Beneath the Dragoneye Moons

by

Selkie

Chapter 117.2– Ranger Academy XVII- Graduation

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A note from Selkie

Part 2 of 2

Speech! Speech! Speech!

And I was promptly put to sleep by his speech. And the next Commander’s. And the next. And – were all eight of them seriously going to be giving slightly different variations of the same speech? Cripes.

My ears perked up, and I started paying attention again when we got to the important part.

“… and now, it’s time to carve the names onto the Indomitable Wall.”

The same stonemason from last time stood up from the VIP section, and walked over to the wall. He walked slowly, like stone moving, but the atmosphere was solemn, serious. Nobody would dream of interrupting his walk, of asking him to hurry along.

The drums started to play again, a slow, solemn, melancholy beat. Each name said here, said now, was a life cut short in defense of Remus, a peak warrior killed. This would be, in many ways, their only remembrance, their only legacy. A name, stated. A phrase, uttered. A carving, in a stone wall.

Some of us would move on. It was clear to me now, that others didn’t. Artemis clearly remembered, and remembered well. I also remembered; I wouldn’t forget. The first time I’d been here it felt like I was preserving the memory. No, that wasn’t the important one. It was returning here, returning to where the memories were preserved, to remember them once again – that was the important part.

No wonder every Ranger would fight to the death before allowing That Room to fall. I’d stand in front of the wall and take a lightning bolt for it.

“Team 3.” The Commander announced, Team 1 and 2 having been blessedly spared.

Team 1 was the capital team, the best of the best. It was no surprise that none of them died, and since there was an omni-present Ranger presence, it was no surprise that nothing became a large enough threat.

Team 2 just got flat-out lucky.

The leader of Team 3 got onto the stage, and read off the first name.

“Theopropides.”

I chanted, with everyone else.

“Brave Ranger. Your time to rest has come. May White Dove take you to a better place. Your deeds will not be forgotten. We will remember you.”

The Indomitable Wall was tapped, a new name carved onto it for eternity.

We repeated the process. A name. A recital. A tap.

Wolfy’s intel had been good. 98 names. 98 recitals. 98 taps. 98 new names on The Indomitable Wall.

Team 10 got fully wiped.

Team 13 also got fully wiped, again.

I was starting to wonder if there was some curse on team 13.

Silence naturally fell, as the last name from Team 24 was called out. Remembrance, once again. Respect for the fallen.

Not even Kallisto’s kid made a peep.

One of the Commanders got up, and walked to the podium, the moment broken.

“I’d like to congratulate the new Academy graduates. As you hear your name, please approach the stage.”

“Trainee Aebutius, approach.”

Aura – I finally knew his name! – jumped up, and marched onto the stage. A handshake, a Ranger Badge pinned to his neat armor, and he triumphantly held his hands up.

“Congratulations to our newest Ranger!” The Commander said, and we applauded.

The other Trainees were the most enthusiastic.

Name after name was read out, until-

“Trainee Echelaos, approach.”

The man next to me got up, and marched up to the stage. My heart was going a million miles an hour. My palms, sweaty and clammy. I forced myself to breathe, to not hyperventilate.

This was it. This was the moment. It was about to be my turn to-

“Trainee Eteonous, approach.”

My heart plunged into my shoes, as Lava patted my shoulders. We’d never gotten to like each other – got along like two wet cats in a bag – but even here, at this moment, at the lowest I’d ever felt, the bond between us Trainees, we who’d gone through the Hell Months together, was unshakeable.

Hang on, I realized, blinking through tears. I’d always been called Ranger Elaine, even all through Academy. Was I just not called up because I didn’t need to be graduated to a Ranger?

My heart hit my shoes, and bounced back up, but I was anything but stable. I’d find out soon. So soon.

My heart managed to re-invent the yo-yo. Deeply unpleasant.

