The deadline had passed and a new day dawned with most of us standing there with haggard faces as we awaited the arrival of the teachers.
The only one with energy was Urbano, who was lovingly caressing one of the newly built classrooms as he murmured endearments to it.
Shaking our heads at the youth, we turned our attention back to the trail, and soon enough, we heard the sound of footsteps as the teachers rounded the corner.
Nodding approvingly at the sight of all of us standing to attention - Urbano having been dragged away from the classroom - they stood in front of us and, for a long moment, there was only silence.
It was broken by the Etiquette and Oratory teacher, who spoke softly, “Today is the day for your test, yes?”
Nodding, we remained silent as he scanned our faces again.
Pointing at Apollo, he asked, “Can you tell me how many subjects there are?”
Quickly, Apollo replied, “13 subjects.”
Pointing to the leftmost of our line, he said, “Each person has to name one of the subjects until all the subjects are named. You may start.”
Immediately, the student on the leftmost shouted out, “Arithmetic!”
Then the next student shouted out, “Geometry!”
And so on until the following subjects were named alongside the previous two, “Astronomy, Music Theory, Grammar, Logic, History, Rhetoric, Painting, Herbology, Beastology, Potioneering, Geography, Message Carrying, Manners!”
Nodding, the Etiquette and Oratory teacher pointed at himself and asked, “What subjects would I be teaching you?”
Silence fell before Sia said, “Manners, Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric?”
Looking at her happily, the Etiquette and Oratory teacher said, “Indeed. Add in Message Carrying and you now have exactly what I am going to be teaching you.”
Then, pointing at the Arts teacher, he asked, “What about her subjects?”
Urbano was the one who answered this time as he said, “Music theory and Painting.”
Nodding at him, the Arts teacher spoke with a laugh; “I think that was rather easy, wasn’t it?”
Dipping our heads in agreement, we almost laughed along with her, but our training at Yamal Academy stopped us in time.
Stepping forward belligerently, the portly woman asked, “What about my subjects?”
This time it was I who answered, as I said, “History and Geography.”
Raising her eyebrows, she looked at me and said, “Oh? Seems like we’ve got a bright one here.” and then she broke into a smile as she continued to say, “Better be as bright as that in my class, boy!”
This time, I couldn’t resist smiling back, and to my shock; I discovered that there was no retribution that followed.
Dumbstruck, I looked at the lady, who chuckled as she stepped back.
Then it was the turn of the Herbology and Potioneering Teacher, who laughed as he said, “I’d be disappointed if anyone got this wrong. Indeed, I shall only be teaching you Herbology and Potioneering.”
Then it was the refined brute of a man who elegantly said, “And I shall be teaching you Arithmetic, Geometry, and Astronomy. What did I refer to them as before?”
“The language of commerce and the stars.” Sia replied promptly.
“Indeed, the language of commerce and the stars.” he said gently.
Then his expression changed as he domineeringly said, “And the language of war.”
Taken aback, we stared at the man, who a moment later rubbed his head as he said, “Pardon me. I do get carried away by my emotions sometimes.”
Snorting, the last teacher, the slim and beautiful woman, strode forward as she said, “I will be teaching you only one thing. Beastology. The study of beasts, the taming of beasts, and the killing of beasts.”
Reaching out a fair hand, she smiled dangerously as a massive corpse of a beast appeared in the air and fell down to the ground, shaking it.
As we regained our footing, we looked up to see the woman with one foot on the corpse, regarding us with contempt as she said, “Mutated one horned metalfoot. Was a rhinoceros before, but the mutation caused its feet and hide to change to metal. Great Lord rank when it was alive.”
As we gasped, she drawled out, “Great Lords are equal to gold ranks, by the way.” and illustrating her point, a small amount of golden aura formed into a short spear that pointed at us.
Feeling the aura, our scalps tingled as we almost dropped into battle ready positions, but we resisted… even though a few of the Maidens grunted as they stepped back.
Frowning, the Etiquette and Oratory teacher barked out, “That’s enough. Remember, we are here to teach them. Not to terrorize them!”
Tsking, the Beastology teacher turned back as she stored the corpse and said, “Who’s terrorizing them. I’m just showing them what they will have to do.”
Gulping, we cried out mentally, “Do we have to hunt a Great Lord rank monster too?”
Apparently guessing our thoughts, the Beastology teacher gently smiled at us as she said, “Don’t worry. Lord ranks will be enough as proof of graduation from my class.”
We stood there, staring at her bug eyed, until the Herbology and Potioneering teacher coughed as he said, “That… is for later. For now, let’s talk about your test, hmm?”
Nodding, the Etiquette and Oratory teacher stepped forward as he asked, “How many of you read all the chapters…. yourself?”
In the midst of raising their hands, the construction team paused as worry flashed across their eyes before they slowly lowered their hands.
Narrowing his eyes, the Etiquette and Oratory teacher looked at each of the members of the construction team before he asked, “Why?”
Mutely, they stared at the ground, and bracing herself; Sia stepped forward as she opened her mouth to claim responsibility.
Only to stop, jaw agape, as the Etiquette and Oratory teacher waved his hands and said, “It doesn’t matter. There’s no test.”
As the rest of us also stared wide-eyed at the man, he snorted as he said, “Even if you did read those 6 chapters… How much of it could you have understood? If you could understand everything, then what’s the point of us teachers then?”
Nodding, we had to agree with his reasoning, as most of us couldn’t understand half of the given content that we had studied.
Continuing on, he said, “The test was just to get you familiarized with the materials. The true teaching starts from today. Though I will warn you out of the kindness of my heart… That from now on, whatever tests or assignments we give; They will be strictly enforced and failure to comply will result in stringent punishments.”
Nodding fervently, we voiced out our agreement and then stood puzzled as three of the teachers stepped out of the line and headed out to the trail.
Looking at the Etiquette and Oratory teacher, the Refined Brutish Teacher, and the Potioneering and Herbology Teacher as they looked back at us.
Then, clapping his hands, The Etiquette and Oratory teacher said, “Let us begin, shall we?”
And so our studies began.