“KET, YOU FUCKWAD!”
Trusting my disciples, my ass! The entire preliminary round was already bad enough. First, I had to suffer through those embarrassing displays of martial might. I had to kick all those poor little Dark Moon disciple puppies while they were already down. Then I had to stand there like an asshole, my thumb up my ass while I was insulted to my face by every single elder that thinks they’re important.
So there was a speech by every single elder.
Every single one of those pompous pricks basically said the same thing. They said that even though every single combatant here was trash, we still beat a lot of trash to prove that we're the best among the trash.
A truly top tier one percent among the trash. Truly the creme de la shit.
And now, we are all honored with the most elevated honor of fighting all the non-trash people.
Alright, they didn’t really say that, but it’s what every single one meant. I’ve heard enough doublespeak and political talks to read between the lines.
Looking around, I note that only a single percent of the disciplines are left standing. What used to be a rather diverse crowd of fresh-faced, mean-looking, and vicious sect disciples is now much changed. Now it’s a battered and bloody crowd of mean-looking and vicious sect disciples. And saying that all of them are left standing is a bit too much, some of them are swaying on their feet or just sitting down.
Every single person has an injury, is missing a limb, is wounded, or incapacitated in some way. Fighting against a hundred people of similar power with ease is a myth. These people are here just because they have been lucky. A single bad matchup and none of these folk would have been here.
Except for me, of course. But aside from the fact that I’m covered in blood, only my patience is wounded. But I have started to realize that I’m not a normal person, at all. I already had a hunch that my cultivation base might be far out, but it never got a chance to shine, with all the pressure cooking qi around me and all.
Not a single person here was a challenge. A few of the Inner Sect disciples turned out to be low tier foundation, shelter, or resident forming Earth realm experts. They felt like Qi Gathering newbies to me.
Anyway, after suffering through the tedious array of speeches, the true tournament began. And instead of Ket joining us, he somehow got singled out as a promising seed. What I just went through was the preliminary round. The round after that is the selection round, where the people that will be allowed to fight in the true tournament will be selected. That’s when I had a slight slip of the tongue, and now half the arena is staring at me.
The true reason for my outburst is that I just spotted a certain person in the crowd. He is sitting at the very back, looking all broody, pissed off and arrogant. He is a certain person that has a certain sword of mine. I really thought that Ket, along with everyone in Tree, was coming up with some clever strategy to get me that sword.
Earthquakes notwithstanding, retrieving that fragment of that super overpowered soul is still the number one priority here. Well, after getting my students back. And that only after getting Rhea back. Which I can only do after regaining my power without having the entire Cultivation World chasing after me. Which will be a lot easier if I get my hands on that sword again.
Which just shows that getting my sword back is the number one priority.
And now I will have to suffer through another round of those terrible and soul-crushing fights in order to get to that sword stealing weasel.
“Young man, why do you disturb our patriarch?”
I freeze as I feel the gazes of everyone land on me. I see a familiar elder staring at me, a twinkle of humor in his eyes. Please, no. Not a twinkle of humor! Now I will have to behave a certain way, lest the elder become disappointed, and develop a grudge against me. When you get older, ennui becomes the greatest enemy. Having one of these old fogies find me entertaining isn’t good news.
My heart calms down as I recognize the Inner court Head elder, and I quickly spin up and answer. “Apologies honored elder. As revered Elder Gao Xiao over there knows, my long trek through the deadlands left me unbalanced. The sight of my previous junior being of a higher ranking than me in this awesome tournament would have left me with a heart devil, had I not expelled it by venting it into the world.”
Inner Court Head Elder Jiang Chang strokes his long beard some more as he peers down at me from his place of honor. Glancing over to the Outer Court elder that snatched Ket, I see a grimace flash across his face. “Ah, I know the feeling well. Disappointment, no matter whether it is in your self or another, is the vilest thing. I have no seeded disciple, join us up here.”
Once again, I stand there, blinking rapidly as events slip from my fingers. “Surely, I could not?” I begin hesitantly. Just before the old man continues talking, I hurriedly resume my little speech. “No, apologies, elder. Denying you would dishonor your words. I will follow your wisdom.”
I run like a bat out of hell, using every single scrap of fast-walking techniques I know to make it look like I am strolling while moving faster than a full sprint. Running up the arena wall is easily done, and I rush through the path between seats as low key as possible.
