One would have thought that Ho Qing's mocking words and Rosea's punches and slaps would have eventually caused a rift to form between the six youngsters, but it wasn't the case, fortunately.
Although Rosea failed to notice it at first, it was crystal clear that Ho Qing deliberately uttered such provocative words to rile her up and make her vent her frustration. However, he didn't expect her to actually lunge at him and slap him until his cheeks were reddened, bleeding, and puffed.
"I-it's not right to dwell on what happened."
After a pretty long and awkward silence, Bora spoke up, breaking it and gaining everyone's attention.
"We began this together and I believe we have the strength and capability to continue. Every team faces troubles at the beginning, but if we manage to overcome them, we will rise to greater heights!"
With the five of them focusing on him, the tanned youth gained confidence and raised his voice a little louder.
"We can do this, guys! Let's not let our loss or failures get the better of us! If our teachers saw this, they would surely be disappointed! We must forge our own path and prove to the whole world that we're the best.".
Once he voiced his thoughts and puffed his ċhėst proudly, poor Bora was met with only silent gazes.
In the end, Ardor could not hold it any longer and burst out in laughter. The others too laughed, even the stoic Ho Qing
"Seriously! Is that supposed to be an encouraging speech? It was really bad." Ardor wiped his teary eye and snickered at the embarrassed Bora.
"Yeah… it was lame."
Rosea joined in, giggling and stealing glances at the others.
Once Rasnod was taken care of, Lucy did not rest. Instead, she targeted yet another guardian, both to showcase her prowess to the world and battle those considered her peers.
So far, only the Ageless Elven Maiden proved to be a challenge. Veia and Rasnod were relatively weak in comparison, and they never really stood a chance against Lucy.
Even if Lucy had a mediocre talent and did not have the fusion flame, the Devil Right Arm, or the Ice Lotuses, she would still be unimaginably strong thanks to Soul Bond with Arthur.
Her stats had already broken through the mortal limitations and gone beyond one billion points. That means her physical body and absurdly large Mana Pool allowed her to be a force to be reckoned with.
After Arthur recovered the upgraded Makaze and his first clone, he had become stronger than Lucy, but the disparity between them wasn't that large. After all, Lucy excels in Magic and destructive areas of effect spells whereas Arthur's fighting style was versatile and ever-changing.
His unique ability to change forms and cast all types of skills, spells, and techniques, allowed him to be unpredictable and hard to manage in a fight.
With Rasnod, Halone, and Veia gone, six participants remain. The thick-bearded dwarf clad in an over-sized enchanted armor was holed up in his own circle and apprehensively eyeing the motionless Lucy.
If they could, everyone could pick a flying flag and simply wait for the timer to hit zero. However, most, if not all of the participating guardians did not come here to win like that but to demonstrate their power and fight, much like Lucy.
Apart from the Serpentine Patriarch of the Eternal Rouge Sect and his feisty opponent, Celina, the rest were spectating.
Lucy deemed Dan and Buolong unfit so she locked her gaze onto the Demon Duke. He was ċȧrėssing his long cane and faintly smiling back at her, looking as relaxed and nonchalant as before.
From all the opponents, Xavier was the strangest and most mysterious of them all. Lucy could not properly gauge his strength even after his brief fight against Celina.
"Lucy MoonStar, I had hoped our first meeting would've been different. More amicable… at least."
She coldly glared at him, her Mana exploding forth and the nine blooming Ice Lotuses were back behind her. The freezing aura was unleashed with full force, accompanying Lucy as she shot at Xavier with an impressive agility.
She was like a lightning bolt, reaching Xavier within the blink of an eye. She did not hold back her strength and performed a punch with the Devil Arm, consequently releasing a lot of dense steam and a devastating shock wave.
Her fist clashed with the demon's cave but it was eventually able to push it back and blew its holder several hundred meters to the back. However, Xavier wasn't injured, he properly landed on the ground, looking amused.
"Please bear in mind that I mean no harm or malice. This shall be a contest to determine who's stronger… agreed?"
"You talk too much."
"And rightly so, Lucy MoonStar."
A swirling translucent crimson aura emanated from Xavier's body, soon taking the shape of skeletal shape thrice his size and linked to his back via countless thin crimson threads.
"Please do not hold back."
As he uttered these words, he jumped in the air and swung his cane vertically, which made the skeletal shape behind him lunge at Lucy with a newly-formed scythe.
The incoming illusory scythe cut the freezing aura and the steam, reaching its target almost immediately as if it teleported.
Lucy braced herself and performed another, much stronger punch, embedded with the fusion flame. The ominous and small spark of grey flame clashed with the illusory scythe, disintegrating it upon contact then dispersing.
Lucy flew at the skeletal shade and made use of the Ice Lotuses, which rapidly spun and unleashed [Absolute Zero] for the second time today.
For a couple of breaths, this miniature dimension was dominated by an azure color and a bone-chilling coldness.
The land below Lucy as well as the air itself were frozen, even the skeletal shade wasn't spared. However, this wasn't the end as Lucy cast an enormous golden fireball right at Xavier.
The demon frowned, stabbed his cane on the ground and performed an unfamiliar sign with both hands. Another crismon and illusory shade manifested itself; This time, it was a bestial shape with human hands holding a shield.
With the Demon Duke controlling it, the beast raised its shield and blocked the fireball and the ever-spreading coldness.
Just when Xavier thought he succeeded, he saw the shield and its holder literally explode as a large cloud of darkness appeared from nowhere and consumed everything.
After firing the 2nd-grade Darkness Bullet, Lucy distanced herself to not get affected and watched as Xavier's bestial shade was devoured.
Now that two of his shades were defeated, Xavier looked pale. He wiped the blood leaking out of his lips and chuckled.
"We will finish with this one, Lucy MoonStar."
He concentrated all of his swirling aura in the cane then removed it from the frozen earth. It shone with a bright blood-red light then escaped his hand, transforming into a real shade this time, taking the shape of half-naked hideous and large horned devil with red skin.
Lucy changed her stance and readied herself to punch again. The devil arm was releasing an absurd amount of steam, so much that it became an enormous fog shrouding her within, but only for a couple seconds as a blinding golden radiance dispersed it.
A miniature blazing sun appeared in her hand, however, instead of rising in the air then exploding like before, Lucy grasped it with her right hand and crushed it. The Golden Crow Fire was injected into the Devil arm, enveloping it with the flames and greatly strengthening it.
The force of the explosion was so big and intense that Arthur's dimension broke apart, blasting everyone within it outside.
All that was left of it was a sea of golden flames, soon suċkėd by the ever-appearing spatial tears.
The participants were shocked by this outcome but, fortunately, none was injured.
Lucy's flames shone brighter than Green-Leaf's sun, spreading across the canopy like a golden carpet.
Although it was soon dispersed by Arthur, the spectacle was astonishing and unforgettable for every single person in the crowd.
Soon, everything cleared up; Lucy was floating in the air, looking exhausted but not injured. Meanwhile, Xavier was a distance away, also hovering but in a worse condition. His clothes were ripped and his breathing heavy.
He kept smiling and reassuringly waved his hand.
"The winners of the Trial are Lakandro of the Eternal Rouge Sect, Buolong of the Blossom Merchant Company, and Dan of Green-Leaf."
Technically, only those who defended their flags till the end were victorious. However, the crowd was more excited about Lucy's fight against Xavier and almost forgot about the other guardians.
"Are you okay?"
After declaring the winners, Arthur appeared next to Lucy and took her elsewhere. She spent the entirety of the Mana, but that was about it. After a brief rest, she will recover to peak state.