Chapter 56:

Ch 56 - The Grandmasters Hubbub

St Chaos Healer

As we candidates stood at attention, the tension in the room was palpable. All eyes were fixed on the nine spatial doors, which were about to reveal the grandmasters in the flesh. The only sounds were our breathing and the eerie buzzing of the spatial dimension doors echoing throughout the chamber.

In the world of magic, the title of a grandmaster was reserved for only the most accomplished mages. These mages had reached the highest tier of the "True mage" category, and their divine spirit had grown and developed its own sentience. Although mages could make contracts with divine spirits and gain access to their skills, the spirits themselves remained dormant and unconscious most of the time, only occasionally communicating with their hosts through cryptic messages.

To fully awaken the divine spirit and become a grandmaster, mages had to grow stronger and develop their mana heart through experience. Those who successfully awakened their divine spirits were granted the revered title of grandmaster and were known for their incredible power and knowledge. In fact, grandmasters were held in such high regard that they were often regarded as heroes by nations and people alike.

The spatial doors fluctuated and I saw feet appear from the dimension, followed by the arrival of a tall, muscular man with short, cropped hair and a perpetual scowl on his face. He had fiery red hair tied up in a ponytail style with a rugged beard.

The man wasted no time before speaking up. "Old man, how dare you make me wait so long?" he growled as he entered.

Sigurd kept a calm appearance and responded,

"I apologize for keeping Grandmaster Travis and the other grandmasters waiting. I had some important head mage duties to attend to, which took longer than expected. But now that I've taken care of those pesky little details, we can proceed with the ascension ceremony."

Grandmaster Travis, also known as the Rowdy Mad Dog of the Bloodfire academy, is a notorious figure in the kingdom. He's infamous for all the wrong reasons and his antics make headlines in the newspaper almost every week. Here are some examples:

One time, the Mad Dog protected a city from ruffians but his attacks caused widespread destruction and even death. He simply shrugged it off as 'collateral damage' for the greater good, leaving the city a barren wasteland.

Another time, he taught some villagers a lesson by evaporating their only source of water - a lake - just because they couldn't serve him their famous ale. The villagers had to abandon their homes to find a new place to live.

Then there was the headline about Governor Shelby's daughter marrying Mad Dog. In reality, he had kidnapped her and forced her to join his harem. When the governor tried to take action, the Bloodfire academy simply replaced him the following week.

The only reason Travis gets away with his crap is that Travis's brother is the head principal of the Bloodfire academy, and Travis himself belongs to a noble house with strong ties to the royal family. Even Travis's own colleagues steer clear of him to avoid getting mixed up in his troubles.

Travis scowled at Sigurd's nonchalant response. "Just an apology for wasting my time? Do you take me for a fool, old man?"

Sigurd remained silent, unfazed by Travis's anger.

"Stop your blabbering, Mad Dog," a woman's voice interjected. "The first thing I hear when I enter here is your howling. Cut the old head mage some slack. It's not like you had anything better to do anyway."

The woman who spoke was stunning, with black hair, bright red eyes, and a curvy figure that commanded attention. She carried herself with grace and a serious expression on her face.

Travis turned to face her, his anger subsiding as he smiled. "Hamanthra, my dear, you're as beautiful as ever. What do you think of my proposal? I'm sure I could make you live like a queen."

Hamanthra, the Grandmaster of Starlight Nexus, is a widely known and respected mage in the kingdom. Her talent for fire magic was evident from a young age, and she quickly became known for her ability to wield flames with deadly precision. Many tales abound of her enemies meeting a fiery demise at her hands, with nothing left but ashes and cinders.

But it's not just her mastery of magic that has earned her renown. Hamanthra is also admired for her beauty and strength, with a fanbase that stretches far and wide. Men from all over the world have proposed to her, but she has turned down each one of them, choosing to remain devoted to her craft. Despite being in her thirties, she still looks like she's in her twenties, and her youthful energy and beauty only add to her mystique.

No wonder Travis suddenly shifted into being romantic, instead of getting angry.

Although the way Travis licked his tongue and ogled Humanthra made it clear he had obscenely lascivious thoughts about her.

“Spare me. I'd rather marry a donkey than accept your ridiculous proposal,” said Hamanthra as she spat on the ground in spite.

