471 The Competition 1
Draco relaxed in the bathtub, lazily twirling his legs as he pondered over the earlier announcement. The voice of the Refinement God had pervaded every single corner of the Treasury, so he was certain that everyone had heard it.
He was wondering if others would actually come to compete? At first glance, the answer should obviously be 'Yes', but Draco would disagree. After all, he had spent a great amount of time back then going from village to village, enlightening the denizens within regardless of their status.
To enlighten others, he needed to possess something they did not and he had perfectly displayed that in every single village. Not to mention that his actions showed extreme benevolence and understanding, they should feel indebted, no?
However, Draco also understood that no matter what, expecting all of them to miss out on such a rare event would be a bit much, not to mention that there would be some fellows who didn't give a damn about such things. Draco had learned that around 200 competitors attended the competition on average from the past few times it was held.
It was unclear how many would attend this time given his actions.
Still unhurried, the fellow decided against having another meal as he just did. In fact, this bath was just for him to spend some time with his thoughts while in a place of comfort.
He currently had 3 Tradeskills at the Grandmaster Rank, Blacksmithing, Alchemy and Enchanting. Two Tradeskills at the Expert Rank, Magical Engineering and Scrivener as well as three Tradeskills at the Amateur Rank, Privateering, Dungeon Creation and Skill Fusion.
This lineup was quite potent minus the Amateur Tradeskills as they should hardly make a difference in the evaluation. However, Draco was confident that he would win hands down either way.
Vishad, the Lizardman mayor of Evergreen Village, specifically said: ["After all, the inheritance of the Refinement God is not for superficial things like Rank or skill. The only requirement to pass the competition's various tests is talent!"]
Not skill. Not Rank. Not creativity.
Draco surmised that the competition therefore would be short. Most tournaments of such types were all about testing skill, so there would be complex stages where every aspect of a contender's skill would assessed in relation to the competition being held.
But a test of talent was simple. Draco figured he would be in and out within hours, which was why he was feeling comfortable lazing about.
What constituted talent in this regard? Was it having more Tradeskills than others at a higher Rank? Was it the speed at which one climbed the Ranks of their Tradeskill?
Or was it the comparison between attained Tradeskill Ranks compared to the player's Rank?
There were more than a few ways to gauge someone's talent, but Draco's endless confidence came from the fact that no matter what method would be used, he was sure he would come out on top!
Boss, let's be real. This fellow spawned into existence less than one year ago and he had already brought 3 Tradeskills to the Grandmaster Rank. Although they were 'just' Basic Tradeskills, it was hard enough to reach Grandmaster Rank in just one area!
It wasn't for fun that two Tradeskill Origin Gods sought to bless him, they also had recognized him. If even Origin Gods were impressed with this fellow, what dog thing would the Semi-Origin Refinement God have to be to pretend like he wasn't?
Draco sighed and exited his bath, leisurely wiping himself. He met Hoover on his way out, who bowed and informed him: "My Lord Draco, let me take you to the usual grounds for the competition and settle you in."
Draco smiled at the reliable butler and manifested his armor. The duo then exited the Evergreen Manor and walked along is picturesque pathways in silence. Draco was still imagining how the competition would be held while Hoover was raking his brains how to remain as Draco's butler regardless of the outcome.
The moment Draco left the manor though, the two fellows Qiong Qi and Clarent suddenly opened one eye each. The whole time, they had been asleep with their families in a special wing of the manor cordoned for them, but now they had awoken!
What was even scarier was that the two fellows did not stand up or say anything. They just made eye contact, smiled and closed their eyes once again, easily falling back to sleep.
These two bastards, just what crazy stunt were they planning to do this time?!
Draco and Hoover soon reached the townhall. Vishad stood outside with his arms clasped behind his back, talking to three youths with a stern expression.
With his passive Control, Draco could easily hear what he was saying. He was chastising them for participating when Draco was as well, but the kids insisted that this would be the only chance in their life.
Against this, Vishad could not argue. The competition was held every millennia, and these kids would not live until the next one. Even if they might feel bad to compete against Draco, they wanted to experience the competition for themselves so that they could broaden their horizons and live their life without regrets!
"Besides, if Lord Draco is so good, then us going should not make a difference, as his superiority would render us weaker regardless, right?"
Vishad's face became black from this painful logic, but he could not retort because they just stated the truth. Draco who overheard this silently agreed with them. He shouldn't be bothered by how many come, but rather his ability to surpass them all rightfully.
Which was more impressive? Being first among a hundred? Or being first among ten thousand who were equally skilled to the hundred?
Limiting his competition would net him an easy win, but not a meaningful one. Since he was a Tradeskill genius and he knew it, Draco felt his earlier thoughts were too conceited.
Vishad saw Draco and ended the conversation. Instead, he ushered the fellow close and began explaining some rules and details about the competition.
In the meantime, the three young competitors observed him quietly to see how he'd changed ever since he had voluntarily enlightened everyone. There was likely not a single person in the entire Inner Section of the Treasury that did not know his face.
