Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
“Did you know? The academy is going to hold a general assessment for everyone soon!”
The 21st of May, Starfall Year 833Winter Fort Academy, Mount Nissia.
Although summer has arrived at the continent, the icy plains still made people feel the chilliness.
Naturally, it did not affect the students within the academy itself. Be it scorching heat or extreme colds, there was a magical formation of climate regulation optimizes the temperature for humans.
It was time for the students’ afternoon break. Within the library hall, some teenaged boys and girls were sitting together, poring over some rather complicated spell books and chatting in hushed voices.
A more mature-looking red-haired girl then came to them with a notice in hand. “I’ve got this early from the instructor!” She said mysteriously towards her friends beside them. “Look, those who rank at the first three would be rewarded handsomely, even the liege of this realm has generously contributed some additional prize!”
“Huh. How generous are we talking about?” Someone asked.
“He is coming too?” Another followed-up.
“That’s for sure!” The red-haired girl replied without hesitation, her eyes sparkling. “I shouldn’t have to remind the lot of you, but your parents must have told you that we’re all here in this academy to learn witchcraft and magery.”
Naturally, the reminder was unnecessary. The others who stood around the table nodded quietly.
From the start, all of them were here to become mages and change their own fate, and try to see if they had the gift as casters.
Some parents whose children passed the initial trials also realized immediately that this academy was undoubtedly grooming the first local mages of Moldovia. Their progeny would therefore become the cornerstone of the northern realm, the first batch of casters formed under Joshua’s tenure.
Give a good showing, and catch the liege’s eye!
This is also where the thing called competition begins. Since the winner would win both the liege’s attention and gifts, all of them would definitely pay extra effort. After all, they might even get an important position under the count right after they graduate.
“Hold on. Ivan, why aren’t you even reacting?”
Ultimately, not all of them were interestedthe young boy the red-haired girl was inquiring after was one of those not that inclined.
Sitting at the corner of the table and silently reading through a thick tome, the platinum-blond teenager looked up. However gripping the book may be, it was still impolite to keep reading since his name was called.
“Karin,” he replied rather exasperatedly. “Don’t we have that every month? We’ve even been through those twice already. There’s no need to be that thrilled even if the liege himself is coming, is there?”
“I knew you’d say thatbut this time, it’s different.” The girl known as Karin puffed her cheeks and retorted. “Ivan, I know you were ranked in the top ten last time while your sister got first place on both occasions, but this might not be the case this time!”
“Oh,” Ivan replied expressionlessly, his eyebrows raised slightly. He returned Karin’s animated stare with his own calm one, but found it rather unbearable. “Fine, stop glaring at me. I’ll humor you!”
Tidying her hair a little, Karin began somberly, “The assessment before are undoubtedly just exams where all subjects are clumped together. If it wasn’t laboratory tests it would be dissecting magical creatures. But this one is differentI heard that there will be live combat practice!”
Waving the notice in her hand, the red-haired girl showed the words written on it. “Look. Not only do we have to sit for the usual tests, we would also have to head up the snowy mountain and survive there for a week. Although the instructors would come save us if we fail or are upon death’s door, it still meant that we get zero points. Only those who could hold on for a week pass the test, while those who could hunt and bring their prey when they return would fetch high scores!”
“Harsh environment survival? Does that mean living in snowy plains or jungles?”
“It’s not that hard. My father’s a hunterI know how to look for food in the forest since I was a kid!”
“That’s bad. I’ve never get good marks in Biology and Ecology What should I do if I meet a daemon?”
“We’re mages. Why do we have to do this sort of thing?”
The discussion went in all directions, but since it was the library hall everyone kept their voice low. Now, even Ivan himself was frowning lightly as if considering the challenge.
“Relax. The instructors had already chased off all the daemons. The most we have to face are Snow Slimes and Giant Boars. With the spells that we’ve learned, we could escape even if we can’t defeat them.”
Karin was in a rather good mood after she appeared to be stirred by the discussion. “That’s not all, however,” she said as she prepared to throw out another bombshell. “After we returned, we would rest for three daysafter of which we will undergo the final test, duels!”
This was much more understandable than the extreme environment survival. Everyone instantly realized the meaning behind that.
“Weird” Ivan said doubtfully, touching his chin. “To be frank, we haven’t learned magic for a long time, right? Even if my sister is a genius, she never went through a formal guidance to discover the occupation that suits her. The survival test is understandable since it investigates our knowledge and practical applications, but duels between students”
At that, he shook his head slowly as if considering it gravely. Then, he spoke his thoughts plainly, “Adepts unleashing magic and little fireballs, and might just fail due to insufficient mana, which in the end could end up as a hand-to-hand combat Isn’t that just a monkey show for the instructors?”
He was being quite reasonable, and a few others beside him were nodding in agreement and feeling curious too.
