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16 I Refuse

 "I don't understand Your Majesty, why my son? And if so I have two other unmarried boys that are far more suitable-"

"Are you telling Her Majesty what to do?"

David and Jakob were kneeling in front of the three veiled ladies, Agnes, Julia and their mistress. Their mistress was seated in Jakob's chair while her attendants were standing by her sides.

No longer pretending to be drunk, a Fatty in a suit approached his father's office. The moment he arrived at the door he opened it with a confident look. When he opened it he was greeted with the visage of this odd scenario. His Father was a Lord thus there were few who he would kneel to, let alone sit in his chair. Even David wasn't allowed that right.

Seeing that someone entered the door without knocking Jakob was about to shout, but when he saw that it was Fatty he was shocked and thus his reaction delayed a bit. Fatty avoided his office like the plague and never came in without being summoned. Why on earth had he entered his office of his own volition? And at this time?

Jakob regained his wits a bit too late. In a manner unbecoming of him Fatty knelt just like his father and brother. "Kylerius de Watzer greets Her Majesty the Princess." His actions and words made gasps spread across the room.

The princess raised her hand and everyone became quiet. She stood up and walked toward Fatty. "How did you know? I only mentioned this to your father a few moments ago." She said with her silky smooth voice. Fatty kept looking down and smoothly responded. "Responding to Your Majesty, nothing happens in this territory without me knowing."

"You insolent-" Agnes was cut off by her mistresses hand. "Oh really? Tell me then Fatty. Who am I?"

"Responding to Your Majesty, you are Ruva men Rashe van der Euphoria, Fifth Princess of the Kingdom of Euphoria," said Fatty, Confidently.

The Princess sat on the desk and crossed her arms, underneath her veil she could not help but smile at his reaction. "Correct! Well said, one more question. If you answer this correctly you will gain a gift beyond your wildest dreams. Now tell me why am I here?"

But his response made her and everyone in the room nearly trip. "Responding to Your Majesty." Fatty then stood up and walked to the Princess slowly. Her attendants were about to move but once again were stopped by their mistress.

Fatty smirked as if this was well within his expectations. When he arrived in front of the Princess he lifted her veil with an arrogant expression and said, "To ask for my, the most handsome and intelligent man in the country to marry her."

Faces contorted all over the room, but the Princess's stunning face smiled mischievously. "And his answer is?"

"Responding to Your Highness, the answer is obvious. I refuse."

...

Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, and months turned into years.

Just like that four years passed in the camp. In the wee hours of the mourning, a young man was doing sit-ups while holding a dombo in his hands. Every time he sat up he would rotate his upper body left and right before going back down again.

After doing hundreds of these the child would continue to doing squats. Once he did a thousand he would move to doing 200 one armed push ups for each arm. Suffice to say that each of these exercises were done with practiced ease.

The past few years had changed Taku. His body had been completely remodeled. He was now much taller than he was before. Instead of the little seemingly malnourished child, he was now the peak of physical fitness for a fourteen year old.

His face was neither handsome, nor was it ugly. He had short hair, with average limbs. Out of the remaining children in the camp, he was without a doubt one of the most average looking.

"Attention! Training has started!"

"Move it! Move it! Mooooovvvveee iiittt!"

"Why the heck are you modeling in front of us? You think we are gay? Move it maggots!"

Taku heard the voices and moved out. Now there were quite a few differences compared to four years ago. Only a few hundred of them were left. Each of them had survived through the gory training of the last four years. Even though they were teens, they gave of the temperament of battle hardened warriors.

Now instead of walking the children ran with their fasted speed. Their target mountain had been changed multiple times. Now it was a mountain four hours from the camp. One that was much higher and much more dangerous than its predecessors. Not to mention the journey was now much more perilous.

Within the Gutu Empire were many savage beasts, beats that were incredible vicious and powerful enough to match the Gutu themselves. Everyday on their way to the mountain the children had to pass through a portion of forest that was filled with many vicious beasts, thus it was only natural that battles ensued.

Roar!

As Taku ran, a lion with a mane that was on fire appeared in front of him and roared.

