Book 5 – Horns, Chapter 17 – Jealousy And Scorn

“Let’s go”. Anet signaled to her friends to follow her out of the faculty building.

Going to direction of the Advanced grade building, Anet explained. “Contrary to the name, the Summit is actually located underground the three grades buildings and the arrangement of all the different techniques corresponds to the grade of the building above its section. Also, being a Beginner grade students, Intermediate grade students or Advanced grade students doesn’t mean that you can have access to all the inscription in your section. The inscriptions each student is allowed to borrow are predetermined by grades and teacher’s recommendation”.

“It sounds very harsh on the students who want to invest themselves in high grade technique”. Zushi pointed out.

“You think so because you don’t major in Martial class, and as a result, don’t understand how lethal it can be for someone to cultivate a technique with severe prerequisites or prerequisites that you have yet to meet”. Anet exclaimed.

What she talked about was a major issue that continuously reemerges, when people who just embarked on the Martial path get their hands on and try to cultivate a technique that is beyond their capabilities. The consequence such actions can lead to, worst case scenario, death. Best case scenario, temporarily wound the Qi channels and dantian.

“She is right”. Zax backed Anet.

His Valor Ozeyn and the bodily refinement technique Grandmaster Kartion develops were a good example. Though he did not know the specifics, his Master told him that because of a certain choice or action His Valor Ozeyn did, he cannot cultivate Grandmaster Kartion’s new bodily refinement technique.

“We will take it into consideration, even though it’s not a big deal anyway”. Serah joined the fray. “Neither I or Zushi cultivate complicated technique and what our school supply is already very demanding for us”.

Entering the luxurious Advanced grade building, while Serah and Zushi were at awe, the young receptionist Zax met the first time he entered the building, welcomed the four and several other students that entered at the same time.

The group of five students was composed of fairly young teens, around the ages seventeen to nineteen, three boys and two girls. The five’s cultivation was around that of Anet’s with one exception. One of the boys had the cultivation of the Intermediate phase of the Mist Master level. The cultivation of the four in the Core Break level was below the standards of the Advanced grade building, but looking at their ages and demeanor, one could vaguely sense that each of the four had either an exceptional potential or talent, which was the reason for their enrollment or transfer to the Advanced grade building.

“Ah!” One of the girls suddenly cried with alarmed expression. Her group was about to enter the elevator, while Zax and the others were waiting by the receptionist’s counter, when she aroused the attention of everyone present.

“Hahahaha, so it’s true… the new bright and shining ‘majesty’ actually associate with a bunch of useless people”. She said in a loud and condescending tone while staring maliciously at Anet.

“What?” Other than the Mist Master student, the remaining three turned around to see what their friend is talking about. When they noticed that Anet was being delayed with another student and two pitiful Earth’s Core Holders, the same nasty glint reflected in their eyes.

“I guess that’s what you get when a miracle occurs and a waste of Intermediate grade student becomes a principal Ram’s Tal”. A slender, good looking boy said in apparent disdain.

“True, true! Someone that barely made it to the top ten in the half year Martial competition of the Intermediate grade should know where she belongs. Now, wouldn’t it be wonderful if she will trudge to her rightful place together with the trash she brought with her?” A tall girl with extremely naturally pale complexion said.

“Come one guys, the elevator is here”. The Mist Master student called his friends while staying indifferent to their taunts.

“Livai, why aren’t you supporting us? Doesn’t she also make you mad? What makes her better than you for principal to unjustly accept her as a Tal?” The tall and pale girl put her hand on the elevator door, stopping it from closing, she slyly emphasize that she did not speak out of selfishness, but for the sake of the best in their group.

“Her cultivation is not that bad and although she hasn’t presented any qualitative skills, none of us can be certain that principal Ram did not see in her something that we haven’t”. Livai, the Mist Master student, said without showing any fluctuation in his tone. “Now enter the elevator or remove your hand and stay here”. Only his last sentence revealed a hint of irritation.

The tall pale girl and the three others were dissatisfied with Livai’s mostly uncaring disposition. They, like many other Intermediate and Advanced grade students felt wronged, due to Anet’s swift and inexplicable rise to prominence, that is, her transfer to the Advanced grade building and acceptance as Don’s Tal.

It would not be a lie to say that in recent weeks, the mere sight of Anet fueled the jealousy of many students and brought out the worst of them.

