Book 4: Battle Festival

"Transmission Active." A calm female voice echoed in the darkness.

This planet we reside on is quite strange, sir. It is known as Earth. There were speculations hundreds of thousands of years ago that Humans were the only intelligent creatures on the planet. However, it was found out that the creatures and beings that were only of fantasy and myth on this planet were indeed real creatures. Beings such as fairies, dragons, vampires, and witches have all existed within human society since day 1. Their existence was proven by evolution. A theory known as...Darwinism.

The image of a single continent appeared in the darkness, blue grids running across its 3D display.

This is High Shores, the biggest continent on the planet...actually, it's the only continent on the planet. It takes up almost 40% of the Earth's surface now and connects to smaller Islands on Earth through under water and underground passages.

This single continent is separated into sectors, a total of 80 sectors over the entire planet. These sectors all have their own unique citizens and ways of doing things, however, all follow a central government.

Our target today is Dante Seberul, a Junior in high school in sector 44, known as Rock City. It is one of the central Sectors of High Shores, close to the Central Mountains.

A small area of the grid lit up red and then expanded until it was the only sector shown in the darkness.

This sector is known for its many martial artist and tournaments. His school, Highwind Academy is the main training facility for those pursuing professional martial arts careers. The teachers, lunch ladies, even the janitors participate. Next month marks the first day of a festival that gets the entire sector involved called Battle Festival. The Battle Festival is held twice a year and is hosted by the current seniors and principal of Highwind Academy.

Winner of this festival gets control of the entire sector for a year and then it's up to them to withhold the title for months to come.

The image faded away, leaving nothing but a small speck of light in the darkness. A deeper voice than the female that had been speaking chuckled in the darkness.

"Well then. Let's see what we can do to make this festival...extremely festive."


Battle 1: Battle Festival Begins

6 years ago, District 44...

"Dante, Soren, hurry up, we're going to be late!" The lovely voice of a beautiful woman called through the mid sized home. With her voice came pounding as the two boys she called for pushed each other, hoping to make it to the car first. "Be careful!"

Dante Seberul, the eleven year old boy with deep red hair was the first to round the corner with his elder brother of one year in tow behind him. Dante leaped down the length of the stairs, landing without a twitch while his brother stared wide eyed at the feat. Dante rounded on his heel, looked up at his big brother and stuck his tongue out at him. Soren just growled at the things his little brother could do and slowly descended the stairs as Dante rushed to the car still.

"It's not fair..." Soren spoke as he reached the bottom, his gaze finding interest in the ground than anything else around. His mother patted his messy burgundy hair and smiled sadly.

"Soren, your brother is special, but so are you. Just in a different way." This comment proved to have the opposite effect that she wanted as Soren roughly shook her hand off and stormed to the the car. "Soren, wait!"

"Let him vent a bit. It'll build character. Besides, they're brothers. No matter what one thinks, they'll always be there for each other." An older man with the same mop of red hair that sat atop Dante's skull rounded a corner from the dining room, carrying a suitcase. "Now, let's get moving, I heard it's going to rain tonight and I'd rather reach District 43 before nightfall."

Outside, Dante was already in the car, laughing at his older brother. Soren just rolled his eyes as he got in as well. "You may be able to jump down stairs, but you still can't ride a bike!" At his words, Dante pouted.

"Because you and dad won't teach me! It's not fair!"

Soren smirked victoriously when Dante just crossed his arms and grumbled. Only a few minutes later and the family was on the road in a black sedan, headed west towards District 43. The drive was silent for the most part, Dante trying and failing to start a conversation with his brother as their parents talked about what they would do during the trip. The sounds of the inner city was left behind as the open road lay before the small family. Farmland, reach with wheat plants and small rural homes were scattered on both sides of the interstate as the car kept pace with the little traffic that was on the road.

Unfortunately for their father, the cars gas light wasn't working correctly and they were soon stopping for gas, almost certainly making it so they would not reach their destination by nightfall. Their father went into the gas station, still hoping to make good time. Outside, Dante and Soren stood by an open field with several large boulders strewn about. Soren looked up towards the sky, a drop of water falling on his nose. The dark clouds of the imminent storm were approaching quickly. Soren's gaze lingered upwards until the sound of his younger brother playing drew his gaze.

"Hey, Soren! Bro, look at this!"

Dante was standing next to a boulder that was almost twice his size. Soren rose an eyebrow as his brother took what appeared to be a fighting stance with his legs spread, his right back and his arms up lazily at his chest. Then with a swift movement, he brought his right leg around, the air whistling at the speed before his shin struck the rock in front of him. The sound of the impact echoed a bit before the stone began to crack right where Dante's leg was still settled. Soren's eyes widened as his confusion turned into shock. The cracks continued to run from the stone and pieces chipped off.

