Feng and Dale moved into one of the practice rooms. The practice rooms they went to were located in a large building, towards the south side of the large campus. There were multiple different buildings that held practice rooms, spread across the campus. Each building held 20 separate rooms, for use by any active student or teacher at the school. The rooms themselves were roughly 30 ft by 30 ft, and had plenty of room for a close quarter battle. There was very little inside the room, just murky brown reinforced walls and a solid wooden floor, covered with dirt and old scratches. A few practice swords and the like lay in a box near the front entrance.
Feng and Dale went into one of the rooms and walked to the center. Dale immediately went into a state of deep concentration, ready to slow time at the slightest provocation. Feng, likewise, concentrated his inner energy and manipulated fire, preparing to let loose and blast away. They studied each other for a moment.
“Alright, here I come, Dale!” Feng yelled, excitedly. Feng rushed forward, leading his attack with the same attack he opened with in their first spar, a fist streaming fire from his knuckles. Dale slowed time to 90%, dodging his attack relatively easily. The slowed fist zoomed past Dale’s face, leaving a small trail of flame.
Dale had found that if he slowed time to 90% instead of 80%, the amount of time he could last using this slowed state was longer. However, he had yet to break through the 80% barrier, and couldn't slow time past this.
Feng's attack missed by an inch, whipping past Dale. However, as Dale was about to launch a counter attack, the flames burning on Feng’s hand suddenly exploded, forcing his arm backwards, into an elbow strike aimed directly at Dale's chest. Dale slowed time to 80%, concentrating with all of his might, and threw his Slowed Time Fist to intercept Feng's elbow.
The resulting impact threw Dale back about a meter, while Feng slid back roughly a foot, “Didn’t see that coming, eh?” Feng said, looking rather smug, smoke coming off his hand in a small wave, “My new techniques allow me to manipulate fire much more strongly.”
Dale stared at him, and smirked back, “Alright, tough guy, let’s see how you take this.” Dale focused his Aura and forced his will to the energy in his veins, concentrating on it. Part of his energy dissipated, but a large part stayed, and Dale infused this inside his fist. He felt the overbearing strength in his hand, and prepared to punch out.
Feng was watching Dale, and saw him take up a look of focus, but nothing else. He decided to try to startle Dale before he could finish, and led his next blazing fist right towards Dale’s chest. Just as he was about to smash into him, Dale lifted his fist and punched out towards Feng’s chest.
*CRASHHHH* Feng was blown back, smashing into the reinforced wall, where he promptly bounced off. Dale, on the other hand, was also thrown back, but only about a single meter, before he managed to shrug off the brunt of the impact. His chest ached a bit, and he had burned out a great amount of his energy creating his last attack, but because of the force of his own blow, a good deal of the impact was nullified. Feng, on the other hand, looked dazed, and didn’t seem to be moving, with a small dribble of blood sliding down his lips. Dale walked up next to him, shaking him gently, “You alright?”
“Yeah-yeah.” Feng said, nodding his head, “That was a pretty hard hit, haha!” he started laughing. “I’m glad you’re here, Dale. You give me someone to compete against, ahahaha.”
Dale started laughing too, and the two laughing boys, laughed together, living what Dale would later recall as one of the happiest moments of his life. If he had known what was in stake for him and Feng in the future, he would have treasured this moment much, much more.
Dale smiled across, and began discussing their strategies. He explained how he was going to try to integrate his Aura fist with his Time fist. He couldn’t manage to do both at once, but if he slowed time right before he went to release his Aura, and then released right as time returned to normal, he figured it would be close to what he wanted. An impossibly fast and impossibly powerful impact, something that no one could defend against.
Feng, on the other hand, was concentrating on his control. He already had an enormous power focused in his knuckles, the deadly, double layers of punches capable of causing devastating damage. With his new control over fire, he could detonate parts of his energy to quickly move or change directions, allowing him to have an erratic, unpredictable fighting style.
They decided to practice fighting together, over the two days, to prepare for the upcoming tournament. Some of the most powerful rankers were participating; it would definitely be a battle that, even if one couldn’t participate, one wouldn’t want to miss.
One day before the tournament
Dale and Feng walked towards the northern side of the campus. They were headed off into the Field Strength Test Crystal. This crystal was another legendary artifact, this one unique among even legendary items. The Field Strength Test Crystal was a massive block of some unknown gem, giving off a bluish haze. The crystal was nigh on indestructible. However, whenever it was punched, it gave off levels of light. A measuring crystal on its side had been placed next to it, and by using trial and error, the school administration learned how to measure exact amounts of strength according to the specific amount of light released.
So, using this crystal, you could gain a measure of how powerful a punch or kick was. It was an accurate measure that has quite a bit of competition around it. Students would bet on new student’s scores, as well as who would be stronger than who.
This crystal was located on the northern training grounds, inside a large coliseum-like building. Dale and Feng walked inside the building, towards the center where the crystal stood. Several dozens of students surrounded them, talking about the upcoming tournament.
Off to the side of the crystal, you could see a small crowd gathered. Two students were going back and forth, taking turns punching the crystal.
“Wow! Jonah Tarren just hit an 1800lb strike!” cried one of the watching students.
“Look at Devin go! He just landed an 1845lb strike!” cried another.
“Look at their Auras, both of them are clearly powerful Coal Metal experts.” said one of the smaller students, standing at the front. He was eyeing both of them with a bit of worship in his eyes, “These two are some of our dark horses in the upcoming tournament! They might even make it into the semi finals!”
All the other students looked at them in awe.
“You’re not too shabby.” Said Jonah, staring at Devin. Jonah was of average height. He had black hair, and a strong pair of blue eyes. He looked very confident in his strength, and he had an air of confidence around him that was no doubt very charismatic.
Devin returned, “Same to you.” Devin was slightly taller than Jonah, but more heavily built, with muscles overflowing on his body. He had dark green hair, and looked very intimidating. However, when he spoke, his voice was very high pitched, and quite annoying.
Dale and Feng made their way through the crowd, approaching the large crystal monitor.
A few members of the crowd noticed them making their way through.
“Excuse me, are you kids sure you’re in the right area? This is the crystal testing area, where Metal Core cultivators test their strength. The kiddy practice ground is over there.” the speaker gestured.
“Yes, we know where we are.” Dale responded, not appreciating being looked down on.
A few of the crowd member began to ridicule Dale and Feng, talking about their foolishness.
“Some people just can’t judge their own strength.” said one man, shaking his head.
“Don’t mess with us grownups.” said a teenager, with a scratchy beard on his face.
Devin and Jonah, noticing the crowd’s attention pull from them, glanced at the duo that was drawing them off.
“Well, well, well, what do we have here?” said Devin, smirking. He flexed his muscles as he crossed his arms, trying to stare Feng down. Unfortunately, Feng wasn’t paying attention; a normal state for Feng, and his attempted intimidation didn’t result in much. “This place is for grownups only, kiddos like you might get hurt if you don’t leave.”
“There’s no need to threaten them, Devin.” Jonah said, glancing at Dale and Feng. “You two shouldn’t be here though. Only Core Metal Cultivators are allowed in this area.”
The crowd behind them began to shout ridicule and laughed, waiting to see the embarrassed duo run off in shame.
Dale and Feng glanced at each other.