The Extra’s Academy Survival Guide Chapter 80

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New Student Class Assignment Test (4)

Joseph Whitepeltz, the youngest researcher to receive a position at the Tog Magic Association supported by the Hwangseong Group.

Although talented enough not to need basic magic education all the way in Sylvania, his choice to come for a diploma shows just how pragmatic he is.

He’s conducting magic research only because it’s profitable—not because there’s any scholarly nobility in it.

Joseph is the younger brother of Dorothy Whitepeltz, the top-ranking student in the Alchemy Department among the prospective fourth-year students.

Unlike his pitiable sister, he has a quiet and polite personality… But conversely, the magic he researches is without exception bombastic.

He’s just a freshman, yet he knows how to handle intermediate magic, three to be exact.

The intermediate fire magic ‘Point Explosion’, the intermediate ice magic ‘Ice Spear’, and the intermediate earth magic ‘Earth Shatter’… He is a mage that absolutely cannot be considered at a freshman level.

There is a reason he was the first to pass the trial of illusion magic.

Aiming for the top rank in the magic department is a reasonable goal, and if he could surpass Wade Callamore of the combat department, he could even aim for the top of his entire grade.

His head is covered with messy hair due to his nature of finding haircuts bothersome. He maintains a back-swept fringe with a thin hairband, but the back of his hair is close to being disheveled.

“Go ahead, pass by.”

The remnants of the explosion linger around the entrance to the altar. Anis looked down quietly below them.

The contest between mages is quick to conclude.

More than anything, when you become a mage of Joseph’s caliber, you can quickly estimate the level of your opponent. It’s not even a contest to begin with.

Anis is a chief teaching assistant and could even be called a specialist in practical and academic fields… But her skill in combat magic is only slightly above average for prospective third-year students.

Certainly not a level that regular freshmen could contend with. It’s just that Joseph is extraordinary.

“…There’s no need to feel so resentful. That… name of yours…”

“Anis Haylan.”

“Yes, Senior Anis.”

With a polite voice, Joseph picked up the magic stone. Beyond Anis, the large altar’s pillar was visible. All he needed to do was to approach and offer the magic stone on the altar, and his test would be over.

Joseph felt the ordeal was anti-climactic. The time invested in the actual trial was less than the time spent on the trek up here.

“You must surely have your own specialized field, Senior. Just because it wasn’t suitable for combat, there must be a field that is uniquely yours, which I dare not compare to…”

“You’re quite mistaken.”

Anis cut off Joseph’s words, her head still lowered.

“Yes, I’m frustrated, but not in the way you think. Just like you said, Joseph, I have my specialized field.”

“Then…”

“Don’t pry into it, and if you’re going to pass by, do it quickly…? I have to save my energy as I must deal with students who will be coming up after you.”

Joseph glanced up slightly, looking at Anis’s expression. Indeed, it wasn’t the face of someone who had been crushed by the disparity in ability.

It’s true, as one becomes a senior in the third year, you have a certain tenacity. Joseph shook his head and passed by Anis nonchalantly.

After Joseph left, Anis slowly sat down on a nearby rock.

Then she wiped her eyes thoroughly.

It was indubitably humiliating. However, her vexation was subtly different from what Joseph pointed out.

The foundation that allowed Anis to endure the lengthy and wintery academic life was the ‘perfection in her work’.

She never spoiled her tasks due to trivial and petty mistakes. She had been able to affirm herself incessantly amidst the grueling academic life because she lived every aspect of it cleanly and perfectly.

The reason for Anis’s frustration was due to her incompetence.

She damaged a magic engineering device, panicked at an uncommon mistake without saying anything, failed to present any alternatives, and in the end, she didn’t even manage to block the entrance to the north altar.

Her perfectionism had become a double-edged sword, stabbing her own heart with an icy blade.

Always pretending to be flawless, perfect, and without gaps, but to slip up at a crucial moment was the pathetic state of being Anis found herself in.

The realization that she was still far from perfection despite fiercely struggling for it was frustrating.

Anis sat on the rock, sniffling, and looked up toward the altar at the summit.

A blond boy would be guarding the final altar. Anis, who rarely made mistakes, caused all sorts of major accidents, but still, she tried to address everything with quick thinking.

One would expect anger, but instead, she tried to lead the conversation in a constructive direction.

She was struck by the thought of that face.

Her heart was clueless.

