Gradually, the circular floor steadily kept plumping, eventually settling ninety something meters below the ceiling of the hall, as a judges’ stage at the epicenter of the four fighting stages.
All the cheering spectators, whether those socializing or those who had already picked seats in advance, halted their acclamations in an abrupt and frozen manner right around the time of the participants’ complete descent.
The participants, backers and even the well informed beautiful emissary turned around with blazing gazes. Those who were compressed atop the packed judges’ stage with their vision obstructed, moved to one of the four fighting stages without hesitation, both to standout and have a better view.
A strong sensation of something imperious approaching washed over everyone’s hearts.
An elevator at the west side of the hall rang and its doors started to open.
Eyes unwaveringly fixated on the elevator, all senses tensed. A series of steps that moved out to the marble floor echoed in the deafening silence of the hall.
Like gods descending from mount Olympus, fourteen men and women exited the elevator, exuding auras of grandeur.
Of the one hundred and nine who arrived through the judges’ stage, one was the beautiful emissary and twenty six were the backers. Those remaining were the eighty two participants of the Martial competition.
Seeing the fourteen walking toward them while projecting overbearing majesty, the eighty two participants squinted and one by one released their respective auras.
Even Zax, who could not manifest an aura due to his mist condition, discharged to a distance of five meters from himself almost tangible waves of kinetic energy, along with thick and immaculate fighting spirit.
Seeing how they managed to arouse the group of participants, several of the fourteen chuckled smugly while some paying no heed to the vehemence surging toward them.
The fourteen simultaneously, explosively unleashed their full strength. Their auras grew mightier, met, confronted and overpowered the eighty two’s combined effort.
More than thirty participants were shaken at the aftermath of the clash, yet were able to maintain their footing on the fighting stages. The majority of participants, though, only revealed mulishness. The clash did not seem to affect them at all, but they retrieved their auras and calmed down anyway.
The backers and spectators, who have seen their representatives still impressively stalwart after clashing with the fourteen, could not help but smile with satisfaction.
Those, on the other hand, who their representatives barely managed to stand their ground, frowned for a split second and then cursed inwardly, especially the backers…
Why the hell did their representatives have to answer the fourteen, full fledged old monsters’ provocation? Did they seriously not sense that every person amid the fourteen is at least a third level Core Master?! Not to mention, two were freaking third realm experts!
Couple of the participants, such as Zax and the others from Eden Formation and about ten more, noticed right away the cultivation levels of the fourteen. They were not that discreet about their strength.
For this reason, this small number of participants did not emit killing intent; it would have only made them a greater of a joke. In the beginning, they were actually reluctant to retaliate, at all, yet in the end they responded due to couple of reasons…
To start with, they realized that this was some sort of a test, so there was no real harm in showing off, but this was only a secondary reason. The main reason they fought back was that some of them recognized one or two of the fourteen. In the case of Eden Formation’s representatives, it was superintendent Ten they recognized.
And then there was the personal reason, which stimulated the resolution of only a handful, to not just retaliate, but also beat a specific few of the fourteen experts.
Zax was one of these handful participants, and his reason to not hold back was a stray chilly aura, belonging to one of the fourteen, that viciously targeted solely him.
The expert behind the aura was a Beginner phase third level Core Master, which with just that could not pose a threat to Zax, although, from a far, Zax could also do nothing but aim his fighting spirit at the specific individual. That being said, to know more about his opponent, Zax use his Soul Sense to inspect him, however, when his Soul Sense expended and he tried to probe the individual, an exceptionally handsome looking white man with piercing eyes and pitch black hair, the man’s Soul Sense was like impenetrable wall, preventing Zax’s from even perceiving his existence.
‘Is he really just measuring me, or does he have some sort of enmity related to me?’ Zax could not tell from the man’s attitude why did he single him out. His intuition told him that his focus on him was more than just a test. Either way, though, he was not legitimately concerned about him.
The fourteen pounced and in a blink of an eye arrived before the lower seats of the Supreme Rulers’ platform.
“Honorable elders”, finally, two spoken words indicated the end of the fourteen elders’ test of the eighty two participants.
The one to speak was the beautiful emissary. Her gaze rose and then lowered in minute, delicate prostration. “Supreme Rulers of our Kingdom Earth”. The words that followed resounded in everyone’s minds like the deep resonant “DONG” of a large bell.
Here it was again, the imperious atmosphere all participants, backers and spectators felt before the arrival of the fourteen elders, but much heavier and suffocating.
In that moment, all the participants who had their fighting spirit still burning in their eyes asked themselves the same question.
‘What sort of insanity one needs to undergo in order to attain this level of cultivation?!’
All eighty two participants, twenty six backers, one emissary, hundreds of spectators, all but the fourteen elders, indisputably showed their reverence and cupped their hands for the Supreme Rulers.
It was uncertain when they arrived and settled in their three high seats.
One man to the left, one woman in the middle and one man to the right, in that exact order they were, respectfully, Supreme Ruler Ariel Dauch, Supreme Ruler Trey Zoearth and Supreme Ruler Ar Yen Takeda.
Yes, it was not official, yet, the ground breaking news about the passing of Supreme Ruler Gid Chu Takeda’s seat and the ascension of his grandson, Ar Yen Takeda, but here he was… prominent atop the highest position one can have in Kingdom Earth, like a new kind of deity with the power to steal the breath of anyone beneath him.