Travis was taken aback by her blunt response. Before he could react, a muffled laugh echoed in the room.

"Who dares to laugh?" Travis roared, scanning the room.

As candidates, we all stood frozen with fear. We knew how unpredictable Travis's temper could be. He wouldn't hesitate to attack us for no reason. We prayed silently that he wouldn't lash out at us.

Despite us, candidates coming from the boonies knew how bad Travis's temper was. He wouldn’t bat an eye crushing the young feeble candidates, just like stepping on ants.

Finally, a handsome young man with short black hair and piercing blue eyes walked out of one of the spatial doors, snickering. “Oh, I’m sorry but that just caught me off guard. Hehe,” he said, still chuckling.

Travis was fuming, but he tried to suppress his anger, although it was still audible.
“If it isn’t the conniving little rat, Biswaq. You are still breathing? I thought you had met your untimely demise in the longshore battle last month. It seems that you have lived long enough, and fate has it that I must put you out of your misery by my own hands.”

Biswaq, the grandmaster of the Radiant Sanctum, was a mage of unparalleled skill and speed. He was renowned throughout the kingdom for his mastery over the element of wind, which he wielded with incredible finesse and dexterity. Known as the ‘Great Swift Gale’, Biswaq was a man of many legends and stories that spoke of his extraordinary abilities.

One such tale was of how he alone infiltrated an enemy kingdom to gather intelligence, braving countless dangers and obstacles. When he was eventually discovered, he was chased by enemy mages for weeks, but none could capture him due to his unparalleled speed and cunning. Biswaq's speed was truly like the wind, allowing him to cross great distances in the blink of an eye.

Biswaq's fame extended beyond his skill with magic, however. He was also renowned for his striking appearance and rugged good looks, which had earned him a legion of adoring female fans.

As the news of Lord Biswaq being the judge for their ascension ceremony spread amongst the female candidates, their excitement couldn't be contained. “Oh, my lord. Lord Biswaq will be judging our ascension ceremony,” whispered one of the female candidates with a dreamy sigh.

“He really is such a handsome guy,” another girl chimed in, gazing in awe at the approaching grandmaster.

“Is he really a human?” a third girl wondered out loud, her eyes still fixed on Biswaq.

The girls were starting to get chatty, and we male candidates were feeling a bit overshadowed.

“Hey girls, I think you should calm down a bit. You don’t want to upset Grandmaster Biswaq with your noises, do you?” said one of the male candidates, trying to make these girls realize their original situation.

The girls looked a bit taken aback, suddenly realizing the gravity of the situation. But Biswaq had already noticed them, and he winked at us candidates with a charming smile that showed off his pearly white teeth.

“Oh my lord! Lord Biswaq just looked at me,” one of the girls exclaimed, her heart pounding with excitement.

“No, he looked at me!” another girl insisted, clearly smitten with the grandmaster.

“That wink, I think I'm in love,” muttered a third girl, lost in a whirlwind of emotions.

As for us male candidates, we exchanged glances and shrugged, knowing full well that we couldn't compete with Biswaq's charm and charisma. We could only hope that our skills and dedication would be enough to impress him during the ceremony.

“Please Biswaq, control your young fangirls. It's unsightly nevertheless.” muttered a tall man, in a deep voice.

The man had walked out of the spatial door as well. He had broad shoulders and a thick beard wearing a full torso of steel armor. As he talked he glared at us candidates with stern eyes.

The girls quickly stop their fawning over Biswaq and remember their place. Although, we boys also had to face angry stares thanks to these unrestrained fan girls.

Biswaq looked at the man who spoke,

“Grandmaster Gunther, always so uptight as ever. If these kids won’t make a racket then who will? Let them be, stop scaring them.” said Biswaq.

Gunther, the grandmaster of the Sapphire Citadel academy.
He is a man of few words, preferring action to idle chatter. He is a master strategist and tactician, able who has multiple victorious battles under his belt. His shrewd mind has kept the kingdom’s enemy in the south in check for decades.

