Upon hearing the owls’ instructions, Glenn rushed back into his mentor Norris’ lab on the 79th floor of the Black Isotta.
In the room, Glenn met Norris’ wife Alice, Varro, and the cat, Garfield. He also noticed the existence of a woman he had never heard of. Strangely, this woman was all wrapped up in white bandages.
After having caught his breath, Glenn greeted Alice in the manner that sorcerers followed.
Alice was a gourmet. Except for her special hand, she was no different from an ordinary human. Although Glenn hadn’t had many chances to converse with her, he knew that Alice was an amiable woman and that trait was known to all. She was gentle and lovely!
Suddenly, Alice said softly to Glenn, “Glenn, since your mentor is away, I’ll introduce this woman to you. Norris accepted her as a student before Varro and you.”
“Call me Quiet Spring. Mentor has told me about how you’ve figured out a way to repair damaged skin, and how you could take advantage of the forces of repulsion and gravitation. I thought it was a brilliant idea”
The woman introduced by Alice had a cold voice, and between the white bandages was displaying a pair of dreadful eyes that showed no emotions. She appeared just like a devil having walked out of the fields composed of dead bodies!
Glenn gazed at this strange-looking woman in front of him who he had noticed the moment he came in the lab.
“This is the ‘senior’ sister Norris has mentioned!” Glenn thought.
If it was not for Alice’s introduction, Glenn would have forgotten that he had a senior sister under Norris’ mentorship.
Having realized this fact, Glenn couldn’t help but throw some more glances at her. There seemed to be nothing worthy of muck looking out for.
She was coated in white bandages as mentioned, some of which were fluttering in the breeze. What was exposed was just a pair of sharp eyes. The tight bandages made her look slim, agile and wild! It was as if the heaven and earth would be destroyed if she made a stride forward. One could also notice a long sword behind her back, and black smokes were rising in a spooky manner.
Glenn stepped up to her and greeted her in sorcerer etiquette. He could feel her high level life information instinctively.
At this time, Varro chuckled, “Senior sister is a level three sorcerer in terms of her greatness of power. She was the first one to compete in the Holy Tower trials on behalf of our school! I bet you don’t know that Glenn, do you?”
“A level three sorcerer?!” Glenn became startled. He looked at the woman before him and could hardly believe the fact that this weirdly-dressed student had the same level of power as their mentor Norris.
“Despite that, she’s been waiting her time on these useless things for decades. I’m convinced that it won’t even take several decades before you’ll become a sorcerer. It seems like you would be the inheritor of our mentor’s wisdom,” Varro proceeded.
Quiet Spring snorted back at Varro, “I’ve achieved something! I’ve obtained something when I was engaged in the Demon-Hunting expedition in the foreign lands. Enclosed in it is an evil spirit, which is in an unconscious state. The amazing thing about it is that it’s totally immune to physical attacks and negative power attack.”
Quiet Spring fished in her bandage and got out a bead of the size of a human’s nail. Then he flung it to Glenn.
“Glenn, when you become a sorcerer some day, there might be a need that you use it.”
Glenn moved quickly and caught it, saying,
“An evil spirit?”
When Glenn was saying this, he was suddenly reminded of Robin’s green-eyed macaque. It was natural enemies of this evil spirit. Meanwhile, Glenn became hectic on receiving such a gift. He knew that evil spirits had many distinctive properties. Under certain circumstances, it might be of great significance.
“Thank you!” Glenn said in thrilled voice.
At this point, Garfield suddenly jumped onto Quiet Spring’s shoulder which was bounded by the white bandages. It then licked his paws standing on it and said to Glenn drearily, “I bet you still have no idea why the students are assembled, do you?”
Glenn stared in a daze and nodded.
“Because the Holy Tower trial is approaching! Against this background, schools on the 19th section of the Holy Tower of Seven Rings desire to slash the number of their students! And they’re doing it by declaring war on the schools on the 12th section.”
Garfield then explained further, “And they’ve got their reasons! Over the past 200 years, frictions on both sides were common, including the ship hijack thing that happened seven years ago. The Black Isotta robbed a ship belonging to Lilith School of Sorcerers!”
The black cat stared at Glenn thoughtfully after having said that.
“A war?!” Glenn became startled for a sec and then fell into frustration, because he had recalled something terrible done by a shameful sorcerer from his current school. He robbed a ship loaded with students heading for the Lilith seven years ago! And he was on the ship.
“If I had gone to the Lilith lying on the 19th section of the Holy Tower of seven Rings, would it be a totally different experience?”
Then came Alice’s gentle voice, which brought Glenn back to reality.
“Our concept on nurturing students differs from the 19th section. We eliminate students through fierce competition. So, usually, the methods applied here are crueler. Thus, elites useful to the sorcerer world will be thus selected from ‘inside’. However, on the 19th section, they stress on peaceful ways for knowledge acquirement. And at last, the best students will be sifted out from ‘outside’. In other words, every time, a decade or more prior to the Holy Tower trials, they will proclaim war on schools of the 19th section.”
“An elite-section school war!” This uncanny elimination method made Glenn gulp.
“Easy! The majority of the students there are much weaker. Their average battle strength is dwarfed by ours’. Besides, they’re not experienced in real combats because they’ve spent most of their time in the labs. Most of them are just arrogant, low-intelligence creatures.” Quiet Spring continued, “To give you an idea of how weak they are, we’ll look at the first few years when the students were admitted by the schools, the recruits who came to the schools in the same year as I entered Black Isotta. In that school war, we 12th section plundered their resource reservoirs and hunted their people for nearly half a year. It was kind of an elite-selection process on their side.”
