Chapter 3: The Black Box

“Name?”

“Jonathan Haze.”

“Enter. Name?”

“Elisha Andrews.”

“Enter. Name?”

The conductor looked at his list, checking each name to assure these people had actually booked a bus ticket. If you had, you would receive a ticket and be struck from the conductor’s list. When boarding,  you would display your ticket and state your name. If your name was on the list, then you would be granted entry into the giant hunk of metal.

When Darius first saw the bus, he was stunned speechless. Since it was his ticket to the capital, he had been expecting something magnificent. Yet, right now, what he found was a giant, rusty metallic cuboid resting on wheels that shook from side to side.

“Am I really going to be safe in that? Can that thing even hold human beings? Ah, I’m starting to suspect that this was actually a bad idea…” Darius thought. Darius was, by nature, a coward. He greatly valued his life and avoided anything that could possibly endanger him. As far as Darius was concerned, courage was meant to cull the stupid from humanity’s ever-growing population.

“Name. Oy, kid! I asked you to tell me your name!”

The conductor’s shout woke Darius from his stupor. “Uhm, ahem. Sorry about that! Darius Omen. My name’s Darius Omen.”

The conductor raised a brow at Darius’s strange surname, but then again, this wasn’t the first time he had heard a weird name. He grunted in approval and waved for Darius to enter the death tra… ahem, bus. Darius stepped into the large, metallic vehicle with a gulp.

Quickly finding a seat, he hugged his duffle bag as if his life depended on it. As soon as the grumbling conductor finished, a sharp whistle resounded. Darius assumed this was a signal from the conductor to the driver who was probably somewhere in this rust bucket. The only windows were on the side. In front was only more metal and the conductor’s seat.

The conductor himself sat down and read a newspaper as their journey began. Darius quivered as the bus roared at a speed that made it difficult to even recognize outside the window.

“Th-th-the bus wasn’t moving this fast before,” uttered another frightened passenger behind Darius.

The conductor chuckled and continued reading his paper.

“If we had arrived with our normal speed, none of you would have had the guts to enter the bus.” An old sounding voice came from nowhere and echoed throughout the bus. Darius looked around and tried to figure out where that sound had come from. However, just like the other new passengers, he was unsuccessful. The passengers who had already been on the bus for quite some time ignored this phenomenon as they seemed accustomed to it.

Darius hugged his bag and prayed. He didn’t know who or what he was praying to, but he did so anyway:

“Please don’t let me die young!”

Spirits were mankind’s worst enemy. Centuries ago, they had appeared out of nowhere and had plagued mankind ever since. They came in many forms with many strange abilities; however, they all had one thing in common, they loved devouring humans. The war between mankind and the spirits had raged for a long time.

As far as Darius knew, there were only two existences protecting mankind.

The first were the Spiritknights, mighty warriors who had the ability to challenge the fearsome spirits on equal footing.

The second were Spiritsmiths. Such people were expert craftsmen who used the bodies of dead spirits to create incredible things.

Darius’s current goal was to become a Spiritsmith. Not only did they enjoy a high status, but they were also richer than any other group in existence excluding royalty! Darius knew that to be a Spiritsmith, one needed two things: the first was incredible willpower. Darius believed that he had plenty after hitting the anvil continuously for six years without stopping.

The second requirement… was spiritual affinity.

This was something Darius didn’t quite understand, but he knew that one’s spiritual affinity could be tested upon reaching twelve years of age. Darius had been found to have below average spiritual affinity, yet this had not stopped Darius from pursuing his dreams because he knew that even those esteemed Spiritsmiths would need assistants.

Darius’s goal was to become a Spiritsmith’s assistant, and over time, learn how to become a Spiritsmith himself. This path was often chosen by those who lacked talent in spiritual affinity. Darius believed he could make up for his lack of talent with his intelligence and willpower. It was wishful thinking, but this was Darius’s only hope to be able to live a somewhat successful life.

Spiritsmiths made a lot of money! Darius’s wish was to become extremely rich and marry many wives. He was a very perverse young man. Unfortunately, with his hammering sessions, he had never had the time nor energy to pursue his desires. Darius had watched many of his fellow orphans go to brothels while all he had done was gaze in envy.

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“Damn curse,” Darius had always inwardly sworn upon seeing them do that. 

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He was afraid of the consequences of him sleeping with a woman while the curse was active. Thus, all he could do was hammer on.

“But, I’m close. This time, I’m close… I can feel it. I’m this close to breaking the damn curse! Hahahahahahaha.” In the bus, Darius smirked as he thought about what he would do when the curse finally broke: “Every brothel in the capital will know the name Darius Omen! Ahahahahahahaha…”

Because he was completely enraptured in his daydreams, Darius was completely unaware of his surroundings. The constant shaking and bouncing of their transportation had ceased. In other words, the bus had arrived at their destination.

- my thoughts:
Sorry for the delay, had a bunch of stuff IRL.
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