4 Ch 4 A Pinch of Knowledge, A Grain of Experience

    Books upon books, a total of 5 each with at least 300 pages each, except for the at most 50 page book at the bottom, and each with a different story to tell and each with yellowed pages as if to convey the age and authenticity of the words contained within. 5 papers, all of which were tests of knowledge, all of which were to be completed. A pen, most likely there to make sure Cairn couldn't erase any mistakes and to see his experience in writing. And lastly a yellow sticky note saying, 'Finish the work or die.' That was all there was in his cubicle, each time he stared at the books it seemed almost as if they were inviting him in for only one thing, a mental beatdown.

    From left to right the books were placed in the order that they had been stacked in. First was a book called 'An Introduction to Willpower' by Nate Seemore, this book had the highest signs of decay with even pages beginning to brown and tear from obvious overuse. Second was a book titled 'Coders vs Breakers' by Weaver, this was a book referring to the two types of will users . The third book was the heaviest of them all and was called 'The Judges and Purgers, The Great Schism' by Kate Hillock. The fourth book was 'The Ever-war, an ongoing conflict' by Clack the head Judge, this talked about the situation beyond the 20 districts. And last book was 'The Hidden Head Judge' There was no author to this book, but it did have a certain allure to it as no one knew who the fifth Judge was, but even the assassination groups treated this veritable boogeyman as a high priority target.

    Cairn, despite not knowing how much he was getting paid he still chose to read these books to the best of his ability as history wasn't considered a necessity in the business of killing. It was the same with even the introduction to power as he was only taught the murderous use of his will and not any of its complexities similar to how a soldier can be taught how to shot a gun but not taught about the mechanisms in the gun. A popular saying from his old group was pulled out from his memories, 'A pinch of knowledge and a grain of experience equals a healthy tonic for the mind.'

    As he read the first book it outlined the twelve elements of fire, earth, wind, water, lightning, metal, wood, ice, light, darkness, time, and space. Everyone started off with an affinity for one of the twelve elements with most affinities running in the family, each one of these elements could be gained through hard work but one would have to start at the very bottom stage of Hephaestus at the first level.

    Each stage had 10 levels the first level was Hoplite, from the 2nd to 4th levels in a stage one was a Decanus, from the 5th to 7th levels one was considered to be a centurion and at the 8th to 10 levels one was considered to be a Legatus. Each stage was named after a god from the days of the Greeks but there were only 9 known levels. First was Hephaestus or the forging stage. Second was Aphrodite or the mind stage . Third was the Apollo or Soul stage. Fourth is the Understanding stage or Hermes. Fifth is the Artemis or emission stage. The sixth through ninth stages had there definitions redacted only there titles remained. The sixth level Ares, The seventh level Athena, The eighth level Poseidon, and the ninth level Hades. There were many speculations that a tenth level existed but until now no one had advanced to this stage.

    In the second book it showed the differences between Coders and breakers. Coders were people who spoke to the elements through written and spoken words in order to will the elements to whatever shape the coder chose whereas a breaker instinctively communicated with the elements rely on the elements to help break through the physical limits of the human body. When both coders and breakers reach the Artemis stage they begin to bind with the elements and even emit the elements from there bodies in order to make a more suitable environment. At higher levels they can even do this unconsciously, an example is when a Poseidon level Coder of water is angry they can accidentally make it rain in a small area or cause waves grow fiercer while near the ocean.

    The third book was about two of the five major factions Cairn's faction the Judges and the Purgers a group that was formerly part of the Judges before the Great Schism that happened roughly 40 years ago. The Great Schism started off as a disagreement between two head Judge candidates, Gunnra who went on to become lead head Judge and Alexander who later became the head of the Purgers. The two once worked hand in hand and were good rivals but due to an argument regarding the treatment of prisoners from another one of the major factions, namely the Road faction who dealt in the trade of both common goods and lives. Alexander wanted to execute all faction members on the spot after discovering human body parts, whereas Gunnra wanted to first bring it to the attention of the Council Judges and protect the Roads members who were not responsible for the human deaths. Alexander refused to listen thus leading to the first real fight the two had, This was not the last fight, and eventually the two gained allies within the Judge organization before finally having one last fight this one would split the organization thus creating the New order of Judges and the Purgers.

