Editors: Templar, Jack Vanatis, genericIntent
Author’s notes: There are quite a few changes in the book once it is released. There are no longer schools, but instead they are academies. Also, they are not numbered but instead have proper names. Such as the academy Regal attends, Bluemist Academy.
Chapter 17 – Excitement
The students become incredibly lively after the announcement of the upcoming interschool tournament. All of them share their opinions with each other as they walk, though their discussions fade away as they enter the school building and head toward their classrooms.
Regal, Hazel and Lawe stay behind while the teachers explain the rules of the tournament so that they are prepared.
“Why didn’t you choose Piora instead of me? She is stronger than I am,” Regal asks the teachers, confused at being chosen.
Mr. Razor is the one to reply, “Because you can use ‘Foresight’ to an excellent degree. She may be able to defeat you in a duel at the moment, but that is because she knows your skills and attacks. If you two were to duel without knowing each other at all, you would have the advantage. This tournament will be full of new people so you are the best choice.”
Regal only partially understands the teacher’s words, but he still nods in agreement.
“Now, you three young ones,” Miss Yatta coquettishly smiles at the chosen students, “I will explain the rules for the tournament.”
“The tournament works on a point-based system, but it also functions as a knockout tournament. You will be chosen to duel with another random student, and the winner will get to proceed to the next round, but this is where the point system comes in. Each duel will have three judges, who will each judge both the winner and loser, and give them a score out of one hundred based on how well they fought. The three judges’ scores are added up and that becomes your total score, up to a maximum of three hundred points.”
“What if there are an odd number of participants?” Hazel asks curiously.
Mr. Razor coughs lightly and explains, “One student will be chosen to automatically advance to the next round. That student won’t get any points but instead a credit, which will be added onto their score at the end of the tournament based on their average performance.”
“Hey! Don’t cut me off,” Miss Yatta scolds the teacher grumpily. “As I was saying, that’s how the tournament works. The winning students who move to the next round will get to fight again, getting another final score out of three hundred added onto their initial score. This repeats until the final two winners fight their duel. Do you understand how it works?”
“I think I do,” Hazel speaks with uncertainty, trying to calculate how the point system functions and how it affects the final results.
Lawe looks at the teachers indifferently, as if he doesn’t care at all. Regal fully comprehends how it works, but still has a few questions.
“Miss Yatta, how many students participate in the tournament?”
“A total of 255 students participate, three from every school.”
“There are 85 schools!?”
“Ah, youth, to be so young and innocent,” Ms Yatta stares off into the distance longingly as she reflects on her own youth. “That is correct. There are twenty schools on each of the first three floors, fifteen on the fourth, and only ten on the fifth.”
Regal, upon hearing this new information which he has never considered before, grows more excited and continues pestering Miss Yatta. “What about above the fifth floor? Wouldn’t there be more schools?”
“There are no schools above the fifth floor.”
“That’s enough questions, it is time to go to class. If you want to know anything else, ask Mr. River when you get the chance.”
Miss Yatta winks at Regal before taking her leave. Mr. Razor and Mr. Hanya also tell the students to go to class before walking toward their respective classes. Of course, Mr. River had left earlier, as he held no interest in taking the time to explain the tournament to the students.
Regal can only feel regret knowing that he isn’t likely to get any proper advice from his teacher, whose only interest is not being interested. He returns to his class with Hazel, who is paying no attention to Regal, and pointedly ignores him when he awkwardly asks for her opinion on the tournament. Regal is confused as to why this girl, who always seems so friendly, is ignoring him, but decides to pay it little attention.
Class begins with lessons on the vast variety of areas found on the world of Grandosa. The desolate wasteland outside of Theore is only a small part of the world. Beyond the wasteland lies endless deserts, forests, and towering mountain ranges, just to name a few.
South of Grand City Rodrick is an ocean that is rumored to have no end. Theore is the northernmost grand city, and the southernmost, Grand City Rodrick, is so far from Theore it would take years to travel there using the fastest transport possible: an airship.
The students try to imagine what the ocean looks like, but they can’t picture what water as far as the eye can see would look like. As they’ve never seen a flat horizon before, only the craggy mountain ranges around Grand Theore, their imagination runs wild picturing what a mountain range of water on the horizon would look like.
To dispel the students’ nonsensical whispers that are giving him a headache, Mr. River takes an old painting of the ocean out of his inventory, handing it to the students to study.
