Editors: Templar, Jack Vanatis, genericIntent
Author’s notes: The first of many chapter being released. Bigger announcement being made upon release of chapter 23! Also, this is post edits made to the writing which was used in the book. There are no longer schools, but instead they are academies. They are not numbered anymore, but have proper names. Regal goes to Bluemist Academy.
Chapter 18 – Tournament
Miss Yatta quickly moves toward a different location in the colosseum while carrying Regal and Hazel. She arrives where Mr. Razor is waiting with the third participating student from his class – Lawe.
The room is an armory, containing weapons and armors of all kinds. It isn’t just the three participants from Regal’s academy that are there either. Fifty or more students are there with their teachers, choosing weapons and armor for the tournament.
“You’re here, that’s good at least. Sorry for bothering you Miss Yatta, I don’t know where Mr. River disappeared to.”
“Oh, I will find him after this.” Miss Yatta gives the other teacher a devilish smile that causes a cold shiver to run up Regal’s back.
“Well, we don’t have a great deal of time, so I will leave that to you.” Mr. Razor lets out a helpless sigh before turning to Regal and Hazel. “I have already explained this to Lawe, but to give everyone a fair chance and prevent some students having the advantage of better equipment, you are allowed to select three pieces of equipment to borrow from here.”
“As a teacher of your Bluemist Academy, my recommendation is to choose one weapon and two pieces of armor. Make sure you select armor that doesn’t hinder or slow your movement too much. There is nothing easier to hit than a slow moving target.”
All three students nod their heads in understanding.
“There is another thing you need to understand. There will be quite a few people who will approach you after your introductions to invite you to their settlements or guilds. We won’t tell you whether you should accept an offer or not, but you still have three more years of studying and training. The most important figures won’t attend until the graduation tournament in three years when you are at your peak.”
“Mr. Razor, I know about guilds, but what do you mean by settlements?” Regal asks, confused at the term.
“A settlement is a town or city in the wilderness outside the grand cities. Many people leave to live in those places because taxes are lower, often even free. To live in Grand Theore, you need to pay a gold coin a year just for the simplest houses, living here on the fifth floor could be anywhere between ten and twenty gold a year. A lot of people can’t afford it and move to an outer settlement.”
“There’s just one thing I don’t understand. What happens if they die? Do they have Temples of Life in the settlements, or does everyone have to travel back from their nearest grand city?”
“Unless it is a new settlement, they will have a rebirth ponds. There are two types of settlements. The first is created when enough people live in an area and build it to a certain point, where the world will give birth to a new Rebirth Pond and Pond of Rest. The second are the locations and structures in the world which have these already there. There is much more about this, but you will learn in class. For now, go and choose equipment.”
Regal quickly leaves after receiving the teacher’s guidance. Mr. Razor looks at Regal hurrying off and silently thinks to himself, ‘There is much you don’t know just yet. Like how desperate some lords of a settlement can be to get more people to live there. The battles over territory and Rebirth Ponds. Even worse, the wars over those castles, underground labyrinths, steel fortresses, and other locations where the Rebirth Ponds already exist. They won’t pay a bronze coin toward activating the inactive ponds, but they will coat their nails with poison as soon as someone else does.’
Completely unaware of the teacher’s thoughts, Regal first heads toward where the weapons are. There are guns and close combat weapons of all kinds, but the majority have requirements that are far too high for the students to be able to use, especially those with alchemy engravings. Engraving a weapon inevitably raises the required level to equip it, so Regal is forced to look at the lowest tier of weapons available.
At the end of one rack, various small guns are haphazardly placed. A few dozen students from other academies are also crowded around them, so Regal has to squeeze through them to reach them.
He looks at a few revolvers, but none of them are more than mediocre at best. He holds one for a particularly longer time than the rest, and the students behind complain that if he has found a weapon to move out of the way so they can keep looking. Ignoring their words, Regal ends up placing the revolver back where he picked it up from and continues searching.
Out of the corner of his eye, Regal spots a gun slightly larger than a revolver behind another gun. It is positioned in a spot that is easy to miss when looking past it. Intrigued, Regal picks up and inspects the weapon.
Iron Fist Hand Cannon A modified hand cannon crafted by a skilled artisan. Every bullet fired has a chance to knock the target back, breaking their balance, and also cancelling any skills the target is initiating. Requirements: ~ Lvl 3 ~ Dex 14 ~ Str 16 Weapon Type: Hand Cannon/Single Handed Item Grade: Rare Damage: 14 – 16 Range: 80 Yards Ammunition: .44 Rounds Durability: 65/65 Abilities: ~ 15% chance of knockback. ~ 5% chance of skill interruption.
