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353 A Champion Can Only Be a Champion If He Wins

    Under the attentive eyes of the judges, the duels amongst the champions kept going for the rest of the day.

    Alesia and Gai'ha were the ones who, since the very beginning, appeared to have the highest control over their fights.. But the longer their fights went, the bigger their problems became.

    All of the champions were fighters who had survived dozens and dozens of wars, and in certain occasions, the champions of the two armies had even fought on the same side. This, of course, did nothing but to prove how capable each of them really were.

    While Gai'ha was fighting on an even ground against her enemy, Alesia was having a fair amount of problems. The reason for that, was that Gai'ha's aura was very similar to ki. When used to enchant her physical attacks, it would give her a boost in battle prowess, as well as in her senses and resistance. However, that was not the same for Alesia. Her immortal essence had slowly running out, and the lack of connection to the spiritual plane in Sand and Blood, slowed the process of producing new immortal essence to about half.

    This had forced her to be stuck into an endless cycle of 'avoiding, attacking from a distance, gain distance, repeat'. Similarly, the knight that was fighting against her would focus on avoiding any ranged attacks, and close in the distance as soon as her immortal essence would run out.

    For the past five hours, one strike after the other moved through the air which, when subjected to the speed of these blows, was cut through like a piece of tofu by an extremely sharp knife. If a master of space had been here, they would have felt the compression that each of these sword slashes were causing to the surrounding space.

    As time went by, a few cuts had split open a few sections of the leather armor that covered Alesia's body, underneath which could be seen a few shallow cuts on her pale skin. On the other hand, only a small number of superficial scratches could be seen on the knight's armor.

    While yet another sword tip brushed past Alesia's neck, she began to find herself deeper and deeper into the losing end of the battle. It was only after this last brush with death, that she decided to change tactics. Instead of constantly backing away, she decided to observe the pattern of her opponent's movements.

    The way he would rotate his feet during a diagonal slash, the way a clink could be heard whenever he would move his arm backwards in order to charge an attack, the way his sight was limited by the narrow slits of his heavy helmet. She took notice of every possible detail, and after unsheathing her second sword, she stopped backing away, and instead, started to face the knight's attacks head on.

    The knight had a vast experience against most types of weapons, and dual wielding was a style of fighting he was used to seeing. So when he saw Alesia's change of tactics, he calmed his mind, and waited for the right moment to strike. However, the more the battle went on, the more he realized that something was wrong.

    Whenever he would try to make use of an opening to strike, an oddly powerful gust of wind would hit the flat part of his chest piece with enough power to cause him to lose balance, a patch of seemingly solid ground that was underneath his feet would reveal itself to be wet ground, causing him to sink down to his ankles and lose momentum, or a random flying rock would hit his helmet from an angle that would force him to back away in fear that somebody had successfully come close enough to his face to inflict a deadly blow.

    These odd events were, of course, caused by Alesia. She had decided that instead of wasting her immortal essence into large scale attacks that would likely fail, she would rather use small amounts of it to create small distraction while she fought head on.

    This new tactic worked perfectly, as due to all of Alesia's small distractions, the knight had become unable to parry all of her attacks, and after no longer than a few minutes, he found himself lying on the ground, covered in deadly wounds.

    When Alesia turned to check whether Gai'ah's fight was still in progress, she quickly found the sibling of the knight she had just defeated, lying on the ground. Planted on his chest, were a dozen swords that did not appear to belong to her friend, however, she had no doubt about what had happened.

    While Aura and Ki were very similar, there was a single difference that made Gai'ha's kind a nightmare for pure ki cultivators. That difference, was in the way these powers could be used.

    A cultivator's ki was strictly bound to one's body, and while a ki cultivator was able to charge his attacks with ki, they were unable to separate themselves completely from something that contained their ki. There were a few exceptions of this, like a ki flag, which contained a small portion of a person's ki.. However, that ki was trapped into a ki flag by a formation, and not kept there thanks to the sheer will of its owner.

