Eli and Dyon worked in the field, leaping around the small streams of water, planting new seeds, and picking ripe plants.
Eli was passively muttering to himself the whole time, "Fawning Grass has a gentle nature, and its need for water is significantly less than other plants. I should move it further from the stream and away from the more dominant Devil's Willow, if not, it'll end up being used as fertilizer… This'll work, Devil's Willow actually needs a high supply of water so that it doesn't dry the soil out with its fire nature."
Soft music played as they worked. Dyon was actually listening to what Eli was saying. Although he could guess how to raise plants based on the characteristics he had memorized, he hadn't actually read any gardening technique books. So, Eli was much more of an expert in this area than he was.
Soon they were finished up and went to the lake to wash their feet. Eli had insisted that they be bare foot in the field so they could make sure not to accidentally harm any plants.
After Delia and Madeleine waved them good, the sun was already setting in the sky.
After some quiet, Delia finally built up the courage to ask, "Big sister… do you love him?"
Madeleine gave a surprised look to Delia, before letting her light laughter fill the field, "I wouldn't call it that. Even I don't know what that word means. But, I feel like I know him. I watched along with uncle at Sapientia peak when he came to the library with you for the first time. I watched his fearlessness in front of Uncle Patia-Neva and the other family leaders. I watched him protect his friend and pride even with his life on the line. I watched his proud back as he fought against the best alumni focus academy has to offer. I watched as he was accepted by the heavens," Madeleine looked on towards Dyon's receding back.
"That was him?!"
Madeleine smiled, "I may not love him yet… but I think it's very worth seeing what life would be like with him in it."
A few days later, it was time for the first year examinations. Dyon was in his room, double checking the array plates had been his life recently.
'I haven't slept in 5 days… It's seems like this is about the limit of what my soul strength can provide. I can't go to sleep yet though, today is the best time to start marketing the array plates…'
After washing his face with some cold water, Dyon walked out of his room in his normal sweats and T to find Ava just about to walk by his door.
Ava turned towards him with a surprised look, "oh! You are alive," before she muttered, "I didn't really expect that."
Dyon chuckled, "you're the second lady to assume my death. If I didn't know better, I'd say Focus Academy has no room for sympathy"
"I guess you don't know better then…" Ava said. But then a thought flashed in her mind, "aren't you a first year? The examinations are about to start soon, why haven't you headed there?"
"Oh? You know about those too? I prefer to be fashionably late," although Dyon said this jokingly, he was actually being strategically late this time. That way he'd have the most eyes on him as possible. Why else would someone pay attention to a first year from a no name family?
"fashionably late? Just to get expelled? What's wrong with you! I'm headed there now, it's my duty to monitor the proceedings as a second year. Maybe if you're lucky, the teachers will make an exception and allow you to take the test at a later date. If you can't produce 500lbs of force, you'll be kicked out of the academy, Dyon. Take this seriously."
Now that Ava had spoken, Dyon realized that she wasn't wearing her usual leather and was actually wearing green elite student robes reserved for the top 3 students in each year.
"and you haven't even bothered to put on your student's uniform, do you have any respect for the academy at all? Why are you even here," Ava was getting angry now. Her impression of Dyon was getting worse and worse the more often he met him.
Dyon waved his hands, ignoring Ava's words, "since you're going to the same place I am, you might as well take me. Let's get going."
"Ugh! I'm not taking you anywhere, you'll simply be following me. I don't want to be associated with you," Ava spun around, headed down the hallway.
"damn… even those loose robes can't hide her curves," Dyon whispered before following.
"Another word and I'll kill you! Hurry up," Ava said stomping angrily on the floor.
"And here I thought you didn't want to be associated with me," Dyon said with a grin.
Ava and Dyon walked into a broad room with a simple stage ahead. The stage had 2 elders on it, standing beside stone contraptions that Dyon assumed tested strength.
"Who's the kid walking with senior sister Sicarius?"
"I don't know, but do they seem close to you?"
"He isn't even wearing the school uniform, I thought only the school's geniuses could get away with that? But, I've never seen him before."
"Wait, isn't that the guy who senior brother Storm almost killed 3 weeks ago?"
"Darius Storm? Why is he still alive?"
"I hear he begged for his life, so senior brother storm decided to let him go after teaching him a lesson."
'Begged for my life? Hm… interesting.'
Ava looked over at Dyon, about to comfort him. But, when she saw that he had no reaction, a surprised look covered her face.
