Light shining through my window signals the start of the day, so I climb out of bed and stretch. Since today's the day Papa Samuel will take me to Varil City so I can take the exam to try and enter its Royal Magic University, I'm taking a bath first thing in the morning rather than after a day of work and training.
I open a gate to the bath at my hot springs and scrub myself down before rinsing myself off, then I open a gate into my room at the nearby house and select my outfit. A black vest made from the leather of a shadow wolf, with pants and boots to match. The outfit decided, I pull it on, then fix on a belt, before opening a gate to my room at home. There, I grab my star iron sword and mithril knife and fix them onto my belt, before stretching once more and walking downstairs for breakfast.
"You ready for the test?" Papa Samuel asks as I take my usual seat, the rest of the family already seated and eating.
"Yes," I answer. "Even if I fail it, as long as I score over sixty percent overall, I can enter one of the other magic universities."
"We're confident you'll succeed," Mama Elena smiles. "You've studied magic and magical history since you were small, which gives you an edge over many of the other students."
"Indeed," I smile, knowing this is the perfect moment, as three of my papas and Mama Alyssa are all taking a drink. "Out of curiosity, when were you seven of you going to inform me that I'm a magical prodigy?"
As expected the four parents taking a drink all choke on it, and my smile widens.
"I figured it out awhile ago," I tell them. "But figured you were just happy to have someone eager to learn your crafts."
"What gave it away?" Papa Samuel asks.
"The fact that you're constantly teaching me how to hold back my magical power," I answer. "To an immense degree. That, and the fact that very few of your stories reference magicians using magic on the level I do."
"We're confident you'll enter the university," Papa Samuel tells me. "When it comes to magic, I would place you among the top, in part because of your training since you were young. Had you demonstrated a normal child's nature, with tantrums and fits, we would have sealed your magic until you were older. That gives you an edge over those applying who only began at the academies, though there are still those who were also trained from a young age."
"Perhaps," I say as he takes a drink. "But how many of them will be above orange magical power?"
As he chokes on his drink, I hold up my hand and summon my magical power above it, the violet energy of my magic flowing around it. They never told me, but the memories of my past selves – specifically, when I was Nolan, Grand Magus – told me. Magical power changes color the stronger it is. It turns from red to orange to yellow to green to blue to indigo to violet. White is the magic of angels, while black is the magic of demons.
Grey is the magic of the world, but also of the strongest beings on Midlaris. The magic of dragons, and of other creatures like them.
"You may have tried to hide that from me," I release my magical power, then take a drink. "But I am smart enough to figure things out."
It did take me awhile to realize that my visions of the age of the Magi were actually memories, but call that inexperience and lack of complete memories. I only had bits and pieces of each of my two past lives, though my life as Lucas was a lot more clear. I still don't remember how I died in that life. Probably because of how long ago it was, my memories as Nolan are taking longer to recover, too.
Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like if I were still Lucas, still suffering at work. Those are the latest memories I have of Lucas, many of the horrid shifts of abuse and harassment I suffered. If it ever got better, or if I ever left, is a mystery to me. There's even the possibility it's been a lot longer than I've lived, considering it's been three thousand years since my first life and I was only reincarnated once between then and now.
I'm here now, though, with family that loves me and a bright future ahead, and am happy now. It's not like I remember living as Lucas, I only have my memories of being him. It's hard to explain the difference. While I used to be Lucas, I am Jason now. Our personalities are different, and I never had Lucas's. He was largely passive unless he was provoked, and rarely hyper – at least, in the way I have been.
I like being me, and I wouldn't change it for anything.
My parents and I eat breakfast, and when we finish, I look at Papa Harold.
"So how rich am I?" I ask. "Beyond just what you've bought from me? Or have you and Papa Jared been taking full credit for everything I've helped to invent?"
That's another thing I realized over the last couple of years. This world wasn't modern, but as a kid, I didn't know that, especially with my ignorance of the outside world. Mana batteries, the lights, plumbing – all of that was new to them. Invented by Papa Jared and me, with my ideas backing them or setting it off.
"The king of Varil," Papa Harold smiles. "Talked with several other kings and invented a patenting system to protect the rights to inventions, due to the power of what you and Jared invented. You hold the patents to several of them, including mana batteries. Sixty percent of every sale of them made by Sageson Magical Technologies is yours. Only our company is allowed to produce the items you have patented. The magical device that imprints ID's is another patent of yours, as well as the readers to verify identities. The patent for plumbing is a joint patent between you and Jared under Sageson Magical Technologies.
