Chapter IX
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The main hall of the Department was now a maze of stalls, each one decorated by unique vibrant colors and displays. This was the site where they would apply for the cultivation high's and late arrivals such as Arun were busily passing by.
 
The admission procession was fairly straight forward. Firstly, students would fill a list with their preferences in order. Then, they would than go apply at the stalls. From there, the applies were to be accepted/declined, mostly trough automated standards. Though some of the more lucky or talented ones got accepted trough discussions of recruiting committees of the schools. The accepted/denied file would be sent to the department. An advanced computer would calculate these factors, taking into account the student preferences and the accepted/denied applications. For example, if a person got denied from their first preference, but accepted at the second they would attend the second one. Finally, the results were shown on hologram displays accessible from different viewing halls throughout the Department.
 
" Haven't you guys already applied? " Arun asked.
 
" We did, but the viewing rooms are boring... and there's nothing like assisting an friend! " Bohdi winked to him.
 
" The store might close if we don't hurry you up " Eileen declared, about as subtle as a brick.
 
" Woaah I really feel like I'm being driven... " Arun kept a high pace, as to keep up with Eileen.
 
" Oh, no Arun, quite the opposite, you're being dragged. "
 
The stall of the Divine flame. One of the first stalls in the gigantic maze and undeniably the largest one in its part. No more than a dozen attendees were waiting to apply. While this might have seemed like a large number for any other school, it was quite free for them, as the usual application que at this prestigious school was said to regularly surpass a hundred. Fortunately, it was quite late in the process, and the que was reduced to a manageable number. Unfortunately, the students in said que were not the friendliest bunch.
 
" Oh would you look at who I found here? It's none other than the weak fool who picked a fight with the elite! Are you looking in awe at this stall? Good, you can't even dream of entering here, let me drive you to the place you belong, let's see, maybe out of this section, towards the slums? " the young man and his cohort started laughing.
 
Arun smiled brightly and asked: " I'm sorry, but I don't believe we've met, do tell me, why should I care about what you just spat? "
 
" Oh? That's to be expected from an ignorant fool. I was there that day, went William put you in your place. "
 
" Huh? Such a day existed? We certainly have different memories of that event. Anyway, I will be going now to be enroling now, so could you many go out of my way to, let's see, Williams lap? "
 
The students face contorted to the point where Arun was starting to wander if perhaps he needed to make an urgent visit to the 'royal throne', and his cohorts stopped laughing abruptly. Arun found their steady steady change in color of their face to red quite amusing. They did seem to get ready for a retort how ever, and not a very polite one by the looks of it, but before it could happen Eileen posted herself in front of the underlying throwing a sharp look: " There are others wishing to enroll. Get out of the way, your wasting the space. "
 
Than, their face of anger failed as they realized who was in front of them. It was clear that neither him or his troop dared go against the best fighter amongst the students, so they promptly they took off. However, while they were crossing Arun, he heard a whisper.
 
" Of course you don't remember the 'scene', it hasn't happened just yet. And just so you know, I'm Adam."
 
" Huh " I've got a bad feeling about this...
 
" Something happened? " Bohdi, who caught a bit of the interaction, asked.
 
" It's nothing to worry about... probably " Hopefully
 
" Huh " Worrying, Bohdi thought
 
" What are you standing there for? Hurry up! "
 
And so began Arun's applying spree . He went and dropped his file to every school with a forging department. This went smoothly, alltough he could hear some snickers from the attendants here and there. Not very professional of them, now was it? But than again, judging by the kids reaction, it was commendable that they didn't laugh out loud as well. After around half an hour they finished their trip.
 
" That should be the last of them. We should be heading to one of the monitor rooms now. "
 
" Wait, aren't you going to apply some normal high- schools as well? In case you don't get accepted? "
 
" Already did. " Arun closed off a hologram. Together with the old age the telephones became obsolete as well, replaced with holografic armbands. These armbands had access to everything it's counterparts had and more. They still integrated a lot of old tech, for communication was objectivity better during the technological age compared to the cultivation one. One of the examples of what could be achieved if technology and cultivation worked together, Arun thought. There were too few such examples going around." They still take online applications. I did it while we were moving around. "
 
" Oh, that's what you were doing on your armband! And I thought that you were procrastinating for once! "
 
" What does that even mean? " Arun seemed quite puzzled at Bohdis remark.
 
