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295 Companions Part 3

    The eyes of the unhappy participants were piercing Jerigh's body like thousands of spears..

    As proud candidates for the elite position of their respective factions, these cultivators, which had now been discarded by their own factions as second grade talents, had nothing in their mind but the desire to prove their true worth.. Now, after being given a chance, hardly any of them could keep their calm and not simply jump at the offer of a higher recognition. However, aside from a couple dozens of cultivators, no one else stepped forward.

    Months had passed since the Patriot Academy had been founded, and in that span of time, Jerigh had become relatively known. Nobody had ever seen him fight, and he spent most of his time cultivating, and training in weapon wielding by himself. Due to the fact that he had been found outside of the academy, and that he didn't belong to any of the factions, he had always been considered a loner who was lucky enough to have been noticed by the explorer Krit.. and that would likely be unable to graduate from this course for the elite amongst the elite.

    Unfortunately, this view of his abilities had been shattered by the fact that he had managed to reach the first place in the competition by simply relying solely on himself.

    Krit noticed the hesitancy that was making its way into the minds of these usually proud and courageous cultivators, so once again, he decided to give them a hand "Now now, don't be shy.. This is an academy for excellence! If the first place cannot maintain his position, then he doesn't deserve it.. Double resources to whoever challenges a ranked participant, and wins."

    The mention of double resources was enough to make the doubts present in the mind of the observers disappear, and for their indomitable fighting spirit to emerge in the form of waves of immortal essence.

    At the same time, two single-edged swords were forming at the end of Jerigh's hands.. But before the two blades could sharpen, Krit turned to look back at Jerigh, and with a smile hidden by his bandages, said "No weapons allowed."

    For just a moment Jerigh's eyes narrowed slightly in surprise, while also allowing the constructed metal essence that was surrounding his hands to dissipate. He then turned to look at the advancing cultivators, which were unsure whether Krit was also talking to them, or not.

    "Are we not allowed to use weapons?" Asked a man in his late twenties with a large saber hanging from his waistband. He was the leader of one of the teams that had been formed during the testing phase..

    Just as Krit was about to put their doubts to ease, and tell them that they were in fact allowed to use weapons, Jerigh's figure had disappeared. When he reappeared, his fist was already moving towards the face of the cultivator who had just spoken.

    The cultivator was quick enough to react. He rapidly unsheathed his saber and moved it in front of his face in order to parry the blow.. However, right when he was expecting for a huge blow to land on the blade of his weapon, the direct punch turned into a side hook, whose motion, Jerigh used to spin his body in place and hit the side of the cultivator's head with a turning kick.

    As the cultivator's ear began to bleed, and his balance was lost worsen, Jerigh disappeared, and re appeared in the middle of the groups of cultivators that had stepped forward and had the intention of fighting for his place in the ranking list.

    Immediately after he appeared, an axe slash threatened to vertically split his back in half.. A slash which he avoided by stepping back and against the body of the attacker, causing him to slash the empty air.

    Once his back was touching the opponent's chest, Jerigh quickly grabbed the man's wrists, and stomped heavily on the bridge of his right foot, fracturning multiple bones.

    *ARGH!* The injured cultivator groaned in pain, but before he could even retreat, his body was spinning in mid air and moving in between Jerigh and a sword slash which was approaching him from the side.

    The unlucky axe wielder received the sword slash in Jerigh's stead.

    For the next few minutes, with his agile movements, and brutal yet non lethals actions, Jerigh instilled a deep sense of terror into the mind of each and every participant of the test. His main focus was to incapacitate his opponents, and while many did not fear death, they feared the kind of hurt that being badly injured without being able to put up a fight, would cause them.

    The members of the army in charge of the test observed with shock as, one by one, the cultivators who were supposed to be the greatest recruits for the military fell one after the other to the vicious attacks of a single individual.. At the same time, Krit observed from the distance with blood boiling in excitement.

    In his eyes, amongst the sea of puppies in search of recognition, was a fully grown hellhound.

    At some point after Krit made his proposition, the competitors had stopped coming. Jerigh was standing surrounded by over thirty injured cultivators which groaned in pain, and attempted to heal themselves out of their sorry state. The point of this whole fight was for Krit to see Jerigh's fighting abilities, and he had been extremely satisfied with the results.

    With no reason to keep lingering to this stage of the test, Krit was ready to conclude the day's event by sending everybody back to their rooms, but just as he was about to speak, from within the large group of shocked cultivators, emerged a young woman in her early twenties.

    She was dressed in leather armor, and when compared to most girls, she was oddly tall. Along with Jerigh and ninety-eight others, she was one of those who had decided to complete the test by herself, and had come out sixth.

    "I want to try." Said the young girl after stepping forward. She had observed Jerigh's way of fighting as well as that of his opponents, and while she believed that he was an extremely capable warrior, she was also convinced that she had a real chance of winning against him.. And like everybody else, if there was a chance for her to better her ranking, and at the same time earn double the resources, she was going to take it.

