When they got to the left side of the statue there was a large door with a knocker on it, Hev used the knocker and it made echoing bangs within the spiral hall as they waited. After a minute the door creaked open and Hev took Kalt’s hand to lead him inside to a small spiral staircase, they walked up until they got to the top and came across a small corridor with a huge double door at the end with a solid gold frame and door handles.
It was covered top to bottom in strange patterns in and the corridor itself was covered in blue and purple drapes with a few torches lighting the short walk. On the floor was a crimson carpet that covered the whole floor including the few steps before the large golden double door and Kalt remembered Hev saying something about the Head Hero’s office and assumed this was it, he wondered if the Head Hero was some kind of king since they lived in luxury like this.
“Erm... Hev... who is the Head Hero? I mean like what is he? Like the boss of this place?”
Hev looked at him and rubbed his hair. “My Kalt you are so curious! It’s really cute and flattering you keep on asking me this stuff! I mean nobody else does… anyway the Head Hero is sort of like a headmaster of a school, you had one of them back in your home didn’t you? Well he is basically the strongest and wisest hero in the academy that is readily available and doesn’t travel around. That way he can manage an academy and not disappear when he wants to like other heroes can, anyway you’ve already met the Head Hero so you will recognise him soon enough.”
Kalt was surprised to realise he had met the strongest hero and not realise it.
Hev pointed towards the door and knelt down beside Kalt “now all you have to do is knock three times and wait for the door to open, this is as far as I can go so it’s up to you for the rest of the way ok?”
Kalt looked at Hev and began to worry, ‘I’m going to be on my own?’ Kalt didn’t like that idea and wanted Hev to stay with him for his own confidence. Hev merely smiled at his worried look and told him not to worry; she hugged him and brushed him down briefly and gave him a little nudge towards the door.
Kalt slowly walked towards it and turned around to look at Hev for a moment, she gave him a wink and went back down the spiral staircase as Kalt continued to the golden door. He went up the steps slowly and looked up at the over imposing door, it frightened him a little but he extended his hand and knocked three times, a few seconds later it opened and a deep lulling voice told him to enter.
Kalt walked through the door and was taken aback by a sudden blast of sunshine in his face; he had stepped onto a large area in the outside. The whole area looked like a large arena but it had a desk in the middle and rails on the edge.
Kalt looked around and realised that he was outside of the mountain and very high up it as well, he looked up and could see the peak quite clearly along with the clouds that were very close to him.
The arena was bare except for the desk in the middle a two men standing by it, behind him was the face of the mountain and the door which led back inside, in front of him was a stunning view of the surrounding landscape and could even see the fields beyond the Border Mountains that surrounded the academy.
Kalt felt the gentle wind in his face and enjoyed its cool kissing breeze as it was quite stuffy inside the mountain and the arena had a peaceful sense to it, like Kalt could lie down in the middle and just let the days go past.
He looked at the men over by the desk and recognised them immediately, it was Xectix and Druff, and they beckoned him over so he started walking across the arena to join them.
When he arrived they looked him up and down and smiled, “well looks like you’re doing fine young Kalt! Our healers are the best in the land! Then again they are the only healers in the land” Xectix said while scratching his beard.
Druff smiled and looked at Kalt with his blank stare that scared Kalt a little, “it seems your recovery was a success, I am pleased that your body responded to our healers so well, truthfully I thought you would have been bedridden for a few more weeks.”
Kalt didn’t know whether that was a compliment or an insult, it sounded a bit like both to him but he didn’t say anything but Xectix snorted a little after hearing his thoughts. Druff looked at Xectix and was about to speak when Kalt suddenly blurted out “which one of you is the Head Hero?”
Xectix and Druff looked at Kalt, Xectix with a smile and Druff with a frown.
“That would be me” Druff said stiffly, he really was acting like a mean old man, Xectix snorted again, Kalt was starting to feel a little hot towards Xectix however, it was rather annoying that he kept on reading his mind so Kalt thought of the most dirtiest word he could. Xectix gasped and shot him a dirty look and turned towards Druff, Kalt got the feeling that Xectix wouldn’t read his mind anymore.
