Criterion Effect: Norok Chronicles - In Search of Titan's Wings

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Chapter 3

Sublocation - Elite Academy, Elemental Wings

Innerlocation - Eagle’s Office

Directly after the tournament, Eagle said farewell to Ziad and Aion, and then sent Gene to retrieve the three winners and bring them to his office. When he reached his office, Eagle sat in his chair behind his custom made wooden desk, and turned around to look out his office window at one of the academy’s many courtyard. Several minutes later the door creaked opened and in the reflection of the window, Eagle saw his Fuku Kouchou and Year IVs Yoshio Sanjuro, Sunchina Aya, and Kurara Yukari enter. “Congratulations you three but I guess that would be a big understatement. I am extremely proud of you and what you have accomplished here today.”

“Thanks but why would that statement be an understatement?” Kurara asked instinctively, more out of habit than anything else; while she was a genius on the battle field, she was clueless about things off the field.

“Why?” Eagle repeated, turning around to face the kas. “Well, for starters, in its aceon long history, this is the first time Year Four kas have placed first, let alone first, second, and third. It was quite the upset for the upperclassmen. Then again, you three aren’t your garden variety Year Fours are you?” he smiled when he saw the reaction on his kas’ face. “As exciting as what you accomplished is, that’s not what we’re here to talk about it is?” he asked rhetorically.

“No,” Yoshio answered, unsure if the question the Human asked was supposed to be answered.

Smiling, Eagle continued, “Right. We’re here to talk about the mission the four of you will be going on.”

“What mission?” Yoshio asked, more confused than Kurara for once.

“What do you mean four?” Sunchina asked at the same time Yoshio asked his question.

“One at a time you two,” Eagle said, raising his hand up to stop the two Elvenkai from asking anymore questions. “To answer your question,” he said pointing Yoshio. “You three fought for the right to go on a special mission.” The three kas still had a confused look on their face. “Look, I can’t make it any clearer than that.”

“I thought we were fighting for a cash prize, bragging rights, or anything else along those line,” Yoshio commented, puzzled by the sudden change in prizes.

“Didn’t you guys read about the prizes being changed?” the Human Kouchou asked. “You really should pay closer attention to the posters.”

“Apparently we missed that memo,” Sunchina answered for the three, shaking her head. “But that would explain where there were so many fighter this year other than the historical aspect.”

“Actually we didn’t change the prize until a couple of days ago,” Eagle corrected. “Which makes the turn out that much more impressive.”

“You mentioned a fourth person,” Sunchina interrupted, more concerned about her new potential team rather than the turn out of the tournament.

“Right,” Eagle said as he telepathically signaled someone to come in. As door opened, the three kas turned around to see who it was and were shocked to see one of their sensei. “I believe you all know Mr. Sanaya.”

“Congratulations you three. How excited are you about what you just accomplished?” the Genohuman sensei asked as he made his way into the room and to the other side of Eagle’s desk.

The three weren’t sure what to expect when Eagle said a fourth member but Sensei Kaz Sanaya wasn’t near the top.

Looking at his kas, he saw the same look on their faces from when he walked in. “Oh don’t give me that look. Who else would you have chosen to supervise you lot? I mean, seriously?”

“Sensei Tatsu,” Yoshio answered.

“Sensei K’Tai,” Sunchina add.

“Sensei Ecomix,” Kurara said cheerfully.

“That hurts you guys,” Kaz answered, playing along with the joke. “Anyways, had Eagle told you about the mission yet?”

“He mentioned it briefly,” Kurara replied.

“No. No I didn’t Hime Yukari,” Eagle corrected as he got up.

“How many times have I told you not to call me that?” Kurara asked raising her voice. While it was true she was a Hime by birth, she didn’t want her fellow kas to know about it out of fear they would treat her differently.

“Fair enough. Anyways, I did not tell them anything because there has been a slight change of plans. King Ginta wants to brief you about the mission himself.”

“King Ginta? As in Grandpa Ziad?” Kurara asked excitedly. “I haven’t seen him in ages.”

