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Outside of the stadium, Dyon was leisurely walking along with Arios and Thadius. He didn't feel the need to bring anymore demon generals, that would just bring undo attention.

But, he froze as he saw something ahead.

"Eli?" Dyon flashed forward, ignoring the pain on his side as he made his way to the struggling Venus and Eli.

When he saw Delia's state, he could only frown. But, what really got to him was how difficult it had been for Venus and Eli to carry them all of this way. It was as though they were really mortals.

Eli had never stepped out of the second foundation stage because he hadn't had any opportunity to train in the last two years. And, it seemed like Venus' cultivation had regressed from her lower meridian formation cultivation. Or, at the very least, she hadn't had the opportunity to replenish her depleted energy as a slave.

Right now, they were both as weak as any mortal teenagers from the human world…

Seeing Dyon awake, a flash of happiness appeared on Eli's features, "Dyon, we need help. Delia hasn't been conscious for hours now. She took multiple wounds during her fight!"

Dyon nodded, taking Delia from Eli and placing her on an array to hover in the air.

After scanning Delia, Dyon's head cocked to the side in confusion. She wasn't hurt at all… In fact, something inside of her was shifting and changing… Seemingly for the better?

Seeing this, Dyon looked up to see the frail Venus and smiled, "Venus. I'm glad to see that you're doing better."

Venus smiled shyly and nodded in acknowledgment. Over the past two years, she had lost a significant amount of weight and it was clear that her cultivation had suffered. But, she was thankful to be free now. She had never brought herself to blame Dyon. How could she? He had been trying to do what was right. If anyone should be blamed, it should be those horrible Ragnor and Cavositas clans.

"Will she be okay?" Eli asked nervously.

"From what I see, she's not hurt at all… I'm not sure what's going on, but it's likely the next time she wakes, she'll feel better than she ever has." Dyon reassured Eli.

Hearing this, Eli sighed in relief. He had examined Delia personally when he had finally made her way to her but couldn't find anything wrong. Hearing it come from Dyon made him feel even better.

"Tell me, what exactly has happened so far?"

Eli quickly explained the tournament system and how they were in the second to last round now. He then explained what had happened to Delia, which caused Dyon's brows to furrow.

"She just stopped mid-attack and coughed up blood?" Dyon didn't like the sound of that. But, what made it worse was that when he asked Eli who Delia's opponents had been, he said he didn't know.

"They changed the rules this year," Eli explained, "They said in the interest of fairness, no names would be called out."

Suddenly, Dyon thought back to the Madeleine in disguise who had attacked them. 'Could it be?...'

Dyon was liking this less and less. He hadn't thought about it before, but the Madeleine that attacked didn't have her normal hair or eye color… In fact, she hadn't even worn glasses. Was that really how Madeleine looked now? If that was the case, there's no way Ri would be able to recognize her…

And Madeleine. The last time Dyon spoke to her was before he knew Ri was a Kitsune. If they clash and Ri uses her Kitsune form, Madeleine wouldn't be able to tell it was Ri either!

Dyon was beginning to panic. 'Is this really what they want?...' But suddenly, he had a thought that made him calm down. And eventually, a smirk replaced his apprehensive features.

"Let's go." Dyon smiled at the siblings, pointing toward the large stadium ahead.

"You're bringing Delia too?" Eli asked worriedly.

"Of course, she has to make it through the final round too." Dyon winked, not explaining any further as they made their way forward with Arios and Thadius following silently.

**

In the arena, there was only a single fight left raging.

Madeleine and Ri were so fast that they seemed to be gliding through the air, never once touching the ground for even a split second.

Ri's black-gold tails whipped against Madeleine's peacock feathers, causing domineering shockwaves of ice and fire to reverberate through the bustling arena.

'Still not enough.' Ri's mind flashed as she stepped into a void, appearing to Madeleine's back and striking her sword forward.

Madeleine reacted immediately, discreetly coating her palm with celestial intent and covering it with a wall of flames, parrying Ri's sword to the side and stretching her other hand toward Ri's throat.

Ri seemed unperturbed by this action, welcoming the palm with a black hole of void and rebounding it away from herself.

Madeleine glided backwards, wind will coating her feet as her qipao fluttered ever so gently.

"Tree of Life and Death." Ri whispered these words, causing a tree of obsidian to appear in the air.

