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(The game of cat and mouse (1)

Leo was already angry about waiting for so long and strode over to Zen demanding, "Zen, you promised to fight with me in the battle ring today. Why are you late? If you back out of this battle ring challenge, I will let you off, but only if you kneel before me, and call me your superior three times. Then, you will withdraw from the Cloud Sect and hide at home like the coward you are!"

With an innocent look, Zen blinked and casually stated, "Well, I agreed to fight with you in the battle ring today. But, whether it is noon or midnight, today hasn't passed. So tell me, did I promise you an exact time?"

questioned Zen. All Zen's flippant response did enrage Leo further, and he snapped back, "How cunning of you speaking such nonsense. Well, whatever you say now though will be of no use within the battle ring."

"Before we set foot in the battle ring, I have a request to make," stated Zen curtly.

"What's your request? What do you want me to do? I am going to tell you that we are keeping the Cloud Sect rules! The winner doesn't assume any responsibility for the opponent's death or impairment during a fight!" stated Leo bored. Since he planned to take Zen's life, he couldn't make a promise to go easy on him anyway.

Zen shook his head, frowning, and said, "No, opponents are supposed to beat each other mercilessly in the ring; I know the rules quite clearly. I think fights pure and straightforward like that are very boring. I was wondering if we could bet on something, and the winner of the fight will win the bet!"

The request left Leo somewhat shocked. He hadn't thought Zen would ask for such a thing. After the initial surprise wore off, Leo wondered what Zen was up to, and thought the outcome was inevitable. That was, Zen would die in the ring at Leo's hands if and when he got Zen into the ring! Leo decided he would grant Zen's request, if for no other reason than to get this fight underway.

Leo couldn't believe Zen was so bold as to place a bet.

He had no idea where Zen's confidence stemmed from. 'He doesn't think he actually has a chance of winning, does he? Considering the fact that he is at the organ refining level, and I am half-step into the nature level, does he really think he stands a chance of beating me? That's a riot!' Leo deemed.

"Haha, place a bet? Sure, sure, that's a great idea! Tell you what, we'll bet on whatever you choose!" responded Leo chuckling.

"Okay, I'll wager a hundred cubic crystals, and you put up a top-grade mysterious weapon for your stake. My one hundred cubic crystals will be yours if you win, but if you lose, your top-grade mysterious weapon will be mine!" declared Zen grinning happily.

"One hundred cubic crystals?" repeated Leo stunned for a second time by Zen.

Being born into an ordinary, low-income family, Leo understood the value of cubic crystals. He wasn't supported by a big and powerful family like others. Although he had put his strength to use, earning numerous points over the years, he had spent them as quickly on useful pills and in honing his refinement skills. In fact, to refine oneself as a warrior took a great deal of money.

A bet of one hundred cubic crystal pieces was nothing to a noble clan disciple, but, for a disciple like Leo, it was a vast sum of money.

Leo would happily place this wager with Zen, but he didn't have a top-grade mysterious weapon to bet with...

"You son of a bitch! You know I don't have a top-grade mysterious weapon! But you want me to put one up to place a bet with you? I think you are trying to get out of our fight!" accused Leo furiously.

There was a look of regret on Zen's face. He sighed as he stated, "If there is no weapon, I don't think there is a reason to fight. It would just be a waste of my energy to battle you. Since you can't bet such a weapon, why should I fight with you?"

"Why - you?!" Leo's face became redder the more enraged he got. "Apparently, you're looking for excuses to back out of our duel. I think you are full of hot air! In fact, I bet you don't even have a hundred cubic crystals!"

As Leo finished accusing, pieces of cubic crystals slipped out of Zen's hands, cascading through his fingers, jingling loudly. Every piece of cubic crystals glittered translucently in the sunlight, sparkling more each time the light hit one.

Cubic crystal was a hard currency. Outer disciples at Drizzle Peak were mostly born into ordinary, humble families. The glittering stack of cubic crystals was approximately one hundred pieces. For the outer disciples present, it represented an enormous amount of money.

"Now, I have shown you numerous cubic crystals, and when you produce a top-grade mysterious weapon, I will step into the battle ring. If you can't do that, then, we won't fight. I honestly don't want to waste my energy," said Zen, as he stood in front of his stack of cubic crystals and laughed.

Gazing at the stack of cubic crystals, Leo suppressed his anger and thought. From his view, a fight in the battle ring should be simple. But, with Zen's dawdling, it was becoming complicated and delayed.

Suddenly, Thomas said in a bored tone, "Leo, just bet a top-grade mysterious weapon like he wants, unless you are afraid you might lose?"

"I would, except, I don't have a top-grade mysterious weapon!" replied Leo glumly.

"Well, you don't have one, but, can't you borrow one? I can't believe no one you know at Drizzle Peak has a top-grade mysterious weapon," reminded Thomas.
"Hey, you're right!" shouted Leo while looking around. At last, his eyes found who he was looking for, over in a corner, and he called out, "Anthony, if memory serves, you have a top-grade mysterious weapon, right?"

Anthony He not only had a top-grade mysterious weapon. He wasn't weak either. He smiled broadly and replied, "Yes, Leo. I do have a top-grade mysterious weapon. So what?"

"Lend it to me for a short time. I'll give it back soon!" stated Leo as though borrowing a mysterious weapon from Anthony He was a piece of cake. Unexpectedly, Anthony He shook his head responding, "No!"

"What? Are you afraid this guy will beat me?" asked Leo furiously that someone would turn him down.

Anthony shook his head again. "No, I'm sure you won't lose. But, why should I lend it to you?"

"You..." It dawned on Leo what Anthony was hinting at, and he shut up, sighing as he rolled his eyes, and said, "Well, half the cubic crystals will be yours if I beat him, okay? Does that sound good? Now, will you agree to lend me your top-grade mysterious weapon?"

Only after Leo offered half of his winnings did Anthony smile in satisfaction and say, "You should've said that earlier. Here, catch, Leo!"

As he exchanged banter, Anthony took a saber off his waist and tossed it casually at Leo, as though it was anything but a top-grade mysterious weapon.

As the saber flew towards him, Leo reached out and caught it. Deep down, he believed Anthony was the sort who would do anything as long as it benefited him. The double-edged sword made a "shiiiiiing," sound of metal rubbing against the casing as Leo unsheathed it. The three-foot sword was bathed in a purple light. As soon as the sword was unsheathed, Leo said, "Zen, does this meet your requirements? It is a first level, top-grade weapon, known as the Purple Blue Sword."



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