Chapter 123 – Acceptance & Rejection (Part 1)
While most of them were too exhausted, too dehydrated to throw up and could only muster a few dry heaves. Haeru glanced around pushing down the unpleasant sensation of the teleportation as he along with the others who weren’t knocked out by the teleportation looked up to find scattered groups of participants. Every single person had a solemn expression. More importantly… They all noticed the number of people there didn’t even number 200 people.
Only Haeru put any importance behind this as he considered the worst case scenario.
Haeru and Damien were taking stock of the situation around them. They weren’t comfortable, but they were able to hold back their nausea and keep a cool head. Even if they’d been sick like everyone else, they would have still been able to notice the expressions on those who had arrived before them.
Leo put more stock in looking around. Turning his head in any direction only made everything spin even more but he couldn’t stop himself from looking. He was beginning to panic as he realized he couldn’t find Marcos amongst the others there. Every person he noticed that wasn’t Marcos heightened his sense of worry. He didn’t have to look around long to realize that Marcos wasn’t there. If Leo hadn’t begun to panic he would have instantly come to the same conclusion as the others. There were simply only around 100 or so people there. Everyone else had already come to the conclusion that there were still more coming, more that were sent to another area or something else.
Haeru had immediately remembered Crimson’s words before they’d even left the city: “We will be traveling on foot. It is 100 miles away. Once we arrive we will split off into groups. We have 9,004 applicants who have made it this far this year. We expect that at least 20% of you won’t make it there. Once we enter we each have different destinations we will be heading towards. We expect to lose another 30% of that number before reaching there. Once there the goal for each individual will be to slay a Class C monster. If you can’t do it then you don’t pass. We expect to return with maybe 25% of you. Of those that return maybe 10% of you will pass. You should all make your decision as to whether you will be going or not.”
Haeru was no slacker when it came to his studies. He’d run through the math even as Crimson was speaking. ‘If everything he’d said was true then If there were 9,004 applicants… We’d have had 7,200 or so applicants make it to the forest. 5,040 or so applicants would have made it most of the way through the exam, and out of that number there would have only been applicants that either died during the exam or simply couldn’t manage the task of killing a class C monster.’
That was why as he tried to ease his stomach and stop himself from heaving there was little doubt in his mind that the number around them was too low. There was only one explanation for Haeru. ‘This must be the number of people who passed?’
Damien was already smiling to himself. His self-confidence was at an all time high as he came to the same conclusion with far more certainty. There’d been no doubt in his mind when the exam begun that he would be one of the people to pass. The only question he’d thought to himself was how well he’d perform compared to the others that would pass. He stood there staring at the others in the area and a sense of pride began to well up inside of himself that he hadn’t felt in days. He’d felt humiliated when he’d nearly died to an opponent he couldn’t see. Fear as he’d contemplated whether he would survive. Joy and failure when he’d had to be saved by others. Then severe contemplation as he’d considered whether the actions he’d taken were the right ones. He’d even put his dislike of Leo aside wondering whether he’d been right to mock him just because he was friends with a worthless nobody like Marcos.
He’d had far too many thoughts cross his mind that as he stared at what he considered to be the other participants who’d passed the exam alongside with him, he’d felt a sliver of pride. A feeling he was more than merely acquainted with.
Haeru on the other hand felt uncertainty… ‘How can this be everybody? It’s impossible that out of everybody in Lumea, this would be the passing number of students when the exam is only held every few years. What’s going on?’
While everybody was looking around thinking something along these lines there was only one person looking around with a smile on his face thinking something completely different.
Daichi had passed through the portal without feeling an inkling of what everybody else was currently experiencing. While they had gone through feeling as if their stomachs had been turned inside out wanting to expel everything and anything they’d eaten in days, the world spinning around them… Daichi had only experienced a familiar sensation. In fact he’d felt he’d gained something small from going through another one of these long distance portals.
The moment he’d arrived though inside of noticing the people whom he’d only briefly glanced at, he’d become enthralled by his surroundings. He was expecting something far different. Once they’d entered the city he could see walls and structures everywhere and he’d been ready to finally experience something completely new. He’d never been in a busy city before, and while a small part of him was reserved about such a new experience; he’d mostly been excited to see something different than forest or grassy plains. He’d expected to arrive at an even deeper part of the city and perhaps he had, but what he saw exceeded his expectations. It was not at all what he’d expected. Instead of a cramped building, everything felt spacious. The walls felt so far from him and there was no roof.