“I thought you might like that,” Eagle said with a smile.

“So how are we using the energy transporter to get there?” Sunchina asked with interest.

“Normally yes,” Eagle said with a nod.

“Normally?” Kurara asked with confusion.

“You’ll find out later but let’s just say we aren’t using the transporters or any other electronic form of transportation,” he answered with a grin. “Ziad is probably already back at his castle in Divergence Wings and is expecting us. You three have one hour to get ready. Take only what you’ll think you’ll need then meet Kaz and myself in front of the academy. Do not over pack.”

“Yes Sir,” Yoshio answered for the three, standing up. Bowing, they departed.

Once his kas were gone, Kaz caught his friend staring at a broken sword that hung over the window. “Thinking of the events from five years ago?”

“It’s hard not to,” Eagle admitted. “The worst part wasn’t that I didn’t see it come,” he started, turning to the Genohuman. “The worst part was we never caught or identified the guy responsible.”

“It wasn’t your fault. Things and events were out our control,” Kaz said reassuringly, a rare moment in their friendship. “We can’t change what happened in the past but we can prevent it from happening again. Right now we need to focus on this mission.”

Eagle took a moment and sighed. “Your right. My mind should be in the here and now.”

“That’s right and in the here and now we have three young kas to train.”

“I couldn’t have picked anyone better.”

Kaz patted his old friend on the shoulder and made his way to the office door. “That’s the spirit. I’ll see you in an hour,” he disappeared before the Human Kouchou could answer.

Sitting down and looking back up at the broken sword, Eagle thought to himself, Never again.

Sublocation - Baldur’s Castle, Divergence Wings

Innerlocation - Chaos’ Chambers

For the past two hours, the Elvenkai Lord was in a heavy mediation and when he reached the two and a half hour mark, he was interrupted by a knock on his chamber door. Without opening an eye, he reached out with his senses that he had honed over the years to see who was stupid enough to interrupt him. The answer both annoyed and caused him to sigh heavily. “Come in Vissler.” The door opened with a loud, long creak followed by the footsteps of the Jin. “Report,” Chaos demanded sternly.

Vissler bowed and complied, “First, the winners of the Inner-Class Tournament were Yoshio Sanjuro, Sunchina Aya, and Kurara Yukari, all of whom where Year Four kas. The sensei they chose to supervise them is none other than Kaz Sanaya. They are due to report here within the day.

“Year Four kas,” Chaos said in admiration while thinking about his days in the academy. The lesson he learned later was never underestimate the lower classmen. The outcome of the tournament only reinforced that ideal. “Very impressive.”

“What’s more interesting than that is Kurara is the granddaughter of King Ginta.”

Chaos opened his eyes as images and memories of a younger Kurara flooded his mind. “Good work Vissler. You did well as anyone could have hoped,” the Jin’s hopes started to rise at the complement but that quickly faded as his Master finished his sentence. “But not as good as an apprentice would have done.” Moments passed in silence with neither saying a word. Slowly, the Elvenkai got up and turned around to face his Jin subordinate.

“Yes my Lord,” Vissler said, noting that his Lord’s face wasn’t visible and suddenly realized he had never seen his Master’s face before.

“Your next assignment is to go to my castle in the Shadow Lands and report this to my apprentice and Saber. Tell them that it has phase one has begun.” Turing away from the Jin, he added, “I’ll join you in several day. There is something I must take care of.”

“As you wish Lord Chaos,” Vissler bowed and exited the room as quietly as he could.

Once the Jin had left, Chaos sat down on his meditation pad, and went back into a heavy mediation.

Sublocation - Elite Academy, Elemental Wings

Innerlocation - Front of the school

ONE HOUR LATER...

Yoshio, Sunchina, and Kurara were sitting on one of the walls in front of the academy waiting for Eagle and Kaz, when Yoshio noted that they were two minutes late. While they waited, they speculated what to expect of the mission considering they were only Year Four kas.

Weapon wise, Yoshio had a custom made double edge sevka he had received from his parents before coming to the academy, as well as him custom made hunting knife he made several years ago.

