Episode 97 – The Purge
After the five minutes were up, the bars sealing the exit slowly lifted, giving Kiel a clear view of the arena in front of him. There was a large hourglass embedded into the wall of the arena right opposite of his exit. Kiel assumed that when all the sand passed through the hourglass that would signal the end of his exam.
Other than the large hourglass, the walls of the arena contained other exits with rising bars, just like his. The other participants of the exams were surely behind those bars.
The examiners have not explained exactly who Kiel would be fighting. From their words, one could infer that Kiel would be fighting other Muni exam participants.
And in a way, that was the truth – he would be fighting Replicas of the previous exam participants.
Elaru had told him that the Replica Dungeon would pick nine opponents with different levels of abilities. Therefore, there would be both weak people and strong people among the participants. Based on previous data, there should be four participants who had achieved a result of 15 points or higher in their exams.
Those are the ones he should be wary of.
Out of all the people in this world inside the Replica Dungeon, besides the examiners, Kiel would be the only actual person. All others were just flawed copies of the original – mere Replicas.
The Replica Dungeon would remember every exam participant it had ever hosted, allowing it to Replicate them in the future. Perhaps Kiel would run into someone who had taken a battle exam 20 years ago, or perhaps he would run into someone who had taken it a year ago. Perhaps, a year from now, the new batch of examinees would be forced to fight a Replica of Kiel Rroda.
The thought that inside this world there might exist another him was unsettling, to say the least.
(Yesterday, Black Pearl Restaurant)
“We are not going to the arena today. Today, you have…” Elaru slammed a thick book onto the table, smiling sweetly. “…some last-minute cramming to do.”
“What is that?” Kiel looked skeptically at the huge book.
“Two days ago, I visited the D.I. and asked them to compile a list of all previous participants which:
- took the Muni exam in the last 30 years,
- had chosen a battle related exam,
- had achieved 15 points or higher.
I asked them to provide info on their fighting style and tips on defeating them. This report cost me a fortune, you better memorize it well.”
Looking at the thick book that looked as if it had over 400 pages, Kiel’s face fell.
“You want me to memorize a 400-page book in a single day?!”
Elaru shook her head. “No, not memorize but analyze. Find those that are a threat and remember how to deal with them.”
As Kiel exited the small waiting room, he hoped that the four, strong people that the Replica Dungeon chose for him would be among the ones whose details he managed to memorize.
As soon as he passed through the exit of the room, Kiel halted his steps and carefully glanced at every other participant exiting their respective rooms. His argel eyes could clearly see their features even though the arena was larger than the size of two airbalt stadiums combined.
His attention fell on the two participants left of him whose faces and features were completely unfamiliar to him. His gaze proceeded onwards, and after the third person who he didn’t recognize either, there was finally a face that he recognized.
It was an elibu girl with a light brown wavy hair reaching her chin. Although the girl couldn’t be called a great beauty, she was still quite attractive. Her facial features were sharp and dignified like those of most elibu with deep eyes looking like two endless pits one could get lost in.
Her eyes which looked like two shiny black beads had completely black irises making it impossible for one to tell them apart from her pupils. All in all, it gave her gaze depth unbefitting of her age.
She wore skin tight, black battle suit and combat boots, which magnified her aura of dignity, power, and confidence. Since she lacked that usual bearing of a noble that held innate arrogance and aloofness, it was hard to tell whether she was a noble or a commoner.
However, Kiel knew right away that she wasn’t a commoner.
For Kiel remembered her name – Nelaira Helyot, a child of the Helyot noble family. That fact alone was enough to illustrate how strange her existence was. Unlike the rest of her family that specialized in arts and crafts consisting mostly of architecture and sculpture, to the great shock and dismay of the Helyot family, she chose a completely different path – Nelaira Helyot became a prominent figure in the Purge.
The Purge was a special combat division ran by the Arite family whose purpose was to keep the lands under the Shield safe from the dangers outside. In a way, the Purge could be considered as an army, yet, they were neither trained, used, nor disciplined as an army.
That’s because a normal army participated in large scale battles, while the Purge engaged in many small-scale battles. One of the reasons why the lands under the Shield didn’t have a true army was because there was no outside threat that could mobilize a large-scale attack. The other reason was the existence of the Shield that unconditionally protected the people under it.
1449 years ago, the Great Mage Wars were abruptly halted due to a sudden spread of a terrible disease – the Ink. The god Aegis Arite, the ancestor of the Arite family, gathered the allied families together and erected the Shield of Aegis – a large-scale spherical barrier that separated their land from the outside world, allowing them to survive the calamity.
After the disaster, all that was left of the previous civilizations populating the large continent of Halnea were ruins occupied by terrible monsters created by the Ink – the Tainted. And thus, the dangerous wilderness outside the Shield was titled as the Forbidden zone where only the Purge and people with special permission from the Purge could venture out to.
