Once morning arrived, Raine, accompanied by his sister, Cloudia, prepared themselves to go to the Royal Academy as previously planned. Fred offered to lend a coach for the siblings' use but the two declined since Cloudia planned to slowly introduce the capital to his little brother as they walk.
Cloudia introduced the stores that she and her friends frequent during the weekends. And as the Hunter's Guild is also on the way, the siblings also went there to take a look. Inside the siblings gathered much attention due to their age and looks. Though Raine believed that most of the attentions was focused at his sister. The attentions from the younger men were especially intense. But considering how pretty his sister had become, Raine didn't find this odd at all.
Despite all the attention she's getting though, Cloudia doesn't seem to notice, or maybe she simply doesn't care. Raine believed that it was the latter.
"I guess romance is still too early for her." Raine smiled wryly.
Cloudia led Raine to what seemed to be the reception area. There, guild employees in guild uniforms are busy tending to the clients and hunters. Without saying anything, Cloudia approached a young, female guild employee who is writning something at the far end of the reception area. Unlike the other employee there's no line in front of her. Is it maybe because her job doesn't involved entertaining requests?
"Hey, Marin, are you busy?" Cloudia greeted.
The female employee named Marin, was slightly startled at the sudden greeting and stopped writing.
"Oh, so it's you, Cloudia!"
Marin returned the greeting with a smile. From her appearance, Raine could tell that she's from the human race though it is also the possibility that she is a mixed blood.
"What are doing here? Aren't you supposed to go to the academy with your younger brother?
"That's for later, I'm here to show Raine around."
Cloudia moved to the side so that Marin could see his brother. Raine smiled at the guild girl and gave a polite greeting.
"Ah! So you're Raine, I've heard a lot about you! It's nice to finally meet you!"
Raine was slightly surprised at the energetic response from Marin but simply thought that she's an easily excitable person.
"You heard a lot about me? I hope she didn't say anything about me...." Raine asked a little peeved.
"Hey! Just to let you know I never said anything bad about you to my friend!" Cloudia pouted a little hearing Raine's complaint.
"Hehehe, don't worry, Cloudia only say good things about you." Marin answered with a giggle.
Marin then stared at Raine's forehead and said with contemplation,” you really don't have a horn. I got to admit this the first time I saw a daemon without a horn."
"Well, hornless daemons are irregularities to begin with... so it's only normal that you don't see my kind that often." Raine replied.
Raine simply shrugged his shoulder at this. He had long past the stage of him being hornless bothering him.
Raine acting like his situation doesn't bother him at all impresses Marin quite a bit. Very few people could act as mature as Raine, especially if one consider his age.
"Is that so? Well, if you ever need anything you could always count on me. I'll help you as much as I can!"
Though Marin felt like Raine doesn't need it, she still offered her assistance if he ever encounter any trouble in the future.
The siblings say there goodbye to Marin but as they are about to leave they saw a commotion at the entrance.
Curious, Raine, Cloudia, and Marin approached the crowd.
"Did something happened?"
Marin asked the nearest person, a female adventurer from the beastkin race, if something happened.
"Yeah, it seemed that the Leonis' party is arguing with a client over a request or something." The female beastkin answered, unsure.
The trio listened to the argument and heard things like the "request being much more dangerous than what was stated," and the "compensation not being enough." They also heard that one of the adventurer being "seriously injured."
"Could it be a conflict over the reward of the quest?" Cloudia chipped in her question.
"That seemed to be the case...." Marin answered while frowning.
Hunters earn their keep by taking and completing requests from clients. The client would post a request with the request's requirements written on it. A hunter that fulfills the requirement written on the request would then take the request and complete it. Once completed the hunter would then be able to receive his or her reward which is according to the difficulty of the request.
Usually once the request was completed and the reward given, the story would end there. But in the rare instances that the request turned out to be more dangerous or difficult than what was stated, conflict like this arises.
"Look here, I understand that you are all upset since one of your companion was injured but the request clearly states that you might face bandits during you escort mission." A well-dressed man answered without much emotion.
The well-dressed man is from the daemon race and seemed to be quite well off. The man looked middle-aged but carries himself quite well. He gave off an haughty and proud feeling like that of an aristocrat.
"Those were ogres not bandits! Nowhere in the request said that we need to fight ogres!" A tought looking man with plenty of muscles argued back.
Raine was surprised after hearing the macho hunter's words. The ogre tribe is a powerful race that very people few would willingly antagonized. An ogre's physical attributes are many times stronger than that of a daemon. What's more every one of them possessed magic unique to their race. That is why other races would avoid antagonizing ogres without a good reason.
Now everyone understands why Leonis and his comrades were arguing with their client. If the contract states that you're just supposed to be wary of bandits then end up fighting ogres in the process then of course anyone would be very upset. They would even felt that their client lied to them.
Everyone's eyes focuses on the noble-looking man wanting to see his reaction which made the man in question very uncomfortable. Fortunately for him these people are professionals and would not for trouble unnecessarily. Of course, there are some who looked at the man with unfriendly eyes.
