Chapter 53:

Ch 53 - The Mana Crystal Cavern

St Chaos Healer

The platform descended deeper into the ground. We were deep inside a cavern surrounded by rocky walls from all sides.

In the center of the platform stood Sigurd standing in his squatting posture. He was concentrating all his attention on his closed fist. Whatever he was doing with his fist, must be the key to controlling this platform’s descent.

The platform that we were standing on was about the size of 10 big rice fields combined together. Maintaining control over such a big platform required quite a lot of reserves of mana. This platform wasn't a big giant piece of rock, it was actually a collection of slab rock tiles combined together. Sigurd's technique was not just only lifting this platform but was keeping the platform together.

This shows how skilled and powerful the head mage was.

As we went deeper inside the cavern, it started to become dark. The surface view disappeared out of view which was the only source of light. Thankfully Sigurd's floating dollhouse fortress overhead was glowing and helped us to see the surrounding area around us.

But soon the cavern wall rock structures started changing.

As we went deeper into the cavern we started seeing small little rocks the size of pebbles that had a light blue glow. At first, there were few glowing rocks but as we went lower and lower we soon started seeing hundreds of the glowing pebble-like rocks attached to the walls. It was as if seeing fireflies sitting around on these cavern walls.

“What are those strange rocks?” questioned one of the 2nd tier candidates onboard the platform.


But everyone was silent as none had a proper answer.

Not until we saw a big long glowing rock crystal embedded in the cavern wall. It had a much brighter glow than those little pebbles. Some candidates started to get a vague idea, but soon there such big glowing rocks started appearing on all sides of the cavern walls. They were of different shapes but all of them were enormous.

“Oh my god! These glowing rocks are actually Condensed Mana Crystals!” shrieked out one of the 2nd tier candidates.

“What? For real!”

“I knew it.”

“Damn! These city folks are loaded.”

“I have seen a few crystals used by the adventurers but they were in small quantities.”

“How much does one mana crystal cost anyway?”

“This place is actually a ‘Condensed Mana Crystal Deposits’,”

I had a hunch so this is what it looks like.

Condensed Mana Crystals, as the name implies these crystals store pure mana within themselves. These crystals form when a huge number of naturally occurring mana gather under the earth’s crust and get pressurized to a single spot to form these. It takes quite a bit of luck and time to get this from nature.

No wonder these Condensed Mana Crystals are rare and valuable resources.

Also to add a warning, these mana crystals can only be used by ‘True Mages’. Lesser mages like us who try to absorb this Condensed Mana might get mana poisoned or even explode.

So I don’t know why my fellow candidates were looking at these big condensed mana crystals like some delicious candy. They had already shed their arrogance for being 2nd tier candidates and now acted like a bunch of kids on a field trip in a cavern.

The candidates gawked at these big glowing crystal rocks that managed to light up the entirety of the cavern in a dim blue glow. The 2nd tier candidates had already shed their arrogance and now we're acting like a bunch of kids on a field trip.

But soon one of the 2nd tier candidates was struck with a dumb idea.

“Hey! How about we go grab a few mana crystals for ourselves. There are a lot of untouched crystals here and it is a waste to not get some for ourselves,”

The rest of the candidates were a bit surprised but eventually started nodding their heads like that was a great idea.

“I am in, let's get some of those crystals!”

“We can’t use those crystals but we can sell them to make some cash,”

“I’ll carve out the biggest piece and sell it for equipment,”

“I could use earth elements to get a lot of crystals,”

“Can you get me one? I want to make a pendant out of it, pretty please”

“Get it yourself!”

These candidates had jumped on the bandwagon of that one guy’s dumb idea.

I still can’t understand how these candidates who belong to a humble background are already acting cocky like this place is their backyard garden. It's not even been very long since they were elected as exemplary candidates and they are already acting spoiled.

“Are they really discussing stealing these mana crystals in the presence of the head mage?” muttered Jason.

“Why not join them?” I suggested.

Jason suddenly looked at me weirdly,

“I don’t think that’s a good idea. These crystals are kept untouched, so there has to be a very good reason for doing so.”

I nodded my head.

Jason wasn’t some nerd brat but also had good common sense. I guess he wasn’t going to be lured by greed that easily. No wonder he was selected as an exemplary mage candidate despite being 1st tier.

I then glanced at Marcia who was still tugging on Jason’s back like a baby monkey.

She was still ongoing with the waterworks for this long. Jason had long given up his shirt from being soiled by her tears, and snot alike and let her do whatever he wants.

I still have no clue why a crybaby like Marcia was selected.

“Why do you care so much about her?” I asked, “Don’t tell me you fell in love with this girl or something?”

