Chapter 125 – Acceptance & Rejection (Part 3)
“If any of you wish to enter the tower to prove yourselves, you must first prove you deserve to do so more than your fellow students. We hold a tournament every year. The top 8 are allowed to enter. We also reserve 17 spots for those who during the tournament catch our eye based on skill, technique, insight, power, age, talent and various other factors.
Therefore, either you prove yourself with your strength or if you lack raw fighting strength, then find a way to prove that you have the talent enough for us to give you a chance to enter the tower.”
This was something no one outside of the academy was aware of. The Lumea Tower could be seen by everyone but no one thought much of it, all the focus was on the lumea library which is what drew in the students and was rumored to be the source of power of the academy itself.”
Seeing the looks on their faces Lydia drove her point home “The tournament is always held at the end of the year, shortly before the new year begins. You’ll have 6 months to make use of your new resources. Realistically your odds are low. Very low. In the history of the academy only the most talented and powerful figures have managed to qualify for the Lumea Tower on their first year. Moreover… It was due to being picked, and not because they placed within the top 8. That is something that has never been done. Let’s see how high you all aim.”
As expected, everybody’s eyes were lit aflame.
Lydia was used to this speech, not only had she given it before but it was similar to the same speech she’d heard herself when she joined the academy. This bit of information was something every professor gave to their passing students, it was both to give them a better idea of what the true resources the academy held, and a stick with which to measure their progress and a goal to aim for. If they wanted power, if they wanted knowledge, then attaining the strength necessary to prove themselves amongst their peers would be the only way to move forward. Not everyone could attain the best opportunities, only those that proved themselves as being the best.
Staring at their hopeful expressions she noticed Daichi was still zoning out and her left eye twitched again. ‘Is he simply playing dumb or was I perhaps wrong in my assessment…?’
What she really wanted to do was walk over and beat him up a little, just enough to make sure he paid attention whenever she was speaking in the future, but she had appearances to keep up.
Daichi had actually been zoning out at the beginning. He’d been focused on sensing the spatial mana and trying to figure out what exactly was different about the space they were in, but when he’d heard Lydia begin to speak about the Lumea Tower his mind had become razor focused as he heard her speak.
His gaze seemed aloof but he was indeed motivated, the more she spoke about the Lumea Tower the more intrigued he became. He’d come for the library, but hearing about the limited access he’d have was something that had only momentarily depressed him. He could immerse himself within the first floor for years, therefore he wasn’t too torn up about the limited access. It was only as he heard how easy it would be to gain access to deeper floors that he’d become interested again.
After hearing that he could only gain access to deeper floors if he entered the tower, his interest had been piqued.
‘My father told me that the city was built around the library… If that’s true and that tall pagoda is indeed the measuring stick used to assess who is allowed to view how much and what knowledge… Then it must be pretty special…’
After Lydia finished his speech Daichi had already made his decision.
‘Perfect. In 6 months the tournament for the greatest prize within the academy will begin. Everyone will be focused on this tournament, when the time comes… I’ll enter the pagoda myself. I don’t care about the tournament or proving myself to anyone, I’ll just enter when no one’s looking… And if I can’t then I can still win the tournament and enter anyways. Win-Win!’
He was already picturing the amazing things he’d be able to read within the deepest levels of the library as Lydia had gazed over at him again.
“I tell you all this because it is common knowledge amongst the students and forbidden knowledge to pass around to outsiders. It is the goal of every student to enter the Lumea Tower, to enter is to be considered exceptional.”
Of course she left out some crucial information… Entering the tower was meaningless if they couldn’t survive the trials within, but that was a different matter that few of the students would have to deal with anyways.
“Now that some of the basics are out of the way, I can tell you that this was the good news. Now let me tell you the bad news”
Lydia’s expression changed in an instant as it became as solemn as everybody else who was within the area.
“This exam did not go as it was intended. There was a lot more activity than there normally is, and we’ve run into more trouble than we’d anticipated. We’re still not sure of all the details, but I can tell you this.
We’ve lost a lot of staff, and even more students. Of the original 9,004 participants… We’re expecting a drastic number of loses.
