Author Topic:  First Rank Test [participants & spectators]  (Read 472 times)

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Offline Ogami Toshiyuki

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First Rank Test [participants & spectators]
« on: March 01, 2017, 02:17:45 AM »


NPC: Quyền Linh Hyunh Nghia (5th year, Kukan)



"Applicant 9, Quyền Linh Hyunh Nghia, enter!"

From her place off to the wings of the stage, Quyền took a deep breath. She could feel her feet rooted to the ground, and with herculean effort she managed to pick them up, and walk one foot after the other onto the stage. Her stride was measured and deliberate, but someone with a good eye would be able to see from the way her knees buckled and her fingers twitched at her sides that she was nervous beyond belief. Quyền, who had been regrettably nicknamed yuki-onna (ice woman) behind her back by so many of her classmates, was far from infallible. Though she had mastered controlling her emotions and remaining steadfast in the face of adversity, at the end of the day, even she knew that she was just trying to protect a heart that needed as much armor as possible.

She arrived at the center of the stage and bowed to the panel of twelve judges who sat before her. Behind them was a sea of faces, the entire arena filled to the edges with the students and other faculty who had come to watch the last part of the First Rank test. it had been a grueling test this year, and as Quyền stood on the stage, she could feel her muscles burning and her head aching from what felt like the longest week of her life. She just wanted to plop down on her futon and sleep for three days, but she had worked tirelessly to get here. She couldn't let those sleepless nights and trips to the medical wing go to waste.

She had earned her place here.

"Applicant 9," she heard Tsuji-sensei, who was moderating the showcase this year, call to her. "Your time begins now."

Quyền bowed to him, then again to the rest of the audience as silence fell over the crowd. There was a certain level of showmanship required in this test, and that was perhaps the hardest part for Quyền to learn. She was a simple field girl at heart. She wore the same three or four áo dài in her free time and was more at ease riding a water buffalo through the rice fields than she was on a stage like this. Behind her, six enchanted taiko drums begin to play, the beat heavy and resounding as it echoed through the arena, building quickly as she lifted her straw hat and whipped it off her head, tossing it high into the air above her.

At the apex of its flight, the hat suddenly burst into a massive spray of seemingly-endless water, the thick droplets dancing around her like a hurricane before flying back over her head and forming a large sphere of water, almost seventy meters across.  Crystal clear water swirled around the edges of the sphere in a spiral, moving up and down in a hypnotizing whirl as she pushed her magic into it. With her non-wand hand, she pulled two talismans from inside her sleeve and threw them upwards. They flew straight up and entered the water orb as if magnetized, and Quyền pressed her palms together, breathing thickly over the tips of her fingers as her painted lips began to mutter the first of her summoning incantations.

As she finished, she clapped her her hands together twice, shouting: "Shi! En! Come to me!"

The talismans inside of the water imploded, two violent airy vacuums building before collapsing into themselves. Two shapes, both long and dark began to take form from the bubbles, materializing into a pair of elegant black remora fish the sizes of a great white sharks. Shi and En swam around in a circle, and she locked eyes with both of them. It was as if she had grown two more arms, as she could feel the life force flowing through them as strong as if it were her own. Through their contract, she had tied her soul to theirs, and they had become one. She would need their power for what came next.

The crowd oohed and ahhed, but she could tell the judges were far from impressed. Summoning two rokudan familiars at a time was unusual, yes, but she hadn't trained tirelessly and waited until the end of her fifth year to finally take the exam with only this to show for it. Shi and En began to swim faster now, the force of their tails forming a whirlpool within the orb of water. The drums had also sped up, almost beating in time with Quyền's nervous heart.

She pulled out the scroll that had been tied around her waist by a thin silk rope. The scroll floated in the air in front of her, unfurling with a loud snap.

"Will of the ocean, dwell within me!" she shouted over the scroll, her voice booming. "I, your human vassal, humbly ask thee to lend me your power!"

The thick black characters on the scroll beginning to tremble and glow. The inky black liquid dripped off the page and floated up into her cupped palms. She could feel her skin burning where she held the ink, but refused to let it show on her face. Her blood was needed to perform the summoning, so she had to bear it. The sheer force of the magic flowing through her veins, an amalgam of her own and of Shi and En's borrowed powers, felt like it might tear her apart. Quyền grit her teeth and threw the black liquid into the air.