"Aww, it didn't shatter like in the movies..." Dante groaned. Soren turned away, walking towards the gas station entrance, his fist clenched. Dante looked after his brother with worry in his eyes but before he could run after him, their mother stepped out of the car. Her own gaze followed the pre-teen into the store. "Mom...does brother hate me?"

With a sad sigh, she put on the motherly smile she was known for and faced her youngest. "No, Dante. You're his little brother." She knelt beside him as her words didn't seem to help. "You're strong Dante. Soren just feels like if you're that strong, then he won't need to protect you when you need it."

"But Soren can do a lot of stuff that I can't! He's smart, he's better at video games, and he can ride a bike!"

"I know. You and Soren both have your strengths and weaknesses. He's good at chemistry but he really wants to be a fighter like you and your father."

"He is good at fighting though! He almost beat me when we sparred a few days ago!"

Before his mother could say more, the boom of thunder sounded. Dante's father was just coming back out, prepared to pump the gas with Soren carrying a few bags of chips behind him. Seeing the snacks, Dante ran to him, forgetting all about the conversation. His mother just smiled and shook her head. Only after a few more minutes were they back on the road, the silence from before pervading the air once more.

"Damn..." Their father called out as several hours later, just on the mountain that lead into District 43 the storm had caught up full force. The sky was black, save several flashes of lightning every now and then. On this mountain, there were very few lights so the path was dangerous. With so few cars out at this time, it was made even worse without some form of indication to guide them, even slightly. Their mother had her hand to her chest, a look of apprehension on her face.

"Isn't there somewhere we can stop for the night?"

"No. There aren't anymore rest stops until we make it into the District." He coughed a bit, covering his mouth with one hand before sniffling. He dug into the small bag of chips Soren had given him during the drive, finishing off the little that was left inside, trying to keep his energy up with however many more miles lay before them. "Catching a cold now of all times?" He grumbled.

Dante and Soren just sat quietly. Soren had been oddly quiet, and had even given all the chips to his parents. He chose to drink from a small can of pop instead of eating anything other than a candy bar. His gaze was solemn, looking into the vast darkness of the mountains around them. The silence was only disturbed by their fathers coughs every now and then.

"Baby, you don't look too good. Do you want me to drive for a bit?" Their mother asked as their father seemed to be sweating now. What had first appeared to be a simple cold must have been something contracted far before their planned trip.

"No...can't stop in this type of weather...and it's too dark." His argument wasn't well received but she said and did nothing. The common silence is what followed.

"Dad?" Dante called to his father as the car began to slow down. All eyes turned to the man as suddenly his face hit the wheel and the car veered to the left. Everything seemed to slow down.

He didn't here his mother scream. He didn't see the look of terror on his brother's face as he gripped the seat belt to his body. The sudden shake of the car as it tore through a metal boundary was unknown to him. Only the flash of lightning that showed the car plummeting several hundred feet registered. His body felt weightless as the ground far below them came closer and closer. Then everything went black.


….te?

..ante?

His vision was blurry. The sound of rain pattering against mud, flesh, and steel was slowly starting to sound stronger than the ringing in his ear. As his sight slowly, but surely made out several things, he saw their car. Upside down, totaled, on fire. Even with the rain. He was being drug through the mud, away from the wreck.

"Dante...stay...stay awake honey..."

His mothers voice. He couldn't feel anything though. Turning his head, the sight of his mother above him registered. Her face was covered in mud and blood. As she set him down, he saw his brother laying next to him. She had already drug him from the car.

"I...I'll get your father...just stay awake baby...please..."

He saw her begin to limp back towards the wreck, holding an injured arm. He looked up to see if the point of the accident was visible but nothing could be seen through the dense rain and darkness. Until lightning flashed. The sight would be scarred into his memory. They had fallen over fifty meters to the ground below. The sound of metal being moved made him look back to his mother. She was trying to open the drivers door. From their position, he couldn't see the state of their father. But the rain made it hard to see anything at all anyway.

"Ma...mom..."

At his voice, she turned to face him. Even through the darkness, through the rain. Through the foggy haze that covered his gaze he saw her smile. That motherly smile that she had given him earlier that day. The motherly gaze that always made him happy. A smile filled with love, even in the most dreadful of times. Then it all went up. A small whining noise was all that was heard before the car ignited, taking Dante's mother and father away, the warmth of her smile gone in a flash. The force of the explosion pushed Dante's head back into the mud and as the feel of everything began to overwhelm his senses, he slowly passed out once again.

