Episode 144 – Special Exam End
Friday, the last day of Muni entrance exams, Special exam. As it turns out, the Spell Replicating exam Kiel chose was not designed to test spell replicating ability, but rather, to test for a special talent that can only be revealed through the process of spell replicating. Kiel is tasked to spell replicate several artifacts, including Clay Mines. Unfortunately, an accident happens while testing his Clay Mines and an explosion occurs. Examiners are thankfully fine but they start arguing with each other. They give Kiel a final artifact, whose enchantment he doesn’t need to replicate but to just draw it out. However, Kiel finds that the enchantment is too small and he can’t sense it clearly with his mana sense. While Kiel is stressing out, Elaru can feel his panic and wants to help him, however, the anti-cheating contract they had signed prevents them from communicating. So she comes up with an idea to break it as a part of her special exam and shocks the trio of old men with her ability.
* * *
The three simultaneously bowed down deeply and yelled. “Master! Thank you for accepting this one as your disciple!”
Elaru, who had been forced to remain sitting there, waiting for her body to recover, felt as if a lightning struck her from the clear sky. What is this?! How come no one ever asked me if I agree with this arrangement?!
“Don’t you worry, master. I am a man of my word. I’ll go prepare my tuition fee right away.” Beard rubbed his hands in glee thinking about what gem he had accidentally managed to pick up on these exams.
“Master, don’t you worry about the seniority. I’ll go talk to the head of division right away to make you an honorary head of the Spell Breaking department.” Eyebrows rubbed his chin thoughtfully. Better tie this one down before other departments stretched out their greedy paws.
“Hey, hey! Don’t make such a decision on your own!” Elaru’s protests fell on deaf ears. “I am not accepting disciples!”
Episode 144 – Special Exam End
“Master, listen! I have many nice things I can add as my tuition fee. I even have a grandson who is single, you see. A son too, if you prefer mature men.” Mustache smiled widely, showing his sparkling white teeth that looked nowhere near his actual age. Beard’s body shook, with his long beard waving left and right like a ribbon, he turned to stare at Mustache in abject disbelief: “Shameless!”, then he spun around to face Elaru and added hastily: “I have two grandsons. It’s two for one deal. Think about it carefully. Marry one as a husband, get the other one for free. They are both handsome and healthy, lots of stamina. Well-bred lads, you won’t be disappointed.”
Elaru’s protests died in her throat and she stared at the trio dumbfounded.
“Look at how low you’ve fallen. Humph!” Eyebrows snorted derisively at the shameless duo. He turned towards Elaru, proudly raised his chin, and spoke up: “My youngest grandson is the best looking of the lot and has just reached maturity. What’s more, there is no need to marry him, he’d be more than happy to just warm the bed. I’ll even throw in my great grandson as a freebie. He is a bit young, but give him a couple of years and he’ll be ripe for plucking.”
Mustache almost pulled out his mustache in shock. “Can you be any more shameless!! He is three years old!”
“Don’t listen to him! He is just jealous that his grandsons aren’t as good as mine. Too old.” Eyebrows smiled jovially at Elaru. “Why would a lovely lady such as yourself go for a couple of old guys when you can get a couple of healthy young virgins.”
“Whose grandsons aren’t as good as yours?!” Beard got agitated and pulled out his wallet. As soon as he opened it a long string of folded pictures unfurled like a ribbon. “Look how powerful mine are! Look at those large swords! These are real hotblooded men! Fine mages too.”
Elaru’s mouth twitched and after several attempts of stopping their argument she finally managed to silence the trio with: “Thank you, but I’m not interested in your grandsons.”
Even she was surprised that she finally managed to interrupt the trio who were previously completely ignoring her protests.
They were silent for several seconds looking like they’ve swallowed a fly, before one of them finally spoke up:
“I have a granddaughter too.”
“…” – and that was the point where Elaru decided to just get up an leave.
Unfortunately, her legs wouldn’t listen to her command, making her fall back in her seat.
Her lips pressed tightly together, not producing a single sound of pain, even though her usually strong and healthy body now felt like it was falling apart, as if it was made out of porcelain.
