Book 2- Chapter 2- Orientation
As easily as night came, so too was it chased away by the encroaching dawn. After spending the night at the inn and getting some much needed rest, it was finally time for the orientation.
Sirva finished making her rounds around the Capital so I quickly learnt the layout of the capital. Breakfast was quickly served by Bamun and Bamen before we were on our way. Sirva would continue doing reconnaissance within the Academy once we were permitted entry, so she followed us from within the shadows.
An interesting sight to behold was when we finally made our way out of the inn and onto the streets. As if a fairy had wisped by, there were decoration all around the stores and streets. People were walking and talking, everyone seemed to be in an extremely jovial mood.
“What’s with the decoration? Is there some celebration going on?” Shae asked, looking around at the strange sight.
“From what I learn from Bamen, it’s a ceremony in honor of the orientation. It is a way of saying good luck to those who planned on joining the academy.”
Answering Shae’s question she simply looked back to the festive surrounding. Pulling up my map, I overlaid it with the data Sirva provided and we were on our way.
As I had guessed yesterday, the Capital layout was circular. What I didn’t know was that it was layered on the inside as well, separating the status of the people. From Sirva’s observation there were three distinct districts with the Academy being within the middle layer.
Using the map, I found the quickest route towards the Academy. Through alleyways and jumping high above some buildings. Landing on top of a tall building we had a high view of everything and everyone. A mass of people were slowly making their way towards the Academy building.
The Academy was by far the most impressive thing I’ve seen. It was massive and expansive, stretching across the horizon, similar to the wall. The style looked similar to a grand cathedral mix with the Hagia Sophia. The building had a gold and silver color theme with the other colors of the spectrum complementing it. It towered above all the buildings, even some of the mansions owned by the nobilities as well. The tall spire that I saw yesterday was also part of the Academy.
Gawking at the sight, Shae had to shake me to bring me back. We carefully jumped down and made our way back to the streets again. Crowds of people littered the massive courtyard that lead to the Academy. No one noticed us as we slipped in.
“A thought occurred to me, will they even accept me?” said Shae, proposing another question.
“What do you mean?”
“The princess says that the Empire is strictly patriarchal. Heck I haven’t even seen any girls here.” Shae asked, looking back at the crowd. Seeing the root of the question I calmed her worry.
“It’s like I said, they’ll accept anyone with power. Although that fact is true, you need to consider the fact that we’re on the commoner side. Most likely, there will be several females on the noble side.”
It did the job as Shae lost her worried look. Following the crowd of people we shambled through until a gate was seen in the far distance. Just as we inched closer, everyone stopped. Our movement halted and we were left to wonder what was to happen next.
“Welcome people of the empire! I, Prince Alfonso D. Arthur welcome you all!”
A sudden flash of light appeared on the sky, a large projection of some sorts. Soon several individuals came into view. The image clears up to reveal what I assumed was the royal family included were the queen and the prince. Strangely there was no sign of the king.
The crowd burst into cheers, showing their affection for prince. The one who spoke up had to be the prince as he didn’t look any older than I was. He had on the typical prince charming look. Long golden hair, clear blue eye, a tall physique, etc… The scary fact was that he looked exactly like Arthur from the Holy Knights guild. I pushed the thought aside and continued to listen in.
“As many of you are aware, today is the orientation for our Holy Academy where you all will be put to the test to see if you may serve under the empire. I personally wish you all the best of luck.”
With that the short announcement ended. The crowd once again let out a cheer. Despite the short nature of the speech, people treated it as if it was a national announcement. With that all said and done, it was finally time to move.
The sound of metal scratching against concrete sounded through the air as the gates slowly opened, allowing us passage.
“Hmm, so that’s the prince. He’s just like the princess described him. I didn’t expect him to look so similar to Arthur. Commenting to myself, I couldn’t shake away the nostalgia. What do you think Shae?”
“He looks like a total douche.”
