Monday, February 27, 2017
The First Alchemist - Chap 40
Chapter 40 - Entry Fee
"You want me to fight in the tournament?" Chem Au asked. He wasn't as opposed to this as much as last year. Because of his increased strength, he was a little more confident that he could handle one or two opponents.
Chem Al shook his head. "You're not listening. I want you to win the tournament!"
"What?” Chem Au shouted. “Win? As in beat everybody?”
“Yes! For advertising. That way, when everyone asks how you got so strong, you can tell them about our pills.”
Chem Au was stunned. “Do you even understand how hard it is to win the tournament? Sure I’ve gotten stronger, but I’m still nothing compared to those guys out there.”
“But you’ve got to do it. You’re the strongest youth in our village!”
“What about Sorka Bo? His profound strength is at the same level as me.”
Chem Al shook his head. “No, he won’t do.”
“He’s too ugly.”
Chem Au didn’t know what to say to that. No matter what, his little brother seemed adamant that he should participate in the tournament. He sighed, his face looking disheartened.
When Chem Al saw how hesitant his big brother was, he said, "Have more confidence in yourself. I believe in you."
Chem Au wanted to say no, that his participation wouldn't matter because there was a good chance that he would lose. But he found it difficult to say no to his little brother who was looking up at him with such unquestioning belief. He sighed. “...Okay.”
Chem Al smiled. “Good! Now go put your leather armor back on and grab your shield.”
After his big brother went off to get ready, Chem Al was approached by his parents and Sorka Jiu, who had overheard their conversation.
“Are you sure about this?” Chem Mai asked. Chem Feng and Sorka Jiu said similar things, equally worried. Not many tournament participants were able to leave without injuries. A few of them have even died.
“Perhaps Sorka Bo would be a better choice,” Sorka Jiu said. “He has the same strength as Chem Au, but he’s older and has more experience in battles.”
“That may be true,” Chem Al said. “But think about it. Wouldn’t it look more impressive if someone younger were to win the tournament?”
After thinking about it, Sorka Jiu nodded his head.
“I’m glad you agree. Now please hand over your sword,” Chem Al said.
“What?” Sorka Jiu nearly shouted, surprised.
“Chem Au’s chances of winning the tournament would be greater if he has a weapon. He’s going to need that sword.”
“Uh….” Sorka Jiu couldn’t refute his village chief’s words. However, this sword was a family heirloom, passed down from his father, and one day he would pass it down to his son.
“Don’t worry,” Chem Al said. “I will get you a new and better one when this sword breaks.”
When the sword breaks? Not if? It was like his village chief was expecting the sword to break in the tournament. Sorka Jiu was very reluctant to hand it over, but once Chem Al said that this was his order as the village chief, he gave him the sword. In truth, he knew that his sword was weak, and that it would be easy to find a better sword out there to replace it and pass down to his son. But still….
“Thank you. With this sword, my big brother will definitely win the tournament,” Chem Al confidently said. After all, he knew that Chem Au would someday become one of the greatest warriors in all of history, gaining the title of the Turtle God. And this is where he’ll start to prove it.
“Just in case, we’re coming with you,” Chem Feng said. He had to be there in case his son got hurt. And it was one of his dreams to see his son fight in a spectacular tournament.
Chem Al nodded, expecting this.
When Chem Au finally returned, he still looked like a poor warrior, but he also looked ready for battle. Once he received the sword, the only thing left to do was to tell some villagers to watch over the Chem clan’s cart full of potatoes and radishes. And also, Chem Al had to fetch his bag before they left.
“What do you need that for?” Chem Au asked.
“In case you get hurt.” Chem Al lugged the bag over his shoulder. It contained his cauldron, plus a couple of medicinal ingredients. “Now let’s go!”
Chem Al pulled his big brother, who sighed and let himself be dragged along. Chem Feng, Chem Mai, and Sorka Jiu followed them. They all made their way through the city until they ended up at the tournament grounds. Like last year, they found a mass of people. Spectators, gamblers, just about anyone who enjoyed a good show was there. In a world where strength was respected, watching a fight between talented youths was the best entertainment.
Chem Al practically ran to one of the entry booths. "I would like to sign my big brother up for the tournament, please."
The booth man looked at the kid in raggy clothes, then tried to sense his cultivation. Oh! A village kid with a profound strength at the twentieth level. That was unexpected. He wasn’t as weak as he looked. “You’re lucky you got here in time. The tournament is about to start. Entry is one high jade stone.”
When the entry fee was paid, the booth man put down Chem Au’s name, then said, “Try not to die, kid.”
Chem Au gulped.
The booth man pointed out the waiting area for tournament participants. This was where the group parted ways. They all wished Chem Au good luck, then went off to find a decent place to watch the tournament.
Chem Au, all alone, went to the waiting area. He walked slowly, his feet seemingly having been turned to stone. His hands clutched his shield and sword tightly.
It was only when he got to the waiting area that he was able to breathe a sigh of relief. Although there were impressive warriors there wearing shiny armor, there were also a few villagers like him who had paid the exorbitant entry fee to participate in this tournament. This was good. He had no hope of winning the entire tournament, but his chances of making it to the higher rounds looked better. He told himself that he just needed to win a few times to show off his prowess. That should be enough to advertise the effects of the pills.
A couple of minutes later, someone came to tell them to get ready. Vera City’s martial arts tournament was about to begin!