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Mark of the Fool: A Progression Fantasy Epic by J.M. Clarke

Mark of the Fool: A Progression Fantasy Epic by J.M. Clarke

Author:J.M. Clarke [Clarke, J.M.]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Aethon Books
Published: 2022-09-20T04:00:00+00:00


Chapter 39

The Beginning of Baelin’s Test

“Do you think we are ready?” Khalik asked as the two young men walked toward the training grounds.

“Maybe?” Alex shrugged. “There’s no way we’re going to know until we actually get where we’re going and find out what sort of evil’s been planned for us.”

“True enough.” Khalik forced his eyes forward as the stadium loomed in front of them. “I wish we knew more.”

“Yeah, so do I, man, so do I.”

Alex had woken up before dawn that morning feeling like he’d swallowed a bucket of snow and ice. His nerves raced, getting the better of him, and he’d asked himself a half dozen times what madness made him take such a dangerous sounding course. Each time he’d answered in the same way: learn to deal with the dangers now, before they faced more serious ones later.

It had been a quiet morning, helping his sister do some preparatory homework for her classes beginning in two weeks. The morning passed slowly and he kept looking at the door, waiting for Theresa to arrive and signal his time to go.

When she finally did—dead-tired, stinking of something terrible but about as happy as he’d ever seen her—he’d fixed her something to eat, gathered his supplies and stepped out the door. Khalik had been waiting for him just outside the now very busy insula, and the two men started their long walk toward COMB-1000’s meeting place.

There was no running today.

They both had a feeling they’d need their strength.

“Do you think we are ready?” Khalik asked again as they stepped into the stadium.

Alex sighed. “I hope so, Khalik, I hope so.”

The stadium was empty except for a small gathering of students in the centre. Most of them tough-looking individuals, reminding Alex more of hard-bitten soldiers than wizard students. One was a hulking male minotaur and another was a selachar woman. Two others were beastmen that looked like Dobermans. All of them appeared versed in battle. There were some exceptions, though. Some of the younger-looking ones had a naive excitement in their eyes. Some of the more well-dressed looked confident, but soft.

One student wore a green shirt with the Ursa-Lupine Brotherhood’s symbol on it. What he didn’t expect were familiar faces. The tall, raven-haired Isolde stood on the opposite side of the crowd, her arms folded, and her brow furrowed in concentration. Her mouth moved constantly, muttering something under her breath.

On the other side stood—surprisingly—the familiar form of Derek. The young man looked nervous, but he was among the only students who had come equipped for battle. He wore a chainmail shirt that hung down to his knees and a longsword belted to his waist. He paced back and forth, glancing from time to time at Isolde across the crowd.

Khalik and Alex took up positions on the outer edge of the crowd. With a low cry, Najyah descended from the sky, landing beside her master and examining the students with her sharp eyes. There was no amusement coming from the familiar this morning.



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