"I don't want to repeat everything, so I'll cut it short." Captain Pain started grumpily. "On the floor you'll find a scheme with six scales, stand on it. The ritual will activate and, depending on your power each scale will fill to a certain number."
Orisa and Kanai looked at each other and nodded. They even thought the same thing: 'Looks like a typical RPG.'
"People usually have one or two dominant characteristics. These characteristics will help you to choose the type of training you'll be focusing on. Characteristics will be written on your tag."
Iten was the last in the queue, and he went inside a moment ago.
"So, about the scale. New cadets usually get their values between one and nine. Getting four is okay. Getting five or six is really nice." He paused, looking intently at Orisa. "To get eight or nine at, say, Magic, means you are a prodigy, natural born archmage."
Orisa shivered a little under his gaze. 'This foreshadowing is kind of too heavy, Cap. I know you expect a lot after today's, ahem, shocking revelation, but...' She was not sure what her stats would be. 'Things are looking too good to be true.'
It was time for Kanai to go. People who went inside left from the other side of the room, to not stress those waiting in the queue.
"What are the chances to get a bad combination?" Orisa asked, her hands sweaty and shaking.
"It's rare to get something not usable at all." He looked at Orisa questionably. "Why are you fretting so much?"
'Too many red flags, man!' She just silently nodded.
It was her turn.
Inside the room, she found a big Seal engraved into the floor. Six scale lines around the Seal made it look like Sun. Numbers on the scale started at one and ended at fifty.
There were six robed people inside the room.
"Please, stand at the center of the Seal. Take your tag in both hands and wait."
She followed the instructions and waited. 'Please, Lead Game Designer, let me have a good build, I beg you!'
The ritual began. Six people chanted a spell:
The first scale with the word ‘Strength’ at its base started to fill up. 'One... Two... Two? That's it?' Orisa was mildly annoyed.
The second scale started to fill up. It measured Agility.
Three marks were filled. ‘Ugh. Well, mages don’t need it, right? Right..?’
The third one, the Luck scale, began to glow.
Four marks filled up. ‘Well, at least something. I need to read more about the meaning of each characteristic.’
It was time for the most important part - the Magic scale. Orisa held her breath. ‘Please, God, please!’
One mark. Two marks. Three marks. It stopped.
‘Well, that’s it. Too many red flags. Guess, I’ll die.’ Orisa’s mood sank. ‘Oh, what was I even expecting? C’mon, be realistic.’
She was distracted from her depressed thoughts by loud gasps. Nine marks were filled on the Dexterity scale. Orisa was baffled. ‘What is the meaning of this?’
But she had no time to contemplate, the last scale started to glow. 'Oh, it's time for Spirit.' Orisa was curious. She had nothing to lose. One mark. Two marks. Four marks. Six, seven, eight marks.Nine marks.
Fourteen, fifteen, sixteen marks.
There was a silence in the room.
“Let me see your tag!” Finally, one of the people almost yelled, grabbing the tag from Orisa’s hands. “Sixteen… There is no mistake… Bring Cardello here!”
Orisa was dumbfounded. The whole room was dumbfounded. A moment later Captain Pain entered the room. The man handed him Orisa's tag. The Captain looked at it, then at Orisa, then back at the tag.
'Am I some kind of chosen one in the end?' She thought in awe.
"While the number is big by itself, there is nothing so special about it." Captain Pain said calmly, explaining the situation to casters. "She took part in a fight on her way to the camp. I think this is just the result of her participation."
The casters looked at her, their faces calming down a little. “Yes, this must be the case. Anyway, the base level must be high, too.” He looked at Orisa and handed her the tag. “You can go now.”
When Orisa went out, she saw her entire squad lively discussing their characteristics. Some were sad, others rejoiced. They all turned to look at Orisa, expecting to hear from her.
'And what should I say..?' While she pondered her course of action, Captain Pain came out.
"I'll handle it." He said in a low voice and then went ahead.
