After three brutal days of what he could only consider torture Ryuji finally got his break. Of course, his break being that instead of brutal training he instead had a brutal lecture. He really didn’t quite get why education should matter too much to adventurers but here he was sitting at a desk facing a teacher at the board. The teacher in question was Prof Moriarty. From what Dot had said about him he figured that he must be a class A weirdo.
“Now then class you may be sitting here wondering why at an academy meant to train your fighting skills you have to bear through one of my lectures.” He leaned against the desk sitting in front of the board.
“Yeah, prof please explain it to me cause if you don’t I’m liable to just fall asleep over here.” Dot said as she sleepily closed her eyelids.
‘It's so weird how I can tell exactly what she’s feeling even if she has pits for eyes. She is just so damn expressive.’
“Well then can anyone here tell me the names of all the Dark Moons?” He asked with a sassy tone and then leaned back on the desk once more.
“There’s Tartarus, The Dark One, and um…. Yeah.” Rosey started off strong and happy but then slowly but surely lost confidence and fell silent.
“That right there Dot is why we have this lecture. You all can’t even bother to remember a few names. I mean c’mon these names are what every great adventurer strives to conquer! Now, remember this class there are five of them. Their names are Tartarus god of the afterlife, The Dark One god of fear, Lygia god of darkness, Nymia god of nightmares, and Scilion god of nothingness.”
"I thought there was eight sir." Arc spoke up with little confidence.
"There were, but a few days ago we got confirmation that thanks to Rhea and Zodiac three of them are dead."
“Got it, prof! Ooooo I can feel the information sticking into my brain! This time I will remember it!” Jessy exclaimed very close to Ryuji's ear as they were sitting next to each other.
“Jessy… I’m going to say this as a friend okay. You are never going to remember this, in fact as soon as this is over, you’re going to shoot at targets and forget that we even had a lecture.” Ryuji comforted the blue-haired gunslinger who just got a big old glass of reality handed to her.
“So class, you all surely must know the primal gods?” Silence filled the classroom and every second that it lasted Moriarty got another wrinkle added to his face.
“Oh, ARE YOU SERIOUS! There are seven of them and they are the most important gods! EVER!” Moriarty had lost his composure and regretted ever agreeing to teach these ignorant people.
“There are seven prime gods four of them belong to the happy side and three of them belong to the bad side.” Figuring that these students needed to be taught like the children they were he dumbed down the explanation.
“Oh one of them is Illumine right?” A half-asleep elf girl with weirdly shaped pupils spoke up from across the room.
“Yes, Illumine is the primal god of life. Cosmos is the god of creation, The Meddler is the god of free will, and Hell is the god of chaos. Those aren’t that important to you what you need to know are the evils. The first is Death, then Sin, and finally Enlightenment. Those three evils are still alive today and it is our hope as mortals to see them vanquished.” After continuing the explanation his voice eventually settled down and his anger subsided.
“So what next prof?” Dot asked now seemingly interested in the lecture. Ryuji noticed that her head perked up when he mentioned chaos.
“Do you all know the seven cornerstones skills?”
“Yeah, there’s Power, Magic, Science, Blood, Light, Dark, and Unique!” Making up for her earlier blunder Rosey said it with cheer and started doing a happy jig in her seat.
“Finally, you all know something. I never thought I’d see the day. Unfortunately for us, all our lecture has ended.”
With the lecture over Ryuji went back to the dorm and passed out. Days passed as Ryuji continued being beaten every day as a part of his training. The days turned to weeks and then as if he had time traveled the second test was upon them. In terms of training, he made very little progress and started to doubt the legitimacy of Wakefield’s teaching license. As such he was pretty nervous about the test overall.
They gathered in the stadium and awaited word of what the test might be. Ryuji sat next to Dot and Jessy while Queen sat behind him.
“It's time for my training to finally pay off!” An excited Jessy jumped out of her seat and then promptly sat back down after showing everyone exactly how thrilled she was.
“I hope you guys can carry me to victory because my training has not paid off in the slightest. Well except for now I don’t even notice pain. Although I don’t really think that’s a good thing.” Depressively Ryuji slid down his seat and leaned all the way back.
“What exactly is your training anyway? You never talk about it you just come back to the dorm and cry in a corner for a while. To be honest it’s a little unsettling.” Queen voiced her complaints from behind with a voice full of judgment.
“Well soooorrrry my crying makes you feel uncomfortable. I’ll try to be a little bit more considerate about it!” Although his words on the surface sounded genuine his voice held only sarcasm for the complainer behind him.
“Oh, I just figured out the solution to all your troubles Ryuji!” Dot kicked back in her seat with a big grin.
“Oh yeah?” A pessimist Ryuji responded with little hope or energy.
“Yeah, so me and the girls will give you the room for a day, and then you can make all your frustrations disappear while we’re gone! It’s a win-win.” Dot's answer to Ryuji's problems actually sounded kinda nice but before he could respond the speaker sounded.
“The second test will begin shortly. Anyone who can not pass this test will be evicted from the grounds. The second test will be a team effort and will involve the subjugation of 100 monsters. This will all occur in the mindscape born from the crystals. As such you will enter in groups and will remain in the stadium until your team has been called up.”
