Destroyer of Ice and Fire
Chapter 69: Fight with courage! Brave warrior!
Early morning. The sky lit up only moment ago, and there was still an hour left before the main qualifiers, when Carter led Ayrin, Moss, Chris, and the other members of team Holy Dawn to the square outside Dragon-Battling Arena.
Dragon-Battling Arena was a huge, open-air, oval-shaped venue piled up from pure-dark volcanic stones. Many weeds and trees even grew in the interstices between the volcanic rocks. A majestic aura and a barren atmosphere strangely coexisted together, causing the entire giant arena to be shrouded inside a white haze, like a giant monster resting on its stomach.
The square outside the arena was formed by giant square stones joined together, the gaps between the stones creating natural water ditches around two fingers wide, many weeds and wild flowers growing there as well. There was an air of ancient ruins.
Team Holy Dawn didn't attract too much attention when they entered the square outside the arena, but when they approached closer and closer to the tunnel reserved for the participants, more and more people noticed their arrival.
“It's team Holy Dawn!”
“Look, it's Chris!”
“Why are there so many people in team Holy Dawn?”
“Don't tell me they're getting ideas about Divine Shield Academy?”
Very quickly, many people rushed toward this tunnel.
“Why are there so many people here already?”
Ayrin looked at the dense crowd rushing their way and became excited, feeling surprised at the same time.
“This little people can't be called many. There will be more of them inside once the match begins.” Carter smiled faintly as he watched Ayrin experiencing such a scene for the first time. Listening to the voices all around them, it seemed that letting a few more people come along this time, even letting Rogrid and Moss tag along, really created a pretty good confusion, making people unable to tell what was what.
“It's the main elimination stage, and our confrontation with Divine Shield Academy happens to be the first match in this round, so people from all the other schools will come watch.”
Carter's expression became serious when they walked inside the tunnel. “I have to be honest though... The vast majority of spectators should be coming for Divine Shield Academy. In their minds, Divine Shield Academy will definitely beat us and advance to the next round, so a great part of the crowd came to watch Divine Shield Academy's performance.”
The entire Holy Dawn Academy's team quieted down, because everyone knew that Carter spoke the truth.
“As long as we beat Divine Shield Academy, most spectators will be shocked, then cheer for us, their eyes will be on us in the next rounds, right?” They heard Ayrin's spirited and excited voice just at this time. “Just thinking that we're going to fight with an opponent like that, it's really exciting.”
“Does this guy even know the meaning of the word fear?” Gerrin couldn't help but turn his head around and look at Ayrin. He had an ominous premonition, a feeling that Ayrin might be one of the team members going on stage. But what made him even more startled was, he couldn't see any feeling of rejection coming from Ender, when the latter was clearly the one most opposed to Ayrin. Instead, expectation and desire for war burned inside his eyes.
The team lounge was only a few meters away from the tournament field, but when Ayrin sat down inside the lounge, he clearly heard the clamor become louder and louder in the arena outside, like an erupting volcano, erupting ever more violently.
In a corner of the square, Liszt lazily walked toward the arena when he suddenly halted his steps and turned around. He saw a young man slowly walk out from the mist, wearing golden clothes and sporting short white hair. His skin also sickly white.
“What brings the great Lannister arcane master Roose here?” Liszt suddenly smiled. “Don't tell me there's nothing to do lately in the western territories?”
“Not really.” The arcane master with short white hair, whom Liszt called Roose, calmly shook his head, an exceptional aura coming from him. “I received the kingdom's summon and transferred to an arcane team involved in dealing with Evil Dragon followers. The Evil Dragon followers have been showing their faces more and more frequently of late. Added to the fact we have some clues about the area where their camp is, I heard they're exceptionally adding at least five teams. I'm merely one of the team members they added. However, that means we might have more opportunities to meet in the future.”
Liszt shrugged. “It's still better to stay as far away as possible from your love rivals.”
Roose smiled despite himself. “Back then, my interest for Donna was actually real, but that might not have been the case for you. So if you're going to talk about love rivals, you should be talking about me and Berryn.”
“Your guts used to be so small you didn't even have the courage to say anything in front of the girls you liked, now you're actually pretty forthright.” Liszt looked at him and said, “Anyway, why did you come here this time? Don't tell me you came to find me to reminisce the spring of your youth gone by?”
“In fact, I want to convince Chris to join our Lannister arcane teams.” Roose looked at him and said in all seriousness, “We think that she'll become the captain of a team of elite arcane masters in the future, at least.”
“You're actually thinking of poaching our people. Too bad though, you're bound to be disappointed.” Liszt smiled lazily. “She's indeed pretty good, but she actually has other plans. Even if I thought you guys constitute a good choice and helped you put in a good word, I probably still wouldn't be able to sway her.”
“What plans does she have?” Roose frowned.
“That concerns private matters of hers, it's not appropriate for me to tell you.” Liszt smiled. “Why don't we properly enjoy the match first?”
