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Chapter 68 - Everyone, Strip!

 Chapter 68 - Everyone, Strip!

The instructor didn't use a relic. With only his physical speed and strength, he handily crushed a capable demonhunter. This young trainee was no fresh-cheeked novice.

It was a shocking display for everyone who watched. Demonhunters were proud of their abilities, and yet they'd just watched one get absolutely wrecked by a mere soldier.

Still, the youth was worthy of his demonhunter title. Even though one of his arms was now useless he tried to fight on with the other. With a roar he slammed his fist toward the man's hideously scarred face.

Crack! The trainee screamed again. His fist struck bone sturdy as iron, and the damage he did to his own fist was worse than he did to the instructor's face. Their tyrannical trainer only chuckled darkly, then kicked the younger man's knee so hard it folded backward. Snap!

His victim was forced to his one good knee.

He'd won, but that didn't stop the scarred man from continuing. With an open-handed slap he dislocated the demonhunter's jaw and sent him flying. He toppled head over heels among a cloud of spit and broken teeth. After hitting the ground he writhed in place like a pitiful dying insect. What happened to the proud demeanor of the demonhunters?

The scarred instructor slowly walked over to the young man. He placed his boot on his skull and looked over the crowd with savage eyes. "Is this what I can expect from the mighty demonhunters? Rubbish! Garbage!"

Anywhere one went within the elysian lands, demonhunters were treated with the utmost respect. They were warriors in service to the gods, defenders of the holy lands. Strong and noble, a demonhunter's mystical powers were the stuff of legend to the average citizen and commanded their awe.

The ugly instructor was a soldier through and through, yet still he embarrassed the demonhunter before all of them. This wasn't just an insult to their order, it showed disdain for the gods themselves!

Did he really come from the elysian lands? How could the realm of the gods produce someone so ruthless, arrogant, and cruel? All manner of sinful things lived in this beast's heart. Yet despite their rage and hatred, everyone felt powerless before the scarred instructor. With the young demonhunter writhing beneath his boot, he looked at them and asked if anyone else wanted to take their shot.

Cloudhawk stayed quiet, but inside he was sizing up the truth of where he found himself. The guards here were elite veterans, hand-picked from the best. One of them fought like ten men. These training assistants were highly capable soldiers who'd been discharged from service. They were as strong as Dawn without using her weapons - apex warriors.

The instructor himself was even harder to judge. Judging by the scarred man's strength, speed and agility, he had to have gone through countless body modifying methods. The scarred man fought as hard as Dawn did at full strength, and he hardly seemed to be trying.

Most importantly, these men came from decades-long military careers where they must have been elite special operations or unit commanders. Their skills had been honed in a hundred battles, leaving corpses piled high in their wake. In a life-or-death fight Cloudhawk wasn't sure even the likes of Frost de Winter or Dawn Polaris would survive.

Something also told him that the instructors' true strength didn't lie in their mere combat prowess.

These incredible warriors and talents were completely unknown. Mere instructors at a training camp? Inside information was a rich commodity in the elysian lands. Cloudhawk found it hard to believe there could be so many skilled people here and no one would know.

"You demonhunters are nothing more than monkeys to me, showing off your asses like you're worth something. You think because you can play with trinkets that no one is a challenge?" The scarred instructor belittled them while pulling a cigarette from his pocket. He lit it and scanned the crowd with cold eyes. His voice was a sinister growl. "You all better fuckin' listen real close. Relics are weapons, and weapons are an extension of power - but they aren't everything. There are people all over the world that can tear demonhunters apart with nothing but their bare hands. There are too many examples of people who can kill you relic-wielding shits with nothing but smarts and planning! Worms like you rely on tools and neglect your own bodies. You are as frail as paper; you can't run faster than anyone else, you aren't as agile as anyone else, you don't react faster than anyone else - but you sure as fuck will die like everyone else."

"What is Hell's Valley? Let me enlighten you. It's a garbage dump where trash like you is pulverized. I chose to come here because it means I get to crush worthless fucks like you for shit and giggles. Hahaha!"

