The Rise of Heroes Book 1: The Academy of Hidden Secrets

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Chapter Twenty-One

“So what you’re saying is that the Sun Gang mysteriously came here for what exactly?!” Rashika interrogated Ulin as the whole school was gathering to the entrance as the instructor explained without looking down at her. “The Sun Gang are here to make a few announcements, who knows...They might stay here for a while.”

Eathelyn’s eyes wandered around the crowds of confused students, she didn’t know what the Sun Gang wanted but she was sure that it was going to something she and her teammates wouldn’t want to hear. Hugo, on the other hand, was too busy scolding Ozur for going on a chase after Eiloh but then his anger steamed off when he heard about what happened after the spy has been caught.

“So are you saying that Eiloh and Malisha are actually... Um...What’s the word...” Hugo whispered, trying to find the appropriate description of Eiloh’s and Malisha’s situation that they’ve told off. “Together! Yeah, that’s it.” Then he noticed Ozur’s messy hair covered in grass and dirt. “Hey did something happen to you while the two spies were giving you an explanation?”

“You don’t want to know,” Ozur muttered since he was too embarrassed to tell his leader about the tiny details of the confrontation. “All you need to know is that I got Rashika aggravated with me; again.”

“You better stop making her mad if you want to live to see your next birthday,” Hugo advised, trying to hide his laughter until Ozur retorted with a frown, “Hey at least I don’t get hauled off by a girl with only her fists.” The two suddenly realized that both of them were in this kind of situations that the best thing to do, is to just leave the girls be and never annoy them. “I wish us both good luck Hugo.” Ozur shook his leader’s hand in sympathy for both of them.

“So do I Ozur, so do I,” Hugo sighed, silently muttering to himself without anyone noticing, “Makes me wonder how dad even got hitched up with mom without losing an arm.”

The crowd stopped in the middle of their trails in front of the entrance, as teams stepped aside the sidelines to make room for their guests to walk in, even Team Hero did so.They could hear the heels of Headmistress Olema’s high heeled shoes echo from the school building as she walked towards the door, her back facing the students. After five seconds of standing tall and still at the door, she turned around, facing the students and instructors as she announced with a voice of urgency.

“You all must be confused as to why the Sun Gang came here at such a late hour but rest assured, there is no bad news but first let me get some things cleared. One, remember students the rules are there to protect you from any harm so don’t think otherwise. Also I’m sure you all have noticed that the year is almost coming to an end, just a month before your final exams, and if you pass then you’ll spend the rest of your two months and a half having your regular holidays you used to celebrate have not been celebrated during the year, not mention a break for a job well done this year. Not to worry, you’ll soon be able to celebrate once you get through your exams.”

Is that why no instructor wished us a Happy Coals Day, or what those Light Worlders call Christmas? Eathelyn thought to herself, beginning to understand the school’s actions a bit, but she made sure she kept a close ear on this speech Olema is making.

“Now without further interruption... I am pleased to introduce the wonderful peacemakers of our worlds, the descendants of the original who ended the war and chaos long ago, and the ones who are keeping the balance and peace we have now...I give you, the SUN GANG!”

While everyone else gave the group a huge round of applause, Hugo, Eathelyn, Rashika, and Ozur didn’t show enough enthusiasm to make a party alive. They just clapped their hands slowly without emotion while they made sure no one noticed, besides they were the only ones who knew the truth about the Sun Gang.

The ringleader wore a white cloak over his shoulders that was embedded with gold thread, even his pants was white! His hair was smooth honey gold, as for his eyes, a blue as the calm ocean. He walked ahead of his comrades, holding his right hand up to signal everyone to stop cheering and once it was quiet enough to hear a dew drop fall from a blade of grass, he spoke.

“I am Hellioh, leader of the Sun Gang, great-great-great-great-grandson of Charles the First, the man who created the Sun Gang! For many years I have led your societies in a fair and reasonable direction, without any violence or need for getting my hands dirty, along with my other comrades.”

