The sun lit up the blue skies, pouring down sunlight onto the school grounds filled with students. Apparently, upper-level students were given a day-off to give way for the exam. Because of that, I made sure to not attract any suspicions as I trotted my way from the dorms.
The dorms were about a 5 minutes walk to the academy. That means I was earlier than most students who came from outside but still, as soon as I arrived, a lot of students were already gathered in front.
I glanced around the crowd and realized that some students came with their parents. I heard words of encouragement and even some putting more pressure on their child like... they will be disowned if they don’t pass.
It was after all the kingdom’s prestigious academy and it seemed that getting in would practically secure a bright future for the student. I’ve heard that at around the end of your school years, you’ll get a bunch of different job offers from the upper ranks in the kingdom regardless of your overall performance in the academy. In short, the academy was a ticket to having a successful life if you happened to pass the entrance exam. Now that I aimed to make a life here, I was just another in an opportunistic crowd of students.
All students who came for the entrance exam remained in front of the academy, anxiously waiting for instructions and signals. I mixed in the crowd and waited for some announcement when I heard a distant rumbling—the sound of horses approaching followed by a carriage. A mixture of excitement and curiosity was transparent among the eyes of individuals gathered. When I turned to look at the gate entrance where the crowd soon gathered, I realized why.
A grand carriage covered in gold approached the gates. The carriage carried the crest of a winged sword, the Galdia Kingdom’s symbol. The crowd cleared a path as soon as the figure revealed itself from the carriage, two soldiers led the person outside side by side.
Among the excited and bustling crowd, I stared at the person who walked down the path, mouth agape. Eh. Seriously…?
That same short rosy hair and amethyst-colored eyes I met yesterday. Alyss Galdia, princess of Galdia kingdom, stood within the crowd with elegance. The air of someone born from royalty emanates around her. The girl I’m seeing right now was entirely different from the one I met yesterday.
A short cloak rested on her shoulders unlike the one she was wearing yesterday and her hair floated on the breeze as she glanced around the crowd with a smile. Then suddenly, our eyes met.
But when she noticed me, the slightest hint of mischievous smile brought her lips. A shiver of worry flickered down my spine.
The exam is divided into three parts: written, magic, and combat test. All students were split into groups for convenience and currently, the woman instructor in charge led our group in a room to take the written exam.
She wore glasses and a uniform—probably the assigned attire for instructors of the academy. She oozed adeptness and poise as she conducted her work.
As soon as we took our seats, the woman instructor explained some basic instructions and rules when taking the exam. After that, she passed the paper to the students in front who then passed it along to the back.
Once everyone had their paper, the woman instructor gave the signal to start. I turned over my paper at the same time as the other students and scanned the contents.
It appears that the questions are mostly basic. Comparing it to my previous life on earth, it equals elementary level and it seems the most difficult ones are around the first year level of highschool.
Basic arithmetic, algebra, characteristics of living beings... I did study beforehand but even a guy like me, who wasn’t even the studious type when I was in highschool, could still answer this almost easily. Though it did contain some questions about history in this world, these were all in the books I read. Good job, me.
The time given to answer the exam was exactly one hour. Though, it hadn't even passed half an hour yet. I turned my paper upside down on the desk after reviewing my answers and continued to wait for the time to pass.
The woman instructor who had been monitoring us looked at me suspiciously. I looked away from her and glanced at the others still taking the exam. I could somehow see their vexed expression from the corner of my eyes. Hmm? Was it that difficult?
Then again, it was thanks to my memories and vast amount of experience that I wouldn’t have any problem with this exam as long as I remember those. Is this considered cheating, I wonder... In my mind, I apologize to those taking the exams seriously. I’m sorry.
After the written exam comes the magic test. We were led outside to the back of the academy where there was an open space stretching out far and wide. Unlike the written exam, this time, the test’s purpose was just to check whether the student could use magic and control it in a certain way.
It seemed like the results won’t affect your entry into the academy but instead, it would only serve as a basis for the instructors and class arrangements or so the woman instructor said.
“As you’ve probably guessed…” she said, while pointing at the shooting target over a distance of around 30 meters. “All you need to do is to try and shoot the target with your magic once and that’s it.”
She then called out students one by one. First one to be called was a male student. He walked through the spot where the woman instructor was waiting with an enthusiastic expression.
“You may start as soon as you're ready.”
After he received his cue, he held out his palm and started muttering under his breath. Slowly but steadily, essence flowed around his body and a fist-sized flame took shape from his palm.
Ah. Here it comes.
“Fireball!!” he shouted with fervor.
And finally, the classic fireball.
The fireball reached its target with tremendous speed. Though it didn’t hit the center mark, the surface of the upper portion was charred.
The woman instructor took notes while nodding, then called out to the next student. “Okay. Next.”
A female student with long light-blue hair walked from the group. Just like the previous student, she held out her hand and muttered something before releasing her magic. This time, a ball of water sprouted out from her palm.
