Chapter 5: Breaking through the wall ── We’re talking about exams here, right?

At the sight of the [Combustion Cannon] being blocked by the [Barrier], the lazy expression on Zest's face turned into a slight smirk. His interest in Reese was already aroused at the point when he blocked the [Flame Spear], but now, he found himself even more intrigued at such a surprising sight.
"… Quite the interesting fellow, isn't he? Defending against the first couple of attacks was already good enough, but to think he would block the following attacks as well, that’s really shocking, even for me"
"Indeed. The sheer amount of magical power needed to achieve such a feat is simply unbelievable. Honestly, it’s inefficient."
The headmaster who was observing the situation from the sidelines next to Zest, was also considerably shaken by the excellent performance of Reese who was currently clad with a nonchalant expression on his face.
Don't tell me… he’s only able to use defense magic after all?
It's not as if I was doubting the letter sent by the person whom I had (one-sidedly) looked up to as my master once in the past. Even though I wasn't doubtful, after witnessing it in reality, I still couldn't help but feel astounded.
Defense magic is a very elementary type of magic that any novice would learn as the first step to manipulating mana. The reason for this lies within the formation of the magic circle.
In comparison to other types of magic, the magic circle for defense magic is the simplest and the most straightforward. Even a 5-year-old could handle it, given that they were able to control at least a small amount of mana.
"Speaking of the efficiency of mana usage, defense magic is far less efficient in comparison to other types of magic on a similar difficulty level. Hyria's personality may be a little twisted but she is still an exceptional fire attribute wizard. Just how much magical power would you need to defend against her attacks with that kind of defense magic?"
As Zest just stated, defense magic is far less cost-efficient than other types of magic. Taking Hyria's magic as an example, the amount of mana needed to block a single [Fireball] with just defense magic, is almost equivalent to the mana required to cast a whole new [Flame Arrow].
Thus, considering the amount of magical power needed to defend against the [Combustion Cannon], even if you were somehow able to generate enough mana to do that, it would still be strange if you weren't left in a state of magical power exhaustion similar to that of Hyria's or even more severe consequences afterward.
And yet, Reese still hadn’t lost his composure in the slightest.
"Simply thinking about it, the normal assumption would be for that boy to possess an extraordinary amount of mana far surpassing Hyria…"
Zest rested his chin on top of his hand and glanced at the headmaster.
"... But honestly, he only seems to have an ordinary amount of mana within him if you ask me. It's not nearly enough to reach Hyria-sensei at all."
Usually, special equipment is required to accurately measure the amount of mana one holds. But thanks to his refined perception of magic and the many years of experience under his belt, the headmaster was able to determine the gross amount of mana in a person at a glance.
As there was no reason to doubt the headmaster's assessment, Zest narrowed his eyes gleefully.
"So that means this kid is using some trick to cheat?"
"Now now Zest-sensei, that should be called 'strategic' instead."
"It does look like a defensive barrier but with a different substance to it, seems like a form of clever deception."
Even though I didn't fully intend to affirm those words of Zest, as the headmaster of the school, I was also somewhat convinced that this magic wasn’t exactly the same as a beginner-level defense magic barrier.
"As for me, lightly defending against a [Combustion Cannon] should be enough to qualify for a passing grade, what do you say?"
"… I would say it's certainly passable, but he still seems to have plenty of tricks up his sleeves. So as a seeker in pursuit of magical knowledge, I'd like to see him play his cards a little more."
"Well… I do share that same sentiment."
However, they would retract those words shortly afterward.
Hyria recovered from her confusion and regained her composure that she had momentarily lost when the [Combustion Cannon] was blocked by the [Defense Barrier]. Although she fell into a bit of a stupor, she was still a teacher at Genius Magic School. As such, she then used both her hands to cast a [Flame Arrow].
[Combustion Cannon] usually has a long casting period in exchange for a single burst of great firepower. Since there was a high possibility of it getting defended against yet again, she chose to use [Flame Arrows] this time, which had a rather short casting time in comparison. Furthermore, she seemed to have used the simplicity of the spell to the fullest. Not only one, but more than 20 magic circles started consecutively projecting themselves in the air in a blink of an eye.
"... Hmmm, she seems pretty pissed off, doesn’t she?"
"Looks like this is going a bit too far."
Over 20 magic circles that were drawn in the air began changing in structure. The magic projected was no longer a [Flame Arrow] but rather, it became a [Flame Spear]. This is an advanced technique that's used to rewrite the deployed magic circles of lower difficulties, before activation and then activating a different magic from the one that was originally intended.
She simultaneously rewrote all the [Flame Arrow] formations into [Flame Spears]. Rewriting magic circles after being deployed requires far less mana than casting multiple [Flame Spears] at the same time. But doing so requires delicate manipulation of mana and an ample amount of concentration, even for a single magic circle.
