The students kicked up a stir after seeing the score that the head of the class produced.
“This is insane!”
“As expected of the head of the class!”
However, the person in question remained silent as he stared at his score, seemingly unsatisfied.
“98 points, huh… Were you thinking you got 100 points? There were a few subtle mistakes you made that caused you to miss points. That level of error won’t matter in an actual battle. Don’t sweat it.”
Afterward, he called out to Sarles, who was the third person following me and Blain that had an Iron Emblem.
“Alright, you’re next.”
“Huh? For real!?”
Sarles shook both hands back and forth.
“It’s rather nerve wracking when I’m going right after Blain, so I’d like to withdraw! I’ll lose face, you know!”
“Everybody here’s the same. How about this? You have an Iron Emblem, and you’re Blain’s friend—go on and be the first that gets humiliated.”
“Huuuuuuh…? I DON’T WANT THIS JOB ANYMOOOOORE!”
Sarles was forcefully dragged away to the testing room.
He was half-hearted about it at first, but he carried himself in a dignified manner once the exam started. Making full use of his offensive magic, he crushed the silhouettes in succession.
“…Sarles is always clowning around, but he’s pretty damn amazing, after all.”
“I mean, he does have an Iron Emblem…”
The students said this and that, their voices twinged with sighs.
Such was Sarles’ score.
After getting a look at his score, he seemed neither satisfied or dissatisfied.
“Phew. I somehow managed to score higher than 90… Guess I can’t beat Master Blain in the end, huh?”
Sarles laughed light-heartedly as he went back to his original spot.
From then on, the other students had a crack at the exam as they were called one by one.
While watching the other students, I came to understand just how far ahead of the pack Blain and Sarles were.
One after another, the students were put through the wringer, and their scores reflected as much. There wasn’t even a single person that could reach 80 points, let alone 90.
The exam was graded with extreme precision, to the point where it made you wonder how Blain and Sarles even messed up in the first place. The other students missed the silhouettes in a panic, as if it were a matter of course.
“…This exam sure is tough…”
Kyria mumbled as he walked back to his spot next to me.
His score was 74 points.
He was considerably brilliant himself, but compared to what Blain and Sarles scored, you couldn’t deny that he made for an unfavorable comparison.
As you’d expect from a blood relative of a duke household—which was of the highest rank possible in the kingdom—Kyria was proud and hated to lose. I’ve heard him say, “I want to win against Blain” several times before.
However, climbing the wall that was Blain was no easy feat, after all.
Something suddenly dawned on me. I’ve never seen Kyria and his group of nobles talk with Blain.
That’s pretty odd. Blain was from the Milhis marquis household, which made him the same rank as me.
I lowered the tone of my voice and spoke to Kyria.
“…Do you not talk with Blain very often?”
“…Hm? Aah… That guy has no business with small fry.”
Kyria grumbled in a disgruntled voice. “He’s preoccupied with mastering magic, so the only person he hangs out with is Sarles, who has good grades. Sarles’ personality is probably part of the reason, but… apparently, he’d rather make friends with talented commoners than us nobles.”
…Blain has a pretty resolute way of thinking.
It was just like what the old me had—feelings of freedom.
I was struggling to get used to being a noble. To me, the strength of his willpower invoked feelings of both nostalgia and envy.
“He doesn’t think about his household despite being a noble, huh.”
“…Well, he is the survivor of the Tragedy of the Milhis Household… He probably isn’t interested in those things…” muttered Kyria, sinking into silence thereafter.
…The Tragedy of the Milhis Household?
I knew about his household, but not about that phrase. Kyria spoke as if it were common knowledge, so it must’ve been a pretty famous story.
It piqued my interest, but it didn’t really seem like the best thing to talk about in a place like this, so I decided not to ask any further.
As we were having that discussion—
Firvus came out of the adjoining room.
“Albert, you’re up.”
The moment he said those words, the students boiled over with excitement.
“An Iron Emblem vs an Iron Emblem!”
“Who do you think’s gonna win!?”
“It’s gotta be Blain, no? 98 points is hard to beat.”
Various comments arose amidst the excitement.
I went into the adjoining room with Firvus.
The moment he sat on the chair in the corner of the room, Firvus called out to me.
I looked at Firvus in surprise.
“Are you telling me to lose on purpose?”
“No, no. I worded it poorly. You can take this match seriously. However, don’t go shooting your full power Magic Arrow,” said Firvus. He then lightly tapped the wall.
“This room is made out of materials with exceptional anti-mana defensive capabilities, but your Magic Arrow is dangerous all the same. My salary’s on the line, so hold back for me, will ya?”
“Is that so?”
“20% of your Magic Arrow’s original power should be more than enough to destroy the silhouettes. Keep it around there.”
Was that really alright? Well, if Firvus says so. He’s probably correct.
“Wait up, Albert.”
“…What is it?”
“Make that 10% instead.”
Firvus sure is a worrywart…
I turned my body in the direction of the silhouettes—
and Firvus called out to me again.
“Wait up, Albert.”
“…What is it?”
“Has there been anything on your mind recently? This room is soundproof, so you can talk about anything you want.”
Anything on my mind…
I never expected Firvus would start a counseling session in a place like this.
I did feel pretty gloomy.
Rather than plain old Albert, I had to live as Albert Luminous. Having to mingle with the noble kids day after day was wearing me down mentally.
However, I couldn’t immediately articulate the tempest of emotions swirling inside of me.
It was a big, messy jumble of complex emotions, and I needed more time to properly sort them out.
Firvus quickly glanced at the other room.
The students were waiting for my exam with bated breath.
“…Guess we don’t have much time. If you ever feel like talking, feel free to consult me whenever. I’ll be waiting.”
I was grateful for that offer.
The fact that someone was looking out for me eased the weights in my heart a little.
But I didn’t have the time to dwell on it. I needed to focus on the exam in front of me.
Firvus placed his hand on the switch on the wall. “I’m gonna start it.”
Walls appeared in the empty space in front of me, and the silhouettes followed suit.
Holding my right hand in front of me, I gave mouth to the usual words.
I pierced the silhouettes one after the other. It was just as Firvus said—no matter what kind of silhouette it was, I smashed all of them to pieces with a single shot.
I’d expect nothing less from Firvus; his advice was right on the mark. My opinion of Firvus went up another notch.
By the way, I was shooting with one hand instead of two, but that wasn’t because I was purposefully holding back.
I defied all common sense and attained two-handed firing during my battle against the Hydra, but that must’ve been because of the unusual circumstances, as I couldn’t do it right now.
If I manage to find myself in a similar situation, maybe I’ll be able to do it again.
My white arrow pierced the last silhouette, and the test came to an end.
Firvus nodded. “Well done. I expected as much from you. Go look at your score.”
I exited the testing room. The students were at a loss for words, as if they saw something terrifying.
The moment my score popped up, the students made a stir.
On the panel was the following:
The second magic arrow chap. Gonna start on recreator now, I’ll post it later today or early tomorrow. See you guys then.