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Tom felt giddy all day, and not even pain tolerance class could wipe off his smile. But then he felt an overwhelming guilt. It wouldn’t be advantageous to tell Sally, but Tom realized he could’ve been killed. He started on about it during lunchtime.


“Stein, Sal, you won’t tell you anyone what I'm just about to say, would you? I’ve done something horrible I think I want to confess.”


“What is it Tom? Are you seeing a girl?” Sally said with a dumb face.


“Shut it, Sal. I'm serious.”


“So am I. But that’s nothing to be ashamed up.”


At this point Stein giggled.


“Damn it Sal, this is no time for one of your games,” Tom almost yelled.


Sally frowned as is she was about to apologize. Stein was silent.


“Of course, we won’t tell anyone, right Stein?”


He nodded as Tom continued. “Last night, I went to confront a darkling in order to test a method to avoid their fear effects. I was successful, but my weapons only fazed it, and I saw no visible damage to it.” 


“I knew that you were lacking a few screws, but that was truly stupid.” Sally’s words were humorous, but she used a harsh tone, almost like she was criticizing him.


“What happened after-afterwards?” Stein asked.


“A guard saved me.”


“What would you-you have done if there was no-no guard nearby?” He inquired.


“He would’ve been dead.” Sally butted in. She had a furrowed face.


After a few minutes she had seemingly returned to herself. Only Tom could tell that she was faking it. She finally asked what classes Stein was taking. He told them that it was rather embarrassing, and he dodged Sally’s questions. Sally persisted and finally he gave.


“I’m ta-ta-king heavy weapons and then an extra pain tolerance class. I thought that if I took it, then I’ll be tougher, then I could fight better.”


“If anyone’s the idiot it’s you,” Tom retorted. “If you already have enough resolve to take that class, then you’re tough enough. I’m not trying to make you feel better, I'm completely serious.”


“It doesn’t mat-matter anyway. I can’t drop out of it.”


“Well, certainly it wouldn’t be all-for-nothing. Maybe that’ll save your life later,” Sally said optimistically.


Tom stopped for a moment. Why would young teenagers be trained to become knights? Why would their school life be so stressful?


Stein interrupted him. “Before I forget, you know they’re starting the tournament in a few days, right?

 

What tournament? Stein could almost hear the siblings ask out aloud.


“Every year, Oak-Oakwood Academy and The Water Lily Academy in Susanoo, have a competition between their trainees to show good-goodwill.”


Susanoo, once known as Elodia, is the largest country in the world. It is situated on the same continent as Lodestone, being a mighty ally for the relatively new country. It is located on the coastal plains Southeast of Lodestone. The reason for its success was its unique technology.


The technology wasn’t the most advanced in the world, but it was among the greatest breakthroughs since the Great Reverse. The early scientists were able to combine magic and tech into special machines; among those were Susanoo’s anti-gravity devices and Susanese swords.


With those, Susanoo was able to establish the greatest air fleets and the strongest knight corps. However, Susanoo has a bloodstained history and had gone through tough times. At a time, it was split into two countries for almost a millennium.


About eight hundred years ago, a relative to the current, and perhaps most peaceful queen of Elodia, demanded more autonomy for her castle. The lady of the castle, Susan had seceded from Elodia and built an army, as the queen. She called her country Discordia to mock Elodia’s harmonious name.


Meanwhile, Queen Caitlin of Elodia decided to wait for the country to fail and regain her lost land. Both women would regret their decisions. At any given time, the countries were at odds with each another, giving way for the largest two militaries in the world. The struggle between them was resentment, and not a difference in ideologies.


Finally, six years ago, whether for better or worse, a group of terrorist magi assassinated the royal family of Elodia, and almost brought both kingdoms to the ground. The prince of Discordia, now the king of Susanoo, allied with the greatest warriors from Elodia to save the two countries.


It was discovered that the two bloodlines had been related. In an old diary left behind by Susan, it was written that she and Caitlin were not cousins, but rather they were half-sisters. She also wrote that she never meant to cause such a struggle. The prince, Kevin was crowned as the young king of both states. Within the last five years, the governments had been completely integrated. The new country was named both after the wronged queen and after a god from an ancient pantheon, god of the sea.


As a result, the recently united Susanoo is the most dangerous country in terms of military might. It now holds enough soldiers to fit two of the grandest militaries. Alternatively, Lodestone has a short, uneventful history of three hundred years.

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Zarelliel

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