Hu Lei’s high confidence stemmed from his abilities. As the characters of his name might suggest, he was as quick as thunder and lightning. This was another reason he’d dared challenge Jiang Chen in order to stomp on the Eternal genius.
Unfortunately, he was just beginning to discover the extent of his mistake.
He was fast, yes, but the golden light was even faster. As soon as it locked onto him, he realized that he couldn’t elude its rays no matter how he moved. The bell loomed over him like an inexorable shadow.
Moreover, the light multiplied to make his body heavier and heavier. He could no longer move with any speed.
“This isn’t good. There’s something up with that golden bell!” Cold sweat dripped down Hu Lei’s brow. He gritted his teeth, then slammed his body outwards once more in a last-ditch attempt to brute force his way out.
Alas, he underrated the restrictive powers of the golden bell. Once locked onto by its light, even a ninth level empyrean expert wouldn’t necessarily be able to escape. Hu Lei wasn’t anywhere close to that level.
Regardless of how strong his Violet Thunderbolt was, his true cultivation was near rather than at advanced empyrean. In other words, he was technically lower level than Jiang Chen.
Jiang Chen could already crush any equal-level opponent. Hu Lei, his inferior, would be a pushover.
In fact, he was accustomed to taking on cultivators several levels stronger than him. In other words, he could probably handle four to five Hu Leis added together.
The bell descended closer and closer to the ground, intensifying its binding force all the while.
It landed with a resounding thud, enclosing Hu Lei completely within.
The geniuses watching from all around paled, their hearts sinking in apprehension.
Before this, many of them had hoped to defeat Jiang Chen in order to make a name for themselves. They were abandoning that idea in droves now.
Someone like this wasn’t remotely viable to challenge.
Hu Lei was worthy of being ranked among the ten sacred lands’ best. And what had happened to him? A face full of dust and extremely convincing defeat.
The bell raised up a little bit, allowing a disheveled Hu Lei to get back up.
“So, what do you think?” Jiang Chen asked evenly.
Though Hu Lei tended to be a bit obnoxious, he knew he had to surrender here. If Jiang Chen didn’t take the bell away, he couldn’t do much more than curl up inside and take a nap.
A little miffed, he admitted his loss with some chagrin. “You win this time. Still, I’m not entirely satisfied that you’re better than me. I feel like I’ve been tricked. If we fought for real, I’m not so sure I’d lose.”
He didn’t want to yield, despite his failure.
Jiang Chen laughed. There wasn’t much point in arguing. “Well, a bet’s a bet. You going to make good on your promise?”
If Hu Lei wanted to insist his own competence, who was Jiang Chen to forbid him?
Jiang Chen was fine with just getting results. Starting a dispute over the small details was senseless. The bell loosened, releasing its grip on Hu Lei’s body.
It took a while for the Polylore genius to snap out of his reverie. He took out two orbs from among his belongings with some annoyance. “This is all I have. Take it.”
Jiang Chen happily accepted. He wasn’t going to let Hu Lei go just yet though. He affixed him with a scrutinizing look.
Hu Lei stared back with some dissatisfaction, but there was nothing for it. He walked up to Gan Ning. “Sorry about that.”
His apology was clearly insincere, but Jiang Chen had wanted only token acknowledgment.
Aside from this, material compensation was required as well. Hu Lei took out a storage ring. “Here’s something for your trouble.”
He had a lot of pent-up anger inside, but what could he do? He had lost a bet, fair and square.
Gan Ning looked at Jiang Chen with some embarrassment.
Jiang Chen smiled coolly. “Take it. I doubt the Polylore Sacred Land’s geniuses are so poor they can’t spare one gift.”
Reassured, Gan Ning accepted the ring without ceremony.
Hu Lei harrumphed. “Remember, I only apologized because of your senior brother. You’re nothing special yourself.”
He snuck a furtive look at Jiang Chen once more as he said this, irritated by what he had just done. He stamped his foot down hard, then turned his back.
“Hold on,” Jiang Chen exclaimed suddenly.
“What else do you want?” Hu Lei scowled.
Jiang Chen tossed him the Whip of Violet Thunder with a flourish. “It’s a waste for me to keep what’s yours. You can have it back. You obviously spent a lot of time on this treasure, and I think it’ll be best if you take it. Why should I rob another of his favorite item?”
Mildly taken aback, Hu Lei caught his whip almost without thinking. He had thought of asking for it, but wasn’t thick-skinned enough to do so after losing the bet.
That Jiang Chen returned it to him of his own volition was really quite generous. Much of his residual resentment was abruptly mollified.
He looked at Jiang Chen once more with some confusion, then cupped a fist and turned to depart.
“We should leave as well.” Jiang Chen called out to Gan Ning.
The other youth nodded, then followed his senior brother by exiting the scene.
The geniuses watching from afar had dispersed already. Many of them were even more wary of Jiang Chen now, apprehensive of the possibility that they might run into him and have their orbs confiscated.
What were they going to do if they fell into his hands? Refuse a request for their orbs? Hu Lei was plenty strong, but had capitulated easily before Jiang Chen’s might.
Gan Ning and Jiang Chen headed out a lengthy distance before they slowed their footsteps.
“Thanks a lot for the help, senior brother Jiang Chen.” Gan Ning was genuinely grateful.
“I was a bit late, honestly. You wouldn’t have suffered if I had come earlier. Our present priority though, is to find Wu You.”
The third member of their team was nowhere to be found. However, Wu You’s speed meant that he was probably in better shape.
Seeing that Gan Ning was still a bit downcast, Jiang Chen consoled him. “Hu Lei is very capable among the ten sacred lands’ younger generation. There’s no shame for having lost to him. Work hard on your cultivation so you can beat him at some point in the future. There’s no progress without realizing one’s own insufficiency.”
“I’m not ashamed of losing to Hu Lei,” Gan Ning sighed. “Rather, I feel like my weakness is dragging you down.”