"Come forth . . . BAHAMUT!"

The moment the dark liquid hit the orb, it was like lightning sprung from it and shot through the water, surrounding Shi and En in a field of electricity while other stray bolts flew outwards into the sky. The wind began to change, the sky darkening as another bolt of lightning, this time brilliant and white, flashed outwards in a shockwave that momentarily blinded even Quyền.

Just as the light cleared, a monstrous roar shook the entire arena like an earthquake from below. A third fish, white as snow, that dwarfed Shi and En by a factor of twenty, now swam back and forth within the orb of water. Huge, intelligent violet eyes the size of tires looked out at the audience, and a massive gaping mouth revealed hundreds of razor sharp teeth the size of longswords. Bahamut's gaze fixed on Quyền, who knelt in front of the orb, inclining her head respectfully. She could feel the divine beast staring at her-- feel his magic and his life force coursing through her own veins now. She would only get a split-second's warning if Bahamut decided to turn on her. A familiar of his caliber would never contract with a summoner if they sensed even the slightest weakness. Luckily for Quyền, weakness was not a word in her vocabulary. She had purged it from her system long ago, which is why Kikuchi-sensei had forbade her to summon yondan familiar. He was watching, and she guessed he was not too happy.

Quyền could hear Bahamut's voice in her head, except the voice spoke not in words but in meaning. It was not a language she could speak nor did she think she could learn it. She heard it instinctively, reverberating within her soul and holding her mind captive.

She asked.

Bahamut spoke.

The contract was made.

A moment passed. And then another.  When Quyền was sure she was not in danger of being devoured, she raised her head. Bahamut splashed his tail on the surface of the orb, and turned away from her. She let out a small breath as he began to swim with Shi and En, looking restless but placated for the time being. From her spot on the floor, she could only look up in wonder. He was, in one word, breathtaking. Frightening. Fearsome and magnificent all at the same time. She hadn't expected to be stunned into complete, awe-struck silence.

A murmur went up among the crowd, and then a cheer erupted from the arena. Quyền stood, her chest straining against her áo dài as she struggled to catch her breath. Sweat poured down her forehead and her arms felt like lead. She felt like she was about to pass out. But despite this, for the first time in a long time, she smiled. And it wasn't just a small one this time. She could hardly believe she had managed to summon Bahamut, and the unadulterated, uncontrolled happiness that spread through her chest opened her heart and she gave the judges an uncharacteristically big grin.

She had done it.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2017, 06:37:36 AM by Meridian »

Offline Mori Daisuke

Re: First Rank Test [participants & spectators]
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2017, 08:57:16 PM »
Maybe it was too early for his first rank test. As he stood behind the scenes waiting for his turn, Daisuke felt his heart beat quicken. His palms were wet and when he fumbled for his wand, he feared that his hands were too shaky to perform an exact wand movement. Why had he chosen Genjutsu out of all possible classes anyway? Daisuke's mouth felt dry now, too dry to speak. He was not generally an easily frightened boy but this first rank exam was terrifying to say the very least.

He closed his eyes, took a deep breath and tried to meditate. Meditation usually helped the Japanese student to calm himself down. He needed to be focused for this exam. He needed to give his very best if he wanted to pass it. Genjutsu definitely was not his forte and yet he had practised so much that he should feel confident about the task that was waiting for him now. He was well prepared, he had improved his theoretical knowledge on the subject as well as he had spent hours after hours performing the spells he needed today.

As he was just imagining to sit near a brook, listening to the sound of the water and the birds, the wind rustling through the leaves of a nearby tree when seemingly from afar he heard his name. He opened his eyes, feeling a lot better now although his legs were still shaky as he went into the middle of the stage. He bowed to the examiners, unable to add a smile to his greeting.

Daisuke nodded when he was told that his time began now. He was not going to hurry through his task, knowing that haste would only make him fail. After taking another deep breath, he held his wand up and spoke his first spell, creating the illusion of grass on the stage. This was the part of his Genjutsu task that worked best for the boy. It was an easy start but it was giving him faith for what else he was going to create.

The boy had decided to create the illusion of an outside scene. A scene which was stuck in his mind anyway because it was the kind of setting he always imagined when meditating. As he exhaled, wind emerged from the tip of his wand, brushing over the grass on the ground and maybe even weakly reaching the examiners.