The client opened his mouth to as if tell his side of the story when someone spoke in an authoritative and booming voice.
"What's happening here?" It asked.
Startled everyone turned to the source of the voice and saw a red-haired man with impressive beard and physiques calmly walking towards them. Behind the red-haired man is a male and female daemon that looked like people holding important positions.
"It’s the guild master!" Everyone chorus.
Raine was surprised; it seemed that the commotion finally got the attention of the hunters’ guild's guild master. But the reason why Raine was surprised was not because he saw the guild master stepping out in person but rather because the guild master is a human!
Yes, the guild master is not a daemon but a human. Raine find this odd because they're on the daemon capital where the daemon king rules. He expected since the capital is the center of the daemon race's authority, the people on the top of the ladder should all be daemons. And yet the role of the hunters guild's guild master was given to a human....
What's even stranger is that the "Great War" that ravaged the whole continent happened just decades ago. And considering that the daemons are long-lived species several decades is a very short time for them. Raine actually half expected to see the humans living in the capital to be alienated but from the look of things his expectations fall short.
"It seems that I should not bring the values from my previous world into this world...."
Yes, Raine was judging this world's values using his previous world's values. Things that should be normal on his previous world might not be normal here.
"So could anyone tell me what's happening here?" The guild master asked calmly.
A guild employee walked towards the guild master and murmured something on the guild master's ear. The guild master frowns and looked at the parties involved.
"You lot follow me. And as for the rest, disperse! This is the hunters’ guild and not the circus!"
The guild master pointed at the parties arguing and ordered the rest to disperse and return to whatever they were doing. Everyone followed the guild master's order though Raine could hear some people grumbling. Of course, Raine believed that these people were grumbling not because of the guild master ordering them but because they were curious and wanted to know what exactly happened.
And just so it happened that one of the grumblers is none other than his older sister, Cloudia!
"Damn it! Why did the guild master have to show up now when things were getting good?" Cloudia complained while pouting.
"Um... Cloudia, this is not a play, you know?" Marin chastised with a wry smile on her face.
"But, but... I want to know what really happened!" Cloudia continued.
Raine could only sigh at her sister's childish tantrum.
"Wouldn't you know the answer to that at a later date? I doubt the guild would be able to hide what really happened. And even if they try to hide the truth, rumors would still spread." Raine said.
"...I know but still...."
Seeing that his sister still wanted to argue, Raine did a quick follow up and said,
"Aren't we supposed to go to the academy, big sis? We might not make it in time if we linger here much longer than necessary, you know."
"Ah, you're right! Sorry Marin but we need to go!"
Cloudia ran outside as if in a hurry after remembering that she was supposed to accompany her brother to the academy.
Marin gave Raine a big thumb up for expertly handling Cloudia which Raine returned with a smile. After saying his goodbye, Raine quickly followed his sister.
The siblings finally arrived at the academy after a few more detours. Inside they saw children that seemed to be the same age as Raine. More likely than not, these children too, are here to enroll.
Raine's eyes wander around the academy ground and marvel at its sheer size. The word humongous do not do justice in describing the sheer size of the Royal Academy. Buildings after buildings peppered the academy ground. The academy also houses all kinds of shops. And this is jusrt one side of the academy. The boy is pretty certain that the academy is much bigger than what his eyes could see. Raine even wondered if he should even be calling this place a school. In his eyes, the Royal Academy is a small city!
The boy always wondered how an academy, even with the funding and support of the kingdom could house thousands, if not tens of thousands of students for free. But after seeing the place Raine finally got his answer---the academy is a city within a city with its own economy.
Cloudia led her brother towards a building where the registration area is located, and after filling-up a form and promising to meet up with his sister after the exam, Raine was led to room a where the written exam would be held.
The Royal Academy's admission test is broken up in to two parts: the written examination and the practical examination.
As mentioned before the kingdom has a law that requires all children ages 10 and above to attend the Royal Academy as such the entrance examinations is not really a requirement to be admitted into the academy. Even those who failed or do badly at the exams would still be allowed to study at the academy. But there's a good reason why all who wished to attend the academy must take the entrance examinations: ranking.
Yes, the entrance examination would be used to determine the students' initial rankings. And inside the academy, ranking is everything.
For example: if an examinee did well in both exams, he or she would get higher rank, and higher ranks means better facilities, teachers, dormitory, and higher monthly allowance. On the other hand, if the examinee did poorly, his or her ranking would be low and would receive poorer treatment.
What's more, it doesn't matter if the child is of noble birth or not, the person would still be treated depending on his or her rank. Of course, wealthier students would still be able to have much better life inside the academy than the poorer students even if they have low ranks as the academy do not forbid students from bringing their own money inside the academy. After all, that money would be spent inside the academy which will help the economy.
But having money won't give the students better ranking, to increase their rankings, the students need to rely on their ability. After all, the Royal Academy is a meritocracy
Inside the Royal Academy a person's success is solely dependent upon his or her own merits and nothing else. Also one's rankings are not fixed. Meaning, even if a person topped the entrance exams, he or she could still rise or drop in ranking depending on his or her performance inside the academy. To be prevent the students from being too complacent, the academy conduct examinations at the end of every month. The results of the examinations would then be used to determine the students' rankings for the month that follows.
