470 Strict Traditions

    The peculiarity of Arena's moons was that while they once were uninhabitable rocks that orbited Arena, thanks to many centuries of work, they had been terraformed into inhabitable miniature planets.

    The fifth moon was known as such because it was the fifth in size, and on it, were built a dozen cities inhabited by the main branch, side branches, and servant families of the warrior who had defeated the patriarch of the former owning family.

    But now, the fifth moon was completely empty.

    A battle for the control of a moon was not a rare event, but there were limitations. An owner could only be challenged once every ten years, a measure put in place to stop lower families from forcing a war of attrition against a single defending warrior. This limitation did nothing but add to the importance of a challenge whenever one was issued, causing the entire family of the defending owner to abandon the moon, so that they could witness the battle that would either grant them ten more years of easy living as one of the ten major families of the faction, or force them to relocate in one of the millions of warring planets along with the rest of their family.

    Now, ten years had passed, and after a harsh selection conducted through constant conflict, a warrior had risen from the dust and dirt of one of the dominion's warring planets to fight for the fifth moon, and bring honor to himself, and his family.

    The entire defending family had gone to witness the fight that would take place in the Amphitheatrum, a structure built on Arena specially built for this kind of bouts. A building which the War God would need to personally enhance with his own ki to keep it from being destroyed by the two fighting parties. This was one of the roles of the War God, and worked as a constant reminder of who possessed the greatest power in the whole domain.

    Warriors such as the two contestants, who were well over what corresponded to the hundred and fiftieth phase of high immortality, would not have a problem with destroying the whole planet with a single punch. It was only thanks to the peculiar formation placed on the amphitheater, that the impact of their blows was unable to reach the spectators, or affect anything that went beyond the fighting stage.

    This was possible thanks to a formation that was set in place to allow something that ki cultivators were usually unable to do, and that, was to take control over the space of the stage, and turn it into a pocket dimension that was physically separated from the original universe, and only penetrable by light, and sound essence.

    For the two contenders, to be able to break this formation, would mean that the War God was weaker than them, and that would make him eligible to be challenged despite how much time would still be missing to the next challenge.

    The Amphitheatrum was a majestic round stadium which welcomed tens of thousands of spectators. It was built in layers filled in stone-built seats, and separated into multiple sectors with ten places of honor built around the stage. Nine at the height of the stage, and one built half a meter above.

    The entire stadium was packed with spectators, and yet, the common buzz of chatter that any other stadium in the universe would have, was not there. Only a few of the tens of thousands of spectators appeared to be excited about being there, while the rest, appeared to be witnessing something they would have gladly avoided.

    To the latter kind belonged the family members of the defender, the fifth moon's owner, while the more enthusiastic spectators were the hopeful family members and friends of the challenger, who in case of victory, would be allowed to move into the fifth moon, and bask in its glory for ten years.

    Occupying nine of the ten seats of honor were the remaining nine moon owners, who were discussing whether the Lont surnamed warrior would have a chance at defeating one of their own. The two were standing in the middle of the stage, preparing themselves mentally, and waiting.

    After more than an hour since the arrival of the last of the spectators and family patriarchs, the spectators started to become restless.. But then, the nine moon holders stood up in unison, bringing an unnatural silence to the entire Amphitheatrum. A few seconds later, the War God walked out of the dark corridor present behind his elevated seat, and sat down onto it. Then, without even acknowledging the spectators or the nine warriors that sat just half a meter below him, he waved his hand dismissively, and said, "Begin."

    No one took offence to this behaviour, after all, the figure of the War God was never one that others saw as something  that had to be loved. He was the strongest individual at the time, and therefore, he had the right to be cocky. If someone stronger appeared amongst the ten families, his role would be quickly usurped, but until then, his strength was all that was needed for him to be respected.

    This kind of harsh reality was the reason why no one under the War God would expect any form of appreciation from their leader, nor would they care for it. There was no need to pledge loyalty to someone that, at some point in time, they might have to compete against.

    After that single word was spoken, massive amounts of ki were injected into the stone seat of the War God, which quickly spread through the entire stage, reinforcing it with the power of the strongest member of the dominion. Once the stage was full of the War God's power, the challenger, a muscular man dressed in ripped training clothes that appeared to be in his late thirties, and the defender, a slightly chubby old man dressed in a spotlessly clean set of clothes, disappeared from where they were standing, and turned into two flashes of red light.

