A few months later
In coming to Black Terrace, Terran’s plan was to graduate and join the Demon Suppression Department where he would receive an Order of Life. However, one naturally had to pick up skills and accumulate credit in order to graduate from any military institution.
One way to accumulate credit was to train under a master to learn a vocation or life skill.
However, in the same way all men were not created equal, the teachers and masters at Black Terrace were also not equal. Someone like Terran naturally had to be taught by the best.
“The best option is naturally to apprentice under one of the 13 Masters, the Protectors of the Black Sword.”
“Why not just train under all of them if they are all so great?” Terran asked.
“Dream on! One needs permission from the first master to be taught by all 13 masters. How easy is that to get? It is almost impossible.”
This conversation was between Terran and another student. Surprisingly, the man who Terran was speaking to was actually Zeri.
After their encounter in the underground bunker, the two had actually grown closer rather than apart.
“So far, of the 13 masters, there are only 5 of them currently in the institution: the Chameleon who is a master of espionage, the Musician who is a renowned artist all over Toro, as well as the Blacksmith, the Painter, and the Healer.” Zeri paused before continuing, “As for the others, I heard that they are always outside seeking the mysterious legend of Agent Know; a tale of another dimension. Very elusive, mysterious, and aloof, no one even knows where they are.”
Zeri’s words helped Terran understand the general gist of the 13 masters. However, to even train under one of them, Terran knew that he had to go through multiple hoops and hurdles. Nevertheless, this did not discourage him.
Regarding how to secure apprenticeship under the 13 masters, Terran already had a solid plan. As the top student in Black Terrace, it could be said that Terran had the most contact with ‘the General’. In his interactions with this military leader, he had actually discovered a shocking secret.
A few weeks ago Terran had visited the General’s office; he knocked only to find a woman in the room. At first, he did not know who it was. But given the woman’s mannerisms, Terran who frequently interacted with the General was able to grasp some clues.
Even more damning was that when caught red-handed, the woman actually tried to brush everything aside as if it did not happen. Terran was even surer about his guess. That day, he must have uttered the words, “I am not blind” over a dozen times.
The woman’s real name was actually General Zafarani; titled Zafarani the Cobra (cobra saffron).
Although she usually dressed as a man, she was actually a woman.
From that day, Terran had a shared secret with this powerful woman. And needless to say, he also smoothly got the general’s recommendation to study under a true master. The relationship between Terran and Zafarani also became much closer; from a superior-subordinate relationship to close confidantes.
“Mr. Magnet, you also got called in as well?”
On a particular uneventful day, Zeri had been summoned to the general’s office only to meet Terran on the way there. The name Zeri used, Mr. Magnet, and Magnet Man were some of Terran’s nicknames within the military school.
Entering the general’s office, the first thing Zeri saw was a beautiful woman. Beautiful beyond reason! He was tongue tied for a moment struggling to recover any semblance of composure.
“Who are you?” Zeri asked in shock, “I would have remembered a girl as beautiful as you within these military walls.”
“Girl! What do you mean girl? Oh right!” The woman in the middle of the room responded in doubt before looking at herself.
‘This fellow sure is careless. Did she forget to put on her disguise yet again?’ Hearing Zafarani’s exclamation, Terran knew that she had actually forgotten her usual daily routine when she called them here.
Terran shook his head in naked disappointment aimed towards Zafarani, ‘She probably thought she was still in her male ‘the General’ disguise!’ He naturally made sure that Zafarani would notice the ‘disappointment’ in his gaze.
With a sly smile, he quickly corrected Zeri’s words, “Shut up Zeri, this is not a girl! This is a beautiful woman!”
At the same time he said this statement, Terran was also winking secretly but also repeatedly to the general.
It was as if he was afraid that she would not notice his clear mockery.
‘What an unruly pair of brats.’
How could Zafarani tolerate such level of teasing? She was even more intent on punishing these two.
Expectedly, both Terran and Zeri got a severe beating that day.
