Episode 121 – Farce of an Exam
At first, the bald bandit looked as if he didn’t see anything, continuing to watch the surroundings, the sinister looking man let out a low chuckle and continued smirking, and the third bandit with the golden earring was too busy laughing his head off to do anything else.
But as the fourth bandit’s face started changing colors, they finally realized that this wasn’t a laughing matter. While the other two were staring with their eyes wide, the third bandit, who was the nearest to the fourth bandit, jumped up to help his suffocating comrade. He grabbed the fluffy tail and tried pulling Mr. Whiskers off, but he only managed to pull the fourth bandit to his feet.
The rough tugging of the two bandits surely wasn’t a pleasant sensation for the shéfur, for the creature kept cramping up, squeezing even tighter.
The bald bandit stood rooted to the spot, staring dumbly not knowing what to do, his previous imposing manner nowhere to be seen. The long-limbed sinister man was quicker in his thinking, and he grabbed one of the branches fueling the fire.
“Move!” He hissed and started waving the burning branch towards the purple-faced bandit.
Feeling the burning sensation, Mr. Whiskers twitched away from the flames, making the fourth bandit stumble back uncontrollably, right in the direction of one of the traps.
“Aya! Careful!” The third bandit squealed, quickly grabbing towards the suffocating bandit to stop his stumble.
The fourth man stumbled straight towards the taut string of the trap.
In a moment of desperation, the third bandit accelerated towards his purple-faced comrade, and luckily managed to grab the closest appendage he could reach (Mr. Whisker’s tail), stopping the fourth man’s fall.
Taking long strides with his long limbs, the sinister man swiftly approached, the torch burning brightly in his hand.
Sensing the increasing heat coming his way, Mr. Whiskers started twitching his tail frantically, resembling movements of a flag flapping in the fierce winds, trying to make his assailant let go of him.
The fur of shéfurs was naturally slick and shiny, so it only took a second for Mr. Whiskers’ tail to slide right out of the man’s hand.
Losing his support, the fourth bandit’s suspended fall resumed, and he fell straight on top of the taut string.
The wide, horrified eyes of the bandits stared unblinkingly at the falling form of their comrade. A gruff, panicked scream of “Noooo!” tore through the silent clearing startling the nearby birds.
Several seconds of terrified silence passed in which only the sounds of ragged breathing could be heard.
Only when the fourth bandit’s eyes rolled back into his skull, his face as purple as an eggplant, did the remaining three come back to their senses.
The trap didn’t activate!
When their comrade fell, luckily the string ended up right under his knees, so he didn’t snap it.
Backs covered in cold sweat, faces scrunched up and pale, their frozen bodies snapped into action.
The sinister man stepped over the string, swiftly waving the burning branch towards Mr. Whiskers, who, finally, loosened his grip around the fourth bandit’s neck and slid away.
Fortunately, a sharp intake of breath soon followed from the unconscious bandit and a collective breath of relief spread through the clearing, followed by an eruption of relieved swearing.
Elaru who had been watching the spectacle from a few meters away with a devilish smirk on her face, waiting for the right moment to secure the hostage, chose this exact moment to nonchalantly drop her dagger to the ground with a mock “whoops” expression.
The unlucky fellows didn’t even have the chance to relax their taut nerves before a loud snapping sound entered their ears, followed by a giant log which came swinging from the right.
The sinister man didn’t even have enough time to swear before the log hit him straight in the chest and sent him flying like a kite with its string cut, the burning branch in his hand flying in the opposite direction, towards the shrubbery.
With eyes bulging out and mouth wide open in a half gasp, half grimace of pain, the bandit lost his consciousness even before his body hit the surface of the river.
“Shiiiiiet!” The third bandit screeched shrilly before realizing that the log missed him by a hair’s breath. But just as he was about to let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding, he realized that their hostage was on the run while their leader got knocked into the river.
“What are ye waitin’ for?!” He scolded the frozen burly baldy. “I’ll save boss, ye go catch the critter!”
Not waiting for the baldy to respond, he jumped into the river.
As the baldy turned to run towards the escaping shéfur, Elaru took the opportunity while no one was looking to nonchalantly poke the previously suffocating bandit, who had yet to recover, in the neck with her acupuncture needle.
Then she darted towards the burning torch, using a Fire Evanescence to extinguish the flames before they could spread further. (Energy Transmutation spells, such as Fire and Light were complete spells that were made out of two spell fragments: Conjuration and Evanescence. Conjuration part of the Fire spell was used to turn mana into flames, while the evanescence part was used to turn flames into mana.)
Seeing the burly bandit jumping after Mr. Whiskers with gusto, Elaru smirked and flew towards him.
The man had cast a quick acceleration spell on the ground towards which Mr. Whiskers was slithering to raise it up into walls and stop his escape. Mr. Whiskers briefly paused before changing the direction of his escape, however, the only way out of the encirclement was towards the bandit.
The shéfur tried to slither between the man’s feet, but the bandit had expected this outcome. He bent down to pick up the furry critter, and yelped victoriously: “Gocha!”
However, before his hands could close tightly around the critter’s thin body, the bandit fell face first into the dirt with a dull thump, letting Mr. Whiskers slither away, out of his reach.
The burly bandit didn’t get up again.
The only thing that moved up was a pinch of silver that flew out from the back of the man’s neck before disappearing inside Elaru’s invisibility barrier.
