Chapter 27: Examination
“Crying won’t work! Shouldn’t you be used to water by now Sylv?”
“Kyuuuuu…” Sylvie finally escapes from my grasp and flees out of the shower, still wet.
“Haa…” I shake my head as I finish washing up.
Wearing nothing but a simple T-shirt and pants, I take one last look at the room I was living in for the past couple of months. I put on my glove and ring, packing the coat and mask along with a few other necessities into my bag. I strap on Dawn’s Ballad and my short sword, both on the back of my waist where I was most used to before walking out.
“Trust in Jasmine when things get rough. She may be the youngest but don’t doubt her strength and experience as an Adventurer.” My father advises while giving me one last firm hug.
“Why are Brother and Sylviee leaving? No! Stay here!” My sister was now struck with realization that I wouldn’t be home for a while. She was bear hugging my waist and refused to let go.
“Honey, your brother will be back okay?” My mother tries to console her.
“NONONONONONO! Stay!!” My sister wasn’t listening anymore and starts shouting while crying.
I kneel down and give her a big hug.
“Can you protect Mom and Dad while I’m gone for a bit Ellie? You’re a big girl now right?”
“UUuuu…hic…I can protect them…” I wipe the tears streaming down her face.
“Atta girl. Your big brother is going to be gone for a little bit but I’ll be back. I feel a lot better that we have someone strong like my little sister here to protect the house.”
“Eng!” Her eyes still filled with tears, she looks at me with a look filled with determination.
Patting her head, I give Mother and Father a hug. “We’ll miss you. Don’t forget to keep the ring on your finger okay?” My mother squeezes me tightly.
“Stay safe and know your limits Arthur.” My father gives me one last advice.
Know my limits.
I walk down the front stairs to where Jasmine was waiting.
I wave at them one last time, my sister waving both her hands while she was biting her lips to keep from crying.
“Let’s go Jasmine.” I say while putting on the mask and coat.
She nods as we head downtown to the Adventurer’s Guild Hall.
The Guild Hall was not what I expected it to be. A place filled with thugs seated around wooden tables downing beer was what I imagined inside my head. Instead, it was a marble structure with an intricately designed interior. There were tables made from metal where I could see other Adventurers giving us a passing glance. The whole place had a luxury hotel-like décor that didn’t suit some of the more barbarian-looking Adventurers here but I just kept walking.
“Welcome! How can I help you two?” The front lady gives me a professional smile.
Before I say anything, I see Jasmine slide something towards the clerk lady.
“I would like to sponsor him to take a rank examination.” Her face remains expressionless as she says this.
“Y-yes! I understand.” Nodding several times before handing back whatever Jasmine passed to her.
“Please, come over this way.” She guides us towards the back door
“Oy, there’s someone taking a rank examination.” I hear whispers around us from the Adventurers seated.
I keep my questions to myself for now as we follow the clerk. Passing through the door, we’re inside a small room with two couches facing each other. On the far end of the room is a desk facing the door with a slender man seated, his head down.
The man looks up revealing an angular face. The man had black hair parted down the center that reached his shoulders. His glasses were thick and frameless, giving his narrow eyes an even sharper look.
The clerk next to us gives the man a deep bow before explaining, “A Class Adventurer Jasmine Flamesworth has requested this er… gentleman to take the rank examination.”
“Ah! Miss Flamesworth. How are you doing these days? I met with your father not too long ago…” The slender man gets up from his desk, walking towards us.
I turn to look at Jasmine as she gives him a silent, curt bow. I raise an eyebrow when I notice that her fists are clenched at the mention of her father.
“Cough… Anyway, it is a pleasure to meet you! My name is Kaspian Bladeheart and I am in charge of this branch. You must be a friend of Miss Flamesworth. Is there a name I can address you by?” He casts his studying gaze at the masked figure that had a small reptilian kitten on his head.
“Kuu!” Sylvie answers for me.
I made Sylvie go into her original form during my time as an Adventurer, so her horns protruded out more and her red spikes were visible.
“Please just call me Note.” This was the identity I was going to go by from now on. I got the idea from looking at my mask. The blue streak that went through the left eye slit reminded me of a single half note.
