As soon as the start of the fight started, the thousands ofcontestants formed groups, which then fought against nearby groups. Clearly,the majority of the fighters had spent the last few hours developing alliances.
Like Jia Yuan, there were still many individual fighters. Forthe most part, these individual fighters were quickly wiped out by the groupsas easy prey.
However, that was not the case for Jia Yuan. Most of thecontestants were at or below the 4th level of Absorption, and JiaYuan was strong enough to contest with those at the Manipulation level.
Jia Yuan could walk through the stadium field as he pleased,and that is exactly what he did. Jia Yuan surrounded himself with a thick fieryaura that protected him from any attacks heading his way, and walked toward thecenter of the field.
Some competitors would try to attack Jia Yuan, but uponencountering the aura around Jia Yuan, would quickly realize that he was farstronger than they, and would promptly retreat.
While Jia Yuan was making his way toward the center of thefield, the audience roared as they watched the spectacle below.
As for the King, he and his ministers were pointing outvarious fighters and discussing their strengths.
At this time, the King actually noticed Da Rong, who alongwith the rest of the “rich group,” was making quick work of several enemiessurrounding him.
“That kid over there, who is he?” The King asked.
One of the ministers beside him quickly replied. “That thereis Da Rong, the youngest son of Da Xiu, the governor of BlackSteel City.”
“Impressive, Impressive. That rascal must be happy he wasable to have such an outstanding son.”
The King and his ministers continued to look for strongfighters, and frequently pointed out a noble’s son or daughter. After all, thiswas a good chance for some of the ministers to help out their less powerfulfriends by introducing their friend’s lower generation to the King.
After a few minutes of this, the number of contestants stillin contention was reaching about three thousand. The field wasn’t as crowded,and most of those who were left were strong in their own right.
It was at this time, that the King emphatically pointedtoward the middle of the field. “That kid right there, who is he?”
None of the ministers could respond.
“Is he not a noble’s son? How is he so strong?”
Previously, Jia Yuan had walked toward the center of thefield, and instead of attacking those around him directly, he had simplyexpanded the area his aura occupied, which forced those around him to retreat,else they would succumb to the pressure.
Doing this had singled him out in the middle of the field,making it very easy for the audience, including the King, to notice him.
Once Jia Yuan knew that he had garnered the attention of theaudience, he began to dance in the center of the stadium. To start, a bit offire trailed behind his blade, but with every movement, the size of the firetrailing HiRyu grew, until Jia Yuan was surrounded by a continuous ribbon offlame, surrounding him like an inferno. While the fighters couldn’t see thetrue length of the ribbon of flame, the King, from his vantage point, could.
It was over 50 meters long!
At this point, Jia Yuan closed his eyes and used his mentalenergy to explode the flame outwards, effectively forcing the majority of thecompetitors to retreat to the edges of the stadium, instantly ousting severalhundred.
As for those who remained, they looked at Jia Yuan inhorror.
What kind of strength was that? He was clearly so young, butthat strength was far beyond any of their capabilities.
Even Da Rong and Yan Dan, who were among the strongest ofthe competitors, were completely flabbergasted. That kind of power rivaled thekind of power their parents had. In fact, Yan Dan wasn’t even sure her fatherwas capable of unleashing such power.
After a momentary pause, fighting resumed in the stadium,but everyone made sure to steer clear of Jia Yuan, who drew his aura back intohis body and simply sat down in the middle of the field, waiting for thosearound him to finish their business.
In fact, he was so comfortable that he took an apple out ofhis ring and began gnawing on it just like Guo Huo had in the past. While doingso, he looked up toward the King.
The King, having witnessed the power of the youth, as wellas the audacity of said youth to simply sit down in the middle of all of thefighting, was actually rather delighted.
“I’ve made my decision. After the round, bring that kid uphere. I want to know what kind of a person he is.”
“It will be done, your majesty.” Said one of the ministers, who turned around to address some nearby guards.
“After the match ends, escort the competitor that the King just pointed out up here. Oh, and be sure to be polite, he will be an honored guest. I won’t have you losing face for the King.”
“Yes sir.” The two guards nodded and began to descend to the stadium field. The two of them were personal guards of the minister, and they understood what would happen if they didn’t follow the minister’s orders. Someone like Jia Yuan would probably stand at the forefront of the Fire Kingdom in years to come. Youths like him weren’t exactly indispensable, but were definitely hard to come by.
But some guards? The two guards were both at the peak of the Absorption level, but from the attack they had witnessed earlier, they already knew that Jia Yuan was likely stronger than them. Compared to Jia Yuan, they were dispensable. If they caused bad will between Jia Yuan and the minister, the minister wouldn’t hesitate to use the two guards to placate someone like Jia Yuan.
The reason why the minister was careful to the point of reminding the two guards, was because an incident had happened at the last tournament, where a minister had grown interested in a competitor, and had sent for his men to greet the competitor. However, the competitor had not wanted to go with the guards, at which point the guards began to use force. After doing so, the guards had actually been killed, and the competitor, who shortly became a soldier of the Burning Legion, was actually the son of a fellow minister.
One can imagine the trouble that came from the bad will caused by such an event.
So, to be safe, the minister who sent the guards to retrieve Jia Yuan sent them off with an extra warning.
After about another 10 minutes of fighting, there were only 100 competitors left alive on the field, and the round was over. As the remaining fighters filed out of the stadium, their names were recorded by some soldiers by the exit.
After Jia Yuan’s name was recorded, two guards walked up to him.
“Hello, what can I do for you?”
The two guards politely responded. “Hello sir, our lord would like to invite you, on behalf of the King, to the royal box. The King very much desires to meet you.”
“Hmm…” Jia Yuan actually hadn’t counted on the King wanting to meet him immediately. To be honest, he didn’t really want to meet with the King. If it weren’t for the promised weapon, he wouldn’t even have bothered with showing off previously.
It was just a pain to deal with nobility. You had to keep a straight back and speak eloquently… it was tiring.
But how could he refuse the King? Jia Yuan understood that if he angered the King, even Guo Huo wouldn’t be able to help him if he was there.
And Jia Yuan was alone.
“Fine fine, I’ll come. Is there food up there?”
“Ah, thank you sir. There is indeed some food in the royal box, I believe that I saw some servants bringing up some roast pork when the two of us were coming down to receive you.”
“Ahh, perfect. Lead the way, lead the way.”
Maybe if I just focus on the food, it’ll be worth it to deal with those damn nobles.
After walking up to the royal box, where the King and his ministers had been viewing the tournament from, Jia Yuan was able to detect some wonderful aromas.
Ahhhh, looks like I might be able to profit from this meeting after all. I can smell some roast pork, some sweet beef… ah…
Then, Jia Yuan noticed the people around him. They were all looking at him with eyes of admiration. Although Jia Yuan wasn’t truly strong, he was extremely gifted to have such strength at his age.
The most noticeable was the King, who was wearing a fiery red robe with royal gold decorations, as well as a tall golden crown.
However, the most distinguishing feature of this man, was the noble aura that surrounded him. Although he wasn’t released the aura of his Song, the King still had a suffocating and fearsome aura around him.
Upon encountering the aura, Jia Yuan found it hard to think, or even to breathe. After a momentary daze, Jia Yuan subtly released the aura of the Song of Swords, which protected Jia Yuan from the King’s aura.
What was that domineering aura?
Much more wary of the situation, Jia Yuan slowly walked infront of the King. Upon reaching a distance of about 5 meters, he knelt on oneknee.
“Rise! Haha, It’s rare to find someone so talented. I wasinterested by your demonstration during the tournament battle. It seems thatyou have quite good control over the flames of your Song.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty.”
The King had been praising Jia Yuan in hopes of learning whothis boy was supported by. Clearly, given Jia Yuan’s expertise, he had to havesome power helping him. However, Jia Yuan had replied very nonchalantly, notrevealing any information. This slightly irritated the King, who was ratherused to getting his way. However, he kept a clear mind.
“Hm, given your strength, I think you are the strongestamongst the 8 picked from the last round of the tournament. How about this,then? I’ll let you have first pick among the royal weapons.”
“Thank you, your majesty.”
“Haha, no need to thank me. It is in the Fire Kingdom’sinterests to reward the talented. Now, why don’t you tell me about yourself? I’mquite interested, since none of my ministers seem to know anything about you.”
Ahh, so that’s what hewas aiming for. I guess he wants to see if I belong to some faction that maybring harm to the throne…He has to plan for everything, after all.
“That’s fine, but uh, Your Majesty, I exhausted a bit ofstrength earlier, so do you mind if I tell you while we eat?”
The King was rather surprised at the boy’s audacity, butafter the initial feeling of shock, he was rather amused. It seemed that thisboy was rather straightforward, which made it easier for the King. It was fareasier to deal with someone who was open and straightforward than someone whospent their time scheming. It was also much safer.
And so, Jia Yuan told the King about his background, how hewas a slave in a small village, how he had by some stroke of fortune, found apowerful Song in a cave. He didn’t go to details about the Song of Swords, asJia Yuan knew that the Sword Kingdom had been demolished by the other Kingdoms.This meant that if the King found out that Jia Yuan possessed such a Song, hecould view Jia Yuan as a threat.
For simplicity’s sake, Jia Yuan only told the King that hisSong was likely a high level Song. This would somewhat explain the power theyhad seen before, and would also maintain the King’s view about him being apremier talent that should be invested in.
Jia Yuan even told the King that Guo Huo was his teacher, atwhich point the King raised his eyebrows. Of course, Jia Yuan didn’t tell theKing about the training in the crater, skipping that to talk about his trainingat BlueFire City instead.
At the end of his narrative, Jia Yuan had eaten five fulldishes of food that had been brought to the royal box for the King and hisministers to enjoy. However, none of them minded much, as Jia Yuan’s story hadimpressed all of them to no end.
A 12 year old at the 5th level of Absorption! Asif that wasn’t enough to shock them, Jia Yuan had even stated that he had wonmore than 100 life or death battles at a the BlueFire City Arena, and many ofthose wins were even against those at the 9th level of Absorption!
When they thought about Jia Yuan’s future… it could signalthe rise of the Fire Kingdom!
For a 12 year old to reach the 5th level of Absorptionwas extremely rare to begin with, 1 in a million! Someone who was able to easilydefeat those at the 9th level of Absorption while at the 5thlevel of Absorption, was simply unheard of.
