Book 11: The Continental Advanced Academy Soul Dueling Tournament
Chapter 75.2: The Start of the Tournament
He pounded the table violently, and stood up, saying, “It means that they’re looking down on us! They think they can defeat us just with their preparatory team! This is like getting a slap in the face; do you understand that? This is the most direct way they could use to slap us in the face. According to the rules of the tournament, the registrations will end today. Therefore, they’re planning to rely on that team to fight us. Ma Rulong.”
“Here.” A male student sitting in the place of honor on the regular team’s side stood up. His face was somewhat similar to the angry old man’s. He had a large stature and short hair with curly sideburns. Both his eyes were bright, and his entire body was emitting a boundless power.
“If we manage to lose against such a lineup, you will be kicked out of the Illustrious Virtue Hall.”
“Yes.” Ma Rulong replied with one word just like before, but his voice was already filled with murderous intent.
“Elder Ma, don’t be anxious. I don’t think things are so simple.” Sitting in front of Ma Rulong was the captain of the preparatory team; he was less than fifteen, and looked very pretty and delicate. He had big bright blue eyes, and a tall and slender build. His hands, which were now placed on the table, were also as white as jade and very delicate. Even a girl was unlikely to have such beautiful hands. He seemed to like his hands very much. Even while talking to Elder Ma, he was still gazing at them as if looking at the most beautiful piece of art in the world.
Elder Ma furrowed his brows slightly and asked, “What’s not so simple?”
The delicate youth was still looking at this hands as he said, “Shrek Academy isn’t made of fools. How can they not know that those three aren’t enough to stop us? I have great confidence in Big Brother Rulong, but as I see it, Shrek Academy must have run into some kind of problem. Didn’t they always attach great importance to us? It’s strange that they would get careless at this time.”
After hearing these words, Elder Ma’s face became slightly red. He had also suspected that something like this might have happened, but he had still said those words to rally the students.
“That would be better. Xiao Hongchen, you should use all this energy to deal with those students of Shrek Academy that are under fifteen years old. They’ll be your opponents in the next tournament.”
The youth named Xiao Hongchen finally raised his head and smiled. This smile was just like that of a beautiful woman. Then, he said, “Elder Ma, only I can be my opponent.”
Ma Rulong, who was sitting on the other side, gave him a supercilious look as he said, “Xiao Hongchen, if you have something to say, just say it.”
Xiao Hongchen put on a happy face. “Big Brother Ma, I’ve already said it. You should try your best, because if you fail to defeat the current members sent by Shrek Academy, you’ll be kicked out of the Illustrious Virtue Hall just like Elder Ma said. That would be a pity, wouldn’t it?”
“You…” A hint of anger immediately appeared in Ma Rulong’s eyes.
Elder Ma glared at him and said in a grave tone, “Sit down. I’ll now choose those that will participate in the first round.”
Even if he was only the captain of the preparatory team, both the leader of the main team Ma Rulong and the old man that was leading them seemed to dread him. Behind Xiao Hongchen’s smiled was hidden an arrogance that seemed to place him above every other living thing.
Early morning. Just as the first rays of sunlight started to shine over Star Luo City, the capital of the Star Luo Empire was shrouded in a solemn atmosphere.
All the roads leading to Star Luo Plaza were blocked by soldiers in shining armor. The Imperial Star Grand Hotel was even more well-guarded. More than a thousand soldiers were stationed around it, and all the roads leading to Star Luo Plaza from there were under strict supervision.
Only the members of the various academies that were participating in the tournament could get through the encirclement.
The location where the tournament would take place wasn’t the middle of Star Luo Plaza. It was instead going to take place in front of the inner city gate. This way, the emperor could watch the show with his civil and military ministers from the top of the walls of the inner city. Not only was the view very good, but it was also very safe.
The platform that would be used for the matches had a length and breadth of 100 meters and a height of 5 meters. Moreover, there were 108 pillars of metal on the periphery of the platform. These pillars weren’t there as an ornament, but were instead a defensive-type soul tool. After the start of the tournament, these pillars would be controlled by 108 soul masters, creating a defensive formation around the platform that would stop the leakage of soul skills. This was to avoid destroying the inner city and causing casualties.
The platform had cost a large amount of money to construct. Moreover, they would have to compensate the 108 soul masters that would operate the defensive-type soul tools for the duration of the tournament, which would go on for more than a month. It was difficult to achieve all of this without the power of an empire.
At this time, except for the far off soldiers, there wasn’t a single soul in the wide Star Luo Plaza.
The previous time the tournament had been held in the Star Luo Empire, there was an incident where people had trampled on each other. Therefore, the royal family had decided to attach great importance to this matter. Not only they dispatch the army to keep order this time, they also found other ways to avoid problems.
