Chapter 16:

Chapter 17: 50/50 Chance


Michael slumped against the side of the cube. On one hand, he was elated that Jodoc and Iovita had been able to choose the spheres that they had all agreed on. This was especially important because it did not interfere with what was left of the plan that he and the others had tried to set up initially. On the other hand, he was losing his mind sitting in the cube. He was getting stiff and he longed to be able to move. Waiting like this was awful and he could not stand it. He turned his mind towards the match and played some highlights of it through his head. He would be giving Jodoc a massive high five for what he had done with the self-sacrifice. He was glad to see that there was someone else on his team that was a bit selfless.

Iovita however, needed a small lecture in how to pay attention to her surroundings. “Well not a lecture but, I definitely need to talk to her and communicate how important it is to be aware of things going on around yourself.” he thought to himself.

“Well then, shall we move onto the next round?” the priest egged on. The audience cheering in satisfaction, the priest raised the microphone to his mouth. “Great and mighty Altheggan, we have called on you twice before and we now call upon you again to choose the competitors for this round.” The audience performed the gesture of reverence and drew silent.

Once again, clouds rolled in across the sky. This time though, there was no thunder or lightning, but rather eerie silence. The temperature began to drop. In fact, it dropped so suddenly within about 30 seconds that it began to snow! Shocked at what he was seeing, Michael pressed his face against the wall of his cube to see as much as possible. The snow glittered and glistened as it fell. Michael was completely spellbound. He loved snow. It did not fall often on Beatrix, but when it did, it was a dull brownish red. This level of pure white powder though, was something completely different that he was not accustomed to.

His gaze drifted and he noticed that the name board had changed! Now, there were raised walls and slots running down the board to a box on the ground underneath everyone’s name. The snow began falling harder and harder. Within minutes, the snow had formed snowballs on the top of the ledges underneath everyone’s name.

“Welcome to the next selection process,” the priest started. “Now what will happen is these snowballs will roll down towards the bottom of the stage forming a letter in the box at the bottom. Should your ball survive on the way down, you will be part of this round. Should your ball fail, or leave the boundaries that have been established, you will not be participating in this round. Instead, you will automatically be part of the final round. Now then,” he said raising his hands, “Let us begin!” There was a blaring of a horn and the ledge holding the balls up collapsed.


The balls raced down the slots, but almost immediately one of the balls froze in place and stopped moving. A few seconds later, a beam of sunlight shot out through the clouds and melted another. As the snowballs approached the center, things seemed to be a bit more stable. Another ball hit what looked like a curved slope and shot off as well. Michael’s snowball was still in the running. He looked over to confirm it, and sure enough, so was Luna’s. That meant that this round was still anyone’s game for the two of them.

The balls passed the halfway mark and another ball just stopped in place. Frozen, it was not moving. Michael could not take his eyes off of his ball. It was less than 20 percent left before it would reach the bottom. 15. Perfect. 10. Perfect. Suddenly the bottom of his board gave out and the ball hit the ground with a thud. He was in the final round as he watched Luna’s ball shoot off of the ledge to help make the letter. The snowballs all began to come down and neatly formed a “B” As anticlimactic was it was, Michael just decided to resign himself to being in the last round and begrudgingly looked over at Luna. She had a wide-eyed expression painted on her face. The problem was, Michael could not determine if it was fear or excitement. He saw something else flash in her eyes? Maybe it was just an illusion. He waved at her and gestured for her to be strong. She nodded in agreement and smiled.

Staring out from the side of his cube, Michael watched as Luna was whisked away. The snow had not stopped. In fact, every minute, the white powdery stuff was growing by leaps and bounds. Still falling, Michael noted that it was only falling on half of the field. The other half of the arena was melting rapidly. Very faint music reached his ears again. Small and minor, he knew that something was happening.

The snow was piling up in great amounts and making a plateau above the field. It was almost as if it was forming walls? He gazed over at the other side again and saw quite a sight. One the side where there was no snow, thick bushes were springing up from the ground. They too seemed to be forming walls? Actually, they were. “This is going to be quite an interesting affair,” Michael thought.

“Now then ladies and gentlemen,” the priest started, “we will now begin the next round of the sphere selection process.” The crowd as usual roared in approval. With a wave of his arm, the cubes containing those whose snowballs had survived left the ring of cubes and moved towards the stage. As they arrived, there were Kensia maids standing in attendance with full body suits of armor in hand. The cubes opened up a door on the side of the cube facing Kensia and they entered. As per usual, within a minute or so, they had left the cubes.

The priest started. “This round is unique in that as you can see, there is what appears to be a large pileup of snow that continues to grow on this side of the stage, and on the other side of the pileup is a very large rose garden. This round is a maze!”

The audience cheered harder. The priest held his hands up to silence the crowd. “The first half of this race will consist of an ice maze. Competitors must make it through the ice maze while enduring a snow storm, and,” he paused, “unnatural events.” That is to stay, the walls of the maze will change. When and where I cannot say, but don’t get caught in between. You will be disqualified if you become crushed in between the walls as they change. Once you clear the ice maze, next is the rose garden.

While it is a beautiful, lush, and inviting garden, it is also treacherous and deadly. There are plants that exist within the garden that can kill you. Some may even be plants that you already know of or can recognize. However, know this; the plants used here are more deadly. This rose garden is alive and knows everything. Should you survive the maze and find your way through, at the far end of the arena is a simple teleporter like the one you will be using to go between worlds. Simply stand on that in order to be teleported to the stage. The first person to arrive at the teleporter and stand on it, will win. Any questions?” he said with a grin on his face. It was not as if any of the competitors could respond and so he followed with, “then let us prepare!”

Michael tried to steal a glance towards Luna, but she seemed interested in the snow. He figured somehow that she would be fine. Luna did not seem to possess any faults, but at the same time, she did not seem to possess any sort of special skill set. True, they all were the same age, 25, but that was really all he admittedly knew about Luna. “She seems nice, but then again, who knows? Appearances can be deceiving,” he reflected.

“Competitors, you now have 30 seconds to prepare yourselves,” the priest said. Michael tried one last time to make eye contact with Luna, but she was in her own little world. The snow was still falling hard now and he realized too that the garden was quite high. The walls had to be close to 4 meters high. “3-2-1-Go!” the priest screamed into the microphone. With that, Luna was gone; a blur into the storm.