On a momentous Tuesday in Kensett city, a great crowd was gathered. It centered around the biggest of the city’s parks and spilling over onto the market streets, where the vendors were hawking their wares as if it were all one big event.
Police men patrolled to keep the peace and empty out a few areas where people were bunching up and getting just a tad too agitated.
The streets were covered in banners and streamers and multi-colored magical lights hung in the air.
Musicians played on a stage that stood nearby, the sound of their instruments boosted by a mixture of magic and regular speaker systems.
Today was the day that five schools that ruled this land and held sway of this kingdom and all its nearest neighbors came to recruit new students from the populace.
Today was the day that I’d been waiting for and I’d come dressed to impress my clothes cleanly pressed, my tie done up in a neat Windsor.
At the center of all this excitement stood twenty men and women, who stood apart, heads held high. Some of them wearing looks of arrogance many of them just looking lofty and above it all. As their leveller status plus their membership in the schools and sects, did in fact put them in a whole other layer of social strata then the surrounding people.
These were the examiners and their assistants.
At the head of this group was a powerfully built old man with a supercilious look and eyebrows that tufted white, like angular clouds.
He stepped forwards with his arms crossed, his aura flowing out of him magnifying his voice as he bellowed.
“All applicants step forward!”
The crowd went wild, some people clapping without knowing what they were clapping for. Many of them hugging for no reason. A lot of them kissing their spouses and kids for no reason.
The huge mass of people split into two smaller masses, one made of eager, anxious and expectant parents and one made of their eager, anxious and expectant kids.
I was part of that latter group.
I was surprised to find myself feeling nervous. Mentally I was at least nearly a thousand years old right now, but I’d just suddenly been plunked back to my first day of middle-school where my heart was up in my throat and I just “knew” that the other kids could tell that there was something wrong with me, just by looking at me.
There were five schools in the Blackwood Union. The Iron Oak Martial Sect, the Five Fairies School of Mages, The Golem Stone Martial Sect, the Clear Flowers Academy for Witches, Saint Undine’s Academy of the Occult, and the Silent Glenn School of Sorcery.
Of those five, I couldn’t get into Clear Flowers because it was a girls-only academy.
I didn’t “want” to get into the Golem Stone Sect since there were some hanky things going on with the school’s golem production.
Plus the sect also moonlighted as mercenary company sending off a large number of its weaker students to serve as soldiers for higher.
Either they toughened up, or they died. Mostly they died.
The sect would use the bodies that were sent back, to make humanoid golems. Which surprisingly enough “wasn’t” what was wrong with the school’s method of golem production.
Basically there were only three schools here that I wanted to join, but the good news was that I was fairly confident in my ability to have my pick of the litter.
All I had to do, was to do good during the trials.
“The first trial, will be beginning now. All applicants must separate into five lines.” shouted a woman with sky blue hair and silvery green robes.
Again there was applause for no reason, again the crowd fell over itself to do as their super powered superiors had asked.
We split up into five lines, each line of children heading towards five stands where a mage or cultivator was waiting.
Standing by a giant foot tall mass of magical quartz.
I know those stones from the time I’d forced to more or less absorb an encyclopedia of magic minerals and materials. That quartz was called Seer’s Stone. It could be processed for use in making high level scrying mirrors but in its raw form it could used to measure magical power.
That was the first step in a nutshell. A simple test to see how much magical energy the children had.
The kids whose mana levels were too weak wouldn’t be able to make the stones light up at all. They were all immediately sent back to their parents. Looks of disappointment etched on their faces.
Stronger kids would make stone light up brighter than the kids with average mana levels. The strongest kids, the special cases would make the stones shine with different colors.
I wasn’t trying to stand out too much, so I stopped after letting the light shine just a little brighter than the average.
This was pretty much what all the tests were like, for the student recruitment. It started with tests for mana level, mana flexibility and magical affinity.
Then the testing progressed to some more standard stuff like tests for literacy, and basic math.
Ending with a zig-zag back towards the magical that began with some kind of crystal puzzle box and ended with a standard appraisal, like you’d get at a bank or a town hall.
Of all the tests it was the appraisal that made me the most nervous. Though the fact that one’s attainment slots wouldn’t show in a regular mid-level appraisal saved me from being given away as an immortal, I was concerned that my talent points and abilities would make me stand out.
Luckily, the examiner in charge of my line didn’t seem to give me much more than a second look. He asked me name and then he asked my top two schools of choice and then he let me go back to the main crowd, like he’d do for a kid with parents.
I guess I overestimated myself. While ninety-five talent points was kind of lot, when you considered that average person had been ten and fifteen, but in the world of sorcerers and cultivators, maybe I wasn’t such hot stuff after all.
Actually, now that I thought of it, my archive was aware of at least fifty beings in a thousand mile radius of me with talent levels above mine, so maybe I was just being too self-conscious.
In any case, I got through the testing and now eagerly waited to see which school I would get into.