    This was not the case for Gai'ha's aura. Her aura could be used to enhance the resistance of the object she used, and at her level of cultivation, could also be injected into different types of items which she would be able to control from a distance.

    While fighting with one of the two knights, Gai'ha had injected multiple objects with her aura, and before her enemy could even understand what she was doing, he had been forced to face a warrior who he was unable to defeat easily, as well as dozens of flying sword that attacked him from every direction.

    -----

    On another part of the battlefield was taking place the duel between the short spiritual cultivator, and the dwarf.

    The battle between these two had, similarly to Alesia and her opponent, been going on for hours. The ability of the spiritual cultivator to construct objects thanks to his pure spiritual essence was akin to the affinity that half elementals possessed, and that allowed him to shape the ground, move the winds, create fires, and cast thunderbolts from the tips of his fingers much faster than any other immortal cultivator could.

    Unfortunately for him, the dwarf was his nemesys. The dwarf mutation of the human race possessed a higher resistance to the elements, and paired to his ki refined body, made him almost invulnerable to the attacks of the short spiritual cultivator.

    The only hope that the spiritual cultivator had to defeat the dwarf, was to send wave after wave of warriors to attack him, while he hindered his movements with his ranged attacks.

    While the theory was simple, the practice was far from it. The dwarf had spent the past hundreds of years emptying tents of their liquor, and leading armies to victory. He had been a commander himself, until the moment he had been found drunk by Der, and invited into his army.

    His ability with the hammer was amongst the most feared through the whole planet, and the shockwave that a swing of it caused, was enough for anyone unlucky enough to be near it, to feel their bones ache. Despite his ability, the dwarf was still finding difficulties in dealing with the spiritual cultivator.

    His only true chance to end this fight, had presented itself when the spiritual cultivator, enraged by his inability to kill him, had formed a massive boulder, and thrown it in his direction.

    However, as this boulder approached him, a smile appeared on the dwarf's face.

    Instead of avoiding it, the dwarf grabbed the handle of his massive hammer, and unscrewed the bottom part. He then grabbed it with both hands, and prepared himself.

    The boulder came at him like a meteor with a target, and as soon as it was about to reach him, the dwarf threw his hammer in its direction. The body of the hammer split into two, and while the head shot through the air and pierced the incoming boulder, the handle remained on the dwarf's hands, connected to the detached part through a metallic chain.

    Once his weapon was connected to the incoming coulder, the dwarf stepped away, and after planting his feet to the ground, he used the motion of the boulder to make it orbit around his body, and throw it back at the spiritual cultivator with all of his might.

    Without stopping for even a second, the boulder flew back in the direction of the spiritual cultivator who, with a face filled with exasperation due to his umpteenth failure, observed as the boulder reached his body. As the boulder was about to hit, the spiritual cultivator waved his hand, and forced the constructed rock to dissipate.. However, he was shocked by what he saw next.

    The large hammer of the dwarf was still sunked deeply into his constructed rock, and holding its handle, was the dwarf. He had hidden behind the rock in order to approach the spiritual cultivator who, when close enough, dissipated the only object that was working as a protection betweein him, and his enemy.

    It was too late to avoid the attack, and the spiritual cultivator could do nothing but look as the massive hammer came crashing on him, and turned his body into a puddle of red paste in the middle of a massive crater.

    Unbeknownst to anybody else, an invisible and intangible spirit had started floating in the point where the spiritual cultivator had died, just before being sucked into a just as invisible portal that lead into the spiritual plane.

    -----

    Alesia's, Gai'ah's, and the dwarf's duels weren't the only battle that had come to an end. In another part of the battlefield, the slender man armed with hand claws and the teenager cultivator were engaged in a violent fight.

