89 Halftime

We went to a break room. There was someone that gave us two restorative pills per person. My Master inspected them, and say they were good, so I took them. I felt a warm sensation, and my ache began to disappear, and I mi vital qi was ben replenished. It was a shame that I could do the same thing with my elemental qi, it would require more time that we had. But at least, I would be in a better state.

I was enjoying the feeling when I saw that Meng’er went to me. He was happy. “You made it!” he said, and I nodded. Perhaps in he thought that I wouldn’t do it, or I was simply thinking too much, but it didn’t matter. I began to talk to him about our fights. He told me how he won his, and I explained him how I did it, but without telling bout the metal qi. He knew that I could manipulate a little of lighting qi so he was not surprised by that. For one part, I wanted to tell him the truth, but for the other part, I want to have an ace if I had to fight him, no… when I would fight him.

We were few of the people of was talking, the rest was quiet, and you could feel the tension. No one wanted to lose, and their fighting spirits were rising up. I think that If someone made a mistake, a fight would broke out right there, but that didn’t happen.

“Hey! There you are!” A voice that it was not familiar. It was Yuan Ling. She was smiling, she was wearing a red outfit that make it look like a beautiful man. I was a little jealous, I looked like a normal guy. She talked about the fights; he saw me fighting and was impressed. “Fighting with both of you would be a pleasure” said with a smile that could destroy nations.

We were the only group that keep talking while recuperating. The rest was very quiet and some of us looked us with contempt. “I think that we would be the target of many, don’t you think? —said Yuan Liang—, what about a little truce and fight against them until only we last?” That surprised Meng Shang and me. It would be a good idea, but I knew that I could trust him, but her? “I will not backstab you —she said—, what I want is fight both of you, how do I could do it if you lost before we can fight? Will be only temporally allies, but it’s better than nothing, don’t you think?”

We kept talking about that and I wanted to know if that wasn’t against the rules. ”The City Master said the rules —she explained—, he didn’t said that we can’t have a temporary alliance. In a free for all, everybody do what you want. So it would be a good idea, but make no mistake. I will win.’

Could we trust her? I felt that we could and also Meng Shang. So we make a deal.

And we kept talking until it was time to return to the stage.

88 Battle against all I

The day came. I was feeling still the pain, but it was manageable. With the two elemental qi reservoirs and the second Shell Defends, I thought that I had a good possibility to win this, including fighting against Meng Shang. I would be so much happy if the pain was not there, but it was a remain of my election.

At the stage we were the 20 participants in a circle. Meng Shang was not near me, nor Yuan Ling, but two men of perhaps twenty of thirty years old, both quasi-divines. I sensed all the group, and I was the only one who was semi-mortal. I knew many saw how I fought before, but for many that didn’t see me, I was and easy prey. I could feel that both men were from the second group.

“Welcome again to this last part of the tournament —said the City Lord, now sitting in his place and not acting as a referee—. Many of the noble sect masters here, plead me to not be the Judge of this part. Some thinks that I can be unfair.” A murmur was heard everywhere, what kind of idiot could say that things to the City Lord? In that moment, nobody knew, but after this it would something notorious, perhaps something like the issue of the Metal Turtle Sect would occur again. “So, this time —he continued—, there will be three sect masters and my vice City Lord as referees. They will be as just as I was, or even more. Will see.

The rules are almost the same. The only two differences are that obviously this is a free for all, so if one of your own sect is disqualified that doesn’t mean anything. And this time we will stop until only three participants remain. They will be rewarded by how well they have fought. I hope to see fights that are worth it of your sect’s names! Do your best effort! And now… commence! ”

Not even a second passed, and the cultivators between me, started to attack me. I evade one of them, and the other was was blocked with Shell defends. It had the same density as last time, when I broke that girl hand, but this time the cultivator didn’t seem affected, only stepped back. I needed to do it denser, to have a better result. “Not bad, boy —one of the attackers said—, but it would be better for you to give up. We are not only more powerful than you, but also have more experience. Be a good boy and leave if you don’t want to suffer.”

