(Patreon) Elder Cultivator 52

-–Chapter Index–-

The process of purchasing Devon moved quite swiftly. The longest part of the whole process was heading over to the cells in the arena where Devon was kept to make sure he was the right person. After all, Anton didn’t want to spend so much money on the wrong Devon Gardner. The dingy cells they passed on the way didn’t encourage Anton, but they passed all of those to enter another section. Devon had a full door with a small barred window. It allowed for more privacy… but Anton was certain it was merely meant for added security. He only had to glance inside to see this was indeed the right person. Currently, he was sleeping… and Anton saw no reason to change that. It would be nice to talk to him, but he would much prefer to finalize the deal first, including payment. Would an arena master raise the price just because he found out they were family? Absolutely. He couldn’t expect people who bought and sold others to always engage in respectable business tactics.

Then they were back in the arena master’s office, writing up papers and finalizing everything. Anton was certain he could have gotten a better price… but only if he was willing to wait. He could have let the man stew on an offer for a while, while Devon remained entrapped. He could have also stabbed himself in the leg, but he didn’t know why he would do either of those.

Things were mere moments away from wrapping up in a satisfactory manner when the assistant from out front scurried into the room. “Arena master. An urgent message for you.” He walked up next to the man and whispered in his ear. It was, of course, extremely rude to eavesdrop on private conversation. If Anton had any respect for those involved, he might have considered whether or not he should. Energy flickered to his ears to catch what the assistant was saying clearly. “The young mistress of the Potenza arena is here. She has stated her intentions to purchase Devon Gardner…” the man’s eyes flicked towards Anton and the others waiting nearby.

“… tell her I shall be out momentarily.” The arena master smiled awkwardly as Anton’s eyes drilled into him. The man wrung his hands together for a moment before speaking. “As an honest businessman I do not like to back out of an arrangement already in progress…” Anton wasn’t sure if he could kill the man just by looking at him, but he did his best. “… and I won’t,” the arena master swallowed. “But for your sake, I will give you the opportunity to let go of the deal. A member of the Potenzas is here wishing to purchase the same slave and it would be better for both of us if they were allowed to fulfill their wishes.”

Anton knew a few things. Of key importance was that the Potenza arena catered more towards matches involving cultivators. Thus their arena earned more money and they had more influence than the Irvin arena where he was currently negotiating. Anton turned to see Hoyt and Catarina behind him. Then his eyes moved beyond them, though he couldn’t see anything in that direction. He could, however, feel cultivators. One in late or even peak of Body Tempering, and one in Spirit Building. Early? Mid? It was difficult to tell. Catarina and Hoyt would surely support him. Would they actually be attacked in the city? Surely not. But things could be made very difficult for them… and they had to leave the protection of the city eventually. A sticky situation. “I will speak to her. Why don’t you introduce us?”

The arena master smiled awkwardly, “Very well…” he looked slightly relieved, actually, since that would shift most of the displeasure away from himself. But he clearly also didn’t want to upset three late Body Tempering cultivators. If Anton were alone… things might have gone differently. The man led them out into the lobby. “Young mistress Potenza, what an honor to have you here!”

The young woman who stood in front of them had clearly put in the effort to be visually striking. She had long blonde hair that flowed past her waist along with armor made to emphasize the female form- yet still practical. The way she carried herself was certainly confident… perhaps too confident. The way she turned and looked at them spoke of a young woman who always got her way… even when she really shouldn’t. “I’m sure you heard what I want. Hurry up, then.”

“Before we get to that this man here, Anton Krantz, wished to speak with you on the manner.” The arena master gestured to Anton, then shuffled backwards.

Anton stepped forward- not too close, seeing how the Spirit Building man she had as a guardian stood behind her shoulder. “I am sorry to say after you came all this way that I am already in the process of purchasing Devon Gardner. I’m sure there are others available you will find to your liking.”

The young mistress of the Potenza arena folded her arms in front of her. “So? Give him up. I already have plans for him in our arena.”

“It’s not so simple-”

Her eyes flashed, “Fine. I’ll pay you double. Happy?”

“It’s not a matter of money,” Anton said. “I will not be giving him up for sale.”

With a flash, the sword at her side pointed at Anton. He held up a hand to stop Catarina and Hoyt from moving. “If you won’t sell… then fight me! We shall bet ownership of the man on a duel!”

Anton internally sighed. He usually appreciated enthusiasm in people, but this young woman had hers directed in all the wrong places. He would prefer not to settle things with a battle, but did he have a choice? Fight now, one on one… or possibly later, against an unknown group. Or let her take Devon to fight in an arena, one more dangerous to him than his current situation. Perhaps if he survived for a few months she would have had enough of him. But if not… there might be no other chance. “A duel between just the two of us?”

“Of course. I am not afraid to fight a weak old man.”

“I will accept on the condition that no grudges be held between us, regardless of the victor.” Anton looked to the guardian behind her for that, who nodded slightly.

“Then we shall fight!” she pointed her sword towards the arena master. “Prepare the arena!”

How abrupt. But Anton couldn’t say he would be more ready at any other time.

—–

The master of the Irvin arena sighed as he looked up into the bare stands. What a waste. Tonina Potenza fighting would fill the place up and earn quite a bit of money… even if her opponent was an old man. The cultivation disparity between them was not large, though there was a clear difference in talent. At least he would get away with the price of a good slave and neither group angered at him specifically. “With the bet of the rights of ownership of Devon Gardner on the line, Anton Krantz and Tonina Potenza shall duel according to the rules of the arena. You may begin!”

If he was a betting man- and he was– he would have bet money on Tonina. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to bet on this fight either. That was too bad, because while the cultivation difference wasn’t that great, one was young and strong… the other quite old, clearly having struggled to reach his current level.

The fact that the old man was an archer barely mattered- he only managed to fire a single arrow formed of energy before his opponent reached him. Then a swift slice with a sword and he was… actually, that was quite a good dodge on his part. The way the old man moved was actually quite… graceful? Quite surprising. It spoke volumes that he was able to dodge continuous attacks with a sword while still firing his bow. Unfortunately, his attacks simply couldn’t penetrate Tonina’s defense. Arrows struck her shoulder and her waist but never penetrated through her armor. All she needed was one good slice to cut the man in two, or at least lop off an arm. The Irvin arena was not set up for nonlethal fights between cultivators, though of course the old man could surrender if he managed to get an arm just halfway lopped off.

That would happen… at any moment. Tonina’s sword wasn’t even a centimeter from striking him half of the time. The old man had managed to gain a bit of distance, but fighting on the defensive with a bow was simply untenable. He might be able to retreat with extensive use of his energy, but he would use more backing up than Tonina would attacking. It was only for the moment that he was pulling further away. Except, the gap kept growing, and growing.

Tonina’s movements were slow. It seemed to be a struggle to lift her arm, and she held her right shoulder with her left hand. She stepped forward, a shot to her ankle piercing through her energy defenses but not her armor. It still had an impact, however, and sent her onto one knee. The distance between them was now more than a handful of meters. The old man… Anton… pulled back his bow with a particularly powerful arrow charged up. “Surrender,” his voice was steady. Calm.

“I- you-” Tonina stuttered. “No way! You cheated! I know you did!” she threw her sword onto the ground in anger. 

The arena master swallowed. It seemed like things weren’t going to end very well at all. Should he step forward to diffuse the situation, or move out of the blast radius? A difficult question. But… it was his arena. He should probably do something before he regretted whatever happened.

-–Chapter Index–-