Things became slightly awkward after Laines birthday. Neither her nor Joe could meet each others line of sight. Laine did her utmost to avoid him throughout their day to day lives and only interacted when needed out of embarrassment. Joe went about his days trying to stay out of sight from that day on. He left for class alone and came back home alone. Aside from breakfast and dinner, Joe spent all of his free time studying in his room.

By the end of the second semester, Joe had read through all textbooks and syllabi for every year in their junior high. He even took the finals for every year and placed first in the entire school. Having excelled as far as he could to this point academically, Joe turned to physical training. He now spent the entire day in a deep meditation trying to understand the magic coursing through him to its fullest.

Having technically graduated from junior high already, Joe could have moved onto high school just before he turned thirteen. Instead, he opted to spend his days in solitude. After three months, he had managed to grasp the full extent of his magic. The only thing left he could do was train his proficiency with it. He began waking just before dawn, getting dressed in lose fit clothing, and leaving the house. He would only return just after the others finished breakfast. After eating, he would change and leave again.

This routing continued until just before he turned sixteen. That January, Joe prepared everything he needed early in the morning and left. Anything he wouldn be needing was left in his room along with a note. Ive gone to enter Ziaga Academy. Ill be back at the end of the semester was all he wrote. He was never adept with emotions and to him this was the best option for everyone. Seeing the saddened faces of Sarah and Allison would have made him feel awful which would have made them all the more upset. He was convinced Laine still hated him after the incident so he figured this would be easier than pissing her off by showing his face to her.

After around forty minutes of light jogging, Joe arrived in front of the main gate to Ziaga Academy. Being a military academy, fifteen foot high walls surrounded the entire campus. Should war break out again, this campus would be a prime strategic location for any power to control. With that, security for this single academy was more strict than the rest of the nation as a whole. Only the boarder zones had more security personnel.

After taking the written portion of the entrance examination, every would be student was issue a temporary day pass for use only today. After showing his to the guards, Joe was instructed on how to get to the last part of the entrance examination. A glossy, stone road stretched through the campus connecting every building as well as every gate. at intersections, directional signs pointed to every building along the way. After five minutes, Joe found himself standing before a tall, matte white building. The stone supporting the base resembled marble but with a more pure ivory tone to it. The sign above the double sliding doors read Administration.

Those taking this portion of the examination were split into six groups whom would participate separately. Joe became part of Group One after he finished the written examination ahead of everybody else. Either that or it was because he scored perfectly on all subjects to include mathematics, literature, science, and tactics. Being slightly nervous of where he would place after this next portion of the total exam, he proceeded to the admission desk to check in.

After another thirty minutes of waiting, the entire Group One was called into an adjacent room. The twenty participants stood in four columns of five each. Before each column was a blue, crystalline sphere. Above each sphere was a crystalline screen. With everyones nerves heightened, nobody missed the entrance on a middle aged man.

”I am Alexander Merril. I am the primary Support Instructor in this academy as was as the examiner of this test. Before you is an Armorite sphere. One by one, you will each place you hand on the sphere and channel you magic into it. The results will be presented on the screens above you as well as your name. If your result appears in red then you are to exit the campus immediately because you have failed to meet our required minimum of 100 magic levels. Begin! ”

In groups of five, participants began stepping forward and placed their hand on the Armorite sphere. It seemed that out of every group, only two remained after the results came out. Staring up at the screens, Joe noticed that along with the participants name and magic level, their age and path also appeared. Seeing the varying levels of magic from person to person, Joe began to realize he was nothing special within the campus. Being placed last in his column, Joe got to witness the results of nearly every other participant.

With the second to last group stepping forward, the remaining participants gasped aloud at the silver haired beauty who was about to turn towards the passed section. The screen above her read her level as 289. Next to the result was her name, Clara James.

With a slight sense of defeat, the remaining participants stepped forward. After the results were shown only Joe remained staring up at the screen. His level was just as he knew it to be, yet, he was frozen in place. For nearly eight years he had tried to remember his full name to no avail. There on the screen, the truth was literally spelled out. Joseph Merril

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