Book 2, Growing Up, Chapter 19 – Who is Number One? (part 1)
The mountain behind the Ernst Institute, a place of tranquility.
Linley sat cross-legged next to flowing water. Listening to the murmurs of the water, he naturally entered the meditative trance, and all the nearby earth essence and wind essence immediately began to shine. Everything within ten or so meters around Linley became extremely clear to behold.
Earth and wind essence entered his body through his four limbs, as his flesh, bones, and organs all slowly absorbed nourishment from the essences. Slowly but resolutely, the strength of his body was continuing to climb.
Additionally, a large portion of the wind and earth essences, after purification, came to rest with the ‘central dantian’ in the middle of his chest.
“Splash, splash.” The flowing water murmured unceasingly.
Next to him, the little Shadowmouse, ‘Bebe’, was chewing on a wild duck. The scene was a peaceful as a painting, as though it had come out of a painting.
But while it was peaceful here, the Ernst Institute was extremely rowdy. All of the thousands of students, as well as many of the magi, and even many important people from the outside world were all at the Ernst Institute, watching the various battles.
The yearly tournament.
All of the students of the Ernst Institute were prideful heaven-blessed talents!
Each and every single battle was amazing to behold. Amongst the first grade students, balls of earth, flashes of lightning, and blades of wind flew hither and to. But the battles of the third and fourth grade students were really astounding. Various supportive spells and area of effect spells were used. Spells such as ‘Shattered Rocks’ now caused dozens, approaching a hundred, of large stones to smash upon the heads of the opponents, and lightning forked down without stopping.
And the fifth and sixth graders? That was all the more terrifying.
All sorts of astounding spells continuously flashed, filling the compound with unending sounds of explosions. The watching students all were all roaring nonstop, as the energy was reaching a crescendo. Virtually all of the people in the Institute were here.
The yearly tournament went on for a bit over a month, which naturally was the wildest, most rowdy month each year at the Ernst Institute. During this frenetic period, Linley would only occasionally watch the battles of the fifth and sixth grade students. All of the rest of his time, he would quietly train by himself.
“This tournament actually requires one to not intentionally try and kill one’s opponent. How can this sort of competition be considered a real competition, when one’s hands and feet are tied?”
Under the influence of Doehring Cowart, Linley, too, began to view the competition with disdain.
“Linley, your current assignment is to train hard and build up your strength. As far as combat experience goes, when you become a magus of the fifth rank, you should enter the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts and enter a series of genuine life-and-death experiences.” Doehring Cowart persuaded Linley.
The Huadeli Hotel, the most expensive hotel and restaurant within the Ernst Institute. Tonight, Yale was hosting the four bros of dorm 1987 to a lavish meal at the Huadeli Hotel.
On the first floor of the Huadeli hotel.
The floor of the hotel was as slick as a mirror. A row of beautiful waitresses stood there politely, ready to answer at a moment’s notice.
There were many men and women dressed in student attire at the Huadeli Hotel. Those who were able to afford this place were generally those who had strong economic backgrounds. A casual table of dishes might cost a few dozen gold coins. If Linley had come by himself, he definitely wouldn’t be able to afford it.
The yearly tournament had just ended, and all of the students at the hotel were discussing it. Most of the people here were youngsters, but one table was filled with four children.
“I’m pissed just thinking about this year’s competition. It was so close! I was so close to entering the semifinals. Maybe I would’ve been able to enter the top three.” Reynolds was extremely dissatisfied. Reynolds was the youngest of the four, and also the proudest of them.
Yale laughed. “It really was a shame. I didn’t expect Rand [Lan’de] to become number one in the end.”
George chuckled but didn’t speak.
George was a friendly fellow and offended almost nobody.
“Rand? Right. I’ve heard you guys discuss him before. He was one of the new students who had exceptional elemental affinity and spiritual essence, right?” Linley remembered the name ‘Rand’.
George laughed and nodded. “Right, him. He has very high talent. Even before training, his spiritual essence had reached the level of a magus of the second rank. All he did this year was accumulate sufficient mageforce. It isn’t too hard for someone with the power of a magus of the second rank to become number one in the tournament amongst first grade students.”
“Relying on his talent alone? When it comes to talent, can he compare to our Institute’s number one genius, Dixie?” Yale quirked his lips. “I look down upon Rand. He won the first grade tournament, so what. Linley, you didn’t see how self-satisfied he looked upon winning. I really can’t imagine how he would look if he actually were to win the fifth or sixth grade tournaments in the future.”
