Ch 15 – Practical Skills Evaluation (1)
It was the third week of the second semester, Friday.
The practical combat evaluation for the first-year hero department students had begun.
Starting from the morning, students from all departments at Elinia Academy began to move toward the hero department.
There was only one reason they were moving this early.
To see the heroes they would potentially serve in the future.
There were roughly ten thousand students in the academy.
The majority of them aimed to become the aide of an outstanding hero.
Most of the students who couldn't stand out in the hero department transferred to other departments, consistently taking the top spots.
Ordinary students saw the hero department students as those with extraordinary talent.
Throughout the academy streets, dozens of 45-seater carriages moved in a synchronized manner.
Unlike the hero department, which had only 200 first-year students, the knight department had over a thousand students per grade.
Next was the magic department, with about 500 students per grade.
Alchemy, exploration, and business departments also had a minimum of 200 students per grade.
Inside the 45-seater carriage filled with knight department students.
“Neike and Piel are the last ones in line, right?” “Yeah, we have to watch that.
It was even featured in the newspaper.
Who do you think will win?” “I think Neike will win, but I hope Piel does.
There were rumors that she's been practicing hard after losing miserably during the first semester.” “Our Aisha is 21st in line.
Hey, did you bring the placards?” “Of course.
I have these two right here, and the others will bring more.” Just like other carriages, the students were buzzing with conversation.
“······.” Regardless of the students' chatter, Irene stared out the window with a complicated expression.
'He'll do well, right?' She was worried about Theo.
Was this how a mother felt when watching her child taking a test? 'He'll do fine.' In the past four days, Theo's swordsmanship had improved rapidly.
So much so that it was almost suspicious.
However, that was only for a moment.
As she watched Theo improve day by day, Irene felt a sense of pride.
In response, Irene did her best to guide him.
She shared many advanced tips that she remembered from lectures and matches.
“Is this how you use this technique, Irene?” “You're truly different.
Irene, you're an excellent teacher.” “Being with you was an excellent choice.” Irene recalled what Theo had said.
Feeling her face heat up, she quickly turned her head towards the window.
At that moment, Mina, who was sitting next to her, spoke with concern.
Is your condition…
still not good?” It was a valid concern.
Contrary to her nickname 'Cold-blooded Knight,' Irene had been acting strangely these past few days.
During the lecture, she was able to promptly answer any professor's questions.
However, she occasionally stammered with awkward responses, such as “Yes, yes? Sorry, could you please say that again?” and unexpectedly smiled during a mock battle with other students.
“No, I'm fine now.” Irene awkwardly shook her head.
“Alright, just don't push yourself too hard, Irene.
No matter how heavy the responsibility of being the top student is, you have to take care of yourself.” Mina was sincere in her concern.
“Thanks for worrying about me, Mina.
But I'm really okay.” With an even redder face, Irene rested her chin toward the window.
'What do you mean, okay?' Irene's current state seemed unusual.
Mina genuinely thought of Irene as a wonderful friend.
Irene had a clear goal of joining the Royal Knights and relentlessly pursued that path.
'If she's not feeling well, it would be better for her to skip the after-school training.' Mina had seen Irene's flushed face several times as she emerged from the training room.
In addition, she had heard from other classmates that once Irene entered her room, she would not come out until well past dinner time.
Irene still arrived at the training ground earliest and left the latest.
'Wouldn't it be better for her to rest if she's feeling unwell?' Thinking this, Mina glanced at Irene.
Her cheeks were still flushed, she really doesn't look well.
The practical combat evaluation was held at a dedicated dome stadium located within the Hero Department.
The huge stadium, capable of accommodating up to 30,000 people, was created by the Archmage Odius, just like the Hero Department's training ground.
It was a building that could not be replicated with modern advanced magic technology, equipped with various convenience systems such as heating and cooling.
At 9:40 AM, inside the dedicated dome stadium, Rok, a bald professor with sharp features who was in charge of the 200 first-year students, stood tall and announced.
“Lastly, I'll remind you.
Be in the waiting room at least five minutes before your match, don't blindly accept interview requests from reporters, and report to the department office first.
And…” Rok paused for a moment and then pounded on his chest.
“Give it your all.
That's it.” With that said, Rok turned his back.
The students watched him walk away and then, Thank you, Professor! They shouted in unison, their voices filled with emotion.
These were students who hadn't yet lost their youthful sentiment and romanticism.
I just moved my lips, pretending to lip-sync along with them.
Afterward, I moved to the Hero Department's exclusive spectator seats with the other students.
The students found their seats in groups.
“Hmm, that spot looks decent.
Let's go, my friends.” After Noctar and the orc students moved and took their seats, their large frames occupied two seats each.
In between the burly orcs, Noctar sat, emitting an aura like that of a gang boss.
However, there was an empty seat next to Noctar.
As the orc students glanced at me, I naturally sat down there.
“I've been waiting for today.
I've practiced the mock magic battles countless times, just as you taught me, Theo.
Aren't you nervous?” Noctar seemed delighted, putting his arm around my shoulder and baring his fangs.
The surrounding students kept glancing at me.
My trait, 'Twisted Noble’s Dignity,' activated, and a tingling sensation spread through me.
I did my best to endure it, speaking calmly.
“Rather, I feel at peace.” “You'll do well.
True warriors give their best even against difficult opponents.
You, like me, have given your all.
I've never seen a human train as relentlessly as you.” I had indeed given my best.
I could say it confidently.
But giving one's best isn't enough.
I must win no matter what.
I had long lost the youthful emotions and romantic notions of the younger students.
The process is meaningless.
Only the outcome proves anything.
As I chatted with Noctar and the orc students, the domed stadium, which could hold 30,000 people, was half-filled.
In addition to students from other departments, scouts, bureaucrats from various countries, and many other stakeholders filled the seats.
In the center of the large circular stadium stood Professors Mari and Rok, surrounded by journalists wielding magical cameras, snapping photos.
[Can everyone hear me well~?] Mari's voice, amplified by a magical device, filled the stadium.
Contrary to her usual casual demeanor, Mari looked somewhat different.
She had taken off her glasses, and let down her usually tied-up hair.
Her long, orange hair shone with a glossy sheen.
Her face appeared prettier, possibly due to meticulously applied makeup, and she wore coffee-colored stockings on her long legs.
Instead of her usual shabby shirt and pants, she donned a shirt and skirt that accentuated her voluptuous figure.
Now, she resembled a beautiful reporter.
“We can hear you!” “You look beautiful, Professor!” ─Whiiiii~ Tens of thousands of people responded enthusiastically to Mari.
The atmosphere felt lively and vibrant, unlike the lukewarm vibe of the original game.
the practical battle assessment began.
[Ahahaha~ I put in some effort today.] Mari laughed contentedly and continued speaking.
[First, let me greet everyone.
Hello, academy students, faculty, and stakeholders.
I am Mari Jane, a professor from the Hero Department.
I will be in charge of conducting and commenting on this year's Hero Department first-year practical battle assessment.
And this is…] [Rok, senior professor, in charge of commentary.] Unlike the cheerful Mari, Rok was as calm as usual.
Indeed, he's always been like a robot.
Mari calmly continued the proceedings.
[···Well then, let's begin the match! The highly anticipated firsmatch is between the 5th-ranked student, Jang Woohee, and the 10th-ranked student, Eshild!] With that, Mari and Rok moved to the commentator seats.
Afterward, Jang Woohee and Eshild appeared from the dim entrances on both sides.
In this match, only weapons designed for practice could be used.
After passing the artifact detector test, the two climbed onto the stage.
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