*Sorry for the long wait! -Hyun Jae*
Chapter 12 : The real deal
Hyusune was a little annoyed that she had to pretend to be someone she wasn’t. It was tiring. When Jellal had fallen asleep, she went back to her tent and zipped up the door. Seeing Jellal in a sorry state made her feel bad that she couldn’t ensure her teammate’s happiness.
The next day, things resumed to normal. Jellal had forgotten everything he had said or done the night before, which was the work of the magic spell he had been cursed with since his sister died. The man with the orange-golden hair……All Hyusune could do was to track that man down. But knowing that the academy would never let them go on a mission like that, it would be impossible for all she knew.
Rima woke up the earliest this time and she woke the others up for breakfast.
Today, everyone couldn’t eat their own homemade food, they had to eat a meal specially prepared by the teachers. Each branch had a different meal.
For Hyusune’s branch, they were given salad and pasta. It was a small serving, but they felt energized after eating it. Somehow, the food contained magic ingredients and herbs which the teachers had personally picked themselves from different parts of the world.
After that, each branch was brought to a different location in the campus. For Hyusune’s team, they were brought to the river where there were lots of rocks and the current was strong. They had been asked to come to the river with materials that would be used to make their battle swimsuits. This was just in case their battles were in water in the future, they would not be at a disadvantage with their water-borne suits.
After ten minutes, still no tutor had arrived.
“Hey, do you think we should make our suits first?” Leandra asked.
“Yeah. There’s definitely a reason why the tutors are late. Maybe it’s because they want us to make our new suits by ourselves first.”
“True, let’s start gathering some materials that grow in the river too.”
“You mean marine life? Fish scales?”
“Yup. We can probably catch some fish and take off their scales. We could also use some seaweed. And if anyone knows how to sculpt rocks, we could use them as guards for our knees, elbows and shoulders.”
“Alright then. Let’s start!”
Jellal and Makoto went to fetch the rocks, while Cintare and Hyusune retrieved some seaweed and Leandra and Rima went to catch fish. Reina was sitting on the river bank, casting some magic strings and creating a sewing machine using thought magic.
“Wow, Reina, that’s amazing!” Hyusune and Cintare said as the came back with a half a dozen kilograms of seaweed. There was a lot of seaweed growing in the river, so they took as much as they wanted.
Jellal and Makoto carved the rocks to form guards, while Reina weaved the seaweed with the cloth to make different suits for them. Hyusune and Cintare mixed magic properties into the cloth that altered their abilities when in water. Leandra and Rima, using a mix of nullification magic and other magic spices, made dyes for the suits that would null the user from any kind of magical blow.
Two tutors, one male and one female, arrived an hour after the time they were supposed to meet. By the time they had arrived, Hyusune’s team had already finished their suits and they were wearing it.
“Excellent. You have your suits ready.” The male instructor, Zaccheus, commented.
“You have passed the first part of today’s test showing us that you have taken imitative.” Isabel, the female instructor, stepped forward and examined their suits.
“So…you’ve used heat resistant fibers and seaweed, hmm…and what’s this? Fish scales…not ordinary fish scales, but Arrowana fish scales? Now that’s impressive. Good choice of materials, and a good seamstress who made it.”
Zaccheus took a look at the guards.
“Granite shavings and metal. Strong enough, but isn’t this a but heavy for you puny things?” Zaccheus added with a hint of sarcasm. He was 7 feet tall and towering over them, and they didn’t wish to argue back either.
“Alright! In any case we shall begin your team’s training.” Isabel clapped her hands together, and signaled them to follow her to go to the seashore.
When they arrived, they saw a bunch of odds and ends lying on the sand. There were tires, 4 barrels, thick rope, and 4 huge pipes.
“Your first challenge is to make a boat out of the given materials, without using your magic. You have one hour to fulfill the given task.”
“What?!” Reina exclaimed in shock.
“Your time starts now!” Zaccheus yelled back.
“Ow, crap. We gotta think of a plan as fast as possible.” Makoto said as he grabbed a barrel.
