”Excuse me, Is this carriage heading towards… ”
”Eterna. You wanna hitch a ride for a couple Alts? ”
Of course I did, but hes asking for money — and thats out of the question.
”Never mind. ”
For some reason Im feeling more dejected than usual. Must be food poisoning again.
I sat down for a bit and noticed a very cute girl approaching. She had long silver hair and looked to be around my age. Must be a noble as well.
”Jin Ryuunosuke? ” She asks, glancing repeatedly at me then down at a rectangular package she held close to her small chest.
”Who are you? ”
No matter how cute she was, Id boot it out of here as fast as possible the moment debt collector escapes her lips.
”Umm… I-Im here on behalf of East Academy. My name is Maria Ludenberg! ” She stuttered and bowed, fumbling with her palms as nervously as nervous can get, then she thrusted the package at me.
”I-Its your uniform. Take it… -I mean, please take it! ”
”My mom told me to not accept anything from strangers. ”
”Eh? I guess thats reasonable, but… ”
I ended up taking the package anyways. She bowed again as she left. That was the first time I met a noble like that.
Anyways, this thing could be used as a pillow or something. Thats why I accepted it — not for the contents, but for the softly-layered packaging. It was a huge haul.
The sun settled as the moon rose in its place. Summer would be coming and, If possible, Id like to leave this place before it does. I found a nice bench in between some trees, and decided to sleep there for the night.
In the desert town, night was freezing cold and day was blazing hot. Truly a sub-optimal biome to live in. If only I had a blanket or two.
”I couldve asked the girl earlier for some money… ”
I lamented that mistake as I doze off.
Escaping the dark abyss that were my eyelids, I stared wordlessly at the ceiling.
It wasn the blinding sun of the Chakravartian desert – but a ceiling.
”…It was just a dream? ”
I did make it, didn I? To Eterna – To East Academy. Finally my two-year long journey had come to an end.
I got up sore from the hard floor and pushed the sliding door open. I slid it all the way – and as it hit the edge; it made a soft…
”Good morning. ” I greeted the landlord.
”You slept early yesterday. Must be tired, eh? ” She said.
”I don remember. When did I? ”
”Around 2 hours after you left – So 3 oclock maybe. ”
I had a habit of falling into sleep whenever I felt like it. Yesterday evening after eating, I went straight back to my room and probably fell asleep as soon as I got bored – without any bedding.
That didn mean I was an early sleeper or anything, it just meant there wasn a particular rhythm to my sleeping habits. One day I could sleep for 24 hours straight, another day I could stay up all night doing one particular thing. Although the former was often a result of the latter.
”Its healthy, after all. ”
”Good boy, kids like you should get enough sleep. Don be like my granddaughter. ” The landlord said.
Today would be my first day of attending this school – or just school in general. I didn know what was gonna happen, but Ive decided I was going to roll with the punches for now.
Really, what could be worse than the life I was living prior?
At Natsusou, I saw the delinquent trio again, pushing food down their gullets as they chatted loudly. Something was getting them riled up.
”This is… Different! ” Kanji exclaimed, he held a bowl of udon up to his mouth and sipped all his remaining broth.
The store owner – Matsukai-san – noticed me enter the store and placed a bowl at my side of the counter.
”Ive reserved one for you. Crab Udon – just as you wished. ” He said.
I did say something about wanting crab yesterday… To think he would actually do it.
”But why put it in udon? ” I asked.
”This is an udon store. ”
He had a point.
”Ryuunosuke?! Don tell me- yer the genius who inspired this dish? ” Manzaki gazed at me with stars in his eyes, not bothering to wipe his dirty mouth and said.
Crab Udon… So this was the source of our commotion. I took a spoon and gingerly brought the glistering broth up to my mouth.
It felt like sharing a passionate kiss with an angel. My tongue instantly met with a sensation so pure yet so sinful that it shouldn even be legal. It was so savoury, yet a subtle tinge of sweetness permeated my taste buds.
”Damn… ” I shed a tear.
”Ah, thats right! Ryuunosuke, you better brace yerself today! ” Manzaki raised his voice suddenly.
Thats odd, I don remember doing anything to piss the dude off.
”If todays yer first day, that means yers gonna have to take that exam. ”
”Ah… that exam, huh? ” Leo murmured, looking grim.
”Gee, good luck to you, man. ” Kanji patted me on the back.
”Im afraid I don follow. What exam do you mean? ”
And on the first day of school?
”Huh? Didn ya hear about it at the assembly? Thats why I asked you to go there in the first place, moron. ” Manzaki said.
”Sorry, sorry. I wasn listening back then. ” This Ordeus Ludenberg guy made me piss my pants so much that I couldn . But I wasn telling them that.
