[2 Months Later]

After training for months and honing our skills, after tempering our bodies and studying ceaselessly, after pushing ourselves beyond our limits the moment had finally arrived.

The Inter-Class Exchange!

As the name implied, it was the convergence of the three Classes of the three years.
This event was to simulate a competition where the respective classes competed and tested their skills.

From what I knew, the Exchange started as a means of allowing students to compete with one another and enhance their skills.
Back when there was no segregation and discrimination caused by Class, the Exchange was simply a way for all the students to determine their strengths.

However, now it had morphed into something else entirely it was an event where the weak were crushed by the strongthat is, the Upper-Class elite totally obliterating those of the Lower-Class.

A competition between the Scholars, Martial Artists, and Magic-Users of the Lower Class, Middle Class, and Upper Class among the First years, Second years, and Third years!

The ultimate in-house Academy competition that only happened once a yearthat was the definition of the Inter-Class Exchange!

And here I was about to participate in what would change my life forever.


Whoah!!! Edward and Anabelle made extremely impressed sounds as we entered the massive hall where the competition would take place.

From outside the dome, I could tell that this place was beyond huge.
Compared to our examination center back then, the hall was most likely thrice as big!

As we went through the entrance, we saw a flight of chairs forming a circle around the stage, similar to a colosseum.
It sure bought some memories, but I only smiledin contrast to the two beside me who kept beaming in awe.

The seats, while spreading round in a close circle, were segregated.

The first years had their seats located the furthest from the entrance, having obvious gaps that served as stairs to divide the Classes.

The Second years seats were on the left side of the entrance, similarly divided.

The third years took the right.

The hall seemed disconnected from the outside world, with no windows in sight.
The ceilings seemed to spread as high as the sky, and the light brimming from its expanse was glorious.

Thanks to the magic lights, most likely continually influenced by Mana supplies, the hall was brightly lit.
As for ventilation, there had to be openings all around us, or maybe it was the influence of Magic.
Regardless, the air was cool and the ambiance of the hall, though already chock-full of students, was pleasant.

We should start moving I muttered to my two allies who were still drooling at the sight unfolding before them.

I already noticed a bunch of students who were drawing closer to us, and it would be rude to serve as hindrances in their path.

My worries were not needed, though, since the pathway for walking was large enough to contain ten people walking in a straight, horizontal lineshoulder to shoulder.

Still, it was better to keep moving in order to avoid any scenes.
We were only Lower Class First years, after all.
The fodder of fodder.

Our pace was not hurried, but the excitement made us, no, the two beside me move faster than usual.
I simply matched their pace.

In no time, we got to where our seats were located, a flight of over two hundred chairs, certainly too much for only Lower Class First Years.
I was certain that this hall was used for something else as well, considering it was too large for students who were not even up to five hundred!

Where should we sit, Jared? Anabelle asked me in anticipation.

A broad smile formed on my face.
It mattered not where one sat, the sight of the event would still be evident for all to see.
Still, for the best experience in an arena like this, the obvious choice was

Up! Were going to the very top!

Fortunately, my comrades seemed to agree and we made our way upward using the flight of stairs.

I felt some eyes fall on us, obviously students who knew of our identityrather, my identity.

Despite the three months that had elapsed since we all resumed Ainzlark, it appeared my impression of people remained.
It was a good thing, but not always.

Ignoring their stares, I walked elegantly and made my way to the edge of the row of ten seats, resting my buttocks on the last one in the row.
Anabelle and Edward sat respectively beside me, though the latter appeared to be sulking.

He probably wants a direct seat beside me I reasoned with a smile.

However, this time I wasnt going to tolerate being in the middle.
After all, next to the edge of the row where I sat were the seats of the Middle-Class students, and beyond were the Upper-Class, only segregated by the stairs.

I want a better sight of the competitors!

More students trickled in, and despite the large hall, there was only one entrance.

Multiple exits were in sight, but there were blocked at the moment.

Once an individual got in, they wouldnt be able to leave until the competition was over for the day.
This was why Anabelle, Edward, and I took our time before coming in.

The opposite was also true, though.
If one came later than the expected time frame, they would be locked out of the hall until the Exchange concluded for the day.

I noticed that a few more students trickled in, but my focus wasnt on them.
The ones that caught my attention were already seated.

Stefan and Maria sat a distance from me, both at the topmost row as well.
Their eyes darted in my direction and a smile formed on my face.
The look in Stefans eyes told me he was ready, and the disconcerting expression of Maria just made me confused about what went on in her head.

Still on their row was someone else who sat at the edge of the seats, closer to the Third years.
He had a strange demeanor and I hadnt noticed him in the Academy until now.

Who is that kid?!

I was surprised that, out of Upper-Class students, there existed one I couldnt even recognize.
There were supposed to be 12 Upper-Class members, yet I was seeing thirteen in their seats.

I knew it! That guy wasnt with us during the exams.

But, this conclusion begged yet another question, something I tried wrapping my head around.
If he didnt take the exams and was still an Upper-Class student, that meant there was something peculiar about him.
I couldnt comprehend it, but it appeared the Exchange was going to be more interesting than I had initially thought.

I suppose I have one extra thing to look forward to!

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