Kaspian does a quick double take when he noticed Sylvie, but other than that, he doesn’t mind the small beast on my head. Seeing mana beasts doesn’t seem to surprise him because of his line of work. “Yes! Well… Sir Note, we will proceed with Miss Flamesworth here as your sponsor. Do you know how this will work?”
Shaking my head, I let him explain. “An Adventurer of B class or higher has the power to sponsor a new Adventurer to an examination. Depending on how well you do, this exam will give you the opportunity to be placed into a suitable rank. The rank exam will consist of only a practical portion. Now, judging by your weapons, I can assume that you are a Fighter or Augmenter yes?” He looks quizzically at the black stick tied to my waist below my short sword.
“Okay! Usually there would be a quick application along with an inspection of your mana core before the exam but since it is Miss Flamesworth here sponsoring you, I will just waive that. Mary, take these two to the examination hall.” He ushers us towards another door.
“Y-yes! Please, Mr. Note, Miss Flamesworth, right this way.”
I look at Jasmine through my mask as we walk through a long corridor. Is this why she wanted to be the one to follow me? What was the Flamesworth house?
I squint as my eyes try to adjust to the brightness change from the dark passage. We were inside a brightly lit, indoor, dirt-floored coliseum. The seats were just exaggerated stairs that were mostly empty except for around 10 people sitting in random spots. On the stage at the bottom were two Augmenters fighting.
“Please follow me to your seats. There are a couple other exam takers today so please stay seated around here until the examiner calls your name.” The clerk gave us one last bow before walking back down the rows of stone seats.
I lean forward after I put Sylvie down between to Jasmine and I. Jasmine just leans back with her arms crossed.
“Haa!” A large mage with a shaved head swinging the polearm was at a disadvantage as the opponent he was versing, a man of average build and short black hair and a scar down his cheek, was easily dodging all of the clumsy swings.
The scarred man looked bored, as he didn’t even bother using the broadsword he had in his right hand.
“Take this!” Daring to announce his next attack meant he was either confident or he was just an amateur. In this case, it looked to be the latter.
The polearm he held high above his head suddenly glowed a dim orange as a heat wave surrounded his weapon.
The scarred man raised an eyebrow in slight surprise but otherwise remained the same.
“Hell Smash!” He bellowed as he swung down. Just like how Conjurers chant spells to focus their intent, many Augmenters also choose to do something similar, like vocalizing the name of their move. However, for such a simple move, it seemed unnecessary.
Shaking his head, the scarred man held up his broadsword.
The polearm was flung up into the air as the shocked examinee just looked at his empty hands.
“Your skills as a polearm wielder is nonexistent and your battle senses are lousy… and that’s me being nice. You depend too much on physical strength compared to your mana reinforcement, throwing your attack’s balance off. It says your age is 35 but you’re now only at the dark orange stage. I would normally put someone of your caliber at E class but seeing how you have a fire affinity, if that little heater move you just did can even be called fire, I’ll pass you as a D class…barely.
I nod in agreement at the scarred examiner’s assessment.
“NEXT! DIANE WHITEHALL!” The man bellows as the bald man dispiritingly walks back up into the rows of seats, picking up his polearm along the way.
“Yes! Coming!” A woman on the other side of the stadium hurries down from the seats, almost stumbling along the way.
She was a freckled girl that looked to be well into her teens. She had her curly brown hair tied back and was wearing the standard conjurer’s robe. She fumbled with her wand, almost dropping it while trying to get it out from her robe pocket.
I hear snickers and giggles around the stadium from the scarce audience.
“Pfft! This should be good!” I look to my left at the sound of the voice, to see a boy laughing and pointing at the girl down at the stage.
He didn’t look much older than me, which surprised me. His attire was that of a noble’s. He had medium length blond hair that covered his forehead and ears with dull green eyes. I had to admit he was a good-looking boy, and by his c*cky demeanor, I’m sure he knew that too. By his side was a white wooden staff that was taller than him. Embedded at the very top of the staff was a large ruby colored gem.
I just turn my head back towards the stage.
