The audience watching the tournament from the stands all broke out into laughter as they watched the scenes happening on the large screen floating in the air. Zhang had tied Ming Jiang up and dangled him off the side of the tower upside down. It was pretty silly how Ming Jiang looked because only his foot was tied by the rope so he was hanging by a limb.
Shortly after doing this to Ming Jiang, Zhang's forces claimed the red tower and changed the ray of light it shot out to a blue color.
"Got to admit Shu Shang is pretty good to be able to take advantage of my plan like this." Zhang thought to himself. Had it not been for Shu Shang then Zhang’s team would have dominated the final stage of the tournament. However, Zhang did not dislike Shu Shang because of this. Rather he found it enjoyable.
“Perhaps I should give you a gift as a show of good faith.” Zhang mumbled.
"We will split into two groups. One group will stay here and defend this location, one will follow me and advance forward." Zhang said. He had gone for the red tower to secure a front line inside of moving back. Because he knew that after claiming the red tower he could leisurely move back and take the lost tower back.
There was roughly only twenty minute left until the end of the tournament and if nothing unexpected happened the blue team should end up with at least six towers.
Moments later the black ray of light that shot into the sky changed to a clear blue color. Yuying, Ling, and Ai had successfully taken over the black tower.
Zhang with his advance party moved forward to take another one of Shu Shang’s towers. However, when they reached the tower Shu Shang had holed up inside of the tower. With so little time left Zhang could not take the tower so he opted to move toward the next one. Yuying had also tried to take another one of Shu Shang’s towers however it too had soldiers holed up inside so she too moved on to another tower.
Up in the stands the audience was counting down the last few minutes of the tournament. The events that happened in the final stage had been beyond everyone’s imagination. Had they not been watching from the stands they might have thought they were actually on a battlefield.
“That blue team has six towers and the green team has four. I wonder why the blue team did not go back for that one tower that was stolen by the green team earlier.” A woman watching from the stands said to a man beside her.
“Who knows maybe they are giving the green team a tower as a show of good faith.” The man replied to the woman.
Soon after a loud bell sound could be heard transmitting through the colosseum then a loud voice could be heard.
“The time limit has been reached and the tournament now concludes with the blue team with six towers and the green team with four.”
Once the end of the tournament was announced the audience broke out cheering. It had truly been a spectacle for those watching. It had showed how crafty and resourceful some of the future leaders of the forces in the alliance were. Since the tournament ended the screens floating in the sky no longer showed the scenes from the arena but the image of king Huang He was now visible.
“Thank you everyone for coming today to bear witness to the end of the tournament. I am pleased to announce that winners of tournament are Prince Shu Shang of the Shu Kingdom and Zhou Zhang the successor to the Aurora province.” King Huang He said.
“In a short while there will be a reward ceremony in front of the colosseum for the two winners of the tournament.” King Huang He added.
After hearing this people began filing out of the stands and to the front of the arena where a large stage had been set up.
Down below in the arena soldiers from various teams could be seen walking toward any one of the ten gates leading out of the arena. Those who were injured would be looked at by doctors while everyone else was to return the armor and weapons they were lent and head out to the front of the colosseum.
Zhang was heading back to the gate that he had entered the arena from because he and the three beauties had agreed to meet up there. After some walking the gate was in sight however he did not see a sign of Yuying, Ai or Ling.
“Odd we agreed to meet over here.” Zhang thought as he walked through the forest heading toward the gate.
“SURPRISE!!!” Three loud voices rang out from both Zhang’s right and left. From out of nowhere Yuying, Ai and Ling sprang at Zhang tackling him to the ground.
“There my three beauties are.” Zhang said with a chuckle.
“Your three beauties?” Yuying said teasingly.
“Who else?” Zhang replied.
As he got up front the ground and helped the three of them up.
“Let’s go return this armor and go to the reward stage.” Zhang said.
“Alright let’s go these clothes aren’t very comfy.” Ai complained.
However, before they left a voice sounded out from a bush behind them.
“Young Lord of Aurora.” The voice said.
As the group of four turned back they could see Shu Shang could out from behind a bush.
“Ah prince Shu Shang it is nice to meet you.” Zhang said with a smile on his face. He was not angry with Shu Shang ending up with four towers, rather he wished to befriend Shu Shang. It is better to how someone like this as a friend then an enemy.
Had this been an actually battlefield and not an arena then perhaps Shu Shang would have come out victorious.
“You can just call me Zhang and forget about the formalities.” Zhang said to Shu Shang. (Our main characters will be referred to only by their first names without surname to save me the trouble since I retype their names a lot lol also the later names sound better with surname included.)
“Ah then you can call me Shu Shang. “Shu Shang said.
“Alright Brother Shu Shang what gives me the honor of meeting you here?” Zhang asked.
“I wanted to thank you for leaving me that tower rather than taking it back. Although you shouldn’t have I appreciate the gesture.” Shu Shang said.
“Consider it a gesture of friendship. Your performance was very marvelous, had I not sneaked in extra soldiers then you most likely would have dominated the arena.” Zhang said.
“We can stand here and talk about what’s and ifs all day but that won’t change the outcome of what has already been decided. You had the foresight to do what you did and I applaud you for that.” Shu Shang said to Zhang with a faint smile on his face.
“Perhaps prince Shu Shang would like to accompany us to the reward stage together?” Ling asked as she stood beside Zhang.
“Sure why not.” Shu Shang said.
As Zhang, Ling, Yuying, Ai and Shu Shang headed for the reward stage after returning their armor and weapons they ran into a familiar face. A bit away from them was Huang Zu dressed in an expensive looking white and gold robe with dragons sewn on it.
“Brother Huang Zu how are you.” Zhang said as he saw Huang Zu.
