Age of Ember
19 Years later…
"Wake up... yo get up... god, you always do this... What do you be up to at night?”
Landon yelled at Odrian who laid sprawled out on his bed. He grew impatient as Odrian repositioned his sleeping position. Talking to someone who was still heavily asleep:
“Alright, forget this! I’m gonna have to kick the life out of you! I warned you"
Landon kicked him in the stomach violently enough to awaken Odrian. In shock he gasped for air looking toward his brother; He rubbed his eyes and yawned after breathing normally.
"Man, what the hell was that for?" Odrian sat up, clenching his stomach.
"Today's the entrance exam for the university, remember? You can't be late. You’re making me late for class."
“Oh, yeah? What time is it?”
“It’s 9am, we gotta be in at 10am.”
Odrian rushed out of bed, almost tripping as he sprint to the shower down the hallway.
"Why didn't you wake me up sooner?"
Odrian shouted with the shower running. Landon stood against the bathroom door, waiting on the outside, raised an eyebrow to his question. Was he expecting a response?
"Odrian, you should be old enough to wake up on your own! Trust me I’ve tried, you’re just a heavy sleeper.”
“Hey, just be happy there are 48 hours in a day.”
“I get it, but I guess there’s no reason why I should be over sleeping too.”
Landon stepped away from the door.
“By the way, we got training with the old man today after school."
"Isn’t it supposed to rain today?”
“Yeah, but that’s what the old man wants. He has a special assignment for us at 34:00 hours before it gets dark at 39:00 hours."
“Why can’t he just use regular people time?”
“He’s not wrong.”
“Yeah, it’s unnecessary.”
“Whatever. We gotta get going.”
The shower finally cut off for a brief moment. Landon could hear a ruckus stir in the bathroom while making his way downstairs to have breakfast with the rest of the family. Odrian stood momentarily letting the water beat on his afro. He stared into the ceiling, wondering what kind of training they would be doing today. Excited with anticipation for the day, he hopped out the shower. Then looked into the mirror and thought to himself, this 6 pack wouldn't look better on anyone else.
"I can't wait to impress some lucky lady during this exam," Odrian spoke to his reflection with a suave yet slightly sinister grin on his face. As his grin faded he stepped up against the wall to measure his height in hopes he might get a little taller.
"Ugh, I’m still 6ft?"
Odrian opened the bathroom to find Sarah waiting.
"You know, you’re not the only one getting ready today... and I still have to do your hair so hurry up and get dressed."
"I didn’t even know you were doing my hair? Where’s mom?"
"She had to leave for work early... Now hurry up, your hair isn't exactly short." Sarah ended her statement with a smug smile on her face. Odrian rushed passed her to put on his clothes. To realize that Sarah had laid them out on the bed for him while he showered. Even though they could be offbeat at times, they had a great sibling relationship with each other.
"Always looking out… I guess a smart little sister ain't so bad."
After getting dressed Odrian jumped down the stairs, grabbed his plate of breakfast off the counter which Ziggy had made.
"Oh yeah? Lets go! Ziggy's famous pancakes with French toast, scrambled eggs and sausage links," He made his way over to the kitchen counter so Sarah could do his hair. He ate as though he had awaken with a ferocious appetite, he would only stop for a moment to add more caple maple syrup. To the untrained eye, it didn’t even look like he chewed his food.
"Keep your head still," Sarah usually had a soft tone to her voice, but it had a bit of annoyance as she finished the last braid in his third ponytail. Landon, who sat at the sofa, smirked as he finished his breakfast.
"Don't forget the blades at the tips, Sarah.”
"good thing i ate before this or i would completely miss breakfast"
"sorry Sarah i'll try a little harder to not over sleep"
Odrian said with a deep level of sincerity over all the usual stress he puts on his little sister.
“Hey you two, we’re going to have to run to school.” Landon who was already waiting by the door grew impatient.
