“You really are a bodily cultivator”. Zax said to Neyrar.
Zax had to admit, this Neyrar was a very unique individual. His mist cultivation was obscure by mist concealment jewel, but from the power of his grip, the strength that Neyrar extracted was equivalent to the body fitness level of an Advanced phase second level Core Master.
Neyrar should be in his late twenties. Considering that his bodily refinement technique is inferior to Zax’s, to possess such strength could only mean that his mist cultivation was unprecedentedly profound to his age, in the Beginner phase of the second Core Master’s level and his accomplishment in the Scarlet Armor of his Mor was higher than Zax’s in the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement.
‘So monsters like him exist, too…’ Zax sighed inwardly. Before him was someone who exceled in both bodily cultivation and mist cultivation, furthermore, his soul should also be quite strong to comprehend his peculiar bodily refinement techniques to such of a progressive level.
That being said, Zax did not think himself weaker than Neyrar. In the past four years his body fitness level reached the equivalent of the body fitness level of a Peak second level Core Master. And if Neyrar could enchant himself more with his mist energy and by summoning the same a scarlet fighting suit, then he can utilized kinetic energy to more than even the odds.
Neyrar’s green eyes stared taciturnity at Zax. He did not say anything in response.
“Zax, the first round is about to begin, we are going”.
“Everyone, gather yourself. Help your friends to the medical area and return to your seats”.
Don and Molten Core’s school principal talked in union, each to his and her own group.
Zax was a tad reluctant to go just yet. Razil still had to be taught a lesson by him.
Neyrar also stood firmly in his place.
Eventually, though, the two had to cease their standoff.
Zax was grabbed by Anet and was the first leave with the Eden Formation group. Moreover, Zax was in quandary with himself. After meeting Neyrar, other than feeling mild hostility from the look in his eyes, he did not feel the same chilliness his Mor gave off, nor did his intent to kill him over his father’s actions arise. At most, he just was eager to fight him to determine the strongest cultivator.
Back in their seats, Supreme Ruler Trey nodded her head and Talhera turned over to the crowd.
“Thank you for the patience, everyone, I will now announce the pairing of the first round. Stage one, Denetar Heugs versus Lo Eipato. Stage two, Alexia Xin versus Mahar Tarak. Stage three, Salin Linenra versus Ragu Zin Kanekara. And stage four, Erin Sil Delamora versus Denya Partevs. Following them are…” Talhera listed the names of the first round of the competition.
Zax’s name was announced second in his group, after Muri-Mer.
Muri-Mer’s opponent was a female cultivator, one of the twelve individuals who turned out to be independents experts. She was not young, somewhere in her forties.
Eighty two names were paired.
“The participants whose names I first called out, please enter the stages you were assigned to”. Talhera asked.
Immediately, eight figures got up from their seats and hastily occupied the four fighting stages.
“The rules were already stated. BEGIN!” Talhera shouted.
Each participant had his and her own strategy to try and dictate with it the fight. The participants in three stages were very cautious; they were the first pairs to fight and so knew nothing about the mindset of the opponent they will meet in the competition. Merely that like them, they all strive to win.
Only one stage unveiled a ferocious battle right from the get go.
Stage three, Salin Linenra versus Ragu Zin Kanekara.
Salin was one of the two twin geniuses of Shitou Razil mentioned. She was just past twenty years old and already an Advanced phase first level Core Master. And if that was not enough, she was following the way of the sword. Her technique with the crescent sword was cultivated to such a brilliant level that she could easily bring down a Beginner phase second level Core Master.
Ragu Zin, in comparison, had a much lower reputation and although he also represented a major Martial school, he was neither recognized nor had been granted the title of a “Pearl”. Despite this, he was not a push over, and even stirred the hearts of the spectators when a fight that was supposed to be over in a few breaths and won by Salin, was instead dragged and transformed into a heated confrontation!
Older by a decade and only in the Intermediate phase of the first Core Master level, Ragu Zin sustained against Salin by relying on his battle experience, countering the sword and sharp mist energy with almost creatively.
The battle on the third stage initiated before the other three stages and continued to keep going after the other six participants either lost or won.
“I admit defeat”.
In the end, much to everyone’s expectation, Salin was a prodigy that evolved faster through battle. With only temporary methods to counter her and not viable method to assault, Ragu Zin’s back was forced to the formation laid over the fighting stage to secure the safety of the spectators from long range mist attacks.
He could either be pushed outside of the stage and lose or be cut by Salin’s sword and suffer greatly.
“Winner, Salin!” Talhera announced, much like she did for the other three winners.
Salin and Ragu Zin returned to their seats instead of going to the medical area. The former was without any blemish, while the latter had superficial cuts that did not require treatment.
“Next four pairs, please enter the fighting stages!” Talhera called and the competition proceeded.
“Next four pairs, please enter the fighting stages!”
Finally it was Zax’s turn.
Muri-Mer had her fight and lost her place in the competition in the first round. In all honesty, her situation could not be helped. Her opponent was an independent expert and this, by itself, indicated that her cultivation level was at least in the Beginner phase of the second Core Master level.
Muri-Mer fought well, not for nothing she was the president of the Student Council Class. But the disparity between her and the middle age female expert’s cultivation was too high, and the fighting style of her gushed with explosive power.
Zax got up from his seat. He did not need words of encouragement so he just jumped to the fighting stage without waiting for them.
Zax’s opponent was the arrogant young woman who belittled Talhera for her cultivation in the lounge, Elita. She appeared to be in her early thirties, like Ragu Zin, and when she entered the fighting stage her cultivation exploded with the power of a Peak first level Core Master.