"As your earnings," he continues. "Have sat, unused, for years, it has built up a fair amount. Due to your patents, you own several million Varil varru. Your identity is protected, you are known only as a mysterious patent holder. You will be able to access your funds through the vault in the basement of our property in Varil City and through Sageson Bank."
"Speaking of my identity," I say. "I know my name is Jason, but what is my full name? I'm aware that the naming convention for males is the first name, their father's first name, and the town they're from. I have four fathers, and am from no town."
"You are simply 'Jason'," Papa Harold pulls out an ID with my information on it and hands it to me. "However, as you are the only child of the 'leaders' of this settlement, you are technically a noble. A prince, even, though we are no kings and queens. Officially, when the few who know of this place refer to our home, they call it 'Jeshema', so we used that for your ID."
Nobles bear the name of the land they govern, so that would make sense.
"Is the name of this land really your initials?" I ask, and my parents chuckle. "So which 'E' is Mama Elena and which is Mama Elizabeth?"
"Everyone debates that," they say in unison as Harold pulls out the device to imprint my magical signature into the ID.
"It's time to take you to our house in Varil City," Papa Samuel stands as I imprint my magical signature into the ID. "I will move Aurum there while you're taking the exam."
"Keep him here," I shake my head. "I'll exercise him when I can, but once I'm attending university, it will be a little more difficult to care for him regularly."
"Thank you for being responsible," Papa Samuel smiles. "We do have a stables there, should you decide to take him. There are horses in there, and a carriage as well. Your valet doubles as a bodyguard and driver. He will take you to and from the university you attend."
I stand, and Papa Samuel opens a gate to their home in Varil City, where I'll be living while at the university. Alone. They're remaining behind for some reason, though they said it was to give me space.
Our farewell isn't much, just hugs from my papas and mamas, then I step through the gate, which closes moments later. The reason I needed Papa Samuel to open it was because we discovered through tests that we can only open gates to a place we have been before, unlike when we teleport.
However, Papa Samuel says that there doesn't seem to be a limit to the distance as long as we have the mana required and the magical power to actually create a gate. According to him, he has created a gate clear to the other side of the continent, and the only difference was the mana cost increasing, but within expectations for distance.
The house here is two stories, and I locate the master bedroom on the first floor. Papa Harold never used it, he said, and the others never stayed here. For some reason, they avoid being in civilization.
I have a butler, a maid, and a valet to care for my needs and the house, and the first thing I do after unpacking my things is to ask the valet for directions to the university. The exam isn't until this afternoon, but I at least want to know how to get there.
Once he gives me directions to the university, I exit the house and make my way through the streets, exploring the city for almost an hour before I come across an interesting situation. A boy my age with a warrior's build, a sword at his hip, glaring at the four larger boys glaring down at him. The way the 'lesser' boy looks, I'd say he's probably used to a life of labor, while the four older boys are probably nobles, based on their 'gentle' looks and arrogant demeanors.
"You are not going to apply for the Royal Knight University," one of the brats says as I draw near. "If we see you at the exam, you will regret it. Do I make that clear?"
"If I remember correctly," I speak clearly as I approach. "Intimidating someone into not applying for the universities is not only against the rules of the exams, but against the law. His Majesty takes such things quite seriously, as he believes all, regardless of upbringing, should be given a chance to serve if they wish."
"You think you can apply?" He smirks, before looking at my knife. "What, you can't afford a shirt, but you have a mithril knife?"
"I like wearing vests," I answer. "I have plenty of shirts and tunics. I even have robes and cloaks. This is how I am most comfortable."
The bully looks around, and unfortunately for him, I decided to walk down an alley, which is where I found them. There's no one here but the six of us, and his cruel grin tells me he's going to fight. Sure enough, he draws his sword and charges me, his friends doing the same.
Training my body as a magician enhanced my body naturally. I am faster and stronger than a normal person, and his attacks seem pretty slow to me. I step to the side and punch him in the stomach, then enhance my physical durability to grab the blade of another without being cut. I yank the sword out of his hand and drop it to the side, before delivering a kick to the side of his head. As he drops, I step forward and punch the throat of the third of them, then pivot and kick the stomach of the fourth.
All four of them either drop or recoil from my attacks, and I look at the other boy.
"I seem to have gotten lost," I tell him. "Do you know the directions to the Royal Magic University? Varil is a lot larger than I expected, and it's almost time for the exam."
