Along the way, Noah explained his conversation with Miss Florelle to Shaun and Ava.
"So, the Inn lady said we have to LVL up our race to LVL 5" Ava asked to confirm if she heard the statement correctly.
"Yes, but she didn't elaborate on how to LVL up." Noah answered stoically.
"Don't tell me we have to hunt monsters now." Ava commented.
"I am not sure about that. Shaun, any opinions. You have been keeping quiet the entire time." Noah said turning towards Shaun who looked engrossed in his own world.
"I'm just thinking some things." Shaun replied not explaining any further.
Noah started to question if he was acting like yesterday but seeing the small smile on Shaun's face abated his worries.
"What got you into thinking?"
Shaun hesitated for a moment but then he remembered the previous day's incident and decided to be truthful.
"Remember how was I accepted at high school"
"if I remember correctly, It was through sports scholarship."
"Right, I was an orphan like you so I could only get in through scholarship. Before meeting with you, I was into archery. Like really into. I won competitions for my school and even represented the district many times." Shaun said and then continued in a sullen mood.
"I was doing pretty good in archery that I was thinking of trying for the zones but then one time I got seriously injured in the shoulder. It massively impacted my performance and despite trying hard to get back in the game, things never got back to normal. Eventually, I had to drop out of archery altogether."
"But that potion should-" Noah remembered the scene in the room.
"Yes, it felt good as before. The dull ache when I put stress on my shoulder is gone." Shaun said with a huge smile on his face. Noah was stunned because he had never seen him show such expression except a few times before. Even then, it was way more bright.
"Well, I am happy for you but are you seriously telling me your sports anime backstory before going into the training camp. If it couldn't be more obvious of a flag, then I don't know what else could be." Noah said jabbing at his friend who also realized how absurd the whole story sounded now.
"Just don't get a rival now. I don't want to be an extra explaining all your attacks." Noah wasn't letting go and Shaun's face got even more embarrassed. He looked like he wanted to dig a hole and die.
Ava was just sporting an amused expression listening to the entire interaction.
They were nearing the training grounds as they could see people moving in the same direction wearing a similar type of clothes.
They soon reached the field. The entire area was covered by a small fence. They were many field tents placed around the entire open ground. They could even see logs embedded on one side forming a sort of practice gym with people smacking them. Looking over, they could see many knights and guards practicing with their swords or running with logs on their backs. The entire scene looked like a medieval military camp which it probably was.
Looking around for a familiar face, he soon spotted Knight Rylee. Waving at his friends to follow, he started heading towards him. Noah then saw him carry a massive log that could not have weighed less than a few tons on his back.
He looked like an ant carrying that tree while walking and that made the feat look all the more impressive. He was not even sweating heavily. This just reinforced the notion of how strong these knights could be and why he shouldn't annoy them but clearly the world doesn't work that way.
Following him closely but at the same time trying not to disturb him from his training, he was waiting for an opportunity to start the conversation. Maybe knight Rylee saw his pitiful look. As he put a stop to his training and slowly put the log on the ground which raised a small cloud of dust around it.
"Good morning Knight Rylee, I am Noah. You might not reme-" He didn't waste the opportunity and jumped right into only to be interrupted halfway.
"You are one of the kids in the group I led." He said indifferently.
"That is right but how do you know that?" Noah was curious as to why did he remember him. He didn't do anything that might attract attention and if he did, he wanted to at least know so he could prevent it from happening again. He didn't want to attract the knight's attention.
"Every knight has to remember each and every face in their group. That way, they can tell who's not worth any guidance." Knight Rylee answered with an annoyed expression.
Noah was stumped hearing the answer. That was blunt. He clearly didn't want to talk and Noah himself wasn't the best speaker. Thankfully, he was friends with one who had enough thick skin.
"Can you help us, please? We really don't know anything about well, everything. We just got teleported here without even our consent. At least tell us why we are gathered here?" Ava had put on such an innocent-looking face that had Noah and Shaun not remembered her previous behavior, they would have questioned if someone else had replaced her.
Knight Rylee scoffed, apparently having seen through her act. Though he wanted to have nothing to do with the three kids, Rylee knew how troublesome it would be if he said nothing and they just kept clinging onto him.
"I'll give just one piece of advice, follow through the entire training. It will definitely save your lives later on." Knight Rylee concluded and then bore his gaze at the trio.
The trio was just there waiting for him to continue without realizing the talk was over, if that could even be called a talk. Seeing this, Knight Rylee reminded them of the fact.
"Now get out of my sight."
The trio looked at each other and then in unison scurried away from there.
Looking back, Noah could see they were a sufficient distance away from him and then said.
"That didn't go too well."
"You consider that not going well. That guy just said a single sentence and then told us to fuck off." Shaun was filled with indignation over Knight Rylee's attitude towards them.
"He was being a real jerk. We just asked for some information." Ava huffed while kicking a pebble on their way.
"Well, now that avenue is closed, what do we do now? Should we try another one of the knights?"
"No way, you want to experience that again. It's better if we wait for the commander to come and address us once and be done with it." Ava said motioning towards the growing crowd in the center of the field.
Agreeing with her, both the boys joined her in the crowd. Looking over, they could see the knights standing there in a line similar to yesterday. The people got in line like before. They too joined the one in front of Knight Rylee.
He was standing there with his arms crossed in front of him.
Seeing him act aloof standing in front of the group irked Noah for some reason. He didn't like how he treated him and his friends. He started planning to get back at him just a bit. Maybe he should have thought more of what he was going to do now.
