Chapter 38:

Awakening of a Catastrophe


The boat continued through a stream of darkness. Nothing, save for the gentle swishing of water and the harsh movements of a wooden oar, was heard.

It continued for a good few minutes before something was finally seen, a faint light shining from a distance. When they spent a minute getting closer to it, the students saw a greyed-out platform and a door revealed in its splendour.

Illuminated by a single lightbulb on the ceiling. The sign that an end was near. When the boat arrived at the platform, the students jumped off. At the time, only thoughts of their final challenge were ahead. Azama could've been behind that door for all they knew. Caked in his cheery demeanour. Gun and blade in hand.

"Going in!" Ceylica yelled. Then she opened the door.

Quite anti-climatically, there was no Azama. Only a long corridor decorated with armour and weaponry along the walls and an equally long series of neon colours separated into blocks on the floor.

"Renra, do you want to continue?"

"Huh?" Renra stammered.

"Do you think you belong here?"

Uh, not really, I guess.

"Well, to be honest, I'm pretty useless in a fight. I don't even know why I didn't get teleported along with the others. I don't know who Azama is even, and well, it seems I'm only really good at cooking."

His expression livened up.

"But, that doesn't change anything! I know it seems weird, but I want to see this to the end." Renra blushed. "You guys are, uh, pretty cool."

Jaiga smiled. The pretence of respect on her face. "For one without ability, you do possess the bravery to compensate. I think that in itself is commendable."

Renra reciprocated her compliment. "Thanks". He said, fidgeting. "But. I'm pretty scared whenever we get in a fight, haha."

"Overcoming fear is bravery. Acting in the absence of it is nothing."

The paladin had spoken from her heart. Long had she bore witness to cowardice. Those possessing of power and yet lacking in the ability to act. Renra, Jaiga thought, was a nice change of pace. For intrinsic characteristics like bravery are hardly cultivated. While power, on the other hand, certainly could be.

In the end, nothing changed. They walked down the corridor and stood in front of the door. That time, however, Ceylica made no rush to open it. And as a result, there was a short pause. Just as they suspected, no one was willing to open it. So, as to end that wait, Renra was the first to touch the door. He didn't push it open, however. Rather, he cherished the moment given and shared a glance with the others. In meeting his eyes, some semblance of understanding was also established.

Several others followed and rested their palms on the large double door.

"So, are we gonna countdown like a proper team or not?"

Ceylica's eyes were full of meaning. She was bobbing her head excitedly. Deciphering her intent, whether through body or face, was no grand feat.


The vampire took it upon himself to agree. Judging from the looks others were giving, the others thought the same. They were rooted then. At Ceylica's behest, a countdown had begun.




They pushed together all at once. The door swung open completely, presenting a full view of what was in front. Ahead, they saw a small walkway, no longer than two Ceylicas. And ahead of that, they saw only darkness.

Frankly speaking, the amount of setup was annoying at that point. Yet under the idea that it was indeed the final step, they felt their hearts shudder all the same. The students walked on post-haste.

A light shone from the far end of the space. Then another. Many more then radiated, lighting up in one massive circle. Shining a light on the area, the students saw a hemispherical dome of glass. It had covered the area like a lid. Protecting an audience of seated students behind who watched, eating, drinking, and frolicking amongst themselves.

With the area now visible, the students saw the area to be a massive circle. In the centre was a magical circle of darkness, ten Ceylica's high and five Ceylica's wide. On the edge, five rings of metal platforms reached up. And on the ground were randomly placed walls, unique in length and texture.

Azama's voice came from all around.

"Greetings, greetings, ladies and gentlemen! Thank you all for joining our grand event today! Before we begin, I'd like to give a big thanks to Rainee for setting up the dungeon and an extra shoutout to Kło for assisting with the monsters provided!"

A loud round of applause came through the dome.

"Now then, let's give another warm welcome to our esteemed guests here!"

A light shone; a circle in shape. Upon the students were it directed towards, and upon them bore the weight of the audience's attention.

"Say hello to Valefar, Jaiga, Renra, Tommy, and Ceylica, everyone!"

Their cheers magnified in sound twice fold. Speechless, the students only stood and watched, unaware of what to say.

"Well then, without further ado, let's get right to showbiz!"

A predatory tone nestled in that line of his. The intention was clear. Azama was coming, and whether the students were ready or not, they would have to face him. That, they expected. What they did not expect, however, was the form their enemy would take.

Presently, a veil of darkness still stood. Like a spotlight, attention had been cast on that idiosyncratic location. The unnatural mass of swirling darkness. They maintained that Azama was there, no doubt waiting.

And they were right.

The shadow dissipated a second later.

Had the students been made aware of what would be revealed, they would have stood to reconsider their position. For there was an object unlike any other.

In vague humanoid form, there existed a bipedal metal mass, sporting a giant cylinder-shaped cannon on its left shoulder and a metal gatling gun on its right. Half the height of the main school building and half as wide. A giant sword, five metres tall, dyed with a brilliant red purpose, gleaming under the ceiling lights, held in its two protruding arms.

No such thing was ever seen by the students before. Not in the very present reality before them, anyway. Maybe on television or video games, to the select few. Though, with that still considered, even past experience couldn't have rendered them unalarmed.

No consumption of media rendered Renra able to withstand the sheer pressure of the mech, for one. And as a teenage boy who remained utterly baffled, he could not help but feel as if he had been struck by a gale-force wind, ridden down into smithereens, tossed in the breeze, and sent to god knows what planes of existence.

With his eyes wide open, Renra fell back on his hands. It hurt. But not as much as the super duper large and red and menacing yet cool giant sword, could, he thought.

Struggling for balance, he yelled, "Is that a mech?!" And upon looking at it further, again yelled, "Yep, that's definitely a mech!"

"Can ye kill it?"

"Uhhh." The boy thought. "Well..." Renra paused to glance at Ceylica. He wasn't quite sure how to explain it and resolved to simplify. "Yeah, you can!"

Ceylica cracked her knuckles. "There's no reason to worry then. Let's take it down and get it over with!"

Steward McOy
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