Chapter 10 – The Entrance Exam
ArthasMay 10, 2023
Count Dermore exuded an aura of benevolence as his countenance was graced by a gentle and affable smile.
In his presence, Noah bowed to him, while discreetly blinking her left eye three times quickly, to observe Count Dermore's information.
[Name]: Demuel Ron Dermore
[Age]: 45 years old
[Attribute]: Grace of the Earth
The information presented to Noah remained unchanged, it was the same information as three days ago.
In response, a fleeting sigh of solace escaped her lips, a testament to the relief that washed over her.
Though spared the encounter with a disruptive variable like Ulan, a sense of caution lingered deep within her heart.
It was not without reason, the Count was a pretty important character in the main scenario of 『Arsene Continental War』, in a bad way, to say the least.
'He was indirectly involved in the opening of the Gates of the Abyss in the future.’
So, of course, she had to be vigilant, but she didn't do anything stupid, like being overtly hostile.
Noah adorned her countenance with the most convincing counterfeit smile she could muster.
Then, the Count spoke, “Thank you for accepting my invitation on such short notice.
I know it's a small meal, but I hope you enjoy it.”
“Thank you, Your Excellency.”
“I appreciate the favor,” Ulan also answered politely, but unlike Noah, his tone was not formal.
The Count, however, appeared unperturbed by the disparity in their responses.
Time passed, and the meal concluded, making way for a serving of steaming hot tea.
As Noah savored a sip of the fragrant citrus-infused brew, the Count broke the silence, his words resonating with anticipation, “Tomorrow at last.”
There was no need for Noah to inquire about his meaning; tomorrow heralded the commencement of the entrance examination for the famous Arsene Academy.
“How are you feeling?”
“Ahaha, I'm kind of nervous.”
Noah smiled coyly.
It wasn't a fake emotion or smile.
She was actually nervous.
Ulan, on the other hand, remained unmoved, like a rock.
The Count tugged at the corners of his mouth and looked at them both.
“Actually, the reason I invited you here today is to tell you a few things about the entrance exams tomorrow.”
“About the entrance exams?”
I'm from the Arsene Academy myself.
So you won't lose anything by listening.
Would you like to hear it?”
There was no reason to refuse.
Ulan nodded readily.
“The entrance exam for the Arsene Academy is divided into three parts.
First, there's a written test, then a physical fitness test, and finally a specialty test to evaluate your talent.”
After sipping his tea for a moment, the Count continued.
“What you will be preparing for here is the specialty test.
The preceding written and physical tests are only for those without letters of recommendation, and have already been taken.”
This meant that Ulan and Noah, with Count Dermore's letter of recommendation, had passed the first and second tests.
This was an explanation they had already heard from Azur.
Ulan and Noah were relieved internally.
It was worth it.
Ulan lacked the knowledge to take the written test, and Noah's physical strength wasn't up to par.
They probably wouldn't have made it to the third test if they had challenged it the traditional way.
“How is talent evaluated?”
“You can choose three tests of your desire from a total of 60 specialty tests in five different fields, and if you receive a passing score, you will pass.”
The Count quickly responded, but his eyes grew serious.
“There is one caveat, however.”
“You can only take two tests from one field at a time, i.e., you cannot take all three from the same field.”
I feel like I understand what it means, but I'm not exactly sure.
As Ulan crossed his arms and furrowed his brow, Noah beside him sighed.
“You look like you don't understand…”
Noah continued, as if waiting for his response, “Let me explain with an example.
At Arsene Academy, there are five main areas of specialization: combat, magic, crafting, general, and art.”
These are called 'specialties' or ‘specialization’.
“Within each specialty, there are twelve 'specialty tests,' and we have to choose three of them and get a passing score.”
One specialization has 12 specialty tests, and since there are five specializations, there are a total of 60 specialty tests.
“However, as the Count said, you can only take two tests from one specialization, which means you can't take all three tests in combat.”
After the explanation was over, Ulan nodded.
