referring to the PTS K and Cillin's blade. Gen Xingyao was his older brother, but he also believed in Cillin's abilities. He knew very well how destructive those two weapons could be in Cillin's hands.

    Cillin wouldn't have used them even if Gen Xingming hadn't reminded him. He had wanted to fight against another Gen family member since a long time ago.

    Sula twirled the serrated blade in her hands and dashed towards Libero and Ironhead in an instant.

    Even before the test, Libero already knew that they had no chance of victory against these previous term students if he maintained his current appearance.

    That was why sharp spikes began bristling out of Libero's body before Sula could jump them. Hardened, dark colored skin swiftly appeared throughout the surface of his body, and three rows of bone plates popped out from behind his back. The pointy ends of the bone plates were as sharp as swords.

    Ironhead didn't have bone plates like Libero's, but his entire body shone with a metallic luster that made him look like a living metal in solid state.

    "Humanoids?" Sula twisted her body in mid air after she came into contact with the bone plates behind Libero's back. Tiptoeing on top of one of those bone plates, she spun around and popped out a steel claw from her wrist. The steel claw wrapped around Sula's fingers like a glove.

    Cheeeee--

    Sula grabbed onto the biggest bone plate behind Libero's back and heaved.

    Bang!

    The young man's entire body was slammed into the ground.

    Sula didn't press the attack against Libero after the initial success. Instead, she dodged Ironhead's punch and scratched her steel claw across his body. The steel claw screeched and sparked against Ironhead's body, but it only managed to draw some shallow marks on his body.

    Turning around and lying flat against a tree trunk, Sula glanced at her blunted weapon and tossed it casually to the side. The steel claw had already been damaged somewhat when she used it to grab Libero's bone plate, and now it was unusable after the wear and tear it suffered from Ironhead's metallic body.

    These two humanoids definitely didn't make it so far by luck.

    Sula smiled and charged Ironhead again.

    Meanwhile, Cillin was fighting Gen Xingming on the other side of the field.

    The Gen Family preferred palm moves during single combat, that was the conclusion Cillin drew at from his tutelage under Genya. The fist strikes the skin, but the palm strikes deep. Only those who had mastered the palm technique to an extent could deliver such attacks.

    Cillin had some ideas on how powerful a palm strike was from Genya, but only some. At the time, Genya's body was already in decline and many of the techniques he taught Cillin were modified versions that emphasized on the cultivation of one's health.

    Gen Xingyao wasn't faster than Cillin, so the young man failed to find a good opportunity to attack him during the initial exchange. That didn't mean Gen Xingming was lacking in speed though.

    Cillin immediately took on a defensive posture when Gen Xingyao was prepared to step up his speed. He knew that Gen Xingyao's was about to throw a succession of counter attacks at him: the Triple Stack.

    The Triple Stack was three consecutive palm strikes overlapping one another until they looked like one smooth motion. Each palm strike was stronger than last. Although the Triple Stack looked fearsome, Cillin knew that it wasn't a killer move. It was a link in an actual killer move, and it wasn't meant to kill the opponent.

    Genya once demonstrated an incomplete version of the killer move to Cillin. It was incomplete because Genya's physical condition was poor, but his master's verbal explanation gave him some idea on how it worked. Therefore, Cillin had a way to counter Gen Xingyao's Triple Stack.

    The move that counters the Triple Stack was called the "Watercut Draw".

    No blades were involved, and no blades were necessary in the move.

    Cillin shook his arms and caused his surrounding air to grow unstable. Convection occurred as two jets of air joined into one speedy air vortex. It was as if a sharp blade was drawn out of nowhere and sliced the palm afterimages in half!

    He couldn't have interrupted the Triple Stack with the Watercut Draw if the former was used as part of the killer move. Otherwise, it was doable.

    Cillin seldom used these techniques when he was in Vanguard because he was a Hunter. A Hunter strives to kill their opponent in combat, so what he needed were killer moves that killed his opponent in a single strike, not gorgeous fighting techniques back then.

    That being said, that was then, this was now. Cillin wanted to try out the techniques he learned since his opponent was a member of the Gen Family. He hadn't used Watercut Draw for a very long time, but the move felt as familiar as yesterday when he executed it. It could almost be described as an instinct as the move had appeared in his mind instantly after the afterimages of the Triple Stack were formed.

