32 Graduation Exam 1
And at last it had arrived, the day of the graduation exam.
It’s location was an arena close to the royal palace.
The Arena had been built fairly recently and not only was it able to hold many people, but since they would be using magic, the arena was specially strengthened and enchanted to protect the audience.
「All those preparations paid off. Not only is the minister of finance and many influential nobles here, the king and queen as well as their children are in attendance. A lot of foreigners related to the Guild have also come.
In the preparation phase I went around telling them that 『I’ve found an amazing youngster』, so I’m begging you, do your best!」
Elbert’s words pumped up both Maevis and Rena, while Pauline seemed nervous, whereas Mile turned pale.
The 『Graduation Examination Mock Fight』 deciding the fate of both the students and the school was about to begin anytime now.
The 『Graduation Examination Mock Fight』, short 「GradEx」, wasn’t something all students took.
Among those of the students who want to take it, the instructors choose only those fit for C Rank in both ability and personality to undergo this examination which will promote them to C Rank upon passing.
There also are cases where unwilling students take the exam upon strong urging of the instructors.
Those who were made to take the exam by an instructor and failed, as well as those who chose to be tested and were judged to be lacking in ability will graduate as D Rank.
But since they are seen as 『having enough experience』 they will climb to C Rank in a short, depending on the person, period of time. Since failing was treated as 「You’re just a bit short」, it wasn’t that tragical to do so.
After all, the hopeless cases had been expelled ages ago.
This time the number of people who put forth their names was 40.
Since they lost nothing even if they failed, this much was to be expected.
Even Mile had applied for it way before Elbert had asked for her help.
She had done so before Rena had brought up them forming a party since being only D Rank would have been inconvenient for going Solo.
This time, other than Mile’s group of four, five swordsmen including Vail, two spearmen, 3 archers, and 4 magicians for a total of 18 students were allowed to take the GradEx.
And their opponents for this examination were the Hunter party 『Mithril Roar』, a B Rank party that had only 6 members.
For F till C Rank, parties of 4~6 were common, but once you got to B Rank and above parties usually consisted of more than ten and sometimes as many as a few dozen Hunters. Like this they could take on jobs even if some of them were sick, hurt or on vacation. They also often split into several smaller groups to take on several quests at once.
Though in groups like that, there sometimes where people lacking in skill or morality among them…
But apparently this party, 『Mithril Roar』, was a small group of elite fighters. All of them appeared to be quite skilled.
And then, finally, Elbert, the principal, declared the start of the examination, and the fighting began.
『Mithril Roar』 consisted of their leader, a 40 somewhat great sword user, a seasoned spearman of around the same age, a slightly young swordsman in his late twenties, an experienced looking older magician, a magician around thirty, and a female magician at age twenty. They lacked an archer, but that could be covered by a skilled magician capable of long ranged attacks.
To measure the students’ abilities accurately, an absolute difference in ability was necessary. That combined with being capable of easily fighting multiple times against the youngsters was why they, a B Rank party, had been employed.
Since leading and educating younger Hunters was also an important skill, the older magician and leader left the examination this time to their younger members to check whether they would be able to skillfully bring out the strengths and weaknesses of the students.
They might be called young members, but they had attained B Rank so their skill was enough to serve as a leader were they part of a different party.
The mock battles proceeded swimmingly and while none of the students won, they had satisfying fights where they got to display their strong points due to their opponents being cooperative, making the students appear powerful and skilled.
That their performance was largely due to their opponent’s superior abilities and good will was not noticed by many of the applicants.
Remaining until now were only Mile’s party and Vail.
It was the girls’ turn first with Vail going last.
Of course, this order was something Mile had asked Elbert to arrange.
「Good luck, Pauline!」
「I’m sure you’re going to win, just stay calm and be careful!」
「You’ve done everything you could, so just go out there and give it your best, to not regret the outcome.」
The trio cheered the shaking Pauline up, worried that she wouldn’t be able to bring out her true strength since her weak willed side had come out.
