The center of the world and the continent’s only neutral zone – the place where the fountain of magic, ‘Arsene’ exists.
Since ancient times, there has been a premier educational institution that is famous for producing a large number of talented people…
…where Ulan was aiming for admission.
Though he was excited at the invitation, which came much sooner than expected, he quickly regained his composure.
It was because he had one concern.
“I am still lacking.”
Ulan knew his level well.
So he intuited. If he took the entrance exam like this, he knew he will never pass.
“To be honest, I am not confident I will pass the entrance exam. I appreciate the offer, but I’d rather wait until I have more knowledge before I try——”
“Don’t worry about that,” Azuh interrupted abruptly.
“The letter of recommendation I mentioned earlier refers to a document required for admission to Arsene Academy. The entrance exam itself will be difficult for you,” she added.
Anyone can apply to Arsene Academy. However, this was only limited to the ‘people’ of the kingdom and empire beyond the grassland.
Ulan, on the other hand, was just a barbarian.
Therefore, it was impossible for him to take the entrance exam, let alone enter the school, in the usual way.
“However, if there is a letter of recommendation from a great nobleman, the story will be different. If you submit a letter of recommendation, your status will be guaranteed, and you will be exempt from the written test, which is one of the hardest parts of the entrance exam.”
‘I do not have to take the written test’. At these words, Ulan’s eyes widened. But only for a moment, as if a new worry had surfaced.
“But will the person named Earl of Dermore write a letter of recommendation so easily?”
“You need not worry about that either. Ulan, have you ever heard of me leaving the grasslands to wander the world?”
Of course, I have. Ulan nodded.
“At the time, I accidentally saved the life of a little boy. He was a good boy. It is hard to believe that he was of noble blood.”
As if reminiscing the nostalgic past, Azur looked wistful.
“Anyway, in return for saving his life, he made an oath with me. That if he should one day take over the family name, he will grant one wish of mine within his power.”
“Then that little boy…”
“Yes, Earl of Dermore.”
After the backstory, Ulan roughly understood the situation. Then he asked with a slightly subtle face.
“But are you sure that’s okay?”
“What do you mean?”
“If you use your one and only wish on me…”
“It doesn’t matter. I’d rather spend it on a blooming bud than a weed that will soon wither.”
It seems that Azur had already made a decision, and the conviction in her voice was proof of that.
Azur spoke again.
“This world is much bigger than the grasslands.” Pointing to the sky with her staff, she grinned.
“Leave the meadow. In the vast world, there is much to see and learn. Devour all the knowledge you can and expand your horizons.”
After Azur’s words, Ulan understood the meaning behind her dress. Today was the end of his half-year of teaching, a day of farewell.
Right after realizing this, he knelt down and bowed his head.
“Thank you for your teachings.”
This was the utmost gratitude, respect, and honor a warrior could offer. Afterward, when Ulan got up and was about to leave the cabin…
“Take these with you.”
…Azuh’s voice stopped him in the tracks.
She took out an axe and a book. When Ulan stared at them, wondering what they were, she explained.
“It is an axe forged with bloodstone found in a cave. The more blood it holds, the harder it becomes.”
Bloodstone was an ore used by shamans as a medium for their magic. He knew it was an expensive item, but he never thought she would make an ax out of it.
Ulan swung the ax lightly. The weight was suitable, and the length was ideal.
Of course, it wasn’t comparable to the axe he’d used frequently in his previous life, but it was undeniably a useful weapon for the time being.
“Next, in this book, I have written down the lessons I was unable to teach you. Study it in your spare time until you can travel to the Arsenal Academy.”
“I will accept with gratitude, Azur.”
Without hiding his joy, Ulan smiled brightly.
Azur nodded wordlessly and looked out the window.
“It’s late today. If you wish to leave, do so after the blizzard has stopped. You’ll also need to say goodbye to Alk and the other warriors.”
“I will, ” Ulan nodded obediently.
A moment later, he left the cabin.
A violent blizzard raged fiercely around him, but Ulan walked steadfastly on. As if he would not surrender no matter what hardships he faces in the future.
༛༛ ༛ ༛༺༻༛ ༛ ༛༛
Long after Ulan had left.
By the time the fierce blizzard had subsided for a while.
With the sound of footsteps crunching through the soft snow, there was a guest who visited the cabin.
A girl in a thick fur coat; a mysterious-looking girl with blue eyes and hair as black as the night sky.
She knocked on the door of the cabin…
Knock! Knock! knock!
…three times, to be exact, and then, she revealed her name.