Anis sat at the entrance to the altar, quietly soothing her own chest.

*

“The first visitor.”

Entering the altar, Joseph exhaled deeply. As expected, the test wasn’t over yet.

There was a boy sitting on the altar.

The boy’s noble-like appearance, with his short dazzling blond forelocks rounded up, left no doubt of his aristocratic lineage. His sharp eyes were staring directly at Joseph, but the way he sat casually on the altar also looked quite relaxed.

“And I hope you would be the last visitor.”

“The test procedure is straightforward, which is nice.”

Joseph quickly assessed the surroundings.

About half a dozen magic engineering devices lay scattered around the altar. They appeared to be improved versions of the illusion discs he had seen on the way up.

However, the parts were strewn all over as if someone had hastily tinkered with them. These high-quality devices couldn’t be fixed easily. If it’s beyond simple function adjustment, they’re so sophisticated that one couldn’t even attempt to meddle with them without considerable magic engineering knowledge.

Furthermore, several trees grown near the altar bore marks of being cut, and a fairly large leather pouch was placed on the altar.

The pouch seemed to contain magic stones, judging by the energy it emitted. He didn’t expect such valuable items to be piled up like that.

One possible inference was that the entire battle scene had already been adjusted by that boy.

Carelessness was forbidden.

“You know the content of the test, right? All you need to do is offer those magic stones you brought to the altar. But of course, I won’t be standing by idly.”

“Indeed, the test method is curious…”

Joseph stroked his chin and pondered before speaking out.

“If I manage to overpower you, Senior, and succeed in offering the magic stones… who will the students following me have the test with?”

“Well, that’s not for you to worry about.”

“That is true. I suppose all alternatives will already be arranged.”

Saying so, Joseph focused his eyes on the situation in front of him.

He did not know the blond boy’s name. However, through the color of the badge and his uniform, he deduced, just as Anis whom he had faced on his way up, that the boy was a member of the magic department.

As mentioned before, a mage can quickly evaluate each other’s capacity. Although it’s not 100% accurate, a rough estimate can still be made.

Joseph did not feel any overwhelming magic power emanating from Ed. Instead, Ed was relying on the power of the magic stones on the altar.

If relying on magic stones were enough to overpower any strong mage, then who would work hard to study magic?

Magic is just fuel after all. No matter how much power one could grasp at the moment, if one’s inherent magical power is low, it means that the level of magic that person can handle is exceptionally low.

A person’s total magical power level is bound to increase to some extent as they train in magic.

The majority of the magical power that Joseph felt from the blond boy depended on the magic stones, with almost none of it being his innate power.

That means… he had hardly trained in magic at all.

Despite being in the magic department.

It’s a little pitiful to face such an opponent… Joseph sighed deeply. Still, he couldn’t take his senior lightly. It would be best to use intermediate magic and wrap up quickly.

He’s starting to feel hungry. Let’s finish this quickly and go buy a sandwich.

With that thought, Joseph raised his palm in midair.

After a brief moment of concentration, he clenched his fist and stared in the direction of the blond boy.

Intermediate fire magic ‘Point Explosion’.

Of the various spells in combat magic studies, it’s a notorious spell for being ‘unforgivable if unknown’.

The casting itself isn’t quick, and it requires quite a bit of focus, but once the casting is successful, it’s almost impossible to deal with.

Because it can cause a sudden explosion of magical power at a desired point that the caster can handle, to counter ‘Point Explosion’, one must ‘move’ in advance.

This slight hand gesture alone allows the opponent to perceive the intent, read the flow of magic, and perform a series of evasion maneuvers to escape the blast zone at the set point.

Once the explosion point is selected, it cannot be easily moved; if it can be read, it’s possible to deal with it to some extent, but reading it is not simple.

While one may struggle with the lack of combat magic experience, Ed Rothtaylor swiftly lowered his stance and rolled his body away.

– Boom!!

The explosion was activated quickly, so the scale was not as large as anticipated.

‘Point Explosion’ had good versatility but terrible magic efficiency. It could suppress the opponent with firepower but was rarely fatal.

With the ability to use high-level magic, perhaps one could cause an explosion powerful enough to bring down a building, but Joseph’s level wasn’t there yet.

Ed, who had swiftly rolled out of the blast zone, gathered magical power in his hand. Joseph watched the magical energy and deduced one attribute that Ed was handling.

