Chapter 25. The Five Star Tournament Begins.
- Hello TC and Eve. So nice to see you today. - Farla greeted us as soon as we entered the Temple.
- Hi Farla. Good to see you too. - Eve was happy as well.
- Hi, how have you been? - I asked.
- Very well, thanks. Still busy with summons, but it’s so fun seeing satisfied customers. - she replied.
“Satisfied customers… I bet.”
- Can we check out the library? - I went right to the point.
- Of course. Please follow me. - said Farla.
We went two floors upstairs. The inside of the Temple was much bigger than I initially imagined. Of course, I visited only once and only to perform a summon.
- This is our library. - Farla extended one arm for emphasis.
- Wow, so many books. - Eve gasped.
I was impressed as well. The whole third floor, going around in a circle was stacked with huge shelves full of books. They also had tables to sit down for readers.
We had more than few hours left until evening, and I decided not to waste time.
- Farla, can you show me where I can find books about history and summoning? And maybe you can help Eve find something to read on how to improve her magic? - I asked.
- With pleasure. - she was more than happy to help.
I was eager to learn more about this place, so I picked few books about history first. Most people think reading is a waste of time, but I knew better. Knowing something your opponent doesn’t, is the biggest advantage in a fight.
History books I picked contained information mostly about the city and how it came about. Nothing struck me as extraordinary. The only part that stood out was the undead invasion several hundred years ago. Apparently, one of the main reasons to build Saramis, was to protect people from the undead.
“Hah, undead. I don’t think there’s a place they don’t exist.”
Grog already told me about dwarves and elves. Like he said, elves live deep in the woods and most are hostile towards humans. They have their own city - Nelflume, but it’s highly protected and doesn’t let any outsiders inside.
Dwarves have their own kingdom and the main city is Tjorforge. It was named after the Tjor, the Legendary Blacksmith, who forged magical weapons to defeat the undead.
Unfortunately, there was very little information about Ice Giants. I wasn’t planning on giving them a visit any time soon, but it would’ve been good to learn more about them.
I saw Farla talking to someone not far away. She saw me looking at her and waved. I waved back, which made her approach me.
- How is your reading going TC? - she was curious.
- Very well. I learned few things about different races in this world. It’s unfortunate elves are forced to live in hiding and there was very little information about Ice Giants. - I told her.
- Yeah, Ice Giants are a mystery. They don’t bother anyone too much, but they don’t welcome other races to their territory as well. - Farla commented.
- How is Eve doing? - I asked her.
- She’s fully into it actually. Eve wanted to learn how to make her magic stronger. But I think she’s a slow reader, compared to you. - Farla pointed at the stack of the books on the side.
- Haha. Thanks. - I laughed. - Hey listen Farla. We stayed here for a few hours already and Eve must be getting hungry by now. If you go somewhere to eat, mind taking her with you? I’ll pay for the food of course. - I asked.
- That’ll be my pleasure. And don’t worry about the money. It will be my treat. - Farla was cheekily excited.
- What about you TC? Aren’t you hungry? - she asked me.
- I’ll be fine. I have few snacks in my bag. The tournament starts tomorrow and I want to use the time I have as best as I can. - I answered.
- I’ll go check on Eve. - Farla’s ribbons made her look like she was floating when she walked away.
I didn’t realize I was staring at her until she turned around and winked at me.
“Huh? Oh man… What’s gotten into me? I need to focus.”
I took out a bottle with water and had a drink. I felt silly and awkward about what happened.
“Aaahh… Farla is too good at noticing these kinds of things. Was it my imagination or did she enjoy me staring at her? - sigh – Let’s get back to reading.”
Time flew fast and it was late evening already. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any information why would companion evolve on her own, which was disappointing.
However, it didn’t bother me much, I was actually glad. If it’s such a rare occurrence, that meant Eve had an advantage over other companions. Maybe she can evolve into five stars. Or so I imagined.