"How pathetic. Senior sister Sicarius probably feels bad for him."
"Maybe he just didn't know how to get here. I hear there's a kid who hasn't shown up to any lessons, The General rages about it at the beginning of every class, swearing he'll teach him a lesson."
A booming voice filled the auditorium.
Just as Dyon was about to slip into the crowd, the sea of students parted as one of the elders leaped from the stage, landing directly in front of him.
"I've never seen you before. You dare to be late. You dare to not wear your school uniform. Let me ask you, do you take me for a joke?"
A sinister glare was in the elder's eyes. The white of his hair emphasized his green eyes. A long beard swung back and forth with his every word. His wrinkles seemed to focus on his forehead, "must be from decades of frowning," muttered Dyon.
"WHAT DID YOU SAY?!"
Ava, who was standing by Dyon had no words, 'this kid has a death with. To tease The General? After everything he's done? He has no shot at staying in the academy, even with my pleading…'
Dyon looked into The General's eyes calmly, "sorry teach, I've actually been bedridden for quite a while. The supposed seniors of this school have tempers worse than you," Dyon said chuckling.
Ava felt like she was aging rapidly, 'This guy…'
The room fell silent.
The General was shaking. His face was turning red and his breathing was becoming hurried. When had a student ever dared to say such things in front of him?
"Wait, General, please," Ava's voice rung through the room, "There is a precedent for missing class due to injury. I witnessed him being severely injured to the point of death myself. I can corroborate his story."
"I DON'T CARE! For the simple fact he disrespected me, that's already grounds for expulsion! LEAVE!"
Dyon raised an eyebrow, but didn't really feel too much. He had had enough of the clowns at this school, "you come here and jump like a monkey before me without even finding out why I'm late. In fact, if it wasn't for Libro, because of my injury, I wouldn't even have a school uniform. Clearly, you either know nothing about this, or you don't care. Since you, as a teacher don't care much for your role and speak without checking the facts first, why should I care? Do I really want teachers like you teaching me anything?"
Dyon's voice rung through the room. The elder that remained on the stage raised an eyebrow, looking towards Dyon in interest, 'he has a relationship with Libro? Enough to call him by his first name? He's implying Libro did him a favor? Interesting'
The General was about to burst when the voice of the elder rung out, "Don't listen to the drivel of kids, General. It wouldn't be a good look for people to find out you killed a student because of a few words. There is indeed a precedent for missing time due to severe injury. Since such a golden student of our school has spoken out for him, it can't be a lie, right?"
The General slowed his breathing and nodded. But then, a thought came to his head and he smiled sinisterly, "There still must be a punishment for disrespecting me. Since you said you don't need a teacher like me, you must be fairly powerful right?"
The whispers filled the room, "what is the general talking about, that kid clearly has no cultivation. He can't possibly be strong."
"Your punishment is quite simple. If you can't produce 700lbs of force on the detection stones, don't think of escaping punishment."
The General smirked, 'let's see how you get out of this one. I noticed you have no cultivation. But there must be a reason you made it into this school, so since you might have innate physical strength, I bumped it up to 700lbs. There's no way an innate physical strength can give that much of a boost. Take this as punishment for disrespecting me.'
Dyon looked over to the General, seemingly understanding what he was thinking. With a light smile he said, "Oh? That's it? Sure, why not. But, why not make it more interesting? Why not have a bet?"
"A bet? What could a kid like you have that I could possibly want?"
"I'm sure you'll see soon enough. But, let's just do it with money, how about it? I bet you ten thousand profound stones that I can reach the mark you set. How about it?"
"That's not a small number, even for an elder…"
The room rang out with hushed whispers.
Ava felt like fainting, 'this kid is so troublesome. Does he think he can embarrass the General into saying no to the bet as a moral victory before getting kicked out? He clearly doesn't know about the General's gambling addiction…'
The General started, a bit surprised. But, he then smirked, 'you think you can play with me? You're a century too young for that.'
"Sure, ten thousand profound stones. And, since I'm sure you don't have that amount, I'm sure that amount is enough to buy your life. If you lose, you'll be my servant for the rest of your days," The General said with a smirk, but soon, his smile froze.
Dyon began slowly walking towards the stage. Without looking back, his voice faintly rung through the room, "Sure, why not."
For the first time, The General felt a bit nervous, 'maybe he just knows being an elder's servant is a better life than what he was leading before,' The General thought, trying to comfort himself.
