Today was the official start of the Ranking tournament for Zilan and Fujo.
The two woke up early in the morning and headed out to the arena. A rare look of seriousness and determination could be seen in Fujo’s eyes. His aim was to be first and he didn’t care who or what stood in his way.
‘What an honest guy. If we brothers meet in the tournament, would you also have that look on your face?’ Thought Zilan as he smiled.
Having been there before and knowing that they were going to be participating, they both fastened their pace, arriving at the arena in no time.
“Brother Kifo won’t be coming?”
Zilan shook his head, smiling wryly as the thought of how he would break the news to Kifo that he was the current last ranked rookie, surfaced in his mind.
“I hope everything is alright with him.” Stated Fujo.
“There’s nothing to worry about. Kifo is more than fine.”
An hour later,
The current top fifty rookie Fire Guardians had all gathered directly below the raised black metallic stage. The arena was also completely packed with people, even outside its walls, there were Beasts roaming around the perimeter, watching on the giant screen outside.
The atmosphere was electric and everyone was anticipating the beginning of the matches. Why all the fanfare you ask? Well as its name implied, this was the Rookie ranking tournament and in the history of the Association never has there been a rookie who ranked first and then later failed to make a name for him/herself in the Beast world. This therefore meant that watching this tournament and the crowning of this year’s number one was equivalent to watching the first steps of a future world renowned Fire Guardian.
An old gazelle-like old Beast bearing the badge of an Inferno ranked Fire Guardian suddenly appeared on the stage.
“I will be handling the remainder of this tournament. You can all refer to me as Judge.”
His voice was deep and piercing, travelling throughout the coliseum.
Zilan as well as everyone else in attendance could tell that this old man’s level of strength could not be compared to that of Laniya. He was obviously more powerful.
“The rules are simple. Defeat the opponent in front of you by either beating them down or throwing them off of the platform. As for who your opponents will be, look up at the screen and divide yourselves accordingly.” Finished with his speech, Judge then closed his eyes.
The participants as well as the spectators simultaneously turned towards one of the screens hanging up on the arena wall.
The fifty participants could be seen on the screen however, they had been divided into five different groups of ten rookies.
Looking at the screen, Zilan swiftly broke down the information,
‘So everyone in each group will have to fight nine matches each and for every win a point will be awarded. The top two people in each group with the most points will move on to the finals.’
‘The way these groups are formed though…it looks like the current top ten rookie Fire Guardians on the rank stone are given quite the advantage.’ Mused Zilan.
The five groups displayed on the screen were set up in such a way that only two people in the top ten would be placed in the same group. Therefore, if nothing went wrong those two would most likely be heading to the finals. Of course, dark horses were sure to appear for example, that Earthen Wolf from before.
Unfortunately, because Kifo could not attend the tournament, adjustments in the form of promoting Nyoka to a spot in the top ten as well as promoting a plethora of other Rookie Fire Guardians needed to be done, until finally everybody who was previously below Kifo was now above him. Essentially, anyone previously below the top ten advanced one spot up from their former position while Kifo continuously fell one spot before ultimately becoming the last ranked Fire Guardian on the Rookie Stone.
Coincidentally, Zilan just happened to be placed in the same group as Nyoka.
‘So the first ranked and tenth rank in one group, then the others should have the same format.’ He thought.
Taking a look, as expected he was right. Second and ninth were together, third and eighth also, followed by fourth and seventh, ending with fifth and sixth.
‘The advantage the top five have is really big. Not that I’m complaining.’
“First group, make your way to the platform.” Stated Judge, eyes still closed.
Zilan patted Fujo on the shoulder once before jumping onto the stage.
‘Ho…just like I thought, this thing does contain a portion of all the elements. Fascinating!’
Nyoka along with the other eight also made their way onto the stage.
“Zilan Malaika, step forward.” Said Judge.
“Junior greets Senior.” He cupped his hands in salute.
“As the highest ranked person in this group, you can choose to either face all nine of your opponents consecutively or take a rest in between. Remember, you will only be awarded one chance to rest and should you take it, the reward you receive at the end of the tournament should you qualify to receive one, will be much less.”
Zilan pondered for a moment,
“Junior will face his opponents one by one, consecutively, win or lose.”
“Very well. Ion Nieng will fight you first.”
As he said that, eight participants of the first group were pushed out to the very edge of the stage by an invisible force while Zilan and the Beast know as Ion Nieng were pushed to the middle.
“Alchemy won’t help you hereee…Ehh?”
Ion was a genius Beast from the Bronze sector. However once he arrived at the Alchemy association the title of genius as well as the arrogance that came with it were immediately stripped from him. Those from better sectors, who had more resources and excellent tutelage could be found everywhere he looked. Nevertheless, he never gave up, working extremely hard to the point that he was now amongst the top fifty in this rookie class of hundreds. His title as genius had finally been reclaimed, therefore, seeing a Half Breed, someone with a lesser background than himself, who excelled in Alchemy and probably lacked the necessary skills to back up his rank of first amongst Fire Guardians, Ion couldn’t help but feel an itch. He wanted to put this thing that said it would fight nine consecutive matches in its place.
Unfortunately, he never would have thought that the Half Breed before him was so shameless. No, this couldn’t even be called shameless anymore, it was better dubbed cowardly and spineless.
Sitting leisurely on the ground before him was Zilan, surrounding him though was a force field of energy. In his left palm was the spirit tool that created this force field. He calmly played around with it as he watched Ion’s ashen expression.
“If you can break this field, I’ll fight you.” Said Zilan, smiling honestly.
“Y..Yo..You…shameless!” cursed Ion who forcefully stopped himself from spitting out blood in anger.
Judge on the side, lightly frowned but said nothing.
The crowd was also stunned into silence. Even Fujo, below the platform was currently looking at Zilan in a way he had never looked at his good brother before.
‘This guy looks like he’s about to go crazy. Hahaha, from the beginning, my objective wasn’t to just win this tournament. What I want is for everyone to know my name.’ Thought Zilan.
Looking at the spirit tool in Zilan’s hands, Ion was at a loss for words. That wasn’t something a normal rookie should have.
‘That’s a high grade spirit tool, almost a thousand contribution points are needed to buy it. F**k this rich Bastard, do you think this is a game.”
He then rushed at the force field, drawing his blade and striking out with all his might.
“Good blade!” Shouted Zilan. “Try harder next time, I’m sure you can do it.”
This time no one had a reaction. Ion felt his pride crumbling and his heart burned with rage. He wanted nothing more than to chop Zilan into pieces.
*Clang, Clang, Clang……*
A storm of blade slashes coming from none other than the now crazy Ion attacked the force field. However, not a scratch could be seen on its surface.
Zilan clapped, cheering on Ion’s effort while the crowd dumbfoundedly watched on. In the history of the tournament, this was the first time something like this had occurred.
“Enough! Zilan wins, Ion loses.” Stated Judge. He did not mention anything about the way Zilan had won.
“No,No,No,NO,NO! I CAN’T ACCEPT THIS!” shouted the flustered Ion. Never in his life had he been this humiliated.
“You tried really hard.” Said Zilan, giving him a thumbs up.
“I’LL KILL YOU.”
“Leave the stage now or forfeit your chance to continue in the tournament.” Judge’s eyes snapped open, an invisible pressure bearing down on Ion.
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