"Ara? You're already done?" I asked Lian Li, seeing her return from the bathroom.
She wiped her hands on the sides of her shirt, giving me that satisfied look of hers.
"Where is Eris?" She asked after making sure her hair was in order.
"Fufufu… Still not finished yet," I said, a mischievous smile crossing my face. "She has four persons' worth to take care of after all."
Lian Li nodded in understanding, turning her attention to the stage.
It was down to the final three contestants after a long gruelling half an hour of constant, boring battle.
"Give up, Gu Zhi of Phoenix Sect! You can't beat the two of us alone!" One of them shouted.
"Ha! Tu Fei and Wu Chi! If you think my Phoenix Sect will yield to your Hawk Sect, you can dream on!" the lonely boy shouted.
"This stubborn guy, let's go, Tu Fei! 'Raging Hawk Claws'!"
One of the Hawk Sect boys charged towards the lone little boy with his hands in a claw shape, air blades forming around his fingers in preparation to strike.
Flames erupted from the phoenix boy's arm, blocking the downward slash from his opponent.
"You're open! 'Wind Blade!'"
The other Hawk boy materialised a blade of wind, slicing it towards the phoenix boy's neck.
"Not yet!" The phoenix boy roared, raising his other arm to point his palm at the blade.
"I've returned…" Eris announced, stepping beside me.
"Ara, ara. That was quite fast of you, Eris. All of you satisfied?"
The girl narrowed her eyes at me before her face suddenly morphed into a wide, beaming smile, winking at me.
"What I missed?" She asked, just as an explosion occurred on the stage.
"Nothing much, just three idiots shouting out their Cultivation Techniques for their opponents to hear and prepare a counter for," Lian Li sighed.
"Mmm… Nothing much then..." Eris remarked. "You two going up soon? You're going to end up fighting each other right?"
I tilted my head towards Lian Li, "I win and I get to tempt Master freely for a month without interference."
"I win and you don't get to do that," Lian Li countered.
We shook on it, turning back to the stage as the smoke cleared from the explosion, revealing all three members outside the ring.
"It's a draw!" the announcer declared.
What a farce.
Look, the three of them are even shaking hands and declaring themselves brothers. What kind of development is that?
The Elders and Masters around us began discussing how talented the three were, heaping praises on their quick thinking and conviction.
If I hadn't known, I might have assumed those three were acting according to a script with how they were fighting.
I suppressed the urge to roll my eyes.
Only Master kept out of commenting on their performance while patting Cai Hong on his lap.
Oh well, I have other things to think about now.
"Next will be the Inner Core Practitioners! Will all participants step on the stage!"
I sighed as they announced the next group of participants up on the stage.
I don't know what came over me just now, but when I heard that guy say those things about Lian Li my body just moved on it's own.
Good thing I managed to suppress my anger and I believe only the guy and my disciples noticed the little scene I made.
I didn't know there were such people within Heaven Sect, it was quite surprising.
Honestly… I only participated in this Festival twice and the people changed so much?
Last time I participated in the Festival was in my first year of being a Master. I don't think there were people like him back then.
Maybe I'm getting a little protective of my cute disciples.
"Papa sad?" Cai Hong asked, her hands clutching at my shirt.
I smiled at her teary expression before giving her a comforting head pat.
"No, just thinking."
"Papa, don't be sad!"
Cai Hong hugged me, burying her face in my chest.
Ah… So cute, I'm healed.
"Mm, mm. I am not sad Cai Hong. Look, look, your big sisters are going up on stage now."
"Papa really not sad?"
"Muu… Ok," Cai Hong relented, sitting back down on my lap to watch Manami and Lian Li prepare for their turn on stage.
I've adopted Cai Hong for less than a year, but if anything happened to her, I'll probably kill everyone here and then myself.
The bell sounded for the Practitioners to begin.
"Phoenix Sla-- Ughhh!"
"Whirlwind Ki-- Ahhhh!"
Manami and Lian Li immediately smacked the Practitioners closest to them away, not even giving them a chance to use their Techniques.
They slipped through smoothly under all the other cast Techniques, reacting to them even before the Technique is materialised.
Anyone near enough who attempts to even cast a Technique were immediately countered without a chance of even speaking the Technique name.
What made it rather unnerving for the other competing Practitioners was the fact that the two of them were completely silent.
A few hundred Practitioners had entered the stage, only Lian Li and Manami were left after a short ten minutes.
"Master Lin…" The Sect Master nudged me. "They're your disciples aren't they?"
"Yes, they are," I admitted proudly.
And why shouldn't I be proud? I was the one who taught them it was incredibly foolish to shout out Technique names since it leaves you open for a counter.
Like, who in the right mind does that? It's like two guys getting into a fist fight and they start shouting "Left hook!", "Right Jab!", "Left kick!" at each other.
"They are… Ummm… Very impressive indeed…"
"Thank you for the praise, Sect Master."
I turned my attention back to the stage. Cai Hong was clapping enthusiastically for Lian Li and Manami, she's probably entranced by all the Techniques being thrown around on stage.
"Now the extras have left the stage," Manami remarked, turning towards Lian Li with all her tails spread behind her.
"Indeed… May the best disciple win," Lian Li agreed, her eyes beginning to glow.
Balls of fire appeared around Manami before flying straight at Lian Li.
Lian Li raised her right hand and the fireballs were immediately shot down with bolts of lightning. She then clenches her hand into a fist, pulling it towards her body.
Manami clucks her tongue as she leapt away, moments before a lightning bolt struck her previous location from above.
Not missing her chance, Lian Li gathered energy quarks between her two palms, throwing her palms forward to create an energy blast that pulsed towards Manami.
Fire cloaked around three of Manami's tails, smacking the energy blast away to explode on the stage.
My fox disciple landed on the ground in a half crouch, her palm flat on the ground and glowing red.
A fire pillar erupted from beneath Lian Li, the golden haired girl barely managing to defend herself using an Earth shield at the last moment.
Lian Li reached out her palm towards Manami, drawing a circle in the air.
Clumps of earth appeared around Manami, sticking on her to form a solid cocoon of earth.
Lian Li's eyes glowed golden as she channelled her Lightning quarks once more, shooting her palm high up into the sky.
A lightning pillar engulfed the earth cocoon in an explosion of electricity, vaporising it.
Manami reappeared after the smoke from the explosion dissipated, collapsing on the stage in a crumpled heap.
I spotted the announcer opening his mouth to announce the winner, but he was interrupted when Lian Li released an explosion of electricity around herself right after landing back on the stage.
The collapsed figure of Manami disintegrated into smoke, the real body reappearing a distance behind Lian Li with fireballs prepared to strike.
I could hear Manami's irritated sigh at her illusion being revealed before chucking the fireballs at Lian Li.
Lian Li shot down the balls once more with her lightning and countered with her own balls of lightning.
Manami leapt away from the attack, fire engulfing her fists as she closed the distance between them.
Her fire clad fists shot out towards Lian Li's face, only to be intercepted by the girl's lightning clad palms.
"Ah, wrong move," I commented.
The people who heard me raised an eyebrow at my comment.
They didn't have time to question what I meant as Lian Li was struck by four of Manami's tails from her right side, sending her flying.
She tried to right herself midair but Manami was already there to receive her.
The fox youkai's fiery tailwhip smashed my golden haired disciple in her abdomen, the attack transforming her into particles of light and dumping her outside the stage.
It's quite clear that Manami is superior to Lian Li in her battle sense, she does have more battle experience after all.
It took a full minute before the announcer finally shook himself out of his stupor and declared Manami as the winner.
Yep, I'm definitely proud of them.