353 The Second Blade part three

    Nix put up with the old woman throwing an arm around him.  For once, she didn't stink of booze and body odor.  Her gray hair smoothed back, and her clothes seemed to be without any significant wrinkles.  "How's your advancement, Quest?"

    Chiba pulled him close to her flat chest.  "I'm done except for your part."

    Nix walked with the old woman, while his companions fell in behind. They entered the lobby of a large building and exited almost immediately into a courtyard that had been made into a training area.  "What's my part?"

    Chiba held up her hands.  "Not to worry, Nix, it's merely a display competition."

    Nix laughed at the old woman's expression.  "You have no idea what I need to do."

    Chiba shook her head.  "Not really, no."

    The old woman walked him to the edge of a raised platform where three old men waited with three younger people.  Two men, wearing red, sat in chairs on either side of the wooden stage.

    One of the men in red stood up and gestured from everyone to clear the stage.  He waited until everyone was off before speaking. "We are here to test the pupils of the Masters who are undergoing advancement.  Master candidates, please take your seats."

    Chiba, who was dressed entirely in dark blue, followed the three older men and took a seat on the side of the stage.  The second man in red stood up and joined his companion.

    "I'm Renlo, the judge for his demonstration.  The first phase is the blade demonstration."  Renlo looked at one of the old men.  "Xesai, please send up your apprentice."

    A white-robed man in his mid-20s climbed onto the stage and awaited further instruction.

    "A minimal of three different blades are required here; they may be from the same elemental base." Renlo moved to the side of the stage and gestured for the apprentice to start.

    The apprentice was a lean man with short black hair.  His movements were fluid and graceful.  He raised a sword hilt, an instant later a blue blade extended.

    Renlo raised his flag.  "Water blade,  please continue."

    The apprentice nodded, and a moment later, a second blade appeared, parallel to the first.

    Renlo raised his flag again.  "Dual Water blades, very good.  Continue."

    The apprentice swung the blade once, making them vanish entirely, pausing for a moment he exhaled slowly, and a clear blade emerged from the hilt.

    Renlo raised his flag.  "Air blade, you've passed."

    Once the apprentice left the stage, Renlo read the next name on his list.  "Chiba, please send your apprentice to the stage."

    [Whisper: Chiba to Nix] Do your best, Nix.

    Nix jumped on stage and waited for the judge to address him.

    Judge Renlo glanced at Nix. "Three different blades are required here, apprentice.  You may start."

    Nix nodded and focused his thoughts on Wrath, slowly, the black ice blade emerged.

    Renlo stared at the blade for a few seconds and then moved closer.  He sighed heavily after a moment and made a gesture to the other judge.  "Wait a moment, please."

    The second judge ran into the building they had walked through; a few moments later, he returned with an old woman.  Her hair was white as snow, and although she looked ancient, her stride had a fluid efficiency to it.

    She stepped carefully onto the stage and approached Nix.  A quick glance at the blade made her wrinkled face break into a smile. "Black Ice blade, very nice."

    Renlo nodded and raised his flag.  "Pass.  Continue."

    The old woman walked to the edge of the platform before turning to watch.

    Nix pushed flames into the Wrath, the white crackling sound of his fury blade emerging seemed loud in the quiet courtyard.

    Renlo stared at the blade for a moment; without speaking, he glanced at the old woman again.

    The old woman studied Nix for a long moment before she spoke.  "White Sonic Flame blade, exceptional."

    Renlo raised his flag and spoke, his voice barely audible.  "Continue."

    Nix nodded and pushed Ice Flames into the blade.  The bluish flames sending the temperature around him plummeting.

    Renlo looked like he wanted to throw his flags at Nix.  "I don't know this one either, Grand Master."

    The Grand Master moved closer; she gestured with her hand for Chiba to approach also.  She glanced casually at Nix.  "Why hold back now?"

    Nix shrugged and pushed lightning into the  Ice Flame blade, a bolt of lightning escaped upward before it stabilized with the rumbling sound of thunder.

    "Ice Flame Thunder blade."  The woman clapped her hands together before turning to Chiba.  "Help an old woman back to her office.  Ask your apprentice and his friends to accompany us."

    Renlo held up his flag.  "Pass."

    The old woman stopped at the edge of the platform.  "Chiba passes her advancement; you may continue to test the rest of the candidates."

    Renlo's mouth opened and closed.  "But Master, there are still.."

    The woman stared at him and waited for him to finish his sentence.

    Renlo's face turned white, and he bowed low.  "Forgive my words; I will do as you ask."

    A few minutes later, they were seated comfortably in the Grand Master's Office.  Nix and Gil sat with Chiba on the couch while the Qi siblings watched from behind them.

    "I'm Elena Sersao, the Grand Master of the Spellsword Order."  The old woman was seated comfortably behind her desk; she poured herself a small glass of wine with rock steady hands.

    Chiba licked her dry lips, silently cursing the Grand Master for drinking in front of her.  "Please introduce your friends to Master Elena, Nix."

    Nix nodded.  "This is Gil, the two behind us are Sasi and Rabi."

    Elena sipped the wine, letting her eyes close for a moment.  "I offer you a quest.  The Sword of Kings was stolen from us centuries ago.  I would like you to return it to us."

    "Of course, Master."  Chiba nudged her apprentice with an elbow until he nodded in agreement.

    New Quest available.

    Sword of Kings

    Description: The Sword of Kings was

    stolen by a Swordmaster from the lost

    city of Eidengal.  Enter the armory through

    the School's secret entrance and search for

    this treasure.

    Objective: Enter the Eidengal Armory through Elena's

    secret entrance.  Find the Sword of Kings and bring

    it back to Elena Sersao.

    Nix kept his face expressionless as he read the quest objectives.  He already had a quest involving the Armory of Eidengal.

    "When would you like to start?"  Elena Sersao smiled amiably at her guests.  She hadn't expected the chance to get the sword back would come in her lifetime.  Nix had fulfilled the requirements for being givenQuestquest, the formation of three God blades.

    Nix glanced at Gil, who nodded in consent.  "We will start as soon as our last companion joins us."

    The group sat quietly while they waited for their last companion. It was only a few minutes before a soft knock sounded at the door, and the white-haired rogue stepped through.  She greeted Nix and the Sasi siblings with a wave before bowing toward Elena.  "Are we all done?"

    Nix shook his head.  "We have a quest if you are willing to come with us."

    Beta nodded her consent.  "Of course."

    A few minutes later, Elena led the group down a steep staircase that ended in a raised platform.  "This is the gate to Eidengal.  It may only be used to travel there; you will have to find your own way back to us."

    /Alpha: Chiba: This is a bad idea; we should opt-out.

    /Alpha: Beta: I agree, we know nothing about Eidengal.

    /Alpha: Nix: I've been to Eidengal, it's in the Great Desert.

    /Alpha: Sasi: Nix knows place?  Let's go!

    /Alpha: Beta: Yep, changed my vote.

    /Alpha: Chiba: I'm in then.
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