Episode 36 – Casting Speed Exam Start!
In the middle of the room, there was a large table with a strange apparatus. The device was made out of 20 small glass orbs. The orbs were a bit smaller than the size of a fist and made out of half-transparent yellow glass. They were positioned in a spiral, connected with a thick yellow cable, made out of a strange rubbery material.
In the center of the spiral, at the end of the cable, there was a small hourglass filled with blue jelly. The upper part of the hourglass was completely filled with jelly, while there was none on the lower part of the hourglass. The jelly showed no sign of passing through the small opening between the sides of the hourglass.
As everyone entered the room, the woman sitting behind the teacher’s desk got up and smiled. She spoke up in a husky, pleasant tone. “I am Kady Ailert and will supervise your magic casting speed test.”
Kiel searched his memory. When he was little, his grandfather made him remember all important surnames. The knowledge still remained.
Ailert was a branch family of the Arten noble family. Artens were the spiritual support of the whole Halnea. They ran numerous temples, practicing all religion-related arts such as meditation and aura sensing. They were the only noble family that kept completely away from the politics.
Rau approached the table with the apparatus and picked up a ball that was at the end of the spiral. This ball was larger than all the other balls and had a more vivid golden color. He quickly performed a spell that no one managed to catch.
As his spell activated the ball reacted to and started sucking up mana all around it like a sponge sucks in water. After a while, the ball stopped absorbing mana and started glowing. This meant that the apparatus was ready for usage.
“As you might have noticed, this magical artifact absorbed a predefined amount of mana that will be used in the test. Your goal is to transfer as much mana from the first orb to the hourglass at the end.” Rau put down the orb and pointed towards the hourglass in the middle of the spiral. “When mana reaches this hourglass, it will heat up according to the amount of mana that reaches it. As it heats up, the jelly inside of it will melt and pass through the hourglass. The more jelly passes through, the better your result.”
Rau stroked the cable connecting the glass balls. “When you perform the first trigger spell, the speedometer will activate, and the mana will naturally travel down these magic conduits. However, when it reaches the next orb, it won’t be able to pass through it.”
Rau pointed to the next smaller glass orb, connected to the first big orb by the cable. “When mana reaches these orbs, the orbs will not only block the passage of mana, but they will also slowly absorb mana. When you activate them with a trigger spell, they will no longer block the passage of mana nor will they absorb it.
Your task is to activate these orbs as fast as possible to minimize the amount of mana that gets absorbed and maximize the amount of mana that reaches the hourglass.
However, keep in mind that you can only trigger these orbs sequentially. They will not activate unless the previous orb has already been activated.
Naturally, spell preparation is not allowed.”
Spell preparation was when a mage congealed his mana into a spell but avoided reaching the high enough density for the spell to activate. The mage could then later quickly increase the density and cause that spell to activate. Naturally, taking that one last step would be quicker than weaving a new spell from the beginning.
To dispel any confusion, Rau proceeded to demonstrate the usage. He started casting spells upon the orbs so fast that before anyone could even blink, several orbs had already been lit up. In a matter of a few seconds the last orb lit up, and the mana reached the hourglass.
The jelly within the hourglass seemed to be boiling, the viscosity of the jelly lowered with the heat and it started slipping down to the bottom half of the hourglass. Almost all of the jelly passed through to the bottom half.
The eyes of the people inside the room almost popped out of their sockets. Fast!! So very fast!!
None of them felt confident that they could reach the same speed. This man, who couldn’t be much older than them, at most being 6 or 8 years older, could cast magic so fast that they felt like they couldn’t even compare.
As expected from the university teacher.
He is a noble after all.
Most people nodded their heads in approval.
Rau was completely undisturbed by their reactions, nonchalantly he pointed towards the small, barely visible markings on the hourglass. “All that is left is to read the score.” He bent down, squinted his eyes to read the score and declared. “20/25.”
Several gasps of shock were let out by the examinees. His magic casting speed was so fast, yet he only got 20/25?!
Some people gulped down and started sweating. All of them were the top of their class in their respective academies. They have always considered themselves as prodigies, which is why they thought they belonged in the greatest university of magic.
Watching Rau Eryey nonchalantly reach a speed far from what they could reach and still not get a perfect score gave them a cold wake up slap. They might have been considered geniuses in their previous class. But when compared to monsters such as Rau Eryey, they were simply ordinary.
“Magic casting speed isn’t really my forte.” Rau added, wanting to make it clear that he wasn’t actually this “bad”.