Inside the team lobby, Carter looked at an Ayrin who couldn't sit still, some sweat even emerging on his forehead. He asked, “How is it, can't sit still?”
Ayrin replied, a little distressed, “I haven't been able to sleep ever since last night, because of the excitement.”
“Excitement?” Gerryn and the others looked at Ayrin with a strange expression of incomprehension. With the ever rising clamor outside, even experienced team members like them had some trouble breathing, but they really couldn't see any anxiety or fear from Ayrin's pure eyes, only an inexplicable excitement.
“It's normal to have a little trouble sleeping the first time.” Chris patted Ayrin's shoulder and comforted him. “It'll be better in the future.”
“We can go out in around half an hour, you can get a feel for the atmosphere and get used to it first.” Carter looked at Ayrin and everyone else, nodded, then immediately said, “Everything ready?”
“Going out so early?” Gerrin and company were taken aback.
“If you don't even have the courage to face the audience, how would you face formidable opponents?” The usually always gentle and amiable-looking Carter suddenly became a little unruly and stubborn. “I'm asking you right now. Are you ready? Do you have the courage to fight a battle to the death with your opponent?”
“I can't hear you. I want you to answer me, to roar at the top of your lungs. Do you have the courage to fight a battle to the death with your opponent?”
“What are you?”
“Brave warriors of Holy Dawn Academy!”
“What did you come here for?”
“Let's set off!”
Moss originally tagged along with Ayrin and wasn't a formal member of the team, but he could hear the fierce thumping of his heart when such loud roars rumbled. Blood started boiling in every part of him. He unexpectedly, infected by the mood, also let out a tremendous roar.
Ayrin followed behind Carter and walked toward the light outside the tunnel. The shouts were ever louder in his ears, as if he were walking into the center of a storm.
Darkness vanished from his vision. The instant sunlight enveloped him, he heard even louder shouts and cheers, like avalanches and tsunamis.
He was long mentally prepared, but he couldn't help but gasp when he saw the wave-like stands on all sides, several times bigger than in Holy Dawn Academy, the gushing flows of people also many times bigger. He could almost feel his scalp go numb.
This was a real ocean!
He could see all kinds of flags waving about in the stands, representing the colors of different schools. The sight of them fiercely assaulted his vision. All sorts of noise and clamors seemed to take material shapes, forming fiery gusts of air charging to the sky.
He suddenly cried out in surprise despite himself.
Because more than a dozen huge shadows loomed over the miserable-looking, potholes-riddled ground surface of the arena.
There were more than a dozen monument-like things towering on top of the stands. They didn't look like stone, and a hair-raising aura radiated from them.
“These are dragon bones.”
Carter breathed in deeply. He also lifted his head up and watched the dragon bones radiating with conspicuous malevolence, slowly saying, “Here is a place where arcane masters of the St. Lauren region waged a fierce battle against subordinates of the Evil Dragon, and killed two dragons loyal to the Evil Dragon. Many arcane masters of St. Lauren fell here, so these dragon bones are memorials commemorating them. Here is a grand Dragon-Battling land, a land representing the courage to stand unflinching against formidable strength, the courage to fight for the sake of freedom.”
“Amazing, real dragons! So big.”
Ayrin saw that what looked like mere cranium bones were already several times taller than a grown man. Full of shock, he thought, just how much courage does it take to charge forward when faced with something this big, and then kill it. Not cowering even when facing dragons, these must have been genuine braves!
When the entire city began to burn, when dragons started their wanton rampage, when countless people ran away and cowered in panic, some figures rushed forward without ever looking backwards, charging at the dragons.
Such scenes involuntarily appeared in his mind.
Very soon, his fists clenched on their own. In this instant, he gained some new understanding about the meaning of the word “battlemaster.”
In the stands were two giant, blue square formations.
These two blue square formations were both formed by gatherings of Holy Dawn students.
When they noticed their own academy team walk out of the tunnel, formally entering the tournament field, these two areas of the stands suddenly exploded in even louder shouts and cheers.
Singing soon sounded out loud.
First were scattered voices, then everyone from Holy Dawn Academy started singing, their voices becoming one, becoming a voice that shook people to their very core.
When the darkness before dawn twisted and whirled,
The Evil Dragon's forces gradually unfurled,
A world-destroying crisis, despair uncurled,
The flickering flame of hope on the verge of extinction.
Arise and fight, brave warrior!
Fight with courage! Brave warrior!
For the living and the homeworld!
Strive and struggle! Brave warrior!
For your friends and family, and also for the world.
No matter rains and snowstorms, the ground dyed crimson.
The darkness will finally out far be hurled,
Dawn's already nearing closer!
Even though we're drenched in blood all over,
Holy Dawn's glory will last for ever,
The braves' glory forever etched in the world!
Fight and fight on, you're our last barrier!
The light of hope pushing you forward!
Surrounded by the songs, Ayrin also started singing.
“Fight with courage! Brave warrior!”
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