    Without even waiting for Krit or Jerigh to respond to her words, she dropped the longsword that was hanging from her waist, and dashed towards Jerigh barehanded. She did not want to have any advantage against her opponent, as she wanted to win the first spot in the ranking fair and square.

    Jerigh was barely able to hear her voice before she had appeared in front of him, but while she was clearly a hundred steps ahead when compared to the others, and likely the strongest person her age which he had ever fought against after Daniel, she still wasn't at his level.

    Her feigns were obvious to him, and the movements of the muscles of her legs and arms gave away her true intentions.

    The first attack was axe kick which Jerigh easily avoided by stepping aside. However, the kick was never supposed to hit her target. Instead of landing heavily against the ground, the kick lost all of its power the moment before impact. She then put her entire weight on the tip of her toes, and used the motion to twist her entire body and kick Jerigh's jaw from underneath.

    Jerigh did not allow her to continue, and before she could send this rising kick towards his jaw, he weakly kicked the ankle on which she was holding her weight, and made her lose balance.

    The girl quickly stood up in embarrassment, and looked at Jerigh with a slightly more hostile expression than before. She felt humiliated, and she wanted to gain her dignity back through fighting more than ever before.

    It did not take long for the girl to understand that grand and spectacular actions would not work against Jerigh, so she decided to enter into deep contact with him, and pressure him with her speed, and her martial arts.

    However, the result was not any different. Every single attack was played out masterfully, but since Jerigh was able to see each and every one of them, she was not making any progress in getting through his defences.

    Her attacks were fast and powerful, and even Jerigh did not dare to take them full on. He instead deflected them by parrying them with his palms, arms, and legs, in hope that she would give up.. Unfortunately, things weren't going to go that easily.

    A minute after the other passed, and the more Jerigh avoided and deflected the girl's attacks, the more she became nervous, angry, and eager to finally land a punch on Jerigh's 'damn smug face'. This went on until, finally, Jerigh showed signs of losing patience.

    The critical moment was when the umpteenth punch had grazed his ear..

    After noticing that the girl had grown accustomed to the lack of retaliation, he hit the underside of her arm, and sent a punch straight towards her throat.

    This punch had the precision and power that an experienced assassin would put into his work, and the sudden action had taken the girl by surprise, leaving her unable to retaliate or protect herself in time.

    Prepared to have her windpipe shattered by Jerigh's attack, the girl closed her eyes.. but the blow never arrived.. Just before his punch made contact with the girl's throat, the image of a black haired girl had flashed past Jerigh's mind, and had stopped him from heavily injuring her.

    Noticing Jerigh's clear mood change, the girl gave up on the first place in the ranking and stepped aside. She knew that she had no possibility of winning against Jerigh in sheer martial ability and fighting talent, and she didn't wish to humiliate herself any longer.

    Jerigh was not in the mood to entertain those complaining cultivator anymore, so, without asking for Krit's permission, he formed two glowing hot swords made out of the comprehension of fire and metal, and said ".. from now on.. My rank comes with my head."

    The cultivators which still had in mind to challenge a possibly tired Jerigh, turned to look at Krit with eyes filled with doubt. According to Krit's words, Jerigh was not allowed to use weapons, but now he was brandishing two lethal weapons, and the expression on his face was sending shivers down their spines.

    Krit had had enough fun for now, as well as gathered all of the information that he needed about Jerigh, so he turned to look at the confused cultivators, and after shrugging his shoulders, he said "You've heard him.. If you want the first rank, from now on it's a deathmatch."

    These words were enough to erase any desire or idea from the minds of the many unhappy cultivators, which slowly began to disperse.

    Jerigh was about to leave as well, but as he was leaving, he heard the voice of the girl he had fought with moments earlier. "Will you give me a second chance, one day?"

    Jerigh stopped walking for a moment, and without turning around, said ".. I already have a rival.. She is already enough problem for me." On his face was the faintest of smiles, while in his mind, was he figure of a fiery girl in leather armor, who would bother him for a rematch every other day.

    He then walked away without turning back.

    -----

    The Abyss, Void.

    In the dark depths of the infinite and unstable void, were sporadic boxes of spatial essence. These boxes were the dimensions which worked as the cultivator's spatial containers and pocket dimensions. However, these boxes were not the only thing that existed along with shattered space, and the monsters that inhabited it.

    Along with monsters and containers, were also numerous planets kept together by the deep comprehension of space possessed by the members of one of the factions that was part of the Universal Government. That faction, was the faction of the Void Dwellers..

    The void dwellers were able to stabilize the space around the few whole planets that had survived the destruction of the stable space which now had become the void, and used those planets as their isolated territory.

    The capital of the territory of the Void Dwellers was a small and barren planet called 'The Abyss'.. It was nearly devoid of any other element, and it would be nearly impossible for its population to survive without purchasing goods from the normal space.. However, it had its own particular value.. And that value was entirely due to the presence of the only known tribe of spatial elementals that had ever been discovered in both normal space, and chaotic void.
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