Jason was a bit surprised,

“Oh, you are quite the blunt one. So that’s what it seems like to you?”

“Well, I can’t figure out any other reason,” I said, shrugging my shoulders.

Jason had a wry smile,

“Well, it’s just she reminded me of my sister, that's all,”

Talk about being dramatic,

“I see, well I wish you luck,”

Jason then suddenly looked me in the eye,

“Hey Benjamin, as a fellow 1st tier exemplary candidate, we three should stick together and watch each other’s backs. To be honest, we have better potential than those 2nd tier candidates combined together, so it's for the best for the three of us to team up.”


Suddenly Jason kept his hand on my shoulder,

“Yes we three should be friends,” he said with serious eyes, “So let’s stick together.”

Okay, this guy is starting to give me the creeps.

“Okay, it's better that we first get to know each other better.”
So I took his hand off my shoulder.

Jason was shocked for a moment before coming to his senses,

“Ah! I am sorry. You are right, we should take our time getting to know each other before becoming friends. How silly of me.”


Jason then suddenly turned his head,

“Are those guys really serious about mining those crystals?”

I turned my head following Jason’s gaze.

The 2nd tier candidates gathered at the edge of the platform staring at the glowing mana crystal cavern walls. They were not kidding when they wanted to take those mana crystals for themselves.

Getting those mana crystals isn’t easy. It's not the same as picking a few apples from an orchard.

The mana crystal was quite big to carry for a couple of kids. Not to mention these rocks were etched into the rocky walls like it was part of the wall itself. To make it harder, the platform we were standing on was moving down hence, the mana crystal was rising along with the cavern walls. Also, there was a 1-foot wide gap between the cavern walls and our platform. One single misstep and down goes the candidate to his/her ultimate death.

I glanced at Sigurd seeing if he would take some action.

Sadly, the head mage was still sitting in his squatting posture like a fucking statue. Either he wasn’t concerned or actually in a state of mind that he didn’t notice what these stupid kids were up to.

The candidates started activating their new unpolished mana skills.

One candidate used small ethereal flying blades that appeared out of thin air.
Those tiny Blades against the crystal?

The other candidate had water droplets floating on her hand.

What the hell could she do with water and then just dampen that rock?

A transmutant candidate suddenly grew tall nails.

Maybe scratching might work.

And the rest of the candidates also started showing their skills despite them not being useful for mining. They were really desperate to get a chunk of those mana crystals.

Suddenly in a cold stern voice,

“Stop your foolishness at once. If you use your unrefined mana arts to grab those crystals, there’s a good chance those crystals might just blow on your face.”

The cold stern voice belonged to none other than Trisha Valencia, the apprentice knight. She was one of the few people who didn’t join the mining crystal group. Unlike the rest of the 2nd tier candidates, she was quite level-headed in such precarious situations.

“Why you?!” Suddenly the boy standing next to Trisha glared angrily, “Why don’t you let those fools do what they want?! What good will it be for you to interfere in their business.”

“Henry, was it?” asked Trisha.

The guy got even more agitated,

“The name’s Hendrickson! Get that right.”

Hendrickson is also the boy with the monster claw. His name was the 2nd to be called out after Trisha during the exemplary candidate announcement. The candidates here treated him with the same respect as Trisha as they thought he could be almost as powerful as Trisha. I mean just because people's names got drawn out early doesn’t mean they are stronger. That was just random luck, that’s all it is.

“Oh apologies.” replied Trisha, “I just didn’t want to see my fellow candidates getting hurt by their mistakes. That’s all.”

Hendrickson's forehead started bulging,

“You don’t need to save their petty life. If exemplary candidates are stupid enough to be lured by their greed, then death is the better punishment for them. Also, their death will lead to more suits for the remaining of us. Stop with your lame chivalry act, it is sickening.”

Trisha's gaze turned icy cold,

“I see, you are just a heartless douche. You are in no position to tell me what I can or what I cannot do. If you are so scared of getting your seat snatched by others then it's best that you don’t even get a seat in the first place. I don’t wanna see blood spilled before the ascension ceremony.”

“Is that right! I guess I should show you, your rightful place”, suddenly Hendrickson's hand transformed into his horrendous monster claw.

Now that I got a closer look, the monster claw was huge. It was almost thrice the size of his original hand. Also, his right arm was covered with scales and huge curved claws almost as big as his finger. One hit by that arm and it shall leave some pretty serious wounds for sure.

In response, Trisha’s eyes sparkled the next instant. Sparks of lightning surged from her body and surrounded her life with a barrier of electricity. There were hundreds of white bright electric sparks circling around her body.

