1 The Gate of Tale

"So Which combat class?" A nostalgic face, patted on my back from behind. He would soon become one of my closest friend.

"Me? -" I was startled as I was not expecting anyone to speak to me, it's been three days since I was fortunately or unfortunately got into this Monster Slayer School, claimed, the best in the kingdom of Phoenix.

"Oh yes, Fighter class" I continued " and you?"

" Selected for Magic-Fighter class " Dan replied with enthusiasm on his face, grinning foolishly. Me on the other hand, processing the events that unfolded on the selection day, both sad and amazed of what had happened. Moreover, perplexed at the development of my story. Before, I proceed with my tale, let me clear your curiosity on how Monster Slayer system works. There are four distinguished class of Monster slayers, each of us belong to one of these classes, or say, categories. Fighter class, Magic class, Fighter-Magic class and Hunter class. Each of these class fulfils specific roles in field, one class can't independently hunt monster alone except for the Hunter class, a class for very rare talents, chosen candidates by heaven, bestowed with immense strength, magic, supernatural senses, it is said that hunter class are indeed the incarnate of 'Monster' in human form, lucky that they are on mankind side. The students of hunter class are exceptional, they can hunt alone, scout alone with no assistance from others, they are indeed the best class for hunting monster, however since only few Hunter class appear every year, they are reserved for emergency or high level threats. Fighter class, although abundant in numbers, are the most available slayers in the kingdom where even poor villages can afford to hire them.

Magic class on the hand cannot go out in the field without the help of fighter class, they specialise in traps, support, assisting and healing. Fighter-Magic can do both of fighting and support and they are next to demand in talents, they are less in number compared to fighter class. You could ask why can't a fighter class just learn magic? The thing is, Fighter class are for those who don't have any affinity with magic and Magic class are for those who are talented and gifted in magic and not very keen on mastering martial art and physical combat. Yes as mentioned above, I'm a fighter class, no talent for magic, I tried, I couldn't even conjure a simple low level spell. However, don't get all ' awwww ' for me, magic is not everything, there are ,in this world, fighter class slayers who are as strong as hunter class, although very low, most of them legends, but there is still hope for me. Okay now onto to the conversation with Dan.

" Must be nice, so you both attend Master Wull class and Master Senx ? How come I never saw you on Master Senx training? " I said, envious of his class. Master Wull is the Magic class instructor for first year and Master Senx for Fighter class.

"Keep it a secret, okay? I have been bunking" here we go again with his dumb looking grinning.

" Quite bold of you, you know Master Senx is counting students number "

" Ehhh- really? I hate sweats! His class is always basic stances and muscle training" He wailed in despair.

" How do you expect to survive on field with no physical training? " I said.

" I know, I know. Ahhhhhhhh- I should have just applied for Magic class " he growled with regret. I felt a bit insulted, my class, he is skipping because to him, it looks like extra physical work.

" anyway, I'm Lan Gwen Ethren, just call me Lan. " I reached out my right hand. At first, he looked surprised and grabbed my hand firmly and said " I'm Dan Vonter of Vonter Household " Who knew, such silly looking man would be the treasured heir of Vonter Family, One of the Four Pillars of Phoenix kingdom.

" your name- eastern province? " he asked curiously, maybe trying to figure out which area of the capital city I belong to.

" B-12, southern outskirt " I told him the truth.

He just nodded and made no remark, he was a man of courtesy and honour, as expected of a Vonter bloodline, they are known for upholding virtue. B-12 was the dumping area of Pheonix kingdom, a dry and deserted land, plagued by famine and garbage. The place was unforgiving to life, death and decay reeked the air. Persistently, scrappers survived around the dumps, scavenging whatever they can at the hope of making fortune one day and that ' one day ' optimistic dream passed onto their hungry generations, I would also say, that tradition also affected me deeply and that it helped me in where I'm today. I must apologise, The tale of my past would be kept for later. How I came here and what drove me here, for now I would summarise to " desire ".

Two weeks earlier, I arrived at the Kingdom of Phoenix, small towns and villages wrapped around the capital city, Inner Sanctuary, as it was in the center of the kingdom. Where the affluent people lives, merchants, nobles, legends and it was not a place for a scrap like me. However, I must venture into this alien city, where lives swarmed around in every street and houses are as close as the distance between my eyes. In a week, The selection of Monster Slayers would be held for Dragon Horn academy. And It was my goal to get into it somehow, if not I would have no means of survival, I don't know the ways of capital city, I have no skills that I can earn money. Dragon Horn academy provided shelter and food for free, not entirely, and it was also my dream to become a slayer. Enrolling in the academy would dismiss my problems, survival and purpose.

Oh yes I didn't come alone, I came with a friend or should I say a family, we grew up together, played together, survived together and dreamt together. Nyaka, same age as me, lovely, kind and talented, much of the children of B-12 naturally didn't possess the quality of kindness, Nyaka was an exception, at such young age of 16, she was motherly and people likes her wherever she goes. B-12 was a place of survival, starvation was the reality, you have no idea what people would do to quench their hunger, the environment didn't allow us to become kind, sweet and lovely. Yet, Nyaka, even when starved, she would smile and serve others. Maybe, she was born with the soul of an angel.

I, not so kind, hated that place with all my might. I was envious of others, why I was born here and not there? why others have such a good life at birth and we( I ) not? why at this dumpster? at this filth? Nyaka would remind me, ' don't blame yourself, whether you chose or not, it happened but tomorrow, you never know what could happen, anything can happen' Oh yes, she was also infected by the "one day" optimism illness and she was right somehow, we ended up here whether we dreamt or not.

Nyaka and I, stood at the gate of Inner Sanctuary, swallowing the sight of the mighty walls circling around the capital, the colossal gate, the glorious noise of Inner Sanctuary and smell of lives.