I was completely caught off guard by how blunt Shae’s response was. What made it even funnier to me was how monotone she spoke it. I couldn’t help but burst out into laughter. So much so that all around us, the onlookers were looking at me as if I was crazy. Catching my breath, I calmed down before continuing on.
“From what I heard from the princess, he’s quite the scumbag. Though we don’t exactly have proof of that and what we know comes from a bias source. For now let’s keep that thought to ourselves.”
We continued on our way into a large building. The inside of the building was spacious, reaching up several meters high. Candles and golden chandeliers lit up the ceilings and the rooms. The entire room seemed to be made of glass as light reflected everywhere. Large stained glass windows lined the wall as we continued to move forward.
Making our way deeper inside; we came to a stop. The room was massive, spanning hundreds of meters in all directions. Out of the corner of my eyes I saw another group making their way in. They were fewer in number compared to our group, but it was clear they were different.
They were apart of the nobility faction that was taking the exam just like us. One piece of evidence that supported my theory was how they were dressed. Unlike us who had on rather shabby clothes and tunics, they had on nice clean outfits. They were accompanied by either a maid or a butler, usually a demi-human. But the biggest evidence was when they first saw us. All of them, upon seeing us had smug expressions.
They made their way over to us but stopped a fair distance away, as if trying to ignore us as a whole.
“Attention people, attention.”
A new voice called out, grabbing everyone’s attention. There stood a scholarly old man that looked to be around his mid-eighties. He had a long white beard that reached to the ground and wrinkly old skin. The robe he had on looked uncannily similar to a cassock and ferraiolo. Behind him stood an array of different individuals.
To his left were those in armor, knights. They formed a line; the further down the line, the more decorated the knights grew. The same could be said for those on his right, which were the mages. They all had on different colors of armbands. Spread around were groups of what seemed like healers and medics.
“I am the grand chancellor of this academy, Issian Thusa. I welcome you all here. Now then let’s begin the inauguration. We’ll have each one of you go up and choose a division to join. For those who might not know, you’re free to choose whoever to fight, if you win then you’ll join that certain rank.”
“Choose? Rank? What the heck? Any clue Shae?”
Now that, I didn’t know about. I assumed we needed to pass some evaluation but it wasn’t entirely the case. Asking Shae I wanted to hear her take on it.
“The choose part is pretty self-explanatory. I’m sure you’ve noticed the colored armband, they have a pattern.”
Nodding I gave them a closer look. The weakest looking mage and knight had on a green colored armband. The pattern of weakest to strongest seemed to go green, orange, yellow, blue, purple, red, white, and finally gold.
“Hmm, that’s an interesting system but also a little bit counterproductive. All a person has to do is challenge the weakest one and they are in.”
“Well let’s think of it like this, they are testing the applicants and advertising them at the same time as well.”
“What do you mean?”
“Take a good look up there?”
She nodded her head up to the ceiling. All I could see was the plain but beautiful architecture of the ceiling, nothing more.
“Here, |Detect Observers|”
Shae quietly activated her skill. My radar started to ping with several bleeps. I instantly looked back up, this time several circular orb were outlined.
“What are those?”
“I picked them up the moment we entered this area, thanks to my passive skill |Detect Hidden Observer|”
|Detect Hidden Observation|, a passive support skill that is used to detect prying eyes. Back when it was a game the skill was really useful at locating enemy watchers.
“Those things seem to work like cameras in that they use magic to record images and sounds. They were also used to project that public announcement of the prince.”
“What do you suppose they’re for Shae?”
“I don’t know but they are spying on us but it goes without saying that they’ll be watching everyone’s fight so we should play it safe. Most likely, they are keeping tabs on everyone.”
Finding her reasoning sound I kept to myself. While the two tests were going on it was the perfect opportunity to do some more investigation.