He awoke several times thereafter. The first time was inside of an ambulance. Through drunk like, hazy eyes, he saw two people over him. They were speaking but he couldn't really hear them completely. Something about losing too much blood? Before he could think more the grip of unconsciousness gripped him again.

The second time was inside of a building. The same people were over him as he lay on a bed. This time, though muffled, he heard them say brain damage and fractured skull. But they couldn't mean him. He couldn't feel a thing...

The third time was a morning. The people that were surrounding him busily were gone. There was only one person whom had a clipboard, glancing over it. He could hear a bit more clearly and could even hear the person mumbling to themselves. "...memory loss...may be permanent..."

From the final moment he woke up, everything seemed to be moving on auto pilot. He didn't remember how to speak, how to eat. He was just like a baby at first. The hospital took care of him for two months. By the third month, he was able to do for himself. He started speaking complete sentences and showing signs of fast recovery. By the fifth month, he had remembered everything up to his tenth birthday. It's when they told him about the accident. During that time, he went into a depression. The only thing that saved him from a relapse was knowing his brother was still alive.

They had shown him to Dante. Soren was still unconscious, in a coma. They didn't know how Dante could recover so quickly but told him it was a miracle that he was even able to walk again, let alone even gaining his memories back. His injuries were far worse than Soren's and his state was only improving very slowly.

Soren awoke on the sixth month. Unlike Dante, he seemed to retain most of his memories, though the events of that fateful day were a mystery to him as well. The brothers coped with knowing each other were alive, and even cried together once the true weight of the situation had settled in.

They were allowed visitors during the seventh month with their release to be on the eighth month. Old friends of their family, the Pryce family, stopped by. They were friends of their parents, a family of low class witches, while they had a brown haired daughter the same age as Soren named Amanita. She told them that her parents were planning a funeral for their parents and that they were hoping to adopt the two into their family. Neither boy seemed to respond to this information, changing the subject to what they were allowed to do in the hospital and how they had played pranks on the nurses.

The next month they were released to the Pryce family, however, neither of the boys memories of that day came back fully. Soren said he remembered them driving to District 43 and then their was a thunderstorm. After that, his memory grew fuzzy until he got a headache trying to remember. Instead of forcing the two to relive the tragic moment, the Pryce family instead focused on the funeral for the Seberul couple. Not wanting to be a burden to the Pryce family, the boys requested they be allowed to stay in their own home since it was only several houses away from the Pryce's. They reluctantly allowed it, but made them promise to call if anything at all was bothering them.

The day of the funeral came quickly. It was a cold, cheerless day. Dante and Soren withdrew into themselves, even ignoring comforting words from Amanita and her parents. As the caskets were being lowered into ground, the preacher saying the final prayers into the silence of the wind around them, Dante saw the flash of his mothers smile...


Present Day...

Dante, now 17 years old, stood in front of his parents graves once more. Wearing a black denim jacket, unbuttoned to show a red short sleeved shirt beneath, he dropped a single flower onto each of the graves before shoving his hands into the pockets of his black denim jeans and giving a silent prayer. Several feet behind him stood 18 year old Amanita Pryce, her brown shoulder length hair combed neatly to the back, though one tuft at the front refused to be held back. She wore a black short sleeved blouse and a black denim skirt, the female version of their high school uniform.

"Come on Dante...don't want to be late for the first day of school do you?"

Dante scoffed at the impatient girl. She never really meant what she said. It was always just to let him know the time. If he wanted to, she would allow him to stay at the grave sight all day long and wouldn't lose a wink of sleep about missing class. However, Dante nodded to his parents grave and prepared to leave. "Sorry."

Amanita shook her head. "It's fine Dante. I would ask the same for my father." Mr. Pryce had passed away two years prior from a disease only contracted by their race of witches. There was no known cure and the family was mortified at the loss. But just like the Pryce family had been there for Dante and Soren, they were there for Amanita and her mother.

Dante and Amanita approached a red sports bike motorcycle. It was a birthday gift from Soren to Dante on his 16 birthday. Of course it was with help from another of the boys friends from High School, Cervantes Highwind. He was the son of Cornelius Highwind, the principal of the school and grandson of the schools founder. They were wealthy people, even having the school named after them, being Highwind Academy.