Next he stared at a point on the end of the stage and then flicked his wand, muttering his incantation. A rich source appeared and the sound of water broke the silence in the room. The water formed into a brook and crossed the stage. Although entirely unaware of it, Daisuke smiled as he guided the way of the water towards the other end of the stage.

The next illusion he wanted to add to the scenery was the trickiest one as he wanted to bring some life into the landscape. A few quick flicks with his wand, some clearly articulated words and a song bird appeared from the tip of his wand, flying through the room, singing in a clear voice.

With another flick of his wand and loudly spoken “Hanabi Sutāto” the illusion of the bird exploded and a fire work appeared. The noise and the bright colours disrupted the calm scenery and there was even a slight hint of a burnt smell.

The Genjutsu exercise was done and Daisuke felt how his cheeks reddened. He had done better than he had expected himself. All his hard work seemed to have paid off. Now he could only hope that his magical performance had been enough to impress the examiners. He bowed respectfully to the examiners. “Thank you very much,” with that the boy left the stage.

Behind the scenes he sank onto the ground and sighed deeply. Relief and exhaustion were the predominant feelings of the fourth year now.


Offline Sakamoto Rin

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Re: First Rank Test [participants & spectators]
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2017, 09:45:09 AM »
Nervousness wasn't exactly a feeling the petite Japanese was used to. In fact, she hated it. The way it made her palms sweat, the butterflies in her stomach that were definitely not the positive kind of butterflies… She wasn't in control of her emotions and she couldn't remember the last time she had felt this way. The last few days had been hard, she couldn't deny that, but she had gone through task after task with a feeling of self-confidence and everything had worked out just like she'd expected it.

Rin had worked hard for this, she'd worked hard since her first day here and even before that, always trying to be the best in what she was doing. Her studies had paid off and she would have to make sure to thank Ren for all his help. Sure, she probably would have managed everything on her own but his help had made it a lot easier. She'd always been fond of him and respected him but ever since they had begun dating she'd considered him a really good friend. Yes, she definitely would have to think of a way to thank him properly.

However, now was absolutely not the right time to think about it. The dark-haired girl closed her eyes and forced herself to calm down, to take one deep breath after another. She'd come this far, she wouldn't fail now. Rin knew it might sound melodramatic but she didn't know how she'd be able to look at herself in the mirror if she messed this up. But she wouldn't. No, she could do this.

"Sakamoto Rin, please enter the stage.“

After another deep breath she opened her eyes, her gaze steady and focused. This was it. This was her time to shine. Without looking back once, not even at her twin sister, the Mizuchi entered the stage, trying not to let the nervousness that was running through her show.

She had spent hours after hours thinking about her showcase and coming up with something had actually been the hardest thing during the past few months. At first she'd thought about proving that she'd improved her magical weaknesses but neither Onmyodo not Scrying were typical showcase classes. She wouldn't win anything, wouldn't impress anyone by sitting down and trying to read a prophecy. No, she needed something more beautiful, something more flashy.

It had taken her about an hour to prepare for this, every stroke of her brush had been examined closely in the mirror, every hair was in place and there wasn't a single crease in her kimono. Rin had wanted to look like a traditional geisha and she had succeeded. Most of her face was white, her lips were painted cherry red and her black eyeliner was on point. However, she knew that it would mean nothing if her spells wouldn't be just as perfect.

After bowing deeply to the judges and then a little less deep to the audience, Rin knelt down and focused on the task before her. Genjutsu was one of her best subjects and the judges knew it as well as she did but compared to some of the older students who were taking the test, she was actually just a fourth year, meaning that she was supposed to know less than one of the fifth or sixth years. She was quite sure that it didn't mean that they were expecting anything less from her, though. On the contrary. They'd probably pay even more attention to a fourth year who wanted to become a first rank student than to the older students.

And then it was time. Time to show what she was capable of.

At first there was a gentle breeze, seemingly coming from nowhere and it even seemed to ruffle some of the students' hair. It was an illusion of course, just like everything that would happen within the next few minutes. Soon the breeze was accompanied by the fresh and sweet smell of sakura and after muttering another incantation the air didn't only smell of the Japanese cherry blossom but there were also tiny light pink petals flying through the air, first in a rather chaotic way and then in a pattern, circling the young girl without touching her.

