In the city streets of Griftein Veimu, the capital city of Xaeviel, only a few people came out at noon due to the scorching heat of the sun, but today was different.
Children looked up and happily bounced in delight. Even the parents were enjoying the spectacle. What they saw was more like a colorful parade in the air but in reality, these were travelers.
It was such a wonderful sight. Flying exquisite carriages of various colors driven by winged beasts of all sorts were seen on the clear noon sky.
At the sides, multiple creatures, in different sizes and shapes, which possessed the power of flight flew with their riders on the way to the back of a hill not far from the city.
While two horses ran down the slope, leaving the castle grounds. They were Theodrech and Freidrech.
Theo toured with Freidrech at some monumental places in the city. He pointed a hill-like structure in the middle of the city square with three circles carved on a rock.
"That pile of lime rock over there is where the first king of Xaeviel killed the notorious three-eyed monster who murdered more than a hundred soldiers in one night."
"Wow, he must be a very strong man," said Freidrech.
"He was. The monster was killed in one blow," said Theo.
Then they passed through the busy streets to the city gate. Along the way, Theo pointed to a horse-shaped structure erected down a valley on the right side of the road. "That place is our ten-hectare equestrian park where our horses and other beast mounts are groomed for battle."
While they had this enjoyable tour, there were also people in the land and on-air watching them.
Theo led the way rounding a hill of which the road he said was made when a giant platypus flattened the hillsides while hopping in fright from the crawling vampire ants.
When the two boys were almost at the top, all of a sudden, a strong gust of wind came. So strong, enough to blow the horse's heavy body off the cliff.
However, the boys passed through safely, and the magic casters were blown away instead.
"Whew! I thought we're a goner there," said Theo.
Unknown to him, something interfered and lessened the wind's strength when it reached them.
The two turned left and went downhill. Later, Freidrech realized they'd reached the back of the hill and descended to a forest where a multitude of people was in a queue in front of a big tree.
Freidrech thought the tree was a portal.
"That entrance is for the visitors to the royal academy. We won't go in that way," said Theo.
At this moment, a hooded man, on a giant red bat flying directly above them, cast a higher grade spell to the two that would make a person and beast immobile.
At this time, Freidrech felt his chest heated. In an instant, an invincible shield surrounded them, reversing the attack.
"AHHH!" The poor fellow and his immobile beast fell from the sky.
Freidrech grew up having this inner foreboding when danger and evil beings were near him. It also protected him from magic attacks the same as what happened earlier.
He had no idea where it came from and how it came to be but he was aware it was with him since birth.
Theo felt the incoming attack too and readied his magic shield but the expected hit didn't come. So, he thought it was a false alarm.
The two continued their journey and went to another direction and didn't meet any more attacks.
At this point, the flying spies and ambushers retreated. The two were now protected by the academy's feared barrier which could detect any type of attacks from a good distance and would retaliate without a caster.
Not for long, the boys entered a wider road and reached another area of the forest.
"Hooo!" Theo halted his horse before the dense forest. Freidrech stopped his horse as well and was curious in what way they could enter the academy.
He glanced sideways at Theo, who was looking straight at the closely standing trees where no space enough for a man to walk in.
Theodrech took something in his coat's inner pocket and brought out a silver insignia with an image of the mighty griftein embedded on it.
Then a loud ghostly voice of an old woman sounded, "Who's there?"
"I'm Theodrech, prince of Xaeviel. Open the gate."
Afterward, Freidrech heard water trickling but no brook was in sight. Yet, what transpired next made his jaw drop. The forest trees uprooted themselves and literally stood and walked sideways, opening a path for them.
Then Freidrech saw a vast clearing and up ahead was a massive gate with the same emblem on Theo's insignia.
"Let's go," said Theo, starting his horse. Freidrech followed suit but had to look back to quench his curiosity.
What he witnessed amazed him more. He saw the trees strode back in place and the ground returned to how it was before. The trickling water sounded again as a translucent barrier as thick as fifty steps of an adult gradually transformed in his very eyes.
Theo chuckled. He enjoyed watching Freidrech's astounded face. Everything was so new to Freidrech that he couldn't help but be awestruck.