    Gen Xingyao was forced to withdraw his palm because of the appearance of the Watercut Draw. His eyes turned a little strange as doubt settled in his mind. However, he didn't hesitate too long before he moved onto the next attack.

    Behind the tree, Bel who was watching the fight elbowed Gen Xingming once and asked in a soft voice, "Don't you think Cillin look a little too calm just now? It's as if he knew what move your brother's going to execute. He even seem to know which techniques are deadly and which aren't. I have no knowledge of your family's moves whatsoever but, I have a feeling that Cillin is very familiar with them. Otherwise, your brother should be good enough to find an angle of attack at least, don't you think? Even if he's not trying to kill Cillin?"

    Gen Xingming frowned and didn't answer Bel's question. His mind had flown back to the day they fought at the rooftop of the bar. He had caught a glimpse of the moment when Cillin drew out his blade and blocked Goryeo's bullet at the time. Although the scene lasted for only an instant, Cillin's movements had mirrored the Watercut Draw somewhat. That was one of the reasons why Gen Xingming had felt an inexplicable sense of familiarity at the time. As for why it was just one of the reasons, it was because he hadn't figured out the other reason he thought Cillin was familiar to this day.

    "Say Xingming... do you think Cillin's the illegitimate child of a stranded Gen family member or something?" Ulaganuo asked while rubbing his chin.

    Although most nobles led a dissolute life, they valued legitimacy a lot. This was especially true for the One Emperor and Three Kings at the top of the pyramid. No one but those of legitimate origin would be acknowledged for who they were. All those who were illegitimate would most likely be killed, the nobles who caused this to happen in the first place would be punished severely. It was why Gen Xingming was especially careful about certain things despite his hobby of skirt chasing. If he accidentally caused an illegitimate child his father was sure to break his leg.

    Gen Xingming threw a kick at Ulaganuo when he heard this. "Nonsense! Every person in the Elder Tree Fuji Gen Family has a proof of legitimacy! All those who don't have one are killed!"

    If Cillin really was the illegitimate child of whoever in the Gen Family, then he would be facing the threat of death by the senior royals of the Fuji Family. This was something neither of them wished to see, so the topic wasn't brought up any longer. However, Gen Xingming couldn't help but think about that possibility despite keeping his mouth shut on the subject.

    While Gen Xingming was wrangling with himself, a change began to occur around Gen Xingyao. The distorted air began to refract light itself until Gen Xingyao's entire body became blurry and unclear. It was impossible to determine where he was standing right now.

    The Leaf of Blindness*!

    *Literally, the idiom means that your view can be blocked by a single leaf. It's a warning to not tunnel vision, and an advice to look out for the bigger picture.

    Cillin didn't act hastily. He lowered his hands slightly and waited in silence.

    Suddenly, Cillin sprang into action. The moment he decided to do so, a palm cut through the screen of distorted light and slapped towards Cillin from the side. He had no doubt that his organs would suffer serious injuries if he got hit.

    Again, Cillin had reacted out of instinct. His arm stirred, cut through the air in an arc before shaking again abruptly as he pushed out to meet his opponent palm-to-palm. The technique looked very similar to the one used to cut through the screen of distorted light.

    The cord in Gen Xingming's mind snapped the moment he saw this.

    Impossible!

    If he isn't a member of the Gen Family, if he isn't a core member of the Gen Family there's no way he would've known this technique! Even if there's a few minor differences, it's definitely...

    Bel exchanged a glance with Ulaganuo when they saw Gen Xingming gripping his fists so tightly that they were making creaking noises. They sandwiched their friend at the center just in case he decided to do something inadvisable out of impulse.

    A loud bang later, Cillin and Gen Xingyao backed off from each other and stood still. They appeared fine at first glance, but two seconds later the sleeves around the arm they used to hit one another slowly disintegrated into bits.

    Coincidentally, Cillin was using his left arm. The clash between palms caused his glove to disintegrate, and a curly leaf could be seen sticking to Cillin's left thumb firmly.

    Gen Xingyao lost all mood to fight the moment he saw the pattern.
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