The students you see here are waiting for others. Some have chosen to wait with others, some have passed and left. Those who’ve failed have already been escorted out.
Due to the difficulty of the exam this time around, there has been more leeway than in past exams with our admissions.
The people here are all people who’ve passed and are awaiting news of others to arrive. Everyone passes through here after entering the city and returning from the exam.
If you have someone you wish to wait for, then you may wait here. Crimson will stick around with those who wish to stay for a few more days. We are still hopeful that there are more groups that have yet to arrive. If there is someone in particular you wish to inquire about, there is a professor you can see and he will inform you of whether that person has already arrived. If so whether he has passed or failed and if not whether he or she has been confirmed dead”
The news of the abysmal number of students who’d returned alive started to sink in for everybody. Everyone quickly came to the same conclusions ‘If there were 9,004 participants and now there are only around 200 people here… How many loses were there? Did 90% of them die?’ These numbers would just be ridiculous… It was no wonder to them why they’d been rushed back.
Daichi’s eyes got a little smaller as he wondered whether it had anything to do with his return. He’d noticed the mist had expanded and become erratic and once he’d come out all but dissipated. He more than anyone knew that the chaotic mana could have varying effects.
There wasn’t much reaction to this from most of the people in the group, but Leo’s hands were already clenched tight as he began to panic inwardly. Haeru had already glanced his way and noticed his clenched fists. He wanted to say something but didn’t know what he could say that would help.
Damien also noticed this and secretly took joy in this. He also quickly figured it was because of Marcos. Even though he acted as if he didn’t know Marcos’s name, with his solid memory how could he not? He simply didn’t have any respect for him. While he didn’t really have any enmity with Leo, Leo had once embarrassed him and even if it had been his own fault for starting an issue with them it still didn’t sit well. Even if his life had been rescued by Haeru and Leo… It didn’t mean he liked them. He’d already decided he would no longer bother with them, but just because he could decide to no longer bother them or seek revenge the past grudge, he hadn’t grown to like him.
Lydia walked closer to the group and pointed at five people.
Everyone looked around for a second, before realizing who Lydia was pointing at.
Haeru, Leo, Karina, Damien and Daichi. Once everyone realized who she was pointing at their gazes turned envious. Based on the line up it was no surprise that everyone had the same thought ‘They’re being singled out as better than us’. These five either already had a good amount of prestige or they’d earned it on the battlefield during the exam.
Damien had a reputation before the exam and during the exam they’d all witnessed as he’d had a breakthrough in the realm of fire. He was already stronger than most of them.
Leo had led his group and fought bravely, he’d proven himself a good leader. Yet It was a strange sensation to those that had followed him, but even though he didn’t seem to show off anything in particular that made him stand out… He simply seemed better. Even special. Whenever they tried to put their finger on something they were better than him at, they simply couldn’t do it.
Haeru had a reputation and he’d made the biggest impact in the most crucial moment. The attack he used against the imps had been so impressive that even the two professors over seeing the exam had singled him out at the time, therefore it was obvious to all of them that he had passed even before they’d returned. If he couldn’t pass the exam than who could be qualified to pass?
Karina had been the biggest shock to all of them. She’d come off as mundane and just another youth who’d barely made the cut to take the exam, and yet when the battle against the imps had come she shined unlike no other. Her ability was only overshadowed by Damien and Haeru who’d used particularly flashy attacks. After that battle, there simply wasn’t a single one of these people that would underestimate her.
Daichi was the most mysterious of the five that was singled out to them. He’d come out of no where and seemed to have earned the interest of Professor Lydia in a way that none of the others had. Moreover… Leo and Haeru also seemed particularly interested in him. Even Damien had but his arrogance aside and on multiple occasions tried to approach him, that had widened the eyes of many of the participants.
Some of them were feeling that it was a little unfair that he could just come out of nowhere and take away an opportunity that was originally for them, but based on the preferential treatment that Professor Lydia had shown him, not a single one of them had the courage to stand out and say something.
“You five come with me for a bit.”