Rashika’s eyes narrowed at the man who claimed to be a peacemaker. Peacemaker indeed, after what he and Olema have done to innocent people. “It is my duty and a pleasure to announce that I will be the host of the final exams as me and my gang judge to see if you and your teammates are powerful enough to pass to the next year. Remember those of you who managed to fail, you’ll immediately get expelled and sent to a very low ranking job that will not please your families.”

You mean a lifetime as a slave? Eathelyn glared but she made sure Ulin wasn’t noticing the attitude, the last thing she needs is to be called out.

“Before I get to the rules, I must send my utmost apology to the team in the Copper Building,” Hellioh sympathetically continued as he looked straight at Team Hero as if he was mentally trying to get their trust. “Since the Copper Building has been burnt, you haven’t been getting comfortable here, after that last trip my wife had you all take. But do not worry, we have an extra building for you to stay in for the rest of the year instead of that stuffy library and if you pass then rest assure that you’ll have a better time next year.” His focus got off of Team Hero and then back to everyone else. “Now as you all probably might of forgotten or luckily still remember, on your second day here, you all each handed Headmistress Olema your report you had to make before your arrive is that correct?”

A chorus of answers from students bloomed as some recalled while others comment on how they forgot. Hellioh raised his hand up again to quiet everyone done before he went on.

“Now the Sun Gang have read those reports and I must say those are strong words you all used, and hopefully you all will just as strong and good like those reports. Not only will the final exams determine your future but those reports will reflect on who you are in this world and who you will become when you graduate. Now listen up, you only got one month to prepare for the final exams, then for half of month after you’ll be doing a different kind of exams you wouldn’t expect. A battle tournament!”

It didn’t surprise Hellioh at the burst of excitement everyone let out since half of them were so glad that the exams weren’t paper and pencil since that’s the kind of test they had for midterms which resulted in them to pass if they hadn’t spent three straight nights staying up to study! He was about to raise his hand once more but everyone was quick enough to shut up.

“Believe me, although a battle tournament sounds exciting, it won’t be if your team will fighting against the other teams! There will be fifty levels to this exam, two teams going against each other! The winning team will pass the exams but as for the losing team, they are considered to have failed the exams and are kicked out! So only fifty teams will be able to move on to the next year here at Lunar Star Academy! However, as for the other fifty teams, the two weakest members will be the ones kicked out, the other members who aren’t weak will receive another chance but in new teams, however, that opportunity is very rare. So I would advise all of you to train yourselves hard if you want to be known as successors and not be a failure.”

Is he serious? So not only if the team fails but they’ll kick out two of the members who are weak and regroup them with other strong teens? Ozur gasped at the information but he couldn’t help but be a little confused. But Zeliah told us that if a team fails then every member becomes a slave, why the sudden second chances?

“Normally I wouldn’t give such an opportunity like this but since the sudden decrease in citizens because of an increase of rule-breakers and their permanent punishments, we need all the qualified future generation we need to keep the balance and peace.”

Rule-breakers? Does this mean that there are other people who don’t like the way this society works? Hugo’s eyes traveled to his friends, who happened to have the same question in their thoughts, but they remained silent and paid attention to the rest of Hellioh’s speech.

“But don’t be alarmed, these rule-breakers are put in their place. But to make a long story short, I hope you all train harder for the rest of this month, your futures depend on this. Other than the fact that my comrades and I will be staying here for the exams, so that is all everybody, I wish you all good luck in the tournament.” Without another word, a cloud of smoke surrounded the Sun Gang and within seconds, they were gone without a trace. However, nobody didn’t seem to care, probably because they were all busy begging their instructors to start their training; all but Team Hero.

The team had nothing to comment or the urge to feel excitement about at all this, especially since a ton of pressure has been delivered without an invitation!

“So if we fail the Battle Tournament, not only will we fail but two of us will be kicked out and become slaves for eternity!” Ozur panicked in a low voice so nobody would hear their conversation.

