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However, the reason why Kiel decided to wait until everyone else was done had nothing to do with being considerate.
What all of them didn’t know was that Kiel willingly chose to go last. And it was because he was studying the layout of the web and movements of the strings.
They weren’t completely random. Because if they were random, if an examinee was unlucky, it could lead to the situation of him being unable to reach a perfect score because the layout of the labyrinth was unfavorable.
The movement had to have a certain logic around it that ensured that the score didn’t depend on luck or timing.
By watching the strings while others were taking the exam, he had managed to figure out the pattern.
Even if his spell control was lacking, by predicting the movement of the strings, he could increase his exam by several points.
When it was his turn, he was itching to put his observations into action.
Kiel stepped forward, holding his white cube in hand.
After reaching the gla.s.s cylinder, he showed his exam pa.s.s to Rau and proceeded to start the test.
Gracefully, his cube floated down, to the opening.
Kiel’s eyes narrowed, watching the strings instead on his cube. As soon as he heard a soft click, a bright light flashed in his eyes.
Under his control, the cube flew gracefully, like a bird. It zigzagged and circled around, but mostly, it shot upwards at full speed. It looked as if the strings moved away from the cube on their own.
It didn’t look as if he was avoiding the web at all. It looked as if the web was avoiding him.
The eyes of the examinees popped out of their sockets.
Is there something special about his cube??
Is he cheating somehow?!
Rau Eryey stared at the situation within the cylinder with surprise flashing in the depths of his eyes. Kady was more direct about it. She smiled in satisfaction, her face showing understanding.
As expected from a Rroda, he figured out the pattern!
Intelligence is one of the most important qualities of a mage. We might not test for it directly, but that doesn’t mean we don’t indirectly reward intelligence.
Even though this overbearing yet graceful dance of the white cube, looked easy and flawless, it wasn’t so at all. Kiel’s mind was stretched to its limit of concentration. His control of the cube was meticulous and precise. If the movement of his cube was off by even a width of a toothpick, he might end up touching the strings.
Kiel’s face remained calm and collected. The only sign of his considerable strain was the cold sweat dripping down the side of his head.
Only when the cube lodged itself on the top of the cylinder, followed by a soft click, did Kiel’s sharp gaze relax.
“Very well done.” Kady praised, scribbling down on her papers. “Fully deserving of 25 points.”
As she said that, the other examinees, whose faces looked ghastly, finally reacted.
“That’s not fair!”
“There is something wrong with this cube!”
“Yes! Exactly! The strings were moving away from his cube!”
“Isn’t this cheating?”
“How could this be allowed?”
As the examinees exclaimed in shock, the usually calm face of Rau Eryey darkened. A chill entered into his dark green eyes and seeped out through his voice:
“You dare question the fairness of our university?”
His cold voice pierced the room, making everyone feel as they had just been stabbed with a needle.
“Even if our exams were partial, what right would you have to complain? Are we obliged to make it fair?
Muni is the property of the Arite family. Who they wish to accept is entirely up to them. Not only do they give this incredible opportunity to everyone regardless of status and background, but even the costs of study are covered, not requiring you to pay any education fees.
Yet instead of being grateful, you have the gall to sully our reputation and voice complaints about the fairness?”
Rau sneered. “Do you think that a person capable of reaching a perfect score in 3 different tests needs to cheat a few more points out of us as to be accepted? Aren’t you just looking for an excuse for your own incompetence? To pin the blame for your own lack of ability on our ‘lack of fairness’?”
His incomparably sharp words made everyone fall silent. This Rau Eryey seemed like a calm and fair person; he was even from the Eryey family which is known for their magnanimity and kindness, so why are his words so…deadly?
The uncomfortable silence was interrupted by the warm motherly voice of Kady. “What prof. Eryey is trying to say is that you are free to file a complaint to the headmaster directly. However, I a.s.sure you, all white cubes are exactly the same. What you’ve just witnessed wasn’t cheating.
It wasn’t that the strings moved away from the cube, rather, it was that this young man chose the right flight path.”
Kady’s hands reached for a pocket on the teacher’s uniform, from which she pulled out a pocket watch. She glanced at it briefly before putting it back in her pocket.
“Since we are ahead of schedule, I can give you a few minutes to try using this cube yourself.” She smiled softly. “That should dispel your doubts about this cube being different from the others? Correct?”
Kiel stared at the two professors that, for some reason, seemed to be in harmony with one another. Instead of feeling warm because of their protective behavior towards him, he felt a chill. Is this a “good-peacekeeper, bad-peacekeeper” routine?
* * *
Surprisingly, after Deora’s violent display of prowess, nothing strange happened. People had expected his frenzied cube to slam into the gla.s.s and break it, but the cube never touched the gla.s.s even once.
Deora Thayn might be gullible and hot tempered, but his spell control was worthy of admiration. Even though the bottom of the hourgla.s.s was filled with blue liquid to the brim, it was plain to see that his spell control could have easily scored full points.
After his demonstration, he didn’t ask if anyone had any questions, glaring at Elaru briefly as if telling her: “I won’t give you a chance to ask any questions today!”
Zerel then proceeded to flip the hourgla.s.s on the teacher’s desk, where he was currently sitting leisurely, declaring that they had 5 minutes to practice.
This time, when the cubes came flying, Elaru was ready for it and controlled her mana thoroughly to avoid them. Luckily, clapping and spurring Deora on didn’t help her be accepted by the crowd. Therefore, she was again ostracized, making other people stay away from her. Which inadvertently helped her out because she didn’t need to control her mana to stay away from their cubes as well.