‘Fire magic…!’

In the battle between elemental magicians, it’s crucial to identify which element the opponent is using.

Joseph quickly drew defensive magic power, considering all the possibilities.

‘At that level of power, it could be either ‘Ignition’ or ‘Scorch’…!’

If it were Ignition, flames would spread along the ground. If it were Scorch, it would spew out in a radiant form.

Whatever it was, Joseph’s defensive magic could not be breached. Joseph quickly positioned himself and manifested the magic circle.

Ed’s Ignition spell spread along the ground towards Joseph but the flaming fire only encircled Joseph without reaching him with its heat.

‘The size of the flame is larger than expected. He’s diligently trained at least one basic magic. He could also utilize intermediate magic…!’

Joseph completely reversed his evaluation of his opponent.

Having spent a long time researching at Tog Academy, he could gauge the overall magic ability just by the level of basic magic.

Why his inherent magical power was so low was beside the point at the moment.

‘But… He doesn’t seem to have much experience in magic combat…!’

Ed’s Ignition spell continued to burn against Joseph’s defense.

However, it’s difficult to compensate for the difference in expertise. Ed’s flames can’t breach Joseph’s defense; they were just wasting magic.

An experienced mage wouldn’t waste magic in this way; instead, they would look for other options.

Even if precious magic stones are piled up, the magnitude of Ignition magic consumed more. Before the amount of magic, fatigue would knock him down first.

The flames would die out before long.

As Joseph thought this, a voice seeped in from beyond the barrier.

“Joseph Whitepeltz.”

Somehow knowing his name, the opponent called out Joseph’s name precisely.

The flames disappeared, and the figure of Ed Rothtaylor appeared in front of him.

The fire was not an offensive tool. It was a smokescreen to obscure vision. The moment he realized this, Ed Rothtaylor’s right foot was already peering through the defensive magic.

Defensive magic circles excellently block magic power but if a body is pressed between the intertwined magic circles, they have no choice but to be pierced. To defend against physical attacks, different types of magic circles must be manifested.

With a swift kick to the gut, Joseph was thrust away making a retching sound. The magic stone that Joseph was holding in his left hand rolled on the ground.

“Do you think just because you’re a mage, you will always only face mages?”

As Ed went to pick up the magic stone, rapid psychokinetic magic pulled the stone towards Joseph.

He pulled it towards him.

-Whisk!

With just enough time to grab the mana stone, Joseph rose from the corner, clutching his stomach. Since he was hardly trained physically, the shock lingered for quite a while.

“Heugh… Heugh…”

Gasping for breath, Joseph finally managed to support himself.

And at last, he grasped the situation.

It was the Sylvania Academy, the continent’s premier institution. Shaking his head several times, Joseph now understood the intent.

A mage fundamentally trains for combat assuming a magic duel since it’s the most profound and difficult.

However, one cannot always assume that real combat situations will be strictly magical duels.

Real battles are dirty free-for-alls. Fights that proceed as purely magical power clashes, as described in textbooks, are rare.

Joseph once again reflected on his greatest weakness – practical combat experience.

“I won’t let my guard down, senior.”

Joseph’s gaze was icy. Despite having difficulty breathing from being kicked too hard, he had not sustained any serious impact on the outcome of the battle.

What was clear was that although his opponent was a mage, they were not fighting like one.

When Anis, as a mage, fell short in skill and accepted defeat according to convention, it was completely different.

Was even placing Anis in front meant to induce complacency?

Magic once again gathered in Ed’s hand. Of course, Joseph wouldn’t just stand still.

‘Fire magic again…!’

Joseph was skilled in three elements: fire, ice, and earth.

He planned to erect a basic ice magic barrier, ‘Ice Wall’. Although it would obstruct visibility again, unlike before, it wouldn’t be so easily penetrated since it was a physical barrier.

‘No…! Even this could be intentional!’

He halted that thought, correcting himself quickly. When ice meets fire, melting occurs, and steam rises. Ultimately, the goal of obscuring visibility would be achieved.

In magical skill, Joseph was superior. There was no reason to offer the opponent any variables to work with.

The range of ignition was too broad to be covered by earth magic. Therefore, the only option was to fight stronger fire with fire.

Not even Ed Rothtaylor, moving swiftly, could pass through fire.

Strength must counter strength. If one’s skill is superior, it’s advantageous to simplify the fight!

