Clergyman raised an inviting hand toward the fat middle age man and smiled. “You look like a good proficient fellow”. It was hard to say if he was mocking the man or recognize something in him, which to everyone else but the fat man seemed very unlikely.
“Haha… See, son, among all the people here, it is your father that a professional fighter deemed a worthy opponent”. The fat man told to the boy beside him who also shared a proud smile of been the son of the only man Clergyman called forward.
“Mr. Clergyman, my name his Dodo Korseski”. Mr. Korseski climbed sluggishly onto the ring and took a fighting stance. “Please instruct me to the best of your ability”. He felt the need to say it out of delusional courtesy.
To the side of Zax and Anet people began to murmur once again.
“That Clergyman, is he out to embarrass a member of the Korseski family?” Some woman said.
“Look at him, is he not a F level Mist User? How can he be so impudent?”
“Does it matter? I’m sure Clergyman knows what he is doing”.
The audience was divided to either those who resented Dodo Korseski actions and manner, those who assume that Clergyman’s invite was part of the event and others will be called next for a chance to stand in the same ring with a professional fighter and those who did not think much and just wanted to see what will happen.
“Here I come”. Clergyman announced and made his first move.
This time, the audience could clearly see that Clergyman moved a bit slower compared to when he exercised alone, and right then the meaning behind his invite was confirmed. On the ring, however, Mr. Korseski could not discern any changes in Clergyman’s movement speed. In his mind he was half confident in his abilities. Being a member of the Korseski family he had trained, once in a while, in high level Martial techniques, so even if his level as a Mist User was lower he believed that he could handle receiving a few strikes or even land one or two himself.
As it was already predicted, Clergyman held himself back to not cause the smallest of injuries on his impotent opponent. He still gave one hell of a show before stopping declaring the fight over and raising the left hand of Mr. Korseski.
Mr. Korseski got down from the ring, sweating yet smiling from ear to ear like a child who met and had an even match with his greatest hero.
“You were awesome, father!” Getting praised by his son, Mr. Korseski’s ego rose steeply and the two left laughing to celebrate with a rich meal.
Obviously, to any coreless child the simplest fight between the lowest Mist Users will seem like something out of their dreams. That reason was why Zax was satisfied with mid beginner, E level, showdowns. Clergyman, incidentally, was fighting in the advance beginner, D level, showdowns and was a breakthrough away from the early expert, C level, showdowns league.
“Haha! Who else has the guts to step onto the ring with me? I see some tough people in the crowd, even children”. For a single moment Clergyman locked eye contact with every child that surrounded the ring and smiled as if it was just between the two of them. The saying was true, a man who can fight can win the match, but a man who can perform can win the heart of the audience.
The first line of people was then formed in the fifth floor, too fast and too pushy for Zax, Serah, Dane and Anet to react in time for a decent place in the line. So they decided to watch a few fight and then go back to the lower floors since they already assigned seats for themselves and there was nothing much to do right now in the fifth floor.
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP…!
The four halted just when they were about to enter the elevator. “Dane, your badge is beeping”. Serah informed him. “What have you done to it?”
“Nothing”. Dane answered puzzled.
“Did you break it?” Zax asked.
“No! I kept it in my pocket all the time!”
“Maybe when you played on the seat…” Anet said.
“I didn’t break it!” Dane felt annoyed and offended from the attitude of his friends.
“Let me see it”. He handed Serah the badge and tried to look together with her for the cause of the beeping, but right then they stopped.
“What did you do?” Anet asked Serah.
“Then why did the beeping stopped?”
“Maybe a technical error?”
“Whatever, it stopped. Order the elevator again and let’s go”. Zax said. If it was a temporary technical error then they could do nothing about it, so dwelling over it also was meaningless.
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP…!
“Again?” Serah turned around to Dane, but this time the beeping came from the badge.
“You four, stop playing with your badges!” A cameraman from the press area yelled at them.
“We didn’t do anything”. Anet defended.
“Get away from the elevators if you already saved a seat”. The cameraman both scolded and explained. “If you’ll get close to an elevator after you assigned yourselves seats the badges will start beeping and if you’ll enter the elevator your seats allocation will be deleted”.
Listening to the cameraman, Serah stepped away from the opened elevator like a cat who realized a danger behind him. She reached as far as a few steps before the badge stopped beeping. “It’s true…” She said, excitedly – more from the sudden movement.