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For an undetermined passage of time, everyone remained still within the hall.
The tall Supreme Ruler Ariel Dauch was sitting with a long combed red hair and big blue eyes like that of a scholar. He wore a plain green robe and a pair of sandals. His appearance altogether gave of a feeling of vivid freshness.
Supreme Ruler Trey Zoearth rested her hands on the seat’s armrests. Her hair was short, had a similar style to Don’s hair, but the color was different, dark brown like her eyes and skin tone. She wore the women’s traditional clothing of the high red letter day of her region, Tongguo, an earthly gown with bright paths outlines. Surrounding her was a radiance of absolute softness, one that can dissipate all evil and embrace all good.
The strapping Supreme Ruler Ar Yen Takeda sat back on his high seat. His skin was white and healthy, his eyes and short hair black like a cave without Sun Stones. He wore everyday training garments. Glancing at the participants of the Martial competition, those tiny ones forty five years old and younger, standing on the fighting stages, he nodded in approval half smiling.
“Go on, Talhera”, Supreme Ruler Trey said to the beautiful emissary, one of her emissaries, Talhera.
“Supreme Ruler”, Talhera replied and turned her attention to the participants, backers and spectators. “Everyone, it is time for the Martial competition to begin. Please take your seats before the announcement of the competition’s rules”.
Her voice, as if an alarm call, awakened everyone from the stupor caused by the magnitude of the Supreme Rulers.
In an orderly fashion, all of the people still standing, hurriedly picked their seats. The notable groups and factions gathered together, representatives, backers and their entourage, sat in the front and second lines of seats. Nevertheless, there were only so many reputable seats in the front and second lines and many who tagged those with high status had to separate from their groups and faction for the upper lines of seats.
Unknowingly to Zax and the rest, Don, as a member of the Dauch family and successor to superintendent Ten’s original position as Eden Formation’s school principal, received directions from superintendent Ten, through his Sublime Soul Sense, to take the arranged first line seats adjacent to the platform.
Zax’s group was of the medium size ones with nine people, including of course Anet, vice principal Mizuri and the two leaders of the Disciplinary Class and Student Council Class.
The arranged adjacent seats to the platform were just ten in each side. Afterwards the rest were not worth mentioning in comparison. Virtually, all the spectators coveted those seats, and some were bold enough to try and get them. As the tacit race for the seats occurred, only Don and one more man did not rush their groups and slowly approached the seats.
The man, like Don, led a group of nine people and received the invitation for the seats from the second third realm expert, an elderly woman who is part of the fourteen elders.
A high number of backers headed with their groups for the twenty arranged seat. All of them were of the highest echelon in Kingdom Earth and carried themselves with pretentiousness and bravado even among their peers. Some even had unique connections with the Supreme Rulers and the fourteen elders.
And yet, in spite of all their reasons to be confident in the pursuit for the arranged seats, the instant superintendent Ten and the other third realm expert, who sat at the two center seats of the fourteen elders, turned down their heads and swept their gaze at the crowd, everyone but Don’s and the man’s group felt shivers all over their body and the inability to walk a step closer toward the seats.
Seeing the indifference of the Supreme Rulers and the rest of the twelve elders, as Don’s group and the man’s group settled on the twenty arranged seats, the backers of the rest of the groups knew instantaneously that they are in no position to snatch the arranged seats. Thus, without a hint of disappointment or disgruntlement on their faces, that is, on the countenances of the backers and not the bitter youngsters in their groups, they went to pick the other seats in the first line. At this point, they simply forced, with the air they put, those who did not have the backbone to pursue the arranged seats to give up the first and second lines places.
On the judges’ stage Talhera waited fifteen breaths for everyone to finish settling down, and when it seemed that all eyes fell on her, she opened her mouth with a smile.
“Greetings, everyone, spectators and participants of the Martial competition, alike. My name, as you all have heard, is Talhera, and I will be the main judge today while our honorable elders will enact the part of the minor judges”.
Talhera’s declaration of herself as the main judge made those who did not know better to exclaim in surprise. Her undisguised cultivation raised the question of how a Mist Lord can keep up in a competition in which most participants had broken through the second realm, and those who have not are still acknowledged as peerless prodigies.
Talhera displayed a gorgeous smile. Golden mist energy shone at the tip of her finger. She slid it across her long red dress.
A buzzing sound emanated from the dress as it started to glow in a red blood color and transform.
“It can’t be, isn’t she Supreme Ruler Trey’s emissary? Is she his Tal, too?!”
“Definitely, see how he looks at her from the second middle elder’s seat!”
“No doubt… This is the Scarlet Armor bodily refinement technique! But I thought he has only one Tal, the guy chosen to participate in the competition”.
“What do you know? Does someone incredible like him, the creator of our Kingdom Earth best bodily refinement technique, must notify anyone every time he accepts a Tal?”
A myriad of voices could not restrain their bewilderment and exhilaration as Talhera’s red dress became a scarlet fighting suit.
From his seat between Susuya and Anet, Zax, who up till now was wondering about the elder that tested him and amazed that no less than five third realm experts are sitting not far from him, three of which are nothing short than Kingdom Earth’s Supreme Rulers, suddenly became shocked from the proclamation thrown in the hubbub.
‘Kingdom Earth’s best bodily refinement technique, Scarlet Armor, is his creation…?!’