Exactly 103 Trainees were graduated, the 9 of us who hadn’t been called up with sad, ugly looks on our faces. Spitter was present, as well as Hulk. My bet with Hulk? He was a brute, through and through, and wasn’t smart enough to properly be a Ranger. He was a fantastic fighter, but that was it. Couldn’t track, talk with people well, hell, anything outside of a basic order he struggled with. He’d make amazing money as a bodyguard.

Still, I had no time to focus on others, I was worrying about myself.

“Now, it is time to announce the new teams for the following round.” The Commander said, and I immediately started paying rapt attention again, to see if my name would be called out.

No, I told myself. To see what team I’d be in. I was going to make it. I had made it. It’d just be a bit weird walking down from the stands to my new team, but hey, I’d manage it.

“Team 1. Velius, Kallisto, Fufius…” The Commander started reading off names, and happy day, Kallisto was promoted to Team 1! Maybe he was being given some consideration for being married, a way to make married life work as a Ranger? Either way, good for him! He was now an elite of the elites!

Names were read off, and as time went on, I started to get nervous. Maximus’s name was read off – Team 15 – but my name wasn’t said anywhere.

Nor was Julius’s.

Hang on, let me check something really fast –

General Skills

[Identify: 136]

[Recollection of a Distant Life: 159]

[Pretty: 132]

[Vigilant: 198]

[Oath of Elaine to Lyra: 201]

[: ]

[Reflexes: 95]

[Learning: 212]

 

Oh fuck. Oh fuck no. [Ranger’s Lore] was gone.

But I hadn’t felt anything.

I leaned against Hulk, almost crying to myself.

“I don’t have it anymore. It’s not there.” I said, fighting back tears.

“What’s not there?” Hulk asked me.

I just shook my head. Hulk might get it, but from his complete lack of reaction, he might not even realize he hadn’t made it as a Ranger.

The last name was read off, Team 24 being assembled without me.

Or Julius.

Fuck. Had I failed so badly? Had I done so poorly? What now? I could feel hot tears escaping my eyes, making trails down my face.

What did I do with myself?

I couldn’t bring myself to look in the crowd, to find Artemis, or my parents.

One of the Commanders was speaking. I couldn’t bring myself to pay attention.

Mmm. I had never thought of it. What would I do if I didn’t become a Ranger? If I failed out? Worst-case, I thought I could just repeat Academy, but maybe it was different if I was a failure? If I wasn’t properly ratified, if they were throwing me out instead?

I snapped back to the speech when I heard Julius’s name mentioned.

“… replacing me, please give a warm welcome to Ranger, now Commander, Julius!”

A roar came from the crowd, a solid wall of approval, and I straightened up, clapping. Hang on, Julius was being promoted to Commander? That didn’t sound like being punished for my failure.

“Thank you everyone. The Rangers mean the world to me. When I was a young boy…” Julius started to give a very, very long speech, and as much as I liked Julius, long, boring speeches got me every time. I only perked my ears back up when I heard him start to end it.

The sun had moved a noticeable distance during his speech.

“I’d like to say a few words on stats. Getting to 10,000 in a stat is the mark of an expert, of a high-level Classer or Ranger reaching seniority. Getting to 20,000 is the mark of a specialist, someone dedicated to maximizing a stat.”

“30,000 is the realm of a specialist with a number of boosting skills, bringing themselves to the peak.”

“40,000 is a once in every 400 years number, many generations passing before someone gets there.”

“And 50,000 is a joke, a number given when someone doesn’t want to give their real stats, when stories want to exaggerate to comedic proportions.”

I was pretty sure Night pushed that number, although maybe he was evenly split enough not to. Also, Arthur would be pushing that number eventually, with his amazing classes off of the sea monster slaying. No idea on the other Sentinels.

My propaganda sense was going off.

“But here today, the number will be given out, not as a joke, but completely seriously. As my first act as Ranger Commander, I’d like to invite Ranger Elaine to the stage.”

Mechanically, I started to march to the stage, putting one foot in front of the next.

A voice, coming out of nowhere, whispered in my ear.

“You’ve got this. One foot in front of the next. Let’s get a light Radiance glow out of you.”

The Sentinels all stood up.