“Darn, we have 15 mins left to get there.” Sarah finally finished as she got her stuff and left toward the door.
“It's a 30-minute normal run."
“Hey, I’ve got an idea!”
Now in a time crunch, the three of them rushed out the front door and yell bye to Ziggy and he yelled back:
"Don't stay close to friends or each other!"
“Looks like dad is really losing it!” Odrian scoffed as he moved ahead of them.
The three had no idea what he meant when he said that. Odrian seemed to have an innate understanding of what their father meant. Ziggy waved and watched them running off into the distance before hopping from tree to tree at high speeds.
"19 years have come and gone already"
Ziggy sat in lawn chair on the porch, closing his eyes for a few moment. His hair and beard were peppered with gray, but he never allows himself to lose his physique. Time had certainly flew since they came into his life and it hasn't reached the point where he would start aging backwards as of yet either. The world had indeed changed.
Landon catapulted ahead of Odrian and Sarah. As the distance grew drastically, he began to see them as corsels, absurdly large turtle-like creatures that were extremely slow but durable and dangerous.
"Can you keep up you, corsels?” Landon laughed.
Feeling insulted, Sarah had sprung into the next tree gathering as much power as she could summon. With her next follow up step, she spun herself into a vortex, which appeared from the waist below, as she sped through the air. She managed to cut down the wind resistance to nothing.
"This is kind of fun." She admitted to herself with a widening grin.
Not wanting himself to be left in the dust, Odrian set up multiple white holes curving along the air. He moved from one to another with increasing velocity as they repel everything they touch. With the last white hole, he had shot himself past Landon and Sarah. Gliding as he turned toward them with a wicked smile.
"Sorry, ain’t losing today!"
They all arrived at the front entrance of the school with 2 minutes to spare.
"I really hate this 30-mile run already,” Odrian muttered still catching his breath. “We need to buy a wyvern.”
"Think of it as a warm-up," Landon laughed as he moved toward the entrance
"I'm a little dizzy.” Sarah Added to the conversation
Standing to the left of the building’s main door, on a black bench, sat a familiar face staring in their direction. 6'3” long, straight black hair and menacing crimson eyes. He seemed to be the silent type. He spoke with a deep raspy yet young voice:
"What took you so long? Always keeping a friend waiting, that’s never changed.”
“Kept you waiting, huh?” Odrian parted ways with Landon and Sarah. They waved to this stranger before heading inside the building. Odrian walked over to his acquaintance.
"Victor!!” Odrian greeted as they shook hands and patted each other on the back in a brotherly fashion. “It’s been a minute! I haven't seen you all summer. Ready to show this school what’s real?"
"Just don't destroy everything like in middle school." Victor laughed.
"H-hey, try not to say that so loud. Someone could’ve heard."
"Don't worry I pay attention unlike a certain someone," Victor responded with a smirk on his face.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
"Never mind. So, the entrance exam is in the Auditorium / battle arena this year. I wonder what it'll be about though?"
"I don't know but Ziggy said something on the lines of stay away from friends, so let’s split up here and catch up after. Cool?"
"Yeah. I'll head out first then. Catch you in the Auditorium”
Victor parted ways Odrian, who remained behind for a few moments. A part of him wanted to see how strong his friend was since he last saw him. Lost in his wild imagination, he moved forward into the building. Soon after, he began following the signs for the entrance exam. He walked all the way from the front door to the far back end of the university, up until he arrived at a huge arena. The title auditorium on an electronic overhead sign was flickering blue as Odrian walked under it.
"Wow, this is bigger than a light ball field. This has enough seats for thousands."
Congregating with everyone else, a lady, who carried a large tome in hand, was dressed in the school’s black and gold uniform. She was guiding everyone to their destination.
"All new students please go straight to the front rows! All others please go upstairs to the stands!"
