1st Day of Okton, 29 days before the Skirmish event.
“Madame, will the alliance between ours and the Strom be dissolved?”, Von asked.
Lena was standing in front of the fireplace, staring at the fire and the burning wood and bits of charcoal lying on the bottom.
“No, the alliance will continue as it is.”, she said in a serious tone.
Von’s eyes widened for a slight moment and returned to normal.
“I see, Madame. Should I inform the boy about this?”
“I think he will recognize it by himself. That boy is smarter than what we think he is.”
“But Madame, he had concluded himself that the alliance is already dissolved.”, Von argued.
“I already said it, Von. He is smarter than your average Prospect.”
Lena turned her eyes away and returned to her seat.
“You’ve said earlier that the divine beasts from the Dark Forest are rather interested in him, right?”
“Yes.”, Von affirmed.
Lena sat on her chair, thinking about her next move.
“That Lady Scarlet, do you think you can request for her assistance with regards to Zachariel’s mother?”
“It would depend on her mood, Madame, but I’ll try my best.”, Von bowed.
Lena nodded and waved her hands, dismissing Von.
She took one of the papers to her desk, reading its contents carefully.
“Zachariel Strom, returned to the public training area yesterday afternoon. Defeating 5 peak gold-level mercenaries in 4 hours.”
Lena snorted, “What 4 hours. This included the time he had to wait for each match in between. I need the exact numbers he needed just to defeat each one of them.”
“Less than 30 minutes, all in all, Madame.”, a voice from nowhere told her.
Lena let out a gasp, “30 minutes? Even beating Ellington’s brat by a large margin?!”
Public Training Area.
Zachariel underwent some lecturing from Iria, teaching him about the basics of qi essence cultivation.
`Strange, there are only four stages that Iria stated with regards to qi essence cultivation.`
The Cleansing Stage.
The Sensing Stage.
Qi Essence Gathering Stage.
And the Qi Essence Condensation stage.
`It never talked about how to apply liquefied qi essence in one’s organs, nor one should repair or reform their dantian core first before anything else.`
Zachariel was plunged into deep thoughts.
`No, maybe the reforming of the dantian core is done automatically, that’s why they leave it be and only kept on gathering and condensing as many qi essences as possible.`
He stared deep at Iria’s eyes, trying to figure out whether the girl in front of him was playing with him.
Iria noticed this and felt uncomfortable. Zachariel’s cold eyes were too frightening for her to endure.
`Wait, why are his eyes have a shade of green?`, Iria wondered.
A thought appeared on Zachariel’s head and suddenly grabbed Iria out of nowhere.
He transferred a small fraction of his qi essence and directed it towards Iria’s dantian core.
Iria tried to force herself out of his reach, “Zachariel, what are you- eh?”, when a refreshing feeling washed over her stomach where her dantian core was.
Something greenish-dark intruded her body as well but Iria didn’t notice it.
Zachariel let go of her after it happened.
“Eh, Zachariel, what just happened?”
“Nothing.”, Zachariel turned around.
Luiz waved his hands to him, “Hey, Zachariel. Are you done now?”
“That fast? You’re really the guy.”, Luiz sighed.
“Zachariel, can you let us see your qi essence then?”, Luka asked.
Zachariel did what was told, producing a bluish-green aura around his body.
“Wha-! The entire body, already?”, Luiz couldn’t believe it.
They were still stuck at just using qi essence around certain parts of their body. And here was Zachariel, displaying to them how talented he was.
“Why is someone knocking on our door? Did something wrong happen?”, Luiz was confused.
“Let me get it.”
Iria ran towards the door and slowly opened it.
What greeted her was an elden. A female angel, to be exact.
Her eyes were closed. The left half of her hair was black, while the other was golden white.
On her right eye, a dark line drooped down from it towards her jaw, while it was a golden line on the other side.
The same pattern of color could be observed on her small ethereal wings.
Her dress was close-fitted and full-length. She was emanating an aura of both innocence and impurity.
“May I know if Zachariel Strom is here?”
Her voice was mild and pleasant to the ears. It strangely persuaded Iria’s mind to tell her the truth, “Yes, he is here. Why are you looking for him?”
