[Translator – Anwen]
Despite the fierce mental battle happening between the competitors, in the eyes of the spectators watching from afar, it simply looked like they were busy jumping off.
‘I’m not teleporting until I start falling down.’
Despite the edge of the cliff being one step in front of him, Shirone’s body did not disappear with a flash. Seeing him so close to the edge, the hearts of those watching thumped loudly.
And their eyes widened.
“He jumped off…”
Shirone jumped off the edge, as far as he could, and into the sky.
The weightlessness of floating. Strong winds shook his body and mountain birds flew in flocks, dozens of meters beneath his feet.
Shirone grit his teeth and focused on teleporting. At the critical point of the leap, his body finally jetted off with a flash.
Shirone was the last to get off the cliff, and as the people ahead started to get ready for the second round of teleportations, the rankings got overturned. The group that started first sagged to the rear.
Shirone made up for his late start… But above all else, he was able to get ahead of Mark by a narrow margin.
Mark freaked out when Shirone suddenly popped up in front of him.
‘What the hell?!’
‘How late did he start to overtake me in the first cycle of teleports?!’
Of course, they were still on their first turn, so the chances of the rankings getting reversed still existed, but the fact that the first operation went down the drain ticked Mark off.
“You weasel! Stop right there!”
With a hair width of a difference, Shirone and Mark cast teleportation magic almost simultaneously.
10 minutes before the start of the promotion exam.
A girl headed towards the training ground with a gloomy face.
She was the third daughter of the House of Earlin, which was a 3rd-class noble family. She was a 19-year-old talent who entered the Alpheas Magic Academy after waking up to her magic talent early.
Although she was now stuck in Class 7, it was not as if she never stood out from the beginning.
She entered the academy at the young age of 10 and has since then been fighting fiercely to rank up.
But when Maria entered Class 7 at the age of 15, she was so happy she felt like she could fly. But her happiness was short-lived as her fear of the competition grew.
Ironically, her best performance was in her first year of being promoted to Class 7. However, starting the following year, her grades gradually started to decline. This trend continued to the point that now she was even ignored by new students.
At some point, such competition felt meaningless. She realized competition was not something she desired.
Knowing it would only bring her suffering, she couldn’t find a reason to push for the top-level classes. She knew that even if she were to get promoted, it would just be the start of a new competition with new people. Like a marathon that had no destination, she hated the continuous climb up the world pyramid knowing there was no end to it.
She didn’t want to deal with the competition, She only wanted to learn magic for that was what she loved.
“Haah, what am I doing right now?”
She felt like she had missed all her opportunities to climb up. And coupled with the fact that she eventually realized she was the oldest in Class 7, she felt like everything she worked for went down the drain. This realization took everything from her. Even her love for magic.
But yet she still couldn’t find it in herself to leave the academy. Was it because it was part of her life already? Or was it because she still had a little bit of that passion from before left inside her?
Maria, who entered the magic academy because she liked magic, sighed when she realized she was starting to not even know who she was.
To her, the promotion exam was none of her business. But to also study side by side with her younger classmates while the exam was happening did not sit well with her.
That was the only reason why she started heading to the training ground.
‘I think it’ll start soon.’
As soon as she checked the time, an Illumination magic flashed near the peak of a mountain.
It was blue in color. And the moment that light flashed, she could hear the cheers of the students echo.
She couldn’t continue walking. Tears flowed down her eyes.
‘I have no place there. I guess only the talented ones out of Class 7 are there.’
Was this the end?
As soon as she realized that she didn’t have the courage to even leave the academy, fear consumed her.
At that moment, a devil’s thought consumed her mind, leading her astray.
‘If Mark wins…’
He would never let the person who snitched on him about Shirone’s bullying go.
It felt like her heart was about to burst out of her chest and her field of vision turned dark.
She knew that she had to stop Mark, but she knew that with her strength alone, there was nothing she could do.
She looked towards the location of the engine room of the Bridge That Cannot Be Crossed.
‘Maybe, just maybe.’
A small hope sprouted within Maria.
She contemplated once again…. She was positive that letting Mark win was the worst possible outcome.
Grasping that hope, she opened the worn-out, iron door.
One employee who was seated on a chair yawned.
“When will this end? I just want a jug of beer.”
After blinking once, his eyelids started to slowly close while his head started bending forward.
Maria let out a breath while standing behind the employee who had fallen into a deep sleep.
Sleep magic that relaxed the mind hardly worked on mages, but for those who did not practice magic, it had a significant effect.
Maria looked around the engine room. After searching for a bit, she found a rotary switch that controlled the difficulty level of the Bridge That Cannot Be Crossed.
It seemed as though it wasn’t even activated because the protruded indicator was pointing to level 1.
Grasping hold of the switch, her hand shook.
‘Is this the right thing to do? No, whether it’s the right thing to do or not, is this something I can even do?’
She just had to turn the switch. It would cause something terrible, but when a person was possessed, only the sweet rewards blinded their thoughts.
‘I just have to make it so that no one passes.’
Maria turned the switch.
She expected something big to happen right after she turned it, but contrary to her expectations, her surroundings were dead quiet.
The silence weighed down her shoulders, making her plop down to the ground.
[Translator – Anwen]
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BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
Explosive sounds erupted from the competing students. They were in a situation where 20 people were each flashing and trying to cross at a height of 1,000 meters.
At an average of 3 turns, while the distance between the leading group and the one lagging behind was not so huge, talent-wise, it was clear who was better.
Those who started off early could not endure the considerable height. They were Class 7 students who did not even learn flying magic, so the shock and fear were enough to hinder them.