Regal’s eyes widen in surprise. The weapon isn’t just good, it’s beyond that. It is also of the rare quality, two tiers above ordinary. The only downside to the weapon is that it can only hold three bullets at a time.
Afraid that another student will notice the gun and try to snatch it, Regal quickly tucks it into his belt and leaves the area.
The second location he goes to is where leather armor is stored. Leather is lighter and more flexible than metal, allowing more mobility, so it is the best choice for Regal.
Regal eventually locates two pieces of armor just as Mr. Razor recommended. The first is a deep-red leather vest, while the other is a set of armguards that protect the backs of his forearms, and can even be used similarly to how one would use a shield.
Heracle Vest A protective vest created from the boiled hide of the Heracle Beetle. Offers excellent resistance against blunt and piercing damage. Requirements: ~ Lvl 3 ~ Dex 12 ~ Str 8 Armor Type: Torso Item Grade: Uncommon Defense: 6 Durability: 40/40 Abilities: ~ +6 defence against blunt and piercing attacks.
Iron Beast Arm Guards Arm guards made from the armored back of an Iron Beast. The craftsmanship is superior to other arm guards, and they will not break easily. Requirements: ~ Lvl 3 ~ Dex 10 ~ Str 10 Armor Type: Arms Item Grade: Common Defense: 4 Durability: 65/65 Abilities: None
Regal returns to where the teachers are waiting and finds Hazel and Lawe already there. He happens to overhear Lawe speaking to Hazel as he gets closer.
“Why don’t we practice our alchemy skills together sometime? Training together will be of a benefit to us both.”
Hazel indifferently ignores him and doesn’t respond, the same way she ignored Regal. The only difference this time is that Lawe is more persistent, speaking in a prideful way as though he is speaking to someone weaker than him.
“Hazel, your skills are unmatched, but why don’t you let me help you get stronger? I’m sure you will get to know me much better as well.”
Hazel apparently has enough at this moment, glancing at him and coldly saying, “Go practice with someone else. I have no interest in boys.”
She puts a strong emphasis on the word “boys”, causing Lawe’s brows to twitch in irritation. Regal can tell that he isn’t pleased, but Lawe only says, “So be it.”
Lawe is the type of student who usually gives off a friendly demeanor, which coupled with his charming looks, makes lots of students flock to him. He is one of the most popular people in Bluemist Academy, and his strength is undeniably at or near the top.
Hazel’s words are surprising to Regal. It is true that he had only seen her actually associating with the girls of the academy, but he didn’t know she had a dislike for boys. He suddenly has a better idea as to why she ignored him previously.
Miss Yatta, who is patiently waiting, excitedly appraises the gear that the students chose before nodding her head in approval.
“You all managed to find some good equipment. I’m sure you will make us all proud.”
Mr. Razor and Miss Yatta lead Regal, Hazel and Lawe out of the armory and toward the tournament ground. Regal stares at every little feature of the colosseum in fascination as he passes it, from the wall candelabras to the innumerable banners of various designs hanging from the tall ceiling.
Regal loses track of time, and only comes back to his senses when he steps out into the arena of the colosseum. The sudden change in the light level dazzles his eyes momentarily before everything comes into focus.
The arena is an enormous oval, covered in sand and dirt, with a few small craters still present from past battles. Within the oval, four square stages have been prepared, each a hundred feet wide and long. Each stage also has a set of tall seats for the judges to sit upon to preside over the match. There are a hundred tables around the outskirts of the arena, most already occupied by students of the various academies.
A wall to protect the spectators from the combatants surrounds the arena, and beyond that are the seats for the spectators. There are nearly eleven thousand people in the stands from all the academies, and another ten thousand spectators here to have a look at the latest generation of students. Despite this, the seats are only thirty percent full.
“Fellow Immortalis!” A female announcer stands on one of the stages and shouts out. “Welcome to the first tournament for the 53rd generation of Immortalis. We have twelve guest judges to cover all four of the stages, please give them a warm welcome.”
The announcer introduces the twelve judges, all experienced hunters, who walk up to stand beside her and bow in different directions toward the stands. The announcer then explains the rules of the tournament, even though everyone is already aware of them, before continuing on to start the competition.
“All the participants, please come up to the stage and take a tournament number. This is the number that will be used to decide when and what stage you will appear on.”