Her breath was still quiet, she didn't feel exhausted yet but the biggest trick was yet to come. It was easy to let everyone think the breeze was actually real and it was also rather easy to cast the illusion of the tiny cherry blossoms, even combined with the smell, the next aspect of her show wouldn't be so easy anymore, though. It required the manipulation not only of the judges' ki but also of that of the audience. For a short second her gaze flickered to Yamashita-sensei but of course the woman's face was like a mask. It didn't matter, though. If she didn't believe in her, she wouldn't have given her approval.

Rin stood up and began to move, her feet taking the steps she had memorised so well over the last weeks. At first it looked as if she was dancing, graceful and slow, but then it changed, becoming faster and stronger, as she was twirling over the stage, performing her own kata. All the while, the cherry blossoms were accompanying her but when she suddenly stopped in a low kake-dachi, the blossoms formed a cloud right in front of her. Concentrating, the girl muttered another spell, focusing all her energy on it, and when the cloud exploded, it was as if she was looking in the mirror.

With Yuki, people were used to seeing two girls with the same face but this was different. While the twins could look absolutely alike, they usually didn't. Yuki wore her hair lighter, her clothes were different and she wore basically no make up. The girl who was now standing opposite her was a splitting image of her. Rin began to move again and her copy did too and they continued the kata in perfect sync.

Another minute passed until the two girls stopped right in front of each other and after a quick bow, the copy attacked. Blow followed after blow and Rin blocked each oft it, returning the attacks as fiercely as possible. They moved in a blur, fighting with high kicks and low kicks, hand techniques and punches. Of course she couldn't lose as the copy was doing exactly what she wanted her to do but the physical exercise paired with the mental exhaustion maintaining the illusion caused her was ten times worse than every normal training session.

Knowing that she couldn't keep it up much longer, Rin ducked down, evading a kick, and when she came back up, both her hands moved forward as quickly as possible. When the heels of her palms touched the copy's chest, she exploded in a pink cloud of petals that began raining down the stage, even reaching the audience. Not allowing herself to smile, Rin kept a straight face as she bowed deeply in front of the judges again and left the stage.

It was only when the judges weren't able to see her anymore that the Mizuchi slid down a wall, her body shaking as she gasped for air. One minute longer and everything would have collapsed, the illusion as well as her dream of becoming one of the few fourth year first ranks and despite the exhaustion her lips finally formed a soft smile. She'd done it. Now all she could do was hope that it had been enough.

Offline Ding Na Xia

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Re: First Rank Test [participants & spectators]
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2017, 12:25:10 PM »
The fourth year witch sat in the audience feeling disappointed with herself as her left arm sat in a sling. She had begun the test earlier in the week, but clearly she wasn't exactly ready for it per her injury and being out cold for a day and a half. She couldn't recall what happened to save her life, but nonetheless, she was ill prepared for it. Ding Na Xia passed part one, failed part two, and wasn't even awake to attempt part three. Now she was a part of the audience with students who didn't bother trying or were too young. Maybe there were others that were like her, but she didn't look for them.

At least she was awake to see the final performances.

It gave her a pit in her stomach as she watched students perform their magic. She should be up there too, or at least she wanted to be. Na Xia felt sad, that she had to return home to let her family know she did not pass even though they themselves believed she was ready and would. There was a part of her that dreaded going back home, she felt shame. But a little voice in the back of her head noted that her older siblings were a year older than her when they tested. So maybe the next year would be her year to shine.

She watched her friends Mori-kun and Rin-san do their magical displays, and she was proud of the two. If she could silently clap for them, she would. She wanted them to succeed and do well, and was happy to see they had made it all the way through to the end to show off their magic. She hoped the judges liked their performances and gave them good scores. After all, the Mizuchi couldn't be angry or upset her friends would be above her. She believed she'd be able to join them after succeeding in next year's test if their names were announced at the ceremony.

Now she knew the real difficulty of the second test, she vowed to train even harder so she could become among the first rank students next year. She wanted to start her training over the summer to build her endurance and strength even further. She won't give up. Na Xia told herself she'll continue to try. The witch didn't smile, not even once as the magical showcase progressed. She was busy in her head coming up with a schedule and ideas on how to improve.

