Up above the canyon, where the dawning sun shined in front of their eyes, stood twenty elders. In the lead was the head elder of the recruitment division. All of them peered down into the depths, a glint in their eyes, and a peculiarity, as if they could see everything that transpired below.
“Over two thousand survived the pre-trial. That’s new.” Said an elder next to the recruitment head. This elder was Elder Sun, the high elder of the protection bureau. He was in a high position. In fact, all the elders that were there at the moment were currently in a high enough position that was equal or only a step above or below from the recruitment head himself.
“Hmm. That’s true.” The recruitment head replied. “These students are either slower than the last or are simply too cautious. Hundreds reached the totem before they decided to rush it, trampling or killing others in their way.”
“Yes, but there should have been even more of a bloodbath at the lava pools. If it weren’t for that student crossing the barrier in front of everyone, then the fighting would not have stopped. I am not sure if he was just unable to sense the barrier or he was just that brave. He did start running even before the one from the green-horned clan went after him.” Elder Sun continued. “What was that one’s name? Which elder brought him in?”
The recruitment head turned to the side, summoning his aid. His aid had stayed far back with the other aids as not to disturb any of the top-level existence. It was not uncustomary for any one of them to get killed as a scapegoat when an elder got angry during a discussion. By now, no aid stayed within five meters of an elder unless they were needed.
As the aid hurried from the limits of the forest towards the cliff’s edge, he carried with him several black books with silver bindings. He had five of them, and each one had all the names for the students who participated in the trial in the past five years.
“Jonathan.” The recruitment head called out. “What is the name of the student over there?”
The recruitment head placed his hand on his Jonathan’s shoulder. A sudden rush of energy swarmed in him, spreading across the aid’s nervous system. As the aid looked towards the canyon, his focus pierced the layers of darkness and the mirror like barrier. His eyes hurt, but he bore through it as his sight eventually came onto the visual of a young individual. His hair was red, but dull for his kind, and his hands were tattooed with symbols that crept up along his arm, the rest underneath the uniform was hidden from him.
When the aid saw the young averati, he flipped through the latest book he had made. Flipping through the silk pages, he easily came upon the individuals with that precise description, sifting through the race, which were few, and then nitpicking at the differences in the characteristics as in height, eye color, and even shade of skin.
“His name is Delias. There is no last name recorded. He seems to have been picked up by Elder Lu.” The aid finally said.
“Elder Lu?” High Elder Sun interjected. “Wasn’t he sent to the east? How is it he found a student that could even last so long? Let alone be ahead of everyone? Must have been luck.
“How many students of Elder Lu survived?” The head asked his aid.
The books recorded the names under the elders who recruited them, so the aid did not need to turn the page. The lights that glowed red were those that still lived, bonded to the blood embedded into the crystal cards that the students received earlier. “Out of the forty-five Elder Lu brought in, twenty are still alive. Eight of which are from the east. One is the quasi demon on the eastern side near the border between the south and the east, and the rest are from the south.”
“Nine?” Elder Sun asked in slight shock. “Nine from the east. How long has it been since we even had more than two leave the pre-trial, let alone one brave enough to dash for first place?”
“Hmph!” The recruitment head grunted. “High Elder Sun, I know what you are worried about. I have seen that redhead run. His speed is terrible. It is obvious that he was just lucky so far. I don’t believe any from the east will escape the trial alive.”
Elder Sun looked into the recruitment head’s eyes. “Luck is a form of power. I surely hope you are right. We cannot afford the east moving another way once they find out that their young bloods have sufficient strength to face us. If this goes awry, I do not want the council asking questions as to why an elder was even sent to the east to begin with!”
High Elder Sun’s position was equal to the recruitment heads’, but it the school had stressed more importance to it given his role, and that allowed him to have far more power. The recruitment head did not want to make an enemy of him.
“Furthermore that Elder Lu of yours needs to be put down and soon. Bringing a quasi-demon race into the fold. Since when has one ever been allowed the opportunity to reach high levels of power within our nation. That leaves a bad precedent!”
The recruitment head’s hands were clammy. He was now having a headache. He had not looked over much of Elder Lu’s arrivals as he did not believe they would last this long or do horribly. But in fact, between this ‘Delias’ and the quasi-demon brood, they were the first two to go through the barrier. This would be noticed eventually by the council. He needed to take care of this now!
The recruitment head leaned over and spoke a few words into the aid’s ear. The aid jumped a little in fright. He swallowed hard, and then nodded, leaving to carry out the orders he had just been given.
I cannot allow this to continue! It seems most of them has grouped up together. Four of the east in one group, three in one, and another two in a different group. At the end I need to kill them all. We can’t have easterners succeed in Crawfields. Not now when the balance is so delicate. The capital will not like it, and the council will definately be inclined to look into the situation.
I just hope they will turn a blind eye when it’s done. If they do, I can personally get rid of Elder Lu!
