Very quickly, two to three rounds of exchanges had already occured. As Wang Zhong observed the match, he took notes with a pen about Barran's clearer weaknesses.
"Wang Zhong, you really are here."
All of a sudden, Scarlet's voice rang out from behind him. At this time, the fever that had been brought forth by brother king's match had already died down, and the large hall of the OP training room was quite devoid of people. Scarlet walked while carrying a small bag, and spoke with a smile. "I just went to the society and found that neither you nor Barran were there, so I guessed that you two will be here."
"Hey. You came at the right time. Let's help Barran analyse. He's fighting against an assassin at the moment." Wang Zhong shifted his Skylink screen to share the view between the two of them. Scarlet had participated in quite a few of Barran's special training sessions.
While Wang Zhong gave her a brief rundown of the opposition, Barran was being caught into a passive state. Despite that, he should be able to temporarily hold out with his arm, shield and bodily defenses. Just as Wang Zhong was in the middle of explaining excitedly, a "gu" sound suddenly rang out from his stomach.
With a laugh, Scarlet opened up her little bag. "You're lucky that I made extra onigiri. Let's eat while watching together."
Wrapped in cloth was a lunchbox designed exquisitely with daffodils carved on its surface. Upon opening it, cute and beautifully arranged onigiris wrapped in colourful decorations appeared before his eyes, still quite warm to the point of almost being hot. Clearly, they weren't made due to a lucky coincidence, it was merely that a certain male was still seemingly clueless about love and relationships.
"Ha, then I'll help myself," said Wang Zhong as he casually grabbed one and tossed it into his mouth. The tasty rice of the onigiri mixed with osmanthus flowers, Chinese walnut seeds and red dates that caused various kinds of sweet and refreshing flavors to fill his mouth, leaving a rich aftertaste that lingered in his memory.
This was not the first time that Wang Zhong had eaten Scarlet's handmade onigiri. Long ago, after he broke his arm in the C grade restricted region and had been hospitalized, Scarlet's fervent care and the taste of her onigiri had left a deep impression in Wang Zhong's mind. Some of those more natural ingredients were truly difficult to find.
Whether it was Carolyn, Laura, Sharmie or the others, in Wang Zhong's mind, Scarlet made him feel much more comfortable and relaxed due to her character. This was not only during their daily lives of studying, and included their interests, passions and characters. There were times that truly made him feel a level of tacit understanding that was akin to a fish in water.
He placed the Skylink screen broadcasting Barran's fight between the two of them, as they continued to eat while discussion Barran's special training.
Perhaps it was due to the Skylink screen being too small, or maybe there was some mysterious and unknown reason as the distance between the two started to shrink unknowingly.
Suddenly, the two seemed to sense this and their heads turned to each other at the same time. Warm waves of air flowed out as their lips brushed across each other with only a few inches separating them. The musk of a male and the gentle fragrance of a girl wafted into the others' noses.
Scarlet froze for an instant as her face immediately turned beet red. Other than the embarrassment present, there seemed to be a shade of anger or fury displayed on her face.
On the other hand, Wang Zhong jumped up in shock. Feeling that his actions were slightly offensive, he hastily waved his hands and blurted, "I'm sorry! I didn't mean to!"
Seeing his response, Scarlet could not help but burst out in laughter. This fellow really has moments of anxiousness. "It's alright. I know."
"Cough…" Wang Zhong scratched his head. The onigiri that she had made was still stuffed in his mouth, and yet he had almost taken advantage of her. He really had no idea know how to handle this.
As if she could make out Wang Zhong's troubled predicament, Scarlet smiled faintly and took the initiative to change the subject. "Oh right. I heard from Hyman that you seem to be researching special abilities, am I right? Not only did you ask her many questions pertaining to special ability training, you've even flipped through many books in the library. When did you start getting interested special abilities?"
Only when he saw that Scarlet really was not angry did Wang Zhong breathe in relief. Indeed, the times when he was with Scarlet were the most relaxing. If it was someone else, it would definitely blow up into a great show.
"I'm just curious. I'm always curious about anything related to strength," replied Wang Zhong with a smile. "How's your progress recently on your ice attribute special ability?"
Shaking her head, Scarlet replied, "It's been slow. It's too hard to make progress on a special ability. Other than the slowest normal way of naturally increasing over time, there aren't many ways to increase progress."
"I've gotten her advice, however, it's basically useless." Scarlet shook her head and continued, "The progression of a special ability is different for everyone, as are the methods. Furthermore, there are more types of fire attribute special abilities with many sub categories and being extremely common. Comparatively, ice attribute special abilities are less commonly seen. In fact, there are also much fewer methods that can aid in progression. There are a few common methods, for example, medicines that had good results. However, most of them are in the hands of the great families and are almost impossible to find in the market. Furthermore, it is extremely difficult to control the effects of the medicines as they have many side effect. People like me won't consume them so recklessly."
The way of using medicines to increase one's special abilities was similar to what Wang Zhong had come to understand, and was considered the Federation's mainstream way to increase the strength of special ability users. With visible effects and the familiarity the great families had with their usage, the risks and associated danger could be controlled to an extremely large degree.