The King and his ministers all had the same train ofthought. They had stumbled onto a gem! This boy needed to be roped in for thesake of the Fire Kingdom. How fortunate that this gem was already trying tojoin the Burning Legion!
However, the King clearly wouldn’t take something sooutrageous at face value.
“Jia Yuan, what you are saying is quite impressive. Ha, itseems that I have another request to make of you. You say that you are able toeasily defeat those at the 9th level of Absorption, if they have alow level Song. Is there any chance you could demonstrate this?”
“Sure. I assume there aren’t any with low level Songs amongyour guards, though…” Jia Yuan cast an eye at the guards surrounding theperimeter of the royal box.”
Jia Yuan was used to fighting in such a manner, andnaturally wouldn’t refuse the King’s request.
“That’s fine.” The King turned to the guard at his right andmotioned toward Jia Yuan. The guard understood and walked toward Jia Yuan,while the ministers and other guards pushed themselves to the far edges of theroyal box. While the royal box was fairly large, they knew that the destructivepower of the 9th level of Absorption was, while not overbearing, wasstill deadly. Some of the ministers weren’t even cultivators, and therefore hadno personal abilities to defend themselves. Although they had guards to protectthem, they still wouldn’t feel as safe as they would if they themselves werecultivators.
“This is my most trusted guard, Chen Xuan. He is at the 7thlevel of Manipulation and possesses a high level Song. That, combined with hisextensive combat experience, makes him a very fearsome fighter. If hesuppresses his cultivation to the 6th level of Absorption, the powershould be similar to that of the 9th level of Absorption for a lowlevel Song. However, he’ll still have some advantages compared to the averagepeak Absorption level cultivator.”
Jia Yuan nodded, and faced Chen Xuan. “It is an honor totrade blows with someone as impressive as you. Please instruct me well.”
Chen Xuan nodded with an honest smile on his face. He hadseen Jia Yuan’s power earlier, and after hearing Jia Yuan’s story, he wasconvinced that Jia Yuan was even more impressive than he was in his youth.
With that conclusion, he greatly admired Jia Yuan.
The two drew their weapons and their respective songs beganto play in the depths of their mind and soul. Their auras began to flow out oftheir bodies, clashing against each other in the air between the two.
Chen Xuan was a very experienced fighter who had evenpracticed against some True Disciples before. After all, if the other Kingdomswere to send assassins, they would likely send cultivators at the top of theManipulation level or even a True Disciple.
Chen Xuan, as a King’s guard, needed to be able to fightagainst those of such high level to a proficient degree. He needed to be ableto defeat those at the Manipulation Level, and he needed to be able to delayTrue Disciples as long as he could.
As such, he had grown used to combating those with thickerand stronger auras than he. However, he had never encountered an aura quitelike the one he was facing now.
The two auras continued to clash, but at every point of contact,Chen Xuan’s aura retreated as soon it felt Jia Yuan’s.
Chen Xuan was very confused as to what was going on. This hadnever happened before!
This was actually a side effect of the training Jia Yuan hadgone through in the crater. Because of the intense heat and humidity inside thecrater, Jia Yuan had to develop a strong aura to serve as a protective barrier.Over time, Jia Yuan was so accustomed to keeping himself comfortable with thisaura, that he had subconsciously developed a habit of keeping a thin auraaround him, with a very aggressive and dense outer shell, sort of like abubble.
This was what Chen Xuan was encountering.
Although this all took a long time to explain, theinteraction between the two auras only happened for about two seconds.
Afterwards, the two charged towards each other with theirweapons drawn!
Jia Yuan charged forward with his sword by his side,adopting a defensive stance to start. As for Chen Xuan, he took the initiativeto attack with a gigantic two-handed axe.
Being at the 7th level of Manipulation, even withhis cultivation suppressed, he was still able to control and condense his auravery effectively into his axe. This was one of the “small advantages” that theKing had spoken of.
However, as the two weapons clashed together, Chen Xuan wasvery surprised that his axe was actually unable to move Jia Yuan’s sword!
Jia Yuan was actually just toying with Chen Xuan. On thewalk over from BlueFire City, he had continued to practice his cultivation, andlast night, he had actually broken through to the 6th level ofAbsorption, and was now able to contend with those at the 2nd or 3rdlevel of Manipulation with ease. Even if the opponent had a high level Song, hecould content with them if they are at the 1st level ofManipulation.
However, he didn’t want to let the King know. Jia Yuan feltthat he had flaunted more than enough power for the King to provide him withwhatever aid he wanted. Jia Yuan didn’t really feel loyalty to his country, eventhough he was intent on joining the Burning Legion. He just wanted to be ableto fight on the battlefield alongside his older brother.
As for him being at the 6th level of Absorptionat the meager age of 12, that would be his secret. After trading blows forabout a minute, Jia Yuan was still on the defensive, easily blocking Chen Xuan’sstrikes. However, the guards on the perimeter protecting the ministers, werestarting to feel a little strain from protecting the ministers from theresidual energy exploding out as each blow met.
After another thirty seconds, Jia Yuan finally decided toend the bout, seeing that the guards surrounding him were showing obvious signsof exhaustion. He twirled his sword past Chen Xuan’s axe and lodged his swordbetween the axe-head and the handle, then thrust his sword upwards, effectivelydisarming Chen Xuan, who understood that this signified his defeat in the duel.
At this point, all of the ministers, as well as the King,stood up and applauded.
“Ahh, wonderful, wonderful! That was quite a fight! Both ofyou have exquisite technique, and it is obvious that both of you are wellacquainted with your weapon and Song.”
The two combatants turned toward the King, clasped theirhands together, and bowed.
Chen Xuan then turned to Jia Yuan. “How is your sword sofast and steady at the same time? When you were first able to block my blows, Ithought that I would have to outmaneuver you, but not only were you fast, butyour sword effectively created an area of protection around you. I’ve neverseen such fast swordsmanship from anyone in the Fire Kingdom!”
“Ahh, it’s nothing special. My sword is very light, is all.It’s not made purely out of fire stones, but it has some stones of the windattribute as well. As such, it is very easy for me to wield it in such amanner. Rather, I was surprised at how adept you were with the axe! You wereable to wield it in such a manner that I was hard pressed to defend, even withmy weapon’s speed being so high!”
The two continued to trade praises, obviously finding some camaraderiefrom the duel.
The King sat back, looking at Jia Yuan and Chen Xuan. Hethen motioned to Chen Xuan, who returned to his side.
The King gave Chen Xuan a questioning look, and Chen Xuanresponded with a nod.
“Congratulations, Jia Yuan. It truly seems that you’restronger than those at the 9th level of Absorption. Chen Xuan thingsthat you would even be able to combat those at the 1st level ofManipulation!”
“It was great to hear your story and the fight was even morespectacular, but we have some tasks to take care of before the feast tomorrowin the city. Don’t worry about getting there, as we will send a carriage foryou in the morning.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty, lords.” Jia Yuan clasped his handstoward the King, and then toward the various nobles surrounding him. He thentoward the stairs, grabbing a turkey leg on the way. As he descended, hedevoured said leg, and then made his way to the inn he and Dou Di were stayingat.
As soon as he walked into their room, Dou Di rushed towardhim.
“Hey, little bro! You were keeping your strength secret fromme! You rascal!” Dou Di started playfully punching Jia Yuan. Despite his words,he wasn’t actually mad at all.
He was actually beside himself with happiness that hislittle brother was so strong. After all, he was the one who had initiallysteered Jia Yuan toward the path of martial cultivation by training with him tojoin the Burning Legion.
“Woah, woah. Don’t say that big bro, I just wanted it to bea surprise!”
“Hmph, I don’t believe it for a second. How about this? Makeit up to me by treating me to dinner again.”
“Sure, although, not right now… I’m kind of full.”
“YOU ATE WITHOUT ME? YOU REALLY ARE A TRAITOR.”
“Ahhhhh!!!” Jia Yuan screamed as he ran around the roombeing chased by Dou Di.
The two boys continued to have fun as they later ate anotherpricey dinner.
The hours went by, and soon it was morning again.
Jia Yuan was still sleeping when a carriage with the royalemblem, a red and golden fire symbol, pulled up in front of the inn, causing acommotion. Although most of the competitors had either been killed or hadalready left due to being disqualified, there were still 8 thousand competitorsremaining.
Out of the 8 thousand remaining, there were only 8 whoimpressed enough to be invited to the feast. However, that wasn’t evensignificant compared to the real prize. A weapon from the royal weaponry! Theseweapons were all treasures that had been saved up by the royal family over thecourse of thousands of years, and those invited to the feast were able tochoose any weapon of their liking!
To put it into perspective, a single weapon from the royalarmory could be valued between a million to a hundred million large fireshards.
Hundreds crowded around the carriage, waiting to see who hadacquired this unique privilege. However, the carriage was surrounded by morethan 20 impressively garbed guards, so they didn’t dare to get too close to thecarriage. Meanwhile, one of the guards walked into the inn, up to Jia Yuan’sroom. He knocked on the door.
“Jia Yuan sir, your carriage is here.”
Inside the room, the two youths were still sleeping. Hearingthe knocks on the door as well as the shout of the guard, Jia Yuan groggilywoke up. Wearing his wrinkled robe, he stumbled his way to the door and openedit.
“Hello, I’m Jia Yuan.” Jia Yuan’s hair was currentlyscruffy, which combined with his wrinkled robe, gave him a rather unkemptappearance.
The guard was surprised. In past tournaments, all of the“winners” of the first round who were chosen to attend the celebratory feastwere all of noble birth, so they were very well groomed. Basically, thecomplete opposite of what he saw in front of him.
“You are Jia Yuan?” The guard looked Jia Yuan over. “Show meyour aura.”
Jia Yuan released his aura, suppressed to the 5thlevel of Absorption. Upon feeling the strong aura, the guard was convinced thatJia Yuan was telling the truth.
“Alright. Come with me.”
“Can I bring my brother?”
“I’m bringing my brother. I know the King, I’m sure it willbe fine.” Jia Yuan really wanted to bring his brother along, and with theamount of interest the King had shown in him, Jia Yuan was sure that the Kingwouldn’t mind if Jia Yuan brought his brother along.
The guard gave Jia Yuan a shocked look. This kid knew theKing?
In terms of risk, the risk of angering someone who knew theKing was a lot higher than the risk associated with letting Jia Yuan bring hisbrother along.
