“The matter is already set in stone, and it cannot be overturned,” said Mr. Zayne, the helplessness evident in his voice. He stared at Jackie seemingly sympathetically as he added, “In a while, the other two will come over. I’ll introduce everyone.”
Jackie said nothing as he stood quietly, but Rudy struggled to remain calm. He pulled at Jackie’s arm and whispered, “If that’s the case, then you can’t go. We both know this is a trap. We should avoid Elder Rick. He’s so despicable, and we can’t let him get what he wants!”
Jackie raised an eyebrow before nodding as he whispered to Rudy, “You’re right, but he probably anticipated me rejecting to participate in this tournament, however. You’d be doing exactly what he wants.”
Rudy was baffled at this, his eyes widening at Jackie’s words. “What do you mean? If we
reject it, we’ll still be doing as he wants?”
Jackie sighed in exasperation as he nodded slightly before saying, “If I reject them now, I’d be rejecting the higher-ups. Those people won’t have a good impression of me regardless. After all, I’m of the appropriate age and talent. No matter how you look at it, I have to give it a try.”
Rudy’s face soured as he heard that. He looked around anxiously as he scratched his head, trying to figure out a way to reject but to no avail.
It seemed like Elder Rick truly had trapped them with no room for escape, and whether they advanced or retreated, Elder Rick would still benefit from it.
Jackie reached out and grabbed Rudy. “Don’t overthink it. No matter what, this warrants a try. Have a bit more faith in me. There are some things where the true victor can’t be seen until the very last moment.”
With that, Jackie said nothing more.
Mr. Zayne had been observing their conversation silently, not doing anything other than looking at Jackie meaningfully.
After Jackie and Rudy’s conversation ended, Mr. Zayne cleared his throat before he piped in, “It hasn’t even been that long and you’ve already offended Elder Rick. I always knew you weren’t someone who is all that cautious. It seems like I wasn’t wrong after all.”
Jackie looked up at Mr. Zayne calmly. “I’ve always talked and acted upon the principles I’ve laid out for myself. I won’t trouble anyone who doesn’t trouble me. If Elder Rick hadn’t tried to do something to me, I wouldn’t have any problems with him.”
Hearing that, Mr. Zayne let out a cold smile. “You’re too overconfident. Don’t think I don’t know what’s happened. Everything about you has started to spread, and everyone knows you’re talented in every way.
“However, an elder is still an elder. He can’t do anything to you publicly, but it won’t trouble him whatsoever to bait and trap you behind the scenes, just like what happened today. If he hadn’t recommended you so much, you wouldn’t have been placed under the limelight.”
Jackie nodded. Even if Mr. Zayne had not said that, Jackie understood the logic behind everything that had happened. He let out a small chuckle, but his composure never wavered.
“He can do whatever he wants to, but he needs to bear the consequences for anything he does,” remarked Jackie, sounding awfully blunt.
Though Jackie was not trying to exaggerate, Mr. Zayne felt incredibly amused at those words. In the end, Mr. Zayne could not stop himself from laughing out loud.