Chapter 196 – Struggle to the End!
“Yes.” Tang Wulin, Mu Xi and a few other youngsters said respectfully.
In the sea of green that was this group of blacksmiths, Mu Xi stood out brightly as a speck of red—the only woman among them.
After listening to Cen Yue’s warnings, Tang Wulin and Mu Xi set off.
“Good luck, junior disciple brother!” Mu Xi rubbed Tang Wulin’s head and pinched his cheeks before releasing him.
Helpless to the pinching, Tang Wulin began to miss her frigid disposition. At least back then, his cheeks were spared.
He could feel the shift in atmosphere at their hotel as the start of the tournament drew near.
Nearly all of the hotel’s patrons were here for the event. Besides participants from Eastsea City there were also numerous people from other places, all preparing hastily.
When he returned to his room, Tang Wulin was greeted by Xie Xie’s tremendous snoring, the culprit already sound asleep. Starfished on the bed, he barely resembled a human.
Tang Wulin descended on his own mattress. Instead of pulling at the coattails of slumber, he sat cross-legged and peered out the window. His gaze wandered past the sharp edges of the deep blue sea, zigzagging across the surface to no end. The rush and ebb of the tide granted him a peace of mind. He shut his eyes slowly and began meditating.
Like how the most inept bird in a flock must fight tooth and nail for a worm, he could not squander any opportunity to cultivate. Blacksmithing, on the other hand, was not a problem. As Cen Yue had informed him, finding anyone who could surpass his craft at his age was like searching for a needle in a haystack.
Although he would be advancing through the competition with Mu Xi, Tang Wulin understood that when the final rounds approached he would need to carefully make a decision. If Mu Xi seemed to have a shot at becoming the champion, then he would yield the spot to her. However, in the event that Mu Xi could not proceed, he would remove his handicap, aiming for victory instead.
As for the soul master’s competition, he could not shake off his nervousness. Despite being considered pretty formidable among his peers, he would be facing soul masters several years older than him in the Skysea Alliance Tournament! The difference in cultivation from a single year was tremendous. He could only imagine what a gap of five years would be like.
While wielding three rings, Mu Xi only hoped to place in the top eight. He possessed one ring and his teammates held two at most. Just how far could he hope to go?
At the very least, we can’t lose in the knockout phase! That would be too depressing for both us and Teacher Wu.
I’ve got to do my best! Struggle to the very end!
Tang Wulin dispelled such distracting thoughts. Regardless of what happens, I’ll persevere!
The opening ceremony of the Skysea Alliance Tournament was held in Skysea Stadium. It was the largest stadium in the Skysea Alliance, boasting a maximum seating capacity of eighty-thousand people.
For the economic bloc that was Eastsea Alliance, the Skysea Alliance Tournament was a grand occasion that the entire federation paid attention to. Outstanding geniuses would emerge each time the tournament was held.
In reality, the Skysea Alliance Tournament’s original goal was to filter through the masses for geniuses to raise. Then they would be groomed into pillars of the alliance.
Within the Federation existed a myriad of factions, with the Skysea Alliance as one of the most prominent. Economic-wise, however, it stood as one of the Federation’s major players.
In spite of its economic power, the Skysea Alliance was not satisfied. Although it was easy to jumpstart the economy, building a sturdy foundation was a different story. Not to mention, they had started developing later than other regions. The continent’s mainland was filled with major cities, each possessing thousands to tens of thousands of years of history. These cities were littered with countless ancient clans that raised powerful geniuses with profound backgrounds.
Due to its difference in history, the Skysea Alliance was woefully deficient in talents. In fact, the quality and quantity of its geniuses were beginning to decline.
All of the powerful experts were found inland. Only able to boast of its economic might, the Skysea Alliance could not be considered powerful by any means and hovered around the continent’s middle levels of prominence.
But how could the Skysea Alliance resign itself to lose in power and prestige? In a bid to select and grow talents, the Alliance established the Skysea Alliance Tournament roughly two hundred years ago. They offered not only a generous amount of prize money but some unique prizes as well. This way, the talents would receive the support needed to further pursue their paths, which would bolster the Alliance’s strength.
At the crack of dawn, representatives from the various cities flooded into the stadium.
The arena was gigantic, hordes of people teeming within as far as the eye could see. The terrace had long since been filled with spectators. It was Tang Wulin’s first time in such a grand stadium. Excitement permeated the air as the opening ceremony proceeded. Surrounded by so many taller people, Tang Wulin could hardly see what was happening. He could only hear a few encouraging words that marked the end of the ceremony.
Next came the drawing of lots for the various competitions.
This matter was handled by the teachers, leaving class zero twiddling their thumbs.
A platform materialized at the center of the arena. Immediately the mood erupted as if an ocean of gaiety poured in.
“What are they doing?” Tang Wulin asked Xie Xie.
Xie Xie answered, “Right, you wouldn’t know about this. They’re about to hold an exhibition match. I heard they paid an enormous sum to invite some powerful people from Shrek Academy this time. Their opponents will be the champions of the seven-man team competition from the last tournament. The Alliance is doing this to show everyone the gap between our strengths. Though, I’m not sure if this is the best decision.”
Gu Yue cut in from the side, “Why do you think so?”
Xie Xie simply shrugged. “Isn’t it obvious? Within a certain range, the gap in strength can be encouraging, but once the gap surpasses a certain level, it transforms into a chasm. It’ll be an insurmountable reminder that only discourages people.”
A giggle escaped from Xu Xiaoyan’s lips. “You sure know how to explain things. You’re just a child and you’ve already thought it out. Don’t you think the Alliance’s higher-ups would have come to the same conclusion? I bet they have some plan in place on how to handle this.”
“I’m starving. Does anyone have anything to eat?” A voice sounded out suddenly.
Tang Wulin turned toward the source of the noise and saw a little fatty scurrying about the crowd, asking random strangers for food as they passed by.
“Huh. Another glutton has appeared.” Xu Xiaoyan absentmindedly said.
Xie Xie coughed. “Xiaoyan! You really have a way with words.”
Xu Xiaoyan realized her indiscretion. She hastily pursed her cherry-red lips and stuck out her tongue.
Tang Wulin didn’t mind the quip since there was no denying he was a glutton. He walked toward the little fatty.
“Here, eat this.” Tang Wulin handed him some dried fish.
Due to his high energy consumption, Tang Wulin always carried some snacks on him like dried fish, beef jerky and other portable foods loaded in protein and calories.
“Thank you, thank you.” The little fatty’s eyes lit up at the sight of the snack. He immediately began devouring it while nodding in satisfaction.
Seeing the little fatty eating so happily, Tang Wulin couldn’t help but feel a similar urge overtake his body. Unable to fight it, he started nibbling on some fish too.
“It’s pretty tasty! There isn’t any dried fish as good as this where I’m from. Thank you, big brother.” The little fatty looked around Tang Wulin’s age and had a way with flattery.
“You don’t need to call me big brother. My name is Tang Wulin. You might even be a bit older than me. How old are you?” Tang Wulin asked.
The little fatty said, “I just turned ten. How much older than me are you? There’s no way you’re younger, right?” He stood half a head shorter than Tang Wulin.