“Boom!” A loud explosion tore through the roof of the Crowtrain. One after the other, multiple hazel coloured humanoid Rouge Doves started pouring into the Crowtrain like raindrops. Their feathers had a more radiant flavour and were present with bright pinkish dots across their plump cheeks. As they entered the Crowtrain, they scattered to combat the hundreds of applicants on board.
“We’re being attacked by Rouge Doves! The announcer’s voice earlier wasn’t lying!”
Gnihzur was especially surprised to see a bunch of Rouge Doves dashing down the aisle attacking every crow in sight. “We’re being tested so soon? We haven’t even arrived at the academy as yet!”
The girl sitting beside him told him, “What did you expect, hugs and kisses? We’re enrolling in one of the most elite Soul Academy on the eastern wing of Waivrumnagar. You should always expect the unexpected during these exams.”
“Yea, your right. It’s just that I thought that the examiners would follow the same pattern as last time.”
“Too bad for you. Don’t expect me to protect you during this raid.”
“I wasn’t expecting that from you.” Gnihzur thought to himself, ‘To enter the academy I must pass all the tests. This time I won’t fail!’ Gnihzur began to rouse his battle spirit.
The loudmouth, hothead that was bragging arrogantly earlier, got blasted past Gnihzur by a powerful Rouge Dove. He quickly picked himself off the floor and shouted, “Is that all you got, dove bitch? This is nothing! I, Drazil Burns the strongest fledgling currently on this Crowtrain will now show you how to attack someone!”
5 flat circular red spheres began glowing at Drazil’s fingertips. This signified the emergence of his Krowqui; they were known as Krowqui Circles. He combined the mystical energy with some of his feathers to form a burning boomerang.
“Have a load of this baby! Krowqui, Exploding Plume!” The explosive boomerang detonated as soon as it impacted the Rouge Dove that Drazil was facing.
Drazil celebrated, “Ha-ha-ha! Serve you right, crap sucker!”
“Damn you!” The Rouge Dove collapsed backwards into the burning row of seats. However, it hadn’t been defeated entirely. It got back up and rushed towards Drazil while coating its hazel feathers in a resplendent golden aura.
“Back up for more? Come get some, you damn hairy cunt!”
Drazil intercepted the Rouge Dove midway during its thrust. Together, they unleashed a tumultuous wave of chaos that got drowned very quickly by the array of battles taking place across the huge Crowtrain. Hundreds of young crows were engaged in deadly combat. For those who couldn’t endure the heat of battle, they gave up by going through the emergency portals set up across the Crowtrain.
“Huh, why…?” To Gnihzur’s surprise, no one was coming after him as he stood his ground. It was almost as if he was an invisible entity on board the Crowtrain. “Why is everyone avoiding me? Am I not strong enough to pique their interest?”
As Gnihzur scanned his eyes around, he spotted 2 robustly built Rouge Doves surrounding the petite princess who rescued him from the bullies.
“Why don’t you play with us for a while, little missy?”
“We promise you it’s going to be lots of fun. Hu-ha-ha-ha!”
“I’m not sure. Can you boys truly make me have fun?”
“Most definitely, little lady. Ha-ha-ha!”
As the confident lass was about to respond to the 2 Rouge Doves, Gnihzur appeared by her side in an instant and said, “Two against one? Now that’s not a fair fight. Allow me to join you.”
“Huh? Where did this scrawny chicken come from? I’ve fought worms ten times the size of you, boy. Ha-ha-ha!” The Rouge Doves mocked Gnihzur's weak appearance.
“Did you hijack this Crowtrain to boast or to fight? Make your move?”
“This little…” What Gnihzur said pissed off the doves even more.
The petite lass gave Gnihzur a displeased gaze. “Hey, don’t butt in. I don’t need your help to take out these 2 trashes.”
“But they’re so big and thick.”
“Their humungous size can’t contend against my silky skills. Watch and learn.”
“These 2 keep talking about us as if we’re not here. Let’s teach them some manners!” The Rouge Doves became agitated by Gnihzur’s and the petite crow’s arrogant behaviour. Amid their seething rage, they released a combined assault against them.
In response to the Rouge Dove attack, the petite lass quickly unleashed control amounts of her Krowqui from her fingertips along with many of her feathers to form a connecting series of feathery chains. “Krowqui, Humming Feather Bind!”
Within an instant, the 2 Rouge Doves were bound by countless interlinks of singing feathers, moreover, their bones got broken.
Gnihzur was surprised by what he had just witnessed. “Wow, I guess you really didn’t need my help after all. You cleaned up those 2 very fast.”
“I told you so didn’t I?” She retorted boastfully as she stepped onto the defeated Rouge Doves’ body. “Now, who should I bind next…?”
“Kyah!” The screaming echoes of multiple Rouge Doves getting blasted away reverberated throughout the Crowtrain. The area they were just at was where the mysterious lad wearing the feathery hoodie was currently sitting with his eyes closed.
Another group of Rouge Doves approached his vicinity with amplified disgust. “Look at this crow, acting like some sort of big shot just sitting there unperturbed by our presence.”