"Hang on. I'll get us there in time for the assembly." Dante called as he revved the bike and took off through the cemetery. The wind blew through Dante's red silky hair as he hurtled around a corner and onto the main road of the rural urban like city. District 44, also known as Rock City, was more like a countryside city with one small downtown area closer to the mountains of District 45 to the North. It was alright with him though. He preferred the few moments of quiet that was allowed to them in these times. The feeling of Amanita pressing her well developed chest against his back brought a blush to his face, but also a feeling of security. As long as she was there behind him, this feeling seemed to last forever.

They arrived at the school near the South West of the district with time to spare. It was separated from the main road by a large gate that wove through a natural forest. The school sat within a large clearing, several training fields and sports fields surrounding the large three floor structure. The top of the building and the clock that sat on its face was visible from the road outside the gate. Dante parked in the lot opposite the gates designated for students and teachers and ran with Amanita to the school. Just as he had predicted, the bell was just ringing and they would be shuffled along with the rest of the students towards the assembly hall.

"You're lucky the first month of school is the Battle Festival, or we'd never hear the end of it from mom." Amanita said as they walked almost elbow to elbow through the crowded hall. The slight air of depression was drained from the air as the chatter of other students filled the air. Dante smiled at Amanita, scratching his neck.

"The Battle Festival! This year I'm going to bring me rank up and maybe even win!" He called with fire in his voice. Amanita just waved his comment off.

"Please! Even with all the training in the world, you wouldn't be able to beat an A-rank, let alone the S-ranks."

Dante scowled at her, sticking his tongue out as they made it to the auditorium. Apart from the other students going into the assembly hall, there was one more person just standing aside from the crowd. He wore small, roundish glasses and had messy black hair that seemed eternally shiny. His dark bluish gray eyes were on the floor in front of him while he stood with one hand on his chin, a contemplating look about him.

"Cervantes, whatever the floor did couldn't have been bad enough for you to glare it to death."

The teen identified as Cervantes looked up at Dante and Amanita as they approached him. The contemplative look was replaced with a friendly smile as he acknowledged their greeting. "You two were late. Quit hanging out without me."

"Don't worry, you're not missing anything. Haven't you noticed the permanent 'No Fun Allowed' sign attached to her back." Dante ducked a punch from Amanita before chuckling and running into the auditorium.

"No fun allowed huh? Fine, come back here and enjoy this ass kicking!" She said as she stomped after him, followed by Cervantes. Inside the auditorium, the front of the room was set up for the incoming freshman. The stage was large enough to hold the entire class of seniors while the sophomore and juniors sat within the seats behind the freshman. Amanita pouted and huffed as she sat between Dante and Cervantes. "Geez, why am I still here?" She grumbled.

"Because you can beat the crap out of a thug, stop an old lady from being mugged, and take down the entire kendo club by yourself, but you just can't seem to pass Trigonometry." Cervantes responded, seriously answering her question. Amanita's head hit the desk in front of her as her mood fell more.

"Thanks for the high lights Cervantes..."

Dante just laughed at his friends antics. Amanita had failed trigonometry the year prior, making her have to repeat her entire junior year. She wasn't too worried about it seeing as it just gave her more time to spend with her friends, but it did look bad for her mother. She vowed to do her best in not only her martial arts, but also in her studies that year.

"Alright, they're about to start." Dante silenced his friends and turned his attention to the front of the room. Applause rang throughout the auditorium as the principal made his way onto the stage, followed by eight people. The first two behind the principal were two of his children, Capulet Highwind and Cornell Highwind. They were Cervantes older brother and sister. Cervantes frowned at the sight of them, his fist clinching a bit. Behind the two were a pair of younger twins, both blonde with blue eyes. They were juniors, but were considered the strongest of the bunch.

Walking to stand on the opposite side of the principal was none other than Soren. He was a senior and had risen to become one of the strongest people in the school. Many said he may have been the strongest outside of the three S-ranked people in school. Ironically, the last three that joined the principal on stage were the three S-ranks themselves. Two males and one female, surprisingly the youngest male was a Junior and already S-ranked. With everyone positioned on stage, the principal cleared his throat before speaking into the mic.

"Ladies and gentleman, students and staff of all ages! I, Principal Cornelius Highwind, would like to thank you all for joining us for today's Battle Festival assembly. But before we explain what battle festival is, let's all give a round of applause for our incoming Freshman class!"

The hall was filled with applause again, the fellowship shown between classmates at its max. Everyone was tense and awaiting the announcement for that years battle festival. There were rumors spreading that there was something special happening this year.

