Author: John Nest
The Journeyman of Florissant Seminary
A masked Smoke sat on the bench for the Magi Gagnant Tournament participants, busy scanning through the scroll he bought about Ouragan. He tried to find focus amidst the full-capacity stadium, but the cheers of the crowd kept distracting him.
He had hope that calling Sierra earlier would give him the inspiration he needed to study through the notes. Yet, now he found himself even more distracted. He was curious as to what Sierra could be doing.
‘It sounded like she was worried about something,’ he thought. This triggered his paranoia to set in.
He immediately opened his Contacts Window, and swiped through it. His hands trembled as he read through their names, worried whether any of his close Zectian friends died.
|—- Contacts —- Status
* Weise Rind [Living]
+ Sharur Attrayant [Deceased]
+ Laernea Lowe [Deceased]
His hand momentarily let go of the popped up window, and stopped his search. Seeing Sharur’s and Laernea’s names next to the Deceased status still drove a deep pang into his chest.
Letting out a deep sigh, a relieved Smoke closed the window, as the number of his dead friends had not increased.
Picking up the notes on Ouragan, Smoke tried to dive into what he was reading. Suddenly, he leapt up from the bench. “She got one of the relics!” he yelled out loud, excited at his own conclusion.
Some of the audience near him, heard him scream and ogled at him with judgemental eyes.
Lowering his head and slightly shrinking back his shoulders, Smoke sat back down, embarrassed at his sudden outburst.
‘But why did she sound apprehensive?’ he wondered further. Then, his eyes widened. ‘She’s afraid of hurting my feelings.’
Smoke remembered when Sierra told him how her level was now 116, and he thought that it could be even plus 118 after she got the relic. With a smug smile, he shook his head as he thought about how thoughtful Sierra was.
Patting his metallic orb on his chest, Smoke leaned in and whispered to Igniz. “We better win this Tournament, Bud, or else we might get left behind.”
Igniz let out a small purple flame in response, which he understood as his symbiote telling him to fight on.
Suddenly, Smoke’s face became contorted when he heard someone calling his name.
“Master Smoke! Master Smoke!” yelled out Perdant, the old stout Merchant ran to the side of the audience entrance and called out to him.
Equipped with the Paradox Pyro Mask, Smoke remained seated and paid him no mind.
After a few seconds, Smoke casually tilted his head at the old Merchant and gave the old man a deadly stare.
Instantly, Perdant stopped yelling and covered his hand over his mouth. It took him a while to recover, but he persisted to call out to Smoke.
“I mean, Master Faux, your smoked ribs are ready, Sir!” yelled out Perdant.
Taking in a deep breath, Smoke stood up and walked over to the Merchant.
‘He’s got great business sense, but keeping my identity a secret may not be one of his skillsets,’ he thought while shaking his head at disapproval.
“What are you doing here?” asked Smoke. “I thought I told you to keep a low profile? We shouldn’t be seen together in public.”
Perdant lowered his head, but he lifted it back up again as he explained himself. “I know that, but there’s this sudden deal offered to me that could be very important. But I can’t decide whether to take it without consulting you first.”
“What deal?” asked Smoke, intrigued.
If it was a simple haggling of prices, Smoke knew that Perdant would not be running to him now.
“The Spy who sold me Ouragan’s Information has a new version,” began Perdant. “He told me that its up to date, even to this morning.”
With his face hidden behind the Paradox Mask, no one in the stadium could see Smoke’s mischievous grin. “So? What’s there to talk about? Of course I want to buy it.”
“Is he here?” asked Smoke. He then looked around the stadium, searching for a man that would appear to be a Spy. However, he stopped himself after he realized that Spies do not tend to look like one.
“Yeah, he’s here,” replied Perdant, looking towards his left but clearly not seeing the Spy. “Well, he’s here somewhere.”
“Go on, buy the latest Info,” said Smoke.
“Are you sure?” asked Perdant. “He’s asking for seven million zecs.”
At once, Smoke felt removing the Paradox Mask. He found it difficult to breathe after he heard the price. “That’s insane. You know that this is robbery, right?”
Perdant shrugged. “Exactly what I thought, but I wasn’t sure how desperate you were to defeat Ouragan. Perhaps, you would be willing to spend that much?”
Before Smoke could give him an answer, Avilo, Jack, and Mouche walked up next to him. Smoke heard the trio debating on who would win between Xantana and Ouragan.
‘Looks like they already took me out of the running,’ thought Smoke.
“Faux!” called out Avilo. “What’s going on here?” he asked, when the three of them got to where Smoke was.
“Oh, he’s just giving me the smoked ribs that I ordered,” replied Smoke.
“Really? Smoked ribs? How many did you get?” inquired Avilo.
Before Smoke could reply, the young aristocrat did not give him a chance to answer. “Can I have some?” said Avilo. “Don’t worry. I can pay you back,” he added, signaling Mouche to give him some zecs.
Smoke clicked his tongue. “Sorry, but I already ate all of it,” he replied, patting his stomach with an exaggerated motion.
Avilo then turned to Perdant. “Do you have any more? I’d like about six more pieces?”
Smoke rudely stepped in between them. “I’m sorry, Avilo, but their ribs don’t taste good. Trust me, I’m doing you a service.”
“Tell your Guy that I won’t be ordering anymore ribs from him,” Smoke said to Perdant. “And tell him, that most last minute meals aren’t worth buying. Especially, if you’re already done eating.”
“I understand, Master Smo— Faux. I’ll tell him, right away,” replied Perdant. He bowed to Smoke and disappeared into the crowd.
“Their food was that bad, huh?” asked Avilo. “Thanks, for telling me not to order.”
“Of course, anytime,” replied Smoke. “Now, if the three of you will excuse me. I need to prepare for my matches.”
As Smoke walked away, he heard Mouche ask Jack. “How did Faux eat those smoked ribs with his mask on?”
“I don’t know,” replied Jack.
“Silly old Mouche,” interjected Avilo. “Of course, he lifts up his mask and exposes his mouth.”
“Good Luck, Faux!” called out Jack. “I know you’ll be the one to beat Ouragan!”
Without looking back, Smoke lifted his right fist. His silent way of thanking Jack’s belief in him.
* * * * * *
A wave of restlessness filled the stands of the three-hundred-thousand spectators, as some of them stood up to go to the toilets while others bought food and drinks from the standing vendors.
