[Translator – Anwen]
The time left until the collision was at most one second, and this time, Shirone’s heart couldn’t help but race.
He could smell death.
‘Let’s stay calm.’
He was not yet dead, so with that in mind, Shirone narrowed his eyes at the iron structure that wished to swallow him whole.
Intense electrical impulses hit his brain, and Shirone quickly readjusted his omnipotence and omniscience to repair his Spirit Zone which had been shaken by Mark’s shrill screams.
That took a tenth of a second.
Shirone thought to himself.
‘Was that enough…? No, not yet.’
He thought faster.
A hundredth of a second.
He reconstructed the internal structure of the Dragon’s Labyrinth and simulated exactly how it went in his mind in order to find a way out.
A thousandth of a second.
There were 6 roads in front of him. Shirone needed to link nine teleports in order to escape.
‘No. It would be possible alone, but with Mark? I have to find another route…’
Right as Shirone was about to begin a new simulation, the Dragon’s Labyrinth devoured them both.
Many students turned their heads, and some even screamed.
Sharelle’s scream was the loudest among them.
The sound wave in the narrow space sounded like the screams of Shirone and Mark.
ten-thousandth of a second.
Despite only being given ten-thousandth of a second, a time which was too faint to be perceived with insight, Shirone somehow managed to analyze all the patterns and teleport accordingly.
A single flash of light pierced through the Dragon’s Labyrinth. And in a flash of dazzling light, Shirone crossed the finish line.
Shirone dropped Mark onto the ground and walked a few more steps. But his body couldn’t take it anymore, so he ended up curled up on the ground. There was no place in his body that was not overloaded and aching.
Nobody made a sound. The students who took in the scene were blown away. They looked at the boy who triggered this response with frightened eyes as if they were looking at a ghost.
Ethella cast Spatial Warp towards where Siena had left in search of Thadd, and shortly thereafter, the engine system turned off, and a voice echoed out.
–The engine system of the Bridge That Cannot Be Crossed has been deactivated. Level 0. Level 0.
Shortly after the empty voice of the machine sounded out, the movement of the iron bar slowed to a stop, and the vine-like structure returned back to how it was initially.
The upperclassmen from the Advanced class were the first to speak up.
All the students had uniform thoughts.
“Is that really possible?”
“No way. This is absurd. That was level 10. He passed the Dragon’s Labyrinth…”
Awakened by the students’ voices, Shirone took a second to look around.
‘Huh? Why are they all staring at me?!’
Some parts of his memory were hazy, but he at least knew he had crossed the Bridge That Could Not be Crossed.
As his head started to clear, and everything came crashing down, Shirone’s eyes got teary as his lips trembled.
“Wahhhh… I really thought I was going to die.”
Considering it was said by a person who just made history, the remark was almost too tasteless and uncool.
Sharelle pulled Amy in for a hug and cried out.
“Shirone did it! Your boyfriend really did it!”
It would’ve been better if she didn’t mention the boyfriend part, but Amy let it go this time after feeling her teary friend’s sincerity.
Students shoved each other around to reach Shirone in order to congratulate him.
“Congratulations! You were really cool!”
“So I guess you’re going to be promoted to Class 5 now. Hahaha! Class 6 kids are going to go green with envy.”
While Shirone was busy getting praised, the instructors that had gone to the engine room returned… With Maria in tow.
Siena first looked Shirone up and down.
Though he did seem distracted by the surrounding students, he did not seem to be seriously injured.
‘He passed the Dragon’s Labyrinth? How in the world did he do that? Even the Advanced Class kids have to practice dozens of times.’
She narrowed her eyes at the person who made her miss such a historical moment. Thadd just shrugged his shoulders and made an excuse.
“As you know— Actually, no you probably don’t, but I did my best.”
Sighing, Siena headed towards Alpheas.
It was unlikely, but since Shirone and Mark came in at the same time, Siena thought it would be better to clearly announce the results so that there would be no arguments later on.
“Headmaster, let’s first announce the win—”
Siena stopped when she saw that Alpheas’ eyes, which always shone with intelligence, were deep in sorrow.
‘Is something wrong?’
Thadd approached fast.
“I’ll do it. He seems to have a lot on his mind right now.”
“What? There were no casualties or major injuries, though.
Thadd fell silent.
As someone who knew of Alpheas’ past, he understood his teacher’s feelings.
The sight of Shirone’s witty and lively appearance must have reminded him of his youth.
‘Don’t blame yourself. It’s not anyone’s fault.’
The House of Myrhe’s Light.