The announcer's voice faded and then began the long wait for their team to be called into the crystal. After a few hours, the group finally got their turn and entered. Unlike last time where they were on an endless plane this time, they were in what appeared to be a giant forest.
Huge trees that looked too large for life surrounded them and in this forest was a constant grumbling of beasts.
“Okay, we need to get ready and stick together. Then we move as one and take down any monsters we see.” Taking charge in the situation Ryuji gave orders and the ladies swiftly followed them.
The forest grew quiet. Ryuji felt tense and then he heard a noise. The sound of barking and growling. Suddenly from behind him, 8 giant hellhounds leaped out of the brush.
Each one was as big as a car and looked like a German shepherd that had a raging fire inside its stomach. Smoke and fire could be seen coming out their mouths and their stomachs glowed an intense orange. Before Ryuji could react, he saw each of the hounds lose their faces.
In front of him and the others stood Queen with bloody fists and her ever irritated look.
“Go go, Queen!” Dot cheered on her hero and Jessy giggled. Ryuji however felt a pit in his stomach for not being able to react sooner.
After a few more minutes of walking around, they saw something rather unexpected. A horde of different monsters crowded in an opening to the forest. The monsters were nowhere near consistent in strength. Some were dragons’ others were orcs. The only thing that they had in common is that they directly charged at Ryujis group the second they spotted them.
“Light them up please and thank you!” Desperation took hold as Ryuji gave an order while watching dozens of beasts bear down on them.
“NO problem! I got the ones in the sky you guys get the rest! Big Bang!” Jessy took out her sniper and et it on the ground. With the call of her skill, she shot a continuous beam of magical current. The current cut the dragons and drakes that were dominating the air into shreds. The barrel of her rifle turned orange and started to deform from the heat, but she kept firing.
“Where is Dot!” Noticing the lack of a teammate Ryuji called out.
Following Queen's gaze, he saw Dot doing something with a paintbrush. Literally having no clue what she was doing Ryuji scratched his head. Dot done with her painting put the brush down and laughed as the monsters on the ground sank into her painting. All the monsters were gone and their quota of 100 was easily made.
As Ryuji walked up to the painting, he saw that it was one of space and felt a little sorry for the monsters that died of suffocation in the endless void. But more than that Ryuji felt an utter failure. He did basically nothing but watch throughout the whole test. He understood that his teammates were monsters but that didn’t make him feel any better about it at all.
‘What’s even the point of me being here.’
The test ended and they exited the stadium and made their way back to the dorms. His mind was still stuck on what just happened and he was agonizing over it when Dot pulled on his sleeve.
She leaned in and whispered in his ear. “You should probably praise those two or your dream of a harem utopia will never come true.”
Disregarding the utter nonsense at the end Ryuji looked at his teammates and did see that they were a little upset about something.
‘Well I’ll just trust that what Dot said is true I mean she is a girl… I think.’
He approached the two. “Hey, nice job out there you two. You really helped carry the team. You truly have my gratitude.” In the end, he gave a little bow to show his appreciation.
“Well, I wanted to finally show you how cool I can be!” Jessy puffed out her chest and looked up at Ryuji with a face full of satisfaction.
“You were super cool! You know what I kinda wanna be a gunslinger after seeing in you action.” Playing on her emotions Ryuji made a joke that he knew she would take seriously.
Jessy’s excitement overloaded and she passed out standing up. Ryuji was a little worried that she might be dead, but Dot insisted that she wasn’t and took her back to the dorm.
Ryuji stood alone with Queen. He decided that they needed to get back but before they started walking Queen spoke up.
“What did you think of my performance?” Queens's voice carried concern and anxiety things Ryuji wasn’t used to hearing from her.
“Well, what can I say, you saved my ass from those dogs and you barely broke a sweat doing it. You were awesome!” Ryuji decided to shower her with praise like Dot suggested but didn’t think it would do much of anything. Most of the time Ryuji complimented her he got a discouraging remark that tarnished his reputation.
“Well I don’t think I can be quite as happy as Jessy was but, thank you.” With a playful tone that he didn’t know she could do Queen offered her thanks. At the end of her sentence, he saw Queen's mouth turn upwards.
For the first time, he saw her smile. Now mind you it wasn’t the big grin that Dot carried around or even as big as the one Ryuji sometimes had. Calling it a smile would be a stretch, most would just consider it a grin but for Ryuji, it might as well have been a full-blown all teeth showing smile.
Now it was his turn to pass out from being too excited. When he opened his eyes he found himself on a comfortable pillow. As he moved around to get comfier, he heard a familiar giggle. He looked up and saw signature sharp teeth.
“What’s going on?” Ryuji remained calm on the outside but on the inside, he was having a stroke. This was the closest he had ever been with a female even if Ryuji barely saw her as one.
“Well, I saw it in a manga and figured you might like it. So, is it any good? Cause I might wanna try it out sometime if it is.”
“This is heaven.” Ryuji replied frankly and sternly.
“Wow, is it really that good?”
“Better than you could ever imagine. My head has never touched something softer and warmer than this.” Ryuji's true thoughts spilled out. This was only made possible by the weird sort of bro relationship he had with Dot.
“You two kids get off each other and go to bed, It's late.” An annoyed Queen walked into the bedroom and hopped into her bed.
Ryuji did as he was told and went to sleep.