Bk 2 Chapter 174 – The Ceremony Begins

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The day had finally arrived. Rookie Alchemists from all corners of the Association flooded towards a nearby platform that would transport them to this years designated Concealed Scripture location. Zilan was no different, with a calm yet somewhat conflicted mind he followed Amani who led him as well as Kifo, Fujo and various other Alchemists from the Purple Heart, Two Flames camp towards the location.

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“How do you feel?” asked Amani.

“Normal.” Replied Zilan, shrugging his shoulders.

“You should be careful. Master recently informed me that this year’s event is going to differ from past undertakings. He didn’t tell me any specifics about the changes however, he did say that this year is definitely going to be more dangerous.”

Zilan’s heart rate momentarily spiked. “Did he happen to say why the sudden change was taking place?”

“Hmm, he vaguely mentioned something about the reward being greater….however, I find it strange..” said Amani.

“Why do you find it strange?”

“Well, anyway you’ll see for yourself.”

Aside from Amani mentioning the fact that the location for this year was a special, Secret area of the Chairman’s and that this was his first time visiting it as well, the rest of the journey was silent.

This didn’t really bother Zilan as he had much to think about. It was precisely these thoughts of his that kept him so occupied that he hadn’t noticed that they had already travelled through the array and were at the Secret area.

“We’re here. Zilan you go join the other participants and I’ll lead the rest to the spectator’s area.”

“Ah, okay.” Looking around, Zilan couldn’t help but blink a few times.

The area he was in could be described in many ways however, beautifully barren was the one that popped into his head. First of all, the entire area was pretty much a sea of golden sand with one glaring monstrosity of a mountain right in the middle that was impossible to peel your eyes from.

Its entire body was covered in a metallic sheen that glittered mesmerizingly under the soft light that was radiating from the sky. It was also unbelievably tall, with its peak being covered by what looked like artificial clouds/mist. From his vantage point, Zilan couldn’t really make out anything special about the mountain aside from its appearance but for some odd reason he felt like something on it was….waiting for him.

The First Elder, the Second Elder and the Third Elder stood at the foot of the mountain. The First stood between the Second and the Third in a fairly natural manner however, those in the know understood that he was acting as a divider for the two. His features resembled his sons, Domin, quite closely the only difference being that his face appeared more animated and more human than Domin’s. He was also slimmer in comparison to Domin and obviously the air around him was more mature and serene essentially giving off the vibe of a wise grandmaster.

“Today, we are all gathered here to continue a tradition of our Alchemy Association that has served to enrich our knowledge and build on the values of Alchemy that our Chairman has instilled into every one of us.”

As soon as the First Elder started speaking the area all around immediately shut up. It was pin drop silent as everyone was expecting big news from him due to all of the circulating rumours about this year being a ‘different’ event.

“This year, as far as tradition is concerned we will not only honour it but we will also add to it. Today will mark the start of a once in ten-year ceremony where the Concealed Scripture Display will feature a chance given to all the participants by the Chairman of acquiring a unique, one of a kind Supreme Scripture.” The First Elder’s voice started out low yet loud to heavy and sombre towards the end.

Gasps of astonishment and surprise could be heard from both the spectators’ area as well as from all of the participants. This unexpectedly lasted but a moment before people started getting confused.

The source of their confusion was the fact that in every Concealed Scripture Display a Legendary Scripture was supposedly always added into the event. Heck, some people such as the First Elder himself had supposedly acquired one so what made this new Scripture special.

“This Supreme Scripture is unlike anything any Alchemist of our generation has ever laid eyes upon, I can guarantee that.” Sensing the crowd’s questioning gazes, the First Elder explained. “Furthermore, during this once every ten-year ceremony, several Scriptures of the Legendary category, including my very own Sunburst scripture will be among those participants will be able to attain.”

“What? How can you do this?” Shouted a disgruntled member of the audience.

“Why are these rookies so special? Everyone should be given a chance!”

“This is too unfair.”

An uproar followed his words. The majority of the commotion came from the spectators’ side where countless envious Alchemists who had already undergone their Concealed Scripture Display cried unfair. And looking at it from their point of view, they were indeed justified. This unfortunately did not mean that people like Elder Wazimu, the third Elder were going to have any of it.

“QUIET! This is the will of the Chairman. Rather than cry about your personal losses why not rejoice the fact that the Association will continue to grow stronger? Hmph!”

His words struck a nerve and many remained unconvinced however, they dared not voice their opinions lest the man renowned for being crazy singles them out. What they didn’t know was that internally, a huge large-scale commotion had erupted amongst the Elders once they became aware of the news. In fact, 90% of the Elders were against it as they thought that the scriptures would go to waste in the hands of rookies. Why not hold a competition amongst Elders instead? It wasn’t until a declaration from the Chairman himself came down, that all the arguing Elders quieted down or more truthfully cowered. It was the first time in a while the usually quiet and distant Chairman had thrown down the hammer, much to the shock of Wazimu, the Second and the First Elder.

“The rules for this year’s event are very simple.” Said the First Elder.

“One can only take one Scripture so be very careful. Secondly, compared to the traditional single day format, this year participants will be given two days to search and acquire their Scriptures. And lastly, don’t bite off more than you can chew because of you do, it is more than likely you will lose your lives. Any further information that you think you need will be transferred to your badges.”

Whilst everyone else was busy staring wide-eyed at the First Elder and reacting to his every word, Zilan was busy thinking.

‘Apart from that final warning everything else he said sounds extremely appealing. That warning though coupled with the lack of specific information about that mountain and what exactly we need to do can only mean that there’s danger ahead. I’m not too worried about the danger…. what’s perturbing is that this all feels like a stage set for me. He’s probably watching right now.”

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