"It looks like her [Combustion Cannon] getting blocked by [Barrier] hurt her pride a lot. Pulling out her trump card all of a sudden, that idiot."
It was clearly too powerful to be directed at the young man who hadn't even become a student of the school yet. Even among the teachers of the Genius School of Magic, there are only a few who could take it head-on.
"I take back what I said before. Headmaster, that's too much for a kid to handle. Hyria's more hot-headed than I thought.”
Headmaster would still be able to treat it if only one or two limbs ended up getting torn off. But if the arm was completely decimated without a trace of its original shape or form, then even the headmaster wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.
Despite hearing Zest’s tense warning, the headmaster's eyes that were fixed on Reese didn't budge even a little.
Reese still remained composed── in fact, he even smiled seeing the dozens of magic circles that Hyria had cast at the same time. It almost seemed like he was witnessing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
──His silhouette disappeared from view the following second.
At least, that's what it seemed like to Zest and Hyria. Only the headmaster was able to trace Reese's following movements.
And then──
"[Earthen Wall]──!!!"
The headmaster, who had a quick grasp of the situation unlike the involved party (Hyria), immediately invoked [Earthen Wall] in under a second. It's an earth-attributed beginner-level magic that mainly focused on defense rather than offense.
Under normal circumstances, it is only strong enough to withstand similar beginner-level offensive magic of other attributes. But considering the power of the one who cast this spell, the earthen wall that stood erect behind Hyria was strong enough to block even a [Flame Spear].
Yet, that earth wall shattered in less than a second after its creation.
The particles of the shattered earth wall turned into pebbles and poured down on Hyria, who stood right next to it. Thus, she was no longer able to keep her concentration on the magic formations, and so the flame spears that were already formed in the air had extinguished without a trace.
Hyria was unable to process the series of events that led to the rise of a sudden earth wall before its subsequent destruction. But when her eyes caught the figure of a 'human' emerging from behind the shattered [Earthen Wall], she was even more startled.
"~~~~~Aaaaaaaaaaaah!? Eeeeeeeee??!!"
Loud screams echoed through the exam hall.
"Wait what, my finger is broken? It isn't broken, right? Who the hell is this wonderful fella that goes around making walls in front of other people?! Come out! I swear I won't be angry if you come out now!”
“Argh hell! I'm starting to get angry after all, just come out already!!"
Reese was seething in sheer rage and uttering various curses that would even make a hooligan's face turn pale. He winced, trying hard to endure the pain in his right hand as tears started slowly welling up in the corners of his eyes.
"Eh… eh?"
Hyria was once again left extremely bewildered and stupefied.
At the start of the practical exam, the distance between the examiner and examinee was nearly 20 meters. And they shouldn't have moved a single step from the start of the test.
However, now there was less than a meter of distance left between the two, they were exactly within an arm’s reach. It was as if Reese had vanished from plain sight and reappeared at this close range in less than a second.
"Whew… I made it in time somehow."
The headmaster made a gesture of wiping sweat on his forehead as if he had finished some arduous tasks all alone. His face held a content smile as if he had done a great job, even amongst the cries of Reese who was still writhing in pain. It seems that the headmaster also has a rather thick skin on himself.
"... With that, I have to go treat Reese-kun. I wonder if Hyria-sensei is also injured."
The headmaster hurried towards the female teacher and the male examinee.
Zest, who was left behind, was calmly pondering over the scene that had just unfolded before him.
"I'm quite curious about the barrier that kid kept using and that method he used to instantly reduce the distance of 20 meters to almost nothing…? And how did the headmaster’s earth wall collapse? Clearly, a magic circle was formed but…"
To Zest's knowledge, magic that exerted great power at a close range certainly existed. But, even so, none of them had corresponded with the situation where Reese shattered the earth wall.
After a short contemplation, Zest scratched his head, giving up any hopes of trying to find an answer to this situation, and muttered, "Well, whichever the case, if the headmaster hadn't intervened, Hyria would have been forced out of the fight for sure."
That blow had shattered the [Earthen Wall], which was strong enough to safely block out even a [Flame Spear]. Had there been no such obstacles, Hyria would have ended up receiving it in full force with her unguarded body. She may be an excellent magician but her physical prowess was another story.
“In any case, for the practical test of Reese Louise…”
‘Perfect score’
As per the rules of the practical examination, if the examinee were to defeat his or her examiner in a mock battle, the examinee would unconditionally receive a perfect score.
Among the many promising freshmen who were expected to contribute to the future of the country, Reese remained the only student who had passed the practical exam with an unquestionable perfect score.

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