Gunther finally let go of his angry gaze and turned it to Biswaq,

“You are as nonchalant as ever Biswaq, despite that shameful defeat in the Longshore battle,”

Biswaq, unfazed, just laughed dryly.
"Come on, don’t need to bring that up. Also, it was a tactful retreat. Why are you bringing it up in front of my fans? Please don’t do that."

Gunther walked forward, his steps heavy on the ground.

"Whatever," he said, dismissing Biswaq's words

As the spatial doorway opened once again, three more figures emerged side by side. The sound of their footsteps echoed across the room, and we all turned to see who was coming. Out of the three, two were men, and the other was a woman.

The first man, a dark-skinned man in his 50s, had a muscular build that was apparent even through the layers of clothing he wore. He had graying hair that was visible on both his hair and beard. Scars on his arm went up to the inside of the sleeves of his shirt, and he was wearing an eyepatch on his left eye. It was clear that this man had seen his fair share of battles. This man was none other than the famous grandmaster Harnold, of the Arcane Forge.

The other man was a tall blonde man wearing a white business suit, with gloves on his hands. He had neatly combed hair, and a rapier hanging from his hip. At first glance, he looked more like a typical businessman than a grandmaster, but his confident gait and bright smile revealed something more. This was Pierre, and he was not to be underestimated.

Pierre recognized Harnold and greeted him with surprise. "Grandmaster Harnold! It's a pleasant surprise to see you here. Are you taking a break from your workshop? I hope the forge is still alive with the sound of your hammer creating new artifacts."

Harnold's piercing stare met Pierre's gaze, but he remained silent. Pierre, undeterred, chuckled and continued, "Or are you still thinking about the weapons deal we had last time? Don't worry, I offered you the best deal for your finest weapons."

Harnold turned his gaze to the side and stayed quiet, still brooding over the past deal.

Pierre, realizing he had touched a sore spot, scratched his head sheepishly. "Well, it's good to see you anyway."

As Pierre's attention shifted to Casia, he noticed her standing there in a modest white cloak, looking beautiful as always. He greeted her with a smile, "Ah, Lady Casia, it's always a pleasure to see you. You look as lovely as ever."

Even Harnold gave a silent nod of greeting to Casia, indicating his respect for her.

Casia Melvendia, the grandmaster of the Celestial’s Mercy, stood confidently before the two rather peculiar grandmasters, Pierre and Harnold. Her long, flowing blonde hair and bright blue eyes, along with her silk white robes, gave her the appearance of a noblewoman. Despite the unusual situation, Casia remained composed and graceful, displaying no signs of concern or fear.

With a charming smile, Casia returned the greeting to Pierre and Harnold. "Greetings, Grandmaster Pierre and Grandmaster Harnold. I am doing well, thank you for asking. How about you and your business?"

Pierre responded with a grin, "As always, it's booming as always~” However, he was interrupted by Harnold, who was staring at him in silence.

Pierre quickly changed the subject, "Let's talk about that another time. We should greet the other grandmasters here. Looks like we are not the last ones to arrive. That’s great."

Just then, Biswaq appeared and greeted them warmly, "If it isn’t the two oddballs Grandmaster Pierre and Grandmaster Harnold. Certainly strange to see you two here. I guess it's alright for you to leave your affairs behind for such frugal matters. Nice to meet you as well, Lady Casia."

Travis then appeared and made a crude comment, "Tch, what's a businessman and old fart doing here? Where are all the ladies?" He quickly caught himself and redirected his attention to Casia. "Miss Casia, how are you doing? Looking lovely as always."

Casia maintained her composure despite Travis's inappropriate behavior. She responded politely, "I am doing well, Grandmaster Travis. Thank you for asking.”

She stood right beside Hamanthra.

“I'm glad to see another fellow woman here. I was rather suffocated with all the testosterone-filled in this chamber here,” said Hamanthra while scoffing.

“It’s also great to see you doing well, lady Hamanthra.” greeted Casia.

As the room filled with murmurs, Pierre spoke up and asked, "Where are the other grandmasters of the Mind’s Eye and Ivory Tower?". Grandmaster Gunther grunted in response, clearly agitated. "Being late to such crucial matters, Ivory Tower is one thing but even Mind’s Eye acting like this-" he grumbled.