Alpheas was famous because he redefined photons.
It’s an old theory now, but at the time, his idea was so unprecedented and so shocking that it even won him the Gold Circle Award, an award bestowed upon him by the Emperor.
However, it was that brilliant talent of his that plunged young Alpheas into the depths of despair.
What would have happened if he hadn’t wandered through the dark for 10 years due to a single mistake?
‘If that hadn’t happened…’
Alpheas would have become an archmage etched in history.
[Translator – Anwen]
Thadd tried to put up a bright face.
“Headmaster, a word, please? A man of talent who will brighten the future of this academy has appeared.”
“Mm? Hoho! Right, it slipped off my mind.”
Alpheas, who smiled as kindly as ever, looked back at the students.
“The one who passed this exam is Shirone Arian. And although there is only one victor, I would like to applaud the rest of the students who participated. The courage you showed today will be the driving force that will lead the world in the future. I hope that you will continue to work hard and achieve great results. I wish you success.”
The upperclassmen started clapping, followed by the lowerclassmen.
No one could possibly grumble about Shirone’s early promotion now. Even Mark had to admit his loss.
‘There really is such a thing as a genius.’
The scene in which Shirone cast teleportation at an incredible speed during the Dragon’s Labyrinth stage was still vividly etched in his mind.
It wasn’t a matter of talent.
Most would get intimidated and retreat when faced with a near-impossible situation, but there were also those who didn’t run.
‘At this point, I can’t even make an excuse.’
Mark wobbled over to Shirone with his trembling legs.
Most of the students knew of the existence of Mark’s operation team, so there was no way Shirone, who experienced it first-hand, did not know of it. But Mark was prepared.
“I lost. I won’t ask you to forgive me, I don’t deserve it. But do know I will take responsibility for my actions.”
Shirone looked at him.
It was certainly out of the ordinary for a belligerent man like him to admit his defeat.
On the other hand, Shirone thought that since Mark had no way out of this and had to accept it, he was trying to keep his pride and face by bearing with it.
“All right. You worked hard. I hope you do better from now on. As a person.”
He had many complicated feelings regarding the issue, but Shirone wanted to leave the rest of it for the academy to deal with.
And Seeing how Mark raised the white flag, other Class 7 students began to give congratulatory words to him.
“Congratulations, upperclassman. You were awesome.”
Having proven his skills, no one from Class 7 even thought of treating him as someone from Class 7.
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Amy smiled subtly.
And after staring at Shirone for a while more, she turned around.
“Let’s go, Sharelle.”
“Already? You should stay with your boyfriend on a special day like this one.”
“I don’t have time for that. Since Shirone succeeded, it’s now my turn. I have to prepare for the promotion exam.”
Her steps were heavy for she did not want to leave yet, but she knew that in order to respect Shirone’s resolve and meet it, she had to go and train.
“You sure it’s okay to just leave like this?”
Amy flinched when Shirone called.
When she turned around, their eyes met. The students around them murmured with surprised faces.
“Did he just call her by name?”
“Of course. Aren’t they dating?”
“I mean, even then, Amy is still an upperclassman…”
Amy, who had never given up her place as 1st, was more than just a simple upperclassman.
She was considered to be more than skilled enough to enter the Advanced Class. That was why this situation was quite a surprise for them.
“Now there are only two steps left.”
A corner of Amy’s lips lifted up.
If she passed the Advanced Class promotion exam, the gap between Shirone and herself would be two classes.
Amy turned around and walked down the mountain with Sharelle hot on her heels.
Around the time the Advanced Class students started dispersing, Thadd approached Alpheas.
“Headmaster, I have something to discuss regarding Mary.”
Thadd reported everything that happened in the engine room.
“I see. What made you decide to do such a thing…”
Maria bent over 90 degrees.
“I’m sorry. I’ve made an irrevocable mistake. I will accept any punishment readily.”
Alpheas sank deep in thought.
Of course, disciplinary action was unavoidable, but there was much to consider due to the harassment she faced.
“I have something to confess. Everything that happened today was because of me.”
And there stood Mark.
“What do you mean?”
“I really got under Maria’s skin this morning. In fact, if I were in her shoes, I would have flipped out as well. I’ll take her punishment. I’m the one who caused all of this.”
“Even so, there is a problem with Maria’s behavior. But why are you doing this?”
“I know I’m a shitty person, but I’m not a coward. I’ll take full responsibility for my actions as well as the actions of those under me. Everything I did, I did knowingly.”
