“Here comes Seagate Academy.”
“Here comes Abel Academy.”
“Is that River Bend Academy?”
Teams appeared one after another inside the rest area as the draw drew near.
“Ayrin, you guys did really great so far, keep up the good work.”
The group from River Bend greeted Ayrin and the others after coming their way.
When Audrey saw the group from River Bend looking very friendly with Holy Dawn, she couldn’t help turning to a girl in the group with short hair and clothes looking like those Donna wore: “Eurena, why are you guys so familiar with them?”
“That’s a secret for now. You’ll find out if we fight them in the grand finals,” the very tomboy-looking Eurena said with a grin.
“Here come Rinsyi and co,” Morgan quietly said just then.
They watched the group from Golden Stag came inside the rest area and sit somewhere all by themselves.
Meanwhile, Dragon Breath, Winterfell, and River Bend were gathered around Holy Dawn Academy, looking very lively.
“What’s Stingham doing now?”
Moss and the others saw Stingham constantly mumbling to himself, his hands joined together.
After a while, Stingham took out something from his clothes and put it in front of him, then went back to mumbling to himself.
Even Ayrin was baffled now, because what Stingham had taken out was an apple, one half of it rotten.
“Stingham, what you doing?” Ayrin couldn’t help but ask.
“Don’t bother me,” Stingham snapped. “I’m praying, what else would I be doing?”
Ayrin and Moss and the others looked at each other. “Praying in front of a rotten apple, what does that mean?”
“What do you know!” Stingham tossed his hair in great contempt, then casually took out a comb and combed his hair. “This is an unfathomable prayer ceremony from the Magus Era. If you sincerely pray in front of a rotten apple like this one, then you’ll see your wish come true. We’ll face Golden Stag in the next match for sure. Not only that, if you pray facing the unspoiled side while you set the rotten side facing the opponents, you can even curse them with rotten luck.”
“Can you really use it like that? Might as well give the unspoiled half to Ayrin so he can eat it,” Moss mumbled.
“That’s right, you might as well let me eat it,” Ayrin said.
“Do you really want to eat that?” Moss was struck a little speechless.
“Team captains, please come in the field and draw your lot.” A tournament staff had come to notify all the teams it was time to draw lots.
“Get lost! Don’t disturb me!” Stingham swore. Then he immediately prayed in front of the rotten apple with even more devotion.
“Dragon Breath Academy…”
The atmosphere in the arena turned nervous all of a sudden when the voice rang in the field. There was no sound to be heard apart from the sound of breathing.
“Dragon Breath Academy… against Deepwood Motte Academy!”
“Boom!” The stands erupted in shouts when the tie was announced.
Many people supporting Dragon Breath thought that the draw wasn’t bad, while Deepwood Motte’s supporters sighed in lament. It was going to be difficult for them, an uphill battle with the odds stacked against them.
“Abel Academy against Winterfell Academy!”
“We’re actually going against that bunch!” the bearded Rekai suddenly shouted, a little crestfallen.
It wasn’t that he thought Abel Academy would be a harder challenge than Dragon Breath. He just felt that the group from Abel Academy wasn’t frank and open enough. He wasn’t really fond of their characters.
“There are only two ties left! It’s a fifty-fifty!”
Everyone in Team Holy Dawn looked at each other.
“Holy Dawn Academy…”
The whole arena held its breath.
“Against Golden Stag Academy!”
“Boom!” The whole arena exploded like a volcano.
“Is that a joke?”
“Did we really draw… Golden Stag?!”
Ayrin and the others looked at Stingham in disbelief.
“Mwuhahahaha! Did you see that? That’s the power of my wise handsome invincible self. I told you my prayers were very effective, that we were going to draw Golden Stag for sure in the next match!” Stingham stuck his hands on his hips and laughed like a madman. “I’m the most handsome!”
“They’re really going against Rinsyi!”
In the stands, Ivan and Charlotte glanced at Team Golden Stag, all of them dumbstruck.
“They really ended up being our opponents…”
After a second of astonishment, the flirty Megan toyed with a ruby ring on her finger and exposed her pure-white teeth, flashing a smile of amusement.
“It seems it was preordained.” Rinsyi smiled as well, his smile so wide even wrinkles appeared at the corners of his eyes.
Seeing Stingham laughing like a madman, “Warlock” Hill sneered, his moody face looking as it always did like someone had stolen his lunch money. “How arrogant. Why do they look so happy running into us?”
Stingham’s gaze happened to meet his just at this moment.
“What the hell are you looking at?” Hill shouted, a cold glint flashing in his eyes.
Stingham froze. He hadn’t expected Hill to suddenly shout at him.
“I’m looking at you, so what? What, do you want to come here and lick my feet?” Belo suddenly said.
Audrey and the others were instantly struck dumb.
