Book 5: The Capital || Chapter 66: Starlight As Bright As Day (1)

“The first match! Suji Lasgeor versus Lassara Paul. Those whose names are called, please step into the arena.” From the upper part of the stands, an announcer broadcasted the names of those who were participating in the first match, prompting a tall, sinewy teenager to get up from his seat.

“Suji’s up first?” Shin remarked. Being the fourth seed in the tournament, any match that Suji was involved in was guaranteed to be an entertaining one. With his Purple Dragon Crescent Blade, and superior Guandao martial arts, Suji was the strongest weapon-type Spirit wielder in the first years. 

“Yeah… But the match is going to be one-sided. Lassara is only at Rank 16, a far cry from Suji’s Rank 19. Not to mention, her combat abilities pale in comparison to Suji’s vicious style. If I were her, I would just throw in the towel…” Isadore chimed in.

“I agree… Nonetheless, she should at least give it a try. To grow as a cultivator, there is a need to be pitted against the best.”

“… Shin, you’re way too optimistic. Whatever, let’s just hope that Suji controls himself.”

While the two friends were speculating on how the fight would play out, Suji and Lassara had made it into the arena and were waiting for the referee’s instructions to start the match. However, before the umpire had to chance to say anything, the tanned teenager addressed his opponent.

“Miss Lassara. I suggest you concede.” 

“Hargh?! Why would you say so?!”

“I am much better than you. There’s no question about it. No matter how hard you try, the outcome would be the same.” Folding his arms, Suji cautioned Lassara with a stern expression. Although his words seemed absurd, his face was telling the girl that he was dead serious.

“You’re full of shit, you know that?” Apparently unhappy that Suji had undermined her abilities, Lassara summoned out her Spirit and entered into her combative stance. In her left hand, a charcoal black flower, whose petals hid the delicate yellow stigma in the middle, emitted a burning scent that filled the lungs of those within fifteen metres of it. 

“Lassara uses the darkness element?!” Shin was stunned. Cultivators who possessed Spirits that possesses the darkness element were rare in the Himmel Empire. In fact, it was the first time that Shin had witnessed the darkness element firsthand.

“That’s right. She awakened the Ebony Mandala. Potent in its ability to bind and impede its opponent, it is a powerful darkness Spirit. If it were any other opponent, Lassara could have given them a run for their money. Unfortunately, she’s facing Suji…”

“Hah… Why must you be so stubborn?” Suji sighed and raised his right hand. Coils of purple lightning congregated around his body as his mana output surged, distorting the air around him in the process. Almost instantaneously, a Guandao, that was almost two-metres in length appeared in the teenager’s hands. Effortlessly placing it over his shoulder, Suji stepped into position and declared his intention to duel.

“Suji Lasgeor. Spirit, the Purple Dragon Crescent Blade. Cultivation level, Rank 19. Please advise me.”

“Lassara Paul. Spirit, Ebony Mandala. Cultivation level, Rank 16. Please advise me!” 

A dark mist started to envelop the young girl, filling the air with a deep sense of dread. The Ebony Mandala in her hands spewed out a thick smoke of ash and blackness that flowed to the floor like a descending waterfall. In just a few moments, the area around her had been filled with a blanket of blackened mist, barring the path of those who sought to go near her.

“It’s useless, Miss Lassara…” Evidently, Suji knew of the dangers that the mist created. However, he still opted to casually approach the girl. Coils of purple lightning enveloped the youth and generated an electric field that burnt Lassara’s measly protection away. A primal fear overwhelmed Lassara’s consciousness as she took numerous steps back, to move away from the approaching threat.

‘Tskkk, what am I doing?! I can beat him!’ Realising her folly, Lassara raised her Ebony Mandala and congregated her mana in preparation for her next spiritual ability.

“*Abyssal Vines!!!*.” 

From the depths of the dark smoke, thorny void vines sprung out and viciously sped towards the tall, sinewy youth. This time, Suji couldn’t rely on his electrical field to protect him. Dense amounts of mana gathered at the ankles of his feet as his figure became illusory. The Abyssal Vines, which would have ripped an average youth to shreds by now, all missed their mark, only striking empty air. 

“What a peculiar foot technique!” Shin gasped. Each time the Abyssal Vines seemed to have locked down its target, Suji would turn into a lightning bolt and evade the attack altogether.

“Damn it! Why won’t you hit him?!” Lassara hollered out in frustration. Spending a large amount of mana, the young girl summoned out forty Abyssal Vines at once and sent them all towards the muscular youth. Unfortunately, that excessive manoeuvre was exactly what Suji was waiting for.

