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Monday, 2nd March 79AGW.
Classroom, Sanctum, Argus City.
3:53 PM.

“Your individual results will be sent to your personal scrolls on Friday the 6th, as long as there are no unforeseen delays.” Professor Darko said curtly, eyes flicking around the room to meet the eyes of the three who had groaned at the news. “Hm. You will also have the academy applications to look forward to filling out as well, which you should complete before your results arrive; I hope I’ve instilled the need for proactive actions?”

There was another sad groan from the back of the room, followed by a thump of a head hitting the desk. A deluge of mumbled yes sirs washed over the man, and he looked distinctly unimpressed by their lack of enthusiasm.

“Sir, sir! I still haven’t decided which Academy to apply too!” Cherrie said nervously, bright red hair falling around her shoulders. “How long do we have before we have to send them? What if they decline me? Sir! What if they decline me!?”

Lima couldn’t help but laugh at the girl’s panic; he wasn’t exactly sure about the odds, but he’d put it down as ‘pretty fucking unlikely’ that any of the academies would turn down a willing Huntsman; or a Huntress in this case.

As long as they were good enough to fight off Grimm anyway.

“I’m afraid that is out of my hands now, if you are suddenly finding yourself worried; well, perhaps you should have worked harder?” Professor Darko said dryly. “To answer your other question, your applications must be submitted before the 16th of March; those very applications will be reviewed by the respective academy’s instructors, and an acceptance or declination response returned on the 20th.”

Two weeks felt like it was a lifetime away, it would seem like he had some free time up his sleeves until he had to make a decision.

Lima didn’t really have a preference, other then Shade Academy was probably hot as balls, and Atlas Academy was definitely cold as nuts. Beacon Academy, well; he didn’t know much about other then it was located in Vale. Haven Academy was the closest; he had actually lived in Mistral for several years before he had been dragged to Argus, so it was his default choice.

There was only a single thing Lima wanted from his choice of Huntsman Academia, and it was to get the hell away from Sage. An objective that any one of those four would do; freedom was almost within his grasp, he just had to reach out and take it.


Monday, 2nd March 79AGW.
Home, Argus City.
4:15 PM.

“You suck, your face sucks, and your mother sucks-“ Lima complained from flat on his back.

“You never even met my mother, you little shit!” Sage laughed boisterously, “Now get up, you’ve still got Aura, you pansy.”

“Pansy!?” Lima squawked, tilting from the ground all the way back up to his feet without effort. “I almost had you that time, you old bastard!”

Lima dropped his Semblance as soon as he was back to his feet; it was banned during sparring; one of Sage’s many terrible, terrible rules. He angled low and darted around to circle the massive man, but he just turned to keep him in sight.

“Clinging to my arm like a baby isn’t going to be enough to take me down!” Sage cackled, “You gonna hug all the Grimm to death, Lima?”

“It was an armbar, you motherfucker!” Lima cried in outrage. “I’m going to break it next time I swear!”

Lima darted in towards him suddenly, stopping just out of the man's flashing hand and launching a kick up at his face. It connected with a crack and did absolutely nothing as the man's stupid Semblance reduced the impact to basically nothing; at almost no cost.

He ducked backward, reaching up to deflect the man's massive hand away from his head as it tore past his cheek and spun low in retaliation. His heel landed solidly, but ineffectively on the back of the man's knee, but he followed the spin up behind him and pressed down on his leg as hard as he could. Sage’s knee cracked the ground as he forced it down, and the man obligingly dropped to one knee.

It was the most condescending thing he had ever seen.

“Learn how to turn your god damned semblance off, you asshole!” Lima raged, dragging the man into a sleeper hold.

“Its been sixty years you pansy,” Sage laughed as he used his greater physical strength to start wrenching his way free of the hold. “If I haven’t figured it out already, its never going to happen!”

Lima gritted his teeth as he fought to keep the bear of a man contained, but despite his advancing age, none of the man's physical strength had lessened at all in the last decade. There was light at the end of the tunnel though, the gap was closing the older they both became; he was seventeen now, only three months away from adulthood and all the joys that would bring.

“Got you!” Sage cackled as he finally managed to break free of the lock, and he wasn’t letting go either.

Sage dragged him off the ground into a circle and then smashed him down onto the dirt. Lima brought forth about twice the amount of Aura that he thought was needed, but the impact still rocked him, and he heard his scroll let out a beep.

He was under twenty-percent reserves again.

“Another loss, huh?” Sage grinned, “You’ve got to be the world's best loser, why I've never seen someone with so many to his name!”

“You cheating bitch.” Lima complained.

He dragged himself back to his feet, only barely managing to snatch the water bottle Sage had tossed at his face in time.

“At some point, you gotta stop hugging the enemy and just fight, you know?” Sage shook his head sadly. “I raised a pussy.”

“It was a fucking sleeper hold!” Lima cried in dismay.

“Does this look like bedtime, boy!” Sage cackled, “Are we here to fight or have a cuddle?”