Miles and miles away, back within a small city that could barely be called a city, was a group of individuals sitting at a round table within the heart of the inner sector. The round table was on one of the highest floors of the round-top spire. The tower itself was separated by the rest of the city, leaving a deep gorge surrounding it. Only these individuals, some of the powerhouses of the eastern border could manage to cross the gorge and have the right to enter. And at the moment, these powerhouses were all bickering and arguing. Most of their visage was hidden in shadow as only a few lit crystals were positioned in the center.
“How can you let this happen?!” A tall burly averati roared as he slammed his fist down on the table. His fist was powerful, enough to cause buildings to collapse, but the table only shuddered, indicating its dexterity as well as value. “Headmaster, you have allowed a spy into your works. He has probably uprooted a lot of our plans to separate ourselves from the rest of Barko! You should be stripped of your position and have it given to someone truly worthy.”
Undapa snorted. “Harkner. You go too far. You obviously just want your wife to become headmaster. That’s not going to happen.”
Harkner turned to Undapa, giving him an icy glare. “You barely have the qualifications to sit here. In fact, if most of the members of this gathering were not busy, you would not find a seat! And yet you dare speak to me?”
“Enough!” A powerful, but cool voice echoed in the room. “Headmaster, your library has been destroyed, losing a lot of ancient and powerful books; furthermore, the network you have built under disguise of the school may have been exposed. After all, we now know that he was not from Linay City. A bit of investigation and you would have found that out just as easily. What do you have to say for yourself?”
Though the table was round, allowing for everyone to sit as equals, it was undoubted to say that among the current twenty-odd individuals at the table, the averati who just spoke was the more dominant, the most feared. They all quieted down. This male averati was a member of Blackpool, a city in the eastern side that, if not considering the capital, would be considered to most dominant power in the entire east.
The headmaster did not know the member of Blackpool’s name, but he did recognize the black diamond on white gold emblem that was pinned to his lapel.
“The library burned. It’s true. But my network was not uprooted or even for that matter noticed. I believe the individual who was snooping was looking for an entirely different thing.” The headmaster did not say that his righthand man caught the hooded individual with the ability to open the ancient texts that even they could not open. He could not allow this to get out of control.
Harkner sneered. “You do not know that! It is because none of us know that that’s why we are all here. In fact, it was seen that two cloaked individuals burst in the flames and took the spy. Whether or not they were the spy’s handlers or not, who could tell? But whatever that spy knew I doubt it would not be in their hands at the moment.” Harkner got up again. “Those guys were probably our enemies!”
The male averati with his black and white emblem was hidden in shadow, but everyone seemed to know when he was looking at them. Harkner froze, his mouth shut. He felt a coldness go into him, down to the deepest recesses of his stomach. He didn’t even know he could feel that way. And then he gasped when the coldness went away. Harkner slumped in his chair, silent.
“In the past month, my people have done a thorough investigation. There has not been any movement from the capital so far that makes us suspicious that they know much, but we are still observing just in case. We have had to change a lot of our plans too. As to that ‘spy’s’ identity, out of all the people logged in, there were several that we do not have much information on and only one that has gone unaccounted for.” The dominant averati continued. “The one unaccounted for was a former domain king from the other side of our border. He was accompanied by another at the time… In fact, he was the same race as you, Undapa.”
Undapa raised an eyebrow, but he did not say anything. He had no place to. But it made him think hard. His race was a rare one, and they were especially rare in the east. If anything, no already knew anything of their people, even he did not know much of his people’s history, but as to looks, their kind would definitely stand out. Finding information on the whereabouts of such a person would be easy. Not so much on that person’s allegiance. Their people were not a unified race.
“We do not know much on his history, but we do know he was taken in by a recruiting elder from Crawfields Academy. He left injured, and his injuries are consistent with what anyone would receive from what the headmaster’s righthand said he had done to him. Though, we cannot be too sure without examining his body, I believe that that is our person.”
“I will find this former domain king, and look into this person.” The headmaster piped up.
“No you won’t. Your focus is needed elsewhere. Harkner will be sent.”
“Then at least let my daughter go. She has been idle, and it would be good for her to be involved, after all, she has fought with this ‘interloper’. The member of Blackpool was silent for a moment before he agreed. He then got up and left, not saying another word.
The headmaster frowned, his face turning ugly once the member of Blackpool left. He looked at Harkner. He did not want such a person to look too deeply into this. That guy wanted his downfall. That is why he wanted his daughter to go, to make sure he knew everything Harkner knew. And he believed the member of Blackpool purposefully gave the mission to Harkner, out of all the others, for the very reason of removing him from his position. It seems they were really disappointed in how this was handled. But they cannot just get rid of me so easily, that is, unless they find something more to this. Like them finding out that that hooded individual could read the ancient texts. If so, I am doomed!