Well, there were right, if I was not suffered all that to become more powerful, perhaps I would really think about it, but in that moment, I knew that I could beat the both of them easily. “Senior brothers, I thank you for your warnings —I said politely—but, been in this stage is something that I will do until I can’t simply no longer fight. That’s the path of the cultivator. I hope senior brother can understand me.”

They huffed, how could I say that words? I meant that I had hope of winning against them. That infuriate them and the fight began.

The one of the right took out a sword, and the other a lance. I felt that the sword had a fire attribute and the lance a wind one. I had to be careful with both. “So you want to fight to the last? —said one of them— Well, these senior brother will give you a lesson that you will never forget!”

The one with the lance commenced a frontal attack, his movements were swift, and I could felt the power of the wind in each stroke. I evade them, but if some of that hits touch me, I could be in grave danger. He speeded up his trusts, giving me less time to react. I knew what would happen right away, I sensed. From my back the swordsman tried to stab me. I lead Tent turtle to defend me, and he used a denser Shell defends. His fire attack penetrated a little of my technique, but not enough to make me an injure. The spear guy seen the attack failed, continued with his trust. I knew that they would tried again, probably with more strength this time, so I pretend to run away. That paralyzed them a little bit, but they follow me, they were faster than me, but the swordsman was faster than the other. And in that moment, I used Changing currents. It was only a mortal technique, but I supplemented it with a little of lighting power, so the speed increased tenfold. The changing of directions was something that they didn’t think, so I used Headbutt to the swordsman. He didn’t have time to use a defense artifact or technique. I hit him in the chest cleanly and he flew out while vomiting blood. “Out!” I heard one of the referees said.

Changing currents using elemental qi, take a toll on my body. I felt all my muscle torn apart. The lancer was shocked of what he saw, but when he saw me in that state, went after me. “Dragon piercing the heavens!” He yelled. From his speed, wind qi in the form of a dragon was shoot. That was something that I knew that a simple Shell defend would not be able to cope, so I quickly infused metal qi to the technique. His technique shocked mime and was dissolved. He couldn’t believe it. I used that time to dash at him and infuse lighting qi to Headbutt. “Out!”, I heard again. And in that moment, I was alone, ad I could see the other still fighting. I normalized my breath but pay attention to my surroundings. For now, at least I could relax a little bit.

I hear “out” more than 10 times, so only 7 of us left. Meng Shang and Yuan Ling were also there.

“Time!” the City Lord shouted. “We have saw wonderful techniques and the progress of many of our sects. Now we will take a thirty-minute break so our last participant can rest for a while. I think that we haven’t seen the best of them yet.”

I was still exhausted. Convening elemental qi was more complex that I thought and Changing current, still hurt me. I needed a break.

But I knew that soon it would be worse.

87 Elemental qi

After the fight ended, we entered our rooms, we were so tired, that I almost immediately went to sleep. I really don’t know how much I slept, but the sun was setting down. I entered my inner place and saw my Master chatting with Tenth turtle. They were quite serious. When she sensed that I came in, they stopped. That made me curious of what they were talking about.

“How do you feel after that fight?” asked my Master. I told her all my experience, the feeling of fighting and winning was pure trepidation. I knew that I had to be more grounded, but it felt so good when I had the power to disqualify the other teams. She heard me and smile. “Now you know what is fighting spirit, which was indeed a good experience for you. It will make you grow, but don’t believe that you are strong right now. You probably would not beat Meng Shang in a fight right now.”

Hearing that from my Master hurt a little, but in my heart of hearts I knew that it was the true. His fighting progress was superior to mine, and even if I was capable of defending, I was not to winning. “Master, is there is a way t improve in these two days?” I knew that it was impossible, but I had to ask anyway. Contrary to my expectations she said that there was a possibility.