“Water Bullet.” she said softly. As the name suggests, a waterball the size of a bullet shot out from her palms and reached... the center mark of the target.
That was utterly amazing. I thought.
Everyone watching widened their eyes for a moment then the brief silence turned into the sound of applause.
The woman instructor also nodded to herself and wrote down notes, a faint smile passed across her lips.
“...E-eh? Ah, thank you!” The girl was tense and timidly bowed numerous times.
Students were continuously called out until it was finally my turn. I walked beside the instructor to do the test. Let’s see.
From what I’ve seen so far, students use incantations to produce their magic. Wait, no. I think those are considered standard now, I guess. Magic is the manifestation of your imagination through the use of your essence. Even if you have a strong sense of your essence, it would be useless if you didn’t even know what to do with it. As of today, every magic element is now transcribed in books. Even the simplest magic like fireball are written step-by-step in detail. It’s like a complete formula in a series of words to trigger the magic. Well, the concept behind it is that it allows the user to have an actual idea of how the magic will look and work. And by reciting that formula, it further sharpens your imagination and focus, effectively producing the desired magic, even the most intricate ones.
In actual battle, a moment of delay before casting your magic meant death. Which is why that idea was never introduced. But apparently, 300 years ago after the first defeat of demons, use of magic had dwindled along with the knowledge for it. Thus, it became harder for new generations to use magic as time passed. That is where transcribed magic texts and incantations came into use.
However for me who had memories of 300 years ago and not to mention, the knowledge I have on earth, such incantations were unnecessary.
Fire, water, lightning. ice... So far, those elements have been used and it wouldn’t feel right if I used the same as the others. I don’t think using earth wouldn’t fit either… Hmm, I guess the last option would be that.
I held out my right arm. Let’s keep it simple. And sweep it in front of me hitting nothing but air. Though as it did, the same motion as how my arm moved, a sweeping gust of wind burst out. E-eh?
It cleanly cut the shooting target in half within a second.
The woman instructor who was standing beside me muttered something. “No incantation... and moreover, producing magic like that within a beat.”
Everyone else was quiet. Indescribable silence engulfed everyone and everything around. Until one person breaks the silence.
“Did you see that...”
“—I didn’t hear him say anything.”
“—It happened so fast, amazing!”
“...That guy is incredible.”
All of a sudden, everyone was commenting on how I did on the test. Apparently, I overdid it... I said just to keep it simple but it seemed like that wasn’t simple enough for them. I smiled wryly at the sight.
After that, the rest of the students were called out until the magic test was finished.
The woman instructor gave us a short break before the final test. She said that she will explain the last test before it starts but for now, she gave us time to prepare and told us to walk around the academy if we wanted to.
I made my way to a vast lawn around the academy. There I saw an empty bench covered by the shade of a tree behind it. Before arriving here, I went to the academy’s cafeteria to buy some food.
I brought out the sandwich I had packed as I sat on the empty bench... or so I thought.
A girl with rosy short hair sat before me. She looked at me with a gentle smile “Ara, are you going to sit here too?”
“Uh...” It was Princess Alyss.
She moved aside and tapped the spot beside her.
Urged by her somehow unresisting expression, I sat beside her awkwardly.
“Who would’ve thought we would meet again so soon.” she said.
Apparently, she was also here for the entrance exam. Just as she thought, it was unexpected to meet her again, moreover as fellow entrance exam takers. I was baffled by how she casually ate her sandwich without wasting a second.
She noticed my glance and spoke after swallowing her food, “Aren’t you eating?”
I also took a bite at my sandwich.
“How did you do with your tests?” she asked suddenly.
“Well... so far, so good.” I said. “How about you?”
“It also went well for me but...”
“I had weird eyes from the instructor when I broke the shooting target.” she laughed.
Well, I also broke the shooting target... thankfully the woman instructor didn’t say anything more regarding that.
Her eyes turned serious for a moment.
“You kept on saying ‘you’.” she chided.
Ah, right. She was a princess, I forgot.
“I’m sorry, Uhm... princess?”
Once again, I felt her glare digging a hole through me.
“Just Alyss is fine.” she said.
Addressing her without honorifics just felt weird. Not to mention, she’s a royalty.
“Fine then.” She turned away and continued eating her sandwich. I also did the same.
“Right?” said Alyss-san, excitedly.
After she finished her sandwich, she stood and faced me.
“Thank you very much again for yesterday.” she bowed.
“U-uh, no. Like I said, it’s fine, really, and you did guide me through the city in exchange so I should be the one thanking you.”
I just did it on a whim and her guiding me was a big help already. Having her, a princess bow herself just makes it harder for me.
She smiled and lifted up her head. “Well, I have to go prepare for the next test so I’ll see you again, Hiro-san.” Just like that, she left me with a smile.
“Though this time, I’m sure we’ll meet again soon.” I heard her muttering something as she walked away.I sighed. What a mysterious princess. I also finished my sandwich and made my way to the next test.