"I hope you get to see the stars with Rachel." was what Khun said to Bam. Both Bam and Evolet smiled at that, grateful for Khun's wish. But then Bam went ahead while Khun stopped, asking a question that made Evolet freeze at her spot.
"What did Hansung mean by "enjoy your remaining time", Eve?"
Evolet could only summon the courage to look down and meekly answer "I'll tell you later…", hoping that he wouldn't pry further. Thankfully enough, even though he stared at her for a while; he backed up in the end and just grabbed her hand, tugging her to the next test spot. Relieved, she whispered thank you to Khun and stayed silent for the rest of the way with a small smile on her face. Khun knew he'd done the right thing by not asking further when he saw it.
They were now in the middle of a break, no test administrator in sight as the regulars relaxed for a bit; doing their own things. Khun had excused himself earlier, saying he had to go to the toilet. Bam, Rak, and Evolet were sitting; not knowing what to do while they waited. Then a tracksuit guy visited them. He introduced himself as Shibisu and congratulated them for passing the test once more. Naturally the three of them also introduced themselves. They had spoken for a bit, mostly Shibisu, Bam, and Evolet since Rak opted to stay silent. The conversation had ended with a friendly wish of good luck from Shibisu before he went off to his own team. Khun also came back at the same time. And with great timing, Lero Ro made his entrance to the room accompanied by the test guide from earlier named Yellowy.
He said he had come bearing great news, informing the regulars of a bonus game. The regulars weren't pleased of course. They've had enough tests. But then Lero Ro dropped the bomb, making an offer they simply cannot refuse. "But the winner of this bonus game… gets to pass the final test of this floor. They get the right to go straight to the next floor."
That had caught the regulars attention. It was too good to be true. So Khun asked, just to make sure. "The right to go to the next floor? Then what about the remaining tests?"
Lero Ro's answer was as simple and as straightforward it can get. "They don't have to take them."
Hook, line, and sinker. The regulars had taken the bait. Lero Ro told them that only one team can proceed, the winner of the game. None of them were deterred. It only spurred them on. After all, when else would you get a chance like this? One of them asked, what is the bonus game.
"This game is called "The Crown Game". I will explain the details to you when we get to the game spot."
And so here they were, each team in a cube waiting room surrounding a circular literal throne room with Lero Ro explaining the details and rules about the game. However, near the end he mentioned a team from another test spot participating; summing it up to "it's a long story". Telling the regulars to check the other details in the instruction book next to the buzzer, Lero Ro then started the countdown for the game to start as he observed from inside his lighthouse in the safety of the heights.
Only two groups were brave or maybe reckless enough to push the buzzer. Shibisu's team was one of them. To top it off, the lizard girl provoked the other team by saying that she alone was enough to face them. How true that sentence was. It was an instant defeat for the other team. So the other team changed their strategy, aiming for the crown instead. Sadly, it failed miserably with their lack of speed compared to the lizard girl named Anaak. In the end they only got more injuries as they were thrown to the walls from the impact of Anaak's attack while Anaak herself sat on the throne, donning the crown.
The round was over and Anaak didn't want to move from the throne, annoying Shibisu since it was clearly a disadvantage for she was the strongest in their team while Shibisu was the weakest. Khun breathed a sigh of relief, explaining to Bam how this turn of situation was good for them. Rak and Evolet had stayed silent during that time. Rak because he knew the lizard was strong from the first time he saw her on that test field. Evolet because she was observing the weapon Anaak was holding. Evolet knew a trouble was brewing the moment she recognized it was the Green April that Anaak was using.
The second round had started and two other teams participated. One of the teams was swiftly obliterated by Hatz before he moved on to helping Shibisu with the other team. Hatz had mocked one of the opposing team members, feeling insulted with how he was only sleeping snugly with his blanket and pillow while his teammates were fighting them. Throwing his sword, Hatz threatened the man to open his eyes and fight if he didn't want to die. So Laure opened his eyes… and prepared for a counterattack with Shinsu. Hatz somehow managed to shout out a warning to Anaak in time. She was able to dodge, but was immediately ambushed by the other two teammates. Both Shibisu and Hatz hurried to help her, but she was once again attacked by Laure with shinsu.
