GDK 790: Competition
In the past competitions, never had such an all-encompassing monitoring device been used. Wallace ought to have acquired the space divine device only recently.
Everything displayed on the sand table was real and happening live. They were just shrunk by hundreds of times in order to fit the sand table. As miniature as the figures appeared, it was the right size for the crowd to observe everything happening in the arena without missing too many details.
The Seven Companies marched into seven different parts of the battle arena. Upon stepping into the arena, each Company would spread into one long row and begin combing through the terrain. They were like seven straight lines travelling perpendicularly.
The patriarchs of the large family clans, the Divine Guard Chiefs, and some distinguished characters of the City of Shadows watched the sand table attentively. Chief Ralph of the Second Corps had his brows very slightly bunched. Like Han Shuo to Barnard, he too had given a special order to Kiffan. And just like Han Shuo, he did not know that Wallace would come up with such a device. If Kiffan tried to kill Fifth Corps divine guards with premeditation, Wallace and the others would surely notice it.
Ralph felt rather uneasy at the thought. He couldn’t help but turn to look at Han Shuo. It just so happened that Han Shuo who shared the same feeling met his gaze. Ralph immediately straightened his face and lightly groaned while Han Shuo put on a faint smile and acted with full composure.
“We have cast spells on the divine essences. When one is removed from where it is hidden, it will constantly emanate energy pulses to a wide area. Those nearby may easily detect the energy pulses…" explained Wallace to the crowd.
“They have just entered the arena and no one has discovered any divine essences yet. The competition this year is much more interesting than the past'. We could even watch as the competition progresses,” remarked Rugersey the Chief of Sixth Corps smilingly. He was the first of many in the crowd to give his opinion following Wallace’s explanation.
Time flew as hurriedly as the wind. It had been half a day since the Seven Companies entered the arena. In the thick jungles of rugged terrains, the seven troops gradually grew further and further apart. They searched and sensed their surroundings carefully for any divine essences.
The team from the Fifth Corps nominally led by Barnard was travelling unhurriedly in one direction. Bollands would later split them into nine squads. Sanguis and Gilbert would each lead their own squads. The nine squads travelled in a formation that kept them relatively close together. They would always be close enough to help each other through any sudden troubles.
“Bollands, Lord Bryan wants us to plunder those from the Second Corps and ignore the First and Third Corps. But the arena is expansive and we are growing further and further apart from other companies. What if we cannot locate the Second Corps?” Barnard asked Bollands for advice.
Although Barnard was officially the Captain of this Fifth Corps company, in reality, it was Bollands who had the true command over the company. After having served the Third Corps for many years, Bollands was well-versed in every aspect of managing a Divine Guard Corps. In addition, he had abundant experience, excellent strength, and could always keep a calm mind. Even without any explicit orders from Han Shuo, it was clear to Barnard what he ought to do.
“No worries, I know precisely where they are,” replied Bollands. He had left a tracer on one of the divine guards from the Second Corps before the event.
“Those punks are so fucking arrogant! Remember how they looked at us? They are so damn punchable! Let us show them who is truly the strongest in the City of Shadows!” remarked Gilbert fiercely. He seemed to thirst for battle.
“The Second Corps have always ranked first in team combat strength. I believe that they will be the first to try to plunder divine essences from another Company. How about if we just preserve our energy, wait until the Second Corps have plundered most of the divine essences, and then raid them?” proposed Sanguis.
Several other divine guards seconded Sanguis’ proposal. It seemed to them a decent strategy.
Bollands did not immediately respond. He thought in silence for a while before he shook his head and calmly disagreed, “This is not the safest strategy. If it turns out that the Second Corps doesn’t possess many divine essences, even after taking theirs, we might not have enough divine essences to take the first place.”
After a short pause, Bollands suggested, “To guarantee our victory, we should at least spend some time to look for divine essences before we plunder from the Second Corps near the end of the competition.”
One of the main reasons that Bollands was the de facto leader of the company was that he could always think clearly and would never be impulsive in making a decision. His mind was always steps ahead of the others.
The Company thought for a moment and realized that Bollands’ suggestion would give them the greatest certainty of victory. Therefore, they decided to continue searching the arena for divine essences.
The first piece of divine essence was located neither by the Second Corps nor the Fifth Corps, but by the team from the Sixth Corps whose Chief was Rugersey. One of their divine guards accidentally fell into a swamp. When he was almost fully submerged in mud, he abruptly sensed a strange energy fluctuation underneath.
The divine guard immediately cheered, prompting the others to dive into the mud. From its depth, they found a piece of divine essence. The swamp was specially enchanted such that only those who were submerged in its mud could detect the energy pulses from the divine essence.
But when the piece of divine essence was removed from the swamp, the energy pulses were no longer contained to the swamp but allowed to spread far and wide.
Han Shuo and the party observing from the center of Soaring Cloud Mountain Range saw a bright red dot appear on the sand table among the company from the Sixth Corps. Wallace pointed at it and explained, “This red dot means that a divine essence has been removed from where it was hidden. Every divine essence has been specially treated so that those within a certain distance from it can detect it.”
The main reason the divine essences were treated so was to encourage the companies to fight. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to tell which of them had the greatest combat strength.
Chief Rugersey of the Sixth Corps put on a smile. He said, “It seems that luck is with my Sixth Corps!”
“The competition has just started. There’s no telling if their luck will roll,” remarked Camilla, Chief of the Fourth Corps after taking a glance at Rugersey. “Besides, luck isn’t the most important factor in winning the competition.”
After those of the Sixth Corps found the first divine essence, the other companies soon found more hidden in rocks, tree trunks, rivers, and all sorts of random locations. They were very well hidden and only those who scanned their surroundings with total scrutiny could catch a clue.
The Sixth Corps may have started out lucky but they did not enjoy a lucky streak. Camilla’s Fourth Corps did not take long to emerge as the leading team by finding seven pieces of divine essence. The divine essences blossomed and emanated strong energy pulses like beacons once they were unearthed. In order to encourage the Companies to fight, Wallace even prohibited the divine guards from concealing the divine essences they found. The divine essences must always be exposed.
Compared to the Fourth and Sixth Corps, the Fifth Corps led by Bollands wasn’t as lucky. It appeared that there were not as many divine essences distributed in the region they chose to sweep. At this point, the Fifth Corps had obtained just two pieces of divine essence. Meanwhile, the Second Corps led by Kiffan had obtained five.
The remainder of the day passed. The Seven Companies had found some more divine essence. Camilla’s Fourth Corps was having a long lucky streak by obtaining five additional pieces of divine essence. The Second Corps obtained two more pieces while the Fifth Corps only found one more piece. Bolland’s company had the lowest count of divine essence.
Camilla was very happy that her Fourth Corps was leading by a good margin. She said to Rugersey smilingly, “See that? This is what having good luck actually looks like. It just keeps on coming!”
Rugersey forced a smile and replied, “You yourself have said that luck isn’t the most important factor.”
Gradually, even more time had passed. The Seven Corps seemed to have found all the divine essences there were to be found.
“That’s more or less it. Around ninety percent of the divine essence has been discovered,” said Andre. He said to the crowd who were watching the sand table intently, “Now comes the most exciting part of the competition!”
The Seven Companies had obtained at least some divine essence. With most of the divine essences having been unearthed, the companies that are in shortage must now plunder from their opponents in order to win the competition. Thus, they shall have to fight. In those battles, Wallace and the party would be able to see which company was the mightiest.
Knowing it had almost come to the most interesting part of the competition, the patriarchs and Divine Guard Chiefs leaned even closer to the sand table. They wondered which two companies would be the first to engage.
At moments like this, it was normally the Second Corps, who had the strongest team combat strength, that made the first strike. Sure enough, the Second Corps led by Kiffan was heading towards the region with the strongest energy pulses - towards the Fourth Corps!
The Second Corps was renowned for their might, so much so that those of the Sixth and Seventh Corps completely ignored Kiffan’s company as they walked past them. It was clear that those from the Sixth and Seventh Corps wanted to avoid fighting them. Kiffan’s strategy was similar to Bollands’. He planned on plundering the team with the most divine essences and add to theirs so that his team would lead with a substantial margin before going to attack Han Shuo’s Fifth Corps.
When Camilla saw that those from the Second Corps were charging towards her Fourth Corps, she grew anxious. Those divine guards of the Second Corps trained by Ralph were famous for their terrifying strength. Her Fourth Corps had never been able to defeat the Second Corps in previous competitions. Camilla knew that her divine guards would most likely lose to the Second Corps again.
However, it turned out that the first two teams to engage were not the Second and Fourth Corps but the Seventh and Fifth Corps whose Chiefs were Batúk and Han Shuo. The Seventh Corps assumed that those from the Fifth Corps were the weakest. After watching the Second Corps walk past them, they went to attack those from the Fifth Corps.
The two companies came into contact and started engaging. Batúk of the House of Buller secretly took a glance at Han Shuo and in his mind, he praised his subordinate for being wise. He thought, Although the Fifth Corps did not find many divine essences, they are the easiest to plunder from. Having more divine essences is always better. My Captain sure is smart.
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