“Fine. Let’s go.”
Jia Yuan grabbed Dou Di who had woken up at the same time hedid, and followed the guard to the carriage, ignoring the masses that surroundedsaid carriage. Entering the carriage, he began searching for food and drinks.
As for Dou Di, he was just grateful that Jia Yuan wasbringing him along.
The masses, however, were rather confused. After all, JiaYuan had an average stature, and didn’t look too strong. That, in addition tohis disheveled appearance, meant that he looked like any other commoner.
“That’s the kid who was in the 8th groupyesterday! He’s freaking strong! I saw him create 50 meter long ribbon of fire!”
Those who were in the 8th group and had seen JiaYuan’s strength quickly spread news of his strength, while the others wererather skeptic of their ramblings.
Who was willing to believe that one of their fellowcompetitors had such power? If those who were in the 8th group hadn’tseen Jia Yuan’s abilities for themselves, they may not have believed it either.
If only they had known that Jia Yuan hadn’t even been usinghis full power…
After riding in the carriage for a while, they passed theHuoShen City gates, and eventually entered HuoShen Palace, the living quartersof the King and his closest ministers. The palace grounds spanned 50 acres and thepalace itself was build out of a mysterious material that was so strong thateven a True Disciple wouldn’t be able to affect it.
The carriage arrived in front of the banquet hall, and JiaYuan stepped out along with Dou Di.
There had been a change of clothes in the carriage, whichwas obviously meant for Jia Yuan. There was a small royal emblem in the chestarea of the robe, and it looked simple but impressive at the same time.
As for Dou Di, Jia Yuan had pestered the guards until theyhad provided Dou Di with another robe, although of different design.
Walking toward the banquet all, it looked like Dou Di wasJia Yuan’s personal guard or assistant.
Inside the banquet hall, was a table more than 100 feet longwith 24 ornate chairs on each side, with a considerably larger chair at the farend. For the chairs on the sides, some ministers as well as the other
Despite the other 7 invitees having arrived already, most ofthe seats were empty.
Jia Yuan boldly walked toward the far end of the table,where the King sat, with Chen Xuan standing behind.
Jia Yuan half-knelt and cupped his hands. “Your Majesty, itis good to see you again. I have brought my brother along, I hope you don’tmind.”
As Jia Yuan had predicted, the King didn’t mind at all. “Haha,that’s no problem at all. As you can see, we have more than enough food foreveryone, even with your voracious appetite taken into account.”
“Haha, thank you very much, Your Majesty.”
Jia Yuan was lead to the seat at the very right of the King,the most honored position, while Dou Di was sat right next to him.
Just from this, it was obvious how much importance the Kingplaced on Jia Yuan. However, this seating arrangement caused the other inviteesto stare at Jia Yuan with gazes ranging from awe to jealousy and hatred.
The feast went on for several hours, as everybody presentswapped stories and information. Those who were aiming to join the BurningLegion spoke about their training regimens, their families, and their goals forthe future. They spoke of these with pride. In their eyes, they were allgeniuses of the Fire Kingdom, strong enough to be considered in the top 0.1% ofcultivators their age.
As for the ministers, they spoke about power strugglesbetween the four Kingdoms and like matters.
However, the atmosphere was slightly off, for two reasons.
The first, was that Jia Yuan was unwilling to talk toanyone, only focusing on the food. Dou Di, instead, was relegated to chattingwith the others in Jia Yuan’s stead.
The second, was that the tournament participants weren’treally all that interested in the feast. What they wanted to do instead, was togo to the royal armory and pick out a weapon for themselves.
As the feast went on, they were clearly getting more andmore impatient, until the King finally clapped his hands, signaling forsilence. Everyone instantly stopped what they were doing to look at the King,even Jia Yuan, who had been wolfing his way through a delicious Hot PepperChicken Leg.
“I can see that you’re all getting impatient, and it seemsobvious that all of you…er, most of you have eaten your share.”
“Now, we’ll be making our way to the royal armory. The tripwill take about ten minutes, and you eight will have to be blindfolded on theway there. This is for your own protection. If you know how to get to the royalarmory, other Kingdoms could try to kidnap you and torture you for information.”
And so, the surrounding guards blindfolded Jia Yuan and theothers, while leaving Dou DI in the banquet hall, since he wasn’t one of theactual invitees.
While blindfolded, the eight were led into a carriage, whichquickly began to move.
Hmm, it seems like we’redescending… are we going down a hill? But there are no hills here. Is thearmory underground? Interesting… if the armory is underground, it truly wouldbe pretty hard for most of the other Kingdoms to find it.
After another few minutes of traveling, the carriage finallystopped, and everyone was let out of the carriage, and the blindfolds weretaken off.
In front of their eyes was a small square door. The Kingwalked up to the door and pressed his hand against it. A large wave of heatassaulted those standing behind him, but none of them cared, for the door disappearedin a puff of flame.
Even from outside, Jia Yuan could see rows upon rows ofweapons. It was heaven on earth!
The King walked in, motioning for everyone else to follow.
“Here you are. You all have 10 minutes to choose a weapon.If several of you want the same weapon, whoever touches it first will be therightful owner. Don’t cause trouble in the royal armory, or you’ll bedisqualified from the tournament, and you will not be allowed to bring anyweapon out of the armory.”
“Besides, there’s no real point for you guys to fight overweapons. All of the weapons here are unique treasures, and there are so many ofthem. Now go.”
Jia Yuan and the others rushed into the armory, looking forweapons that fit their needs. About five instantly ran toward the axes, whileJia Yuan and another ran toward the swords.
One, strangely enough, headed over to the section of thearmory that was full of staffs. There weren’t many staff users in the FireKingdom. It could only be used with mellower Songs of Fire.
However, Jia Yuan didn’t think much of it. Instead, hefocused on finding a sword that fit his needs.
However, almost all of the swords were either too heavy orhad the wrong balance. However, he kept trying new swords.
The number of swords in the royal armory was not to bescoffed at. Although the number was less than half of the amount of axes, therewere still easily more than a thousand swords, even over a hundred swords ofthe hand and a half variety.
It was these swords that Jia Yuan was testing. After brieflytesting out each of the hand and a half swords, Jia Yuan was rather disappointed.The weapons were all of wondrous quality… but none of them really fit hisrequirements. They were all either too heavy or too light, or the balance waswrong.
Just as he was about to give up, he noticed a pitch blacksword. He reached over and picked it up. Instantly, his Song reacted to thesword, inadvertently releasing its full aura for a split second.
Various sounds of clanging metal sounded through the royalarmory as all of the other invitees collapsed. Even some of the guardscollapse, and the King himself felt a hint of danger.
Jia Yuan was both incredibly happy and panicked at the sametime. He had actually found a sword that suited his needs! However, if he chosethis sword, it would instantly be a red flag for the King and his ministers.After all, why would anyone who only cultivated a Song of Fire be so interestedin such a sword? Furthermore, the aura that had been involuntarily let out hadcaused a scene in the royal armory, and the guards were beginning to spread outthrough the armory.
If they saw Jia Yuan with the sword, they may be able to putthe two together and guess that Jia Yuan had some sort of special connection tothe sword!
Jia Yuan couldn’t afford that!
He was panicking, but his mind worked very quickly despitethat.
He instantly dropped to the floor, grabbing another sword onthe way down, letting it fall to the floor with a clang. As for the blacksword, Jia Yuan drew it into his ring, hoping that the others wouldn’t realizethat he had effectively stolen a weapon from the armory.
When the guards arrived at the swords section, they saw JiaYuan and the other youth sprawled on the ground. One of the ministers quicklyfollowed the guards and saw the same.
“Urrrghh…” Jia Yuan made a show of massaging his head as heslowly crawled up from the ground, blatantly using the sword in his hand as asupport. “What happened?”
At this time, the other youth also began to lift himself offof the ground.
“Jia Yuan, Chen Ying. Come with me, it may not be safe inthe royal armory. The King says that a powerful enemy spy may have used theiraura to scout the area. While it is impossible for anyone other than the Kingto open the door to the armory, this could mean trouble for the Fire Kingdom.”
“Can we still choose a weapon to bring out?” Jia Yuan asked.
“Of course, of course. But you will have to make thedecision right now. We cannot tarry any longer.”
Chen Ying, the other boy, held on to the sword in his hand,while Jia Yuan did the same with his. At this point, he didn’t really care whatsword he brought out, since he already had the black sword in his ring.
While Jia Yuan maintained a slightly worried and anxiouslook on his face, on the inside, he was gloating. He obviously didn’t feel anyreal danger because he understood that the aura had come from himself-there wasno actual danger.
Haha, I’ve reallyfound a treasure this time. If they don’t find out, then I’ll really have madea killing. Even if they do find out…
Nobody other than Guo Huo knew about Jia Yuan’s ring. Tokeep suspicions from appearing, he had kept HiRyu by his side the entire time,in plain sight. There were so many weapons in the royal armory, they shouldn’tmiss one… right?
After being rushed outside of the armory, they were usheredinto the carriages with blindfolds again. After about 10 minutes, they found themselvesback at the banquet hall, where the King and his ministers quickly badefarewell, stating that they needed to prepare against a potential enemy attack.
Jia Yuan and Dou Di also called for a carriage back to thetournament grounds.
Inside the carriage, Jia Yuan sat in a daze, as he had senthis soul into his ring to examine the black sword. From the outside, it lookedas if he was sleeping.
However, inside the ring, his soul quivered with excitement.The more he examined this sword, the more pleased with it he was.
Not only was it compatible with the four elements, but it wasconsiderably more durable than HiRyu. In fact, Jia Yuan was convinced that asingle stroke of this sword would be able to chop HiRyu in half!
A long while after, Jia Yuan finally drew his soul out ofring and back into his body. He then turned to face his brother.
“Hey, Dou Di, your weapon isn’t that great, right?”
“Hm? Yeah, it’s just the standard one that they give all ofthe army soldiers.”
Jia Yuan picked up the sword he had brought out of the royalarmory and placed it in front of Dou Di. “Here, big brother. This is my gift toyou.”
“EHHHH???” Dou Di’s face was one of pure shock. He knew thatJIa Yuan was rich… but willing to give such a treasure away?
“Just take it. I already have a great sword in Hiryu, sothere’s no sense in me having two great swords while you’re stuck with such abad one.”
