But the Origin Expanse was not the only place full of events and dangers.

Piloq, the city where all participants of the Battle Exchange had gathered, was full of intriguing events and fierce battles. After Michael rushed to the Origin Expanse to find out that another Lord resided in the Untamed Jungle, Kaleb and the others continued to fight other participants of the Battle Exchange in the hopes of increasing their ranking.

After all, a better ranking indicated that they would receive more resources and support to prepare for the Interdimensional Flag War. Some participants without a Flag War Token decided to return to the Origin Expanse where they used the benefits of the time dilation to train for several weeks. The growth spurt allowed them to fight specific opponents head-on.

In one such spar, a young woman, an Awakened at the Peak of the 2nd Tier, with a Weapon Manifestation Soultrait called [Cursed Dagger of the Vervail Queen] was studying her opponent, a Berserker at the Lowest rank of the 3rd Tier, with great detail and focus. She researched his combat tactic, the Soultrait he used and got to know that her Soultrait outmatched the Berserker's.

The Berserker's Soultrait [Crimson Blood], enhanced his Power, improved his natural regeneration, and he could churn through his blood to temporarily increase his physical strength drastically. Regenerating the blood his Soultrait used up would leave him weakened after the effect of Crimson Blood was unleashed to its peak, but the Berserker's naturally high regeneration ensured that the weakened state was not long.

Cursed Dagger of the Vervail Queen had two unique abilities. First, the dagger manifested through the Soultrait had a strong bleeding effect. Even shallow cuts would bleed for several minutes. Stopping the bleeding was too difficult. This was even worse for deeper cuts. However, the second effect of her Cursed Dagger was even more important. It strengthened the power of the bleeding effect by inflicting a curse upon the target. The Curse was not permanent because it drained too much energy from the wielder of the Cursed Dagger, but its effect was as strong as a Curse was supposed to be. It weakened the natural regeneration of the injured target, increased the target's sense of pain while dulling every other sense, and drained a portion of the target's power.

As the young woman challenged the Crimson Blood Berserker in a narrow alley late at night, the Berserker didn't hesitate to attack. The Battle Exchange allowed the participants to challenge their opponents wherever they were. Those who were challenged weren't allowed to reject the challenge, otherwise, they would lose their Flag War Token by default.

The Berserker used Crimson Blood at its full potential, increasing the Berserker's power quite a bit. A huge war axe manifested in his hands and he struck out without hesitation.

All the young woman did was to lift her hand and slightly bend her index finger sporting a silver Ring Artifact. The Ring Artifact hummed lightly right before the sound of something cutting through the air resounded behind the Berserker. The Cursed Dagger of the Vervail Queen propelled through the air, controlled by the silver Ring Artifact. It burst through the Berserker's right arm that was lifted high into the air to cleave down with the war axe.

There was nothing the Berserker could do. The Cursed Dagger had been too close and the Berserker didn't expect an attack from behind. He had been too focused on the young woman engulfed in the darkness of the narrow alley.

The young woman smiled as her Cursed Dagger sliced through the Berserker's arm. The natural power to worsen the bleeding and the Curse took effect simultaneously. It was only at that moment that the Berserker realized that it might have been a stupid idea to attack his challenger in a narrow alley. His war axe crashed against the walls of the building next to him and he lost control of his weapon as the pain in his right arm reached an unbearable degree. As the weapon slumped down from his hand limply, the Cursed Dagger shot out once again, piercing the Berserker's other arm.

The Berserker roared out and charged at the young woman, both arms covered in layers of warm, oozing blood. Two layers of the Curse had been applied, worsening the Berserker's situation even more.

The young woman pulled back. She used her Soultrait to retrieve the Cursed Dagger and manifest it in her hands once again. A mere moment later, she threw the dagger out again, piercing the Berserker's chest with a quick motion. The Berserker senses were too dulled, his sight too hazy to perceive the Cursed Dagger as it plunged into his chest, digging deep inside.

Not even five minutes into the start of the battle the Berserker was lying on the ground – in a puddle of his blood.

"Is that the medic team? Yeah, I sent you my coordinates. Someone is bleeding out here. I already released the Curse, but I am not sure if that's enough to make sure that he can survive," The young woman called the medic team, following the protocol of an outside match. The injured party had to be tended to, and the winner was supposed to inform the medics even if their opponent was not badly injured.

