Including Ashton, there"s five other kids who are also coming to the Awakening Ceremony.
Just like him, they too are 13 years old. The oldest amongst them was 13 and five months old. And while it's arguable that some of them could've had their Awakening earlier, the Orphanage is poor so they could only follow the arrangement of the Orphanage to have their Awakening.
The six teenagers as well as three nuns are now waiting for the transit to arrive. Ashton was hiding behind them, trying to make his presence really weak so that nobody would dare to talk to him.
The transit arrived just in time according to their schedule. Its appearance actually surprised Ashton since he originally was expecting something more...ancient?
Like a carriage or something - with horses and all. On the contrary, he saw a bus - which in hindsight, should've been the first thing he thought of upon hearing the word 'transit'.
'Huh...I guess this world is more modern than I originally thought.' He mused inwardly.
Really, he should've known since the signs are everywhere. Concrete roads, funny-looking traffic signs, hell there's even a TV - or at least he thinks it's one. These should've been enough for him to tell the technological level of this place.
The transit driver and the head Nun greeted each other at the same time. They laughed and even hugged each other like good friends but Ashton knew better...
'That is so fake.' He mumbled to himself.
Judging by the way how strained their faces were as they hugged, it's already obvious that these two aren't really close like they're showing.
Once they separated, the old man looked at the kids and asked: "Oho? Are these the young'uns who'll be awakening this time?"
"Yes. Don't they look heroic? I'm looking forward to their results. I hope that the next Hero comes from one of them."
Oddly enough, to Ashton's ears, these lines sounded rehearsed. Like the two of them said this so many times already that they could even recite it in their sleep.
"Haha! We could only hope!" The old man laughed uproariously. "How's it? Are you kids ready to go?"
The other kids nodded in excitement and anticipation, only Ashton remained silent and unbothered by their enthusiasm. He would've stuck out like a sore thumb if it weren't for the fact that his presence were so weak right now that the driver hasn't even looked at him once.
"Well, what are we waiting for then? Come on! Get in the transit. I'll drive you to the Federal Center."
'Federal Center?' Ashton raised a brow. He mentally took note of that name and followed the others inside the transit.
'Yep. It's a bus alright. The same one as I can remember. Ooh! There's air conditioning too, nice!'
Ashton fought the smile threatening to break out on his face as he chose a seat.
He wasn't expecting this world to have public transportations vehicles similar to the ones from earth. Well, they don't look exactly the same. He can see some strange details here and there but overall, this is a bus and he's just happy to be in it again.
It feels somewhat nostalgic.
Ashton sat on an empty isle. Most of the kids are bunched up in front along with the Nuns, nobody really paid attention to him which was perfect. He looked outside and saw that the transit was already moving.
He gave one last look to the Orphanage and murmured a soft farewell before it disappeared from his view.
"Ahem. Ahem! Eyes in front kids." One of the Nuns was currently standing while bus was moving. She appears to be holding a mic that looked somewhat different from the ones on Earth,
"Now, since the transit is already moving and on the way to the Federal Center, we think that it's about time for you all to learn everything you need to know about the Awakening Ceremony."
'Oh! A lesson in the middle of a trip? This is so nostalgic. And it's about something I'm genuinely curious about too.'
"Now, if you all can remember, we used to tell you a lot of stories about Heroes." The Nun smiled as she spoke: "We used to tell you that there are two kinds of Heroes in this world."
"One is a Knight and the other is a Mage."
"We also used to tell you that one day, you will all have the chance to become just like those Legendary Heroes from the tales. This day, your Awakening Day, is the day you get the chance to finally become that."
Ashton could hear the excited gasps of his fellow orphans as they listened attentively to the Nun.
"Our destination is the Federal Center. What is the Federal Center you ask? Well, it is a hub that was built the our government - the Morning Sun Federation, on each city."
"As City M, our city, is included in the list of cities under the management of the Federation, they have a branch center here which is the Federal Center."
"The Federal Center is where everyone who reached 13 years old, could go for their awakening."
'Ahh...I see. So that's how this world works.' Ashton nodded inwardly.
"The Awakening Ceremony is held once a month. I know what some of you are thinking and we're sorry about that but know that our Orphanage is short on funds most of the times so we could only maximize the effect of what little currency we have in order to survive. I hope you can forgive us."
"That being said, we're already on the way there so no need to worry about it anymore, okay?"
The other orphans nodded their heads and didn't look sad about the delay. Well, they're innocent and have no idea that the Orphanage held them back but even if they knew about, what can do really?
"Now, going back to our main topic. The awakening." The nun cleared her throat. "When we arrive there, us adults will lead you to the center, remember to not run around or else we will lose you and you might not get the chance to be awakened."
"The Awakening Ceremony is divided into three stages; awakening the Spiritual Root which will define what suits you the best - knight or mage? And also define your potential.
The next stage is awakening your Physique - if you're a Knight, or your Magical Artifact if you're a Mage.
And final stage is awakening your Providence."
"Once you've awakened these three things, you will be formally acknowledged as a Young Hero! Isn't that exciting!?"
The orphans nodded eagerly while Ashton just looked unimpressed.
Ashton was listening intently and taking notes mentally. There are still somethings that are not clear to him so he could only wait to learn more.
"After that, we'll accompany you to register your identity to the Federation's Records. Then you will receive your monthly stipend from the government as well as your new homes!"
"Kids, let me tell you something." The nun's expression turned serious but kind. "Once you've awakened your potential, it means that you're already considered an adult."
'A semi-adult actually but go on...'
"You have to be independent from now on. We won't be there to watch over you anymore since you guys are already big and strong enough." The nun explained.
The other orphans looked sad and hesitant but none of them said anything.
"What happens next will depend on you." The nun continued. "If you want to walk the path of Heroes, then you could enroll to primary school or even try your luck in the Academy!"
"If you don't want to, you can always look for work. City M is enormous, there will people who's willing to hire you. If you have a job, you can continue living normally. Who knows? Maybe one of you can become a millionaire in the future. If that happens don't you forget about us, yeah?"
The nun chuckled upon seeing the orphans nodding eagerly.
"Alright, that's about it. Do any of you have questions?"
'I do. I have lots and lots of them. But of course I'm not going to raise my hand. Gotta keep the act you know?'
"Okay since there are no questions, we can relax for the rest of the way. Old Man, can we watch something to entertain the kids?"
"Hahaha! Sure, sure! Here ya' go. Enjoy kids!"
Ashton watched as a hologram...yes, that's a hologram right there, appeared in the air and started playing something.
It showed a man and a woman garbed in gorgeous looking armors glaring at something. Following that, the perspective switch and revealed what's in front of them.
It looked like some sort of shadow monster with bright crimson eyes. It was menacing and it kept roaring at the two of them, trying to scare them away. Then the perspective zoomed-in at the man's huge sword which glower with a white light while the woman started floating in the air.
The man roared and at the monster and swung his massive sword. The screen blacked-out and something dropped from above.
...it was a bottle filled with green colored liquid. The label on it reads:
'Mountain's Essence. Buy one, take one. Only 4.95. Grab one at you local grocery stores.'
'F***! It was a darned commercial! Are you freaking kidding me!!?'
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