Chief Magician Jin Joohwa’s explanation dragged on for a long time. How the exam will be carried out, how groups will be formed, the types of monsters that will be summoned… I understood that he was a cautious person, but I just wished he would get on with the exam already.
“Now, we will begin the exam. Group 1 members should stand up.”
Finally, he spoke the words I was waiting for.
Group 1 was Hazuki, Kim Junho, Yoo Jungjin, and Spenner. Hazuki was the only one I knew.
“I’ll do my best!”
Hazuki got up as she received encouraging words from her friends.
The four group members followed a staff to the examination ground.
“Everyone else, please stand to the side.”
The 96 remaining cadets of Veritas class stood against the wall while wondering why. Suddenly, Jin Joohwa clapped, and ten circular tables with ten chairs each rose up from the floor.
“Take a seat, everyone. You will be writing a report for this exam as well.”
Immediately, cadets broke out into groans.
“Sit wherever you want.”
Since I already knew this would happen, I wasn’t fazed by it in the slightest. I took a seat randomly, while other cadets sat close to their friends.
Just when I was thoughtlessly waiting for Jin Joohwa’s next word, a sweet fragrance tickled my nose. It was a unique and aromatic smell of rose. I glanced sideways.
It was Rachel. She was staring at her fingernails. It seemed one of her nails was too sharp as she took a nail clipper to one of her fingers. At that moment, her eyes met mine.
Rachel hastily put away the nail clipper into her pocket.
“Battle analysis will be part of this exam.”
Jin Joohwa’s explanation began once again.
“It’s simple. You will carefully analyze cadets who are battling monsters and write a report.”
In an instant, a monitor shot up from the tables. There was one for each seat, a total of a hundred.
The monitor’s screen was split into four, and each screen showed a cadet from the group taking the exam.
“How they were able to defeat their monster, or why they lost; even if they won, in what areas they were lacking; if they lost, what methods they could have used to get a better result. This is what we are looking for in your reports.”
Jin Joohwa clapped, and the other magicians began to hand out report papers.
“You have to write three reports in total, but only the best report will be reflected on your grade. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can only write one report. If you do, you will be penalized.”
I picked up the paper in front of me. Looking at the peer assessment paper, I suddenly remembered my college days. I had to write my name on the “evaluating cadet” line and the name of the cadet I’m evaluating on “evaluatee cadet.”
[Check the ‘anonymous’ checkbox if you wish to remain anonymous.]
Thankfully, we had the option of being anonymous.
“For the record, this report is only 5% of your grade. But, the reports you write will be given to the cadets you evaluate.”
At these words, cadets began to exchange meaningful looks.
“Giving your peers healthy advice and recommendations, and encouraging honest self-development, I think these are duties of a Hero. So if you abuse the ability to be anonymous to be malicious, you will be penalized accordingly.”
The chief magician’s mouth curled up to a smile.
“It seems we are ready. Group 1’s exam will now begin.”
I stared at the monitor fixedly. I then clicked on the box Hazuki was in. The other three boxes disappeared, and only Hazuki’s filled the screen.
Hazuki was facing a ghoul, a low-intermediate rank grade 1 monster. It should be a difficult fight for Hazuki.
The ghoul’s claws clashed with Hazuki’s axe.
Hazuki responded to its attacks rather calmly, but a ghoul’s claws were harder than average high grade weapons. After exchanging a few blows, Hazuki must have concluded that she was at a disadvantage in close ranged combat as she began to circle around the room. Using the ghoul’s slow speed to her advantage, she began to look for an opening in the ghoul’s defense.
But 15 minutes went by with no change.
The ghoul disappeared after being reverse summoned.
“Draw, Hazuki and Yoo Jungjin. Victory, Spenner. Defeat, Kim Junho. Next is group 2. Chae Nayun, Hojun, Jutryn, Carlos.”
Next up was Chae Nayun’s group.
Chae Nayun walked up in an imposing manner. The weight of her bow seemed lighter than usual. Just what could Kim Suho have said to her to make her feel so energetic?
I looked at Chae Nayun through the monitor.
“A Thousand-Mile Horse?”
Chae Nayun’s opponent was the Thousand-Mile Horse, an intermediate rank grade 9 monster. It was one of the trickiest monsters for an archer to face. But in the screen, Chae Nayun stood tall with confidence in front of the Thousand-Mile Horse.
Not long afterward, the battle began.
Chae Nayun drew her bow, and the Thousand-Mile Horse charged towards her.
I examined their fight closely. My Gift, Master Sharpshooter, seemed to affect my eyes of discernment, as I could clearly see Chae Nayun’s faults.
Chae Nayun dodged the charging Thousand-Mile Horse by rolling to the side. Doing so, she had missed an opportunity to attack. She should have stabbed an arrow in its flank, or if she fired after rolling, she would have hit the horse’s butt.
