༺ Mana Evaluation (2) ༻
Students began emerging from each provisional class and formed a line for each group. After getting into their proper positions, they gripped their mana meter and let their mana flow in an empty direction.
All of them emitted an elemental aura with respect to their individual elements. After being used, that aura would end up leaving something known as a ‘Mana Trail’. It was evidence that proved whether or not magic of a specific element had been used.
In addition to elemental types and mana capacity, this mana evaluation also contained an additional hidden evaluation factor that tested students for their ability in something known as ‘Mana Control’. When mana is channeled, traces of magic could end up remaining as well. Even more so with powerful individuals that possessed greater mana.
In other words, what if, after having finished the evaluation of one’s total mana capacity, that person obtained a high grade for their result, but there was a lack of a magic aura?
It meant that the person in question would end up receiving a very good score for their mana control, which would be added onto their class placement evaluation score.
After each person belonging to the first group of students finally finished their mana evaluation, Professor Fernando lifted the mana meters into the air using telekinesis magic, lined them up, and began to read each grade aloud.
“…Provisional 3rd Class. 1st, Grade C-. 2nd, Grade C+. 3rd, Grade C-. 4th, Grade C+. 5th, Grade C.”
Of course, there wouldn’t be any extra points for these guys. Even with that amount of mana, aura still ended up being released.
With that said and done, the mana evaluation continued on.
“Oh my, I couldn’t control my dense, thick, limitless mana…”
The conceited noble, Tristan Humphrey, shook his head in an exaggerated motion as he cast his overwhelming wind magic. When said with such a confident face, it sounded more like a theatrical line than a serious statement.
In the aftermath of his wind magic, both the hair and uniforms of the professors and students alike had been violently shaken. Some of the girls let out a grunt as they patted their hair neatly. Professor Fernando, on the other hand, remained as expressionless as ever.
Tristan Humphrey’s mana ended up being a Grade B-. At that level, he was already at the top level of the students belonging to the Magic Department. His cocky demeanor wasn’t an empty bluff after all.
Of course, his mana control in particular was a negative score.
Mateo Jordana, who was an early villain in the game, also came out with a Grade B-. Only a bit of his rock elemental aura was released, which was worth a couple of extra points.
Next up was this year’s first seat, Luce Eltania, along with the second seat, Kaya Astrea.
The noisy audience suddenly became quiet as the two girls overflowing with elegance made their entrance. It was to the point where even the air started to feel heavy from their aura. The students’ attention were focused entirely on them.
I unconsciously exclaimed. It was because Luce was much more beautiful in person than in the game.
Wide strings could be seen flowing down each side of her silky rose-gold hair. She was wearing a unique headband that had been designed with a morpho butterfly in mind, with a deep blue color reflected within its intense black border.
Her deep blue eyes, which seemed to contain the sea itself, were both clear and pure, and put together with her fair skin and graceful face simply radiated youth to anyone who watched.
As I admired Luce along with everybody else, I willed her level to be shown, causing a system window to appear in front of me.
Elements: Water, Lightning
Level 110. It was a number that was completely overwhelming among freshmen.
When it came to the characters of Magic Knight of Märchen, Luce was my second favourite. She was one of the game’s official heroines, and she also ended up being paired with the main character, Ian, for the upcoming class placement evaluation in a few days.
That’s not to say that Kaya Astrea, the second seat, isn’t beautiful as well, but… Sorry, I’m just more of a Luce person than a Kaya person…
Of course, if my favourite character was here, Dorothy Heartnova, it would be a different story entirely!
…Let’s just stop this nonsense and watch.
Luce and Kaya, like the other students, clenched the mana meter in their hands and stretched their arm forward.
In comparison to the other students who were releasing an elemental aura.
The two girls seemed completely calm.
Then, after a few moments of standing still in silence, Luce and Kaya simply lowered their arms as if nothing had even happened in the first place.
The students who were unaware of the existence of any kind of hidden grading factor were perplexed, because they thought the visible release of an aura was a given when using magic.
At that level of control, their mana control grade would have definitely received a perfect score.
