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369 I Am Not the Stronges

    Cynna's words caught the young girl by surprise. After all, the implication of being the one in charge of choosing her opponent's weapon, was that regardless of which one she picked, she would still lose. While not as unruly as her brother, she was still an extremely talented and prideful individual, so when she was deemed not worthy of her opponent's concentration, she felt her blood start to boil.

    As a result of being underestimated, numerous images depicting all the ways in which she would have humiliated her opponent started to form in her mind. Images where she would win by using her bare hands against Cynna's favourite weapon, where she would prevail while on equal terms, and so on. Her angered state of mind, however, forced her to take the petty route, and instead of picking a fairly common weapon like her own, she turned towards the area where the maces were stored, and after pointing her finger at one, she said, "That one."

    The weapon she had picked for Cynna, was a flail.

    After a moment of consideration, the girl had thought that nobody would bother to learn how to fight with that many types of weapons, and therefore, Cynna must have been bluffing. In her mind, this black-haired girl must have been trying to impress her parents while counting on the fact that she would do the honorable thing, and pick a weapon similar to hers. As a result of those thoughts, and in an attempt to turn Cynna's effort in vain, she chose one of the least feminine weapons within the whole training ground.

    However, while the girl expected her opponent to be displeased by this choice, Cynna simply walked towards the rack, and picked a one-handed flail with a small wooden staff, connected to a brass smooth sphere through a simple rope. She then walked back in front of the girl while muttering, ".. awful choice."

    Without having to add anything, the Silver Alchemist turned to look at the girl's father, and said, "Please, do the honors."

    "Gladly." Responded the man while fixing his posture on the chair with excitement. He then added, "Go ahead, begin."

    The girl was confused. At first she couldn't understand whether she had picked the right weapon or not, but reality dawned upon her the moment her eyes landed on Cynna. From the very moment her father had allowed for the spar to begin, something had changed in her. Her stance had shifted into one that would allow her to perfectly defend her whole body within a moment's notice, and her eyes were pointed straight at her hands.

    Visibly annoyed by being intimidated by Cynna's stance, the girl shook her surprised state off, and assumed the stance of the style of swordsmanship she had learned ever since she was little. She was one of the young promises of one of the most important academies of the universal government, and she could not believe that just a random girl from an unknown school could beat her with such an odd weapon.

    Her legs were bent, making her knees form ninety degrees angles, and her blade was placed parallel to her left forearm. The fingers of her left hand were positioned in an okay sign, with the highest part of the handle wrapped by her thumb and index finger. Her style clearly relied on speed, and her stance was studied specifically to increase the speed of the first slash, to the highest possible degree.

    For a moment the girl forgot that she was having a simple spar, and the thought of causing actual harm to the body of her adversary began to surface one after the other in her mind, starting with a horizontal slash which, if performed with a real sword, would directly cut Cynna's body in half.

    Following that idea, she pushed her weight onto the floor, and let go of the sword with her left hand, causing it to slash the air with mind-boggling speed. Millions of times had she trained in this technique, and most of those times, she had seen her blade cut through whatever unlucky object she would use to practice with.. But not this time.

    This time she was not training against a puppet, a wooden pole, or one of her peers. She was a genius, sparring with a prodigy.

    Right as the wooden blade slashed in her direction, the brass ball of the flail came down against its horizontal blade, interrupting its motion, and forcing it down on the ground. The motion of the flail's striking head continued, making a whole circle in the air, before coming down once again against the handle, right where the girl was wrapping her hand around.

    The girl's grip of her sword was too strong to be released by a held back hit, but the speed of the flail's striking head was so quick, that she had been dragged forward and on her knees, leaving her shoulder uncovered for the third motion of Cynna's weapon.

    To the attentive eyes of the girl's parents, it was clear that if the strike hit at full power, even if their weapons were for training, the girl's shoulder would be dislocated at the very least, so they were about to intervene, only stopping after noticing how much Cynna had slowed down her weapon before it could hit their daughter's skin.

    What was heard instead, was the soft "thump" of the brass sphere hitting the shoulder of the girl, which ultimately fell on her stomach with her sword still tightly held within her fingers.

    The girl, clearly embarrassed by her poor performance, immediately stood back up. She appeared to be conflicted about something very important, unwilling to concede to one of the thoughts that had appeared in her mind, and yet unwilling to go through with the other.

    Her father and mother were looking with different emotions. Her mother appeared to be irritated by the result, and wanted her daughter to try again, and this time, to focus more on her adversary. Her father, however, was clearly hoping that she wouldn't.