[Chae Nayun only wants to shoot her bow in upright positions. In other words, she lacks adaptability and situational awareness as an archer.]
Chae Nayun was too fixated on textbook stances. As a result, the Thousand-Mile Horse easily dodged her arrows.
[In a one-on-one fight, sharpshooters require detailed analysis and background knowledge of their target. However, Chae Nayun lacks knowledge about monsters.]
Defeating a Thousand-Mile Horse was easy if one started with disabling its legs. However, Chae Nayun was attacking places with a large surface area like its neck and body.
‘She doesn’t like memorizing theory.’
It was Chae Nayun’s flaw I created myself.
[Her ability to predict her opponent’s movements is superb, but she lacks the ability to take her arrows’ speed into account.]
This was a matter of talent. Chae Nayun’s talent in bows was ranked second or third. In contrast, her talent in longswords was ranked first. The spear and bow only came afterwards.
In other words, Chae Nayun couldn’t predict what I could predict.
That was the difference between our talents, our Gifts.
[Despite all this, Chae Nayun was able to win against the Thousand-Mile Horse because of her overwhelming magic power control, capacity, and adaptability.]
Eventually, the Thousand-Mile Horse got tired. It couldn’t withstand the endless barrage of arrows that came from Chae Nayun’s terrifying magic power capacity.
[Overall, I recommend that Chae Nayun find a weapon that is more suited to utilizing her immense magic power.]
The exam ended with her victory.
However, my report was filled with criticisms. Still, they were reasonable. If the person grading this report had sharp eyes, he would know that I was right.
“Victory, Chae Nayun. Defeat, Hojun, and Jutryn. Draw, Carlos.”
After the exam, Chae Nayun returned in the same imposing manner as when she had left. I didn’t even give her a glance. Feeling somewhat guilty, I flipped over my report.
“Next is group 3…”
The exam thus continued.
Meanwhile, Oh Junhyuk was patrolling the west forest. The faint vibration he felt a while ago was bothering him.
Normally, he would have thought of it as a natural phenomenon and ignored it, but a police officer had been killed the day before. As a result, Oh Junhyuk was currently more sensitive to his surroundings.
A vibration even clearer than the one he felt before rang out.
“Youngji, did you feel that?”
Seo Youngji’s reply came within a second from the micro-transceiver he had.
—Yep, another vibration. I think it’s coming from the ocean. Can you tell me exactly when you felt the vibration?
“How should I know?”
—Then just send me your smartwatch data.
Oh Junhyuk did as she said.
—I’m in the east forest. The vibration was 0.03 seconds faster on your side. The source of the vibration must be in the west sea.
“Can I use the smartwatch to calculate the same thing?”
— You should be able to. It’s the Association’s specially crafted smartwatch. It has a lot of useful functions. Anyways, I’m heading over there now. Wait for me.
Oh Junhyuk began to walk towards the west sea through a field of weed. Since the vibration came from the west sea, he planned to observe it from a distance.
But at that moment…
He felt a condensing and scattering of magic power.
Oh Junhyuk quickly turned to that direction.
A shadowy figure was walking out from the dense forest.
Oh Junhyuk stared at the figure while holding his breath.
Tap, tap. With heavy steps, a man walked out… a man that he had seen before. Because of the unique aura he gave off, Oh Junhyuk remembered him.
A large build and a sinister face. It was the man who was glaring at him in the arena.
Oh Junhyuk’s eyes met the man’s. The man returned a big smile.
Looking at the man, Oh Junhyuk spoke in a businesslike manner.
“This area is off-limits to outsiders.”
A fierce light shone from the man’s eyes.
“Then why are you here?”
His voice was fittingly husky and full. However, Oh Junhyuk retorted without being fazed in the slightest.
“Because I’m not an outsider.”
“Mm, what a surprise.”
The giant man gave a dry reply as he rubbed his chin. Oh Junhyuk forced himself to smile.
“If you understand, please go back.”
With a grin, the giant man suddenly began to crack his joints. He was clearly asking for a fight. Oh Junhyuk let out a deep sigh.
“The one who murdered that police officer, that was you, wasn’t it?”
“Huh? I don’t know. Rather than that, don’t just stand there.”
At that moment, a chilling wind blew from the sea. Oh Junhyuk’s smartwatch loudly rang at the same time.
“Move if you don’t want to be beaten up.”
The moment the giant man’s voice fell low…
From the depths of the sea, a giant creature shot up with a burst of water. Oh Junhyuk quickly turned around.
The creature looked like a generic snake, but its overwhelming size and vicious mouth showed that it was on a league of its own.
A mythical monster had appeared on the west sea.