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95 The Gathering of Experts Part 8

    Six hours had passed since the start of the competitions for the titles of ruler of discipline. The title of Ruler of the Spear had been won by the third prince, and the competition for the Ruler of the Sword was still ongoing.

    Of the twenty-eight competitors for the sword, more than twenty had already been eliminated. The current holder of the title was a young woman at the peak of the sixth rank. She wielded an extremely thin, yet rigid single-edged sword.

    Her movements were unpredictable and fast, and she had been able to easily overpower six different competitors while using the least amount of ki necessary.

    She was currently one of the favourites for the title.

    Her name was Hiya, and she was the current disciple of one of the generals of the Krehan empire, which also happened to be the previous master of the first prince.

    Her next challenger, was one of the only two cultivators that had joined the competition of the sword at the early seventh rank. The first one, had been defeated by Hiya after reaching a win streak of fourteen.

    This new challenger was a man in his mid twenties. He was a dual wielder, and in his left hand, he wielded a short double-edged sword, while in his right hand he wielded a single-edged sword with a hook placed on the unsharpened side of the blade.

    "I'll be your next competitor.. You won't be able to beat me out of exhaustion." Said the new challenger with a confident tone.

    Hiya let her sword gently slide in the air, then, she entered her usual battle stance.

    The challenger immediately dashed towards the girl, slashing vertically against her. She promptly avoided the attack by rotating her body of ninety degrees to the man's right. The blade split the air just a few centimeters away from her body, but as it reached one meter from the floor, the man twisted his wrist, and turned the sword by ninety degrees as well before pulling the sword back towards him.

    Fortunately, Hiya was prepared for this sneaky attack. She immediately bent her body, moving her shoulders back and waist forward. At the same time, she sent a horizontal attack directed at the man's arm.

    While still pulling his sword back, the man twisted his entire upper body and used his short sword to deflect Hiya's attack. He then used the force of the attack to spin his entire body and once again attempt to hook at Hiya's body with the back of his sword.

    Her reaction was incredibly fast. She immediately predicted the attack and let her body fall horizontally on the ground. But before her back could touch the ground, she stopped. Only her right food was solidly pressed on the floor.. Holding her entire weight.

    She immediately slashed at the man's forearm, and managed to cut a good centimeter in, before the strength of his body stopped her blade.

    Once again, the man rotated his sword by ninety degrees, and while pulling it back, he managed to hook Hiya's blade. He then moved it out of the way, and hit the middle of her chest with the pommel of his short sword.

    "Uggh.." Cried Hiya after feeling the powerful attack hit her chest squarely. She then managed to free her sword from the man's off sword, and roll away.

    She then got up on her feet, and with a pained expression, she rubbed the hit area for a few seconds before assuming a new stance. This stance was completely different from the one before, and it was more suitable to facilitate piercing attacks.

    The reason why she had changed stance, was because she had understood the competitor's strategy. He was what many called a two step swordsman.

    A two step swordsman would usually wield two swords, but he couldn't really be considered a dual wielder, as he used two different types of swords. The single-edged sword was used to attack, but also to incapacitate, disarm, and parry. The short sword was used for when the enemy got too close to the wielder.

    Hiya's tactic had to change if she wanted to win.

    Instead of trying to challenge the dexterity of someone with a superior body, and a superior number of possibilities, she decided to turn the short sword into a burden.

    Once again, the man dashed towards the girl and slashed towards her with his single-edged sword. Instead of dodging, she leaned on her back foot and moved out of the attack's reach.

    As soon as the sword missed her, she put her entire weight on her front foot, and stretched her arm towards the man while also stretching her empty hand backwards.

    From the man's perspective, the sword wasn't long enough to reach him. But he didn't want to take the chance, so he tried to deflect the piercing blade with his short sword.

    His short sword met the void, as she had retracted her sword just a moment before the clash, and after hopping forward with her foot, she pierced again.

    The tip of her sword was directed towards the man's face, but he decided not to defend himself.

    He was fully aware that a deadly injury would cost the girl her life, so he was willing to bet that she wouldn't dare. Instead, he tried to pull his single-edged sword and pierce the girls body with the hook placed on the unsharpened edge.

    Unfortunately for him, she had already predicted that move. So, she changed the direction of her thrust.

    The blade left a shallow cut on the man's cheek, but instead of stopping, it kept going.

    It was only a few centimeters away from the man's face that she straightened her wrist, and punched the man's face with her fist covered by the knuckle-guard.

    The punch hit the man squarely in the face, breaking his nose in the process. He flew for a few meters backwards, and when he managed to get back up on his feet, he was hit by a projectile of ki shot by the tip of the girl's sword which perforated his shoulder.

