Chapter II
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The laughter continued but now William and Arun gazes were locked. After a few tense moments, William finally broke away.
" You've got some guts I'll give you that. I'll enjoy seeing you put in your place."
And with that William backed off. The small crowd gathered over time dispersed as well once the spectacle was over.
" The nerve on that guy. " Bohdi spat.
" Leave him be. He's from the wealthiest family in our city, best not trifle with him too much. " Aileen shook her head. "More importantly, Arun, are you really shooting for Divine Flame? ".
" Well, I mostly said that in order to spite William off, but yes. It's the best forging school in East City and it's controlled by one of the 5 top sects in our country "
Aileen sighted " Listen, Arun, I am going to tell you this straight. You don't have the abilities. Only the best of the best are able to get into that school. I know your knowledge about forging materials and techniques is unrivaled for our age, but your cultivation is just so-so at best! You need to be at least high- human stage in order to get admitted, you barely entered low- human stage! Realistically, it's impossible! "
" Aileen! " Bohdi intervened " You're going too far, you can't tell Arun what he can and can't do, he should pick that himself! "
" I'm just being realistic here! Such nonsensical high aims will only serve to disappoint him! "
Bohdi didn't look quite done with the argument but before he could reply Arun did:
" Listen Aileen, I know that you mean well but believe me or not, I will become the best cultivator I can be, and for that I'll take the best school I have acces to. Actually, I know you don't believe me, even Bohdi doesn't, but that's fine, I will just have to show you. "
" I just can't even with you... " Aileen replied defeated, but still managed to crack a smile " Your stubbornness must have reached heaven- level already "
" You are right about that sis " Bohdi chuckled.
" Ehh... " Arun responded, his face turning a bit red for a moment before he suddenly continued " Now, now, we are avoiding the real elephant in the room. How was the exam? How did you guys do? How did you answer the question... "
" And he's back to normal. We had a moment of respite there for a bit... " Aileen was the one to chuckle this time.
" Yeah " her brother nodded decisively.
" Ooi, are you guys ignoring me? Stop it! Answer me, I need answers!! " Arun said exasperated.
" Fine, fine here's the gist of it... "
With the incident now off their minds, the kids start eagerly discussing the exam while they made their way home. It would seem like Arun did the best with Aileen scoring very high and Bohdi sitting somewhere around a respectable 75/100 points.
" Oof.. you guys, I didn't even do that bad but you two make me feel like I'm the worst. " Bohdi cried out.
" Well, you sorta are. Come on, Bohdi, I'd expect better things from my twin " Aileen teased.
" We are twins only in appearance. I cannot say that I have a lot in common with an ice- hearted cultivation monster such as you... "
Bohdi and Aileen were indeed very similar in appearance, Aileen's long black hair, pale skin and green eyes very much matched Bohdi's. But everywhere else...
" Huh? Monster you say? " Aileen smiled menacingly at Bohdi. " Dear brother, may I know what you mean by that? "
" Oh, no... uhm... sis I was just saying that you were a very strong cultivator.... auch, auch au.."
Bohdi cried out while Aileen was oh-so-gently pinching him.
" You sure we're, brother. "
" Bohdi, Bohdi, you never learn, do you? You should know by now what your sis evolves into once she's pissed "
" Evolves? And into what exactly do I evolve? Please, do enlighten me, dear friend!" Aileen now turned her attention towards Arun.
" Dumbass " Bohdi murmured.
Arun promptly realized his crucial error and activated flight mode " Uh... well that would be... Oh! would you look at that? we are at the station already! Oh, how time flies! Well, gotta go now, see ya tomorrow! Good luck at the second part of the exam! "
" Arun, get back here this instant! "
" Can't do I have a very important thing to do! Bye now, have a nice day! And good luck Bohdi!"
" Hahaha, good luck to you Arun! May the ki be with you! "
" What are you laughing at? " Aileen said as she smacked Bohdi, than she looked at the now distant figure of Arun and whispered " Good luck to you too dumbass. Make sure to ace this..."
Arun made his way trough the dim-lighted streets. The examination building was far away from the slums and the buss ticket was expensive so he had trust his good old feet to take him home. He did not spend all that time admiring the view tho, his eyes were deeply burrowed into a book called " Modern crafting techniques ". The second part of the separation exam was just a couple hours away and he was trying to cram as much as he could before it started.
The separation exam, aptly called because of its role to sort people into normal high-schools and cultivation high-schools, had 3 rounds. One was the written exam, which Arun had just taken, than there was the cultivation test, and the custom round, in which the kids had freedom to choose between a few options ( combat, pill-refining and forging ). While your option didn't matter to the final grade, it was taken into consideration by the high-schools. For example, if you wanted to apply to a school that specialized on pill-refining, you would need to undertake the pill-refining round.