A fire lion? What a bother.

Taku snorted in disdain and ran straight for the beast. The other children were entangled with their own opponents thus no one cared about Taku. Those who had no opponents simply ran.

The lion ran for Taku and lunged straight for him.

"Hmph!"

Taku ducked, then using the combo as a weapon he hit the lion above him. Over the years many uses for the dombos were discovered by the children, one being a weapon. The lion's belly caved in and it immediately vomited blood while it was in mid air. By the time it's body hit the ground, it was a corpse.

Taku did not need to look back to see the results of his work. He kept running because he knew that there was not time to loiter around. Unfortunately for Taku a large Buffalo with skin like bronze appeared in front of him.

Bronze Buffalo! Why am I so unlucky?

Taku knew this would not be an easy battle for him so he slowed his steps. This was a beast well known for its impressive defensive abilities. Taku was not intending to fight it head on thus he turned tail and ran in the other direction. The buffalo bellowed in rage and followed suit. The beast was powerful but its speed was lacking when compared to its defensive capabilities.

Despite this Taku did not intend to give up on battling it, instead he intentionally moved somewhat slower than his full sprint in order to make sure the beast would have him in its sights.

Stupid cow.

Taku snorted in disdain as he looked back at the buffalo, causing it to get even more angry. The stronger a savage beast was, the more intelligent it was. Although the buffalo was not as smart as a human, it knew well enough when it was being mocked.

Taku passed by a few of his fellow camp mates as they were engaged in their own battles. After a few hours of running, a mountain range came into view. The first mountain was so large its peak pierced through the clouds above it. This was their current target mountain.

It was known as the untamed mountain, the reason being of the legends surrounding it. The mountain top was sharp, like a sword piercing into the heavens, and the grandness was more than enough to intimidate even the average Gutu, but Taku and his camp mates were far from average.

Taku sprinted up the mountain with a smile. Bellows of a mad beast would follow from time to time. Taku could not help but be impressed at the creature's stamina.

It's not fair. How much hellish training did I have to get through to be able to reach this state, and all that cow has to do is eat!

Taku's climb became harder and harder as he approached the steep summit. He was sure that he was now almost moving vertically upwards, yet the beast persisted in following. It was not fast, but it was surprisingly nimble. The beast started to get closer and closer to Taku as they approached the summit of the rocky mountain. Other runners were moving about but the buffalo cared naught. It was angry at the fact that Taku made it run all this way and it was not going to give up chasing him.

At some point Taku seemed as if he made a fatal mistake and wobbled on the edge of a large rock. The beast's eyes narrowed as it believed an opportunity had presented itself. It swiftly made for Taku with movements unbecoming of its large body.

"No! Stay away from me!"

Taku's screams made the creature even more confident of its endeavor to catch him.

"Moooooo!"

Taku finally 'balanced himself and got ready to jump upward, only to have the buffalo hot on his heels. The buffalo was barely a meter when Taku spun around, swinging the dombo downward with all his might.

Crash!

The buffalo bellowed in agony as it was hit square in the face. It lost consciousness and started falling down the mountain. Before its vision went black, it noticed the snide grin on Taku's face, and it was at that moment, that it knew it had been out maneuvered.

....

In a large wooden office, two men were having a discussion. One of them was Tanaka, the infamous Hall Master of the camp. He was seated behind the desk drinking some tea. On the other side of the desk was a young man dressed in simple robes, who had a scholarly temperament, if Taku were here he would recognize him as the man who registered him behind the booth.

"I'm telling you Ticha, this batch is going to do wonders." said Tanaka as he put down his cup. Satisfaction was evident on his face, but it was not due to the tea, no it was due to the performance of his students.

"I will be the judge of that Hall Master Tanaka. As you know there are still over a hundred students remaining. Thus we are force them to engage in other means to finish the training. The four years are up, it's time for you to take in a new batch. The brass are getting impatient."

Tanaka harrumphed at Ticha's words, "The brass can go eat cow dung. These boys are true warriors. In all my years as a trainer in the intermediate camp, I have never seen such a competitive group before. Every batch would end up with the kids killing each other, reaching one hundred before four years are up. Yet in this group we haven't experienced a single killing overnight for an entire week!"