This small revelation also made them understand why there were so few people in the fifth floor compared to the others. There were still three hours for the real event of the fifth floor to start, apart from it there was basically anything interesting else to do except waiting in the line to ring one…
“What should he do?” Anet asked. Since they arrived to the fifth floor the number of people increased although there was couple of hours before the fights. It appeared that other people were aware or starting to become aware to the limited number of good seats and so were willing to grab good ones head of time at the expense of being stuck on the fifth floor.
“I don’t want to lose our seats”. Serah and Dane said in one voice.
Zax felt the same, but while they were deciding the new arrivals seized the second and more than half of the third rows of seats before extending the line to ring one. At that point, Clergyman started to accept two or three opponents simultaneously and not more only because the small size of the ring.
“The fourth floor is the only one with cool stuff, but if we go back there and the lines will still be over packed we will be giving our seats for nothing”. Zax said and then made a suggestion. “Let’s vote it. Those who want to go back to the fourth floor raise a hand. If three choose to either stay or go then the fourth will have to follow, but if it will be a draw we’ll split up”.
Serah, Dane and Anet nodded.
“Who wants to stay here?” Zax asked and raised his hand. Dane and Anet did the same and Serah, whose opinion was torn, raised her hand last to make it unanimously.
“Let’s get in line”. Smiling, Zax offered and sprang to ring one. He did not show it, but he actually really wanted to stand on the same ring with a professional fighter.
An hour later it was finally their turn. Clergyman spared and adjusted himself to more than ninety people by now, yet still was laughing with not a drop of sweat on his face. He even permitted the four kids and six more that stood in line to fight him together.
The ten children exchanged glances of hello but were tense and without planning scattered immediately around Clergyman. Zax communicated only with his friends as well. He and Dane stood side by side and Serah and Anet behind them.
All four were still nine years old whom interest was not fully genderized yet. At that age boys remained children and girls were slowly growing self conscious.
Three children came kicking and screaming at Clergyman. The pro fighter moved only as fast as they did but with greater affinity efficiency, avowing their strikes, picking them up and removing them from the ring.
“Don’t turn your back to me!” Another child called all seriously, but apparently could back up her words. Before the mouths of everyone watching the fight gaped, steams started to appear and cover the young girl’s hands.
“This girl is capable of using her Qi!” People were astonished.
“Does anyone know her name?”
“Probably a genius or from a great family…”
“Over there, that’s Habul Majid! See how he looks at the girl, she’s probably his daughter, Masela Majid”.
The crowd soon figured the background of the girls and who she was and began to act as if her use of Qi was natural.
Clergyman, who listened to the crowd while playing around, glanced at Mr. Majid and bowed his head toward him in a way only the brown bearded man could notice. A light passed inside the eyes of Mr. Majid and an approval was granted.
Clergyman turned to Masela, jumped above and landed behind her back and with a slight push, made her staggered to her father’s hands has the both of them chuckled. With the difference in strength he could effortlessly counter her Qi based attack with physical strength alone, but instead chose to give the little girl face and not spoil the confidence she had in her skills, especially not in front of the frightening man who now hold her.
Masela pouted as she looked at the ring. A loss of balance was the reason for her defeat and she did not accept that.
Since between the moments that Masela shouted at Clergyman and he pushed her off the ring just a few seconds passed, she, along with the crowd were surprised to hear someone repeats her words…
“No! Don’t turn your back to me!” The one shouting this time was Zax. When he saw Masela using her Qi he was momentarily flabbergasted and when he returned to himself, Clergyman was already in the air and Masela’s face was looking up with amazement. Right then he formed his tactic.
Defeating Clergyman was out of the question. Even if he used the same amount of strength as the person who was coming at him, his technique was too superior and he was far more experienced at a whole different level of ring battles. So Zax came up with the tiniest thing that he could do to just make an impression.
He ran toward Clergyman in the same fashion as Masela, raising his hands forward but with no steams forming around them.
The adults who watched him all smirked. To them Zax looked like a simple minded boy who is so terrified that he tries to mimic the girl before him without comprehending the vast gap between them. Masela, on the other hand, got annoyed when she saw Zax repeats her moves and thought that the crowd laughed at her, too, when she performed them.
To entertain the kid Clergyman gave Zax the same chance to attack him from behind. He waited till Zax was close to hit him and, again, flipped back in the air above him. For that moment Zax waited! As soon as Clergyman’s legs left the ground Zax also flipped in the air, lower than Clergyman, and shot his foot right to his face.
