Chapter 4.1: The entrance exam ── Couldn’t think of anything in particular

The official entrance examination to the Genius School of Magic had already ended long ago. However, under the direct orders of the school's headmaster, a special entrance examination was organized just for my sake.
Usually, there are two stages to the entrance examination. First, the written examination tests the knowledge of magic and basic general knowledge of the examinee. Followed by the practical skill test, where the examinees must showcase their magic in person.
The final result of acceptance or rejection depended on the total score of both examination results. So, even if the written test ended up fatally flawed, there wouldn’t be an issue with acceptance as long as the practical examination gets a perfect score, and vice versa.
However, the examination difficulty of both the written and practical tests was set at a fairly high standard. It was near impossible to pass the entrance examinations with just the knowledge gained from 12 years of compulsory education, which almost all children had free access to. In order to successfully pass this exam, one must have a fair grasp of the contents of secondary education that is taught from the age of 13.
In addition to that, the admission fee for the entrance examination alone costs an amount equivalent to one month's salary for an average family. What’s more, after passing the exam, students will be required to pay nearly ten times more just for the school tuition.
In my case, various things I’ve learned from Baa-san have come in handy during the written exam, so that part of the issue was solved easily. And as for finances, I pretty much cleared my quota on that easily as well. The price of the magical beasts appraised by the Hunters Association turned out to be an amount that’s quite favorable for me. I had hunted three of them, but after seeing the prices they were sold at, perhaps two of them would have been enough.
As luck would have it, the exam was held on the day I met the headmaster.
I'll be skipping the details about the written exam as there was nothing in particular worthy of mentioning. It was just me all by myself, sitting in a classroom all alone, quietly writing down the answers on an answer sheet.
That aside, I didn't put much importance on the written exam anyway. My main focus was on the practical exam, where I was planning to score well and pass the exam.
──Just to clarify, I’m not saying that doing your best in writing doesn't matter.
The practical exam is relatively simple. The performance of the examinee is graded by a teacher of the school through participating in a mock battle.
The exam venue was the training grounds of the school. The headmaster brought me along to get a view of the test site before heading elsewhere for the exam preparation. I simply stood waiting in the exam venue.
While waiting, I decided to do some 'preparation exercises' in order to kill time till the test begins.
Soon afterward, the headmaster returned to the exam site.
"Sorry to have kept you waiting. The arrangements will be over shortly, so please remain here for a little while longer… By the way, what are you doing?
"What you ask? … It's just some warm-up exercises."
According to what Obaa-san taught me, it's very important to do some light exercise in preparation for any vigorous physical activities. This allows the muscles in your body to be 'adjusted' in order to take part in strenuous movements with less strain in the process.
In practice, there's a big difference between engaging in such exercises and not doing so. Warming up would allow the body to be more agile. To put it simply, imagine a situation of moving your body right after waking up in the morning and moving your body a little while later. Which is more comfortable between the two options?
I explained to the headmaster what Obaa-san had taught me. He put his hand on his chin, deep in thought.
"... Is this the reason why the Old Master was always moving her body before a match? This is the first time I'm hearing about this. Then I should incorporate such exercises into our practical curriculum from now on as well."
The headmaster was mumbling to himself for a while but as soon as he noticed my gaze, he cleared his throat in a hurry.
"Hnnn. I apologize, I tend to get caught up in things that I find interesting, perhaps because this is in line with my work."
After scratching his cheek in embarrassment, the headmaster straightened his expression.
"So, as to avoid any cases of favoritism, we decided to hide the fact that you are the disciple of the Old Master from your opponent, who is also the teacher that is in charge of evaluating your test score."
"I don't have any intention of enrolling thanks to personal connections either."
There's no point in doing that.
It'll do me no good if my chosen path is paved by favoritism. Still, it's not a shameful act to take the hand that is extended to you.
After all, I owe it all to Obaa-san for giving me the chance to meet the headmaster and for the privilege to take part in the entrance exam. There’s nothing fake about my gratitude toward her.
But that is also the reason why, from here on out, I have to earn what I wish for through my own efforts.
By using the 'Defense Magic' that's carved into my body.
“I see, so where's the teacher that'll be my opponent?"
"They should be here soon… but I should apologize for this in advance"
I blinked my eyes at the sight of him apologizing all of a sudden.
