Practical Tests Part 1
The school had told us to change into something easy to move in, but personally I found no need to do so. My casual attire served me just fine, and so I headed directly towards my assigned practice grounds.
The area was elliptical, reddish-brown and was well-maintained, something like a school’s sports ground.
Over 200 examinees had already gathered in the examination hall.
Now, where were Satella and Aria? I scanned the hall before noticing a group of people.
“I respectfully decline.”
Satella gripped the hem of her maid outfit and politely bowed.
“I-I’m the next head of the Usan Family. We’re Counts!” yelled a handsome boy with a blonde mushroom cut as his face reddened in anger.
“Yes, you told me that earlier.”
Satella tilted her head in confusion.
“Then isn’t grabbing a meal after the exam fine!?”
“How does your status as the next head of a Count have any relation to me accompanying you for food?”
“I mean, aren’t you a commoner?”
“I am. What about it.”
“Then shut up and listen to us nobles!!”
Satella narrowed her eyes after finally understanding what he meant.
That’s why I told you to take off your maid clothes at least during the exam. The sons and daughters of high rank nobles and wealthy merchants commute to this school. It’s only natural that the examinees would misinterpret their parents’ authority and assets as their own.
“I haven’t heard of any law that required commoners to accompany nobles for a meal,” Satella replied.
“Commoners obey the nobles. It’s our empire’s most prized custom,” the boy explained.
“I’ve never heard of any kind of custom like that.”
“It’s true! That’s what the nobles tell me. There’s no way they’re wrong!!”
Satella sighed and said, “Then let me draw the line for you with some evidence. I already serve someone of peerage who has given me strict orders to not follow anybody shady. That’s why I refused your request.”
“Are you saying I’m shady!?”
“I must have made a mistake if you had heard differently. I apologize from the bottom of my heart.”
Satella gripped the hem of her clothes while trying to suppress a smile as the boy with the mushroom cut flushed in anger.
Satella’s been quite ruthless recently—probably due to my teachings. That’s kind of a blow to my confidence.
“How dare you, a mere commoner!!”
“It’s not about my status. It’s about how you’re so crazy as to invite a girl out for a meal without even considering what would happen if you were rejected. I don’t care if you take this as arrogant, but wouldn’t it be best for you to learn some common sense?”
The other examinees looked on in amusement.
In contrast, I noticed Aria, who was scowling as if completely fed up.
“Ah! Grey!” said Aria, gallantly waving her hand towards me.
That girl always pushes her troubles onto me. Well I am technically Satella’s guardian, so I’ll try to get the situation under control as quickly as possible.
“Stand down, Satella. You’re being rude.”
Satella pouted in frustration. In her eyes, she was being chastised for an error she hadn’t made. Her extremely stubborn nature meant a proper explanation was in order.
“You know, boys going through puberty won’t be able to muster up the courage to talk to a girl without some kind of a ridiculous reason.”
That’s right, even I was ……like that? I can’t for the life of me remember. I used to at least be able to remember fragments of my life on earth before.
“Yeah? Their bodies rapidly begin to develop around age 12, and they become hyper aware of the opposite sex. It’s the period of time between a child and an adult.
Satella looked at the boy in disgust.
“Hey, y-you……” he began, flapping his lips with a face as red as a ripe apple.
Yep, I think that explanation wasn’t enough. These kinds of topics are just so difficult to explain to children.
“Like I was saying, it’s more of an instinct. An attraction to the opposite sex is what fuels us as humans. Lacking that attraction would make us cease to be human.”
“Then do you have that attraction too, Grey-sama?”
“Of course I do. I’m human after all.”
It’s sad that I can’t put any persuasive power behind that statement as I’ve been treated as inhuman a lot lately.
“But you seem to hold none of that towards me?”
Hm? I feel like the issue at hand’s changed. Actually, I this conversation seems to be heading somewhere dangerous……
“Well you’re like a sister to me, so an attraction would actually be weird, don’t you think?”
Satella began to pout. Shit, I can already tell what’s coming; I’ve already angered her.
“You dug a wonderful grave for yourself,” Aria added from the side.
It can’t be helped. I need to force the conversation back to what it was before.
“Let’s get back to the topic at hand,” I said. “The mind can’t keep up with the rapid change in the body during puberty, so they often do some really embarrassing stuff. Compared to girls, boys develop a lot slower and so the effect is much more marked. It’s a bit harsh to blame him for that.”
Of course, everybody has their own dos and don’ts. As long as we adhere to them, I think we should be more tolerant of kids going through these times.
“I understand. There’s a couple of points I’m not happy about, but that’s for another time. I went a little too far. Please forgive me.”
Satella turned back to the boy with the mushroom cut, crossed her hands over her stomach and deeply bowed.
“N-no, it’s not like I was……”
For some reason, the boy ran away in confusion.
Still, these passerby are giving us quite the stares.
“Why? Was he angry at me?”
Aria stared at me for a while before sighing and saying, “You’re really smart, Grey, but you’re also an idiot.”
After regrouping together, Satella’s mood had dropped like a rock, but after I promised to sightsee Reise together with her, she finally perked back up.
“By the way, did everything go well on your side?” I asked the two.
“Yes, I managed to fill everything out,” Aria said. “There really weren’t any difficult questions besides the last one.”
In an instant, everybody turned to look at us.
“Huh? Huh? What’s happening?”