The Purge were the greatly respected elites which excelled at combat and survival, and although Nelaira Helyot only joined the Purge after her Muni days, her combat prowess could not be underestimated.
However, the reason why Kiel paid special attention to this person wasn’t because she joined the Purge – even though he did think that any elibu that could attain a high position in a field of work mostly dominated by argel deserved the utmost respect. It also wasn’t because she had the courage to fight for her own path, different from what her family had planned for her, which resonated with his own private struggles.
The reason why Kiel especially remembered Nelaira Helyot was because she became a Muni professor teaching classes related to the operation of the Purge. Since Kiel had always been quite interested in the mysteries of the forbidden zone, he figured that he would be taking her classes sooner or later, therefore, he found her worth remembering.
Kiel’s gaze didn’t linger on Nelaira for long, he continued his inspection of other participants. The next face he didn’t recognize so he quickly moved on to the 6th participant.
It was an argel with a wild air about him. His hair was red and spiky, sticking out everywhere messily. There were several strands of hair on top of his head that were especially eye-catching which were colored in a warm yellow similar to the color of his eyes.
Judging by his glare and wild aura, Kiel would have thought him to be a thug, if it weren’t for his cute baby face that totally ruined the image, dispelling any fear that he could have evoked.
Kiel instantly recognized this strange person as Deora Thayn.
The report stated that Deora Thayn was specialized in Temperature manipulation magic and was especially proficient in using fire. While Deora Thayn, as a member of the Thayn family of Peacekeepers, had sufficient battle training, his specialty wasn’t combat. The only reason why he had applied for the battle type Muni exam was because there were no other exams that would allow him to demonstrate his peculiar abilities.
There were several reasons why Kiel remembered this person. Firstly, the report stated that Deora Thayn was currently an assistant professor at Muni teaching Temperature and Fire magic related subjects. While Kiel was not sure whether he would be taking any of his subjects, he still chose to remember his name.
Secondly, Kiel chose to remember most people from the list who specialized in fire-related magic, for Kiel ever since his childhood despised fire the most. The mere mention of fire made his blood boil.
Lastly, what was imprinted in Kiel’s memory the most vividly was a queer tip for dealing with Deora Thayn: “Will explode if called ‘firecracker’.”
The tip was so strange that it had left Kiel staring at the report dumbfounded for some time, wondering what that tip actually meant.
Deora Thayn seemed to feel Kiel’s gaze because his eyes locked with Kiel’s. No words were spoken, but Kiel imagined that the words accompanying that gaze would probably be along the lines of “What the **** are you looking at, punk??”
Kiel averted his eyes not wanting to inadvertently provoke a… firecracker, and he continued his scan. There were only three people left that he hadn’t yet inspected.
The 7th person was unfamiliar to Kiel, however, the person after that was extremely familiar to Kiel.
It was a tall argel with a long and wild mane of dark red hair. His hair was speckled with many strands of pure gold. No – those strands weren’t blond, they weren’t yellow – they were pure gold that shined in the sunlight dazzlingly. The eyes that accompanied the man’s exquisitely chiseled face were equally as golden as his hair. Those eyes were so golden that they looked like they were made out of liquid gold, eerily shining under the sun.
Those golden eyes both especially stood out against and greatly complimented the tanned color of the man’s skin. The man’s strong muscles bulged out under his clothes making him look like a god of war. His dashingly handsome face and strong body could make most females weak in the knees, and his powerful, thick aura screaming “alpha-male” would conquer the rest.
The man’s bearing, clothes, aura, everything about him exuded power and prestige, making one feel inferior in every way. He was like an emperor looking down on all mortals.
The picture Kiel had seen in the report couldn’t compare to the majesticness of seeing Zor Arite in person. Nor could the emotions Kiel was currently feeling compare to those he had felt when he initially read about him.
No, when he had initially read about Zor Arite, his body didn’t freeze like it froze right now, nor did his face turn this unsightly. He also hadn’t gotten an urge to slam his head against the wall out of frustration like he was feeling now.
Out of all the powerful people I could have been pitted against, it had to be Zor Arite!
Zor freaking Arite!
Kiel couldn’t help but grit his teeth to stop himself from cursing out loud.
He remembered this person especially clearly, and it wasn’t because he was an Arite, even though all Arites were considered as monsters not to be trifled with. It also wasn’t because this person could use pure mana, like every other Arite.
No. The reason why this particular argel was deeply imprinted in Kiel’s memory was because his face was the first thing he saw when he opened Elaru’s book of people to watch out for.
He was the first person mentioned in the book.
And it wasn’t by accident.
He was the first person mentioned because he was the most powerful one out of all the people in the report – the leader of the golden generation of Muni, the previous heir of the argel branch of the Arite family and the appointed future head of the Purge.
Not only that, but the person who wrote the report was very helpful in writing the advice for dealing with Zor Arite. Kiel remembered that advice by heart, every and each word.
Well, that’s because the entire advice consisted of a single word: “Forfeit.”