"You're a magician?" He asks with wide eyes. "But those moves-"
"I was raised by a warrior," I answer. "He taught me quite a lot, but I favor the magical side of things."
"Oh," he says. "The university isn't far, I can take you there."
"Okay," I say. "The name's Jason."
"Alex," he introduces himself. "It's this way. The Royal Knight University is across the bridge from it, they face each other."
Alex leads me through the alleys and streets, and only twenty minutes later, we're at the university, which does face the Royal Knight University, a small river running between the two.
"Thank you," I say, and he gives me a dip of his head before heading across the river.
I walk up to the university and find out where I'm to go. They assign me to Batch 9, so I enter the examination hall for that, where I'll first be tested on my magical knowledge.
For the next two hours, I sit in the exam room, the test only taking me around thirty minutes. I'm not allowed to leave the room until it completes. There are a total of ten batches, each with one thousand applicants. Only those who pass over a certain score will be admitted, which averages around five hundred each year. Only fifty from this room might make it.
I'm putting my bets on the girl with yellow magic in her, and based on the way a few of the other applicants are reacting to her and the fine clothes she's wearing, I would say I was placed into the same batch as the royal princess. There are even two girls who I am pretty sure are supposed to be bodyguards beside her, and like me, they both have swords on their hips.
Once this stage of the exam ends, we're split into fifty smaller groups, each with twenty applicants. I'm placed into the same one as the princess, and while we're walking towards the next room, she gives me a smile.
"You must be Jason," she says.
"You've heard of me?"
"Yes," she says. "Maybe you've heard of me? I'm Lina."
"Lina?" I ask. "Uncle Zach's daughter? Wait – Uncle Zach's King Zachary?"
"Yes!" She laughs. "He told me to not expect to take first place in the rankings of applicants because of you."
"I never went to an academy or had private tutors," I shrug. "I'm sure there will be several who place higher than me."
"We'll see about that," she smiles. "Papa said he enjoyed being treated like a normal person, which is why he never told you who he was. You didn't immediately change your attitude when you realized I was a princess. I think I might like you."
"Whether or not I will like you," I say. "Will be up for interpretation. And I've known Uncle Zach as, well, my uncle, so that makes us cousins in a way, even if not by blood. Why should I change how I act for my cousin?"
"Excellent question," she smiles.
We enter the next examination chamber, which has a magic circle set up to read our magical affinities. There are twelve large crystals set into its border, each with a rune for a different class of magic resting by it on the outer edge of the circle. Since all special affinities are read by the same enchantment, they have a single crystal for those, marking twelve spots. Then, each of those larger crystals has six smaller crystals set around it.
There are three examiners in here, each with their own clipboard. Two of them are male, the other is female.
"You will give us your identification," the female examiner says. "So that we can verify it's you, then you will step into the center of the magic circle and imbue your magic into the ring. This circle will read your affinity for each element and show it through the crystals. This was a method devised by the same person who created the mana batteries and has proven to be more accurate than any previous method."
I didn't expect them to actually put it into use at the exam yet, I only finished designing it a couple of months ago. I suppose accurately knowing what types of magic future students of this or other universities have affinities for will help them gauge lesson plans. To enter the Varil Royal Magic University, one needs a high affinity for at least three types of magic.
Since someone's affinities can increase every year and they can develop new affinities as they train their magic, making decisions off what students tested at when they began at the academies three years ago would be a bad idea as it would exclude people who had more affinities or higher affinities due to training.
The examiner calls each of us up one at a time, and the process takes two minutes for most of them. They have weaker magic, but that doesn't mean anything for magical affinities. Someone can have weak magic, but a high affinity for an element.
Lina is the sixth to be called, and when she steps into the center of the circle, I sense her pushing her magic in immediately. It only takes her a minute to trigger the enchantment for each crystal, displaying a moderate affinity for each element other than special, darkness, and air, all of which she can boast a high affinity for. She possesses the greatest affinity for darkness out of those three. Darkness is the absence of light, yet for some reason, it falls into its own category, though as with all things, it can cause light or be generated through light magic. All elements are connected, and all can be used with each other.
I am the last applicant to be called forth, and walk to the center of the ring with curiosity. It only takes me a moment to trigger the enchantment, all twelve sets of crystals glowing strongly. I've never actually tested my own affinities for magic before, and while I had suspected I had decent affinity for each time, this is a surprise to me.