At first, Anet was not prepared to face such scorn or any scorn, but she just as well quickly adapted and used it to temper her personality. As for her Mor and her senior Tals, except from the same advice a few of her seniors Tals gave her, “Surpass everyone and no one will be able to look down on you”, she basically had to deal with her fellow students all alone. Not even Don, her Mor and school principal, gave her indications that she would help.

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Anet’s forte was her age, which placed her among the youngest between those of the same level of cultivation. She used this notion to follow her seniors Tals’ advice and aimed to better her cultivation and skills to be at the top of her generation, and then the older one, and older one, and older one…

With that kind of resolve, although Anet was just at the Advanced phase of the Core Breaker’s level, she did spend the last month diligently training according to her Mor’s instructions, practicing two techniques that will assist in improving her comprehensive abilities.

Hearing the insults of the students that walked past her and her friends, Anet clenched her fist in anger. She tried to ignore them as she usually does, but they involved her friends and that was crossing the line. Right before Anet opened her mouth to retort, Zax stopped her.

The two girls and two boys always kept eye contact with Anet, even when Livai forced them to enter the elevator. They saw her getting annoyed and about to react, unable to give the cold shoulder that she most times does. And then they noticed Zax clasping her hand and stepping forward.

“I understand”, Zax said in a sympathetic tone, which surprised the four, considering the frown he had a moment before speaking. “Four of you are Advanced phase Mist Masters and one is in the Mist Master level, so you think that you can belittle those weaker than you or not in your abhorrent group”.

“What did he say?!” The third boy in the group of five, a youth with shaved head that up till now only sneered in support of his friends, held the elevator’s doors from closing and similarly to the other three was aghast.

“Repeating even one word for the likes of you would be too much of a hassle”. Zax responded. He detested the four for their behavior, but did not speak to them to raise an argument. “Just come here and apologize to my friends?”

“You want us to apologize to two Earth’s Core Holders?!” The first girl who spoke could not help but ask to make sure.

“All my friends, that includes Anet”. Zax clarified.

The four stared at Zax with faces on the verge of boiling, but still bit their tongues. Actually, they were very careful from the start, not to say anything that might involve Zax. They did not recognize him as one of the Advanced grade students and by the time the first girl started to stir thing up, they were too far to use their Soul Sense to see his cultivation. They also could not detect mist energy undulation with their mist energy, which made them speculate that he probably hides his cultivation by some means. With all of this in mind, the four refrained from taking the risk of insulting someone they were unfamiliar with and so made effort to not to answer Zax.

The shaved youth looked at his friends and removed his hands from the elevator’s doors.

Zax grimaced. They were ignoring him. “STOP!” He howled and his voice exploded, causing glowing blue patterns appear on the walls of the ground floor.

The blue patterns were a protective formation that was sensitive to eccentric sounds, among other things, which Zax unintentionally activated with his shout.

The formation quivered for a second before disappearing. At the same time, a hand slid between the slit of the two elevator’s doors as they were about to make contact.

The doors opened and a figure came out. Livai narrowed his eyes as he tried to gauge Zax. “Are you a new student?” He asked in the same cold tone.

“Student Zax…” The young receptionist also turned to Zax warily.

Disregarding Livai, Zax turned his head to the receptionist. “I won’t cause troubles, nothing that can be count as ‘Violent’”. He said with a confident smile. He was not sure what the receptionist knew about him, but he guessed that she was not clueless about him, either.

Livai huffed a bit of air from his nostrils. Like his four friends, he, too, was unfamiliar with Zax. Only, he did not care about or anyone that was currently in the ground floor. His only concerns his school where those in the Disciplinary Class and the Student Council Class. And even in these two classes, he paid heed just to those who had the same level of cultivation as his or higher.

Knowing the present members of both classes and that outside these classes, in the Advanced grade building those he considered his rivals could be counted on one hand, Livai disparage Zax for his brash comportment.

As for Zax’s shocking shout that managed to scare the four in the elevator… ‘Loud bravado’ Livai thought when he heard it. He also did not expect to find Zax’s level of cultivation from the use of mist energy to amplify his voice, because he knew that the protective formation that was just activated dispelled the fluctuation of mist energy in the air.

“Student Anet, if you are introducing a new student to the Advanced grade building, please be sure to teach him the rules here. Shouting and making demands from fellow students will portrait him as a hooligan, so long that he is here. Force is allowed to be used only on the court. Otherwise, he might get beaten in every corner of the school”. Livai did not laugh or smirk when he spoke, simply reprimanded Anet, the obviously more familiar, senior student, to further anger Zax.

