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168 The Beginning of the Competition

    "Are you seeing what I'm seeing?" Asked Alesia to a focused Daniel.

    Daniel looked attentively at the man that had appeared out of the blue in the middle of the massive stadium. He had also noticed the man's missing finger, and yet, he could not be sure that he was the one that had commissioned the attack on his company.

    Of course, Daniel had already thought of the possibility that the man's injury could be a simple coincidence, or that by absurd, it could be a distinctive mark of a certain type of people within the collective.. He wasn't stupid enough to make such an heavy accusation against someone with such a flimsy excuse.

    -----

    Ten minutes earlier, within the hall underneath the stadium.

    This hall was reserved for the participants and their teachers to prepare for the games.

    Here, the rules of the competition had just been explained to them.

    Since the points assigned to the winner of the competition were based on two different factors, the games were also divided into two phases.

    The first phase, was the test of comprehension.

    There was only one way to assess a person's comprehension in dept, and that was to make them create an essence sphere.

    Naturally, due to the massive amount of cultivators present, and the large time required to create a regular and permanent essence sphere, the organizers of the event had decided not to use that as the main way of evaluation.

    Instead, they had decided to make the participants produce one without essence treasure, which meant that they would require to focus their entire comprehension into a sphere-like form. That, would require much less time.

    After the assessment, this sphere would dissipate due to the lack of a binding item.

    The way the organizers had decided to conduct this part of the event, was to simply consider the highest level of sphere that the participant was able to create, before the time limit finished, and their immortal essence would run out, causing it to dissipate.

    This was also a way to raise the level of the competition.

    Cultivators of a higher level which had put much more time into studying a specific essence, would be able to condense a sphere much faster than weaker, or younger cultivators.

    Naturally, any form of restoration for one's immortal essence which wasn't part of the natural production of one's body, was strictly forbidden.

    They would only have one chance to create the best sphere with their own immortal essence.

    The second part of the competition was, of course, a practical test of control over a specific type of essence.

    For example, all of the cultivators which were testing their comprehension and control of fire essence, would have to perform an attack against a master of fire essence appointed by the organizers, and defend from one of their attacks.

    These masters were picked amongst the very rare cultivators that had reached a perfect comprehension of a specific essence, and usually possessed a high level of cultivation.

    Only they were able to perfectly match the power of each participant, and maintain it while conducting the test, and evaluating the results.

    They also never belonged to any of the companies that participated in the event, so as to make sure that they wouldn't over evaluate the members of their own companies, or under evaluate the members of competitor companies.

    After the tests for each essence would end, the next test would be conducted, and the cultivators would have the chance to remain in the arena to be tested in another essence, or leave, and come back afterwards for future testing.

    Many cultivators participated in more than one category, after all, the points would be stacked at the end of the event, and only the cultivator with the most points amongst them could win the final prize.

    If by absurd a cultivator was able to obtain a perfect score on both comprehension and control over an essence, they would still only have two hundred points.. Anyone that had a mid or higher comprehension and control over two different types of essences would be able to match that result easily.

    Edmund, Roley and Jerigh were standing quietly within the massive group of cultivators.

    "Aren't you two a little young to be participating in this event?" Asked an old man as he approached their group. Following him, were a man which demonstrated at least forty years of age, and a woman which was thirty-five at the very least.

    He was the teacher of the team that was going to participate for their company, while the other two, were the participants.

    Edmund turned to look at the approaching group, and said "Intelligence, talent, and opportunity.. Neither of these are conditioned by age." His tone was indifferent, and his meaning clear.

    Despite Edmund's good point, the old man wasn't wrong. The average age of the participants of the event was forty, and for a good reason. The older a cultivator, the more time he would have had to study a particular essence.

    Of the twenty-four hundred participants, only Jerigh and Roley were under thirty years of age.

    By making the two of them join the games, Daniel's group was indirectly boasting about having the greatest talents of the entire collective.

    "How disappointing.. For a teacher, you sure are capable of underestimating the value of time.." Said the old man with clear disappointment in his tone.

    Suddenly, an impressively high voice came from above them. Causing their mind to fall in a distraught state for a few moments.

    "IT IS MY PLEASURE TO WELCOME YOU ALL! TO THE FOUR HUNDRED AND SEVENTH EDITION OF THE 'A WORLD IN THE PALM OF YOUR HAND' COLLECTIVE'S GAMES!" Shouted the nine-fingered man from the middle of the stadium.

    As soon as the last word left his mouth, thousands of pieces of firework were launched in the air, and exploded with colorful shows of lights in the darkening sky.