Belo had kept a low-profile so far in the national tournament. Only now did the people around them suddenly notice there was also a glass boy like him in Team Holy Dawn.
“Wanna die?!” Hill’s aura exploded.
“Don’t tell me you’re thinking of fighting him in a place like this?” Rinsyi said, looking at him with contempt.
“You’re right, why would I waste my time with a substitute who can’t even make an appearance in the tournament.” Hill smiled in derision.
“Let’s have a bet then.” Belo readjusted his glasses, and said with an impulsive face, “If we run into each other on the field, then the one who loses has to kneel down and lick the other’s feet. How about it?”
“I’m going to fight in the next match,” Belo added, looking at Hill.
“Alright then. Why would I refuse someone offering to lick my feet?” Hill coldly said. “In that case, I’ll leave you with enough energy to kneel down and lick them.”
Ayrin suddenly pulled him and shouted, his voice full of anxiety. “This guy’s their vice-captain, he’s very strong. You can’t win if you really happen to fight against him, and then you’ll really have to lick his feet when you lose! It’s one thing to keep telling random people to kneel down and lick your feet, but it’s not a bet you can afford right now!”
The Golden Stag guys couldn’t help laughing out loud when they saw Ayrin urgently pulling on Belo.
They suddenly thought that this Belo guy was a real comedian.
What made the participant teams around them even more speechless was, Stingham tossed his hair again and said, “With me here, even if he can make it into our lineup, I won’t need him to step into the field. So he won’t have any opportunity to run into that guy. Because I’m the most handsome!”
“What’s the relation with being the most handsome? Is this a beauty contest?” Audrey and the others had the urge to spit out blood. They thought, these Holy Dawn guys could throw any place into chaos wherever they went.
“Who could have imagined they’d really run into Golden Stag.”
In the stands, Joyce and Team Sea God were also looking at Team Holy Dawn and Team Golden Stag.
After the life and death battle underground against Shinro and co, Joyce had very naturally become friends until death with Ayrin and the others.
“These guys, the word afraid really doesn’t exist in their dictionary…”
Looking at Ayrin, Joyce couldn’t help but sigh softly. He was filled with a certain feeling, something between bafflement and admiration, he didn’t know which.
In all the matches so far, apart from Rinsyi himself who might have been slightly wounded, none of the other main members of their roster had been on stage. Warlock Hill, Black Widow Huntress Megan, Hellball Master Tyrin, Plague Disseminator Zouchen; not mentioning being wounded, no one even knew the level they were at this year, or the secrets of their arcane skills.
In comparison, for Team Holy Dawn, Rinloran and Chris would certainly not recover from their injuries before the start of the next match. At the very least, it was certainly impossible for Chris to use Dark Destruction Dragon for now.
Joyce could naturally assume that substitutes like Stingham and the others were also very strong.
But the important thing was, it didn’t matter even if they were just as strong as Chris.
Every main member on Team Golden Stag was a monster representing the highest level in the national tournament.
In Joyce’s opinion, even Chris wasn’t certain to win if she went against any of the five main members on Golden Stag.
As to the substitutes on Holy Dawn, it was simply impossible for them to be on the same level as her.
In theory, no matter how you looked at it, it was impossible for Holy Dawn to win against Golden Stag.
“I know that, but… Even so, why do I feel like you might still have a shot? Have I been infected by your blind optimism?”
Looking at Ayrin from afar, Joyce couldn’t help shaking his head and mumble to himself.
In Team Holy Dawn, Moss suddenly shouted, “Stingham, you’re actually eating this apple?” His eyes grew wide.
He’d almost fainted at Ayrin really wanting to eat this apple, but now he saw Stingham suddenly take this apple and eat it.
“What do you know,” Stingham said with a humph while he ate the apple. “After a successful prayer, an apple like this is called an Apple of Victory. Those who eat the unspoiled half will be blessed with uncommon luck. They’ll easily overcome their opponents.”
“Stingham…” Ayrin shouted, looking at the apple in Stingham’s hand.
“Scram!” Stingham turned away, totally on his guard. “What are you shouting for? I won’t give it to you, don’t even think about stealing it.”
“It’s no use no matter how much you shout. I’m almost done with it anyway, there’s only the rotten half left if you still want it, haha.” Stingham laughed out loud after biting a big chunk of the apple. “How sweet, it tastes pretty good.”
“It’s not that.” Ayrin shook his head. “I don’t want to eat it, it’s just that I saw three worms…”
“What!” Stingham’s eyes grew into round circles. The next second, he shouted, “Why didn’t you say that earlier! Where did you see three of them, I only see one, did they crawl on my hand?!”
“I was going to tell you, but you didn’t let me talk…” Ayrin looked at Stingham with innocent eyes. “You already ate the other two.”
“I…” Stingham’s face was suddenly full of black lines.