“AS I was saying” Druff began with a stern voice. “Xectix, you really want this boy to try and be a Hero do you?” Xectix nodded and Druff turned to Kalt. "And you too boy, do you really want to be a Hero?” Kalt nodded as well and Druff sighed. “Ok then, before we began the practice test to see if you’re actually capable of being a hero, Xectix and I need to discuss something with you”
Xectix turned to Kalt and he also had a serious look on his face. Kalt nodded to say yes and Xectix knelt down and looked Kalt in the eyes.
“Kalt, the night the bandits attacked, they were looking for something and I think it was you, it is very odd for such a large scale gang of bandits to attack a rather busy town and completely eradicate it. What’s more is that they knew the locations of all the Country Guard and Hero Platoons were for that night and knew they would have a good four hours before they showed up. They killed everyone and burned every building, except for you, they didn’t kill you, they didn’t burn your house, when I showed up they were talking about somebody who wanted a boy. You were the only boy around, they were told not to kill you, and when you and I left they cleared out almost immediately. My analysis is that those bandits wanted you Kalt. My question for you is: do you know why those bandits were after you?”
Kalt stood still for a while, completely shocked by this revelation, 'the bandits were after me? Why? My family and friends died so they could find me? What's so special about me? I'm only five! I've never been out of the town before! I don't know anything! So why?'
Eventually Kalt answered back. “No I don’t know why.”
Druff came and stood beside Xectix and looked down on Kalt. “The slaughter of Yuit was half of the bandits pay along with the gold they would receive, we believe somebody hired them to get to you, to the Country Guards this was just a large scale and well organised bandit raid. But to us, we know now what their objective was. You.”
Kalt was really worried now, those bandits were after him and he had no idea why.
Xectix took a long sigh of relief and stood up while Druff went to his desk and sat down on the seat tucked into it, Kalt’s mind was racing with possibilities of what was the reason they wanted him but he couldn’t come up with any answers.
Xectix leaned onto the desk and was smiling. “I’m really glad you were telling the truth there Kalt, Druff’s initial feeling was that you were the one who led the bandits to Yuit and would most likely lead them here as well, but you generally don’t know and I am glad.”
Kalt suddenly felt really angry again, as angry as he was when he woke up in his bed that night and realised everything that had happened, he stomped up to Druff by his desk and stamped his foot down. “YOU THINK IT WAS MY FAULT?!” he screamed at the Elf.
Druff closed his eyes as if he was prepared for this and replied with his usual lulling voice “I only became Head Hero for preparing for all the possibilities. Forgive me boy but with such a lack of evidence and reason behind all of this it was the only explanation I could make”
Kalt punched his desk very hard and continued to throw a tantrum at him “THAT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE! I LOVE MY MUMMY AND DADDY! I LOVE THEM! I LOVE THEM! I love them! I… loved them…”
Kalt calmed down a little at the thought of his family and felt tears swelling up in his eyes again but he beat them back like a grown up.
Whoever this Druff person said he was, Kalt didn’t like him and didn’t view him as a Hero, just a mean bully.
“Well I do apologise boy, I understand this is a very tough time for you.” Druff said but it felt to Kalt as if he didn’t mean it. “Well you will be glad to know that we are looking into this whole affair, if we find any answers I will make sure you are the first one to know, but now we need to move on”
Xectix came over and put his hands on Kalt’s shoulders as Druff opened a drawer in his desk and began rummaging around. Xectix led Kalt away to the front of the desk and knelt down beside him. “Don’t lie to him or else it won’t work” he whispered in his ear.
Kalt looked at Xectix as he smiled while Druff stood up and held something that looked like a very tiny man in his hands. It was a small statue of an old man sitting on a stump with an old walking stick; it had a very aged appearance about it and looked as old as some of the weatherworn statues Kalt had seen inside the mountain.
“What am I supposed to do Xectix?” he said as Druff and Xectix looked at him.
“Just have an open mind Kalt, nothing will hurt you.” Xectix said with a caring look.
“We’re about to see if you have any potential to be a hero boy, Do you understand?” Druff asked Kalt.
Kalt nodded and suddenly became very nervous, he was about to find out if he could be a hero or not. He had thought about this for a long time whilst he was in bed awake at night and tried to take his mind off of Yuit, and he imagined he would like to be a Banet because he liked the thought of being a powerful warrior who could protect the land and never lose in people like that man who beat him up.