”Well, Its a pain, but Ill explain. ”
The Sorting Exam. A practical test designed to assess every new students skill level and combat proficiency, and to assign classes to them accordingly. After the exam, students who are deemed the weakest are assigned to class F, while the strongest are assigned to class A.
Q: What exactly happens in this practical test? Is it like a written exam?
A: Nah, you go and you duke it out with some monsters.
Q: Is this one of those test that can kill you?
A: It is one of those. Thats why Im telling you to be careful. You
e going up against monsters, not people.
I imagined that meant they were going to drop me off into some monster-infested forest, and say Good luck as they throw me a stick to fend for myself.
”Humph, surely you don think thats all there is? If it really were just a bunch of measly monsters, then even an old hag like me could pass. ” Said the landlord, whom I wasn even aware was here until just now. She sat in the corner table with her wrinkled arms and legs crossed all edgy-like as if playing a mysterious character in some detective drama.
”There are certain monsters you need to look out for – Tier 4 monsters. This school is notorious for putting those on the sorting exams. ” She continued.
”Lets see- What does that mean again… ” I mumbled.
There were different ways to officially categorize monsters, one common way is by using tier levels. I knew that, at least.
Matsukai-san heard me mumble those ignorant words and pulled out a thick book from one of the cupboards.
~~~~Monster Encyclopedia, about Tier Levels~~~~
Tier 1: The most common and weakest types, often no more than pests to your garden and, despite being called monsters, they don possess enough power to actually kill someone.
Tier 2: Very common monsters such as goblins or slimes. Beginner adventurers target these as they are relatively safe to fight. However, they are dangerous enough to kill a person.
Tier 3: Relatively powerful monsters. Experienced adventurers primarily target these. They can easily overpower an adult human.
*Disclaimer before reading further: Most early deaths are caused by Tier 4 monsters and above. Adventurers ranked C or below are not to engage in combat with them under any circumstance*
Tier 4 monsters: Powerful monsters. They can cast spells of their own and/or are extremely strong physically. Veteran adventurers take caution targeting these.
Tier 5: Very powerful monsters. Veteran adventurers can defeat one of these with great difficulty and strength in numbers. In power, they are equivalent to five A-ranked adventurers.
*Any monsters stronger than Tier 5 are called Fables. To learn more about Fables, go to page 251. *
”Well thats that – but really – you can just pass the exam without fighting anything. ” Said Matsukai-san.
”In other words – just run away from the monsters? ”
He nodded with his arms crossed. ”If you want to survive, that is. ”
Of course I wanted to survive; Its basically the only thing on my agenda. Being put in classes A or F mattered less to me than fresh meat to a little sheep.
”Well, *heh* not to brag, but my STAMINA is a staggering 124. Running is practically all I was born to do. ” I said, shit-eating grin on my face.
Everybody clapped out of sympathy; maybe the words came out sadder than I wanted them to.
The test would begin in a couple hours from now, but it couldn hurt to arrive earlier. I finished eating quickly and went back to my room to prepare some things. Everyone wished me Goodluck.
”Ma, you think hell be alright? ”
”Hard to say… All we can do is pray. ”
The air in Natsusou grew thick enough to cut with a knife. No one could utter a word; they all knew what would likely happen to him.
”Seeing new faces come and go every year, Its sad… But its not like we can change anything. ” Said the old Haruka, whos never grown numb to that feeling.
Manzakis face contorted in guilt; if only hed been able to convince Jin to quit earlier. Best-case scenario hed come back with a limb or two still attached, but even that might not be likely.
That was just how weak a commoner was.
In this world, the terms Commoner and Noble didn just refer to a persons wealth or political power. Rather, It referred to a persons natural affinity for the MAGIC stat.
Much like that of gender, It was another binary characteristic humans were born with. You were either male or female, and you were either a commoner or a noble. There was nothing else to it, nor was there anything to complain about; It was this clear-cut system that made the world move in a circle.
If, per se, someone wanted to identify as the other gender – That would be fine by me, they can go ahead and call themselves anything they want to. But at the end of the day, can they really fight against the biological programming theyve been born with? That dick in their skirts for example, It doesn become a vagina overnight if they simply elieved.
Same story, different things. A commoner doesn learn MAGIC overnight, nor will he ever be able to. Ive grown to accept that fact, that Im weak.
But there were some things that only the weak could accomplish.
”There it is. ”
It was a sickle with a crescent-shaped edge. Ive had it with me for the longest time, yet it still hasn rusted one bit. I took a white cloth out of my pocket and wrapped it around the sickle, then tied it together with string.
This sickle was the only thing I held on to during my time as a homeless, and to say it was useful would be an understatement. Ive been using It primarily as a hunting tool, and if it works on wild animals, it must also work on monsters.
I took a bath for the first time in ages. Upon looking at myself in the mirror, I recoiled at how much my face had changed.
As I left, the face of the girl I met in todays dream sprung into my mind.
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