Bk 2 Chapter 122 – Competition

After finishing the match with Nyoka, guaranteeing himself a spot in the finals, aside from when he was asked to come up, Zilan did not bother watching the rest of the performances from his group. Upon meeting him, they all immediately gave up anyways therefore there was really no point in spectating their matches.

He instead focused his attention on analysing that technique he had used to deflect Nyoka’s tail.

‘Still not there yet.’ He surmised.

The technique he used was something he had created yet also not created. If one were to press him for a definition then Zilan would most likely describe it as an improvement on the original concept.

‘The concept of [Softness]. Receiving the sharp, the hard and the heavy and deflecting it as if it was nothing. However, beneath the surface is something extra that makes it mine….’

The concept of Softness was nothing new, it was an ancient way of approaching martial arts that focused on defence and parrying. The reason Zilan learnt it in the first place was not because he was interested in it but because to train in Rain shower of the Infinite Rain technique, he would need to comprehend the concept of softness first.

For Zilan though, looking at the concept of softness, he felt that it could be evolved and improved upon. Therefore through extensive research and planning, he had come up with a way to merge the concept of softness with his Blood force and water attribute. Through this, he could then add on something else but unfortunately he was still stuck in the early stages of understanding the concept of softness, therefore the fusion was not something that could be completed in a short amount of time.

‘I’ll have to come up with a name for this technique when it’s completed.’ Laughed Zilan, inwardly.

Looking back on the stage, Zilan realised that the first group’s matches had come to an end and the second group was being asked to come up on stage.

Zilan left alongside the members of the first group, finding a quiet spot for himself below the platform before interestingly examining the number two Beast on the Rank stone. He was the only person Zilan was curious about in this entire group.

“Yasen Andriani, step forward.” Said Judge.

“Junior greets Senior.” From the group, out came a youth who appeared to be around eighteen. His entire person was pale in complexion, almost resembling a human corpse. His eyes, his skin, his hair, everything was pale or in the case of his hair completely grey. On his cheeks, forehead, chest and arms though, tiny spread-out jewel like spots that resembled pieces from a cracked shell, lightly reflected the light of the sun giving the illusion that his body was glowing.

“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.” Judge recited the rules as he seriously appraised Yasen.

“Junior will fight, no rest needed.”

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“Very well then. Begin!”

Yasen’s opponent was a skinny young man who resembled a frog in some aspects. However, before Zilan could take his time examining the youth of amphibian origins, an aura that was so domineeringly powerful, suddenly exploded out of Yasen’s body.

“Soul-compression stage.” Zilan sucked in a breath of cold air as his eyes remained glued on that pale Beast. “Still in the Early phase of the Lower level, most likely just broke through but still, this isn’t good.” He was thinking out loud.

“Forfeit.” Ordered Yasen. Following his gaze, it would seem like he was staring right at his opponent but from the way he was looking at him, one wouldn’t be wrong if they assumed that Yasen was just looking straight, it was as if he did not acknowledge that the person standing across from him was truly an opponent.

Grinding his teeth, that frog-like youth glared at Yasen. He was clearly angered by being looked at as if he was nothing but an insignificant ant however, the sun did not rise from the west today and a Soul-compression stage practitioner was still a force that even a genius Tempering stage practitioner could not take on.

Therefore as expected, with a belly full of fire, that amphibian youth gave up. Following after him was an unsurprising sequence of opponents withdrawing and forfeiting. It was just unfair as well as unlucky that they would run into a Rookie who had evolved to the Soul compression stage.

The audience though was still entertained watching the proceedings. Just witnessing this pale Beast release his aura, many could already picture who the eventual winner of this times Ranking tournament would be. Such was the rarity of rookies in the Soul-compression stage, if they did appear though, they always won the tournament.

Zilan remained silent stuck in his thoughts and by the time he snapped out of it, the second group’s matches had also concluded. It came as no big shock when he saw that the two advancing to the finals were none other than the number two ranked Yasen and the number nine ranked Gril.

When it came time for the third group to go up on the platform, the third ranked Rookie Fire Guardian turned out to actually be someone Zilan recognised.

“Hahaha, if it isn’t Mr.Rock.”

As if hearing his words, the rock scaled youth, Mawe, suddenly furrowed his brows. Annoyed for seemingly no reason.

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Watching him battle, although he was not in the Soul-compression stage, Mawe truly lived up to the dominance that the Rock Elementals were known for.

“Mr. Rock is indeed quite capable.” Chuckled Zilan.

As for the eighth ranked who was in the same group, Zilan could care less about him. As long as he did not beat Mawe, Zilan would pay him no mind.

The sun was directly over the stage when the fourth group’s time to compete arrived.

Unlike the other three groups where every member of the top ten had secured a spot in the finals, in this group the seventh ranked was actually eliminated being replaced by a Beast who Fujo had pointed out as someone under Zest.

Did Zilan care about this? No, but he did take note of it.

Finally, it was time for the group Zilan was anticipating most to take the stage. The reason he was looking forward to it was not solely because it was the group Fujo was in. No, in fact the main reason he was paying attention to this collection of Beasts was simply due to the fact that it held the toughest competition outside of members of the top ten rookie Fire Guardians.

What did this mean exactly? Well, think back to how the groups were arranged and divided.

Ranked number one, Zilan had to face off against the 10th ranked, Nyoka. Was this not an advantage? However, it did not stop there. The other eight members of his group actually came from those who were at the bottom of the pile of qualifying participants i.e. of the fifty that made it through the preliminaries, the bottom eight, 50-43, were placed in Zilan’s group as well. This obviously made it a much, much easier of a road to the finals for the first ranked person and it could be considered a bonus reward for performing so well in the entrance tests.

Now then, following this line of thought, it was clear to see that the groups that followed after would all have competitors that were ranked higher and higher with the fifth group containing the toughest of those not in the top ten.

So in the fifth group, aside from Fujo and the 5th ranked, there was also that fearsome Earthen wolf, then there was that one eyed Beast who possessed exceptional blade skills, following him was the youth who ranked just behind Nyoka because his speed had allowed him to survive on the stage for a long time. After these Beasts, there was also five other people who’d performed extremely well in the preliminaries.

In essence, the top eight performers from the preliminaries as well as the 5th and 6th ranked, rookie Fire Guardians would be battling in the same group. It was almost guaranteed that upsets would take place.

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