“You have an ability to create any kind of elemental qi, but you take a lot of time doing it. What he could do it crate some kind of “reservoir” where you could store you elemental qi, and used when necessary. But you have to understand that in doing that, we are basically making holes in your soul, so it will be painful. The soul will be healed in time, but for a few weeks or even months you will suffer a lot of pain. Also, even if you can create these reservoirs, you could only use it for a limited time until the elemental qi runs off. So, if fast power versus a lot of pain, what do you decide?”

Making holes in my soul? That frighten me. And she said that I would suffer pain for even months. Did I really want that power? “Master, how profound and how many much of these reservoirs we can make?” I asked trying to think if it was worth it.” It’s all depending on what you can achieve —she said—, you can create reservoirs as big and as many as you like in your inner place, but it would be painful. One thing is to create a new route for your vital qi to flow and another make a drastic change here. If you really want to try it, I advise you than don’t make more than two, and not too profound and only use it for emergencies, but you can do what you want.”

“Master what you recommend me?” I asked still doubtful. “If it was for me, I would not do it. You only had to keep practice the technique that I give you and you will naturally do it, without the necessity of this pain, but everyone is different. My choses don’t have to be yours. You are the only one who can choose what you really want.” 

I wanted… to fight Meng Shang. I knew that I was weak right now and wanted to be stronger. I notice that my Master we would help whatever I chose even if she didn’t like what I choose, but perhaps she would be disappointed. “Master, help me do it.” I said, still doubtful, but I wanted to fight with all the strength I could muster.

I heard her sigh. “I wouldn’t be painful to do the reservoir if you could have two years more, but because of the time I have to do it, that’s why it would be painful, I will tear your inner self to do the reservoirs. You will have to bear the pain. Tell me when you want me to commence.”

I shook. I was thinking of saying no, but before I could even try to do it, my mouth said “now”. Pain. I only was pain. I can’t do anything, I can’t nothing. All was pain. I couldn’t meditate, I could enter my inner place, I only could have my eyes close while I was dying of pain. What could you shout when all you are pain? I tried to calm down, but it was impossible. The wishing of dying began to be in my mind.

Suddenly, all stopped. “I told you that it would be very painful, but now you can relax for a while.” When I could open my eyes, I felt so alive, my senses were at maximum, and I was drenched in sweat. I began to breathe as if it was the most glorious thing I could ever do. After a while a felt better and I could enter my inner place.

What I saw, shocked me in a bad way. There were two tiny pits, with the size of a bathtub. If I could enter any one, there deep would be around my shoulders. All what I suffered was for only that? I wanted to cry. “I see that you are not satisfied with my work —said my Master—, perhaps you want me to make more?” I goose bumped remembering the pain, and she felt my fear. “What you see is holes in your soul, it seem little, but it is a great accomplishment that you have not died in the process. I have made it so you can store the elemental qi for months if necessary. Now it’s your turn to select what kind of elemental qi do you want in.”

I still could feel the pain in my soul, but I knew that it would be worth it. “Master how much time I could use the elemental qi?” “It all depends in the use —she answered—, if you only use a little bit, it could last for one or two hours, but if you are in a life-or-death situation, perhaps least than five minutes each.”

It wasn’t much, but if used well, I could save my life, or even in this case, win the tournament. “Before you decide what kind of elements you would want to have, let me say something to you —said Tenth Turtle while interrupting my thinking—. I can also help you a little. If I can connect with your soul tree, I could use your vital qi to create another Shell defends, and control it, so you only have to take care of one, this could help you in multiple situations. However, I could not use the elemental qi in that technique, but only vital qi, but as denser as the time you showed me your advance. Do you want me to link to your soul tree?”

That was unexpected, especially coming from him. I couldn’t think why he wanted to help me. “How do you will link to my tree?” I asked warily. “I have given a lot of nutrients to your soul tree so it’s easy to me to do that, I only had to bite it, and I could command a part of that. Your tree would accept me to control some of it, but not all, that’s why I can only use one Shell defends.” I saw my Master and she nodded. If he could do that, my defense would increase with my attack, it was a good deal. “But what would you gain doing that, people says that nothing is free in this world.” I retorted. “Silly girl, living here for me is like a paradise, I prefer to live here than with the other turtles. I can grow here, improve myself while you are stronger, so why would I not help you? It’s a case when both parties win, no one will lose.”

