Episode 40 – Alternate Trigger
Luckily, all of the examinees had retreated from the classroom and loudly closed the door even before Deora’s clothes completely disintegrated.
One-third of the examinees ran away from Red Quarters, completely abandoning the exam. The remaining examinees were hesitant to leave because that would most likely be the end of their dream of enrolling into Muni.
As they heard the sounds of stuff breaking inside the classroom, more and more of them retreated further away in alarm.
All throughout their retreat they could hear noises and Zerel’s playful voice coming from the room:
“Don’t be mad little Dei. We’ll get you a new uniform.”
“Don’t worry about the carpet. The room looks better without it. The carpet makes it look too…red.”
“Careful you’ll break…” Crash! “…never mind.”
“Oh wait! I have a great idea little Dei! You can use those curtains to cover yourself up.”
“No. Don’t come any closer. You’ll set the curtains on…”
“Not to worry little Dei. They were red anyway, no one will notice if they are a bit burnt.”
With every crash, the examinees cringed and took a step back. They looked at Elaru with hate, blame, distress and hopelessness in their eyes. Elaru shrugged her shoulders, smiling wryly. “It’s not my fault he is a firecracker.”
As a response to her words, a furious bellow erupted within the room. “What did you just call me?!?”
The examinees shivered.
What a good hearing!
It’s like he is an elibu!
Elaru didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. This whole event quickly went out of control. When she decided to crack the spell she had no idea that the glass wouldn’t be able to take the heat. She might have a lot of knowledge in various areas, but the breaking temperature of glass wasn’t among it.
And even if it were, she still wouldn’t have known what exact temperature the glass would reach when she used the artifact. So how could she possibly predict that her attempt at showing off would end this badly?
Only when the glass shattered did she realize the danger and her monstrous reaction speed kicked in making her dodge the hot jelly.
Elaru sighed. If this accident didn’t happen, she would be explaining her brilliance right now. Explaining how she activated the artifact with a different trigger spell than the one they were given.
To make an artifact react to a trigger spell, the enchantment on the artifact needed to recognize the trigger spell. And there were only two ways of making a spell recognize another spell.
The first way was to contain a copy of the trigger spell pattern within the main spell. The main spell would just compare the copy inside of it with the one cast outside. If it were similar enough, the main spell would activate.
It would be like giving the spell an apple and saying “If you see anything that looks like this – activate.” The spell would hold that apple and when another fruit appears it would look down at the apple in its hands and compare the new fruit to it.
This method was the simpler and more commonly used method.
However, it had a drawback – a mage could inspect the main spell to figure out how the trigger spell should look like. (Everyone can see the apple the spell was holding and deduce “Oh! I should bring an apple!”)
What if the magical artifact was important? What if no one besides its owner should be able to activate it?
In such a scenario, the second method was used. Instead of including the trigger in the main spell, the main spell is given a unique way to recognize the trigger spell in which the main spell doesn’t know how the trigger looks like, but it would be able to recognize the trigger if it appeared.
It would be like telling the spell “If you see a fruit, bake it first and then add sugar and spice. If it tastes similar to this, then activate.”
When someone inspected such a spell, he would see the recipe and how the end result should taste like, but he wouldn’t be able to see the main ingredient – the trigger spell. Because of the complicated cooking procedure, in the end, it would be hard to recognize that the finished dish was once an apple.
However, what if someone managed to find a pear that when cooked had a similar taste to an apple? The spell, which recognizes based on taste, wouldn’t know that it was given a pear and not an apple. If it tastes similar, it is the trigger. In such a scenario, the main spell would wrongly recognize the pear as an apple and activate.
This was exactly the way Elaru duped the testing apparatus.
Each year, Muni staff would dispel the old enchantment on the speedometer and enchant it with a new one that had a different trigger spell. That way, the people taking the exam couldn’t practice the last year’s trigger spell and use it to ace the exam.
The new trigger spell needed to stay a secret until the exam. And naturally, since the trigger needed to stay a secret, they had to use the second method.
This was never a problem because finding an alternate trigger spell wasn’t something that was easy to do – rather, usually it took years of research, sometimes even decades were needed to decipher the activation trigger of a magic artifact.
However, how could all those other magic breakers compare to someone who possessed Aethernea of Sight? It was like a bunch of people smelling the apple pie without being able to take a bite, yet trying to make a pear pie that tasted exactly like that apple pie. How could they make a similar pie if they didn’t know how it tasted like?
Granted, Aethernea of Sight wasn’t enough. One also needed to have a vast experience and familiarity towards…fruit. Creativity and intelligence were also important qualities.