Just as he had done the previous times, Professor Fernando lifted the mana meters the students had been holding with his telekinetic magic.
“The amount of mana this time will not be announced separately because they are the first seat and the second seat respectively.”
After a quick explanation, Professor Fernando looked over the grades displayed on Luce and Kaya’s mana meters and read them aloud.
“Luce Eltania, Grade A+. Kaya Astrea, Grade B+.”
The students watching from the audience were unable to keep their mouths shut in awe. The A+ grade, which not a single person expected to show up in this examination, had come out of the professor’s mouth.
Kaya, having become the second seat of the freshman class as well as having Grade B+ mana, was already at the level of active wizards. It was a ridiculous feat for a freshman at the academy, but Luce’s Grade A+ had left such an overwhelming impression that it was left buried.
The Grade A+ score was widely considered to be the ceiling level for most wizards. With that much talent, becoming a Grade S was a step that could easily be accepted as a realistic story.
For example, the highest grade that an ordinary person born without any talent could achieve with an immense amount of effort is Grade A- at best.
Grade S was a realm that couldn’t be reached without talent.
This was all part of the setting that I had read countless times while playing <Magic Knight of Märchen>.
As Luce was both talented and a hard worker, she had already planned to become a Grade S before her second year.
“Grade A+? Wow.”
“Is she really a freshman like us?”
“Are we really the same age?”
However, as of now, Luce Eltania was unable to deliver the full extent of her supposed Grade A+ power. This was a result of the mana evaluation only measuring the maximum capacity, not the amount that could actually be used.
She was constantly consuming a considerable portion of mana in order to suppress her familiar, ‘Thunderbird – Galia’. Only after the conclusion of her struggle to subjugate the Thunderbird during her final exams would Luce be able to unleash her true power.
So then, what was she supposed to do before the battle of the Thunderbird? Well, at that time, she should be helped by the main character who would be considerably active by then, but unfortunately, it was starting to look like he would be a dumbass.
Anyway, amidst the ongoing gossip coming from the crowd of students, Luce and Kaya finally exited the stage. Kaya clenched her fist in frustration while shaking her head.
‘It looks like she’s angry.’
Over the course of the game, Kaya would continue to feel inferior when faced with the solid wall known as Luce.
But later on, Kaya would grow strong enough to cast the 8-star ultimate spell [Yggdrasil].
In this world, the absolute highest rank of magic was 9-star, capable of world destruction. Even then, the lower 8-star magic was still powerful enough for large-scale battles. Despite that, Luce’s defeat seemed unlikely.
However, Kaya was not the kind of character who lived her life while harboring an inferiority complex after seeing someone better than her. In fact, she had a tendency to admire and blindly follow those who were vastly different and overwhelmingly strong, regardless of their status.
As I mentioned before, if she were to ever be deceived into joining a cult, she was the type of person who would definitely get in trouble.
Hearing the Professor call for the next group, I readied myself. Now, it was my turn.
I stepped forward, mingled among the other students, and stood alongside them.
Once I had one in my hand, I proceeded to stretch the mana meter forward.
‘Currently, my maximum mana is 320–’
Now that I was thinking about it, I didn’t know much about this world’s mana grading standards. It was just a minor detail briefly mentioned when passing through the game’s story.
I wonder how my 320 mana will compare to the average?
At the professor’s command, I began squeezing the mana meter and poured out all my mana.
‘Controlling this… is a little difficult, isn’t it?’
As a result of my poor control, cold air flowed out from where I stood, forming small pieces of ice in the process.
Soon, just as I heard a buzzing sound from the mana meter, I immediately cut off the flow of mana.
Just what will my grade be?
Ignoring my heart fluttering in my chest, I checked the grade displayed on the mana meter.
…It was Grade ‘E’.
The worst possible grade. You would have gotten a better outcome if you had simply grabbed a random bystander on the streets who lacked any prior experience or knowledge in magic and measured their mana.
It’s a little… serious…?
…Ah, I just remembered.
‘Wasn’t there another Grade E other than Ian this year? Was that actually me–?’
After Ian’s turn in the game, I remembered hearing a student commenting something along the lines of, ‘There are two Grade E students this year.’