    "Argh!.." Barked the man while in pain. The girl had sent her attack with precision, and had damaged the nerves on the man's shoulder, making him unable to fight with his right arm.

    Of course, the man was fully aware of the damage on his shoulder, so he got up on his feet, and with a expression twisted by the pain, he said, "I concede." before finally leaving the stage.

    Once the fight ended, Hiya immediately sat on the ground, and ingested a few pills to recover her ki.

    After ten minutes, she got back up on her feet, and waited for her next competitor to go up the stage.

    Finally, it was Alesia's moment to move.

    The reason why she had moved only now, was because she wanted to avoid those with a seventh rank of cultivation, and because the only other person who she considered a threat, was currently on the stage with a few injuries, and a reduced amount of ki.

    Alesia's calculations were very accurate, and in case she would be able to defeat Hiya in the next fight, she was confident that she would also be able to defeat the remaining contestants.

    Unfortunately, she had thought too far ahead.

    There was a reason why Hiya had managed to defeat two swordsmen at the seventh stage, and a few other more. It was because she was a prodigy at swordsmanship, and for as talented as Alesia was with her sword, she wasn't able compensate the disparity in their swordsmanship with her slightly better physical state.

    After some few brutal exchanges, Alesia ultimately lost the duel.

    The competition went on after she left the stage with an expression filled with disappointment.

    After leaving the stage, Alesia reached her mother in the balconies. When she sat on the chair next to her, she heard her mother's words reach her ears "There was no better moment to join. The next opponents would have have been a piece of cake for her, instead of weakening her further, she would have been in recovered even more."

    "I wanted to win the title for you.. And instead, I've done nothing.. I'm sorry." Responded Alesia with clear sadness in her voice.

    Her mother leaned closer to her and kissed the side of her head. She then said, "It's not true. She had to use a good deal of ki to defeat you. She won't be able to keep it up until the end. You are the reason why she'll lose, just like she is the reason you've lost."

    Just like Emelnie had predicted, during the second to last fight, Hiya had ended up losing against another cultivator. She had been using more ki than she could recover for her last few fights, and in the end, she wasn't able to hold on anymore.

    The ultimate winner of the title for Ruler of the Sword, was the young man which had tried to attack Jerigh. He had waited for the very last moment to join the fight, which would impact heavily on his evaluation. But he didn't care, as he had been ordered by his master to win at all cost.

    The next competition, was over in just a few minutes.

    Only two disciple had claimed the title of Ruler of Sound. One was a young woman with a flute, while the second disciple was the second prince of the Krehan empire.

    Unfortunately, the girl's sweet and sleep-inducing melody could do nothing against the prince's ultrasonic waves, which left the girl on the ground, screaming in pain while covering her ears.

    The second to last competition, which was held to determine the rightful owner of the Ruler of Time title, had lasted even less than the competition for who would be the Ruler of Sound, as only one disciple had claimed the title.

    Time had been an hard essence to comprehend for tens of thousands of years. Currently, in the Krehan empire, there were only a few masters that had comprehended close to fifty percent of time. Unfortunately, without experimenting the backward motion of time, they would never be able to comprehend the other half of this particular essence.

    That was the reason why, when time practitioners all around the world had felt the time move backwards, even if just for four second, they had deemed it as one of the most peculiar and interesting events in history.

    That was also the reason why only one person had claimed the title of Ruler of Time for their masters. Everyone was aware of everyone's comprehension of time. Therefore, only the one who had comprehended the most of it could possibly win the competition.

    This someone, was a young man named Ineas. He was part of a sect called Time Weavers, and was at the perfection of the spiritual synchronization stage, Just like Daniel.

    The final event of the competition stage, was the competition for the title of Ruler of Space, and the very moment the man hidden under the black cloak asked who was the first person that wanted to compete, every single spiritual cultivator who had claimed the title, including Daniel, had appeared on the stage at the same time.

    It is important to understand one thing. Competition with the use of space was similar to competition with the use of time. Winning through the use of space against a similar cultivator was merely a matter of comprehension. At the same stage of cultivation, the one who had the highest comprehension of space would win nine  times out of ten.

    Amongst the group of cultivators, Daniel recognized only two people. The first one was the first princes of the Krehan empire, while the second person, was the young cultivator whose master had tried to attack him during the presentation stage, and tried to ruin his exhibition during the demonstration stage.

    The man under the black cloak was about to say something to them, but before he could, Daniel said in a loud voice. "Can we all fight at the same time and get this over with?"
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