Deep down I knew it wasn’t a coincidence I met Eve. And that the pact was already formed during the summoning process. And her evolving on her own didn’t really surprise me. From my point of view, she fought hard and became stronger, which made her evolve. Simple logic.
- Are you ok Master? - I heard a cute familiar voice behind me.
- Huh? Eve? I didn’t notice you. Are you done with your reading? - I asked.
- Yes, I am. I thought you might be hungry, so I brought you some food. - she extended a carefully wrapped package.
- Thanks. - I picked it up. - I suppose it’s enough for today. I think I’ll eat it when we get back to Grog’s Inn.
- Ok Master. - Eve smiled.
I thanked Farla on the way out and we left the Temple. Eve hugged my arm and didn’t let it go until we reached Grog’s Inn.
- Well hello you two. Nice night for a walk, isn’t it? Would you like some Croberry Juice? - Grog smiled seeing Eve clung to me.
- It is indeed. - I said in a calm, thoughtful voice. - Good night Grog. We’ll be going to bed.
- Huh? Ghm… - he was surprised Eve didn’t jump on the offer. - Good night then.
I nodded to him. He nodded back. We were to wake up early tomorrow and I wanted myself and Eve be in the best possible shape.
That was easier said than done however… I was so excited about the tournament I barely slept during the night. As soon as the first sun rays touched our room’s window I decided to get up.
Thoughts about meeting tough opponents made my blood boil. Unfortunately, the tournament was still few hours away, so I went downstairs to maybe get something to drink.
It wasn’t much of a surprise to see Grog awake and getting ready for the day. He, on the other hand, was surprised to see me.
- Good morning TC. Can’t sleep? - he asked.
- Yeah. Hehe. Have anything to drink? - I sat in front of the counter.
- What’s keeping you up? - Grog placed a mug with Croberry Juice in front of me.
- Nothing really. It’s just that the tournament starts rather late. - I tried to make a joke.
- Haha. Is that so? - Luckily for me, Grog thought it was funny.
- You are a strange fella. Why did you decide to join the tournament? - he asked. - You have Eve and you evolved her too. I thought you said you don’t need another companion?
- I don’t. - I picked up my drink. - And I didn’t evolve Eve. She evolved on her own.
- Huh? What? - Grog stopped wiping a mug he held.
- Eve evolved on her own during the fight with the doggons. - I added.
- Really? - he couldn’t believe it.
- Yup. - I drank some of my juice.
- Now that’s new. How did it happen? - Grog was extremely curious.
- We were fighting doggons in the cave. To tell you the truth, we were in a really bad situation surrounded by them. But then Eve went all out. It was like she started drawing magic energy from the earth itself. And then it happened – the star on her head split in two and she got rid of the doggons in an instant. - I told the story.
- That’s incredible. I’ve never heard about companion evolving on her own. - Grog was impressed.
“Hah, figures… That means Eve is the first one.”
- Yeah, well… me neither. - I commented.
- Haha! - he laughed.
- It’s a little early, but can you prepare some breakfast? I’ll go get Eve. - I finished my drink.
- Sure thing. - he answered.
Eve was sound asleep and I almost didn’t want to wake her up. She really loved her new pajamas, even to the point of dancing before going to sleep.
“I wonder where did she learn to dance in the first place?”
- Good morning sleepy head. - I shook her gently on the shoulder.
- Mhm… Cro… berry… Juice… - she muttered in her sleep.
- Well then, I guess I’ll have to drink this Croberry Juice by myself. - I said loudly.
- Huh? What? - Eve almost jumped up.
- Hahaha. You’re so adorable. Good morning beautiful. - I laughed.
- Wha… booo… you’re so cheecky Master. - Eve looked around. - Is it morning already?
- It’s still early, but I asked Grog to prepare some breakfast for us. I want to get to the arena as early as possible. - I explained. - I’ll wait for you downstairs.
- Uaaah… Ok Master. - Eve yawned.