Clergyman saw the trajectory of the kick about to hit his nose and was in a dilemma. On one hand, he used the same speed as Zax, which only now made him realize that the physical state of the boy below him was even better than the daughter of Habul Majid, and raising his speed would mean that he could not dodge from a surprise attack of a coreless kid. On the other hand, as a result of a reflex his perception, which he also limited, already spotted the boy’s coming attack and found a way to evade it without raising his physical performances.
As his body turned in the air, Clergyman shot his head and back backwards to raise the speed of the flip and land first, all with the same level of capabilities of Zax if not with lower ones. Startled, Zax could only feel the air blowing from Clergyman’s nose and then his face disappeared. When he landed a foot was stuck between his legs and his body was thrown from the ring and was caught by none other than Habul Majid.
The crowd began to clap, initially they felt like doing so because of the surprise kick, but then they thought that it was all calculated by Clergyman, lastly there was the respectable Mr. Majid who did not let the boy fall on his face. Thus, in their eyes Zax remained a simple boy, Clergyman a virtuous professional fighter and Mr. Majid, The Savior Of The Fallen Ones…
Losing the fight, Zax stared blankly at Mr. Majid. The air around the brown bearded man was heavy and emitted a sense he could not fathom. It was not imposing in any way, just big, big like the whole building they were staying at if not bigger. It was similar to when Mist Users projected their mist energy yet worlds apart. The closest thing that he could compare to that feeling was how he felt when he was near his big sister in her serious mode.
Touching the floor with his shoes Zax returned to himself and instantly bowed. “Thank you”. He was grateful that Mr. Majid did not let him fall. But Mr. Majid’s attention already was toward the ring and the few that were left beside Clergyman. Only the girl in Mr. Majid’s hands glared accusingly at Zax, though the boy also was more interested in the fights and so missed the contempt.
In the span of half a minute Clergyman once again remained the only one in the ring as the new challengers climb in. The fights continued for ten minutes as some, as they lost, got back to the end of the lines and others gradually gave up for their own reasons. The most obvious one was that those in high positions and class were not eager to lose face and being toyed with by a professional fighter. After forty five minutes only children waited in line, among them Zax and his friends and Masela Majid, and at a point they even tried to attack together or form a plan of attack as the adults just stood there, watched and discussed cheerily.
A hour and a half later there were barely any children with the energy to keep “fighting” with Clergyman. Five minutes later Zax and Masela were the only when ones who were still determined to hit Clergyman at least once. Serah, Dane and Anet, however, choose to buy snacks and munch on them in their seats while watching from afar and giggling at the constant stupid attempts of their friend.
Zax came from one side and Masela from another. The two did not have a plan. During the time on the ring Zax realized the negative mixed feelings Masela had for him. He did not know her so he did not judge and did not care for her reasons and therefore quietly consent to her decision to keep distance from each other. They ran, jumped, slid, kicked, punched and gave their all time after time after time to no avail. Clergyman blocked, evaded, deceived and sent them out of the ring while the two incessantly returned. When there was no line for them to wait Clergyman had to admit that even he in their age did not have so much vigor, but happily concurred to exhaust theirs.
There were twenty minutes left before the appointed time of the preliminaries for the official exhibition fights. Masela was heavily panting and so was Zax. The steams of Qi covering her hands were flickering in and out of her body. She cursed and ground her teeth and wished to have Clergyman between them.
“Daddy, I’ll hate you if you interfere!” Masela barked without looking at her father. Mr. Majid’s face suddenly distorted and Clergyman, who noticed, briefly lost his cool. But then Mr. Majid, still with unpleasant look, turned to him and lowered his head meekly, mostly affirming Clergyman to not interrupt and let his daughter do as she wants.
Loosening her muscles, straightening her posture and slowly bending her knees with the palms of her hands steadily grasping at the abdomen. Masela released a series of breaths in a growing pace.
“Haa…” A faint sound of her delicate child voice left her mouth. To Zax, the one closest to her, all sounds for a brief milo second disappeared and when they returned a gashing force, eruption of Qi steams, emerged from every pore in her body. Bewildered, Zax was pushed back by the explosive force.
Not a one step back and Masela and Clergyman vanished from his field of vision. Spotting the surge of Qi, the crowd’s eyes lit up and cries of astonishment were heard. Anyone below F level Mist User, that is, every coreless kid, lost sight of two from the three figures that stood on the ring. Gradually coming to it, all they could see was the one Zax and two silhouettes flashing around him. The adult, though, were all Mist Users and ranged from F level Earth’s Core Holders to E level E Earth’s Core Holders with the exception of the one… All saw clearly and with outmost yearning the remarkable little Masela going over her limits, pushing the mighty Clergyman.