Before Ava and Shaun could even think of questioning him, Noah moved fast.
Heading towards Knight Rylee, he acted in a jovial and cheerful manner.
"Knight Rylee, nice to see you again. You were really helpful before. Especially your advice, that helped a lot. So, I want to again thank you for your aid. We are really grateful." Noah said sincerely to Knight Rylee while being intentionally loud so that everyone nearby could hear him.
Rylee's eyes twitched as he realized Noah's ploy. Before he could try to stop him and bring him to the side for some interrogation, Noah rushed back to his position. Rylee wasn't even able to get to him as some people seeing the interaction thought that Knight Rylee could provide information and help them rushed towards the knight. More people joined seeing the opportunity and he was soon drowned in the sea of people.
"Knight Rylee, Could you help us also?"
"Here, Knight Rylee, we need some advice too."
"Knight Rylee, you are so strong, can you train us?"
"Knight Rylee" "Mister Rylee"
'Oh, those poor people. Alas, someone needed to be sacrificed.' Noah thought snickering at Rylee's misery. He knew that the knights would probably not intentionally harm them.
There should be some sort of safeguard to prevent that but Noah forgot that even if it were completely true and Knight Rylee couldn't beat him up, there would be nothing stopping him from making his life difficult.
Heading back, Noah could see both Shaun and Ava facepalming at his actions. He didn't realize it but those two witnessing the entire event could see the anger in Knight Rylee's eyes. Someone was really in some deep trouble.
Noah sometimes acts so irrationally when he had beef with someone. They had been angrier than him but they never thought to get back at the knight for that. He could be extremely spiteful at times.
"You really had to do that, huh?" Ava hissed at Noah for his reckless behavior.
"That wasn't a really smart way to get back at him. He's going to be on your tail from now on." Shaun added looking towards the said knight dispersing the crowd with an irritated face.
"Let's see who will be more trouble. I was just returning the favor." Noah had a challenging smirk on his face.
Just then, a commotion started from one side. Looking over they could see Captain Sanders coming with his entourage of knights. He started climbing the logs embedded in the ground to reach a platform made from dozen or more of the same logs. Taking a deep breath, Knight Sanders addressed the crowd.
"All of you are gathered here for a purpose. The purpose being is to grow. We are here to facilitate the growth in your body." He continued with an even deeper tone.
"However, what we will put you through is not something most are capable of handling without a firm will. Therefore, I want to inform you all before starting this, this exercise is not mandatory. Those who want can opt-out of this at any time. You can join those knights there, they will take you to the City Hall where you can choose who you want to apprentice under for your Profession." He said pointing to a group of knights standing at the side.
Nobody knew what to do. Most felt it was some sort of test so they chose not to move. Noticing this, he clarified.
"You will not lose out on anything. In fact, you will get extra time to pursue your Professions. If you want, you can join whenever you feel ready. Those who will be training here will also be joining you in the afternoon." Knight Sanders continued.
"There's no shame in admitting weakness. Instead, It is the true strength. Knowing where your weakness lie so you can improve upon those. "
Finally, some people moved forward. They were mostly adults in their late 20s who looked like your typical office workers. You can't expect people who have been sitting on a desk for most of their life to suddenly pick up swords and undergo military training. Looking at them, people started trickling out as more and more people joined them. Eventually, the crowd thinned from a few thousand to less than five hundred.
The entire group moved towards the city hall leaving the trio and the rest of the remaining people looking at Knight Sanders to continue.
"You all will now undergo a series of tests to judge your performances. Each knight will test their group of Initiates. A suggestion from me, don't give up and complete the entire test. Those who do so will get a great head start compared to others." Knight Sanders finished his speech and without wasting any time motioned to the knights to take it from here.
"Follow me" Knight Rylee swiftly turned and moved with a brisk pace after saying that. The few dozen Initiates left followed behind him. His brisk pace turned out to be much faster than one would expect and people had started jogging just to keep up with him. They eventually had to start to run. After a kilometer or two, he stopped at a clear patch of land.
The people following behind were huffing and puffing at this point. The trio was no exception to this.
Apparently, Knight Rylee was generous enough to let them have a short break for a minute.
"Stand in a line" He ordered and people quickly followed.
"All of you will now make ten rounds around this ground. I don't care if you fly or crawl. Just reach back here before noon."
People groaned hearing his outrageous order. The ground was easily more than a few kilometers long in circumference from a single look.
"You chose this. I didn't. Or if you want, you can quit now. No one's stopping you from that. In fact, I would be happy that there would be one less burden." Knight Rylee clearly knew how to annoy the heck out of people. However, no one quit since they all had made their mind to go for the training.
"Since no one is quitting, what are you waiting for? MOVE!" He yelled jolting people to start moving.
The trio also got ready to move when the same voice rang out.
"Initiate Noah, was it. I thought you would like some more of the advice since the last one was so helpful to you." Knight Rylee's voice made a chill crawl up Noah's spine. He slowly turned to face the knight to see an overt evil smile on his face.
'I am fucked' Noah thought as he trudged slowly towards Knight Rylee. In the corner, he saw Shaun and Ava move on with apologetic looks on their faces.
'Traitors. They gave up on me at the moment when I needed them the most.' Noah sighed realizing there was nothing he could do to escape the torture awaiting him. So, he went courageously to meet the challenge head-on.
And by courageous, he meant with shaking legs.