Daichi felt like he was in someone’s courtyard. Perhaps the borders of a small town. Even with 100 or so people not including his group which had just arrived, everybody was spread out so sparingly that there was enough room for another 10,000 people!
‘Grass everywhere, flowers I’ve never seen. Is this a garden or courtyard or city? How could this be the center of the city? How could this be deeper into the city?’ The sky looked the same, and the walls were clearly the same shape and design of what he’d seen from outside of the city. Daichi was enthralled with the space, because he could both sense that it was all so natural and yet something about it was… Unnatural.
Daichi looked forward no longer focusing on anything in particular and instead seeing through what was in front of him and instead looking at what was both there and not there.
‘This is related to void mana.’
Daichi’s smile turned into a smirk as he felt he’d figured out a small secret to himself and felt a small joy welling up inside of him as he came to realize that he’d just had a small insight into the void that had eluded him for years. The moment he’d stepped out of that chaotic mist he’d realized everything that had once felt so familiar now felt so foreign. Although he’d only been back a few days, he already felt what felt so foreign. Everything felt more separated but also interconnected in a way that hadn’t in the mist. Without question, trying to differentiate between the differences in mana would be far easier now that he was out of the mist.
‘It’s not because it is easier here than there, but rather because I spent so much time there that I can how see the things I would never have been able to before.’
All of this happened within the first few minutes and it was then that Crimson and Lydia met up with about 7 other professors. There weren’t any guardsmen in the area, and these 7 began a conversation that went unheard by any of those around them. They used mana to send messages to one another that only those intended could hear. It was a high level technique that required deep insight into mana manipulation for anyone there to understand, but it was a basic skill taught to those upon graduation of Lumea.
A rough voice floated beside the ears of Crimson and Lydia “You two are finally back. What took so long?”
Lydia immediately answered. “Can’t you see what took us so long? Most of our group is still in tact. Crimson even gave them an extra push on the way back but not a single one of them buckled. Compared to past groups they’ve fared fairly well.”
She was still confused as to the reason behind the urgency of their arrival. They’d been told to return as soon as possible with a message that was only sent during times of high emergency.
“How rare for you to speak so highly of the new kids Lydia.” A melodious voice resounded within their ears. Not a trace of urgency in her voice as she stared at the children near Crimson and Lydia. This was one of the largest groups she’d seen return thus far.
“What’s going on? What is the emergency and where is everybody else?” Crimson asked a note of annoyance in his voice.
The two words were uttered with no emotion from a different voice that only served to make them even more ominous.
“Have we lost more participants than we’d calculated?” Lydia asked with confusion still evident in her tone.
They normally calculated for a certain loss of life during any of their exams. They tried their best to keep loss of life to a minimum as a lot of the children that took part in the exam for Lumea Academy were of some importance to someone that mattered. Even so, Lumea only recruited the best and required the utmost of standards to be applied to the participants. If death wasn’t a factor in the exams, how could they truly test their students?
Lydia didn’t understand how many participants they could have lost for them to be recalled so early mid-exam.
“The problem isn’t the number of participants we’ve lost. It doesn’t matter how many people fall during the exam, Lumea will forever stand tall. Nothing will make us falter and those on the outside can’t make me us twitch… Our issue this time lies in the guardsmen and professors. Out of the nearly 100 professors and nearly 200 guardsmen that were sent out this time to oversee the exam, we’re estimating to have lost at least half.”
The words spoken hit like thunder to Lydia and Crimson. They knew better than anyone just how much strong these people were. Even if they weren’t the strongest within the academy these people could still be considered the elites of the city. Lydia was quietly contemplating what it could mean to have lost so many of these people at once.
Crimson turned pale at the news. He knew immediately that if half were lost then that meant that most of them would have likely come from the guardsmen. Generally speaking the guardsmen were weaker than the professors (otherwise why would they choose a position with less merit, respect and prospect than being a professor at Lumea).
“We are still anticipating more arrivals, but unlike previous exams we can’t properly assess the number of those that will return alive. Therefore, we are changing the standard of how the pass rate will be calculated. Any that killed a class C beast or above will be given an instant pass and any participant that contributed in any way that is deemed valuable or significant by any professor or guardsmen will be considered to have passed as well.”
Two of the others who had already spoken with this elder had voiced some disagreements but the longer they’d waited and the less people that had arrived the more they’d come to understand the reason for these changes.
Pride is meaningless without envy.
That melodious voice sounded in their ears again. “Make your decisions as to whom in your group has passed and then you may allow those who wish to wait for any of their friends to wait here. Those that did not meet the standard will be returned.”