"So, now you have it. Congrats, and all that." He slowly clapped twice. "Now your real training begins. We'll be holding private guidance meetings for everyone to discuss your future, your choices, and everything else." He made a long pause, looking across all squad members.
"So, regarding cadet Orisa's characteristics. As you all know, she was late to the party. Together with her guide, she was attacked by the beasts. As a result of that fight, some of her characteristics grew, and now they might look abnormal, for a fresh cadet, of course." He made a long pause.
"We'll be discussing the methods of growth later this week. Don't expect her to be some kind of hero, her stat build is trash anyway.”
The Captain went away, leaving the squad disappointed by his revelation. Some people left, a few stayed to hear from Orisa about the attack.
In the end, only Iten stayed with Orisa, and they chatted a bit, before agreeing to go to the library together to read about characteristics sometime in the future.
As they were heading to the campus, they saw a pair of peculiar characters. The first was a tall teenager in black metal plate armor. By his side walked an extremely short pink-haired girl in a frilly pink dress.
'Urgh, so pink and sweet. You can get diabetes just from one look at her.'
When they were passing by, Orisa heard a quiet "Fiendfood scum." She abruptly stopped and turned around:
"The fuck? What was that?"
"Just calling things by their names, nothing more." The girl turned around and glared at Orisa mockingly.
"Oh, that's how it is?" Orisa's blood boiled hard. She didn't notice Iten's hand on her shoulder and his attempt to stop her. "Not sure I should pay any attention to the victim of incest between a bag of sugar and a bucket of honey."
The girl's face became crimson. She stood there, quietly opening and closing her mouth. The boy by her side moved quickly and grabbed Orisa's throat.
"Last time was not enough for you, trash?" He whispered spitefully, squeezing her neck.
"I suggest that you leave her right now." Iten said calmly, placing his hand on top of the boy's forearm.
“Or what?” The armored kid turned to Iten, releasing his grip. Orisa limply fell to the ground, coughing heavily. A sudden realization hit her.
"Iten... It's him... He threw me off the stairs." She said, still coughing. Her neck was red and bruised from the boy's grip.
“Or you will regret your poor life choices.” Iten’s calmness turned into ice.
The boy's right fist flew toward Iten's face, but he just leaned back slightly, and the fist missed its mark by an inch. Attacker's left hand aimed at Iten's face again, and he avoided the strike by slightly adjusting the hand's path with a slap on the boy's forearm.
Despite his armor, the boy moved quickly and tried to kick Iten's side in a swift motion with his right leg. Iten's fist glowed with blue when it met the kick, and it was safely deflected.
‘Woah, Iten is so cool.’ Orisa observed their exchange of blows in awe. A strange warm feeling spread over her chest.
"I tried to go easy on you." The boy said, irritated. Suddenly his whole left hand glowed with red:
In a swift Aikido motion, Iten made a small sidestep and grabbed the glowing hand, pushing the boy forward even more. The next moment he made another small step behind his opponent and kicked him under the knee. The boy fell on the knee, and Iten put the glowing hand behind the boy's back, pressing him down even more.
“How dare you touch my brother, you mongrel!" The sugar blob yelled. She immediately took a small pink rode out of her dress:
A massive golden fist appeared above Iten's head and smashed him into the ground. While the boy stood up, the shorty approached them.
Another golden fist fell on Iten's back. He groaned weakly.
"What are you doing?! Are you insane?!" Orisa screamed, not knowing what to do. When she saw the girl raising her rod again, Orisa leaped over Iten, covering him with her body.
And the pain arrived. It hurt so much that Orisa blacked out for a second. She was out of breath and couldn't even move, so much it hurt.
The girl stood by her brother's side, towering above the pair.
"Pathetic worms, how dare you even speak back to us, the noble and glorious vi Durek family!" She almost spat out the words.
Orisa didn't have time or strength to react when the girl kicked her in the face. Blood flowed from the broken nose, and Orisa screamed in pain.
