Episode 42 – Mana Control Exam Start!
Elaru smirked and retorted with: “That’s a secret. Let’s just say…I know Kiel better than anyone.” She winked again. This time, Kiel wasn’t sure whether it was to him or Arion.
Either way, her statement left him speechless. Unfortunate but true.
Only then did he realize how wrong it was for a person who he met 3 days ago to actually be the closest one to him. He didn’t even like the girl, and she was already the closest thing to a friend or family he had.
This was…miserable…wasn’t it?
He quickly turned around and asked in hopes of interrupting the barrage of questions. “Shall we go?” He motioned towards the staircase. They had no reason to continue chatting in front of the classroom.
Elaru and Arion nodded, and the three of them started walking towards the exit. To steer the conversation off of his relationship with Elaru, Kiel spoke up. “Did you do well on your first test?”
Luckily, Arion seemed to bite: “Not as well as Elaru. But I guess it was fine.” He shrugged.
“Don’t let his easygoing manner fool you. Other than me, his score was the highest in our group.” Elaru added.
“Oh?” Kiel smiled. “Congratulations.”
Arion smiled widely and spoke humbly. “I’m not that good really. I should be able to pass the exams, but I’ll probably be somewhere in the middle. Nothing to brag about.”
“Passing the exams is already something to brag about.” Kiel smiled warmly, while inside he was cursing. It wouldn’t be good if he passed. He is obviously overly friendly and doesn’t know when to take a hike. What would I do if he used us knowing each other as an excuse to associate with me in the future?
I don’t know if he is ignorant or thick-skinned.
“Oy, Elaru. You brought him along. Now find a way to get rid of him.”
Elaru chuckled telepathically. “What? You don’t like him? I think he is amusing.”
“He is a chatterbox that keeps asking endless questions and acting too familiar. He is also an Urwin. Enough said.”
Kiel expected Elaru to ask him what he meant by that. However, surprisingly, it looked like she actually knew what kind of business the Urwins ran.
“I thought you wouldn’t make hasty judgments on someone’s personality based on their family name. Would you want people to group you together with your grandfather or brother?”
Touché. Inwardly, Kiel frowned, however, his outwards expression didn’t change in the slightest. “Him being an Urwin is just an additional minus point. His behavior is the main issue.”
“Why is being friendly a bad thing? Afraid you’d actually gain a friend for the first time?” Kiel sent her a glare when Arion wasn’t looking. Elaru chuckled silently. “I hate to break it to you Kiel, but based on what I’ve seen, he will most certainly pass the exams. Since we’ll be attending the same university, making friends early would be beneficial.”
“We’ve already made friends. Now is the time to part ways.”
Kiel looked at Arion, who was clueless to their inner communication. “How about you Kiel? Do you mind me calling you Kiel? How did your exam go?” Arion steered the conversation back to Kiel.
How else would you call me besides using my name?
Before Kiel could respond, Arion added. “The acquaintance of this little monster and a Rroda.” He smirked towards Elaru. “You must be much better than me.”
Kiel smiled and modestly replied. “Of course, we are future fellow students, you can call me Kiel. The exam went better than expected but that isn’t to say that the rest will go the same way.”
Elaru’s eyes suddenly glittered mischievously, she continued her internal conversation with Kiel. “Don’t you want to show everyone how awesome you are? What better way than to be featured in the Sibyl? If you made friends with an Urwin, you’d more easily get featured as a new rising star mage.”
Kiel’s eyes narrowed. “Nice try. Why don’t you try getting featured and see how that goes? Rather than being featured as a rising star, you’d be featured as a clown who broke the speedometer.”
“Hey! I didn’t break it because of incompetency. It broke because it couldn’t contain my greatness. No shame there.”
The three made their way out of Red Quarters into the courtyard full of greenery. They found a nice, secluded spot under a tree and sat down on Elaru’s spidersilk blanket.
Needless to say, Arion was thrilled to see her blanket. “Aww man! That is so awesome!” When Elaru put down her gravity crystals, his thrill turned into awe: “Holy baffamoot! Can you be more awesome? What are you going to pull up next? A picnic basket? Darn…suddenly I feel hungry.”
Kiel was quick to respond with. “If you are hungry, don’t mind us. You should go grab something to eat.” Please go away.
“So thoughtful.” Arion praised. “Don’t worry man. I can handle it. It isn’t lunch time yet anyway.”
And so, the three of them spent several hours relaxing under the warm sun. If Kiel were in better company, he would have enjoyed the beautiful scenery. Instead, he spent the entire time trying to find a discreet way to tell Arion to get lost, while Arion continued being completely oblivious to it.
When early afternoon arrived, it was finally time for the second exam. The second exam for all three of them was held in the Blue Quarters, which was a building near the Red Quarters, that looked almost identical to the Red Quarters, the only difference being the color theme.