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Offline Akiyama Ren

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Re: First Rank Test [participants & spectators]
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2017, 09:45:32 PM »
Even though Ren wasn't participating this this year's Seishin no Mezame, he felt his heart beat faster as he entered the arena. How could he not think back to the year before, when he had been on this very same stage with this very same goal in mind? He had struggled to complete his test. It had been the most draining endeavor he had ever undertaken, but that was the beauty of it, wasn't it? Wasn't it supposed to be the greatest challenge of someone's young life? It was also the thing that made him most proud. Even if some other students didn't, and wouldn't, know what it felt like. Ren didn't understand the students who were content to be a second rank for their entire schooling. Ren couldn't fathom that lack of ambition from someone, anyone.

A part of him wanted to leave. He could feel the nerves rising in his chest like bile, and he was getting a headache. He hadn't even been this nervous for his own performance. He had been so still, so calm. He had been Ryou exactly, from the moment he stepped on the stage. He had done that on purpose, hiding behind his cousin's cool demeanor made him strong, like ice. It made him impenetrable, invincible. He had been sure that he could do anything and he had been certain of his skills.  He had practiced hard finding the right thing, just showy enough. He was a performer, in his heart. While he lacked stage presence, he made up for it in talent and sheer force of will.

He had chosen to practice Genjutsu. His best subjects were theoretical—magical theory and particle synergy—and neither of those seemed to fit a spectacle. He struggled in scrying, but that didn't seem particularly interesting either. While he was passable at summoning, he did not like the feeling of being bonded to a living thing, even a spirit. He did not like the feeling of their power running through him. He wanted to feel his own power fun through him. That was why he had settled on illusions. As a fifth year, he was of age with most students taking the test. There were several sixth years participating, but many who were able had already passed in their fifth year and those who attempted their sixth year often had failed their test in the year before, at least that was how it seemed to Ren. The fourth years were more impressive, and Ren was mildly jealous of their tenacity and ability. He had not been ready at the end of his fourth year, but he also juggled his learning with several other things—like avoiding Sono Natsuo like the plague.

His presentation had been exciting. He had timed his whole routine to a score of his own creation, using his skills in illusions to play against his musical talent. He had focused on the advanced skill of shapeshifting. While he had never truly changed his shape, the audience saw him transform into several different animals before his finale, where he projected himself in the shape of a dragon and breathed fire at the audience, fire that felt warm as it approached their faces. He had barely made it backstage before collapsing from exhaustion. The music, a dramatic symphony, had been the hardest part to maintain, as he needed to constantly think of each instrument and the notes they played.  Of course, no one else wrote a part of a symphony for their presentation. He didn't even think that Ryou had done that. He was still proud as he recalled it. Ren had the melody burned in his mind forever, now, with no means to get it out into the real world. He couldn't truly play every instrument, and it wasn't his style of music. He found himself humming it to himself as he waited for the students to begin.

The first performance was from a girl in his house. She performed a summoning ritual which was rather impressive. He found himself nodding after she was done. She would certainly make it, that had been a beautiful performance. He wished the best for her, as his housemate, even though they did not know each other all that well. He continued watching as a fourth year boy he did not know approached the stage. He had chosen Genjutsu, as Ren had, and Ren could not help but compare their performances. His was impressive as well, but Ren selfishly thought that his own had been better. Of course, he had an additional year to learn and practice.

He clapped for him despite it all, then looked excited when he saw Rin approach the stage. He hoped sincerely that she would make it, as he knew how hard she had been training. He had helped in what he was able to help with, but could take no credit for her making it this far. She had done all of that on her own, and she deserved this. Ren and Rin were good friends. They were a “couple” but they both knew that was just a ruse. Mostly, he admired her. He liked having her around him and appreciated her. He appreciated what she was willing to do for him, but their arrangement was beneficial for both parties and he knew that too. Would things change when she became a first rank? Would she no-longer need him? Would it affect their “relationship”? He thought that she might deserve a chance at real love with someone who really fancied her, but he felt selfish. If he could fancy girls, he would fancy her. If he could love a woman, he would probably love her. That was enough. He wouldn't let his selfish desire to keep her clash with his desire to see her succeed. She wanted this, and she deserved it.

He was surprised to see that she, too, had chosen an illusion as her presentation. It suited her and was very difficult to maintain. He knew from experiencing how tiring illusions could be. Her presentation was phenomenal, though he was a bit biased, and he clapped louder and harder for her than he had for the rest. He wanted to go check on her to make sure he was okay, but unfortunately he couldn't leave his seat. He would just have to wait to see what would happen next.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2017, 09:47:00 PM by Dylan »
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