In an instant, Joseph’s hands, casting ‘Scorching Burst’, erupted with a flame of incredible scale. The radiating blaze was so extensive it could cover half of the clearing in front of the altar.

It wasn’t something that could be dodged. Just when Joseph felt certain of victory, Ed Rothtaylor sprung out ‘from’ the fire.

He moved quickly, with only parts of his clothing singed. However, it’s insane to think he penetrated the flames head-on. He’d have to endure severe burns.

Yet aside from some burnt clothing, Ed’s hair wasn’t singed in the slightest.

‘Fire resistance…?’

Whoosh!

Suddenly, the wind blew away all the flames Joseph had conjured. Ed Rothtaylor was already at close quarters.

Close combat.

Joseph was confident in his magical casting speed.

Defend against a physical attack? Or a magical one? In this dichotomy, Joseph barely chose correctly.

-Insight!

The physical defense magic manifested in an instant. Ed’s thrust with the dagger he had drawn from his leather thigh sheath was blocked.

Joseph’s eyes widened at the sight of the blade.

‘Crazy…! Where did he pull that out from…!’

He probably didn’t intend to really stab, but a shiver ran down his spine.

It was the terror induced by the harshness of ‘actual combat.’ Joseph swallowed dryly.

But having defended against the physical attack, the victory from here on was essentially Joseph’s to claim.

Since physical attacks between them were blocked, the contest would be who could cast spells faster.

There was no way Joseph would be outdone in spell casting speed.

Thinking this, a massive explosion engulfed Joseph.

Boom!

“Cough, Heugh!”

Joseph, with nearly superhuman willpower, did not let go of the mana stone. Clutching it, he was again flung across the clearing.

As long as the mana stone wasn’t taken, he was still okay.

“Huff, Huff…”

Ed’s chilling gaze locked onto Joseph’s mana stone from the center of the clearing. Holding back his trembling right hand, Joseph managed to support himself.

‘Real combat’

The weight of the two words, ‘real combat’, hangs heavily on Joseph, who learned battle magic only in the safety of the Magic Society’s laboratories, following the textbook and practice sparring.

There are no safety measures. No judges to score and decide the victor and the loser. Because this is not a duel.

Anyone could see that the exchanges between Ed and Joseph were ‘actual combat’ itself.

The opponent doesn’t simply challenge with pure magic in a formal manner.

They use every cunning trick and dirty stratagem with the sole purpose of overpowering their opponent.

‘Don’t lose focus…! Keep thinking…!’

Next, it’s uncertain what move the opponent will make. The stage is one where there is no such thing as cheating; anything goes.

To earn the title of ‘Class A’, one must be able to adapt like this. Reminded of that fact, Joseph took a steady breath.

‘Even so, there’s no way his basic magic casting speed can exceed mine. That must be a magic circle etched in advance… or a magic array bestowed… It’s a compression of the magic casting process!’

Joseph started to think fast. His brilliant mind was no joke.

Considering that he had pierced through the flames bodily, it was strange. He didn’t seem to be equipped with flame-resistant gear.

Joseph’s vast magical knowledge pointed to one place…

‘Spirit art..!’

Joseph returned to a defensive stance. Ed too did not immediately move.

A lull in the battle.

Contracted spirits often grant their contractors ‘perpetual magic’, which they usually call ‘blessings’.

The ‘Blessing of Fire Cloak’ is a common grant from lesser fire spirits. It temporarily increases one’s resistance to flames, a perpetual magic that seemed most likely.

Moreover, it explained how Ed had set off an explosive spell faster than Joseph.

‘It’s not a magic array… it’s a spirit array…!’

Whether it be the magics being manipulated, the equipment, or the strategy, all were crafted to strike at the opponent’s weakness and overcome the enemy.

The blond noble with half-burnt clothes, staring down coldly at Joseph, could not be strictly defined as a mage; he simply used magic.

Just a human well-versed in combat itself, making up for any gap in specs with tricks… utterly focused on practical experience.

Joseph wasn’t exceptionally sensitive to spirits, but when focused, he could vaguely see the outlines of lower spirits.

Concentrating his magic on his brows and looking intently, he finally spotted the figure of a flame bat floating behind Ed.

‘He has been cunningly mixing fire magic to hide the use of spirit arts…!’

On reflection, there must be more than just that hidden chess piece.

The surroundings.