    At the same time, various holes opened in the ceiling of the hall underneath the stadium, and below them, various sets of stairs formed. From these sets of stairs, the various groups marched out one after the other, while wearing the crests of their companies.

    These groups positioned themself orderly in the stadium, with the teachers in the middle, and the two participants by their sides, forming rows and rows of cultivators.

    The moment the last group entered the arena, the firework show stopped, and the host started to talk once again.

    "A sincere welcome to the participants, and their teachers!" Said the man while pointing at the rows of the prepared cultivators, which stood quietly in wait.

    The massive crow exploded in cheers, shouts and screams.

    A few of these participants were famous, and some of them were even teacher themselves. These two types of people in particular, had many fans and admirers within the crowd, which loudly cheered for them.

    After a good minute, the host raised his hands high up in the air, and when he lowered them, the deafening roar diminished of a very large degree.

    From this simple action, many could infer that this man, was a master of sound essence, and that was probably the reason why this job had been assigned to him.

    "I can feel your thirst for a show.. Your eagerness to discover a new gem.. A new hero! Then, I won't make you wait any longer. The competition starts now!" He barked out loud before turning to look at the participants, and saying "The first essence that will be tested, is wind. Those who wish to participate, stay.. The others, move to the sides of the stadium."

    After hearing the man's words, the various groups of participants started to move depending on whether they wanted to participate, or not.

    Regardless of whether they wished to participate or not, each and every teacher within the stadium disappeared, and when they reappeared, they were within the floor in which the head of the companies, and their entourage were spectating the show.

    Edmund reappeared next to his wife, his daughter, and Daniel.

    Wind essence was one of the most common essences to learn, and always the first essence of which a cultivator would make an advance in comprehension of. The reason for this was simple.. wind was everywhere.

    Against Daniel's expectation, only about a dozen groups left the stadium, while the rest remained.

    The final score of each participant would stack, and even if they had only a mid level comprehension of wind essence, in the end, everything counted.

    As they had been instructed to do, the numerous participants spaced themselves in even areas, and sat on the ground. Then, they waited for the signal to begin constructing their spheres.

    "Wind essence.. You have two hours! BEGIN!"

    The moment the last word resounded in the air, thousands of different immortal essences started to move outside of the cultivator's bodies, and stream in between their palms.

    At first, it appeared like thousands of small tornadoes were forming in the stadium, but in a matter of twenty minutes, they either slowly reduced in size, or became bigger due to the poor control that the cultivators had on them.

    These last cultivators were the least experienced ones, and had tried to rush the formation of the wind sphere by forcing their entire comprehension as fast as possible. Unfortunately, that was a perfect recipe for failure.

    For another hour, many cultivators which failed in their attempts directly left the stadium instead of making another attempt. After all, only forty minutes were left until the end of the test.

    The numbers quickly went down from twenty-four thousand, to eight hundred..

    In the last twenty minutes, people started to finally complete their essence spheres, and surprisingly enough, even a couple of perfect ones could be seen in their midst.

    Of the eight hundred people remaining, more than half was about to finish, and those who had already finished, were simply maintaining their control over the spheres in order to prevent them from dissipating.

    Jerigh and Roley were amongst these people, as they had finished about fifteen minutes before the end of the timeline.

    In the last five minutes, only about fifty people were left with unfinished spheres.

    A few of them failed in the creation due to how tense they had become, causing them to waste their entire effort.

    When the time ended, various masters appeared in the stadium, and started to stroll in between the cultivators which had completed their assignment.

    As they observed the finished products, they noted the results, and moved on.

    In the end, they put their notes together, and formed a provisory ranking amongst the various participants.

    Of the seven hundred and twenty-two people that had completed their spheres, Jerigh had ended up two hundred and eighty-fifth with 85 points, while Roley, had ended up ninety-ninth, with 93 points.

    The first fifteen cultivators in the ranking were all cultivators which belonged to companies specialized in the production of wind spheres, and all had received a score of a hundred points due to the fact that their comprehension of wind essence was perfect.

    Within the area were the various company executives were, many started to congratulate the companies to which these fifteen people belonged to.

    At the same time, a couple of groups approached Daniel as well.

    Most of them were companies which dealt in different types of essence spheres, and they used to pat themselves in the back for not being able to top in a specific field.

    They had seen Daniel as one of them.

    A company which had reached a reasonably good result, and yet wasn't able to reach the peak.

    "The two youngest, and still amongst the top three hundred in wind essence.. It is impressive." Said an old woman which wore a fiery-red large robe. She was accompanied by three more cultivators of similar age. Each wearing an identical robe with different shades of red, and an identical crest and name written on it.

    'Heart's Warmth' was the name sewn over an heart-shaped yellowish flame.
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