The scarred examiner was sitting down at the stage while a woman wearing the typical oversized hat used by many Conjurers in the shape of a pointed sun hat, replaced him. It didn’t surprise me that there were separate instructors for each type of mage.
The pale instructor with small, thin eyes wearing a yellow conjurer’s robe that matched her hat coughed to get the audience to quiet down.
“Ahem! Diane Whitehall, age 18, a Conjurer at the light orange stage with a single specialization in water. Let us begin.” She threw the notepad towards the scarred examiner and held up her grey staff.
Once a Conjurer reached the orange stage, almost everyone chose to focus solely on the element they were best at instead of wasting time trying to be adept at all 4 elements. Single specialization, in her case, meant that she only focused on water spells. Dual specialization and up, there would be a strict test to see if you really are adept at both elements.
Instantly, the freckled examinee murmurs a spell and a bubble of water surrounds her.
The basics of battling as a Conjurer is setting up a defensive spell. They do this since most don’t have the ability to reinforce their body with mana.
She had the fundamentals down at least.
The examiner, however, doesn’t cast a defensive spell but instead chooses to go on the offensive.
“Sandstorm!” The pale examiner shouts as a gale of sand forms around the freckled girl and her water bubble.
The sand mixes in with the water and a bit after it’s turned into mud.
“Release!” The now mud bubble bursts as the examinee cancels her spell. Jumping back she mutters another spell while a pressured ball of water was forming on the tip of her wand.
“Aqua cannon!” She yells as the ball of water shoots out in a blazing speed towards the examiner.
The examiner catches me by surprise as she quickly dodges the water ball instead of blocking it with a spell. Thinking back, this was the first time watching a fight between two Conjurers. This fight would be a good way to see how Conjurers fight compared to Augmenters.
“BURST!” The freckled teen screams while she swings her wand down.
The noble boy that oddly reminds me of Feyfey from the elf Kingdom leans forward, intensely watching the fight. I could tell that he was a little surprised by the clumsy girl’s skills.
I turned to Jasmine. “She’s not bad.” She mumbles to me.
The stadium is covered in a small dust cloud that covered the instructor from view.
The dust soon clears up to reveal that no one was there.
Suddenly, the examiner pops up from the ground behind Diane and her staff lightly thumps the top of the examinee’s head.
“EEK!” Diane jumps forward in surprise.
“I must say… your control is quite decent Miss Whitehall. You were a little overconfident in your last spell, not preparing any defensive measures, but overall, the efficiency in mana control and cast speed was good. C class!”
Diane gives a sigh of relief. Being a C class Adventurer at her age is a feat she can be proud of.
“Next! Elijah Knight!” The Conjurer examiner announces
“Here…” A couple rows away to my right, a boy that looked even younger than the blonde noble, stood up. He looked like a very serious lad, with short trim jet-black hair that came down to cover half of his forehead. He wore a very serious expression underneath his framed glasses that made him look more mature than his actual age. He wore a simple beige long sleeve and black pants and didn’t have any sort of weapons on him. I half expected him to be an Augmenter but by the fact that the examiner didn’t switch out meant otherwise.
Suddenly a clerk runs up to the examiner and whispers something inaudible to her ear.
The pale-faced examiner’s thin eyes widen before she quickly regains her composure
“Elijah Knight, age 10… Ahem. I was just notified of your special status. As of now, you are a B class Adventurer.”
B class at his age and he didn’t even need to get tested?
I could see looks of disbelief on everyone’s face. Even the Augmenter examiner’s face was in surprise.
The serious boy just bows and sits back down.
“Next! Lucas Wykes!” She continues.
“Hmph! Guess it’s finally my turn!” He jumps up from his seated position and leisurely walks down to the stage.
The examiner looks down at her notes but except this time, her voice sounds evidently surprised. “Lucas Wykes, 11 years old. Conjurer at the…. d-dark yellow stage! Single Specialization in fire.”
What? He’s already at the dark yellow stage? How is that even possible?
“At your service!” Lucas takes an exaggerated bow.
“Yes, let us begin.” The examiner stutters.
With a serious face, Lucas instantly jumps back while muttering a spell. “Arise, Flame Guardian!”
