Chapter 110:

Top 10 (1)

Mad God


It was a week later, after the time for submissions was over. The announcement finally came out who were 50 disciples whose creations were chosen by the Elders. The names were listed in the Mission Hall and the lowest reward was still 50 contribution points. As the number went higher, disciples could even choose between points, pills, artifacts or private lessons from one of the judges.


What was really surprising was that the list only went up to the number 11. After that came a clear separation and the remaining 10 names were not numbered, only written down next to each other, accompanied by another announcement. The top 10, from a week from now, are going to participate in a public demonstration in the Arena. The judges are going to rank them live and anyone who wants to come and watch it, are free to do so. They are going to explain their spells, cast it and then listen to the judges verdict. Their position in the top 10 is going to be decided only after their demonstrations.


“I can’t believe it…” Ariana murmured, standing beside Toobu who just grinned with excitement.


“Why are there 11 names in the top 10? Is this a mistake?” rang out a surprised voice somewhere in the crowd.


“Idiot!” came an answer from someone else “there is an “&” between them! It seems they jointly submitted a spell.”


“We could do that?” asked a third disciple.


“Seems like…” sighed a fourth as nobody else thought about that before.


“Nobody said we could do that!” protested someone who felt like they deserved to be in the top 50.


“And nowhere was it mentioned you couldn’t.” Leinor’s voice arrived suddenly, who walked before the announcement board, looking over the hundred or so disciples gathered there. His presence alone silenced them very quickly. “I’m here now so those who are disagreeing or feel they should be on the list, can come forward. Speak!” He crossed his arms looking into their eyes “What? You only do things that are mentioned or written into the rules? If you limit your mind and imagination into a small box, you are never going to reach the Perfect Harmony realm! Not to mention the Demigod realm.” He shook his head. “The list is final. If you have doubts, go to the library, the 40 spells ranked here are already copied and put up for you to browse! Take a look at them and compare them to your own submissions!” Leinor shook his head and started to leave but stopped after a few steps, looking back. “Oh yes… you can ask for your own, original paper too. You can take a look at it with the judges notes included on them. If you want. If you have time to sulk, you are wasting the time to improve yourself!”


After he left, Ariana was still dazed, looking at the list of names, just returning to reality a moment later.


“What are we going to do now?” She looked up at Toobu who just chuckled.


“The same! We are going to train with it so when the time comes I can draw it up quickly and you can activate it without a hitch! Also, we have already improved it. Twice. Maybe we can do it a third time before the demonstration starts.”


“Haahhh… not that I can say no now… I just hope they won’t ask me a lot of questions, it is still your technique! I know way less about it than you…” She sighed as they left the building, rubbing her forehead.


“I would argue with you on that.” Toobu patted her head, making a mess out of her hair but it seemed Ariana didn’t bother with it. “You are already proficient in it, I bet you could draw it yourself!”


“But it does not have any effects, it is useless if I do it!” She finally shook off his hand, fixing her hair.


“Not really. I have an idea in my head, we should try it out.”


“I don’t like your ideas.”


“Relax girl!” Toobu laughed. “It is going to be fine, you may even surprise your idol too!”


“She is not my idol!” Ariana protested quickly, turning bright red that made Toobu laugh even harder.


In the past days, whenever they practiced together or sat at a table, going through books on formations for hours, causing self-aneurysm, whenever Ren’s name came to conservation Ariana was especially quick to start praising her. It was making Toobu even joke about her having a crush on the Junior Sect Head.


“Okay, okay, she is not, I got it! Anyway, come!” He grabbed onto her hand, dragging Ariana along. “We have work to do!”


….

…..


A few dozen kilometers away, at a giant crater with no wildlife or humans around, Ren floated high in the air with a satisfied smile as Leinor arrived next to her.


“I felt the shockwave while coming here. Was it his spell?”


“Yeah!” Ren nodded. “The improved version! I rank it a pure A-Tier spell! If it could be used repeatedly it would maybe get a bump in rank again. With a little blood from Kyu, drawing it up has such great results!” She chuckled, taking out a little vial with blood in it, letting a drop fall out on a paper drawing up Toobu’s formation. It was more polished, simplistic and contained fewer runes. If the two would be here, they would be surprised as some modifications were exactly what they came up with since then.


“I bet she was unhappy about it!” Leinor chuckled, watching her drawing with Kyu’s blood.


“Quite the opposite in fact!” She finished up her work, putting the vial away “I gave her the pill and before I could describe its effect the glutton slurped it up from my palm!”


“Haahhh… Why am I not surprised?” Leinor shook his head.


“Yeah, she immediately swelled up to triple her size and panicked! She started to vomit out things I never noticed that were gone missing! She got away with more things than any of us thought! Did you know she was keeping a complete, full shark in her stomach?”


“What?” Leinor stumbled, almost falling out of the sky.