To illustrate his point the instructors stomped on the one good knee of the young man beneath him. It elicited another series of sickening crunches to which the mangled demonhunter howled. With a piteous whine he rolled half-conscious on the ground, and the instructor kicked him away like a fleshy sack.

"Eliminated! Get his ass out of here!"

A pair of assistants walked over and dragged him away.

None of the guy's wounds were life-threatening, but they would be very difficult to recover from. He would need the Temple's healing supplies, otherwise the damage would be permanent.

The instructor threw his half-smoked cigarette into the dirt and trampled it below his boot. All the while his dark glare swept the crowd, looking for another victim to brutalize. "Filth! Scum! Worms! Who else wants to make a stand?"

Everyone was silent as the threat of the instructor's savagery hung over them. They were all skilled enough to be demonhunters. They did not fear death nor challenge, but senseless humiliation was unacceptable.

"It looks like you've all come to accept what you are. I'll remind you that out here there is no such thing as pride, status, or title. Out here my word is like the word of the gods - you listen or you pay the price." His words were mocking and downright blasphemous. If the Temple heard him say these words, he would be burned at the stake, but he didn't care in the slightest. He waved impatiently. "Let's get the admission test under way!"

They must have been out here for ages. These soldiers were barbarians from head to toe.

Cloudhawk was anxious about what this admission test would be, but he steeled his resolve. Whatever it was, the exam wasn't going to be a walk in the park.

The instructor looked them over once more. "The goal is simple: weed out the garbage. By the end we've usually eliminated fifty percent."

Fifty percent? That would be around thirty of them! They haven't even started and half were about to be kicked out.

Most frightening was what the instructor had just said; once you join the training, don't expect to walk out in one piece. He could only imagine what would happen to those who got eliminated. Serious injury or death, both seemed just as likely.

Their cruel leader continued. "Clothes off, let's go."

Many hesitated. It wasn't just men here, a full third were young women. They were from noble families, surely his demands were going too far.

"I'll say it again. I don't give a shit about your dignity or where you come from. It doesn't matter who your daddy is, how rich you are, how glorious your name. Out here, all that means fuck-all!" His words were icy daggers. Hell's Valley turned people into weapons. It wasn't a goddamn day camp. Nothing disgusted him more than these newbies and their melodrama. "You got three choices. One, take me on in a fight. If you win then you get a pass. Of course if you lose, I snap your arm and throw you out. Two, do what I say and take off your clothes. Three, my assistants will help you take your clothes off!"

The women looked frantically around with red eyes. These weren't trainers, they were torturers!

Claudia was, of course, deeply insulted by the order. Was she really expected to remove her clothes in front of all these trainees, the scarred instructor, and a hundred or so soldiers? To elysian women who held chastity as among the greatest morals, this was unthinkable.

No one wanted to remove their clothes, but if they didn't... what would this scarred animal do? He said the test would weed out fifty percent of them, so Claudia didn't believe he'd be willing to throw everyone out. How would the training camp continue without trainees?

Their faces were masks but they shared the same thought. No one moved.

Good, this is how it should be. Hope rose in Claudia's heart.

The scarred instructor took their refusal as a challenge. Slowly his lips curled into a hideous smirk. Sometimes when a lion's sovereignty was challenged, a little blood was needed to reassert dominance. It was time to show them where the power really lay here. They would learn how to act. "Twenty lashes for each of them. Do it!"

Everyone knew just how cruel these whips were, they'd seen it with their own eyes. If twenty lashes didn't kill them it would leave them crippled.

Then they would all be eliminated.

Was the instructor really willing to get rid of everyone, the assistants thought? He was insane!

Cloudhawk also scowled with anxiety. Even as strong as his body was and even with improved healing, twenty lashes would take some time to come back from. If they beat him that badly, how would he participate in the training?

The scarred man didn't care about his fellows' hesitation. "What are you fucks gaping about? Do I need to whip them all myself?!"