In an orderly fashion that seems to have been prepared long before the tournament, the participants leave their table and ascend the stage to where the announcer stands next to a newly emerged ballot box.
Regal is mixed in the middle of the group, along with Hazel and Lawe. His turn arrives within a few minutes, upon which he reaches his hand blindly into the box and pulls out a small golden plate. Engraved on that plate is the number ‘125’ – his participant number.
Soon everyone has chosen their plate, and the ballot box vanishes back into the announcer’s inventory. The judges then also leave the stage to claim their seats, comfortably settling in and preparing for the matches. It is clear that the tournament will begin immediately.
The announcer clears her throat before saying in a loud and clear voice, “Participant 34 and participant 121 to the north stage. Participant 2 and participant 26 to the east stage. Participant 223 and participant 96 to the south stage. Participant 55 and participant 125 to the west stage.”
The pairings for the tournament are completely random and they don’t know who they will be dueling until both students are on the stage. Regal is completely taken by surprise that he is in the first round of duels, and is the last participant to be ready.
Regal’s opponent is a young man who is average in every sense of the word. He has short brown hair that is neither too long nor too short, casual dress with plain brown armor of the common grade, and his eyes seem to almost lack the spark of life. He is the type of person that if you took your eyes off him, his presence would slowly fade away and he would be completely forgotten.
“My name is Hon, from Daggerwolf Academy,” Regal’s opponent introduces himself briskly, yet politely.
“I’m Regal, Bluemist Academy.”
Similar introductions are said on the other three stages between the competitors. The announcer is kind enough to hold off on beginning the matches to allow them this courtesy before commencing the duels.
At the announcer’s signal, Regal’s attention is completely fixated on his opponent. Regal draws his gun and immediately fires the three ice bullets loaded into the gun before loading three more into the hand cannon. At the same time, he activates ‘Foresight’ to get a glimpse of two seconds in the future.
Hon acts immediately at the beginning of the match, using an alchemy Divine Art to summon an octogram shaped formula behind him. The writing and symbols comprising the formula are beyond anything Regal can create, filling the air behind Hon with a menacing intensity.
Regal actually recognizes this is actually a fifth tier Divine Art of ‘Ice Heart Alchemy’, ‘Five Star Ice Hearts’. Having seen the next two seconds with his Divine Art, Regal has already seen the five longsword sized ice blades materialize from the alchemical formula. They immediately shoot off in different directions with an icy white light, twisting and turning in the air before piercing through the space where he stands.
The ice blades are locked onto Regal and will chase him endlessly, each attack doing at least fifteen points of damage. The weakness of this Divine Art is that the blades are extremely fragile, even breaking before hitting the target if an obstruction is in the way.
Knowing where the blades are going to hit, Regal draws his combat knife and uses it in conjunction with the hand cannon in his main hand to obstruct the white lights. He manages to block three of the blades that are flying so fast it should have been impossible to defend against, and loses thirty health as the final two lights crash into his body.
While receiving the attack, Regal points his hand cannon at Hon, who is stunned at more than half of his attack being blocked. Aiming at Hon’s chest and firing, Regal is surprised at the large amount of recoil the gun has, the weapon nearly jumping out of his hand due to his being caught unaware.
Quickly adjusting his posture to a better stance, Regal fires the other two bullets already loaded, the tip of the gun tracking Hon as he attempts to dodge to the side while returning fire. Out of the three bullets, only the second was successfully dodged.
The two opponents start dashing around the field to avoid the other’s attacks. Regal uses ‘Foresight’ every time Hon starts to use a large skill. Using an alchemy Divine Art of the fifth tier already uses a large amount of mana, and Hon fears that the skill may be blocked or dodged so only uses those of the fourth tier.
The bullets from Regal’s hand cannon chip away at Hon’s health, but being hit by a single large skill of Hon’s could easily change the tide. Regal can only hold his own thanks to the excessive health and stats the crafting and miscellaneous skills have granted him.
As the duel reaches its conclusion, Regal becomes aware of his greatest flaw; even with the improved stats and more health than anyone else, he lacks firepower. The gun he borrowed from the armory is good, but he does not have any of the higher tier alchemy Divine Arts that can truly cause widespread destruction with a single attack.
Hon becomes desperate near the end and uses ‘Five Star Ice Hearts’, using the last of his mana and staking the match on it.
Regal doesn’t attempt to block the attack at all, and instead focuses on shooting Hon and ending the match before the crystalline white rays of light pierce through him.
