Madeleine stood in the corridor, clenching and relaxing her fists. Her face held a calm sense of neutrality – something that she had learned to maintain over her years here – but, her heart was in turmoil.
Taking a deep breath, Madeleine buried it. She decided to focus on the good of today.
Soon, Madeleine entered a grand hall almost too large to describe in words. In typical Sapientia fashion, the round hall had its walls coated in endless amount of books and pillars.
In the center, Madeleine noticed a large amount of Sapientia youths waiting. Some were older than her and some were young, but they all immediately showed signs of respect with her approach.
Since the Sapientia were often times not blood related, the reaction to Madeleine’s beauty was even more apparent today than it usually was. It was clear that something was different about today and only Airic and her master Ester picked up on it.
That said, while Airic had become quite fond of Dyon because he was so impressed by his tactics, Ester was a completely different story. But, she chose to hold her tongue and emotions in for now. Well, that was until Airic’s words nearly made her cough up blood.
“Ah, Sister Madeleine. You’re dressed very nicely today, Dyon will be very happy!” Airic’s usual scholarly self was very enthusiastic today. He wanted an opportunity to get close to Dyon so that he could discuss the logistics of military tactics.
If people knew that that was the reason someone wanted to get close to a first-in-line genius, they might assume them to be weird. That said, Madeleine, knowing full well what Airic’s personality was like couldn’t help but chuckle. He had definitely improved her mood.
“You know my husband? Tell me about it!” Madeleine asked happily, wanting to take her mind off of things.
Seeing their normally serious first-in-line genius hop with happiness, many of the surrounding youths didn’t know what to think. In fact, Ester nearly self-imploded when she heard Madeleine refer to Dyon as her husband.
That said, Airic didn’t seem fazed. “Dyon’s military tactics are some of the most innovative things I’ve ever seen! Remember the Phantus God Clan and their scaled elephants that you fought in your first campaign?”
Madeleine nodded happily, remembering back to how difficult it had been to deal with. Not only had they needed her music will, they needed to overrun them with sheer numbers. But, Madeleine, being a music will expert, was very much aware that Dyon’s music will wasn’t suited to that tactic. So, how had he done it?
“Dyon managed to find the scaled elephant’s weakness to cold! Then he coordinated just one thousand men to eliminate 10 prince elephants and 1 king elephant! And that was on top of taking out ten thousand Phantus Clan warriors, 10 vice commanders and a commander!
And the best part? All he did was throw a javelin!” Airic got more and more animated as he explained. Eventually, the entire hall was listening to the recounting of Dyon’s feats.
Madeleine couldn’t help but smiling broadly at her husband’s success in just his first campaign. But, she wondered. ‘He did much more than me during my first campaign… But, I was ranked in the top 100 after my first, why isn’t he higher?’
Although Madeleine was now ranked in the top 30, after her first campaign, she had only been in the top 100. But, even then, she had done much less than Dyon. So, why wasn’t he ranked?
Madeleine had looked for Ri’s name too. But, although she had seen an Alexandria Acacia, she hadn’t found a Ri Acacia. She wasn’t sure whether that was Ri or not because Dyon always referred to Ri as either that, or little feu glace which Madeleine found adorable.
Madeleine didn’t know much about the Elves, but what she did know was that many of them were on Planet Naiad when she had gone. After all, that was a better place for peak essence gatherers to fight because the competition was tougher. And, it was also the planet with the closest ties to Earth. As such, there were plenty of elves on the list she didn’t know by name.
“Ah, you may not know this because you’ve been diligently cultivation for the past two months,” Airic praised, “But rumors say that Dyon is actually the demon sage! Number one, can you believe that! And, I hear that he’s also the one who created the Queen Fairy pill that our alchemy researchers have been studying for the past almost year now!”
At this point, even Madeleine was stunned. She knew that Dyon would make a name for himself, but to this extent? She couldn’t help but happily laugh. ‘I should never doubt you.’ She thought. ‘Then, I’ll take your words seriously. Don’t make me wait long then…’
Away from the soon to be departing Sapientia, a conversation was taking place in the dark.
This place was where the grand world tournament would be taking place – The Arena City Central Stage.
This arena boasted a capacity of ten million and had an arena floor that was measured in kilometers as opposed to mere meters.
The sections of space were separated by both planet and clan, with more powerful clans being situated in VIP areas that often cut off the view of those on the highest reaches of the stands. As such, there were monitors anchored to the back of these VIP areas, but it was clear that this wasn’t the ideal experience.
That said, many didn’t have strong enough cultivation to see so far away, so, often monitors were their best option.
Aside from the stands, there was another set of VIP seating on the lowest floor level. This housed the members for both the cumulative rankings, and the planet only rankings. As such, the cumulative rankers received better service and seats while the lower ranking planet only rankers still received good treatment, but less so. Although, there was one cumulative ranker spot that seemed to be a quite a bit lacking…
Ignoring this and past the VIP areas and into the basement of the coliseum, two shadows were speaking.
“Just change the format a bit, trust me.”
“What kind of ridiculous request is this? Why do you want me to swap out everyone’s names for numbers?”
“Don’t worry about the reason. All you have to do is say something along the lines of ‘In the interest of fairness, we’ll be replacing our naming system with randomly assigned numbers via array plates’. I’ve already prepared them all, all you have to do is hand them out.”
“What about King Belmont, won’t he be opposed to the change?”
“What are you talking about? The Belmont family had no hand in organizing this, it was left to the Cavositas. That’s why it’s taking place in Arena City and not the Belmont holy land.
Just do as you’re told, and you’ll be rewarded. Be sure to never say names. You can give the clans ways to track the numbers relevant to them, but don’t allow them to share that information amongst themselves. Just say it’ll be grounds for instant disqualification or something like that.”
The second shadow took a deep breath before accepting the spatial ring filled with number plates.
This person wanted them to change the whole structure of the tournament and completely remove names from the equation. It seemed like a harmless request and on the surface it did seem to make things more fair – there would probably be less forfeits this way since most had information attached to names and not faces – but something about how adamant they were made everything… fishy.
Just what was their goal?