Shinsekai yori - Reaper

Chapter 3 – Test

Eventually, the repeating weeks stopped coming. One day I was pronounced ready to take the next step and was taken from the church. I never went back there, nor would I want to.

At the time I was taken to a cathedral. How impressive a building it was, I still wonder whether it was a leftover from ancient times or if it was built using Cantus.

Once I was in there, I was led to a room and met with eleven other young men and women who apparently were the same as me. Some of them immediately struck conversations, I didn’t. Why, you ask?

It immediately became obvious to me that while some were earnest in talking, others were just putting what they learned in class to the test. I wasn’t the only one that found the situation highly suspicious; it was obvious that something was in the works.

After a few hours, a priest entered the room and asked for silence. All conversations ceased. We were taken there for our first major test. Later on, each of us would be taken to one of twelve different entrances to a section of the cathedral’s catacombs. Once inside we would be made to prove which among us was superior. There was only one way to exit the catacombs: With two human ears in hand while your own are intact. Oh, how shocking it was, I must say, they were just so cruel.

It was clear that the time we were made to wait was to forge some sort of relationship between us. Who would be cruel, cunning and shrewd enough to break them for the sake of survival? Sure it might theoretically be easy to succeed through cooperation, but wouldn’t betrayal be even easier? So many dilemmas we were made to face.

That’s why I talked to no one, I could safely jump through that part and go straight to simply being good at killing. That was to be my purpose, right? I find it was quite unfair of them to expect much more apart from that. You see, I dislike deceiving people.

But really, it wasn’t an easy test for me by any means. Killing is just not something that comes to me that naturally, but I wasn’t about to roll over and die. So I concentrated on not being detected and searched for the most pitiful person in those catacombs.

The young woman was crying silently, I supposed she wanted to bawl her throat dry, but I guess she was also deathly afraid of being discovered.

“You don’t like killing, right?” I remember asking her. She jumped back from surprise seeing as how I gently tapped her shoulder and she had not realized I was there. I could have taken her ears right then and there, but I am a nice guy, see?

I told her I could take the burden from her, but she was suspicious of me, not without a reason. So I was direct. “Just be louder, I’ll kill everyone that comes after you. We’ll have more than enough ears.” Was I being cruel to the others? Of course I was. But falling for such simple bait warrants it.

It was a resounding success. So much in fact, that I suspect that it displeased the priests. Instead of their probably predicted six, only three people emerged from the catacombs alive, and while they didn’t know it yet, one of them couldn’t really kill. Still, they shouldn’t complain, after all, it was all played within the rules they set up.

I had passed my first survival test, but there was more to come.

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