Chapter 102:

Prelude to the Competition

Mad God


Hundreds of kilometers away from the Sect, up on the river, Yanda stood firmly, standing on the flowing water. He was sighing, looking around with a dejected expression. It was no secret that in the previous 3 years he started to look for the tribe from where his mother came from. He was trying to contact the mermaids, said to live in the Shert River yet he was unable to meet with even one. He always paid attention to rumors and sightings even when his Master provided information for him, just like now. He hurried to arrive in time yet every time he thought he finally may meet with one of them, it always was a disappointment.


“Are they avoiding me?” He thought, rubbing his neck with a tired expression “They were clearly sighted here only a week ago yet I can’t find a clue.” he murmured, looking down at the murky water below his feet, flowing quickly.


“Why not ask Master for help?” came a laughing voice as a bright beam flashed from the shore, a shining silhouette landing beside him as Lulu jumped off of her rapier as it flew itself back into its holster on her side.


“I knew you would find me.” Yanda rolled his eyes, turning towards her “I’m not interested in anything you want to say!”


“Really? But I came because Master said to fetch you.” Lulu put her hands on her hips


“I see.”


“Any luck?”


“...”


“So no.” Lulu shook her head.


“...”


“Geez, if you could put your pride down a little… If not asking Master for direct help, why not come to me?” She asked, pouting.


“For one, I want to do this myself! If I encounter something dangerous of course I would turn to Master. But not until then! Seconds, I would never ask YOU for help.”


“Ouch, that hurts!” She chuckled a little


“Good.”


“Hey, look…” Lulu stepped closer to him “I get it, that you are still hating me. Then why not just fight it out?” She stretched her arm out as her rapier started to clatter in its scabbard on her waist.


“You are my junior sister, Master would be furious if we did so.” Yanda answered flatly.


“Woah! Stop it right there!” she snorted “Who is your junior sister? You are my junior brother!”


“No. I was the first Master named as a disciple under her.”


“Did you hit your head? We were selected at the same time! Plus I am older than you!”


“Master said my name first.” Yanda countered.


“She named both of us, Yanda and Lulu, not Yanda… then after a long pause, me! No, no, no! It was Yanda and Lulu! Besides I am not just older than you, L comes before Y!”


“This is why you are the junior sister and I am the senior brother.” He looked at her with a provocative light in his eyes, yet the expression on his face was still one of complete calmness.


“You-!” She harrumphed loudly looking into his eyes “Okay… okay! Let’s decide by a competition.”


“I am not interested.” He stepped by her, ready to head back, murmuring under his breath “You are more obsessed with competition than Master.”


“You are going to be interested, because it is a competition that Master is going to host!” She smiled slyly as Yanda truly flinched “It is going to be a Sect wide competition about B-Tier spells! Both of us submit our own and whoever ranks higher than the other, gets to be the senior between us. What do you say?”


“...”


His halted footsteps and momentary silence quickly widened Lulu’s smile as she already knew when Yanda refused to speak it was because his interest was piqued yet he held back, trying not to acknowledge it, especially towards her.


“Think it through.” She held her rapier, throwing it before herself, stepping onto it “I’ll participate anyway, how would it look that we miss something like this, huh?” Lulu giggled before leaving behind a still silent Yanda, watching her back as she flew away.


….

…..


Back in the Sect Ren was just coming out from a meeting with the Grand Elders, going over the fine details of the new competition. After Aerthus’ approval it is going to be announced by tomorrow and not just the Inner Disciples but the Outer Disciples are also going to be allowed to participate.


Beside this little event that is going to liven up the Sect for the upcoming weeks, the other big topic was the news brought back by Lulu. There were different opinions on how to act, but there were two main voices prevailing in the end. One wanted to hold another ceremony, accepting disciples from far and wide, before the news break of a rival Sect appearing. The second opinion was that they should keep focusing on their own development, ignoring it, as this was exactly what the Naulins wanted, disturbing their pace. When Aerthus asked Ren’s opinion she just shrugged.


“It is inevitable. Master already told us how many different sects operate over the other side of the desert! We won’t be the only ones here forever. I say, good! Let them do it. Because then we can beat them in multiple ways and show everyone we are the prominent force when it comes to cultivation!” She looked around the others with a confident smile. “It’s a perfect opportunity to have a rival! Let the disciples hone themselves without breaking out an all out war between the Empire and the Kingdom.”


