Chapter 137:

Battle of two Sects (1)

Mad God


The remaining years flew by quickly and when the names of the top 100 disciples’ became public, everyone was surprised by the announcement. Some were especially thrilled, seeing their names on the list, some were unhappy by their placement and some just sighed, not finding their own names on it at all. What nobody was surprised about was the list of names announced to leave a few weeks later, being part of the two sects’ competition.


“Who is going to stay back and guard the Sect?” Anya asked when all of the elders were meeting, the night before leaving.


“I am going to take only a few people with me.” Aerthus answered. “It would be dangerous to bring other disciples with us to spectate. So beside those who are going to participate, nobody else is allowed to come. They would be easy targets. Besides myself, the elders who are going to accompany me are Leinor, Ren, Zern and Shaman.”


“Me?” Shaman gasped. He almost fell asleep through the meeting as he was used to burying himself with work and study. He was not bothering with anything else, just developing new pills and formulas, searching for the perfect weapon against the ents. The sudden inclusion quickly woke him up.


“Yes. We have demons in the roster too! I want to bring one demon elder with me. Those who are going to spectate us, have to realize that we are not keeping you around to be used as mounts, pets or slaves. But as an equal.”


“Ugh… okay, okay… I got it.” He nodded as he found himself unable to refuse. For the past decade this was the first request he got from him yet he burnt through tons and tons of resources, without Aerthus complaining. Not even once.


“Are you familiar with the disciples we have chosen?” Ren smiled but Shaman just rubbed his eyes, shaking his head.


“You know that I am not! I was told that there is going to be some kind of scuffle or whatever but I mostly ignored it.”


“You…” Leinor sighed but Aerthus just chuckled, signaling that it’s not a problem.


“The rest is going to stay home until we are back and guard the Sect.” He said, looking around the rest as the number of elders multiplied since the founding of the Sect. “The disciples for now are forbidden to leave for a mission, just to be safe! I don’t expect another cultivator to pop up with the same strength as me or Zelig but even if one does, the defensive formations here are not something that only one of me could break through.” Aerthus smiled confidently.


“How strong is it?” Ren asked curiously after hearing him.


“It can withstand a demigod’s attacks for a whole day when activated.” He tapped on the table. “The placement of the main buildings was not random. Every sect must have a defensive formation against enemies or they wouldn’t last long. Still, it is best not to activate it, if there is no need. It would damage the island itself, sapping the area of any and all energies if left on for that long!” Aerthus explained as he shook his head. “Okay, get ready everyone, we leave at dawn!”


While they were meeting, the ten chosen disciples also did the same, converging at Ariana’s place.


“Why are we meeting here?” Ariana asked with a sigh as her small living room was filled with people, sitting around a tiny table. They were drinking tea that she made for them in a hurry when they arrived an hour ago. Totally unannounced.


“Because your master is the highest ranking amongst us!” Toobu answered with a smile. “We won’t be late if we stay with you!”


“S-s-sorry, i-i-it w-w-was h-his i-idea!” Wyland said apologetically.


“I think this is kinda funny and cozy at the same time!” Sylvett laughed. “We should’ve come together and have some fun in the future, just like this!”


“Yes! More! I really like this!” Kyu laughed, holding the cup in her hands, stretching it towards Ariana as the little demon changed nothing in the past years. She was still looking like a 10 year old but at least her speaking has improved, even if her body did not.


“Me too, please.” Shadow did the same. He was also amongst them, looking prim and proper, trying to look as elegant as he could be.


“I’ll help, I’m used to it!” Orsi stood up and patted Ariana’s hand. She only looked at the teapot, letting it float up and poured tea to the two demons.


“I’m just glad I made it to the list!” Jishan chuckled who was sitting next to Zaphil who also nodded vehemently.


“It just shows we didn’t slack off in the past years.” He added.


“I feel bad for Uzami…” The final member of the group sighed, namely Tuxon.


“Don’t.” Toobu answered. “We were chosen because we are going to fight. Your skills are more sustainable than hers in a tournament. Simple as that.”


“And it’s not like anyone would be blaming us.” Sylvett added. “We weren’t chosen because of our position in the top 100 list but because we are better suited for prolonged battles.”


“It is going to be fun!” Kyu laughed, maybe the most happy and free of worry amongst them. “I am going to eat a lot and also beat up some bad people! This is the best! More!” She stretched her arms forward once again, asking for another cup of tea.


“Isn’t it cheating, bringing you two along?” Orsi smiled, refilling her cup, looking at Kyu and Shadow.


“We are still considered disciples.” Shadow smiled. “Only Lady Emi would have been… problematic.”


“But it would have been funny…” Toobu murmured. “I think none of us would be able to stand up to her… Do you think anyone they are going to send out could?”


“I-i-if t-t-they h-h-have H-h-harmony E-e-experts a-as d-d-disciples.” Wyland answered. By now he has lost a lot of weight and looked like a chubby teen instead of a snowman.


“They wouldn’t do that! Would they?” Zaphil gulped loudly.


“Hope not! We would have no chance against one!” Jishan moaned.


