When the mail arrived, everyone rushed to open their own envelope to discover their final scores.
Most rejoiced, but some cried in despair.
Among the girls, only Nhilo had been evaluated fit to become a soldier.
The other two and Liwell were forced to choose between becoming members of the administrative department or return to their civilian life.
The rest of the unit had received a passing grade.
Vipli and Nhilo were the only ones promoted to Non Commissioned Officers.
Nobody was surprised when Lith\'s grade was confirmed to be an M.
What unsettled him was that, while for the others it was required to report to Sergeant Tepper, Lith had been summoned to Commander Berion\'s office.
Aside from his score, the letter didn\'t report any further detail.
Don\'t worry, I\'m sure there\'s a good reason for this. Vipli tried to reassure Lith.
It would make no sense making me an NCO and keeping you as a Private.
I hope you are right. Lith patted Vipli\'s shoulder before going to the Commander\'s Office.
\'If I have to spend a year and a half starting from scratch, I might as well quit and they know it.\' Lith thought.
\'What could have gone wrong Did I fail the psychological evaluation Either that or I\'m being punished for the crystal\'s disappearance.
I can\'t think of any other reason to kick me out with such an underhanded ruse.\'
Lith\'s paranoia once again took the wheel, painting himself into a corner before he could even reach Berion\'s door.
Welcome, Mage Verhen.
I didn\'t expect you so soon. The Commander\'s polite manners didn\'t surprise Lith.
\'If he knows my family name, then he probably wants to avoid me making a scene.\' He thought.
Commander Berion was a man in his early thirties.
He was almost as tall as Lith, standing 1.8 (5\'11) meters tall with pitch black hair and eyes.
His pale blue uniform could barely contain his muscular body, giving each of his movements an impression of strength.
Lith gave him a salute, which the Commander returned before inviting him to sit down.
Let\'s get straight to the point, Mage Verhen. Lith didn\'t like the Commander\'s flat tone, nor the fact Berion kept referring to him as a civilian mage.
You are an outstanding individual.
Alas, you are far from perfect.
Your performances are controversial at best.
You didn\'t develop any kind of bond with the members of your unit nor with your commanding officer.
The Commander handed Lith several complaints about him filed by the other Cadets and even by Tepper during the past months.
\'I should have let them die in those woods.\' Lith inwardly thought in outrage.
Your psychological evaluation says you are emotionally detached and manipulative.
In the light of all the circumstances presented to me, I can\'t make you an officer.
You are unfit to lead even a small unit.
Lith gritted his teeth, waiting for the final blow.
At the same time, you have broken every record of this and many other camps.
You also risked your life to save your unit when you could have just run away.
No one would have blamed you for leaving them for dead in such an impossible situation.
Your bravery earned you gratitude, admiration, and provided the army with plenty of materials for our R&D department. This time the Commander handed to Lith commendation letters from the Sergeant and his peers, asking Berion to ignore their previous complaints.
This is why I\'m promoting you to first Lieutenant.
I thought you said I\'m unfit to lead. The sudden turn of events left Lith in a daze.
You sure are.
Yet without a proper rank, you wouldn\'t even get a proper meal, let alone the clearance level necessary for the jobs I have been allowed to offer you.
The Commander steepled his fingers.
Based on your evaluation, you are a perfect candidate for our secret services.
I won\'t lie to you.
It\'s a very hard job and a lifelong one at that.
If you decide to accept, there will be no option for retirement or quitting.
The only way out is feet first.
\'Black ops squad, uh\' Lith thought.
I would be constantly monitored, either by enemies or allies, and would have no freedom of movement.
The army is a tool for my ends, not the other way around.\'
I\'m honored but I have to refuse, Sir.
I don\'t think such a job would allow me to pursue my magical research nor to have a family of my own. Lith lied through his teeth.
He would rather die than marry and have children.
Berion nodded without showing one bit of surprise.
\'Always the family man, just like his file reported.\' The Commander inwardly sighed.
\'It was worth a shot.\'
Then I\'m sorry to say that the only positions available to you are as a member of the Knight\'s Guard or the Rangers.
My hands are tied.
Lith knew everything about the Knight\'s Guard.
Phloria had talked about her father\'s unit until Lith\'s ears bleed.
Solving crimes and protecting Royal Constables wasn\'t an alluring job.
Lith would rather work for the Mage Association instead of being ordered about all day long for the rest of his life.
Tell me more about the Rangers. Lith replied, making Berion smirk for a split second.
The Rangers are an elite force, entrusted with great powers and responsibilities.
Don\'t let the name fool you.
It has nothing to do with hunting game or patrolling borders.
Their duty is to travel through the Kingdom, to protect isolated communities from all kinds of threats, and to keep in check the monsters\' population.
If you accept, you will be assigned a vast area that you\'ll need to know like the back of your hand.
If nobles abuse their authority in rural areas, where there are no mages or army members, your duty will be to uphold the law.
If monsters infest a region, you\'ll have to get rid of them before they can swarm a populated area.
Also, there are lots of no man\'s lands, where people settle in without paying their due taxes to the Kingdom or even respecting its laws.
If you find such villages, they can only be offered two choices.
To submit or die.
Organized crime is already a plague.
The last thing we need is a criminal country inside of the Country.
Would it be the same region until the end of my service Lith asked.
No matter how big an area was.
Once he finished exploring it, Lith would turn into nothing more than a baby sitter.
No, it would change after two or three months.
Elite doesn\'t mean immune to bribery.
Nobody watches the watchers, so they have to be rotated.
Depending on how fast you work, you may even have free time.
Rangers are allowed to go home and use Warp Gates, but their job is subject to scrutiny.
I think Ranger would be the most suitable position for me, Sir.
Are you sure Berion still needed to give Lith the final details.
It\'s a very vexing duty.
Since they have access to communication amulets, magic, and Warp Gates, Rangers act alone, unless they deem reinforcements are required.
Prolonged isolation can take a huge toll on the mind.
Lith inwardly smiled at those words.
\'With Solus by my side, I\'m never truly alone.
No partner also means no witness.
I can do what I want, take whatever I want and nobody would ever know.\'
Before starting active duty, I\'d need your help with one thing.