Why am I so fixated on that examinee, you ask?
I had no intention to hide anything from my sworn friend Firvus. I effortlessly began speaking to him heart-to-heart.
“Y’see, the original plan was to have someone else be the inspector.”
“But the stars told me something—I had an omen that something ‘Extremely promising’ was gonna show up, which is why I set it up so that I’d go instead.”
“Something extremely promising, huh… Would that be him?”
“It might be. I took a Magic Arrow of his on a whim, but it was abnormally powerful—it cut through my Hard Protection like butter, so I panicked and layered Diamond Protection on top of it. Despite that, I couldn’t fully suppress his Magic Arrow, so I pushed it against the ground.”
I quickly raised my hand.
“It was so powerful it made my right arm numb for a while. It was awful.”
“So not even your defense magic could stop his Magic Arrow… Unbelievable.”
“Want me to tell you something even crazier?”
“What, you’re telling me there’s more to this?”
“I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend him so persistently if all he had was an above-average Magic Arrow, you know. That examiner was talking about how his Magic Arrow wasn’t normal and that he suspected cheating. Even I thought the same, or else I wouldn’t have been able to wrap my head around that power. That’s why secretly left a spell on him—the type that analyzes and informs me of the spell he used.
“Yeah, and then?”
“What spell do you think he used during the second practical exam?”
“The second? That was mana dispelling, wasn’t it? It had to be Dispel Magic, right? That’s what the test was about.”
I shook my head.
“It was Magic Arrow.“
“Albert used Magic Arrow during the second practical exam. I’m absolutely positive he didn’t use any other spell.”
“No, wait a minute. That score report you read aloud earlier said he succeeded in dispelling mana.”
“Which means…wait, so that means this Albert guy used Magic Arrow to dispel mana?”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
Firvus yelled in denial, then laughed loudly.
I wanted to believe the same thing. If this were true, it’d be enough of a shock to send the magic theory humanity has built upon back to the drawing board.
“This has to be some sort of mistake, Carlyle… No, there’s no way you’d be wrong about anything magic-related.”
“…That’s why I’m thinking of putting him under someone’s management. It’d be simple to observe him if he enrolled in the academy… Whaddya think, Mr. Academy Instructor Firvus?”
“…So in the end, you’re dumping this on me?”
“Why, of course. I’ll be expecting you to investigate the mystery student Albert and report to me.”
“Ah, goddamnit! You’ve got some nerve, shoving this onto me!”
Firvus shook both of his arms and yelled, but he didn’t look as annoyed as he led on.
“I’ll be trusting you with this.”
I continued on with a dreary voice and expression.
“This era of peace will eventually come to an end. The hands of darkness have begun extending their influence throughout the kingdom. I can only hope that Albert is the star that will save us from that fate…”
On the day of the announcements—
After hopping from Magic Arrow to Magic Arrow all the way to the capital, I met up with Laura and headed to the main gate.
“I didn’t even feel alive during these three days… I kept thinking about how I might fail…”
Looking a little worn out, Laura gave her depressing monologue.
“What about you, Albert?”
“I wasn’t really that worried.”
“Your composure is amazing!?”
“That’s not really what I meant, though…”
She wasn’t the only one feeling restless. However, I knew how to manage my emotions in situations like these.
I single-mindedly read spellbooks.
Naturally, only the pages with Magic Arrow—over and over again.
Thanks to that, I felt like I’ve deepened my understanding of Magic Arrow by another level.
The main gate finally came into sight.
“Oooooow… my stomach hurts…”
There was a group of people that looked like examinees gathered around a large, wooden board. They had their full attention on a paper affixed to the board.
A boy silently hanging his head, and a girl lifting her hands in delight…
There laid the results that would change their destinies.
Laura and I stood before the wooden board.
Laura raised her voice first.
“I found it! It’s right here! Number 390! And number 389! We passed! We passed, Albert!”
After looking where Laura pointed, both of our numbers were indeed lined up.
I’m number 389, and Laura is number 390.
I breathed a sigh of relief.
It seems like I somehow managed to slip in. I was nitpicked during the first practical exam, and I was on the verge of timing out on the second… My written exam was probably average at best.
It was a miracle I got accepted.
“MRMAYORGRANDPAGRANNYMOTHERFATHERMYBROTHERSANDSISTERSANDEVERYONEINTHEVILLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGE! YOUR LAURA DID IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT!”
Laura seemed very delighted.
“You thank your village a lot, don’t you?”
“Ah, S-Sorry about that! I got a bit excited…”
Looking embarrassed, Laura blushed bright red.
“No, it’s alright. Are you that indebted to your village?”
“Yes. Everyone supported me… They told me to do my best and sent me off with the money they raised! That’s why I want to live up to their expectations!”
“Yes! Also—Of course, thank you very much, Albert!”
“If you didn’t nurse me back to health—if you didn’t bring me all the way to the capital—I would have been disqualified before even taking the test. It’s thanks to you I passed!”
“No… haha, I feel embarrassed if you put it that way.”
“I really! Really! Couldn’t thank you enough!”
“…I feel grateful to you as well, Laura.”
“Yeah. How should I put it… you made me think I should give it one last try. If I didn’t find you collapsed that time, I’d probably still be living quietly in that house.”
Laura smiled sweetly.
“I’m happy to hear that. I think it’d be wonderful if there was meaning in our chance encounter!”
I looked at the magic academy’s school building.
Until now, I couldn’t even bring myself to look at it. I’ve changed now.
That’s because I decided to chase my dreams again—because I swore to myself I wouldn’t run away this time.
Although I still have some trauma remaining, and I still feel the bitterness of my failure ten years ago in my chest.
Even so, I looked at the school grounds head-on—I was able to look at it.
This is where I would challenge the limit of Magic Arrow. I’ll prove once and for all that the miracle I glimpsed upon was no miracle.
Smiling softly, Laura held out her hand.
“I’ll look forward to being friends studying at the same school from now on!”
“Yeah, me too.”
After agreeing, I firmly shook her hand back.
Hey, sorry for the late post. I managed to finish a second chapter today. Next chapter(s) coming tomorrow. Gn.