Dyon reached the stage and clasped his hands towards the other elder, "Thank you for your help senior. How many attempts do I get?"
The elder smiled, "you have 3 attempts to reach the mark."
'Let's see why Libro is so interested in you…'
The General looked on with a surprisingly serious look on his face. He had a bad feeling about this.
Dyon stood in front of a detection stone and took a deep breath. He pivoted his foot and tightened his core.
"His form is pretty good," muttered The General.
Ava nodded her head in appreciation.
Number flew up, hovering above the stone…
"400… 500… 550… 600"
'He can produce 600lbs of force?... I thought he had no cultivation…'
'600?' Even Dyon was surprised, 'maybe it has something to do with my soul?'
Dyon was right, partially. A soul needs a proper container. Part of the reason Dyon spent sleeping so long was because his body was evolving to be able to contain his stronger soul. However, this wasn't a perfect process. What Dyon didn't know just yet was that the soul couldn't keep this up forever. Not only would his sleeps last longer and longer as his soul struggled to jog the body up to speed, it would impact his future soul cultivation because a portion of his power was always deviating to nourish his body.
Dyon faintly understood this from the books on the soul he had read, but he hadn't put it together until just now, 'it seems I'll have to find means to nourish my body sooner…'
The General smiled, 'as I thought, he did have innate physical strength. But too bad. It might be enough to pass the regular test, but I asked you to hit 700 lbs, not 600.'
"It's a shame, you have quite a unique body. You'll be a good servant," The General's laugh filled the room.
Ava smiled bitterly, 'he's too reckless. He was too confident.'
Dyon chuckled, "don't be ridiculous, I have 2 more tries. The much more amiable senior here told me so."
The General chuckled, "I'm a teacher. I'm clearly aware that you put your everything into that strike. Unless you magically have a jump in cultivation, you'll have failed in our little bet. But, if you want to keep playing, I'll play with you. Go ahead."
Dyon smiled faintly, "There's a reason I have no cultivation actually. I've spent my time at the academy with the array alchemy faction. When I wasn't comatose that is…"
Dyon's eyes shone a gold light as a magnificent array began to form before him, 'I'll slow it down so they can see it. But, I'll only make it a 1.5x array, no need to go too hard. I just want to display it a bit. This way, they can't say I cheated like Uncle Ail.'
A minute later, an array was formed.
The amiable elder was trembling, 'innate aurora… and he formed an array so quickly. He only need 1.2x effectiveness to pass this test, can he do it?'
Although the amiable elder had some knowledge of arrays, he had no way of telling the array's effectiveness by simply looking at it. He could only wait for Dyon to test it out.
The General was sweating profusely, 'please don't be enough, please don't be enough… I'm already in debt, I can't handle losing that many profound stones… The only reason I have that much on me now is because I'm working as a book keep for the secret gambling association at the school, how would I explain losing all that money!'
The General was about to tear his beard off his chin.
Dyon smiled. The amplification array hovered closely to the front of his fist as he prepared to throw a punch.
The numbers flew up.
The General almost fainted.
900 hovered over the detection stones.
Dyon turned to the crown, "as you all can see, this is the power of arrays. It can change the fate of a kid with no cultivation like me, to one that has the power of a high tier 1st level foundation stage fighter. Almost a peak level one."
"yea, but you took a minute to draw it, no one will wait for you that long in battle," someone pointed out.
The mummering in the crowd was that of overall agreement. Dyon smiled and nodded, expecting this.
"The truth is, I can draw that array in less than half a second," Dyon actually downplayed his abilities. This true was he could draw 10s at a time in less than half a second, but it wasn't necessary to let them know that just yet. It might negatively impact his sales.
"Half a second?!" The amiable elder nearly fainted, 'as expected of someone Senior Sapientia is interested in'.
The crowd sighed in admiration, but then someone said, "What does that have to do with us? Go somewhere else if you want to brag," they said angrily.
"Well, what if I told you, you could do the same?"
Silence reigned over the room.
"Don't be ridiculous! We may not know much about array alchemy, but if it was that easy, everyone would do it. Look at you, you're already in first year, but have no cultivation. How could you have no cultivation if you didn't spend years on array alchemy instead of martial arts? You probably don't know any martial techniques either…"
The crowd nodded in agreement. Dyon chuckled, 'if only they knew how long I really spent to gain this level of mastery.'