Looking at the time on the jumbovision screen, Smoke stowed his scroll on Ouragan back into his backpack. “Well, that was useless,” he grumbled to himself, annoyed that he could not find the move the Prime Wizard used to defeat Chrys.
Suddenly, the Announcer’s voice boomed across the stadium. “Hello! Hello! I’d like to remind everyone that the battle with Xantana and Faux is about to start in five minutes.”
The intense glare from the Zectas sun rays had diminished, as it was already almost two in the afternoon.
As he walked over to his area of the large circular ring, Smoke spotted a tiger Lioumerean. He recognized him as Chouchou, one of the defeated participants during his preliminaries and Xantana’s lover.
This was not the first time Smoke saw an interracial couple here in Zectas, but he was curious as to how things were with them. A Lioumerean and a LightElf piqued his interest, and he wondered to himself what it would be like to be with a Lioumerean. He patted the forehead portion of his mask as he forcibly drove the thought of Laernea out of his mind.
‘Where did that come from?’ he wondered.
After hugging Chouchou, Xantana walked up to the ring. Without delay, Smoke followed suit and got on to the stage as well.
“I caught you staring at us,” blurted out Xantana. “Are you some kind of pervert?”
“No, no,” hurriedly said Smoke. “I just remembered a friend when I saw you two. She was a lioness Lioumerean.”
“Was?” asked Xantana.
Smoke paused and gulped down the painful memory of Laernea’s demise. “She died a few months ago.”
“Really?” stated Xantana.
Judging from her reaction, Smoke could tell that she did not believe him. “Anyway, let’s just have a good fight.”
Xantana sniggered. “Even though you improved your equipment with those red decals, you still won’t have a chance to fight me. I sure hope you won’t be a sore loser.”
Both of them simultaneously turned to the jumbovision screen as they heard the Announcer’s voice. “King Kajou, Queen Ella, my Lords, my Ladies, and the rest of Vitzytl Kingdom, I welcome you back to the 999th Magi Gagnant Tournament!”
In reply, the audience erupted into a boisterous cheer. Yet, one name resonated clearly through the crowd, as they yelled out the beautiful LightElf’s name, Xantana!
“With our last semi-finalists being a Pyro Mage and an Earth Elementalist, I can assure you that we’ll get a better view of Xantana and Faux’s battle this time around.”
The were scattered laughter throughout Pulper Stadium, as some audience liked the Announcer’s joke.
“Xantana, Faux, when you hear the bell, we want you to let all hell break lose,” added the Announcer.
Smoke pointed his Digger’s Wand at Xantana. Whereas, the LightElf placed both her hands together in solemn prayer.
The igniting sound of their battle rang.
Xantana was engulfed in red flames, turning her long white hair into a fiery blaze. Her feet levitated a full meter from the ground.
Sixteen earth-spikes launched from under Xantana’s feet and came at her from all directions. A cloud of dust filled the ring as Smoke’s earth-spikes made contact.
“I knew you were strong,” said Xantana from behind the cloud of dust. “Beating you will surely grant me the right to challenge him.”
An unscathed Xantana levitated up from dust, revealing her life bar to be (350,000/350,000 HP).
Smoke remembered that during their preliminaries, her life bar had reached up to 500,000 HP. However, she was then blessed by the flame flowers of the great god Tlaltezin.
‘She must have some sort of Barrier ability,’ surmised Smoke.
Needing time to set up his next attack, Smoke thought to taunt her.
“I know that everyone wants to challenge Ouragan,” began Smoke. “But I’m going to be the one to face him!”
“Hahahahaha,” chuckled Xantana. “You’re wrong on two counts.”
“First, I’m the one who’s facing Ouragan,” she said, as she counted with her index fingers. “Second, the person I’m challenging after you is Trottel.”
‘Why would she want to fight against the Prime Wizard I already defeated?’ wondered Smoke.
Suddenly, a rain of fireballs fell down from above, as Xantana unleashed it upon him.
BTOOM BTOOM BTOOM BTOOM
Loud explosions echoed around the coliseum, as Xantana’s fireballs hit Smoke’s ten-layer concave earth-barrier.
Slowly, Xantana lowered herself to ground, as her fireball attacks did nothing to destroy Smoke’s wall. She wildly flailed her arms as the minutes went on.
“Looks like we’re even in defensive terms,” taunted Smoke from behind his earth-barrier. “I don’t think you’ll ever break it.”
The truth was that Smoke kept on creating several layers to replace the ones that were destroyed on each of her attacks. His trick was the smooth layer change, which deceptively gave it the same earth-barrier appearance every time.
“Raaaaah!” screamed Xantana, as she got closer to the covered up Smoke. Her flurry of fireballs rapidly increased.
As the jumbovision screen zoomed in on their intense battle, the Announcer’s voice began to commentate. “There you have it, Folks. Xantana has Faux on the ropes!”
The loud cheering of Xantana’s name made it clear who the audience wanted to win.
With Smoke’s earth-barrier still intact, Xantana landed back on the ring. She stopped her fireballs attack and gathered a large ball of fire in front of her.
“We’re in for quite a show!” exclaimed the Announcer. “Xantana is about to use her signature solar flare attack!”
As the crowd got riled up, the floor of the ring rose up without warning and enclosed both Smoke and Xantana in a massive dome.
“No! Not again!” cried out the Announcer, as soon as their view of the battle was obstructed by the earth-dome. “Don’t worry, Folks, I’m sure Xantana’s solar flare attack will blast this useless hindrance out of the way.”
The audience heard the muffled sound of Xantana’s solar flare attack exploding. However, Smoke’s earth-dome remained intact.
* * * * * *
Only Xantana’s flames were the source of light within Smoke’s earth-dome-prison.
“What is this?” screamed Xantana. “Show yourself, Faux! You have the gall to trap me!”
Suddenly, the ground of the ring shifted once more. Before Xantana could react, she was enclosed inside another chamber made of stronger earth-layers.
Smoke restricted Xantana’s mobility even farther. In spite of capturing her with his inner earth-dome, he still kept up the larger one.
This was a precautionary measure, and as a way to hide his true abilities from those Sonstwelters watching the Tournament.
Xantana then let out an ear-piercing cry.
“Waaaarraaaah!” screamed the LightElf, as she tried blasting the inner earth-dome.
In retaliation, Smoke reinforced his earth-dome with stronger layers.
“Where are you?” screamed Xantana.