"Give us the crown. I can attack you from anywhere." Laure said with a menacing tone. The aftermath from the attack had revealed that Anaak was in fact, just fine. The only thing that snapped was her temper from Laure's threat. She was livid. With a shout of "Ignition!", she ignited the Green April. The weapon's hook grew in size, and Anaak wielded it expertly; filled with killing intent. She whipped it around to match Laure's movement that kept dodging even when the Green April split into pieces then grew larger and wilder; almost like a wild walking vines if you will.
Meanwhile in the quartet's waiting room, the Black March is starting to respond to Green April's ignition, trying to break free from the bandage's restraint. Bam was trying to calm the weapon down to no avail. Evolet looked at Bam and Black March before she switched to Anaak. Green April was also reacting to Black March's presence. Anaak will undoubtedly notice them soon. As Khun asks what's wrong with Bam and Anaak turns her gaze on their waiting room, Evolet could only think ‘Oh no…’.
She puts up a Shinsu wall just in time as Anaak strikes, trying to break into their cube. Evolet has never been so glad that she managed to put up that Shinsu wall in time. Anaak scowled at Evolet, irked that she was being blocked by the Shinsu wall Evolet conjured. Evolet only gave a stern unmoving glare at Anaak in response.
"Give me that weapon."
Khun wasn't having any of this. "What the hell are you doing? You're not allowed to bust into other teams' rooms during the game!" He shouted ferociously, but got ignored by Anaak who instead asked Bam.
"Hey, you, black hair. Where did you get that weapon?"
Anaak was pointing at Black March. Bam was clueless on what she was talking about until she specified the needle. When Bam asked why, she countered, saying that he shouldn't have that weapon. Soon enough, Shibisu came running; angry that they list the game because Anaak got off the throne. Anaak ignored Shibisu, instead telling Bam to give her the weapon. When Shibisu got even more irritated, shouting to Anaak for leaving the throne solely for a stupid weapon; he quickly got reprimanded by her.
"Stupid weapon? It's one of Master Ashul Edwaru's 13 month series weapons. And you call the Black March a stupid weapon? Are you nuts?" She asked Shibisu, gripping his finger tight until it became red and swollen.
Tears in his eyes, Shibisu asked. "The Black March? Isn't that one of the 13 month series weapons by Ashul Edwaru… That was given by the king of the tower to his daughters? THE BLACK MARCH???"
He paused for a bit before continuing. "Why is it in his hands? And how did you know that?"
With a serious look on her face, Anaak replied with "Because I'm a daughter of Jahad." Which obviously shocked Shibisu. She continued, saying that her weapon was the Green April of the same 13 month series as Black March and that the weapons would begin to resonate when it's close to another of the series.
‘That's why she noticed the Black March… But something is odd… Something's off. What could it be?’ Khun thought to himself.
Anaak banged on the shinsu wall that separated them, demanding Bam for the Black March when he refused to do so; insisting that he needs to return it to Yuri when he meets her. Anaak brandished her weapon, preparing for an attack. "I explained everything to you but you still don't get it?"
Evolet's shinsu wall rippled, ready to change to attack mode if needed. Khun and Rak also readied their weapons just in case. Anaak showed no sign of stopping. "The ones who fail to know their place die young."
But just as she was about to attack, she found that she couldn't move her weapon at all. When she turned her gaze backwards, Lero Ro was there, holding her weapon in place to prevent any attack. "I think you are the one who failed to know their place... Anaak Jahad. You left the throne, so your team lost this game. Go back to your room, Anaak Jahad. I won't let you behave like this anymore." Lero Ro said before releasing his hold on the Green April.
Anaak stared at him for a moment before asking him to add another rule to the game since he was the test administrator. She had proposed a blockbuster event, with Green April and Black March as the prize. Lero Ro grinned. "That… sounds interesting."
Anaak turned to Bam. "Bam… was that your name? Let's play a game."
"A game?" Bam asked with hesitancy.