    While Cairn was reading the third book in his cubicle, of 9 cubicles present, one could find Judge Dub in his office using a cellphone to talk to someone, "Yes, He appears to be reading through his books thoroughly, but I have noticed that at times he seems to concentrate on slightly larger words, his education may be slightly behind the curve but that can be made up with extra training." he asserted. "Good, use him well Dub, he may look like a maggot but he has the potential to become a competent caterpillar." she replied. "Don't worry Celestial Judge Orname! I will surely turn this maggot into a caterpillar if not a butterfly!" he declared. "Good, I will leave you to your work Judge Dub, I need you to make sure your squad is ready to guard the Socrates faction's techies and able to participate in the suppression department competition." And with that she hung up.

    By the time Cairn finished the third book his eyes were beginning to feel like they had dried out and attempting to move them felt like moving a stick through cement. His body slouched forward and he began to feel drowsy but the only thing keeping him awake was the words written on the sticky note,'Finish the work or die.' He began to look around hoping for something to happen, anything that could give him an excuse to get stop at the third book and not read the last two but his distraction never came. Slowly his gazed went toward the fourth book and he prepared himself to knock on the door of knowledge once more.

    The fourth book outlined an unavoidable topic, the outside. At first human were the staple species of the entire planet and used there powers against one another until another species evolved namely the corrupted, a species of beast all identifiable by large pulsating purple veins present on their body,  all operating under a type of connected mind that allows them to use unconventional tactics like sending a suicide squad to collect information that is instantly reported to their entire race. They possess both intelligence and brawn and an ever expanding need for food as they reproduce faster than humans in a rate of 3:8. During the first 5 years of the war they were underestimated until an incident referred to as the Akbast Sacrifice in which the first Corrupted lord was found in the now destroyed city of Akbast resulted in the massacre and subsequent sacrifice of the city via nuclear bombing which the Corrupted lord designated as King Crab, survived. Soon another major threat appeared in a place where it was least expected, the cats or Catkin. After centuries as humanities pets, cats developed a certain hatred towards humanity for it's treatment of Catkin and practiced their power in secret, developing powers of their own while slowly developing into more humanoid bodies they started using the same blueprint the humans relied on, during this process they found a way to create an ability that would become a nightmare for all troops, no matter how strong, outside of the walls. The Catkin found a way to become true cats with nine lives, no matter how badly injured they were, no matter how deeply they were cut as long as even a bit of there body remained they could be revived and continue the fight earning them the nickname of the undying and creating a saying that would reverberate throughout time, 'Kill it until it dies!'. This power was first used during the Catkin rebellion and had cost the humans a city within the first year of conflict. Human are currently still stuck in the war where the Catkin attack from one side of the planet while the corrupted attack the other side.

    "Finally, I'm almost finished I just have to finish this last book and then I can call it a day!" Cairn exasperatedly said. As Cairn Stretched out he felt every bone in his body pop as though they were stuck in stone and finally being freed. His hand, crying from the pain and stiffness of continuous writing and page turning. Cairn quickly opened the last book both ready to be finished with this assignment but also ready to learn even a little about the anonymous 5th head Judge.

    The fifth book had very little that wasn't just outright speculation or a rumor told at a high roller party, the unknown Judge had never been pictured. There was so little information that most of what was recorded were just assumptions to fight that no major power was involved in and there was no eye witness that could offer coherent story. The best speculation present was that either the fifth head Judge was outside fighting in the outside world or that the fifth Judge was going between the 4 Judge controlled cities of Chet, Bella, Lortnoc, Yurin, and the prison city of Vent.

    Cairn sighed and sank into his chair, mentally exhausted from all the information he had to process and store in his mind. Slowly he took one last look at his work before setting it up. He stared at the books, half happy to have more info, half hoping they turned into dust for the headache he was getting. Cairn stood up from his chair stretching once more before walking walking to Angela's cubicle.

    "Here, my work is complete." Cairn tiredly whispered. Angela stared at Cairn for a moment before responding, "Very well, you may rest at your cubicle for 30 minutes then prepare yourself for your next assignment." "Wait, what? You mean there's more work before I can leave?" Cairn said alarmingly. "Yes, we are judges there will never be a day that we don't have more work." She affirmed. An with that Angela walked to Judge Dub's office, while Cairn watched as she walked away he couldn't help but mutter, "Today is just not my day." Afterwards, he began his lonely trek back to his cubicle, walking like a hobbled old man would on a hill, before finally getting to his chair and  hearing the small screech that accompanied the chair getting used to his weight before he closed his eyes and took a power nap.
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