Maneuvering my way to the front I brought as much as I could into my line of sight. Using |Greater Level Identify| and |Greater Skill Identify|, I captured as much as I could. The training went on for an hour, during that time I evaluated very piece of data and information I could, making mental notes and calculations.
When I collected enough I doubled checked it before I finally came to my hypothesis, we were powerful. Going by the level grade line, in terms of strength they were all weaker than I had hypothesized.
The green knight was level 12, the same was true with the mage as well. Orange was level 13 for the knight and the mage was 13 as well. Yellow and blue knights were level 14 while the yellow mage was level 14 and the blue mage was level 15. For the knights of purple, white and red, they were all consistantly level 16. The mages were the same as well purple and white were level 14 while red was level 15. For the gold knight and mage, they were level 16.
The gap and elevation of their levels was far too low then I originally hypothesized. I assumed we would be strong as we’re literally our level 100 characters, but if my calculations and hypothesis were correct than we’re more powerful than I had thought.
Back in Eternia if a person was a high level then he should have the advantage. For the most part that’s true, however there were exceptions. Most of which depends on variables such as different skills, items, ability, class, etc… Depending on how a person goes about it even if the level difference was around 3-5 then theoretically the weaker person had a chance of winning.
However this wasn’t the case for them. Every level for them was an achievement. If we were even more powerful than what I had originally thought, then that means we need to be even more conscious of our actions.
Time flowed quickly as I dwelled on my thoughts. By the time I finally left my thoughts, the orientation was almost over. I looked around to see me with only a few other people standing around about to be called. Those that apparently passed were on the sidelines. Almost all the nobility side passed while a couple from the commoner side.
“How long have we been waiting?”
“Around an hour or so by now. You were busy staring into the distance; no doubt lost in your thoughts.”
“What about you?”
“Same thing as you, only I got some sleep. I learned this cool trick to this new body of mine. I can go to sleep but at the same time be alert and ready should I need it. Basically I could stand and sleep. It is a nice plus to this android body.”
For a moment there I swore that Shae cracked a joke but her monotone voice once again threw me off. Bringing my attention back I noticed that there were only three people left.
We waited to be called but it was the other person next to us. He had on a ragged looking tunic and coat that covered up his body and face. He walked up to the mage side and chose the purple mage to do battle. I was about to simply dismiss the battle and go back to my thoughts again until he removed his cloak, revealing a female elf.
She had the look of a typical fantasy elf. Light skin, long braids white hair, and the signature long ears. She wore the cloak over her under tunic. But the most impressive thing of all was that she didn’t have on a slaver mark or anything to show her as property.
“A free demi-human?”
I couldn’t hold my surprise and let the words slip from my mouth. Even Shae also looked quite surprised by how her eyes widened. The crowd behind us started to break out into loud chatter. Mostly they were bashing the female elf, chastising her. Even some of the noble students were throwing scraps of food that they prepared.
The elf did nothing and simply stood there, facing forward, ignoring all of them. The testers were chatting with one another, most likely arguing whether or not to throw her out.
The chancellor booming voice echoed through the building, quieting everyone. When everyone was silenced he continued on.
“I don’t care if she’s a demi-human or not. If she can prove herself then she’ll be accepted, if not then she’ll be thrown out like everyone else. Is that clear?”
He spoke in a clear and powerful voice that made everyone listen. Everyone started to quiet down but I could still see they weren’t happy; their eyes were filled with bitterness. I looked back just as the elf and tester began.
The elf attacked first, firing off a magic spell that I’ve never seen before. The mana around her condensed and formed small crystals. The attack was apparently called |Crystal Shards|. She fired it at the mage who erected a small barrier to protect him. She didn’t let up and continued to attack.
The barrier held up but cracks formed as it withstood the attack. The barrier shatter as the mage retreated to a safe distance. The mage prepared a fireball which flew towards the elf. Rolling to the side, she dodged his attacks. The mage’s attacks were relentless, as he was constantly releasing spell after spell.
