“Hey You two! No fighting is allowed here!” a nearby instructor shouted at them.
“Sorry Sir!” Xiaoxia and the guy cried out and bowed in unison, perfect mirror images.
Both realized what happened and looked at each other, suddenly smiling. Then both started laughing at once. After all, they were still kids.
“Wow, you are a Tier 9? It’s incredible, you are the highest I’ve seen so far,” the guy exclaimed in surprise, when he saw Xiaoxia’s wrist device.
“You are not too bad yourself, Tier 7?” Xiaoxia returned the compliment, noticing the ‘D7’ on his device.
“Hahaha! Pardon my abrasive behavior, I was just bored and looking for a fight,” the guy’s attitude made a 180 degrees turn and seemed like the near fisticuffs never happened for him.
“I am really sorry too for bumping into you,” Xiaoxia replied.
“Anyway, forgive my manners, I am Shi Feng, Hu Yuan Imperial Academy, Hu Yuan Empire,” Xiaofeng informed Xiaoxia and continued, “you can call me Xiaofeng
“Hu Yuan Empire? Me too,” Xiaoxia replied and quickly added, “My name is Zhen Xia, Academy of the Six Elements, from 1st Colony, Hu Yuan Empire. You can call me Xiaoxia.”
“Ah! Another countrymen, but why are you in this Academy?” Xiaofeng asked.
“It’s a long story,” Xiaoxia replied, then realizing something, “Ah I am going to be really late, sorry Xiaofeng I have to rush off, look me up at the school administrative building, they can get you my contact.”
Xiaoxia rushed off, leaving Xiaofeng behind.
“That guy, sigh, I wanted to talk to him more, it’s so boring,” Xiaofeng looked crestfallen.
“Hey Xiaofeng! Why are you looking so down?” a girl approached him, she was about his age.
“Ah! Qing Shijie! You just missed one of our own,” Xiaofeng told her.
“Huh? It doesn’t matter, everyone here is feiwu,” Qing Shijie snorted with an arrogant expression.
(Author’s Note: Shijie ~ translated as teacher elder sister, basically means a fellow female disciple who is above you in ranking, or one who is older than you.
Feiwu means trash, but it sounds better and more authentic using this.)
At this point, the sunlight reflected off her insignia, it had an ‘S’ vermillion custom grade Ki crystal on it as well.
She came from a Royal City and her father is King of one of the kingdoms, a great grandnephew of the Emperor. Her great-great grandfather is the Emperor’s brother.
“This guy could be the same as us,” Xiaofeng informed her.
“What are you talking about? There are only 2 ‘S’ class in Hu Yuan Empire,” Qing Shijie exclaimed, clearly not believing Xiaofeng’s words.
“No, that is not true, my father who is close to the Arch Duke in the Imperial city, mentioned one more ‘S’ class who was requested by MeisterSchloss. He was not officially included in the list for unknown reasons,” Xiaofeng replied.
“Who cares?! It’s not like there is anyone else who can challenge me, I am the only one who can win this competition,” Qing Shijie sneered in contempt.
“You are not the only one,” Xiaofeng said.
“What? Are you saying some country hick is on the same level as me?” Qing Shijie was shocked, on her wrist device, a ‘D8’ was seen.
“No he is Tier 9,” Xiaofeng replied, holding a grin back.
Qing Shijie was younger than him, but only because of her status and skills, and all her other peers called her Shijie as well. In actual fact, most of them spoke badly of her behind her back, due to her arrogance and the contempt she had for them.
“That’s impossible, no one can be better than me!” Qing Shijie angrily stomped her foot and took out a PCD*. She was contacting her father.
(Author’s note: Personal spatial communication device, it’s on the compendium under spatial devices.)
“Oops, I should not have said that,” Xiaofeng realized immediately, his dad had told him this information was restricted and only a few in the empire knew.
“My dad said there is no such thing, and even if there was, he would know all about it,” Qing Shijie looked angrily at Xiaofeng, after getting off the PCD.
“Phew,” Xiaofeng muttered under his breath, if word got out, he and his father will be in trouble for leaking this information.
“I am sorry, maybe I saw wrongly,” Xiaofeng pretended otherwise.
“Of course!” Qing Shijie replied, once again in a voice full of contempt and arrogance.
“Where is she?” Xiaoxia asked no one in particular, the crowd was huge and he could not see Instructor Wei. The stadium was fully packed by supporters of their respective academies.
There were about 900 single matches today per stadium across the campus, and there were about 170 stadiums. All the stadiums were huge structures, with capacities for over five hundred thousand spectators.
The area for competition was more than 600,000 square feet. Each stadium had 10 battle platforms about 40,000 square feet for one. Every battle was limited to 10 minutes. In the event both competitor was still standing at the end, five judges assigned to each battle, will vote for the winner.
“Xia Er!” Instructor Wei shouted out across the crowd, spotting him as he was looking everywhere for her.
“Mentor!” Xiaoxia answered and hurriedly weaved his way towards her.
