Barbarian | Chapter 13.1 – The Entrance Exam (4)
Hall of the Southern Falcon.
Having arrived at his destination, he strolled around the vicinity, with an air of anticipation, seeking out the examiner who would guide him through the details of the forthcoming Monster Hunt examination.
In that very moment, a figure approached him without warning, drawing his attention.
“Hey, you there,” said a woman in her late twenties, her dark green locks cascading down her shoulders and her hazel eyes wide with wonder.
“Why do you stand here, shirtless?” she asked, clearly intrigued.
Ulan, meekly and without hesitation, responded, “Because I am unaccustomed to wearing one.” There was no need for concealment; he simply spoke his truth.
“Not used to wearing clothes?”
“But you're not some barbarian from the hinterlands.
What's unfamiliar about wearing clothes…”
Ulan nodded in agreement, acknowledging her observation.
“That is true.”
“I'm a barbarian.”
It was a fact that didn't need to be concealed either.
Ulan replied with a straight face, and the woman looked puzzled, as if caught off guard by his unexpected response.
Yet, in that very moment, Ulan's gaze fell upon something that piqued his interest—a dangling identification card hanging around the woman's neck.
No wonder she seemed older than the other examinees.
She was the exam supervisor.
As Ulan nodded, Stella muttered softly, “There are always a few weirdos at the entrance exams every year, but I've never seen a barbarian take the test before.”
Her eyes held a faint curiosity.
She examined Ulan's body as if she were looking at an intriguing object.
“You're here for my test, right?”
“If it's the Monster Hunt, then yes.”
“Good, then I'll explain.”
Amidst giggles, Stella turned around, her lips curling into a sly smile, her eyes gleaming mischievously.
“The Monster Hunt is a test to verify if you have what it takes to fight monsters.
It's to see if you have the talent to be a monster hunter.”
The revered Arsene Academy was renowned for honing prodigious individuals in various disciplines, be it the art of combat, the essence of life, or the mastery of the arts; while magic was by far its most famous discipline, it also produced talent in swordsmanship, combat, and archery and Monster Hunter was one of them.
With a certain air of simplicity, Stella elucidated the nature of the test, her voice resonating with a matter-of-fact tone, “The test content is simple: defeat the monster in any way possible.
The more dangerous the monster, the higher the grade.”
The harder the better – that was the end of the explanation regarding the test.
“If you understand, take this.”
She handed him a bead emitting a blue light.
It was the same bead he received in the previous test, the Great Brawl.
“Be careful not to destroy the bead.
If it breaks, regardless of how much damage you inflicted on the monster, it's an automatic F grade.”
Stella gestured as if slashing her neck.
It was advisable to keep it hidden in a safe place.
“If you have any further inquiries, do not hesitate to voice them.”
“How does one achieve an S grade?” Ulan questioned.
“Hmm? You're trying to get a S grade?” Stella's yellow eyes widened ever so slightly, as though she had stumbled upon something unexpected.
However, a momentary pause gave way to an intrigued smile playing on her lips.
“It's rather simple.
You shall have a mere three minutes to defeat a 3-star beast.”
A 3-star beast.
Weaker than other beasts of its class, but still not weak enough for a single examinee to take on alone; it was a level that required at least three full knights to barely defeat.
“For every minute you go over time, you'll lose a grade.
For your information, no one has ever gotten an S on my tests.”
What do you think? Are you still going to try this? Stella looked at Ulan as if saying those words.
Ulan nodded, “It’s simple.”
“I'll take the S-grade test.”
Stella was stunned for a moment by the nonchalant response, then burst out laughing, “You're quite the straightforward guy.
Alright, then go inside.
I'll summon the monsters for you.”
With a commanding gesture, Stella signaled to the assistant supervisor, who promptly opened the door to the testing arena.
The interior was empty.
But as he stood at the precipice, ready to step through…
“Let me give you one piece of advice: never relax.
Even though there are safety measures in place, you never know when or how an accident will happen.”