Sunchina had her sevka which was handed down through her family for generations, two rare hunting knives her mother acquired and had given to her, a set of ten throwing stars, a custom retractable manriki chain, and a retractable blade on each of her bracers.

Kurara on the other hand had two custom made sevkas her grandfather had made for her, two hunting knives she received for her older brother, and her favorite set of throwing knives.

Looking down at the digital display on his BracerTech, Yoshio felt a sharp pain on the back of his head. Turning his head, he saw Sunchina with her arms folded. “What did you do that for?!” he demanded.

With a smirk on her face, Sunchina simply snorted in response, forcing Yoshio to look to Kurara for answers. The Genohuman Hime shook her head, wishing to stay out of their ever continuing feud. “Fine. Don’t tell me,” Yoshio said looking back to the time. Once again, he felt a sharp pain on the back of his head. “Ok,” he started as he got up and faced the female Elvenkai who had hit him. “You have really got to stop that. All I did was look at the digital display.”

“I’ll stop as soon as you stop looking at the stupid time,” Sunchina answered stubbornly.

“First off, it is a highly advanced digital display with multiple functions, not a watch. There is a difference. Secondly, this “stupid” digital display has saved your butt more time than you can count Miss Aya!”

“Are you sure about that baka? Because I can count pretty high,” Sunchina snapped back, furious that Yoshio had the nerve to call her by her last name.

The moment Kurara heard Yoshio say Sunchina’s last name and spheres of cosmic energy appear in Sunchina’s hands, she slowly sneaked behind the wall she was leaning on, and ducked.

o0o

With everything finally ready to go, Eagle placed his pack on his desk and sat down in his chair to wait for Kaz. Just as he closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair, he heard a loud boom accompanied by a small quake. Opening his eyes, two names immediately came to mind; Yoshio Sanjuro and Sunchina Aya. Getting up and putting his pack on, he sent a telepathic message to Kaz, “Where are you?”

A moment later the door opened and Kaz poked his head through, “Right here buddy. Did I imagine it or did I just hear an explosion?”

“If you imagined it then so did I,” Eagle responded, making his way towards the door. “I cannot tell you what happened but I will give you one guess for who’s responsible.”

“I like my odds,” Kaz said with a laugh.

“Of course you do,” Eagle joked, as they made their way down the hall that lead to the exterior of the building they were in. Once outside, they saw small columns of red and blue smoke. “Oh joy,” he said with dread and disappointment.

“Well that confirms our suspicions,” the Genohuman said, wanting to smile but couldn’t because of the situation.

o0o

Her curiosity started to override her concern for her safety. Unable to sit still any longer, Kurara slowly poked her head up through the smoke to see if it was safe to come out yet. As she squinted, she spotted a bright sphere of cosmic energy in Sunchina’s hand as well as Yoshio’s cosmic spirit sword in his hand. Seeing how it was still unsafe, she ducked back down behind the safety of the wall. Sighing as she sat down and leaned against the wall, she looked up at the gate and through the hazy smoke, she saw two blurry figures. Squinting again, she recognized them, Kouchou Eagle and Sensei Kaz.

o0o

Walking through the gate of the academy, Eagle and Kaz noted that the two Year Four kas were sparring with cosmic energy again; a sight as common as the white moons that govern the night sky. Looking down, Kaz noticed Kurara looking in their direction, her face pleading for help. “Any ideas?” he asked, looked over the scene in front of him.

“Always,” Eagle answered with a half-smile. Truthfully, the scene in front of him wasn’t that bad, he had seen much worse in his time. Still, they were kas and were setting a bad example for Kurara. Stepping down the stairs to ground level, he closed his eyes, and took a deep breath. When he opened his eyes, the two young Elvenkai were frozen in place.

“Why for the love of Titan do you two always have to fight?” Eagle simply asked, folding his arms. The two Elvenkai looked at him with their eyes then back at each other, unable to answer his simple question. “I see. Either way, keep the fighting and destruction to the tournaments where those who aren’t fighting won’t get hurt.

“Yes Sir,” Yoshio and Sunchina acknowledged in unison.