Using ‘Foresight’ one last time to look four seconds into the future at the expense of all his remaining mana aside from a bare minimum to keep his mind clear, Regal pays attention to how Hon dodges his next attack. Knowing where the target will be, he uses the martial Divine Art ‘Curve’, firing two bullets at where he will jump to.
The attack is a success, the two bullets piercing Hon’s chest and dropping his health below the duel’s threshold before the five ice swords can pierce through Regal. The attack still continues and hits Regal, but no damage is dealt and no pain felt as he has already won the duel. If it had been a real situation and not a duel, he would have definitely died.
The three judges overlooking the west stage look down upon Regal and Hon and frown. They are extremely displeased. Not with the match, but how they ended it.
The female judge on the left taps her finger on her knee and solemnly says to the two of them in a voice that the entire colosseum can hear, “Do you know where you went wrong? You look confused, so allow me to explain. Participant number 55, you used the last of your mana in a final attack hoping to settle it. You don’t have enough left to keep a clear mind, so how are you going to continue fighting if another enemy was to come out from the shadows? You would be dead. For this match, we have given you a total score of 87.”
Hon is still in a daze so it takes a moment for the judge’s words to sink in. Once they do, his complexion pales and he looks ready to faint at any moment.
Next, the woman turns her attention to Regal. “Participant number 125. You left yourself just enough mana to maintain a clear head, excellent. You lack power, but your strategy was able to overcome the large gap between the two of you, another pleasing experience. However, you failed at the end.”
“Sacrificing yourself to land the finishing blow is foolish. What’s the point of winning if you are killed, losing half of your money and risking any equipment? Our forefathers, the humans, taught us that death is bad in more ways than one. Even if we don’t experience true death as they described, a small piece of ourselves is said to be lost each time we die. Seeing someone overlook that disgusts me. We, as impartial judges, assign you a total score of 121.”
Regal’s mind seems to halt all processes after the shock of getting such a low score and being humiliated in front of the entire crowd. He had done everything he could have to win, and nothing more. If this was a situation outside the city walls, he would definitely do it differently. His face turns red in anger and he wants to refute the judge as they clearly significantly lowered his score due to that. Seeing that the faces of the judges are stone cold, he feels an unknown pressure, like the intuition when facing against an enemy he can’t hope to defeat, and immediately lets such thoughts go.
Hon and Regal leave the stage together, each as depressed as the other. Surprisingly, the two immediately become good friends and speak about the unfairness of their judges from a position where they can’t possibly be overheard. The two students end up having the fifth and sixth lowest scores. Using Hon and Regal as examples, not a single student dared repeat their mistakes.
The first round of duels takes the entire first day, Hazel did quite well in her first round and scored a win and 195 points, while Lawe outshone that with a massive score of 251 along with a win, placing him in the top ten of the first round.
After descending back down to Grand Theore’s first floor, all the students began to leave for home directly from the lift. Regal watches Hazel and Lawe walk away, Lawe trying once again to spark up a conversation. Perhaps it is due to how impressive he was during the first round of the tournament, but she begins speaking back to him and taking part in the conversation.
“What are you looking at?” Veronica asks from beside Regal, looking in the same direction as him.
“Hazel and Lawe. They are so completely different from me that there is no comparison.”
Veronica moves closer to Regal, hooking her arm around his and softly saying, “My mother once told me that every single person in different and unique. It’s a reminder in situations like this to show that you are not that person.”
Hearing Veronica say something that seems inexplicably philosophical, Regal is at a loss for words and doesn’t even notice her arm around his, at first. He does notice shortly after, and his ears flush red much to Piora’s amusement, who walks close and whispers how once upon a time he declared his love for Veronica.
Not even Astore or Kilde would come to his rescue at a time like this, simply stating, “But you did declare your love for her. Nothing can change that it happened.”
Despite his embarrassment, Regal is slowly getting used to Veronica’s closeness. At the same time, unbeknownst to Regal, Veronica is becoming fond of being close to Regal as well.
The next day at the arena, everyone returns eager to continue the competition. Even the participants who lost in the first round are in attendance, sitting at the tables around the perimeter of the arena and chatting amongst themselves. With the number of participants having now become half that of yesterday, two rounds of duels are scheduled for the day. Tomorrow will be the same, and the third day will be the top eight, semifinals, and final all in one.