"Yeah, I'll bet my Green April. You bet the Black March. If you win I will give the Green April to you. The game is simple. Your team joins the game starting the next round and wins all of the rounds. If your team wins, I will give you the Green April, and I won't attack you before this test ends. But if your team doesn't win you give me the Black March."
Bam frowned, no intention of going along with this. "I don't want to. Why do I have to play such a game?"
Anaak gave him a threatening look before saying "Because when the game is over I wouldn't mind killing you to get the Black March."
Evolet swiftly reacted to that threat. Less than a second, a part of the shinsu wall had spiked and stopped just before Anaak's neck; drawing a thin line of blood. She was staring at Anaak with a murderous glint. "It would be wise of you to proceed with caution. I don't appreciate anyone threatening my teammates and I would gladly retaliate before you can even move a finger to do so."
Anaak gulped, slightly intimidated from the killing intent radiating from Evolet. But she couldn't back down now, not when she still needed to achieve her revenge. "What are you thinking? You're not sure if you'll win the game, right? Well, I understand. It won't be easy to win with those weak teammates."
Bam was only thinking about the team's safety if they played the game; but that had struck Khun and Rak's nerves. Evolet's eyebrow twitched, she knew where this was going with Anaak's obvious provocation. With a sigh, Evolet retreated the Shinsu spike but didn't let up on the wall. She didn't need to wait long, Khun immediately responded to Anaak's taunting. "What are you waiting for, Bam?! Of course you'll do this. We accept your terms!"
"Mr. Khun!" Bam interjected.
Khun dismissed Bam's worries. "It's fine. We were going to join the next round anyway! Your name was… Anaak Jahad? Extras like you don't really know what's up. The main characters like us go out last. That's why we were waiting for so long, right…? CROCODILE?"
"OF COOOOURSE!!!" Rak replied instantly.
Their determination was fine and all but Evolet was rather thinking of how impulsive they are and worrying if this will work out in the end or not. Rak was still shouting. "THE GAME WITHOUT ME!!! DOESN'T MEAN ANYTHING!!!"
… I resign. I'll just protect them to the best of my abilities at the moment.
Rak glimpsed at Anaak. "Don't back out, you little lizard."
Anaak only smirked in response. As she went away, Evolet kept glaring at her, full of bloodlust with the intention to at least make Anaak feel uncomfortable. It was only after Anaak went into their own waiting room that Evolet put back her smile in place along with the shinsu wall and faced the others. Khun made a mental note to not piss Evolet off if he didn't want to be on the receiving end of that intense bloodlust. And so here they were, preparing to go out on the next round.
"I'm sorry… Because of me the three of you are in danger and I can't really do much…" Bam apologized with his head downcast.
With an air of confidence, Khun responded. "Don't worry, Bam. Thanks to you, that lizard got out of the chair. But, Bam. I think you're pretty amazing."
"Huh?" Bam was puzzled at that.
"You kept the Black March from Jahad's daughter. Frankly speaking, I'm surprised."
"There's nothing to be amazed at. I only could do it because I had you three. Besides… I got help from the Black March once. I don't want to betray her. That's what I learned. Betraying a girl will make the world's roof fall on me."
Khun contemplated before looking at Evolet for affirmation about what Bam just said. Evolet looked away for a second before she mouthed, "Rachel taught him that."
She certainly didn't seem happy about that fact. Khun started saying a lot of things. Bam had the decency to at least look guilty. "But it doesn't change the fact that you don't have enough power to protect the Black March, Bam. Which means, what you did was pure bluff. Hearing you say that makes me wonder why I did it. Get stupid crocodile it's not that useful compared to his body size, right?”
Khun paused for a moment. "But you are… still amazing."
That got Bam saying another confused "Huh?".
"You're not strong and you've got no skills to rely on. But you try to protect the people who trust you. I could never do that." Khun finished with a smile.
As Lero Ro started announcing the beginning of the third round and they walked out, Evolet grabbed Bam's hand when she noticed she was still nervous. Bam looked at her with a mix of curiosity and worry. She smiled the same reliable smile that always reassures Bam every time he felt unsafe. "Don't worry. I'll protect all of you."
Bam doesn't doubt her.