“I accept.” Dale slowly stood up, his eyes smoldering. He had just been sitting here with his friend Jerah, talking about each other’s current lives. For someone he already disliked to rudely interrupt and challenge him angered him a great deal. Dale was eager to finish the fight and return to talking.
Jerah looked at Dale with a worried look. He knew that Dale was strong but this was Yoric Claire, a powerful Steel Core cultivator and one of the stronger members of the Claire Family. Yoric had been trained by the best and was considered stronger than the average Steel Core cultivator.
Yoric turned around, his odd colored hair swirling, as he marched onto the arena. The surrounding crowd perked up, recognizing Yoric’s admittedly unique hair. For a Claire Family member to be fighting, it must be serious, they thought, scouting the audience to see who his opponent was.
Dale walked out onto the solid arena floor. He had already entered his Perfect Balance mode, ready to move at a moments notice. The surrounding crowd began to quietly whisper, trying to find out who the young boy was and why he was so unfortunate to have angered the powerful Claire family.
Yoric embraced his Core energy, drawing deeply from it. A powerful Steel Aura rose around him, protecting him. Dale drew forth his Core energy as well, a Steel Aura morphing around him too.
Yoric glared across the arena grounds at Dale and said,
“I won’t hold back like I did last time. You won’t be able to hide behind your weak Var Family friend.” He sneered at Dale, his eyes glaring daggers.
Dale watched him carefully, prepared to dash backwards at an instant. Dale knew he’d grown a great deal over the past few years, but he didn’t think he’d be at the strength of a Noble who’s trained for years and had the best resources available.
Dale was extremely nervous at the moment. He was prepared to create an Aura Wall around his body at a moment’s notice to block any attacks from the powerful noble.
Yoric took a slight step forward, the energy around him starting to materialize. Cold air swarmed around his hands.
Dale immediately jumped backwards, startled. I can’t let him hit me! Dale thought, preparing to attack him first. However, because of Dale’s hesitation and nervousness, Yoric launched his attack first.
Several shards of ice flew towards Dale, streaking cold in the air. They went out in a large pattern, intending to intercept Dale if he dodged. Dale froze up, too nervous to dodge and threw up an enormously powerful wall of Aura. The air itself vibrated as the Aura Wall came into being. Dale was rapidly drawing energy from his Core and converting it into pure Aura to power the wall.
The piercing blades of ice struck forward and smashed into Dale’s Aura Wall before bouncing off harmlessly, many of them shattering. The screech of the ice echoed in the air.
Dale looked at the remnants of ice incredulously.
That’s it?! He thought, staring. That was so weak though… Dale instantly looked up, keeping a careful watch on Yoric. He couldn’t accept that his attack had been that weak and assumed it must have been a bluff of some sort.
The audience watched the battle evolving in front of them with eager eyes. When Dale had managed to block the ice attack shot off by Yoric, many of them had exclaimed, not understanding how such a powerful looking attack was blocked. The majority of the audience agreed that Yoric was holding back against the unfamiliar kid and didn’t want to stain his hands by killing him.
Yoric stared at Dale angrily and yelled,
“Hmph! If you won’t come and fight, I’ll come to you!” He dashed forward, speeding off towards Dale.
Dale dropped his Aura Wall and slowed time, watching as Yoric’s movements slowed. Again, he was incredulous. Is this really his best speed? He’s so slow.. He thought, waiting for him to speed up.
Yoric arrived next to Dale, Ice covering his fists. He swung his arms forward, using his Ice Art to lead a powerful frozen punch. The audience gasped as a blue glow covered Yoric’s fist, expecting to see Dale smashed into pieces or badly injured by the attack. A few even made uncomfortable expressions, not wanting a murder to take place on the Daja Ball arena.
Dale watched the fist fly at him as if it was in slow motion. Compared to the Lizard Warriors he had killed when helping Jerah, this Noble’s attack was moving forward at an extremely slow pace.
Dale dodged his neck slightly to the left. Yoric’s punch missed him by a bare centimeter, swooping through the air. With an almost insultingly casual swipe of his hand, Dale smashed his energy-covered arm into Yoric’s chest.
Yoric was immediately thrown backward, crashing down on to the arena floor before bouncing off, twice. He landed down on the south end of the floor, clutching at his chest. Dale stared at him unbelieving.
“Is he really this weak?” Dale mused aloud. He waited to see if Yoric was bluffing for some reason, but couldn’t understand why he would.
The audience stared at the scene in front of them, unable to comprehend what had just happened. The surrounding Nobles had been waiting for Yoric, a well-known member of the Claire Family, to wipe the floor with the poor kid he challenged. Instead, Yoric was completely humiliated and defeated, the poor kid making it seem almost effortless.
