377 Welcome to Hiel Academy Part 2 of 2

    "Brother.. why did you make me apologize? You are at a higher stage of cultivation! You could have.." Asked the young cultivator to his older brother as they walked down the street. He knew his older brother, and before coming to this academy, he had seen him blow many situations out of proportion due to his short temper. Now, he couldn't even recognize him.

    The older brother, whose group was now happily chatting with the new students, suddenly became solemn, and after turning to look at his younger brother, he said, "This academy makes it clear. We are equals, and money or power won't change that. However, that is not entirely true. There are some students that are untouchable here.."

    What the older brother said was of great shock to the other students who, while still unhappy about being sent there against their will, immediately became outraged by what they had just heard.

    "What?! The hypocrisy!" Said one of the newly accepted group members with anger, before adding, "That guy was acting so noble and righteous before, but turns out he was being protected.. Such a fool!"

    "You didn't let me finish." said the older of the two brothers, interrupting the young man's rant. He then added, "They are not untouchable because someone protects them, but because they are unbeatable. There are prize pools that will go to the first person who wins a duel with any of them, and we have tried everything, but we have never won."

    The group of newly accepted students reacted to these words with great shock. "Big brother, that is impossible. We were both in the Three Crosses Academy before being moved here, a top tier academy within the universal government, and you were in the top ten thousand students. I don't believe there isn't a single person here that you can't defeat!"

    "That is true, you must be messing with us.." said a friend of the younger of the two brothers.

    After hearing these words of praise, the younger brother scratched his head in embarrassment, and responded, "Trust me, I have learned the truth the hard way." He then turned to look back at the direction towards where they were heading, unwilling to talk about the matter any further, and ignoring his brother's nervous expression.

    After a few minutes spent walking around the large streets in between the dormitories, Ivan approached one of the students, and asked, "So what is so special about these untouchables?" He had followed the group around, and gave the matter enough time to make it seem that he was genuinely curious, and unable to hold his questions any longer.

    The person he had asked this question to was a girl in her early twenties, and dressed in light blue clothes. Her behaviour was overly polite, but Ivan could not understand if it was because she recognized them as the future leaders of the major merchant groups of Cato, or for some other reason. After all, she was the daughter of a rich family of merchants herself, and her status was in no way lower than their own.

    "You get a hefty sum if you manage to get an answer to that question." Responded the girl while smiling back at Ivan. She then added, "We all have our guesses, but who knows which one is true. At the moment, the more plausible one is that there is a formation that selectively increases the speed of production of immortal essence of certain cultivators. But I don't believe that.. Before coming here, my grandmother asked me to compete against one of them, and even then, I had no hope."

    Ivan's question had caught the attention of his friend Sigg, who also approached the girl in the light blue dress to ask, "Is that possible? I have never heard anything like that."

    "It is just a random guess. We really don't know much about them." Responded the blue-clothed girl with a smile.

    At the opposite side of the group walked the two brothers who, for two different reasons, had been quiet. The silence, however, was broken by the younger one, who after listening to the conversation between Ivan, Sigg, and his older brother's friend, asked nervously, "Am I in trouble?"

    "No. They will not bother you. Just avoid getting in their way, and you'll be fine." Responded the older brother with a reassuring tone. He then added with newfound enthusiasm, "This is the elemental pavillon. In there, you can find elementals of all types. They hold lessons about the comprehension of the essence every hour.. Over there is the arena. You can challenge anyone you want in there, and obtain resources if you win. You can also obtain resources by attending the lessons, or helping out in any way you can."

    "The streak of winnings determines how many resources you get." Added a green-clothed cultivator, clearly interested about the topic of conversation.

    "Isn't that unfair? What if those freaks break your streak?" Asked Sigg with curiosity. The moment she finished speaking, however, she noticed an expression of confusion appear on the faces of the students.

    "They never challenge us. They only duel amongst themselves. The only times a streak was broken by one of them, was because they were challenged." Responded the green-clothed cultivator with enthusiasm. From his expression, one could see the admiration he felt towards those cultivators. To many of the new students, they were unbeatable, and unreachable, but for him, they had grown to be a sort of ispiration.

    "Has one of the new students ever managed to become like them?" Asked Ivan, unable to find an easier way to sneak the question in.

    This question attracted the attention of the older of the two brothers, who responded by saying, "It is funny that you ask that. We have asked about it more than once before, but the answers we got were always similar. Vague.. Hinting about encountering the leader of 'the group'. Don't ask me what it means. I have no idea."

    Ivan made a mental note of anything he heard. While to others these separated and seemingly vague pieces of information did not make sense, for him, it was not the same. After all, he hadn't been sent here to learn what this academy offered, but to learn about what this academy was hiding.

    After another hour spent exploring, the group found itself in front of a massive training ground. Its layout was separated into hald a dozen section, each dedicated to a different form of training. Muscular training, weapon mastery training, sparring grounds, meditation, dummy training, and finally, a stage surrounded by a number of chairs.

    On this enormous training ground, were at least a few hundred cultivators split into the various sections. However, the majority were focused on the sparring ground, and the stage.

    "I know you guys thought we couldn't top the dormitory inside the active volcano, the arena, and the trading road.. But here we are. These are the training grounds. You will spend most of your time here, and for a good reason." Said the green-robed cultivator.

    "Why is that? Looks like a common training ground to me." Responded one of the members of Ivan's group with curiosity.

    "Is it?" Asked the green-robed cultivator with a big smile. He then noticed that someone was approaching the dummy training section, and with an even wider smile, he added, "Maybe half of it. Watch carefully, something amazing is about to happen."

