Matthew, Rose and Cecilia got back to the site where the first phase of the exam ended just a few hours before the time was up. Matthew was carrying a bag that contained the evidence of their hunt.
"I'll get the report in, you two can rest up for while waiting."
"Okay Matt." Rose replied to Matthew.
After he had confirmed their thoughts, Matthew made his way to the field assistant that was in charge. The line was not really long, thankfully.
Rose and Cecilia went under a shady tree and sat on one of its protruding roots.
"Ah~ I'm beat." Rose said as she laid her bottom on the hard root.
"Me too…" Cecilia said.
They both took a breather under the shade as they watched their surroundings.
"Cecilia, could you tell me something?" Rose asked.
"Eh umm what is it?"
"Are you… Not used to people by chance?"
"..." Cecilia could only slightly gasp.
Rose looked into Cecilia's eyes with curiosity. Cecilia was unable to bear the weight that those eyes put on her and looked away.
Rose kept staring at her. She was only concerned about Cecilia.
'Lack communication is bad when working together and is crucial when it comes to Hunter activities.'
Lack of communication between teammates could cost the team's lives. Though there are some special cases, as a newly formed team, though temporary, not having communication would be bad.
Rose could only be grateful that Matthew had been able to handle most of the work by himself with little assistance. If they were all on a low level, they would've been killed earlier.
Rose silently sighed. ',We need to get rid of the barrier somehow if we are to keep teaming like this.'
"Hey, hey." Someone suddenly appeared in front of the two.
Rose looked up and saw a man. 'Who is this guy?'
"A-Alan?" Cecilia stood up and was surprised.
"Hard to believe you actually made it this far, Cecilia." The man said.
Rose stood up as well. "Who are you?"
“Hmm? Is she your new teammate now? Hey, this girl is worthless. Just kick her out already. There is no place for weaklings among the Hunters.” The man said with a really smug face.
“What did you say?” Rose was getting angry.
“What? I’m only telling the truth. She couldn’t even take out one of those dogs back in the fog. She could barely help me back then.” Alan shook his head.
“She’s a Divine Magic user, of course she can’t.” Rose retorted back.
“Divine, Arcane whatever! They’re all magic all the same. To me, if you can’t use them properly, you’re just no good.”
“You-! Cecilia!” Rose turned around. She was hoping that Cecilia would at least say something to defend herself.
However, Cecilia only stared at the ground, unable to answer.
“No need to argue further. Just accept that fact.” Alan said.
Now Rose’s anger has reached her limit. “Why you- If you don’t know anything about magic, then don’t act like you do! You scum!”
“Huh?!” Alan was agitated now. “You… How dare you!” Alan reached out his hand towards Rose with malicious intent.
However, it was stopped midway by another hand.
“Huh?” Alan glanced at the owner of the hand that stopped his.
Matthew stared with bloodshot eyes at Alan. “Don’t you dare.” He said.
Suddenly Alan released a bit of his aura as if to intimidate Matthew. Certainly, his aura caused the others to turn their attention towards him.
Expecting Matthew to be scared, he was surprised to see Matthew was unfazed. Instead, Matthew only stared back even more intensely.
After witnessing this, Alan slowly dispersed his aura. He jerked out his hand from Matthew’s grip. “You’re not scared by that. I commend you.”
Matthew did not say a word.
“Perhaps I should tell you that I have a brother. One of the Five Coloured Hunters, Ajax, I’m sure you’ve heard of him?” He smug with his hands on his waist.
Matthew knew the name of that one of the most infamous Hunter out there, but he was disinterested. “And what of it?” He said.
This made Alan’s blood boil again. He bent over a bit and mocked Matthew in the face. “That means that I am superior compared to you nobodies.”
“Just because your brother is, doesn’t mean you are.”
“My name will be far higher in the ranks than you!”
“Is that so?”
“Gaah! You little piece of-”
Before Alan was able to hit Matthew, Cecilia shouted. “Please stop fighting!” Her hands were trembling but she had to let it out.
“Huh! Fine, you’re not worth my time anyways.” Alan turned away and left the three.
The commotion that built up earlier slowly died down and soon everyone was back to their own business.
“You didn’t have to stop him, you know?” Rose said to Matthew. “I could’ve dealt with him myself.”
“I know, but I didn’t want anyone to be killed for some dumb reason.” Matthew replied.
“Grr! That guy really gets on my nerves. Why in the heck was he here anyways? Just to mock us?”