“I'll keep that in mind.”
“Ah, and this is just my personal curiosity.”
“Why is your belly glowing blue?” she said, her finger pointed at Ulan's belly.
Unwillingly, Ulan looked at his stomach; a faint blue light radiated.
It wasn't as vibrant as before, but upon closer inspection, a subtle bluish hue could be seen.
“That's because I swallowed the bead.”
what?” Stella asked, her face filled with confusion.
Ulan gave her a quick recap of what had happened earlier.
After a few moments, Stella let out an incredulous voice, “No, why did you swallow that?”
“I told you that if the bead were to break, I'd be eliminated, so I put it in a safe place.”
Of course, with Ulan's strength and skill, he could have fought to protect the bead.
But it was bothersome.
So he swallowed it.
That was the reason.
“Let me tell you one more thing,” Stella said, her expression turning serious.
“The entrance exams at Arsene Academy are no joke, and while most of the tests take place in a controlled environment, there are occasionally dangerous creatures that pose a threat to the examinees.”
Every year, there are casualties during the entrance exams.
Especially last year, there were five deaths and dozens of injuries.
About half of them were due to violent conflicts between the examinees.
“So, be cautious and avoid reckless actions.
You've come all the way from the outskirts to the empire, so you wouldn't want to get hurt here, right?”
She gave him her heartfelt advice.
But she couldn't finish her sentence.
Ullan had unexpectedly put the bead in his mouth, just like eating candy.
Oh no, he couldn't possibly…
Or could he?
She reached out her hand, trying to stop him.
However, Ulan's action was much quicker than she anticipated.
The bead slid effortlessly down his throat, accompanied by a soft blue luminescence tracing its path through his esophagus and into his stomach.
Stella's voice erupted in a scream of disbelief, “You fool! You cannot swallow it again!”
“This is the safest place.”
“No, you might end up dying! If you get careless and get stabbed by someone!
“I’ll be fine,” He replied calmly, his eyes flashing as he spoke, “In my entire life, there has only been one occasion where I had a hole in my stomach.
It was when I fought against Largtan, the Giant King.”
One of the Rulers of the Abyss.
Other than that, he's never had a hole in his belly.
Immediately after Ulan's answer, Stella clamped her mouth shut.
Not because she was surprised by his out-of-the-blue answer, but because of the look in his eyes.
‘What kind of gaze is that…’
His gaze bore no semblance of an ordinary examinee; instead, it exuded the tranquil aura of a seasoned warrior, forged through countless battles and trials.
It emanated a depth that could only arise from having stared death in the face on numerous occasions.
Unconsciously, Stella found herself following suit, her own words stifled by the weight of his gaze.
“Ah, well, I don't know where you came from, but you're the most peculiar examinee I've ever seen,” she said sincerely as she gave him a sour look.
“If you ever feel like you're going to die in the fight, just scream for help.
I'll take that as a sign that you're giving up and release the summoning.”
“”I appreciate your concern.”
“Concern, my foot! Now that you understand, hurry up and follow me!” she shouted angrily.
They headed straight for the testing grounds, where Stella took her place on the dais.
Ulan followed, moving to the battlefield.
The examination arena sprawled vast and wide, its expanse adorned with an assortment of weaponry: longswords, shields, axes, hammers, spears, bows, ropes, and nets, among others—a veritable arsenal for the examinee's choosing.
Ulan chose the hand axes.
Although he could handle other weapons as well, he was most comfortable with the hand axes.
As he swung the axes lightly in each hand…
Stella's voice echoed through the examination hall.
“From now on, the examinee Ulan Bator will begin the Monster Hunting Test.”
As soon as the bureaucratic voice ceased, a massive magic circle materialized before Ulan, etched intricately into the floor.
Curiosity danced within his eyes as he fixed his gaze upon the circle.
If it were an ordinary hunter, they would start looking for a hiding place.
He would try to identify the type of beast and find the most efficient way to attack it – but Ulan was different.
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