#1: Welcome To Shrek

A worn-down middle-aged man sat on the cliff’s edge. By his side was a young girl kicking her legs back and forth. “Xiao Li, what are you thinking about?” The man asked. Xiao Li only smiled at him. “What it will be like when those flowers bloom again.” Behind were the two of them sat was a large garden. It was used to cultivate all sorts of plants. In a small patch in the back of the gardens was a cluster of red flowers. Her entire life Xiao Li wanted to see them bloom. However, they were the type of flowers to only bloom for a reason, so she’d have to be content with just thoughts on how that would appear. Xiao Li leaned over to pour the older man a refill on his cup of alcohol. “I’m sure it will be a pretty sight.” His Xiao Li was known for her active imagination. Any image from her brain would be a pretty sight if she wished it to be. She nodded her head. “I wonder if the others can enjoy it.” He put down his cup and turned to look out at the sunset. The others. They would never be able to enjoy it. “They can’t.” Xiao Li sighed. “More of it for us then.”


-Present Day-


A crowd of kids swarmed back and forth the grounds. Once a year Shrek Academy opened its doors for anyone to try and qualify for entrance to the school. Every year hundreds of kids come out to try and prove their worth. A particular eleven-year-old stood in like waiting to check in. When she finally got past the crowds and to the check in table she handed the lady a letter from her back pack. “Tang Lili. I have a recommendation to the academy.” The woman read over the letter and sighed. “You still need to qualify against everyone else.” Lili nodded her head. That was simple enough. She left the table and headed over towards the colosseum. The majority of the kids around her all seemed to know someone at the very least. Small groups were forming around the entrances. Over by one of the side walls a tiny grey-haired boy cowering in fear. Around him was three larger kids calling him names. Lili hated watching someone pitying themselves like that. There was still time until she was supposed to ‘qualify’. Lili walked over to the group. “Aren’t you all a little old for this?”


The middle, and largest of the three bullies, turned around to snort. “Mind your own business.” What was it with people always offering advice they themselves never took? “How can I when you are in my way?” She walked around him and reached her hand out for the short boy. “Time to move little rock.” The boy looked up at her in shock. After a few moments he rubs the tears from his eyes with his sleeves and reaches his hand out. Their hands almost touched before the fat one got it in his head to continue the exchange. Lili’s hands smacked away. “Shrek doesn’t have time for weaklings.”


She looked down at her hand. Lili fighting the urge to make a scene. She had promised her father that she would not make a scene. At least not until after she officially entered the school. She turned to them and smiled. “If that was the case you wouldn’t be here.” The tall one shaped like a stick swung his arm out to hit her. She was more than ready to stop it herself when a boy came out of nowhere and stopped it in her place. “There’s no need to be cheap.” He laughed.


Lili took the boy in. What stood out the most was his green hair pulled back into a ponytail. Her father was right. Interesting sorts converged at Shrek. She smiled at him. “And you must be the resident Hero of Justice.” The boy rolled his eyes. “Not for someone as Ugly as you.” Ugly. Did he just call her ugly? She was a fairy compared to him! “No one asked for your help.” Lili turned her head on him. What an awful boy. The third boy of the group annoyed by not being noticed swung to punch her. She would use him to calm down. Lili stepped slightly to the right and kicked him in the side of the ribs. The boy falling straight into the fat one. He seemed to be the boss.


Lili watched the two of them look at each other. For a gang they didn’t seem to have the whole cohesive understanding of each other down. “There are plenty of opportunities for you all to fight soon enough. If you want to attend Shrek Academy I would end this fighting here now.” said a male voice behind them. Lili turned to see one of the academy’s teachers standing there.


Seems like she couldn’t start something if she intended too. Lili watched the three kids scurry away before turning to the boy. She held out her hand once again. “Tang Lili.” This time the boy was able to take her hand and stand up. When she got a better look at him all she could do was hold back the laughter. He looked just like a little girl! “Wang Wei.” The green haired boy walked over to them. “Dugu Jia.” Lili glared at him. “Why are you still here?” Dugu Jia slung his arm around Wang Wei. “I’ve decided to watch over the shorty.” Lili looked him up at down. Nothing about him really did seem honest or caring. “Alright. See you then.”


She smiled and started to walk away. Wang Wei panicked and reached out for her hand. Both Dugu Jia and her looking at him in shock. “Will you be my friend!” She could only sigh. Who directly says no to a question like that? “Will you let go of my hand?” Wang Wei nodded his head vigorously. He reminded her of the young children she used to see as a child. When her hand was free she replied. “Alight.” Wang Wei smiling widely. Dugu Jia cracking up laughing. “You only want the pretty girl as a friend. Who knew you had it in you, shorty.”  Wang Wei looked over at him in panic. “No. I was going to ask you next!”


The three starting to make there way into the colosseum. Dugu Jia shaking his head at him. “Forgetting who saved you in the first place.” Lili rolled her eyes at him. This green haired boy was too much for her. “You didn’t do anything for him.” She leaned down and tilted her head slightly. “Right, Wang Wei?” The short boy nodded his head slowly. His face a pale shade of scarlet. Dugu Jia sighed. “Isn’t it a little early to be lying for the pretty girl.” Pretty. He called her pretty. Lili stopped walking and reached over to pinch his cheeks. “It’s alright. One day a pretty girl will let you make up lies for her too.”


Wang Wei joining in to laugh with her. Dugu Jia’s remark cut short by an old guy’s opening remarks. Everyone was getting called out for one versus one match ups to begin with. Dugu Jia smiling at her. “If I’m lucky we can draw each other. Stop any future problems here.” Lili sighed. “If you are that eager to leave Shrek Academy.” Wang Wei stepping in-between the two. “Let’s go watch the other matches.” The three of them walking over to find good seats. Common ground found on a general agreement on who was a standout match. Dugu Jia seemed to have an interest in the Control System Spirit Users. While, Wang Wei seemed to enjoy the Power Attack System Users. Lili on the other hand just seemed to want to enjoy unique individuals.