“Ransacking resource reservoirs? Is it why the schools want a war or does a war simply mean to let the students to kill?!”
At this time, Glenn had gained a clearer comprehension why the Desperators in the First-Years Sorcery Testl were favored by the schools by getting the “resources” in the Mirror drop house!
“To look at the big picture, this is a world where sorcerers rule. Either for the tower owners to grow their power or for the sorcerer world to invade, the least requirement is to raise up real sorcerers! They lack no ordinary students who are unlikely to become sorcerers. If they were, a level four Stigmata sorcerer could have easily gathered armies of foreign land creatures. To conclude, the ultimate purpose of the war on both sides is a selection process. When the elites are picked out, resources will be then saved on them,” said Quiet Spring, and she then continued.
“The only difference was that 12th section’s way was crueler from the beginning until the end, while the 19th was mild until the final hell-like screening process. And in the process, the elites from the 12th section actually became the people responsible for downsizing these schools’ students in the 19th section. And there, since the student number base is massive, and even though they have chances on their research and study, and the schools have good policies, the large chunk of them couldn’t get magic stones in return after they’ve killed their competitors and obtained their magic chain marks (chains on their foreheads) during the First Years’ Sorcery Test. So they have lost the opportunity for further improvement.”
This fact had both advantages and disadvantages.
Glenn remembered that when the Lilith School was in charge of the ship, sorcerer Dior gave the order of no killing among the students. However, a horrible civil strife ensued just after Fake Faceless, or sorcerer Nilmar, took the vessel. Yet because of the slaughter, the selection turned out to be very effective and the establishment of the Dead Sail League was born out of it.
Glenn breathed a relief and thought,
“The nine schools on the 19th section are many. But their actual combat capacity don’t even compare to the six schools on the 12th. Still, keep in mind to take extra care in dealing with the elites from their part.”.
At this time, Varro spoke,
“Glenn, I do not excel at killing. So my main job is to keep the resource reservoirs intact. Remember one thing though, the enemies all have a badge. Grabbing them is very important, so collect as many as you can!”
“Badges?” asked Glenn.
The mention of badge immediately reminded him of the chain marks he got in the test. He then asked in surprise, “What’s it used for?”
Varro glanced at Quiet Spring and then said, “Ask her. I just know that last time it was highly rated. You couldn’t buy one without paying 1,000 magic stones!”
Quiet Spring then added lightly, “Assemble 100 of them and you’ll be given a chance to visit the secret mirror in the Black Tower till the tower master’s soul servants throw you out.”
Now, Glenn had realized that it was actually the master’s little reward to incentivize the elite students. It was kind of like a game he played with them!
Glenn then asked, “What will I get by seeing the mirror?”
Quiet Spring paused for a while and then shook her head, “I just stayed in front of it for about an hourglass before I was compelled to leave. I didn’t find anything!” She then continued, “In ancient times, a small world adjoining the sorcerer world was broken into pieces, and a piece of it was contained in the mirror. It retains many fantastic creatures which have never existed in here, along with some ancient relics worthy of digging and research. But the stuff in the mirror is not appreciated by the master himself and usually, they were only guarded by their soul servants.”
“A broken piece of a smaller world? Is this world the one that was destroyed during the first war between the sorcerer world and the foreign lands?” Glenn thought.
After two hourglasses’ worth of time, Norris returned. He then said gloomily.
“A new rule regarding this war came from above. Both sides will have three chances to dispatch the guardians!”
“Guardians? The owls? These creatures are equivalent to sorcerers in terms of their power! That’s why they are one of the master’s elite squad of soul servants. If a student was watched by one, heshe’d stand no chance to escape!” Glenn thought.
The new rule startled Glenn as well as Varro, and then Glenn inquired sullenly, “How do we deal with it then?”
Norris contemplated it for a moment. Then he squinted his eyes and said, “I don’t know exactly why they made such an arrangement. But the only solution to this is to maintain low-keyness! Don’t let your enemy discover your ability. Or, we could focus our ‘fire’ to finish off their guardians! Each school only has three chances to send out its guardian. That’s 27 times in total for those nine schools. And we could counteract 18 times by sending ours to neutralize them. Thus, what we need to handle is 9 times of owl attack.”
“Nine owl attacks, then it won’t come to your turn for a fight with them,” Norris continued.
“Won’t come to my turn?” Glenn replied.
Glenn doubted Norris’ speculation. He dared not to get his hopes up over sheer luck, or he might waste a chance of using the Black Isotta’s Friendship Key! And although he knew by saying “directions coming from above” referred to the towers’ masters, he had no comprehension over the rule change.
“Do they desire to remind the contestants of staying low-key and not being too self-centered before obtaining absolute capability? Or they just want us to be kind of more united? Or to balance the two camps of students? Glenn asked.
Glenn’s question was not answered. Instead, Norris said something to him and Varro.
“The resource reservoirs will be ascertained within a month. You two, go get yourselves prepared.”
It seemed that something was going on in the sorcerer world, but Norris divulged nothing and instead asked them to leave except Quiet Spring.
“Remember, don’t use the Friendship Key until there’s no other way,” Norris warned Glenn before he left.