As his training under Eleve was completed, he could now withstand Xantana’s flames. Yet, he chose to hide himself outside of his inner-dome, trapping only an enraged Xantana.
“Let me out of here!” she screamed.
BTOOM BTOOM BTOOM
Xantana let out more of her solar flare attacks, but Smoke’s inner earth dome still held her in.
Several areas of the inner-dome turned red and became molten hot. However, it was only for a few seconds.
Their battle of attrition persisted. Smoke’s mana regeneration was now higher than the cost of his Master Level – Earth Manipulation ability. This allowed him to replenish the walls. He also continually shifted the earth around. Thus, foiling Xantana’s pin-point attacks, as she attempted to force her way out of his trap.
Using his Cunning of the Dire Fox, he could easily locate Xantana’s general position. He occasionally dropped a few earth-knives over her head, to which Xantana would block.
Despite being trapped, she was still unscathed as none of Smoke’s earth attack could penetrate her fire-barrier.
Even though none of his earth-knives damaged her, he still kept on going, just enough to keep her on her toes and use her mana.
“Fight me like a man, you coward!” sneered Xantana. “This isn’t how you fight in a Magi Gagnant Tournament!”
“Really? I thought it was about using our abilities to their full extent,” jibed Smoke from outside the inner-dome.
Then, he attacked her with eight earth-spears which protruded out from the inner dome.
“Youwch!” she screamed in pain.
The inner dome glowed a pale red. A smiling Smoke surmised that Xantana increased the power of her flame-barrier, but he also knew that some of his attacks finally damaged her.
‘Good, use your flames even more,’ silently encouraged Smoke.
Two more minutes of Smoke’s earth-knives and earth-spikes plagued Xantana, but she persevered. She kept on blasting his attacks away and continued to blast his inner-dome as well.
“Give up, Faux,” she said in between breaths. “You and I both know that I’ll eventually escape from this stupid prison!”
“I don’t think so,” replied Smoke. “In fact, don’t you feel a little out of breath?”
A few seconds went by, before he heard any reply.
Then, he perceived a muffled sound.
“Aaacck,” croaked Xantana, as she had burned up almost all of the oxygen inside Smoke’s inner earth-dome.
“No! I have to beat you,” she gasped. “I have to challenge that stupid Trottel for his title of Vlahui City’s Prime Wizard.”
After he heard this, Smoke stopped using his earth-attacks on Xantana. “You want to be a Prime Wizard? Why?” he asked, intrigued.
“Trottel is Chouchou’s older brother,” began Xantana. “When he became the Prime Wizard, he has banned the mixing of the races. But my love would not abandon me. Because of this, he was excommunicated from their bloodline.”
Without responding, Smoke listened to her story. He contemplated whether to release her from the inner earth-dome to get a better feel of her sincerity.
“Faux, it looks like you’re petty tricks won you this time,” she said, while panting for air in between words. “I hate to do this, but you’re the only one who is qualified.”
“Qualified? What are you talking about?” asked Smoke from outside the inner earth-dome.
“Please challenge Trottel for the title of Vlahui City’s Prime Wizard,” begged Xantana.
Then, an unexpected notification window popped up.
|+ Quest: Full On Trottel
Level: AThe Pyro Magi Xantana has asked you to challenge
the tiger Lioumerean Prime Wizard of Vlahui, Trottel.
She hopes that you can lift his idiotic ban on interracial marriages
and allow her Chouchou back into their royal bloodline.
> If you beat Trottel, you need to fulfill the roles of Vlahui’s Prime Wizard
Accept the Quest? [YES/NO]
Smoke instantly canceled out his inner earth-dome, and stood over the half unconscious LightElf sprawled on the floor of the ring.
After reading the Quest a second time, Smoke turned to her and said. “No! Sorry, I can’t do this right now. I have a more important mission.”
“Why did I lose to you,” angrily said Xantana before she fully lost all consciousness.
At once, Smoke canceled the outer earth-dome and revealed himself to the entire audience of Pulper Stadium.
The jumbovision screen zoomed in on Smoke standing over the passed out Xantana.
“No!” cried out Chouchou from outside the ring. “Monster! What did you do to her?”
Smoke reflexively raised both his arms up in surrender. “Nothing, we just fought and I won.”
He then picked her up and carefully walked over to the edge of the ring. The spectators yelled in protest, but Smoke kept on walking. When he got to the edge, he gently placed her down outside the ring.
The Announcer’s voice then boomed across the arena. “I’m sorry, Everybody, but it looks like Faux is much trickier than we expected.”
“That’s not how you win a Magi battle!”
More than half the crowd jeered at Smoke, unsatisfied with the results. While the rest stared at Xantana, confused whether she was alive or dead.
Chouchou ran faster than the medical team, as he reached the fainted LightElf first. They brought a stretcher with them and picked her up. As they carried her out of the stadium, one of the Medics gave out a thumbs up signal for all of the spectators to see.
“I have great news, Folks. Xantana is alive! I repeat, Xantana is alive!” exclaimed the Announcer. “But on a sad note, the contestant who will be facing Prime Wizard Ouragan will be none other than the Earth Elementalist, Faux!”
“Boooo!” heckled the crowd.
After he heard the official announcement, Smoke ran after them. An overprotective Chouchou blocked his path.
“Where do you think you’re going?” asked the muscular tiger Lioumerean.
“Chouchou, right?” called out Smoke, and stopped in front of him. “Tell Xantana that I can’t accept her request, but I’ll see what I can do to help the two of you out.”
* * * * * *
Zectas’ setting sun had almost disappeared over the horizon. Yet, the heat of the crowd in Pulper Arena grew even more wildly. The furious crowd made sure to let Smoke feel their displeasure, as they showered him with mockery and ridicule.
Sitting back down on his assigned waiting-bench, he fell victim to the crowd’s mob mentality.
Since his Cunning of the Dire Fox could not detect ranged attacks, he was showered by their food and beverages as they threw at him. Clay-pots filled with purple juice smashed into his back. Fortunately, the damage was minimal. It did not even reduce his life bar by 100 points, but it did smear purple goo all over his clothes.
Still, a damage was a damage. Even though this was suppose to be his recovery time. He quickly put up a concave barrier around his bench to block the other clay-pots that were coming his way.
‘Is this what a villain in a wrestling match feels like?’ he wondered to himself, as he wiped off the purple goo.
Then, he turned around and saw Mouche. The old HighElf was about to throw a piece of pie directly at him.