Does that mean that if I choose two tests from the combat field, the remaining one will inevitably be from another field?”
I'm glad you understand now.
As Noah smiled in relief, Ulan looked back at the Count.
“So what are the criteria for a passing grade?”
“It depends on the test.
However, a B or better on all three tests is a safe bet.”
There were five grades for the tests – S, A, B, C, and D.
In other words, getting a B or better on all three tests meant being above average.
At this point, the Count offered a word of caution.
“Just make sure you don't get more than an F.
Even if you get S's on the other two, you will fail if you get an F on the remaining one.”
An F, he said, would only be given for completely botching the test, or for doing nothing at all.
Ulan nodded in understanding.
“Back to the main topic, this is the list of the specialty tests that will be taken tomorrow.”
The Count handed over the papers.
It was a list containing 60 specialty tests.
But unlike Ulan, who studied the papers carefully, Noah didn't even glance at them.
“I see you've already made up your mind.”
“Yeah, my master told me.”
In truth, she knew it because she'd been through it all before.
But because she couldn't say it outright, Noah always sold Azur when this happened, and it usually worked.
The Count's reaction was proof.
“Haha, as expected, you're a disciple of Azur, then, can you tell me which test you chose?”
“First and foremost, I've chosen 'Curse' and 'Amulets' as magic specialty tests, and 'Imprinting' for crafting.”
“Hmm, not bad choices, especially since very few people choose Amulets, so you should be able to get a high rank anyway.”
That's why I chose it.
With the amulet skills she learned from Azur, she would definitely be able to get an S rank.
Smiling inwardly at the conversion, the Count turned his gaze from Noah to Ulan.
Have you decided too?”
“Yes, I have, and I'm choosing 'Great Brawl' and 'Monster Hunt' for my combat specialties.”
“Hmmm, that's good.
You're a warrior of the grasslands, so you will do well without difficulty.”
The Count smiled as he stroked his beard.
Ulan, on the other hand, didn't crack a smile.
“However, I still haven't decided what to do with the other one.”
He scoured through them from top to bottom, but nothing really caught his eye.
As they looked at each other with a troubled expression on their faces, the Count made a suggestion.
“How about deciding on a magic specialty?”
The unexpected remark surprised Noah.
It was only natural.
Ulan knew nothing about magic.
He had no idea how it worked, and if he took a test for a magic specialty, the outcome was obvious.
Ulan had a similar thought.
It says you have great combat prowess, but you're no expert in magic.”
The Count said as he waved Azur's letter in the air.
Why did she recommend magic if she knew that? Such a question lingered in both of their eyes when the Count asked with a subtle smile.
“You frequently went out alone to hunt demons, according to the letter.
Is that correct?”
“To destroy a demon, you must get rid of its core, and in order to find and locate the core, you must understand how to read the flow of magical energy.”
The Count's eyes flashed intensely after he stated the obvious facts.
“But you managed to capture the beast on your own, without the help of a mage, which means you have the talent to read the flow of magic energy!”
Perhaps you are misunderstanding something.
Ulan merely sliced and diced the beast's body until the core emerged.
He had never fought after estimating the location of the core.
“Therefore, I recommend that you take this test.”
The Count directed his attention to the 《Magic Detection 》test.
“This test's content can be described as a condensed version of hunting demons.
You should have no trouble with it.”
With this, the Count began to explain.
As Ulan listened, he realized that it certainly sounded a lot like hunting a demon.
“Of course, I'm not forcing you.
The choice is yours to make, and I hope you'll consider it carefully.”
“Well, I see.
Thank you for your advice.”
Ulan bowed his head in thought.
With that, the conversation about the entrance exams came to a close, and the Count rose from his seat as if his work was done.
“You should probably get some rest, then.
You'll need to leave the manor before sunrise tomorrow, so you'd better get to bed as soon as possible.”
“Yes, thank you for your consideration.”
Noah smiled broadly.
And that was how the dinner ended.
After Ulan and Noah left, the Count headed to his study at the top of the mansion.