    The demeanor of the two ki warriors was drastically different. The challenger was extremely aggressive and eager to fight, showing the aggressiveness that had allowed him to be considered as the strongest individual underneath the War God, and the moon holders, while the chubby old man was more composed and relaxed.

    The flurry of vicious blows from the challenger was well-timed, and its rapidity and unpredictability showed that he was well prepared to fight against this particular moon warrior.. However, as time passed, it became clear that preparation was not enough. For some reason, none of the challenger's attacks had managed to reach the older warrior, who was able to avoid any damage thanks to something that a cultivator that had never experienced a healthy and peaceful training environment would have.. A more refined technique.

    The technique of the challenger was like a sword, sharp, dangerous, and made to clash against another until an opportunity would appear for it to strike.. That was how the ki warriors of the dominion would grow up. However, whenever one would be able to obtain a moon, their view would change drastically, or their reign would not last long. The more peaceful environment had allowed them to mutate their originally brute style of fighting into something that could be used for defence.

    Unable to inflict any damage due to the defensive style of fighting of the defender, the challenger was forced in a battle of attrition, which after no more than a few minutes, ended with a defeat followed by the deafening roar unleashed by the relieved members of the defender's family.

    Alesia and Gai'ha observed this process from the upper sector of the stadium, where they were sitting along with the other young ki warriors that belonged to the families of the ten moon holders, as well as the five disciples of the War God, which included the bald young man that had collected them before, Alesia, and four others.

    Gai'ha's special identity as the inheritor of the first War God had elevated her standing in the dominion to a level of importance similar to that of the War God himself, but Alesia was different. In the eyes of the other direct disciples she was just a talented warrior that had never had to go through thousands of years of blood baths like they had, which caused her not to be liked by her peers. The only reason why this opinion did not evolve into a physical or verbal confrontation between them and her, was out of respect for the War God.

    "Senior sister, what do you think of our traditions? Pretty impressive, no?" Asked a young woman dressed in clean and refined clothes to Gai'ha. She was the daughter of the owner of the second moon, and as such, she never had to struggle like her father had.

    "A clever method to keep the faction strong.. Nothing more." Responded Gai'ha with a detached tone. She clearly did not care about the traditions of the Dominion of the War God. All she wanted to do was to cultivate the path left for her by her ancestor, so that she could protect herself and Alesia until one day, they would be able to reunite with Daniel and the others.

    Many had noticed Gai'ha's cold behaviour, but due to her status, no one dared to say anything. After all, she was considered to be someone that, with enough time, would overtake the current War God.

    "Senior sister is right. It also works to remind inferior warriors of their place." Said a young man in his early twenties. He was the son of the owner of the first moon, who was already set to be the next aspirant War God a few years in the future.

    Gai'ha was about to point out that that was not what she meant, but was stopped by one of the disciples of the War God, who interjected by saying, "Do not pay attention to these kids. The battlefields they have been in can be counted with the fingers of one hand."

    There was a clear rivalry between the children of the moon owners and the disciples of the War God, but when it came to fighting, none of the former would ever dare to challenge any of the latter. After all, the disciples of the War God were groomed into becoming pillars of the dominion, while the children of the moon holders were essentially leeches to their powerful parents.

    "When my father will defeat the War God, you will go back to those battlefields you have been missing so much." Responded the son of the first moon's owner.

    The disciple looked back at him with irritation, but before he could say anything, the children of the moon owners and the disciples bowed in silence. "Greetings War God!" They said in unison to Inos, who had appeared next to the group without saying a single word.

    "It's time to go." Said Inos to Gai'ha and Alesia, who were waiting to hear those words ever since they had arrived. His expression was as warm as usual, an expression which he would show only when talking to Gai'ha and Alesia, but then.. the warmth disappeared from his face, and he turned to look at the sky.

    "I hope we haven't missed the show." Said a disembodied voice that came from beyond the planet's atmosphere. As the last of these words reached the ears of Arena's inhabitants, five figures descended from the sky, and landed on Arena's surface. They were the upper echelons of the spiritual faction, led by the first bishop. Their arrival was met with alertness by both the moon holders and the War God, who disappeared from the amphitheater, and reappeared around them in a formation.

    "To what do we owe this visit?" Asked Inos with alertness. He could feel that the power of these spiritual cultivators was not something he could underestimate.

    To respond was the first bishop, who decided to hide his true intentions by saying, "We have heard stories about the dust-skinned fairy that inherited the ability of the first War God to make spiritual weapons.. My Emperor remembers his encounters against those weapons fondly, we only want to pay homage."
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