Satisfied that they weren’t going to destroy anything else, Eagle released them from the spell. “What are we going to do with you two?”

“Give us A’s?” Yoshio suggested with a hopeful voice.

“Don’t be so lazy Yoshio,” Sunchina stated before saying what she thought. “You should let us participate in the upperclassmen tournaments.”

“Interesting but no,” Eagle said with a laugh. “That wouldn’t be fair to them.”

“What would the point be of entering their tournaments if they can’t win them?” Kaz added, grinning. “Now are you two done wrecking stuff now?”

“Hai Sensei,” the two Elvenkai kas answered, lowering their heads in shame.

“Good, now, are you three ready to go?” Eagle asked, looking at the three to see what they brought. As soon as Kurara was next to the Elvenkai, they responded in their normal fashion. “Awesome,” he said happily.

A moment later the wind picked up and as it increased and formed into a funnel, Yoshio noticed Eagle mumbling something but couldn’t make out what.

Before anyone could do anything else, Eagle finished the spell off, “LUNCA AII WA BOKAUA BALDUR CASTLE!” The funnel closed around them.

For the brief moment they were in the wind funnel, the group was bathed in multicolored lights. When the funnel dissipated, they found themselves in the main courtyard of Baldur Castle, Divergence Wings. For once, Yoshio was at a loss for words as he looked around but due to the hour, he couldn’t see anything beyond the torchlight.

“It’s good to be back,” Kurara said excitedly. “Where is the welcoming committee?” she asked, still looking around for signs of life. In all her visits to the castle, there were always people walking around.

“I keep forgetting you grew up here,” Sunchina said. “That must have had some upbringing.”

“It had its moments,” Kurara replied with a nod, reflecting on both the positive and negative parts of her childhood.

“As far as the welcoming party, I think they were expecting us to use the front door.”

“That would make sense,” Kurara admitted. “Why did we transport to the courtyard instead of the throne room or some other room?”

Before Kurara could get an answer, Kaz raised his staff that appeared out of thin air and shouted, “LAVCQUE AII TUVQUE!” Simultaneously, a green blue arcana energy shield erected over the group. A split second later a silver tipped arrow hit the shield, bounced off, and lodged itself in a nearby pillar.

Eagle looked at Kaz and nodded in approval while the three kas were too fazed to do anything.

“Who dares trespasses the Lavaaqueta Courtyard of Baldur Castle?!” a voice demanded out of nowhere but seemed to be everywhere at the same time.

Eagle smiled as recognized the voice. “Those who were invited by the King!” Their challenger jumped down from the wall as if what he said was a challenge. Eagle nodded to Kaz who dropped the shield but kept his staff at the ready.

Standing at full height, the soldier introduced himself. He was a taller than average Aeronok with blue primary scales, white secondary scales, black skin, muscular build at 8 feet, blue eyes, and wearing an officer’s uniform of the Divergence Wings’ Military Order. “My name is Soul Weston, Archkei of both the Guards and Snipers at this castle.” He snorted as he gave the group in front of him a once over. “Your turn,” he said unimpressed.

“Is that any way to treat guests of the King?” Eagle asked, holding his ground. He had dealt with many Aeronoks in his many years of service to the Elite Order and the one thing he learned was never to show weakness in front of one. Moments passed before Eagle smiled and laughed. “It’s good to see you too,” he said extending a hand. “How is your family?”

Soul shook the Human’s hand with a smile, “It has been a while my friend. They are doing well. Eliza can’t wait to have you and Kaz over again while my two little girls just turned five and eight. Who are you are your friends?” he asked, motioning to the two Elvenkai and young Genohuman. None of them were in any type of uniform so he couldn’t identify them.

“To my right are the winner of the Inner-Class Tournament the Academy just held. This is Year Four Yoshio Sanjuro, Sunchina Aya, and-”

“Hime Kurara Yukari,” Soul finished, bowing in respect. “It has been a while young Hime. How are you doing?”

Kurara gave the Aeronok Archkei a weird look as she tried to remember who he was. “I’m sorry but I don’t remember you.”

