‘This extraordinary strength, it’s similar to a bloodline aura but also contains vicissitudes of the spirit…’ Leylin looked at Crowley and then back at Xavier, finding them both similar. Of course, without knowledge nobody would notice these similarities.
‘Bloodline carrier, huh? Finally found one, and an organisation suppressed by the empire at that... ‘ Leylin felt somewhat delighted, and at the same time he observed Xavier’s conversation with Crowley as the latter left something with the teen.
‘Interesting… Is he trying to protect Xavier or set him up?’ Leylin looked at Crowley, but Crowley walked away instead.
“Alright everyone, the examinations will begin!” Under the vigilant gazes of the officers, Leylin and the other candidates walked into a large field with a white jade floor. In the centre of the field was a spell formation in the shape of a hexagon.
“The examinations requires you to connect with the Weave, and also to accurately cast a middle ranked spell…” A well trained military officer stood at the forefront, and his voice echoed throughout the entire field.
“I’ll repeat myself… There is a certain level of danger in this examination. You may choose to give up now and walk away, we will not look down on you…” Evidently, with success just one step away, none of the candidates chose to give up.
“Very well. If I call your name please step forward for your examination. Firstly, WE23, Deery…” A girl with freckles walked forward, her face filled with unease.
“Stand inside the formation, the Weave will grant you temporary authority…” The officer ordered with a voice that could not be disobeyed. After the candidate stood at the spot, he nodded his head and looked at his watch before saying, “Authorise middle-rank spells from the Shadow Weave.”
*Buzz! Buzz!* The white light in the spell formation began to shake, and the pressure from within caused the freckled girl to cry.
“Central neural net, pick a topic,” the officer shouted from outside the formation. Many spells names begin to rotate quickly on a large overhead screen, and it finally rested on one.
“Rank 3 spell— Shadow Wings!” the officer said as he looked at the girl. “Connect to the Shadow Weave through the spell formation, and cast the spell to the best of your ability. Our judges and the central neural network will perform the scoring…”
“Damn! Shadow Wings is a difficult spell to cast even amongst the rank 3 spells, she really is unlucky…” Xavier sighed in pity, not noticing that Leylin was looking at him with an even more pitiable expression.
Xavier concentrated on the spell formation, watching as the girl attempted to summon a pair of black wings. However, all that formed was two balls of black mist, not materialising into wings. The two were even uneven.
*Bang!* A loud explosion sounded out at the end, and the balls exploded behind the girl’s back. She was sent flying, with flesh and blood oozing out of her body.
“Final score: 0.2. Fail!” The officer had an indifferent expression on his face as he waved his hands, indicating for the medical team to carry the girl away and treat her.
“How is it? Does anyone want to quit now?” The officer surveyed his surroundings, and the candidates all bowed their heads. However, even now nobody chose to quit, each thinking that Lady Luck would stand by their side.
“Very well… Next!” The officer resumed the examination, smiling icily.
“Final score: 0.4. Fail!”
“Final score: 0.3. Fail!”
“Final score: 0.6. Barely passed!”
Candidate after candidate was disqualified quickly. It took fifty candidates for a single plump candidate to pass. The unlucky ones had been carried out of the venue, causing the atmosphere to darken.
If not for that candidate scoring a pass, most people would have given up by now.
“Next, Dinar!” The officer called a name.
“Sir!” The candidate called Dinar was a tall lanky man, looking to be in his thirties. However, his sideburns were white and his eyes spoke of a long past.
“Yes, you look promising. Enter!” After seeing him, the officer’s eyes brightened.
“Thanks!” Dinar walked into the spell formation and took a deep breath.
“Begin! Your chosen spell is Phantom Fireball!” The officer announced.
“Whaa… It's one of the easiest spell to control! He’s so lucky…” The candidates below clamoured.
The man seemed extremely pleased with his own luck too. He closed his eyes as a formless spiritual force spread and connected to the Weave. Very soon, a dark red fireball appeared before him, as gentle as a tamed beast.
