The Gemstone Chronicles – Chapter 15

2 Weeks later

 

Dale stood in the center of a modest combat practice room. The walls and ground were a murky brown color, covered in scratches and cracks. Surrounding him were 4 separate cultivators, all at the Iron Metal level. Each of these cultivators held blunt throwing knives in their hands, aiming them at Dale.

 

All was calm for a moment, then suddenly, *Swish* 4 knives were thrown out, from different directions, aimed at Dale.

 

Dale focused his entire being into calmness, concentrating. Slowly, his perception of time, and his interaction with time itself slowed down, as energy ran rampart, solidifying in his energy veins. The knives seemed to move at an impossible speed, going through the air at roughly 8/10ths their original speed. It wasn't an extreme or huge decrease in speed, but, thanks to Dale’s already quick reactions, it gave him enough of an advantage that he could easily dodge what otherwise would have been impossible.

 

After weeks of intense practice, Dale could successfully slow his perception and interaction with time down to 8/10ths of its original speed. However, he could only maintain this state for roughly 30 seconds before he ran out of energy. He found that no matter how hard he focused, he could not slow it down any more. 8/10ths seemed to be some kind of limit, or bottleneck.

 

Feng had signed himself and Dale up for the upcoming Main School Representatives Tournament. They were, consecutively, participant 971 and participant 972. With nearly a thousand other participants, Dale didn’t have high expectations for this tournament, though he intended on trying his hardest. He felt that he was decently powerful, especially with his time slowing ability, but he was still only a Coal Metal expert. He was not nearly as strong as the Silver Core experts. Every morning, he meditated till his veins filled out, slowly raising his cultivation, but in 2 weeks, he was still stuck at the early phase of the Coal Metal Core cultivation. The middle and high stages were fairly distant yet.

 

Dale, moving at a speed that looked slow yet was fast, dodged all four knives thrown at him, moving smoothly through the air. He had barely managed to dodge the fourth knife, contouring his body into an odd shape. The surrounding cultivators, instead of continuing their attack, suddenly stopped and clapped.

 

“Well done Dale!” said Teacher O’Connel, an Iron Core Cultivator. Teacher O’Connel was the Dorm head for Dale’s sector. He was a middle-aged man, with a great, greying mustache and fiery red sideburns that stood out rather a lot. He was very strict, but always cheerful. Today, however, he had agreed to help Dale test his Art, and was very pleased with the result. “You are participating in the Main School Representatives Tournament, right? Make sure you do well! You will represent our 4th Dorm sector, hahaha!”

 

“Yes, Teacher.” Dale bowed slightly. The upcoming Tournament had been on his mind quite a bit.

 

Another thing had occupied Dale’s mind as well, however. Recently, people had begun bumping into him, accidentally knocking his desk while he took notes, and being rude to him. Dale at first thought it was mere accidents, but when they started accumulating, he began to suspect a nefarious scheme. He decided to tail one of the boys who bothered him, stalking the cretin as he left. After having his head nearly bashed in by someone’s stray elbow, Dale stealthily followed the large blonde haired perpetrator for a bit.

 

After a few minutes of wandering, he saw him walk up to his dorm, and apparently settle in to take a nap.

 

Sometimes, investigation can be a real pain, Dale sighed. He decided to stake out the dorm, just to see if anything happened. However, just a few minutes later, a figure he recognized walked by. It was that noble boy! The one he met in the Library! Connor Collinbry or something like that. Colleen? Collin, maybe? He didn’t really remember. He had put the incident out of his mind, focusing on his studies and cultivation.

 

The noble boy walked up to the same dorm Dale’s assailant had entered, and disappeared as well. Dale thought about what had started occurring recently, and deduced that it was probably the petty revenge of that noble child, the one he slighted by refusing to bow out in the Library.

 

Dale walked off, shaking his head. Equality was a thing worth fighting for, Dale believed. As he walked off, he overheard the conversation of a pair of students walking by.

 

“Did you hear? Collin said he would be participating in the Main School Representatives Tournament this month!” said a slightly overweight student.

 

“What?! But he’s an Iron rank practitioner! That’s hardly fair!” the other boy decried.

 

“You’re not wrong,” said the first boy, glumly. “We might as well give up now..” They walked off.

 

Dale’s eyes flashed and an evil glint appeared in them. It looked like he would be meeting his adversary to dispense justice much, much sooner than he expected.

 

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