Chapter 123: The Hunters Become The Hunted
(Vijay Shivanand’s POV)
Out of all the numerous branches of cultivation…. the way of the sword remains the most popular.
Just like the rest of my childhood friends, I saw the dramas and historical videos on the virtual net.
Sword cultivators who were capable of splitting mountains apart with a single strike and dancing around the battlefield while slaughtering their enemies.
When my father handed me a wooden sword to train, it was one of the happiest days of my life.
Despite the high popularity of sword cultivators, most potential seedlings will fail to form a single strand of sword qi even after years of training.
The way of the sword does not require talent alone but rather….
And more practice.
Swinging your training sword for hours on end until your hands are shaking, and your legs are ready to give out.
Repeating different stances and routines until they become second nature.
Your sword should react before your mind even has time to think.
Callouses and scars will cover your once soft and delicate palms, but you wear them as badges of pride.
My parents were wealthy merchants who travelled through different star systems while selling rare goods and materials.
Our brown skin and dark hair were the only genetic traces of our ancestors who lived on the subcontinent of India during the Ancient Era.
I was very fortunate to be born into a wealthy family as my father spared no expense when hiring well known sword cultivators to tutor me.
Genius is the term that my parents and teachers would use to describe me.
Naturally, my ego and my arrogance grew as I thought that none of my peers were my match.
But when I took part in the University entrance exam….
I was humbled.
In the sea of geniuses and monsters, I was no more than a slightly talented sword cultivator.
By sheer luck I narrowly managed to secure a spot on the main campus of Zrudread University in the regular class.
It came as a complete shock to get an offer to attend the elite class training camp and potentially move up into the elite class before the term begun.
On my first day of the camp, I cheerfully greeted my tent mate but was met with scorn and rejection.
It turns out that he was an original member of the elite class and in his eyes, I was nothing more than an insignificant ant.
I learnt a painful truth that day, these elite students were not worried about losing their spots.
They simply saw us as minor obstacles on their journey to the top.
Emotions of bitterness and rage filled my body.
I spent the rest of my days at the camp furiously training as hard as I could to narrow the gap.
Luckily, I met others who were just like me.
Those who were considered as nothing more than stepping stones to train the gifted students of the elite class.
It was easy to discover the weakness of those so-called elites.
They usually acted alone and were full of pride and confidence.
At the start of the final exam of the training camp, the instructors mentioned that students would not be given bonus points for eliminating other students.
Upon hearing that announcement, some students formed groups to brave the wilderness of the desert as a team while others decided to go solo.
Many of the elite students chose the second option.
That was our chance.
I gathered a group of ten sword cultivators, and we formed a ‘death squad.’
The instructors may have said that eliminations would not grant extra points, but it was not forbidden.
The less competitors who could qualify meant that it would be far more likely that we ‘ordinary class’ students would be able to steal a spot.
Our targets did not only include the elites.
We managed to successfully dispatch any smaller squads or lone students who crossed our path.
Three of our original teammates had gotten eliminated but the seven of us who remained were determined to finish the exam together.
We were quite the odd combination as there were three Mendolesa warriors called Sasha, Amelia and Kain who specialized in heavy swordsmanship.
The humans of the group in addition to myself were Louisa and Finley.
We all had different sword styles but the common factor between them was an emphasis on speed.
Surprisingly enough, a Servie boy by the name of Aven Petalfall was chosen as our unofficial leader.
His calm and analytical mind could find the solution for any unexpected situation that occurred.
I had yet to see his swordsmanship as he usually hung at the back of the group and gave out orders to the rest of the team.
It was the final day and we had travelled for several hours across the endless sand dunes while suffering under the intense heat of the red sun’s harsh rays.
The scenery was unchanging, and I was beginning to get bored when Sasha suddenly spoke up,
“Oh, look at the oasis!”
“Finally, we can get some rest,” Finely sighed in relief as he wiped some sweat off his brow.
The patch of greenery and the blue lake was very conspicuous in the middle of the sandy desert and it didn’t take long for us to arrive.
“Look someone is there already,” Amelia whispered as she bared her fangs.
I squinted my eyes and saw what seemed to be a delicate and fragile girl peacefully standing on the shore.
“Hello there. Are you all here to get some water as well?” she spoke in a timid and unconfident manner as she stared warily at us.
Clearly, she could not be an elite student judging by her meek demeanor.
Perhaps she was the last surviving member of a squad that had been wiped out.
It was just unfortunate that she had encountered us.
“Don’t worry we don’t plan on fighting,” Sasha replied politely while discretely sending me a secret wink.
That was the signal to swiftly launch an attack.
“We will just get some water and wait for the exam to end,” I casually rested my hand on my sword as I spoke.
The girl just smiled naively and said,
“What a relief”
Honestly, I’m quite surprised that this foolish girl had not gotten eliminated already.
One swift strike should end this quickly.
My blade hummed softly as sword qi gently wrapped around its body.
I unsheathed my weapon to launch a quick strike at her heart.
What just happened?
A seven-foot-tall hybrid girl appeared out of thin air and blocked my attack with what seemed to be spider appendages attached to her back.
“It’s a trap!” one of my companions yelled in shock.
I barely had any time to react as a magical circle suddenly formed beneath our feet and I could vaguely hear chanting coming from a nearby group of trees.
Unexpectedly, an enormous pillar of fire erupted from the ground which I narrowly avoided thanks to the early warning.
Sasha and Amelia howled in pain as the intense heat activated their barrier devices and suddenly, we were down to only five students.
“Get into alpha formation and target their spellcaster,” Aven Petalfall commanded as he activated a movement skill and rapidly approached the hybrid girl with Kain by his side.
Mages were notoriously weak at close combat, so it only made sense to eliminate this threat quickly and join the fight against the hybrid girl and her weak friend.
Moonlight Sword Dance!
Sakura Petal Rain!
Blood Storm Pierce!
We unleashed our strongest moves towards the Mendolesa mage who seemed like an easy target.
Until I saw her mocking smile.
My final thoughts as I launched my counterattack alongside Louisa and Finely was….