“Guys…I think I’ve done this somewhere before.” Leandra said, as she picked up the thick rope slowly. “I think we’re supposed to use the rope to tie the barrels to the pipes…one on each corner…so that the boat can stay afloat. The pipes are to be made in a square formation.”
“Alright, with that, let’s begin!” Cintare grabbed a barrel too.
Hyusune began to cut the rope into 4 long pieces with the help of Celestine, Makoto and Jellal. They pulled the rope apart as though playing a game of tug-of-war.
Isabel and Zaccheus watched from the side, looking slightly impressed.
“You have 30 minutes remaining!” Zaccheus ranted and they quickened their pace.
Rima and Leandra carried the pipes one by one and put them on top of the barrels while Cintare supported the barrels with some pieces of wood that had been washed ashore.
Hyusune and Celestine pulled the ropes over the barrels and around them, while Makoto and Jellal tightened the rope with double “8” figure shaped knots on each barrel as instructed by Leandra.
Once they were done, the boat was complete and they had 10 minutes remaining to check and adjust the materials such that the boat would be compatible for sailing in the sea and riding the waves.
Leandra and Rima added knots where the pipes intersected to allow the boat to stay in one piece such that it wouldn’t collapse while they were in the sea.
Isabel and Zaccheus sauntered over to inspect the boat.
“Hmm…no magic used here, nor here, nor the ropes. Good work in obeying the rules.” Isabel commended them.
“The ropes are fastened rightly, barrels in the right place, pipes are intersecting in the right places in a square formation. Excellent job.” Zaccheus nodded.
“Now let’s put this to the test. Place your boat into the sea and let’s see what happens.”
They pushed the boat into the water slowly and let it glide across the surface. It worked! The boat could float! They rejoiced. “Thanks so much Leandra! Your plan worked!” Cintare smiled.
“Don’t rejoice so early. You have yet to sit on the boat.” Isabel reminded her.
They made 4 rowers made out of magic. Hyusune, Rima and Jellal sat on one side, while Makoto, Cintare and Reina sat on the other. The weight was slightly unbalanced, so Leandra sat in the middle on the pipe at the back.
The boat, unfortunately, capsized.
They walked back to shore, pulling their boat along.
“I think we lack a pipe in the mid vein.” Celestine suggested making a pipe out of magic, but the task stated that no magic was allowed, so they were handicapped.
“Well, we did say magic wasn’t allowed, but you can use magic just to make one item which you lack. Also, you have some rope remaining. Think of what you can do with it.” Zaccheus threw the remaining rope to Makoto, who catched the rope swiftly and suggested, “let’s make a pipe out of magic and then use the remaining rope to tie the ends of the pipe to the middle of the boat.”
“Let’s try that.”
Reina, who was an expert at creational magic, created a pipe of similar size to the other pipes, while Rima nullified it from damage. Hyusune added light orbs at each end of the pipe, so that they could see underwater if the boat capsized.
Once they were done, they tested the boat again and it managed to float and ride the waves.
“Your second task has been successfully completed. Now for the third task. Go to the island approximately 5 kilometers south of this island where your training grounds will be. The other teams are most probably on the way as well. Good luck with your journey.”
They set off and rowed the boat to the next destination. However, the waves were rough and it was hard to paddle.
“The boat…won’t…move!” Jellal, Makoto, Hyusune and Cintare paddled as hard as they could while Rima, Reina and Leandra held on tightly to the boat. A turbulent storm was brewing 2 kilometers away from the island and the waves became even rougher.
“We can’t use magic because we have to conserve it for our training! Don’t give up!” Hyusune yelled and they paddled with all her might. They turned the boat in the direction of the waves and let the waves carry the boat.
Finally after much effort, they reached shore and saw another boat that had already been tied to the jetty. Most probably it was one of the other team’s boat, meaning that they weren’t the first team to arrive.
“Maybe it’s Fran’s or Keira’s team.” Cintare supposed.
“There’s still one more team which may have the probability of arriving here before us. Shiroyan’s team.” Leandra began, “Don’t forget that they’re also equally as strong as Keira’s team. You guys saw that for yourselves during the death match.”