“Very well. Finally, another candidate passed!” Xavier clenched his fist, and his confidence was rebuilt.
However, just as he thought Dinar would pass, a strange even occurred. The dark red fireball began to shudder, and seemed to cracked at its sides, causing Dinar’s expression to turn bad.
*Boom!* The dark red fireball exploded, charring Dinar into ashes.
“...” Absolute silence reigned, death permeating the field. The silence was finally broken by a scream, and immediately a cacophony was stirred up.
“SIlence, or you’ll be disqualified!” The threat was extremely effective, and the field became quiet once again.
“Sad. This Dinar’s spiritual force was cracked, causing a backlash with the spell. This is one of the three primary ways of suicide in the books, you should all be wary of it.” The officer lectured them and waved his hands as he inspected the spell formation. Several members from the medical team came forth and carried the burnt corpse away.
‘Oh, so that’s what happened.’ Leylin looked at Xavier, who seemed to be scared silly. Crowley smirked in secret as well, nodding his head.
‘Although the Shadow Weave’s requirements are lower than Mystra’s, regular humans can only control low-ranked spells. Middle-ranked spells and above need thorough examination. This is not something peculiar, just… The death, it’s abnormal! These officers can all use the Shadow Weave, but they didn’t manage to save an amateur? It has to be deliberate!
‘So then, the only difference with Dinar was… He had mild traces of extraordinary abilities!’ Leylin’s eyes brightened.
‘So there’s a secondary purpose to this screening. Apart from choosing those qualified to cast middle-ranked spells, it serves to differentiate true humans from mutants of bloodline carriers!
‘Since they have better talent in the first place, it’s quite likely that they’ll take these examinations. By tweaking some things in the dark and under the disguise of accidents, the empire can purge and massacre these impure humans…
‘No wonder I found it strange that even with psi energy and the Weave the number of extraordinary humans has been dwindling too quickly… There was this screening…’ Leylin nodded his head, not disagreeing with what they had done.
Any centralised government would abhor those people who could form their own forces and become a threat. Those like Magi that could not be controlled by the Shadow Weave were better off purged in order to maintain peace and public security.
Moreover, if one could even stamp on the seal in the name of justice, it would be even better. Had Leylin been the ruler, he would most likely have made the same decision.
‘So regular humans who apply for the exams will only pass or fail, suffering some injury at most. However, extraordinary humans…’ Leylin looked at the headless corpse, which was a good example.
After constant repeats of this scenario, with the development of science, extraordinary humans would then become a myth and legend of the distant past. So, Crowley was in fact protecting Xavier earlier?
“Hmm? Are there any now who want to leave?” Evidently, the death earlier scared several candidates, and some chose to withdraw. The officer did not stop them, and allowed their departure by waving his hands. After all, if they had to force every candidate to go up and attempt the test, then it would be too obvious.
This plan was set for the long term. As long as there were a huge numbers of bloodline carriers dying each year, the seeds would eventually be eliminated.
“It’s my turn!” Xavier felt pumped.
“Go up! All the best!” Leylin encouraged him at the side, and saw the worry in Crowley’s eyes.
‘After all this time, the rebels should have thought up a way to counter this by now, huh?’ However, Xavier did not know anything regarding these issues, and he walked to the spell formation in trepidation.
‘Okay! The spirit scan is not a problem, he’s not a bloodline carrier!’ The officer looked at a secret report before he announced the choice loudly, “Chosen spell— Phantom Fireball!”
‘I’ve already casted this countless times in my head. I’ll surely succeed!’ Although Dinar had died earlier, Xavier did not allow his death to affect his spiritual force from reaching into the spell formation.
“Hmm?” However, he suddenly realised something. The spiritual force which he could use to cast low rank spells was now like a dead puddle, not moving one bit.
“Damn it! Move! Come on!” Xavier turned beet red, only feeling that his spiritual force would not budge no matter what.
*Puff!*... Finally, a small wisp of flame was formed before him. But it very soon turned into a black pillar of smoke.
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