She couldn’t get out another attack as she focused on defending and dodging. Her agility was surprising to note as most mages had poor stamina. Thanks to that she was able to run around, avoiding his spells. Before the testing began the mages formed a special barrier at each testing ground to protect it. Bits of dust started to form, making a small cloud of debris.
The mage mainly kept himself centered while the elf ran around him and all over. This went for about a few minutes as the mage constantly attacked and defended when the elf could attack.
“I’m guessing you already noticed.”
“You mean the fact that he’s cheating, yes.”
For the past three minutes the mage casted continuous spells one after the other without so much as stopping for a break. The reason for this was because the other mages behind him were casting support spells on him.
During the time I was getting used to my body and magic, I conducted an experiment on spells. After casting spells consecutively for about eight minutes, I almost passed out.
That was one of the laws that I discovered about this world and magic. Unlike back in the game where you could do that, you now would experience a mana backlash from using so much mana. The body was wasting more mana than the body can regenerate. We still knew little of the concept of mana and magic. But what we do know is this.
Mana exists everywhere, it all around us. Our body have the capacity to absorb and use that as magic. However there are certain threshold that one could hold and use. The body was wasting more mana than the body can regenerate.
The dust effectively hid the fact from outside viewers, except for us and the noble students, who were enjoying her struggle. What made it worse was that she already knew that they were cheating. However should she try to point it out, no one would listen to her. Even the chancellor wasn’t intervening either.
But it wasn’t because he has a disdain for her, rather it looked that he wanted to see just how strong the elf is. She was fighting a losing battle and she knew it.
As I watched their fight, my irritation only grew. I didn’t why I was getting annoyed, but I was. It was like watching a bully picking on someone you didn’t know. Part of you reasoned that it wasn’t your problem but the part of you feels guilty. The tapping of my feet only grew, almost becoming stomps.
The sound of battle started to quiet down. Dust cleared away revealing the mage that didn’t have so much as a single sweat on him. The elf was breathing heavily with small cuts and wounds all over her body. A small smile started to creep up the mage’s face as he raised his arm for one final attack.
Instead of dodging or running around, she instead charged in. This caught the mage off guard for a second but he quickly recovered. This gave her enough time to retaliate with her spell one more time. Their attacks connected causing an explosion that caught her up.
A large smile popped up on his face but before he had time to celebrate his victory the elf jumped out of the explosion. Burns and bruises covered her body but she charged forwards, not giving an inch.
The mage had little time to protect or retaliate before she knocked him. Crystal shards formed around her as she was on top of him.
“That’s enough! You have passed.”
The chancellor walked over while making his announcement. She slowly got off of the mage while he backed off. But there was still hostility in his eyes.
“You did well, what’s your name?”
“Well congratulations are in order Als. As of now you are a student here, you have my word that we’ll provide you with protection.”
Even after the test she still had a hard look on her face. It didn’t let up even after his claim. Walking back, she was met with comments, all of which were bashing her. As she got closer I made my way over. Stopping she simply glared at me.
“What do you want?” speaking up with a curt voice, I too was surprised by my own action.
“You’re hurt. Let me heal your wound.” Finding my words, I answered back.
“I don’t need your pity or help human.” She spoke those lines with malicious intent but that didn’t bother me.
“That means you have some way to heal your wound. Like plenty of potions or perhaps some healing spell. Or maybe you have money to buy some medical supplies.”
She remained quiet, just glaring straight at me.
“I’ll take your silence as a no than.”
“Why are you helping me?”
“The match was unfair and yet you won through sheer determination, not to mention those healers aren’t going to help you. “
She still looked at me with skepticism but eventually answered.
“Fine, but if you do anything suspicious then I’ll hurt you.”
“There are more effective ways if that was the case, but whatever. |Heal| |Close Wound|”
Activating the two spells, I healed her with my lowest rank spells. Within a couple of seconds the wounds gone. Even she was surprised by how powerful my spell was.