    The two were standing one in front of the other at an arm's reach, and their surroundings were covered by the bodies of the warriors of the enemy's army. All of these corpses belonged to the warriors which the thin man had used as a shield against the teenager's attacks.

    Unfortunately, nobody else was around them.

    The two were exchanging blows at such a fast pace, that their arms could barely be seen. This flurry of punches and slashes were accompanied by spurts of blood, and the sound of cracking bones. When the two stopped, their heads were resting on each other's shoulders, and while the teenage-looking cultivator was covered in small cuts, the face of the thin man was unrecognizable.

    Exhausted, the two took one deep breath after the other.

    After resting for about a minute, the two pushed themselves away thanks to their neck muscles.. And just as they appeared to be about to fall backwards on their  behinds, the thin man used his slender arms to slash the chest of the younger looking cultivator diagonally.

    However, the motion of his arms was blocked by two powerful grips that circled the thin man's wrists. With the last bit of stamina that he possessed, the thin man looked as the younger cultivator pushed his arms open, then let go of them. Before he could move his arms in front of his chest in a defensive position, he felt a flurry of blows that shattered his ribcage, and pulverized his internal organs.

    He was only able to mutter "..**." as he fell to his death.

    -----

    The last duel, was within the man with the blue eyes, and the gigantic general.

    This battle already appeared to have reached an end, as the blue-eyed man was standing in front of the kneeled general devoid of any injury, while the general was covered in deep cuts.

    "Were you always stronger than me?" Asked the general while preventing himself from falling, thanks to his greatsword.

    "Not at first." Responded the blue-eyed man while taking a sip off of his flask. He then added, "Serving under you was good training. I just learned more about you than you did about me, I guess.."

    After listening to the blue-eyed man's words, the general took off his helmet, showing the horribly disfigured expression of a warrior that had fought a thousand battles. He then said after laughing grimly,"Haha.. cough.. Well, I am glad I was able to be part of the making of a natural born killer." The general's injuries were not deadly, and yet it looked like he had understood that there was no chance for him to win this war. So he took off his massive breastplate, and after opening his arms, he said, "Come on.. Kill me. I can accept dying by your hands."

    The blue-eyed man looked at the general, and couldn't help but remember all of the horrible moments he had gone through with him in the past. All of the wars they had won together, leaving nobody alive that could be witness of his battle prowess, and allowing him to take all of the credit.

    In the end, he was just a normal soldier when this giant had forced him to fight for him. And now, he was able to free himself from him by killing him in battle. No other outcome was more appropriate than this, so he took one last sip out of his flask, and approached the giant.

    He pointed his sword at the heart of the general and prepared to finish him.. But before he could pierce it, the massive hands moved around the blue-eyed man's body, and got a hold of his neck and leg. With all of the strength that remained in his body, he lifted him up to the sky, and began to pull his body apart.

    "You belong to me! Do you think I would have let you kill me?! DIE WITH ME!" Shouted the general as he pushed through his limits just to kill this old companion of his.

    However, while the blue-eyed cultivator was about to be torn apart, and his complexion appeared as red as a tomato, he was not looking at the general. Instead, he was looking at the small warrior that was standing behind the kneeling figure that was trying to kill him, lifting his massive hammer, and taking aim.

    The light went off on the eyes of the general, as a loud dong sound began to resound in the surrounding area. His head had been smashed to pieces.

    The blue-eyed warrior fell on the ground, still alive, and as the dwarf approached him, he stood back up, and dusted his clothes.

    "You owe me a drink." Said the dwarf while turning to look at the dead body of the gigantic enemy general.

    "Everything was under control." Responded the blue-eyed cultivator while turning to look away. However, he could feel the dwarf's stare burn a hole in the back of his head, so instead of saying anything else, he took his flask, and threw it him. He then said, "One sip."

    "Good enough. I have a big stomach, and I don't need to breath."

    "I've changed my mind.. Give it back."

    "Haha.. too late."

    ".. HEY!"
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