    With these words, the group approached the section with haste, just in time to observe as an oddly young man walked into one of the rings, right in front of where the dummy was resting in its inanimate state.

    The moment this young man approached the dummy, numerous figures appeared out of nowhere. All of whom stood at a respectful distance.

    "Who is that?" asked the younger of the two brothers.

    "Zack. He is the youngest student here." responded the older brother with a hint of admiration that did not fail to show from his expression.

    Ignoring the crowd that had formed, Zack unsheathed the short sword that was sheathed in the scabbard that was hanging from his waist, and said out loud, "Single-edged swords. Dual wielding." As if in response to Zack's words, the dummy came to life, and in its hands, two singled-edged swords appeared. He then took a combat stance in wait for the first move.

    Zack reacted to this by sealing his cultivation within his body, and preparing himself for a fight of masteries, and reflexes.

    The attention of the people within the crowd focused on Zack's movements, making the surroundings completely quiet. What kicked off the training session, was the pierceing attack that Zack sent towards the dummy's neck.

    His movements were minimal, and from the very moment before, none of the students would have guessed that he was about to attack.

    Unfortunately, while virtually all of the new students expected this attack to be successful, that was not the case. With a peerless reaction time, the dummy deflected the piercing attack, and sent a vertical slashing motion towards Zack's arm. An attack that, If successful, would incapacitate his fighting ability by a great degree.

    Zack was prepared for such a counter, and immediately pulled his arm back.

    His reaction speed, when compared to the dummy, was slightly lacking, so he was unable to back away in time, causing the descending attack of the dummy to hit the body of his sword. However, while seemingly in a difficult position, Zack tightened the grip over his sword, and firmed his arm.

    The power of the blow which was supposed to disarm him, was enough for his body to rotate completely, and allowed him to send a spinning hook kick towards the back of the dummy's head. An attack that was easily stopped by the immediate reaction of the dummy, which raised his arm, and parried the kick with his bent wooden elbow.

    The crowd observed as the dummy and Zack exchanged blows. If not for the limitation that Zack had put on his cultivation, the training ground would have been destroyed, and he would have probably been able to defeat the dummy, but in that case, the point of sparring against a dummy would be completely lost.

    The fight went on for a few long minutes of uninterrupted exchanges which gradually left the onlookers utterly impressed, and only ending as the dummy managed to destabilize Zack's balance, making it impossible for him to parry the last attack.

    Right before hitting, the weapons of the dummy disappeared. The dummy then moved back to its original position, and once again began its wait for the next challenger.

    On Zack's face there was no defeat. In its stead, was an expression of mild satisfaction, as he had beaten his previous record. However, instead of leaving or trying again, he walked towards the stage area of the training ground.

    The moment his feet touched the stage, numerous individuals appeared on the seats. Each with kind and pensive expressions. Amongst them, were Nilo, Cynna, Fyro, Finn, and other members of Daniel's group.

    "You were so eager to strike, that you didn't see the tell of the kick." Said Finn.

    "I think it would have been fine, if only he had paid more attention to the noises of the dummy's joints, instead of focusing on sight and sensing." Added Cynna, clearly in disagreement with Finn's previous judgement.

    Zack paid great attention to the suggestions of the other members of the group, whose only objective was to help him increase his abilities as a swordsman, and not to humiliate him.

    The last one to talk was Nilo, who after listening to Finn and Cynna, shook his head in disagreement, and said, "You are both wrong. It's a mind thing." He then turned to look at Zack, and with a friendly tone, said, "The dummy is not your enemy. You can't defeat it, you can only learn from it.. So stop trying to break it to pieces."

    Naturally, Zack was aware that Nilo was right. Whenever he would begin a spar with the dummy, he would always give more than necessary, and allow for a weak spot to make itself visible to his inanimate opponent.Find authorized novels in Webnovel,faster updates, better experience,Please click  for visiting.

    Clearly grateful about the suggestions, he nodded with appreciaton, and said, "I'll do better next time." then walked down the stage. At the same time, the figures of Nilo, Cynna, Fyro, Finn, and the others, all disappeared without leaving a single trace.

    Zack was the closest thing to a celebrity there was in the Hiel academy. His young age had made him the first target of any cultivator that was eager to defeat one of the senior students, but despite that, he had always come out on top. This had led him to be known as a growing prodigy, and for his friendship to be seeked after by many.

    A small group composed of a few admirators approached him in an attempt to gain a fraction of his attention, but aside from a few embarrassed smiles, none of what was said was able to stop him from walking out.

    It was only when a young coquettishly woman tried to wrap her arm around his, that he slowly turned to look at her, and with a killing intent that terrified her to a point where she was unable to avoid falling on her knees, and wetting herself, he said, "Don't touch me." He then walked off through the path that had magically opened within the crowd of scared admirers.

    "That was pretty rude. Who does he think he is?" Asked the younger of the two brothers to the other, while secretly angered by having been scared by a killing intent that wasn't even directed at him.

    "He doesn't like being touched." Said the older brother, clearly unaware of the reason why.

    What these cultivators were not aware of, was the severe lack of trust of which Zack suffered. A psychological problem he had received after being accused of being a rapist, being hated by everyone he knew, beaten to near death repeatedly, betrayed by his closest friends, and even having his cultivation crippled by the extraction of a part of his spirit. All of this had led him to be unable to trust anyone that Daniel did not personally trust.

    "This place is a damn circus." Said the youger brother with an uneasy expression.

    "Heh, what can I say.. Welcome to Hiel academy." Responded his older brother while smiling in excitement. He was clearly happy that his brother had been sent here, and he couldn't wait for him to see the merits of this academy, despite him being happy about it, or not.
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