“One of my acquaintances would like to spar with him. I hope that he would accept this challenge.”, the angel replied.
Iria struggled and didn’t know what to say, “Well…”
“Lead me to it.”
Zachariel suddenly appeared behind Iria, startling her.
“But Zachariel, what if-“
“It doesn’t matter.”
`Finally, I’ve gathered their attention.`, Zachariel smirked inside.[ Warning: Harmful aura detected ] [ Purging effects… ]
`This girl, trying to power me down, huh?`, Zachariel scoffed at such an idea.
Even Lena’s aura was useless to him. How could a low-leveled person like the angel in front of him compare?
“Let’s go then, elden.”
The angel led the way.
“Iria, we should follow them.”, Luka advised.
Iria had no choice but to do as he said.
“We’ll continue our practice tomorrow. For now, we should follow Zachariel.”, she announced.
The rest were excited. And so were the people around them.
“Look, it seems like the eldens knew Zachariel would accept the challenge. They risked publicly announcing the match, and it’s going as best as it could.”, Luka analyzed.
“Luka, how certain will Zachariel win this fight?”, Teddy inquired while gripping his fists tightly, “Those eldens have been harassing us ever since they came here. We have only won once, thanks to that silver-haired girl from the Great Magic School.”
“It’s certain that Zachariel will win, though I don’t know if he would be left unharmed during the match.”, Luka voiced out his thoughts.
Teddy affirmed to Luka’s words, “Just as I thought.”
“Stop chattering. We should hurry up or we’ll lose a seat in the arena.”, Iria urged.
A ponytailed elf with her golden hair was rubbing her palm onto the arena platform floor with a wide smile on her face.
She was wearing shorts and a loose shirt. The happiness on her face was evident in everyone in the arena.
There were huffing and puffing sounds coming out of her mouth now and then.
“Damn, it’s that disgusting elden again! What are these people up to now?”, a human spectator complained.
“Hey, the betting’s open for this match. Who do you wanna bet for?”, a mercenary nudged the person.
“Huh? Who’s the one being challenged this time?”
“It’s that boy named Zachariel Strom.”
The person was intrigued, “Is that so? F***, let’s bet on him this time. That guy was blasting all over peak gold-level fighters yesterday so he should be able to match against that elf, right?”
The mercenary nodded.
The place became busy as people placed their bets on who would win in the match.
“Careful now, you dumb idiots, or else you’ll lose your money from thieves!”, the staff in charge shouted.
There was a notice on the left saying that 10% of the money bet on the winner will be given to the winner.
“Give way, please.”, a loud yet soft sound spoken out.
The rowdy crowd stopped what they were doing and looked at the person who had spoken just now.
“Hey, isn’t that the Exalted Monarch? Edward Ellington?”, a female mercenary gasped.
“Is he interested in this match as well?”
“Look, it’s the Quicksilver Swordsman, Rainald Hearst!”
“Twin Mistress, Lina and Luna Del Mar Ferreira!”
Edward, alongside the rest of the Prospects, made their way to the betting station.
He took out a large sack of money, “Me and my friends would like to bet on our friend, Zachariel Strom.”, handing it over to the staff.
The staff was utterly shocked by the weight of the money Edward gave to him.
“Let’s go.”, Edward waved his hands without looking back.
“Senior Edward, isn’t that money a bit too much?”, Rainald was confused.
“It’s to help Zachariel, Rainald. 10% of the money I gave would be enough for him to spend for a year.”, Edward replied.
“Sister! Stop drooling all over! It’s disgusting!”, Lina reprimanded Luna.
“Heehee, Lina, I forgot that I could match up against that brat here! Damn it, now I’m savoring the time when the two of us would fight against one another! Oh, oh!”
Luna’s moans disturbed the nearby people.
“What masochistic tendencies that girl has…”, a guy said with a scary tone in his voice.
On the other side of the arena, the group of eldens sat there at peace. They didn’t care much about the bet, but more about their leader, Thalanil.
“Father, why are you so obsessed with him fighting? What is with him that I do not have?”, Thessalia argued.
“Should I say, his dong?”, Thalanil joked, leaving Thessalia confused, “Thessalia, there are things in this world that you just cannot see by asking why are things happening. You should rather point to the question of why should these things happen.”