"Freshman, before I explain this momentous event, there is knowledge that must be shared for your safety. Highwind Academy is a battle school unlike any other, and as such, professional battles can break out at anytime. However, be wary and knowledgeable of your opponent. Here at Highwind Academy there is a ranking system, one that each of you will go through before the day is out. Fighters will be ranked according to their fighting capabilities. These ranks go from F-rank, D-rank, C-rank, B-rank, A-rank, up to the rare S-rank."

Eyes landed on the group standing on both sides of the principal.

"Do not challenge someone who's rank exceeds more than one than your own. We cannot always guarantee your safety if you should be so careless. Be warned, your race will not effect your class. My family of Dragonbloods, half human, half dragon, has even seen our fair share of...mediocrity." There was no stutter in his voice or pause in his gaze as he looked directly at Cervantes, who in turn growled beneath his breath and looked away. "So whether you are of vampiric blood, witch, pixie, spider, or even human..." This time, Soren and Dante exchanged looks. "You will not be spared from the ranking system.

Most of the Freshman shivered at that while some still held confident smirks.

"Now...about this years Battle Festival!"

The crowd immediately erupted into applause. There were whistles throughout the auditorium and the room vibrated from the sheer sound emitting from the teenagers filling the room. The excitement was almost palpable.

"Battle Festival in name is what it should be seen as. A joyous time, a festival, to test yourself and to grow more as both a fighter and a person. This District wide tournament is held twice a year, and is sponsored by myself and hosted by the senior class! The rules are simple. Defeat three people during the festival in official matches to move on into the final stages of the festival. However, only a certain number of people can move forward. Even worse, even if you win three times, if you are too injured to continue in the festival, you will be disqualified for your own safety."

A projector came on, showing the entirety of District 44. Different areas began to light up, starting with the south western area where the school was located.

"To make the tournament a bit more safe and fair, the district will be separated into sectors by rank. Sector 1, being from here to the western shopping district will be rank F and D territory." The southern and south eastern part of the map lit up. "From the south park district all the way into the eastern entertainment district will be C and B rank territory." Once more, the map lit up. This time the Northwestern, Northern, and Northeastern parts of the map lit up. "From the District 43 check point all the way to the District 45 check point, including the Rock Mountains, junkyards, and warehouse district all belong to the A-ranks. Finally, the central area of our city and will be a safe area! Anyone who initiates a fight within the safe area will be immediately disqualified"

The projector shut off, taking the map along with it.

"No rank is required to stay within their own territory. That is to say, if a D-rank feels he or she is worthy enough to tangle with a B-rank, you can make your way into their territory, but be prepared for the consequences of your actions. However, those of higher ranks listen now! A victory will not be counted against someone who's rank is more than one below your own. So even if the D-rank challenges a B-rank and the B-rank fighter wins, the victory will not count towards your Festival win count."

A brief history on the integration of supernatural martial arts into modern world martial arts followed, in which many people tuned it out. It was over thousands of years old, and society had completely shifted from believing that the human race was the only species to exist. In all honesty, the human race was quickly becoming a minority.

"I know you all have been hearing rumors about something special happening this year. You will not be disappointed. There will be a different prize for the champion of the Battle Festival this year on top of money and leeway in official matters around the city. However, it will not be revealed until later this evening."

The students began to groan, though the anticipation of what the prize could be was evident. With a few closing remarks, the students were dismissed to club activities for the rest of the day. The trio of Dante, Amanita, and Cervantes went out the back doors towards the dojo forest, a plot of land set aside for the many dojos of Highwind Academy. Before they could cross the field behind the school to the dojo, the door opened behind them again.

"Hey, going to have a threesome right after class? Isn't it a bit too early?"

At the sound of his brothers voice, Dante turned and threw a punch right at his face. Soren caught it with ease, smirking at his younger brother. Behind him, Amanita had an annoyed blush while Cervantes seemed less interested. Dante himself was as red as his hair.

"What do you want Soren?" Dante growled out at his brother.

"What, can't I come say hi to my brother and friends once in a while?"

"You see us everyday, beat it. You're cramping our style." Dante mumbled and turned away. Soren chuckled a bit.

"Yeah, this A-rank is cramping your style, F-rank."

Amanita sighed as she knew what was coming next. Soren knew how to get under Dante's skin. Just as she predicted, Dante turned and began throwing wild punches at his brother who in return kept brushing aside the attacks or just dodging all together. Dante spun and aimed to elbow his brother in the head but Soren just caught his elbow. Throwing his opposite arm back, it was blocked as well. Dante went low for a sweep but Soren hopped over it easily before bringing his leg around to meet Dante's face. Just before impact, he stopped.

"You're getting better bro. You'll make D-rank in no time." Soren said as he offered hand to Dante. Dante just scoffed and pushed his hand away.

