Trouble in Paradise

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Anima and Fodeus

Dusk quickly turns to night. The moons rest high in the sky, partially covered behind dark clouds. Moonlight filters down to the academy below, where Jordynn and I rest, surrounded by piles upon piles of books.

Surprisingly, there is not much information about Blackstones to go about. Some books hold intriguing but fairly well-known facts - mainstream. Nothing we have not heard before. I refuse to believe this is all the information we have about Blackstones.

Call me paranoid but something smells fishy here. Giving up on books, Jordynn has glued himself to the Link, searching through diverse articles and publications. I’m surprised he stayed with me as long as he did. Even though his look of boredom, he keeps insisting he help me.

Overly nice Jordynn strikes again.

With a notebook and pen in hand, I scratch the most important bits of information we managed to scavenge from the library. I think I understand how Blackstones work now, even if just a little.

“Did you find anything else?” I turn to Jordynn, who has yet to detach himself from the screen. “Jordynn?”

“Uh? Huh?” His neck snaps in my direction. “What?”

“Have you found anything else?”

“Not much” he scratches the back of his neck. “And you?”

“Yeah, look” He scooches closer to me.

“Blackstones; originally formed by crystals that have been depleted of their earthy energy have been found dangerous to both organic and inorganic matter. They spread through crystals which have lost their ability to hold their Anima and a small number of minerals”

Jordynn nods as if telling me to continue reading. “Anima is a word long used for the natural powers of crystals - they provide healing, protection and, in some instances have been noticed to replenish Soulfolk’s own vitality”

The notebook falls on my lap. “That’s it”

Jordynn snaps his head towards me, “That’s it? That’s all you’ve found in all these books?” He points to the piles gathered on the floor.

“Well, this is the gist of it...didn’t want to bore you with all the details”

Even though Jordynn would not like to admit it, his attention span is shorter than a child’s. He cannot keep still even for a minute and always needs something to grab his attention. Even so, he rolls his eyes - “You wouldn’t have bored me...”

I plop myself on my elbows, now looking at the Link in his grasp. “What did you find?”

“I don’t know how many of these articles I can trust... I think this one is pretty reliable though”

He hands over the Link.

“Blackstones garnish what specialists have named “Fodeus”, completely opposite to Anima; this energy is known to desecrate the land and fauna surrounding it, slowly suffocating the Anima within everything that owns it. This lethal force was frequently used hundreds of years ago thanks to its gruesome and lethal effects on our skin and body”

Wait for a second... Something about this article feels strangely familiar. Have I read this before? Scrolling upwards, I find the name of the publisher-

Oh Lords, no wonder this felt familiar. BigUp Publishers - the same people who used to write anti-establishment propaganda in Yiondelienne. A bunch of liars. Nothing they said was true!

A snort escapes me as I throw the Link back in his grasp. “You were reading from BigUp, really?”

“Huh? W-why, what’s wrong with them?”

“I find it really hard to trust them”

Jordynn frowns; he rests his weight on the palm of his hands when asking, “Did they say something wrong? I told you some of these articles felt shady...”

I shake my head. “They used to write articles in Yiondelienne too. I didn’t trust them back then either”

Back when protests and riots were in the rage; people were scared; those who did not want to involve themselves were forced to make a choice... Publishers added more fuel to the fire. For them it was a simple cash grab, jumping on the ‘trend’ while mindlessly spreading lies.

A hand grabs my shoulder. I did not even realize I was shaking until now. “Maybe we should head back,” Jordynn says.

All I manage to do is nod. “What time is it?”

“Uh... It’s past midnight”

Past midnight? “W-what?”

“What?” Jordynn says back.

“Past midnight?!”

“Yes?”

Oh, my Lords! This cannot be! What - how did time fly by so fast? “Jordynn, tomorrow I have an exam!”

Instead of helping me out, the bastard starts laughing. What is so funny about this? I’m fucking panicking! “Is that really what you’re worried about?”

“Of course!”

He snorts. “You’ll be fine Yue”

“Jordynn...” I exasperate”, “it’s a kinesis exam”

His laughter dies down a little. Still, he dismisses my look of panic when helping me get back on my feet.

I continue by saying, “and it’s in a few hours. We need to go!”

That manages to get a reaction out of Jordynn, whose smile falters before crashing down in a look of worry.

“Oh-”

...

It does not take long for the morning to come. Dawn cracks through the night while the chill of night lessens down. Dusted clouds make way for sunrays, which fall on my sleep-deprived form.

Turns out three hours of sleep isn’t enough to get you through the morning... Who would have thought?

With a notebook in hand, hair a mess, and contacts barely in my eyes, I sprint through the park in hopes of getting to the training grounds in time. Lords, there were so many water-bending stances to learn... I must have sub estimated this class because I feel very unprepared!

I at least hope this matters for something. All of the effort I’m putting; I hope it doesn’t go to waste once I leave the academy. The thought of leaving has turned out to become more of a burden that I last anticipated.

While huffing and puffing, I wonder if I should really continue giving a damn about school. My answer comes immediately when my foot hits something hard. Hard enough to make me stumble onto the floor with a yell.

“What - what the hell?” Looking back, a stone lays unbothered in the middle of the path. “Fucking rock”

My hands sting with cuts and bruises. The pain is tolerable, but when rising back to my feet, a sharp pain rattles my ankle, forcing me straight down to the floor again.

No, no, no! I can’t- Not now! Come on Yuidan. I have no choice but to force myself to walk - or rather, to limp all the way to the training grounds.

