"Big sister Ri!" Little Lyla's long light pink hair flowed in the wind as she rushed up the mansion's pathway to jump into Ri's arms.
Ri giggled at the little girl's antics. She knew immediately that Lyla could tell how she was feeling and wanted to make her feel better.
"Your birthday is soon, hm Little Lyla? What do you want?" Ri happily picked up Lyla in her arms. She had always treated Lyla like her little sister, and since she had become Dyon's wife, that relationship had only grown stronger.
Zaire wrapped his small arms around Ri's waist after catching up, seemingly looking for some love too. Ri couldn't help but giggle again while rubbing his black hair, thankful she had such kind younger siblings.
"But big sister, we missed big brother Dyon and Zaire's birthdays, we can't celebrate mine first." Little Lyla pouted, clearly dissatisfied with how busy everyone had been.
Ri looked a little saddened by this. It was likely that Little Lyla already understood that Dyon was incapacitated, but, that didn't excuse them missing Zaire's birthday.
Uncle Acacia had come to pick them up weeks before because Dyon had a feeling that things might get dangerous – and he had ended up being right. But, that unfortunately meant they couldn't celebrate either Dyon's or Zaire's birthdays which were only a couple weeks apart.
"Okay, how about after the world tournament, we have a big celebration for everyone's birthdays?" Ri smiled, trying to negotiate.
Luckily, Little Lyla was picky, so she happily agreed. In fact, she was more excited about watching the world tournament. She had been heavily influenced by Zaire, and since Zaire loved the idea of fighting tournaments so much, she too wanted to see how cool it was.
If Little Lyla knew that Zaire's love of such things came from movies that Dyon had watched with him while he was in beast form, who knows how she'd react.
"You've started to ignore you uncle, little girl." Uncle Acacia walked up, displaying a pouting face that shouldn't have been anywhere near the features of an expert as powerful as him. But, his love for Ri was never something he had faked.
"Uncle, don't be like that. You ran away so fast last time we saw you we didn't even have a chance to ask you to stay for a bit!" Ri glared at her Uncle, still trying to understand just what had had him so flustered all those weeks ago.
Uncle Acacia, however, completely avoided the topic, looking off into the distance and past Ri as the door of the mansion clicked open.
"Ri?" A girl with sandy blond hair and light brown eyes opened the door. This was, of course, Venus. After so many weeks of recovery and her little brother's constant care, many of the Viridi family had fully recovered.
"Ah, Venus. This is my uncle. And these two are Lyla and Zaire."
Venus smiled politely, even slightly bowing. The truth was that she was still uncomfortable in this situation. She had awoken a few weeks ago, but it was odd for people in the martial world to be so… Nice. If it wasn't for Eli's pleading, the Viridi family likely would have found a way to leave and attempt to repay their debts in another way.
But, Ri definitely didn't mind. She had spent much of her time in the spatial ring along with Dyon and as such had left the house to the Viridi to do with what they pleased. With their freedom bought and the money Dyon provided, they could essentially go their whole lives without another worry. However, because they had spent so long in slavery, their ability to trust had all but disappeared.
Ri, understanding this, didn't push or prod. She allowed their family the space they wanted and only asked that they not leave too soon, or else they wouldn't have the demon generals to protect them. If the Ragnor God Clan was malicious enough, there was always the chance of them being caught again and resold into slavery.
"I was just wondering if it would be possible to take me with you to the tournament." Venus asked shyly. Her voice was soft, and she had lost much of her assertive demeanor. After all, she had once been used to being called a genius – a top ranked member of the big sects. But now? She didn't feel as though she had a right to be that person anymore..
Ri knew that it would be dangerous taking Venus. After all, Dyon couldn't show up today even though he was technically meant to fight for their freedom. Who knows if Connery would try and use that as an opportunity to take away Venus?
But, Ri decided to trust in the strength of the Elves. She had been looking for a way to get Venus to step out of her shell recently, having seen how reserved she was. This was a good opportunity.
"Of course." Ri smiled, "That's no problem at all."
Seeing this, and not truly understanding the situation, Uncle Acacia decided to remain silent. But, when he noticed a striking lack of Dyon, he couldn't help but ask. "Is Dyon coming with us?"
A sad smile appeared on Ri's features, "He's hurt, right now. He'll heal up hopefully by the time he's called to the stage. He doesn't have to fight until the group stages are over, so he has quite a few days."
Although the tournament was usually won by peak essence gathering experts, there were still awards for top performing meridian formation experts as well as foundation stage experts. This was because the world tournament only took place once every hundred years because of the difficulty in gathering all of the planets together. As such, it was best to allow as many talents as possible to shine through as opposed to only the ones lucky enough to be born at the optimal time.
In the past, saints used to be a part of the world tournament as well. But, with the decline of the universe, it ceased making sense. After all, the world tournament was meant to be a comparison of young talent so a universe could gain an understanding of its future leaders. This also helped with things like negotiations. There were even times where overwhelming young generation talents could decide whether a clan became a Royal or even King God clan without warring at all.
However, in the universe's current landscape, saint level experts were already elders – having long lost the right to be called youths. So, the tournaments were held to essence gathering experts.
That said, because of the sheer number of experts that fell into these categories, the group stages took the longest amount of time. As such, it also left Dyon with some good time to hopefully get better.
But, hearing that Dyon was injured but getting better didn't make Uncle Acacia feel any better. Because if it was a normal injury, it was likely that Dyon would have told him about it personally… The fact he hadn't meant that he couldn't. Which, wasn't a good sign.
"Alright." Uncle Acacia smiled, choosing to let it go for now, "Let's go. Your kingdom is waiting for you. After all, how can the Elves show up without their little princess?"