Yoric groaned on the ground, slowly wobbling back to his feet. His face was pale and blood was dribbling down his lips. However, he looked at Dale with slightly less arrogance than he had before and whispered.
“Thank you for the match.”
He turned around sharply, saying nothing else. His proud air didn’t seem the slightest bit diminished, despite his loss. Dale shrugged, not really understanding, and walked off. He returned back to where Jerah was sitting. Jerah was staring at him happily.
“Haha! Awesome! You totally showed them what was up!” Jerah high fived Dale, praising him.
Dale smiled and said, “It was nothing!”
The boys quickly returned to hanging out and talking about random things. Jerah was excited that Dale was so strong and Dale was confused as to why the Noble was so weak.
The audience slowly died down, whispering among themselves about the fight. Soon, rumor spread around the entire Borealis Top that a powerful Steel level youth from the Claire Family had been defeated by some no name friend of the Var Family.
It was very unusual for people in the six most powerful Families to challenge others, and it was even more unusual for experts from these six families to be defeated. The Claire Family usually wouldn’t pay attention to the squabbles from the younger generations. However, for one of their members to be humiliated by someone, a person who wasn’t even a Noble, was something they couldn’t overlook. Orders were passed out, family members exchanging looks, and soon another Cultivator walked over towards the arena.
Dale was currently watching a match between two Steel Core Cultivators. The current fighters were both from minor families and had come to settle a grudge of some sort. Jerah was eagerly commentating, describing who was who and why they were fighting. Dale thought it was all a bit ridiculous, the small things these people would fight for.
As Dale watched, he slowly came to the realization that many of these Noble children were very sheltered. They had been spoiled and gained their powerful cultivations through their family’s money, not through experience or practice. While many of them had the same level of strength that Dale had, very few had been through what he had, practicing every day at a powerful school, striving and working hard to become stronger.
A new figure walked up to where Dale and Jerah were sitting. The audience around the arena had filled up a great deal, many of the available chairs and benches were full. More and more Nobles were walking down, checking out the arena and preparing to watch some of the more powerful Nobles duke it out in the evening.
The new figure was a young man, perhaps 16 or 17. He had piercing hazel eyes and dark brown hair. He walked up to Dale with a smile on his face and looked very kind.
“Hi! I see that you gave some pointers to one of my Family members. Would you mind exchanging pointers with me as well?” The kindly looking young man looked at Dale expectantly.
Off to Dale’s side, Jerah was shaking his head in horror, motioning for Dale to decline. Dale, however, was already nodding and said,
“Sure! Why not?”
The kindly looking young man smiled, an expression flickering across his face so quickly that Dale wasn’t quite sure he saw anything. For a split second, the older boy had looked cruelly down at him. However, the kind smiling expression returned back to his face almost immediately, making Dale doubt it was even there.
The Claire Family member smiled at Dale and said,
“Perfect! We can have our match after these two kids finish up.” He turned to watch the current Steel cultivators fight.
Jerah was staring at Dale in horror, trying to convey who the person standing next to him was. Dale looked back at Jerah and shrugged. Dale was no longer afraid of any of these Nobles, and unless someone was on the Gold Core level, they weren’t someone he would be scared to fight.
Dale turned back to watch the current Steel fighters finish their duel.
Theldon Continent, The Under Cave, City-State of Roth
The palace was under attack.
General Isgard was a Gem Core Cultivator at the middle phase of strength. Among Gem Core Cultivators, he was considered one of the strongest in the entire Under Cave. He was renowned for his devastatingWind Blades and had singlehandedly stopped entire invasions from the Infested Lands. He was considered one of Roth’s greatest heroes and was the leader of the, even more famous, Berserk Unit.
Roth’s famed Berserk Unit it was so powerful it made other City-States avoid offending Roth. Composed of over a hundred Gold Core or higher-level cultivators, these warriors had a unique method of cultivation that led them to go berserk when they engaged in combat. Fighting one or two of these warriors might not be a problem, but with over a hundred of these monsters, they had become a force to be reckoned with. The Berserk Unit was led by Isgard, a Middle Gem Core General, and two Beginner Gem Core General’s, known simply as the Twins.
The Twins were rather infamous, known throughout the Under Cave for their inability to see between friend and foe when they attack.
General Isgard was current running forward towards the palace, hurrying to stop whoever was attacking.
About 30 seconds ago a huge explosion had rocked the city. Someone had broken through the Ruler’s palace outer wall and was enacting a slaughter as they made their way towards Roth’s rulers.
Roth was very unique in the Under Cave in that it was ruled by a council of elected officials, officials that were rather weak in strength. Roth was ruled by a form of democracy, a place where law and order was valued above power. The council was composed of 24 members that are reelected every seven years. The power behind Roth was the Berserk Unit and its famed generals.