As he gazed up at the night sky in silence, there was a knock at the door.
It was a polite knock, and a moment later, the door opened.
“Your Excellency, the Count,” a familiar voice said.
It was Alond, the mansion's butler, and one of Count Dermore's most trusted servants.
“How were they?”
Alond asked the first question.
The Count looked thoughtful for a moment, then gave his honest impression.
“The girl, Noah, seems to be a gifted young child.
She's quick-witted, and her magic is reminiscent of Azur's, so all in all, not bad.”
“Sounds like a suitable candidate for our plan,” Alond remarked.
The Count made no reply.
As if to affirm Alond's words.
But only for a moment, his expressionless face twisted slightly.
It was a look of irritation.
“But not him.”
“You mean the barbarian of the grasslands?”
“That's right, I couldn't detect any magic or talent in him.
He's a pathetic barbarian, good for nothing but fighting.”
“Ah, so that's why you suggested the field of magic.”
Alond looked understanding, as if he had guessed his master's intentions in retrospect.
The Count nodded wordlessly and looked up at the night sky again.
“The Arsene Academy is the premier educational institution on the continent, producing countless talented individuals.
For a barbarian to be admitted to such a place? Unthinkable.”
The Count sneered with contempt, a look of blatant disgust crept his face.
Alond studied him for a moment, a cold glint in his eyes.
“Then shall we remove them?”
“No, not yet.
We need to bring them into the academy, and then the oath we made with Azur will be dissolved.”
The Count looked at his left wrist.
A faint scar of a chain pattern remained.
Until this faded, he could not lay a hand on the Clan of the Grasslands.
“Above all, Azur and the barbarians of the north are still useful.
It would be better to get rid of them without shedding blood as much as possible.”
“Do you have a plan?”
“Indeed, anticipating this scenario, I made arrangements beforehand.
I have conferred with my brother-in-law.”
Baron Derek, Count Dermore's brother-in-law, held the position of magic professor at the Arsene Academy, and also served as the supervisor of the 《Magic Detection》test, which he had suggested to Ulan.
He was also an author struggling with money due to a lack of research funds.
Therefore, Count bribed him with money and instructed him to fail the uncivilized barbarian in the test.
The Count remarked, with a cold chuckle, “He'll be back in the grasslands before long.
Make sure he is well-treated and does not feel deprived, at least until he arrives at the Academy.”
“I will obey your orders, my Lord,” Alond said, bowing his head as if he were a faithful hound obeying its master's command.
A carriage left the Count's mansion at dawn the following morning.
It was on its way to the Arsene Academy, with Ulan and Noah inside.
“You look tired.”
“……I'm nervous and haven't been able to sleep,” Noah replied weakly.
However, after a brief pause, she posed a query, “More than that, Ulan.”
“Have you decided what you're going to choose for the third test?”
“I've decided to follow the Count's recommendation,” responded Ulan, his tone indicating a resolute stance.
Noah asked with a surprised face, “Are you sure you're okay? If you do that, and the supervisor finds out you can't handle magic……”
“I'm fine, don't worry,” Ulan said in a firm tone.
Noah looked puzzled.
What? Why is he so confident? Does he really have the ability to see through the flow of magic like the Count said, but I can't see anything in the status window?
Noah felt confused and uncertain, while Ulan's thoughts were simple.
‘I guess it doesn't matter which test I take,’ he thought to himself, ‘the outcome will likely be the same no matter what.’
With that in mind, Ulan decided to take the 《Magic Detection》test recommended by the Count, being careful not to receive an F-grade.
Ulan made that decision with that thought in mind.
'There must be a reason why he recommended it.
He wouldn't have recommended it on purpose, would he?’
So he decided to put the third test aside and focus on getting an S-grade in the other two tests.
Even if he received a D-grade in 《Magic Detection》test, it would still be enough to pass.
Noah was pondering what Ulan's intentions were, but contrary to her assumptions, Ulan's decision was simple and straightforward.
With different thoughts in mind, the carriage arrived at its destination.
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