"Come, let's enter the royal academy," said Theo as he trod his horse toward the gate. Freidrech pulled the rein, letting his horse ran faster to catch up with Theo.
Intriguing, Freidrech thought. He was sure those trees were one of the sentient beings who looked like trees he read before. They were called gobblers, and they ate anything, including humans.
Why the need to put up such fierce beings to barricade the gate of the academy? What was so special about this school? Perhaps, the correct question was what were they hiding in here? Freidrech had a lot of questions.
Theo was closely watching his companion when they entered the barrier. He could tell from the way Freidrech moved his head and eyes that he had been observing almost everything they passed.
If they were not in a hurry, probably, Freidrech would ask to stop and look around.
The prince assumed he could guess what was in his friend's mind at this moment.
"You might be wondering why the academy is concealed and fortified in such manner," said Theodrech as he let his horse walked in a leisurely manner when they neared the gate.
"Is my face that easy to read?" asked Freidrech smilingly, amused by the prince's wit.
"Haha, sort of. But most newcomers will ask the same thing."
"So, why?" asked Freidrech.
"In the past, the first king created this as a sanctuary and the last line of defense in case needed. In this way, the soldiers can fight without being hampered by the citizen's relocation since this place is not that far from the city.
"Now, it has two purposes, the last line of defense and protects the students who are the future knights, generals, officials, and also the future kings of Xaeviel. My insignia is not only for entrance but it gives me the privilege to be protected by this barrier whenever I need it as long as I'm near. Great, right?"
"Indeed, the first king had good foresight," said Freidrech. But his mind went back to his home village.
The chiefs before his father thought the same thing, by planting protective crystalline under the trees that surrounded the whole village and attack spells against the human-half-beast tribes. However, …
Suddenly, Freidrech's eyes grew big as an owl's when the gate opened on its own and after they entered, it closed by itself.
Magicmatic. They might be using detection crystals, or they erected that type of magic formation, Freidrech surmised.
"By the way, you're still a guest here but we're allowed to bring up to two guests."
Fred said, "So I am a special guest?"
The prince laughed, "Yes, but most use it to bring in servants. So if you lose, and someone asks, just tell them you're with me. We're here," Theo said. Both of them stopped their horses and slid down.
Freidrech looked up at the dome-like structure. "Where are we?"
"We are now at the back entrance of the school's Knowledge Arena. All intellectual battles like debates, presentation of ideas and platforms, speeches, and etc. are held here."
"Solely for the mind games?"
"Mind games? I like that name," said Theo, giggling. "I really love that mind of yours."
"I believe you also have a combat arena."
"Of course. Come, people are already waiting."
On the way in, Freidrech heard noises from the inner hall.
"Don't tell me, you invited a lot of people to watch our riddle battle?" Freidrech said as he felt his heart drummed.
"It's not that I invited them. It was you who incited them to come." Theo said nonchalantly.
"I think challenging you was a mistake. I'm starting to regret it now," said Freidrech as he scratched his head again, getting nervous.
Theo never expected to hear this from the confident challenger. "Don't tell me this is your first time to face a big audience?"
Freidrech sighed. His shoulders drooped. This was not the first he challenged a prominent person but the gathered audience was not this large.
He was plainly caught in his own ploy.
Theo saw Freidrech downcast demeanor and patted Freidrech's shoulder. "Just be yourself. Let's give our audience a good show and enjoy this." But deep inside, 'I think I could win this. Never thought he is not used to a larger audience.'
As for Freidrech, his self-confidence plummeted. The thought of chickening out was so tempting and making him nuts.
Jeez, I might end up losing if I can't get ahold of myself.
He exhaled a good amount of air and let his observant eyes wandered to divert his mind. Hoping to release his tension.
Nevertheless, as they walked in the inner area, his footsteps abruptly stopped.
The whole place was fully packed with thousands of people. Spectators filled the ten bleachers from top to bottom.
Freidrech wanted to faint.
As of the moment, I can update every other day but I'll update one today as a greeting to all new readers and fans of Ajzhen. I'll try my best to update every day but I need time to write and edit too. So, please understand. Thank you.
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