Chapter 122 – Solemn Faces
Lydia knew that Daichi wasn’t ordinary, but to not have a single drop of sweat after while every single other talented participant here of the same age were struggling with labored breathing and a strained will…
Even though her duty was to focus on ensuring that every single child here that could contribute to Lumea surviving passed and gave themselves in service to the city and academy… She couldn’t help but lose all focus on everyone else as she stared at Daichi.
In fact… She wasn’t the only one!
Nearly everyone there who was struggling to maintain their will power and preserve through this sprint while their lungs were on fire hadn’t needed a single shred of motivation from their instructor behind them because they’d been focused on the person in front of them.
Unlike them, he’d managed to keep pace with Crimson and he’d done so with ease. Without a single drop of sweat on his body he’d maintained the same pace behind Crimson making it seem as if it would be as easy as merely moving a few steps ahead if he wanted to overtake Crimson’s speed.
Some were in awe at his stamina and speed, some were annoyed that they had fallen behind someone they’d never heard of but it didn’t matter who it was… They were all motivated by Daichi.
Everyone used him as an example, ‘if he can do it so can I!’
Their vanity and pride could allow them to come in behind him, but no way could it allow them to fail when someone their age or younger could so easily succeed!
Very few of them had the stamina or ability to manipulate mana (even if only at an elementary level) to supplement their physical attributes. Amongst them there were only four. All of them wondering how Daichi was managing such a feat.
Among them Haeru and Leo were staring at Daichi in slight confusion but also respect. Haeru couldn’t have been more pleased with himself at this moment, instead of feeling jealousy like some of the others he was feeling proud of himself. One of the goals he’d set for himself aside from passing the exam was getting to know and befriend some promising people to help himself and his family.
Watching Daichi exert minimal effort to keep up with Crimson only solidified what he’d already thought. He knew Daichi had to have some sort of skill to be able to avoid one of Crimson’s attacks but as he got to know Daichi he realized that not only was Daichi mysterious, he showed genuine surprise and interest towards a lot of the topics he discussed with Leo in the past few days. He came to realize how little Daichi knew about Lumea even though he said very little. Haeru was smart enough to figure out something that should been obvious. Even those who lived in villages outside of Lumea or even further out had a decent understanding over some of these introductory topics, at some point some of their relatives had to have lived in Lumea. A seed of doubt had begun to spring within Haeru wondering whether Daichi could somehow be from an entirely different place that would bring a storm to Lumea…
After getting over another shock that Daichi had brought her, Lydia was only further motivated to bring Daichi and introduce him to the academy. It was as if she was looking at the most wonderful gem she’d found at a yard sale!
Soon after she finally managed to wrangle her thoughts away from the gem she’d found to the others who were motivated but struggling to keep up and felt that it was she’d already expected. There were only a few that had the basic understanding to keep up with Crimson using mana in any true way. The only surprise was that Karina, someone whom she had picked on a whim and didn’t know by name off the top of her head was doing just as well as Damien, Haeru and Leo.
Damien who had the most basic understanding as he utilized a technique he had learned for short distance battles, Karina who did so instinctively, Haeru who did so skillfully but somehow had the least results and Leo who accomplished it the best but had the least amount of mana.
This little discovery made her reconsider whether she’d missed anything else. ‘I’ve truly put too much sight on Leo and Haeru. It seems there are some other promising students as well.”
They continued at the same pace for the entire way until finally Lumea was only a mile away. It was only as they got closer to Lumea that Daichi begun to see just how large the city was before his eyes.
A few miles away Crimson abruptly stopped and most of the participants collapsed due to exhaustion. Crimson gave them a once over and a curt nod of approval. They’d performed as he’d expected, perhaps a few better than expected.
He didn’t even glance in Daichi’s direction or comment on how Daichi looked no less tired than himself. He’d already decided within his heart that Daichi was no ordinary boy. Daichi’s ability to keep up with the speed he was running was of little surprise and simply no concern. He’d already resolved to test him later on, at this moment his primary responsibility had been accomplished. He’d gotten the participants back at a close enough distance that their safety was no longer a concern. Now he had more important things to do.
“You can all rest here and when you’re ready, follow us back to where we are all congregating at.” Without so much as another word Crimson took off at an even faster speed with few to argue or speak. Their throats parched, clothes drenched in sweat and glazed over eyes with heaving chests. Exhaustion was covering all of them.