Regal crowds around the other students who are curiously trying to have a look at the painting. He is utterly shocked when he sees it. The ocean is an endless expanse of blue, touching the sky on the horizon where they meet. It gives Regal the same feeling of an unfathomable size that the sky does.
Mr. River falls into a light slumber while sitting upright on his chair. Not a single student notices this for two hours as they are too busy discussing the ocean and what it must be like.
The rest of the day passes extremely quickly for the students, who are excited by both the idea of the ocean and the news of the tournament. The students’ enthusiasm for the tournament continues throughout the week. The teachers arrange for extra practical lessons for the students to duel, dedicating a lot of time to Regal, Hazel, and Lawe, and giving them advice to help them improve.
Even during lunch break, the students form rings on the field and duel each other. The teachers would normally stop this, but considering the festive mood everyone is in, they decide to turn a blind eye.
Before Regal realizes it, the entire week is gone and it is time for him to return to his weekend job at Sunny Hill Restaurant. Sampson is surprised on the first day when Regal finishes peeling all the sacks of potatoes. On the second day, he moves Regal on to his next task and takes him to a small private kitchen at the rear of the shop and says the following:
“Your ‘Cooking – Beginner’ skill is too low to help prepare our restaurant’s meals, it will only worsen the taste that we are known for. Here is the book I was given when I was an apprentice. It has hundreds of easy recipes for imperishable food that many hunters are fond of. Your next task is to create ten of each recipe in the book, then package them so they are ready for sale. You don’t have to sell them yourself, I have a couple of stalls around the other market places for that. All the ingredients you will need can be found in either this kitchen, or the large shop fridge.”
Sampson places a large worn book on the kitchen bench, patting it tenderly while reminiscing about a time long passed. He also goes through the kitchen once more with Regal, testing his knowledge on all the tools and reminding him of any which he had forgotten the use of.
Finished setting Regal up, Sampson returns to the shop to welcome any customers arriving for breakfast.
Regal excitedly anticipates cooking his first proper meal and doesn’t hesitate to open the recipe book and inspect the first page. He is disappointed to see it is only cestus bread, a type of bread made with cestus seed, the seed-plant that grows like weeds everywhere, even in the wasteland.
The process for cestus bread is easy, all Regal has to do is grind up cestus seeds, mix them with flour, milk, and salt, which creates a malleable dough. Then knead it into shape and place it in the oven. The bread cooks in twenty minutes. More than one can cook in the oven at the same time, and the recipe in the cookbook makes three loaves. Regal makes ten batches of three loaves, only two of them failing during the cooking process.
Finally, Regal takes three loaves of cestus bread and places them in a single bag before tying off the end. He repeats this process until he has a full set of ten bags.
Each loaf of bread is not only filling, but it temporarily improves stamina regeneration and restores a small amount of health. The effects may be negligible, but all new hunters who can’t sustain constant battle rely on them greatly.
The next recipe is potato stew. Just when Regal thought he was done with potatoes, he was back to using them again. He also can’t use the ones he already peeled and has to prepare more.
He repeatedly makes the dishes in the book without a break all day, only munching on some leftovers when he becomes hungry. The food he makes doesn’t taste bad like it used to, but the flavors are still pretty bland.
By the end of the day, he manages to get ten percent through the cookbook. He would start to increase his speed as he repeatedly makes a single dish, but before he could start to experiment and show his talents, it would be time to start on the next recipe.
An enormous pile of packaged food is stacked up against the far wall and the room is full of different aromas with a salty aftertaste, with salt being the main ingredient used to preserve the food. When Sampson enters the room, he gives a hearty laugh of approval at the large amount of food Regal prepared.
He follows up by asking him what level his ‘Cooking – Beginner’ skill has reached, and upon hearing that it is level 20, is completely shocked. Regal got both the Tier 2 Divine Art ‘Butchering’, allowing him to harvest meat directly from fresh mutant beasts and monster corpses, and the passive Tier 3 Divine Art ‘Dex +3’.
Seeing the head chef at a loss of words, Regal’s pride causes a cheeky grin to slip over his face. Sampson, of course, doesn’t let him gloat for long and smacks him on the back of his head before sending him home. Regal opens his stats and looks them over as he leaves the restaurant, his confidence growing for the coming tournament.
