The next day, one hundred warriors stood at the center of the large arena as cheers rained down from the crowd of millions.
In the front, stood ten. Dignified and mighty in their approach and seemingly unfazed by the glances of envy given to them by the remaining ninety.
It was no secret how difficult it was to break into the top ten from the bottom ninety. Because of the system of challenges, a member of the top ten could receive up to the maximum of ninety should the challengers feel so inclined.
But, the problem with this was that even if you fought and won a battle with a member of the top ten, you'd then have to immediately start accepting challenges as well. This meant that despite what looked like an unfair setup to the top ten rankers, it was actually the more desperate for the bottom ninety. This was because if you managed to win a spot, it would have without a doubt been a hard fought battle, leaving you tired and vulnerable – the perfect target.
That said, many of the bottom ninety were hopeful, many just wanted to test themselves against the best of the best, and there were a select few that felt they deserved to be in the top ten and were only missing the accumulated campaign points. And maybe that last group would be the most troublesome for the top ten rankers…
First in line geniuses like Thor, Vidar and Caedlum all fell into this category. None of whom were even twenty years old, but all of whom had a faith seed and unlimited untapped potential.
In addition to them, there were some black horses that may very well have taken their shot at the top ten. But, them being black horses, very few even noticed them.
However, maybe the most striking part about this line up was just who made up the top ten.
(1) Lionel Belmont
(2) Tau Aumen
(3) Zabia Jafari
(4) Saru Shruti
(5) Jace Clyte
(6) Arivata Shruti
(7) Yazid Jafari
(8) Uma Hanu
(9) Dofi Nuru
And lastly, much to the surprise of everyone…
(10) Dyon Sacharro.
Dyon had been the most surprised out of much anyone else. Never had he expected the Cavositas would cave as they had and given him his top ten spot back, albeit at the bottom. This surprise was especially odd considering how domineering and disregarding Dyon had been. It smelt…. Fishy.
The truth was that the Cavositas had no real choice. Dyon had displayed too much power. And, if he was in a setting where he could wantonly challenge, then he would likely destroy the proceedings again. Their safest bet was to tuck him away in the top ten and in hope he didn't find a way to do anything to cause a ruckus.
That said, they still hadn't given Dyon his top one role, instead handing him spot ten reluctantly. Dyon didn't know how this subdivided the rewards. But, one could assume that the higher your rank the more benefits you received.
"Ladies and gentlemen," Elder Den's voice boomed. "As you all know, Earth has the great responsibility of hosting the world tournament this century. And, make no mistake about it, we've prepared the open up our most sacred of places.
Many of you are too young to remember a time where the Earth was small, but know that Earth is still among the great anomalies of the world. This inner world of ours is rarely explored due to the danger it poses, but when has fear of the unknown ever deterred us cultivators?!"
The blood of the participants began to roll.
"Fight well. Put your pride on the line. If you're talented enough, you'll earn your spot amongst the top ten.
However, do also remember that Earth's inner world is not made for everyone… You'll be guided by experts, and yet still the chance of dying is very real. This is why we can only allow the top ten in and this is also why the investment we place with you is directly correlated with the rank within the top ten you achieve."
Dyon sighed to himself, tuning out Elder Den's words, 'It seems Delia really isn't coming.'
Ever since he had sent the Patia-Neva family away to talk, Dyon hadn't seen a trace of them. And, with Patia-Neva's cultivation, Dyon wouldn't be able to unless he deliberately allowed him to. So, Dyon could only accept it.
'I guess that true story is a lot deeper than I thought. Hopefully she's doing okay…'
Off in the Clyte Royal God Clan section though, King Clyte was still fuming.
Just yesterday he had had Sofia in the palm over her ands, to stress and torture to his heart's content. But, now she was gone, right from under his nose! He couldn't stand it!
According to those who were there, Sofia had been there one moment, then gone another. He knew fully well her cultivation was too low to accomplish something like that. Someone had helped! But he had no idea who!
And now, because Delia was gone, he couldn't ruin her in the coming bouts. He could only sit there, letting his anger temper his heart more and more.
'Patia-Neva… It has to be you! You're probably also the reason that feeble of daughter of yours managed to survive the onslaught between Aiko and Elric.'
"I hope you're all ready," Elder Den grinned looking from the warriors to the crowd. "This will be among the fiercest competitions to have ever taken place. The top ten vs the bottom ninety. We've already proved once today that maybe not everything is as it seems…
I can only wish you the best of luck.