The tension in the stadium was building.
The smell of blood and sweat permeated, creating a stifling atmosphere that the crowd couldn't bring themselves to cheer under. However, the slow rumbling of stomping feet had replaced it all, sending vibrations throughout.
Excitement. Anticipation. Glory.
"This is the final round. What you've all been waiting for." Elder Den's voice filled into the stomping of feet. Even he had begun to be affected. Days of battles, thousands of eliminations, hundreds of deaths, all led to this very moment.
"You are the top ten." He said, sending a heavy gaze toward the final ten. "You are the future of this universe. People will speak of you in legends for decades to come, and should you live up to your potential, you can be written into the annals of history of millennia to come.
There was no need for Elder Den to explain anything. Everyone knew the rules. The remaining ten would each fight against each other once for a total of nine fights each. Whoever had the highest ranking in the end would be crowned as the best.
Each match would be completely randomly chosen by the monitors for all to see.
"The first match!" Elder Den paused, looking toward the monitor and causing the crowd to lean forward in anticipation.
"Vidar Ragnor Vs…."
Vidar grinned in anticipation, seeing the name come up before Elder Den's voice sounded off. 'Ten moves, hm? We'll see! You think I used my best against a measly 7th ranked?!'
"The Demon Sa –"
Dyon froze, his ears filling with a voice that he immediately recognized. "Dyon, Help!"
Without so much as a small bit of hesitation, Dyon's two pairs of wings tore his shirt away, causing a gust of wind so powerful that the ground beneath his feet shattered completely.
The top ten rankers standing around Dyon looked at him in shock, but he didn't have any time to explain himself. Only he knew exactly what was going on, and if he delayed for even a moment, she'd die! He couldn't have that guilt on his shoulders.
He wasn't an essence gathering expert yet, so he couldn't send messages with the much more efficient essence energy. All he could rely on was his wind will to do so, but over a long distance, especially when he was moving so quickly, it was a pipe dream to get a message to his mother and father in law.
Regardless, they couldn't show themselves. Not yet.
Dyon flashed into the air with speed that only a saint could match. The shock that his actions created couldn't be understated.
'Was he running?... No. Something so shameful couldn't be possible…'
Dyon didn't have time to care. Madeleine and Ri could only watch with worried eyes, having no idea what was going on as Dyon disappeared into the distance.
Vidar was stunned before he suddenly started laughing so hard that clenched his stomach, unable to control himself. "I've seen cowards in my day," He said between labored breaths, "But, this is just a new level."
No one understood how to react. Did he really just cower?... But, that didn't make sense… Even if he would lose, it shouldn't have been by a large margin…
What was going on?...
However, despite how much they wanted to know, Vidar's laughter was the only answer they got.
Bai Meiying sprinted with every bit of speed her meridian formation cultivation allowed her, stumbling along the way with a shoddy concealment array practically falling apart around her.
She had been able to continue to train under her imprisonment, but the Daiyu barely had any cultivation resources. Just like Chenglei's father had lamented, they needed to use all of their remaining pieces to maneuver and garner allies. They simply couldn't afford to divert any away to the younger generation.
In the sky, three experts scanned the empty city. They couldn't understand why they hadn't found her yet, the streets were so barren than one lone girl running should have been easy to spot. Even if she entered one of the buildings, as experts, they should have been able to sense her.
They continued to send cursory scans around.
Bai Meiying was truly worried. She had already used Dyon's teleportation array to cross the natural moat around the Belmont Holy Land, after all, she couldn't fly and she couldn't very well swim – that would be too slow! But, that meant if she was found now, she would have no chance of escaping.
She had been sending help signals out using Dyon's communication array all this time, but she had no idea what the range was. Judging by Dyon's other arrays, and the state he had been when he gave these things to her, it couldn't be that far. But, Dyon had to be in this city! The World Tournament was taking place, he couldn't miss that given his personality!
Suddenly, one of the experts in the sky chuckled, "Now where did she get her hands on such a thing…"
"Did you find her?"
"Haha, you'd never guess. I have no idea how she did it, but she probably stole one of our concealment array plates. No wonder we didn't detect her immediately. Too bad that concealment array is much too weak to hinder my senses. This way."
"Don't you think it's a bit of an overkill to send us after one little girl?"
"Think about it." The expert who found Meiying's position spoke, "How could she have escaped right under our noses? Clearly someone is helping her!"
A sudden realization hit the other two, before serious expressions appeared on their faces. Indeed, how could she have even regained consciousness without the help of someone with extremely powerful array alchemy? Someone capable had helped her, for sure.
In an instant, they had appeared over Meiying who was trying to remain as still as possible, hoping they hadn't noticed her in the concealment array.
"Little girl, I think you're done hiding now," The expert grinned, baring his crooked and yellowed teeth.
Meiying's heart seized as her head slowly turned to the skies, 'It's over…' Tears fell from her eyes as she looked down at the box she was holding against chest, 'I'm sorry…'