Sep 1, 2007
Sep 1, 2007
Leaning against the wall and putting as much distance between himself and the few other contenders in the room as prudently possible, Erik silently cursed the tournament staff for making him wait with unwanted company. They were in a well-furnished waiting room, currently being used to separate the advancing contestants from the masses not too far outside. The preliminary battle had ended about an hour ago, and the officials were still attempting to keep order while sorting out the winners. Erik and Kraven were among the first batch of victors led into the waiting room, where they were told to wait for further news. So they waited, with some passing the time through idle conservation, others checking on their familiars, and still others regarding the remaining competition. Every now and then, the door to the room would open and a couple more people with their familiars would come in.
“Hey, excuse me, you there,” a woman addressed the redhead in a cordial tone, causing him to turn to her with furious eyes. “Um, I know this is an awkward question, but I was just wondering, are you in it for the prize? For the competition? For fame and—“
“None of your business!” the vicious one snapped.
“Well, I’m sorry for trying to lighten the atmosphere here!” the woman shot back in a noticeably more hostile tone.
“Nobody asked you to!” Erik shouted.
The woman was about to retort, but then restrained herself as the others looked in the direction of the growing argument. She decided instead to move away from the redhead and chat with some other, more friendly faces. Relieved and irritated at the same time, Erik spoke quietly to Kraven.
“We’ll beat them all. No matter what.”
A chorus of cheers could be heard through the walls of the large room, grabbing the attention of all inside. A minute later, the door opened to reveal another pair of advancers. Rhampadge quickly settled into the new environment, glad to have his own breathing space again. Gavin came in more slowly, still waving out the door and thanking people here and there for their praise and words of encouragement. Finally closing the door, the guide took a seat in one of the chairs scattered around the room and smiled at the other participants around him. Only a short while later, another few competitors entered the waiting room. Among them were the shepherd and his Kamaitachi. Feeling uncomfortable under the glares and stares from the others, Kyle and Darius took their spot in the room, trying not to draw excessive attention to themselves.
After what seemed to some like an eternity of waiting, the uniformed official from earlier came through the door into the room, followed by various staff members and guards. He glanced over the people in the room and, apparently pleased with what he saw, began to speak.
“You all should be proud of yourselves so far. The twenty-four of you have demonstrated that you stand out from the rest of the ordinary masses. Well done!”
[Fun brain-teaser: Why 24? The answer is related to the story and its roots. *winks*