Thessalia was in deep thought, `Why should these things happen? Why should father be obsessed with that guy?`
As the pile of bets increased, Zachariel finally arrived at the arena.
The elven girl stopped rubbing her palm and excitedly looked at Zachariel.
“Finally, you’re here!”, dusting her shorts and performing several hops.
Zachariel struck his polearm on the ground, shutting everyone up.
“Let’s get this over with, shall we?”
The captain guard stepped up, “Sentinel from the Great Human Imperium vs. Raffila Erzera from the Great Elden Conglomerate. Start!”
Raffila’s golden eyes glowed, `You can’t run away from me, human!`
“Eh, why do I feel like we have similar eyes?”, Jean surprisingly asked.
The human Prospects were confused.
“Jean, what do you mean you have similar eyes with that girl?”, Edward asked.
Jean didn’t look at him, “My eyes can directly see and feel the flow of both mana and qi essences every time I activate it. That girl, I can feel it. I can sense that she is trying to sense the surrounding essences as well.”
“No wonder Helena lost to her easily. It looks like this girl has some special powers as well.”, Rainald commented.
“Will Zachariel be alright, seniors?”, Victoria worried.
Edward felt that he should’ve lessened the money he betted instead, `Damn it. If that brat loses, my father’s going to kill me.`
He hid his inner thoughts and spoke to his junior.
“Just focus on the match, Victoria. We will know later whether he can do it or not.”
Raffila punched at Zachariel, which he evaded easily.
“I can read all of your moves so easily! It’s of no use!”
She casted water spout at the spot where Zachariel placed his right foot, wanting to catch him off-guard.
The elven girl was smiling so widely she didn’t realize that Zachariel lifted his right foot, evading the spout, and kicked her face with his right foot.
Raffila was kicked away.
Zachariel didn’t bother to chat with her and charged.
“You bastard, you’re not using your polearm?!”, Raffila was angry but Zachariel only looked at her with cold eyes.
“Don’t you dare underestimate me!”
`On my left, now!`
She parried Zachariel’s punch and grabbed it, trying to throw him on the ground.
She gathered the strength but Zachariel didn’t budge.
Zachariel suddenly twisted his arms and got out of her grasp. He grabbed her arms instead and threw her on the ground.
Raffila grunted and rotated her body from the ground, losing Zachariel’s grasp of her.
Zachariel charged again but Raffila upped her guard this time.
`He’s going to chop sideways, and kick from below!`
Raffila evaded them all at the last moment. She landed three punches on Zachariel’s body and casted an earthen spike from his back.
Zachariel blocked the earthen spike with his dark shield but Raffila sent out another set of attacks.
Zachariel gathered qi mana essence and blocked it with his left hand.
`He read that and blocked it?!`, Raffila was shocked.
Zachariel sneakily sent a kick towards her but Raffila saw it and blocked it with her left leg.
She jumped with her other leg and rotated her body mid-air, pointing her right palm towards Zachariel’s body and casted, “Shockwave!”
“Hmph!”, Zachariel grunted and was blown away.
He somersaulted on the ground. The uniform he had was blown into smithereens. His bare upper body was shown.
Many females were impressed by Zachariel’s body, making Victoria feel an urge to kick them out.
“Lina, look at that body. I want to injure it with my chains!”, Luna shouted.
Lina tried to block her sister’s mouth but it was too late.
“Senior Edward, things aren’t looking good for Zachariel.”, Rainald told him.
Edward narrowed his eyes, `That damn brat! At this rate, my father’s going to really kill me!`
“Rainald, you should put a lot of faith in your junior. Otherwise, if he knows what you were up to, he would have trust issues upon you.”, Edward replied.
Rainald was baffled, `Senior’s words seem a little bit off today.`
He looked at the eldens on the other side.
“See that father? He can’t even match against Raffila. What can he do about me?”, Thessalia coldly snorted.
The rest of the eldens seconded her statement.
Thalanil didn’t respond and stared deeply at Zachariel’s eyes.
`There it is. That aura. From the ancient ruins. They’re very similar. It is him, no doubt. The person those ancient texts have been referring to.`
On the platform, Raffila’s face was plastered with a wide grin.
“Human, you’re no match for me!”