“That’s true.” Celestine said as she finished tying the boat to the jetty with Leandra’s help.
“Anyway, I think we should find the way to the training grounds ASAP.” Hyusune signaled them to leave the jetty premises and they made their way through the dense forest and into the training grounds. The forest was inhabited with mosquitoes, beetles and even bears. Luckily for them, they found a safer route and climbed the trees and jumped from one tree to another without alerting the animals of the forest. When they had reached the entrance of the training grounds, Fran’s team greeted them warmly.
“Yo, you guys!” Fran turned around when she heard their footsteps.
“Fran!” Hyusune’s team greeted them back.
“We didn’t expect you guys to reach before us. You guys are good.” Rima smiled.
“Nah…we probably got here around five minutes before you guys. We were stuck in the storm too.” Jäger said humbly.
“As expected of Fran…you’re always punctual.” Hyusune clapped softly and Fran laughed.
Just then, the gates opened and their trainer walked out. He was a man with a sleek body, golden hair and dressed in a sweatshirt and long track pants.
“Congratulations on being the first two teams that arrived. I am Ryuuto, your trainer for today. Your teams will form an alliance which will fight against the other two teams, Keira and Shiroyan’s team. For now, we will begin your training. Please follow me.”
Sir Ryuuto guided them into a room which were lit by flame torches in every corner. The room was laden with mats and they were requested to remove their footwear and the armour which they had made.
They were then given tank tops and knee-length sports shorts to change into. Cintare wondered why they had to change out of their armor and into plain clothes. Somehow it made no sense.
“Line up!” Sir Ryuuto ordered, and they lined up in their teams hurriedly.
Sir Ryuuto walked in front of them and scanning them from head to toe.
“Alright. Today, you guys will be playing a game of basketball to train your agility, speed, stamina, elevation and core power in battle. Fran, your team will form an alliance with Hyusune’s team to versus the other two teams. You may be curious as to what happened to the other team, so I’ll tell you. They did not die. However, they have been sent back to their academy in shame and banned from this annual training camp in future. If you guys slack even a little, you will end up being like them.”
Upon hearing this, Cintare leapt for joy. “Basketball~!”
On the other hand, Rima, who wasn’t much of a sports fanatic, began to whine about the camp. “I came here to train and not to involve myself in sports…geez.”
Fran’s team was hyper enthusiastic about this game of basketball as Jäger and Kurosuke were pro basketball players, including Jellal and Makoto. The four of them were in the school team. On the other hand, Odellia had played basketball with Hyusune frequently in the past along with Leandra and Celestine, so they were pretty good with handling the ball. But as for Cintare and Rima, they had a small phobia of balls, which they had to overcome during the training session.
Leandra taught Rima and Cintare how to dribble the ball, shoot, and do a lay up, while the trainer honed the other’s skills. They were already familiar with basketball, but Ryuuto was going to make them into professionals.
“Alright, Hyusune and Fran’s team, please split yourselves into 3 groups : Mid-court, attackers and defenders. The fifteen of you will split into 3 groups of five. Do remember that strong players must be spread across all 3 teams. Based on our fitness tests so far, the strongest players among the guys, will be : Jellal, Makoto, Jäger, Kurosuke. For the girls, the strongest players will be : Leandra, Hyusune, Fran, Lucinda, Celestine. In each team of 5, there will be 3 strong players. You may choose your players. You have two minutes to decide your teammates. Your time starts now!”
As soon as Sir Ryuuto started the stopwatch, everyone began to discuss on how to split their teams.
“Let’s draw out a plan. The good defenders are Reina, Helena, Cintare, Jäger, Makoto and Rima. The good attackers are Cintare, Jellal, Kurosuke, Hyusune, Leandra, Fran, Lucinda, Evan and Fayne.”
“So we’ll put Rima and Makoto on defense, while Jellal, Fran and Hyusune will be on the attacking side for starters. Rima and the rest will play the second quarter. ”
Just then, the other teams strolled in. Stern looks were plastered on Keira and Shiroyan’s face. They were determined to win this game of basketball, but one thing for sure was that there was something the trainers had hidden from us.
Where was the actual basketball court?