Lima just let out an incoherent cry of rage and attacked again.


Monday, 2nd March 79AGW.
The Wall, Argus City.
9:38 PM.

Sneaking up onto the wall was a favored past time for just about everyone in Argus; you weren’t supposed to, of course, but as long as you kept out of the way and didn’t make a nuisance of yourself, the guys on watch would often let it slide.

Lima didn’t spot any of the ones he’d noted as the ones to avoid if he didn’t want to get run off, so he thought he was in the clear this time. He made a pillow out of his linked hands and lay back on the wall, he almost groaned at finally getting to stop for the day, everything hurt.

The old bastard was a slave driver, but he did appreciate the man, despite all their arguing.

The sky was bright with stars, and like always, the shattered moon hung in the sky, a testament to some unfathomable accident in an age long passed. He wondered what could have done it, there had been thousands of tales about it, and a thousand more theories that made much more sense, but there was little evidence to support any of them.

The most agreed-upon theory was that it was the result of a meteor, while another one had popped up recently, that stated it had once been part of the Remnant but split off somehow, which made absolutely no sense to him.

How would the moon have gotten up into space?

Hell, there were other tales, more eldritch; A ancient dragon Grimm had done it, or the moon itself was the origin of the Grimm. In some stories, it was actually an immense Grimm whose face hid always within the shadow, evicted from the earth with the power of an ancient warriors Semblance.

Lima wasn’t sure that any of them were close to the truth, but you didn’t need to know their origin to kill them; you just needed a bow, an arrow, and a desire to wipe every last one of the monsters from the face of Remnant.

Coincidentally, he had all three of those things.

He wondered what the world would have been like without them, would Atlas have conquered the stars? Overcome that no Dust works in space rule?

Would people have even learned how to harness the light of there souls? Develop the skills and weapons they had needed to fight them off? Would their absence actually set humanity back, the constant threat of death was a good motivation to grow, and quickly.

He knew that personally, he probably would have never met Sage or Midori, which was a sad thought, and one he shied away from. Midori was still back in Mistral, he’d end up seeing her if he went to Haven, which was another point towards that choice, it had been a while since he had heard from her.

Sage would have to stay here as well, which was fantastic.

He could get away from the man for a while as he’d need to be here for the next influx of first-year students into Sanctum, seeing as he was the combat-instructor on duty. They’d be signing up about now or in the next couple of days, at least.

Lima fought his way through a yawn.

No more getting his ass kicked every day by the old bastard, he’d finally be free to slack off a bit, and then as soon as he got his Huntsman License, he could head off to wherever he pleased. No more staying inside the walls of Argus.

There was an entire world out there, filled to the brim with the monsters of Grimm, and they certainly weren’t going to kill themselves.

“Fucking Grimm,” Lima mumbled tiredly, eyes closing.


Monday, 9th March 79AGW.
Sage’s Office, Sanctum, Argus City.
11:28 PM.

“Stop,” Lima said suddenly. “Say what you just said again.”

“Something wrong with your hearing, boy?” Sage grinned, “I applied as the first-year instructor at Haven Academy, that’s why I called you in; thought I’d share the good news.”

Sage had called him in through the PA system, so everybody in the god damned school knew where he was right now, something that had happened many times in the past, and needless to say, the man was the biggest bastard that had ever roamed the planet.

Lima took a deep breath and let it out through his nose slowly.

“You’re going to be the first-year instructor at Haven Academy,” Lima asked for clarification.

“You got it, buddy,” Sage said easily. “What a shame you already applied, I’ll be able to meet all your little friends and tell them about all the embarrassing stories I’ve been saving up; Midori will be there as well; so I can finally nag her into finally making me some grandchildren before I’m dead and buried. I can’t wait!”

Lima very carefully kept his face blank as he considered the piece of incredible fortune that had just fallen into his lap. He’d been a lazy ass and put off applying for an academy, but Sage had been nagging him about it since Friday, he had just lied and told the man he’d already applied to Haven; to appease the man.

Destiny was calling, and it was saying we are getting the fuck out of Anima.

“I hate you with every fiber of my being,” Lima said weakly, “How long were you planning this?”

“More than a month!” Sage barked out a laugh, “I wasn’t sure I’d get the job, but apparently they lost a staff member during a routine mission a while back, poor bastard.”

Lima stared at the man for a long moment before nodded slowly.

“Yeah, poor guy.” Lima agreed honestly, fuck the Grimm. “I’ll be getting you back for this, you old bastard, mark my words.”

“Any time you little shit!” Sage said gleefully, “I’ll have to show you where my office is at Haven!”

Lima turned on his heel and strode out of his office, listening to the man's laughter echoing behind him. He needed a plan, and he needed one now; there was no way in hecking balls he was going to Haven if the old bastard was teaching there, he’d been through years of the man's nonsense here at Sanctum already.

What did he need to do?

