A middle aged woman like a gust of wind moved to the middle of the stage. Her appearance was not all that telling of her species but from the gills on her neck, one could surmise that her origin was related to fish.
As for her looks, although she couldn’t be considered a world-class beauty, the mature charm she possessed was something that made the hearts of the young males in the crowd beat faster.
However, their thoughts would have to stop there. One could look but definitely not to the point of provoking the lady on stage.
“That robe…she’s an Inferno ranked Guardian.” Shouted one spectator, the fantasies within his mind instantly evaporating.
The middle aged woman smiled, “Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Laniya, I will be overseeing this time’s preliminary rounds. All participants should already be aware of the rules therefore, let the Rookie ranking tournament officially begin.”
Immediately after her soliloquy, applause and cheers reverberated throughout the packed arena.
Just as they were about to die down, all two hundred participants of the first group came marching out before climbing up onto the stage. Contrary to what Zilan thought, the metallic stage easily fit all two hundred of them, with a surprising amount of space to spare.
Fujo looked down at the stage. Locating his cousin he smiled before closing his eyes again.
“You’re not worried?” asked Zilan.
“Worried? Why should I be? It’s not like she’s going to do anything this round.” Scoffed Fujo.
“What do you mean?”
Fujo lazily opened his eyes again, swiftly browsing through the two hundred people below. He then pointed to four of them saying,
“Nyoka, Sumu Alliance. That one eyed guy over there, he’s from the Ravenshead group. The other two are from Horde’s, Bloodrose Mountain and Freewillow Creek.”
From his words, Zilan came to understand what was going on.
“Begin.” Laniya declared.
Without wasting a moment, the first group started their battle. It was extremely fierce and fast paced. Deafening explosions going off every few seconds, bursts of colourful energy bombarding the stage. As a spectator, just from the visual stimulus alone, making the trip could be considered having been worth it.
Unfortunately, in four different areas spread out across the stage, the action was for some reason extremely lacking. These places coincidentally just happened to be where the four people Fujo pointed out were located.
‘For fear of offending their factions, Nyoka and those three others are hardly being confronted. This is somewhat annoying to watch.’ Thought Zilan to himself.
“Don’t worry, this will only take place in the first round. In the second, the competition will be much tougher and more stubborn. After all, they’ll be fighting for spots in the top one hundred.” From Zilan’s expression, it was easy for Fujo to guess his thoughts.
“Oh, okay then.” Nodded Zilan.
If all the strong people weren’t required to fight then what was the point in him coming to watch. Luckily this wasn’t the case for the whole preliminaries otherwise he might as well have just stayed at home and watched over Kifo.
The first group’s battle grew in intensity the longer it was drawn out. Nobody had perished however, serious injuries that would more than affect their futures could be seen everywhere.
Various types and sizes of severed limbs were scattered around, puddles of blood could be seen everywhere around the stage. In most cases, after seeing such gruesome things happening around you, one’s morale would go down and the ferocity or passion with which they fought with would decrease by no small amount. Unfortunately or maybe fortunately, this was not one of those cases.
The roars from the crowd grew louder and louder with every passing second, to the point that the only thing the fighters on stage could hear were the loud chants of, “FIGHT, FIGHT!”
This as expected became the fuel for the gladiators below, disregarding the bloody mess around them and fighting till they couldn’t go anymore.
On one of the giant screens, some of the names on the Rookie Rank stone were constantly shifting positions as the battle waged on.
“Enough.” Without warning, Laniya appeared on the stage once again. This time, she spread out powerful her aura, jolting the berserk Beasts awake.
“Fifty remain from the first group.” She said. Appearing not to mind the horrifying aftermath of the battle.
“Vacate the stage immediately. Second group come forward.”
Those who could move stood up and limped their way off of the stage. As for those who could not move, with a flick of her sleeve, Laniya uncaringly threw them off.
As for the blood, severed limbs and guts, those were shockingly absorbed into the black metallic stage. In the blink of an eye, it had become that spotless, stainless, surface once again.
Taking this all in, Zilan first sighed before shaking his head. He had caught himself pitying those that had lost. Looking around the whole spectator area everyone was either happy, sad or angry about the outcome. This could be attributed to whether or not they had won their bets. Zilan was probably the only one who felt pity for the participants who had lost.
‘This weakness of mine.’ He inwardly sighed.
The second group performed the same way as the first. Intense, bloody fights with two people hailing from powerful factions basically not participating. Nevertheless, the crowd was into it.
Zilan was rather impressed by how Fujo could sleep through all the noise.
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The third and final group came out in a similar fashion to the other groups however, the action that took place within the stage this time had been elevated by multiple levels.
The reason for this? At first, the participants had given sufficient face to those coming from big organisations by not attacking them. Who would have thought then, that it would actually be one of these young Masters that took the initiative to attack the normal participants. Forsaking an easy, guaranteed spot in the second round, one of these youths directly clashed with those who had gone out of their way to avoid him.
He resembled humans quite closely but the scorpion’s stinger as well as the purple scales around his body, were a clear differentiator.
A smile hung from his face as he brandished a short sword, directly cutting through the unprepared group. It was at this moment that the already engaged crowd, outright exploded with enthusiasm.
The scorpion youth laughed out loud, as he relished the feeling of having warm blood splattering on his face and armour. It was also through this sudden and unexpected turn of events that the preliminaries first, second, third….tenth death occurred.
The entire crowd was basically on stimulants. To Zilan, it looked like except for him and Fujo, everyone that could shout was screaming their lungs out.
Although killing wasn’t against the rules, it was still frowned upon since enmity didn’t exist and this was still just a competition.
One had to admit though, this made for great entertainment that seemingly got even more eye opening when the scorpion youth came across someone, among the normal participants, who had been concealing his strength . The two thus began duking it out, from one end of the stage to another, they displayed one great technique after another, countering each other perfectly.
“Enough.” Laniya appeared on the stage the instant fifty rookies remained standing and the one hundred fifty had been eliminated.
The scorpion youth glared at his opponent for a good while before sneering and shifting his gaze towards the audience. The loud cheers caused a crooked smile to bloom on his blood covered face.
Strangely when Zilan unconsciously made eye contact with the youth, his smile for some reason grew more sinister. Paying it no mind, Zilan moved his eyes towards the person the scorpion youth had been fighting.
‘Hmm? Why is he looking at me like that as well?’
A figure appeared in his mind,
‘Both of them? Could be more.’
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