Now that I’ve figured that out, I finally remembered just what kind of character Isaac was. This guy was an extra among extras that ended up with a sense of inferiority towards Ian, despite having a weightless existence.
At least Kaya, who felt inferior to Luce, had the tenacity of a second seat.
On the other hand, Isaac, who felt inferior to Ian, was pathetic.
With that said, at the beginning of the game’s story, he became one of Mateo’s lackeys and makes several attempts to harass Ian, who was a Grade E just like him, but ended up easily getting robbed of that position soon enough.
Besides his failed attempts at petty revenge, simply watching Ian’s rapid growth made him frustrated to the point where he could only grind his teeth, and in the end, his weight turned to dust– forever being nothing more than a third-rate extra.
His purpose was to be a small darkness that would add a halo to Ian’s growth, and was commonly considered to be the weakest point in <Magic Knight of Märchen>.
“Provisional 3rd Class. 21st Grade C-. 22nd Grade C. 23rd Grade C. 24th Grade C. 25th Grade E—?”
All the students whose names were announced, including me, headed back to our seats.
When Professor Fernando came across my grade while checking the mana meter labelled No. 25, his expression appeared to have become perplexed.
“Wait, did he actually get Grade E? Really?”
“How in the world did a Grade E manage to get accepted into the Märchen Academy?”
“That’s ridiculous, isn’t it— that’s certainly one hell of a guy in a different sense, huh?”
Once my meager result was announced, the students’ attention was inevitably drawn to me, student number 25. Some laughed at my misfortune, while others were surprised. Rather than the surprise shown at Luce’s result, this surprise was more along the lines of ‘How did you even get into this academy?’ It basically meant the same thing as mockery.
This was Märchen Academy, the single most prestigious academy on the entire continent.
In other words, the fact that someone with a mana capacity equivalent to Grade E had managed to make their way into the Magic Department of the Märchen Academy was akin to some sort of doubtful miracle.
For reference, Ian Fairytale, who would also be graded at the same Grade E as myself, was able to enroll thanks to his ‘rarity’. It was a result of Ian’s unique ability to use ‘light’ magic.
On the other hand, all I had was low-level ice magic— not a rarity at all.
Perhaps the original owner of this body, Isaac, got accepted with his theoretical ability in the entrance exam.
In that case, it was a shame that I didn’t have any of his theoretical knowledge left in my head right now.
…Wait a sec, the more that I think about it, the more I realize I have nothing to offer, right?
Uh, wait, what about…
While the students were indulging in their gossip, Professor Fernando suddenly intervened.
“If you were able to get into our academy with this amount of mana— your theoretical grades must be excellent. Your goal must be a ‘Scholar’, then. Of course, the role of a magic scholar is significant for the development of the magic system. You’ll have to pull yourself together, but don’t be discouraged by the others.”
He said it as if he were sure that being a scholar was my desired career path.
Of course, it wasn’t something to be angry about. This was Professor Fernando’s own way of showing me consideration. At the very least, as long as my goal was known to be a scholar, even with my actual mana capacity being incredibly insufficient among the student body, I would be ridiculed less by the other students.
As I recalled, Professor Fernando had said the same thing to Ian in the game as well.
Ian, then, would become furious and exclaim, ‘My dream is not to be a scholar! My dream is to become a magic knight!’
After making such an unrealistic claim, he would end up getting countless laughs from the other students in response.
“Grade E? E, huh? How dare such an inferior being stand in the same line as one as superior as myself?! It’s funny, it’s so funny!”
As expected, Tristan Humphrey, the conceited blonde aristocrat, made a gruesome mockery of my terrible score.
The lines he said were funny, sure, but the one saying them was stupid. You bastard.
At that time, the second seat, Kaya Astrea, suddenly raised her hand and shouted.
What was it this time? I don’t think I’ve ever seen an event like this happening in the game.
“Have there ever been any cases where an error occurs in the process of evaluating the amount of mana? For example, a case where the grade is measured incorrectly…”
Both Professor Fernando and the students responded to her question as if they couldn’t understand.
I was the same.