“Good you are here, take this and wear it,” Instructor Wei passed him the Academy’s chevron, however this had only a single ‘S’ on it. His other one had double ‘S’.
“You need to wear this, we cannot afford for you to wear the other one,” Instructor Wei said and continue, “Until you have the ability to fend off any aggressors, wear this and you do not need to hide it.”
Instructor Wei explained the Academy had registered him under the ‘S’ class instead of double ‘S’, as it was unprecedented and will create a butterfly effect. This was something they had to avoid at all cost.
“Thank you Mentor,” Xiaoxia replied, taking the chevron and putting it on. In the meantime, he also took out the Mentor token and place it.
“Good, now your first competitor is from one of the other empire, he is Duelist Realm 3rd Tier,” she informed him.
“Is there anything I need to look out for?” Xiaoxia asked.
“No, there is nothing in particular, he is a Title class and there is not much information about him from the intelligence network,” Instructor Wei replied.
“Intelligence network?” Xiaoxia asked more surprised than confused.
“Yes, this is a competition, and people pay good money for information on their opponents, also there are bets going around for each match,” Instructor Wei grinned.
It looked like she wants to bet on the matches. Xiaoxia was a little abashed, he felt Jay would have fit the picture of a gambler not Instructor Wei.
“Don’t look at me like this, we do not earn enough as it is. Our monthly wages are peanuts compared to your tuition fees,” Instructor Wei told Xiaoxia off.
“Sorry Mentor,” Xiaoxia apologized.
“Don’t dwell over it, your match will started at 30 minutes pass the 8th hours, you have another 20 minutes to prepare,” she told him and lead him to the competitors’ locker.
While walking towards the locker, he met Charlotted and Libby.
“Hey Xiaoxia! You going up soon?” Charlotte asked immediately after she spotted him.
“Um, yes. Oh and this is my Mentor, Instructor Wei,” Xiaoxia replied and introduced Instructor Wei.
“Oh wow! You have a mentor? What’s this! ‘S’ class?!” Charlotte was both surprised and shock, not only at Xiaoxia having a Mentor, but also the ‘S’ class chevron on his uniform.
At this time Libby was whispering something to Charlotte, and Charlotte’s face became even more flushed.
“D9?! You are Duelist Realm Tier 9?” Charlotte asked again, looking at Xiaoxia’s wrist device. Apparently Libby had noticed it before Charlotte and told her.
“Um, yes,” Xiaoxia replied with an expression similar to a deer being caught in the headlights.
“Ladies, I am sorry, but we have to leave first, his match is beginning soon,” Instructor Wei said and lead Xiaoxia away.
“See you later!” Xiaoxia hurried after Instructor Wei, as he waved towards the girls.
Charlotte was just standing there with a dumbfounded expression, while Libby was her normal self and looking at Xiaoxia quietly as he disappeared from sight.
“Will the first group of contestants please enter the arena!” one of the organizers was saying.
Xiaoxia was in the middle of 19 other participants for the opening single matches at the stadium. Two gigantic hologram faced each other at both ends of the stadium. Even more holograms were placed strategically outside the stadium grounds for spectators who could not find seats in the stadium.
As they walked out into the competition grounds, their images were supersized on the screen. Xiaoxia quickly averted his face when the screen was moving pass him. He was still rather camera shy and hoped it wasn’t broadcast at all.
He was on the 6th platform in the arena, as he approached, he saw that his opponent was already standing there.
“Greetings, my name is Jack, Academy of the Springs, Empire of Springs,” Jack greeted Xiaoxia as he stepped into the battle dais.
“Greetings and nice to meet you, I am Zhen Xia, Academy of the Six Elements, 1st Colony, Hu Yuan Empire,” Xiaoxia greeted him back.
After both of them greeted each other, the referee entered the ring and summarized the rules,
“No killing or serious endangerment, no hitting the opponent on their family jewels, no use of forbidden skills or weapon, no unregistered weapons, maintain proper pugilist honor at all times and finally have a good duel!”
Both of them nodded their heads and returned to their corner, Jack was the blue corner, while Xiaoxia was the red corner. The battle dais was 200 x 200 feet and had sufficient room for a proper battle. There was a shimmering energy shield surrounding the entire dais, preventing stray Ki attacks during the match from hitting the crowd, and at the same time preventing any stray objects from the crowd from hitting the competitors.
After waiting for all the other competitors to be at their respective battle dais, the referee signaled for both Jack and Xiaoxia to approach the marks where they should start.
When they were positioned, Jack and Xiaoxia faced each other fifty feet away, standing on the assigned marking on each side of their zone.
“Once I give the signal you may start,” the referee instructed them.
“Yes Sir,” both of them replied.
“Phreeee!” the referee blew his whistle.
Immediately Jack gathered his Ki and threw a concentrated Ki burst at Xiaoxia.
Xiaoxia did not moved, and deflected it with his bare hands. He didn’t feel even the slightest tingle.
“Damn!” Jack exclaimed and immediately jumped backwards.
