Chapter 2:


The Spellbinding Academy

Ulysses awoke to the soft morning light filtering through the small window of their shared room. Two rickety bunk beds dominated the cramped space, one above the other, with a small wooden desk squeezed in between. Clothes hung haphazardly in the two undersized closets, competing for space with scattered books and various belongings. The faint hum of the flat-screen television set in the corner provided a soothing background noise as Ulysses rubbed the sleep from his eyes and prepared for another day in this simple dwelling.

Feeling dizzy, he wanted to go back to bed, but he knew he would face punishment. (I hate getting up,) he thought.

"If it weren't for the written stage, I would have been sleeping in," Ulysses mumbled, grabbing his head. "I wonder how well it will go?"

He felt a little unease, but thoughts flooded his mind. (I guess my roommate left without telling me anything. Maybe he doesn't care about the written stage of the tournament, which is the most boring part.) He glanced out the window, noting the clear blue sky and the gentle breeze that rustled the leaves of the trees outside. The morning light filtered through the curtains, casting a warm glow over the room.

As Ulysses grabbed his pencil case, he took a moment to appreciate the stillness of the early morning. The peacefulness of the moment filled him with a sense of calm and clarity, preparing him for the day ahead.

With a final look around the room, he made sure everything was in order before heading out the door.

As soon as he reached his class and sat down, the examination began. This is where Ulysses can truly show everyone at Club Saint Lucia how much he has grown.

After the intense exam was finally over, the room was alive with relief and suspense. The instructor collected the answer sheets and instructed everyone to head to the lunch area, where they would soon be informed of their test scores. The students strolled out of the room, their minds racing with thoughts of how they had performed. Everyone was feeling nervous as they waited to see what was going to happen.

(Ugh, my anxiety is going through the roof right now.) Ulysses thought, his stomach twisting. "I... I need to know my scores already. I need to see these results. Wait, did I answer the mathematical questions correctly? There was one question that I didn't understand, so I chose a random answer."

(Hopefully, I did them right, right? Omg, I am dishonoring my parents. I should commit seppuku.) Ulysses felt like he was going insane; he wasn't sure if he answered everything correctly or was just doubting himself.

The cafeteria buzzed with anxious chatter as students anxiously surveyed the bulletin board, searching for their names and their fate in the upcoming fights. Ulysses felt a clutch of unease form in his stomach as he made his way through the crowded space, his eyes frantically searching for Club Saint Lucia.

Finally, he found the section devoted to his country club, and his heart sank. Every name under Club Saint Lucia, except for his own, Gallifrakis II, and Yohan, was marked with a bold red "FAIL." The realization hit him like a ton of bricks. They were the only three remaining, the only ones who had not wavered under the pressure of the tests.

The noise of chatter, separated by chaotic sounds of excitement, cries, and disappointment, echoed throughout the cafeteria. The tension in the air was palpable as students huddled around the bulletin board, with the stakes high in the second stage, as everyone strived to climb the ranks and secure a spot in the tournament's third stage. Emotions ran high as friendships were tested and rivalries were sparked in the quest for glory.

Ulysses, who was in a state of shock, (Why so suddenly? Why do I need to fight her now?)

He bit his lip and looked at the results again. "Guess our match starts in the next two hours. I haven't seen Gallifrakis around; she probably already knows."

(How am I going to beat her? She is way stronger than Yohan, and I couldn't come close to her skills.)

Ulysses was standing around, having a mental breakdown; he didn't know what to do.

He frantically dialed Gallifrakis' number. Each ring seemed to mock his desperation. He pressed the keypad with increasing urgency, willing her to pick up and provide any sense of hope. But the line remained stubbornly silent, lacking even a hint of her responsive voice.

With a heavy sigh of surrender, Ulysses finally gave in, the weight of his defeat bearing heavily on his shoulders. He retreated into the confines of his room, the faint flapping of a book reminding him starkly of the daunting task that lay ahead. Gallifrakis, a formidable opponent known for her mastery of the skies and powerful army, was not to be underestimated.

Ulysses had spent the past two hours carefully studying various tactics and strategies he could employ to defeat Gallifrakis, feeling a surge of willpower course through his veins. With every piece of knowledge he had learned, he mentally noted it in his head. Taking a deep breath, he stepped out of his room, ready for the next part of the tournament. Feeling uneasy but a little confident, as Gallifrakis was a dear friend to him, he knew he wouldn't back down without a fight. This was something she had always taught Ulysses, and he was determined to stand true to this conviction. His mind was sharp, his heart filled with unwavering courage, and he was prepared for the impending battle with Gallifrakis.

"I got this," Ulysses mumbled to himself repeatedly while preparing for the upcoming battle. (I will show her just how much I've improved,) he thought to himself.

Ulysses made his way to the tournament grounds, where a grand and imposing gymnasium-type building was decorated in crisp white and regal blue. The bustling crowd gathered outside consisted of students from each country's clubs spanning the globe, each eager for the trials ahead. With a sharp eye scanning the sea of faces, Ulysses searched in vain for his comrades Gallifrakis II and Yohan.

As suspense hung heavy in the air, a distinguished male instructor emerged from the entrance, commanding the attention of all present. His authoritative voice cut through the chatter, welcoming the participants to the hallowed second stage of the tournament. With utmost professionalism, he explained the rules and regulations governing the upcoming challenges, setting the stage for a gathering of minds and skills.

"Participants of this tournament, welcome to the second area. In this battle, you will face off against your club mates to achieve supremacy rank, and either progress to the next stage or remain where you are.

Inside, you will find yourself in a room with your fellow club members, either spectating or battling. You and your opponent will be transported into a pocket dimension created by our device, Biotiv, which can design and create dimensions.

There are two ways to win in this tournament: you can win by either taking out all of your enemy troops, or capturing the enemy leader.

As for the glory of this institution, we hope you will do your best and deliver wonderful performances. You are dismissed."

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