Complete and utter silence.
Elita’s body made a slight sound as she unconsciously fell on the stage. Strictly speaking, at that moment, Talhera, the main judge of the competition, should have called for the end of the fight and declared Zax the winner. Nevertheless, her expression was too stunned and stiff for her throat to issue a sound and her mouth to make the pronunciation.
Not just the crowd of spectators, backers and participant were shaken by the abrupt and unassuming manner in which Zax defeated Elita.
At least eleven of the fourteen elders, who were the minor judges of the competition, were looking at the fighting stage, where Elita was supposed to dazzle everyone with her prominent spear technique, and a perplexed look was plastered on their faces.
The fourteen elders were all third level Core Master or above. Observing from their honorable seats that were only second to the Supreme Rulers’, each and every one of them saw and understood how Zax brought down Elita. But it was this very understanding that caused them to be all the more shocked than the regular spectators.
Frankly, it was not how Zax proficiently transmitted the Soul Binding formation that had the elders captivated by his performance, but how nimble was a single step of his that could only be considered as a leisure nudge of a few toes.
Zax’s one move to cover the distance between him and Elita indicated two staggering things. First, his control of the body was probably not inferior to that of a third realm expert. Second, the full power he could generate was most likely not weaker than any of the eleven shocked elders.
The only three elders who still maintained a composed front were superintendent Ten and the elderly female third realm expert. One was already familiar with Zax’s capabilities to a profound degree and the other was pleasantly surprise by the younger generation. As for the third elder, the handsome best bodily cultivator in Kingdom Earth, his eyes viewed Zax coldly and nothing more.
“Talhera”, a soft and amiable voice instigated the return of sounds to the hall.
Talhera lifted her head and received a gentle nod from Supreme Ruler Trey. Only she, Supreme Ruler Ariel and Supreme Ruler Ar Yen did not have any reaction for the fight.
Grasping the meaning behind the small gesture, Talhera’s composed demeanor of a main judge recovered.
“Winner, Zax!” She declared, and as if assuring everyone that the prompt battle was indeed genuine, she opened the gates for all the spectators to acclaim excitedly.
“Wooah! So fights like this can still occur even in the Martial competition?!” Someone exclaimed.
“This guy… Is he really the one the Molten Core people demeaned? Did someone just want to play a prank on Elita?” Another person wondered outloud a question that many asked themselves.
“The Black Thunder Yellow River Spear was broken with a mere poke to the head! Does anyone know what exactly happened?”
“It was a soul attack! Definitely a formidable soul attack!”
“Splendid! With ease and peace of mind, regardless of what Elita said, Zax triumphed splendidly!”
There was no rest to the hubbub. Every spectator came to cheer and favor a specific participant, but that did not prevent them from appreciating impressive displays of ability and strength. Moreover, receiving the winner with smiles as he returns from the fighting stage could also be useful to make good impressions and later form beneficial ties.
Of course, there were also those who felt dejection by Zax’s easy win. Razil, Elia’s backer and junior, figures who sided with Razil before or were competing through their representatives with Eden Formation for prestige and more… Surprisingly, Neyrar was not one of the demoralized people. Razil, on the other hand, was having it worse than anyone else as the fear of Zax still after him, only intensified.
Zax returned to his seat as the chief representative, to his left and right he was being congratulated by his companions from Eden Formation.
“Senior Zax, you were amazing!” Susuya praised.
“Indeed, Zax, you finished the fight in a single move. Moreover, this Elita already took her stance and was in the midst of executing her spear technique when you struck. I doubt there is anyone here who is below the second level of the Core Master realm that could have done the same”. Uri expanded more in his compliment.
“How it has been?” Anet asked. She was the only one who knew about Zax’s true thoughts and his acknowledgment of the fact that he might not win the competition.
“It’s still the first round and there are several who ended their fights without showing their real strength”. Zax carefully said. Elita was weak in comparison to him, wining against her did not make him over confident. Seeing that his choice of words mildly changed Anet’s expression, he retracted. “Still, if I were to pick my opponent, I would rather fight with one of these elders”. He smiled and caressed her cheek with his thumb.
The first round of the competition continued. Eden Formation had two more representatives to participate before the round ends.
Susuya was up after Zax. Her opponent was the same as her, a pretty young first realm expert, a boy who represented both a great family and a reputable large company.
Don grimaced when the boy, Evan, entered the stage. She did not have a bad premonition or anything profound of the sort; it was only the presence of the boy that bothered her, and the smile on the elderly female third realm expert. For someone so young who has yet to break through the second realm, to participate in the Martial competition only signified that he had some unique of talent. Generally, this would mean that Evan and Susuya were in the same boat; both were in the Core Breaker level, with minute differences in the phases they were in, and both joined the competition due to their accomplishment in other fields than mist cultivation.
The instant the battle started in all four fighting stages, the two youngest participants currently engaging, Susuya and Evan, immediately displayed their personal expertise.
