CHAPTER 5 OF THE SLOVIAN
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As they come out of the forest the rendezvous is just ahead of them and they even have a few more minute to spare, a dozen groups have already arrived, some look like they have been through hell just to be there from their injuries and tattered clothes and broken armour, however a few look like it was a walk in the park for them, one might assume they teleported directly to Milebu. They do not look the very least tired or even look like they put in any effort.
The ten candidates take their first step into the Milebu plains but their morale plus adrenaline is still at peak levels that they are unable to turn off all the aura, blood thirst or killer instinct that is oozing from them making some people uncomfortable.
“Hey, hey! Looks like some people are already showing off.” A noble in the groups silently whispers to his group.
“We’ll just have to put them in their place one way or the other,” her comrade replies to him.
As the group finally makes it and confirm they have passed the first round, they tune off their emotions as everyone goes back to their usual self. Jacqui goes off to flirt, Roafgar trying to get Quinwreth of his back so that he can go fool around. Jibed is trying to figure out the strong opponents that have already qualified, as for Poldark no one notices her, she is left folding her arms looking for a wall to lean on.
As there is only a few minutes left some familiar faces are seen struggling to beat the time, it’s the twins Topi and Topa who look like they found a group and made it to Milebu. They are the last team to qualify as they beat the time by a minute and half. Topi is seen supporting his brother who is not fully recovered from Jacqui assault. The two joined up with a four man team that was looking for other people to fill their team. Picking up two extra guys even though they were beat up pretty bad was better than having been disqualified for having fewer members. Gotlar takes the stage once more, he does not show it but he is slightly impressed with the number of the qualified people in front of him. He takes position to issue the next instruction.
“Settle down you bugs, everyone make a foe line with the team that you have arrived here with, you will all register your teams and they will remain so for the next stages of the exam, hurry up you insects we don’t have the whole day.”
All groups make haste registering their groups at the exam desks. It takes a while for Roafgar’s group to arrive at the registration desk. The attendant at the desk is a young lady with such a relaxing smile on her face. Jacqui goes to talk to her when Quinwreth pushes him out of the way, she fears Jacqui constant flirting might make the young lady angry and decide to fail them. She doesn’t want anything interfering with the exam.
“Hello my name is Meribell, could you please give me your names and calling please”
“I’m Quinwreth and he is Roafgar while she….”
“Sorry to interrupt but I will need more than one name either family name, surname or maiden name if you don’t mind” Meribell says with her eye catching smile. She is in her late twenties beautiful from head to toe. Dressed in Royal blue colours with golden accessories matching her golden locks tied behind her head.
Roafgar picks up from Quinwreth “Roafgar and Quinwreth Devick, adventurer and fighter respectively.”
“Jibed Geshad here and the calling is fighter.”
“Poldark Quint an assassin.”
“They ladies like to call me….”
“Jacqui for the last time just answer the question and stop needless introduction or we kick you out.” Quinwreth stops Jacqui’s long introduction.
“Okay, the handsome Jacqui Melvick here an aspiring adventurer, pleased to meet you.”
“Thank you, if that’s the full group then you meet all requirements. What’s the group name?” Meribell asks.
The group who had no idea of a name start whispering to each other, Jacqui full of ideas start proposing names, “The white knights, or the ravishing pentagon, the princes on princesses of Rignefich…”
Quinwreth totally ignoring Jacqui, “let’s make it simple like combining the first letters of our name to something like Ropjuq or rather I think Ripojuq works as well”
“Sounds good to me,” Jibed agrees almost immediately followed by both Roafgar and Poldark who shake their head in agreement.
“Well it’s hard to even pronounce Ripojuq.”
“Well well well looks like we have idiots who don’t even know how to write.” Jibed taunts Jacqui trying to make him angry.
Jacqui speaks out loudly but pretending to whisper, “Well I was trying to help some fellas who with their accent might not even be able to pronounce their groups name let alone write it down. But I think my suggestion can wait” Jacqui who has no other choice agrees.
“I can correctly pronounce it and I don’t have an accent, its Riboj…..” Jibed starts when he realizes that everyone is looking at him and about to burst in laughter any minute from now. Even Meribell looks interested in how he is going to pronounce it as he truly has a country side accent. He does himself justice by keeping quiet and looking away as they finish their registration.
It’s now settled and they are now officially the Ripojuq group, they receive four black tags that look like small flags with a crest at the middle. They leave the registration desk and head to the assembly. Where Gotlar is making his final speech.
