Sera sat up in her bed; daylight was just starting to stream through the open window next to her four-poster bed. She jumped out of bed excitedly, and started pulling on her training robes.
Right after she finished washing up for the morning, several loud knocks were heard at the door. Sera hastily pulled on her shoes before running towards the door. Once she opened the door, she found herself face-to-face with a young man in his late twenties.
"Assistant Captain Shiba!" she gasped, jumping back. It was hard not to know who Shosuke Shiba was; the red hair was as much as a giveaway as his abnormal height. The only one who would be mixed up with him would be his younger twin brother, Sasame.
"I see you're up early," he remarked looking her up and down. "You ready for the ceremony tonight?"
"Yes sir!" Sera cried out excitedly. "I can't wait! Today I'll finally get noticed as an adult!"
"But becoming an adult here has huge responsibilities. Especially in the 2nd Division," Shosuke stated calmly. "We are in charge of—"
"Teaching the apprentices. I know Captain, I know," she waved her hands exasperatedly. "But today is my day. I can actually join the Royal Guard today!" Shosuke turned and waved her down the long hallways and winding staircases towards the palace training area several floors down.
"It is a great honor to serve under Captain Belquva," Shosuke spoke up as they walked. There was silence as they continued down the stairs, Sera was too excited to say much of anything else.
"I already serve—" Sera made to point out his error, but was stopped by the arrival of their Captain.
"Shosuke! I told you to bring Sera to me an hour ago! I want to show 3rd Division that we do have a strong group this year!" Marissa Belquva shouted, annoyed with the punctuality of her assistant captain. Her long blonde hair was flowing loosely on her shoulders. She was one of the older Guards, but her bright blue eyes were still filled with eagerness and youth.
"Coming Captain," Shosuke pushed Sera forward. "Go on. Now's your turn with the Captain herself."
"Good morning Sera," Marissa greeted her as she started walking quickly towards the training area.
"Good morning Captain," she replied respectfully.
"I presume you had a good rest last night?" she turned towards the shorter girl. Sera looked up and nodded quickly before looking back at the ground. They reached the training area quickly. Marissa turned and bent down to Sera's eye level.
"Now, remember everything that you learned from what Shosuke and your mentor taught you. Relax; this test isn't going to be all that hard, Captain Arisaga and I will be giving out the exam, so you don't have to worry. Captain Arisaga grades fairly for all students, regardless of what division they come from."
"Yes, ma'am," Sera nodded and went to take her place in line behind a tall, muscular boy from 1st Division. She looked around curiously. It seemed as though she was the only apprentice going through the test from 2nd Division.
"Good morning everyone," Haldar Arisaga had arrived. At once, every apprentice from the 1st Division said, "Good morning Captain Arisaga." The other apprentices (including Sera) just stared pointedly at him.
Sera knew that she should have greeted him as well; Haldar Arisaga was one of the most respected people in the country. Everyone in the 1st Division looked up to him, all wishing that they could be just like him. Honest, Sincere, and Loyal.
"As you all know, today is a very important day for everyone in this training field. You have all worked hard to reach this place…this day. Once you pass your test and leave this training field it is more than likely that you may never step onto this field for training ever again," his long pale blonde hair flew in the breeze that followed.
"You will be tested on everything that you learned from the day you were first apprenticed to this day. You will be questioned on your loyalty and your skill for future missions. Good Luck to you all," Marissa finished.
"You will be called up by the Assistant Captains. When you hear your name, enter the Great Hall," Haldar waved his hand at the door behind himself and Marissa. Then he and Marissa turned and walked through the doors and into the Hall.
Sera looked up at the Assistant Captains. One was Shosuke, and the other she had never met before, but she was sure that the woman was from 1st Division.
"Shosuke and I will come to you when it is your turn. Is that understood?" the woman asked. Unlike the rest of the Captains, she had two swords on her left hip and long bell-like sleeves on her uniform. Her dark brown hair was tied up in a tight bun, but a few strands were loose on her head.
"Yes, Ma'am!" 1st Division chorused.