Her hostility was still there but to a lesser extent. She reluctantly thanked me before finally walking away to lean up against a section of the wall. However, my action attracted more attention than I thought.
Not only were the other students talking about me, but also the testers as well. They all eyed me with a weird look of confusion and suspicion. I ignored them as Shae and I were the only ones left.
“Which among you would like to go first?” Shae asked, eyeing the both of us.
“Hmph. So, what’s the plan? Take out their best one and win?”
Shae let out a small snort sound at my sarcastic but generous gesture. A small smile formed before I got serious.
“It isn’t that easy. Yes our objective is to get to the top to learn as much as we can but you know it isn’t that easy. Beat them, but make a show out of it, we don’t want too many prying eyes.”
Nodding in understanding, she casually walked towards the knight side.
“I would like to fight for gold.”
Everyone suddenly got quiet at Shae’s statement. Most people looked at her like she was crazy to suggest taking on a powerful knight. So far no one had decided to try their hands at neither red nor white, let alone gold. A chuckle could be heard as the golden knight walked up to the field.
The man towered over Shae who was among the smallest member of the guild leaders. His armor bulkier and more decorated than the rest. He had short cut brown hair with a smug expression on his face.
“Might I ask who you are, little lady?” the knight asked in a deep voice.
“Shae, and that’s all you need to know about me.”
The knight let out another soft chuckle as Shae made her way to the field. Everyone, including the testers and those that passed, or failed, were watching them. They all watched with curious eyes, watching to see what will transpire.
“Are you sure you want to fight me? Maybe you should try green first, we can’t have you hurting yourself now.” The kinght spoke in a condescending tone, obviously he wasn’t taking the challenge seriously enough.
“I wouldn’t choose you if I didn’t think I had a chance of winning now would I?”
“Hmm, a valid point. But hurting a woman isn’t how I do things, so I’ll tell you what I won’t fight you whatsoever. Go ahead and hit me, heck I’ll even give you a dozen tries. So go ahead and try you–”
The knight never finished his sentence as he was sent flying back several meters. The sight was so bizarre that no one so much as moved at what they saw. To them some girl just punched the most powerful tester across the room with a single punch.
I couldn’t help but let out a small groan at her action. Mentally face-palming myself I forced myself to look forward while keeping a straight face.
‘What happened to being careful?!’ I yelled inside my mind, trying to keep my sight on Shae.
The first one to fully break out of the daze was the chancellor. He ordered the healers to go and help up the knight that was thrown across the room. They dragged his unconscious body away. A large fist dent was visible on the breastplate. Finished, Shae casually walked back to the waiting area while I walked towards the field. Crossing one another, I shared an echo with Shae.
“What happened to being careful?”
“He surprisingly pissed me off, besides it’s not like I did anything that was overkill. Also you have your own match to worry about.”
With that, the call abruptly ended and I was left to my own devices. Before Shae defeated the knight, there wasn’t much interest anymore as the orientation was almost over. However after Shae’s performance, all eyes were on me now.
“I would like to battle for gold.”
To my surprise the mage seemed collected and didn’t seem to be bothered by what had happened and the fact that I was challenging him. He walked up with a bit of swagger that showed his confidence as well.
“Before we start, there’s a question I would like to ask you. Was that your companion just now?”
“That knight was a good friend of mine. I know just how strong he is, and she knocked him out with a single punch. Are you just as strong as she?”
“…Yes.” I reluctantly replied to his question.
“I see. This is kind of a secret law, but should anyone ever challenge a red rank tester or above, we’re suppose to use only about of 2/3 our real power should we really need it. Forgive me but I won’t be holding back.”
The air around me shook as I released my power. Mana was coursing through my body as I released all my magical seals. The air around us grew heavy and I expected him to have difficulty with the new pressure. Yet he stood strong.
‘He didn’t even flinch when I showed my real power…Guess I really have to give it my best.’ I thought to myself, preparing my moves.