Name: Regal Havier Age: 14 Level: 4 Nxt Level: 79% Health: 188/188 Mana: 163/163 Stamina: 84/84 Class: None Str: 23 Dex: 21 Agi: 15 End: 19 Int: 14 Lck: 10 Martial Skills: Combat Knife Proficiency – Lv. 19 (Twin Thrust) Revolver Proficiency – Lv. 21 (Curve, Target Lock) Alchemy Skills: Flame Forge Alchemy – Lv. 23 (Radiant Flame, Radiant Enchant) Ice Heart Alchemy – Lv. 22 (Ice Bullet, Frost Fog) Vigorous Earth Alchemy – Lv. 20 (Stone Skin, Heavy Step) Crafting Skills: Cartography – Lv. 57 (Mind Projection, Erase, Mental Mapping) Cooking - Beginner – Lv. 20 (Aroma Sense, Butchering) Forging - Beginner – Lv. 100(Smelting, Molding, Beginner Guncraft, Over-tier: Repair Aura) Misc Skills: Future Sight - Lv.100 (Foresight) Passive Buffs: ~ +5% Attack Speed
The biggest bonuses to his stats come from a combination of his high level crafting skills and the martial and alchemy skills which recently broke into the third tier and unlocked passive Tier 3 Divine Arts that raise his base stats. A few of his crafting skills not only increase his health, but increase his endurance which also adds small amounts of extra health to his total maximum.
A bit over a month passes as Regal’s cooking skill grows beyond level 20. The dishes in the cookbook continually get more and more difficult, and many use four or five different herbs on top of seven or eight ingredients. He has doubts that this cookbook is just basic recipes, but he doesn’t raise his concerns to the chef who has been teaching him and giving him helpful advice.
Even though the recipes become larger and more complicated, with Sampson’s advice and his own ingenuity, his speed and quantity is constantly increasing. He manages to finish all the recipes in the book, and his skill reaches level 82. The taste of the food is incomparable to before as well, much to his squad members’ delight during their most recent trip into Theore Substructure.
Just as Regal finishes making ten of every recipe, Sampson proudly states, ”That recipe book is a secret of mine, it contains every basic technique of cooking hidden within the recipes. You have now mastered it, and will be able to even make most intermediate and a few advanced recipes without having to learn any new techniques. Go home early today; you have the interschool tournament starting tomorrow, don’t you? Next weekend, I will have you help our chefs, maybe learn how to serve the customers too.”
Full of excitement, Regal rushes home at dusk and goes straight to bed. Excitement has taken control of his mind however, and he has trouble sleeping.
Regal arrives at school early the next morning, dark rings around his eyes showing he had next to no sleep at all the night before. He isn’t the only student who is sleep deprived, one in every five students have dark rings around their eyes just like Regal.
Even without getting enough sleep, they can drink an elixir to wash away any detrimental effects. The tournament organizers will hand one out to every student participating to ensure it is a fair duel where both students are at their peak.
“Is everyone here?” Mr. Razor gruffly calls out while counting all the students. He only asks just in case he counted incorrectly and missed someone. “Good, you’re all here, we will be leaving now. Stay together and follow the teachers. The tournament is held in the colosseum on the fifth floor.”
Regal finds Veronica, Kilde, Astore and Piora just as the mass of students begins to leave the school and heads toward the nearest city exit where the city lifts are.
“Are you okay? You don’t seem to have slept well,” Veronica asks Regal while examining his eyes.
Piora snorts before saying, “That’s because the brat was too excited, isn’t it?”
“Who are you calling a brat?” Regal frowns and asks her grumpily.
Rather than retorting, Piora just giggles and looks away. At this moment, the teachers start to leave the school, and the crowd of students around Regal begins moving as well. Being in the middle of the students, Regal is swept up by the unexpected momentum and is separated from Veronica and his other friends.
He quickly reaches his hand out, and seeing his intention, so does Veronica. Grabbing each other’s hand, Veronica pulls him through a couple of disgruntled students and back with them.
After receiving Veronica’s help, Regal continues to hold her hand. He is incredibly happy to be holding her hand, yet at the same time extremely nervous. His nervousness causes Regal’s hand to become rigid, unable to open so he couldn’t let go even if he had wanted to.
Regal secretly steals a glance at Veronica, searching for any reaction to holding his hand. Her expression is the same as always, nonchalantly looking forward, occasionally looking at the sights around her, but not paying attention to their hand-holding.