Suddenly, a shadowy figure appeared beside Grandmaster Gunther, seemingly materializing out of thin air. "What’s that you were talking about the Mind’s Eye, Grandmaster Gunther?" the figure asked in a deep voice.

Gunther scoffed, clearly unimpressed. "Tch," he grunted in response.

"Lady Messindra, you always love to make an appearance, don’t you?" Biswaq said, acknowledging the figure's arrival.

The mysterious figure was revealed to be Grandmaster Messindra of the Mind’s Eye academy, shrouded in a hooded cloak. Her eyes, when visible, glowed with a faint blue light, and her tight jumpsuit showcased her lithe, graceful build.

Pierre directed his attention to Messindra and asked, "Did you just arrive now, Lady Messindra?"

Messindra replied in a calm, collected manner, "Well, I have been here for a while, I just didn’t want to get involved in petty talks. That’s all."

Pierre seemed disappointed for some reason, replying with a simple, "I see."

As Biswaq was about to continue the conversation, a commotion at the entrance caught everyone's attention. The gate creaked open and a massive figure emerged, drawing gasps from the assembled heroes. The man was twice the size of Sigurd in his celestial possession state and had a rugged beard with a bald head. His muscles were bulging out of proportion and he wore a pair of rugged pants. The ground shook with every step he took, crushing pebbles like they were nothing.

"Haha! It seems that everyone's here. Great!" he boomed, his voice echoing across the room.

Travis muttered under his breath, "So the Ivory Tower sent their Walking Giant, Ajax. No wonder they are running late."

Hamanthra rolled her eyes and muttered, "Damn. He's an even bigger loudmouth than Travis. This ascension is going to be a pain for sure."

"You're late," Pierre said sternly, though he himself was not exactly punctual.

Ajax just laughed in response, "Haha! Heroes always tend to arrive at the last moment. Anyway, I got late because I was busy eating this fine-roasted 4-armed Bull Bear. Here, have some," he said as he reached behind him and pulled out a chunk of meat.

The meat looked soggy and was dripping some sort of oily fluid. Just one glance was enough to make it clear that it was not exactly hygienic.

Pierre took two steps back, repulsed. "Geez, keep that thing away from me. I can't believe you were late because of lunch. Don't you know you're here representing the Ivory Tower?"

Ajax shook his head and took another bite, smacking his lips. "Well nom I'm sure the academy noms won't mind."

Everyone else looked on in disgust and disbelief.

“For fuck sake, don’t talk while eating.” scoffed Hamanthra.

“Disgusting pig,” muttered Travis.

Hamanthra looked at Travis,

“You are no better either,”

“I am a lot better than that pig,” argued Travis angrily.

“Lady Hamantra, please cut some slack for Grandmaster Travis,” said Casia pleadingly.

“Tch, you are too kind Casia. Men are such boorish creatures,” added Hamanthra.

“Hey! Don’t group all men together,” said Biswaq.

“Stop this childish nonsense and get on with the ascension ceremony.” remind Gunther.

“This is exactly why I hate the ascension trials. What a drag” added Messindra.

Only Harnold stood quietly waiting for them to settle this on their own.

The tension in the air was palpable as the grandmasters continued their squabbling, with no regard for the impending ceremony that was supposed to take place. Just when it seemed like the situation was spiraling out of control, Head Mage Sigurd intervened. He stretched his arms wide and brought them together with a loud clap that echoed throughout the chamber, effectively ending the bickering and capturing everyone's attention.

"Grandmasters," he began, his voice firm and commanding. "I shall start preparing for your appropriate seating in a moment and begin the ascension ceremony at once. Until then, please enjoy your conversations."

The grandmasters nodded in agreement, realizing that it was time to focus on the task at hand. Biswaq stepped forward and thanked Sigurd for his efforts, showing his appreciation for the Head Mage's important role in the ceremony.

"Thank you, Head Mage Sigurd. I shall leave the arrangements to your kind hands," he said, showing respect and gratitude towards Sigurd.

Sigurd nodded in response and made his way toward the candidates, who had been waiting patiently for the ceremony to commence. As he reached us, he spoke in a commanding tone that took us all by surprise. Finally, we were getting the attention that we deserve.

"Get off the platform, now," he ordered, his voice leaving us stunned and confused.