The Disgraceful Survivor
A heavy man rose before Fang Samanya, blocking her view of the sun above the golden grassland on Derkis Plains. A tough animal skin bag is tie to the man's hip. There on his back is an iron net. Fang knows this man from the Wopon's Academy - the private school of Wopon's future leaders - Odi Zuri; he tends to think of himself the boss of this class, but he has no experience of commanding people honorably compare to their teacher. Already her patience is draining away; Fang tries holding in her frustration.
"Odi," says Fang, "I'm in no mood dealing with you. Get." She jerks her head away. 'Get' is a phrase in Wopon that means 'go away'.
"Get? You must be joking." answers Odi. He takes out a Pine-Leaf, fatter than his feet, out of the small bag. Then he bites out half of it and swallows it in front of Fang. "Listen, Fallen Star, I don't care about your mood. It went bad like your last examination. So, what are you doing here?"
"Did you beg your mama to give you another chance?"
"Why? You don't remember how badly you made your mama cry or you just call her Empress now?"
In an instant, every thought in her mind has been replace with rage. Her downcast eyes turn pure green. She draws her tree blade as she rushes at Odi. She keeps on pushing him back with her elbow press on his neck to the tree behind him. The shouting from the other students are block out of her ears. All she can hear is 'kill Odi' over and over again. She raises the tree blade, having four blades shaped like leafs, is over Odi's head.
"Enough!" says a voice from nowhere. A tall man drops down between Fang and Odi from the tree. He grabs onto her forearm; his tighten grip brought her back to her senses. Looking at the scarred face, she recognized her teacher—Simba Adeola—The Sacred Arc.
"Fang, put away that knife now," says Simba. Fang looks at the sweating Odi. She heard Simba voice again. "I said put away the knife!" she wanted to cut up Odi, but she doesn't want to anger Simba, the only one who still value her, so she releases her elbow off of Odi's neck; Odi falls to the ground, gasping for air. She places her tree blade back on her side hip. She knows she shouldn't have done that, but she can't stand him. "You two have already broken one strike. One more and you two will fail this test! Do you hear me?"
"Yes teacher Simba." replies Odi.
"A...ah, yes…teacher Simba." replies Fang.
Fang sees Simba facing her directly with nothing but his brownish glare. She knows he meant to keep her out of trouble since she became the new bearer of shame—Fallen Star—thanks to the Empress of Wopon; a small nation at the center of the land of flames.
"kukuc!" says Teacher Simba. The students lined up in one single line as they faced him. "As all of you already know now, this exit exam is to test all your abilities as warriors of Wopon. However, in this test, you all will be graded by staying alive. Out in the north are packs of Sototos in their hunting routine. You all must bring back a male Sototo alive for me to pass you. Go in bands of four and move on till you spot one. I'll stay here at this tree to wait for me." Simba hops three times, raises his right arm with the fingers folded on the palm and says 'kukuc'; a custom in Wopon to assemble and dismiss a group.
Fang and the rest of the students mimic exactly what their teacher did. The students walk away from Fang where she stands alone.
"Wait…teacher Simba, what…happens if one of us…gets kill?" asks Fang.
"If that ever happens, then you were never meant to live." replies Simba. He bends his legs and jumps on a branch near the peak of the tree.
Everybody ran to different people and quickly form bands in minutes. Fang feels isolate from other students as if she brings disaster.
"Hey Fang, come join the winning team over here." says Odi. Odi and three other classmates strolled to Fang. They all express an odd amusement. Fang chose not to speak walks away from them.
"Funny, I called you by your real name, and still you disrespect me. Band Odi is the only way to pass this exam. Besides, everybody else has already grouped up already, it just you now. I'm sorry for what I said and I ask...will you join us?" says Odi. He took his iron net and held it up to Fang and then the other two students perform the same pose; a sign of truthiness, a way to show members of Wopon that they are serious and need no harm.
She could see that the rest of the students were already gone. There was no way she could find a Sototo by herself-let alone facing one.
"Fine Odi, I'll join you guys but no funny business." answers Fang. She still doesn't like this idea at all; her and Odi as teammates spells trouble.
