Chapter 341: The First Challenge
“Moss, make sure you don’t hold back! Haha!”
“To whoever exits first, you better obediently lick this grandfather’s feet when the time comes!”
My intelligent, divinely skilled, and most handsome self originally had complete confidence but now… with the competition requiring all six of us to pass together... I do not have any confidence anymore.”
“Idiot! You are the biggest burden out of all of us!”
The six youths of the Holy Dawn Academy team were noisily bickering right before the gateway, as if they had fallen into internal strife.
The several referees couldn’t help but shake their heads.
No matter how they looked at it, these six youths didn’t seem to be part of the same team at all.
It seemed like they would have no chance at winning this competition. Especially since it depended on team efforts and not individual ones.
Yet these referees still felt a strange feeling of confidence in their hearts. Without a doubt, this team of rambunctious youths was the most frightening of the three competing. It was extremely difficult for the referees to predict just what their future would be like.
Watching Ayrin and the others disappear from his sight, the yellow crystal helmet wearing referee couldn’t help but turn towards Liszt and ask, “Mister Liszt, we heard that Lotner and the others of Abel Academy fought against Ayrin himself and were all defeated. Is this true?”
Liszt nonchalantly stretched his waist. A look of content appeared on his face, as if a load had finally disappeared from his shoulders and he could finally relax. "If the competition had followed its original format and we had fought against Abel Academy atop the Arena of Fire and Blood, I predict that Ayrin alone would have been able defeat at least three of them in succession, if not more.”
“What?! You’re joking!”
All the referees let out exclamations of disbelief.
But as they saw the serious expressions on the faces of Liszt, Minlur, and the others, they realized that Liszt wasn’t joking at all.
The sound of feet hitting a metal floor echoed throughout as the youths made their way through the gateway.
After passing through the gateway, the temple-like buildings appeared before them. They were close like they had seemed from afar, but they were separated from each other by countless walls of bronze which were over twenty meters tall.
Ayrin and Rinloran had immediately attempted to scale these walls upon seeing them. It was clear that they wished to continue in as straight of a path as possible to rush towards the center designated area and reach it as quickly as possible.
But the moment Ayrin and Rinloran reached the top of the bronze wall, the scene before them changed.
The temples and walls disappeared and were replaced by patches of large marshes.
The top of the walls protruded outside of the Mirroring Refraction Barrier.
Moreover, a strange arcane energy had taken away their ability to discern their position.
Naturally, Ayrin and Rinloran quickly realized it was impossible to continue forward in this manner.
It was evident that the reason the Office of Special Affairs had chosen this location was because the barriers left behind forced them to travel on the ground and break through the defenses in order to advance forward through the district.
They could only move through the labyrinth created by the countless crisscrossing bronze walls of the district.
After running for more than ten minutes, Ayrin and the others finally came across an unlocked large bronze colored metal gate which was cracked slightly open.
A strange aura emanated from within the crack.
Above this metal gate was a pillar with a metal puppet about a meter in length attached to it.
The puppet had a pale silver face with feminine features and short golden hair which looked like blades.
“It feels like there are ghosts around! Perhaps we should go look elsewhere?” Stingham proposed as he felt a chill pervade his body and shivered.
“Idiot!” Rinloran icily cursed.
“You might as well just kneel down and lick this grandfather’s feet now,” Belo added. An impetuous expression emerged atop his face as he immediately extended his arm and began to open the gate.
“Even if we go and look elsewhere, won’t we still encounter a similar situation? So it is better for us to just move forward! No matter what powerful defense exists behind this gate, we will crush it together!” Ayrin shouted encouragingly as he waved his fist towards Stingham.
“Moss, even if you are trembling in fear right now, you will still fight right?” Chris asked.
Stingham was on the verge of tears as he cried out, “Chris, your face blindness has appeared again! I am Stingham!”
“I’m so sorry,” Chris apologized as her face flushed red. She hurriedly explained, “It’s because I’ve been in a group with Belo and Moss for so long… That’s why…”
Stingham went half mad as he shouted, “But if you have seen Moss every day, how could you possibly forget that he has red hair?!”
Before Chris could respond again, Belo finally finished pushing open the heavy metal gate.
A long and narrow chamber appeared before them. Both sides of the chamber were completely sealed and a light incessantly flickered at the far end. Beside the walls were countless standing human figures which had been neatly organized into two straight rows.