While a little hurt, this didn’t come as a surprise. The last time she saw him, she was very little. “That’s ok. The last time you same me, you were only this tall,” he indicated with his free hand that she was no taller than his knee.

While Kurara tried to remember, Eagle continued, “I believe you remember Kaz Sanaya.”

“It is going to take a lot more than five years to make me forget about him,” Soul said, shaking the Genohuman’s hand. “Good to see you again.”

“And you as well,” Kaz said, accepting the Aeronok’s hand.

“Like I said, Ziad invited us. He wanted to meet the winners and tell them about the mission in person,” Eagle said, bringing them back to topic.

“Well, congratulations you three on your impressive victory,” Soul said with a bow then turned back to the Human. “Regardless Vickei Rei, the King is enjoying dinner and it would be extremely rude to interrupt him.”

“Normally I would agree but I think you’ll find he’ll make an exception,” Eagle countered, subtlety pointing to Kurara.

Soul said nothing while he thought then finally gave in, “Ok, I’ll go check.” He turned towards the hallway that led to the dining hall the King was at. “Please follow me.”

Leaving the courtyard, Yoshio looked up at the guard towers and upper walkways and was now able to see the soldiers he didn’t see before. Walking through the halls, the first think he noticed was the columns and walls were made out of a rare type of marble. As the torch light hit the walls, strange markings started to show up that weren’t visible in the darker areas of the wall. Looking closer at the wall, the markings increased as well as became clear to see.

A short time later they arrived at the entrance to the hall and Soul stopped them. “Wait here,” he said as he slid open the hall door, walked through, and closed it behind him.

While the group was engaged in small talk, Yoshio was off to the side in his own world thinking about the marking he saw, trying to figure them out.

Looking at everyone, he noted Yoshio was in a rare state, confused and puzzled. Concerned as well as curious, Eagle approached the young male Elvenkai. “What’s going on Yosh?”

Startled, Yoshio gave one of his many automatic answers, “I'm fine Eagle. You?”

“I believe you, if by ‘fine’ you mean freaked out, insecure, neurotic, and emotional.”

“Funny but no. I meant fascinated, intrigued, nonplussed, and equivocal,” the Elvenkai said with a smile.

“Nice comeback,” Eagle complemented. “So what’s really bugging you?”

“I was just thinking about the makings I saw on the walls on our way over here.”

Expecting something completely different, Eagle was caught off guard. “Markings?”

“Yeah. There were these strange making on the wall where ever the torchlight was hitting it,” Yoshio answered. “You didn’t see them?”

It took a moment for what his ka was saying to click, “Were the marking on the wall in an ancient form of Seikai?”

“I think so,” Yoshio said slowly then stopped to think for a moment. “As a matter of fact, yeah. Most of them were just symbols to me but there were a few that resembled modern Seikai.”

Eagle placed a hand on the young Elvenkai’s shoulder. “Thought so. What you saw were symbols that are part of an ancient and powerful spell that keeps this castle well protected from outside attacks. Ever since the day the spell was first put up, it has never been penetrated, not even during the Great War.”

“Impressive. How come no one else seemed to notice them?” Yoshio pointed out, confused that he was the only one to see them.

Eagle hesitated to answer because he feared some of the explanation would go over Yoshio’s head. “Most likely because most of them don’t have a strong enough connection to the cosmic planes to notice the markings.” Yoshio seemed as confused as Eagle had feared he would. Before he could try to explain it another way, the door slid open and an Aeronok walked out.

“Sorry to interrupt your conversation Vickei but you were right. The King does wish to see you,” Soul confirmed. “But, not for another ten minutes.”

“Fair enough. We’ll wait,” Eagle said with a smile then turned back to Yoshio.

TEN MINUTES LATER...

Soul walked them from the hallway into the east foyer of the dining hall. Stopping, he took out his digital pad that was vibrating and quickly read the message it just received. Putting it away, he addressed the group, “King Ginta of Divergence Wings is ready to see you now.”