However, Avilo’s old Steward quickly hid the pie behind his back after Smoke met his eyes. Smoke only shook his head, slightly amused at the old man’s fanaticism for Xantana.
Then, the Announcer’s voice boomed once again. “May I request the spectators to stop throwing things at our participant. He won the fight fair and square.”
In response, the crowd jeered even louder.
“I know, I can’t believe it myself,” added the Announcer. “But I asked the judges and they said that it was a legal win.”
“Also, you’re just trashing the ring, rather than really hitting Faux,” said the Announcer. “So, let’s just stop throwing things for now.”
“Don’t worry, Folks. Faux is in for a world of pain!” exclaimed the host of the Tournament. “Now, he’s going up against our pride, Prime Wizard Ouragan!”
“But that won’t be for another five minutes,” said the Announcer. “So, for now, why don’t you enjoy the latest new craze, the Pompom juice. It’s from Prime Wizard Ouragan’s Vona City.”
Smoke then noticed the numerous OrkElves carrying crates of Pompom juice. The spectators bought more of the purple juice filled clay-pots.
“That’s right, Folks. Buy more Pompom juice in support of Ouragan,” said the Announcer. “And who knows, we might get a chance to throw them at a special someone after the Tournament.”
Smoke looked around some more, until he spotted Esper and Colere selling the Pompom juice. He widely grinned behind his Paradox Mask, pleased at the success of their business on pomegranate juice production. He had no clue that the OrkElf couple was this business minded.
‘Maybe I should remove the earth-barrier after all?’ wondered Smoke, debating with himself whether to be the target of the angry mob. He hoped that it would boost the sales of the pompom juice even more.
However, he was not able to come to a decision as the Announcer’s voice took over the jumbovision screen. “Alright, Folks, this is it! The moment we’ve all been waiting for! The Championship of the 999th Magi Gagnant Tournament!”
A magnificent display of fireworks erupted in the early night sky, filling the skyline with dazzling array of colors.
A cold chilly breeze passed through the stadium, but Smoke felt a different iciness. It was not coming from the wind.
Sensing someone was staring at him, he looked around and still could not find the source of that piercing feeling.
The Announcer’s voice brought his attention back to the jumbovision screen.
“Our first finalist, a lucky amateur who won against the likes of Prime Wizard Trottel and the hot Pyro Mage Xantana… Hailing from parts unknown, Earth Elementalist Faux!” screamed the Announcer.
As he sat on his bench, Smoke lifted himself up with the aid of an earth-platform. He dramatically transported it towards the circular ring. He gently slid down the platform and stood on top of the ring as he manipulated it to do so.
Despite him portraying the role of being a finalist in the Magi Gagnant Tournament, the crowd still booed and heckled him.
Nonetheless, Smoke still waved at them. He smiled a sincere smile behind his Paradox Mask, as he waited for them to throw the pompom clay-pot juices they bought with their precious zecs.
Then, a strong gust of wind came from over head. Smoke tilted his head upward, searching for its source. As expected, it was an old frail HighElf in blue robes. Ouragan always had to make his trademark flashy entrance.
A cyclone formed near the place where Smoke sat earlier. The turbulent winds picked up the trash and debris thrown at him. The loud clattering sounds of broken clay-pots were heard as Ouragan dumped all of the garbage inside a nearby trash bin.
“People, we only have one world to live in,” began Ouragan, as the old Prime Wizard descended to the ring. “So, let’s not pollute it. Please, stop throwing things into the arena grounds.”
A wide-eyed Smoke angrily stared at Ouragan. He wanted the people to throw more clay-pots at him, but now all of that was off the table.
‘You son of a Witch,’ Smoke thought with disgust. ‘Does he know that I’m a shareholder of the pompom juice?’
“Sorry about that, Faux,” Ouragan suddenly said to Smoke. “I sort of feel responsible for those people throwing things at you.”
Smoke stared at him, confused.
“You see, I was the one who brought in those Pompom juice from Vona City,” added the Prime Wizard.
Smoke was taken aback. “Really?”
“Of course, I found these OrkElves selling their drinks outside the stadium in my city,” explained Ouragan. “And they told me that they’ll give me a share of the profits if I help advertise their product.”
“I see,” replied Smoke. “That was pretty generous of them.”
“It was, wasn’t it?” said the old HighElf. “Colere wasn’t too keen into the idea at first, but he immediately joined in after Esper explained it to him,” he said while doing air-quotes when he said the word explained.
“Anyway, let’s have a good match,” said Ouragan. “I heard that you might be the one that I’ve been waiting for…”
Smoke nodded in silence and stowed his Digger’s Wand away. On the other hand, Ouragan did nothing and stood there smiling at Smoke.
The Announcer’s voice then bellowed through the jumbovision screen. “Prime Wizard Ouragan, Earth Elementalist Faux, when you hear the bell it’s time for hell!”
At once, Ouragan created a massive twister around the circular ring. Smoke knew that Ouragan meant business when the old HighElf did not use his wind-cutters as an opening move.
He tried forming an earth-pillar, but it took twice the amount of mana for it to hold its shape.
‘I guess opposing an element you’re weak against is really hard,’ he surmised, but smirked all the same.
As both him and Ouragan were trapped inside the turbulent tornado, Smoke looked up at the Prime Wizard.
He then recalled his return to the hidden Florissant Seminary from his special training session in the isolated Pincer Island.
Both Smoke and Eleve were inside a special chamber of the Florissant Seminary. One which he had never been to.
Its walls were filled with ornate art works. It had a large phoenix sculpture lined with gold and ruby at the center of the ceiling. Directly below it, was an open furnace which let out pure white flames.
“As promised, I find you innocent of Flora’s passing. You are truly blessed by the great god Tlaltezin,” began Eleve. “Now, kneel before me, Apprentice Faux.”
Smoke in his tattered hooded cloak walked up in front of her and got down on his knees.
“As you have indeed proven yourself worthy, I, Eleve Dawkins grant you the title of Florissant: Journeyman,” said the old HighElf.
At once a notification window popped up.
|+ Gained Title: ‘Florissant: Journeyman’
After proving yourself worthy through a series of test, this title was given to you by Eleve Dawkins. As such, you have earned her trust and are obliged to swear your fealty to Florissant Seminary.
* +3 to all basic stats
A speechless Smoke stared at the notification window. “I… I don’t know what to—” he was cut off by Eleve’s hand, and instantly became silent.