Seeing her indifference, most of Regal’s nervousness fades, his hand becoming less rigid and able to move again, but seeing no reaction also causes Regals happiness to diminish a bit as well. He awkwardly releases her hand and tries to pull away, but Veronica firmly grasps it. She notices him trying to remove his hand of course, and looks at him in confusion.
“You need to hold my hand so we don’t get separated.”
Regal looks over and notices that the others from their group have already disappeared, but doesn’t understand how.
“There isn’t that many people here… I don’t think we would get separated.”
“Piora said that we need to hold hands to not get separated. Is she wrong?”
Regal is suddenly filled with understanding, and silently thanks Piora. She most likely dragged Astore and Kilde away too.
Slowly, Regal closes his hand over Veronica’s and quietly says, “Umm, perhaps… it would be best then.”
The school group soon reaches one of the city gates, next to which the lifts are ascending and descending to and from the upper floors. Regal’s school is forced to wait until the lift finally descends to the first floor. At the lift on the other side of the city gate, another school is also waiting for a lift to descend.
Regal wonders if the other school could be Aqua’s, as the uniform looks familiar, but can’t seem to spot her no matter how hard he tries. Before he realizes it, the lift for his school has reached the ground and they start boarding it. Veronica pulls Regal’s hand and drags him along so he doesn’t get left behind.
Dozens of hunters are leaving the lift, prepared to leave the city and enter the wastelands, as Regal steps onto it. He is curious when he sees them and their equipment. They wear items such as leather or partial metal armor, to allow them to move around more easily and avoid the attacks of mutant beasts. Not a single hunter is dressed in full metal armor, but some mutant beast hides can be as strong as steel so it is virtually the same.
They sling large rifles over their shoulders, or holster revolvers and hand cannons while large combat knives or full curved swords are prepared in case they run out of ammo, or don’t have time to reload. Nearly all of them also have goggles equipped over their headgear, propped up on their hats and ready to use to protect their eyes from dust and the glaring sun, should it be behind the enemy.
Regal’s attention is torn away from the hunters when the lift starts rising. Steam whistles from beneath the platform as it shakily rises. Regal and Veronica are standing close to the edge so they have a view of the city as their elevator rises.
The buildings that once looked so tall are suddenly short. Regal gazes over the rooftops, picking up the occasional pillar of smoke from a smithy. As the buildings get smaller, he can eventually see all the way to the other side of the city, which almost seems like the horizon of the outside world. The distance is so great that he can barely make out any details.
He doesn’t get much of a chance to stare at Grand City Theore’s first floor before the lift ascends into the ceiling separating the first floor from the second. They emerge at the second floor, which is very similar to the first. The only thing that differs is the city layout.
The third and fourth floors are much different from the first two. The buildings are much more spaced out, and there are even vast plots of land. Off to two sides of the floor, there are forests of trees that are grown only to be harvested for wood.
The fifth floor is a little more industrial than the third and fourth, but it is still much more spacious than the first and second. The smallest of houses are at least twice the size as Regal’s with two or three floors, and they are all built on decent plots of land too.
Regal follows amongst his schoolmates as they leave the shaft and enter the fifth floor. He is breath-taken by the sights and constantly stares around with wide eyes. The most impressive sight is their destination.
The fifth floor colosseum is as tall as seven or eight houses stacked atop one another. Stone arches adorn the upper edge of the structure while granite blocks and polished brass accentuate the building with an awe-inspiring feeling of grandeur.
The teachers aren’t surprised at the colosseum, as they have been here many times before. Every weekend there are tournaments between hunters with various prizes for the winning individuals. Nearly every hunter living in Theore has paid the entry fee to witness at least one tournament.
With the teachers leading the way, Regal’s school enters the tournament grounds along with several other schools at the same time. The teachers group together and share a friendly chat, but the students don’t talk to those of other schools.
Regal is looking around lost when Miss Yatta silently appears behind him and with a, “Got you,” picks him up and carries him off under her arm. She also mysteriously grabs Hazel from nearby before leaving the group of students.
Regal gives Veronica a helpless look as he is carried away, but she gives him a gentle smile and waves goodbye. She understands that he has to go participate in the tournament, and is confident that he will impress all the judges.
Veronica doesn’t fully understand it, but when she’s seeing him off, she has a strange sense of emptiness. She looks at herself curiously, trying to figure out what is wrong with her body. She has never felt such a thing before, and doesn’t understand it at all.