Kaleb lost, but that was expected by everyone. He returned, a little saddened and a little devastated that he lost.

After all, he was the only one of the 4 first-years that lost today.

"I'm sorry," he said to the others. "She was just too strong."

"It's alright," the teacher said. "You did your best. That's all that matters."

Kaleb nodded, but he still felt bad. He sat down next to Ning and Tenn. While Tenn consoled him on his loss, Ning was completely focused on the chart in front of him.

The top 32 matches were about to begin and he had the 2nd match on the list, going up against another Low Essence Soul realm fighter.

It wouldn't be so troublesome for him, had he not heard that the man he was fighting was one of the strongest, if not the strongest fighter of the Frolane Academy. And, he had apparently shown quite the unique Essence Core as well, which troubled Ning as he hadn't even known that such an Essence even existed.

Ning sighed and prepared for a difficult battle.

The first battle had one participant that was part of the lucky 6 pairs that didn't have to fight a Low Essence Soul realm opponent, so they were up against one on this round and were defeated easily.

So, Ning's match came up faster than he could expect it.

He stood up, ready to leave. Before he could go, the teacher grabbed him and whispered into his ears.

'They should have suspicions that you have access to a Space technique. Don't let them verify it too early,' the teacher said.

Ning nodded.

The space technique was his escape technique. He didn't necessarily have to use it in a battle, but since he had already shown it to a degree, he didn't want to use his other techniques just yet.

Besides, his defensive technique, while amazing, used up a lot of Essence and was entirely defensive, so that was a bit annoying to use as well.

He walked up to the stage and looked at the man in front of him. He took a deep breath and pulled out his sword from the sheath, keeping them both in either of his fights.

The man opposite him took out a Light sword from his storage artifact. As for armor, he was most likely already wearing one, but Ning couldn't see it.

The battle began as the referee gave the command.

Immediately, Ning shot out a couple of medium-sized rocks at the man. The man did nothing but dodge with a smile on his face. He pointed his finger at Ning, wiggling it, asking him to go again.

'Bastard!' Ning thought and shot out a few more rocks, this time a little larger.

He couldn't start out sending chunks of rocks at the man. Using too much Essence at once took time and created openings for the opponent to exploit. Also, using large amounts of Essence at once could cause you some fatigue.

Do it long enough and you were bound to get tired very soon.

Ning's opponent dodged the attacks again and threw out some small light attacks, none of which were meant to hurt him.

Ning was starting to get a little angry at the man. He almost started pointing a finger at the man but stopped.

The man was definitely not being careless here. He was strong for sure and teasing him was a way to make him make a mistake.

'He must be ready for whatever attack I can throw at him,' Ning thought. He decided to test the theory.

A gust of wind started blowing across the stage. Strong winds, but not strong enough to harm anyone.

The man wondered what Ning was trying to do when dust appeared on the stage. The wind blew the dust, causing a dust storm that reduced the visibility of the surrounding by a lot.

Ning had willed dust into existence using his Earth sword and used his Wind sword to create the dust storm.

'Sand?' the man was surprised when he saw the glittering sand in the air. 'How?'

He couldn't understand how this was happening. Did his opponent have a sand skill perhaps? He knew he was a Pure Essence user so any skill was possible.

'That must be it,' he thought. 'After all, Earth Swords can't make sands and he doesn't seem to be wearing any Sand armor.'

The man finally frowned as he needed to start relying upon his Essence sense to see what Ning was up to.

He sensed Ning using Earth Essence, so he had to dodge the attack. Except, he had to now guess where the attack had to be coming within a second.

He sensed the sudden appearance of Earth essence around him. He looked up and saw a massive rock falling on top of him that was moments away from smashing onto him.

Ning couldn't see what was happening as he had blinded himself due to the dust storm. He heard a loud crash, followed by smaller crashes as the massive boulder he had let loose rolled away.

Ning had already stopped using the dust storm, so he could only wait for the dust to settle. However, even without that, he was aware of the fact that he had not in fact just won.

The man had managed to use his Essence at the last moment to protect him.

When the dust settled, Ning, the referee, and the entire surrounding audience witnessed the white, translucent geometric spikes that had come out of the ground, all around the young man.

"So he really does have it," Ning thought. "A Crystal Core."

Crystal Essence was one of the rarest Essences to find to absorb on this planet. It was a very specific sub-type of Earth Essence that could only be found in crystal form.

Normal crystals that everyone absorbed had Crystal Essence but it was so heavily dominated by the Pure Essence that it was impossible to make use of that essence.

However, if you came across a crystal mine where very few parts of the entire mine had Pure Essence, you could collect Essence from that mine and form a Crstal core.

However, because of how difficult it was to find an Essence mine, let alone one that was filled with Crystal Essence, most people did not have that core at all.

This meant that from a very young age, the man in front of Ning could do nothing but only absorb Essence through Crystals. Any instance of absorbing other Essence would cause him trouble, so he had to be strict about it.

To cultivate up to the Low Essence Soul realm with Crystal Core meant that the young man's family had most likely stumbled upon a Crystal mine or something. Ning couldn't see how else he could get his hands on it to reach such a level.

The crystals broke, falling across the destroyed ground. The man walked out from inside the crystal enclosure, completely unharmed, and somewhat annoyed.

"To think you could push me to use my Essence against you as only an Essence Manifestation realm fighter," the man said. "I commend you on your accomplishment."

"Thank you," Ning said. "But this is just the beginning. If you continue looking down on me, this might as well become your last fight of the competition."