Sitting down in a random empty seat, I pretend with all my might that I don’t have a couple of hundred-thousand people staring at me. Deciding that people will keep staring anyway, I tear a ragged strip of dark cloth from my robe and start wiping at my face. I tried to avoid all the blood and gore, but trouncing around as the single pristine disciple in a battle tattered crowd would just pull more attention. Also, the people around me were just way too messy fighters to avoid everything.
A fat lot of good that did me, with everyone eying me up and down like this. I am so bad at infiltrating and staying low key, it’s not even funny.
I just put my feet up, ignore the death stare of the person sitting in front of me who I just kicked, and get comfortable. The elders eventually get their heads out of their asses, no doubt stunned by my display of physical coordination, and resume the tournament.
Another round of speeches follows. Instead of subtly bashing the face of the people down below, they are praising the sect this time. They all glance at a shadowed alcove high above, and I mark that area as the sitting place of the patriarch. From the nervousness and obsequiousness on their faces, the big guy must not get out much. They are taking this opportunity to ingratiate themself with the top brass.
Ignoring the stares of the people around me, I pop another snack into my mouth and wait for boring part out. I nearly drop a handful of shitty yet tasty cultivation pills as another tremor jostles the entire arena. Immediately after, a barely audible cough coming from that same shadowy alcove interrupts the currently monologuing elder. The cultivator in question - a bald bear of a woman - pales and rushes into a hurried ending of her meandering speech. She waves at the stands and orders the selection part of the tournament to start.
Then I see the young master who’s thugs wanted to beat Ket and me up stand up and walk down. The fat guy - named Xu Long Hia if I recall - is one of the few people I’d love to beat up. His ‘brothers in this life’ are already out of the running, I see.
Because the arena is stupidly large, the new contestants take a while to mosey down to the arena floor. When I emerged in the arena, over half of the fighting space was filled with people. As the second round gets ready, only a tenth of the floor is occupied by disciples.
Something complex happens with the arena. Cleverly hidden formations and arrays start emitting a low hum, changing the internal structure of the floor. Some of that darkly gowing markings disappear, the sea of small fighting area's merging into bigger ones.
Then I see more familiar faces, a low-key part of Database pointing them out to me. The gang that was catching people at the testing rings all avoided the trash-tier round of the tournament. I spot more of the disciples that I saw hanging around streetcorners in the Outer Sect. The guy that pissed himself at the sect entrance gate is also there. I also see the nice girl from the entrance, the one called Jin Yu. She has a particular serene expression on her face. Her younger brother - Jin Lashi - is nowhere to be seen.
I’m immediately corrected the moment I think that. There are a few people walking around that aren’t heading towards the arena floor. One of the disciples that’s changing seats is said younger brother, and he is coming my way. His face is the opposite of his older sister, all angry and broody.
I stamp down on my own anger and irritation for a moment. Yes, I would have loved to punch a few of these people’s lights out. It isn’t high on my priority list, though. I do wonder where a certain sword stealing fellow is, but before I can start looking for him seriously, the angry disciple sits down next to me. Rather aggressively, as I barely manage to retract my legs from his seat.
“Hello, fellow Daoist,” I greet him distractedly.
“How are you going to make this up to me?”
The venom and hate in his words make me look up at the man. “Who, what, and why now?”
“Sister Jin Yu is down there because of you. Your lack of face and shameless behavior reflected badly on her, and now she has fallen out of favor. Instead of becoming an elder and fighting the heavens, now she is doomed to become some lesser man’s Dao companion. Maybe her fate will even end as a furnace for some lowly disciple. How are you going to make that up to me?”
It takes me a small eternity of doublethink to understand what he is saying. From Jin Yu’s poise and demeanor, I suspect that she has a good chance to get through this second round of fighting. But apparently, the man sitting next to me doesn’t think so. And now he is angry that I - merely by existing - caused his to-be girlfriend to fall out of favor. This apparently has led her to be demoted, and now she has to fight in the Selection Round of the tournament.
I just fought in the Qualifier round, which is there to eliminate three-quarter of the disciples. The Selection Round is happening now, after which the actual tournament will begin. I’m pretty curious how talking to me at the entrance caused Jin Yu to be placed in a lower round, though. “How is this my karma?”
Jin Lashi’s eyes bulge out in disbelief as he seems at a loss for words. “You have no face! You fled from all challenges. First, you presume to claim a position in the Outer Court that even the most favored of disciples has not earned. You assume too much by talking with elders like you have earned their time. And then you hide, avoiding everyone that would seek to avenge the shame you have heaped upon them. You hide from their challenges. You slapped even my face by refusing my challenge!”