Lydia followed Crimson but as she passed Daichi she whispered beside him “Stay here, don’t move.” as she caught up to Crimson in an instant.
Daichi didn’t even pay attention to her words even if he had registered them as he was too caught up in the moment staring at city he’d longed to reach. The tower he’d previously been staring at, stood so high, the walls of the Lumea Academy were exactly as they’d been described in the books he’d read before. Everything was exactly as he’d imagined and not a hint of disappointment lingered in his gaze.
The four other “exceptional” candidates were still standing either hunched over trying to get their breath back with their hands on their knees or hands on their hips gasping for air in the most subtle but far too noticeable of ways. Instead of caring about Crimson and Lydia taking off they were still staring at Daichi wondering how the hell he’d managed to gain such incredible stamina and what else he could do.
Damien’s resolve to become friends were Daichi was further strengthened. He was ridiculously arrogant, but he also upheld the ideals of his family deep within his heart. It just so happened that those ideals would anger anyone under the sun. His family respected power and believed the strong should respect the strong and if they could bully the weak, the weak should be bullied unless they earned the right not too.
Daichi was strong, it didn’t matter why to Damien just so much that he was. Making strong friends and increasing the strength of his family was no different to what Haeru had been thinking. Except Damien still held the possibility in his mind of pulling Daichi over to work for his family.
After getting over his satisfaction at finally arriving at the city (even though he still hadn’t entered) Daichi finally noticed the solemn expressions of Lydia who was returning to them.
She’d only been gone for less than half an hour, but was already coming back. After returning she didn’t glance at anyone but Daichi as she spoke up “Follow now, we’re making an announcement for all those who participated. The information won’t be repeated.” Then immediately turned around and ran back.
Most of them still hadn’t recovered enough energy to follow and were groaning either in their hearts or (the braver ones) out loud, but no one stayed put and begin to follow. Regardless of how unwilling their bodies may have been to move, their hearts were dying to receive the greatest honor of entering the academy. A thing they all expected to hear from this announcement.
Everyone moved in unison, and Daichi followed with the others as Haeru and Leo came up behind him. They were dying to find out more about Daichi but knew this wasn’t the time to ask.
When everyone was finally close enough to the city and were within the range of the barrier they noticed Lydia standing there with Crimson. They were a little confused as to what was going on until Damien spoke up “Where is everybody else?”
“All you have to do is enter the barrier and we will all be moved to within the academy grounds for the announcement. Everyone here has passed the exam. Welcome to Lumea Academy”
Everyone’s faces lit up with full blown smiles at her words, not even Damien was exempt from this as he along with the more perceptive students noticed the solemn expressions on Crimson and Lydia’s faces.
‘Such good news shouldn’t be said with such solemn expressions…’
Everyone entered the “barrier”. Once they were within a few feet of it, it shimmered enough so that anyone with mana could sense it in front of them. Daichi had already been able to sense it before and wasn’t the least bit surprised. There were no hesitations in his steps as he stepped through it comepletely unfazed which made both Crimson and Lydia heave a long sigh of relief they’d been holding since they’d met him. The last trace of doubt in Lydia’s mind finally disappeared as Crimson slightly lowered his guard, the suspicion in his gaze that he’d been hiding lessening by quite a bit.
Immediately after everyone entered, Lydia took out another scroll and instantly teleported them to within the grounds of Lumea Academy.
Normally they could have just walked there, after all now that they were within the city not only were they safe, but the distance to the academy could easily have been covered in little time for people with their abilities. Haeru was the only one to think about how nonsensical it was to use up such an important void-scroll for such a task, it stood out as more than odd as he braced himself for unpleasant surprises.
Daichi was thrilled to enter yet another portal, he’d already gained a bit from the last teleportation, he jumped in eagerly and within moments they all appeared within Lumea Academy.
While most of them were too exhausted, too dehydrated to throw up and could only muster a few dry heaves. Haeru glanced around pushing down the unpleasant sensation of the teleportation as he along with the others who weren’t knocked out by the teleportation looked up to find scattered groups of participants. Every single person had a solemn expression. More important… They all noticed the number of people there didn’t even number 200 people.
Only Haeru put any importance behind this as he considered the worst case scenario.