King Belmont gripped his chair at this sight, sending his gaze toward Big Red only to find his pair of eyes already looking toward him.

"Their daughter…"

King Belmont felt stupid. How had he not made the connection when he saw the tails? The problem was that ten tails didn't match any legends the kitsune had. And, worst yet, Kawa had never mentioned a kitsune with black tails. King Belmont had assumed this girl was something else…

The last King Belmont had heard of King Acacia's daughter, King Acacia himself had informed him that she was pretending to be his brother's daughter. So, when King Belmont saw this Ri character registered as the Elvin Princess, he hadn't made the connection between the two until now.

'This… Both of them?... This boy…' King Belmont didn't know whether to laugh or cry. How many years had he and King Acacia been dear friends and how many years had they spoke of their children marrying? All of that was flushed away now.

The only reason King Acacia wasn't as famous as King Belmont and Big Red was because he hadn't been able to participate in their generation's world tournament. Why? Because his manifestation was so powerful that it had taken centuries to manifest. The Elvin Kingdom, despite having unlimited quotas, never bothered to give him a chance until he proved they had no choice.

Ri, however, was oblivious to all of this. Her family's ancient manifestation bloomed magnificently, sending roots of obsidian careening toward Madeleine's delicate figure.

Waves of heat radiated from Madeleine as she watched the roots approach. But, they seemed to tear through even her violet flames!

'Not enough!' Madeleine sent her mind inward and toward the faint flicker of a faith seed she held. And then, a sight of unmatched glory was presented.

The cry of a phoenix rang through the arena, a domineering bird of violet flames appearing to engulf Madeleine as she charged through the obsidian roots.

Ri winced as she felt the manifestation tear apart under the relentless flames, but she also felt Madeleine greatly weaken as bits of her technique were absorbed.

Lionel watched this with a deadpan expression. But, the way he gripped the arm rests of his throne told a completely different story. 'That has to be mine!'

The blinding light of the phoenix tore toward Ri.

It was at this moment that many realized that Ri and Madeleine were the only ones on the stage. In fact, their so-called competition had been blown away after their first few clashes. And yet, no one had said a single word. It seems those pulling strings wanted this continue until someone was hurt.

Taking a deep breath, Ri's meridians started spinning viciously. The energy in the air seemed to be water, and Ri's body was a funnel accepting it all.

"Abyssal ray, Void's wrath."

Ri crouched to the ground, her tails pointing forward as a beam of dense blackness converged from each of them into a single entity.

The breath of the crowd seemed to be taken away.

One side held a dense darkness, seemingly ready to swallow everything whole.

The other side carried with it a blinding light.

Both were beasts, but each held a completely different atmosphere to them.

And then… They clashed…

A tempest of blacks and purples rolled through the air, causing an explosion of untold magnitude.

The arena itself seemed to disappear as the array that hovered it in the air completely shattered in on itself, unable to hold the weight of anything any longer.

The crowd could only watch, on the edge of their seats. Who won?

Ri and Madeleine stood facing each other. Each somehow just as flawless as they had began.

They looked each other in the eye silently for a long a time before each of their eyes shifted to the other's collarbone.

In their last clash, the violent gales of wind had torn apart the stage the stood on. But, it had served another purpose.

Ri began to laugh, "You were using celestial will! No wonder!"

Madeleine couldn't speak, but that didn't stop her from moving.

She reached Ri in an instant and didn't hesitate to embrace her even to Ri's surprise.

Ri's eyes widened, but she eventually settled in, wrapping her arms around Madeleine's trembling back. It was clear that Madeleine needed someone to hold on to right now. For her to have been so angry earlier, Ri knew something must have happened although she didn't know what. To Ri, Patia-Neva had given Madeleine the same message she received.

The crowd watched in confusion. It wasn't as though they minded two beauties hugging, but they didn't understand how they had gone from fighting to suddenly being the best of friends.

For entertainment purposes, special arrays were always set in place to allow the crowd to hear the voices of those on the competition floor. So, Ri's words only made them more confused.

Madeleine backed away, wiping the tears from her eyes. Her eyes once again focused on Ri's collarbone as she stretched her small hand toward it to gently hold a simple silver necklace.

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Awespec

  • Canada
  • Awespec

Bio: Med school student who loves to write :)

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