"So this is the arena," he muttered to himself while watching the ongoing fight. As he stood there for minutes, no one came to ask him what he was doing.
"How was the test?" Jenny's voice came from behind startling him for a moment, distracting him from his watch.
"I was tested to join the inner disciple circle," he simply said without turning to glance at the members of his team.
If he did, he would see shock over their faces. "Are you really tested to be an inner disciple?" Deno asked, while seeing this result as a great result.
"Don't celebrate too soon, our next opponent will be an elite team from the giant clan."
"Giant clan?" Lan seemed scared, "we are doomed!" and if he had the strength to scream in panic, he would have done that already.
"Like that giant Pol?" Ashley asked.
"Yeah, like him."
"But" Jenny seemed not to understand what was going on.
"I know, even making Deno my slave didn't help to solve the problem."
"What about Siera? Didn't she say she will spread the word?" Ashley said, trying to find hope, her last hope in that small fox girl.
"She did," Jim said, "the rod even knew about this, but this seemed not to change the mindset of Pol."
"Rod? What rod?" Deno asked.
"Sigh, it's a long story. Leave it for later," Jim said, feeling strange about what he felt when holding the rod. "Let's watch this fight, and learn. After all, we will be in their shoes soon."
His words silenced everyone as they did as he asked. The fight was bloody, and when it ended, two more were killed and three were heavily injured.
"Those wolves they are strong," Jenny said.
"Yet their shadow opponents seem to be much stronger," Jim said, "they managed to gain their victory after all."
His eyes shone as he noticed something. As the fight was approaching its end, the two remaining shade clan youths managed to beat the three wolf clan fighters, and they gained all of the living wolves as slaves in the end.
"So the winner not only gained recognition, but he will gain strength as well," he muttered to himself, realizing why many teams were interested in fighting his team.
"Anyone else?" and one of the two surviving shade clan youths shouted with pride, "anyone else?" he asked again before adding, "anyone else?" and as no one spoke up, he glanced over one direction before adding, "no one is challenging me, so I"
"I challenge you!"
Just before he could finish his words, Jim shouted as he stepped directly into the arena. His presence, his shout, his team managed to cause a stir in the place.
"And who are you?" one of the masters sitting on the side asked in a loud and arrogant tone.
"I'm Jim, an inner disciple of the academy," and Jim replied with a loud tone and much pride in his words.
"Not yet," and the man replied with a sneer, "you are still needed to prove yourself here," he said before standing up, and glancing at the crowd.
Strangely this man, who seemed more like humans, wearing this long cape, managed to silence everyone with just a single glance.
"The rules are simple, you need to survive five challenges. You are given one defeat, and nothing will happen to you or your team. Having two defeats will make one of your team be chosen as a slave. Having three defeats will take one more as a slave. Having four defeats will make your entire team turn into slaves and you will be demoted one grade."
He then paused before smiling widely, showing his bright white teeth. "It's your luck to be highly valued by our esteemed rod. Even with the defeat in all challenges you will still be a disciple in the academy, but they" he stopped there and glanced over the other members of Jim's team.
And everyone got his message out clear.
"You are given one chance to select something from that corner," he pointed towards one direction where large boxes laid there opened. "You can use all your weapons and stuff, and in the arena there are no rules; even death is allowed."
The crowd cheered like this was some famous saying they used to hear and be amused by. "You can concede before the start of the fight, you can concede even in the middle of the fight. If any of you were about to lose their lives and didn't want to, they can concede but this will be considered you turning to the other team's slaves. Only the leader of the team can ask to concede."
He stated the rules simply like saying a good morning greeting. Jim nodded, expressing his understanding of these rules. "Five members are only allowed to compete, even if you gained more each round; only five can participate. Go, select what you need. You have five minutes."
He then turned to the other team before adding, "go and prepare, your opponent" and he paused before taking a quick glance over Deno, "is strong."
He just said this friendly reminder, which wasn't that needed; everyone here knew how Bulltors were strong.
Yet they all, even that master, missed the point here. Jim was tested to be an inner disciple, meaning he was pretty strong too!
"What should we choose?" Ashley asked while glancing over this long myriad of weapons and stuff inside the boxes.
"Bring me two swords, and get two for you," Jim casually said, as he didn't know the best weapon for him to use yet.
Deno started looking for his desired armor, as for Lan he searched for a lightning ore as he desired. Jenny held a fiery ore that kept sparkling with fire all the time.
During that, Jim glanced over the other team. He felt greatly lucky to speak up at the appropriate time and challenge this one. This way he had one win in his pocket.
"Still five wins, that's hard," he muttered, "we have one allowance for defeat. I should keep that for the giants. So, no defeat in the other four matches."
He was thinking about their options here, while watching the selection the shade clan team did. They chose three shade youths, one wolf youth and one slim and seemingly weak one.
"Who is that?" Jim pointed his sword to the slim one, feeling much annoyed by it.
"It's a member of the Leivy race, they are famous for their agility and poisonous attacks through their nails and teeth," Deno said while wearing a giant armor on his body. "We need to watch out for this one, he is really sneaky and hard to deal with."
"Sure," Jim agreed, as Deno's words matched what his gut feeling screamed about that youth. "This team is strong," he added.
"Yes, he isn't the weak team you think it is. I believe it's one of the best teams out there," Lan said, while standing beside Jim. "See those three? They belong to the shade clan, famous for creating fog around them and merging their bodies with. Hard to kill actually."
"Yeah, I saw their trick before," he nodded, before thinking out loud, "I think we should refrain from using all our strength on them."
"Really?" Jenny came with her fiery ore in hand, "they seem quite strong for us to handle."
"Not that impossible to beat," Jim said before adding, "the fog they use isn't that thick or large. With a strong force it will break," he then turned to glance over Deno as he added, "the wolves had to use three of them at a time to break the fog, but we can do it with one."
"Leave it to me," Deno confidently said, "anything needs strength and defense I'll gladly accept."
"Good," Jim nodded, before glancing over Jenny, "your task is to handle that wolf with Ashley aiding you from the side."
"What about me?" Lan asked.
"You will augment Deno's strength for now," Jim simply said.
"And that Leivy one? Are you going to handle him alone?" Lan was speechless for a moment when he noticed the confident smile over Jim's face.
"Leave it to me."
"I said I will handle him. You just make sure to make everyone heavily injured and force them to concede and be our slaves," Jim said while showing an evil smile.
"That's the infamous human greed," and Deno said while shaking his head.
"Call it as you like," Jenny came while laughing, "our Jim is strong and he is an inner disciple now, right? It's fair to gain more slaves."
"Hahaha, you are absolutely correct," Lan laughed, "let's name this test the slave hunt operation."
They all laughed and this happy and carefree atmosphere was noticed by everyone.