"Ugh, my backside....."
Once the dust settled, Raine saw a man sitting inside the small crater while rubbing his backside and cursing. The man in question is a daemon with unkempt hair and beard. He has bags in his eyes---proof that the man hasn’t slept properly for days. Age-wise the man looks like he is in his 40s but considering his race, the man is most likely much older than he look.
But what truly catches Raine's attention is the horn on the man's forehead. Or at least, what was left of it....
Yes, the man's horn is not the same as other daemon; about two-third of it was missing. This is the first time that Raine saw a daemon with a damage horn (not that his own situation is any better), and questions swirl inside his head.
Was the horn got damage by accident, or was it cut by someone?
Though extremely curious, Raine knows that now's not the time for that. He cautiously walked towards the suspicious man and asked, “are you okay?"
"Hm? And you are?"
The man turned his head towards the boy and asked who he was.
"I am here to take the practical examination."
Raine did not gave his name to the man as he found him very suspicious, and instead told him that he is one of the examinee taking the entrance examination today.
"Oh? You’re an examinee?"
"Ahhhh! I almost forgot, I'm supposed to be in-charge of the practical examination today!"
Raine was surprised at the sudden outburst from the man and took several steps back.
The man still in his own world completely ignored the boy's reaction and tries to stand up only to fail and wince in pain on the ground.
"Are, are you okay, mister? Do you need help?"
Seeing the man in that situation, Raine's heart softened and offered his help.
The man did not stand on ceremony and accepted the boy's offer. Raine supported the man towards the nearby benches.
"Thanks for the help, kid." The man said.
"It was nothing," was Raine's reply.
"My name's Skalan, the teacher in-charge for today's practical examination."
After thanking Raine, the suspicious man introduced himself as a teacher and the one responsible for the practical portion of the entrance examination.
Since Raine already expected this, he did not look too surprise when the man reveal his identity.
"Nice to meet you, Mr. Skalan, my name is Raine."
Raine returned the gesture and quickly introduced himself. He then look curiously at the examiner and wanted to know what happened to him but hesitated if he should ask.
The examiner noticed Raine's hesitation and asked:
"Do you want to know what happened to me? Why the teacher that's supposedly in-charge of the examination suddenly fall from the sky?" He asked.
Raine nodded his head in affirmation, thus prompting Skalan to start his explanation.
Skalan's explanation was simple; he was experimenting on a certain magic spell when the said spell failed---resulting in his fall.
"A spell---could it be flight magic?" Raine asked with great interest
"Oho~ Not bad, kid! That's exactly what my magic experiment was all about." Skalan responded, impressed.
"Then does that mean you were flying before the spell failed?"
Since the man suddenly fall from the sky, Raine assumed that Skalan flew for a time before falling down after the spell failed.
Seeing the boy's sparkling eyes, Skalan felt embarrassed and thought that he should explain properly.
"Well, not exactly. It wasn't flying but floating. Right now, I could only go up, and nothing more. Of course, flight is my end goal." Skalan corrected.
"That's still very impressive! Not even the "old guards" in my village knew of how to do that," Raine praises.
The "old guards" that Raine mentioned above referred to the war veterans that built and established the frontier village that Raine and his family lived.
"Actually, flight magic is not exactly a new subject of study. Countless magic researchers have researched the said topic even before I was born. Even the "float" spell I was using got its inspiration from the records left by those magic researchers," Skalan explained with admiration on his eyes.
Raine agreed to this sentiment. Even back in his old world, the same principle applied.
"Anyway, I have rested enough. It's time that I do my duty as the examiner."
Skalan stood up and urges the boy to follow him. Raine followed along but is still worried if Skalan has recovered enough to oversee the practical examination.
And as if reading Raine's mind, Skalan assured him that he is okay. Besides, Skalan only needed to see Raine's abilities and grade his performance accordingly.
Raine felt relief hearing this and decided not to worry anymore.
"See those training dummies over there? I want you to attack one of them with the weapon of your choosing. You need to keep attacking the dummy until I tell you to stop. Just choose the weapon you like from the weapon racks over there." Skalan instructed.
Nodding his head, Raine walk towards the weapons racks. Hanging on the weapons racks are weapons like swords, sabers, daggers, spears, axes, hammers, bows and arrows, etc.
Raine crossed his arms as he contemplated on what weapon to used. A minute later he made his decision. Not long after he returned to Skalan with a short sword on hand.
"I see that you decided to use a short sword. That's not a bad choice at all; it's practical, easy to use, and light enough for a kid of your age. Alright, choose a training dummy and attack it until I tell you to stop."
Skalan was rather satisfied at Raine’s weapon of choice. In his many years of administering the practical examination, he had seen examinees choosing more unique, and “cool-looking”( impractical) weapons despite the fact that they’re not proficient in them just to look good in front of the examiners and peers. Every time he sees someone do something like that, could only helplessly sigh inside his heart.
Choosing a random training dummy, Raine started hacking at it.
Slash slash slash!