The stronger a magus became, the harder it was to progress even further.
This was why the large majority of students at the Ernst Institute were high-level magi. The higher one’s grade was, the fiercer the competition was.
Reynolds nodded as well. “I also don’t like him. Our school’s number one genius, the third grader Dixie, won the third grade tournament. Look at how composed he was! The difference between the two is too huge. What’s more, the strongest amongst us first graders isn’t Rand.”
“Right. Third bro, you didn’t participate. If you had, hmph…” Yale harrumphed.
Based on age and seniority, the four of them had begun to address each other as ‘second bro’, ‘third bro’, and so on.
“Hey, what are you guys saying?”
Linley and Yale turned their heads. Four youths in the same hotel were making their way down from the second floor. Their leader, a golden-haired youth, stared at Linley’s group coldly.
Yale said loudly, “Oh, so it’s Rand. What, didn’t you hear what we were saying?”
Linley couldn’t help but laugh helplessly to himself.
Yale feared neither heaven nor hell, and cared tremendously about face.
“Hmph, don’t think I didn’t hear,” Rand said coldly.
The brown-haired youth next to Rand sneered as well. He arrogantly said, “Rand, don’t quibble with these four useless things. It’s not worth your time. Reynolds, what do you think you are looking at? What, you aren’t satisfied with the way you lost in the tournament?”
Reynolds stared at the brown-haired youth, his mouth quirking in disdain. “And what do you think you are? You just got lucky and beat me once. Why so cocky?”
The brown-haired youth’s face grew cold.
George smiled at everyone. “Rand, enough. It was wrong of us to so casually discuss you. Let’s just forget about it.”
“Shut your mouth, George. This is none of your business.” Rand stared at Yale. “Yale, last time I saw you at the Fragrant Elm bar, your arrogant manner pissed me off. And now, this time, you dare to be so arrogant in front of me. If you have the ability, come and fight me. Why don’t you have the balls to fight?”
After speaking, Rand intentionally laughed mockingly a few times.
Although Yale was somewhat furious, he knew that he wasn’t as strong as the opponent.
Immediately, many gazes from all over the hotel focused on this altercation. Many of the high-level students of the Ernst Institute stood up and stared at the two parties with curiosity. Clearly, both parties were just ten year olds.
“I know that golden-haired kid. His name is Rand. He won the yearly tournament amongst first graders. I expect in the future, he’ll have some accomplishments.”
“The brown-haired kid next to him is called Rickson [Rui’sen]. He was number three amongst the first graders. I know him. In terms of strength, Rand’s party is stronger than their opponents. This should be fun.”
The group of magi of the fifth and sixth ranks all chatted and laughed, watching the two parties.
Seeing others notice him, and hearing them praise him as the winner of the first grade tournament, Rand’s face became even more arrogant, and he looked at Linley and the others even more contemputously.
“Hmph.” Rand glanced at the table where Linley and the others were sitting. “Juice? You guys are still drinking juice? Oh, Yale, I really feel embarassed for you. The four bros of my dorm are all drinking victory wine. You guys are drinking juice?”
Seeing how Rand went on endlessly, Linley couldn’t help but begin to frown.
“Rand, we four bros are eating here. Get the hell out.” Linley’s face sank down, and he stared coldly at the four of them.
If he was training and was disturbed by beasts, he would immediately kill them.
“Oh, and this one.” Rand’s eyes shone as he stared at Linley. “How come I never knew that in Yale’s dorm, there was someone such as you?”
Linleys’ gaze grew cold.
Like a wild rabbit, he shot forward with incredible speed. Rand’s eyes only had time to widen. “You-!” Before he could even react, Linley grabbed Rand by the chest and, just based on physical strength, hoisted him in the air.
“Wha, uh, uh…” Rand couldn’t make any noises come from his throat, and his eyes were filled with fear.
Linley stared coldly at Rand. Rand, heart filled with fear, felt as though he would be killed at any moment.
At this moment, Linley felt the Dragonblood in his veins begin to blaze, as his bloodthirsty nature began to awaken. Linley couldn’t help but frown as he tried to calm down. “This is the Ernst Institute. I can’t kill someone for no reason.”
The three students next to Rand were all stupefied and frightened as well.
With the wave of an arm, Linley slammed Rand to the floor, as though he were nothing more than a beanbag.