" Good Unnord! Such High walls! " I exclaimed in antonishment. 'Unnord' was the name of the god our ancestors worshiped in B-12. It was believed that Unnord was a god who rose out of the cracks of B-12 drought earth to the cries and suffering of B-12 residents. Unnord blessed us by providing us quality loots in dumpster, as I was told.

" We finally came, huh?" Nyaka replied, just like me she was also lost in the glorious walls. "Lets find a place to sleep"

We came in tatters, some possessions we got from the dumpster, peice of cloak, dagger, bags and few silvers we got along the way through a travelling trade by exchanging some valuable posessions we had. However, the silvers were not enough to let us spend a week even in the cheapest of inns. So we scouted, like always to find an abandoned something, a structure with a roof was enough. The streets were full of smells, noise, chattering, smoke from shops, kids running around, horse cart carrying goods and knights and sometimes students from Slayers academy would also be spotted here and there. " I could never get used to this " I commented as we trasversed in eastern province of the city.

By Nightfall, We found an abandoned Stable, decayed and deserted but it was enough for us, plenty. So we rolled in our torn cloaks and slept the night peacefully, abit cold but bearable. No one disturbed us, pitiful enough but people would now and then glanced at Nyaka, although from dumpster, we came. Nyaka was still a young girl and as lovely as her soul is, she was an attraction even in appearance. Since we didn't want any unnecessary commotion, I insisted her to conceal her face partially and she did so without complaining. With the little silvers we have, we somehow managed to last a week, it covered our expense to keep our stomach full.

The day of the selection came and we headed to Dragon Horn Academy, much of our appearance was disastrous and we were stopped at the gates by the guard. When we said we came to enter the exam, the guard looked at us pitifully and let us in. He was ready to throw us out but it looked like he was also curious how we would fare against the selection. There were atleast few hundreds entries. much around our age and younger. Nyaka and I stuck close and maintained a low profile. The first test was physical capabilities, they made us complete a track of obstacles, climb walls, jump, crawl, and endurance test. It was to complete the track in least amount of time. Surprisingly, I was good at this and I believed I completed much faster than the average. Nyaka was also good though she don't look like it. Then, for second test they proceeded us to swordmanship, we were made to spar with instructors, it was to land a blow against the instructor or to block as much as we can during a time span of 3 minutes. Among all the candidates, some stood out the most, one boy around our age with white hair, another girl taller than me, serious face and looked like she belonged to one of the noble households. And there was Dan Vonter, his appearance from cloth to everything stood out. And I don't know whether we stood out or not but we were soon to find out.

Nyaka approached the instructor for sparring test. In B-12, There was no one to teach us the way of swords but we learnt to fight, to strike and defend with anything. Just like her demeanour, Nyaka adopted a peaceful way of stance and graceful movements in her strikes and footwork. To me, it almost seemed like she learnt swordmanship secretly from someone. She couldn't land a blow against the instructor but she defended beautifully for 3 minutes and was passed. Next, it was the white hair boy turns, He emitted an air of talent, confidence and power. Immediately, He rushed and continued a barrage of attacks, The instructor was smiling and beautifully he deflected all of it. However, The boy wasn't satisfied and switched his stance, strange footwork and he charged at the instructor, at his 7th strike, he landed a blow against the instructor with the wooden sword.

" Well done, Young Master Jeral" The instructor commended him and passed him for the next test.

Mummerings and whispers rose among the crowd as the name 'Jeral' flies off from the instructor's mouth. I figured it was not some name but rather a famous or infamous name. Soon, He was going to shock everyone. He must be from a famous household, maybe from one of the pillars, that's what I thought at that time.

It was my turn, I proceeded calmly, though the weight of anxiety never lifted from my mind, it was rather pale in comparison to my burden back then in B-12. This fear was just of whether I would do good in the selection or not. I held the wooden sword firmly in my hand and waited for the instructor to give signal. I took a deep breath and focused all my sight on the instructor, he looked uncomfortable by my focus but it was not uncommon in B-12. " Ready " He announced. I charged at him aggressively, employed everything at my disposal to land a blow but he evaded with ease and an expression of curiosity emerged on his face. Then, I retraced my steps, lowered my stance and lunged at him striking from below, he was a master I could tell. The instructor deflected and adapted quickly to my unnatural style of fighting and at last I threw the sword at him and in a desperate attempt to land a punch on his face, I jumped at him, he quickly deflected the thrown sword and grabbed my hand and pummelled me on the ground. " Who taught you to fight like that?" is what he said with fire brimming in his eyes. " It was necessary " I said. I did my best and still couldn't land a blow. Felt disappointed but He said " You pass ". Strangely, I was dissatisfied but I moved on for the last test. I could see wonder in their eyes, they were strangely attracted by my fighting, it was not beautiful but it was new to them. When I approached Nyaka, who was standing beside the white hair boy, he was staring at me with curiosity.

" You did well " said Nyaka and smiled.

"I still couldn't land a blow" I replied bitterly.

" but you know, the instructor seemed like he was having a hard time " she said.

" you think so?" I was still not convinced that I did good but the truth was that even though I couldn't land a blow, I was not giving a chance to take it easy, he was in fact adapting to my style.

The third test was the evaluation of magic affinity. Magic affinity of Monster Slayers is divided into four ranks. Qen, Ren, Yen and Zen. Zen being the highest rank also known as the celestial rank. This is where our fate was going to be decided, anyone who failed the first two test can stil be selected if they have magic affinity of atleast Ren, however anyone who don't even have Qen magic affinity was unlikely to be selected. Qen was the least minimum requirement even for a fighter class because without Qen affinity, one cannot use an enhanced magic weapon, specially made for monster slayers. Very effective and useful. So you must be wondering, how did I even get selected?

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