She then looked up to the sculpted golden phoenix on the ceiling and said. “Avis descendit ignis de caelo!”
The distinct sound of a precious object being dropped came from above, as the golden phoenix sculpture let out a silver brooch.
Smoke was about to catch it, but it did not fall into the open furnace. Instead, it hovered directly above the sterling white flames.
“Take it,” said Eleve. “That is, the symbol of your advancement.”
|+ Acquired unique brooch: Florissant Emblem: Journeyman|
A dumbfounded Smoke stared at the ornate brooch. It had a silver phoenix with opened wings, which emerged out of golden flames.
“Does this mean that I can see Magietrois Florissant, now?” asked an excited Smoke, as this was the reason he was here in the first place.
Eleve shook her head. “Sorry, but only the winner of the Magi Gagnant Tournament can see her.”
Smoke easily shrugged it off, as he was closer to winning the Tournament anyway.
Without further delay, he inspected his newly earned unique accessory.
|Florissant Emblem: Journeyman
Made from mithril, goldium, and phoenix feathers. It is the symbol of graduating Florissant’s apprenticeship program.
“Can I wear this now?” asked an excited Smoke.
“Of course, Faux, go right ahead,” replied Eleve and smiled at him.
Smoke pinned the phoenix-brooch right next to Igniz’s metallic orb.
CRACKLE CRACKLE CRACKLE
At once, Smoke heard the sounds of leather burning. He stared down at his clothes and found them on fire.
“What’s going on? Why are my clothes on fire?” he asked Eleve. “Is it suppose to do that?”
“Yes, just wait a while,” she replied. “Relax, it won’t hurt a bit.”
The flames traced an imaginary intricate pattern on everything that he wore. After a few minutes, the flames finally died out.
His entire ensemble were all accented with fire-red linings. It was a slight improvement from his tattered beggar appearance, but it was still a visible upgrade.
‘I bet this will look great with my Paradox Pyro Face,’ he thought, excited to see his new appearance.
“This is amazing!” exclaimed Smoke. “I don’t think I’ve ever looked this great!” he said, pleased that he did not look as bad as before.
“Really? You’re already happy with this?” asked Eleve in disbelief. “You know, the brooch is suppose to do more than that.”
She walked closer to him with her eyebrows furrowed, and inspected it. “It should make you look like a nobleman, at least. But with you, there’s barely any change.”
Smoke’s shoulders dropped two inches. He knew why the effects of the Florissant Emblem: Journeyman was only by this much. It was because of his low Beggar Level.
“You see, Eleve, I’m not technically an Earth Elementalist,” began Smoke. “I’m actually a Beg—”
He was not able to finish his revelation, as Eleve beat him to it. “You’re a Beggar, aren’t you?”
“You know about Beggars?” asked an astonished Smoke.
Smoke snapped back to reality when he heard the Announcer’s insulting voice. “We may not be able to see Ouragan or Faux, but we sure know who’s in for a lot of trouble now!”
Hearing this made Smoke grin. He knew that this was the perfect opportunity to show the Prime Wizard and everyone here, his hidden ace.
Tapping on the metallic orb on his chest, he said. “Igniz, let’s do this!”
After he Synergized with his dark ember sprite, purple smoke came out of his skin. Wanting to end it quickly, Smoke used his Trailblazer around the ring, and created a red, circular firewall. He then used his increased Fire Manipulation ability, and turned the red flames into dark-purple.
His circular firewall rapidly increased in height, as their dark flames were fanned by Ouragan’s tempestuous tornado.
In less than ten-seconds, his dark flames had fully consumed the tornado and took its place in all entirety.
Before Ouragan could fly out of the now black-flame-tornado, Smoke pointed his right hand upward. He enclosed the mouth of the flame-twister with a continuous barrage of fire-spears.
Covered in a wind-force-field, Ouragan tried to fly through it. However, Smoke’s fire-spears pierced through the Prime Wizard’s wind-barrier with ease.
Then, thirty-two sharp fire-swords protruded out of the dark flames from the fire-twister. The flying flaming swords bashed Ouragan’s wind-shield without mercy. All the Prime Wizard could do was to take a nosedive and evade Smoke’s flaming weapons.
The jumbovision screen focused on the Announcer’s perturbed face. “What’s going on!” he screamed. “Faux is cheating! Isn’t he suppose to be an Earth Elementalist? Why is he using Fire? How did he turn Prime Wizard Ouragan’s Tornado against him?”
The Announcer was cut off, as an official in hooded-black-robes walked up next to him. “Everyone, I’ve just been informed that Faux has recently learned this ability. As an Elementalist, it is within the realm of possibilities for him to acquire this power.”
The jumbovision screen captured the disgusted face of the Announcer. “Ahem. I guess it’s a legal move, after all. But don’t worry, I’m sure Prime Wizard Ouragan will do something against this underhanded attack.”
While the Announcer was raging on about Smoke’s Fire Manipulation, Ouragan had dropped mid-way into the flame-tornado. Along his descent, a few fire-spears and fire-swords made direct contact with the Prime Wizard’s flesh. His life bar revealed (875,000/900,000 HP).
Forced down to the floor of the ring, Ouragan constructed several wind-shields. With the Wind element being weak against Fire, the Prime Wizard’s barrier barely gave any defense to withstand Smoke’s powered-up flame attacks.
“It would seem that you really are the one,” blurted out Ouragan from his hunched position.
Smoke grinned, pleased at his hardwork and luck for meeting Eleve. It was a strenuous path, but he persevered. Now, his Fire Manipulation ability had grown to Intermediate Level 9.
Suddenly, Smoke got a strange feeling from Ouragan. He noticed that the Prime Wizard did not look troubled at all.
“However, I can’t let it end this way,” declared the old HighElf. “If I became complacent and stopped improving myself when I mastered the Wind Element, then you might have won,” he added. “Unfortunately for you, I am and will always be an eternal student. I have never stopped my journey on the road to learning.”
‘What is he hiding?’ thought a worried Smoke.
Ouragan looked above the mouth of the flame-tornado. Smoke reflexively turned to the heavens as well. There, they found that storm clouds had gathered overhead.
“I haven’t mastered this element, yet, but when joined with my Wind, it becomes something else…” Ouragan’s voice trailed, as he melded Water with Wind and created Ice.
Slowly, the fire-tornado turned to a solid block of ice, as Ouragan’s melded element went spiraling down.