“Mind your head.” Speeding forward with his Guandao in hand, Suji disappeared from sight and reappeared right in front of the poor girl. Using the other end of his polearm, Suji wreathed his weapon with a wicked thunderbolt and sent it straight down at Lassara’s head. 

With no means of defending herself, the young girl raised her hands and Ebony Mandala up above her head, hoping to mitigate some of the damage. However, instead of feeling her arms being crushed, a throbbing pain could be felt on her abdomen, as a thick meaty leg extended itself and sent her flying metres away.

Taking advantage of her moment of weakness, Suji sped forward and landed the final strike that would knock Lassara out cold, effectively ending the match. From start to finish, Suji’s match with Lassara only took thirty seconds, making it one of the fastest match times ever recorded in the round of thirty-two.

Although he had beaten his opponent, Suji felt nothing, as if he had just performed a routine task. Staring up into the crowd, his eyes met that of a certain black-haired youth, stunning the later in the process. A mischievous smile crept up the muscular teen’s face as the referee announced the winner of the match with an excited cry.

“Suji… He’s like a different person now…” Isadore remarked from the side. Having seen the Son of War’s battle powers earlier on in the year, the silver-haired boy clearly knew how much power Suji held. In fact, he had accurately predicted that Suji would sail through his match with Lassara. However, for Suji to defeat Lassara in thirty seconds? It was evident that the muscular youth wasn’t slacking around for the past year.

‘He’s challenging me…’ Shin thought to himself. Throughout the battle, the only thing that Suji had shown was his overwhelming speed and defensive lightning field. Both of which were good skills to have when dealing with Shin.

‘Hmph! So what if you have grown as well? I’ll be sure to beat you anyway!!!’ Shin mentally declared, as his grip on his pants tightened. 

Looking at his friend, Isadore could clearly see that Shin had been riled up over Suji’s expert display. Dropping his head down, the youth bit his lip as wild thoughts circled around his mind. Isadore had personally witnessed the hundreds of hours that Shin had spent training and knew how much the boy wanted to improve. Although Isadore didn’t understand what was pushing Shin to go that far, he could still admire how driven the boy was. To him, Shin was his first friend since coming to the academy, and the silver-haired boy felt an obligation to help the hardworking youth. 

‘That’s right… Shin is working hard to become the best in the academy. As a friend, shouldn’t I help him achieve that goal?’ Isadore mentally declared. 

