A voice resonated from behind me.
“Number 389! Your timer’s ringing! Time’s up. Give it up and step outside!”
As my mind was drifting someplace far, my senses returned to me.
Just as he said, the timer was kicking up a racket throughout the room.
Ah… I was so dumbfounded that I wasn’t registering the sound.
Sluggishly reaching my hand to the timer, I pressed the switch. The noise stopped.
“Sorry… I’m coming out now.”
I gradually stood up from the chair, then pushed the pot against the examiner.
“Hm… Has this really been dispelled…?”
The examiner carefully examined the pot.
The pot returned to its original state before it was enchanted with anything—Just a regular pot.
“Yes. It seems like I just barely made it.”
“…The timer was ringing, but I guess I’ll let it slide. You pass.”
After returning to the classroom, I began tackling the written test.
The written test went pretty smoothly since I studied like mad back when I was an examinee. I forgot a few things here and there, but I should get a passing score just fine.
But who cared about the written test after what just went down.
My head was spinning, picturing the final moments of the second practical exam over and over.
At that moment in time, the Magic Arrow I shot—
didn’t destroy the pot.
The pot swallowed my Magic Arrow whole. Immediately after, the light wrapped around the pot vanished and made a quiet noise.
Just as I planned, my Magic Arrow destroyed only the mana inside the pot.
I’d most likely never forget that spectacle for as long as I’d live.
I saw it with my very own eyes—
The possibility of something revolutionary.
I never even had the slightest notion that such a thing was possible.
There was still a road left for me to walk down.
My life wasn’t over yet—
There was still something waiting for me down the road.
Could there truly have been meaning in randomly taking the magic academy exam for the second time?
Is enrolling here and pursuing that discovery be what I should be doing?
Deep down, the desire to enroll in the magic academy rose and swelled throughout my chest.
Up until now, I thought it didn’t matter if I failed. I was even considering declining if I was accepted.
I’ll just kill some time—
That was all I felt when I got into this.
However, I no longer have any intention of leaving.
I wanted to enroll here from the depths of my heart.
Maybe, just maybe—
The things I could never get ahold of might be within my reach.
No, I’ll make it within my reach.
This was the first time in ten years—No, my entire life—that I felt a firey passion begin burning in my chest.
“Time’s up! The written examination is over. Put down your pencils!”
The test ended.
“The test results will be displayed next to the main gate in three days. Those who have passed must come to the office to pick up their documents for enrollment!”
I exited the classroom and met up with Laura.
“We did it, Albert!”
“Yeah, I guess we did.”
We leisurely walked out of the school building and headed outside.
“Were you able to cast Dispel Magic just fine?”
“Are you for real?! That’s wonderful!”
“I was a second away from timing-out, though… It made me think miracles really do happen.”
“That was no miracle! It was your efforts bearing fruit, I’m sure of it!”
“I’d be delighted if that were true.”
“It absolutely is!”
I really do wish that were the case. If that was the fruition of dedicating ten years to Magic Arrow, then I would be wholeheartedly overjoyed.
“…Did the second practical exam go smoothly for you?
“Yes! Dispel Magic is much more my forte than Magic Arrow, so it went just fine!”
“Then it’s only natural that you’ve passed.”
“…I wonder… I am confident, though. Despite that, my head is full of worries—like what happens if I fail, and so on.
“I understand that feeling well.”
Or rather, I felt exactly the same way right now.
Both the feeling of excitement and the fear of failing swirled inside of me.
I want to get accepted.
I might even feel stronger than back when I took the test for the first time.
While talking about this and that, we arrived at the main gate.
Laura bowed her head with a snap.
“Thank you for everything you’ve done for me so far today, Albert!”
Ah… I understood what she meant behind that.
The test ended—
and so did the tiny thread that tied Laura and me.
“If you’re that happy, then so am I.”
“Yes! I really can’t thank you enough.”
Laura spoke a few more parting words.
“I’m thinking of staying at an inn in the capital until the day they announce the results.”
“That’s quite luxurious.”
“No, not at all! I don’t have any money, so it’s a cheap inn! And also, I have a bit of a favor to ask—”
“If you’d like, won’t you come and see the results with me on announcement day?”
It seems like my relationship with her had yet to come to an end.
Looking nervous, she continued to speak.
“My chest is beating quite a bit… I’d be happy if you came with me, but what do you think?”
“I don’t mind at all.”
Laura happily clasped her hands together.
“What a relief! We’ve come so far already, so let’s both pass together!”
“Yeah, you’re right.”
After settling on a meeting place and time, we both parted ways.
I had a whole three days, so I planned on returning home. I’m doing fine money-wise, so it wouldn’t be an issue to stay in the capital, but—
I found the possibility of meeting an old acquaintance unpleasant.
I didn’t want to risk meeting the son of some noble family or an acquaintance from my magic academy school days in the slightest.
I am no longer Albert Luminous—
Just Albert, after all.
I didn’t want to meet people who knew about my past.
How great it would be if the single step I took today was the beginning of a new chapter in my life.
No, I want it to be—
I earnestly hoped so.
Fast forward to the day before the announcements, at noon. Densely packed test results and registration sheets were scattered all over the large round table.
Teachers were fervently debating the minimum passing grade for the exam just moments ago.
An elderly instructor that was in charge of the exam stood to his feet.
“With everything said and done, tomorrow’s announcements will use the minimum grading scale we’ve just decided on!”
The teachers nodded in agreement.
At that moment, the results were decided.
Spread across the round table, a sheet of paper written “Examinee No. 389, Albert” was stamped with a black seal.
There laid the mark of failure.
Hey, the chapter was a few hours late since I took a bit of a break. New chapter coming tomorrow (for real).