“Your injury isn’t completely healed yet. To forcibly use Ghost World – Touch of Death just to teach these two teams a lesson, the price is a bit too great,” Ferguillo faintly said to Ivan, walking beside him on the street outside the restaurant.
“As long as I can shut up these northern blokes and feel happy, what do I care about the price,” Ivan faintly said.
“Your temperament’s exactly the same as it used to be,” Ferguillo said, throwing him a glance.
“Aren’t you the same.” Ivan humped in contempt. From these two’s manners, they seemed at daggers drawn. Their relationship didn’t look good at all.
But after a humph, Ivan faintly raised his head and looked at the Everlasting Tower at the highest reaches of Eichemalar. He said, “Before, I thought the strongest in St. Lauren should be you and us, that it would have been the best outcome if your team and our team were to represent St. Lauren in the competition. I never thought we would be both eliminated this time.”
“Training painstakingly for a year, even grasping an arcane skill like Ghost World – Touch of Death. You were originally bound to shine in the national tournament, but now you can only stay outside the field and watch someone else fight. Isn’t that very frustrating?” Ferguillo said with a faint smile.
“Frustrating?” Ivan smiled. “I am actually full of expectation instead. I have a feeling that Ayrin and the others will go further than us in the tournament.”
After a pause, Ivan once again looked at Ferguillo with contempt. “Also, you don’t need to be that modest either. Even if I learned Ghost World – Touch of Death, I might not have surmounted you. If our two teams had met, it’s hard to tell who would have entered the nationals.”
“It seems we’re of the same mind.” Ferguillo smiled faintly and said such a sentence, then turned around and looked at Charlotte. “If you go and cheer for Ayrin, he’ll surely be even more motivated.”
Charlotte’s face was red. “What does it have to do with me!”
“Really nothing to do with you?” Some musclemen from Iron Forest Academy winked and laughed mischievously. “Then we still have a chance?”
“You guys just go die!” Charlotte lashed out in embarrassment.
All the sixty-four teams participating in the nationals were set up in the Holy Splendor Contestant District. This was a building complex not far away from the Arena of Fire and Blood, built subsequently. Because they knew young people were hot-blooded and were easily impulsive, the entire contestant area was split into sixty-four small parts. Every one of the sixty-four participating teams lived by themselves in a hostel with many rooms.
Each hostel had a completely different layout compared to the others. They were all built following the archetypical styles of various great cities.
The hostel they prepared for team Holy Dawn was modeled after Hot Spring City’s style. The entire hostel was built with rough irregular stones, with a great many vivid plants and flowers growing there. There were warm spring ponds in the lounge and in all of the rooms.
Though they’d said they would stroll and play in Eichemalar in the afternoon after the meal, even those Agate Lake girls who innately loved to stroll and window-shop had heads filled with thoughts of how to fight their next match. That was why they only walked for a bit over an hour before both teams returned to their respective lodgings.
Not long after he entered the lounge of their hostel, about to take a bunch of fruits available free of charge there before going back to his room, Ayrin suddenly heard someone calling for him.
Ayrin was a little stunned when as he turned his head around and had a look.
The one standing in the doorway of a room on the second floor, calling for him, was precisely that super chatty manager of the old-fashioned library.
“Professor Plum, why did you also come?” Ayrin walked in front of him and asked, feeling curious.
Just like in Holy Dawn Academy, professor Plum wore an ordinary black robe. He only said two words before he turned around and went back inside his room.
“So many books?” Ayrin was immediately dumbfounded when he followed him inside.
Apart from a bed for sleeping, bookshelves spread all over professor Plum’s room. All of them seemed to be piled full of books.
Without manifesting any expression on his face, professor Plum told Ayrin to close the door, and warned at the same time, “Don’t touch any book, you just stand there.”
Then he looked at Ayrin and asked, “You very much like attacking your opponents by surprise?”
“That’s right.” Ayrin scratched his head and smiled, a little embarrassed. “If I can catch them off guard, it’s easier to defeat powerful opponents. Aren’t we supposed to use any arcane skill when the opponent least expect it?”
“You’re right. You have to use every arcane skill when the opponent least expects it.”
Professor Plum handed over two scrolls to Ayrin. “Right now, your arcane skills are still too monotonous. Carter let me choose two arcane skills for you. These two skills shouldn’t be too hard for you. Learn them within three days, before the start of the first match.”
“Teacher Carter told professor Plum to help teach me arcane skills?” Ayrin took the two tiny scrolls. He was suddenly excited. “Professor Plum, can you do like teacher Ciaran, first demonstrate so I can see, then use an arcane skill to imprint it deeper in my mind? This way, I’ll definitely learn it faster.”
