Episode 39 – Past expiration date
“Of course, I wouldn’t ask that. You have clearly stated that spell preparation isn’t allowed.” Elaru smiled mischievously. As Zerel saw that smile his eyes lit up.
He recognized that expression. That sly smile was just the same as his when he was about to dupe someone!
“Oh? Good that you were paying attention.” Deora humphed. “Any other questions?” He asked just for the sake of asking, he didn’t expect anyone to respond.
His face fell when Elaru’s hand rose up in the air again. “Would altering the trigger spell be allowed? As long as we are able to activate the testing equipment, it shouldn’t matter what trigger spell we use, right?”
Trigger spells were made up spells that had no function. Anything could be a trigger spell. You could draw a flower or write a swear word with dense mana and turn it into a trigger spell. Those bogus spells didn’t do anything when cast. The reason why they could activate a magical artifact was purely because the artifact was enchanted to respond to a specific bogus spell.
A trigger spell was like a password. The magical artifact would respond only to the correct password.
Deora’s mouth twitched. Is this girl an idiot? If you change the password, of course it won’t activate! Why would you even change it? It makes no sense!
If Elaru asked this straight away, Deora would have questioned the purpose of the question and eventually explained the impossibility. However, her previous question didn’t leave a good impression on Deora, making him think that the redhead was all beauty and no brain. He thought that explaining it would be a waste of time, that it would be interesting if the girl actually tried changing the trigger. It would elevate his sour mood and entertain him.
He smirked tauntingly. “Sure. Go ahead.”
Zerel’s face revealed a wry smile, but he said nothing. Technically, there was no rule against changing the trigger spell. In fact, everyone would make slight modifications to the spell while learning how to cast it to make the spellcasting faster. However, this wasn’t categorized as changing the trigger spell, it was simply writing it in a different handwriting.
Theoretically speaking, if someone activated the testing equipment with a different trigger, the speedometer would no longer be able to accurately judge the casting speed because it wasn’t tuned for that specific trigger spell.
Therefore, although there wasn’t a rule against it and the possibility of it happening was non-existent, Deora shouldn’t have allowed it.
“Any other questions?” Deora spoke through gritted teeth, his head turning left and right, daring anyone to speak up again. No one had any questions, but even if they did, they wouldn’t dare say anything.
“Alright, those 5 minutes start now! Go!” He flicked his hand towards the hourglass on Zerel’s desk, and it flipped to the other side as if flipped by an invisible hand.
Examinees fervently started casting the trigger over and over. Yet, Elaru did something completely baffling – she closed her eyes and didn’t cast anything.
If other examinees weren’t too busy with their own practice, they would have laughed at her and mocked her. However, since they had little time to waste on such a stupid girl, they disregarded her actions.
Deora, on the other hand, had plenty of time, and he almost burst out laughing. What is she doing? Don’t tell me she is analyzing the trigger spell in attempts to change it? Or is she analyzing the enchantment on the glass orbs?
If Deora weren’t afraid of his laughter disturbing the other examinees, he would have been the first one to burst out laughing and pointing at her as if she was a clown.
Zerel still had a smiling expression, but no laziness or boredom could be seen in his smile. Instead, what the minute change of expression revealed was pondering. His understanding of enchantments and magical artifacts was much higher than Deora’s. In fact, he even authored several books on the subject of ancient enchantments and magical artifacts.
Is she doing what I think she is doing?
Several minutes passed without Elaru casting a single spell. Soon, there were less than two minutes remaining.
Suddenly, Elaru’s eyes snapped open, and she started casting spells.
Deora chuckled. Finally, she gave up and started practicing the trigger spell like the rest.
Suddenly, his eyes widened, and he stopped chuckling.
Her spells were cast so quickly that he couldn’t even catch what it was that she was casting.
Yet, what baffled him, even more, was that she made a large pause between each spell. As if she wasn’t satisfied with what she cast and had to ponder how to improve it. If she didn’t make the pause, she could possibly even reach his speed. But with the pauses, her speed was abysmal.
Deora chuckled. If my weaving was as terrible as hers, I’d stop to ponder the meaning of life too.
The spells that she cast couldn’t even light up the ball. Deora attributed it to bad weaving.
Half a minute passed, and Deora was more and more astonished. Even an idiot would have learned how to weave the trigger by now! It was specifically designed to be very easy to learn and weave. Yet her balls still aren’t lighting up! How did she ever hope to enroll in Muni with such abysmal weaving??
When there was only one minute of sand left in the hourglass, suddenly the ball in Elaru’s hand started lighting up.
Better late than never. Deora shook his head in pity. Her pauses between spells decreased. However, it still wasn’t enough to compare to his speed.
When the last grain of sand trickled through, Deora immediately commanded: “Stop! 5 minutes are up!”
When his words fell, everyone without exception stopped weaving. No one wanted to lit up this firecracker.
Deora waved his hands and all papers and balls in the hands of examinees flew back to the teacher’s desk.
He then looked at every examinee, as if trying to decide who’ll take the test first. His face suddenly spread into an evil grin that didn’t suit him at all, making him look funny.
“You!” He pointed his finger towards Elaru. “Come on up and take the exam.”
He wasn’t a patient person, so he wanted to enjoy the entertainment right away. He was looking forward to seeing what speed the redhead could achieve.