Kiel was thrilled to finally separate from the annoying blabbermouth and make his way towards his classroom. The same group of people with which he took the previous exam, were waiting in front of the classroom.
Not only were the examinees the same, when the door opened, he noticed that the examiners were the same too – Rau Eryey and Kady Ailert.
Was it that his examiners for all exams would be these two?
This time, when they were invited into the room, what greeted them on the desk was a large cube made out of dark blue rock-like material that glittered dazzlingly in the sunlight. To be precise, the cube wasn’t on the desk, rather, it was floating 30 cm above it.
Every surface of the cube was covered by all kinds of delicate carvings in all shapes and sizes. Some of them made out small patterns while some of them spiraled around the cube in sharp angles like canals.
The cube wasn’t made out of a single chunk of rock, rather it was made out of many rotatable pieces like a large Rubik’s cube. By rotating the pieces, the overall appearance of the carvings would change, and no one would be able to predict how the cube would look like beforehand and prepare for that configuration.
Kady Ailert looked at the examinees smilingly. “I hope you got some rest and are now ready for the second exam. As you might already know, the second exam tests your mana control a.k.a. weaving.”
Kady pointed towards the stone cube. “This is the artifact that will test your ability. On its surface, you can see many carvings. These carvings are actually the spell pattern that you will be required to cast. You need to fill these carvings with dense mana.
However, no mana should touch or enter the cube itself. This will require a lot of precision and accuracy on your part, especially because the mana resistance of mythril, which the cube is made out of, is equal to the mana resistance of air.”
Examinees exclaimed in surprise. Some of them had suspected the material of the cube to be mythril, but most of them had never seen mythril before.
Mythril possessed the lowest mana resistance of all metals, which made it an optimal material from which to form armor, weapons, and magic artifacts. Unfortunately, it was too precious and rare which caused it to reach astronomical prices.
Yet Muni would squander a large chunk of mythril to create a cube for the exam. And considering how many exams were being held at the same time…they had several dozens, maybe even a hundred of such cubes!
If that wasn’t extravagant, then nothing was extravagant.
Kady paused, waiting for the examinees to pipe down before continuing. “When you cover all of the carvings with dense mana…Well…not all of them…this large spiral carving doesn’t need to be filled with mana.” She pointed to a spiral carved on a large piece of the cube.
“When you cover all carvings, other than the spiral, with dense mana, the artifact will be activated because the carvings depict exactly the trigger spell needed to activate the cube. Once activated, the cube will judge the quality of your weaving.”
As Kady spoke up to this point, Rau approached the cube. Large tendrils of mana separated from Rau’s aura and twined themselves around the cube. Like water, they entered the carvings and spread around the cube. Since the cube was complex, it took Rau a while to fill all carvings with his mana.
Just by feeling the mana around the cube, one could tell that his mana was dense and filled the entirety of the carvings flawlessly.
When he filled all of the carvings and reached the required density for the mana to turn into a spell, the cube suddenly reacted. That one carving, in the shape of a large spiral, which he didn’t fill with mana, lit up brilliantly. The azure glow started from the center of the spiral and like a worm spread through the spiral until the entire spiral was glowing.
Rau pointed towards the spiral and certain indentations on parts of the spiral. “If the entire spiral lights up, that would mean that your weaving is perfect, and you would score perfect points. Otherwise, these lines mark the thresholds for each of the 25 points.”
As he spoke up to this fact, the examinees finally realized what the current reaction of the cube meant.
He got perfect points!!
So that’s what he meant when he said speed wasn’t his forte! It’s because he is actually even better at weaving!
After several seconds of light, the cube absorbed all mana that was inside the carvings and slowly dimmed. It was now ready to be used again.
Kady didn’t let the crowd discuss Rau’s weaving for long. She quickly moved on with the explanation: “Unlike the previous test, you don’t get the chance to practice. The test starts right away, each one of you will get 5 minutes with the cube. If you, by any chance, don’t manage to activate the cube in that time, you will score 0 points on the test. Any questions?”
Kady smiled and looked at all of the examinees one by one, her gaze lingering on Kiel. When she confirmed that there were no questions she finally asked: “Who wants to go first?”
When the words left her mouth, all gazes converged onto Kiel.
Oy. Oy. Why are you all looking at me? Do you want me to take the test first this time? What does my test have to do with you? Can’t you just mind your own business?
The people continued looking at him until Kiel inwardly sighed and stepped forward. Peer pressure…
With each step he took towards the cube, he could feel everyone’s gazes glued to him, almost staring holes right through. Some of them chattered quietly amongst themselves, some of them just projected their thoughts through their heated gaze.
“Surely he won’t get another 25/25?”
“Of course, he won’t. Speed should be what he is good at. Usually, people are either fast or can control mana well. Not both.”
“You are right. It must be like this.”
“If he had full points for speed, how high do you think he’ll get for mana control?”
“He shouldn’t be too bad. 15 points perhaps.”
“You’re giving him too much credit. I say 13.”