All of this is done teach the students the meaning of hard work and responsibility.
Even though Raine thought that the academy's rules and its insistence on rankings really harsh, and even draconic, Raine got to admit that it fits this fantasy world's law of "survival of the fittest" really well.
Inside a large room, Raine, along with other examinees sat and waited quietly for the written exams to begin. Looking around he noticed that many of the examinees are from different races. There are obviously daemon children but there are also children from the human, beastkin, dwarven, and even a child from the elven race.
Some children are just sitting there quietly while others are fidgeting probably out of nervousness. The more curios ones like Raine are looking around---observing and measuring the competition. He even noticed a couple of human girls looking at his direction smiling shyly.
"Do they think I'm that I'm human too?"
Raine could only mentally shake his head at this thought. Since he is hornless, it's easy to mistake him as a child from the human race. Of course, those from the daemon race would not make such a mistake as they would be able to tell that Raine’s a daemon with a single glance despite having no horn. The proof of this is that all daemon children are looking at him with curiosity as well.
Raine not wanting to be rude, reciprocate the girls' smile with his own which made them blush and giggle. Not long after two adult daemons entered the room while carrying a stack of brownish papers.
"These two must be the examiners." Rain thought to himself.
The boy's guess was spot on; the two are indeed the examiners. And after giving a short introduction, the examiners passed the brownish papers and told them that they only have until the last sand from an hourglass which is almost an hour to answer all the questions.
Hearing this, most of the examinees grew nervous and started reading the questions with haste. Of course, not everyone act frantic as the majority. Some, including Raine, took their time answering the questions. Raine specifically simply glance at the questions and focused his attentions on the paper itself.
"The quality of these papers are better than the one found at the village though they're nothing compared to the ones back on Earth."
Raine could tell from a glance that the method used to make these papers is quite primitive in comparison to the methods used in his previous world. Even with magic, the technology in making paper in this world is still centuries behind.
"Maybe I could take advantage of this? If I introduced a better method, maybe I could earn a fortune...."
Ideas after ideas swirl in the boy's head. He's so focused on these ideas that he didn't even noticed that one of the examiners approached his desk.
"Pardon me but are you not going to start answering? Quite a bit of time had passed you know?" The male examiner asked.
"Ah! I'm sorry"
The words of the examiner startled the boy who finally remembered that he is still taking an exam. Raine apologized to the examiner who was taken aback upon realizing that this red-haired boy's mind is not on the exam at all!
The male examiner got a little annoyed, and decided to give the boy an earful. But as he was about to lecture Raine to take the exam seriously, he was once again taken aback when he saw Raine answered question after question at an unbelievable speed!
"Is he even reading the questions?"
The examiner watched with widened eyes as Raine answer the last question before his very eyes.
"I'm done!" Raine exclaimed joyfully.
Raine's joyful exclamation startled everyone taking the exam which made them look at his direction. Noticing this, Raine blushes and quickly gave an embarrass "sorry."
The male examiner quietly took the exam paper from Raine, gave it a cursory glance and was again taken aback. He looked at Raine for a few seconds then poke:
"You can now go to the next venue for your practical exam." The male examiner said while giving Raine a weird look.
Raine said his thanks to the examiners and left the room whiles being stared at by a shocked crowd.
After he left the room suddenly turned rowdy but became quiet again after being told to be quiet be the other examiner.
"Well, that was fast. Was he able to answer everything?" His female coworker asked.
The male examiner passed Raine's exam papers to his coworker while answering in a somehow tired voice.
The female examiner tilted her head in confusion at her coworker's behavior but thought he was simply tired. She nonchalantly browse at Raine's exam papers and was shocked at what she saw.
"This should be the place right?"
Raine stared at the sign the states "Practical Examination Ground". Taking a deep breath, Raine stepped inside the ground.
Inside, or rather, outside (the practical examination ground is an outdoor training field), Raine saw nothing but training dummies littering the wide open field.
Seeing the almost empty field, Raine called out but received no answer.
"Could it be that I entered the wrong venue? Raine asked slightly confuse since he was sure that he followed the directions to the next examination venue properly. Not only that, the sign also stated that this is the "Practical Examination Ground."
Arms akimbo, Raine started to think really hard if he should wait here, or ask around but gave up with a sigh.
"I guess I should just go back and ask around. I might have made a mistake and entered the wrong venue."
But a Raine is about to turn around he heard a loud "bang" behind him which startled him greatly---making him jump in fright.
"W-what just happened?!"
Swiftly turning around, Raine saw a huge clouds of dust.
"Cough! Cough! Ouch, damn that hurts!"
Inside the clouds of dust, Raine could hear a man's voice coughing and cursing in pain.
"Did, did someone just fall from the sky?!"
Judging from the clouds of dust, the small crater on the ground, and the loud bang he heard earlier, Raine hypothesized that a person might have fallen from the sky!
Yes, unbelievable as it may sound, someone did fall from the sky. And that unlucky person is....