Perhaps this was a question stemming from pointless doubts such as, ‘Even though somebody as strong as myself is a student at the Märchen Academy, does it make sense for a Grade E to be in the same year’?
—I have no clue.
“Hmm… I see. First of all, there is nothing wrong with the mana evaluation method.”
Professor Fernando quietly answered her question in a calm fashion as he picked up my mana meter, which was supposedly the root of the issue at hand.
The professor then began to pour his mana into the mana meter, undisturbed by the stares directed at him.
Just as one would expect from a professor, no elemental aura was released in the process, and with a ping, the magic power was quickly evaluated on the device.
‘Grade A’. Professor Fernando confirmed the result and showed it to Kaya.
“As you can see, the mana meter is working just fine. According to the results of the inspection this morning, there were no abnormalities in the device. At the very least, there has never been a case of an incorrect measurement. If an error occurs, the operation itself won’t work because of the device’s structure.
“…Is that so.”
Kaya now had an expression of disappointment on her face, as if Professor Fernando’s answer wasn’t the one she wanted to hear.
Seeing the reaction he was given, Professor Fernando then proceeded to explain the second possible explanation.
“…Of course, there are some cases where the evaluation ends up being wrong even without an error. Rare, but possible.”
Professor Fernando suddenly made an unfamiliar argument, confusing the students listening.
Regardless of their confusion, the students soon understood after his next words.
“It is said that an Archwizard has a level of control over mana beyond the realm of possibility, allowing them to deconstruct and reconstruct the flow of mana within their body. If that’s possible, then they could control their mana output during the evaluation to achieve their desired grade. However, this is only possible for Archwizards who have been blessed by the heavens and honed themselves through countless hours of meditation, training, and solitude.”
“Without exceptions? Like a method where, even without being an Archwizard, you could adjust your magic level—”
“I assure you. There are no exceptions other than this. If there was, they would probably be a superhuman who has already mastered all forms of magic. It would never happen at the student level, even if you were born with a level of genius talent that would be regarded as irrational by global standards.”
Regardless of any further objections, Professor Fernando continued to assert his point.
That was the official setting, after all.
An Archwizard was perceived in this world as a transcendental being that lived outside the jurisdiction of natural law, and even the Emperor would have to be wary of one.
“Is that so…?”
For some reason, Kaya looked shocked by this well-known fact.
Could she be flustered while thinking, ‘Really, a Grade E that actually exists at the same Märchen Academy as myself?’
She certainly prided herself on being admitted to the prestigious Märchen Academy. In other words, the Grade E that lowered the overall level of the academy must have been a thorn in her eye.
Oh, of course, this was just an exaggeration on my part. She was a good-natured person, so it was probably just at the level of a minor discomfort.
It was definitely a shame, though. Even if you ignored me, Ian was still there as well. The fact that there was not just one, but two students with only Grade E level mana must have scratched her pride quite a bit.
After 40 more minutes of testing, the mana evaluation was finally over.
Just as I thought, the story progressed as normal.
Ian was graded as a Grade E level mana, and after being mistaken for a scholar, ended up revealing his dream of becoming a magic knight to the entire student body, certainly showing off his presence as the main character as he made the students laugh.
Facing the students of the Department of Magic, who had finally settled down and began standing in an orderly manner, Professor Fernando began to speak.
“The mana evaluation has concluded. Each of you should be aware of your own position, keep it in mind every moment, and use it as a stimulus for your devotion to magic. You may be aware of this already, but I will emphasize it here once more. The tradition of our Märchen Academy is survival of the fittest. The strong consume the weak, and the weak are consumed. So be strong to the core if you want to avoid being consumed. Try as hard as you can in order to survive. That is all.”
I had experienced the harsh educational climate of the Märchen Academy several times already while playing the game.
Ha, the weakest, the Grade E. Isn’t that the perfect prey to be bullied in this environment?
With that in mind, I thought that I would have to try to keep myself from standing out for a while.
For some reason, I could still feel Kaya glaring daggers at me.
I had been pretending not to notice her stare for a while now, but I was sure the reason for it was because of my Grade E.
It seemed like it would be a rough start from the very beginning.