After talking to him and my Master I accepted. Now I had to think what kind of elemental qi I would require. One of them was obviously lighting, it was the strongest are the easier for me to make. But what could be the other one? I had to think about it in the next hours.

86 Duo battle II

Some people noticed our quickly dispatch of the pairs. One of the people who use was the father of the girl. He was sitting in the section of Sect Master and I could sense his killing intent. “Friends, remember that in the realm of cultivator accidents happens —said the City Lord with a serious tone—, we had our fair share of injuries that have helped us to become better than before. It would be strange that the ones who are already disqualified would not be stronger the next time. So let’s the juniors be juniors, and let them suffer what a cultivator needs to suffer to improve oneself. I think this is a good thinking and every one of the seniors would need to share it, don’t you think?”

He spoke to all, but the Sect Master who was furious understood that it was for him, and he stopped. Probably he was still angry, but what could he do against the City Lord? And even if he actually hit or killed me, that only would be a humiliation to his sect. He only huff and sat down.

“Your Shell defends is better than mine! How do you do it?” asked Meng’er after a while. “Now you see that you are not the only one with good tricks” I responded smiling. He laughed and we continued to fight. This time we went to an active role and began to attack some of the groups. We had to be careful, if we fight a powerful group, we could be attacked by others in that moment, so we had to win fast. We saw two groups fighting and they were tired, “What do you think? One each one?” He knew that I could eliminate one of the groups, he had confidence in me. “Sure” I responded.

Immediately, he left right and I, left. Both groups were so occupied by their fighting that they didn’t see us until it was too late. He used his lightning attack and I used Headbutt. With his attack he eliminated the pair in one hit, but I only could hit one, but it was so strong that he flew off the arena and his group was also disqualified. “Not bad at all”, he said smiling. “And you are a showoff” I retorted grinning.

From 30 groups, only eleven remained. “What should we do?” I asked. “We’ll wait. If we continue attacking, we would be easy prey, and thanks to you we have a strong defense, so it’s better to stay alert and wait the last group to be eliminated.” I nodded.

We didn’t have to wait a lot. After a few minutes, the City Lord ordered us to stop. The 10 teams were completed and after two days, we would do the second part.

All the competitors were tired, we could see how some groups were better than others. I saw a lot of blood in one of them and it was a miracle that they weren’t eliminated. It didn’t surprise me to notice that Yuan Ling was one of the people who remained. She saw us and smiled.

“Now we rest —said Meng’er—, in two days we will be enemies. It would feel somewhat strange.” I knew what he meant, but I was also wanting to fight with him. “Don’t worry, I would be nice with you” I said as a joke, but he saw me, and his face changed. “I want you to fight me with all your power. I want to fight the true you.”

In that moment, I noticed that he was as eager as I to fight. I would not disappoint him.

85 Duo battle I

In the city there were thirty sects including us. According to my Master and Meng Shang, most cities only have 4 or 6 at maximum, and the fight between them was from a cold war to a bloody one. So having so much was a miracle that only the City Lord could do. With his strength and with the power of his sect, no other sect was so fool as wage a war. Also, he had created an environment where all sects could live together without too much problems. He had proclaimed that all sects are welcome, but they have to abide by the rules. What happened to the Metal Turtle Sect was one example of this, but they were others were only left a plot land where a magnificent Sect was.

All the rest of the sects understood that peace had more benefit for them, especially in this gourmet city, where trade and food would make rich to anybody. They had order, progress and richness, why would they fight each other? But humans being humans, they also wanted to show they power to others, so when the City Lord instated the tournament, they were happy because they could send their best apprentices and show their power, even if the apprentices were only at the quasi-mortal level.

