--- "Magic". The power that resides inside the human soul or, more precisely, the life force of every human being. A power that can lead to greatness or chaos, but such power always comes with a price. However, in those times when the human race evolved to be the head of every living thing, that price became minimum. In this world, human intelligence made it possible to use magic without risks, with the help of the "catalysts". A "catalyst" is a medium that absorbs the user's life force and releases magic with less power. But even though they were created to help humans use their life force, the outcome wasn't like that.
The "catalysts" are now used as weapons and, up until now, they only brought destruction and wars.
And the wars are not over yet-
Authoranian Military Academy
"Kenya, go behind him! Kuro! Use your shield to cover me!"
---The military academy. A school created in the Empire of Authorania to raise the strongest soldiers from a young age.
"I got him! Now Yoso! Attack him with all you've got!"
With a strong magical hit right in the head of the beast, the young warrior takes it down.
"I did it!"
"Test completed! Numbers 7: Yoso, 26: Kuro, 34: Kenya, have passed. You can go rest now!"
With a bright smile, Yoso turns at his fellow teammates and exclaims: "Hooray! Hey! Kuro, Kenya, did you see me?!"
Looking at Yoso that was happily jumping around, Kuro says: "You were great."
"He is still as energic as ever..." think Kenya while smiling at Yoso
"Wanna go to the canteen? I didn't eat anything since this morning," says Yoso while keeping his hands on his belly.
The other two couldn't do anything but start to giggle.
"I am a bit hungry as well. What about you, Kenya?"
"Sure, I don't have anything to do anyways."
---The three of them arrive at the canteen and get in line to get their food. The atmosphere is quite weird, with every kid at their tables, in their uniform, eating with the same sad face as always.
"I have to say something to break the ice. I don't want this monotone feeling to get to those two as well." thinks Kenya
"Hey, Kuro. Did you decide what position will you take after graduating?"
"Hmm? I didn't think much about it, so I don't know. But maybe I will go to the defense forces since I use defensive magic. What about you, Kenya?"
"Well, I think I will go to the scouts. But of course, after getting strong enough, I will try becoming a "Zodiack"!"
Yoso looks at them with a questioned face and asks: "What is a "Zodiack"? Is it a kind of food or something?"
Hearing this question, Kuro couldn't help but burst into laughter.
"How can you not know what a "Zodiack" is?!" shouts Kenya
"Listen here, Yoso! The Zodiack is the group with the strongest wizards in their respective countries! Every country has twelve Zodiacks strong in their respective element! And after becoming a "Zodiack", you get one of the twelve Zodiack Catalysts that are way more powerful than those training toys we have here! Did you get it?"
"More or less..."
"He didn't get it..." thinks Kuro
"Then, what will you do after graduating, Yoso?"
"Ah, that's simple. I will become the emperor of Authorania!"
A moment of awkward silence started, and then Kenya bursts into laughter.
"Emperor? You know that you need to have the emperor's bloodline to become one, right?"
"Then I will dethrone him! I will change this country so no one will be sad anymore, and the wars will end!"
Without even noticing, he spoke too loud, and everyone in the canteen started looking at him. Yoso always had the dream of becoming the emperor of Authorania and stopping the wars.
After seeing the sad faces of the kids at the academy and how they were treated, made him get this desire of changing the empire.
"Now I understand why I decided to follow him..." thinks Kuro
"It's good, Kenya. Like you have the dream of becoming a Zodiack, Yoso also dreams of becoming the emperor of this empire. But don't forget about me, since I am the shield user, I will protect you on your road to your dreams.
Kenya and Yoso then smile brightly at Kuro, thanking him.
"But for they to happen... You have to pass the final exam next week!" adds Kuro
"Of course we will!"
Meanwhile, an interested "shadow" listened carefully to the three friends' conversation,
"Number 7: Yoso, huh? Interesting..."
The Exam training field of the Authoranian Military Academy
The Exam is about to start. The students that will have to pass through one more challenge are waiting in line for their final test to start. What opponent could they have?"
A face that no one has seen around for a while came to meet the students before their final challenge.
"Good morning. I am, as you might know, the principal of this military academy, Braum Thinker. I will be this final exam's supervisor."
The tension is in the air. If it was nothing but a normal exam, it would have been easy. But in this academy, it is well known that if the principal comes personally as the supervisor of an exam, that exam is almost impossible to be passed. The students already know this, and this information will do nothing but make them more nervous.
"The challenge that you'll have to pass is one of our new tests that might help the army a lot. So you are not just taking an exam. You are now testing for the army itself. You will have to fight a real, Homunculus. A human with incredible abilities, created in our laboratory. You will have to fight against them, six at a time. There are 24 participants there and we have 4 homunculi, so I'll let you do the math. Now look at the screen and go to the training room that corresponds to your number!"
"One... What number did you guys get?" asks Yoso
"One as well. What about you, Kenya?"
"Hmm? Three... So this time we won't fight together. Do you best, guys!"
"Yes! We will! See you on the other side!"
--- A voice can be heard announcing the start of the final exam. Each competitor goes to the training room of their number.
"Let the final exam commence! You have to kill the homunculus in less than one hour! Good luck!"
Hearing the announcement, Yoso turns to Kuro and says:
"Let's go, Kuro!"