Right slash, left slash, upward slash, downward slash, diagonal slash.... Raine unleashed a furry of slashes at the unmoving dummy. Every slash causes wide gashes, quickly chipping away at the wooden target. The more Raine slashes at the target, the faster he gets to the point that only flashes could be seen.
Skalan observed Raine as he hacked at the training dummy. Raine's movements are simple but steady---a proof that Raine did not choose the short sword for no reason. From Skalan's point of view, Raine's movements are fast, precise, and stable. It was obvious that Raine was taught swordsmanship by a capable master.
"Okay, that's enough!"
Few dozens of slashes later, Skalan finally ordered Raine to stop. Raine lowered his arm to his side after being ordered to stop, and let out a deep breath. Though he was sweating a lot, Raine's breathing is steady which Skalan praises in his mind.
"Good work that was a great performance!" Skalan said, not stingy with his praises.
Raine smiled widely at the praise and replied with a thank you.
"But is it really okay to use those dummies? I might have destroyed the one from earlier."
Hearing Raine's question, Skalan guffawed and told Raine to look at the training dummy he used earlier.
Raine did what he was told and was surprised at what he saw.
"What happened? The damages inflicted to the training dummy disappeared!" Raine exclaimed.
That's right, the damage Raine inflicted on the training dummy vanished like it was never there on the first place.
"Of course they would! These training dummies are magic tools with the ability to repair itself. As long as the main core remain undamage, the training dummy would be able to repair any damage inflicted upon it!" Skalan explained with great pride.
The training dummies are used for the practical examination each year and if the academy uses ordinary training dummies, it would prove very expensive if they replace the damaged ones every time.
"Alright, the next test is the use of magic but if you are not confident in your magical capability you're free not to take the test."
Skalan's words did not surprise Raine because he was already informed by his sister Cloudia that he could skip the magic portion of the practical examination if he wanted to. The students were given this choice because the academy was long aware that not all of its students can use magic. Not only that, while Skalan was explaining the test, he keep on glancing at Raine's forehead. Meaning, Skalan was secretly urging Raine not to take the test out of consideration for his condition.
With a look of gratitude on his eyes, Raine told Skalan that he would be taking the magic test much to the man's surprise.
"Are you sure?" Skalan asked while gauging Raine's determination.
"Yes!" Raine answered with confidence.
"Since you’ve made your mind already, I will no longer say anything unnecessary. The test is the same as earlier but this time you only need to use the spell you're most proficient with one time. Go all out; even if you destroy the training dummy, its core hidden under the ground would repair it over time." Skalan explained.
Breathing deeply, Raine chooses a training dummy different from what he used earlier. Taking a stance, Raine eyed the training dummy and then released a fireball from his right hand!
The training dummy exploded with a loud boom, and splinters from the destroyed training dummy scattered. Fortunately, Raine was far enough from the dummy as such none of the splinters reached him.
"That should do it. Mr.Skalan, I'm done!"
Raine nodded to himself, seemingly satisfied at his performance. He quickly turned around towards Skalan's direction with a satisfied smile only to see the examiner looking at him, mouth agape in shock.
"What, what the hell is that?! What did you just do?!"
Voice, stuttering, Skalan asked Raine what he had done while pointing a finger at the training dummy, or at least, what remained of it.
"Huh? I only did what you had asked me to do---use magic to attack the training dummy."
Confusion filled Raine's head. He could not comprehend why the examiner was so shock even though he only followed his instructions.
"Did I do something wrong? Maybe I should have not destroyed the training dummy? Oh no! What if he asks me to pay for its repair! But, but, but, he said I should go all out!"
Cold sweat started appearing on Raine's back because of nervousness. Even though he has his savings from selling the rights to his inventions, he has no idea how much a magic tool like the academy's training dummy would cost. Besides, he already has plans how he would use the funds.
Seeing that Raine might have misunderstood something, Skalan quickly clarified the situation.
"I have an idea what’s on your head right now but I assure you that what you’re thinking is wrong! The reason I’m like this right now is because I’m surprised at how fast you casted you're magic!" Skalan clarified in a high pitch voice.
"Oh! And here I thought I did something strange, so it's just that."
Realizing that it was just his casting speed that shocked the examiner, Raine felt relieved. In actuality, Raine felt that he might have overdone it by destroying the training dummy and was worried that he might be charged for the training dummy's repair fee. Fortunately for Raine, his worries were unwarranted, unfortunately for Skalan, the boy's conclusion was completely off the mark....
Looking at Raine's facial expression, Skalan understood that Raine did not get the point he was trying to send across.
"Is he not aware of the significance of what he'd just done? From the looks on his face, that's exactly the case...." Skalan thought, sighing inside his heart.
Skalan approaches Raine with a very serious expression on his face. He needed to explain to this clueless boy the seriousness of the situation.
"Raine, we need to talk." Skalan started.
Raine stared at Skalan with confusion written all over his face. He could not understand what made the examiner so serious.
"Tell me, what method did you use that allowed you to cast the spell you used earlier at such a speed?" Skalan asked.
"Um, I don't think I did anything special, I simply focused on the target, and released my spell. That's all." Raine answered.