Regal’s match this time is towards the end of the second round. His opponent is a girl called Damira, whose gunmanship and close quarters combat is at an advanced level. Regal felt like he was using a toy knife when fighting against someone who is specialized in it. In order to win, he was forced to use ‘Foresight’ constantly in short bursts of a single second along with his higher stats to narrowly avoid her eighth tier martial Divine Art which literally twisted space and could attack from any angle and distance. His victory was extremely narrow, but the judges this time were much more pleased, awarding him 231 points for an impressive performance and turning the odds upside down.
In the third round, Regal faces off against a boy named Caius, an alchemy genius. Halfway through the match, Caius only has fifty percent health while Regal has sixty. Alternatively, Regal has used most of his mana while Caius has only used early tier alchemy Divine Arts and relies on his mastery of the skill to increase the damage.
Furrowing his brow, Caius raises his gun and points it at Regal, but Regal doesn’t dodge. Regal’s ‘Foresight’ showed that he would not shoot and is only pointing the gun at him. Five seconds later Regal uses ‘Foresight’ again and sees that Caius will shoot, so he dodges moments before the gun is fired.
Caius’ brow rises suddenly and he says incredulously, “So you have the skill ‘Future Sight’, no wonder I kept missing. To be able to use it so well, you must have trained it up a considerable extent. I am honestly impressed, but it won’t help you anymore now that I know you are using it.”
“What do you mean?” Regal asks, a little alarmed that the opponent figured out he was using ‘Foresight’.
“There’s no harm in telling you now. I have been holding myself back trying to figure out how you kept dodging; not using a sure hit Divine Art in case you had some strange way of dodging anyway, causing me to waste all my mana on a miss. But now I understand. You can see the future, and react to it, but you cannot dodge an attack that should be impossible to avoid. Never mind, allow me to show you.”
Caius sweeps his arm and in front of him a massive alchemy circle is formed by a twisting golden light. Regal feels the hair on the back of his neck stand on end and an oppressive fear assaults his body. He had learned about this fear in class. It is a feeling brought about by the body’s natural instinct when facing an attack or enemy far above it in power.
Within the alchemy circle, countless alchemical formula and symbols are given birth, filling the circle to the brim and exploding with power. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. Alchemical formulae are still materializing and spill outside the circle, losing their organization as they randomly extend into the surrounding world. Regal doesn’t know what Divine Art he is staring at, but he knows that its rank is that of an over-tier.
Regal helplessly activates ‘Foresight’ and feels utter despair at the situation. Just as he predicted, the alchemy Divine Art sparks with electricity and without any warning, fires hundreds, if not thousands, of thin sparks of electricity in all directions. It is an omnidirectional attack that leaves no room for avoidance.
Regal helplessly tries to avoid the attacking lightning, but it is attracted to him like to a metal rod. The attack only lasts for five seconds but it damages his health at a speed of twenty points a second. He would have survived if he had been at full health, but from sixty percent health, Regal has no choice but to admit defeat.
The judges gloat about how impressive Caius is, and Regal is tempted to scream out that he isn’t the only one who has mastered a skill, and that he himself has mastered several, including the infamous ‘Future Sight’. He withholds himself in the end, as it would only serve to humiliate himself later on.
They still give Regal an impressive score of 175, while Caius got 285, the highest score awarded yet.
Returning back to the seats, Regal begins some self-reflection to determine how best to use ‘Foresight’ in battle while preventing his opponents from discovering what he is doing. A few other participants came to talk with him, along with a couple of representatives from nearby settlements. The representatives wanted him to come live in their small communities after graduation, and would offer a free place to stay and food.
Their only requirement was that he had to be one of the tribe, ready to defend the community at any time and attack when the Lord of the settlement dictated. Regal of course understands the reasons behind the requirements, but has no interest in making any empty promises or being bothered continuously, so he tells them directly that he does not wish to join any community. If he does, he will go through the recruitment and settlement papers at the hunter’s association and decide then.
With all the business settled in regard to people inviting him to their settlements, Regal occasionally talks with the other participants but mostly watches the remainder of the tournament. The student who defeated him, Caius, actually made it to the finals before he himself was defeated. He still has a chance to become first if his score is higher than the student who beat him, but that is a very unlikely scenario.
Regal’s total score is 522, extremely low for someone who made it to the top 62 of 255 students. His ranking ends up being 61st place, with only a single person who made it to the third round behind him, but he is still happy that he himself, someone whose only talent is in crafting and the miscellaneous, was able to make it so far in a competition between the most talented students of all the academies in Grand City Theore.