There was someone worthy of mention now in the Bramble Forest — Baird from the Umbra School of Sorcerers.
Baird was humble and had a profound wisdom, while the biggest feature that distinguished him was his fiery ambition to be great.
He had held the belief that over time he would be able to beat all existing sorcerers on the Sorcerer Continent, and he had acted so. For three years, he devoted all of his time to sorcery learning, and he overtook everyone around him and was catapulted to fame as someone with the potential to be included in the top ten sorcerers in the school. He had been convinced that given more time, he would have overpowered them one by one.
This was his pride.
Now the First-Years Sorcery Test was his opportunity to prove himself, and he could barely hold back his desire to laugh at the horrible countenance assumed by the students when the Umbra School’s announced the commencement of the test. The test was a feast where he could entertain himself by relishing in the food.
He bowed his head to try to conceal his evil craving to kill.
“Kill one student, take his chain on his forehead and I will get 500 magical stones. That is way too easy. God knows I earn merely dozens of stones a month,” Baird said to himself. “That would be 5,000 stones to take ten students and 10,000 for 20 and…”
Baird’s eyes dilated in excitement.
‘This test is just a collection of magical stones, and I am sure none of the contestants from the Umbra or any other sorcery schools could really take me on. All I care about is the Holy Tower Trials,’ thought Baird.
And in the Bramble Forest now, while he was waiting for the first arrival of the magical mirrors, he had killed four other match-takers and obtained 2,000 stones.
“With such an amount of money, I could buy all the stuff I need when I get back to school. Those ten best students would be crushed like bugs by me, if they had the luck to get out of the test.”
Baird seemed to have become too obsessed when he last took a student’s life, as he penetrated his “paw” into the student’s body and pulled it out.
Half an hourglass passed.
During this time, Baird had not hunted one student, nor had he even encountered one because of the huge power he had absorbed from the chain marks of the dead ones, and the chain on his forehead was sending robust signals in waves as a result. Any students who had came in his vicinity had thought of him as an unbeatable enemy and had stayed clear of him.
Suddenly, he paused as he sniffed a signal coming out from behind a shrubbery. He bemoaned: “How long has it been since I last killed one? You poor little kitty.”
Baird made a few further steps towards the shrubbery. Both his hands shifted into a pair of paws with which he had ended the four students’ life, and his entire body was, almost simultaneously, covered in scales. On the surface of the scales was a sticky mucus. They were shining in the sunlight, which came through the gaps between the tree leaves. The shift made, he moved in on the prey with an agility like that of a leopard.
“Little kitten. I am coming. Don’t be afraid.”
Baird circumvented the shrubbery and was shocked at the sight before him.
A large expanse of low-growing grass and tree branches had been scorched. The ground was pitted. It was as if there had been an explosion.
A real explosion was not possible as there was no such things as powders, but sorceries could produce powers that were far more effective in producing such a mess.
“There must have been a big fight. At least 20 students must have been engaged.” Baird estimated.
The weird thing was that no dead body was found, and as he searched farther, he observed that a man was panting and was supporting himself with his hands pressing on his thighs.
Baird gulped. A cold sweat dropped, but he didn’t realize it.
The signals being sent out from the unknown man’s chain mark were so forceful. The chain mark was the sun and the signals were the solar wind being pushed forward in every direction.
“How many student had he killed to send so penetrating signals?” Baird wondered. “There is no way I can cope with him.” Baird had forgotten his initial intention of being here and only wanted a way out of this nightmare.
The man straightened and turned around to face Baird.
Baird was almost blinded by the light reflected by a white mask into his eyes.
It was Glenn. He had not met a real enemy in this forest and six students had died under his Firebird. Each chain mark contained different levels of power, and fortunately, Glenn had killed one student whose chain mark represented a power that amounted to four ordinary chain marks. So he had essentially accumulated ten chain marks. He had been bothered by the inconvenience of the intense signals too as the weaker students recognized the signals and immediately ran away. Glenn was like a source of fire, and the heat kept almost all students away.
But it was indeed “almost”.
Baird coming to Glenn was an accident, since he had lost his reason in hunting his prey. He wouldn’t have done it if he had come to himself and “evaluated” what kind of power Glenn’s signal represented.
And there was a group of four students who had overestimated their power and intentionally took on Glenn, in the hope of winning the jackpot. They risked their lives and lost them. By the time Baird came to the site, Glenn had destroyed them and absorbed their chain marks. The explosion was the fight between them and Glenn.
Again, luck was with Glenn for the weakest one among the group had a chain worth three average marks in terms of power, and the strongest had eight. So, Glenn had a chain mark that equaled to 33 basic marks. The signals spreading out from Glenn’s chain mark were in rings and the radius of influence reached 100 meters.
Glenn turned about and saw Baird.
“A man had only five basic chain marks?” Glenn smirked. “Still, it’s 2,000 magical stones.”
Glenn watched Baird wickedly while consuming an intermediate magical stone to replenish his magical force.
Before Glenn could react, Baird took a run.
Glenn was quite confused since Baird had the courage to confront him, but he was now escaping without a fight fought. The confusion aside, Glenn produced a large-winged bat that was twice his size. He then rode it to go after Baird.
As the bat was fluttering its huge wings, Glenn rose and fell in the air, and his chain mark was giving off the strongest signals ever. Any recipient of these signals fled from it.
There was an approach to keep the waving of the signals within the smallest scope possible. That was when one’s magical force was at its maximum and the owner was not using it.
Baird was now within the range of Glenn’s Firebird. Glenn seized the moment and called the Firebird to pursue him.
Baird yelled. He did not turn his head as he had busied himself in running fearing that any meaningless moves might delay him and render his as a tool for Glenn to gain magical stones. But he felt that an energized wave coming at him.
In his desperation, Baird produced a Magical Tool which was said to be a priceless instrument. It was actually a shield, partly visible and it was flowing at its original place.
The Firebird hit the shield, and the explosive fire shuttled in every direction with a deafening sound.
To the surprise of both of the fighters, the shield withstood the fire, but due to the impact, it nearly turned visible.
Baird heaved a sigh of relief.
“How could it be possible?” Glenn frowned.
Glenn would have definitely crushed the shield if he had used more of his magical force for another round or two strikes, but he had consumed too much magical force in previous battles, and if he were to be attacked by a mighty enemy, he might be in a very unfavorable condition.
Before he could get the mirror, he’d better be more defensive, rather than being offensive.
“Today is your lucky day. I’ll spare your life.” Glenn sighed.
Baird then made a quick escape.
Glenn settled the bat and focused on recovering his magical force through the consumption of magical stones.
Also, Glenn grabbed two Magical Tools with no mundane utility on the first day’s wrestles.
Baird had run out of Glenn’s range of attack and was finally relieved. He complained, “What a freak! I almost got killed on the first day of the test. Thank God I bought the Void Shield. Now maybe I should set aside the task of head counting and find my school fellows.”