Chapter 79: Future Hopes of the Kingdom
Outside the Celestial River County.
A long line of armored warriors had gathered, and they were guarding an area that had been cordoned off by wooden and stone fencing.
The entire area had a radius of roughly five kilometers, and it contained a small mountain, a decent-sized lake, flat grasslands, and lush forests.
After some simple renovations, the hunting grounds for the nobles of the Celestial River County, had since been transformed into the venue for the Celestial River County Youth Battle Tournament.
There were tens of thousands of people gathered outside the venue.
Anyone in the Celestial River County who was able and willing to go there had arrived at the hunting grounds. All of them were there to spectate the grand event that took place less than once every two decades.
The tournament was held as a means to scout for individuals with talent, but lacked the social status to be a part of the kingdom’s upper-class population. If it weren’t for the fact that the kingdom was preparing for war, they would not have been willing to expend so much effort and resources to hold such a tournament.
One inevitably had to work hard to succeed, but at times, circumstances were more decisive in contributing to one’s rise.
Even so, the circumstances weren’t entirely fair. For example, major families like the Duan and Wang families received ten spots each, while the Celestial River Academy—which was stacked with talent—only received thirty spots, a portion of which was taken by the major families again.
However, most people still supported that unfair system as there was no better way. At the very least, the current state of affairs gave prodigies from underprivileged families a chance, albeit a slim one. Otherwise, there would be no opportunities for them at all.
Even though most of the tournament spots had been taken by members of major families, the tournament itself was comparatively fairer.
As everyone gradually arrived at the hunting grounds, the Celestial River County army commander and the host for the tournament, Wei Jianshan, immediately began to gather all of the tournament participants.
“All participating disciples, come to the front of the pavilion to receive your identification badges!”
Qi Ying arrived in front of the army pavilion, along with all of the other Celestial River Academy disciples. They lined up, and received their badges one by one from the army official.
When it was almost Qi Ying’s turn to receive his badge, the army official aimed a curious glance at him before turning to the soldier beside him. “The Celestial River Academy is becoming more and more useless. Even a Fifth Energy Martial Stage warrior can enter the tournament? They must have run out of prodigies, if they are using him just to make up the numbers!”
Everyone else from the Celestial River Academy also turned to appraise Qi Ying.
However, their eyes were devoid of the disdain and mockery that could be seen on the army official’s face.
All of them had seen what Qi Ying was capable of. He may have only been at the Fifth Energy Martial Stage, but back when he had faced the Duan family, he was only at the Second Energy Martial Stage.
Thinking back even further, he was only at the Seventh Strength Martial Stage a month ago!
Progressing from the Seventh Strength Martial Stage to the Fifth Energy Martial Stage in a month?
No one believed that an underprivileged disciple like him could advance so quickly.
“He must have hidden his true power, right? He’s only beginning to slowly reveal it now… The Fifth Energy Martial Stage is definitely not his true cultivation base!”
“We have to be on our guard. Tell the people from the Sun family not to underestimate him!”
A few academy disciples discussed quietly among themselves.
However, Qi Ying still managed to overhear their conversation.
He accepted his badge before strapping it to his right wrist, ignoring the army official as well as those disciples who clearly bore enmity toward him.
Qi Ying had already predicted that they were going to gang upon on him.
The world was a very cruel place, and when one shone too brightly, they were inevitably going to draw envy and resentment from others.
As such, it was always inevitable that he was going to be targeted.
Even if his conflict with the Duan family had never arisen, all of the disciples from the major families would still flock together to bring down a prodigious underprivileged disciple like him.
After receiving his badge, Qi Ying returned to his group and began to survey the other participants.
There were a total of two hundred and sixty participants from all over the Celestial River County. There were thirty from the Celestial River Academy, forty from the four major families, and thirty from the other prominent families as well as the mayor’s forces, amounting to a hundred in total. In addition to that, there were a hundred from the Celestial River County Army, and sixty from the other cities in the county, thereby accounting for the remaining hundred and sixty participants.
Overall, the Celestial River Academy disciples were relatively weak.
After all, in other places, participants were chosen from warriors below twenty-five years of age, while the age limit was below twenty-one for the Celestial River Academy.
Qi Ying’s cultivation base at the Fifth Energy Martial Stage was well and truly at the bottom of the pack.
At that moment, Commander Wei Jianshan began to yell again, “The rules of the tournament will be announced by Master Qi Shun from the capital!”
Everyone turned their attention toward the center of the venue.
Qi Ying also cast his gaze over to the exceptional prince he had already once seen the night prior. He wore a green military uniform that perfectly accentuated his youthful energy, and the sight of him drew screams from women of all ages.
“The Qi family of the capital city? Hmph, we both have Qi as a surname, but we sure are worlds apart!” Qi Ying pursed his lips.
Some people were destined to possess many things as soon as they were born, and they had special rights unavailable to the vast majority of the people in the world.
If he wanted to compete with them, he could only start from the very bottom and work his way to the top!
Qi Shun stood calmly with his hands clasped behind his back in the face of countless scorching gazes, and announced in a loud voice, “Welcome, all future hopes of the kingdom. The tournament today is not only a chance for you to win personal glory, but it is also very much related to the future of the kingdom!
“The fact that all of you can stand here indicates that you are all elites among your peers. However, only prodigies among prodigies, and the elite of the elite can truly become pillars of the kingdom! I hope all of you can work hard tirelessly and reveal the most powerful side of yourselves in the tournament! If you succeed, you will become the hope of the kingdom, and infinite glory will await you. Even if you fail, you must display your courage and strength so you can attract the interest of other potential recruiters.
“I won’t waste too much time with words. The rules for the tournament are very simple. All of you have unique badges tied to your right wrists. They cannot be placed into spatial rings, and the army officials can constantly keep track of your location through them. At the same time, your actions will be projected onto the venue by a projection spell formation that was set up in advance! Everyone present will be able to see what you’re doing.
“What you have to do is very simple; get as many badges from others as you possibly can! We are now approaching noon, and the tournament will conclude at sunset. The ten people with the most badges will be accepted into the Yun Xiao Academy, and be nurtured as the future hopes of the kingdom!”