Arun taken on forging for the second round. He always liked creating things, ranging from new kinds of food to crude machinery. His materials were cheap and faulty and he would often fail , but hei! it was in the name of science! and he learned something new every time! Plus, his grandfather always encouraged his little obsession. He always sang praise to the potential cultivation held in bettering everyone life's, up until the day he passed.
This time however, Arun was especially excited for tomorrow. He devised a new way, a completely different technique that promised to improve every build he forged dramatically. He quickly ran his fingers trough every line of the book. None of the techniques presented in this book were similar to what he was thinking about, but it did contain the basics which were useful to review.
* Ok, so I I'm not mistaken, if I apply my ki around this part it than I... * Arun suddenly halted. After listening to his surroundings for a moment he closed his book:
" Sigh... I knew I shouldn't have taken the shortcut... why was I so greedy for time... "
Arun took a short way home this day in order to have time to test his theory. This was a risky move, although the slums where know to house people with low-cultivation, these parts were known for their powerful and aggressive gangs.
" Kid's got pretty good perception, gotta give him that " A tall man appeared from behind the alleyway.
" That's pretty demoralizing I thought I hid good"
" Well, I guess we gotta do this the hard way than " Another two people emerged from the shadows on the other side of the alley. Arun was trapped.
* The tall guy is in high human stage and there are two medium stages behind me. If they cultivate any techniques I might be in trouble. *
" What a lovely welcome! Didn't know that the people around here where so friendly! "
" hahaha, of course were friendly. " the corpulent thug let out a crooked smile. " So friendly that we are even willing to protect kids who walk around these parts at night! We only ask for a little coin, that's it... "
* And here I was, thinking that walking was cheaper than taking the bus * Arun remarked.
" If you're after money than I'm afraid you've picked the wrong person. I'm as broke as they come " Arun said showing his empty pockets.
" That's hardly a problem, if we help you back to your home, I'm sure your parents will show their gratitude to us. "
* These guys... they even plan to ransom me... they won't leave me alone even if I tell them that I'm by myself. I guess there's no way to resolve this peacefully... But I can't fight them now, it would take too much energy to beat them all and I have the exam tomorrow... let's see, what to do? *
" Oh? But mommy told me not bring strangers home " Arun tried his best impression of a clueless face.
" I'm sure mommy would understand, right? "
" Stop wasting your time, this kid ain't biting it" the tall thug intervened " Catch him! ".
* Huh. This one's sharper. *
" Yes, Boss. Sorry kid I didn't want it to come to this " The talkative thug said as he quickly approached Arun and tried to grab him by the neck.
* Here we go * Arun took a deep breath, than proceeded to take ki from within his body and concentrate it in his hands. Taking a step back, he intercepted the attack by grabbing the thug's hand in a flash, than pulled with all his might. Caught off-balance, the thug found himself helpless as he was hurled at his boss. A loud thud resounded trough the alleyway as the boss caught his underling. While the force of the impact wasn't quite enough to knock out the high human stage fighter it managed to force him back a couple steps.
" Darn you." the tall thug cursed his underling and the kid.
Making use of the time in which two other thug's were occupied Arun launched an attack at the remaining underling that was blocking his path.
" Bear punch " This technique was one of the most basic ones taught at his secondary school. It was just a low human stage technique and didn't have much power by itself but coupled with his concentrated ki technique it packed quite a punch.
The mid-stage underling managed to block his blow but his guard was broken by the impact, arms flinging in the air, leaving him open to a second strike. Instead of striking however, Arun used the opening to summersault the man.
Now, with no adversary blocking his path, Arun concentrated his ki in his legs.
" That was fun. Sadly I don't have time to continue this now so I shall bid my farewell! "
" You punk! Don't you think you can get away so easily! " The tall thug, now fully recovered from the shock leaped towards Arun.
" Oops, that's dangerous " Arun started sprinting away from the scene. However, even with his ki concentrated in his legs he wasn't managing to lose the high-human stage.
" If you come back here I can still let you go whiteout being harmed... too much " The tall thug, which was getting increasingly frustrated as the chase went on spat.
" You know I'm running towards a police station... right? " Arun smirked.
Realizing his mistake the thug stopped dead in his tracks.
" Kid! If I catch you again around these parts I'll break your legs! "
Than he finally disappeared out of the line of sight.
Arun silently thanked God for his ki concentrating technique. This technique allowed him to contend with high human cultivators although he was just in low human stage himself.
Under usual circumstances, any other cultivators ki was covering their whole body, it was just the natural state of being, ki existing only in one part of the body was just unheard of. This was due to the fact that ki flowed from the dantian from the moment a human was born, becoming an unchallenged constant in the human mind. It took Arun weeks until he managed to wrest some control over the ki flow from his subconscious. Probably the most successful of his crazy, outlandish experiments.
"yawn... I'd better head to home now... this was exhausting..."