    After a few seconds spent in consideration, the girl lowered her swords, and said, "I don't know if I happened to pick your weapon of choice, but the sword is mine.. I have lost regardless."

    The moment his daughter finished speaking, the man sighed in relief. He knew that his daughter wasn't on par with this girl, and therefore, he didn't want to see her insist and be humiliated. For him, the best outcome was for his daughter to surrender to the fights she could not win. "Ha! At least one of my children is not a sore loser." He said with satisfaction after turning to look at the Silver Alchemist, whom he believed to be the leader of this academy. His tone was oddly friendly for someone so powerful.

    To people like the old man Golden Cauldron, his son, and Master Kye, it was easy to see which cultivator was a first generation cultivator, or not. A first generation cultivator would spend the beginning of his or her life struggling, and relying on friends and allies to survive this harsh world. Their humble beginnings would cause them to not look down upon a weaker individual with an air of superiority, as opposed to second generation cultivators, who would rely on the power of their parents to feel better than the others.

    Naturally, not everyone was the same. Some struggling cultivators would become criminals, and treat other people's lives as if they meant nothing, and some second generation cultivators would be kind and compassionate.. Unfortunately, these cases were extremely rare, especially the latter.

    Luckily, this man appeared to belong to the first type. "What do you say, Lara?" He asked after turning to look back at his daughter.

    The girl remained quiet for a few moments, then narrowed her eyes in Cynna's direction, and said, "As long as I'll have somebody to compete with, I'll trust your judgment, father."

    "Splendid!" He exclaimed in response before turning to look at the Silver Alchemist, and adding, "Let's talk about the details before that idiot of my son manages to figure out how that trap works. Oh, and Lara, be nice and show them around the house." He said to his daughter before pointing his arm at one of the doors in invitation.

    Master Kye, the old man Golden Cauldron and the Silver Alchemist stood up, and followed the couple through the door. "By the way, you haven't told us what your family business is yet." Said the Silver Alchemist in an attempt to make small talk.

    "We build large scaled defensive formations." Responded the man's wife as the group disappeared within the dark corridor on the other side of the door, leaving only Fyro, Cynna, Finn, and the young girl in the training ground.

    "So, you are the strongest student within the academy? Is that why they brought you here?" Asked Lara with curiosity. She had seen Finn battle before, and in her opinion, what she had seen did not match Cynna's reaction time or confidence despite her odd choice of weapon.

    This question appeared to cause a different array of emotions within Cynna, which responded only after a couple of seconds of silence, by saying, "I am not."

    Since the almost three years that the academy had been founded, it had grown exponentially. Students from multiple planets had poured in in an attempt to obtain a spot, and the majority of them were the sons of wealthy families of lower level planets.

    Naturally, the students from Cato were of a completely different level in terms of resources, but when unaware of how truly big the universe was, every rich individual would behave similarly.

    In these three years, numerous attempts of discovering which student was the strongest had taken place, and all of them, had been won by Cynna. Her prodigious talent had allowed her to come on top of any other challenger, no matter who tried.

    After enough of these events took place, the rumor that Cynna was the strongest student had begun to circulate through the academy. However, whenever she was treated as such, she would always refute the title, claiming that she was not the strongest by a long shot.

    At first the majority of the students, who had no idea who she was referring to, would believe her to be simply too shy to take the position, but when asked, Cynna would always convincingly declare that if she had to place herself, she would be the third strongest student. This argument, had created the legend within Daniel academy, about who the first, and second strongest students.

    "Really? Then who is the strongest?" Asked the girl with curiosity.

    "Ghosts of the past." Responded Finn as Jerigh's and Daniel's faces appeared in his mind.

    -----

    Back to the present.

    For the past seven months, one family after the other had encountered with Master Kye, the Silver alchemist, and his father Golden Cauldron. All of them referred to from the couple whose children they had accepted first. The children of most of them were allowed to join the academy, which in return, obtained support from the family itself.

    Soon enough, the reputation of the academy grew to a point where it could not be ignored anymore, obtaining enough power and resources not only to support their students, but even to purchase the land where Hiel City had been built on, and make a contract with the mercenary faction to hire a small army of guards.

    A massive private city, a nigh impenetrable barrier made out of space and time, and enough resources to be able to develop their presence within the capital of commerce of the universal government.

    Everything was going perfectly at first, but the more prestige the group obtained, the more attention they received.. This attention quickly turned into recognition, and after seeing how valuable the support of all of these families was, the recognition turned into jealousy. In the darkest corners of Cato, numerous plans regarding the assimilation of the Golden Company began to travel the air in the form of whispers.
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