“I can’t wait to get started.”
“Me neither, I feel so excited.”
The gathering of 32 students gave a meticulous ear to Headmaster Zegel as he explained the fundamentals of the Guild Test. “The mechanics of this Guild Test is very simple. Upon arrival at Vultures Byte, you are to be very aware of your surroundings. Approximately 6 evolved vultures of Amazon-Warrior-Rank-3 are spread across the nest. Each of them is wearing 5 colour coded ribbons; 1-red, 2-blue and 2-white ribbons. The specific colours have their significance. Red Ribbons equals 5 points, Blue Ribbons equals 3 points and White Ribbons equals 1 point.
Your objective is to locate these vultures and acquire their ribbons by any means necessary. The ribbons are to be tied around your person in plain view for all to see. You will be immediately uprooted from the test if you hide them in any prohibited concealed spaces. Once you’ve collected sufficient ribbons, head to the Final Stage. Its location will be highlighted on the map provided on your Digital Feathers.
The time limit for this Guild Test is approximately 2-hours. The student who reaches the Final Stage with the most ribbons within the set time limit will win first place that comes with a special reward. As for the others, your passing grades will be determined by the number of ribbons you bring to the Final Stage and by the Guild Masters who deem you adequate to join their guild. That is all for the prerequisite Guild Test information. For those of you who didn’t hear me properly, the objectives are listed on your Digital Feathers. Do your best.”
Headmaster Zegel stamped his rod on the floor. It erected a large teleportation spell diagram beneath the students’ feet. They instantly vanished only to soon reappear in a dark forest that possessed an eerie ambience. The ground was littered with fallen leaves; trash heaps could be viewed everywhere even on thick branches of trees. Currently, Vultures Byte was raining autumnal leaves almost as if they were appearing out of thin air.
“This place looks so creepy.” A student voiced her opinion.
Looking around, the students felt a cold chill of trepidation embracing their shivering feathers. It wasn’t long before their attention was drawn to a lone Amazon-Warrior vulture ahead of them. It was sharpening its elongated beak in the punctured viscera of a deceased jungle rabbit. Its humanoid malevolent caricature was greatly enhanced by the repetitious clunking of its beak.
“Guys look! There’s a vulture right in front of us. What should we do?”
“Hm?” After taking a quick gander at the vulture, specifically viewing the location of the 5 ribbons it had wrapped around its lanky body, Gnihzur grabbed Kwaserah’s hand and quickly flew away.
Shortly after Gnihzur flew off, many others began making their swift escape. The mysterious hooded lad vanished in a flash of feathery-shaped lightning bolts; Drazil blazed his feathers away and later, numerous others followed suit.
“Where are they going, don’t they want the ribbons?”
“I see. So that’s how it is.” Upon realizing something of great importance, Mou also disappeared via air transport.
Soaring through the expansive forest, Kwaserah released Gnihzur’s grip from her arm in order to ask him, “Why did we fly away? That was a perfect opportunity back there to acquire ribbons.”
“Why did we fly away?” Gnihzur explained to her, “We’re simply chasing after another available target that isn’t so crowded. Remember what the Headmaster told us? He said that they are approximately 6 vultures situated inside this scary nest and each of them holds 5 ribbons. The total sum is 30 ribbons.”
“Oh, I see where you’re getting at.” Kwaserah began to comprehend Gnihzur’s strategy. “32 students are participating in this Guild Test and there are only 30 ribbons.”
“Yeah, so even if we were to be generous and split the ribbons evenly which is most unlikely to happen, 2 crows would remain empty-handed and eventually end up failing this Guild Test. Additionally, the crow who has the most ribbon points will win first place. I believe the true objective of this Guild Test isn’t so much the acquiring of ribbons but to determine our aptitudes in combat, scouting, tactics and teamwork. So this is what I think will happen. The crows will probably team up at first to take out the vultures because each of them is an Amazon-Warrior-Rank-3 and I doubt there’s anyone in our group who is strong enough to defeat one on their own. Now, after the vultures have fallen the students will inevitably turn against each other to accumulate more ribbons.”
“So what’s your plan, Gnihzur?” Kwaserah became interested in learning about Gnihzur’s brilliant plot.
“We’ll traverse close to the Final Stage area but not too close. Though their locations aren’t marked on the map, there should be a vulture waiting close by there.”
“How can you be so sure, Gnihzur?” Kwaserah was puzzled by Gnihzur’s assurance.
“Because this test has a time limit. If it was me who came up with this unfair scenario I would place a vulture close to the Final Stage where every participant is bound to gather eventually.”
“Why would you do that?”
“The first reason is to garner your attention. A lot of crows will be going to the Final Stage once they’ve acquired sufficient ribbons. Now here is the important bit. Because we won’t be able to tell who in our group has the most ribbons…”
Kwaserah finished his sentence, “The crows will try to get their feathers on as many ribbons as possible!”
“Exactly.” Gnihzur agreed. “The second reason is to delay us.”
“I see. So while we’re busy fighting for each other’s ribbons the time would probably run out.”
“Yeah, so we better make haste. I doubt that we’re the only ones who have thought of this.”
“Right!” They increased their wings’ velocity and continued to follow the direction on their digital map toward the borders of the Final Stage.
The Guild Masters who sat comfortably on the podium were watching the entire scene of Vultures Byte via the many large screens floating before them. They heard the conversation between Gnihzur and Kwaserah. This prompted a comment from Heera’s mouth.
“That fledging with the white patch is quite clever. He wasted no time using his analytical prowess to figure that there would be a vulture lurking around the Final Stage as well as the true intent for this Guild Test. He would be a great addition to my guild.”
“Hm?” Gairo perused a digital document containing Gnihzur’s dossier. He became intrigued when he viewed his Krowqui instability chart. “Hmm… Gnihzur Costar... his speciality is, Newpalf? So he used to reside in the Godiva Forest…?” As he continued to peruse Gnihzur’s document, Gairo’s pensive demeanour garnered a few stares from his peers.
Back inside Vultures Byte where all the students were initially teleported, the grotesque vulture who was feasting on the jungle rat’s rotten corpse became aware of a team of 5 crows standing behind him. Their names were as follows, Agumi, Doolbs, Neji, Retskeir and Marrigo.
Agumi was rather portly. He had a round build almost like a doughnut. A pair of orange and green gauntlets were attached to his hands; also a protective goggle was stylishly sitting around his head. His persona was quite caring and adorable.
Doolbs was slender and had a cunning demeanour about him. He was dressed in silky dark feathers; also had a dark mask across his face which partially concealed his craftiness.
Neji was a bit shorter than the others, however, this did nothing to lessen his supercilious attitude. His feathers had a silver tint to them which brought out their sharpness.
Retskeir had a medium build with enough strength to support the large black cylindrical case he carried on his back.
Marrigo possessed a pair of snake eyes that could instil fear in his opponents with just a glance. Unlike the conventional 5 fingers to one hand, he had 6 on each. In total, 12 fingers. His wings boasted an intimidating snake pattern.