However, the knights’ threats had backfired.
“Who do they think they are? A bunch of filthy and stinky lackeys! I just can’t believe we had let them kill our own people. They’ve got only a dozen men. And are we gonna turn in five innocent lives from among us instead of theirs?!”
A student had stepped up and protested in a seemingly righteous voice. His broadsword had been thrusted by him into the wooden deck, and it was still swaying with strong force, as a kind of demonstration of resolution.
Despicable as it may have looked, for the boy had not made a sound before the posse of knights had left, the rest of the students, partially inspired, had been rallied by a common goal – not being targeted by the other students at least for a few days.
Actually, the students regarded the knights as inferiors in their mind. They hadn’t become a sorcerer but had acquired the pride of one.
The next day, Sorcerer Nilmar had called everyone on board to the deck for a head count of the new dead.
He went into a cackle after sweeping his eyes across the crowd, “Another five gone. Well done! Looks like you’ve got the hang of it. Keep it going, though, so I can keep my hands clean.” Having said that, the sorcerer headed back to his tent, followed by Sam, Kyrie, Bionna and the boatswain.
Those who hadn’t left belonged to two confronting camps, the student camp and the knights’.
In sheer numbers, the student camp had a landslide advantage: nearly 400 against 17.
But it would be a big mistake to conceive that the students could take down the knights easily, because the knights were strapping in shape and had been seasoned in battles.
Besides, the near-400 student camp were split into several smaller ones, which didn’t seem much united, let alone the fact that some of the students knew nothing about fighting at close quarters. Many of them even would not have been selected as students for learning sorceries if it were not for the gold coins or magical stones with which their rich fathers had bribed the interviewing sorcerer.
The knight camp had sensed the aura of hostility and gotten ready for a big fight. Instead of picking on a smaller group and crushing it, as they had done yesterday, the head knight went forward and shouted at the other camp:
“You little brats didn’t prepare the sacrifices?!”
“We will not let our own people die. If anyone had to, it would be you!” a student in the middle of the group rattled, but he seemed to have no intention of walking up.
These few inciting words had worked. A couple of students in the forefront were set off and cried “Ah, Ah!” as they dashed at the knights, leaving the rest of their group jostling.
“Son of a b*tch!” the knight being attacked shouted as he had agilely warded off a scythe chopping at him, and then decapitated the student with a wave of the machete in his hand.
The headless body fell down and struggled for a few steps and his head was then kicked back to the camp of the students.
The rest of the few warriors in the stormtroopers, who were unafraid of death, ended up being killed by the knights just in a blink of eyes.
Having been deterred by the gruesome killings, the student group had ceased being aggressive. And a student had been hustled to the forefront and he was facing off the head of the knights.
There were extreme fear and cowardice in the front man’s triangle-shaped eyes and the axe in his hand had kept trembling.
He squinted back to check if there was anyone willing to help, and he became disappointed. What had frustrated him even more was the death of Andrew, a member of the Triad, who had assisted him in bullying Chris and Nina.
Yes, the student at the forefront was none other than the Mouse.
Mouse knew that he had to be on his own, since his protector had gone and no one was going to get him out of the predicament he was in now.
As the chief knight was closing in with the blood dripping machete in one hand, an idea occurred to Mouse, at the spur of the moment. He turned aside, found a female student and hacked her in the head with his axe.
“Bam.” The female fell and hit the floor in no time, and her shirt had been soaked in blood after a few seconds.
“Now we have five. We’ve met the quota of five. No one has to die today!” Mouse exclaimed in an assumed delight.
Quite shocked at Mouse’ reaction, the head knight sneered and led the other knights away.
The murder of the girl by Mouse had infuriated a male student in the crowd, who was believed to have been in a relationship with the girl.
The male student, in his fury, was going to kill Mouse. He was stopped, though, by some students around Mouse.
Every life was now a valuable asset, since the five-dead quota had been met!
That day dragged on and finally came the dusk. Glenn, Lafite, Chris and Nina had stayed in Glenn’s room and no one wanted to be left alone in the face of such an intense situation.
The next day, Sorcerer Nilmar came to the deck, and was satisfied with the completion of the five-dead-people task by the students, and he instigated them to proceed with the cause.
As Nilmar had left, another fight erupted. The boy who wanted Mouse’s life the previous day had came at Mouse for revenge, with a friend. And Mouse had brought a helper, too. It was Barry, another member of the Triad.
The battle was ferocious. Mouse lost out to none in the ability to fight, despite his mouse-shaped small figure. The showdown of strength finally came to an end, when Barry screeched painfully after being stabbed in the back by the boy’s friend, and died. Mouse had undergone the same fate, too.
The boy student had avenged the girl whom he loved.
Unfortunately, before he had time to celebrate his victory, he had been stabbed several times in the back, and the stabber had sneaked into the crowd afterwards and disappeared.
Nearly at the same time, Nina had been zeroed in by an unknown student, but the attempt at killing Nina was foiled by Chris, who had constantly been with Nina ever since she was injured.
“How dare you try to hurt her?!” Chris grabbed the bad guy by his hand and threatened.
The bad guy was tall and quite composed. He then made a feint kick on Chris’ right knee while he managed to elbow Chris’ chin. Chris’ head was jolted back up and loosened his grip on the “perpetrator”.
The guy slipped. But he had no way of escaping.
In a second, he had found himself tripped by a long and sturdy vine, which suddenly appeared before him.
Chris took the advantage and axed him to death.
The crowd had been much relieved with the finale of the dramatic scene, but more relieved by the fact that the quota of five dead men had been nearly fulfilled.
And the crowd now was marveling at Lafite. It was she who had produced the vine and entwined the scampering man. Awed by Lafite’s mastery of sorcery, few of the students now had the courage to take on Glenn’s group.
The knights had heard of Lafite’s story and they all looked intense the moment they heard the news.
And everyone on board wished to reach destination as soon as possible. They felt like that every passing day had been hell.
Meanwhile, the crew had been stratified over the days and there was a strict hierarchy in place on the ship now.
Class one – the ruling class – which consisted of, as expected, Kyrie, Bionna, Sam and the boatswain. They were responsible for rationing mushroom soups for the rest of the crew and assisting Nilmar in the head count.
Class two included the knights and Lafite, as well as four others who had mastered sorcery and their sorceries had been brought to full use in the fights over the past few days. No ordinary students had had the gut to mess with the five “sorcerers” and they were nicknamed the “Five Spell Casters!”
The rest of the students were flung to Class three. One terrible problem with that class was that the five dead people had to be chosen from them. That was why they were called by the disdainful knights “the hogs” and the process of killing each other “butchering” .
Thirty days had elapsed and an aggregate of 150 students had been butchered and thrown overboard, which rendered the ship much less crowded. Every student who had ridden through the purgatory now had freezing cold eyes. Smiling was a luxury that you barely had on that ship. Every one of them now was a little devil. They were not young and naive anymore.
At that night, Glenn, Chris and Nina, who had all survived the inferno, partly under the aegis of Lafite, followed Lafite to the deck, and the other four Spell Casters were already there.
It seemed that there was going to be a major and significant meeting.