Unaware that the silver-haired boy seated beside him had made a resolute statement, Shin continued on spectating as Suji left the arena with an air of superiority enveloping him.



~~~



After Suji’s majestic display of might, the round of thirty-two started to get much more heated up as the contestants felt the added drive to prove themselves. During the next ten matches, Isadore, Danroy, Ella and Emma all headed down for their own respective matches. 

As anticipated, Isadore and Danroy wholly outclassed their opponents within five minutes, and both of them advanced smoothly into the next round. Likewise, Emma got lucky with her opponent and managed to somehow pull off a win. However, that fight was an extremely close one. Using her superior long-distance marksmanship, Emma could keep her adversary, who was a close-combatant at bay, without much risk. Nonetheless, Imperius Academy was filled with crouching tigers and hidden dragons. Only after a prolonged ten-minute bout did Emma manage to mow down her opponent.

Unlike her twin sister, Ella didn’t manage to overcome her opponent and was sadly eliminated in the round of thirty-two. Unfortunately for her, Ella’s opponent was a poor match-up for her abilities. Using a solid Greatshield that could withstand every single icicle that came out from her bow, Ella’s adversary ended the fight in two minutes after he found an opening and slammed into her with a mighty shield thrust.

While the ponytailed adolescent girl was being comforted by her younger sister, the announcer hollered out the words that turned the heads of the entire audience: “Next match! Shin Iofiel versus Frankie Matthews. Contestants, please come onto the stage!”

“The Black-Haired Tyrant in up next!”

“Finally! We get to see him in action once more!”

The crowd broke out into a commotion at the announcement of Shin’s name, and who could blame them? After Shin fought twice in the early rounds, the young boy had quickly become the audience’s favourite. Yes, Kanari and Suji had dedicated fanbases that knew how powerful the already were, but Shin had mostly come out of nowhere. It was only during this one year where he entered the academy did he gain a little bit of prominence. Some even speculated that only Shin had the potential to beat Kanari in the tournament.

“Hah… I can never get used to this…” Sighing that he was the centre of attention once more, Shin tried to cover his face as he entered the arena. On the other side of the ring, a young brown-haired youth, who seemed to be slightly overweight, walked in with an unbreakable demeanour.

“Shin Iofiel… Looks like the crowd favours you to win this match huh?” Frankie scowled.

“I can’t control how they feel.” Shin tried to abate the youth’s ire. From his investigations, Frankie was an arrogant individual who came from an overly domineering noble family. The fact that the audience all thought that Shin would definitely win would most definitely make his blue blood boil in a fury.

“Nonetheless, that’s the truth… I wonder what they would all feel when I crush you to the ground, huh?” With clenched fists, Frankie summoned out an enormous phantom of a fire bear. The ground shook as the youth took two steps closer to the centre of the ring, forcing Shin to shift his centre of gravity by slightly bending his knees.

“Frankie Matthews! Spirit, Glehphimi Bear! Cultivation level, Rank 16. Please advise me!”

‘I knew it… The chants are annoying him…’ Shin rubbed the temples of his forehead as he mentally sighed. ‘Whatever, I’ll just take my time to find an opening.’

Based on Shin’s original plan, he was to take Frankie by surprise while he was still calm to strike down his weak points. However, now that youth was enraged, Shin had to alter his approach slightly.

“Shin Iofiel. Spirit, The Sovereign Koi. Cultivation level, Rank 21. Please advise me.” Shin stated his intention to duel while summoning out The Sovereign Koi. As the adorable cerulean Koi merged with his body, Shin skin started to grow out streamlined scales that bolstered his movement speed. 

“Are the contestants ready? If so, let the match begin!!!” The referee hollered out.

“ARGGHHH!!!” The moment the match began, Frankie released a dense amount of mana, creating a flaming circle that surrounded him. The fire flickered with a desire to roast anything that dared to cross its path.

“HAHAHA!!! As long as I’m on the ground, I can continually create this *Fire Circle!* With my flaming protection, no matter how fast you are, you won’t be able to land a single finger on me, Shin Iofiel!” Bellowing out in laughter, Frankie graciously explained how his ability worked, much to the surprise of Shin.

‘Why do these idiots like to explain their own abilities mid-battle? It doesn’t make any sense…’ Shin thought to himself. ‘Whatever, I shouldn’t be complaining.’

Raising his right palm, Shin created a humongous sphere of water and threw it straight at Frankie’s fire protection, immediately extinguishing it and creating a dense white fog that hindered the noble’s vision.

“W-What?!” Before Frankie’s mind could compute what was happening, he felt a tight grip circling around his right wrist.

“Since you’re SO invincible on the ground, why don’t we dance in the sky?” 

With all his might, Shin hurled Frankie dozens of metres into the air, and like a broken ragdoll, Frankie could only flail his arms about with no means of defending himself. As he glanced down at the dense mist below him, Frankie could see a tunnel emerging out and the black-haired boy, who should have been standing there on the ground, was nowhere to be seen. 

“Soul-Piercing Fist!” 

At that moment, Frankie felt an excruciating pain, pulsating through his body forcing him to let out a blood-curdling scream. Shin, who had launched himself upwards with a well-timed jump, had launched a vicious uppercut to his opponent’s stomach, breaking through the youth’s mana strengthening just like that. While Frankie was still airborne, Shin turned his hip and struck with a hard-hitting heel kick, sending the youth falling straight to the ground.

Those two hits were sufficient to seal Frankie’s fate as the loser. Knocked out cold, the referee had to immediately stop the match, just so that he could check the health of the fiery youth. Naturally, Frankie was fine. With months of practice, Shin was an expert at controlling his attacks and only struck with enough force to immobilise the youth.

“W-Winner, Shin Iofiel!” Once the winner of the match was announced, the whole audience broke out into a roaring cheer.

“As expected of the Black-Haired Tyrant! His matches do not disappoint!”

“At this point, only Kanari or Suji would be a match for him!”

“Based on the bracket, he will face both of them if he wins all his fights! Oh boy, I can’t wait for the semifinals and finals!!!” 

In an ardent fervour, the entire crowd started to speculate on the future as Shin seemed to gain dozens of fans each time he performed. Naturally, that wasn’t limited to the student body. Many of the VIP guests were all desperate to get on the good books of this new talented youth, who didn’t appear to have any affiliation with any major organisations.

“That boy never ceases to impress huh?” Seated next to Lady Seph, the Duchess of Highgarden said out loud. “Furthermore, he hasn’t shown his all, hasn’t he?”

“Duchess, I am just as clueless as you are.” Lady Seph snorted in annoyance. 

“Haha, of course, of course!” Not believing the blonde beauty’s words for a second, the Duchess laughed along. “Really, I wonder how much more he’s hiding. If he shows even more strength, perhaps he would be a match for my daughter?”

“…” Not willing to give out any more information, Lady Seph sat down quietly as she watched her precious disciple bask in the limelight.

‘Shin, you better knock out Kanari’s teeth in the final! I really wonder what kind of face this bitch would make once you defeat her beloved daughter!!!’

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