“A Ranger. Completed one round. Although, after this we’re going to include ‘started’ the round as well.” Julius said, getting a ripple of laughter.

“The undisputed best in her field. A grand feat. An open seat. The ability to survive on your own. Powerful combat prowess. Able to move through Remus as you see fit.”

“Ranger Elaine has over 50,000 effective Magic Power and Control while healing. Not just one stat, but two are over the 50,000 mark. She’s the undisputed best healer in Remus, and her Medical Manuscripts have taken the healing world by storm. Everyone wants to know ‘who is Elaine’ and ‘how do we meet her’. Well, the answer is – she’s Ranger Elaine, one of us.”

Holy shit. I was being promoted. To Sentinel.

What the fuck. I wasn’t nearly as high level as them. And while they were promoting me, it felt like I didn’t quite meet all the requirements. Something I’d need to ask about.

Although, was doubting and asking a way to get them to say ‘nah, nevermind, you’re right?’ Was it a test, like Arthur said he was tested?

Bah. I’d ask anyways. I had to know.

“Elaine single-handedly resolved not one, but two plagues in Perinthus, in a single week, where dozens of other healers and experts spent over a year trying – and failing – to cure. Her only weakness is pissing off bards, and being written out of songs as a result.”

More laughter. I couldn’t believe my ears as I made it onto the stage.

“We set a new record as well. Not only were there no fatalities in this year’s Ranger Academy, but not a single day was lost to recovering from training injuries, due to her presence. Not only that, but all of this is in a single class. Her second class is a powerful Radiance mage class, able to fly and throw powerful skills from above. Her journey to us was somewhat unconventional, but I am more than pleased to say, the first woman, the third youngest in history.”

Yeah, except for all the training injuries when I hadn’t been around. They really liked to hype up the new Sentinel. Not that I minded.

“Elaine. We hereby name you, The Dawn Sentinel.” Julius said, pinning a Ranger Eagle in Sunburst onto my chest.

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Ranger’s Lore] has evolved into [Sentinel’s Superiority]! 185]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Sentinel’s Superiority] has reached level 190!]

I threw my hands up, and I nearly went deaf from the crowd’s roaring approval.

 

Sentinel’s Superiority: The peak of humanity, you stand at the top, the best in your class, defender of humanity against the endless threats to its survival. 25% boost to all class skills. Improved fighting prowess per level. -2048 mana regeneration.

 

[Name: Elaine]

[Race: Human]

[Age: 18]

[Mana: 50400/50400]

[Mana Regen: 45234]

Stats

[Free Stats: 8]

[Strength: 236]

[Dexterity: 203]

[Vitality: 560]

[Speed: 480]

[Mana: 5040]

[Mana Regeneration: 5092 (+1435.944)]

[Magic Power: 4636 (+46591.8)]

[Magic Control: 4636 (+46591.8)]

[Class 1: [Constellation of the Healer - Celestial: Lv 240]]

[Celestial Affinity: 240]

[Warmth of the sun: 198]

[Medicine: 202]

[Center of the Galaxy: 233]

[Phases of the Moon: 240]

[Moonlight: 240]

[Veil of the Aurora: 212]

[Vastness of the Stars: 139]

[Class 2: [Ranger-Mage - Radiance: Lv 180]]

[Radiance Affinity: 180]

[Radiance Resistance: 180]

[Radiance Conjuration: 180]

[Radiance Manipulation: 180]

[Sun-Kissed: 141]

[Blaze: 180]

[Talaria: 160]

[Nova: 180]

[Class 3: Locked]

General Skills

[Identify: 136]

[Recollection of a Distant Life: 159]

[Pretty: 132]

[Vigilant: 198]

[Oath of Elaine to Lyra: 201]

[Sentinel's Superiority: 190]

[Reflexes: 95]

[Learning: 212]

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A note from Selkie

With many thanks to Blue Core's InadvisablyCompelled, on the importance of names and word choice!

https://www.royalroad.com/fiction/25082/blue-core

 

A lot of questions will be answered next chapter. 

 


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