A pillar of fire shoots up in front of him, diminishing to reveal a 2-meter tall humanoid made of flames.
I can faintly hear the scarred Augmenter examiner whistle in awe.
The flame guardian dashes towards the examiner while I hear Lucas cast another spell.
So he does have some skill to back up his ego.
The Conjurer examiner raises an eyebrow in surprise while muttering a spell.
A solid cube instantly traps the fire guardian in his tracks.
Good plan. The flame guardian will naturally disappear once it uses up the limited amount of oxygen inside the tomb.
Lucas is smiling though, as he bellows, “It’s too late! Ember Wisps!”
The ruby stone embedded on his staff glows a dazzling orange as a spark shoots up in the air. The spark explodes like a firework, separating into dozens of small floating tendrils of fire. The tendrils stay afloat all around the stage, surrounding the both of them.
“The boy is good.” I hear Jasmine give a rare nod of approval.
The examiner’s face turns serious now.
I was a little confused as to what those floating embers were for but my question was soon answered.
“Expulsion!” He raised his staff above his head while he was still dashing backwards.
Suddenly, the dozens of fire tendrils glowed then shot out beams of fire at the examiner.
“Stone Shard Field!” The examiner points her staff down at the ground. The area around her glows a bright yellow before multiple pieces of earth shoot up from the ground. The rocks move in formation to block the lasers of flame. Only, it doesn’t just block the lasers but redirects it towards Lucas.
“Release!” Lucas screams as he pales. The wisps in the air disappear but the flames that were already shot are still heading towards his direction.
Pointing his huge staff at the multiple trails of flames heading his way, he shouts, “Fire Twister!”
A cyclone of fire just big enough to surround him appears from the ground. The trails of flame spin around the small fire tornado, fusing into it.
“Pierce.” The examiner mutters softly. The rock shards that redirected the flames now shoot forward towards the flame tornado Lucas was inside of. The large shards of rock go through the fire tornado and dissipating it, stopping just before they squish Lucas into fine paste.
The blonde noble just falls to his knees in defeat, sweating from the exhaustion from using so much mana.
The rocks around Lucas crumble and fall as the examiner releases her spell.
“Your control and creativity in the combinations of your spells are superb. You have a great future Mr. Wykes. Your control over mana consumption needs a bit more control but I look forward to see what you can become capable of. I think I can just barely pass you as a B class!” She announces, giving him a smile.
“WOAH!” “Another little monster!” “Gah! I want to just go home!” “What is with today’s crowd?”
I hear some of the audience members that have already taken the exam murmur excitedly amongst their peers.
“It’s only natural!” Lucas gets up from the ground, dusting his robe while he tries to keep a poker face but it’s pretty evident that he’s excited.
He gets back to his seat before the examiner, who wasn’t even tired, switches places with the Augmenter examiner.
The scarred man gets up, stretching his body. I see him high five the other examiner and looks at his notes.
“Next examinee, Note! Please come down!” He bellows.
Jasmine puts a hand on my shoulder. “Good luck.”
I nod back and walk down, leaving Sylvie with Jasmine.
“It seems you’re here to be tested under special conditions, seeing as there is no information here written about you. Okay! Let’s see what you’re made of.” He gives me a curious stare, trying to look through my mask’s eye slit to see who I was.
Just as he’s about to unsheathe his sword, a voice interrupts him
“I’ll be the one to test this particular examinee, George.”
Turning my head, I see the thin, bespectacled man named Kaspian walk towards us from the corridor I came in from.
“S-sir? You will be personally examining this participant? I apologize if this sounds presumptuous but is there really a need for an AA class to lower himself to test an examinee?
The scarred examiner is visibly baffled by the fact that Kaspian will be the one to test me.
An AA class! The difference in levels grows bigger as the ranks get higher. Being an AA class Adventurer signifies that you have the strength of ten A class Adventurers, and that’s just a rough estimate.
He should be one of the pinnacles of strength amongst humans. Even Gramps would be considered only AA class after going into his second beast form.
“His sponsor has deep ties with me so I feel obligated to test him personally.” He chuckles as his right hand reaches towards a thin rapier on his waist.
“Let us begin.”