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“Oh, so violent is not a problem! Good to know, good to know”. Zax blabbered, feigning gratitude for the valuable information. He knew that Livai tried to get him by scolding Anet, but he found the perfect loophole in Livai’s words for a comeback. “Then if I’ll give you a beating, will you apologize”.

The word “Pride” was practically spelled all over Livai’s face with every minuscule twitch of his facial muscles. Zax challenged him because he was proficient with handling prideful people and knew how Livai will react if he will play things right.

“Hmph!” Livai snorted and for the first time had an expression on his face other than indifference, exasperation.

“This guy thinks that he can fight with Livai?”

The four in the elevator stepped out. With Livai taking things personally now, they could say and do whatever they wanted and relay on him to shield them.

“Idiot, kid, Livai took second place in the half year Martial competition of the Advanced grade”. The tall, pale girl had mean smile plastered all over her face.

What she forgot to include is that only the regular students of the Advanced grade building participate in the half year Martial competitions. The Disciplinary Class and the Student Council Class do not take part in it.

“Shh! Serah, what will you do if he will regret showing off and apologize instead of accepting a duel with Livai?” The other girl was around a hundred and sixty centimeters tall, about thirty centimeters shorter than the pale girl, Serah, and basically the shortest in the ground floor. To see her jokingly scolding the tallest person in the ground floor, even with the same ugly smile, made the scene more comic than snobbish.

The good looking youth and the shaved head youth nodded and also urged Serah no to say anything unnecessary that will take away the fun.

Having the four encouraging him, Livai glanced at Anet, Serah and Zushi with a smug before his eyes landed on Zax and he walked closer to him. ‘Ahm? An Intermediate Mist Master?’ His Soul Sense failed to get a precise reading of Zax’s level of cultivation. What he thought was mostly an assumption.

Zax never learned a technique to conceal or alter the cultivation of any of the three aspects. His only idea to fool Livai, in the case that he would use his Soul Sense to inspect him, was to pretend that he is struggling to repeal Livais’s Soul Sense with his own.

Thus, Livai guessed that he and Zax had the same level of cultivation.

‘Do you think that having the same cultivation will help you? You barely held your Soul Sense. I would be astonished if it’s not just your soul that reached the Intermediate phase of the Mist Master’s level. And even if it had…’ In the last half year Martial competition he won against an Advanced phase Mist Master to get to second place using his deep comprehension in the Martial techniques he practiced. Since then Livai stopped putting other of the same level as his in front of his eyes.

“Don’t listen to them. As a senior student I won’t be too harsh on you, if you want to prove that you are not all words. The instant you’ll surrender the fight would be over. If you’ll make it one minute, senior will even obey to any request”.  Livai did not go as far as putting an effort in tempting Zax into the fight, due to him thinking that Zax was not a worthy opponent. Nevertheless, he did want to educate Zax, so he gave him a little incentive.

“Oh… Is senior’s word reliable?” Zax asked, again pretending to be a simpleton.

“You can ask anyone in school”. Livai humbly promised.

Zax thought for a second and said. “Then, since I do have a request from senior, let’s fight”.

Behind Zax, Anet’s anger seemed to subside. She did not make any reaction or attempt to cancel the fight. She was not fond of Livai, and naturally not of his jealous friends. If they want Zax to break their backbone, why should she stop him?

The young receptionist also had a very solid premonition, who would win the fight. But she, too, kept quiet. Her days as a student were over and the school policy indicated that faculty is to not get involve in students’ disputes, as long as they abide the school’s rules.

“Zax, you don’t have to fight him. Letting foolish words affect you is not worth it”. Zushi had less confidence in Zax. He learned yesterday that Zax was just accepted to Eden Formation, regardless of his Martial accomplishments and cultivation, Livai was clearly older and his friends did not appear to lie when they stated that he took second place in the half year Martial competition of the best Martial school in El-Eden.

“It is fine, Zushi, didn’t you hear? If I’ll surrender the fight will be over”. Zax said calmly.

As a calculative person, Zushi was not enthusiastic on letting Zax fight with someone like Livai before knowing his friend limits. And due to the fact that the Martial path was an abstract concept to him, he was not able to deduce the source of Zax’s overconfidence.

“Serah, help me a little”. For his friend’s sake, Zushi turned to Serah, Zax’s best friend, to convince him.

“Yeah…” Serah said, looking down. “This mean girl can’t have the same name as I do, beat them, Zax!”

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