“Well, I’ll take it then.” Dou Di couldn’t get any words ofthanks out of his mouth, but Jia Yuan understood his older brother’s feelingsanyway.
As for Dou Di, he had the feeling that his younger brotherwas growing faster and faster in comparison…which made him both happy and sadat the same time.
Happy for his brother, but sad because he was beingoutclassed so heavily… it is hard to be self-confident in such a scenario.
Seeing this, Jia Yuan quickly understood what Dou Di wasfeeling.
“It’s okay, big brother. I may be stronger than you now, butyou will forever be smarter than me. With your mind, you could rule a Kingdom.I am only fit to be a soldier, but you are capable of far more!”
Hearing Jia Yuan’s words, Dou Di smiled ruefully. “Ha, whoneeds such words from someone like you? I was just thinking about how to thank youfor the sword and you get sentimental on me. Hmph, don’t get cocky. You mightbe stronger than me for now but don’t underestimate your big bro!”
Jia Yuan smiled and the two brother swapped jokes until theyarrived back at the tournament grounds.
They went back into the hotel room, and slept for the night.
The next day came, and along with it, came the next round ofthe tournament.
From now on, the stadium would have 100 small stages in thecenter, with 1 vs 1 combat on each one. A combatant was allowed to lose twicebefore being kicked out of the competition. The last 1000 remaining would beaccepted into the Burning Legion!
Given that there were only 8 thousand competitors left, 1 in8 would be able to join the Fire Kingdom’s special force. All of thecompetitors felt so close to their goal that they could nearly taste success…but the truth was that over 70% of them would fail to see this goal come tofruition.
Jia Yuan and Dou DI were walking toward the stadium alongwith the rest of the fighters. However, as the two young brothers walked, theyfound themselves being surrounded by more and more people.
Many of the competitors had found out by now, that Jia Yuanhad been one of the 8 invited to HouShen Palace. Once another competitorrecognized him, more and more began to cluster around the two brothers.
They wanted to see two things. They wanted to see, withtheir own eyes, someone worthy of being invited to the royal palace. The secondthing they wanted to see, was the weapon from the royal armory.
However, when they looked to the sword by Jia Yuan’s side,they saw a sword that was clearly of high quality, but didn’t exactly wow anyof the competitors there.
That was when they noticed the sword that hung by Dou Di’sside.
“Hey, wait. That other guy’s sword looks so deadly! Could itbe…”
“Wait, could that Jia Yuan kid have given the weapon he gotfrom the royal armory to the person beside him?! What is their connection??”
None of them guessed that the two were brothers. Jia Yuanand Dou DI weren’t blood brothers after all, and didn’t look too alike.
Many of the surrounding competitors began to have greedythoughts. Perhaps in single combat, they wouldn’t be able to beat Jia Yuan… butthis person beside him clearly wasn’t one of those who had been invited toHouShen Palace. He didn’t even look that strong, and was even dressed in aguard’s uniform.
A guard? A Burning Legion candidate from the Army? Some ofthe stronger participants in the tournament began to hope that they would bematched up against this person who had been gifted royal weapon.
If they could kill him, they could loot his weapon! In onefell swoop, they would be one step closer to being accepted to the BurningLegion and they would also gain a peerless weapon! It would be perfect!
But how could Jia Yuan and Dou Di be so oblivious? Theyquickly noticed the change in the gazes directed at them.
Jia Yuan whispered to his brother. “Dou Di, you should becareful today… don’t burden me with the job of finding vengeance for you.”
“Hmph. Do you really think your big bro is that weak? With thisweapon, even you might not be a match for me.”
What Dou Di said was true for most of the competitorspresent. Not only did a weapon provide a cutting edge and increased lethalrange, but weapons made out of elemental stones, such as HiRyu as well as DouDi’s new royal weapon, were also able to aid a martial cultivator with theirfighting aura and strength!
For example, Jia Yuan was more than capable of releasinglarge and deadly flames on his own, but with HiRyu, his flames could extend anadditional 20 meters, and it was also easier for him to control said flames.
The importance of the quality of a cultivator’s weapon, wasinferior only to the importance of their cultivation!
Dou Di would probably be fine unless he encountered someoneof the 5th level of Absorption of higher. As for the amount ofcompetitors who had reached that level, was probably less than 5.
Even against these competitors, Dou Di would be able toforfeit before taking any fatal hits. As such, Jia Yuan and Dou Di were bothconfident that he would be fine while participating in the tournament.
As for when he was outside the stadium, he would be with JiaYuan. With Jia Yuan’s strength, there wasn’t any need for the two to beworried.
As such, they felt relaxed, even seeing the greedy eyesstaring at them.
Inside the stadium, the two brothers chatted while theywaited to be summoned into the stadium to fight.
Finally, Dou Di was called, and after a while, Jia Yuan wasas well.
Alright. Show time!Remember what Guo Huo said, I can’t be too harsh on these people… I’ll justknock them out of the ring, heh.
Jia Yuan walked through some tunnels and found himself nextto one of the 100 arenas in the stadium. He walked up the steps, and saw hisfirst opponent.
Jia Yuan was very relaxed throughout. However, his opponentseemed to have gotten a stroke.
“You! Why did I have to face you in the first round???Aiishhhh….”
He had been part of the Jia Yuan’s group in the first roundand naturally had seen just how strong Jia Yuan was.
As soon as the fight started, he surrendered. And then nextfighter surrendered. And the next.
A few hours later, Jia Yuan was one of the last 100 who hadn’tlost a single match. Not only did he not lose a single match, but he hadn’teven been allowed to fight.
Goddammit, this wasfunny at first, but now I just want to be able to play around a little. Allthis time-wasting is getting so boring!
As Jia Yuan looked toward the rankings, he saw that Dou Diwas actually undefeated as well. This didn’t really surprise him at all. Afterall, his older brother had a medium level Song and had a peerless weapon.Furthermore, he was extremely skilled in single combat. Before Dou Di had beensold to the army, Jia Yuan hadn’t been able to beat him a single time.
It was only because of Jia Yuan’s unique circumstances thathe was stronger than Dou Di.
A day passed, and it was now the third round of thetournament. The thousand that had qualified for the Burning Legion had alreadybeen selected. The two brothers had both made it, but they were still fighting.
The top 100 were all to perform 1 on 1 combat to determinetheir initial ranking in the Burning Legion. The 900 that had qualified butwere no longer competing would be the foot soldiers of the Burning Legion.
As for the remaining 100, they were competing to see whowould be a 10 man commander, 100 man commander, and so forth. The champion ofthe tournament would be groomed into a 1000 man commander. As such, a new battalionwith its own officers would be born.
For many of the stronger competitors, this would be wherethe real test began.
In the first round, Jia Yuan was actually matched up againstLin Xuan, who was the staff user invited to HuoShen Palace.
In Lin Xuan’s hands was a red staff, carved out offire-attribute jade, engraved with some magical symbols to enhance the strengthof one’s Song.
“Jia Yuan, it is an honor to be able to fight against you. Iheard that you were personally invited to the royal box after the firsttournament round was over!”
“Thank you very much! I am looking forward to seeing yourskill with the staff. May the best man win.”
“May the best man win.”
The two clasped their hands toward each other, and then tooktheir stances.
This was actually the first time Jia Yuan had fought againsta staff user. At BlueFire City, he had fought against axe and sword wielders,but since there were only Fire Kingdom and Water Kingdom citizens there, he hadonly fought against axe and sword wielders.
In front of him, Lin Xuan waved his staff in a circularpattern, and a wheel of fire erupted towards Jia Yuan, completely filling hisfield of vision!
Jia Yuan couldn’t see an escape route from the wheel of fireheading towards him. He had to charge through!
This was always a possible, but dangerous maneuver for anymartial cultivator.
Jia Yuan gripped his sword tightly and then cut a star-likepattern into the wheel of fire, dashing through in the following instance.
Shit! I got burned!
While most of Jia Yuan’s body was able to make it throughthe wheel of fire unscathed, the back of his left hand had been burned, and hecould smell some burned hair.
Alright then. You wantto play serious, huh.
Jia Yuan’s competitive spirit was finally ignited.
For the entire tournament, he had looked over everything with a lazy, uninterested eye. Although he had been briefly intrigued by the prospect of picking up a royal weapon, he hadn’t even needed to try to achieve that goal.
The tournament, for Jia Yuan, had been a walk in the park. However now, finally, he had an opponent that had given him some trouble.
After jumping through the wheel of fire, Jia Yuan landed on the stage and sheathed HiRyu, throwing it aside after.
Jia Yuan wanted to be able to fight to his heart’s content, but he also didn’t want to harm the opponent. As such, he threw away his sword to be able to fight without the fear of killing Lin Xuan.
As for Lin Xuan, he was completely bamboozled as to why Jia Yuan had thrown his weapon away.
However, he didn’t think about it much as he prepared his next attack while rushing at Jia Yuan.
Lin Xuan had a rather crazed look on his face! He knew that if he were to beat Jia Yuan, he would have to do it before the fight dragged long, or Jia Yuan’s superior cultivation base would overwhelm him.
However, he didn’t anticipate that Jia Yuan would be rushing toward him as well.
Jia Yuan unleashed his cultivation to the tip of the 5th level of Absorption, and stomped on the ground, planting both feet shoulder-width apart. He raised his left arm in front of himself, while his right arm tensed up, ready to strike.
Just before Lin Xuan was in striking range with his staff, Jia Yuan punched the air in front of him, backed by the power of the 5th level of Absorption.
The physical punch ended about a foot in front of Jia Yuan, but a mass of tightly condensed aura continued along the trajectory of the punch, and crashed into Lin Xuan.
Lin Xuan had been caught off guard by Jia Yuan’s moves! One second, Jia Yuan had been charging at him with full speed, while the next, Jia Yuan had already established a stable stance and attacked him.
Lin Xuan was knocked back by the force of the punch, to the point that he was about to fall out of the stage!
At the last millisecond possible, he reached down with his staff and thrust it into the stage, providing him with a pole to hang on to so that he wouldn’t fly off the stage.
However, Jia Yuan had already expected this: it was the only course of action that would have saved Lin Xuan from elimination. With Jia Yuan’s current competitive mindset, how could he let Lin Xuan off easily?
As such, he had already sliced his leg through the air in a diagonal arc, releasing a large blade of flame comparable in power to the punch he had thrown earlier.