“Lead the way,” Eagle replied, with just a touch of sarcasm.

Soul ignored the Human’s comment, turned, and led the group into the actual hall.

As they entered, Yoshio looked around and just like before, he saw the symbols on the wall. Looking up, he saw an image on the ceiling that he didn’t quite understand. It was there but not there at the same time.

“Eagle!” Ziad said as he got up and made his way to the group. “Glad to see you got here so quickly. You didn’t use that spell again did you?”

“Me? Of course not,” Eagle answered, extending his hand in order to avoid a Ginta Bear Hug.

“Hmmm,” the Elvenkai King said unconvinced.

“Did you enjoy the tournament?” Eagle asked, quickly changing the subject before his old friend could dwell in it anymore.

“To the best of my ability, yes, yes I did,” Ziad answered, looking Eagle square in the eyes. Glancing past the Human, he saw the rest of the group, specifically his granddaughter. “It was very enlightening towards the end, especially the last two fights.”

Kurara blushed and got a sparkle in her eye as she was filled with joy. “Why thank you Grandpa,” Kurara said as she walked passed Eagle and into the warm embrace of her grandpa. “It’s good to see you again. I’ve missed you so much! How have you been?”

“I’ve been well my little Hana,” Ziad answered, giving his granddaughter a big hug.

Yoshio and Sunchina looked at each other as they mouthed “hana”, neither knowing what to do with this new information.

Kurara glanced back at the two Elvenkai and glared at them. They simply shook their heads and threw their hands in the air as if they knew nothing.

“Are you going to introduce me to your friends or do I need to have Eagle do it?” Ziad ask with curiosity.

“Not necessary,” Kurara said with a smile, exiting the hug and turning around. “To Eagle’s right are the first and second place winners of the tournament and my best friend, Yoshio Sanjuro and Sunchina Aya.”

The two Elvenkai bowed as he spoke to them. “Congratulation to both of you,” he extended his hand for them to shake. “Well done. Your match was really something else. I haven’t seen a match like that since, well since Eagle here was going through the academy,” he said as he patted Eagle on the shoulder.

“Thank you Sire,” Sunchina and Yoshio answered in unison.

Sunchina looked at Yoshio and continued, “It was rather difficult considering who my opponent was.”

Yoshio played nice and smiled, knowing he would have a chance to get her back later. “It’s very nice to meet you Sire. Kurara tells us nothing but good things about you.”

“Is that so?” Ziad asked as he looked to Kurara, who nodded and fell back into line with Yoshio and Sunchina. Nodding, he moved on. “So what did you think Eagle?”

Eagle evaded the question while looking at Kaz, “Why don’t you ask Kaz. He is their sensei after all.”

“Alright,” Ziad said, turning to the Genohuman. “Well, what do you think Sensei Sanaya?”

Before he answered, he shot Eagle a “thanks a lot” look then looked back at the King. “I think it was the best fight I have seen coming out of that tournament in a long time,” Kaz answered honestly, looking at Yoshio and Sunchina. “It reminded me of their first weapon’s final as Year One kas. It had ended in a tie but I knew from then on it was going to be a very interesting six to seven years. The fact that it looked choreographed is a testament to their level of skill, discipline, and how long they have been training together.” He paused and shifted his view to Kurara. “Now Kurara on the other hand, has made great strides over the past four years and her match today against the Year Six proves it. She was a transfer ka and was lost until Sunchina and Yoshio took her under their wings and together they have been doing great things. I may be their sensei but the reason they are so good, is because they stick together. Just my two cents,” Kaz said, felling a sense of pride.

“I’ve known Kaz for a number of years and that is quite the complement coming from him,” Ziad said with a smile, confident they were the right ones for the mission. He gestured them towards the table he was sitting and followed them.

As they made their way to the table, Eagle couldn’t help but wonder what the old Elvenkai’s plan was. Sitting down, he saw Yoshio looking at the ceiling. “What’re you looking at Yoshio?”

Caught up in his own world again, he was caught off guard, “Nothing important Sir, just the art.”