She repeated this over and over. As Odrian walked into the auditorium to his left and saw Landon in the audience. He sat a few levels up by the walkway. Landon thought about saying good luck. But felt as though luck wasn’t something Odrian would need. Instead, he shouted:
Odrian throws one fist up in the air to display his readiness to his older brother. Odrian studied and trained all summer for the entrance exams, even as far as studying different techniques. He walked pass all 199 other new students with seats separated in pairs. He Looked for any remaining seat and eventually spotted one off all the way to the right next to an individual, almost his height with short, curly hair, black lifeless eyes and a goatee. Being the very last one to have a seat, Odrian caught everyone's attention.
"Have a seat it's about to start," the stranger said to him. He seemed conspicuous as he spoke. "I'm Shane by the way."
"Yeah? Well, nice to meet you good luck with the exam. Man, I sure hope I studied enough last night."
"Tell me about it. I hope so too."
Odrian and Shane engaged in idle small talk waiting for the exam to start.
"What made you want to enroll here?" Odrian asked.
"My family is poor and I need to become strong enough to become a top adventurer before the next Age of Ember. Plus I hear the girls here are “bad,” if you catch my drift."
“Yeah, I see where you’re coming from.”
"What’s your reason?"
"I'm just here for the cute girls and to learn, I guess. I was actually hoping I would be sitting next to a cute girl though."
"Ha, you and I both"
In the midst of their conversation, the arena lit up and multicolored spotlights circled around the center of the arena. A forcefield formed in front of the front row seats stretching toward the air and then encapsulating in the entire field. The whole area became dark and magical fireworks shoot up into the ceiling, spelling out welcome to "Golden Oasis University." As the sparks fell from the sky, they formed more spotlights that went towards the stage and skimmed around the audience. Eventually the lights arrived at the very center of the arena, where an individual stood on top of a floating metal platform.
She stood in an enticing posture which, with her elegant black and gold dress, accentuated her curvy figure. She was stunning with purple hair with horns protruding from them. Her blue cat eyes could pierce into a man’s soul. She looked around the room with a staff in hand. Giving a beautiful smile, she threw her staff into the air. It transformed into a microphone that floated around her body and eventually right back into her hand. As she moved the mic closer to her mouth, the crowd fell silent. With a playful, sultry voice she said:
"Welcome all new and current students to Golden Oasis University!"
The crowd cheered, roaring with an excitement so loud you could feel the ground shake with their voices alone. Everyone in the audience would eventually chant together:
Their voices filled the entire school grounds. the new students look around at everyone chanting. The spirit and energy in the room was like nothing they ever imagined once she appeared. As if she were absorbing the communal aura of the crowd, she spoke again with a pleasant smile:
"Let's get started!"
The whole arena fell silent almost immediately. She certainly knew how to command a crowd.
"Once again, it is an absolute privilege to have all of you here, especially all of our new potential students! I am the vice principal here at Golden Oasis University. Our principal, my husband, will be out on a mission for this year so I will be your acting principal. Now with no further delay, all new students reach under your seats for your kogane rings. They will help you to summon your soul item."
The new students did as instructed and found a silver ring. Without waiting another moment, she continued:
"For most, that will be a weapon and for others an item. Once you become skilled enough, you will no longer need these rings. Please put them on once I tell you. Their purpose is to help you control your Forux. As you grow your weapons will evolve or may even become a part of you. For others, they won't change but they will help in different ways. Each Kogane is different! Please master them and become stronger... Stronger than everyone else!”
She gauged the silence of the crowd. To the hopeful students, this was their defining moments. This was the difference between success or mediocrity. She wondered who would pull ahead of the rest. The possibilities intrigued her. The world was such a harsh place.
“Now without further delay, let’s begin this exam! Everyone look at the person sitting next to you! You will have to beat that person in order to get accepted into this university!"
Odrian and Shane looked over at each other.
“Sucks to be you!” Shane said in a playful manner
They both found it funny as they broke down in laughter.
"Good luck!" The Vice Principal winked as her platform melted into the ground and she faded away with a deceiving smile.