The blade of flame soared through the air and cut through most of Lin Xuan’s defensive aura, knocking him away from his staff, and off of the stage.
He had lost!
The crowd went wild as they saw this. Not only had they been able to see a clash between two candidates who had both been invited to HuoShen Palace, but they had been able to see one completely dominate the other, even without a weapon!
A weaponless contender had beaten a fighter wielding a royal weapon! Although Lin Xuan was at the 5th level of Absorption, with the royal weapon he should be able to easily compete with those at the 7th or 8th level of Absorption!
In fact, Lin Xuan was even stronger than the audience thought. Not only was he at the 5th level of Absorption, but he actually had a high level Song! Aside from Jia Yuan, he probably had the strongest cultivation in the tournament!
Thankfully, Lin Xuan hadn’t lost a bout before, so he could still compete in the tournament for a higher ranking.
However, nobody really cared much about that. Instead, they were all discussing Jia Yuan’s strength.
Up in the royal box, the King was not present, but some of the ministers were there. They hadn’t been at the tournament on the first day, and hadn’t seen Jia Yuan fight before. However, they had heard stories from the other ministers.
“It seems that that monster Guo Huo really did bring the Kingdom another genius… was even Guo Huo this strong when he was 12?”
“I don’t think there is anyone alive who was this strong when they were 12. It seems that the Gods have gifted our Kingdom... A pity though. If only he was a few years older, he’d probably be a great asset to us in the upcoming war.”
“Hm… it’s unlikely for the war to start for another few years. By that time, who knows how strong this kid will be? He should only have trained for 2 years or so, but he can already supposedly beat those at the 9th level of Absorption? If he is able to reach the Manipulation level, he’ll still be of great use, I think.
“I hope you’re right…”
The two ministers left the royal box and began walking down the stairs, continuing the conversation.
At this time, Jia Yuan had approached Lin Xuan.
“I’m sorry, I went a little overboard at the end there. It was just that you were so strong that my competitive spirit took over. My deepest apologies.”
Lin Xuan laughed. “Haha, no worries! I was surprised by how strong you were too! Hmph, you’re younger than me but already so strong… It looks like I will have to train harder in the future!”
The two laughed and began to chat while walking out of the stadium.
At the resting area, Jia Yuan bade farewell to Lin Xuan andlooked for Dou Di. After asking around, he found out that Dou Di’s match wasactually right after his, and had already went to the stage.
Well, I might as wellgo and watch.
Jia Yuan walked into the stands and prepared to watch thebout.
After 5 minutes, Dou Di and his competitor walked into thestadium. Dou Di’s competitor was actually one of the axe users invited to theHuoShen Palace.
He appeared to be stronger than Dou Di! As such, Jia Yuanwas worried for his older brother.
The match started, and it was clear that Dou Di was being pushedback. He was struggling heavily under the brutal assault of his opponent.
A fighter at the 4th level of Absorption with anaxe from the royal armory. For him to be shoving back Dou Di so heavily, whowas at the 4th level of Absorption with a medium level Song, meanthat the axe-user likely had a high level Song!
A high level Song was extremely rare, to the point that therewas probably less than a thousand cultivators with high level Songs on theContinent of the Five Elements.
For there to be multiple rookies in the Burning Legion withhigh level Songs, was truly a blessing to the Fire Kingdom.
However, it was currently a problem for Dou Di. He wasconstantly being forced back, and he was currently teetering on the edge of thestage.
With a final blow, the other fighter chopped downward, hisaxe flying past Dou Di’s sword, drawing a huge gash down Dou Di’s body.
“BROTHER!” Jia Yuan screamed as he headed toward the stage.
He watched as Dou Di’s body toppled down from the stage. Hewatched as he saw his brother spit out blood as he hit the ground.
In a flash, Jia Yuan was by Dou Di’s side.
“Brother, are you alright?” Jia Yuan could see that whilethe gash looked fearsome from the outside because it was long and bloody, thewound didn’t actually go too far deep.
However, it appeared that Dou Di had fainted.
“Medic! Doctor! Someone!” Jia Yuan shouted, and after a fewmore seconds, he saw some soldiers in medic gear carry a bench towards Dou Di.
They placed Dou Di on the bench and hurried away.
Jia Yuan glared at Dou Di’s opponent. “What is your name?!”
“My name is Jie En. What are you so mad about? It’s not likehe’s going to die.”
“Hmph. We both know what I’m mad about. At that lastinstance you could have won through a variety of means. However, you went for themost violent ending.”
“So? It’s his fault that he’s not strong enough to defendhimself. Besides, what are you going to do about it? Your cultivation may bestronger than mine, but you gave your royal weapon to this weakling. If wefought, we’d probably be more or less evenly matched.”
Jia Yuan snorted. “Is that a challenge you’re issuing to me?”
Jie En laughed. “Yes it is, you idiot. Do you dare to comeup here? Hmph, maybe you’re too much of a coward. I should have killed yourbrother there. Commoners like you don’t deserve to be officers in the BurningLegion.”
Jia Yuan jumped onto the stage and drew HiRyu out its sheath.“If you had killed my brother, you would not still be alive…”
At this point, a referee was about to stop the proceedings,but a minister in the royal box waved his hand toward the referee, signalinghim to stand back. Clearly, the minister was interested in watching thisshowdown between two future officers of the Burning Legion.
Jia Yuan and Jie En charged toward each other. Jia Yuanfought with this cultivation suppressed slightly to the tip of the 5thlevel of Absorption. Although he held back in this aspect, he didn’t hold backin any others.
Jia Yuan dug his foot into the stage and propelled himselfforward, flying through the air towards Jie En. He released flames from thesoles of his feet, adding to the propelling force. As for the rest of his aura,he used it all in his arms and sword.
As he was about to reach Jie En, he stomped his foot downinto the stage, sending cracks through the surface.
He spun a full circle and swung his circle from right toleft with a streak of flame following his blade.
Jie En’s axe collided with Jia Yuan’s blade, causing anexplosion of aura and force, forcing both fighters back several paces.
The crowd cheered loudly! After all, this was the first timethat they had seen a fight of such force. Jia Yuan and Lin Xuan had foughtearlier, but neither of them had been fighting to harm the other. It was arather harmless contest of skill.
However, it was obvious that Jia Yuan and Jie En werefighting to bring injury to one another.
The two weapons continued to clash together, but it wasclear that the battle was taking its toll on the combatants’ bodies, as well asthe stage. The stage, designed to be impervious to those at the Absorptionlevel, was starting to break down as well.
Chunks of stone flew off of the stage, some pieces evenbegan to fly into the lower levels of the stands.
Actually, the audience couldn’t even see the finer detailsof the fight anymore. At the center of the stage, all they could see was atornado of fire in which some blurred images were knocking into each other intime to the sound of clashing weapons.
However, although they couldn’t really see the fight, theyknew just how incredible the fight was.
It was two fighters under 15 years of age who were causingsuch a scene!
Up in the royal box, the ministers watched, flabbergasted.
“Have we seen a fight like this… ever?”
“Yes, but it’s been many years… if this is anything to goby, it really seems that this will be the best rookie battalion the BurningLegion has had in a while.”
“Mm. It’s a pity, however, that Jie En had to provoke JiaYuan to such an extent…While Jie En’s strength is very good, he’s two yearsolder than Jia Yuan. His potential is much lower. Furthermore, if he has thatkind of condescending attitude…”
“Are you saying what I think you are?”
“Mm. We sacrifice Jie En if it comes to it. Someone with histemperament isn’t going to be a good officer. Besides, the Jie family has beenon the downfall for quite a while now. It won’t hurt us much. Jia Yuan has GuoHuo backing him. You know what that means.”
“I see. You’re right. His majesty seems intent on helpingthis Jia Yuan kid…”
As the ministers discussed the fighters below, Jia Yuan wasstarting to become impatient. After all, he had the strength to easily disposeof Jie En, but he didn’t want to show his true power.
And so, he kept fighting with his cultivation suppressed. JieEn was at a constant disadvantage, even with Jia Yuan suppressing his aura.However, his axe was far superior to HiRyu. If HiRyu could be valued at a fewthousand large fire shards, Jie En’s axe could be valued at a few million! Thedifference between the two weapons was that of heaven and earth!
After another few minutes of fighting, Jie En finally beganto lose steam. He had a high level Song, and it cost him a great deal of mentalendurance to keep fighting with the aid of his Song. However, if he didn’tfight with his Song, he would be no more than a talented foot soldier. He wouldbe instantly trampled by Jia Yuan’s power!
He grit his teeth and did his best to disregard his mentalexhaustion. However, he soon began to feel sharp jabs of pain in his head.Furthermore, he began to see a dark sea…
He looked at Jia Yuan, who wasn’t even breathing hard, andfelt regret in his heart. Why did he have to be so boastful in front of thismonster? Aish…
Jia Yuan relentlessly forced Jie En back. He knew that JieEn couldn’t possibly hold on for much longer.
A few blows later, and Jie En fell to his knees, unable tofight any longer. Not only did he not have any mental strength left, but he hadexerted all of his physical energy as well.
All he was now was a breathing punching bag.
“I… forfeit…” Jie En managed to force out these words.
“I won’t accept your forfeit unless you promise to apologizeto apologize to all of the commoners of the Burning Legion for looking down onthem.”
Jie En shut his eyes and grimaced. He could promise this,but he would be unable to recover any face!
His body shuddered as he thought about it. Finally, hereplied. “Fine.” After saying this, he continued to lie on the stage, unable tomove.
Jia Yuan walked off of the stage and asked a guard for thedirections to the medical center. Upon receiving directions, he headed to themedical center.
Looking around, he saw thousands of wounded combatants.There were simply too many people, and the conditions in the medical centerwere shady at best.
Jia Yuan felt a pit forming in his stomach. Even if Dou Diwas fine when he arrived at the medical center, Jia Yuan wouldn’t be surprisedif his brother’s condition had worsened by being here.
He quickly pulled over a nurse and explained who he waslooking for. The nurse offered to lead Jia Yuan to his brother, and heaccepted.
Walking through the rows of the injured, Jia Yuan spottedhis older brother.
There was a foot long gash on Dou Di’s chest all the wayfrom his clavicle to his stomach. Jia Yuan probed Dou Di’s aura with his own,and found that Dou Di’s aura was very weak, to the point of almost being nonexistent.
