Five minutes passed.

A handful of people left.
*Orcs? That’s crossing the line,* they thought.
*My life is at stake here.
Better to try next time after I get stronger.*

The remaining students were either confident, arrogant, or re-attempting admission.

“Half of them left.”

Principal Rikal murmured as he looked down at the field.
This was a common occurrence.
Many left frightened by the challenge to survive in a forest where the orcs live.
Seeing this yearly, he wasn’t surprised even by a bit.

*Now’s more like it,* Rikal thought, as he opened his mouth to give the actual speech.

Until,

“Wow, woah, woah! Wait!”

A girl ran into the field hurriedly.
White hair resembling a snowy mountain, and her blue eyes shining softly like sapphires buried in the snowy mountain.
Her playful, overexaggerated gesture gave a sense of disparity from her elegant colours.

“Is the entrance ceremony over? I just saw a bunch of people walking out.
It can’t be over just yet!”

The girl jumped up and down pulling her hair.
Thanks to her, the tension within the field relaxed in an instant.

The tension that Rikal built up in the field broke in an instant.
Rikal couldn’t hide their emotion.

‘What a dramatic performance… ’

*A forest with orcs? Leave if you value your life?*

The emperor wouldn’t allow such a challenge for his incoming students.
Even though the students don’t pose a threat to him at the moment, he wanted to raise them to become strong someday.

Usually the extraordinary ones arise from commoners, not nobles.

The lie is to filter out the seeds within the commoners, and leave those that will reap well.
The students at least needed to be prepared in their hearts to enter an orc forest to even have a chance in the school.

Hence Rikal always lied about a test to enter an orc forest, then told the rest to have proven their potential, giving them official admission.

Such a test of potential could not be leaked to the outside world.
Even if anyone did hear about it before they entered, the magical interference will have people pass it as a joke.

That is how this tradition lasted so long.

But this student interrupted the mood by being late.

“The ceremony is still on going.
What are you late for?”

said Rikal’s voice ferociously.
An extreme pressure within the atmosphere was essential for the potential within the students’ hearts.
As the tension broke, Rikal could not quell their anger.

“Oh, you see, Rikal, I thought I was a from a noblemen family so I took the left path, right? Then they told me I didn’t belong there because fallen noblemen families don’t count, apparently.
Like, seriously? I’m still a noblemen even if our name has fallen.
Shouldn’t have said ‘from’, then!”

Jinhyuk sympathised with that statement to some extent.
Lilil naturally chose the commoner’s path, but if you think about it, she *is* from a noblemen family, is she not?

“So you went through the noble’s path and returned here…”

Rikal let out a sigh.
They couldn’t get angry.
How could the principal shout at a student for mistaking their path for their poor word choice.

Rikal simply nodded.
The girl quickly ran into the field after understanding what that nod meant.

‘Now what do we do about the broken tension…’

Rickal thought for a moment.
A forest of orcs did exist, but it wasn’t a place where temporary students could survive.
This is something everyone knew for certain.

With the tension now loose, there won’t be much of an impact to talk about their potential and how they proved it.
It’d just come bland and weightless.

‘If that’s the case.’

Rickal coughed before giving the next speech.

“I respect your choices.
I wish you good luck.
Wait in the field for a while and trainers will come to each temporary student for an interview.”

The trainers stood bewildered by the speech as Rikal came down from the podium.
Usually interviews are done after formal admissions.
To do one before their potential was proven was hard to understand.

Rikal turned to the confused trainers.

“Tension broke.
We have to raise it again.”

Here was the plan.

Temporary students will have an interview and continue to feel the tension until the team member announcement.
Within that time frame, they must feel endless conflict.
They might have stayed as a momentary impulse, but eventually start questioning the possibility of their survival.

As such long-term battles within themselves ensue, the weak will leave on their own, while the remaining students become mentally exhausted.

As a result, this is a better way to imprint the message in their hearts.

Rikal frowned.
They didn’t like to bully students this way, but it was necessary.

‘Because commoners have worse self-esteem than the nobles.’

The students needed a wall fortified around the idea of their own potential.
Otherwise, they’ll find themselves compared to the nobles.

‘Evil spirits and demons should not be created for such a petty reason.’

This was a thorough precaution.

“As you will, principal.”

The trainers saluted in unison as Rikal headed inside the academy.
They headed back to the field with a name list, with some crossed off in red, and others written in blue.

“Alright, students.
This isn’t a playground.
Follow the trainer when your name is called.”

Jinhyuk felt like he was in the military.
The principal’s speech was like that of a battalion commander, and the trainers were literally like the trainers in the military.
In particular, with the way trainer assistants walked around the trainers with their chin up that high, this definitely felt like the training camp.

‘Well, I guess the purpose is different.’

It would be wrong to think of The Academy as a mere school.
It’s an educational institution that specifically existed for the emperor to select those who would become nobles.
Its purpose was different from the school on Earth.

“Student Lilil, Lilil.
Come this way.”

