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Kiel looked at the hourgla.s.s and determined he had enough time to condense a large enough crystal to reach 25 points. In fact, as he spent his mana, he couldn’t even feel the mana pool emptying itself at all, which was a rather bizarre phenomenon.
Either the mana pool was so large that the amount he had used up was insignificant, or Elaru’s mana regeneration speed was higher than Kiel’s mana flow speed.
Usually, mana flow speed was much higher than mana regeneration speed, which meant that mages could spend mana faster than they could replenish it. Most of the time, even when mages had higher mana regeneration speed than their mana flow speed it was because their mana flow speed was horrid, not because their mana regeneration was monstrously high.
However, obviously, this was not the case with Elaru.
Her soul was simply an abomination that shouldn’t exist.
The sand slowly slid down the hourgla.s.s. As soon as the last drop slid down, the glowing markings on the crystallizer went out, and the attraction force inside the crystallizer disappeared.
Kiel let out a breath of relief.
Rau Eryey and Kady Ailert quickly reached his side and complimented him.
Rau reached his hands inside the cauldron and pulled out a large yellow crystal the size of a man’s head. The crystal seemed to be quite heavy as he placed it on a weight scale next to the crystallizer with some difficulty.
The meter of a scale quickly skyrocketed.
Kady Ailert beamed as she looked at the number. “Impressive.” She smiled. “That is enough for 25 points. Congratulations. The great majority of examinees run out of mana before the end of the test. Your mana pool size is quite extraordinary.”
“Thank you.” Kiel nodded and smiled modestly.
This situation was completely opposite of what happened last year when he took the test. He remembered the pitying gazes of the examiners clearly. There was even scorn in the depths of their eyes as if saying “A non-mage still hopes to enroll in Muni? How laughable.”
He remembered how they picked up a pinky-sized crystal from the crystallizer and wondered if they should even bother weighting it.
He remembered how his cheeks burned in shame, how he had subconsciously pulled his hood tighter around his head as to conceal as much of his features as he could, otherwise he would die out of shame if the two examiners recognized him on the street.
Today, he walked out of the cla.s.sroom with his head held high, albeit with shaky footsteps.
Today, there was no blush of shame on his face, only the sickly paleness due to the damage caused to his body.
Today, his heart soared high in the sky, all the chains binding it crumbled away.
With his current exam score, it was no longer a matter of whether he pa.s.sed the exams.
It was only the matter of how high he placed.
* * *
The gray curtain covered the sky completely, congregating into thick clumps that looked tangible. Although it was early afternoon, the courtyard of Muni was shrouded in shadows as if it was dusk.
Kiel Rroda sat in the most secluded corner of Red Quarters main hall he could find. His body wasn’t in the best of conditions, so his usually non-existent desire to socialize was even less existent. He was also worried that he might be attacked by a Shadow again, so instead of hiding in the middle of nowhere, he decided to hide himself in plain sight – in the main hall that was full of people.
Since he was mostly hidden from sight by the large pillars, he wouldn’t be disturbed by random people, and yet, he was still close enough to the crowd so that the Shadow wouldn’t be able to do anything excessive.
Still, he hoped Elaru would be done with her exam soon so that they could leave Muni. He felt the safest when he was by her side, under Invisibility barrier. When they were Invisible and concealing their presence, he felt as if they were separated from the world, in a world of their own. Like nothing could disturb them or touch them.
Kiel sighed softly and looked at his pocket watch. Elaru’s exam should be starting soon. Hopefully, she’ll be the first one to take the exam in her group so that he wouldn’t need to wait for her much longer.
If she wasn’t finished soon, they would end up caught in a storm. Kiel looked up at the gla.s.s dome. The gray clouds reflected in his icy blue eyes making them look gray as well.
Suddenly, Kiel got a bad feeling.
Just as his hairs rose on the back of his neck, a bright light flashed in the sky. The sound of heavy rainfall reached his ears before the rumbling of thunder.
The large raindrops heavily bombarded the dome like thousands of arrows, followed by an explosive sound of thunder that made the entire building shake as if hit by a cannon.
“Earthquake!” Someone screamed.
The screech seemed to shake everyone awake from their shock, and they sprouted into action. Some hid under the tables. Some confusedly looked about, unsure of what to do. Some just sat there, watching the pillars and the ceiling vigilantly, hoping that they won’t crumble and fall on their heads. Some huddled together like a herd of scared meep.
The earth shook more and more violently under Kiel’s feet.
The harder the building shook, the more panicked the people became. Some of them could no longer keep their balance and stumbled to the ground.
The sounds of shock and distress spreading through the main hall were almost loud enough to overpower the rumbling of thunder.
Initially, Kiel intended to continue sitting where he was, waiting for the earthquake to subside but then he noticed that his calm behavior was drawing too much attention from the people around him.
In the chaos, people who retained their calm stood out like sore thumbs. His handsome and n.o.ble appearance, coupled with his peaceful demeanor with an unperturbed facial expression made people unconsciously look at him for support.
Countless pairs of eyes looked at him, asking for comfort.
Kiel swore inside his head. Darn earthquake! Just my luck! Outwardly, he smiled wryly and decided that in such a situation, the herd of headless meep was looking for him to lead them.
