Barbarian | Chapter 11.1 – The Entrance Exam (2)


As the carriage traversed the imposing main gate and arrived at the examination hall, the two stepped out of it.

An awe-inspiring panorama unfolded before them, causing Ulan's eyes to instinctively widen in response, “This is…..,” His voice trailed off, unable to fully articulate the magnitude of the sight that beheld him.

The Arsene Academy; renowned for being the largest educational institution in the world, arguably the best on the continent.
The sheer enormity of the academy surpassed the boundaries of human imagination, a resplendent testament to the veracity of its acclaim.

The vista stretched out, a tapestry of meticulously arranged structures nestled in a labyrinthine expanse.
A resplendent lake lay at the heart of this scholarly edifice, its proportions so vast that it could easily encompass entire meadows within its ethereal embrace.
Such was the splendor of this spectacle that one might be inclined to believe it transcended the realm of an academy and instead entered the realm of a sovereign nation.

While Ulan found himself entranced by the magnificence of the academy, Noah fixated her gaze upon the sprawling expanse of the grand lake.

‘The fountain of magic, Arsene.’

It was too big to be called a fountain, but since that was the term used in the game, Noah didn't dwell on it.

Noah's attention gravitated toward the lake due to its pivotal role as the backbone of the Arsene Continental War and the focal point of the overarching narrative.

‘The place where the gates to the abyss opens.’

No matter which protagonist you chose or what turning point you went through, the gates of the abyss would always open there, and the ensuing cataclysm would unleash hordes of nefarious creatures upon an unsuspecting world.

'Of course, there's still a lot of time before the gates open, but I can't afford to waste it.’

That's why, if I've come to the academy, let's ace the exam and monopolise all the hidden pieces! Her eyes brimmed with determination and newfound motivation and as she made a new resolve…

“Master Ulan, Miss Noah.”

…a familiar voice tapped on her ears, interrupting her thoughts.

It was Alond, the butler of the Count of Dermore's household, who rode in the carriage with them.
He handed them each a bag and said, “Please accept these.”

“What is this……?”

“These are a boxed lunch prepared at the mansion, and some encouragement money from His Excellency, the Count.”

As soon as he finished talking about the encouragement money, Noah opened the first bag and rummaged through it.
Then, her eyes shone brightly.

“Gold coins!”

They were definitely gold coins, no matter how you looked at them.
And there were five of them.
One gold coin was worth a hundred silver coins, so she had five hundred silver coins.

Noah's complexion immediately brightened.


Ulan, on the other hand, was calm.
Rather than the gold coins, he was more grateful for the carefully packed lunch, so he silently bowed his head.

“Thank you for the Count’s kindness.”

“Tell him I'm grateful too!” Noah, coming to her senses late, hurriedly said her thanks too. 

Alond politely nodded his head and said, “Very well, then, I wish you both the best of luck in your future endeavors, and I wish you the best of luck with your entrance exams.”

He finished with an inscrutable smile and left the academy in his carriage.

Ulan and Noah were alone again, but they weren't lonely or sad.
Their destination was just around the corner.

“Now, shall we go?”

“Sure.”

Ulan replied bluntly.

The two of them walked confidently to the examination center.

*********

The examination hall was huge, befitting the size of the academy, and it would take a full day to walk around it.

They signed up for their respective tests, and the receptionist handed them a booklet listing the locations and times of the tests.

“Well, first of all, the tests for the magic specialty are all in the afternoon, so I guess I'll have to take the Imprinting Test first, and Ulan, you can go to…….”

Noah flipped through the pages frantically.

“Ah! Found it.
The Great Brawl is first, then the Monster Hunt, and then I'll take the Magic Detection test in the afternoon.”

The Great Brawl would take place in the East Wolf's Arena.
Noah's test, on the other hand, would take place in the Blacksmith's Forge to the west – diametrically opposed destinations.

Ulan muttered softly, “We'll have to stay away for a while.”

“Yes.
Good luck with the test.”

“You too.”


With a neat farewell, Ulan and Noah headed towards their respective test venues.
Just a few steps away, Noah's voice suddenly reached Ulan.

“Oh, that's right.
Ulan!”

“——?”

“When the test is over, let's meet in front of the fountain over there.
It's lonely to have lunch alone,” Noah said.

Wondering what she meant, Ulan smirked and replied, “I'm fine by myself.”

“……But I'm not.
Uh, whatever! See you in front of the fountain around noon.”

