Chapter 5 – Discovery and Astonishment.
The audience grew rowdy as they watched the large water ball float in the air.
“He’s actually able to hold it for ten minutes!” shouted a shocked disciple.
“This...What was his name again? I have to remember to not offend him in the future...” said another disciple.
“Silence!” shouted Bol. “En. It looks like Junior has some good talent, give me your form and stand over there.”
Arfil quickly withdrew his spiritual power causing the water ball to instantly plop to the ground losing its form. He then handed over his form and moved to an empty area on the other side of the platform.
Seeing this Disciple Jien called out again,
“Azire Frunul step forward.”
A shy little girl walked up to the platform and presented herself. In the end she was only at the 10th level which was average among the prospects with only the 11th level and above being anything of note. However this was also the reason for the demonstration, as some people were born with variant abilities or had gained some gift either through secret training or inheritance that would push them above the “average”.
After all, in the path of cultivation any number of fortunate events could lead to a huge advancement and this didn’t necessarily have to be in a direct increase in raw power. This could be seen in the many historic cases of weaker opponents triumphing over the strong due to innate/secret abilities.
Quickly, the number of youths taking the test began to dwindle. Seventy percent of those who presented their abilities were sent away with only thirty percent standing on the other side of the platform.
Soon it was Heroe’s turn to walk up to the platform. His arms relaxed and a light smile graced his face as he lowered his head slightly towards Disciple Jien.
He was a royal after all therefore even if he was in the presence of an Elder he would still not bow fully. The only reason he lowered his head was because he quite fancied Jien’s lovely appearance as well as her proud and strong demeanour. If he could get her to discard that outer appearance and show him the inner delicate creature that was all females, then the pleasure he would gain from that sight would be worth this little show of face.
Jien blushed slightly avoiding Heroe’s fervent gaze.
“I am known as Heroe Heartlilly.”
Hearing the name “Heartlily” caused the spectator’s to focus their bored eyes back onto the stage.
“A Heartlylilly! He’s Royalty!” shouted a random disciple.
“I am currently at the 10th level of cultivation and have an affinity for fire.”
As Heroe’s lips stopped moving, he stretched out his hand and a dark blue flame burned. It wasn’t that large, only the size of a fist but Bol’s eyes widened as he examined it.
“Ho! So Junior has a high grade flame.” exclaimed Bol.
Heroe nodded calmly as he erased the flame. This was the innate flame that belonged only to the Heartlily royal family however, it had very strict requirements in order to manifest it thus not all of the royals could use it.
This was the reason Bol was slightly surprised. It showed that Heroe’s potential was great even among the Heartlily family, unfortunately Bol could see that this child didn’t have the heart to cultivate otherwise his level would be a bit higher.
“All that glitters cannot be gold.” recited Elder Bol. He had already seen that although Heroe seemed to have potential, he lacked the heart to strip himself of worldly desires and ascend the Heavens.
“My Absolute Burning Plane will have to pass.” He resolved.
Under Disciple Jien’s direction, Heroe moved to the other side of the platform. His eyes surveyed the crowd until it paused on an old Elder completely dressed in gold clothing.
The Elder smiled and sent a meaningful side-way glance before closing his eyes. Heroe breathed a sigh of relief seeing this, and the weight on his heart lessened.
“It looks like Father’s friendship with Elder Sandfire paid of.” Thought Heroe.
Standing on the other side of the platform, Kaz too let out a sigh of relief. He was worried that his little Bro would not meet the requirements but after seeing Elder Bol’s reaction, it looked like he worried for no reason.
The crowd quieted down after Heroe left, barely paying attention to the various youths coming onto the platform.
“Ba! These people have all just completed their spiritual baptisms and are only at the 10th level, add on the fact that they lack any unique abilities and they’re all just trash.” shouted a large, tall youth with bulging muscles as he walked into the Hall.
The large youth was dressed in dark green robes and could be described as neither ugly nor handsome. His eyes flashed with both arrogance and ferocity as he sneered at the sight of a youth being sent away from the platform.
“Hey! Isn’t that last year’s freshman King, Dogro Snared.?” exclaimed a shocked disciple.