"Great! Now are there are…two conditions you have to do while you're with us." says Odi.
"What conditions?" says Fang.
"Just two and we all should have to good time." Says Odi.
Five hours has passed and Fang and the others have passed large parts of sand; small thorny bushes; and a long river getting thin. She moves farther than her band as part of the condition. Her next condition is when Fang sees a male Sototo she must call Odi 'Beast Master Odi'. The sand starts becoming too hot for Fang to walk so she runs to the nearest solid ground around whenever she moves forward. She looks at her left and see an unbelievable sight—thick smoking object—coming towards her direction.
"Beast Master Odi, get back!" She shouts at the group. She sees Odi continue to move on; he keeps on eating more Pine-Leafs. He trips over and slams to the ground.
Suddenly, a large clouded figure jumps high in the air. Fang sees something within the cloud; it is coming closer and closer to her. Fang runs as fast as possible to get away from it. She hears a powerful roar; her body frozen before she reaches to Odi and the others. Gust of smoke surrounds the creature, disappearing per a second: its' four muscular legs, reddish golden fur, and a tail with fire on its tip. Then she hears Odi screaming 'SOTOTO!'
"Everyone, attack, throw your weapons at it!" says Odi. His followers form a line in-front of him; they have thrown their weapons at the Sototo. The beast unleashes a fireball from its mouth and it torches all the weapons. The students continue on throwing everything they have at the Sototo.
"Stop firing at it! Run around it and attack it otherwise it will charge!" says Fang. It seems the students do not hear her. This time the creature dashes pass the weapons and let out another blazing fireball at the group; not only her classmates, but the golden grass and bushes are burning away. Their screams echo in Fang's ears. Fang sees Odi shaking at the top of the hill. Odi runs away from the fiery field.
She draws her tree blade and ran to the beast from behind, not before the Sototo spotted her. It raises its paw and scratches her left arm. She lets go of the Tree Blade and it lands into the lake; the lake is no farther from the beast. Her arm is bleeding fast, but she can still continue. She stares swiftly at the Sototo. She knows she's scared out of her mind, but she makes her decision: get that knife back no matter what. Pushing her legs to their limit, Fang sprints to the shallow lake. She hears the Sototo, speeding up and roaring at her. There she enters in the deep area of the lake, grabs onto the Tree Blade, and witness the wrathful animal. Inside its sharp eyes Fang sees herself facing her challenge; she wonders if she'll come as a failure or a victor. She stabbed the Tree Blade deep into the Sototo. The smell of defeat is pouring in the water, mixing navel blue with red. She looks at the Tree Blade, finding it stuck in the Sototo's neck. It moves uncontrollably wild on the lake. Fang can't move away from this beast; she stands her ground. The Sototo at last stop its struggle and drops on her.
Out of the hill, Odi comes back running down the hill. He threw his iron net on top of the Sototo. Fang witness Odi putting the dead body off of her; he keeps on pulling it till it comes out of the lake. She gets up from the bloody lake inhaling and exhaling. Seeing Odi's face again has only fuel her to storm towards him. She punches his face in, knocking him to the ground.
"You bastard," says Fang, "look what you did to our comrades!"
"What did I done, what about you? Our band's been burned alive because of you," says Odi.
"I had to fight and kill this animal because of you! Telling everybody to throw away their weapons at that thing and you to run abandon us."
"I needed something to capture…wait, you kill it? Yes, this is good. We can carry it all the way to teacher mondi and show him what we—"
Fang punches Odi again. "Are you crazy?" says Fang. "You really lose it."
Odi sneers on the ground. "Fallen Star, I'm the band leader here and I'm ordering you to help me up!" answers Odi. He coughs blood nonstop. Fang turns around to the lifeless creature. She takes the Tree Blade out of its neck. Being the Fallen Star is a living nightmare; being put down by her mother, and always being treated badly by everyone. Even so, she wants the respect she deserves; for what she did for her band. She walks away from Odi and carries her two weapons: the Tree Blade and now her ferocious eyes.
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