It seems that that JieEn’s strike actually affected Dou Di’s Song! But how is that possible? It was ashallow cut! Unless…
When a cultivator was progressing from one level to thenext, for a split second, their very cultivation was at risk. If the cultivatorreceived a shock during this progression, it was possible for them to lose theability of their Song.
Thinking of this, Jia Yuan’s eyes burned with fury. However,he knew that he couldn’t blame Jie En for it. How was he supposed to know thathis opponent was in the midst of a progression?
But how was he supposed to vent this fury in his heart? It wasDou Di who had steered his toward the path of cultivation! It was because ofDou Di that he had been so intent on joining the Burning Legion!
Dou Di was the only person he truly considered family in thewhole wide world. And here he was, unlikely to be able to continue the path ofcultivation. Jia Yuan could imagine Dou Di’s pain at realizing he wouldn’t beable to continue to cultivate.
There has to besomething I can do!
But no matter how long or hard Jia Yuan thought of a solution,he was unable to come up with anything.
First things first.
Jia Yuan walked out of the stadium and arranged for amessenger to travel to HuoShen City. He told the messenger to look forreputable doctors who were used to dealing with harmed cultivators. The morethe better. He also told the messenger that for each doctor he was able tobring, he would be heavily rewarded, and that the doctors would be heavilyrewarded as well.
He then went back inside, and began to bargain with thedoctors there to have Dou Di moved to a more sanitary location. After paying 20large fire shards, Dou Di was transferred to a private room.
Finally, Jia Yuan went back to the stadium and walked up tothe royal box. The guards knew who he was, and let him pass.
Walking into the royal box, he addressed the two ministerswith clasped hands.
“Hello ministers, I was wondering if either of you could dome a favor.”
The two ministers glanced at each other. Truly, if they wereable to help Jia Yuan, then it would be useful to be in the good will ofsomeone with so much potential.
“If we are able to help, we will definitely do so. What isit you need help with?”
“My brother has suffered a shock while he was making abreakthrough.”
“Ah… and you want to see if we know of a way to help you, orif we know someone who can help you.”
The two ministers glanced at each other, then faced JiaYuan. One of them spoke. “There is one way, but it is incredibly expensive anddangerous. You will have to find the scroll of a Song that is stronger than theone currently lying dormant in your brother’s body. You will then have youforce the new Song into your brother’s body. At that point, the new Song willhopefully devour the old Song, and become your brother’s new Song.
Jia Yuan’s brow wrinkled as he thought about thisinformation. It wasn’t impossible forhim to obtain a stronger Song, but like the ministers said, it would beextremely expensive. But even if he somehow managed to find one… “You said thiswas a very dangerous process. Why?”
“Hmm. The danger comes from the new Song devouring the oldSong. As you should know, the when one acquires a Song, the Song more or lesscohabitates with the Soul. It is because of this, that a cultivator is able touse their Song to fight. When the new Song devours the old Song, there isalways a chance that it may devour part of the soul. Even if that doesn’thappen, the old Song may try to devour the cultivator’s soul to stay alive. Inall, this form of treatment has about a 20% success rate”
Jia Yuan felt his head spinning. Even if he somehow managedto find a high level Song for his brother, there was still an 80% chance hisbrother would die. At least in his current state, Dou Di was still alive. Hecould still be useful to the Burning Legion in other ways, such as being astrategist.
What do I do?
Jia Yuan decided that it was time to ask his teacher forhelp.
Jia Yuan decided to wait for the doctors from HuoShen Cityfirst. While he trusted the two ministers, they definitely weren’t too wellversed in medicine. Jia Yuan still held hope that there would be a surefire wayfor Dou Di to recover.
A day after, Dou Di had been released from the medicalcenter. He was still unconscious, but physical health was good enough that JiaYuan felt it safer for him to be out of that medical center.
As such, Jia Yuan had laid Dou Di down on his bed in theinn, and had been taking care of him ever since.
Just an hour or two before sunset, some carriages arrived atthe inn. It was the doctors from HuoShen City!
The messenger brought the doctors into the inn to Jia Yuan’sroom and knocked.
“Hello sir, I’ve brought the doctors.”
Jia Yuan had some hope in his heart. Maybe the doctors wouldbe able to save his brother!
“Come in, come in.”
The doctors all walked in. Jia Yuan counted them. The messengerhad brought 12 doctors. A few of them were viewed in reverence by the otherdoctors. It seemed that somehow, the messenger had been able to attract somebig names.
“You’ve done well. You brought 12 doctors over, so I’ll giveyou 120 large fire shards.”
The messenger was ecstatic! He had spent the previous dayrunning around HuoShen City trying to persuade doctors to come.
But the payout was worth it! 120 large fire shards would beable to last him a lifetime. Or at least a few weeks if you wanted to live inabsolute luxury.
Jia Yuan turned and faced the doctors. “The boy there onthat bed is my brother. He was in the middle of progressing his cultivationwhen he was dealt a shocking blow. As such, he’s currently unconscious and hewill be unable to utilize his Song when he wakes up. As medical experts, I’msure you all know what I mean.”
“Whoever is able to fix the issue at hand will be rewardedheavily. I can pay 50,000 large fire shards at the time of success and I canpromise another 100,000 large fire shards from the Black Wing Merchant Guild.
The doctors glanced at each other, then approached the bed.One by one, they began to examine Dou Di with a variety of techniques. This rangedfrom feeling his heart rate, to probing his body with their respective auras.
After a while, most of the doctors had withdrawn to thecorner of the room. They knew that they didn’t have the knowledge nor skills totreat the patient. However, they wanted to see if any of the other doctorscould.
After a while, only the two doctors who the others had beenlooking at with eyes of reverence remained. One of them had taken someinstruments out and was using them to examine Dou Di’s body, while the otherhad placed his hand over Dou Di’s chest and had been muttering to himself forthe past while.
They examined Dou Di’s body for several hours. They wouldtake small breaks, during which they would sit down with their arms crossed orscratching their head.
Finally, the two doctors stepped back as well.
“Young sir, there truly is nothing we can do. There isprobably not a single medical expert on this continent that is capable oftreating your brother through normal means. Of course, there is the matter ofproviding him with a higher level Song… although this method is ratherdangerous.”
Jia Yuan nodded, but there was a frown on his face. He hadalready known of this method due to the two ministers.
It seems that there istruly no surefire way to save my brother.
He waved at the doctors, who took the cue and left the room.
Jia Yuan sat on his bed, looking at Dou Di in despair. DouDi had progressed very far in the tournament, enough to grant him a position asa 10 or 100 man commander in the Burning Legion. But that was with his oldstrength!
Now that he was crippled… If he stayed a soldier, he wouldonly be able to be a common fighter in the Army.
Jia Yuan only had one hope left! He found a pen and somepaper, and began to write a message.
Upon finishing, he left the inn, and called the samemessenger back.
“I have another message for you to send. You will berewarded well for this. Go to the Black Wing Merchant Guild Hall and tell themthat Jia Yuan has a personal message for Guo Huo. Let them know that I am agold card owner. If they do not believe you, tell them to check their records.This must be done with the greatest amount of speed.”
The messenger nodded and ran towards HuoShen City with allthe speed he could muster.
Jia Yuan returned to the room. There wasn’t anything hecould immediately do for his brother, but there was something he could do forhimself.
Win the tournament!
The next day, Jia Yuan sat in the stands along with the restof those who had qualified Burning Legion. It was the last day of thetournament.
The last day of the Burning Legion tournament is closed offto commoners. Only nobility and members of the Burning Legion are allowed towatch.
Even so, there were easily more than 50 thousand viewers inthe stands. After all, the Burning Legion, with the new recruits, numbered over31 thousand. The rest of the viewers were from noble families, of which there weremany in the Fire Kingdom.
Virtually all of the noble families in the Fire Kingdom hadsent representatives to watch the tournament. Noble families would try togarner favor with those who compete on the last day. These would all befighters with great strength and potential.
For some of these noble families, it was a chance for themto revel in the successes of their younger generation. As such, some of thefamilies in the stands loudly boasted of how their family genius had made it sofar in the tournament, how strong and smart they were, and so on.
Jia Yuan sat next to the stage, which had long ago beenrepaired from his fight with Jie En. He had a rather sad but determined look onhis face. He was sad because of his brother, but determined for his own future.
In pairs, the last 50 contenders went to fight on the stage.One by one, they left the stage in either victory or defeat.
Finally, it was Jia Yuan’s turn to grace the stage again.
So far, all of the competitors had been either the son ordaughter of a noble family. Each time, their family would cheer loudly as theywalked onto the stage.
However, while there was a group in the stands that cheeredfor Jia Yuan’s opponent, when he walked onto the stage, there was but absolutesilence.
After a bit, some murmurs began to spread through thestands.
“Heh? Did that boy’s family not come?”
“What family is he from? Does anyone know?”
How could they imagine that Jia Yuan had no family? Theaccepted train of thought was that a noble family meant money. Money meantpills and higher level Songs, which meant improved cultivation. How can someonewho was not a noble cultivate to such a degree? What kind of talent would thattake?
Jia Yuan walked onto the stage with his chin held high, withthe demeanor a god looking at mortals.
He looked at his opponent.
Same height and buildas me. Stance is slightly unbalanced. Right arm seems to be stronger. Doubleaxe wielder.
The two started their Songs, generating their respectiveauras.
5th levelof Absorption. Medium level Song.
Jia Yuan wouldn’t even put this sort of cultivation level inhis eyes.
The Jia Yuan of today was not the generous, dryly amused JiaYuan of the last few weeks. He had only one goal, and everyone who stood in hisway would have to be taken care of.
The main reason behind this change was obviously the statehis brother was in. How could he be in the good mood when his brother lay unconscious,perhaps unable to walk the road of martial cultivation ever again?
As soon as the round started, Jia Yuan lifted HiRyu over hishead and condensed the power of his Song into the sword and his arms. A giantsword of fire grew from HiRyu’s tip, growing to be over 20 feet long.
Seeing this, Jia Yuan’s opponent’s face paled. What sort ofmonster was he fighting?
He immediately surrendered and jumped off of the stage.
After extinguishing the sword of fire, Jia Yuan walked offof the stage as well.
After about half an hour of watching others fight, it wasJia Yuan’s turn to fight again. However, having seen Jia Yuan’s strengthearlier, his opponent directly surrendered.