He needed to apply for one of the other three schools, obviously, which he was going to go home and do immediately. It didn’t matter which, ice, sand, or whatever the hell Vale had, any of it was better than Sage.

There was very little chance he wouldn’t be accepted, it may have sounded arrogant, but he was easily the best fighter in his class. The fact that it was thanks to Sage’s constant bullshit had no bearing on the current situation. His non-practical marks wouldn’t have mattered either way, but he was sitting pretty in the top five easily for bookwork, and he’d passed all of the exams with good marks, he was an ideal candidate.

He strode straight out of Sanctum’s front gates.

Screw sitting through a bunch of half-assed classes; the school year had mostly ended by now, all that was left was waiting and revising. A streetcar was drifting on by, and he quickly realized what his biggest issue would be.

Transport.

All three of the other Academies were on different continents, he would need to buy passage; money wasn’t an issue for him, Sage was pretty well off, and Lima had been a decent saver, after having nothing for so long he tended to horde his money, a habit he was glad he was finally getting some use out of.

Each of the Academies opened their gates on the 6th of April, less than a month away from now. He would need to buy the tickets quickly because they would be neither cheap nor bountiful.

The Sanctum graduates that choose Atlas Academy would be taking airships to get there. Shade Academy would mean a trip to Atlas as well, and then either a boat or another airship to Vacuo. Beacon would be a series of trains, one of which crossed the ocean between Anima and Sanus.

Airships were more expensive, and boat trips were supposedly really, really fucking long, depending on the destination. Fuck Vacuo, the heat was probably awful anyway.

Atlas or Beacon.

Intercontinental travel was always expensive, at least from what he’d heard, although it was supposedly much cheaper when you were a Licensed Hunter. A perk of the job apparently, seeing as you fought to protect everyone else, they rewarded you with a little discount.

There was a subsidy for students, but he would need to fill out some paperwork for that, and he needs a signature from his guardian. It baffled him that he could sign up to fight monsters without a guardian's consent, but if he wanted a discount on transport, suddenly, the rules were ironclad.

Obviously, the Academies needed a constant influx of new Hunters, given that a lot of them died on the job, so it made sense to ease the way, but still. He was in a unique position where he couldn’t let on to Sage about his impending vanishing act, so he would have to absorb the full cost without the subsidy to his bank account.

How much would an Airship to Atlas cost? He would need to go check the airship terminal, he wasn’t sure, but he vaguely remembered it being brought up in class once. They’d talked about that subsidy a few weeks ago, what had Darko said?

Argus to Atlas was two thousand Lien? Before the subsidy, with it coming down to only a thousand with it. Two-thousand was nothing to sneeze at, but he could still just afford it.

Beacon would need three trains, Argus to Mistral, say three hundred Lien? Mistral to Port Line, that was the big one, probably five hundred at least. Then Port Line to Vale would be three hundred maybe.

An estimate of eleven-hundred for Vale, or two-thousand for Atlas.

He could tank either of them, but it would be painful either way. He would need to go confirm the prices just to make sure, but was there anything else he had missed? Academy life was all about living on campus, which meant no rent or food costs. He would need to pay for equipment, but his arrows were built to be sturdy and recoverable anyway, so he wouldn’t be replacing them very often.

He wasn’t really a fan of the cold; living on the street when he had first made it to Mistral had given him an appreciation for the indoors, and a nice temperature right in the middle sounded increasingly more favorable.

Argus was a little cooler then he liked as is, given it was so far to the north of Anima. He was definitely leaning towards Vale now that Haven was out of the question.

“Fucking Sage,” Lima sighed.


Monday, 9th March 79AGW.
Home, Argus City.
1:45 PM.

He’d been off on both prices; the Airship to Argus was actually only eighteen-hundred, while the three trains would cost a total of just under thirteen-hundred. Not really helpful either way.

The difference in cost had pretty much made up his mind; Beacon Academy would be his primary choice, Atlas Academy secondary, and Vacuo thirdly. He absolutely wasn’t handing in the Haven one, there wasn’t a snowball's chance in hell of that happening.

Lima fiddled with his scroll, filling out the details for each of the Academies.

Some of them were auto-filled with information in his scroll already, Professor Darko had been right once again. The only way he was getting out of four years of embarrassment, pain, and social organization was to be proactive, so that’s what he was doing. He just needed to keep the façade up, and he would be home free.

The 20th couldn’t come fast enough.

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Elbowsnapper

Bio: I’m a fantasy author from Australia, and if I were to describe my work in a single sentence it would be; Realism contained within an unrealistic backdrop. I aim to put out high-quality, original, long-form written content that will entertain, and engage you. Expect dark themes, characters making costly mistakes, and unreliable narrators.

My standard process starts by releasing draft chapters to my Patreon, and then to everybody else online. Once the story is completed, I convert it into a more conventional eBook. I also routinely go back and revise, edit and enhance my older work as I improve as a writer.

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https://www.elbowsnapper.com/

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