When brought together into a single body – what was born out of it was the ultimate magic breaker. Someone who could not only break spells, but also crack them – exploit a flaw in the spell to their own benefit.
When Elaru first saw the spell, she already had a few ideas about the possible trigger. The reason why she dared to gamble was 1) because she thought 5 minutes would be enough for her to find and alternate trigger and 2) because she was sure that the alternate trigger was actually easier to weave than the real trigger.
If she had used the trigger they were given, she wouldn’t have been able to reach such a high weaving speed.
Alas, that high speed was useless if it ended getting her disqualified.
She duped Deora into giving her his permission to use an alternate trigger, and since there weren’t any specific rules in the exam forbidding it, they wouldn’t have enough ground on which to disqualify her.
However, there was one statement in the rules that could be used to disqualify her – “We retain the right to disqualify any examinees that cause intentional damage to the university property.”
Elaru sighed once again and looked around her. All other examinees in her vicinity avoided her like the plague, refusing to come in a 3-meter radius. Either they were worried they too would feel Deora’s wrath if they associated with her, or they felt uncomfortable around a person who could have such an abnormal casting speed as to break a speed testing equipment, or maybe they just plainly hated her because she ruined the exams.
Either way, there was a wide circle of emptiness in every direction.
As she looked around, there was one person in the crowd who didn’t mirror the worried, nervous and hostile faces of others.
He was an argel with a boy next door vibe – cute looking, but couldn’t be called very handsome. He had light brown hair with blonde highlights that reached his ears and wore a plaid shirt.
His face contorted comically, his body shaking with suppressed laughter. It only took a few seconds for him to become unable to endure and burst out laughing.
He clutched his stomach painfully, laughing so hard that it hurt.
In the midst of his laughter, he looked over at Elaru, their eyes meeting.
Elaru’s mouth twitched, and she joined him, laughing musically.
The other examinees looked at them as if they were freaks, stepping away from the boy too, as if he had just caught whatever Elaru was infected with.
That only made the two laugh harder, until tears came out from the corners of their eyes.
By the time their laughter died down, they were sitting on the floor in front of the classroom, leaning against the railing.
The friendly looking boy grinned widely, his warm brown eyes glittering. He extended his hand towards Elaru. “Arion. Arion Urwin.”
Elaru shook his hand, her face mimicking his own grin. “Elaru. Elaru Wayvin.”
In a room which looked like it just went through a firestorm, with carpet and curtains completely burned into piles of ashes and scattered pieces of chairs and tables loitered around messily, Deora sat on the floor panting.
He didn’t bother to cover up his family jewels. His body was perfect, he had nothing to be ashamed of since Zerel was also a straight guy.
Zerel stood to his side, avoiding looking in Deora’s naked direction and patting him awkwardly on the shoulders. “There…there…”
Deora’s voice came out in rasps, full of misery. “What do…we do…now? The room…trashed…the testing equipment…broken…I’ve got…no clothes…”
He should have thought about it earlier, before he went berserk and tried to beat up Zerel. It was a horrible idea. That guy was way too slippery and sly for him to contend with.
“Aha!” Zerel suddenly exclaimed, pointing his finger up. “Not to worry little Dei! Look at what I saved you.” He flicked his wide sleeves, revealing a piece of red cloth that seemed to have previously been a part of the curtain. “Look. It’s not even burned.”
Deora barred his teeth at Zerel. “Are you trying to piss me off?!? Just give me your coat! You have another layer of clothes under, don’t you?!”
Zerel jumped away from Deora in alarm, for the first time looking at him like he was a dangerous creature. “No way! Do you have any idea how expensive this was?”
“Why aren’t you wearing the school uniform?!?” Deora almost breathed fire.
“What uniform?” Zerel feigned ignorance.
“The one we got for the exams!” Deora tried stomping his feet, but since he was sitting, it didn’t produce the desired effect.
“I didn’t get anything.” Zerel shrugged. “Must have gotten lost in the mail.”
“It wasn’t sent in the mail! You were supposed to pick it up from madam Rosling!”
“She didn’t have my size.” Zerel blinked innocently. As if! Madam Rosling used transmutation magic to adjust the size of the clothing! All clothes were the right size after she was done with them.
Deora pointed his finger to Zerel accusingly. “I am telling on you! Wait until Eri…I mean…headmaster Eruan hears about it.”
Zerel face displayed mock horror. “Noooes! Eri is too scary when he is mad!”
He paused and then smirked. “Oh well…by the time he is done punishing you, he would have forgotten about me.”
Deora’s shoulders sagged, he seemed to be on the verge of tears. Zerel patted him on his shoulders comfortingly again. “How about this? I’ll keep the coat and let you have my underwear.”
“Who wants your underwear?!?!”