“Ah it you guys, congratulations on dominating the tournament.” Huang Zu said in a somewhat awkward tone. Although he stopped trying to woo Ling after losing the bet Huang Zu still felt awkward when around Zhang and Ling so he tried his best to avoid them. Even though he would keep to his word and give up on marrying Ling a part of him still liked her very much which made it very uncomfortable to be around her and Zhang.
Zhang noticing the awkwardness in Huang Zu’s voice decided to take the initiative in breaking the ice. He still felt that Huang Zu was someone worth being friends with. From the fact that Huang Zu kept to his word and stopped pestering Ling to marry him was a testament that he kept his word.
These kind of people although numbering many in the world are often hard to meet.
“Brother Huang Zu how about you join us and head to the reward stage and along the way tell me about some of the treasures in the treasury that are worth picking out. Also feel free to tell me one item you want also I’ll pick it for you.” Zhang said to Huang Zu. He knew full well that despite being a prince Huang Zu most likely was not permitted to just take whatever he wanted from the treasury of the kingdom. Thus Zhang hoped to use this to be on friendlier terms with Huang Zu.
“Hmmm treasures in the treasury. Well I’m not exactly sure that are many different treasures in there and each has a different use. But if I have to point out something unique then it would have to be this one item.” Huang Zu said.
"Also I'll have to decline on your offer of picking out a treasure for me." Huang Zu added.
“What item?” Zhang asked since Huang Zu’s words peaked his interest.
“In the treasury there is a scroll made of some material I’ve never seen before. It is said this book was personally created by the first king of our Heilong Kingdom. This book has no name and no one know what’s written inside.”
“No one knows what’s written inside? Is it in some lost language?” Zhang asked.
“No it’s not that, it’s the fact that no one is able to open the book. My ancestors have passed the book down for generations but no one has been open it. It is said that when our founder created the book he said only if someone is fated to know the contents of the book will it open for them.” Huang Zu said while looking at Zhang.
“That’s interesting, but I would take it that book would not be something we can pick as a prize.”
“Actually on the contrary if you picked that book some people would be very happy. As many people see it that book is somewhat useless and since no one can open it there is little use for keeping it. And if you took it they would see it as you wasted a prize and took a useless book instead of some other treasure.”
“Maybe it will open for me. I’ll be sure to check it out when given the chance to enter the treasury and if it opens for me then I’ll take it, if not then I’ll pick something else. Also let’s start heading to the reward arena.” Zhang said to Huang Zu as he placed a hand on Huang Zu’s shoulder.
Huang Zu sighed knowing that Zhang would not let him go so he resigned to his fate.
"Ok I guess if it can't be helped, I'll accompany you guys to the reward stage." Huang Zu said with a sigh.
As the group headed toward the reward stage they conversed and soon The awkwardness around Huang Zu was somewhat reduced. This of course was thanks to his personality. Huang Zu naturally was not a schemer and was very easy to get along with.
Shu Shang on the other hand had a very reserved personality. This was mainly influenced by the fact that his brother being the crown prince. Due his brilliance many people in the Shu kingdom tried to push Shu Shang into the position of crown prince over his brother.
However, Shu Shang did not wish to fight with his brother or cause civil war so he tended to avoid people and had only a few friends who he seemed were worth of becoming friends with.
Thanks to Zhang's outgoing personality he was able to bridge a friendship with Shu Shang and Huang Zu.
"Your highnesses please follow me." A man walking toward the group while they were heading to the reward stage said.
"His majesty King Huang He wished to speak with your highnesses in private." The man said.
"Father wants to talk with us?" Huang Zu asked.
"No your highness, his majesty wished to speak with the two winners of the tournament regarding some important matters." The man replied respectfully.
"It's alright brother Huang Zu you might as well come with us." Shu Shang said.
Thus the group began following the servant as he led them through the halls of the coliseum. Soon they were led up a flight of stairs and into a room. King Huang He could be seen standing at a balcony looking outside.
"Your majesty they are here." The servant said as he bent on one knee.
"Alright you may leave." Huang He said.
"Your majesty Zhou Zhang pays his respects." Zhang said while bending on one knee.
"Shu Shang pays his respects to King Huang He." Shu Shang said.
Soon Yuying, Ai and Ling also paid their respects. As for Huang Zu he did not do so since the King is his father.
"As ease. You may all stand." Huang He said.
"Ming Jiang come in here." Huang He said. Shortly after a door that led to another room opened and Ming Jiang walked in.
Once he walked into the room he shot a glare at Zhang and Shu Shang.
"Your majesty." Ming Jiang said.
"I called you three here to help resolve your differences. As a part of the alliance I do not wish to see some of the future leaders of it at odds with each other. Now is the time when we have to band together to face a common foe not fight with one another." King Huang He said sternly.
"If brother Ming Jiang is willing to forget about the past then I am willing also." Shu Shang said.
"Likewise for me if he is willing to then I am also. And as a show of good faith I'll even let him pick out one item he wishes from the treasury in my stead." Zhang said. Although he did not like Ming Jiang very much Huang He did have a point now was not the time to be at odds. The Siwang empire could attack at any given moment and the only thing standing in its way is the alliance.
"The less enemies one has the better I guess." Zhang thought. His relationship with Ming Jiang was not the point where it was unfixable like with Jin Chang so why not give it a shot.
"Ming Jiang do you wish for your kingdom to fall because due to some small insignificant disputes?" Huang He said while looking at Ming Jiang.
"If you two are willing then so am I." Ming Jiang replied. Although he did not like Shu Shang and Zhang the king had a point. He definitely did not want his kingdom to fall due to some silly arguments. Also Zhang was enticing him with the chance to pick out a treasure from the treasury.
"Then everything is settled. I hope that you three will at least try to get along. Now let's head to the reward ceremony."