Chapter 111:

Top 10 (2)

Mad God

The judges, sitting from right to left were Isha, Poli, Ren, Leinor and finally Zern. Each of them had their disciples standing behind them, if they had any of course. That meant Emi was standing behind Poli calmly, with grace and beauty. The three brothers, Botan, Jiro and Shin stood behind Zern, looking focused and stern. Behind Ren stood Lulu with a playful smile, happy to be basking in the attention alone as Yanda was still absent.

“You all gave us a lot of trouble.” Ren spoke up as she stood up, silencing the noise and chatting inside the arena. “And for that, I am grateful to you all!” She chuckled. “I am happy to see our teachings are not wasted on you!” She looked over the eleven finalists, lingering a little more on Ariana before moving her eyes forward. “After selecting the ten submissions for the finals, we decided to make our verdict only after we saw how the maker of the spell performs it! It is best understood by you, the one who created it. So we want to see YOU perform and explain it to us! I won’t waste time, let’s get right into the finals!” She clapped once as Poli stood up next to her.

“The first spell that we are going to see is submitted by Heldi! Please!” He gestured at one of the finalists to step forward.

Heldi was an Inner Disciple, a 27 years old, beautiful woman and at the 6th stage of the body refinement realm. She had shoulder length, blond hair and a slim, petite figure. She slowly walked out from the line, gulping loudly, her bright, blue eyes filled with excitement.

“Elder!” She cupped her hands respectfully.

“You wield a chakram, yes?” Poli asked.

“Yes, Elder. Two in fact.” She answered honestly.

“Can you show us your technique?” He smiled and she nodded before looking around, clearly nervous about it… but it was no time to hesitate.

Heldi closed her eyes for a moment, producing the two chakrams. When her shining, blue eyes reopened she was in a trance-like state, starting to dance. For the untrained eye it really was just that, a dance but her weapons moved seamlessly in her hand and in the middle of her performance she let them go. They orbited around her freely, following every movement she performed. They acted as her dance partners, flashing quickly, one executing attacking patterns, even flying out dozens of meters away before coming back, while the second one remained beside her, ready to deflect incoming attacks.

As she moved, those who stood close to her, could hear faint music, as if it would come from somewhere far afar. They felt a faint feeling of wanting to watch her performance more and more, letting go of everything else and just enjoy the show. As the feeling got stronger they realized that now not just two but dozens of chakrams circled around her. As her dance started to get more intense and strong, the music was even loud enough to be heard on the stands. Poli summoned his sword, stabbing out quickly, restricting his powers to Heldi’s level. His weapon was clashing with Heldi’s chakram, going through the multiple illusions, striking the only real one before her. Poli was already in the arena, stepping backwards, avoiding the incoming attacks of her fakes and real chakrams. A move which she performed instinctively.

“Good!” He nodded with a smile, putting his sword away. “It’s not just a weapon technique.” Poli raised his voice so the spectators also heard him clearly. “Correct?”

“Yes.” Heldi nodded, wiping off the sweat from her forehead, grabbing ahold of her weapons as the illusions dissipated. “Before I started to cultivate I was a dancer in a theater. I… always liked it. I… I have a trash affinity…” She said, lowering her head.

“There is no such thing!” Ren’s voice resonated with a kind smile before nodding at her to continue.

“My affinity is… I don’t know if I can even call it that… When I dance I feel calmness, happiness and joy.” She explained with an embarrassed look as Poli patted her shoulder.

“You just haven't realized it yet.” He encouraged her, looking into her eyes. “You don’t see yourself from the outside, when you perform it. Your affinity displays its true nature when you are lost in it! You didn’t know but what you created when writing it down, is the first, real illusion technique in our Sect.” He chuckled, scanning her from top to bottom, with a smile. That was the moment he heard a faint throat scratching, coming from Emi. Poli managed to keep his body from flinching, and continue normally. “Here.” He presented her with a rolled up parchment. “This is a cultivation technique written down by my Master, tailored for you.”

His words shocked not just Heldi but also the rest of the spectators as everyone knew, in the end, it came from Ren. That meant it could even have the Sect Head’s hand in it.

“I… I…” Heldi blinked her eyes, taking her precious gift with trembling hands.

“It is your reward!” Ren spoke up. “We could reward you with points. Artifacts. I could craft you new chakrams even, but they are just tools. What you need is guidance to let you elevate yourself! Take it as whatever rank you finish in the end, you traded in your points for this.” She chuckled.

