The next few days we didn't talk much. It seems that what we talked about earlier made him remember why he went to town in the first place... I am anxious to know more about the capital and the military academy, but I do not want to risk saying or doing something that may change Joaquín's opinion. If he doesn't want to talk it's better not to bother him, after all, I hardly know him.
At sunset, on the fifth day of travel we can already see the capital in the distance, but I cannot really distinguish the shapes of the buildings, since there is a great wall blocking the view.
Finally, we reached the capital, at noon on the sixth day. I see that Joaquín cheers up again as we get closer.
"The capital is divided by two walls, most of the people live inside the outer wall. However, we go to the inner wall, which is where the labyrinth, the academies and the shops related to the labyrinth are, as well as the militia command centers"
When we arrive, Joaquín talks to the guards on the wall and we go inside. We are welcomed by the sight of thousands of houses and people circulating in the streets. I am surprised to see only humans among the people, but I suppose that equitable racial diversity is only normal in 'Crossroad's town'. The buildings and houses are built of brick or stone, most are several stories high. The largest building I can see must be six or seven stories high. I can't keep my gaze still in one place. The street we are going on is larger than the rest and goes straight to the center of the city, while smaller streets come out of it at regular intervals. However, regardless of size, all streets are cobbled. On our way I see shops offering all kinds of things like clothing, fruits, meat, restaurants. Along the way, I don't talk to Joaquín, since I am trying not to miss anything. Everything seems orderly despite the size of the city. I remember the zigzagging and disorderly streets of my town, the different house styles, original from each kingdom, and I think that the difference between the two cities is like the difference between day and night.
It takes us several hours to reach the inner wall, by the time we arrive it is already late afternoon. I see that inside the houses and buildings are much larger as I cross the wall. However, none in sight has more than two or three stories.
Inside the inner wall we dismount, Joaquín gives the horse to the guard and we go to a nearby immense three-story building. Upon entering I see that the building is hollow, inside there is what appears to be a training ground, judging by the people doing different exercises, with and without weapons.
"Since we passed the outer wall you haven't said a word, are you okay?" Joaquín asks me, stopping for a moment and looking at me with a worried face.
"Yes yes ... It's just that there was a lot to see and I didn't want to miss anything... Likewise, you have not been very talkative since yesterday..." I say raising an eyebrow.
"Yes, it could be... I had to think about everything that I have to report to my superiors." he says with a smile "but don't worry about missing anything, you'll have plenty of time to see the capital in detail, after all, you're going to live in my house. I just have to give my report at the barracks and we can go to my house to rest, can you wait here for a moment please?"
"Okay" I say half distracted, watching the soldiers train.
I can see soldiers practicing with bow, spears, maces and swords, there are also people running, doing push-ups and other exercises. Everything seems to follow a certain order; each exercise is divided into groups and each group is kept in certain areas.
Joaquín returns accompanied by two people. One of them looks more or less Joaquín's age, but he is thinner, his blond hair and green eyes frame a face with fine and delicate features. The second is clearly older, his face already has wrinkles and his black hair has several spots of white. One look at his cold black eyes and the respect in Joaquín's voice are enough to notice that he is the highest ranking of the three.
"Xelean, these are Lieutenant Vector and General Julius. They want to test your physical abilities to see if you have what it takes to be a soldier, because it is rare for people so young from outside the capital to join the military." says Joaquín, he doesn't seem very happy with the situation.
"Okay, I thought you had already tested me on the way ... "
"Yes, it's just that they want to see it with their own eyes" says Joaquín with a stiff face.
"Ok, what do you want me to do? There isn't much time until dusk, I guess we won't have time if we have to repeat all the tests I did along the way, so they must have something else in mind, right?"
"I see what you were saying earlier" says Julius looking at Joaquín and laughing.
"A combat test will suffice, no matter the result. We just want to see if everything Joaquín said is true, although it is quite incredible... Wait here, I'll find an opponent for you " says Vector with annoyance.
Vector goes to the place where they are training with swords, and returns with a blond boy with green eyes similar to him. He seems to be a few years older than me. The boy has a wooden sword in his hand. Vector gives me one and says with a mocking smile "Let's see how good your reactions are in a fight, Joaquín said that you are someone intelligent, but not all types of intelligence are useful when it comes to fighting"
"Hi, I'm Victor and I'm in charge of the training of the newbies" says the boy in front of me " attack me in the best way you see fit when you feel ready "
Victor stares at me with a blank expression, he clearly thinks he can beat me without much effort.
I jump forward and try to hit him from above with my sword, but Victor dodges to the side and hits me in the side.
"Good speed, but the attack it's too obvious" he says in a bored tone "it seems like you've never wielded a sword before"
"Yes, but it doesn't matter, does it? Isn't it your job to instruct me?" I say annoyed by the blow.
"Only if you are worth it... you look like just an ignorant peasant, and you move as one, from what I see" he says, as he attacks me with a slash from above. I try to block it, but halfway through it, he changes the direction of the sword and hits me in the side again.
"Joaquín was the one who said I should join the militia… I suppose he must have had some reason, right?" I say more and more irritated and try to attack him once more, imitating what he just did, but he dodges me again and laughs, hitting me on the legs and knocking me to the ground.
"It's true... What did your parents offer Joaquín to bring you here? I suppose your mother must be very beautiful and your father a failure, if he allowed your mother to do anything to fulfill her son's dream" he says looking at me from above with the tip of the sword pointing at my face.
"Don't talk about my parents !!!" I say irritated and slapping his sword away I stand up.
"Why? Did they kick you out of the house? Is that why Joaquin brought you? It has to be that or what I said before..." he says touching his chin with one hand and looking at me with a mocking smile "yes... I guess that's the only way to understand this.... you don't seem to have any aptitude for the army. Surely in your town you were the smartest, strongest and fastest one. That's why you wanted to be a soldier and be the hero of your village. Am I right? Well, I'm sorry to ruin your dreams, but here I only see a peasant who does not understand his place... "
"SHUT UP!!!" I can't stand him talking about my parents, with every word he says I feel more and more hatred and anger building towards him… if only I could hit him.
I rush forward, simulating an attack from above. Until now he always dodges to the side, I just have to see where he moves and hit there... I try to move as best I can, but he still blocks my attack.
"Interesting... But it's not enough, a dog is always going to be a dog, no matter how hard it tries to be another thing" says Victor with a smile that seems forced through our crossed swords.
Dammit!!! I need just a little more, with a little more strength, I could break his block and silence him. The moment I think that my sword bursts into flames and cuts Victor's, hitting him in the chest and sending him flying away from me. I feel that my strength fails and I fall to my knees. I see in the simplified status that I have very little mana left and it keeps going down, but I don't know how to avoid it. My weakness must be from spending so much mana at once. I look at the flaming sword and fearing that it could burn myself I let it go. However, when it leaves my hand, the flames turn off instantly and my mana stops decreasing.