When I finally arrive, people seem to have already gathered in a circle. Professor Mika is frantically searching for something or someone... when his eyes meet mine; I know I’m in deep trouble.

“Yue...” he stops before me. Voice stern and face set in a frown.

“Y-yes, sir?”

“Class has started ten minutes ago” He places a hand on his hips, the other still in a cast.

“I know sir, b-but I have an excuse”

He laughs when asking, “An excuse? Alright, let’s hear it”

Instead of speaking, I show him my hands. When his frown turns incredulous, an automatic awkward smile stretches on my lips. With a chuckle, which is anything but amusing, I explain - “I fell”

I honestly cannot tell if he is amused or concerned.

“Well... can you continue with the exam?” he asks.

“I think so. My ankle is a bit hurt but I believe I can manage”

With a shake of his head, he crouches down in order to inspect the damage. “Does this hurt?” he asks when pressing against a sore spot.

“A bit...”

“It doesn’t look too bad-” he rises and sighs, “We can reschedule your examination”

My head perks up at the news. Reschedule, does that mean I can escape the exam? That does not sound that bad!

“We wouldn’t be able to take it very soon though... I think we have a free spot sometime after winter break”

“W-wait. After winter break?”

Mika nods. “I don’t think I can make it... after vacation”

He turns to stare at me for a second. I try to keep my calm when he turns his eyes to the Link. “Let’s take it now then... I’ll put you at the end of the list so you can have some time to recover”

...

Joining the crowd, I squish myself through bodies in order to get in front. I want to see the action in person! Even though I am a little scared of it. When finding a nice spot to cement myself in, a deep voice breaks my calm.

“Finally decided to join us” My eyebrows shoot out of orbit when noticing Danhy calmly chilling beside me. I did not even see him standing there! “I thought you wouldn’t show up”

Shifting from one leg to another, I weave a hand through my hair, placing a few strands behind my ear. “I wasn’t that late...”

“Mhm, keep telling yourself that”

What an asshole!

Two at a time, students are called out onto the ring. A pond rests on the edge from which we are required to pluck out water and start the examination.

“Alright, listen up” Mika calls out. “Today you will be examined on your water kinesis skills. Your stance, technique and skill will determine your success in this class”

“Each person has five minutes to prepare. After those minutes expire, we start the examination.” He walks over to the edge of the ring. “See the lines around the ring? Once you step out, you are out-”

Someone amongst the crowd raises their hand.

“So, if we are pushed out, does that mean we fail?”

“It depends on how well you played your cards until then” Mika chuckles. “But the role of your opponent is to try to take you out of the ring”

Another hand raises, this time next to me. “What if neither of us is taken out?”

“Then you both get extra points”

This seems like some kind of pretend survival game, with the professor undoubtedly enjoying himself. The rules are simple enough, though; don’t get taken out, watch your stance, and have good aim.

The exam hasn’t even started yet my hands are extremely sweaty, so much so that I wipe end up wiping them on my shirt. The first two students are both Yomi, one slightly taller than the other. When the whistle blows the action starts.

It’s a slow burn, with both of them carefully circling each other. Their engines finally kick start with a battle of precision - throwing spades of water at each other and continuously missing.

The tall one eventually takes the reigns as he approaches his opponent and, with a swift move, tries to bend water beneath shorty in order to sweep his feet off the ground. A cringe settles on my face as his little trick fails. Shorty jumps out of the way, sending a strong jet of water into the tall guy’s chest.

He falls to the ground, not yet out of the ring. Before they can have a second go, Mika blows his whistle. “Good job you two!” he grins, his previous scowl completely gone. “Everyone, give your colleagues a round of applause!”

Short whispers and enthusiastic applauses plague the crowd. I think I heard someone whistling too! Danhy doesn’t seem as excited though, clapping half-assed with a bored expression on his face. I almost feel obliged to call him out.

The rest of the morning goes accordingly, with couples of students entering and exiting the ring, some bruised, some triumphant, and some bruised and triumphant. What I found interesting was professor Mika’s attitude to the situation.

He often displayed his thoughts and feelings on his face. I could tell when someone impressed him or annoyed him. I noticed him being more lenient on the Boulnae, maybe expecting less out of them. Which is not fair.

They got to here for a reason; they must be good enough. Taking one quick look at Danhy, my opinions are reassured. This guy is the top of the class! I don’t believe he should get special treatment. Perhaps I’m just selfish like that... who knows.

Mika’s whistle suddenly interrupts my train of thought. Crap, what time is it? What is happening? I have not been paying that much attention to the fights. My heart starts hammering as the thought of whom I’m going against creeps inside my mind.

I should be fine - yeah, do not worry Yuidan. You will be just fine.

“And for the last couple of examinees; Yue Minong and-“My hands are shaking, my legs are shaking, my entire body is shaking! - “Danhy Cian. Please enter the ring”

My breath cuts out. My heart feels like it has stopped. Seconds feel like minutes as I turn my head towards Danhy, who wears a very disturbing grin on his face. Oh, my Lords... I am not going to be fine.

Hello readers!

Yuidan has gotten himself in some trouble, didn’t he? lol! Danhy seems like a scary opponent, I wonder how Yuidan is going to handle him.

Anima and Fodeus seem to be an important part of this world, especially when Blackstones prevail in most of Nefastwald. Will they play a bigger role in the story? We shall see...

I have uploaded character profiles for some of the main characters of Trouble in Paradise, detailing their looks, height, likes, etc.

It’s up on my Patreon for everyone to see! Just scroll down until you see it.

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=20681961&fan_landing=true

Thank you for reading!

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