「Even if you say that….
If only I could be an unthinking justice-idiot like Maevis, have the child-like simple-mindedness of Rena or be naive like Mile, I wouldn’t have to feel this anxious…」
Maevis, Rena, and Mile had received serious damage before their matches even started.
「Oh, so it’s a girl this time? Are you okay little miss, you’re shaking.」
Pauline’s opponent was the twenty years old magician, Olga, who had already faced several students focused on healing and support.
She herself was a magician specialized in that field, but her B Rank wasn’t for show, so her self-defense skill with a staff was quite high.
「I-I’ll be in your care…」
「Yes yes. Are you friends with those girls over there? That one’s really small…
For the Training School to have admitted even children like that, has it’s quality fallen?」
「You guys look like you’d get wiped out on your first suppression quest. I think it’s better if I make you fail….」
「Well then, I’ll let you attack first so try your best…」
「Shut up! Quit your yapping you boobless slut!」
The passage of time inside the Arena stopped.
In order to make the experience more enjoyable for the visitors, the arena had been built in a way that allowed for the sound inside to resonante, making it possible to hear the fighters clearly, though only if they raised their voices.
Due to this, the audience hadn’t heard Olga’s musings earlier, but certainly heard Pauline’s shouts. Loud and clear.
「T-That girl, how could she!」
To suddenly hurl verbal abuse at her senior, a B Rank Hunter at that, and even going as far as aiming for bodily shortcomings.
And that in front of the elite of this country, emissaries of foreign countries, and the masses, in loud voice.
Their party’s name would become well known.
But not in the fashion they wanted it to.
Rena held her head in her hands while Maevis had become pale.
「Uuuuu, boobless, boobless…..」
Behind them, Mile had plainly taken damage.
「What’s up with that youngster!」
「That is well past the allowable limit of rudeness!」
In the seats that had fallen silence, voices started rising gradually.
「Well, she snapped, so there should be a serious reason for it.
Since she wouldn’t get angry if she herself was insulted, it probably was aimed at us, I think?
Now she’ll have to demonstrate with her ability whether she has the qualification to talk back.」
Though she might have gotten nervous for a moment, Rena was fast to recover. Whether that was due to her believing in her comrades or due to her being sturdy….
「You insulted my precious comrades! I’ll make you regret that!」
Orga was shaking.
She was quite tall and on the slender side, combined with her being B Rank, this had made her quite popular. Yet, in contrast, she hadn’t been able to find a decent man and continued her single life for years now. She herself had questioned on more than one occasion, whether her lack of assets was the reason for this.
Having this fact shoved into her face…
「Burn, my Heart! Convert my rage into a blaze and turn everything before me into a sea of flames! FIRE WALTZ!!」
Upon seeing the floating mass of flames about one meter in diameter floating in front of Pauline, Olga came back to her senses.
「A Fireball? It’s big, but it lacks focus and is spread out. It’s a good thing for a support mage to have at least one Attack Magic, but if it’s unstable like that…」
The sphere of flames struggled to keep it’s shape as it closed in on Olga. As a result she confidently blocked it.
「Appear, Magic Wall, repel the fireball.」
Pauline’s sphere of flames made contact with Olga’s barrier, lacked the power to smash through it, and spread along it’s surface.
Olga’s view had been filled with fire, but she had taken no damage.
「As if Attack Magic like this, gua!」
In reaction to the sudden pain in her left side, Olga let out a pained voice.
When she looked towards the origin of the pain, she saw a staff that had struck a connecting part of her leather armor.
And after being retracted, the staff’s tip was thrust at her once more.
Ignoring the agony spreading from her side, she parried the incoming staff and countered with a blow of her own followed by a right kick, blowing her opponent away.
「Haaa Haaa Haaa…..」
Olga checked in a hurry, but to her relief, her side hurt quite a lot, but there was no damage to her intestines or a cracked bone. Despite her opponent aiming for the weakest part of her armor, it did it’s job well enough.