"That's exactly how you should behave in front of a Noble, beastmeat!" She placed her feet on Orisa's head and crushed it into the ground. Tears flowed from Orisa's eyes.
'It hurts so much... What should I do..? What can I do..?'
The girl stepped back a little and grabbed her brother's hand.
"I'm bored now. Please, brother, do something with this trash. Just don't overdo it. I want no blood on my dress." Orisa heard a sound of a sword leaving its sheath. 'No... What..? Really..?' She was too shocked to accept this reality.
"As you wish."
Orisa rolled on the ground in their direction, recalling the sensation she felt earlier today. When she hit their feet, she grabbed their legs and pushed that sensation into her hands.
A lightning explosion followed. Orisa's body rolled back and crashed into Iten. She vomited with blood. The pink girl fell on her back, her dress blackened and tattered. Her brother fell on one knee and groaned.
"We didn't want to kill you... But now you've done it, bitch." He swung his sword and stepped in her direction.
There was a clapping sound followed by a metallic bang and armored boy's body flew away, rolling for at least ten meters. Orisa managed to turn her head and saw the guardian twins walking in their direction. The gun that one of the twins held glowed white. When they arrived, the second twin that carried a giant halberd leaned towards the girl and slapped her on the cheeks twice.
"I say, you wake up, sugary ass, and piss off."
"Ugh... What have you done to my dear brother, you monster?!" She screamed and ran towards him.
"He will be okay, or so they say." Answered the first twin.
"So, I say, shut your trap and get lost, kiddy." The second twin added.
The twins stopped paying attention to them and turned to Orisa and Iten.
"I say, we've made it on time." The second twin said.
"A moment later and poof, or so they say." The first twin echoed.
The second twin raised her halberd high above the head and plunged the pole into the ground.
"Warlord's Order: Reinstatement!"
A green wave came out of the halberd and rolled around, covering both Orisa and Iten. Orisa felt her pain melt away and wounds close. Iten groaned and stood up.
"Oh. Nana, Nene, thank you for your help."
"I say, for you, honey, anything, anywhere, anytime."
"No big deal, or so they say."
Orisa felt better but still was unable to stand up. Iten noticed her struggle and leaned down:
"Can you stand up? Does it still hurt somewhere?"
"No... Mana... Probably?" That was all she managed to say.
The first twin, Nana, pointed her rifle at Orisa:
Nana began to blow into the gun as if it was a pipe. A blue cloud came out of the gunpoint and moved into Orisa's body. She immediately felt a familiar pleasant sensation filling her insides. Now she was able to stand up.
“Thank you so much for your help.” She said nasally and bowed down.
“I say, don’t mention it. We are always glad to kick these pricks’ asses.” The second twin replied, and the first just nodded silently.
Iten furrowed his brow after Orisa’s reply and leaned much closer to her face.
‘Whoah! So close! I can see my own reflection in his calm, blue eyes..! Wait... What am I even thinking, huh..?’ Her own mind confused her.
In the meantime, Iten quickly grabbed Orisa’s nose and reset it.
“Ouch!” She yelped, but then realized what he just did and thanked him.
"Orisa, these are Twin Lightning Sisters, Nana vas Flamie, and Nene vas Flamie. Before you ask," Iten already knew Orisa quite well, "they are called Lightning Twins because of their silver hair, there is no story behind the name."
"It's a pleasure. I really wanted to meet you!" She said with a bright, though a little bloodied smile.
A little later, the four of them went to the campus. Nana discussed something with Iten, and Nene slowed Orisa down a bit and whispered into her ear:
"Iten is mine, sweetie. I say, only look, no touch, or else hush-hush." She then skipped ahead, leaving the dumbfounded Orisa behind.
They didn't notice Youko Satou watching them from a distance. She was squeezing her metal wand with a tense face.
Distracted as Youko was, even she was unaware of another figure watching the same group. The dark shadows obscured any recognizable features, and with a single step backwards, the figure disappeared into the darkness.