Dark white aura erupted around Evan, mist energy circulated outside of his body. Evan executed a soft formation that seemed to be only a small component in his technique, and following the drawing of a few quick seals, his circulating mist energy divided into two, four, eight and finally sixteen same size currents, each pair split to circulate around Evan in diverse flows.
Right leg, left leg, right arm, left arm, torso, neck, head and two currents that kept the original flow of circulation.
Susuya did not stand idle. Bright white aura emanated from her body. She raised her arms up, hands aligned with each other and palms wide open. For a strange second she looked like a grand pianist, about to start her masterpiece.
Susuya lowered her hands swiftly and the air whistled a high pitched sound.
Tens white strands began to float in front of Susuya, her fingers moved in a rhythm that appeared to be random and even childish, but as her formation took form, the eyes of several distinguish figures shined with a particular light. One of which was a set of blue and lucid eyes that watched from above, hinting their approval, these were Supreme Ruler Ariel Dauch’s eyes.
Watching from the sidelines, Zax could not tell what kind of formation Susuya erected. In the field of formation, he was only a little experienced in soul formations and one bodily formation. Conversely, when Evan made his first move, Zax immediately realized what technique he was using.
‘A Martial art integrated with mist energy!’ As a bodily cultivator he could perfectly tell that Evan’s technique was more than just a series of movement boosted by mist energy. The two things, which should have been separated, actually complemented each other and created something completely new.
‘Was the formation he added to the circulation of his mist energy the link of the technique?’ Zax wondered.
Evan combination of Martial art and Martial technique was a method of close quarters combat. His body was propelled by a force that seemed as if something else controlled it, like the currents of circulating mist energy decided every move, moreover, could summon strength, speed and defense far above those of even a regular Advanced phase Mist Lord.
Susuya could not contend in a close quarters combat even if she used formations like Don’s Ruler Is Perfect or Ruler’s Fort. Nevertheless, she was sharp and quick witted. Leeching on the power source of the fighting stage’s formations, she first erected a dome shaped protective formation, with additional countering properties, around her and, second, she spread a sheet thin reflecting formation all over the fighting stage that recoiled the mass of every one of Evan’s steps.
Being countered in such a manner, the fight could not end in any other way but Susuya’s victory. That being said, not everyone took kindly to her misuse of the fighting stage’s formations and those from the same faction as Evan, other than the elderly female third realm expert, even demanded to call the fight null. In the end, Talhera had to consult with her fourteen minor judges. After a short discussion, the elderly female third realm expert stood up and issued a statement, pertaining the conclusion of the judges’ conclave.
The judges determined that Susuya won the battle due to two factors. One, the rules of the competition did not state that a participant cannot make use of the power source of the fighting stages’ formation. Second, Susuya use of the said power source was only a matter of convenience. Without it, the battle would have concluded in the same manner since Susuya could still maintain her formations longer than Evan could maintain his technique.
Thus, Susuya won in the first round. Afterwards, Jalal went to battle. Regrettably he, too, lost.
The first round continued with all sorts of odd and plain battles and wins. Essentially, no participant of true caliber had been forced to reveal his or her power and quite a few ended their battle as plainly a Zax.
“Everyone, we will now take a ten minutes cessation before the second round of the competition, please, do enjoy yourselves in the east side of the hall”. Talhera said after the last battle of the first round.
“Congratulations, little brother Zax!”
“Well done, young man, your display of skill was exquisite!”
“Brother Zax, your spirit has moved the hearts of me and my friends here. Please allow us to toast for you”.
As Zax insisted on staying with Anet, Uri, Fi Han, Jalal and Muri-Mer during the break, while Don privately conducted a briefing for Susuya, a crowd of affable faces approached them, showcasing their good nature and friendliness.
The sight of quite a few people suddenly being so courteous toward the Eden Formation’s group did not go without notice.
Everyone who previously sided with Razil was now passionately cursing him inwardly.
Razil himself, Lizen and the other supporters of the Molten Core’s group were looking unwell. Although there were still many people sweetly talking and praising their school’s representatives who all made it to the second round, the once lofty group of supporters was now trying to keep their heads low, in fear of attracting Zax’s attention.
What the group of Molten Core’s supporters was unaware of, was that Zax spent merely a fraction of a second thinking about them. Getting even for their behavior in the first break? He could not bother with it. He was not even patient toward the people who came to give him face only after he showed a bit of his strength and to not offend anyone, the other members of the Eden Formation’s group had to receive them.
No, with regards to the Molten Core’s bunch, Zax was only resolute to carry out one thing, following through with his threat to Razil, that is, after dealing with the person who stood in his way, Neyrar.
“Everyone, may you please return to your seats. The second round of the Martial competition is soon to begin”. Talhera requested.
This time around, everyone reached to their seats from the first round.
“The names have been shuffled yet again for the second round”. Talhera announced. “The battles will commence with the three way battle”. The moment she mentioned the first of the two three way battle the competition held, the crowd of spectators, participants and backers tensed up.
“First three names, please come up right away to the first fighting stage. Silvia Linenra, Zax Zel, Woren”.