In the following weeks, life at the White Griffon academy became more hectic by the day.
After the Lift spell, Professor Nalear made them learn more educational spells with increasing difficulty and restrictions, putting the students to test at every lesson.
Professor Trasque started making use of all the available rings in the training hall, giving them military trained soldiers as sparring partners.
They were equipped with enchanted armours, and would use a different weapon every lesson.
The students, in turn, could only use one element, based on the scenario Trasque had devised for each training session.
After every defeat, their partners would teach them footwork and point out their mistakes.
The Master Healer lessons went without a hitch.
The divide between Professor Vastor\'s favourites and the rest of the class, became so wide that soon no one dared anymore to hope stealing their spotlight.
The only thing left for the other students, was trying not to fall too much far behind and placing their bets about who would come out on top.
Most of the Forgemaster courses took place in a classroom.
Professor Wanemyre, or one of her assistants, taught them how to differentiate runes based on the elements and how to combine them to obtain different effects.
Solus was enthusiast about the Master Alchemist lessons she kept taking, and promised Lith a big surprise.
She had quickly finished copying her book and now the two of them would raid the academy\'s library at every visit.
As for the private lessons, they went smoother than Lith had expected.
After a month, Quylla had already mastered five kinds of silent magic, while Friya and Yurial were struggling with the fourth one.
(AN: normal first magic requires hand signs and magic word, silent magic just the word or the signs, perfect silent requires only gestures to better direct and control the conjured effects)
Her learning rate was terrifying, worthy of someone that managed to enter the White Griffon with no mentor.
Lith suspected her to be a genius, and kept a close eye on her.
Thanks to the tonic, she had grown of 5 centimetres (2 inches) and had gained 10 kilos (22 pounds).
She was still thin, but her mana core had already evolved to deep cyan.
Over time, he had managed to gain their trust and confidence, or at least so he hoped.
Lith decided to teach them only silent magic, keeping the secrets for perfect silent magic and multi casting for himself.
He wanted them to be reliant on him, not dependant, or it would dampen their growth and self-confidence.
Not to mention he had no desire to give away such precious secrets and get nothing in return.
Lith had proved them that they could trust him, now it was up to them to return the favour and show their usefulness.
It was exactly a month after the beginning of the private lessons, that all the fourth-year students were summoned by the Headmaster in the Main Hall at the ground floor, right after breakfast.
Several Professors appeared as soon as the gong that signalled the nearing start of the lessons resounded.
They opened multiple Warp Steps, bringing them to their destination.
The abrupt change of their routine left them confused.
They had started that day like any other, preparing the spells and the books for the daily courses.
Hello, my dear students. Linjos said when the last Warp Steps closed.
I hope you enjoyed breakfast, since it will be the last decent meal you\'ll get for a while.
At least, if you are good enough.
Today, you will start the mock exam, to prepare for the trimester\'s finals.
You will be split in groups of five, according to the specializations of your choice.
Each group will be composed by two attackers, two defenders and one healer.
Your current evaluation will affect how your group will be formed.
The duration of the exam is one week.
It will take place in the forest surrounding the White Griffon.
The only thing that\'s required from you is to survive as long as you can.
Don\'t worry, it\'s a controlled environment, the Professors will rescue you in case anything goes wrong.
Several hands were raised, Lith\'s was among them.
Lith from Lutia, speak freely.
I thought there would be no tournaments or competitions. Lith said.
Why this change
It\'s no competition.
The forest is really big, different groups will go in different areas.
The chances of meeting are nigh zero, and even if it happened, a team disrupting another would be immediately stopped, with devastating effect for its members grades.
I forgot to specify that you will be constantly monitored, so beware what you do or say.
His voice became cold during the last phrase, searching in the crowd for the most troublesome figures.
Then, he pointed to a girl.
Histi Cawfor, speak freely. Lith recognized her, she was one of the last placed in the Healer class.
Isn\'t this setup too unfair Forests make no favours, if the groups are formed based on the evaluations, isn\'t it like dooming those who are still struggling to failure She was of course speaking of herself.
There wasn\'t a single topic where she shined, yet.
You misunderstood my words. Linjos shook his head.
The groups will work on equal footing.
What I meant before, was that they have been assembled so that all the groups have the same rank.
I would never allow such a pointless exercise.
This is an opportunity for you to socialize and learn to rely on each other.
The test is meant for the whole team, not for the individuals.
If the Kingdom will ever call for your help, you won\'t get to choose who to work with, you\'ll need flexibility and solidarity.