“And that aside, the other kids know it too, anyway. Continuing to keep my mouth shut like a petty loser will only serve to embarrass me. Also, I was the one who came up with the plan to keep Shirone in check.”
‘I was overwhelmed in terms of skill.’
The way Shirone jumped over walls he had yet to overcome made him envious.
“ …In any case, that’s what happened. I will take the heat. But please let it slide for the other kids. Especially Maria…”
Glancing once at Maria, Mark spoke again.
“She must have been under severe stress due to the constant bullying. Think about it. To do such a thing, she must’ve lost her mind for a second.”
Alpheas pondered for a long time about Maria.
Although her grades weren’t the best, she was an aspirant mage who had been training for a longer period of time. Longer than most people in the academy… However, she made an awful mistake and was on the brink of being expelled.
Thadd looked at him with sad eyes.
“You will both be referred to the disciplinary committee. Maria is guilty of interfering with the test by illicitly operating the engine system. Her actions caused unnecessary risks. However, since Mark gave rise to the whole situation, we will take that into account and deal with the punishments accordingly.”
As Mark and Maria lowered their heads, other students from Class 7 also started raising their hands one by one.
“Um, I also bullied Maria. I think that makes me responsible for this as well.”
“I joined the operation team and attacked Shirone.”
“I did something bad, too.”
When all the students raised their hands, Siena spoke out, concerned.
“This is not a class meeting. You broke the rules. And since you’re all confessing, you will be punished.”
The students did not back down.
“These punks! If you’re going to act like this, why bother breaking the rules in the first place…”
Alpheas held her back.
“Since Shirone showed such an amazing performance, one at the level of an Advanced Class student, I’m sure they felt and learned something.”
“But there’s also that mob mentality. I think they think that if they hold out and confess together, they’ll end up fine and with no punishment. Do you really think that’s repenting for their mistakes?”
Alpheas only smiled and let out a small laugh.
“Come to think of it, I think I see an adorable side to Ms. Siena.”
“Don’t expect much from humans. Humans are humans. There is no one who is only bad and no one who is only good. Even if they didn’t plan on repenting, at least they have a strong enough conscience to confess. And considering they did confess, I’m sure they’re ready to accept responsibility as well as disciplinary action.”
Siena closed her mouth shut.
“To shoulder all responsibilities together. Such a thing can barely be seen in Class 4, let alone in the Advanced Class. Look how all of them are growing up like that. So, well, I don’t exactly hate it. If only everyone in the world had this level of belief and conviction… The world would be much different. Though I suppose the question is whether they can keep this level throughout their lives.”
Alpheas walked up to the students.
“I understand. In other words, you guys are saying it’s okay to punish everyone, is that right?”
A few were startled, but after looking at each other, they answered.
A corner of Alpheas’ mouth rose up.
“Great. I’ll reveal the details of your punishment right now. The entirety of Class 7 will be placed under probation for a month.”
The students were surprised, but the instructors were shocked.
Not only was the period long, but this punishment meant that Class 7 would be shut down altogether.
“But Headmaster, words of complaint will come from the students’ families. This will also cause conflict with the class progress…”
“I’ll be responsible for that.”
Alpheas cut the instructor’s words and stared at Shirone, who stood a little away from the group.
He looked like he had something to say, but in the end, he gave a small smile and went down the mountain.
The rest of the students stood stunned.
They felt woozy for a second, but they didn’t feel afraid.
“I-It doesn’t matter! We’re under probation together. None of us can take a class.”
“Yeah. It’s much better than something like a three-day suspension. After all, probation is not even written in our academic record.”
The students calmed down a bit.
“Haha! So what now? Do we get to play around and relax starting today?”
“As if! I have to stay up all night in the library. Why don’t we all get together and study?”
“Yeah, let’s! Maria, you’re coming too, right?”
“Huh? Um… That’s…”
Maria was conscious of what the instructors might think.
Thadd simply smiled and nodded his head. Maria then smiled and spoke shyly with teary eyes.
“Yes, I’ll join.”
Thadd felt happy as he watched the scene. It would be awkward at first, but as long as the punishment kept the kids together, she would be fine.
‘Were you aiming for this? You are always a step ahead of me, teacher.’
Perhaps this situation was a miraculous opportunity for Maria. One that would never come again in her life… Just like how becoming the student of Alpheas was for Thadd.
‘We say the world is about luck… But once you give up, even that string of luck will be of no help.’
If Maria hadn’t really loved magic, would she have survived that long in Class 7?
Although the world was unfair, Thadd thought it was worth living for that reason.
As long as one held on strong and persevered, opportunity was bound to come knocking eventually.