There were many iron bars in the plaza. These iron bars were around 1.5 meters high, and wouldn’t cover the line of sight for most of the audience. Their purpose was to divide the plaza into different zones. The audience had to enter and exit the plaza from different places; this made the soldiers’ work much easier. Every area could only hold a certain number of spectators.
The inner city was located on the northern side of Star Luo City, facing south, and a luxurious resting area was built on the eastern side of the platform. It had been specially built for the members of the various academies that would be participating in the tournament. However, there was only space for around seventy academies in this resting area. This meant that there wasn’t space for the academies that would be eliminated in the first round. With that, there would be no waste of space, and the students would be more motivated.
After the tournament had changed its system to the current one, except for the final stage, the thorniest one was exactly this first round of eliminations. Both its awesomeness and harshness exceeded that of the round-robin that would come later.
There was still place for tactics in the robin-round stage, and you could even make use of tactical defeats. However, the first round would lead to a direct elimination. Losing the match would mean that you were out of the tournament, and every team had to go through this first round. Even the defending champions of Shrek Academy were no exception. When drawing lots, there was a possibility of a team obtaining a bye. However, none of the academies could enjoy its privileges directly.
The teachers leading the respective academies had arrived at the inner city very early in the morning. They received a number plate based on the time they had registered, and afterward, they started to draw lots. At this time, the lots had already been drawn. An official of the Star Luo Empire had the duty of announcing the results of the lots. Once the order of the matches was decided, the final preparations for the early phase of the tournament could be considered complete.
The sun slowly rose from the far away east. And Star Luo City, which was located in the middle of the continent, was engulfed in warmth.
On the city walls of the inner city was a middle-aged man with his hands crossed behind his back and an imperial golden crown on his head. He was wearing a long bright yellow gown, and was standing exactly on top of the main entrance to the inner city. This also happened to be the best place from where to watch the match.
At his side was a beautiful woman wearing fine attire that belonged to a palace lady; she was standing respectfully and quietly beside him. A few steps behind her were the Star Luo Empire’s civil and military officers.
“Your Majesty.” An old man wearing the red clothes of a civil officer took a step forward and bowed respectfully after arriving at the man’s side. On his long gown was embroidered a python; this signified that his status was very high. He was worthy of holding the highest position.
“Prime minister, how are the arrangements going?” The emperor asked with a smile.
The prime minister respectfully said, “Everything is ready. The lots were drawn, and the order of the matches has been decided. There are no problems in the periphery either. We can allow the citizens to enter the arena.”
The emperor of the Star Luo Empire nodded and said with a smile, “Good, pass my order down. Clear the important passages, and allow the people to enter the arena. Make them enter in a slow and orderly fashion. If there are problems, the ones in charge of the area involved will be punished severely.”
“Yes.” The prime minister retreated several steps before turning and leaving.
The emperor spoke to the beautiful woman beside him. “Empress, we have waited twenty years for this grand occasion. It reminds me of when I was young! If the royal family didn’t have so many customs, I would have participated myself.”
“The emperor has always had the heart of a soldier,” the empress said with a faint smile.
“Look,” The emperor said with a smile of his own, “the students of the various academies are already entering the arena. However, not all of them will be able to make use of the resting area. Only those that achieve victory will have this privilege. It seems that Shrek Academy has only sent ten people this time, and their age is quite young. One of the leading students is Dai Hao’s eldest son. I thought of calling him back and letting him watch the tournament. After all, it’s something that our country can host only every twenty years. But in the end, I decided against it; the Sun Moon Empire is getting more and more restless. If he is there guarding the western border, I’ll feel more at ease.”
The empress listened quietly and didn’t say anything. As the first lady of the nation, she wasn’t allowed to interfere with politics. Especially when there were many civil and military officers around them. Every one of those military officers was a powerful soul master. Their hearing was very keen.
At this time, the crowd started to enter Star Luo Plaza under the lead of the army; the long lines converged inside the plaza.
You couldn’t watch the tournament for free. However, the admission cost wasn’t too high either; it was only two gold soul coins. And even if a limited number of people could enter the plaza, there was enough space to accommodate more than twenty thousand spectators. Two gold soul coins was the base price. The nearer you were to the platform, the higher the price. You had to pay a hundred gold soul coins to enter the area that was nearest to the platform.
For the commoners, it was a lot of money. But for aristocrats and merchants, it wasn’t that much.
The Star Luo Empire was treating all the spectators fairly. The more you paid, the nearer you would be to the platform. But aside from this, everyone was treated the same. There weren’t any seats, and you could watch only while standing. This was so that they could accommodate more people.
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