"Very well, you may talk with others waiting for the examination, but you may not leave this area. Is that understood?"
"Yes Ma'am!" Shosuke chuckled at this. The woman gave him a scathing look and his smile was replaced immediately with a blank expression.
Sera turned and wandered around the area, she didn't know many people outside of her division. All of the other apprentices were scattered around talking rapidly and excitedly. She walked over to a group of giggling girls and hoped that maybe she could blend in with the group. But just before she could walk into the group, a strong hand gripped her shoulder.
"Your turn, Sera," Shosuke remarked as her steered her over to the Great Hall entrance. "You're the only one from 2nd Division, so you're one of the first to test. Good Luck! Oh, and don't worry about 1st Division. They may look strong, but many aren't as smart as the Captain and his Assistant. Show them what 2nd Division is made of!"
"T-thanks sir," Sera walked through the giant double doors nervously. She turned and saw Shosuke waving at her encouragingly before the doors shut. The Great Hall was dark; Sera couldn't see anything in front of her. She stood there awkwardly, wondering what to do.
"Sera, over here," Marissa appeared in a whirl of flames. "I'm afraid there had been…changes to the testing."
"Captain?" Sera looked up at her. Marissa didn't look very well, she seemed nervous and out of place. They walked towards the center of the Hall.
"I'll leave you here. The Examination will begin," she turned and left Sera alone in the darkness.
"Sera Chanui of the 2nd Division?" something brushed her shoulder. She gasped and immediately put up a defense stance.
"Good job!" light filled the Hall immediately. Sera found herself looking up at a tall man with dusty brown hair. He was wearing a yellow sash, which meant he was from 4th Division. But he was wearing a Captain's robe, which meant he was—
"C-Captain Lai!" she jumped back and bowed sheepishly. "I'm sorry."
"No no, it's my fault. But guess what? You passed!" Andrew Lai grinned. "You can go onto the next test."
"But Captain—I don't understand—" he waved her off.
"This test was designed to test your courage in the face of an unknown. Now go on! Head to the next test!" he pushed her forward and into the darkness once more. Sera turned around and found that he had vanished and the light with him.
'Was that even a testshe thought, also thinking that Andrew was very close to becoming an idiot.
"Hm…you are a pretty good candidate for the Royal Guard. I see why Marissa put you up to this," the light flared on once more, revealing another man with darker brown hair and icy blue and dark green eyes. He was wearing a blue sash, the color of the 3rd Division.
"I'm sure that you never met me before. The name's Kaz Belquva, Captain of the 3rd Division. Nice to meet you Sera Chanui, I'm surprised you got here so fast," he greeted her. "But now that you're here…we should start the second test." He stood up and jumped to the top of the stairs that Sera had overlooked.
"What would happen if you were faced with an predicament that you weren't prepared for?" immediately, water started pouring onto the ground quickly.
"This is 3rd Division's specialty, creating water out of nothingness. We can create anything from rain to tsunamis!" a huge wave crashed down on Sera, knocking her underwater. She resurfaced quickly, gasping for air. But Kaz sent another wave down at her, and the water level was rising every second.
"Help!" she screamed, as she sank deeper and deeper into the darkness of the water. Her chest started burning and tears started forming in her eyes. She was failing…
Then her mind clicked, she had remembered what her Captain had told her if magic attacked her.
'Destroy the spell caster. Go for the core—the center of the spell…'
Marissa's words echoed through her head as she felt a rush of power surging up from her legs. Sera kicked her legs and shot up to the surface, a determined look on her face. She shot above the surface and faced Kaz.
"What?!" he was surprised as she knocked him off his feet and into the water. Sera crashed to the floor and started gasping for air as she struggled to stand. When she did however, Kaz was already standing in front of her, showing no sign of being fazed by her sudden attack.
"Good job," he said. "I, Kaz Belquva, Captain of the 3rd Division, like Andrew, have deemed you worthy to take the third and last test."
"Thank you," Sera murmured, embarrassed, and turned and looked at the final set of doors. The doors creaked open slowly and she walked through nervously and into the darkness.