Heldi clutched it strongly, bowing towards the judges before hurrying back to the line, ready to cry from the overwhelming happiness she felt right then and there. Poli stayed before them, looking finally at the next contender. His name was Tuxon and he was at the same stage as Heldi. He was about 180cm tall and on the chubby side. He had a completely shaved head and a long, red, bushy beard, reaching down to his chest, looking way more older as he was in reality. Everyone called him the oldest disciple yet Tuxon just turned 18, around a month ago. Was he bothered by it? Not really. Especially when they had time to venture out and he could enjoy some establishments' naughty offers, without any fuss, asking about his age.

“Elder.” stepped forward, seeing Poli’s gaze, cupping his hand.

“As I stayed out here, the next submission is also a technique based on weapons.” Poli continued as his sword started slowly rotating around his body. “You are free to attack me as you wish to demonstrate it to the others.”

“Thank you for the opportunity!” Tuxon bowed before him and took out, from the small spatial sack on his belt a giant warhammer, almost as big as him. “I call this technique; Thunder Hammer.” He explained proudly as blueish electricity started to flash along the thick shaft and at the head of the weapon.

With the first swing it was accompanied by the sound of the buzzing of electricity and when it landed on Poli’s sword, bolts of lightning flew outwards in every direction. At first it didn’t seem like anything special but soon everyone realized, the leftover sparks did not dissipate when they left the hammer. They were just hovering in the air, pulsating. With every swing, a loud, metallic clank rang out. Poli was meeting his hammer head on, blocking every move of his. As the minutes went by more and more sparks floated and swarmed around them, some even exploded as Poli stepped close to one. They were acting like traps. Tuxon’s face was excited as it was the first time he could go up against someone above his level and was lost in enjoying the fight, utilizing everything he learnt throughout the years.

After around five minutes of constant fighting he held the hammer with only one hand, performing a seal with the other and the lingering lightning flashed, forming a second, giant hammer around his real one. When he swung it down with all of his strength it resulted in a deafening blast. Wind howled outwards but Poli just stood there, hand behind his back as his sword blocked the attack, diverting it to the sides.

The air was still cracking with electricity as Tuxon stepped back, lowering his hands, putting away his hammer, blowing on his fingers.

“Ouch, ouch, ouch… that really hurt…” He chuckled as he felt like hitting a wall and the rebounding force was still circulating inside his bones. “Thank you for letting me go all out!” Tucson bowed to Poli, feeling really happy as he let him demonstrate the full power of his spell.

“No problem. It wouldn’t be fun if you just condense the smallest amount you can, no?” He chuckled. “Going all out is the way!” Poli said as his sword slowly floated back to its scabbard on his back.

“Can I ask… something?” Tuxon asked, after collecting his thoughts.

“Go ahead.” Poli nodded.

“How strong can my technique get?” came out the question with childlike stars in his eyes.

Poli did not answer, just grinned, looking back at Ren who already stood up, slowly floating up in the air.

Suddenly a defensive, transparent formation activated before the spectators and the disciples inside the arena as the wind got stronger and stronger. Ren’s silvery hair started to dance behind her as her eyes flashed with violet electricity. It was a clear, sunny day but thunder rumbled in the air as a normal looking hammer formed in her hand.

“Poli!” shouted his name, making her disciple flinch.

“Oh… really…? Me? M-master…” He twitched his mouth while some laughter broke out in the arena. “Fuck it… Bring it down!” He shouted, releasing his full powers, immediately attacking towards Ren who swung the completely purple, transparent hammer down, meeting the tip of his blade.

The explosion created a blinding flash, striking upwards, seemingly piercing the sky, with a blue and purple column. The rumbling resonated inside of everyone present, shaking their minds and organs alike. When it calmed down, the defensive protection slowly faded and Poli was floating there, slowly descending, breathing a bit heavily but uninjured.

“Geez…” He shook his hand, shaking off an excess of sparks. “That felt awful!” He moaned, making the dazed disciples laugh out and clap as everyone slowly came back to their senses.

Ren gently floated back into her chair and the disciples were sure by now, the judges really went through every technique. It was an honor to think that some even mastered their submitted techniques. Tuxon especially felt proud that the Junior Sect Head used his creation, bowing deeply towards them.