“Are you sure?” Tuxon smiled, drawing eyes onto himself. “Amongst us Orsi has the lowest cultivation. On paper of course.” He added quickly. “Yet I bet you, if they throw a so-called ‘Harmony Expert’ at us, who took his tribulation way too early… we could beat him.”


“True.” Sylvett nodded after a few seconds of silence. “We are used to seeing the Harmony Realm as showcased by our Elders. Yet outside? There are cultivators who are stuck at the 4th or 5th stage of Body Refinement! They take their tribulation because they are unable to advance any further! We are stronger than them! I am sure of that!”


“It’s no big deal! You just need to punch stronger and more! Ahahaha!” Kyu giggled, completely ignoring their points, emptying her cup once again like taking shots at a bar, immediately asking for refills.


“She may have grown up a little but changed almost nothing.” Ariana said with a smile.


“But she is right. We don’t need to fear anybody.” Toobu grinned, crossing his arms. “This is going to be the first showcase of our real strength. Aren't you excited about it?”


The others only exchanged smiling looks, unable to refute his words as it was the truth. When they wanted to go all out in a battle, to see their own limits, it was always against one of their fellow disciples or against an Elder. This is going to be the first time that they are going to see how far they have truly improved.


….

…..


The site for the competition was chosen to be held at the delta of the Shert River. At a point where it merges into the Calm Blue, separating the continent into multiple small and bigger islands. They were dotting the land, serving as a no man's land between two superpowers. One of them was a clear flatland without life and vegetation, at least not anything that was higher than knee-high grass. It was the perfect place for the upcoming competition. In the past year, a 100 square meter section was completely cleared, flattened and overlaid with white lime-rock tiles, outlining the arena for the competition.


As Heaven’s Gate really wanted to advertise itself, a ton of people arrived from all parts of the Kingdom as thousands of wealthy families came to spectate the event. While the Empire did not urge its own people to attend, the news still brought almost the same amount of people over from there too. Everyone was excited by the event, no matter where they lived. A show where strong cultivators would entertain the masses was something nobody wanted to miss, not to mention the possibility to make some deals under the table between families living at different sides of the river. The previously empty, little land was now field with tents, wooden temporary houses and markets, providing homes for almost 200.000 people who arrived just in the past year, treating it like a giant festival.


“What do you think?” Werebor asked, standing next to his father, watching the sea of people from their tents, guarded by soldiers. Their flag was flapping loudly above their tent in the strong wind, brought over by the arriving spring weather.


“I’m… unsure.” Kaipan shook his head. “We are on thin ice my son. Since this whole ordeal started, we have been marginalized by our neighbors.”


“It’s not the first time.” Lulu’s father shook his head. “They always do this when one Kingdom rises above the rest. Remember, my great-grandfather was one who pressured the then prospering Astrans.”


“Yes, and he somehow died in a battle.” Kaipan answered with slanted eyes. “The then King of Astran and him killed each other at the same time… Don’t be this naive, my son! We are all clear about how things go, even without evidence!”


“What about the Enjins? We could work together…” Werebor asked.


“I tried to but… they act weird. Detached from everything, I don’t know if it is the Naulin’s doing or what, but something is going on with them. I don’t know if it's good for us or not.” He shook his head, sighing heavily. “3 out of 5 caravans of ours were ransacked in the past 4 years. Even if we send Harmony Realm guards, they all die the same and the goods are gone. Everyone says it is the work of those damned Ironclaws but I don’t know what to believe anymore.”


“Every lead we got were dead ends… Even when we arrested some, they knew nothing or died in their cells, committing suicide.” Werebor said, rubbing his forehead.


“If something happens at this competition, it may spark something really bad. Contact your daughter.” Kaipan spoke with a serious voice after thinking things through.


“Father?” Werebor asked, surprised.


“Send away those you love to her and ask Lulu to find a safe place for them in the Empire. I think they won’t refuse to help one of their own. You too! Make sure you have a window of opportunity to escape with your life and with your sons, if everything goes down.”


“...” Werebor wanted to say something but seeing his father’s eyes and hearing the tone of his voice he knew this was not the time to ask questions but do as he tells you to.


“Don’t worry about me. I have lived a long life already. How’s the saying goes? A captain goes down with his ship?” he chuckled, patting his son’s shoulder. “I’m glad I have descendants to count on. Even if the Elroth Kingdom falls, one day it will arise anew.”


“You think it is this bad?” Werebor sighed with a heavy heart.


“I like to prepare for the worst. We are at the forefront since we accepted deals with the Immortal Wonders Sect. I just did not expect it would snowball this quickly, I was calculating with hundreds of years not a dozen… What is done is done, we just need to take on whatever comes next!”


“I just hope what you speak of won’t arrive!”


“They have arrived!” Came in a hurried pair of steps, scaring Werebor. It was his son who rushed in, gasping for air. “The flying ship of the Immortals is here!”


“Good.” Werebor and Kaipan looked at each other. “Let’s go, we should be there, greeting our guests, even if we are from Heaven’s Gate.” Kaipan smiled, leaving his tent, looking confident and tall, brimming with energy.