Elaru didn’t mind the hostile behavior, neither from other examinees nor from Deora. Instead, her mind was on the black cube in her hands.
Even before she had received it, she had already thoroughly inspected the spell inside of it. The spell was designed to absorb the light, converting it into energy for moving the cube. More energy equaled to more speed.
Initially, she wondered if different wavelengths of light would produce a different increase in speed, but after understanding the enchantment, she realized that the color of the light made no difference.
She also confirmed that the previous words of Deora were true – the cube did impose a limit on the speed, or rather, it had a limit on how much light it could absorb. If one produced more light than it could absorb, the light would just get reflected back, to avoid damaging the cube.
Elaru smiled in satisfaction. She was very proficient in using Light. In fact, that was the first spell her father taught her, so she could use it to camouflage the color of her eyes.
The Light was a spell that in its complete form was the embodiment of light. It could be used to create and destroy light in its area of effect (or to be more precise, trans.m.u.te mana into light and vice versa).
Elibu often used it to light up the darkness or change the perceived color of objects.
When rays of light hit an object, some frequencies of light are absorbed by the object, while other are reflected. What eyes see and perceive as color is exactly those frequencies of light, that the object reflected instead of absorbing. If one could change the wavelengths of the reflected light, one would change the color of the object.
Therefore, elibu would enshroud the objects with a Light spell, creating light of a specific wavelength that corresponds to their target color, and destroying existing wavelengths of light that were undesirable.
Not only did this allow mages to control the perceived color, but it could also be applied to create illusions.
Elaru proceeded to cast the Light spell, exactly like Zerel had (lazily) done moments before.
Soon, her cube was dancing in the air swiftly and gracefully.
During the entire duration of 5 minutes, Deora stared at Elaru closely, as if expecting something bad to happen.
Will she end up breaking something? Will the cube go out of control? Will this cube break too?
The more he thought about it, the sweatier his palms and the redder his eye whites became.
Unlike him, Zerel was leisurely looking at Elaru, however, in the depths of his golden eyes, he seemed to be excited or, rather, expectant?
Other examinees were wary of Elaru too, glancing her way every once in a while. If somethings went wrong, wouldn’t they be the first ones to get hurt in the process?
Due to their stretched nerves, everyone felt that those 5 minutes lasted much longer.
Deora kept checking the hourgla.s.s every few seconds, cursing the sand within to speed up.
As soon as the last drop of sand fell through, he slammed his hand on the teacher’s table. “Time’s up! Stop practicing!”
No one dared to disobey. In the matter of several seconds, everyone was tightly gripping a motionless cube in their hands.
Deora’s stern expression turned into a smirk, satisfied with the absolute obedience he instilled in others. “Who wants to go first?”
Everyone looked towards Elaru.
Elaru hesitated for a moment but stepped forward in the end.
Seeing her beautiful yet dangerous visage, Deora’s face turned unsightly, and he immediately exclaimed. “No! You are not allowed to go first! Absolutely not! You are going last!”
No one was surprised by the rejection. The faces of examinees displaying wisdom, understanding and just blatant “as expected” expression.
Deora and Zerel had even purposefully reallocated this group into a different timeslot so it would be their last group. That way, even if Elaru ended up breaking the apparatus, they wouldn’t need to lose time because no group would be using the apparatus after them.
Naturally, they wouldn’t let her take the exam before other examinees because if she broke the equipment, all their efforts in changing the timeslot would be meaningless.
Elaru’s mouth twitched. Nonetheless, she silently and obediently stepped back.
* * *
Almost two hours had pa.s.sed before Elaru was allowed to step to the “stage”.
For the first hour, she had watched people take their exam with interest. Her eyes closely watching the moving strings. After that, she gradually lost interest and just stood at the corner, with a blank face and a distant expression.
She only briefly came back to her senses when Arion took the exam so she could give him thumbs up and a bright smile.
His performance wasn’t disappointing at all. His score was the highest one in the group. It wasn’t as incredible as Deora’s, but it could in no way be considered bad.
Elaru wasn’t surprised. Urwin family wasn’t a n.o.ble family nor a family known for their magic, but they were famous and wealthy nonetheless, which allowed them to marry their offspring to talented mages. Each new generation of the family would be better at magic than the last. It wasn’t surprising that they managed to raise someone capable of pa.s.sing the exam.
At last, it was Elaru’s turn to be examined.
All eyes once again converged to her. The emotions flickering on their faces ranged from excitement and expectation to gloating in the misery of others.
Now that they managed to complete their tests, they couldn’t care less if the apparatus broke. In fact, most of them would enjoy seeing the spectacle.
Even Zerel’s eyes showed expectation. Deora was the only one whose mood was sour. He disliked this elibu because it was her fault that he ended up punished by headmaster Eruan.
He was afraid that if she ended up breaking something, he’d be the one to pay for it again. Naturally, that caused his hair to stand on end and his palms to get sweaty. He pressed his lips tightly together and inspected the exam pa.s.s Elaru had given him.
Seeing the unlucky number written on the exam pa.s.s, his expression turned even darker.
Elaru resisted rolling her eyes at the strange mood in the room.
Yesterday, she was obviously unlucky. She didn’t do anything wrong, yet things ended up being broken. It’s not like she was a jinx or incompetent. It’s not like everything she touches would break.
It was an unlucky coincidence.