Ticha's brows creased, "Perhaps this batch is just mediocre."

"Bah! Nonsense! What does a nerd like you know about raising warriors. If you are unhappy with the numbers just host a tournament, then the losers will be dropped to normal infantry. It would be an honour for those losers to have some of my boys."

"Hall Master, if you don't mind my asking, is there any boy who stands out in particular?" Ticha could not hide the curiosity in his eyes when he asked Tanaka, causing the latter to grin with pride.

"Didn't I tell you that this batch produced monsters? Just wait for the tournament. You will see for yourself."

...

When Taku got back to camp he noticed that some changes had been made. Instead of the rows of huts that had been there previously, there was a large platform made of bricks, with a stage that that a dozen or so seats right next to the stage. A variety of people were seated, from armored old men to gentle looking young women in robes.

So there rumors were true. There is going to be a competition.

As Taku arrived he looked around for some friendly faces.

"Taku, over here bro!" A skinny young man waved at Taku from the distance. Taku smiled and walked in his direction. "Taku I see you are as slow as always haha. Do you take a sh*t every time you run? You do know we have toilets here right?"

If you can call holes in the ground toilets sure.

"I'm happy to see you still breathing Kupa. Last month you had me worried there for a second."chided Taku.

"Hmph, Tino and his cronies are always trying to ambush idiots at night. I am way too smart for their antics."

"Doesn't that make you an idiot too bro?"

"..."

Taku and Kupa chatted for a while in order to update each other on what was happening. Kupa was one of the more well informed members of their camp. He was a smooth talker. He knew when to speak, and more importantly who to speak to. He was an important source of information for Taku, thus Taku always made sure he was on good terms with him. Thus Taku wanted to get some info on what was happening now.

"To be honest I'm not sure on that either, but I do know that it has something to do with the fact that there are too many of us." said Kupa after thinking for a while. "I do however know that the people watching are all of the Hall Master rank at least."

Over the years Taku had gained a basic understanding of how the Elephant Foot guards was structured.

The soldiers were divided according to their potential and fighting prowess rather than their experience, thus it was quite common for someone to be experienced.

There were four different bodies in the guard. The Envoys, the Hunters, and the Ivory Guard and the Foot Guard.

Envoys were special members that had permission to move throughout the kingdom in search of talent, they also held a significant amount of power in their hands during wars.

Hunters were members whose main purpose was to act as the hands and feet of the royal family. Their main purpose was espionage and had an incredible intelligence network that spanned across the world. From what Taku gathered many people in powerful posts were actually Hunters in disguise, thus it was clear just how much power they had.

The Foot Guard was the main army of the entire guard, and it mostly consisted of low ranking infantry. Their main purpose was to deal with beast hordes that plagued the entire empire. Their structure was simple and they had they had the smallest standing in the entire guard.

The Ivory Guard was the special operations unit. Their purpose was to deal with situations that were far too difficult for the other bodies to deal with. They were the smallest body but they held the greatest power. Only the most talented and most powerful of warriors could enter The Ivory Guard. The Ivory Guard also had another purpose, to protect the royal family from external threats and quell any rebellions that sprouted within the empire. What really made the Ivory Guard unique was that they did not report to the Royal Family, and did not have to listen to their orders. Despite this they had power over the other three bodies.

When the Ivory Guard told the other bodies to jump, they would say how high. Even Hunters, who operated under the direct orders of the royal family, still had to follow the orders of the Ivory Guard. According to legends, the Ivory Guard had more military might than the rest of the guard combined, and more!

It always baffled Taku as to why the royal family allowed such a powerful being to exist. Were they not afraid of a rebellion?

Thanks to the Ivory Guard, the entire Elephant Foot Guard was a cohesive unit. Hence it was the wish of almost every skilled youngster to join the Ivory Guard.

As Taku and Kupa continued talking, Protectors arrived and started herding them to front of the front of the platform. Once they were all gathered, Tanaka stood up from his seat and stood at the front.