They found that his aura was more intense as he had Ranked Up since then. Not to mention the fact that he exuded an infallible confidence that suppressed them greatly.
Combined with Vishad's earlier talk, they kept having thoughts like: 'Maybe I shouldn't have come…'
, 'Why did I think I could challenge him?' and 'He's too strong, there's no hope.'
Hoover's eyes flashed when he noticed the growing depression in the other fellows, and Vishad also noticed their darkening countenances. They both knew that this was not mere aura, but direct psychological warfare Draco was using.
However, both men kept mum. It was clear which side they had placed their bet on, so they weren't going to shoot themselves in their own foot by talking. Not to mention that this was neither banned nor illegal.
Draco would just have to be clever about it. If he reached the competition area and spread it out wantonly, the other mayors would break their wards free and such a method would not easily work twice.
As such, he had to suppress it until only the competitors went on stage, then he could oppress his competition cruelly! The two shared a look and nodded, thinking that this was a sound plan.
Draco himself was impressed. Eva was right, Mind Control was a truly powerful psychic ability they had. Even though his was far weaker, he could use it more freely because there was less of a chance for him go out of control like creating hiveminds or the like.
Similarly, this was why Eva preferred using Telekinesis directly before unlocking more of her psychic abilities, since it was harder to control but had a lower chance of mishap for her.
Draco absorbed the rules and advice given by Vishad quietly until they left Evergreen Village through a portal in the underbelly of the townhall. Apparently, it was the same one they used to send goods to the core area. Draco was greatly interested in seeing what was on the other side.
When they manifested, he was left utterly speechless. The core area that was blockaded by a dome of Origin Energy was actually a small palace that had been constructed in an archaic and indescribable style.
Draco had never seen constructions like this in any history book, which was fair since the Refinement God was a Semi-Origin God from the old era. As a Tradeskill God, it was likely that their creativity was out of this world…
Draco immediately noticed that aside from the palace, there was a small field right before the building that was occupied by many youngsters like the ones next to Draco.
It seemed like Evergreen was actually one of the last to arrive. This was due to Draco, as he had felt no pressure from the competition, unlike these natives who were reverent of their Supreme Ancestor and made sure to appear as soon as they possibly could.
Once again, many eyes fell on him. They all had witnessed his great prowess in Tradeskills, so they were taking stock of their most worrisome competitor. There was no more reverence and wonder in their eyes from a few months before, but fire and the will to battle.
The mayors who had pined for Draco to visit their villages and enlighten their people now greeted him neutrally and in a lukewarm manner, with slight smiles on their faces.
Vishad harrumphed coldly. These ungrateful old gits had most likely hyped up their village members to participate in the competition, helping them get rid of whatever apprehension of indebtedness they had to Draco, replacing it with a competitive spirit.
Draco though, was unbothered. When he eventually won the competition, he would take the entire Treasury and its people away, he would not need so many mayors to take care of the entire tribe.
They would be merged into one in Vita City State, only needing one mayor at the time. This was why Vishad had wholly cast his bet on Draco, while the other mayors hyped up their own youth.
It was simple politics if anything.
Evergreen's four candidates joined the rest, who amounted to almost 400 this time! Clearly, the other mayors had felt desperate due to Draco's talent compared to other outsiders from the past, so they had scrounged and squeezed out every talent they had and had forced them to come.
If they couldn't win, at least they should work together to suppress Draco in some manner or sabotage him in any way possible.
400 contenders was a record number in the history of the competitions, and this was all because of this bastard! Draco was surprised to see that it was the opposite of what he had surmised earlier, but then again, he had given the mayors too much credit.
They had fully displayed their shamelessness this time, but he would hold no grudge for it. Hoover and Vishad though, were cursing and insulting them in their hearts, not understanding how anyone could be so despicable.
Soon, everything was cut off by a resounding voice that was the same as the one that announced the competition earlier, likely that of the Refinement God.
"Now that every village has arrived with its millennial talents, the competition shall proceed shortly. I have noticed though, that this particular session has almost twice the usual candidates. That is good, for the more who compete, the higher the chances of my requirements being met."
The mayors smiled and bowed, like they had done all this to please the spirit of the Supreme Ancestor, when Draco and co knew the truth.
"First, I shall evaluate the souls of all hopeful candidates to search for any form of malpractice or insidious existence who hope to steal my inheritance." The voice added coldly.
Draco rubbed his chin. This was what he had already speculated, but this just confirmed that some True Gods must really have wanted to pilfer the Refinement God's heritage. A clever way to do so would be to use either the outsiders to enter as their proxy or plant a lineage in the Treasury from past competitions to attempt to steal the Inheritance at some point.
It was not too farfetched though. If Draco lost the competition, he would have to leave Ophie and co behind, who were likely all pregnant. If they birthed his spawn, his bloodline would continue on in the Treasury and mix with theirs.
If Draco left some sleeper codes in his bloodline to activate later on, he could have a descendant steal away the Inheritance 'legally' and then enjoy the benefits without the Refinement God being able to do anything about it.