It was a beautiful morning. The sky had only very few clouds. Sun shined upon every greenery it possibly could. And as the sun touched my skin, I felt the warmth.
“That’s a very weird place to do your first lesson,” a voice echoed, reaching me. Alice got herself seated next to me. “Aly-”
“I know. She’s probably pretty pissed that I sneaked away,” I said, giving her a smirk.
Alice gave me a nod. “Yeah. She’s worried about you.”
“I can’t tell you why, but trust me, I see her already too much,” I said, not telling her that we were sleeping in the same bed, and I saw too much in many different ways. At first, it was a new great, slightly erotic, experience, but it soon became more painful if anything. Not because there was something bad going on, but because Aldrynte is a woman and I’m the man. And she obviously doesn’t understand how hard it is to sleep when there’s a half-naked woman sleeping next to me.
Alice’s eyebrows rose slightly, but she only snorted. “Fine, I won’t ask,” she said. And thank you for that. The last thing I needed was her getting jealous or something. “So, why do you have your first class outside of the city, at the very edge of the forest? It’s a very weird place to gather. Especially since… I know you secret?” The last part, she whispered.
I chuckled. “Precisely this reason. I’m tired of being stuck there, and I want some air. I can’t look like I’m hiding as well. Plus, these kids - which by the way is very funny for me to say - need some fresh air as well.” Of course, by that comment, I meant that they are around my age, some even older.
“Yo!” Loid finally arrived, raising his hand and landing in front of me. Aurora wasn’t that far behind, but she was definitely more careful, looking around. “So, I’ve been practicing my special power, and it’s super awesome.”
I sighed. “You’re not keeping it a secret, are you?”
“Why?” Loid asked. “There’s no way I can keep it a secret. Might as well enjoy it and enjoy the attention.”
Aurora sighed. “Don’t even try. I tried.”
Loid could fit to be adventurer...
Slowly more and more students arrived. Some were visibly happy about the outdoors class, while others were slightly annoyed by the walk.
But soon, almost all hundred students had arrived. They all got themselves either seated somewhere, or they leaned against something. But they all were in front of me, looking at me.
“Yay, you made it,” I said it out loud, giving a quick clap. “Welcome to the very first lesson, by the hero himself,” I said sarcastically. Many chuckled. “I guess, enjoy it while you can. Either way, I have some bad news for all of you. We are not going to train or fight. And I’m not gonna show you any of my powers. This is class, not exhibition,” I said it out loud. There were many disappointed whispers or moans.
I announced it for a reason. You see, students were actually taking bets about this. So, being a responsible adult, I also secretly participated in that betting pool, and I’m now looking forward to gathering my earnings.
“But it’s hopefully going to be a valuable lesson. It’s something that has kept me alive. And I continue to follow it to this very day. It is something that will increase your odds greatly.
The excitement began to gather. I could feel it. Will the hero finally unleash their secret?
I finally went after my backpack, opening it. I grinned. My hand went in there, and I took out a book. “Ah. This brings me some memories,” I said, showing it to everyone. It had a hard-cover. But even so, they could see that it was worn-out, read many times over and over again.”
I opened it.
“And Elias took the sword, examining it. The red monster, Shadowbeast, took a few steps back, snarling at him. For the first time since the monster was born, he felt fear. Elias smiled, as the sword began to slowly turn into ice, ready to freeze anything it would touch. He was ready to slay the beast, to save the town.”
I closed it with a bang. “Anyone?” I asked.
“Is it Punished By The Ashes,” a quiet voice echoed, as a slightly fatter boy looked at me.
“You’re correct. What’s your name?” I said.
“It’s John, M-Mr. Hero!” he looked up at me, smiling. It was as it was the moment of his life. There were some things that I still wasn’t used to. I was now okay with all of the attention, but this look that was full of awe...
“You’re all going to compete against each other in a game. How do you play it is entirely up to you. You may team up, or you can do it alone. You may even backstab someone if you can, and you’ll understand when I’ll tell you about this game. I want everyone to understand that after this game is over, no hard feelings between each other.
I reached my hand out back into the backpack and began to remove coin purses, throwing them one by one to every student. “Each of this purse has a bunch of coins. All of you have twenty-five silver pieces in silver and copper. This is the only thing you’re not allowed to steal or forcefully take away from others. Feel free to trade it for something else, though. And no violence! Now pay attention, I’m only going to say all of this only once.”
There was more talk between the students. Some of them quickly took out their notebooks, ready to write. But they all settled in a moment or two. I grinned. It was time.
“You’re all invited to the King’s throne room. The king stands up and walks in front of you.” - I continued, trying to do the king’s voice - “‘Oh, adventurers. A huge calamity has arrived and I need your help. But I can only hire so many of you to do some important jobs. An army of demons has destroyed The Wall. Kirkwall is in ruins. Our main army is fighting against them, holding them back, but we need to provide them help. We need more adventurers. But you’re fresh new adventurers. I don’t know who is worthy and who is not.’”
I stopped, looking at all of them.
I opened my mouth once more, the voice still trying to mimic the king. “‘Prove your worth!’”
I raised my book once more. “I want you all to gather ten books that could be helpful to the king. Five of those books should be Punished By The Ashes, Fish Of The East, Slave Of Yesterday, Battle The Moon and Rats Of Dusk. You all have five hours. Be back by the end of five hours. Don’t be late, no matter what. And make sure that you have ten books.
“And when you do arrive, count how many coins you have left, and when exactly do you arrive. Write that down inside this glass bowl, into one of the paper pieces. I pointed towards a closed bottle that I just removed from my backpack, placing it behind a stone, hidden from any normal person that might pass.
Many were still writing down information, while others listened. “Now, I hope you remembered the book titles and everything else. If you didn’t, you should start seeking information that you just missed!”
Some of them realized something, a huge mistake on their part. They were already seeking out those who had just noted everything down. Others were already planning their next steps.
I gave them a wide smile. “Let’s begin!”
Many of them immediately began to run towards the city. Some started talking, maybe asking for help or to team up. Two of my favorites - Aurora and Loid - nodded at each other and just rushed off.
I, however, stood up, pushed the book back into my backpack and started to walk towards the city as well, Alice followed.
“That’s… interesting. I’m looking forward to the end results. What are you up to while they do their stuff?”
I smirked. “There’s someone I want to meet. Care to join?”
Alice nodded. “Sure.”
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- Matthew E. Damson
I'm someone whose pen-name is Matthew E. Damson. Some others know me as Elven. I'm also known as elf, elfie, elves, pointy ears, and some more. To be honest, I have no idea why they call me other names, but they create nicknames, not me.
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