“It’s him, it’s definitely him! I heard he’s already surpassed the 20th level since last year and he’s still only sixteen.” whispered another.
“20th!? No wonder he’s so arrogant. With his potential the Elders of Emerald Earth Fortress would most likely allow him to do all that he wanted.” exclaimed another disciple as he gritted his teeth, wondering why he was not blessed with such great talent.
Dogro instantly became elated. He loved for all the attention to be on himself, anyone who shined more than him was no worse than a hated enemy.
He slowly and proudly walked towards his factions spot, taking a seat on the front row beside the representative.
Jien as well as Bol completely ignored Dogro. There was no point in wasting time with those type of people, besides Dogro himself was no fool, all he did was shout a little and then immediately take a seat. He knew Elders wouldn’t reduce themselves to the level of the youngsters, but also that he couldn’t go overboard with his arrogance.
“Kaz Tar Aldarion, step forward.” said Disciple Jien with a little bit of astonishment in her voice.
Kaz let out a deep breath, unfurrowing his brow. It seemed like he was annoyed over something but didn’t wish to voice it.
Kaz slowly walked up the stairs to the platform, trying his best to not think of the number of eyes fixed on him.
“Eh! I thought the people of the Divine Tiger Clan only joined military schools, why is a direct descendant here?” wondered Dogro.
He also came from a strong clan however its power was nowhere near that of the Divine Tiger Clan.
“Hmph! Just because you’re born into a powerful clan, you expect everyone to bow to you. Let this Senior see what you can do?” said Dogro, his words directed at Kaz.
He dared to say these words because he knew that no matter how powerful the Divine Tiger Clan was, this didn’t necessarily mean it could afford to offend the Eclipse Academy.
“Disgusting!” thought Kaz.
This Dogro reminded him of himself when he was young. Back then his arrogance reached the sky, he would speak words thinking he were a God amongst men, carelessly abusing the power that came along with his status, but fortunately or unfortunately, all that changed after he encountered a giant wall that he could not scale no matter how hard he tried, forcing him back to the earth.
“I have recently undergone my baptism advancing to the tenth level.” said Kaz as he moved to stretch out his hand.
“Pfff....you see what did I tell you. These big clans are just like those large sky lanterns, they look big and unfathomable on the outside but inside is nothing but hot air. Ha!” laughed Dogro.
The disciples in the audience rolled their eyes upon hearing his words. “What a hypocrite.” They thought.
“Don’t you also use your clan’s strength to oppress others?”
However they also couldn’t help but be disappointed by Kaz. He was a descendant of the legendary Divine Tiger and yet his cultivation was only average.
Kaz tuned out all sound around him and shut his eyes. His stretched out right hand started to glow bright red and small spherical collections of fire energy began to swirl around him.
The swirling was slow at first but then it quickened to the point that the dots joined together to form a blurry blood red curtain, concealing Kaz within.
Elder Bol’s eyes widened and his jaws dropped in shock.
“Elemental resonance!” he yelled.
However the astonishment did not stop there, the curtain of fire energy suddenly flew up into the air and started shifting and contorting before finally taking on the form of a small red phoenix.
Kaz’s mouth opened and he slowly recited one word,
Almost immediately after those words were spoken, the small phoenix grew extremely agitated before vibrating violently and imploding in the air. Tiny ash like fire energy floated down from the sky.
“Ignite!” This time, Kaz shouted the words with force.
The tiny ash particles stopped in mid-air and a shrill ancient bird cry suddenly rang out.
“Grow and burn, my friend.” said Kaz as he opened his eyes and smiled.
The ash like particles started inflating in the air, growing to about ten times its original size before abruptly exploding and in the process multiplying. This strange scene repeated itself for a few seconds and only stopped after almost half the platform was covered in fire energy particles.
The fire energy particles then started to bind together quickly contorting and turning into a small phoenix. This bird however was different from the previous one, it was completely covered in dark crimson flames that made the air around it tremble and it’s eyes showed intelligence like that of a living thing.
Kaz then made a small gesture and the small phoenix bird flew towards him, landing on his shoulder and burning a patch of his robe.
Elder Bol and the entire audience stood speechless, unable to fathom what they had just witnessed.