Funnily enough, this happened until Jia Yuan was in thesemifinals. No one was willing to risk themselves fighting against such amonster.
However, given that it was the semifinals, there was finallywho felt strong enough to give Jia Yuan a shot.
It was Lin Pei, who was actually the brother of Lin Xuan,the staff fighter who Jia Yuan had previously fought. He, like his brother,used an unusual weapon, the nunchaku.
As soon as the round began, the two rushed at each other.Lin Pei had the same cultivation as his brother, and despite having a weakercultivation than Jia Yuan, he was able to gain the advantage due to his weapon.
Jia Yuan had never fought against a nunchaku expert beforeand was quickly overwhelmed by the flurry of attacks.
Right! Left! Down! Up! Soon it felt like his entire field ofvision was covered with nunchucks. Jia Yuan had only fought against axe andsword users, and only in the tournament did he fight against a staff user forthe first time.
None of them prepared him for this! With axes and swords,whether single handed, two-handed, or dual-wielded, Jia Yuan knew the possibleranges and attack patterns. After all, a static, unchanging weapon is fairlyeasy to keep track of.
However, the nunchaku techniques employed Lin Pei were theexact opposite. The nunchaku techniques Lin Pei used were not only extremely fast,but confusing and unexpected in Jia Yuan’s eyes.
Since Jia Yuan’s cultivation and aura were both higher thanthat of Lin Pei’s getting hit didn’t do too much damage, but over time Jia Yuanbegan to feel the impact of the bruises.
It was truly annoying to fight against a nunchaku user!
Chapter 63: Battalion Commander
Jia Yuan continued to suffer the onslaught of attacks fromLin Pei.
However, Lin Pei was secretly starting to panic. He had beenfighting at a speed and ferocity that he could not sustain for a long period oftime. Even with the benefits of his Song, he could fight like he had been forabout 2-3 minutes. For just about most cultivators, the onslaught wouldoverwhelm them in a matter of seconds, never mind minutes.
However, he was starting to feel drained of energy, stabs ofpain affecting his mind. His movements began to slow, and his aura began toflicker and weaken.
How could someone who had fought so many rounds at the arenafail to recognize this? Jia Yuan’s hopes sparked as he saw his opponent beginto struggle. He had been contemplating whether or not he had to show his 6thlevel of Absorption. As it turns out, he didn’t need to!
This took a load off of Jia Yuan’s chest. Without the stressof this looming decision, he relaxed.
When the body relaxes, the muscles are less strained, andthe body is therefore able to move faster, more fluid, and basically betteroverall.
As Lin Pei’s attacks began to lose strength and slow down,Jia Yuan began to take the offensive, overwhelming Lin Pei with attacks. Withthe freeing of his mind, Jia Yuan also began to fight in a more dynamic matter,dashing around Lin Pei between attacks, overloading Lin Pei’s sense of danger,as Lin Pei had done to him previously.
Slash! Jia Yuan dashed to the right and cut towards Lin Pei’sright side!
Dash! Jia Yuan was now at Line Pei’s left, and he slashedtoward the left side!
Jump! Now Jia Yuan was hovering over Lin Pei. He sent hisflaming sword downwards.
Lin Pei tried to block, but he simply had no more strengthleft! His arms crumbled and he collapsed on the stage.
Jia Yuan had won yet again! As the referee announced it, everyonein the stands applauded and were quite impressed with the bout.
But Jia Yuan wasn’t happy at all! The match had shown thathe still had some severe flaws in his fighting ability. He still had limitedexperience, and still sometimes tensed up too much when he was beingoverwhelmed.
The final round came just a few minutes later.
Jia Yuan’s final opponent was yet again one of the 8 who hadbeen invited to HuoShen Palace. He wielded a uniquely shaped axe. The mainportion of the weapon was a metal pole and at each end was an axe head.
Yes, it was a two-headed axe.
The weapon looked very dangerous, but also very heavy. JiaYuan was rather surprised! There were even unusual weapons such as this in theroyal armory!
However, Jia Yuan wasn’t worried at all. In essence, he wasjust fighting another axe user. This round… should end quickly.
The two clasped their hands toward each other, preparedtheir stances, and the fight began!
After the last round, Jia Yuan was somewhat frustrated andwanted to vent a little, as well as show off a little. After all, he’s still ahuman, and was a little vain. As such… as soon as the fight started, heprepared his strongest attack!
His strongest attack was the same move he had first usedagainst the bandits he had met back when all he had was a wooden sword.
Back then, he had only been able to cause a bit of flame tosurround the sword, making it enough to attack with and be dangerous, but itwas still a rather weak attack.
Now, however, even in the sheath, HiRyu hummed with all thepower of a raging dragon, ready to burst out and devour its foes.
His opponent rushed toward him, his double-headed axeimposing as he closed the gap between him and Jia Yuan.
At the same time, Jia Yuan dashed past his opponent,slashing outwards with HiRyu at the same time!
All the viewers in the stands saw was a brief glimpse of JiaYuan tilting his body forward, clearly preparing to dash… and then his body disappeared.They saw a streak of red/white flame streak past Zeng Bao, the opponent, andthen they saw Jia Yuan “reappear” about two or feet behind Zeng Bao.
For a few seconds, the air was still, and not a sound washeard.
Then Zeng Bao collapsed, a few dying embers could be seensurrounding his body.
The viewers in the stands were in an uproar! The final roundhad actually ended so quickly! They had seen Jia Yuan struggle with his lastopponent, so did it just mean that this opponent was weak?
But one thing was clear! Jia Yuan was the victor of theBurning Legion Tournament, and he was the newest battalion leader of theBurning Legion!
As Jia Yuan stood on the stage, Zeng Bao and the rest of thenew battalion stood below the stage and knelt.
The General of the Burning Legion
And like this, the new battalion was born, with Jia Yuan asits head.
The general of the Burning Legion stepped down from theroyal box where he had been sitting with the King and his ministers.
Along the way several members of the audience stood up aswell, following the general to the stage. Evidently, these people were the variousbattalion commanders of the Burning Legion.
The general looked Jia Yuan up and down, and then patted himon the shoulder. “You’re quite a fine young man! You’ll make quite a battalion commander.Hmph, you should already be stronger than the commander of the 30thBattalion. Aren’t I right?”
He glanced at a youngster standing behind him.
“Yeah, yeah. The kid’s a freaking genius. No need to pour iton me.” The person waved back in an mildly annoyed manner.
However, his words and mannerisms were clearly contradictedby a beaming smile on his face. A new power had arrived at the Burning Legion!As a loyal soldier of the Fire Kingdom, how could he not be happy?
On the battlefield, he would take a stronger ally over aweaker one at any time. What did he care if another battalion commander wasstronger than he?
The General looked back at Jia Yuan. You’ll be the commanderof your battalion, but the officers and their ranks will be determined by theresults of the tournament. You are allowed, as battalion commander, to changethem after, but all changes need to be run through a battalion commander higherin seniority. For you, this means basically everyone behind me.”
“This is to prevent a battalion commander from putting hisfriends into all of the high level officer positions.”
“However, there is a spot in the battalion that you areallowed to fill for yourself. This is the position of strategist. Usually, somenoble families will their train their younger generation to be a warrior of themind as well as brawn.”
“It’ll be up to you to decide who to pick as strategist.Just remember that the strategist will serve as your vice commander, and thatthe lives of your battalion will be held, for the most part, in your and yourstrategist’s hands.”
He paused at stared deep into Jia Yuan’s eyes, his gazestern. “Make the right choice.”
He then abruptly smiled again, and laughed. “Haha, we’ll beleaving now. Tomorrow I’ll send a guide to lead your battalion to the place you’llbe posted. Every month you will be delivered a bunch of pills and weapons andarmors. It’ll be your job to either delegate the distribution of theseresources or to do it yourself.”
And with that, the General turned around and led his groupof battalion commanders away. The stands began to empty of people, and soonenough, the only people in the stadium were Jia Yuan and his battalion.
Jia Yuan groaned in his mind.
So manyresponsibilities! I’m not even going to have time for myself anymore. Hmph. Whothe hell do I even make a strategist?? AHhhhhhhh, I don’t even know how todistinguish between a good strategy and a bad one. What’s wrong with justcharging at the enemy? Blah.
Despite the feelings in his heart, he faced his battalionwith a smile.
“Hello everyone. My name is Jia Yuan, and from today onward,I will be your Commander. Please treat me well.” Jia Yuan clasped hands towardthe crowd.
“Battalion Commander!” The crowd shouted, as they claspedtheir hands back toward him.
Alright, might as wellget this out of the way.
Jia Yuan shouted, “JIe En! Come here!”
In the midst of the crowd, Jie En had a rather blanchedface. He knew exactly why Jia Yuan had called him up…
He made his way out of the crowd and slowly walked to thestage, looking as if every step was one to his death.
When he finally made his way onto the stage and was standingnext to Jia Yuan, Jia Yuan finally spoke again.
Jie En groaned internally, but what could he do? “Umm… So afew days ago during the tournament I spoke some rather condescending wordsabout commoners…um… trying to join the Burning Legion. For that, I apologize toall of the commoners who made it into the Burning Legion.”
Jia Yuan nodded, pleased that Jie En was able to make itthrough the situation. It was hard for a noble to bend their ego to apologizeto the common folk!
However, Jia Yuan was still a little mad at Jie En forcausing Dou Di’s current predicament. He knew that he couldn’t blame Jie En toomuch... but he still felt bitter.
The soldiers in the 31st Battalion felt rathersurprised. It seemed that their new Commander was an interesting fellow! Notonly did he possess remarkable talent and strength, but apparently he was evena champion of the common people! The nobles in the battalion felt respect forJia Yuan both for his strength and acceptance of the common folk, while thecommoners were in awe and felt gratitude towards Jia Yuan. Not only did JiaYuan achieve his current strength despite not being born into a noble family,but he had even made a noble apologize for disparaging commoners!
But Jia Yuan didn’t care about this. Why would he care whowas a noble and who was a commoner? To him, they were all the same thing. Theywere soldiers of the Burning Legion, the special and proud unit of the FireKingdom.
~2 Months Later~
The 31st Battalion had been posted at the borderbetween the Fire Kingdom and the Earth Kingdom for the last two months.
Dou Di had woken over a month ago, and had been completelydistraught at his lack of power. He would have bursts of strength in times whenhis Song randomly activated, but for the most part he was unable to fight orcultivate.