But now, this changes in the tournament were unexpected and exciting. First everyone thought that it would be cancelled permanently as the City Lord said, but later they found that he wanted to do this kind of free for all, and it was with quasi-divines! Who would not enjoy showing more than they excellent but weaker disciples? The quasi-divines had been taught excellent techniques, and had a good cultivation, it was a perfect show off for every sect. After this, they would expect more people to join their sects.

Now in the stage were 60 people, 2 for each sect. Even the powerful sects that normally don’t participate, this time did it. We didn’t know anyone except for Yuan Ling, but why she was there? Was she not a quasi-mortal? Perhaps she had hidden her strength.

The rules were simple in this part. We had to fight as a team, and if one lost, both did it, so coordination of the team was important. We were not allowed to kill or cripple, even if the other part didn’t want to surrender, for that cases we had a referee who would judge who was fit to still combat. Also as stated before, we could only use techniques and weapons that where not powerful enough to be a free win. That was good for the small sect, because the bigger one, could not use their relics and thousands of years old ultimate techniques. Also, as we were 30 pairs, the contest would end when only 10 groups remained, and they would be the ones to pass to the second part.

“Remember the rules —said the referee who was not other than the City Lord himself—, I will be observing you, don’t shame your sect, make them prideful! Act as the noble cultivators you are! And now… begin!”

Nobody moved. I was as expected, everyone was waiting the other teams to be the one who started. However, I could see that some groups where seeing each other, that could mean two things, or they were about to attack each other, or they were to team up. That was something that Meng’er and I had spoken before as a possibility, the weaker sect would do the impossible to eliminate some of the strongest. After a while, all started.

As expected, some groups allied to attack others, what was unexpected is that some groups were attacking us. The group that in theory of the weakest. That also made sense, but I didn’t believe that five teams would try to eliminate us. Since when we were so popular?

Meng Shang was the first to react. He punched one of them, but a sphere appeared protecting him. It was similar to what Yuan Ling gave us, but Meng Shang had not finished, his other with his other punch he injected elemental thunder qi, and the sphere dissolved. Not only that, but the protective gear that he was using broken up. The City lord transported the injured to a safe place, together with his team mate. For them it was over.

The other four groups stopped. They were searching for a cat, but found a tiger. They quickly regroup and left us alone. “Since when you could your elemental qi?” I asked amazed, I thought that he couldn’t do it. “Goddess teach me, but I can only use lighting; she said that you could use other elements if you wanted and that made me a little jealous.” He said while grinning.

Fights where everywhere, and some groups try to attack us, Meng Shang dispose of the quickly. Everybody thought that I was the weak partner, and they were right, but I had one of the strongest participants with me. So, at least for this part, I was safe, or I thought.

Two groups went charging at us, “Get behind me!”, he yelled. I knew that he could win even with that two groups, I had seeing fight against the group of the girl, and they were not so good, so they thought that we would be easier even if they saw what happened a little while ago.

I get behind him, and I was thinking why they chose to fight someone as Meng Shang, I knew that I was a weak link, but even so, it was very dangerous. Something was strange. Suddenly, I sense something strange behind my back, I didn’t know that it was, but I used Shell defend with a lot of qi at my back, near my heart. I felt that there would be danger in that zone. Then I felt the impact. It was a sneak attack! It only made me move a little bit, but I heard a painful cry. I turned back and saw a girl who had her hand shattered. It was surprise for everybody there, and the ones who were attacking Meng’er stopped and tried to step back. Before they could do it, he blew away one group.

The groups with the girl and the one he blew away were transported to another place like before by the City Lord. We had already eliminated three groups.

And most of the viewers realized as the same time as me, that I was not the weakest link that we thought.

84 Beginning of the battle

We only had two days to train. For me, I wanted to try to merge the elemental qi and vital qi more easily, but it was something that I couldn’t do it in a couple of days, so I trained more my body, it was not much, but it was something that I could do. Meng Shang otherwise, began meditating. We both absorbed a lot of nutrients in the City Lord’s dinner, and he still didn’t assimilate it all. On the other hand, that was not difficult to me with the help of my Master. I now I could sense that I was about to breakthrough. Perhaps if I had some more days I could do it before the free for all, but it was and impossible dream.