General Isgard arrived at the palace to find a scene of absolute destruction. Bodies littered the floor, death spreading everywhere. Hundreds of guards had already died, trying to stop whoever was attacking.
Isgard’s Aura blasted forward, a domineering Gem Aura giving off waves of Wind energy. He spread his aura out, sensing the presence of everything it touched. In less than a second he had already covered the entire palace and found the attacker. The Berserk Unit was also responding, several tens of powerful cultivators converging on a single person at the center of the palace.
Isgard broke through the palace walls, blasting through wall after wall, to reach the attacker in the shortest period of time. In less than three seconds he smashed through 5 stone walls and arrived before the murderer.
The attacker was covered in blood stained black leather armor, with a black mask covering his face. A number eight was carved into the enamel mask. He stood, holding the body of the last Council member of Roth, the rest lying around the room, dead. His hands were covered in mysterious looking gloves that gave off waves of energy.
Isgard was immediately able to tell that the attacker had a higher level of cultivation than he did. However, with the knowledge that the Berserk Unit and the Twins were rushing this way, he had enough confidence that he could at least stop the attacker from fleeing. His eyes filled with rage as he looked around the hall, seeing the city he had spent years protecting and building, destroyed before him.
“Who are you?!” Isgard yelled out, his voice crashing against the stone pillars in the room they stood in. The masked figure was standing at the opposite end of the Council room, a room that only had a long table and several chairs, and was surrounded by several large supporting pillars. The room had originally been a great hall, but had been converted for meeting purposes.
A quiet voice emerged from the masked figure,
“I am your death.”
Isgard screamed in rage and denial and leapt forward, a thousand blades of wind whipping outward, tearing the Council room to shreds, as he attacked the masked figure before him.
The room they were standing in literally exploded as everything was sliced through. The stone walls, the ceiling, the pillars, the dead bodies, everything. The masked figure jumped directly up, breaking through the stone roof and crashing to the outside of the palace. Isgard followed, leaving the destroyed room.
The masked figure vanished for a moment, reappearing behind Isgard as he emerged onto the roof. Isgard, thanks to spreading his Aura all around, felt him vanish and reappear, and he managed to defend himself against the casual blow the masked figure had hit him with.
Isgard immediately smashed forward, flying through the air over 20 meters before stopping, landing farther down on the palace roof. The shingles and wood beneath him exploded, scattering everywhere, as he regained his balance. He glared at the masked figure before him.
General Isgard practiced an extremely powerful Art known as the Wind Emperors Cyclone Art, one of the Godly 108 Arts. By drawing forth and using his Core energy to manipulate the air, Isgard could create enormous cyclones of wind, each on containing an extremely high cutting power. The full Art consisted of a thousand spinning blades of wind, each equivalent to a full powered Black Gold Commanders sword strike.
Isgard immediately activated his art, the wind around him stirring into a thousand blades. He dashed forward, ignoring the state of the palace roof, as he launched himself at the masked figure. As Isgard rushed forward, the thousand blades of wind beside him began to vibrate and streak forward, slicing the roof they stood on into shreds.
The masked figure watched him approach calmly, stepping forward towards him. Isgard’s eyes shined as he came into range of the masked figure, throwing all of his Core energy into a massive Wind Blade that streaked towards the masked figure’s head.
Just as the attack was about to slice into him, the masked figure's gloved hand shot up and forward, stopping the attack with the palm of his hand. The force of Isgard’s personal Wind Blade blasted forward, however, leaving the blade to slice into the masked figure. Just as the energy from the attack was about to hit him, the air surrounding the expert shifted and the masked figure suddenly disappeared.
Isgard’s thousand blades of wind sliced into the spot the masked figure had been at a bare moment previously, causing small rips in space to appear for a split second before disappearing. Isgard looked around in shock, unable to find his opponent.
A split second later, Isgard felt an enormous heat enter his body, piercing his chest. He looked down in shock as a gloved hand smashed though his chest, directly where his heart was. The hand withdrew, crushing the heart as it pulled out. Standing directly behind Isgard was the masked figure, an enormously powerful Aura emanating from him. Isgard stared in shock, recognizing several Gem Auras instead of a normal Aura.
His glare soon faded as he fell to his knees, death overtaking him. With his dying breath he spat out a question,
The masked figure looked down at him, contemplating his death for a moment before saying,
“To send a message. Some things are just not allowed in our world.”
Isgard felt more than saw the Twins and several Berserk Unit warriors arrive on the scene and turn to attack the masked figure.
The last thing he saw as darkness covered his vision and he was no more, was the masked figure turning to face the defenders, vanishing as he walked forward, spreading death in his wake.