Smoke hurriedly let out several fireballs and transformed them into flame-arrows. He sent all of them flying straight towards Ouragan, but the Prime Wizard simply deflected it with a water-shield.
“Did you know that I took up the ways of the Water because it covered the weakness of my Wind?” explained Ouragan. “Truth be told, my melded element of Ice might have been weak against your flames, if you mastered it.”
Undeterred, Smoke let out sixteen flame-swords which bypassed Ouragan’s water-shield.
However, a puddle of water discreetly appeared under Smoke’s feet. Ouragan then launched several water-lances from below him.
His Cunning of the Dire Fox detected the obstructed attack, Smoke leapt backwards with his Hyper Jump ability, only to be trapped inside a floating bubble of water.
“Sorry, Smoke, but this is the end,” said Ouragan.
Smoke could not believe what he heard. How could have Ouragan known about his real name? Trapped inside the floating water, he struggled to swim out, but the Prime Wizard began turning it into a block of ice.
He instantly felt his arms and feet turn numb, as the water solidified around him. Despite being captured, what worried Smoke was that he was running out of air. He drank a few gulps, as his lungs involuntarily made him try to breathe.
Fortunately, Ouragan manipulated the water to push him upward, exposing only his head. “Now, I don’t want you to go dying on me,” said the old HighElf.
Then, the Announcer’s voice boomed from beyond the solid fire-tornado turned to ice. “You see that, Folks? What did I tell you? Prime Wizard Ouragan has this in the bag.”
The audience erupted into a loud cheer.
“I’m sorry I can’t commentate on what’s going on inside the block of ice, but I can assure you that Prime Wizard Ouragan has the upper hand,” added the Announcer. He paused and then turned to face the camera rune focused on him. “Oh, and if any of you are thinking that him using another element is illegal, then you better just shut up!”
As the water bubble turned to solid ice, Smoke stared at Ouragan with crossed eyes. He was angry at the old man for hiding this ability, but he was more angry with himself for being over confident.
Now, that he was completely frozen, Smoke tried to let out his dark flames to melt the ice. Yet, his Fire was not enough to thaw his icy prison, as Ouragan constantly replenished the ice. Smoke experienced the bitter taste of his own technique, as he remembered what he did to Xantana.
“Confidence is good, but it could backfire on you if you have too much of it,” blurted out Ouragan, as if reading his mind. “Do you concede? Or do I have to drop you out of the ring?”
Smoke knew that he could do nothing to stop the Prime Wizard from dropping him to the ground. Against his will, he nodded in surrender.
The Prime Wizard then turned around, which slightly lifted up his blue robe. It was only for a moment, but Smoke caught a glimpse of it. He wore a belt studded with special stones.
Ouragan then shattered the block of tornado into innumerable pieces, turning them into snowflakes.
As soon as the two finalists became visible, the Announcer’s voice bellowed out from the jumbovision screen. “Prime Wizard Ouragan is our Champion! Prime Wizard Ouragan wins! He is the 999th Magi Gagnant Winner!”
“Prime Wizard Ouragan will receive the 999th Magi Gagnant Trophy, fifty-million zecs, one treasure from King Kajou’s vault, and a chance to talk with Magietrois Florissant herself!” added the Announcer.
Ouragan waved to the crowd, and walked over to the incapacitated Smoke.
“You’ve done well, Smo— Faux,” said Ouragan as he turned to the trapped Smoke.
“Really? No wonder I’m the one stuck in a block of ice,” replied a sarcastic Smoke.
“Indeed. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have resorted to using my secret melded Ice ability,” explained Ouragan.
“Because of this, you have gained my respect,” added the Prime Wizard.
A notification window then popped up.
|+ Intimacy with Ouragan has risen to ‘Respected Colleague’|
“If there’s ever anything I can do,” said Ouragan. “Please don’t hesitate to—”
Smoke did not let the old HighElf finish, as he knew exactly what he wanted to ask. “Take me with you when you go to see Florissant!”
Ouragan raised his eyebrows at Smoke.
“I mean, please, may I accompany you to see Magietrois Florissant,” he begged in a more pleasant tone.
* * * * * *
While Ouragan was up on stage to receive the prize money and trophy, Smoke remained on top of the ring. He was still partially stuck inside the block of ice, as he had not fully melted himself out of it.
Now, that he was immobilized, he expected to see more clay-pots thrown at him. However, there were none, as the crowd had obediently followed Ouragan’s words.
Given their special passes, Avilo, Jack, and Mouche walked over to the busy Smoke thawing off the ice.
“Good show, Faux. But just as I said, you can’t beat Prime Wizard Ouragan,” said Avilo, while patting him on the back.
“If you had the ability to use Fire all this time, why did you just use it now?” asked Mouche.
“I didn’t,” replied Smoke, as he continued on melting the ice. “I learned it, in order to beat Ouragan. Unfortunately, my training was still not enough.”
“Of course!” declared Avilo. “I hope, now, you have learned your lesson, Faux.”
Smoke grinned in response.
“Well, I still think your fight was great!” interjected Jack. “I don’t know if you heard from the inside, but the entire audience almost gasped when Ouragan used his Ice magic.”
“That’s true,” added Mouche. “By using the wonderful element of Fire, you’ve forced Prime Wizard Ouragan to reveal his true self.”
Smoke finally stepped out of the ice-block. “Well, thanks for everything, Guys,” he said to Avilo, Jack, and Mouche. “But I have somewhere else to go.”
“Where?” asked Jack.
“With him,” replied Smoke, pointing to Ouragan who walked up next to them.
“Ready to go?” Ouragan asked Smoke.
“Yeah,” answered Smoke. “But first there’s a few people I’d like you to meet.”
He then pointed to his three Zectian friends. “These are Avilo, Jack, and Mouche. They’re a big fan of yours.”
“Oh, I’ve already met Lord Avilo,” said Ouragan, shaking the young nobleman’s hand. “And Mouche as well.”
“I think it’s just Jack that I haven’t met,” added the Prime Wizard, shaking Jack’s hand. “A pleasure to meet you, young man.”
“The pleasure is all mine, Sir, Prime Wizard, Sir,” replied Jack with trembling hands.
Ouragan cordially bowed down to them and turned to Smoke. “Well, are you coming or not?”
“Of course, I am!” exclaimed Smoke, and the two of them headed out of the stadium together.