Most of the examinees displayed a strange expression, not knowing whether they should laugh or cry. You already have such a high score, and you are complaining that fast casting wasn’t your strong point?! What does that make us??
Unlike the rest of the examinees, Kiel kept a calm expression throughout the demonstration. This wasn’t his first time taking this exam. It was exactly the same last year too. He knew exactly the score he could reach so he felt no suspense or pressure.
Rau again cast a quick spell on the speedometer, and the previously glowing orbs again turned lifeless. The remaining jelly that didn’t manage to reach the bottom half of the hourglass suddenly passed through.
Rau flipped the hourglass over, switching the top and bottom halves. He had now reset the apparatus to its previous state, ready for another test.
He then stepped back, looked towards the middle aged woman and nodded.
The woman smiled slightly and started talking.
“I will now show you the trigger spell that you need to cast on the orbs to activate them.” She stood up from her desk, in her hands was a stack of papers.
She extended her hands throwing the stack of papers towards the examinees. Instead of falling to the ground, every sheet of paper started flying towards a specific student. Following the papers, the small glass orbs stacked on her table also flew towards the examinees. Each one getting one orb.
She was an argel and could naturally use acceleration magic to control the movement of the papers.
“Take these papers. They contain the diagrams of the spell pattern for the trigger spell. These orbs are the same as the orbs used in the test so you can directly use them to practice your spellcasting.”
After everyone reached out their hands and caught their orb and the sheet of paper, the lady continued. “Pay attention. I am about to demonstrate how to cast the trigger spell.”
The woman proceeded to do exactly that. She slowly weaved her mana to form the trigger spell. She then made the spell float in the air as she weaved a few more so that the examinees could see the process a few more times.
“I will give you 5 minutes to practice the trigger spell. After those 5 minutes are up, you will no longer be allowed to practice the spell. This will ensure fairness to the examinees that will be tested first, as no one would be able to practice casting it longer than the other.”
She looked at every face in the room, smiling softly. “Are there any questions?”
She waited a few seconds, however, no one spoke up. She flipped the small hourglass standing on her desk and declared: “You have 5 minutes. Begin.”
As soon as the words left her mouth, everyone started weaving the spell. Kiel also, did his best to familiarize himself with the spell. They changed the trigger spell used each year, so you wouldn’t know how the trigger spell looked like until the start of the exam.
Therefore, the trigger spell was new to Kiel, and he needed to do his utmost to remember it and find a way to weave it as fast as possible.
This ball that they received was actually quite helpful, as they could test out their spells and figure out how sloppily they could weave the spells for them to still activate.
Since this test was all about the spell casting speed, whether you weaved your spell flawlessly or not was irrelevant, as long as the spell was valid, the sloppy handwriting didn’t matter. That’s why Kiel needed to use these 5 minutes to find a balance between weaving accuracy and speed.
Seemingly in the blink of an eye, 5 minutes had passed. As soon as the last dust of sand fell to the bottom of the hourglass, Kady declared. “Stop weaving. 5 minutes are up.”
She weaved her hands and all the balls flew away from the examinees and stacked neatly on top of her desk.
She smilingly looked at every face. “I wish you luck on your exam.” She paused slightly before asking. “Who wishes to go first?”
Examinees looked between each other, no one showing the desire to step out. After seeing that even Rau’s speedy casting was unable to go above 80% of the max score, they felt discouraged.
“If no one will step forward, I’ll start calling you out by your number.”
The female that had been staring at Kiel before they entered the classroom gritted her teeth and stepped forward. She looked at Kiel heatedly as if saying “Watch me! I’ll show you how great of a mage I am.” She wanted to impress Kiel. She wanted to catch his attention.
Kiel forced an encouraging smile which seemed to light a fire in the girl’s eyes, and she proceeded with the test.
Naïve. Kiel internally snorted. Even if you got the perfect score, I wouldn’t care. What does that have to do with me? You won’t though.
Kiel’s number was 5642, assuming he was the last student to register for the exam, that meant there were 5642 people taking the exam. Yet Muni only accepted around 100 students every year. That meant that less than 2% of the examinees would pass the exam.
Most groups wouldn’t have a single person capable of passing the exam.
Rau asked the girl for her exam pass. He inspected it thoroughly. He then passed it off to Kady and proceeded to activate the speedometer again.
The girl was sweating buckets, her eyebrows furrowed as she started the exam. She cast and cast with all her might. But in Kiel’s eyes, she looked like a tortoise trying to run.
Sure enough. When the result came out it shattered the hopes of many present. “10/25”
The girl was shocked and refused to accept the result. “Can I try again?”