A trainer assistant called her name.
Next to the assistant stood a woman with light green hair and light green eyes .
She was clearly an trainer, but her big – almost stupid looking – smile made her look like a flower garden within a desert.

However, Jinhyuk couldn’t ignore the amount of magical power she had within her.

‘She is strong.’

Even such a stupid expression could not hide her strength.
The students gathered under the control of the assistants also looked nervous.

‘To be fair, you don’t fuck with the platoon leader even if he’s smiling like a dumbass.’

Things were simpler to understand once he compared them to the military.
Jinhyuk and Lilil followed the assistant’s call.
By her side, the late girl followed.

“Ooooh! We’re assigned the same trainers, huh?”

“Y-yes, it seems so… ”

“Hey, why so distant? We are from the same batch of students, aren’t we?”

“Ye-yeah, but…”

“How old are you? I’m 15.”

“I’m 15 too… ”

“What?! So no reason to act so distant! Unless you want to.
I’ll physically run away.”

“Ah, n-no, th-that’s not it… ”

Lilil was overwhelmed by how social the girl was.
Lilil is an asocial that learned about the world not through people, but books.
Lilil probably felt like a paper boat that was struck by giant waves.

“My name is Erina.
you?”

“Li-Lilil.”

“Lililil?”

“No, Lilil.”

“Aha, Nolilil?”

Forget being social.
Maybe she is just stupid.
Jinhyuk felt like he was going crazy hearing their conversation.

“The name is Lilil.
Li-lil.
Is that hard to understand?”

“Gah! Who are you!”

Erina got defensive as a man suddenly interrupted the conversation.
Jinhyuk tried to lower her guard by introducing himself, but Erina went so beyond herself that she may as well be in space.

“Aha, you’re an assistant hiding within us for analysis, aren’t you? You may be missing your hat to be a spy, but you can’t fool my eyes!”

“If I’m really a trainer assistant, how bold are you to not refer to me as sir?”

“Huhuhu! You fool, I even called the principal by his name!”

“Ah.”

Jinhyuk sighed, “Ah,” without realising it.
This conversation so far convinced him of two things.

The first was that Erina was the type of person who would be very bothersome if he got to know her.

The second was that she was the type to stick to others even if they didn’t want to be friends.

`We fished an annoying one.’

A sigh came out automatically.

But Lilil didn’t seem to react badly.
There was a subtle envy within her eyes looking at Erina.
Like, seeing a tidal wave after spending her whole time looking at calm streams.

‘Well, as long as the summoner lady is fine.’

Lilil seemed okay with her, so Jinhyuk dismissed Erina and looked around.
Leira was waving from afar, seemingly assigned to another trainer.
Jinhyuk waved back.

“Single file, students.
I will now call the names from the list again.
Answer if your name is called.”

The trainer assistant called out names with a strict tone.
After making sure there was nothing wrong with the list, the students started moving, following the trainer.

Jinhyuk found one difference between the military and the academy.
At least they didn’t have to march in unison.

‘Left, left, left, right.’

One two three four, two two three four – for some reason, Jinhyuk felt like he had to match his feet, so he did.

The place they arrived at was a room with the words ‘Trainer’s Lab – Orori’ written on it.
The temporary trainer’s name seemed to be Orori.

“Now, the trainer’s interview begins.
The student who is called will come in and have an interview.”

The trainer assistant called out the student’s name, and they entered the room accordingly.
Waiting students sat on benches in the hallway.
Erina sat right next to Lilil and started smiling like a puppy wagging its tail.

“Lilil, you are really, really cute!”

“Ah, uh… ”

Lilil didn’t know what to say, and it showed in her eyes.
It was a good thing to burn that ‘How to Talk to Strangers’ book.
No help at all.

If the summoner lady found the conversation difficult, the summons must step in.
That said, there was no reason for Jinhyuk to barge in to a conversation praising Lilil’s cuteness.
He had to bring up a topic that Lilil could be part of.

“By the way, you must have no idea what this is all about, being late to the entrance ceremony.”

“Oh? Is there something I’m missing? Tell me tell me!”

“After the interview, a group of 3 incompatible people will be made.
And that group has to survive for a week in a forest with two orcs.”

Jinhyuk vividly remembered the kind of expressions the temporary students had when they heard the challenge.

Despair, and the courage to shake it off.

Jinhyuk expected the same reaction from Erina.
The point of bringing this up was to lead the conversation in a way that Lilil would comfort Erina.

But Erina simply tilted her head.

“Okay? Thanks for letting me know.”

That’s not what he expected.

“Aren’t you afraid? It’s orcs, of all things.
Can you handle them?”

“Why should I be afraid of orcs?”

In a brief moment,

Erina dropped her playfulness and smiled strangely.

What would be the best way to describe the smile? Jinhyuk could not find a suitable expression.

It was simply creepy.

The magical strength that oozed out with the smile was so freezing cold, it amplified the creepiness.

“Aren’t they just some stupid pigs?”

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