"...This isn't how it used to be." Dante growled and walked back over to Amanita and Cervantes. Soren frowned at his little brother, knowing he was referring to the time before the accident. Not wanting to make their moods even worse, Soren went back into the school, leaving them to their activities.

Amanita began to walk farther ahead of Dante and Cervantes. They were headed to the Mun Pak Doe dojo. Amanita was the captain of the Mun Pad Doe martial arts club since the fighting style was made for battle witches. As she ran ahead, eager to meet the new recruits for the day, Dante and Cervantes slowed their pace. They weren't part of the club, both having their own fighting styles, or lack thereof in Dante's case. Noticing his friends silence, Cervantes pushed his glasses upon his face and sighed.

"Dante, you shouldn't let what your brother says get to you all the time. My brother and sister are always breathing down my neck, but it's nothing to get depressed about. Soren is only looking out for you."

"I know that already. That doesn't make what he does any better..." Dante stopped speaking and Cervantes knew he wanted to drop the subject. When Dante was younger, he was already considered a B-rank fighter. But after the accident, he lost all of his fighting capabilities. Amanita and Cervantes tried to avoid talking about it at all cost. So instead of following that line further, Cervantes changed the subject.

"He does want to see you ask Amanita out already though. I'm quite curious as to when you're going to as well."

Dante stumbled in his step, his face burning up red. He pushed Cervantes and began to walk faster towards the dojo. "Th-that's none of your business dammit! I don't even like her like that!"

Cervantes shook his head with a smirk before following after him. Once they reached the dojo, they saw Amanita already prepped for the club that day. She wore a sleeveless turtleneck vest that hugged her body like a corset. It was made of leather and was red and black. Her uniform skirt was switched for a pair of dark red leggings and a black skirt that bellowed off her body slightly. A red silk sash was wrapped around her waist, making the witch look slightly Gothic, but gorgeous still.

"Dante, you're staring." Cervantes said as he walked next to him. Dante shook his head and looked away, blush never leaving his face.

He looked to left wall of the dojo and saw the new recruits that would be trying out for the club. There were four people, three girls and one guy. Amanita put a hand on her hip as she looked over the four. They were all sophomores, having not been allowed to join a dojo until their second year of high school.

"I am Amanita Pryce, Junior of Highwind Academy, and C-rank Lunar Witch. This dojo was rewarded to me for defeating the previous senior who was the captain of the Mun Pak Doe dojo last year. As such, my word is law. If you feel this is a problem, you are free to leave right now." The three girls said nothing, however, the lone male with black hair and yellow eyes snorted at her words. Amanita narrowed her eyes. "You find something funny here?"

"Yeah. You beat a senior last year? What, were they on their deathbed and you just pulled the plug? Please, as if you're actually a C-rank! That's why this club hasn't got any members! Look, the two losers you hang out with aren't even part of this club and they're only F and D-ranks. I could take all three of you on by myself!"

Dante clenched his fist at the boys words and was about to say something until he felt Cervantes hand on his shoulder. Cervantes shook his head and nodded towards Amanita. Looking at her, Dante saw that she hadn't even seemed to have heard the boy. She stood with the same bored look on her face, as if just waiting for him to finish.

"Okay. If you think you can do a better job with this club, come show me. If you beat me, legally you will become club captain." Amanita walked to the center of the dojo floor. She flicked a strand of hair from her eyes before crossing her arms. She didn't even take her fighting stance. The boy stood up with a huff and walked towards her. "Cervantes, if you will."

Cervantes nodded and picked up two flags. One was green and the other was red. "This will be a staked match. Challenger..."

"Nate Prowler." He said with a smirk. Dante and Cervantes eyes widened. Prowler...he was the younger brother to one of the S-ranked fighters.

Getting over the shock, Cervantes continued. "Challenger Nate Prowler, facing current Mun Pak Doe captain Amanita Pryce for title of Club Leader. No substitution, no surrender. The match will only be called when one side has been rendered unconscious or otherwise unable to battle. Challenger are you ready?"

"Let's get this over with!" Nate called and took a fighting stance known to those of fox blood. His legs were wide and his hands were up, palms open and facing down.

"Captain, are you ready?"

Amanita's glare never left Nate when she nodded ever so slightly.

"Begin."