“If I use it in real battle and collect my opponent’s spell’s residue energy, it can be even stronger.” Ren added, “It has good potential but also great drawbacks.” She explained patiently. “Leaving the energy outside of your body for so long can be used against you too! If your opponent realizes what you are doing he or she can strike against it. There are solutions for this but you need to raise your cultivation first. Still, the idea and concept behind it is good and has great potential. Keep working on it!”

“Thank you, Junior Sect Head!” Tuxon bowed once again, before going back to his position.

Just as Poli also walked back to his seat, Zern stood up and walked forward, speaking in a calm voice, while his three disciples followed him.

“The next will be three people at the same time.” said, surprising the rest. “Sylvett, Kirch and Ostavar.”

Hearing their names, they immediately stepped forward. Sylvett was a short girl, looking to be only 15 or 16 but in reality she was over 30. She was already in the 7th stage of body refinement. She had an average figure with short, brown hair and eyes. A happy and go lucky expression lingered on her face most of the time, making her easy to talk to and approach. Kirch, who was familiar with her, as they were friends since childhood, also looked to be in the same age bracket because he wasn’t that taller and somewhat sick looking. He was very thin, especially now, wearing an afraid and pale face, shuddering like a spooked rabbit. For him, to perform before so many people was the worst nightmare, ever. He was scratching his short black hair, clearly close to panic when Sylvett pinched his sides.

“Relax Kirch! It is going to be fine! Even if you fail we are already in the top 10! Enjoy the fame!” Sylvett giggled, somewhat calming down her old friend.

“You know full well Syl, I hate standing out… ugh… I want to go home…” Kirch murmured “Why did you write me up for this?”

“Because you always coop up in your dark room, that is why! This is your time Kirch, you can score a nice girlfriend with this and say goodbye to that virginity of yours!”

“Who cares about that… I just want to go home…”

“I care! I am your Big Sis! Who is going to look after you if not I? Give your all or I’ll nag you even harder!”

“...” Kirch just stumbled and while Ostavar standing next to them just shook his head.

He was another participant, already over 30 but he also looked younger, only in his twenties. He was one of the more popular guys between the Inner Disciples. He was tall, almost 190cm and he kept his long, black hair loose, while his piercing, blue eyes captured a lot of girl’s attention since he joined the Sect. Gently feeling the whispering two’s auras next to him, he noted inside his head that all three of them were at the 7th stage. It was already giving him an idea what is going to happen next, watching Zern’s disciples.

“This is going to be a simple demonstration.” Zern looked over at them. “All three of you submitted a defensive spell. All you need to do is to keep it up against my direct disciples! They are at the same stage as you, it is going to be a fair competition.” He said as she stepped backward. The twins cupped their hands in sync which they quickly returned.

The first to activate his spell was Kirch and to everyone's surprise he turned completely invisible, disappearing from sight. Sylvett and Ostavar were only a step behind as Sylvette’s body started to glow and turned shiny, almost blindingly bright, taking on a golden color from top to bottom. Ostavar quickly got shrouded in purple colored fog, only his blue eyes shining deep inside it like two lighthouses.

Zern’s disciples waited until they brought their spells out and when they attacked, they did it simultaneously. The first to be struck was Sylvett, as a palm strike landed on her body, letting out bell-like chimes, resonating around her. It was loud and disorienting for her opponent as it was a counterattack by soundwaves. She was proud of her own creation as it was tested repeatedly by fighting against her friends. For now, there were only a few who could overcome it.

Sadly, her opponent was Botan. As soon as he recognized the automatic counter strike he just closed off his own sense of hearing, continuing to attack. It sounded like bells chiming in a village, when bandits came, as every time a strike landed it was ringing loudly. Botan could still sense it, even though he made himself deaf. The waves were starting to mess with his other organs and inner senses too. He didn’t hesitate at all before cutting off all of the remaining senses of his, plunging into complete darkness. He wasn’t afraid as he knew, he was never alone. His mind was connected to his brothers and he saw and felt everything they did. For Botan it was like seeing himself from the outside, easily continuing to rain down his attacks on Sylvett.

At the same time, Ostavar was also feeling the pressure. His defenses relied on poison. The smoke that he hid himself in was strongly corrosive and if someone breathed in too much of it, he or she quickly found themselves in a groggy state, seeing double. It was followed by high fever and in the end even a fading consciousness or paralysis. The problem came when Shin, the youngest of the brothers, attacked with his giant ram-dao weapon. Whenever he faced attacks like this before, Ostavar always found, the attacker needed to get close and it was unavoidable for them to not inhale the thick fumes. Yet now, Shin, wielding the sword of his, that has already beheaded countless bandits, with every swing, shaved away from his cloud of poison, scattering it away like if it was made from cotton candy.