Ignoring the crippling pain, her eyebrows furrowed. What happened earlier? Why was her body in such a state?
She sighed, deciding to ponder the question later.
Expertly, as if she had done so countless times before, she cast Acceleration spells on her extremities, as well as one in the center of her chest.
Then she pulled on those spells as if they were strings controlling her as if she was a puppet. Since her legs couldn’t support her weight she pulled on the center of her chest upwards, negating the effect of gravity.
Finally, she was able to get up from her seat and make her way towards the exit. And she looked so natural doing it too, the trio of old men didn’t notice anything strange in her movement.
When they noticed her intention to leave they hurried over, pleading for her to stop:
“Master, don’t leave!”
“We don’t even know your name yet!”
Elaru’s only response was to increase her walking pace.
Trio sped after her but was unable to overtake her before she reached the door. So as a last resort, the three lunged and grabbed the only thing that they could manage to grab – her legs.
They intended to shamelessly hang themselves on her thighs like oversized children, not allowing her to take another step. Unfortunately, Elaru wasn’t truly walking to begin with – she was floating.
So, when three extra weights were suddenly added onto her, it was like a heavy anchor was suddenly added to a speeding ship. She “tripped” and fell like a ragdoll with her arms stretched out in front of her.
Fortunately, her reaction speed was high enough, even in such a wretched state, so she managed to reverse the direction of her Acceleration and stop herself from slamming headfirst onto the floor. Her body had no weight in it at the moment of impact thus it was as if a feather fell to the floor.
Her fall didn’t even produce a thump, which cannot be said for the trio behind her.
While they were still dazedly gripping her thighs, she moved her arms to support herself up and looked towards the classroom door that had just been opened from outside.
* * *
When Icya Arite told him that the three antiques of the spell breaking department still didn’t deliver the majority of the artifacts they had been asked to spell break, headmaster Eruan Arite decided to pay them a visit personally.
He would have sent someone else to remind them, but he knew that the trio wouldn’t take it to heart unless either Icya or he scolded them face to face. Unfortunately, Icya was too busy supervising the entrance exams, making the task fall to him.
Initially, he had intended to send someone to call the trio over to his office, but when he counted the number of people laying a siege outside his door, requesting to see him, he decided to abandon his post and make his way towards Sapphire Quarters.
Hopefully, by the time he came back, the crowd would have solved the majority of their issues themselves.
Naturally, Eruan Arite had no need to leave through the front door, lest the sieging troops outside stopped him.
Instead, he teleported away like a boss.
He was an Arite. Arites didn’t waste their time walking and flying around like normal people.
By the gods, it would be awkward if he, the headmaster of the most prestigious mage university, actually walked across the campus like a student.
All Muni buildings had a specially marked area of empty space where arcane mages could set up their teleportation points and Eruan visited his regularly, making sure that they never ran out of mana.
And so, he popped up into the teleportation area of the Sapphire Quarters. Yet, who could have predicted that the first thing he heard after his arrival was an explosion coming from the fourth floor?
His first thought was – Wasn’t Deora banned from entering the Sapphire Quarters?
His second thought was – For the love of Origin, please let them solve it by themselves. I don’t need more people joining the queue in front of my office…
Shockingly, when he scanned the afflicted classroom with his mana sense, he realized that Deora had nothing to do with this incident (Well, that’s a first…) and more so, the chief granny of the Sapphire division was present at the scene. Thus, he concluded he had nothing to worry about. There was certainly no need to interrupt their exam, situation under control.
Eruan let out a breath of relief and flew towards the Spell Breaking department on the sixth floor.
A quick sweep of his mana sense revealed that the three antiques were inside a classroom, apparently in the middle of an exam?
Eruan’s eyebrows furrowed. Was there someone who applied for the spell breaking exam this year?
Well, judging by the time, the exam should be coming to an end any second. Eruan’s eyebrows relaxed and he decided to just wait for the examinee to leave and confront the trio in the classroom.
Unexpectedly, 10 minutes later the trio still showed no sign that the exam was coming to an end.
Eruan’s pale forehead creased as he considered reminding the trio that the allotted time for the exam had already passed.
