Book 8, Chapter 118

Winner

The fear in the child’s eyes left Richard puzzled. Even if she was intelligent right at birth, he was her father. His heart suddenly paused for a moment, an image of Raymond randomly popping up in his head.

Had the Scholars done something to her? His heart immediately sank, but even as he used the Field of Truth to scan her body he didn’t find any traces of external soulforce or mana. As a soul hunter himself, it was near impossible to hide any tampering from him. He was slightly relieved, but the feeling of wrongness didn’t go away. He decided to take the baby with him when he returned to Faelor, having Nasia and the broodmother take a look. He trusted those two better than himself when it came to the soul.

Next, he decided to test her talents. Forming a small flame on his fingertips, he placed it underneath the girl’s little hand. Tongues of flame licked her fingers, but she seemed to feel no pain. In fact, she giggled at the feeling, looking at the flame with interest and starting to poke it.

The flames slowly changed colour, going from a dull red to bright scarlet and orange. It was only when they burnt close to a thousand degrees that she started to hesitate, looking at them with a little fear. Dropping back to a comfortable level, he then started messing with the attributes to see if she had any specific affinity.

The girl didn’t seem all that interested in the various flames, even sneezing a few times and frowning slightly. However, that changed when his flames started growing thicker and more solid. With abyssal properties added in, the girl suddenly chuckled and grabbed the magma with both hands, playing around with it.

Even though the flames weren’t in his hands anymore, they were still under his control. Moving on to the last test, he added the power of Dismazon into it ever so slightly, adding a blue streak to the crimson flames. The child immediately screamed and threw the flames away, failing to grab his clothes twice before she finally succeeded and buried her head into his embrace.

Even though the flames were small, with the might of his truename they could burn half of this entire level to the floor if they went out of control. Richard quickly pulled them back to his hands, snuffing them out.

He then rubbed the little girl’s head, “So, your turn.”

The baby raised her head to gaze at Richard, planning to act innocent, but looking at his expression her body trembled and she obediently raised a hand. Flames winked into existence on her palm, coagulating into an orb that grew thicker and thicker until they looked solid. She could control abyssal flames from birth!

Despite having high expectations, Richard was taken aback. Even born in the abyss, only greater demons could control abyssal flames from birth. This talent was terrifying, but it only prompted a dazzling smile as he raised the girl up to eye level, “There’s a celebration about to start, I’ll show you everyone!”

……

A loud horn resounded through Blackrose Castle, allowing the battle tournament to commence. The barracks had been transformed for the event, with the training grounds now forming an arena with seats all around for spectators. Naturally, Richard sat apart from the crowd, surrounded by the envoys of powerful families or legendary figures where he spent most of his time catching up with Agamemnon.

Very few people were focused on the youths battling on the floor, instead staring at the little baby that Richard was carrying. Even now one could tell that she would grow up to be beautiful, with strands of wavy fire red hair stuck to her scalp and her olive skin glowing brightly like a polished ruby. Most attention-grabbing of all was the beautiful red birthmark on her face, a natural rune!

The natural rune prompted various reactions from the audience, from bitter jealousy to deep thought and straight-up stupefaction. Her appearance confirmed that the Archeron bloodline was amongst the best of the entire plane, no matter what the actual effect of that rune was. Natural runes were never weak.

The fights in the arena grew more ferocious as time passed, the disparity between the competitors starting to shrink as the elimination stages drew to a close. Everyone in the top sixteen bracket was a saint below the age of thirty; it wasn’t a stretch to say that these youths were overflowing with talent.

This also made the next battles more dangerous. The four grand mages Richard had stationed beside the ring to prevent things from getting out of hand were starting to lose control, with some competitors having to be carted out due to heavy injuries. Things came to a head in one of the semifinals between an assassin and mage; after a few minutes of a stalemate, both of them suddenly erupted with their strongest abilities.

The abrupt change took everyone by surprise, with some people gasping that this would end in mutual destruction. However, a stifled boom shook the arena and threw the two youths into the sky, leaving their attacks to explode in mid-air and get absorbed by the spell formations set up by the mages.

As the dust cleared, Richard’s figure showed itself in the ring. His daughter still in his arms, the floor under his right foot had cracked apart everywhere, collapsing half the ring. Only legends had managed to notice him jumping in at the crucial moment, a stomp sending out the ripples of energy that moved the youths out of the way. He hadn’t even blinked; this was pure speed! And he had been so precise that his daughter didn’t even seem to feel it!

The two youths had already adjusted themselves in the air, flying back down to the ring. Both of them looked pale, but they were clearly prepared to continue the fight. Richard glanced at them and smiled, “Alright, continue.”

The battle resumed, but this time both competitors were obviously more careful. The ring was allowed to remain broken— true experts had to be able to fight in any environment. So long as the barrier still remained up, everything else would be fine.

…

The final victor of the tournament came as a surprise to everyone. He was the nephew of the deputy commander from the Sacred Tree Empire, a knight named Kirk who had just turned 25 and become a saint not long ago. He was handsome, had an air of composed nobility, and his saint ability greatly strengthened his defence and recovery speeds. His character seemed to match, focused on stability and endurance over explosive might.

Richard saw a bit of Agamemnon in Kirk, the same kind of composure, patience, and lack of arrogance as the Ironblood heir. The only difference was that Agamemnon had a stronger bloodline and a more powerful father, which gave him resources that Kirk wouldn’t have access to. Nephew and son were entirely different things; there would be no way for Kirk to inherit his uncle’s estate, so he would have to work independently with the hope of becoming an earl one day. He would then wait and see if any of his descendants had the gift to take his family line to the next level.

However, background was just one other facet of ability. Richard himself had gotten two powerful blessings as the child of the Shaman of the Moon, allowing him to analyse laws faster than anyone else. If not for that, he might not even have rivalled the young man who was now considered a junior before him. He had also inherited the Archeron Family after Gaton’s death; even though that was more trouble than it was worth, it allowed him to make a number of offerings to the Eternal Dragon without paying any fees. His own cousin had to fight tooth and nail just to become an earl, after which it would have taken decades to go further. Alice now stood a chance to become a duchess in another decade, but that was only because she had thrown her lot in with him.

To the majority of people, talent was the most important thing. However, in the world of prodigies, accumulation was the cornerstone of growth. Some goals needed several generations to fulfill, this was the true purpose of inheritance…

Richard shook his head, burying these floating thoughts as he walked up to the stage and stood before the top ten. He would be the one rewarding the victors.

The champion Kirk seemed a little emotional at the moment, his gaze drawn to the gold medal representing his points. All competitors had gotten the latest list of items in the exchange before the tournament began, and they were also given the privilege to buy anything they wanted without any level-based restrictions. A rune set with the mount was only thirty points, but it currently needed someone to have over a thousand accumulated. Some other rare materials and important supplies had such requirements as well, but all of it was waived for these contestants. The list had predictably stunned many of the participants into silence. The first page alone had a number of runes, materials, and equipment that they simply couldn’t believe.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA