A handful of cultivators had attacked Locke while he sought shelter. Fortunately, they were rather weak, so it wasn’t difficult to annihilate them, bringing Locke’s total to 721 points. He was now one of the top five contenders for the event.
Locke had yet to merge Yeffermun’s points with his, though. Once he pressed the skull brooches together, there was an immediate rush of energy between the contraptions. 750… 800… 900… His score continued to rocket until it finally stopped at 1142 points.
Locke gaped; the outcome was highly unexpected! He hadn’t imagined that their total would break into the range of thousands. Unbeknownst to him, spectators that gathered beyond the realm were overwhelmed by the abrupt change of events. Mermerri’s Cottage had prepared a real-time scoreboard that was projected on screens of lights for family, friends and other factions to witness. This was a strict requirement to adhere to since it acted as a disclaimer of integrity and impartiality.
The people had witnessed a certain Scar member, who was initially in fourth place, experience an influx of points. The points had raced to over a thousand and the sudden momentum had brought him to first place. The difference between first and second place was an astonishing gap of 250 points. The Scar of the Death Bell was officially at the top!
What the hell?! Weren’t Mermerri’s Cottage and The Scar of the Death Bell each other’s nemesis? Was Mermerri going to be defeated by its worst enemy on its own turf? Everyone’s anticipation grew. They wondered if Mermerri would actually hand the treasured Leaf of Life to a Scar member. The act would no doubt be the biggest humiliation for the faction. Mermerri’s Cottage would find it difficult to hold their heads up before the Scar of the Death Bell at least for the next fifty years in Krimea City.
Amidst everyone’s fixation on the Scar member, the disappearance of a certain Scar member in eighth place went unnoticed. The participant was quickly replaced by someone from Phantom Tower. It didn’t help that the difference between the top ten contenders was almost negligible, making it difficult to notice. No one would’ve connected the dots and considered the possibility of internal sabotage since factions were expected to be united within.
The higher circle of the Scar was delighted and other lesser-known factions like the Phantom Tower watched on with mirth. The authorities of Mermerri’s Cottage, however, were busy issuing emergency messages to the guardian Magisters in an attempt to grasp the situation. Eventually, feedback of the battle between Locke and Yeffermun fell into the grips of Mermerri leaders.
“My goodness. How is this even possible?” A middle-aged caster whose right arm had been completely replaced by green vines felt the dilemma to either laugh or cry. He shoved his crystal ball to his friends, urging them to take a look at the feedback. The four of them were level-two Mermerri Magisters stationed nearby Krimea City. It wasn’t atypical to assign four Magisters for a province of more than ten million inhabitants. Krimea City was one of the most densely populated territories of Marharden Kingdom, after all.
“I would’ve never imagined that their brains were capable of processing such ideas,” said an elder Magister who had a radiant enchanted diamond embedded in his forehead. He was evidently sceptical of the footage.
“Who cares? These rotting maggots are better off dead anyway,” A wrinkly old female Magister sneered. There were only sparse splotches of hair decorating her scalp and she only had a few teeth remaining. Unlike her aged appearance, her emerald staff was impressively majestic.
“If that’s the case, I see no point in releasing this footage,” suggested a Magister who hid beneath a robe of brilliant orange.
“I feel the same.”
The older Magisters cackled amusedly. “Those Scar bastards can have all the fun now, but this is bound to hurt them immensely. The knight's not really one of them, after all.”
Their aged appearances suggested wisdom but they lacked the grace and poise of one. They were behaving like children who’d stolen cookies. It was obvious from the feedback that both the knight and caster involved had the potential to break through as level-one lifeforms hence any of them being dead was great news to Mermerri’s Cottage. Things were looking great since the knight had won at the cost of hefty injuries and his mount was equally scathed. It was impossible to recover without potions in ten to fourteen days. Needless to say, there was no way the knight could maintain his champion seat with only six days left of the event.
On the other end, Locke felt much more at ease with the intense point boost. While he remained clueless about his current ranking, a thousand points should be enough to emerge on top. He was better off avoiding confrontation with others in his current state. The near-death experiences were bound to push him further but he was only aiming for the elven potion to lengthen his family’s lifespan.
“I’ll rest for half a day and venture deeper into the realm,” Locke mumbled to himself. The stronger cultivators were gathered in the hinterlands, where Mermerri’s most precious magic materials and major monsters would appear as well. While he still had more than enough resources to spare, it would be great to attain replenishments soon. Mermerri’s Cottage was extremely well-established in the field of botany and magic material cultivation. It was unlike Locke to leave the Enchanted Forest Realm without some spoils.
His collection of major monster nucleus cores and materials had yet to satisfy him thus far. Measly items meant nothing to him since he was a wealthy man. Even so, he found the contents of Yeffermun’s ring to be a delightful surprise.