“Come in!” After straightening out the two youngsters, Zafarani suddenly called out to a door at the side of the office.
From that door, a woman walked in. Elegantly.
White hair, shiny black pants like spandex, long legs, and a face like a fairy.
This woman was devastatingly beautiful.
It was not only her looks that were dashing, but her sense of dressing was also highly provocative. Terran and Zeri were awed beyond measure.
As a famous writer once said, “When they are flaunted it’s unappealing, but just a little glimpse is a good feeling.” This woman had mastered the art of showing just the right amount to leave people wanting more.
Her impact on others was the embodiment of the saying, “Unsatisfied desire is in itself more desirable than any other form of satisfaction.”
When Terran saw this woman, his blood was bubbling. It was a new level of excitement that he did not even know his body was capable of.
When she turned her eyes to look at him, Terran could have sworn that an invisible lightning bolt flew from her eyes into his, or vice versa; heck, he was not even sure of anything anymore.
But what was clear at this moment was that he was completely won over.
And to his embarrassment, it seemed as if the woman had noticed how lost he was in her eyes. A soft chuckle escaped her deep red lips arced into a somewhat mischievous smile. Terran suddenly understood the meaning of the words, 'Once the giver now the receiver.'
What a smile! Badum! Badum! Terran’s heart was thumping heavily. His mind was utterly consumed.
For a moment, he was completely lost in the scene.
“Meet your immediate superior; you will be working under her from now on.” Zafarani’s words suddenly broke Terran out of his daydream.
“Superior? Are we being transferred?!” Zeri asked, “Where are we even going?”
After all, they had just been regular military students up to this moment. Zeri could not help but wonder why they were getting a superior in the first place. It’s like getting a job without even sending in an application.
However, Zafarani did not bother to explain anything to Zeri. Instead, she went ahead and introduced the woman they would be working under.
The woman’s name was Nawiri Alizeti (blooming sunflower).
After introducing the woman, Zafarani could not be bothered to continue dealing with Terran and Zeri again.
“Follow her to the Underground NOW! I don’t want to see your ugly dog-faces again.” She shouted at them while hurriedly chasing them away.
Begrudgingly, the two could only leave with nary an explanation about where they were going or how they were even selected for the job in the first place.
Leaving through the side door in Zafarani’s office, the corridor was actually slanted downwards! Headed deep into the earth!
“You two were chosen ‘cause you are the top students in your respective years,” Nawiri’s voice entered the two young men’s ears. To say her voice was smooth like silk would be an understatement. There was probably nothing more beautiful, more divine, or more elegant than her voice. If there was, Terran had never heard it.
“The underground is a secret world that not many in Toro even know about. It is a pseudo-underworld that exists right beneath the ground that we walk on.” By the time she finished this sentence, the three people had already walked deep underground along the slanted corridor.
At the end of the corridor and beyond a giant steel door, Terran could hear the sounds of metal clinging and clanging.
“Beyond this place is the Infernal Demon Gate,” Pushing open the giant steel door, Nawiri finally led Terran and Zeri into the world hidden beneath the surface.
What entered Terran’s pitch black eyes was the sight of a reddish black gate standing tall in the distance. Around this gate, there were countless blacksmiths working tirelessly to reinforce the gate at all times. There was only one road leading all the way to the gate. Apart from this road, everything else was molten lava and steaming black rocks. It was a literal hellscape!
On the road leading up to the gate, there were many priests and exorcists as well. Unlike the blacksmiths who were basically half naked due to the nature of their work, the priests and exorcists were dressed in either red of grey garments. They also had all kinds of ritualistic instruments on their person.
When Terran looked farther, he also noticed countless demonized creatures chained up in the distance to the right and left of the gate.
Seeing all this, Zeri and Terran almost climbed back up the slanted corridor to beg General Zafarani for another assignment.
“What kind of Hell is this?!” The two had almost exclaimed at the same time. However, no matter how fearsome it was, this world would be their ‘workplace’ from now on.