...You mean, you looked at the target, and release the spell?" Skalan clarified.
"That’s exactly right!" Raine exclaimed, satisfied that Skalan understood what he did.
Sighing loudly, Skalan stared at the clueless boy with exasperation. Really, how could this little "monster" be this clueless? Skalan felt a headache coming but he knew that as a teacher, it is his duty to explain to the boy the significance of his action.
"Raine, are you aware how a spell caster usually cast his or her spell?" Skalan asked.
Despite being confused why the examiner was asking something obvious, Raine still nodded in affirmation. But as he was about to explain the process, Skalan cut him off.
"To successfully cast a spell, you would need to do things in this order: select a target (the enemy, or for healing and support spells, yourself), concentrate, gather mana, imagine the spell you wanted to cast, and lastly, release. And for high level spells, sometimes, chants are added." Skalan explained.
"And you, Raine, on the other hand, completely skipped three or four steps!" He added.
"Ah! He’s right!"
Raine finally understood why Skalan was so shock earlier, and the reason that the man was so adamant to explain the significance of what he did.
Even in this world's standard, the ability to cast a spell almost instantaneously is a phenomenal thing that would surprise anyone who knew even the tiniest thing about magic. And Raine, as smart as he is, should have been aware of it.
But the boy could not fully be blamed on this. He has been using this method to cast spell for years now and no one pointed out how strange it is until now.
Certainly, Raine was aware of the "proper" way to cast a spell. He did thouroughly studied the "proper" method of doing so after all. Not only that, his parents, and even a few of the village's "old guards" tutored him of the "proper" way of casting magic after realizing that he could use magic despite lacking horn.
It's just that, Raine find the popular method of casting magic rather slow. Remember when he and sister were ambushed by the wyvern? The two of them had to work together, and synchronize their actions just to give Cloudia enough time to cast a spell which almost costs the siblings their lives. If not for Raine's sudden awakening to his hidden powers, the two would, without a doubt died that day.
Raine took that near death experience to heart and experimented on different methods to quickly and efficiently cast spell. And thanks to thinking outside the box and the influence from his previous world, Raine finally manages to "discover" a method that met his requirements.
When Raine demonstrated this method to his parents, Clyde, and Suu, were only a little shock and instead praised Raine for it, saying things like, “as expected of our son" or, "it's very impressive, indeed", or things like that.
Therefore, Raine have this impression that what he did wasn't extraordinary at all. Well, that and the fact that he never showed his method to anyone aside from his parents. The whole village of course knew that he was able to use magic despite his deficiency as a daemon but simply chuck it up as him being a prodigy which leads to the current situation.
"It seemed that you finally realized the significance of what you did," Skalan said with a wry smile on his face.
"Um... yeah. Mr. Skalan, sir. If you could...."
After realizing the gravity of the situation, Raine wanted to ask Skalan if he could keep what he did earlier a secret but couldn't think of the right words to say to convince the examiner.
"Don't worry about it, I'm not the type to snitch on people," Skalan assured.
Raine let out a sigh of relief. For some reason, he felt like he could trust this man. Could it be because there situation is almost similar? That despite born with a horn he lost two-third of it? Raine do not know the reason for this feeling but his gut is telling him that Skalan is a trustworthy person, and would keep his words.
"Thank you!" Raine thanked Skalan sincerely which made the examiner smile.
The boy's sincerity touched Skalan's heart but also made him guilty at the same time. Earlier, he lost his cool and almost forced the boy to tell him his secret. Such action was not only rude; it was also unbecoming of him as a teacher and magic researcher. As such, Skalan decided that an apology is on order which he did without hesitation.
"I'm very sorry!" He said.
Raine was surprised at the sudden apology from the examiner but after hearing the reasoning behind it, he smiled and gracefully accepted the apology.
"Then, please keep what I did a secret for now. When the right time comes, I would personally reveal my method." Raine responded.
"But of course! I will even help you when the time comes." Skalan was delighted at the boy's graciousness and generosity. The method to cast spell almost instantaneously would greatly benefit the academy and the kingdom, as such, he did not hesitate to give his promise.
Now that everything’s settled, the practical examination finally came to a conclusion. Not only did Raine received a good score, assuring that he'll get a good ranking, he even made friend with an eccentric teacher, and magic researcher, Skalan.
As Raine exited the training ground, he bumped into several children. Looking at their faces, he recognized them as the children from the same room where he took the written examination earlier. From the look of things, they’ve just completed the written examination and are here to take the practical examination.
Since there’s a possibility that these children would become his classmates, Raine smiled and nodded at them as form of greeting. After that he left without saying anything.
The children looked at his retreating back, and then at each other with shock. They’ve just completed the written examination, and yet that mysterious boy seems to have already passed the physical examination?
After being dumbfounded for a minute or two, the children recovered, and a look of determination replaced the shock as they enter the training ground where the practical examination is being held. Though unintended, Raine rouse these children’s competitive nature.
And with that, the entrance examination reached its conclusion. Now Raine only needed to wait for the result. But whatever the results are, Raine is now officially a student at the Royal Academy.