"There actually a way for you to become an array alchemist master instantly," Dyon flicked his wrists and ten thousand amplification array plates appeared, "You could even stack them."
Dyon's eyes flashed and two massive amplification arrays appeared.
'He really can do it in less than half a second…'
"You can become more powerful than a peak first level foundation stage fighter!?"
"No, sell them to me!"
"Breathe, Breathe, there's plenty to go around. Just 2 profound stones per plate. Although it's expensive, it's a very important life saving measure. Remember, I couldn't even come to class for weeks because seniors thought I was easy to bully. But, now I have these to protect me," Dyon said with a beaming smile.
"He really using this exam as a market," Ava shook her head, laughing.
Eli was in the corner of the room wearing a beaming smile on his face, "looks like your plan worked big brother. First years was definitely the best place to start."
Dyon was about to explain some more when the crowd surged, "Looks like I underestimated the demand…"
Before even half an hour was through, all of the plates were gone. Some left disappointed as multiple students bought more than one. Since there were thousands of first years, it was inevitable they would run out.
Realizing this, Dyon smiled, "I'll make more soon! The price will always be 2 profound stones for us first years. We have to stick together. I'll hike up the price for the older students so seniors having these plates will be very rare."
The crowd cheered.
Just as the General was about to sneak away, he felt a tap on his shoulder and he bitterly smiled, "Hello General, I believe we had a bet."
A dark look appeared on the General's face, but in light of his reputation, he said nothing, shoving a green ring towards Dyon, "here's your money."
Before Dyon could even look up, he was gone. Looking back down, Dyon stretched out his senses and a space of about 27 cubed meters appeared in his mind. Stones were piled up neatly, totaling ten thousand.
"ah, 30,000 profound stones feels good."
"you really like to make people worry," a melodic voice came from behind Dyon. Turning, he saw Ava.
"eh, all in a day's work."
"Don't be ridiculous, you have more wealth than all the elders in this academy combined. And you clearly plan on doing this again. Be careful, you just gave the seniors more reasons to come after you."
Dyon smiled, "aww, you're worried about me. Does that mean you'll give me my date?"
"Don't be ridiculous, you're too weak to be with me," Ava said, rolling her eyes.
Dyon said nothing but he secretly nodded, '5th layer of the foundation stage and only 14 years old. She's not as talented as Madeleine considering Madeleine's cultivation had been stuck for a long time due to her sickness. But, she's definitely a genius. Much better than the scrubs here.'
A short blond girl walked up behind Ava, grabbing and groping her chest, "did they get bigger again? This is ridiculous, how will you fit in your qipao tonight? And after all that effort"
The boy watching this scene felt a fire burning in their guts before Ava slapped Tammy's hands away, "Stop it Tammy, we still have to mediate the rest of the exam."
This Tammy was actually wearing a green elite student's robe as well. But, it seemed like she was in 3rd year.
"Hello, you must be Dyon, I'm Tammy Storm. My little Ava's been talking about you a lot."
Tammy watched Dyon's reaction, to see if he would react to hearing her last name, but she was surprised to see that he didn't.
"Nice to meet you Tammy. I think you're right, little Ava's getting bigger right before our eyes. You guys are going to the banquet tonight?"
"Ah, yes. News must have spread among the school. I would invite you, but you haven't earned a place among us just yet. Train hard!" Tammy said while dragging Ava away and waving to Dyon.
Dyon didn't even get a chance to respond before they were too far away for him to bother explaining. Ava gave him an apologetic smile while waving as well.
Dyon yawned and started to walk away, "I think I'll take a nap. I'll leave the shield off so Madeleine can come in later today. Or, at the very least I'll actually hear the knocks."
As Dyon was walking away, Tammy was speaking with Ava.
"He's quite interesting you know," said Tammy.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I let him know what my last name was, and he had no hate in his eyes. He's a really pure person, able to separate the deeds of my cousin and me so clearly. He's a good person," Tammy said with a smile.
"Hmm, I guess you're right. But why did you make it a point to see tell him he wasn't invited to the banquet?"
"Well, how would you react if you heard two beautiful girls say you're weak while having a pure personality like his? Wouldn't that motivate you? I was just helping him out a bit," Tammy said with a smile.
Ava gave an odd look to her friend, before shaking her head, 'I never really understand you. You're a lot deeper than people give you credit for, a lot smarter too…. And definitely a lot stronger.'
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