Indeed, the elder who measured Zax with a cold aura was the same one everyone talked about, Talhera’s Mor and the creator of Kingdom Earth’s best bodily refinement technique, Scarlet Armor.
Zax glanced over at the elder. He had a stern look on his handsome face and sharp eyes.
‘From how it seems, both of your Tals are present and one is even a participant…’ Zax gathered for what reason the elder has to be, or give the impression that he is, hostile toward him, but he was not a hundred percent certain so even if his previous behavior angered him a little, he refrained for letting it dictate his disposition. Calmly he speculated. ‘Is it because you have specific problem with Grandmaster’s bodily refinement technique, or you just wanted to see how I’m fairing in comparison to your competing Tal?’
With regards to how the elder knew of Zax identity and the aspect he cultivates… there were too many possibilities. Besides, the Martial competition was not small matter. A while ago Zax came to realize how important to the different groups and factions in Kingdom Earth it was. Back then, when a representative of the Dauch family and Eden Formation approached Grandmaster Kartion it was all for this day, to receive his consent of assigning Zax as their chief representative in the competition.
With this in mind, by now Zax was convinced that at least half the backers spent just as much efforts on their representatives and did their research about him and the other participants.
Wearing her Scarlet Armor, Talhera proceeded to explain the structure and rules of the competition.
“The Martial competition is divided to six rounds, wherein the second and fifth, the semifinal, will each hold a three way battle. Naturally, those who will participate in the three way battle and everyone else will be treated by our recovery team before the next round, though you all need to bear in mind that there is only so much that we can do and luck and preservation are also of significance in determining your chances of winning the competition”. Talhera emphasized for the participants more so than everyone else.
“Shortly, everyone will be given ten minutes of preparation alone or with their backers, in which time a random selection for the pairing of participants will take place. Before we will get there, I would like to state the rules of the Martial competition and elaborate a little about the prizes”.
The matter of the competition’s prizes was never disclosed in its entirety. Generally, there are two kinds of prizes, the grand prizes of the top three places, and the communal prize of the top ten places. The communal prize was the one that was kept from even the backers and only the top ten participants got to know about, which even then they were not allowed to reveal without a layer of restriction. But the ones to take the top ten places will only learn about the severity of the communal prize only after they will win their fights.
Upon learning about the three way fights, some people had grim expression. Almost no one wanted their participant to exhaust him or her in a battle against two other opponents for only one round of the competition. Only a few confident backers did not care about it.
“The rules of engagement are as followed: The moment I announce the start of a battle, any attempt to exist the stages before the end of the battle is decided will be considered as a forfeit. Participants who proficient in certain weapons are permitted to use them, however, it is forbidden to cripple or take an opponent’s life. That being said, this is combative competition and accidents do happens. Battles are declared over once opponent surrenders, thrown out of the stage or found unfit to fight. In the case of a tie both participants would be forfeited from the rest of the competition, so as I said before, make efforts to preserve, otherwise you may suffer the bitterest kind of loss. Lastly, any sorts of supplement are prohibited, regardless of their use. Participants who break this rule will induce upon themselves a harsh punishment and their backers will also suffer the consequences”.
Although still mesmerizing with her beauty, as she gone over the rules Ralhera did not smile even once and her demeanor was exceedingly strict.
“I hope everyone will take to heart the competition’s rules. For the rest of the competition I will enforce the rules from the judges’ stage and our honorable elders will spectate from their seats and interfere according to their personal judgment”.
Although the Supreme Rulers were of the highest position both figuratively and literally, they relinquished the privilege of passing judgment. Their interest lay on something else.
“To finish I would like to touch upon the subject of the prizes. Like every Martial competition before, there are four prizes, of which one is communal for the top ten places and will not be disclosed until the end of the competition. The grand prizes, for the top three, are a consumable attribute essence of the third place winner’s choosing, a high grade World Gathering Bone for the second place winner, and as the first place grand prize, pure third realm Core!”
“High grade World Gathering Bone?! Pure third realm Core?!”