In an instant, Xiaoxia vanished from his sight, and before Jack knew it, he was laying on the ground.
“Phreee! Winner, Red side!” the referee announced, he actually paused for a moment before blowing the whistle, not sure what had happened right at that moment.
The entire stadium did not react in an instant, as it took sound 3 to 4 seconds to reach the farthest seats in the stadium. Once it did, it was a deafening silence, as the all eyes present looked in amazement at the 6th platform and the holograms.
On both the gigantic holograms, Xiaoxia’s name as other details were broadcast for all to see. Fortunately the Ki talent class was at ‘S’ realm instead of his actual one, as arranged by the Academy. It also showed the entire duration time of the battle, and it was an unbelievable number.
The entire battle had only taken 5 seconds. An ear splitting roar erupted just a moment later when it finally sank it what happened. Everyone was cheering ‘Zhen Xia! Zhen Xia! Zhen Xia!’ as Xiaoxia walked off the stage.
Even all the other competitors were distracted by the whistle and the cheers, and the referees of these matches had to call a pause to the duels. They only restarted the match when the noise receded.
“Wow, he is awesome!” Charlotte was slapping Libby’s back in excitement, causing Libby to cough incessantly.
Libby whispered something in Charlotte’s ear and looked away a little red in the face. At this moment Charlotte eyes sparkled and grinned an evil smile at Libby.
“If you want him you gotta fight me for it! Heheheheh!” Charlotte told her and laughed impishly.
Libby grinned and gave a thumbs up on that, making it a deal.
“Damn, that was too one sided!” Jay was complaining.
“What do you expect?” Instructor Wei replied, she was standing with him hidden away near one of the upper skylights on the roof.
“Well at least some punches or kicks. Nothing at all, just a chop to the neck and bye-bye,” Jay said in disgust.
“There will be more challenging matches later, this is just to get rid of the chaff,” Instructor Wei said.
“Bah! I know, just disappointed from the lack of show, these guys are supposed to be the elites of their academies and empires!” he replied shaking his head.
“The Academy of Springs is not known for their combat skills, they are more known for their manipulation of Ki for healing purposes,” Instructor Wei informed.
“I know that as well, stop trying to teach me things I taught you!” Jay sound as if he was offended, except for the smile on his face.
“Idiot brother,” Instructor Wei responded with a grin.
Qing Shijie was shocked, the battle was too fast even for her to follow. This Zhen Xia guy was from the same empire as she was, and to make matters worse, he had a higher Ki realm than her. The final insult is that he is a country bum from some desolate unknown town in the 1st Colony.
Even with the replay on extremely slow speeds, it could only manage to capture an extremely vague blur of his movement. This was the only evidence of him moving behind his opponent. It did not even capture how he did it, or the blow that resulted in the win.
She refused to accept it, it was going to be a huge loss of face for her. She had arrogantly claimed that she will win the singles competition hands down, since the Champions for the past 5 centuries did not even reach Duelist Realm 8th Tier when they won.
Not only her face, her reputation as well will be tarnished if she did not bring back the trophy. This Zhen Xia guy is going to be the biggest hurdle of all for her. She had to do something fast or it will be too late.
She is not going to just sit around and wait for things to happen. She had started cultivating Ki at 5 years old with the best resources available, and reached Duelist Realm 5th Tier even before she started in the Hu Yuan Imperial Academy. She managed to gain a Tier almost each month with the most advance cultivating platform available in the world. All these efforts and time will go down the drain if nothing is done.
Behind her stood Xiaofeng, he could hear the gears ticking in her head and smiled to himself. He really wished she was not going to do what he thinks she will.
In his hands was an intelligence report from his father’s spies, it had taken him less than a 10 minutes to gather the information. After all his father is Hu Yuan Empire’s Senior Interior Minister and Advisor, and have a comprehensive network of spies working for him to ensure the safety of the Empire.
It indicated that the beloved great-grand daughter of the Emperor himself is backing Xiaoxia. The Arch Duchess Amelia was no pushover and she had the political power and influence to become the ruler of the 1st Colony.
At the same time she had enough political juices to even have a King removed and retired, so that the previous ruler of the 1st Colony could take over that kingdom. It was not something anyone could do.
Even if it was all done by the Emperor himself, it showed that no one could go against the Arch Duchess Amelia. No doubt Qing Shijie’s father is a King, he was far down in the succession line and not even the direct family of the Emperor, and he was just a great grandnephew.
The Arch Duchess Amelia was 12th in succession, even closer when the time comes. The reports showed that the Imperial Crown Prince who was her grandfather and even her father will step aside if Amelia claimed the throne. Even the other Imperial members in higher succession will not have such favors done for them.
“Xiaofeng, will you please excuse me, I need to communicate with my uncle privately,” Qing Shijie told Xiaofeng.
“Of course my dearest princess,” Xiaofeng bowed mockingly and quickly left the room, noticing with delight that Qing Shijie was furious when he said that.
Once he left the room, he murmured to himself, “She is going to get herself in a whole lot of trouble.”