“An arcane master’s study can’t forever rely on someone else’s demonstration.” Professor Plum shook his head, grave and stern. “Because many arcane skills are skills others can’t grasp either. If an arcane master can’t nurture his ability to learn and research on his own, if he can only learn someone else’s arcane skills, then no matter what kind of talent, he won’t achieve anything special.”
“I have to nurture my ability to learn by myself? I understand now.” Ayrin nodded seriously. “Thank you, professor Plum.”
“If there’s nothing else, you go and train.” Professor Plum waved Ayrin away, indicating that Ayrin could leave immediately without the need for excessive courtesy.
“Why is the super chatty professor Plum not chatty at all?”
After Ayrin left professor Plum’s room, he shook his head, a little confused. Then he couldn’t stop himself from immediately unrolling the two small scrolls in his hands.
“Spring of Slowness.”
“Touch of Bones.”
He immediately read in a hush the names of these two arcane skills.
“Why isn’t there a new issue of Breith Magazine today?”
“Shouldn’t there be interviews of every team before their matches, as well as some news?”
Early in the morning the next day, when more and more spectators arrived, the atmosphere in the whole of Eichemalar became increasingly fervent. But on Everlasting Square, a great crowd that had gathered there very early was a little baffled. Normally, Breith Magazine should have covered the whole square by now. But none of the peddlers selling tabloids and magazines had the new issue of Breith Magazine.
“Breaking news! Breith Trading Company was attacked by mice and sparrows, so the newest issue should be coming tomorrow at the earliest,” someone shouted out loud all of a sudden.
“Attacked by mice and sparrows?” Everyone was a little dumbstruck.
“That’s right. I heard some unknown person caught many mice and sparrows, and also smeared them all over with black medicinal fluid. Then he put them in several big bags and tossed them inside Breith Trading Guild in the middle of the night. These mice and sparrows ran and flew everywhere, they ended up making a total mess of Breith Trading Company. They have to do the cleaning of their lives for all of today.”
“What, who’s so wicked? We can’t even read Breith Magazine now!”
Countless people started swearing and lamenting on the square. Some older spectators shouted loudly, especially depressed. They’d already watched the tournament year after year for more than a decade already, and they were to used to always read Breith Magazine every day while the tournament was underway. Now, there was suddenly a missing issue. It simply felt even worse than having no food to eat. Their entire being felt unwell.
On the square filled with swearing and lament, Ayrin, Moss, and the others suddenly all turned to look at Belo, sweating big drops.
Apart from Belo, Ayrin really couldn’t think of anyone who would be bored enough to catch many mice and sparrows in the middle of the night, then smear them in black medicinal fluid, brave the risk of being caught while secretly tossing them inside Breith Trading Company.
Belo pushed his glasses as if he hadn’t noticed anything, like it had absolutely nothing to do with him.
“…” What made Moss and Ayrin even more speechless was, the two of them saw that Belo’s fingertips were all black, smeared with something. They looked as if it would be hard to wash them clean for a short while.
“Who did it? It’s great, haha! See what they get for evaluating us as weeds, serves them right!” Stingham still had his handsome but empty-brained look. He wasn’t aware of anything, and started laughing, full of schadenfreude.
“Kids and idiots are really happier. I have no idea where they’re finding so many things to be amused about.” At this moment, team Mountain Kings was also on the square crowded with people. Watching team Holy Dawn from far away, these people couldn’t help but shake their heads.
“Look, it’s that guy from yesterday.”
All of a sudden, their vice-captain “Violent Bear” Rykiel suddenly exclaimed in a whisper.
Following the place he pointed at, every member of team Mountain Kings saw a team wearing deep red uniforms. That boy with short brown hair who’d brushed past them yesterday and made them feel extremely weird was also impressively among them.
“That guy is really in team Hellfire?”
While they couldn’t stop themselves from mumbling, that boy with short brown hair suddenly turned his head around and threw them a glance across the mass of people between them.
“Hiss…” All the members of team Mountain Kings couldn’t stop themselves from gasping.
“He can feel that we’re focusing on him even from so far away, that we’re talking about him?”
“Couldn’t be, right?”
That boy with short brown hair only spared them a single glance. He stopped looking at them and continued his way forward. But most members of team Mountain Kings had a layer of sweat inexplicably emerging on their backs.
“His eyes really seem gray, he doesn’t even have pupils.” One team member said with a shaky voice, “The expression in his eyes… It seems everyone in the square is a dead man, while he’s the only one living.”
“What a strange guy. It doesn’t matter though. Even if he’s a bit weird, they’re in the same group as Dragon Breath Academy anyway. Anyone from Dragon Breath Academy is enough to dispatch their entire team alone.” Their captain Werther humphed heavily. That was what he said. However, that inexplicable feeling of disquiet still seemed to linger inside him.
“Lotton’s aura’s is becoming scarier and scarier. What bloody arcane skill does he train in?”
In fact, even some teammates near this brown-haired boy also had a frightened feeling from time to time.