"You are aware that the entire school is on a long vacation around this time, right?"
"Ah, I see."
It also happened that the teacher who had come to our town to scout Alfie, also arrived during this long vacation period. If I recall correctly, it's supposed to last till the entrance ceremony which was scheduled to be held next month.
"As a matter of fact, most of the teachers who are in charge of administering the practical examinations are either back at their own country houses or on vacation right now."
"Then what about the headmaster?"
"Well even though it's like this, I'm still the royal advisor as well. I need to be able to answer the immediate summons, in any case of an emergency. Since that's the case, I'm staying on standby at the school. But of course, I do go on vacations as well once in a while to rest and relax."
The headmaster was actually a corporate slave? The first thing that popped up in my head after hearing him was not something that's well suited to say out loud. I learned this term, 'corporate slave' from Alfie. It is a general term that defines those who obediently follow orders even in a brutal working environment.
"Then that means there's no teacher to take care of the exam now?"
"No. Fortunately, there's still one teacher remaining that can take charge of the mock battle and one for grading. But there's a slight issue with the person who'll be in charge of mock exams though…"
The headmaster awkwardly trailed off…
"That uh… there's no doubt that she's an excellent fire attribute magician. It's just that she has a little… you could say, a strong sense of self-gratification… or rather, she is highly prideful."
"More like, the very example of a typical aristocratic ideologist. Basically, a problematic teacher who looks down on the commoners."
"That's a rather straightforward way of putting it."
It seems that it hit right on the mark, seeing as there's no denial coming from the headmaster's side.
"The teacher in charge of the mock battle certainly may be so… but, the person in charge of grading is someone who appreciates both commoners and nobles alike. I can assure you that he is a trustworthy person."
"As long as the person who evaluates me is honest, then I got nothing else to say"
Two people appeared at the exam venue as I was conversing with the headmaster. One man and one woman. Presumably, the teachers who were in charge of the exam?
The woman gave off somewhat of an uptight impression. She was a beautiful woman who seemed like she would be quite capable at her work. She also had an aura that would make one hesitant to approach her.
On the other hand, the man looked a little sloppy and untidy, with all his messy clothes. His sleepy eyes showed no signs of motivation. If it weren't for the white lab coat he was wearing, he would simply look like an ordinary worn-out old man.
"Thank you for arriving at such short notice. I'm sorry for bothering you while you're on vacation, Hyria-sensei."
The female teacher shook her head at the headmaster's words.
"No, headmaster, you certainly do not have to apologize. If it's a direct order from you, one of the top three wizards of the land, I'll gladly obey at any time."
"That's very kind of you to say so. Zest-sensei as well, thank you very much."
"I just dropped by to pick up something I forgot from the staff room. So do I get some special allowance or something for doing all this?"
"Zest! How dare you try to disregard the headmaster's direct orders!"
The teacher called Hyria glared at the sleepy-eyed male teacher while scolding him. However, he-- Zest showed no sign of moving his droopy eyebrows and simply waited for the headmaster's reply.
"Of course, I'll be sending it to you. While on that topic, I'll also treat you to drinks later."
"Oh? For real? Then let's get serious, shall we?"
His drooping eyebrows rose in delight. Is it really okay for a teacher to be this motivated by alcohol?
Eh? So, which one is the reliable teacher here? I'm having trouble figuring this out.
"So then, is that the boy the headmaster recommended?"
"Ah, yes he is. Please be sure to evaluate him on the same standard as the other children who participated in the exam. This child also wishes for that as well."
"You don't have to explain, I already understand"
Zest's lazy eyes narrowed slightly, sending a shiver down my spine. It seems he wasn’t just any regular worn-out old man, he was in fact, a teacher at this school.
"Now then, we shall begin with the practical exam. Reese-kun, Hyria-sensei, please step forward."
In response to the headmaster's words, both Hyria and I stepped forward to the center of the training hall. We walked for a while until we stood facing each other at a distance.
"The practical exam will end when I say stop or if either one of you is incapacitated. Reese-kun, remember that even if you are defeated, that doesn't necessarily mean you have failed. So please do your best and fight to the best of your ability. And Hyria-sensei, please bear in mind your identity as a teacher of the school while conducting this mock battle."
We both nodded at the headmaster.
After confirmation from both parties.
"Let us begin!"

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