“Now to the last part of our ceremony today. Who will mentor these fine new apprentices?”
Applause thundered from the stands, albeit quieter than before. Freya noticed a few people already trying to leave. Now that the main event was over, many wanted to collect their winning bets or just escape early. But for Freya, this was the most important part of the day.
The whole point of entering into the demoniclast trials was to learn about the demoniclasts who knew about Player Cards. She needed her new master to be a part of this faction. Over the past two weeks she’d seen only four demoniclasts with green text boxes. However, that only indicated they had Player Cards. Perhaps there were more that knew about the game but hadn’t found a card yet.
Still, her first choice in mentor would be Kamdale Tolan. He seemed to be a leading figure in the game-knowing faction. Plus, Daveth had said he was looking for an apprentice.
“Many demoniclasts have gathered here the last few weeks to watch the trials. Our veteran committee has talked to those interested in taking an apprentice, and now, seeing the skills of our new apprentices, they will be matching master and apprentice! To give the announcement, please welcome Indrek Penhale!”
The crowd politely clapped with a few whistles and shouts as the stocky demoniclast walked out to the center of the ring. He seemed to be a fan favorite among the people of Corrin. A grey text box over the muscular man’s body popped up when Freya focused on him.
[Lvl 21 Demoniclast]
He briefly waved to the audience then turned to face the apprentices. An arena crew member ran to give Indrek a large device with an embedded mana stone. After he accepted it, he spoke into the apparatus.
“Congratulations,” Indrek’s voice began quiet, then boomed through the arena.
His voice sounded modified in the same way as the previous announcer, but since he was standing so close, Freya could also hear his natural voice.
“Hundreds apply every year to become demoniclast apprentices, but as I said at the start, we cannot afford to train everyone. We hold these trials every year to decide who is worth our time to teach and train. You’ve all proven your worth.”
Indrek smiled warmly as he looked over all of them.
“I hope you all will continue to shape into great demoniclasts.” His expression darkened as he continued, “Now more than ever, we need people who can fight against demons. As many of you have speculated, we shortened our trials this year. We cannot afford to have so many demoniclasts centered in one location as many smaller towns are facing increasing demon threats.”
Freya shifted on her feet as the murmurs from the crowd grew. Indrek raised his hand for quiet.
“That being said, I’m confident that the apprentices that made it through these shortened trials are just as capable as those from any other year. With the right mentor, you will all grow into valuable members of the demoniclasts.
And with that, I will name the master and apprentice pairs. First, apprentice Jensina Carlsdor, your mentor will be Alda Bernward.”
A middle-aged woman came to stand beside Indrek. Jensina quickly strode forward to greet her teacher.
“Apprentice Arthyen Casworon, you will be with Zuo Guanyu.”
“Apprentice Kartish Aransi, Tarvo Tewdar.”
Freya’s heart thumped in her chest as Indrek quickly ran through the pairings. Glancing behind herself, she noticed a group of six demoniclasts. All the mentors called so far had come from that group. Kamdale was among them. Perhaps he would be her master.
“Apprentice Botan Jia, you’re with Kamdale Tolan.”
Damn, she thought, despairing. Was this all for nothing? None of the others left seem to have Player Cards. Maybe I should try to get close to Botan? Or maybe my mentor will still be able to give me some inside information…
“Apprentice Frey Evenkey, I will be your mentor.”
[Demoniclast Apprentice Trial Event Dungeon cleared!]
[Rewards: Standard Demoniclast Sword, +750 exp]
She stared through the translucent message at Indrek Penhale. He had an arm extended out. Freya numbly moved forward to grasp his hand. Indrek gave her a strong handshake. Then she stood awkwardly off to his side as he gave some parting words.
“Thank you all for coming out to support our demoniclast trials. We’ll see you next year.”
Another text box appeared in her vision.
[Nightscythe: not the turn of events we thought, but maybe this is better?]
I suppose this is a good outcome, right? Freya thought, glancing at her new mentor.
After having a few conversations with other demoniclasts, Indrek led her outside the arena to talk in private. To escape the townsfolk, they got a private room in a restaurant. The manager took their order personally and promised their food would be out soon.
“Never underestimate the importance of good food,” Indrek said, settling into his chair.
Freya sat across from him. She felt like a small child in comparison to his large frame. Indrek was not only taller than her but also far more muscular.
“I heard you were a shaman apprentice before this,” he said.
“Yes, that’s how I learned to control my qi.”
“Did you fight demons during your apprenticeship?”
“Have you ever gotten into a fistfight with someone?”
She’d never gotten into a true fistfight with another person, but she did fight demons with her bare hands a lot.
“I can tell.”
Indrek chuckled at Freya’s bewildered look.
“You never looked comfortable with a sword in your hands. But you appeared confident otherwise.”
Freya looked at the ground, “I need to improve my swordsmanship.”
“Swords are useful weapons,” Indrek said. “But it never hurts to play to your strengths.”
A knock sounded at the door, and Indrek paused to allow the manager to serve their appetizer. The smell of fresh bread in front of them made Freya’s stomach rumble. Indrek helped himself to some, and she followed his example. In between bites, he continued.
“Besides sword techniques, I’m going to teach you exercises to get stronger. With more muscle to back up the skill you already know, I think you’ll be better. However, our time is limited.”
He tore off a large chunk of bread and frowned at it.
“I need to travel to the Brio Wyn region next week. Everything points to the beginning of a large demon infestation there. It can’t be put off any longer. Some other demoniclasts will also be traveling with us.”
Freya’s heart rose at that, “Who will we be traveling with?”
“Meng, Daveth, as well as Kamdale and his new apprentice.”
All the demoniclasts with Player Cards! Freya thought excitedly. This is perfect!