A bewildered Avilo stared at the backs of the Magi Gagnant Tournament finalists. “When did those two become friends?”
“I wonder if Sir Faux knew Prime Wizard Ouragan’s mother?” said Mouche out loud.
“What does that have to do with anything?” asked Avilo.
“I don’t know, the thought just popped into my head,” replied the old Steward. “Seeing as how they’re so chummy now.”
* * * * * *
When Smoke and Ouragan got out of earshot, Smoke thought to ask the Prime Wizard the thing that had been bugging him for a while. “I never expected to see a fellow ‘Verum de Mendicantibus’ here in Sawtorn,” began Smoke. “How is our Brotherhood of Beggars doing?”
Ouragan stopped walking and faced him. “I’m glad you finally figured that out,” he said.
“I am Beggar Evocati Ouragan,” declared the old HighElf. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Brother Smoke.”
With an open palm on his left hand and a fist on his right, Ouragan made both his hands meet in front of his heart.
Smoke hurriedly bowed down and greeted the higher ranked Beggar in the same manner. He was caught off guard, as it had been a long time since he used the salutation which Darius taught him.
“So, you really aren’t a High Wizard?” Smoke asked.
Ouragan chuckled. “I’m much as a High Wizard as you are an Earth Elementalist.”
“You know, I was never going to tell you if you didn’t realize it on your own,” joked the old HighElf and resumed walking. “After all, I have been watching you ever since you got off the docks in Vona City.”
“You were?” asked Smoke in disbelief. “Are you serious? I never noticed.”
Then, it dawned on him when he was forcibly deported to the island of the clawfuls. “So, it was you who was watching me in Pincer Island?”
“No, that wasn’t me,” replied Ouragan, shaking his head. “I don’t even know where that is.”
Smoke scratched the back of his head in confusion. He was sure that Ouragan was the mysterious stalker.
“But I did see you go out of Vona City with a tied up nobleman once,” said Ouragan, pointing out the time when he caught Daniel.
“Wait! If you know that, then you know about Cynar!” said Smoke in anger. “I thought the Brotherhood of Beggars was suppose to protect the balance of justice? How could you—”
Ouragan stopped him from going on any further. “Yes, we know about Cynar’s operations, but the reason we allowed him to continue was because he was going after the Ork Hordes,” explained the Prime Wizard.
“But what about the captured children?” asked Smoke.
“We had two OrkElves deep undercover in Cynar’s crew. They were hired to do excavation work on Diebe Den, but they were actually there to rescue the captured nobles.”
Ouragan then chuckled. “Unfortunately, their mission changed, as someone else beat them to it.” He then patted Smoke’s shoulder. “Good job on that, by the way.”
“So, you’re still keeping tabs on Cynar and Blaise until now?” clarified Smoke.
“Absolutely!” replied Ouragan. “And I’m happy to tell you that Cynar has stopped his kidnapping operations. He’s now more focused on increasing his army to fight against the Orks.”
As they marched farther in, Smoke thought to do a little chit-chat. It was an attempt to raise his Intimacy with Ouragan.
“So, you’ve been watching me all this time, huh?” blurted out Smoke.
“Correct. We’ve kept our eyes on you for a while,” replied Ouragan. “But I have to say, we lost track of you, when you and that little flower girl went into that mountain.”
Smoke looked confused. ‘They didn’t find the teleportation circle inside the mountain?’ he wondered.
“Was that where you learned your Fire Manipulation?” asked Ouragan.
“Yes, it was,” replied Smoke.
Deep within Pulper Arena, the old HighElf and DarkElf continued on towards an underground chamber, which led to several tunnels.
“Smoke, there’s something else I forgot to mention,” said Ouragan. “I was the one who informed the Beggar Brotherhood about one of the Magietrois being in Sawtorn.”
“Guess I have a lot of things to thank you for,” said Smoke, grinning behind his Paradox Mask.
“So, is she old?” asked Smoke. “You’ve met Magietrois Florissant before, right?”
“Of course, she is,” replied Ouragan. “What do you expect from someone who is turning ninety-two?”
Smoke pulled on Ouragan’s shoulder, stopping both of them. “Wait, what? Isn’t she suppose to be at least over a thousand years old?”
“Who told you that?” asked Ouragan with a raised eyebrow. “You didn’t believe the legends to be actually true, did you?”
Ouragan let out a deep sigh. “I specifically wrote on my report that Magietrois Florissant was a title passed down from master to student,” explained the Prime Wizard. “The current Magietrois Florissant is the 16th one to assume the title.”
Smoke unequipped his mask, as he tried to breathe. “If she’s not the one from the legends, then she’s not the Magietrois that I’m looking for.”
Ouragan stopped walking, and turned back to where Smoke stood in a daze.
“Listen, she may not be the same one who fought against the Reptilian Race, but maybe she’ll have the answer to what you’re looking for?” said Ouragan.
“I guess it couldn’t hurt to ask,” said Smoke out loud, as he tried to stay positive.
So, the two of them continued treading the floors of the underground tunnel, towards where the current Magietrois Florissant was waiting for them.
“Why do you need to find the Magietrois, anyway?” asked Ouragan, as they dawdled along.
“I need to find the Magietrois who has the power over life and death,” said Smoke with conviction. “I need the Magietrois who is a Thaumaturge.”
“I see, I’ve read about them,” said Ouragan. “But in all my years here in Zectas, I haven’t personally met one. They probably don’t exist anymore, or if there is one, he or she might be hiding from the world.”
“I know. Darius has been asking about it in the Brotherhood, but even with his access, none of them could find a Thaumaturge as well,” said Smoke.
“You know Beggar Legati Darius?” asked Ouragan in disbelief.
“Yeah,” said Smoke, and began to tell the old HighElf everything he knew about Darius.
They sustained their talk about the Brotherhood the whole time. From the glorious past until its recent developments. Engrossed by their topic, they failed to notice the simple wooden door in front of them.
“Oh, we’re here,” said Ouragan and stopped in front of it.
“Smoke, I’ll call you Faux behind this door,” said Ouragan in all seriousness. “I think that only those in the Brotherhood of Beggars should know about your real identity.”
Smoke had already messed that up, as he told Perdant who he really was. Trying to change the subject, Smoke grabbed the door’s handle. He tried to open it for Ouragan, but instead of opening, a notification window popped up.
|– You cannot open this door. Only the 999th Magi Gagnant Champion has the right to do so.|
“I think you better get this one yourself,” said Smoke.
