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Aether Beasts

Chapter 18 - 18

Chapter 18 - 18

The tournament was to take place outside the city near the camps and I expected it to be some sort of circular arena, but when I arrived early morning the next day, instead I found something different. Rows of stone seats had been set up, opposite each other, looking down on a large stage that had been cut up into six smaller stages. One side of seats was meant for the twin horn and the other for the steel heart while the townsfolk seemed to have a section for themselves separate from the two. It looked a lot less fancy than I expected, but then again it"s not like they"d had much time. Actually, this tournament was odd for a few reasons. Usually, you"d expect a week or more of warning before the beginning of a tournament, but this had been rushed. They"d arrived and not three days later a tournament was taking place.

There was definitely something more going on that I wasn"t seeing, but for now, I pushed those thoughts to the back of my mind. I had to win my fights today.

There wasn"t any sign-up process for the tournament, instead, those who met the criteria and wanted to participate were to arrive and wait. I quickly found the mass of people easily. As they were currently in a standoff. The twin horn and steel hearts had made two groups and were glaring at each other.

"Bloody hell. I need to learn the history between these two."

I quickly made my way to the steel heart group, getting nods from them, and sneers and glares from the twin horn sect. I spotted Jason and shot him a smirk and twirled my fingers around my head. His face grew red, and he moved to take a step towards me, but every gaze of the steel hearts shot to him as he took a step forward. He suddenly thought better of it, and settled with a glare instead.

"All right, that"s enough, save it for the field."

I recognized that voice.

I turned to watch as my physical training teacher walked up to us. Professor Deon was a giant of a man with hands that looked like they could crush your head. He was also the strongest arcanist in the town. It made sense that they wouldn"t have anyone from the sects overseeing things and they would obviously favor their own sect.

"All right, stand still while I take a quick count… Alright, there"s an even forty-eight, this will make things easy. This tournament is going to be a two-day affair, today will decide who enter the finals tomorrow. You"ll each have two matches and those who win their matches will move on, while those who lose will be eliminated. I take it I don"t need to explain anything else? Good, also no killing. If you kill someone then not only will you be eliminated but you will be severely punished, and I don"t mean some sort of fine, I mean something more along the lines of cracking a core."

A few faces went pale at that. Cracking a core meant crippling at best and death at worst.

"Alright, I see you all understand. I"m gonna give you a number between one and twenty-four."

He moved from person to person. I ended up with five, which meant I was facing a scrawny-looking girl with a nasty case of stink eye who was giving me quite the look.

"Alright, you all have your numbers. Six numbers will be called out at a time. You"ll head out onto the arena and fight. Rules are simple, fight till they"re knocked out, or surrender. If you go too far, you will be stopped."

Was the chance of that happening really that high? I looked at the two groups glaring at each other with a lot more than simple malice. Ok, so maybe there was a high chance.

We waited as the first few numbers were called up.

"Ten, Twelve, Six, Twenty-one, Four, Sixteen."

The fights were a lot less impressive than I expected and I quickly understood why Zirani was so baffled by people shouting out the names of techniques. Several times I had to look away as someone shouted out the name of a technique. The fights didn"t go on for too long, usually, only one good strike enough to end it, or a technique hitting, and they were a lot cruder than I expected. I was able to sense aether now, and the way they were forming their technique was like someone trying to mold stone compared to Zirani methods which felt like weaving strings or molding clay. It worked, but the effects for the amount of work were awful. In the time one of them took to form a simple firebolt, I could have made two lashing vines and covered a large part of my body in bark armor.

I really was damn lucky to have a teacher like Zirani, and just how backwards were the northern plains compared to everyone else?

The fighting styles varied widely. It was clear as day the sects didn"t teach their disciple fighting styles or even had specific fight styles. I saw some people trying to brute force matches, while others used the most obvious techniques. One guy actually had the nerve to try and headlock another.

Several times I felt Zirani amusement and… pity? yeah, that was definitely pity.

"It"s like watching toddlers fighting," She commented mentally.

"You know what? I actually understand what you mean."

By the time my number was called up I felt utterly confident in my victory. The twin horn girl stared at me with malice and eager anticipation. I just smiled, this girl didn"t know what was coming to her.


She shot forward and I held back the urge to laugh. It was like she was moving in slow motion compared to Zirani or even Markem. She laughed as her fist neared my face, but I dodged at the last second, grabbed her hand, kneed her in the stomach, and flipped her onto her stomach. I didn"t give her time to recover and with a quick twist and boot from my aether, I snapped her arm. The first level of infusion granted many benefits, but nothing crazy. Enough pure physical force from an arcanist of the same level could kill or in this case, break a bone.

Her scream was loud, and I backed off as Deon moved over to my arena. He did a double-take when he recognized me, and for a second I thought I saw some pride as he glanced back at the sobbing girl.

"You win, head back to the waiting area."

I nodded and left, aware of the eyes on me. Mostly glares from the twin horn, but I spotted a few smiles from steel heart disciples and an approving nod from Elder Samuel.

One down, one to go.

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