Elaru didn’t hesitate for a second, smiling happily with steady graceful steps she went up to take the exam.
She handed him her exam pass. When Deora saw the number written on the pass he looked at it dumbfounded for several seconds. Didn’t I choose this batch of 20 because it would include this number? I thought it would be cool.
Those three digits represented the duration of the Great Mage Wars. After the wars, the number was taken as a sign of bad fate – death, danger or simply bad luck.
He shook his head and proceeded to inspect the validity of the exam pass before he flicked it towards Zerel. Zerel lazily caught it and found her exam papers among the ones in front of him.
“Begin.” Deora grinned widely and again, flipped the hourglass upside down without touching it.
As Elaru reached the speedometer, she placed her palms on the table and leaned towards the center of the apparatus, coming as close to it as she could.
“Are you going to show us that altered spell you spoke of?” Deora taunted, making sure everyone remembered her previous ignorant words.
Instead of the embarrassed reaction he expected, Elaru gave him a brilliant smile, that made his heart skip a beat. “Yeah.” She nodded.
Deora was clueless as to how to respond. Elaru started casting, and Deora just blinked in confusion.
When Deora’s eyes opened next, the last ball had just been lit. His one blink caused him to miss out on seeing what happened.
All 20 glass orbs glowed brightly like suns, the hourglass heated up, the jelly inside starting to boil.
Before anyone could question what happened, before anyone could gape in shock, the jelly changed color into red looking similar to lava and started producing a sizzling sound.
However, it failed to pass through the bottleneck of the hourglass.
That’s because the extreme heat made the glass of the hourglass crack and shatter in an instant.
The burning jelly splattered and sprayed everywhere! It sprayed over the glass balls which were still glowing, melting small holes through them, making them flicker out like dying candles. It fell over the cables, completely melting through them, disconnecting the balls from one another.
It even splattered over the table and the floor, creating holes on the wooden table and carpet. The extreme heat even caused the carpet to burst into flames.
And worst of all, it splattered all over Deora who was standing the closest to the hourglass.
No, that wasn’t the worst part.
The worst part was that the culprit behind this incident seemed to have expected something to happen because she stepped back from the proximity of the table just in time.
Deora stood frozen with his face a mix of shock, bewilderment, and fright. His mouth was agape, his eyes almost popping out of their sockets. His arms stood rigidly up in the air, attempting to shield his face. And as if that picture wasn’t comical enough, the splattering jelly made holes over his pants and shirt making him look like a beggar.
Well…a beggar on fire…cause his clothes caught fire.
The only upside to the whole ordeal was that Deora always had a self-sustained heat isolation enchantment on his own body so the flames didn’t burn him. This was because he had a habit of setting himself on fire when he was trying to be intimidating or when he was mad.
However, the clothes he was currently wearing weren’t fireproof like his usual attire. This was the uniform given to him by the university to wear on the exams. Every professor and assistant professor got one.
The examinees were deathly quiet, with their mouths wide open, looking like they’ve just seen a ghost.
Excited clapping broke the deathly quiet of the situation. “Bravo! 25/25! Your speed was so fast you even broke the equipment.” Zerel spoke in a mischievous voice that suddenly made Elaru’s face twist into horror. Frakkidy frakk!
She wanted to show off, but she had no intention of breaking the artifact! They wouldn’t disqualify her for that, would they?
Quick! Shift the blame! She scratched her head sheepishly. “Ah…your equipment is past its expiration date.”
The people in the room almost fell to the floor.
As if anyone would believe that!
Deora’s face started morphing, from shock to fury. His face reddened, coupled with his red hair, making him look like a tomato. As he looked down at the sorry state of his clothes, as he looked at the even more sorry state of the speedometer and the fire spreading across the carpet, his hands started shaking.
He looked up at Elaru, his eyebrow violently twitching.
“OUT!! Everyone out!!!!” He pointed with a shaking finger towards the door and screamed furiously.
As soon as he bellowed, the fire flickering on his body started spreading more rapidly. His aura intensified, enveloping the entire room with intense pressure. He looked like a demon, his whole body on fire, his face distorted in fury. The flames flickering all around him, on the carpet and speedometer.
Elaru was the first to dart through the door. Her action woke everyone up, and they galloped towards the door like a herd of wild beasts. Pale-faced, they pulled and pushed each other chaotically, frantically. Some people tripped and got stepped on. The heel one female was wearing even snapped making her unceremoniously tumble to the ground, before she quickly scampered to her feet and hopped towards the exit, leaving her broken heel behind.
For the first time, Zerel got up from his seat. “Calm down little Dei. Everything will be just fine. You’re not hurt, are you?”
“Of course, I am not hurt!! As if this measly liquid could even be compared to the heat of my fire!!” Deora roared out. But just after the roar, he seemed to realize a problem he failed to take into account.
His clothes weren’t heat resistant, and in the fit of rage, he even accelerated the spread of the fire. Soon there was little left of his clothes.
Zerel looked at the baby smooth skin in front of him and smirked. “I was about to say, I’d fix the holes on your clothes but…” He motioned towards the butt naked Deora. “The hole that big, I can’t fix.”
Suddenly he seemed to realize a hidden joke in his words, and he started giggling like a little girl. That seemed to be the last straw and Deora completely ignited the flames on his body with a loud snarl.