“Yeah, those pajamas suit you well.” - I closed the door slowly.
I went downstairs and Eve joined me at the table soon after.
- Here you go. - Grog brought us breakfast himself.
- Mmm… smells so good. - Eve smelled the food.
We were the only patrons at this early hour, so we enjoyed our breakfast in peace and quiet. Grog brought a mug of Croberry Juice for Eve.
- Aaah! Thank you Grog. - her eyes sparkled.
I chuckled watching Eve drink the whole mug in one go.
- Are you ready? - I asked her after our empty plates were taken away.
- Yes Master. - she was full of energy.
- Ok, lets go then. - I stood up. - See ya Grog. Thanks for the breakfast.
- You’re welcome. Good luck in the tournament. - he said.
I simply smiled.
- Bye Grog. - Eve waved.
Streets were quiet, but the market was busy with all the merchants getting ready for the day. It was a pleasant stroll, considering the last couple of days I had to bump shoulders walking on the streets.
Military Barracks were full of guards already. There was only one entrance open and, since we came in early, no line to wait.
- Good morning. We’re here for the tournament. - I said to the person behind the desk.
- Names? - he asked in a stern voice.
- TC and Eve. - I replied.
After checking his papers, he wrote something and gave us a tablet with number eight on it.
- Section A. - he added.
- Thanks. - “No stars? I’m disappointed.” - I chuckled.
We went through the gate with the letter ‘A’ on it and ended up in a big courtyard. It was almost empty. The stairs to the side led to the seating area, where I saw some people sitting already. I looked around, but couldn’t recognise anyone.
“Oh well, I don’t expect to see any familiar faces in here anyway.”
The time crawled as slow as a snail and I knew we still had some time left. I thought it’ll be a good thing to take a nap. Fighting tournament wasn’t anything new to me. I knew the drill. The only difference in here I received a number. Probably it will be easier for them to manage the participants.
Since I was dozing off, I didn’t notice, but seats were filling up fast. We were sitting close to the stairs, so lots of fighters passed through us. I was half asleep, but kept glancing with the corner of my eye at whoever passed through us. Partly, because I wanted to evaluate my opponents. But non of them struck me as strong fighters. I did receive few glares from some of them though.
“As usual Eve is making an impression.”
The hour of the tournament start was closing in and I was itching to get into the arena as soon as possible. Finally, the ongoing influx of people stopped and everyone was eager to know what will happen next.
- Hello sir TC. - a familiar voice greeted me while I was still dozing off.
- Robert! Angi! - Eve jumped up and hugged Angi.
- Why hello Robert. Didn’t expect to see you here. - I was surprised.
- After we found out you’re participating in the tournament, me and Angi decided to test our strength as well. - he explained.
- Is that so? - I commented cheekily.
- We probably won’t make it to the top, but it will be a good training. - he said.
- Haha. I get it. Good luck. - I said.
“Robert is still Robert. He thinks about the training first.”
- Listen up! - a loud voice from the middle of the arena interrupted us. - My name is Jarral and I am the Captain of the Guards. I’ll go over the rules of this tournament. And you better be listening, because I’ll say it only once.
“Hah. Strict aren’t you?”
- We have almost two hundred of you registered at the Bronze Branch, but only four of you will advance to the finals. All of you were split into four sections, which means only one from each section will get the chance to fight in the big arena.
“So that’s how it is. That means I’ll have to be the last man standing.”
- You can use any weapons or magic you want, even potions. When your number is called out, step into the arena immediately. You win when your opponent is knocked out or surrenders. The tournament is about to begin. Get ready! - and with that he left the arena.
“I see. Sounds li-”
- Number eight and number twenty one! - a voice shouted from the stands.
“Huh? We’re first?”
- That’s our number Master. - Eve said cheerfully.
- Yeah. Lets go. - I stood up.
The tournament started and we were the first ones to enter the arena. I was looking forward to a good fight.