After all, he was the headmaster, his every minute was very precious. Who would dare make him wait so long?
Just as he was about to knock on the door he noticed that the examinee was finally leaving, thus he stopped himself.
Yet, before he could even step away from the door he heard a muffled thump and several squeals.
His eyebrows twitched, and decisively, he opened the door with one hand while simultaneously knocking with the other. (After all, it wouldn’t be polite if he just went in without knocking.)
The scene that entered his eyes made him freeze on the spot, his beautiful face turning wooden.
Four bodies laid sprawled on the floor. The three esteemed old experts were hugging the thighs of a young girl, looking miserable.
The poor thing weakly lifted her red head to look at him with a pale face and puckered her lush red lips.
Then she let out a tired sigh and swiped her thumb under her nose to wipe away her nosebleed before it reached her mouth.
The trio of old men also looked up, their faces stuck in between shock, embarrassment, and dread, but Eruan’s purple gaze didn’t move from the redheaded beauty.
Her large teal eyes were deep and calm like two pools of stagnant spring water. There was no place for surprise, pain, or fear in those clear eyes.
Eruan’s facial expression remained calm and composed, however, inexplicably, he felt his hair stand on end. Unsettling, uncanny sense of familiarity. Yet no matter how he cycled through acquaintances with similar features, he couldn’t find the source of the feeling.
The closest resemblance that he could pinpoint was the similarity of color to the eyes of councilman Zaal Etezza. However, the feeling their gaze left on him was totally different.
Being stared at by Zaal felt like being stared at by a poisonous viper. Yet, the gaze of this girl held no danger, no hostility. Just unreadable depth. Her aura also held absolutely no resemblance to any member of the Etezza family he had met previously. He was sure that this feeling of familiarity didn’t come from the Etezzas. There was something, someone else…
Eruan Arite stood still for a moment, his facial expression showing nothing of the confusion inside, remaining composed and calm. The thoughts flashed by in an instant, only several seconds of silence passing by.
“What is going on here…?” Headmaster Eruan opened his mouth to ask.
However, before the words left his mouth, the three old men jumped up like they had been burned, with vigor that should have been impossible for their old bones.
“I swear, headmaster, it’s not what it looks like!”
“It was an accident! Accident!”
“Nothing inappropriate happened!”
The three spoke up at the same time, fumbling their words.
The more they tried to look innocent, the guiltier they looked, and the more stifling Eruan’s aura became. His eyebrows never furrowed, his eyes didn’t become chilly nor reprimanding, he didn’t even speak, however, his ramrod straight, elegant yet apathetic figure left one feeling like a child that committed a wrong.
Eruan Arite didn’t need to do anything.
His presence was enough to inspire obedience.
“Who can explain what is going on here?” Headmaster’s steady voice cut through the air, the unmistakable authority silencing everyone else.
* * *
After explanations and apologies from the headmaster and the three old men, Elaru was advised to visit the infirmary and finally allowed to depart. The trio wanted to protest but one look at that pretty face of the headmaster was enough to make them shut their mouths.
Papa once told Elaru that Eruan Arite was a smart man who could grasp the weaknesses of his opponents and hit them right where it hurt the most with exactly the right amount of force.
If outsiders looked at it, there was nothing inappropriate about his punishments, they even seemed light. Yet in truth, there was clever psychological warfare involved, making it something that the entire Muni faculty strangely dreaded.
She felt assured that the trio would receive their due punishment for taking advantage of her, thus she left the thoughts of the trio behind as soon as she closed the classroom door.
Without further ado, she erased her presence, wrapping herself in her mind cocoon and layers of invisibility. She had just flown several meters down the corridor, when her entire vision turned dark.
Coming up in the next episode:
The only sound that could be heard was her labored breathing. And the dripping of blood, as it rolled down her chin onto the floor.
Her mana vision had returned, and she could once again see the bloody red flower of flames staring at her from deep underground.
“Forceful activation of Aethernea has destabilized your vessel.”
She stared at the black markings on her face that were no longer black. They had faded out like an old tattoo, their black color washed out.