Episode 58 – Multicasting Exam Start
After a while of trying to shoo Arion away, Kiel gave up and instead concentrated on reading the books he bought yesterday. No matter how he tried to politely tell Arion to get lost, he seemed completely oblivious to it. Kiel even suspected that the guy was just playing dumb and was actually a shameless, cunning bastard.
However, at least he wasn’t the kind of a person who would annoy Kiel to death with pathetic attempts to suck up to him. Arion didn’t seem to be interested in ingratiating himself to Kiel at all.
Perhaps he stuck around them because he found them amusing in some way. Perhaps he just preferred being with them instead of being alone.
Even though the idea of enjoying other people’s company sounded alien to Kiel, he was aware that most people weren’t like him. That most people didn’t prefer being alone.
That thought distracted him.
What about Elaru? Does she prefer being alone, or does she prefer having company?
Was she like him, or was she more like Arion?
On the first glance, she seemed to enjoy having company, but at times, she had a desolate air about her.
That feeling of being surrounded by people, yet feeling completely alone. The feeling when being with others only makes one feel more lonely.
It was a feeling that he recognized.
A feeling that was very familiar to him.
When his mind reached this train of thought, Kiel’s pupils couldn’t help but involuntarily shrink. For he realized, that he hadn’t felt that feeling for a while.
Several days to be precise.
Being with Elaru was infuriating, irritating, unpredictable, and often humiliating and awkward.
Yet out of all the emotions it evoked within him, loneliness was not among them.
Elaru and Arion’s second test of the day was in the last timeslot allocated for the second test, right before the start of the written test. (No doubt it was the doing of Deora and Zerel who thought Elaru would break their equipment.) The written test was the last test of the day which everyone had at the same time to prevent leakage of exam questions.
Kiel’s second exam started earlier, so he was the first one among the three to leave.
Once again, he waited in front of the designated classroom for several minutes, surrounded by the horde of people licking his boots and wagging their tails.
Once again, he smiled and politely conversed with them, displaying his noble and elegant bearing.
Once again, he inwardly cursed and grumbled, wanting nothing more than for all of the people to shut up and go away.
Once again, he was unable to speak the truth, unable to discard his kindhearted and dignified image, unable to just be himself.
For the first time, he wished nothing more than to just go back to that sunny clearing, on that soft blanket under the tree where he sat a few minutes prior. He wouldn’t even mind Arion’s and Elaru’s presence.
Oh, how low he had fallen that he wouldn’t even mind the annoying duo.
Luckily, it didn’t take long for the doors of the classroom to open revealing Rau Eryey who invited them in. His dark hair that looked like silk was still as neat as it was this morning and his face showed no signs of fatigue.
The desks and chairs have been moved to the edges of the classroom, leaving enough empty space for the exam equipment. Two different sets of equipment were sprawled over the floor in the middle of the room.
When everyone came inside the room, Rau closed the door, and Kady started explaining the contents of the exam.
“The second exam for today tests your multicasting.”
Multicast or Simultaneous Cast Count was a metric that represented mage’s ability to cast multiple spells at the same time and their ability to simultaneously control those spells. It was a mix of good weaving, spell control and ability to multitask.
Kady walked towards one of the two apparatuses that stood further away from the teachers’ desk. It was made out of many small glass objects littered over the floor. The objects were connected by glittering strings and shaped into all kinds of different forms such as cubes, stars, spheres, donuts, pyramids, and more.
Through the black half-transparent glass the objects were made out of, one could see that each object contained a small dark marble in its center.
Laying in the center, surrounded by glass objects, was a compass-like object acting as the hub for all the strings.
“This apparatus will test how many simultaneous spells you are able to cast.”
Kady cast a trigger spell on the compass like object. Right after that, the previously dark marble inside the glass pyramid lit up, emitting dazzling golden light.
“To start the test, cast the trigger spell upon the object that lit up.” Kady pointed towards the glowing pyramid. “We will show you the trigger spell later.”
Kady then weaved the trigger spell so that its spell roots targeted the pyramid. As soon as her trigger spell activated the light coming from the marble inside the pyramid went out.
In its place, two other objects light up.
Kady chose one of the objects and cast the same trigger spell over it.
However, surprisingly, nothing happened.
“For the lights to go out, your trigger spells will need to trigger the glowing objects at the same time. Only if they are activated at the same time will you manage to deactivate them and pass the current stage.”
This time, Kady cast two trigger spells, targeting the two glowing objects. As soon as her spells activated, the glowing objects dimmed. However, right after their light went out, another four objects lit up.
“Each time you manage to deactivate all glowing objects, new objects will light up at random. The number of newly lit objects will always be higher than the number of objects you previously deactivated.”