Right away Nate dashed forward, throwing an open palm at Amanita's face, aiming to end it with one strike. To his surprise, Amanita only leaned her head to the side, letting his attack breeze right by her face. Her eyes never left his, and now a slight sense of fear began to rise in Nate. Before he could pull his arm back, Amanita had gripped his wrist. With her opposite hand, she drew her fist back and smashed it right into his gut. At the same time she brought his wrist up so that the force of her punch lifted him off his feet a bit. The motion proved too much for Nate and he fell face first onto the floor right in front of Amanita as she released his wrist.

The female recruits that were watching began clapping while Dante smirked at the scene. Amanita was amazing and she wasn't even trying. A groan from the ground let them know it wasn't over as Nate struggled back to his feet, holding his stomach in pain. "You bitch..."

That word sealed his fate. A dark aura seemed to surround Amanita as her anger obviously rose. Cervantes and Dante both took a few steps back while the girls visibly shook where they sat. Nate seemed to be the only one ignorant to the danger that he himself was in. Amanita's eyes seemed to shine as a dark smirk formed on her face. She cracked her knuckles as she spoke. "You know, I was holding back. The fact that you're holding your stomach from such a light love tap means you're a lot weaker than I thought. I was going to give you the chance to show me what you could really do but I think I've changed my mind."

"Shut up and fight bitch!" Nate said as he tried to move to Amanita's side, showing the speed of a true fox blood before throwing an open palm at her side. Amanita blocked the strike with an elbow, moving just as fast as Nate. With the momentum, she spun her body, using her elbow to push Nate's hand completely away before hitting Nate with the knuckles of her opposite hand, right in the chest. Nate was sent hurtling backwards towards Cervantes. As he hit the ground, Amanita was already two steps away.

"You can't even stay on your feet, let alone fight me. This is pathetic. Maybe I should just knock you out now."

Nate grit his teeth and lunged up, throwing strike after strike at Amanita but they all missed as she backpedaled. "Stop running and fight!"

Amanita once again used an elbow to move one of his strikes, this time ducking a bit and pushing his arm upwards. She moved her foot forward, planting herself for what would be a powerful strike and all present knew it. "Get the hell out of my dojo." Amanita said as she brought her fist up into Nate's gut again. This time however, the floor cracked under the pressure of the strike and Nate's eyes bulged before Amanita drove her fist upwards, leaping a bit as she performed an uppercut. The underclassman was sent hurtling upwards, breaking right through the ceiling of the dojo and out on the roof. Several seconds of tumbling and he fell at the entrance to the dojo, unconscious.

"Winner by knock out, Captain Amanita Pryce!" Cervantes held up the red flag.

"Woo! Go Amanita!" Dante cheered, making the girl realize she wasn't alone. Amanita blushed a bit and scratched the back of her head with a chuckle. The girls that were watching all applauded and cheered as well before rushing around her and throwing compliments.

Dante looked at Amanita's smiling face as she conversed with the girls. Cervantes walked next to him and smiled as well. "She's getting stronger."

"...I know. You both are." Dante said. "As long as she's happy though."


One hour later...

After Amanita was done with her club activities, the trio headed into the central city. Amanita had donned her school uniform again since none of them had gone home yet. At this time around the city, shops were starting to get busy due to Battle Festival. The streets were crowded as they made their way towards a small cafe near the east part of the city. Cervantes was busy reading a novel he had picked up from the school library while Dante was chatting with Amanita.

"When you think about it though, you and your brother are like two of the only five humans in the school! It's just that so many of us have limitations on our abilities through our races that no one can really tell the difference anymore. Look at Cervantes! He's a dragonhalf, but he doesn't have scales, doesn't breath fire, or anything that you would associate with a..."

Before she could finish, Cervantes coughed, sending a small puff of fire into the air before going back to reading. Amanita sweat dropped and lowered her head in defeat. Dante just laughed. "Argument null and void."

The crowd began to thin a bit as they approached their destination, Catnip Cafe. The cafe had booths running along the walls while the front counter was more like a bar with stools in front. It was a small and relatively new place, run by nekoknowns, or half human, half cat people. Like most races, they were predominantly human like, but their cat sides were very powerful as well. They sported cat ears atop their heads and even long furry tails as well. They entered the store to see their friend Salem Sinora tending the front counter. She wore a purple maid outfit that seemed to compliment her light red hair beautifully. Her ears were red with white tips while her tail was the same.

"Ah, hey guys! Welcome back! Just have a seat and I'll get your usual!" Salem called as she tended to a few guest. Dante slid into a booth with Amanita next to him and Cervantes across from them, still engrossed in his book. Dante wouldn't bother him, knowing once Cervantes started reading it would take the jaws of life to get the book out of his hands.

"So when are you guys going to give in and just train with me!" Amanita argued.