“I see,” Eagle nodded, placing his hands on the table. “Are we talking about the paintings on the wall or the Cosmic image on the ceiling?”

Yoshio looked at Eagle surprised but before he could answer, the King started to speak.

“With the pleasantries out of the way, let’s get down to the matter at hand,” Ziad took a deep breath before he continued. “The three of you are here as a result of winning the tournament you just participated and subsequently won this weekend. Regardless of the reason you signed up for the tournament, the prize is the same, a once in a life time mission,” He paused to look at them for an immediate reaction but found nothing but their undivided attention. “The goal of the mission is to recover Titan’s Wings by any means necessary.” He gestured to Kaz and continued, “Vickei Kaz here is in charge and due to the extreme nature of the mission, I’m adding another member to your team.” He signaled for Soul to come over. “Be under no illusion you three, this is very dangerous mission, nearly suicidal.” Soul arrived and Ziad reintroduced him to the group, “I believe you all know Soul. He’s going to be your defense and cover your backs while you focus on the enemy in front in battle.”

“Thank you,” Kaz said holding his tongue. Eagle gave him a “play nice” look. Kaz simply nodded in response.

“Before we continue,” Ziad started, knowing he had better ask this sooner rather than later. “I would like to offer you the chance to decline the mission as well as answer any questions you may have.”

“Why us?” Sunchina asked, not convinced they were the right ones for the mission. “If this mission is going to be as dangerous as you say it is Sire, why choose kas over members of the Order itself?”

“Or better yet, why not year sevens?” Yoshio added.

“Regrettably, the Order is dealing with issue of its own and can’t afford to send anyone to help out. As for the year sevens…,” Ziad trailed off looking to Eagle.

“They are on assignment with the Order as part of their training,” the Human answered.

“Whether you guys realize it or not, this is exactly what the Academy is training you for. I want the best of the best on this and we thought the tournament would be the perfect opportunity to see who that was. Now if that’s not you, I’m more than willing to get your fellow kas to volunteer.”

The three looked at each other and nodded. Looking back at the King, Yoshio answered for them, “That won’t be necessary your Highness. We are the best and we’re in.”

“Good,” Ziad said but before he could continue, his granddaughter had raised her hand. “Yes Kurara?”

“What exactly happen to put this type of mission into effect?” Kurara asked, feeling very uninformed about the situation.

“Just over one week ago, Titan’s Wings, arguably the most important of the Five Legendary Wings, was stolen from under our noses,” Ziad replied. “The thieves are unknown but we believe they had help from the inside.”

“Why is it so important?” Kurara pressed.

Sunchina looked at her best friend in the world with a look of shock she rarely felt and was about to say something but her sensei beat her to the punch.

“You know as well as I do Sunchina that not everyone has a knack for mythology and history like you do. Some people are just fine with knowing the minimum.”

“Yeah, I know but still…” Sunchina trailed off.

Ziad gather his thoughts before he answered granddaughter’s question. To be fair to her, he had tried to explain the importance of the Five Wings many times over the years but Kurara was simply uninterested in it. “In a nutshell, Titan’s Wings is a pendant in the shape of wings with a sevka sword behind each wings. It holds a tremendous power that is shared with the person who activates it. That power however, can only be accessed by someone with a strong enough connection to the cosmic plane in them. It is said that two aceons ago, the Shykair warrior Titan Bane gave it to the King of Divergence, who at the time was Baldur Chaos. King Chaos was given the duty of protecting it from whoever want it, Shykair or otherwise. The reason it is so important Kurara is because it saved the Realm of Norok from destroying itself. That being said, in the wrongs hands, it can destroy life as we know it.”

“Ok,” Kurara said slowly, trying to process the information.

“So when do we begin?” Yoshio asked eagerly.

“Tomorrow,” Ziad answered more seriously.

“Awesome. I could use the rest,” Yoshio replied.

“We have rooms prepared for all of you,” Ziad said as he eyed Yoshio and Sunchina. “And just so we don’t have any unforeseen problems, the girls and boy’s rooms are on different levels.”