‘What do I do? Am I really gonna fall?’
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The other side seemed too far from reach.
The Spirit Zone demanded extreme focus from a person, so it was an extremely sensitive state of mind. Therefore, even a little distraction might shatter it. Eventually, the students in the rear group, who failed the omnipotence of teleportation, began to plummet.
“Help! Save me!”
The upperclassmen burst out laughing. Since they’ve already experienced this, they only thought those lowerclassmen were adorable.
Even the instructors had little smiles on their faces while writing the names of those who failed in order.
However, the festive atmosphere took a complete 180-degree turn.
One after another, the instructors raised their heads in surprise. During the time the students started dropping, the Air Net should have had plenty of time to activate, but the siren did not sound.
“What?! What happened?!”
“Save the students first!”
Siena dived down the cliff and cast teleportation at a terrifying pace. And Ethella, who was watching from the other side, noticed the strange situation as well and jumped down.
“Headmaster, what should we do?”
Alpheas hummed and let out a breath.
Since two Grade 6 mages took the initiative, all the students were gonna be fine. If they were to stop now, the students who did their best to maintain their position in the leading group would suffer great losses. It would be better to respect the will of the participants as long as their safety was ensured.
“Let’s watch for now. We have enough manpower to protect 20 people. Instead, wouldn’t ending things here disrespect the students’ passion?”
Siena and Ethella both shot up from the bottom of the cliff at the same time, students in tow.
“What’s happening? There must be something wrong.”
Sharelle spoke while looking through the telescope. Other students murmured at the unexpected situation.
But Amy wasn’t really bothered. A student dying due to falling was impossible with certified Grade 6 instructors on watch. Besides, the students in the front remained undistracted. If it was her, she wouldn’t have cared either. The ticket to be promoted to Class 5 was on the line, so who cared about safety?
However, the second half of the group was in a noticeable uproar. They saw instructors jumping off the cliff to grab the students who were falling.
‘Is there no safety device?’
The only reason why they made it this far was because no matter how similar it was to a real match, it was not an actual one where their lives were on the line.
“Instructor! Please save me! I give up!”
A large number of students started dropping like flies, but the instructors came to the rescue, saving all of them.
The leading group who were still in the game continued to fight their fear.
‘What’s going on?’
They could hear the loud noises from the upperclassmen. This ruffled their currently sensitive feathers greatly.
Their shouts reached the ears of the leading group, but it affected no one.
In fact, it actually caused their blood to boil even hotter knowing that there were fewer competitors.
‘This is my chance! All of you, just keep dropping.’
The leading group had advanced 270 meters, and considering they were from Class 7, that was pretty good.
And while all of this was happening, Shirone continued to protect his place as the first.
Mark and his team tried to take Shirone’s place multiple times, but to avail. Shirone bested them each time.
Mark gritted his teeth.
‘Who the hell is he?’
Shirone had so far leaped 27 times, and each time, he teleported exactly 10 meters.
If compared to a pull-up, it was the same as someone doing a rep of 20 while maintaining the same pace.
‘Is he a machine?’
He knew Shirone’s mental endurance was high, but he didn’t think there would be this big of a difference.
And all of this was being analyzed by the instructors.
Ethella spoke out.
“Oho, Shirone sure is a talent.”
The weight behind her words was heavy since she was an influential figure who never really commented on anything.
Other instructors started joining in.
“Well, Mark isn’t too bad. He is still young, after all. His routine is being shaken up. From a minimum of 9.5 meters to a maximum of 11. He’s being inconsistent.”
It was safe to say that his mind was shaken.
“On the other hand, Shirone’s routine is consistent. Their speed is about the same, but the one with a higher chance of winning is Shirone.”
In the midst of the compliments, Thadd’s expression wasn’t so bright.
He glimpsed at Alpheas’ face, worried about him… But his face showed nothing.
Suddenly, the students of Class 7 who did not participate in the exam approached Thadd.
“Mr. Thadd, how is Shirone’s routine that stable? I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Leaping a set distance consistently did not seem like something a human could do.
Thadd couldn’t help but agree.
“He’s using Compulsion.”
Sharelle nodded in agreement.
“To be specific, he’s using Repetitive Compulsion. When you objectify yourself, your mind becomes more stable and develops a characteristic inertia. It’s impressive that he’s able to activate it at will. After all, it’s an advanced-level Spirit Zone technique not taught in Class 7.”
Since it was not something taught in Class 7, that meant Compulsion was a dangerous state of mind.
“He must have learned it before coming here. Since it helps one endure pain… Sometimes, becoming a machine is necessary…”
‘To take what we want.’
Keeping that last thought to herself, Amy watched Shirone continue to widen his lead.
It seemed as though he was flying towards her.
‘You’d better come quickly… Since I won’t wait for you.’
Shirone’s stubbornness in keeping his lead annoyed Mark to no end.
‘f*ck! Why can’t I pass him?!’
Knowing things couldn’t keep going like this, a female student, who was part of the operation team, flinched as Mark glared at her.
‘Is he telling me to do it here? Right now?’
There was a way.
As long as they gave up on their goal of completing the exam, Mark would be able to overtake Shirone for a short while.
‘Then after that, drop out together.’
Their plan was too obvious, but in their heads, it was better than doing nothing and ending it there.
‘My life is at stake, too.’
With a boom, she teleported right in front of Shirone.
As soon as Shirone hurriedly tried to brake, another member of the operation team flew towards him from the side.
‘Sorry. We have to make a living too.’
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