I blink rapidly. “What in tarnation?”
“The two lowest trash in the sect, you, and disciple Ket. And yet you two dare to speak to elders. You dare to walk through the central area, reserved for only the most talented of disciples. You dare to speak back to one of the young masters of one of the bigger clans! You have the audacity to assume familiarity with elders of my clan! You even dare to corrupt the new and most promising seedling, fellow disciple Ket, with your shameful ways.”
At this point, I stop listening. I thought he was going to say something interesting there for a second. Instead, I somehow insulted every single person, their mother, and eighty-one generations of their ancestors by holing up somewhere.
Then again, with literally everybody here living inside a cave, even the smallest of scandals would be exciting news. Not only is the sect incompetent on several levels, but it’s also so stagnant that gossip has been elevated to high-quality entertainment.
Yin Lashi keeps ranting, his face red, veins standing out on his forehead. The few people still sitting near us all stand up and walk off, sitting down a couple of dozen meters away from us. Even the few pointed glares I get from elders don’t make him shut up.
Then I realize that every single glare is directed at me and that Lashi next to me only gets encouraging motions sent his way.
I cover my head in my hands. Way to stay low key, Drew. Way to go. By hiding in a cave for a month, not only did you not hide. No, you actually went and personally insulted every single person in the entire sect. Without a way to take revenge or regain face, the small insults I had doled out here and there could only fester. Letting these shut-ins steam in their own juices for a month only made the situation worse.
Lashi keeps his speech up for a long few minutes. Long minutes where I try very hard to pretend like I know what he is even talking about. In the beginning, I manage keep up with his tirade of insults. But now he is talking about how I disrespected and mortally insulted the fifth ancestor of a super famous stone sculptor. I did this by walking through the streets of the Outer Court in a particular way.
I glance at the guy to see whether or not he is serious. The anger on his face is real and filled with catharsis. The fulfillment of finally being able to vent and rage at the correct target just radiates from the poor guy.
And now I have spat on the work of three generations of revered martial artists. I did that by knocking out one particular Outer Court disciple through a kick to their diaphragm just now. That was apparently the single area where the art they developed boasted the best defense. And I just kicked right through the super famous and renowned rechnique.
It was the most obvious weak spot, for fuck’s sake! That area did have some half-decent shielding, sure, but it also housed the nexus for the overcomplicated technique! Of course I’m going to kick there…
Covering my head in my hands some more, I almost miss the change in mood. Looking up, I note that Lashi is silent, and an elder that I know all too well is staring at me like I’m a juicy piece of chicken.
“Elder Jiang Dan,” the ancient, Ket-stealing asshole begins. “If this is your choice of chosen disciple, I will have to question your confidence.”
Ket is about to stand up from where he is sitting, next to Elder Gao Xiao. I quickly send him an order through Database to sit his ass down and let this play out.
“This so-called Wolf Fiend Teach is clearly a motherless curr who has no face. Is this who you choose to associate with, Elder Jiang Dan?”
Just as my darkness seeing buddy of an Outer Court elder is about to speak up, I decide to throw away all inhibitions. I try to fit in, I try to lay low, and it just backfires. I’m stuck between my newfound power and my sneaky braincore ways. I decide to not be too hard on myself. One is a recent development, powered by two planets, hyper-advanced tools, a Tree, a massive piece of jade, and hyper-advanced satellites. This way of living is also only a couple of years old.
The other is a way of living that kept me alive for a thousand years.
The fact that I just spotted that sword stealing asshole in the tournament seals the deal. I throw away all the plans that I've been cooking up, do a quick check with Database, and decide to just go for or.
I stand up and smile widely. “Yeah, Gao Xiao, old buddy! You are right. I should not drag such an honored figure as Head Outer Court Elder Jiang Dan down with me. I am associated with you, and that could only stain Elder Jiang Dan’s illustrious and honest reputation.”
I bow to the old guy and jump down to the arena floor in one single leap. Landing in front of young master Xu Long Hia, I give the standard salute and get into a basic fighting stance.
After a whole twenty seconds of silence, I decide to speak up again. “Didn’t our honored patriarch tell us to get a move on just now? Let’s get this show on the road already!”
Knowing that I really shouldn’t be showing this enjoyment at all the chaos I’m causing, I decide to just focus on the fighting again.Previous Chapter
🎉🎉 - Chapter 300! - 🎉🎉
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