“I believe one of us has some explaining to do.” Matthew looked over to Cecilia who could only grip her own dress.
“... Cecilia, it’s okay… No need to-”
“Tell us what happened.”
Rose wanted to try to persuade Cecilia but Matthew just straight up said it.
“If you don’t tell us, it’s gonna be harder for us to keep going and much much harder for you. So just tell us.” Matthew's voice was almost flat as to keep things serious.
Cecilia was conflicted in her heart. She was thinking hard on her choices. However, she finally obeyed.
“I was almost always alone. I was never let out of my own house by my own parents. My parents were nobles and overprotective. Therefore, I never had many friends. But I really wanted to see the outside world for myself. I really, really wanted to…”
“So you chose to be a Hunter?” Matthew asked.
“... Yes. I once saw the miracle of magic that can heal people shown by a random Hunter on a kitten, and ever since then, I always wanted to be able to help people and other creatures too. Not just sitting around in my house all day and night”
” And so, I learned magic myself. I snuck into the library every once in a while to read up on any books that could help and even practiced by myself. But it never worked. I never understood how to do it.”
“In the end, I finally got the courage to ask my parents about it. At first, of course they were not willing to let me, but I kept persuading them until finally I was able to get into a Hunter Academy. I was happy at first because I was finally able to go outside and had more freedom. But then, I was unable to make any friends.”
Matthew and Rose both felt sad when hearing this. Cecilia took a deep breath before continuing.
“I couldn’t communicate properly with people. I would stutter a lot because I was just too happy to talk to someone. Even if some were able to understand me, as soon as they found out about my background, they felt like I was just being high and mighty and because of that, people left me. I was alone once again.”
“Then, Alan came along. He was really nice and supportive. He said that I could become a strong mage someday. But during the first phase of this exam…”
“Why are you so useless?! You couldn’t even take out one of those dogs?” Alan asked.
“B-but I only Divine Magic. I can’t attack or-”
“Nonsense! Magic is magic! I can’t believe I supported you for so long only for you to turn out to be this useless!”
“I-I’m sorry. I promise after this exam, I will learn some Arcane magic as well.” Cecilia panickily defended herself unsuccessfully.
“No. We are done here. You’re useless to me. Here I thought you could be of some use to me, I really am an idiot. Bah! I’m going on ahead, you’re just slowing me down.” Alan turned around and aws about to walk away.
Cecilia was petrified. She was on the verge of tears. Yet, she mustered up the courage to speak. “Alan!”
“Ha?! What now?” Alan said in an annoying tone.
“Why… Why did you even help me in the first place?”
“... Hehe! Because you are just too easy.”
“Don’t get it? I’ll explain it to you. You are trash with no friends. You can barely stand up for yourself. You try too hard to keep the ones you have. You can’t even speak properly in front of people. You are just useless. I always only wanted to take advantage of you. I never wanted to help you honestly. Well, I guess I should thank you for the equipment you paid for me. Ah~ that was a load off. Well, see ya. Good luck from this point on, Cecilia.” Alan left without another word.
Cecilia was left with a destroyed heart. She could only succumb on the ground in the fog where no one could see her.
‘If only.... If only I was better…’ She thought.
“I managed to recover when I thought of my parents who went out of their way to make my wish come true. But, being the clumsy doofus I am, I encountered the bloodhounds. I had almost given up. Then, you two came.” Cecilia looked up at Matthew and Rose.
“You saved me from those bloodhounds. You let stay with you and even encouraged me to join even though I was being really awkward. I stayed quiet because I was afraid that you would leave me as well. I was afraid that I’d be alone again. I was afraid that… I’d just be troubling you.” Cecilia was slowly getting hiccups and sobs in her lines. “But, you never did. When you said you’d rely on me for the second phase, I was really happy. I really am.” She began to wipe her tears away with her hands.
“And always will count on you from here on.” Matthew said.
“Eh?’ Cecilia abruptly stopped wiping her tears.
“Welcome to the team. We’ll get past this exam for sure!” Matthew crossed his arms and smiled.
“We will be in your care, Cecilia.” Rose added.
“...” Cecilia was speechless. Her tears only flowed even faster. Then she slowly crouched down on the ground and cried.
Matthew and Rose looked at each other and smiled. A happy ending for this chapter indeed and a new member has joined the team for the exam. That leaves only the last phase to be done which takes place in a few more hours. Will the ameature Hunters make it past the final phase?
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