Murmurs filled the air, the students who reputed themselves good were already cursing their trashy teammates before even knowing them, while the bottom feeders were praying the gods to give them someone that would lead to an effortless success.
All hands went down at that point, so Lith raised his own once again, while the sorting had already begun.
I\'m sorry, Headmaster, one last question.
I get that this is a team effort, but what if someone fells to a beast and get saved by a teacher Can he get back in the team, or does the whole group fail
He/she will be considered to have \'died\' and returned to the castle.
If only one member remains, a group is considered as wiped out.
Needless to say, harming your own group is forbidden.
You have to solve your differences, not escalate them.
Suddenly the air was shaken by a furious bellow.
What do you mean I am in the same group of this commoner trash!
Curious, Lith asked to Linjos, who explained to him she was the one on the top of the Battle Mage specialization, and was referring to a girl that was quite far behind her.
Thank you for pointing it out, young mistress. Said Professor Binlow, the one in charge of the battle mage classes.
The girl put up a big, satisfied smile, finally something was going her way.
Minus fifty points for questioning orders, and another minus fifty for having the gall to say that to my face! He yelled at her like a true drill sergeant, making her cower.
Without discipline there is no victory.
An arrogant leader who disrespects her soldiers, can only lead them to defeat! Besides, who\'s trash Have you ever fought something in your life How do you know how she reacts to danger Or how you do
Real fights are different from the classes, and usually those who flap their gums more are the first to fall in battle.
Now shut up, unless you want to lose another fifty!
Having lost half her points in one go, she obeyed.
Lith ended up in a group of three girls and a boy.
He didn\'t know any of them, so he tried to do his best to act friendly, like he did with the healers\' group.
In the last month he had regained quite a bit of his social skills, and lost his edgelord demeanour.
When Professor Trasque opened their Warp Steps, he was ready to move forward, when one of the girls grabbed him by the shoulder, forcing him to a halt.
Professor Trasque, you haven\'t told us who is the leader.
The chain of command must be clear.
Lith facepalmed inwardly, while Trasque, with his usual sass, did it openly.
Good gods, are you deaf or what This is a group exercise, between people that don\'t know each other.
Is up to you to decide who is the leader, and is a choice that has nothing to do with grades, status or prestige.
A leader doesn\'t just yap orders around, she will also bear the responsibility if her team fails.
Is it clear He glared at the nearest girl, before pushing them all through the dimensional door.
Once inside the forest, all Lith\'s senses went on alert.
It was a completely unknown environment, he could rely on the books inside Soluspedia to recognize plants and animals, but they were of little use for survival.
Magical beasts would not give him points for his expertise, they would only try to rip him apart, dooming him to failure.
He was looking at the tree barks, while sniffing the air with his heightened sense, trying to ascertain the nature and kind of the local predators, when the worst noise possible reached his ears.
We still have to decide first who\'s in command. Said another girl.
- F*ck me sideways! How can anyone be such a bonehead If they keep up like this, we\'d better surrender. – He thought.
All his efforts to talk sense into them ended up in failure, they accused him of trying to steal the spotlight again, like during the common classes.
Lith had even opened his speech saying he had no interest in being the leader.
He just wanted them to be quiet and start moving.
That just made them angrier, yelling at him to stop ordering them around.
In the meantime, a few dozen kilometres away, the ruler of the forest was taking its first morning nap, snoring soundly.
One of the giant front paws was pressed against its eyes, shielding them from sunlight while enjoying spring\'s warmth.
With each of its breaths, the world energy would enter its body, nourishing and strengthening the mana core, pushing it forward to the next evolution.
Numerous small birds scampered on his curled massive body, chirping boldly.
Nothing would dare attacking them while on the highest throne.
Boss! Boss! An enormous Ry, its height at the withers reaching 2 meters (6\'7), with a golden fur, with shades of red and yellow, approached galloping.
The birds gave it no heed, continuing their business.
Wake up! It\'s that time of the year again.
The Scorpicore\'s body shook up, suddenly alert and clear-headed.
Oh gods, no! I\'d swear I had cubs until just a few months ago.
Finding a decent mate is such a hassle! Not to mention how much care those adorable furballs require.
Thanks, M\'Rook, but I think I\'ll hard pass.
I need some me quality time.
If a living human soul was allowed to spectate, he would see a Ry facepaw itself in frustration.
Not that! I mean the man-pups from the made-mountain have invaded your turf once again.
The Scorpicore stood up on its four, stretching its spine and front legs with cat like movements, forcing the birds to fly away.
You moron, you should have said that earlier! It growled, towering above the Ry like an adult with a child.
Finally some fun! Alert all the dens, I hereby declare the game season open!