In the end the decision was simple; Ignore whatever the Naulins cook up. At least for now. When Ren stepped outside, enjoying the warm rays of the sun a familiar voice greeted her.


“Yo, Master! I just got back and heard there is something fun coming along? Can I participate too?” Poli laughed as he landed beside her.


“Nope, you are an Elder not my disciple anymore!” She looked at him with half open eyes.


“Bummer…!” He sighed, shaking his head.


“Where is your adorable, little disciple?” Ren joked while Poli just chuckled, looking around


“Don’t call her that, please… she would get… shy!”


“Shy? You mean beat your ass so hard it turns into ripe peaches?”


“Huh? No, why would she do that?” Poli blinked his eyes, trying to look unbothered, keeping an innocent expression. “O-okay, she would try… but wouldn’t succeed!”


“Suuuuure~”


“You have so little faith in me, Master? I’m hurt!”


“Yeah, I know! So? Where were you two?”


“Took a trip to the forest, we visited the edge of the tree demons’ territory.” He explained as his voice turned more serious. “Seeing it for myself it was… an experience.” sighed.


“Did Shaman ask you to carry out another experiment?”


“Yeah, he wanted to test out some new weapons of his.”


“What were the results?” Ren asked, curious.


“Ineffective… and it wasn’t even against the real deal, they were just half-sentient trees not real demons. We released a fog that would invade the trunks and cut their connection to the natural energies yet you should have seen it… different, zombified bodies of demons rose up from the shrubs and the ground, attached to the trees by pulsating branches and they got sucked dry slowly, shrieking in agony. When the fog dispersed the trees returned to calmness once again like if nothing happened, only the dried up corpses remained on the ground. I don’t know how many of those poor souls are still buried beneath their roots.”


“I just hope one of his experiments doesn’t spark a war we are not ready for.”


“It was with the permission of Sect Head.” Poli added.


“I know. Even Lady Rumira was asked and she gave her consent. Shaman is not the only one who hopes to find something that can work against them. Whenever Rem hears about the tree demons she acts scared, it is an instinct they are born with it seems. I guess this applies to a lot of other demons too.”


“Nature is scary.” Poli nodded “I am just surprised you are not more interested in them Master.”


“I am but I have more pressing things! Speaking of it, why not join me as part of the judges?”


“Count me in!” He answered immediately


“Good! I’ll have Isha to judge fire based spells, you can be in charge of spells based on weapons!”


“Sure! Are you going to rate lightning based spells?” He asked, tilting his head.


“And everything in between. I am planning to involve Zern too, so he can judge the earth based ones.”


“You do know they are… you know…” He smiled wryly.


“Yes but I want to give them a little chance to smooth it out somewhat! Doesn’t matter, you don’t need to butt into it!”


“Roger.” Poli saluted.


“Good! LeiLei is going to help judging too, so that is 5 judges, I think that is enough. I plan to hold this for a month! Let the disciples present their spells, giving them enough time, then choose out the top 5 and let the authors present them in a big event! Decide their rankings before everyone!”


“Sounds exciting! By the way, about your Lightning Clone technique…” Poli said, grinning.


“Mmm?” looked at him with a half-smile


“I finally perfected it~” He winked before disintegrating into blue sparks leaving behind a proudly laughing Ren.


….

…..


“We should hurry back!” Poli stretched as he was getting out from under the waterfall, drying himself up with a towel while Emi just yawned, sitting on a rock.


“Put some clothes on… Master.” She teased “Nobody wants to see you flaunting your shortsword!”


“The water was cold.” He replied with calmness, arriving next to her, dressing up.


“What is the hurry for? Shaman wants to get the data so soon?”


“No, I met up with Master, there is a competition coming up and I’ll be one of the judges.”


“Uhum. Okay.”


“You seem uninterested.” He asked, tilting his head.


“No, it’s just I miss the others!” Emi sighed, throwing a rock into the water, watching it skip a few times before sinking


“Why not visit home?”


“I was thinking about it. I may be gone for a year.” She nodded.


“I don’t think it would be a problem.”


“You sure? Wouldn’t you be shirking your responsibilities?” She teased him.


“Wait, what?” Poli blinked his eyes, finally understanding she just invited him back to the village of hers “No problem! I’ll just play nice before Master to let me go, easy!”


“You…” She chuckled looking at him sideways. “But you need to behave. Or you will be kicked out, got it?”


“Sure~ Clear as the sky!” He laughed once again while Emi just shook her head while her fox tail gently swayed behind her, showcasing the shy happiness she felt deep inside.