“Exactly! A demonic shark, not evolved yet, but she gobbled it down once, who knows when! It was completely preserved, by her words, ‘for when there would be no fishies to eat’. Emergency ration.” Ren chuckled, shaking her head. “Of course a ton of other goods fell out of her bottomless belly that I confiscated immediately. I never saw her cry before but the effect of the pill was way too strong. She needed to empty out her stomach to give way for the influx of abundant energy. So I helped her absorb it, in exchange for some blood and giving back some of her… emergency snacks.” She smiled at Leinor who just rolled his eyes.


“How many talismans can you craft with it?”


“Around 50. More if I ask for blood again, anyway, watch this!” Ren laughed happily.


When she activated it, a giant fireball flew out, covered with lightning, rumbling forward before landing in the crater below her, creating a small mushroom cloud. The resulting explosion was spewing violet lightning and orange fire at the same time, showering the land with its anger.


“I call it Firethunder. I like it a lot~ Of course this version was modified for our level of strength! They wouldn’t be able to handle its activation.”


“I see… It was pretty impactful! Will you mass produce it?”


“Depends on the kid’s idea. It is his technique and I won't steal it from him! After everything is done I’ll talk with him and pay accordingly if he lets me make it. Producing it with Kyu’s blood… it can last for a bit! Here, take this and try to feel it, you are better at this!” She gave him one and as Leinor took it, feeling the energy of the blood on the paper he gently nodded.


“It can last for a week. But its power diminishes exponentially, the longer it is left unused.”


“Yeah I thought so too. Still! I really, really like what he come up with!”


“Me too, I’ll take him as my first disciple.” Leinor nodded with praise in his eyes.


“Good!” Ren laughed before putting everything away. “I’m thinking of guiding the girl myself! I was watching them through the last week. I like what I see, the only thing that annoys me is that her talent is there to advance, yet she holds back! Again and again, going through the same thing over and over and over before taking a step forward.”


“Not everyone is like you or Poli…” Leinor joked.


“See? The world should have more of me~” She smirked, receiving a pinch in her butt, laughing at it cheekily. “I’ll adjust myself if it comes down to that! Also, she has a close relationship with Kyu, which is a plus! If there would be another person who could keep her in check, that would be really helpful!”


“You made her like this, you do know that, no? You fed her every time she was hungry until she evolved… I think it is solely your fault!” He said, crossing his arms, looking down at his wife.


“Ugh… hey… don’t need to rub it into my face!” She elbowed her husband with a giggle. “I’m bad with kids, okay? I tend to spoil them rotten!”


….

…..


The day of the finals, as disciples started to call it, came quickly and the arena was filled with youngsters. They were excited to check out who was going to get the best prizes amongst them. Lupar, with other outer disciples, were sitting high up at the stands as he was counting his points inside his head with a salviating grin on his face. Few days before, he bought up a lot of tickets, making a big profit by selling them to others so they wouldn’t miss the show. As the participants started to appear his smile slowly turned to surprise as he blinked his eyes, rubbing them but they were still working fine. He really saw one person, down in the arena, wearing the outer disciple’s uniform.


“Wait… is that… Ariana?” He asked, not believing it.


It only took just a moment for most of the outer disciples to learn of her name and started to cheer. Nobody expected anyone from their ranks to qualify, but seeing one with their uniform down there gave a big boost to their confidence. They could really make it. Some disciples in their ranks were stagnating, starting to lose hope and belief in their own ability to cultivate, but now, the fire was reignited.


“Hey, are they… chanting your name?” Toobu whispered as they walked inside the arena. Even he felt nervous right now.


“Yeah, really funny.” She answered back, fidgeting but as she listened to it more closely, she really could hear her own name. “No way…”


“See? Hah, you became famous!”


“And who’s fault is it?”


“Not mine! Good thing we improved it for a third time! It is going to be better than when I submitted it first! We are going to aim for 1st place!”


“...”


Ariana even though she did not answer, deep inside she was also very excited. Looking at the judges, seated on a podium, built inside the arena, doubled her heart rate. They were smiling at the arriving disciples, some who never had a chance meeting with them. Even after constantly complaining about being dragged into this by Toobu, now, she was, after a long time; Happy. The last time she felt this mix of excitement and drive to do something and be praised by someone, was when she made a gift for her parents. Scavenging the trash in back alleys, she found a box, filled with some old, thrown out clothes and boots. She painstakingly, with her small fingers, fixed them up in secret as a present for her parents. She was so nervous about it yet still excited about what they are going to say about it. When she finally gave it to them, it was one of the happiest moments in her life, receiving the praise and warm hugs and kisses of theirs.


“Hey, everything is okay?” Toobu nudged her, noticing the silence and her eyes growing a bit misty.


“Ah? Y-yes, yes. I just… remembered something.” She replied hurriedly, wiping her eyes.


“Mmm, relax! It is going to be fine! Trust me!” He patted her shoulders.


“1st place?” She looked up at him.


“1st place, of course!”


“Good.” Ariana nodded with determination. “Then don’t screw this up!”


“Ahaha, great! That’s what I wanted to hear!” He cracked his knuckles as they arrived before the judges, lining up with the rest of the top 10.