The day had come, I we went with the uniform of the sect. It was green and had the symbol of the turtle on the back. It was very conformable, and it could hide my body without a problem. Even so, the Founder with me a pendant that could prevent people below his rank to discover me. I was really grateful for that. I didn’t like that more and more people knew that I was a girl, I knew that this could bring troubles until I was strong enough.

“Remember that you don’t need to win —said the Founder—, but that didn’t mean that you could try to do it. Give your all. But if you think your life is in danger, quit. I prefer to lose to see a pointless death of friend of the turtle.”

We went with a carriage to the coliseum. After the City Lord gave out all our think, we finally ended our short of money. And could finally rented some transport for us. When we arrive, many sects were already there, and all were looking at us. Some were afraid, but some were still mocking us. I didn’t care for people like them, I only wanted to fight and demonstrate my power. And I think Meng Shang had a similar thought, because he knew that after all this, he finally could know the person his father for him to know.

They explained the rules, they were quite simple. First, we would fight with our companion against others until half remained. Then, after a break, the true free for all would commence. We were prohibited to kill, and we could use any weapon or abilities we had, but know weapon had to be above the quasi-divine rank, if not the sect with the most powerful weapon would be the winner and that would not be excited, but we were allowed to use techniques beyond our current level, because that was something that we had trained ourselves, and not and external help. The first phase would commence in two hours, so we had time to do whatever we wanted.

We began to tour the coliseum, it was… normal. After we went to the City Lord’s manor, I had expected that this place had the same kind of elegance, but no. It was a simple place where people would watch us fight. It was not bad constructed, not at all, but it was too simple. There was nothing interesting to watch.

While walking we encountered the troublemaker girl of the banquet. She noticed us and cupped her hands. We went near us; all the haughtiness of that time was gone. “I want to apologize for my behavior last time, I hope that you can forgive this Yuan Ling. Also, I want to thank you for don’t said anything against my group. I am deeply ashamed of that day and I swear that I will never do this again.»

Now she knew how powerful we were, he had a change of heart, I was a little angry by that, but I could understand her position. Also, she, aside of badmouthing us, didn’t do anything to harm us, and even lied to the City Lord. If she fulfilled her promise, I thought that we could forgive her.

“Sister Yuan don’t have to worry about it —said Meng Shang apparently thinking the same as me—, that day was something that we can blame to our youth. This happens all the time, and it’s not worth it to take it seriously. I think that we could be friends if you allow us, it would be our honor if you accept that.”

She smiled, the enemy of one day is the ally of another day. “Take this as a token of gratitude and friendship —she said while giving me a jade box—. It an artifact that could help you in this part of the free for all, I hope that you will receive it.” We accepted it, my Master look at the artifact and said that it didn’t have any kind of problems. It was a tiny circle forged in silver. “It a twice-use shield that could enclose both of you if necessary.”

“We are very thankful for this gift, but why are you giving it to us? We are your competitor in this moment”, I said.

“Yes, you are, and that’s why I’m giving you this. I want you to pass the second round. I want to fight with you with all my power, and see who is the strongest.”

But it would not be easier if she defeats us in the first part? I didn’t understand why she did it, but I was grateful. “You will see a lot of that type in your life —said my Master— there is always people who wants to fight with the strongest, and she clearly thinks that your team are, that’s why she is helping you.”

That made less sense, but it didn’t matter. If she thought that one who become a quasi-divine some weeks ago and a high semi-mortal was the strongest team and she gave us a gift because of that, who I was to tell her no? We talked for several minutes until her partner called her.

“We have to win this part —suddenly Meng Shang said—, I want to also fight her.” So he was also that type? Great, well I would keep practicing until the day came, and then we would see.

We went to the room prepared for me at the coliseum and begin to meditate. I need to improve at least a little bit. I knew that I would be one of the weakest members in the fight, so I had to be on alert.

I had to be more powerful.