“A total of twenty group have successfully passed the first test with a total of ten groups with five members and fifteen groups with six members, that’s a total of one hundred and forty people. This next stage is simple each team has received either a black or white tag that looks like a small flag. Each group has a different number varying from one to six or even seven.”
Everyone is keenly listening to Goblar not even blinking or twitching a muscle. He continues, “For those with black flags you can pass the exam by simply making sure that come morning you have your flags without loosing any, as for the group with white flags you must have a black flag come morning or you shall be eliminated. If a group or team looses it’s black flag then it is required to have double the number of white flag it lost, if you loose one black flag either replace it with another black flag or two white flags and if you loose two of your black flags replace it with either two black flags or four white flags and so on. As for those with white flags if you gain black flags and loose all your white flags in the process you are also done for, it won’t matter how many black flags you have by morning.”
Low pitch murmurs cover the ground the rules seem easy to understands but the tension makes it all confusing, many of them who had their flags out mostly on their hands. One by one they start to hide them so as not to disclose their colors. Especially those with black flags.
“As I finish, you are all to head to the Mildeb ruins immediately to start of this next exam. The only thing fair in life is death so don’t expect my tests to be fair, but I’ll give you shortcuts as we proceed. On that note (pointing to two groups among the crowd) I would like to congratulate this two groups that were the first to arrive here within two hours, the fastest of all the rest of you insects and for that they have received a red flag each, give them a round of applause for their hard work.”
As a few of them clap their hands some are irritated by them. The two groups are all royals each one of them and they don’t hide it at all. The sneers they give the rest is a clear indication that they value themselves to be in a different league. Goblar continues to address the crowd of candidates.
“As for you two groups the Mighty Arebs and the Silver Viscount, you need only keep your flags, there is no need to hunt for other flags, but for the rest of you guys if you manage to take any of their red flags it won’t matter if you loose all your flags because you will be through to the next stage. Anyone who manages to get all two red flags will pass this stage and the next stage all together including any team able to capture twenty flags of mixed colors. Happy hunting and see you in the morning at seven o’clock when the exam comes to completion.”
“Does our alliance stand or do we have to fight each other” Rubi asks the Ripojuq squad. Her group also follows closely behind them. A total make over from what they were before. A change of clothes and healed wounds with smiles on their faces.
“I don’t need to hide this but we’ve got three black flags.” Quinwreth tells Rubi. Something that they probably should keep secret. But to their amusement Rubi also tells them that their group have four white flags. “Let’s find a place to stay for the night as we await the cover of darkness” Quinwreth suggests to Rubi. The two exchange words with each other more casually as if they were long-time friends.
As they are yet to move out commotions can already be seen all over the place as teams try to steal the flags of the opposite color. What captures their eyes was when a group of guys pick a fight with the Silver viscounts, probably trying to take their red flag. The silver viscount are a group of six nobles and royals, four gentlemen and two ladies who each of their armor and clothing is expensive enough to buy the armor and weapons of the six attackers. They are dressed in white clothing most of them with two of them having white hair a sign of true royalty.
“Let’s watch this before we leave looks fun,” Roafgar suggests.
“Yeah I feel like I’m going to see something special” Jibed agrees.
One of the Silver Viscount leader parts his long bangs away from his face across to the back of his head. He takes the flag from his pockets and the other members’ horde together forming a circle before they disperse creating around five meters of space between themselves. He turns around to his attackers and offers them a suggestion. “Here you filthy bugs one of us has the flag why don’t you try deciding which one of us. However in this exam fighting to the death is allowed so if you are not serious enough we’ll pike your bodies for the birds to have a late supper” he leaps and draws his spear going for the kill at one of them who manages to block. “For managing to block my first attack I will at least let you know my name, I’m Corban now let end this.”
“Brother, you are too soft that you would give your name to such filthy creatures” one of his members speaks. She turn and block a sword swing with her bare hands by parring it away. The parry itself makes the guy attacking him loose balance from the force loosing his step. She capitalizes this by drawing her dagger. She has his back open to an attack but she does not stab him on his back but throws the dagger dropping his opponents ear. The guy screams in pain as he jumps a few steps back creating a small space between them. The lady recalls her dagger which goes back to her hands. She steps forward looking at the guy holding where his ear used to be, blood oozing through his hands. She steps on his fallen ear, “we’ll if you can hear me my name is Kelly.” She leaps forward and chants “come to me my Kells servants of Kelly,” immediately her two daggers appear on her palms from her side pouch and attacks the bleeding guy who has lost a lot of blood by now. She taunts him for a while making him defend with both hands. The guy can barely keep up with defending let alone trying to stop his bleeding.