Severed branches, magical engineering equipment rolling on the floor… Joseph notices these. There’s also a high likelihood he’s concealing something technical.

Can he respond to everything…? Joseph was realistic – he swiftly shook his head and revised his strategy.

“I admit defeat. Here, I return the mana stone to you.”

Saying that, Joseph slid the mana stone on the ground.

Ed’s gaze was drawn momentarily to the stone. It was a quick-witted move by Joseph.

Surely he couldn’t ignore the stone from that distance, given that Ed’s goal was to take it.

During the brief moment Ed was distracted, Joseph conjured ‘Ice Spear’ with unmatched casting speed.

Quick casting reduces the magic’s power. However, it doesn’t matter. It’s just a second decoy to attract Ed’s attention. Ed would surely anticipate this far.

To win in actual combat, one must strike at the opponent’s vulnerabilities.

Joseph was a pure mage who studied magical arts in a secluded room. And now, pushed to the corner’s corner, Joseph leaped with the Ice Spear.

“Uaaaaaaaa!”

His trembling fist ripped through the air towards Ed’s jaw. Distracted by the Ice Spear, Ed quickly ducked, and Joseph’s straight punch landed squarely on his cheek.

-Thump!

Ed’s head snapped to the side.

But that was all.

It was obvious considering their weight difference – he neither crumbled nor was thrown. Just the head turned.

Even Ed had probably not expected Joseph, who spent a lifetime studying magic, to resort to punching in such desperation.

With the punch still lodged, Ed’s head swung back upright, the chilly gaze intact.

They were at point-blank range. A punch could instantly make contact.

Joseph gulped down air as if it were his last. His last shreds of pride held back tears.

As Ed raised his hand to grab Joseph’s wrist, a wind from an unknown origin swept through.

-Wooosh!

It wasn’t magic Ed had conjured. Rather, the ‘perpetual magic’ usually protecting Ed’s body – the so-called blessing of the spirit.

There’s no rule saying one can only contract with a single spirit. Obviously. Joseph was propelled by the mystic wind, crashing into a corner of the clearing.

“Cough! Heugh!”

And he barely managed to draw breath once more. The dilation of his pupils was at its limit.

If Ed himself hadn’t consciously activated it, then it must indeed be a spirit’s blessing.

Joseph knew all about spirit blessings.

Once in a while, when an unexpected hit comes in, the magic that sweeps the enemy away with wind to subdue them – ‘Blessing of the Tempest’.

The response was slow, probably because the contract was recent. But it had certainly activated.

The spirit providing that blessing is, to Joseph’s knowledge, unique.

Joseph trembled as he looked at the top of the altar stele.

Considering the wind that had earlier blown away Joseph’s flames wasn’t conjured by Ed himself, but rather originated from the high stele’s peak…

Joseph couldn’t see it with his sensitivity, but something was undoubtedly there, embracing the giant stele, sitting astride. If Joseph’s predictions were correct, then…

What else, and how much more, had been concealed?

Did that mean until now, it had only been a light skirmish? Because there were many more freshmen to face?

-‘If I manage to overcome you, senior, and present the mana stone… With whom will the following students test themselves?’

How arrogant had he been, tossing those thoughtless words around?

-Swish.

Ed, who had drawn his dagger, stood upright once more. Joseph nearly felt like glints of light poured from Ed’s unsteady gaze.

Startled, Joseph shouted.

“I truly admit defeat!”

And then, he rapidly conjured the ‘Point Burst’ spell to destroy his own mana stone lying on the ground.

It was the simplest declaration of surrender.

“…”

After a moment observing the shattered mana stone, now just debris, Ed relaxed his shoulders.

A moment of silence.

“Right, you did well.”

Ed, as if implying the entire battle was nothing much, put away the dagger. Joseph stood in shock.

“You made an excellent decision at the end. A decent one, indeed. You got me. Now go.”

With that, he dusted off his scorched uniform and sat down again on the altar.

“…”

Joseph slowly got up from his place and opened his mouth quietly.

“Senior. What is your name, please?”

“Ed Rothtaylor.”

Ed dusted off his sleeve and quietly sat on the altar, waiting for the next challenger.

Looking at Ed sitting on the altar just as he did when Joseph first entered, he couldn’t help but click his tongue in astonishment.

One thing was certain.

That man hadn’t even used half of what he was capable of yet.

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