Ouragan chuckled. “Behind this door lies the answer you’ve been waiting for,” he said and turned the knob.
When Ouragan opened the door, they saw the back of a slender woman emanating ruby flames in the shape of a massive phoenix.
‘Forget about looking like a noble, she looks like a phoenix goddess,’ thought Smoke, as he stared at the back of the 16th Magietrois Florissant. ‘That must be the full effect of Xantico’s Inheritance. I wonder if I’ll ever reach that level?’
He snapped out of his musings when he heard Magietrois Florissant speak. “You have done well to win the championship again,” she said with a fiery authority.
Smoke could not place it, but he felt that Magietrois Florissant seemed familiar. Yet, he quickly dismissed it, as she was about to face them.
“How many times has it been since you’ve won your first time, Ouragan?” asked Eleve, dressed as Magietrois Florissant, shrouded by the phoenix goddess flames.
“I just got lucky, Magietrois Florissant,” replied Ouragan. “By the way this is, Faux. He begged me, so he could come and see you.”
Smoke stepped closer towards the Magietrois Florissant in phoenix fire.
“Eleve! You were Magietrois Florissant all along?” asked Smoke. He felt betrayed, but somewhat relieved. Now, he could ask her his questions.
“Why do you know her real name?” Ouragan asked Smoke in surprise.
“She is my Flame Master,” replied Smoke. “But I never expected her to be Magietrois Florissant.”
“Faux, now is not the time and place for that,” said Eleve in full apathy.
She then turned to Ouragan. “I’ll be moving you to the Vitzytl Kingdom Royal Treasury. So, you could bring back one of the King’s relics.”
“You ready?” Eleve asked Ouragan.
To which the Prime Wizard nodded with all earnest.
“Remember, you will be automatically teleported back after ten minutes,” added Eleve. “So, be sure to hold onto your item by then.”
Ouragan disappeared, only the fiery afterimage of an old HighElf remained in his place.
“Congratulations on making it this far, Faux,” said Eleve. “I really thought you might beat him—”
Yet, she was rudely cut off. As soon as the Magi Gagnant Champion vanished, Smoke berated his target.
“Eleve! Why didn’t you tell me that you were Magietrois Florissant!” yelled Smoke.
“Well, because you came to me asking to be trained. No one has been to the Florissant Seminary in a while,” she said in her most lonesome voice.
“There, I am not Magietrois Florissant, but Eleve Dawkins,” she replied with sincerity. “Quite frankly, I don’t like to be the Magietrois Florissant, anymore,” she added.
Smoke did not respond, but only looked at her with betrayed eyes.
“So, I welcomed you as a fellow Florissant Apprentice,” explained Eleve. “I also cherished the fact that you know me as me, and not as some legendary figure.”
“I guess that sort of makes sense,” said Smoke. “But you should have told me that you were the current Florissant.”
“Maybe you’re right,” said Eleve. “But what’s done is done.”
“Anyway, you can ask me any questions now,” she told Smoke. “I promise to answer it to the best of my ability as the 16th Magietrois Florissant.”
Dozens of questions entered Smoke’s mind all at once. What happened to the previous Florissants? How long has she been the 16th Florissant? How does she choose her successor? Does she get paid being Florissant?
Yet, out of all these questions, one stuck out above the rest.
“Do you know any living Thaumaturges?” Smoke asked Eleve.
“Aren’t Thaumaturges supposed to be legends of the past?” responded Eleve.
Dismay instantly over came over Smoke’s face.
“But let me take a look in the restricted sections of the Kingdom’s libraries. They have a lot of rare books,” said Eleve. “Maybe I’ll find something there.”
Despite hearing her optimism, Smoke crossed his arms and let out a deep sigh.
‘What a bust,’ he thought, discouraged.
As the Prime Wizard’s time had run out, Ouragan suddenly reappeared in front of Smoke and Eleve. He was carrying a plain clay-jar.
“Out of all the things in this country’s treasury, You picked that?” Eleve asked Ouragan.
“Uh-huh,” replied Ouragan with a smile. “I think it will look great next to my set of clay-plates.”
“Smo— Faux, are you done asking Magietrois Florissant?” asked Ouragan.
“I am,” somberly replied Smoke.
“Then, I guess we better be going,” said Ouragan. “Meeting Magietrois Florissant only involves acquiring the King’s treasure.”
“I’d like to stay here and talk with Magietrois Florissant some more,” said Smoke. “Maybe she could take me with her, when she goes to the Kingdom’s libraries.”
“I could do that,” replied Eleve. “But not right now.”
She then created a teleportation circle made of flames.
“You see, there is someone else who would like to meet you both,” she explained. “He was only expecting to see Ouragan right now, but he did tell me to summon Faux as well.”
Eleve then pointed for both Smoke and Ouragan to enter the teleportation circle.
“Who are we meeting?” asked Smoke.
“Where are you taking us?” asked Ouragan.
“The two of you are heading to King Kajou’s secret chamber,” explained Eleve. “I heard that he has a special request for you both.”
After hearing this, Ouragan immediately stepped inside the casting circle. Smoke followed suit with a heavy heart. He would have rather scoured through the Kingdom’s libraries than meet its King.
“Don’t worry, Faux, we’ll talk again soon,” said Eleve.
With that, both Smoke and Ouragan vanished in front of Eleve. They left nothing but a faint fiery afterimage of themselves.
As Smoke’s and Ouragan’s afterimages vanished, a small figure stepped out from the shadows.
“You’re acting has greatly improved,” said a girl’s voice. “I truly believed that you were sick of being the 16th Magietrois Florissant.”
“Thank you, Mistress, but that was just acting,” replied Eleve and bowed down to the hidden figure.
“Of course, it was,” replied Eleve’s Mistress.
“Forgive my rudeness, Mistress, but why didn’t you tell him who you really are?” Eleve asked the girl.
“Why should I? He hasn’t even told us his real name,” replied the girl with a smirk. “Besides, the time isn’t right,” she added.
“I guess he’ll be in the dark for a little while longer,” said Eleve.
“But strangely enough, I do understand him,” added the girl. “Sometimes people have to lie in order to do the right thing.”
The elderly Eleve did not respond and only bowed down before her young Mistress.
“I’ve kept hidden from the Brotherhood of Beggars all these years,” she said. “But, maybe, I’ll show him my true self,” mused the young girl. “If he clears the King’s Quest?”