Elita was one of five representative of a certain organization and was accompanied to the competition with a pretty big group of supporters. Seeing the azure splendor surrounding Elita, from where she was sitting, roughly twenty people started to cheer her on.
Not just the people from Elita’s group cheered, her marvelous beauty caused the supporters from other groups to also yell in her favor.
“Well… aren’t you going to release your mist energy?” Elita asked haughtily.
Zax did not pay her attention. He was rapt with the fighting stage. Tapping it with his foot, he was thinking. ‘There is another layer of formation below the stage that makes it durable’. Lifting his head, he seemed to glance at the crowd, but actually was wondering about something else. ‘In contrast, the formation protecting the spectators is mostly useful against long ranged attacks, which I don’t really have, nor can use from the first place, but if I were to physically punch through it… even little Susuya would not need to spend too much muscle strength’.
“Hey, the judge already gave the signal to fight, you dare ignore me?” As Zax inspected the stage, Elita became furious with his nonchalant attitude. “You are Zax, right? Eden Formation’s Pearl?” She asked right around the time he finished looking at the stage and turned to meet her with his gaze.
“Yes”. Zax replied. His manner of standing and doing nothing, that is, not releasing his aura, gave the impression that he had no idea what he was doing. Some spectators who were affected by Razil’s speech even wondered if he was right and Zax was just a bozo.
Elita sneered. “I heard that you have taken down a great family”.
The downfall of the Derneldar family was a public record, but as for who was the one to defeat their founder and ultimately ruin them… that sort of information required many curious people with ability and connection to go through some hoops before finding out.
Among those who came to spectate the Martial competition, the ones who knew beforehand that Zax, supposedly, beat a second level Core Master, almost five years ago, were very few.
Exposing his involvement with the Derneldar family so openly instantly caused numerous faces to shift to their stage.
“So?” Zax neither confirmed nor denied.
“So isn’t the information completely not accurate?”
Elita had heard from one of her companion that during the ten minutes break, Razil of the Molten Core Martial school, and a scion to the Marzel great family, revealed some interesting and logical stuff about the Eden Formation chief representative and Pearl.
Pampered since birth, recognized as genius by distinguished experts and prone to the high class mentality, Elita found Razil’s argument unquestionably convincing. In addition, the violent fashion in which Zax dealt with mere spectators made her certain that the things Razil said were true enough to uncover Zax’s unsightly upbringing.
“You are not even twenty years old and you want us to believe that as fourteen years old you defeated a second level Core Master?” In response to Elita’s query the crowd nodded in agreement.
How preposterous, a fourteen years old kid eradicating a great family all on his own?
“But perhaps not everything is a lie”, Elita continued. “Maybe you did have a conflict with the Derneldar family, an issue that had to end with one side annihilated. If this was the case, you, a low birth kid with potential, probably had the sympathy and hopes of your school, eventually either being clever or too pitiful, managed to involve your school to deal with the Derneldar family”. Elita merely hypothesized, but her approach signified that she was confident in her words.
‘Low birth?’ Zax idly thought to himself. To be classified as such amused him. Never did he care about social class and since the moment he embarked on the Martial path, time after time, he kept discarding conventional notions.
To him, the way to determine the better between two people was only one, through strength.
Mildly smiling, Zax asked. “How do these things matter to the competition? You asked me if I’m not going to release my aura while doing nothing for quite some time after releasing yours, are you even aware in what sort of competition we are participating? Were you sleeping until the judge called your name? To answer your question, no, I won’t release my aura. What now?” He ridiculed her.
“You…” Being talked to so audaciously by someone she believed to be a phony and a liar, Elita said and bit her lower lips. She reached to a pocket in her short battle dress and took out a small object.
Opening her hand, a shining blue pebble appeared.
“Blue Stone! What is she going to take out?!” The spectators wondered outloud.
Elita infused soul energy to the Blue Stone, it discharged small undulations and transformed into a thirty two centimeters tall blue tower.
From the tower Elita summoned seven black and yellow sticks and a spearhead. Mist energy made the sticks and spearhead to float in the air right in front of Elita. “Combine!” She commanded.
First, the seven sticks connected and then the spearhead merged with the long shaft as everything was being held by azure silky mist energy.
“That is the Black Thunder Yellow River Spear!” Someone called in shock.
“Only members of the Black And Yellow organization who cultivated their Thunder River spear technique to the Advanced phase are bestowed the exclusive Black Thunder Yellow River Spear!”
Holding her spear, the air around Elita began to whirl and her bearing became battle ready.
“This stance!” The woman that scolded Elita in the lounge, her backer, suddenly opened her eyes and her expression turned serious.
“Licetna Mor”, a girl sitting beside Elita’s backer whispered. “Isn’t this spear technique the…”
“Quiet! Watch your senior!” Licetna bid. In her eyes anticipation and pride shone.
Elita’s gaze locked on Zax. Her little bent body straightened up. Her left leg initiated an elegant motion to step back. Her mist energy congealed into a distinctive azure pattern on the shaft.
Zax saw Elita lips slowly moving, still in her half motion back.
He took a step, a single regular move with his right leg.
His figure vanished for almost all the eyes in the crowd and even couple of the fourteen elders gasped in astonishment. No one sensed the slightest fluctuation of mist energy.
He appeared centimeters before Elita, who has not finished her half step back.
Tapping her forehead softly with his index finger, Zax transmitted to her sea of consciousness a Soul Binding formation.
The emerald formation confined Elita soul in a speed that was too fast for her to perceive. The patterns of congealed mist energy on the shaft of her spear rattled and then shattered to dispersing particles. The stringent light in her eyes dimmed as her whole face became expressionless. Her stance wavered and her body fell on the floor of the fighting stage.
The battle was over, just like this. And not even the amazing and beautiful judge Talhera has realized.