If to say that Talhera’s identity caused a commotion before, than now even the most astute personage in the hall had difficulties restraining himself and herself, and that included the fourteen elders!
“Consumable attribute essence is hard to get, even more so, ones that are specifically searched for. But in the end, even if the market doesn’t have them, it is still just a matter of money. Put an enticing request in the Basement Floor and eventually someone will venture to the Savage Caves for you. But the other two prizes…!”
“These are things that money simple cannot buy”.
The noise in the hall made it seem as if every person could not keep his mouth shut, but in truth, maybe a quarter of all the people present ever heard about the existence of the high grade World Gathering Bone and pure third realm Core. The rest were just listening to the murmurs around them, occasionally daring to ask at the cost of showing their ignorance, what those prizes are.
Zax, too, tried to figure out why so suddenly all those high and mighty figures who mostly maintain a calculated mug became so restless. He could understand the value of the third prize, consumable attribute essence. It was basically something that possessed one of the four attribute, like the fiery attribute liquid or the dark attribute oval shaped black object the man from back then consumed and made Carl’s bestial nature explode. It was the other two prizes that Zax was not sure about. He knew what are Cores and even third realm Cores, but pure Cores? He never heard the term.
“Anet, have you heard about the prizes judge Talhera mentioned?” He asked her since she was much more erudite than him.
“Err…” Anet pursed her eyebrows. It was hard to tell if she, too, was familiar with the prizes and was taken aback from how amazing they are, or clueless like him. “A little”. She said in a heavy breath. “Don Mor explained World Gathering Bones, they are unique objects that can help in cultivating any of the three aspects”. Anet did not start with the consumable attribute essence because she knew that Zax was already aware of it. “Third realm Core and Cores in general is something that you told me, but as far as ‘pure Core’, I really don’t know”.
“Hahaha”, a mellow laughter sounded from the seat next to Susuya’s. It was Don who sat there and listened to the two’s conversation. “If you can recall, Zax, the World Gathering Bone is the stone blade the Derneldar founder used briefly when you fought, although his was just a low grade World Gathering Bone. The one offered for the second place in the competition vastly outstrips it and you know what, in my opinion, it’s not inferior to the first place’s prize”. Don spoke coolly, yet felt quite miserable for being unable to win herself such an astounding object.
“The pure Core”, she proceeded. “It’s a refined attribute less third realm Core. It is said that by using it to cultivate a Mist User don’t need to worry about any bottleneck from the Earth’s Core Holder level to after breaking through the third realm”.
‘So that’s it!’ While Anet, Susuya and the rest were awestruck, Zax had a realization. ‘Isn’t either of these prizes is too awesome to describe. World Gathering Bone, if I can use it to gather world’s energy then I would be able to accelerate the cultivation of the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement, and if I’ll get the pure Core and give it to Anet, her Martial path will surely benefit and for the mean time I’ll not have to worry about our future!’
Like all the people who knew better before him, Zax finally began to feel the terrific rush to get the competition’s prizes.
‘First place, I won’t lose it to anyone!’ Above all, Zax’s heart desire was for his future with Anet to continue flourishing in the same direction.
Despite her comprehensive capabilities, to reach her level of cultivation, Anet relied on quite a few mist nourishing supplements. And since the only thing limiting them was, mostly, Anet’s aptitude to go beyond the second realm, with the pure Core Zax will be able to eliminate this problem.
“Everyone!” Talhera’s melodic voice rang, attracting the attention of all the people present to her. “You can all take now ten minutes to prepare to the first round battles. After the random selection will be completed, I will call for the opening eight participants to enter the four stages”.
“All the participants left to discuss their strategies with their backers or wait quietly near the stages”. Fi Han, the new leader of the Disciplinary Class sighed after saying.
Actually, it was not like all the participants vanished from the spectators’ eyes. They simply privately chatted with their backers far from the crowed, spreading all over the huge hall.
“Senior Fi Han, why are you being all dawn?” Anet asked. In the ten minutes prior to the beginning of the competition, only she, Fi Han and her other senior, Uri, the leader of her class, the Student Council Class, were left on their own.