Bohdi smirked. " Oh, it means when you're now doing anything productive for a time. You should try it sometime, I've tried it too recently and now I just can't stop it! "
 
Arun shuddered " Sounds like an addiction, I am too busy to do that... "
 
" Ha... yes Arun, there is no need to listen to my brother, he has become a bit of a sloth recently. "
 
Eileen made the remark in a joke-like fashion but he could feel a blade hidden within the words, and Bohdi could feel it too.
They still haven't resolved their problems, this ought to leave a bitter taste to Arun.
 
***
 
" Are you sure? " The man's green eyes kept darting at the paper, as he went trough his unkept beard and long hair, which had yet to gain the white of age, but was quite close nonetheless. " He doesn't meet the standards, even for us. This time, we got more applicants as well, there are options with higher markings. "
 
" Bah! Half of them just want to say they attended a ' cultivation high-school '. Useless folk. This kid though... he had a glimmer in his eyes "
 
" Glimmer or not, his results in forging are sub-par, average even for normal highs... we're going to be the laughing stock if we receive a student in our fold! "
 
" I don't care what others think, those fixated geezers couldn't notice a talent when they saw it. My old friend, Dan told me that his construct was quite the interesting one as well. "
 
" But... "
 
" Enough already!! Kid, are you questioning my judgement? " the voice went up by a few notes, accompanied by a threatening amount of pressure.
 
" No, apologies master. " The middle aged man bowed in a hurry.
 
" Than accept him already and stop wasting my time. "
 
" Right away... "
 
***
 
Although the three friends where all calm on the surface feelings could not have been more different from each other.  Arun was jumping and backflipping under his skin in anticipation, Eileen was confident in her results, and Bohdi... well, he just didn't care.
 
15 minutes... 10 minute... 5 minutes, the time remaining ticked as the holograms stayed off.
 
Arun started rapidly tapping his feet. His emotions finally showing through 3 minutes. 2 minutes.
 
" Are you nervous Arun? I thought you didn't care about the results that much. "
 
" I said no matter which academy I will still become the best. I still care, it's the next 4 years of my life, you know? Where, just where I wonder? " the tapping of his feet fastened.
 
1 minute. Arun's energy raised to the point Eileen and Bohdi worried he might start doing backflips for real.
 
30 seconds. 15 seconds. 0 seconds.
True to their word, the projections were brought to life. From top to bottom the results started coming in.
 
Eileen - Crimson Battle God's high
 
Arun grabbed her shoulder " Congratulations Eileen! That's the best school in the country! "
 
" Well, that's to be expected "  Bohdi murmured
 
Eileen was not surprised in the slightest. Her level of confidence could even compete with Arun's stubbornness.
" Mhm, thanks "
 
William Xu - Divine spear high
 
" That's also to be expected, unfortunately "
 
" The sister school of Divine flame, best in the region when it comes to fighting. Wonder why he hasn't applied for Battle God, he has the qualifications... "
 
" Don't say it sis, if I hear more about that guy I might just puke "
 
And so the list continued, but no name came trough until about the middle of the pack, when...
 
Bohdi - Blue flame high
 
" What? " both Arun and Eileen were surprised. With higher scores than Arun on the practical and cultivation exam he should've been able to shoot higher.
 
" There's no way, there must have been a mistake, you're scores are at least enough to get you in a middle-class cultivation high. " Eileen tried her best to deny reality.
 
" Oh, no, I put it as my first preference. "
 
Eileen was stunned for a moment as her feelings of shock and disbelief were gradually traded for anger.
 
"  Bohdi! That's the worst cultivation high, I heard that it has technology from the last era even! It's not even suited for your needs, it's a forging school, so the pill- making side is even worse! "
 
" Which means that I am going to have an easy 4 years ahead of me and a cultivation high on my CV! Even if it's the worst of the best, it's still one of the best! "
 
" Why, why would you do that?? You little ungrateful...! "
 
" Eileen, stop " Arun intervened, yet again.
 
Eileen was stunned yet again.
" Why are you, you of all people, taking his side? "
 
" Because I can't understand him. " Bohdi twitched.
" I believe if you have an ability, especially so great as Bohdi's, you should make the most out of it. So I cannot understand Bohdi, so I cannot comment too much on his actions. But I will say this." Arun locked on Bohdi's eyes
" If you continue down this path, you might regret not reaching for your potential one day. "
 
In fact, this was half a lie as Arun knew all this had something to do with his sister outshining him, but he judged that this was the best he could do for now, and it did seem to have an effect.
 
So his eyes turned back to the screens, and just in time for:
 
Arun - Blue flame high
 
 
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