Noah finished speaking and disappeared.
Ulan, too, quickened his pace.

It wasn't hard to find the venue.
The brochure had a map attached to it.

Some time later.

He arrived at the Wolf Arena.

“Attention, everyone!”

A figure, presumably the test supervisor, stepped up to the podium.
He was a rugged-looking man, his face crumpled into a scowl as he spoke, “I'm Ethan Arnoff, the supervisor for this test.
I'm about to begin the explanation of the Great Brawl, so keep your ears open and listen carefully!”

Immediately after the guttural shout, Ethan immediately cut to the chase, “The Great Brawl is a talent test to see how well you'd fare in a real battle, assuming you were to be thrown into the fray.”

Ethan moved slowly, shifting his steps.
Then he gestured to the arena, “The test is simple.
All you have to do is get in the arena, fight each other, and win.
How about it? Do I need to explain more?”

As he looked around the audience, he asked if there were any further questions when a boy raised his hand.

“Mr.
Supervisor, I have a question.”

“What is it?”

“How many of us have to fight until there are none left?”

“First, we will select five people.
They will be guaranteed a minimum B grade.
Then, those five will fight each other, and the two who survive in the end will receive an A grade.”

“What if we can't be among the five…?”

“Obviously, you will be below C grade.
By the way, the first one to be eliminated will receive an F grade.”


In the middle of this detailed explanation, another student raised his hand.

“But how do I get an S grade?”

“That's a very good question.”

Ethan chuckled.
As if he'd been waiting for the question.

“An S grade can only be earned by the winner of a fight between the two remaining players.
In this case, the one who loses will receive a B grade instead.””

“W-what if we refuse to fight…?”

“They'll both end up with an A grade.”

In other words, the last two players have a choice.

They can either negotiate with their opponent and play it safe and get an A grade, or they can fight and strive to claim the S grade.
The choice is theirs.

That's when Ethan pulled out something; a bead as small as a fingernail.
It emitted a vivid blue light, exuding a mysterious aura.

“By the way, this will be the criterion for defeat.”

“What is that?”

“Your lives.”

Just after he finished speaking, Ethan crushed the bead under his foot.

Quack!

Shards scattered in all directions.
As a result, the intense blue light emitted by the bead vanished like smoke.

“When it shatters and loses its light like this, it means it's broken.
This bead contains a small amount of mana, and if it's destroyed, it will be considered as losing your life and treated as a defeat.”

By the way, it doesn't matter where you store the bead.  As long as you don't detach it from your body, it seems to be fine.

“If there are no further questions, we will begin the test immediately.
Please proceed to your assigned areas in the order I call out.”

As soon as Ethan finished his explanation, the assistant supervisor waiting in the back began to call out the names of the examinees.

“Himmel Deorg, to Zone 1!”


“Verno Davigne, to Zone2!”

The waiting candidates made their way to the arena; the arena was circular, and each zone, as the supervisors called it, was like the hands of a clock.

As one by one the positions were filled, there was a person who caught everyone's attention.

“That person….”

Pale golden hair and turquoise eyes; a slender waist and a well-defined figure.
She was the type of woman who would make anyone turn their heads as they passed by.
Unlike someone of the same age who would be hard to believe had such a physique.

However, the reason Ulan noticed her was not merely because of her face and figure.

“Where have I seen that face before…?”

The problem was that he couldn't put his finger on it and remember who she was.
So, with a furrowed brow, he delved into his past life's memories.

Just as Ulran was searching through his memories, the supervisor called out her name.

“Ibella Elearde, to Zone 12!”

When her name rang out, Ulan's eyes widened.
He recognized the name.
And in that moment, the face of someone from his memories overlapped with hers; a comrade-in-arms, one of the Seven Heroes who had fought alongside Ulan against the monsters of the Abyss in his past life.

Sword Maiden, Ibella.

When he compared her to the image of Sword Maiden he remembered, they were quite similar.
The hair, eyes, and facial features were identical.

“I see.
So it is Ibella?

He couldn't recognize her because she didn't have a scar.

Sword Maiden’s face was originally scarred.
A large scar running from her left eyebrow to her cheek, and smaller scars on her forehead and chin.

That's why she always wore a mask.
She only showed her face to comrades-in-arms who she trusted and Ulan was one of them.

“But I didn't realize she also attended the Arsene Academy.’

He didn't know, as they rarely talked about their past lives.
Ulan looked at Ibella observantly, feeling curious for some reason.

Then it happened.

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