“It’s because of them”. Uri pointed with his head, meaning the hundreds of supporters who were “degraded” to the regular spectators’ seats.
“Many of them came to cheer for extremely important people with recognized heaven turning representatives. Evidently, a lot are not from El-Eden, which is why they think that it’s inadequate for our group to have the seats near the platform; otherwise they would have glared at the supporters of the other team who got to seat next to the platform”. Uri was judicious and due to his family’s business, more familiar with the mannerism of the high class.
“Careful!” A glint of belligerence flashed in his eyes as he took the two by the hands and shoved them behind him.
“Hahahaha, Uri, how come right after you saw me your face taken this ugly mien?” A twenty something man, accompanied by a group of eight people walked up to Uri, Anet and Fi Han like a lofty lord, passing through his territory while scouring his peasants’ quality of labor.
The man and the eight people at his back, who appeared to be between the ages twenty to twenty nine, wore red and silver uniforms that unexpectedly had the Martial school Molten Core’s symbol on one shoulder and the Student Council insignia on the other.
“If you so desperately want to know, Lizen, then I’d be honest. There is no amity between us, and I rather keep it that way”. Uri said in a detached voice.
“Hey! Cousin how come this kid dares speaking to you without honorific? Bastard, only three student from your school were barely found eligible to come to the competition, can’t you show humility and shut the f*** up?!” A man with slim body and ruffled curly hair stepped to Lizen’s right side and barked at Uri.
His slurs drew the attention of the spectators around the east side of the hall and those who already eyed Uri, Anet and Fi Han were the first to encircle the two groups.
“Razil…” Uri subdued his anger.
That Razil and Lizen were not only cousins but also direct member of the Marzel great family of Tongguo. Right now there were too many people on their side and more will keep coming if he will start quarreling with them. Uri did not want to cause problems and interrupt Zax and the others. Furthermore, although both he and Lizen were the presidents of the school’s Student Council Class, Lizen’s cultivation was already in the Beginner phase of the Core Master first level and the other eight behind were not so weak, either.
“What?! Think that I’m being too harsh?!” Hearing Uri uttering his name, further infuriated Razil.
Lizen, when seeing his cousin going mad, stood silently thinking how it actually a lot better for Razil to be the one besmirching the Eden Formation’s group. Unlike him, Razil’s status was a bit lower both in the family and school and his short fuse would usually transform his speech to thoroughly insensitive.
“I won’t say anything bad about the Dauch family, even though it’s connected to your school, but you, Eden Formation’s students, get to act so high and mighty because you also partake in the competition? Well, f*** that!”
“Uri, Fi Han, let’s go”. Ignoring Razil, Anet told the two.
“Bitch, can’t you feel the difference in our cultivation?!” Razil cursed with red eyes. “Beginner phase Mist Lords should get the hell out of here!”
“Razil, not so loud”. Lizen tapped his shoulder. His remark about Mist Lords was too general and could turn the crowd against them. Moreover, although he was told in advance from his school principal that verbal conflicts are common in occasions like this and the management turns a blind eye to them, he was also told not to go overboard.
Uri and Fi Han were seething with anger. Anet was their friend and a girl, yet Razil both shouted and cursed her. The two seriously considered going all out against the Molten Core’s group, but Anet was holding them with her back turned to Razil’s face.
Was Anet afraid? Absolutely not. Not anymore and determined not to ever be scared by anyone after she managed to heal her wounds…
She was silently ignoring Razil because someone else does the fighting today, and these Molten Core students are stupidly ignorance to the fact that he can hear them.
Zax indeed could hear everything even from afar and so do the others. He wanted to smash Razil’s face after hearing him curse Anet, but Don stopped him. They were currently behind a mantle that superintendent Ten raised so no one will hear their briefing.
Don did not counsel Zax. She really had nothing in her mind to warn him about. But she still insisted not letting him go without telling him why. His intent to tear someone apart… who knew better than her how ferocious Zax could be?
She wanted him to brew it longer, to burn it hotter, and serve it on the stage.