Karin, however, retorted crisply. “To those adults it may be so, but you do know very well, Ivanwe’re not here to be trained into old wiry mages.”
Suddenly, her gaze dimmed. “This is the northern realm that stands right next to the Dark Forest of the Great Ajax Valley. Our mission is to grow up quickly and stand against the Dark Tide, that’s why we need to nurture our own combat awareness from the start. The first duel session would definitely be a joke, but it would be better than simply dying in a fortress later in life. Ivan, you do realize that, right?”
The platinum-blond boy nodded quietly.
Karin was the leader of their little fellowship. When the academy was established, she used her own passionate personality and outstanding leadership to gather quite a few talented students, Ivan being one of them.
She obviously did not learn to do this naturally; she must have learned it from someone else. This was proven when Karin herself revealed that it was her father who trained her. He had been the captain of a regiment of knights, who succumbed two years before to the Dark Tide. Before his demise he had taught the skills in leadership, wanting her to become a knight and inherit his own place in return.
From the start, Karin did not doubt that most of her own batch of students would not become old men who pore over their research in their mages’ tower. They were going on the battlefield, while she herself could also seewithout adult guidancethe liege of this domain would definitely lead expeditions into the Great Ajax Valley or the icy plains to secure new domains.
And themthe mages, would be the mainstay of his force.
Ivan himself understood that too, because he was the same.
His parents were lost to a dragon attack. As such he never wanted to stay as a researching mage within the academyhis one objective was to slay dragons.
In this world, there are many kind dragons that liked to mingle with humans. There were quite a lot of rulers over different territories who reared dragons toojust like their own, whose draconic mount lived under the icy lake and lacked malevolence entirely. It even led some students for diving sessions into the lake!
Ivan’s target was not these dragons, but those evil ones that flew around laying waste to settlements and preying on humans.
That was what motivated his studious behavior and his very dream. He was not alone in that either, for Amelia had the exact same intention. The siblings had made a vow, that with the liege of the land as their objective, to become the world’s greatest dragon slayer!
It was thanks to Karin’s explanation that most present finally understood the meaning of this assessment.
“Looks like we have to run through some intensive courses about life up on the snow mountain. I don’t want to be bailed out haggardly by the instructors.”
“Not really. By the way, what are the most common magical beasts there right now? Snow rabbit or hail butterflies?”
“Why did I never practice live combat before Hey, Bella, want to try at the school grounds later?”
“That’s fine. Just don’t cry when the time comes!”
Quite a few were already inviting others who were on more friendlier terms with them for practical training, while others more worried about surviving in the wild felt that they have to cram in as much know-how on that matter.
In short, everyone had their own goals where they need to pour effort in.
Meanwhile, Ivan rose and walked over to Karin and asked for the notice.
It was clearly just finished recentlyshe must have really asked for it from the instructors. Sweeping his eyes over it, the contents were mostly the same as the red-haired girl said, but were more detailed, the words used more precise.
“Joshua van Radcliffe, honorary president of the Winter Fort Academy and Liege of Moldovia would provide an extra reward to the student who places first.”
Reading the text in a whisper, Ivan glanced at his companions who sat around the table. They were undoubtedly excited since most of them idolized the Count; they would definitely go the extra mile since their hero was watching.
“We don’t know what sort of reward that is either,” he said as he glimpsed the sketching of a treasure box on the notice. It was drawn with such surrealism that it was no different from a real one.
Suddenly, sensing something was out of place, he quickly turned back to have a second.
“Wait. Isn’t that the chest I delivered to Professor Theodore a month ago?”
Though it was one moon cycle past, it was quite recent for Ivan. Furthermore, he and his sister were the ones who carried the boxes to Theodore, and in turn acquired his library pass.
More importantly, he knew what was inside!
“Those dragon eggs!”
Inhaling a breath of cold air, Ivan fell into silence. Many thoughts went through his head, the likelihood of all of it growing by every moment.
Professor Theodore had also carried the eggs to the snowy mountain lakeafter of which the sound of a battle broke out and then calmed, with the liege of the realm himself escorting Theodore back to the academy Given that the black dragon at the foot mountain was female, there was some sort of unknown connection that caused the attack on the instructor!
Then, is the reward a dragon egg?! Is the Count that generous?
Truthfully, he had always been that bounteous. Furthermore, he would gain further power no matter who got their hands on an egg. Perhaps this was a move to attract students from other locations toohe was that type of person!
Additionally, if he or his sister won, then would they not be bringing a dragon along with themto slay dragons?
The thought made Ivan pause, and he made a weird expression that was half a smile and half a sigh.
But in the end, he simply mumbled lightly amidst the voices of the other students who were fooling around.
“Ah the irony.”
At that, a hint of a fiery fighting spirit surfaced in his eyes.