He should speak a few comforting words and calm them down, right? This was an opportunity to make a positive impression.
“There is no need to panic.” Kiel spoke up in a soothing tone that pierced through the main hall like a hot knife through b.u.t.ter. “The professors have already noticed the disturbance. If they deem that the building is in danger of collapsing, they will reinforce it with magic.” Kiel smiled gently. His smile instantly brightened the room and calmed down the hearts of everyone who saw it.
Kiel continued: “It definitely won’t colla…” Before he could finish his speech, an agitated yell coming from a nearby table interrupted him. “Meeps.h.i.t!!!”
Kiel’s face froze. Why is it that recently nothing seemed to be going his way? Why was it that there were always people making trouble for him? How did he offend this guy for him to contradict him so openly?
Kiel’s eyes landed on an argel who yelled out. He had short, and spiky bright yellow hair layered on top of b.l.o.o.d.y red strands. His blazing eyes were the same bright, b.l.o.o.d.y red color as the highlights in his hair.
Where other people were stumbling because of the earthquake, the blond was standing like a statue. Where other people were starting to calm down, the guy was getting more and more agitated.
Kiel couldn’t feel any hostility towards him from the argel’s aura. In fact, the boy didn’t even seem to have noticed Kiel. Wait…? Could it be that he isn’t picking a fight with me but is actually really afraid of earthquakes?
Should he try to calm this person down? Once again Kiel started speaking in his husky voice pleasant to the air. “It’ll be alri…” But once again, before he could finish he was interrupted by swearing.
“d.a.m.n it!” The blond screeched. “There must be an incredible battle in the Arena happening right now!! Oi, oi! Does anyone know who is fighting in the Arena right now?!”
He is… agitated thinking that he was missing an exciting arena battle?? Wait… he actually thinks the earthquake is caused by an intense arena battle???
Kiel stood unmoving and speechless, not knowing whether he should laugh or cry. Why do I keep running into weirdoes?!
* * *
Elaru Wayvin wanted to take her exam as soon as possible. Leaving Kiel on his own while there was a Shadow after him left her feeling uncomfortable.
When she volunteered to take the exam first, Deora Thayn shot her down. “No way! I am saying no to all of your requests from now on!!”
Elaru blinked twice innocently looking at the furious looking Deora. “In that case…” she mused. “Can I…not go first?”
Deora once again screamed “No!” before she could finish. However, when he heard the end of her sentence the yell abruptly got stuck in his throat and Deora’s face turned as red as a tomato.
“You think you are smart, don’t you?!?”
Elaru nonchalantly nodded her head. “Yeah.”
Deora gaped at her dumbfounded. Before he could recover, Zerel nodded his head approvingly with a sly smile. “Since little Dei agrees to it, sure, you can go first.”
“I don’t agree!!! I definitely don’t agree!!” Deora roared, only to be completely ignored by both Zerel and Elaru. Zerel motioned Elaru to enter, his eyes squinted into crescent moons. Elaru walked in victoriously.
“OUT!!!” Deora slammed his fist on the teacher’s table and pointed his finger to the door. “You. Are. Not. Going. FIRST!”
“Little Dei, you already gave her your permission. Don’t tell me you are going back on your word?” Zerel shook his head disappointedly. “So much for virtues of a Thayn…”
Deora ground his teeth, his face was so red that one could almost see steam coming out of his ears. “You love seeing the world burn, don’t you?” He spat out, glaring daggers at Zerel. If looks could kill, Zerel would have died ten thousand times in the most miserable way possible.
Zerel smirked. “Why do you think I chose to be partnered with you?”
Deora once again slammed his fists on the table. “I can’t believe princ.i.p.al Eruan allowed you to supervise the exams! You shouldn’t even be a professor with how you keep causing trouble!”
Zerel’s eyes widened, and he suddenly erupted into a fit of giggles. “You’re the one to talk. Truly a pot calling the kettle black.”
Elaru took advantage of their squabble to approach the crystallizer and start the test before Deora could forcefully kick her out.
She intertwined her fingers and stretched her arms out in front of her, smirking provocatively. This will be… fun.
And then, with the excited gleam in her eyes, she twisted the hourgla.s.s handle upside down.
Deora and Zerel that didn’t stop bickering when she activated the crystallizer suddenly turned silent.
Elaru had finally retracted her mind coc.o.o.n, allowing the full extent of her aura to erupt unbridled. To every mind that touched her aura, it would seem as if they were suddenly swallowed by the rampaging sea and sunk to the bottom.
The pressure of mana made the air inside the room feel heavy. It became stifling. Every breath became painful.
Both Deora who was furious and Zerel who was amused, suddenly turned solemn, completely forgetting their argument.
The crystallizer lit up with blindingly bright light and started producing a loud hum. The table on which the crystallizer was placed started shaking and trembling.
Elaru’s long ponytail started whirling and flapping like a flag, although there was no wind.
The sea of mana surrounding Elaru created a whirlpool, two meters in diameter that swallowed both her and the crystallizer inside a chaotic tempest.
The arrow inside the speedometer jumped to the right so fast that it almost broke off.