There was a girl with long pale pink hair that had an interesting Spider Spirit. Her name was Ning Yazhu and she was a level 17 Spirit Master with a 400 year old spirit ring. The second stand out so far was a girl named Zhu He. Her Hell Civet spirit was level 21 and she possessed one 400 year old spirit ring and one 700 year old spirit ring. The two of them were definitely noticed by the school faculty.


She was the first up between the three of them. Right after Zhu He’s match Lili went down to the stage. Her partner was the one she kicked into fatty. His name was Liu Xue. Lili was very unimpressed. Not only was his Porcupine spirit a bad match up against hers, but he was a measly level 15 with a 200 year first spirit ring. Fighting him would feel like picking on the weak. Lili took a step back and let the white mist roll out of her. Liu Xue fired off a few quills, but she easily avoided them all. By the time the mist hit him he had fallen forward unconscious. Lili hadn’t even needed to use any spirit abilities. Wang Wei turned to the smiling Dugu Jia. “Can you tell what her spirit is?” He shook his head no. “No. But I have a feeling we would be a good match up.” Wang Wei looked at him confused, but said no more.


Dugu Jia’s match was immediately after. It turned out the boy shaped like a stick was a level 18 Spirit Master with a 300 year old first spirit ring. The match ended in a similar fashion. Mist had seeped out from Dugu Jia and knocked out Chen Ru. When he came back to sit down Wang Wei was smiling again. “So that’s what you mean try compatible!” Dugu Jia ruffled his hair. “What else would it be with Ugly?” Lili glared at him. “At least I didn’t take as long as you did to finish.” The two bickering through the next matches. Neither of them noticing the level 23 Spirit Grandmaster with two ideal spirit ring configurations, Chaotic Ice Pheonix Spirit Shui Tao. He was another student who seemed to draw a lot of attention from the spectators.


The two ending their bickering at the announcement of Wang Wei’s name. Each offering their blessings. Lili doing her best to tell him he can do this. Wang Wei nervously made his way down stage and to stand in front of Fatty, Huang Ping. Imagine everyone’s surprise when his spirit turns out to be the rare Nine Heart Flowering Apple. Fatty was a healer! A pure support healer at that. He had no attack abilities. No abilities other than healing. Huang Ping seemed tottery and make up for it with his basic knowledge in soul weapons. It would have been a good cover if it weren’t for the fact that Wang Wei’s spirit turned out to be a Wealthy Emperor Rat. The Soul weapons couldn’t hit a pure Agility Attack Spirit like him easily and with no other method of attack Huang Ping had no way to win the match. Wang Wei won the round. He returned to his seat very surprised. Dugu Jia and Lili making sure to congratulate their new friend and compliment his spirit. For such a scaredy cat, Wang Wei was still a level 21 Spirit Grandmaster.


The three patiently waiting for the results of the preliminary cuts to be announced. It took half a day, but soon a little over a half of the kids who had shown up were dismissed. The second round was to begin immediately with a 3 vs. 3 formats. Everyone was to find their own group and draw lots. Dugu Jia volunteering to go up and draw a lot for them. Lili was going to argue with him, but decided not to. Even if she didn’t want to be in a group with him they at least had an idea of each other’s abilities and personalities. It was better than a stranger. The three whispering until it was their turn to fight.


They where the thirteenth group to go. The three making their way down to see their opponents. To Wang Wei’s dismay, but Dugu Jia’s and Lili’s pleasure, their opponents included Ning Yazhu and Shui Tao. Their partner was a level 16 Spirt Master with a Fire Shadow spirit. It was a strong pairing. Lili looked over at her teammates. “It would be easiest if you two stand back.” Wang Wei nodded his head and took a step back. He had pretty much figured out at this point her white mist was poisonous. There was no need to get caught in the cross fire. Dugu Jia on the other hand stayed standing by her. “It’ll be fine.” Lili only sighed. “Alright.” If he said so. She turned to the other group. “Are you ready?”


The boy with the Fire Shadow spirit nodded with a huge grin. How annoying. Lili’s eyes turned red. White mist seeped towards them. The shortest boy, the one with the pale blue hair, lifted his hands and ice swirled around her. Are they trying to trap her in ice? How silly. Dugu Jia cracked up laughing. “I can’t believe you got caught.” Wang Wei tried to calm him down. The ice cracking around her as she stepped out. “Who was caught?” Wang Wei starting to get anxious. “Guys. We are in the middle of a match.” Dugu Jia pointed over at the sleeping trio across from them. Wang Wei’s mouth dropped open. “But How?” Dudu Jia sighed, but explained. Ning Yazhu had tried to use her abilities to blow away the mist, but it just spread it faster. The others fell before they could use their abilities. Lili nodded. It was unfair matchup.


When they were returning to their seats Wang Wei gave in. “What is your Spirit Essence?” Lili smiled. Was he that curious? He could have just asked earlier. “Red Eyed Ice Toad.” Dugu Jia nodded his head. “That explains it. No wonder why these match ups are so dull for you.” Lili sighed. “It’s really not a fair match up.” Wang Wei sighed. “You two are so strong.” The two of them looked at each other and laughed. Dugu Jia speaking up. “Wang Wei, your spirit is very rare.” Lili nodded. “You have so much potential.” Wang Wei looked away. “Potential is not always realized.” Lili pinched his cheeks. “Snap out of it, Wang Wei.” He nodded his head slowly.


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