“Let’s kick his bony ass!”
“Together now!” The small group of Rouge Doves rushed the lone crow who sat there unfazed by their presence.
“Tsk, what a nuisance.” Opening his sinister eyes, the hooded lad took only one glance at each Rouge Dove who attempted to gang upon him. Within an instant, they all burst asunder; leaving their entrails splattered all over the place.
“What the hell did he just do?” After witnessing how brutally the hooded lad had decimated their teammates, the surrounding Rouge Doves didn’t dare venture closer to where he was.
“That guy is bad news. I didn’t even see how he attacked earlier.”
“Me neither. We should avoid that one until the test is over.”
Not only were the Rouge Doves afraid of approaching the hooded lad but also many other crows were scared shitless of going where he was. For the remainder of the Rouge Dove raid, no one bothered that hooded crow. He sat breezily throughout the first phase of the test.
The administrators who presided over the exam from their hidden location were amazed by the new group of applicants, especially the ones who exuded qualities of the famous crow clans. Among the applicants, Gnihzur was the only one who didn’t get a chance to show off what he was capable of due to him sticking close to the petite dame who shackled all her opponents.
The invigilators waited until more than half of the applicants were defeated or either given up before they set in motion the next testing phase. They deactivated all of the emergency portals without the passengers realizing it.
During the midst of battle, another broadcast reverberated throughout the entire Crowtrain. “Attention all passengers! Attention all passengers! The Crowtrain will self-destruct in 30 seconds.”
“Huh, what was that? Did I hear correctly?”
“The Crowtrain will self-destruct in 30 seconds?”
“Is this a joke?”
“The examiners wouldn’t lie to us.”
“All of you quiet! I want to hear what the message says.”
Every passenger on board the Crowtrain became apprehensive as they listened to the rest of the broadcast, including the Rouge Doves.
The message continued, “Here is your new objective. All applicants are tasked to get to the entrance of Crowjun Soul Academy within the next 30 minutes. Follow the rainbow wind path to not lose your way. How you get there is up to you, just make sure to arrive before the allotted time runs out. Those who are unable to make it in time will be automatically disqualified. And one more thing, the first top 10 crows to arrive will receive useful rewards according to their arrival position. Good luck.”
The passengers didn’t get enough time to play through their minds what was properly said. Moments after the broadcast ended, the self-destruct timer elapsed to zero. The Crowtrain began exploding all over.
“Oh shit! I wasn’t expecting the self-destruct to take effect as soon as the message ended.”
“Those damn examiners delayed our escape by keeping our focus on their message.”
“The explosions have already begun. We better get the heck out of here!”
“Where are the emergency portals???”
Crows and Rouge Doves alike began rushing towards the side exits of the Crowtrain that managed to open. Some even blasted their own exit through the roof.
“Explosive Plumes!” Drazil’s added explosions only served to increase the destruction of the Crowtrain.
22 seconds have passed since the self-destruct commenced, now, almost all of the Crowtrain had been blown to bits. It was taking a lot longer for its complete destruction due to its expansiveness. So far, many of the passengers have made a successful escape.
Gnihzur was among the first group to escape. He was very fast when it came to flapping his wings thanks to his intense Newpalf training. “Huh, where is she?” Spending a few seconds outside, observing as the Crowtrain became engulfed in smoke and fire; watching it falling out of the sky, Gnihzur noticed that he hadn’t seen the petite lass anywhere. He listened to the conversation around him to try and get a clue.
“Did everyone make it out safely?”
“I think that’s all of us.”
“Wait, that snobby chick with the dancing feathers might still be trapped inside. I think I saw her getting stuck somewhere while I was rushing towards the opening.” Gnihzur’s ear clung to what this person said.
Crokan on the other hand wasn’t so concerned about her wellbeing. “Who cares about that arrogant missy? She deserves to be blown to bits after what she did to my arm and my wing. I can’t even hover properly, goddammit!”
“Huh?” Gnihzur started to realize who the burly bully and the others were talking about. “They must be talking about her. Come to think of it, I don’t see her anywhere. That means she must still be inside. I have to go save her!”
Gnihzur flew off at burst speed towards the exploding Crowtrain. The others who saw him were shocked out of their minds.
“That white-winged crow, is he insane? That Crowtrain is completely engulfed in an infernal blaze plus it falling apart.”
“Why are you worried about him? He and the others who failed the test deserve to die pitifully. If he wants a quick burial that’s up to him. Now let’s get our wings in gear. We have a race to win, remember?”
“Yes! The race to Crowjun Soul Academy. We better get there fast before the others beat us to it.”
“Those crows have already gone ahead. We can’t fall too far behind, otherwise, we won’t come in the top 10 and we won’t receive any prizes.”
“Let’s fly! Follow the rainbow-coloured wind path. They’ll lead us to the academy.”
All of the crows who escaped the infernal Crowtrain had shot off in a rush towards Crowjun Soul Academy, leaving the Rouge Doves behind. They had already fulfilled their purpose in the first testing phase of the exam. Some of them lingered around the burning Crowtrain, hoping to see if Gnihzur would make it back out unscathed.