All the figures were metal puppets about half a head shorter than Ayrin. Upon closer inspection, they realized that these figures faces looked exactly the same as the one they had seen atop the pillar outside.
Only this time, the golden hair was actually a mantle of metal blades!
As for their bodies, they were also a pale silver. Beautiful patterns had been carved into their bodies, making them seem as if they were wearing beautiful inscribed armors!
There were at least a hundred of these metal puppets present within this chamber.
The sheer appearance of so many of these metal puppets caused everyone’s pupils to constrict in shock.
After all, it was rare for even a single complete clockwork metal puppet of this level of exquisiteness to appear within Eichemalar.
But even more shocking than this was the fact that the eyes of these puppets were not carved into the face but created from a separate piece of the pale silver metal, allowing them to swivel around like human ones.
It felt as if every single one of these puppets were watching them with these eyes, causing an extremely heart-wrenching and uncomfortable feeling to emerge within their hearts.
A clear change could be discerned in Stingham’s voice as he cried out, “This number is a little too much, isn’t it? Maybe these clockwork soldiers are not in perfect condition and as strong as they used to be during the Era of the War with Dragons?”
“Let’st find out!” Belo sneered.
“Don’t!” Rinloran and Chris shouted simultaneously.
In a situation like this, it was definitely better for them to carefully observe their surroundings before acting. At the least, they needed to clearly analyze the clockwork soldiers.
In the next moment, a silence descended upon the chamber as everyone speechlessly watched Belo disregard Chris and Rinloran’s shouts and rush towards a metal puppet.
Everyone gasped as loud grinding sounds immediately rang out from within the bodies of all the pale silver metal puppets.
It was the unique sound of gears grinding as they began to turn!
Belo’s pupils abruptly turned bloodred as his blood vessels began to emerge atop his face as if someone had taken a red marker and drawn lines atop his face.
At the same time, all the golden blades atop the heads of the metal puppets began to flutter in the air as their eyes rolled upwards, revealing thin red holes!
Streams of golden flames shot out towards Belo from these holes.
Wherever the flames touched the bronze floor, deep red slits immediately appeared.
“This guy’s impetuousness is going to be the death of him!” Rinloran cursed as veins bulged atop his forehead.
“Belo!” Ayrin and Moss couldn’t help but scream.
They could all tell that these flames were no weaker than those released by a skill performed by a three-gate arcane master!
Even Stingham would likely not be able to resist this simultaneous attack of so many metal puppets.
“What?!” Stingham exclaimed as he fell into a daze
It was because Belo had not retreated in the face of so many streams of flames, but roared and continued to charge towards the metal puppet closest to him.
And the streams of fire targeting him had turned and followed him!
A fine net of flames formed before Belo.
Everyone felt a sensation of impending doom. If Belo collided with this fine net of flames, his body would definitely be cut into countless pieces!
By this time, however, Belo’s hands were already slicing down towards the face of his targeted metal puppet.
His nails abruptly elongated at a shocking speed.
Like two blue metal claws, Belo’s hands tore through the net of fire.
Stream after stream of flames were rendered apart.
Yet in the end, Belo’s violently charging figure stopped in its tracks. He dropped to the ground and landed on all fours like a beast before quickly retreating backwards.
“Whoosh whoosh whoosh…”
Although the net of flames had been dissipated, there were still countless streams of flames chasing after him.
The floor beneath Belo’s feet became increasingly red a speed which exceeded the speed at which he was retreating. Soon enough, the entire floor was red.
Although the flames were still unable to touch Belo’s body, a crackle could be heard every time Belo’s hands and feet landed on the ground, accompanied by the appearance of wisps of blue smoke. This caused Stingham’s mouth to twitch uncontrollably.
“Evil Flaming Eye!” Ayrin shouted.
A loud eruption occurred as Ayrin’s Evil Flaming Eye struck one of the streams of flames chasing Belo.
This disruption provided Belo with just enough time to back through the gate and withdraw outside of the chamber.
The moment the steaming Belo left the chamber, all the metal puppet abruptly stopped moving. Their eyes returned to normal as they returned to their original positions.
“No matter which one you attack, you will have to resist the attacks of all of the rest!” Rinloran immediately came to such a conclusion in his mind.
“If his reactions were any slower, his hand would have been cut off…”
Moss and Stingham exchanged looks.
Indeed. At the current moment, all of Belo’s nails were broken and his palms were charred. Skin and flesh were no longer discernible from the other.