“Master. It’s Noah.” A softly cracking voice.
Soon there was a raspy cough from inside. A signal to come in. When the girl pushed open the door and went inside, Azur spoke.
““······Is Ulan gone?”
“Yes, he has completely left the forest.” Noah nodded.
At that, Azur slumped back in her seat, seemingly relieved.
“Whoa, freedom at last!”
A smile bloomed on her wrinkled face; it was a smile full of joy.
Noah, on the other hand, looked like she had a lot to ask. After pondering for a moment, she asked cautiously.
“May I ask why you want him to enroll in the academy?”
“What, you’re asking without knowing that——!”
Azur suddenly burst into anger. However, the anger did not last long.
“·…well, maybe you don’t know. You’ve just finished your exam.”
The girl’s name was Noah Darshen. About 8 years ago, Azur accidentally found this child and took her as a disciple.
After teaching her all kinds of magic and disciplines, she left to take the shaman’s exam to prove her achievements and has just returned today.
Meanwhile, Azur, who had regained her senses, sighed again and muttered.
“He’s out of it.”
“There is no other stone head like him. Even if you teach a ten-year-old child from the clan, he will understand better than him!”
Azur shuddered As if she were about to go bald.
“It’s not all bad, of course. He has quite good concentration and memory. Apart from that, everything else falls short.”
What to do if you have a good memory That the process of remembering takes too long.
It doesn’t stop there.
From understanding to thinking and so on.
He was below average in all areas.
No, it was just the bottom.
“Fortunately, he must have been aware of his situation and renounced the position of Chieftain to Alk. If he’d become Chieftain…”
Perhaps the clan’s future was bleak.
At one time, she had hope for Ulan. She believed that if he possessed both strength and wisdom, he could conquer the continent beyond the grasslands.
But it turned out to be a false belief.
She realized that all of Ulan’s talents were geared toward strength and combat. So she used Ulan’s much-desired admission to the Arsene Academy as an excuse to drive him off the grasslands.
To let him wander the world, at least until Alk could establish himself as a chieftain.
Meanwhile, after the story was over, Noah had a puzzled expression.
“But if you’re just kicking him out, why bother sending him to the academy? He wouldn’t be able to keep up with the class even if he entered anyway…”
Isn’t it like blowing a wish for nothing? Noah thought so.
On the other hand, Azur had a different idea.
“Ulan’s vessel as a warrior is very large. Among the heroes who made their name known to the world, he is by far the best.” Honestly, she admitted the qualities he had as a warrior.
Noah nodded, probably thinking the same thing.
“But his vessel of knowledge is far too small. So I want him to take this opportunity to know the size of his own vessel.”
“Ah! I see now.” Noah’s eyes widened.
“In other words, what Master wants is not for him to walk the path of learning, but for him to fulfill his mission as a warrior and a Hero, right?”
“Yes, as you said.”
Azur smiled and nodded.
Noah finally let out a sigh. It was a sigh of relief.
“Phew, I’m glad. I was worried about what would happen if he didn’t fulfill his mission as a Hero…”
“What do you mean by his mission as a Hero?”
“Of course, to stop the Ruler of the Abyss, ah, no! Ah, nothing! hehe.”
As if belatedly realizing her mistake, Noah stammered in embarrassment.
Azur frowned and tilted her head, but let it go. Besides, there was something else she had to say.
“Yes, Master,” Noah answered politely.
Azur looked at her, then took out a white envelope from her bosom and handed it to her, “Congratulations on passing the test.”
“Master, is this…?”
“It’s the same letter that Ulan took.”
A letter asking the Earl of Dermore for a letter of recommendation. Noah’s eyes widened as she accepted this, and Azur continued.
“You are to come with him to the Arsene Academy.”
Her face hardened in an instant; it was because she understood what Azur meant. Noah’s voice trembled, “Ha, but I am still lacking! I need to learn more by Master’s side and——!”
“No, you have already learned everything.” In a voice that felt sincere, Azur said with a kind face.
“So improve your skills at the academy and come back. You are also the future of the clan.”
She bit her lip; because she felt it.
That Azur had already made a decision.
After a considerable amount of time has passed, Noah nodded with determination.
“Yes, I will follow Master’s words.”
“Yes. Well thought out.” Azur smiled kindly.
But, even as time passed, Noah seemed unwilling to get up from her seat. She just stared at Azur with her bright eyes.
If you’re already done, why aren’t you leaving? She tilted her head in puzzlement and was about to ask why.
Noah took a spoke forward and spoke, with a very serious face.