“I would expect nothing less,” Eagle agreed, not sure what possible problem the two Elvenkais could get into. “These two are model kas.” Yoshio, Sunchina, and Kurara looked at each other as if Eagle was talking about two different kas while Kaz tried not to laugh. “Don’t make me eat those words,” Eagle said sternly. The kas nodded in acknowledgement.

“Oh yes,” Ziad said before he dismissed everyone. “At the request of your Kouchou, there will be a training session at 0700 before the mission briefing at 0800.”

“Sleep well,” Eagle said as Soul led them out of the dining hall and to their rooms. The three kas groaned at bit has they left, dreading waking up early for more training.

Sublocation - Chaos’ Castle, Apprentice Plain

Innerlocation - Training room

Deep in the depths of Lord Chaos Baulder’s floating castle, in one of the many training rooms, Lord Chaos was putting his most recent apprentice through one of his final test. “You’ve come a long way in your training since found the pathetic version of yourself.”

“I thank you my Lord but I doubt that’s why you have called my down here. Is it Master?” the young Aeronok knew his worth and proved it by portraying his confidence.

Chaos gave the black Aeronok a look and smiled, “No it’s not. The time has come to test what you have learned over the past fifteen years.” The Elvenkai Lord turned, summoned his liteBlade from the storage jewel on his belt, took a deep breath, and activated it. As it activated, a light silver blade of pure energy came to life and a second later he began his attack on his apprentice.

Within several minutes, the apprentice switched from the defensive to the offensive and within ten moves he manages to graze his Master’s leg.

Caught off guard but prepared, Chaos acted as if was falling and before he hit the ground, he teleported to the other side of the room. His apprentice’s smile faded when he saw him reappear. “Very good. Not many people manage to graze me, much less within the first ten moves of turning offensive.” His comment caused his apprentice to smile again. “Don’t get happy just yet. You’ve only passed the first part of your test.” Seconds later Chaos started using a higher amount of speed. He disappeared and reappeared next to his apprentice within a fraction of a second. “Now let’s see if you can predict where I’m going to attack next.”

o0o

In the room next door, two mysterious figures watched the action through a one way window. While watching Chaos and his apprentice preform the pass/fail test, they discussed the chances of the Aeronok. “Do you think the kid will pass?” the Genohuman female on the left asked.

“Doubtfully,” the Elvenkai female on the right answered. “No one has ever passed on their first attempt.” She hesitated but continued, “Not even me.”

“Really? That’s surprising,” the Genohuman said, truly surprised that her Master didn’t pass one their Lord’s more moderate tests.

“Not really. That test of his is not an easy one to pass. Even with the odds stacked against him, he actually has a chance of passing. Reason being is his form and technique.”

“Maybe. But rumor is not even Master Baulder passed on his first try with his Master.”

“And it’s just that, a rumor,” the Elvenkai corrected. “Pay no attention to them.”

“K.”

o0o

“Alright, let’s see if you can block this,” Chaos said as he disappeared.

The Aeronok was now in the middle of the room, waiting to defend himself. Hearing a rush of air behind him, he put his darkBlade over his shoulder in order to defend his back. A second later the two darkBlades collided but before the apprentice could do anything, he felt a kick to his stomach and fell to his knees.

“Very good young one,” Chaos compliment, towering over the Aeronok. “You are one of the few being who managed to predict my movement and have the speed to block it while taking this test.”

“Thank you Master. Does that mean I passed?” the Aeronok asked, not showing any sign of emotion.

“Actually it does,” Chaos confirmed as he motioned the figures from behind the mirror to come in to the room.

As they entered the room, the apprentice got up and dusted himself off. Getting a good look at them, the first think he noted was they were females, gorgeous and sexy at that. By the way they carried themselves, he guessed they were assassin. The Elvenkai on the right looked like the master while the Genohuman on the left her apprentice.

“Apprentice, this is Assassin of the Cross Saber Shino and her apprentice Assassin Taulin Rin. They will be your new teammates.”

“Hi,” the two greeted together.

“Nice to meet you,” the apprentice answered with a smile, very happy with his new arrangement.


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