“Not good…” Ostavar thought. “His blade is enchanted, it has wind powers!” He felt it finally as it went past his original body, pretty close, glowing with a faint, light green color.

He quickly tried to increase the poison’s corrosive effect to focus on attacking his blade, but as soon as he did that, Shin changed styles and went in, withstanding the corrosion with his body. He was forsaking his weapon, changing to hand to hand combat, catching Ostavar off guard completely.

As his brothers were already in full swing, Jiro was standing still from the start. He was communicating and directing his brothers through their special connections. Amongst them, he was the strategist and the main disciple under Zern. he was the one who was following in his footsteps and style the most, taking the laws and rules seriously, down to the letter. Sylvett and Ostavar quickly realized that both of their movements and actions were in the eyes of Jiro, who like a chess player, moved his brothers as pawns, giving them perfect instructions when and how to strike. Sharing a consciousness was faster than communicating in any other way so the brothers could adapt to every change. It was giving the trio of contestants a hard time to catch their footings. It was then that Sylvett cried out.

“You idiot! Attack already! I’ll kick your cowardly ass when we are back!”

“Eeek!” Kirch’s surprised voice echoed out, making some spectators twitch their mouths.

What the others saw was that Jiro raised his hand in defense then his leg, making another move quickly after. It was like he was shadowboxing, but in reality it was against Kirch who was still invisible to everyone else, finally attacking.

“Is it an illusion?” Isha asked, leaning towards Ren, clearly amused by what she was seeing.

“No.” She shook her head, pointing at Lulu. “She could do it too.”

“I could?” Lulu blinked her eyes, clearly surprised.

“Yeah. He has the same affinity as you. Only utilizing it differently.” Ren nodded.

“Huh! Really? He also controls light?” Lulu asked, leaning forward, now really curious.

“Yep.” Ren nodded. “He distorts incoming light, reflecting it. He is so proficient with it you wouldn’t match his skills even if you train just this one spell for 3 years straight!”

“Really…?” Lulu mumbled, scratching her chin, clearly intrigued. Even Isha was surprised about Ren’s words.

“Yes. The only problem is Kirch himself…” Ren closed her eyes. “When I took you in Lulu, I offered him the same but he refused to become my disciple.”

When Ren said that, she did not hold back her voice, stunning not just the rest around her but every other disciple who heard it. The only one who could stay calm was Leinor as he was there when Kirch refused Ren’s offer. Remembering it now, he almost burst out laughing again as Ren’s face at that moment was priceless.

“I’LL MURDER YOU!” came a scream and it was Sylvett’s voice. She was ignoring her opponent, rushing forward, grabbing onto thin air and headbutting with the force of a raging bull. Throughout the Sect, the loud ringing of a bell traveled far and wide, almost reaching the two small kingdoms at the other side of the Shert River.

It was such a strong impact the ground itself shook and cracked up where she stood. It was followed by crunchy, cracking noise, sending shivers through the three siblings. Sylvett’s golden armor fell apart, bursting in the process as blood spurted out from her forehead from the impact, while before her the air cracked like a mirror. As it was shattering into thousands of pieces it revealed the unconscious Kirch, whose eyes were rolled back inside his head. His nose was broken and flattened, foam was bubbling out from his mouth while he was twitching inside the grip of Sylvett.


It took some time for the others to react as all the battles grinded to a quick stop.

“This is… awesome…” Toobu murmured, watching with his mouth wide open and the rest could do nothing, just nod at his words.

“That guy is either a moron or a genius…” Ariana gulped, not believing what she just heard.

“Okay, okay!” Ren stood up, sighing “I think this round has demonstrated enough!” She clapped but it needed Zern to step in and pry off the raging Sylvett from Kirch’s neck.

“LET ME GO, HE IS STILL BREATHING! PLEASE! I NEED TO CASTRATE HIM FIRST!” Sylvette screamed as everyone who knew her were shivering as the usually so cheerful and happy girl was now completely looking like a murderous banshee.

“Before the last five, we are going to take a little break~” Ren laughed a little, feeling guilty about what she revealed a moment ago. Although looking around the silent arena, seeing the expressions of others, it also entertained her greatly so in the end it was a guilty pleasure for Ren. “I think we all need that after this~” She stuck out her tongue, clapping, signaling a little break so everybody could recollect themselves.