The young woman followed the protocol before approaching the Berserker to retrieve his Flag War Token.

"That's mine now. If you want it back, challenge me once you're back at your peak," She said just before turning away, leaving the Berserker staring at her in shock.

Situations like this have been normal since the start of the Battle Exchange. Bloody battles of similar scale happened all over the cities. In fact, the battle between the Crimson Blood Berserker and the Cursed Dagger Human hadn't been that bad. They didn't destroy anything, which was completely different from the battles fought by Thaor, Lokai, and most other Berserkers.

Even the battles fought by humans were usually far more destructive. That was especially true for Lords like Killian Zeus. He didn't hold back against his enemies to instill fear in his opponents and not let them muster the courage to challenge him. Through this he conveyed a message that challenging him meant that they would end up in a state worse than death! That way he could ensure that no weaklings would bother him until the end of the Battle Exchange.

However, not everyone fought straightforwardly. There were also more unique situations happening all over Piloq.

While Berserkers and Warlock Centaurs were known for fighting head-on and challenging others in the open to honor their battle spirits and ancestors, not all Humans were the same. In fact, most humans had been taught that victory was all that mattered. To defeat opponents with higher combat prowess than oneself, special techniques and strength might not be enough. It required trickery, conniving tactics, and sometimes more than that to defeat the stronger party.

Humans didn't mind how others looked at them after they used trickery to win against their opponents, but Berserkers and Warlock Centaurs valued their morals and ethics more than their lives. They would rather lose than dishonor their race's values and ancestors.

That was something the human participants of the Battle Exchange decided to make use of. They formed groups to protect their Healers and Supporters and claimed several buildings to create a stronghold to defend. The Healers and Supporters in the groups were out of the Berserkers and Warlock Centaurs' sight, which made it increasingly difficult for them to be challenged.

Only the combatants of the group could be challenged by the Berserkers and Warlock Centaurs, but that was where trickery came into play. The rules of the Battle Exchange didn't forbid other participants from intervening in outside battles. Therefore, the human groups decided to team up against the Berserkers and Warlock Centaurs to defeat them together. Using this tactic was more than enough to defeat the stronger Berserkers and Warlock Centaurs that had been ranked much higher than them. The groups of humans took their Flag War Tokens and returned to their stronghold to create a large barricade.

At one point, the Berserkers formed a group as well. The strongest Berserkers decided to charge into the fort and raze it to the ground. To their misfortune, they failed miserably.

The Berserkers didn't expect the stronghold to have several powerful Supporters and an even stronger Healer residing within. Whereas the Supporters aided their members to improve their combat prowess greatly, the Healer tended to the wounds of everyone mere moments after they had been inflicted.

After their first attack failed, the Berserkers cursed the Healers residing within the stronghold. The Healers of the stronghold were simply too powerful, and too many to deal with since the Berserkers didn't aim to kill their enemies. Killing the participants of the Battle Exchange was not desired. It could lead to more problems and split up the Tritan Alliance in the worst-case scenario. Yet, that nearly happened when the Berserkers charged into the stronghold the second time.

Two humans were nearly split in half by powerful battle-axe slashes. The battle halted for a moment and a beautiful young woman appeared from the center of the stronghold. She was the Healer residing in the stronghold – the only healer they needed.

There was no hesitation in her actions as she released her Soultrait's power to the fullest. A halo manifested above the woman's head as she tended to the lethally injured. The insides of the cleaved bodies squirmed as thousands of tiny little tendrils seemed to move within the injured. The tendrils connected to one another and pulled the cleaved bodies together.

They healed rapidly, clearly for everyone to see – to witness the miracle that happened right in front of them.

The woman looked at the two bodies and nodded her head faintly, "That was quite easy."

Her sonorous voice resounded through the vicinity as she got up. She looked at her surroundings calmly and did not seem the slightest bit exhausted from healing two lethally injured patients who had been on the brink of death.

No. The two humans had been more dead than alive, yet the young woman healed them and brought them back from death's door easily.

She was Maria Seraph, one of the 10 Heavenly Chosen, and the most promising healer across the Tritan Alliance.