After sheathing the needle, Elaru took a deep breath, adjusting her state of mind and briefly lifting her invisibility.
In order to change her own emotional state, she thought about her childhood with Wade, concentrating on emotions such as affection, love, and tranquility, letting it suffuse through her aura.
Only then did she approach the retreating shéfur, letting her aura gently envelop him.
As soon as her aura touched Mr. Whiskers, his trembling subsided, and his head turned slowly in her direction. He offered no resistance as she picked him up, on the contrary, he took the initiative to wrap himself around her arm, slithering towards her torso to bury his head under her scarf.
Meanwhile, the examiners were watching the proceedings with pot black faces.
“Aura contr…!” – “How did this exam turn into a farce?” The gray-eyed peacekeeper grunted, a vein pulsating on his forehead, interrupting Orie’s gasp of pleasant surprise.
Recalling her own part of the “farce”, Orie covered her face with her slender hands dejectedly, only to remember that she was supposed to be intently watching the proceedings. Thus, she moved her fingers aside so she could peek between them.
Only Zerel’s face was glowing. “I wonder what will go wrong next? Perhaps the shorty will jump into the water, only to remember he can’t swim?” He chuckled rather hoping that his joke would come true. “I wonder, will he be able to swim with those short limbs against the current carrying someone heavier than himself?”
Regretfully, the shorty swam like a fish and quickly managed to pull the unconscious comrade out of the river. As expected of an ex-pirate, he even knew how to perform first aid for a drowning person, and soon bandit boss was spewing out water everywhere.
Elaru, who was done dealing with the burly baldy quite quickly, was already upon them. She waited for the sinister man to spew out all the water, regaining his normal breathing before she struck.
The shorty with the golden earring was preoccupied with thumping his boss on the back, while his boss was preoccupied with breathing so neither of them could react on time when two silver streaks came whizzing from their blind spots.
Even if they were on high alert, dodging such a fast attack from an invisible enemy would be a challenge, let alone in the current circumstances.
When the final two bandits fell down, losing their consciousness, Elaru finally dispelled her invisibility barrier.
She nudged the two bandits with her foot, and the two floated up into the air next to her.
Then she backtracked towards the first bandit she had knocked out – the unfortunate moron who got strangled by a shéfur.
She plopped the three bandits on top of each other, entangling them while not obstructing their breathing.
Finally, she flew to pick up the last one and flung his big, heavy, burly body on top of the pile of skinny bandits.
If they had been conscious, the three would have surely let out gasps of pain followed by strings of curses: “Are ye friggin’ kiddin’ me?!” – “Vicious wench!”
But then the unfortunate fellows would recognize the demon in question and the situation would do a 180 degree turn:
“It be the f…f…female devil!”
“Aaaargh! I knew that evil smile looked familiar!”
“Is the m…m…male devil here too?”
“Noooooooooo! We are changed people! We be earnin’ an honest livin’ now! Mistress, have mercy!”
“I knew this job sounded too good to be true!”
“I was thinkin’ we’d be drinkin’ after this was done…”
“Aya! I was gonna book a room at the flower pavilion!”
“Fool! Think logically! We could share the cost to book it together and then we can take turns with the girls!”
“Boss is the best!”
“Boss, we’ll listen to ye!”
And then they would see that beautiful smile of nightmares asking them: “What was that? Who’s the boss?”
“Of course, it be ye, mistress!”
“Aye! Aye! What he said!”
“Mistress, we’ll listen to ye!”
Fortunately, the four were spared the scare, obliviously slumbering.
The demon in question clasped her hands together in delight and let out a happy sigh. Then she gracefully sat down on the pile of bandits like a queen sitting on her throne, her posture dignified, powerful, charismatic.
If anyone stumbled upon this sight, they would run away with their tails between their legs in horror.
Yet, the redhead was hardly aware of how this would look in the eyes of the third party – she even let out a melodious chuckle. “This was too easy!”
Then she snapped her head around in confusion.
She could swear she heard a frustrated yell of “What if I told you that Muni exams aren’t supposed to be easy?!”
Thaddeus Iphis’ face was as unsightly as it was “argely” possible to be. His hands trembled as he pulled out the folded piece of paper from his pocket and violently crossed over “Elaru Wayvin” from the list.
He stopped to take several deep breaths to calm down. While this exam was an embarrassing fiasco, the examinee is not to blame for this. Although she is somewhat peculiar, she does have an exceptionally high skill level.
He sighed and wrote “Elaru Wayvin” again on the list. Perfect invisibility, mana concealment, ability to take out her opponents easily without causing injuries and even the ability to use aura control. She would be a priceless addition to the…
His thought was interrupted by Elaru floating up several feet, only to plop down onto the pile of bodies with undisguised satisfaction as if she was a child slumping onto a soft sofa. She struck up a dignified pose once again, the majesty of the picture only ruined by the sound of a happy tune she was humming.
Then she proceeded to look left and right, checking if anyone could see her (or rather, pretending that she couldn’t see the invisible examiners), and once again rose up and plopped down, a coy smirk twitching at the corner of her lips, her eyes reminiscing about “good old times”:
Needless to say, Thaddeus proceeded to, once again, cross over the words “Elaru Wayvin”, this time with enough force to, unfortunately, punch a hole through the paper.