On the other side of the Silver Viscount three of the guys Bravy, Browban and Stewan have their opponents on their backs. They are also bleeding so bad that one cannot tell the color of their shirts anymore. The look of regret on their face show that they chewed more than they can swallow. The three of them look like they have no chance of winning at all.
“I don’t feel the need to fight such weak peasants, don’t you agree Kelly and the Jusbin brothers”
“Come on Stelly I’m enjoying my prey look at his eyes they are almost fading.” Kelly replies.
“I will be sleeping in some ruin today and not my bed so I don’t wish to have the smell of peasants blood on me, god knows what kind of diseases they have spilled on you already.”
“Well Stelly they attacked us we cannot just let them leave, can we? We have a reputation to keep”
“Okay Kelly finish up with him already and oh!! Oh!!.... Mhhhh I just had an
idea lets take all their flags we could get a free pass on the next exam if we have enough right.”
Corban who was still fighting was the strongest compared to his opponent, but he could hardly take him down with a decisive blow for a while now. He turns to Stelly “I guess you have a point I would not mind passing this exam and getting my license without breaking a sweat.” He turns to his opponent and asks for his name.
“It’s Blub from Ashuri plains.” He replies hardly able to catch his breath as he was panting like a dog.
“Well, Blub from Ashuri plains, I let you go right now if you hand over your flag you look like you could become a great warrior someday, it will be a pity if you lost your life here or picked up a great injury. You have invoked some powerful spells already but I don’t have any dent on me, while I am yet to call on my weapons name. Submit young man.” Corban suggests to Blub. He is too tired to even reply and shakes his head indicating no as a reply.
“You talk too much for a person who has dropped her guard.” Somebody with a spear attacks Stelly from behind.
Stelly sighs as if she is bored and yawns. As the spear is about to pierce her just an inch from reaching her, she summons her weapon. “Eliminate my enemy Limo, Destroy them to their spirit.” She dodges the spear by moving aside letting it go through. The guy changes his steps and still in the momentum now swings the spear to act like a whip. “Huh!!” Stelly shows her rather un-motivating surprise at the skill but does not look really bothered. Suddenly a scythe appears from behind her attacker cleanly chopping the hand that is holding the spear. He drops down with pain holding his arm. Stelly bends down stretching her arm, looks like she is going to help him but only takes the flag from his pocket and walks past him.
“That’s one eighteen to go”
Corban also summons his spear “come to me Corban servant named like his master.” His spear changes a lot. It is now a bit longer and is golden glowing like the morning sunlight. He holds it up facing the sky, gripping it with two hands, he pulls them back towards his right ear. He leaps for the attack.
“Come forth and defend your master Kim.” Bulb summons a shield which is his sword turning into a shield.
With the lack of strength it is not strong enough to stop Corban who breaks through hitting him so hard he falls flat on the ground. The fight has been decided already. He bends and picks the flag from his pocket and walks away.
“You were not a very strong opponent but I admire you spirit” he congratulates him as he leaves with his prize.
The other three Jusbin brothers also take down their three opponents but get only two flag from the three. Kelly still having a blast tormenting her opponent finally runs him down. He can no longer fight as he barely hears anything and his vision is fading, he drops down on the ground barely breathing. Kelly a little disappointed that the fun is over comes and searches him for a flag and finds one also on him.
“We now have six flags including ours in total, I guess this is what we call royalty luck, seems like we will not be defending our flag but rather hunting for some more.” Stelly tells her gang who look around at the spectators around them.
“Well well well which one of these groups do we attack?” She looks at them with eyes full of greed. She is determined to get twenty flags to avoid the next exam.
It is clear now that they are not just a bark with no bite. Where the Ripojuq are, Roafgar would like to challenge them so bad that he wishes for Stelly to look at them. He is prepared for a fight with them at all cost. His dream is answered when his eyes meet with Stelly for a brief moment they stare at each other deeply. Stelly finds him intriguing and is a little bit curious of the guy whose eyes are challenging her. She accepts the challenge for a fight however the battle takes place in a rather unusual stage, it is all in their minds. Roafgar has already attacked and Stelly quickly defends, an exchange of sword versus scythe is ongoing in between their eyes and their mind as the stage of the fight, the fight is the same every spur every parry every block is precisely to what each one of them feels and imagines it would have been. They are literally fighting each other telepathically from where they stand a good two hundred and eighty meters away from each other. Amid all the commotion that might be around them, they have formed a battle ground for themselves.