The girl she had kick away was lying a few meters away, the resistance transmitted through her staff had told her that she had landed a good blow. She probably had shattered a bone.
Olga would probably get scolded later for overdoing it against a student, but she didn’t have the leisure to take another hit. It was the result of unfortunate circumstances.
「Dealing with agony, repairing damages, High Heal!」
When her pain began to ebb away after using Healing Magic, Olga looked at her opponent, only to find that Pauline had already stood up.
But her face was twisted in agony and her left arm bent in a weird direction.
「How unfair. To simply make all the planning and effort I put in my surprise attack to nought with just one spell. Healing Magic really is unfair and useful…..
And since it’s so unfair,」
Saying this, Pauline broadly smiled.
「Numbing pain, recreating bone matter, setting the bone, reconnecting the parts. Regenerating muscle tissue, repairing blood vessels, repairing nerves. Mega Heal!」
「I’ll be so free to use it as well…」
Upon seeing Pauline comfortable swing the arm that should be completely broken, Olga as well as the audience fell silent.
「T-That’s not possible….」
If you could use a certain level of Recovery and Healing Magic, possessed enough magic power, and were able to somewhat defend yourself, you’d be more than welcomed as a C Rank Healing magician.
And this girl, weak as it was, brought out Attack Magic, landed a powerful hit with her staff, and now showed this ridiculously effective Healing Magic.
Olga’s teacher had told her of this before. The existence of a Healing Magic spell beyond her strongest spell, 『High Heal』.
It was a skill that could instantly reattach almost severed limbs and mend broken bones, and to this point a summit she had been unable to reach…..
And, and this was used by a small girl like that?
Ignoring the mutterings of Olga, Pauline had begun chanting again.
「Burn, my Heart! Convert my rage into a blaze and appear, Flame!」
「Hm, what? That badly controlled Fireball again?
As if I would get blinded by a petty trick like that again!」
Olga shouted, thinking that she was being insulted when taking into account the earlier display of Healing Magic.
「Eh, Fireball? What are you talking about?
The spell I used earlier was 『Firewall』. This one is a Fireball.」
Pauline didn’t mind Olga and continued chanting.
「What! That incomplete Attack Magic wasn’t your best…」
Olga screamed after the Flame before Pauline shrunk into two perfect spheres.
「As if that level of Attack Magic was something I would have had to train hard for.
Now, let the Hammer of judgement descend upon the one who insulted my friends. GOOO!」
before Olga could react, the two balls of fire shot past her, clipping her beneath both armpits, before drilling themselves into the stone wall behind her.
With a shocked expression Olga sunk to the ground like a marionette that had it’s strings cut.
「We have winner!」
When the voice signalling the end of their battle rung out, Pauline turned around and left.
Among the cheers resounding from the audience, Pauline simply silently raised her right fist.
「Ah, so this must be the 『amazing youngster』 you spoke of! Truly a good find!
To be honest, I didn’t really put much faith in your words. I thought you only tried to get a bigger budget. Really, sorry! I have to apologize.」
Elbert’s face relaxed at the minister of finance’s apology and praise.
Next to him the one responsible for the formation of the Hunter Training School, Count Christopher, smiled happily.
「Well done indeed. Her intelligence and ability to use Attack Magic in addition to her amazing Healing Magic. That one, I would like to wholeheartedly invite to become a royal court magician. It seems that the Training School was capable of unearthing valuable human resources after all…. She has to be the biggest talent you have found yet.」
Receiving the King’s praises, Elbert grimaced.
「Hm? Is something wrong?」
While replying to the King Elbert had a conflicted expression on his face.
「Ehm, umm, it’s about something she said before…」
「Oh, tell me, what was it?」
「Well, 『Fuhaha, I am the weakest among the four heavenly kings!』 were her words…..」