“Let’s begin. |Mana Arrows|”
Pointing my finger at the boy, my attack flew towards him with blinding speed. Dodging to the side, he ran circles around me as my barrage of attacks would miss him. Much like the elf he has high endurance and dexterity; quite uncommon for a mage.
“Quick thinker huh? Let’s try this. |Mana mines|”
Balls of energy formed all around us, floating in the air. They seemingly did nothing so I continued my attack with |Mana Arrows|.
He was quick on his feet, running around and dodging the attacks. Surprisingly he was even able to dodge the mines through the narrow spaces. However what made me worried wasn’t the fact that he was dodging the attacks, but that he hasn’t attacked me even once.
My first thought that he was too pre-occupied with dodging to land an attack. But that was naive thinking, he was dodging to little to no effort. So that meant he was purposely choosing not to attack.
“So he’s testing me, while I am testing him.” Coming to that conclusion, I couldn’t help but feel a bit frustrated at the thought. “Then I’ll just have to force your hand!”
I continued to fire at him, forcing him to constantly move. Eventually I would exhaust all my mana but finally I saw the opportunity I was waiting for.
“Got you. |Shield Dome|”
|Shield Dome| was a defensive spell that erects a circular shield from the ground to protect the individual. However there were other applications for it as well. I formed the barrier around the boy, trapping him. He looked rather calm despite being trapped.
“I would suggest that you either break out by using your most powerful spell, or use your most powerful defense spell, as this will hurt.”
I moved all the floating orbs into close proximity to him. |Mana mines| was a defensive and offensive spell that creates mines which explode upon hitting their target. One exploding isn’t that bad, but all of them together would cause some serious injury.
Concentrating my mana into one singular spot I fire it at the mines. The moment they made contact, a loud and large explosion took place. Several more explosions detonated after, blinding the room and causing smoke to rise from all over.
Chatter and arguments could be heard from the children’s witnessing the fight. I even saw some of the testers look at me in horror. Although the spells I used were mid-tier Rank 3 spells, their combined power equaled at least that of a rank 4 spell.
Quickly glancing at the boy’s female friend, I wondered what reaction did she posses? I had only caught a glance, but she showed an uninterested expression. Waiting for the smoke to clear, I silently prayed that he was still alive. Slowly the smoke thinned, showing an outline of the boy.
When I saw him still standing, I was both glad and amazed as well. But that wasn’t what surprised me the most was the fact that he had barely taken any damage. His body was enveloped in an odd yellow-orangeish glow, as if he wore a second layer of skin. The only damage that he sustained was his clothes getting dirtied.
The entire room was silent at the revelation that was in front of them. Even I couldn’t help but stare at the boy who withstood the attack.
‘That must be a defensive spell. But to defend against such an attack it would need to be the same rank or higher. That means this boy can use at least rank 4 magic.’ Even after coming up with that conclusion, I still couldn’t truly believe that fact.
“For him to be this powerful at such a young age. Imagine what he can be in a few years?” I couldn’t help but whisper those words with excitement in them as well.
“Well, it’s my turn. |Spirling s…”
“I surrender.” For once I actually saw a surprised look from the boy.
“There is no doubt that you’re powerful, you withstanding my attacks proves this. No point in me getting hurt if the winner is already decided.”
After a moment of silence he lowered his arms and thanked me. He slowly walked back to his friend while I walked back to the others.
“Why did you quit?”
“Yes, he’s right. You could have won, especially since you showed your true power.”
I shook my head in disagreement at my colleagues’ rather insular view.
“No, you may not have felt it at a distance but I was there. He could beat me with ease. And I have no doubt that he was just toying with me.”
My colleagues went silent when I told them that. They all started to eye him with eyes of mystery and curiosity, but also fear as well.
“Just who is he?”
“I don’t know but I have the suspicion that he will accomplish great things in the future.”