Roafgar invokes his sword command to form a duplicate and when he attacks with one using his hands, the other receives commands and attack by itself mid-air. Stelly also decides to invoke a spell that makes her scythe lash out from her hands towards Roafgar’s head he barely misses it by bending his upper torso from his waist back towards the other side to allow the scythe to miss his head, but it spins around vigorously on top of his body not moving forward as Roafgar thought it would have. Immediately it bends changing its direction from moving vertically to diagonally. It goes to cut his head in half but he evades it so closely that it slightly scrapes his cheek, drops blood comes from his cheek fall down on the ground. Their fantasy battle is over at this point and Stelly gets the first win but it could be the second win since her group were first in the first round of the exam.
Stelly is also amused from where she is but her lazy nature won’t allow her to take him on right now. Roafgar touches his cheek as if it were real. He feel bad for loosing but excited at the same time in finding such a strong rival. The fantasy battle the two had in their minds was not that private as Poldark who was besides Roafgar saw it through his eyes while Quinwreth does not know what happened but the expression on his friend is enough to tell her Stelly is strong. On the Silver Viscounts side Kelly might have figured it out also, she smiles and looks up at the group. She wants another fight.
“Don’t even think about it, they are not worth wasting our time Kelly. At least not for now,” Stelly tells her comrade and looks away.
She looks around some more and spots a five man group and points at them. She signals her team to be ready to pounce. Within a twinkle of an eye they all attack the five man group with search ferocity that they leave a cloud of dust everywhere. They divide themselves further as three of them Corban Kelly and Stelly at another different group. This creates a bigger commotion at the crowded place as teams try to escape to the Mildeb ruins a few meters ahead, especially the teams with black flags. Exam inquisitors and supervisors come around picking up bodies and the fatally wounded.
Roafgar’s group together with Rubi’s group also exits towards the ruins as the two start chatting away.
“What name did your group choose Roafgar” Rubi inquires.
“We are the Ripojuq, what of yours?”
“We decided to go with Jareb, sounds easy.”
The Ripojuq and Jared arrive at the ruins and scout the ruins as they try to find a place to settle down and come up with a strategy. After a few scouting and luckily not running into any conflict, they find an old temple house which they decide to make it their base of operation.
“I’m thinking of collecting twenty flags so we can avoid the next step of this test” Roafgar lays a suggestion to his group.
“That sounds good but if one of us gets injured or dies we might fail all together, let’s not get greedy.” Quinwreth makes her own suggestion.
“You may be right Quinwreth but if there is a way of getting a pass on the next exam we should consider it. Who knows, maybe the next exam could be tough enough that it fails us. And moreover it might act as insurance to get as many flags as possible in case we loose any of our flags.”
“You are right jibed, I think the idea is great but we cannot be too careless about that or it might come to bite us.” Jacqui suggests.
“What of your group Rubi, what are you going to do?” Roafgar asks.
“We’ll just have to decide by a vote, so guys by a show of hands, how many of you want to collect all twenty flags?” she asks her group.
Rubi, Jamby, Morty and Toshuk all lift their arms apart from Chompa. Morty turns to him “Hey dude, you want to play it safe?”
“No, I just don’t care what you choose I’m ready for anything.”
“What of our group. Do we all agree to get all twenty flags?” Jibed asks. They all respond by shaking their heads when they realize only four ‘Yesses’.
“Where is Poldark?” all three Quinwreth Roafgar and Jacqui ask looking at Jibed.
“Huh! Come on guys you do know I met her today right she’s not my sister or anything.” Jibed defends himself as he folds his hands looking away from the group.
“Disappointed in a guy that does not looks after his family especially a sweet lady like her” Jacqui incites the group against Jibed.
“Nkt nkt, yeah you may be right, I mean just using someone for your own gain then not caring after you have achieved you goals is despicable.” Roafgar adds as he shakes his head looking down in disappointment. The whole group laughs on adding a few of their comments including the Jareb squad.
Someone walks in on them without them noticing at first until the clouds stops hiding the full moon and a shadow descends upon them. They get ready quickly going for their weapons when they realize it is Poldark who is back with a dead baby deer around his neck and some herbs on her waist. The deer looks to have been poisoned as there is no drops of blood from it.
“I decided to look for dinner guys, any good cooks in the house?”
They all sigh in relief as they get back to their former comfortable positions.