Aria frantically looked around after asking that incomprehensible question
“Who knows. In any case, do you think you can use magic?”
“Yep! I somehow managed to memorize everything!”
I had made Aria learn 【Fireball】and 【Wind Cutter】with grimoires. It had been done in haste, but as long as she remembered the incantations she would pass.
Most importantly, I heard that Aria had been receiving instruction from Kurama in the military arts. She should have an overwhelming advantage over the sheltered boys and girls. Since the subject tests were that easy, she shouldn’t have any problem unless she made some huge accident.
At the final meeting, a beautiful woman with blue hair who had donned a pointy hat and a robe appeared before us.
“I’m Rebecca, and I’ll be serving as your head examiner today. Let’s begin with a quick outline of the exam,” she said and began her explanation.
That said, the explanation merely consisted of splitting the examinees into an A group and B group, where the A group received a magic test and the B group a martial arts test. Once both groups finished, they would switch sides and take the other half.
It looked like I was in group A and Satella and Aria in Group B.
“See ya then. Good luck to you both.”
I nodded a few times after their innocent smiles and headed towards my assigned magic examination room.
“Condense magic power into this crystal.”
A boy with short brown hair looked like he was battling against Fate herself as he placed his palm on the crystal, which soon glowed red. The boy assumed a triumphant pose while the examiner merely recorded the result down on a piece of parchment.
Looks like red signifies a high amount of magic.
“Next, number 344.”
Incidentally, I was taking this test as Grey Millard. After all, my sister and brother from another mother, Aqua and Cliff respectively, would be here if I were to pass. They would definitely suspect something was up if I had taken my other name.
“Condense magic power into this crystal.”
I’m a bit interested in what would happen to this toy if I went all out, but Satella had warned me beforehand to be discreet. I should hold back my curiosity.
I sat down and placed my right palm onto the crystal while being careful to hold back.
The young, black-haired examiner suddenly backed off as blue sparks spat out of the crystal before turning completely black.
Did I break it? No way, I only put a tiny fraction of my power into it.
Amidst the awkward silence that had befallen the room, the young examiner who had retreated the corner of the room cleared his throat, walked up to me, and began closely inspecting the crystal.
He tried tapping it and condensing magic power into it, among other things, but nothing happened. He let out a deep sigh and exited the room after announcing the test would be temporarily suspended. Ten minutes later, he came back with a new crystal.
“No, condense magic power into this crystal.”
In all probability, I had condensed the crystal with more magic than it could hold. However annoying, I’d need to aim to release the absolute minimum amount of magic power I could. Going even a little over a certain amount would cause a spell to be casted, and to make matters worse, the amount of magic power expended wasn’t the only thing that controlled the power of a spell. That fact had probably obstructed my ability to finely control my magic power consumption. Truly, what a hard exam.
I placed my right palm on the crystal and focused solely on outputting the absolute smallest amount of magic power, but……
The examiner stared at the now black crystal in a daze.
So even this was too much. Maybe this wasn’t a test to measure your magic power, but how finely you could control your release of magic power. That meant this was truly a difficult exam.
“P-please stand by for a bit.”
The dozens of piercing glares around me were extremely uncomfortable.
The young examiner from before then came back holding three crystals. However, a disturbance ran through the examinees when they saw a blue-haired female examiner enter with him.
“You said you were Grey-kun right? Could you condense your magic one more time?” asked the head examiner, Rebecca.
She had a gentle tone, but it left no room to decline.
“Sure……” I replied.
Controlling my magic power expenditure didn’t work. That was, in a sense, a fatal flaw. Mentally, I was on a bed of nails, but I had received a chance. I had finally found out this weakness of mine, and I should try my best to overcome it.
I placed my right palm on the crystal.
With a meticulous attention, I released magic power into the crystal.
The crystal vibrated and turned black.
Shit! Another failure.
“Let’s go to the next one,” Rebecca excitedly said.
“Yes, bring it on.”
I touched the crystal and closed my eyes.
I imagined a wide ocean and scooped out a cup of water. That’s how fine it had to be.
Opening my eyes, I saw yet another black crystal.
Even this was too much. Then I’ll need to imagine something even smaller next time. Rebecca silently placed another crystal in front of me. I carelessly picked it up and imagined a faucet. I was the water reservoir. I twisted the faucet and let a single drop spill out.
Amidst the room which had returned to an uncanny silence, I opened my eyes to see the crystal glowing silver.
“Silver……” muttered Rebecca before she burst out in laughter. A chatter arose through the examinees, who knit their eyebrows at the sight of Rebecca, still cackling with a face red with excitement.
“Hey, have you heard of it turning silver?” one examinee asked to another.
“No, the lowest is white, and the highest is gold. It’s close to white, so isn’t it the lowest?” another added.
“RIP, he probably failed.”
“Geez, how long are they going to take for a failure?”
Hm, it was my fault for failing to manage my magic power. It would be rude of me to get in the way of the other examinees any further.
“Is this enough?”
“Yes, yes, it’s enough. More than enough. Of course. Please go to the next exam, Grey-kun. Although there might not be much meaning to test you any further.”
A wave of sneers exploded from behind me.
I couldn’t care less about whether I failed or not, but I was quite pleased at having found one of my weaknesses. I’ve matured a lot during this test.
“Thank you very much.”
I bowed down with a smile on my lips and headed off towards the next testing ground.