However, today was the day Jia Yuan would try to restore hisolder brother’s cultivation. Guo Huo had provided him, at great cost to thefunds of the Black Wing Merchant Guild, a high level Song. Along with the highlevel Song, Guo Huo had sent a person who he said was a genius, worthy of beinga strategist for the 31st Battalion.
In the commander’s tent, Dou Di was sitting at a table. Infront of him was the high level Song. He knew that once he began to try toabsorb the Song, he would be in a situation of life or death… with the oddsagainst him.
But the last month had been a world of despair for him. Onlyby thinking about the small chance of being able to restore his ability tocultivate was he able to keep on going.
The moment had come! Dou Di reached out his hand to absorbthe Song, and the information coursed through his head.
At the same time, a third soul approached the conjoined formof Dou Di’s soul and his first Song.
The third soul seemed to ponder the form in front of him.Then, it rushed toward said form and began to devour the first Song. Uponseeing this, Dou Di’s soul shuddered.
In the physical world, Jia Yuan looked at Dou Di, who wassprawled unconscious over the table. He was very, very worried for his olderbrother. There was only a 20% chance of surviving! He paced around the tent whilewaiting for any type of response from Dou Di’s body.
In the meantime, Dou Di’s first Song had already beencompletely devoured by the high level Song. This Song then turned towards DouDi’s Soul.
At this point, Dou Di’s soul was perfectly fine. The highlevel Song approached Dou Di’s soul, and attached itself to it.
It was a success!
In the physical world, Dou Di opened his eyes and sat up.Jia Yuan saw, and ran over to the table.
“Is it over? Did you succeed?”
Dou Di’s eyes glazed over with happiness. “Yes! I cancultivate again! I can feel the energy of the Song… I can cultivate again!”
He turned around and embraced Jia Yuan. He knew that hislittle brother had gone through quite some difficulty to secure him a highlevel Song. After all, a high level Song costs a fortune!
At this time, the “genius” Guo Huo had sent along with thehigh level Song stepped into the tent. “I sensed that your brother’scultivation had come back. Congratulations.”
The genius’ name was Fan Meng. He had a weak cultivation,only at the 3rd level of Absorption with a low level Song, but accordingto Guo Huo, he had an unmatched mind. Not only has he memorized variousstrategies used by the four Kingdoms, but he has also created his owncounterstrategies to these strategies. The only thing he needs now, is to provehis worth on the battlefield.
It is easy for one to come up with ideas when they areresting in their cozy study, but it is much harder to execute the strategiesand come up with new ones on the fly under the pressure of thousands of lives!
“It’s good that his strength is back. He can keep his postas a squad leader (squad= 10 people) without being looked at with condescendinggazes. It is strength that speaks in this world…” Fan Meng looked wistfully atJia Yuan.
Fan Meng was slightly older than most of the members of the31st Battalion at 18 years of age, but his cultivation was farlower. Initially when he had first acquired his Song, he had tried tocultivate, but his speed was simply too slow! As such, he changed his focus andstudied to become a strategist instead.
However, he still had some regrets. Seeing someone such asJia Yuan, who was still so young be so strong as to become a battalion commanderfor the Burning Legion, he couldn’t help but be a little jealous.
Of course, he also viewed Jia Yuan with respect. By now, JiaYuan’s story had been embellished and passed through the entire Fire Kingdom.
A slave boy, bought by an executive of the Black WingMerchant Guild, achieved his freedom and went to BlueFire City, where hepromptly became a champion of the arena, squashing opponents far above hiscultivation level.
A prodigy! A story that gave slaves and commoners throughoutthe land hope for the future. Maybe, if they were lucky and worked hard, theycould have an illustrious future like Jia Yuan!
After the congratulations, Fan Meng left the tent while thetwo brothers celebrated Dou Di’s recovery. Dou Di was truly lucky to havesucceeded.
Over the next few days, Jia Yuan worked to integrate thisstrategist into the 31st Battalion. They ran drills based onformations and tactics.
Furthermore, this strategist helped the commoners among the31st Battalion to improve their methods of cultivation. After all,many of them, while talented, didn’t have a teacher or guide to learn from.
In this manner the months passed and the 31st Battalion’sstrength grew as they trained and learned.
Just a few months after Dou Di recovered his ability tocultivate, Jia Yuan and Fan Meng were chatting with each other in Jia Yuan’scommander tent while eating some food together.
The two had grown closer together, one a genius of cultivation,the other a genius of strategy.
At this time, a soldier of the 31st Battalionrushed into the tent.
“Commander! Big news!”
Jia Yuan looked toward the soldier. It was actually a memberof Dou Di’s squad.
The soldier sputtered out the news. “Our Kingdom has enteredan alliance with the Air Kingdom in a war against the Water and Earth Kingdoms!A messenger had just arrived with this scroll bearing the royal seal.”
Jia Yuan, upon hearing these words, accidentally spat outhis food, losing a bit of the “reliable commander” persona he had been workingto maintain.
The royal seal was created by manipulating one’s fire aurainto a specific formation and then imprinting the formation onto an object,creating a seal at the point of contact. The method was very secretive and wasonly used in extremely important cases.
Jia Yuan opened the scroll by tapping it releasing the seal.He then handed it over to Fan Meng who read it out loud.
“As of today, the 182th day of the 7203th year of theAncient Calendar, our Kingdom’s BlueFire City has been sieged by the combinedforces of the Water and Earth Kingdoms.
It is in light of this event that I, the King of the FireKingdom, declare our Kingdom to be in a state of war against the Water andEarth Kingdoms.
The esteemed Air Kingdom has generously offered theirassistance in this endeavor, and as such, we will be working with them todestroy the Water and Earth Kingdoms.
We will show them that the Fire Kingdom is not to be trifledwith!”
Fan Meng paused. “Ah… it appears that there are some other things written below.” He glanced at the soldier.
The soldier understood. He clasped his hands towards theCommander and Strategist, and left the tent.
Fan Meng glanced at Jia Yuan. “It appears that we’ve beensummoned to join the 2nd Army near the border with the WaterKingdom… it appears that they wish to retake BlueFire City and turn it into avantage point for the war. We’re to help with the siege and work with the 2ndArmy however they need.”
Jia Yuan thought for a bit. “Isn’t the 2nd Armyactually the strongest standard army of the Burning Legion? I heard the 1stArmy is full of pampered nobles and the like. Why are we matched with them?Does it say what other Burning Legion Battalions will be going?”
“That’s the strange part. We’re the only Burning LegionBattalion grouped with the 2nd Army. The rest are with the 1stand 4th Armies.”
Jia Yuan understood immediately. “So either they decided ourBattalion needs a quick dose of battle experience, or they decided that theywould only throw us into the main fray because I’m the only battalion commanderwho’s not directly from a noble family…”
Fan Meng replied in a rather wistful manner. “We have anunproven commander with an unproven strategist, with an unproven battalion. Younot being a noble is probably just the tip of the iceberg. It also doesn’t helpthat you’re associated with the Black Wing Merchant Guild… they may believethat your allegiance is closer to the guild than your country. Perhaps they wantto see if you’ll fight for your country…”
Jia Yuan mused to himself.
It’s not like I feelallegiance to country or to the merchant guild… I just want to do well for myfriends… and for my teacher.
His eyes sharpened. “Fine, if they want to see how we’ll do,then we’ll give them a show, right? I trust you’ll come up with somethingthat’ll show how special our battalion is.”
“Let’s go prepare the troops. We’re moving out!”
A few hours later, the 31st Battalion of theBurning Legion left their encampment for the eastern border to join up with the2nd Army.
After about a week’s worth of grueling travel, the entire 31stBattalion had made it, in haphazard fashion, to the staging grounds for the 2ndArmy.
They had made it, but they were exhausted.
Jia Yuan turned toward his troops. “Wait here! I’ll talk tothe General of the 2nd Army and I’ll find out where we can makecamp. Don’t cause any trouble!”
Jia Yuan walked toward the center of the camp, where anostentatious tent had been set up, clearly the headquarters.
Along the way, he walked past many troops, most of whomlooked at him with reverent gazes. They could tell from Jia Yuan’s armor thathe was a commander of the Burning Legion. The most special force of the FireKingdom! However, some of the veteran troops looked at Jia Yuan with jadedeyes. They had fought with those from the Burning Legion before… the troops ofthe Burning Legion tended to be arrogant and demeaning and couldn’t be botheredto help the normal troops when the going got tough.
He pushed aside the cloth in the doorway of the tent andwalked in. Inside stood 11 burly men in clean but not overly decorative armor,surrounding a table with markers and other pieces on it.
Jia Yuan clasped his hands toward those in the tent. “Greetings.Commander Jia Yuan of the 31st Battalion reporting.”
The man standing at the head of the table walked over with abig smile on his face. “Ahh, Commander Yuan! Good, good. I am General LinZheng. We’ve been waiting for you! How was the travel?”
Jia Yuan smiled and responded. “No need for thepleasantries, General. I’m not one of those stuffy nobles.”
The General cackled. “Ahhh, you’re just like my sons said.You’re the easygoing type, huh? Good, good. Come over here, here’s thesituation.”
Jia Yuan instantly thought of the two brothers who wieldedunusual weapons, Lin Pei and Lin Xuan.
So that’s why theywere so adept with those unusual weapons. Their father turned out to be themost hardened general of the Kingdom…
“As you can see, this is where we stand. Over here, isBlueFire City. We’re planning to siege it for about a month until its resourcesdry out… doesn’t make sense to lose too much manpower here in a forceful sackof the city, especially so early in the war.”
Jia Yuan racked his brains for a response, but couldn’t comeup with any. He wanted to take BlueFire City quickly so that the Fire Kingdomcould seize the city for supply and defense purposes, but he also couldn’targue against the General’s point about losing troops.
Jia Yuan finally turned toward the General. “I agree, but Iwant to see if my strategist agrees. In the meantime, I’d like to allow mybattalion to rest, as we rushed over here at top speed.”
“Ahh, yes. Of course, you can invite the strategist over! Asfor your troops, they can set up camp on the right flank. We left a space openfor you there.”
Jia Yuan left the tent and distributed the orders to the 31stBattalion, then returned to the tent with Fan Meng, who looked over the table.
After a while, he turned toward the General. “There’s noneed to wait a month to take over BlueFire City. With our 31stBattalion, we can do it in a single day.”