"There's also another way which is to carry an ice attribute dimensional life form's elemental crystal on one's body. That way, one could increase one's intimacy with the ice element. This has notable effects towards one's special abilities. However, it's extremely rare for such a thing to appear. Although there are quite a few of these for the fire element, it's basically impossible for ice element crystals to appear in public that are up for sale. It's of such rarity and is something that would be hoarded. Furthermore, even if something like that is up for sale, I most likely wouldn't be able to afford it," replied Scarlet with some regret in her voice.
Tempering special abilities in the Federation was indeed a matter that only those who were truly wealthy would attempt. Wanting to nurture an outstanding special ability soldier was something that would lead to expenses numbering over hundreds of millions. Wang Zhong could still remember the fire attribute dimensional life form elemental crystal that was sold during Ma Dong's auction. It had sold for a high price of ten million. For the exceedingly rare ice element, it would be much more.
Although old Greene's family background was not shallow, this was only when it was compared to ordinary people. After all, it had only been three generations and they had no businesses under their name. Compared to the wealth of those great families, Greene's family clearly could not compare to them.
"There's always a way," smiled Wang Zhong as he waved the onigiri in his hand. "Who knows? I might pick up an ice attribute dimensional life form elemental crystal while I walk on the streets. When that happens, I'll give it to you as a payment for this meal ticket."
Feeling interest in what he said, Scarlet could not help but to laugh out. "Ha! Won't this meal ticket be too expensive?"
"It's just a blank cheque, right?" Without the slightest bit of concern, Wang Zhong bit into an onigiri. This time the flavor was seafood, the savoury sensation lunging towards his face like an ocean breeze. "It won't hurt even if I sign more off!"
Meanwhile, Emily's life was not that pleasing. There was definitely a reason why great families were able to continue on through their successors.
Emily was not tired from the cruel and torturous training. Sure, they were tiring, however due to the concept of life and death already being blurred for her, she had no time to think about her own condition. What she had to do was to continue on, or be dragged away in a bloody manner upon her own failure to do so. In fact, one would either die in the training grounds or in an elimination fight with someone else.
Nevertheless, Emily managed to support herself all the way to the end, with a little bit of help from her elder cousin Russell. Although it was just a few warm words and a concerned gaze, it made all the difference for Emily as she adapted to the increasingly intense training.
After adapting to this kind of everyday training designed to squeeze out one's potential to the maximum, the talent hiding within Emily's bloodline was forced out like a press being used on fruits. She learned everything at an extremely quick pace, be it skills or techniques, all the while improving as each day went by. She was even able to develop new things from old techniques and skills that she had learnt.
The biggest change would be her central core of strength, which was her fire attribute special ability. Not only was she able to generate flames, something else was quietly flourishing within. However, the progress of special abilities was not an abrupt process, rather a result akin to the formation of a fruit. It needed to experience blooming, pollination, bearing fruit and nourishing before finally maturing and ripening. Even Emily had no idea what was brewing from her fire attribute special ability. What she anticipated was a sentient Spiritual Soul Beast like Laura's. Being an assassin that danced on the edges of danger, a sentient Spiritual Soul Beast's critical protection and coordination would allow her to accomplish a joint attack that would originally require two assassins to successfully perform.
However, such a substantial progress would clearly take a very long time, and would absolutely not be shown in a short time. Emily only hoped that she would be able to see the direction her special ability was heading before the CHF, so that she could begin to target and stimulate growth towards this aspect.
After defeating another opponent in an elimination fight, the Iron Faces gathered all of the participants together and announced that the people remaining would be promoted to the next training phase.
Looking at the Iron Faces who had been in charge of them in the first phase of the training, all the participants exhaled deeply. The training they had undertaken during this period of time had already far exceeded their limits. Regardless of the mental preparation they had made, there were already quite a few people whose minds had collapsed and were in retreat. Fortunately though, there were progressively less and less restrictions in the elimination fights. This had resulted in increasingly intense fights, with every one of them being battles of life or death.
Emily was not exempt from this, as the opponents in her last two elimination fights had been carried off due to severe injuries. She never thought about whether those people would live or die at the very end, as she would be the one to fall if she did not give her all. By defeating her, the opponent would gain glory and fame. In such a fight, one's status in the family would only be a obstruction. This was absolutely not a joke within the Assassin Family.
The next phase of training would undoubtedly be even more arduous, with the level of difficulty multiplying many times over. If one had already reached one's limits from the first phase of training, what awaited one would be training that shatters those limits! However, the passing of the cruel selection of the first phase still led to much better expressions appearing on everyone's faces.
The cold voice of an Iron Face rang out, "Gather here tomorrow."
After the Iron Faces retreated, everyone dispersed.
A voice rang out from behind.
Turning around, Emily saw her cousin. Opening her mouth, she shouted, "Number 67."
There was no name, bloodline affinity, nor unique moment present. At any given time, the only thing one possessed was a number, and one's own strength.