"When Cervantes finds an interest in woman." Dante replied trying to get a rise out of his male friend. Cervantes only reply was to turn a page in his book. "No fun, jerk..."

Amanita grew a devious smirk. "You're one to talk. I don't see you talking to any other girls besides me either. I'd say you two were hiding something."

"And I'd say you're losing your damn mind."

As they joked around with each other, Salem came over with their drinks. As she was setting them down, one of the televisions in the cafe made several loud beeping noises. All eyes found screens, not only in the cafe, but all over the District. In warehouses, in front of shop windows, everywhere a television was accessible. The screen shown the emergency broadcast symbol before flickered away and a woman appeared on the screen.

The woman was shining in complete gold. Her clothing, her skin, her eyes. All of it was golden. She wore a strapless tank atop around her moderate sized chest and bellowing golden pants. Her long golden hair was pulled back into a ponytail and golden bangles hung from each of her arms. A golden see through silk sash was tied around her nose and mouth and she sat on what looked to be a throne in some unknown building.

"Attention, citizens of District 44, Rock City." The mysterious woman had a heavy accent. "I am Emeralda, and I come before you all today to announce the true prize that will be rewarded to the champion of this years Battle Festival."

All eyes were glued to the television as Emeralda stood to her feet slowly, her slender body sending shivers down both men and women spines. She was beautiful and the way her hips moved as she walked towards the camera made many people blush.

"As many of you may have already figured out, yes, I am a genie."

Gasps could be heard even outside of the cafe. Genies were one of several races still thought to be myths. They were creatures with the power to grant any and every wish. Hearing this, many people were able to piece together the puzzle instantly.

"As such, this years prize will be given by me. One wish, no matter what it is, will be granted. Whether you want money..."

A group of thugs watching the broadcast chuckled.

"Fame..."

Many of the other clubs from Highwind nodded.

"Love..."

Dante glanced briefly at Amanita, though her gaze never left the screen.

"Or even world domination. No wish will be too great. All of you out there. Prepare yourselves for the greatest Festival in the world. Because as of this moment, Battle Festival has officially begun."


Highwind Manor...

Within the large mansion of Principal Cornelius Highwind, the man himself sat in his study several hours after the broadcast. His hands were folded beneath his chin in thought. The only sound besides his heavy sighs was the tick of the grandfather clock against the wall. He picked up the small glass of champagne in front of him and sipped it slowly as the metronome of the clock eased his wits a bit.

Cornelius Highwind was known for being a great principal. He wasn't a fighter like his children, having given up martial arts years ago. But he was still powerful in his own right. One actually put him on the level as the mayor of the District, but that was stretching it just a bit. Even without the ego trip, he was a proud man. He had three children, two of which were A-rank fighters. His beautiful wife was traveling the continent on business and called him every night with words of love. So he was a bit annoyed that there were certain things going on that he didn't know about.

A knock on the door disturbed that peace as the person he was waiting for finally arrived.

"Enter." He called. The door opened to reveal Soren.

"You called sir?"

Cornelius set the alcohol down and sighed deeply again. "Soren. You heard that broadcast, I'm sure."

"Yes sir."

"A genie...who would have thought. I didn't know this is what he meant..." The principal seemed to mumble to himself.

"Sir?" Soren asked, slightly confused.

"We can't allow this to go through Soren."

"What do you mean?"

The principal stood up and walked towards the large window that sat behind his desk, wine glass in hand. "I mean no one shall be allowed that wish Soren. Not you, not me, no one."

Soren rose an eyebrow. "But why? Why take such a prize from them? This is just what you were looking for to get more people involved in the festival wasn't it?"

"Not like this Soren. What if one of the random delinquents somehow win. What if someone truly does wish for world domination? A wish with no limitations could mean the end of society, don't you see that?"

He hadn't thought of it like that. While most people would wish for materialistic things, there could be the few who would wish for something extreme.

"What do you want me to do?"

Cornelius took another sip of champagne and looked out the window, overlooking the Northern part of the district. He loved the view. It made him feel like he had control. Like he was protecting everyone. So it upset him that his control was being threatened.

"You are still the leader of my group Soren. Silent Whirlwind. For now, all you all have to do is watch. We have to prevent anyone from getting that wish at any cost."

Along with Soren, the members of Silent Whirlwind included the principals two eldest children, Cornell and Capulet. Before they went inactive, Soren remembered the principal had added two more members, being the blonde haired children from the assembly earlier that day.

"What exactly...am I supposed to be watching for?"

There was a short silence that followed his question. "Soren. You need to know...the truth behind how a genie's wishes work."