“But what about those rule-breakers he mentioned, what if they know something we don’t know?” Eathelyn questioned, getting into deep thought about the sudden subject, especially since that reminded her of something or someone. “I wonder now if the previous Team Hero were considered rule-breakers and that’s why we didn’t see their story in the first place. After all, they did create that machine.” She didn’t bother to get into better detail, she didn’t trust the surroundings for now.

“You saw those Soul Books, only two of the members got killed and the other two stayed alive because of their betrayal,” Rashika reminded, feeling her heart twist just mentioning that. “If somehow, more people found out more about this then that’s why those rule-breakers aren’t really breaking rules...They’re just rebelling against the Sun Gang, but based on what Hellioh told us, they might not have been very successful. After all, he sounded very sure that this topic isn’t something worth for us worrying about, but to them, it’s a whole other story.”

Before anyone else could comment on that, Ulin stepped up from behind them as she got into sergeant mode and pointed to their training grounds. “You heard Hellioh you four! If you don’t want to be remembered as failures and disappoint your families, then I suggest you come with me right now to begin our training. Today we will be learning about trapping your enemy, which is something Ozur is probably good at.”

“Um, Ulin, sorry to be a wet blanket here but-”

“But what Hugo? As the leader of your team, your choices reflect on what’ll happen to your teammates, and that goes for the rest of you as well!” Ulin advised. “If your choice goes wrong, then not only you failed but you all failed as one! It’s not only one person, remember that Team Hero. Now you were saying Hugo?”

The darkness in Ulin’s pupils caused Hugo to swallow his original question as he replaced it thankfully with fast thinking. “I-I was just wondering if maybe we could...Umm..Oh yeah, I was just wondering if after our lesson we can begin another lesson? We need all the training we can get if we want to win.”

“That’s the spirit Hugo, like any good leader, should do at times like this,” Ulin smiled as she went ahead to their destination. “And just for a warm up, I want you four to run five laps around the school on the double! The more your leg muscles get in fit, the stronger you’ll be! Now run to it!” Then out of nowhere, Ulin pulled out a silver whistle and blew it so loud that it got the four teens to literally run to it alright!

They ran in pairs around the school with Ulin flying right behind them so she can make sure none of them was slacking off. While Eathelyn and Ozur sent Hugo glares that clearly seemed like they wanted to strangle him at that very spot, Rashika luckily had very fast feet so she ended up running ahead of her team!

By the time she was done with her five laps, her teammates were barely finishing the second, well except for Ozur who happened to be on the third lap. Ozur then waited for Hugo to complete his final lap and once he did, Ulin was busy scolding Eathelyn for resting in the middle of the third lap while Rashika decided to run a few extra laps.

“That’s six extra laps for every one of you since Eathelyn is slacking off! What, did you stay up all night or something?!”

Hugo and Ozur couldn’t help but turn cherry red a bit at the comment until they both turned around to the shadowy corner that seemed to be summoning them. Exchanging glances and mischievous grins, Ozur took out his wand as they both whispered in regret. “Sorry about this, Eathelyn...Rashika..”

“Now where are Hugo and Ozur,” Ulin looked back to where the two had rested while Eathelyn and Rashika were running without a second to rest. She was about to call out for them until Hugo and Ozur came running from the corner they were in as they both wore smiles that seemed to never vanish. Hugo was the first to ask, “Ulin, if it’s not any trouble for you, Ozur and I was wondering if we could run just sixty more laps?

“To really increase our chances of being the strongest teens this world has ever seen,” Ozur added with a nod, but something about those two seemed very off, but Ulin didn’t seem to notice. “And I believe it’s pretty fair if Eathelyn and Rashika join us in that, so they won’t be left out.”

‘What!?’ Eathelyn mouthed when she heard this, wondering if both boys have totally lost their minds! Ulin, on the other hand, clapped her hands together as she shouted towards the running teens. “Sixty more laps! You see Eathelyn, your teammates have the real determination to win!” With that, she blew her whistle once again, which pretty much caused Eathelyn to groan, but for some reason; Hugo and Ozur seemed to be very pleased!

However, what Ulin didn’t notice but only Eathelyn and Rashika seemed to notice that their teammate’s eyes were both gray as a storm cloud!

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