Kady then proceeded to cast the trigger spells over and over. After the number of lit objects had reached 20, she stopped and pointed towards the compass like object.
“This device will display your score. It calculates the score based on the amount of time it takes you to successfully pass a stage and the number of passed stages.”
Kady then cast another trigger spell to reset the apparatus before moving towards the second apparatus in the room.
The second apparatus was near the teacher’s desk and was made out of a large pink cactus surrounded by a spiral of cubes. Almost the entire body of the cactus, as well as the spikes protruding from the surface, looked as if they were made of pink jelly. The metal base of the cactus had another compass like device embedded into it.
In a spiral around the cactus, black and white cubes were placed alternatingly. The cubes looked exactly like the cubes they had used in the previous test.
“Here, in the second part of the Multicast exam, you will be controlling the same cubes you were controlling in the previous exam.”
Kady cast a trigger spell upon the cactus to activate the apparatus. As soon as her spell activated, the spikes on the cactus extended to one meter in length. The spikes turned into wiggling tentacles. The tentacles started out thin but got thicker at their ends, where they formed a circular opening.
On the opening of one tentacle formed a pink bubble.
“This test requires you to control the cubes to pop bubbles.”
Kady cast a Temperature spell on a seemingly random white cube in the spiral of cubes. Her cube flew up towards the pink bubble.
As soon as the cube touched the surface of the bubble, it popped.
However, after it popped, two new bubbles formed on two random wiggling tentacles.
“Similarly to the previous apparatus, more bubbles you pop, more bubbles will form. And the only way to pop the bubbles is if you touch them with your cube at the same time.”
Once again, she controlled the same cube as before to touch a bubble, but this time, the pink bubble repelled the cube and didn’t pop at all. Kady then cast another Temperature spell on another cube and used the two cubes under her control to touch the bubbles simultaneously.
Only then did they pop.
“Just like in the previous test, the score is calculated based on the time taken to complete the test and number of passed stages.”
Kady’s gaze passed slowly from face to face, before she continued: “Naturally, to minimize the impact of your casting speed on the results of the test, you are allowed to cast Temperature and Light on the cubes before the start of the test. Then, once the test begins, you can wholeheartedly concentrate on controlling those spells.
As for the number of cubes you should put under your control beforehand…that is up to you. Choose the number you are comfortable with, a number that will not degrade your performance. You can later increase the number of cubes under your control when the test requires you to do so.
Your Multicast score will be calculated by adding up the scores displayed on the two apparatuses, dividing them by 2 and rounding up to the higher whole number.”
Kady waved her hand and the stack of papers on the teachers’ desk flew over. Each examinee received one paper.
Kiel looked down at the paper and instantly recognized that the pattern drawn on the paper was the trigger spell they need to cast over the glass objects. It was an extremely simple pattern that everyone should be able to weave without issues. Naturally, they gave them a simple pattern, since this test didn’t test how well they could weave, but rather, how many different things they could weave at once, regardless of the quality of the result.
“Any questions?” The motherly voice of Kady Ailert resonated in the quiet room in which only the rustling of papers could be heard previously.
After waiting for a few seconds without anyone speaking up, Kady nodded. But it was unclear whether it was towards the examinees or Rau. For at that moment, Rau opened the door to the classroom and motioned for the examinees to leave.
“In the following exam, you will be required to cast a lot of simultaneous spells which will make the situation hectic and hard to supervise. To prevent any interventions from a third party that might not be caught by us, you will be required to wait outside the classroom until it is your turn to take the exam.”
In other words, the examinees would go in and take the test one by one. The rest of the examinees would (im)patiently wait outside for their own turn.
Kiel was thrilled to volunteer to take the test first. That way he wouldn’t have to wait and would be done immediately. He was surrounded by a horde of people – a long wait would be a nightmare.
Perhaps he could even return back to Elaru and Arion before their test started and spend some more time studying under the warm sun.
Judging by Kiel’s cold and dark personality and white skin, one would think him to be a creature of the night that preferred staying indoors. However, even though Kiel disliked many things, the sun wasn’t among the things he disliked. On the contrary, he loved sunlight. Everything looked better under the warm rays of sunlight. When the rays danced over his face, he felt energized.
Another of the rare things that he liked was the relaxing green color of the grass and leaves. He also very much liked the refreshing scent of flowers and herbs.
Forests have acted as his sanctuary for years, making him develop a special attachment to the greenery. However, staying outdoors also had its drawbacks, so he was the kind of person that exercised moderation. He preferred to read and practice his skills outdoors, while sleeping, bathing and eating was better done indoors.
Encouraged by the prospect of reading under the bright sunlight, Kiel became the first examinee among his batch to take the Multicasting test.