The candidates standing next to Trisha and Hendrickson quickly scattered away.

There was soon a heated battle to begin between the top two rookie geniuses of the exemplary candidates.

Lightning Elemental mage, Trisha, and a knight apprentice in training vs some underdog hot-headed monster clawed-boy, Hendrickson.

I suddenly cupped my mouth and shouted,

“Oi, head mage Sigurd is watching you.”

All of sudden both Trisha and Hendrickson stopped right in their tracks.
They both quickly turned their heads toward Sigurd.

But to their surprise, Sigurd was still standing in the deep meditative state still in his squatting posture.

For a second they just stood there dumbstruck until they realized I tricked them.

In the next instant, Trisha and Hendrickson glared in my direction.

“You guys fell for such a dumb trick. Pathetic, haha.” I said smugly as I rubbed my nose in pride.

Jason grumbled,

“Benjamin, why are you picking fights with them, also why are you standing behind my back. Stop using my back as a cover, that goes to you too Marcia,”

I don’t know why I said what I said. Maybe it still bothered me that Trisha and Hendrickson’s name was called out before mine. Also, the way these two stood so calm and composed was really bothering me. These two candidates were being revered as the shit because of their newfound powerful affinity, so I was even more intrigued to mess with them.

It would have been better if these two just fought each other and took out one another.

I just saw the opportunity to have a jab at both of them and insult them in front of the whole crowd, and that's exactly what I did.

Right now both Trisha and Hendrickson were looking at me coldly.

But if these two sprang on me for a fight, I might not be able-... I might have a little difficult time taking on these two with just my current abilities.

Hence, I stood behind Jason’s back as he did tell me that he wanted to be friends.

“Oi, Jason. Didn’t you say that we three should stick together? This is the moment of truth.”

“Are you for real?! You wanna drag us into your mess,” Jason exclaimed angrily.

But just when Trisha stopped her glaring and chuckled instead,

“Thank you, I needed that.”

I was taken aback, did miss knight just thank me?

She finally lost her marbles.

“I should keep my emotions in check, that’s what a knight should do. I was about to squabble over something so petty. Thank you for bringing me back to my senses.” said Trisha in a heartfelt voice.

Hold on, that's not what I was trying to do at all.

“No! Actually, I was really trying to pick a figh- Ow!” Jason jabbed me in my abdomen.

“My friend is a bit foolish. Please pardon his behavior,” said Jason as he covered for me.

Meanwhile, Hendrickson was still pissed.

“Tch. I can’t believe I fell for such a lousy trick,” he suddenly turned his head to the illegal crystal mining candidates, “Oi, you lads! If you don’t bring your sorry ass over here right now. I will personally kick all of you from this platform down into the ravines.”

The 2nd tier illegal mining candidates finally had a change of heart.

“I think it's not really a good idea to take out these crystals.”

“Did she just say these crystals explode?”

“We might be expelled for taking these crystals! This must be a hidden test!”

“Hey! I told you this is a bad idea! Why don’t you just listen before!”

“Bitch, please! You were trying to make a pendant for yourself just a minute ago,”

The 2nd tier candidates finally decided to abandon all thoughts about mining those crystals.
Thankfully Hendrickson and Trisha’s little conversation had really opened their minds, otherwise, they wouldn’t have reluctantly backed away.

Finally, the peace was back on the platform.

Sigurd was still in his squatting meditative posture as the platform descended further and further deep into the ravine.

Although Hendrickson and many of the other 2nd-tier mages were glaring at me. Although I didn’t give them much thought, they surely won’t be stupid enough to attack me as we are almost there for the ascension ceremony.

But still, I don’t get why there are condensed mana crystal deposits under this city. The aristocrats and nobles should be swarming over these mana crystal deposits like flies. Not using these mana crystals is a waste.

I wonder if these-

“We are here,” Sigurd spoke suddenly.

Everyone turned their head towards the head mage.

He was still in his squatting posture although he had finally opened his eyes. His pupils were still glowing as the energy from the floating fortress channeled into him.

Everyone stood back in anticipation.

As the platform descended, the surrounding cavern walls lifted like a curtain revealing the grand stage where the ascension ceremony will take place.

To everyone’s surprise, we found ourselves in a ginormous chamber. The chamber was almost twice the size of the amphitheater.

As we candidates were all busy observing the majestic beauty of this chamber, we were suddenly interrupted by Sigurd.

“Listen, children,” Sigurd spoke in a deep voice, “I hope you behave on your best behavior. If you manage to anger any of the grandmasters, there will be a fate worse than death awaits you.”