This isn't a high affinity, this is something beyond it. Master affinity, if that exists.
"I… see," the examiner says. "That… you can stop now, Mr. Jeshema."
I stop imbuing my magic into the ring, and she sends us to our next examination stage, where our magical abilities will be tested. This is going to be fun, most of them probably still need to use chants.
We have to wait a few minutes before the previous group finishes, and only once they have left the room are, we permitted to enter. Just like in the previous room, there are three examiners, each with a clipboard. There is a wooden target set up on the other side of the room, circular with no pattern on it.
"Your goal," the lead examiner in here says. "Is to cast your strongest offensive spell at the target for each element of fire, water, earth, and air, in that order. Then you will generate a barrier of force magic, then an orb of light, then an orb of shadow. You will then summon as much electricity as you can control. Do not worry about mind, curse, holy, and special, we will not test your abilities with those."
Most mind and curse magics are illegal without certain permissions or circumstances, and they would be hard to test like this anyway. Holy magic is hard to gauge without toxins, injuries, corruption, and so on, and special types of magic are probably beyond most applicants and have various methods of testing or showing.
As a result of all of that, those four types of magic generally aren't taught until at least the third or fourth year of university. At least, on a professional level, since some people might learn earlier.
As I suspected, watching and listening to these guys is beyond amusing. Most barely even hit the target, if at all, and their chants are ridiculous. In addition to needing three high affinities, applicants must also display moderate ability with at least three types of magic, even if not with the elements they have high affinities for.
Being able to hit the target, creating a barrier at least three feet in diameter for ten seconds, and being able to manifest an orb the size of a grapefruit for at least thirty seconds counts as acceptable. Of the twenty in here, fourteen have high affinities in at least three elements, half of whom barely meet that. Only ten of them are able to make three of the standards, Lina included.
I almost double over laughing when I hear her chant for a firebolt.
"Bolt of flames, burn hot and bright, incinerate my foes with your blazing might!"
Does she seriously need to reference the fact that it burns so many times to generate something that barely burns the target?
Then again, several of the weaker ones had even longer or more ridiculous and redundant chants.
As I step up to the line, I contemplate what to do. Should I tone back heavily and use chants? Or should I just tone back? Should I show off? I could perform all eight tests at once.
"Jason Jeshema," the examiner says as I think it over. "Wait, Jeshema? Please, please, please hold back. We don't need you destroying the room."
"Who told you to warn me?" I sigh.
"We received a message from the king that if you didn't hold back, you might blow up the room."
"I've never done a spell that powerful in a room," I roll my eyes, then decide to just do them in order, like he said.
First, I fire a bolt of fire at the board. I promptly follow it up with a bolt of water, which puts out the flames as soon as they begin to spread. Next, a spike of stone pierces the board, and then finds itself hammered further past with a slice of wind that cuts the board in two.
After that, I generate the barrier, and as soon as it ends, I manifest an orb of light twice the needed size. When it's time to change, I alter the spell into one of darkness magic, then convert that into electricity when it's time.
"If I summon as much electricity as I can-"
"I won't," I smile.
Maybe I'll hit the top based on my magical abilities? I seem to have overestimated others' capabilities with them having time at the academies.
From this exam, we make our way to another room, where our magical control is tested by imbuing our magic into an enchantment in the floor and activating several specific ones to cause blocks sitting on the floor to levitate. Our goal is to levitate only the blocks with blue edges, and we have to do our best to trigger the enchantment on at least five of the ten. While that's the requirement to pass this stage of the exam, someone can pass with fewer lifted depending how close to being simultaneous the levitation was.
The reason this tests our magical control is because we have to keep our magic from going to certain parts of the enchantment so that it won't levitate the blocks with red or yellow edges. The moment we start imbuing our magic into it, we can sense the paths to each block and which one it will lift. In other words, it's something that takes actual control of magic, rather than simply exerting it. Each student is allowed up to five minutes to try this.
Lina manages to lift seven of the blocks, though it takes her almost two minutes to. One other student manages to barely lift five blocks, taking five minutes total to lift the fifth block after beginning, and another student only lifts three, but she manages to lift them all within a minute, which is faster than most here. She will likely pass, depending on what the requirement for the timeframe on fewer than five is, I don't know it.
When my turn comes, I place my hand on the pedestal and imbue my magic into it. Only a second later do all ten blocks with blue edges lift into the air.
"At this point," Lina smiles at me. "You're doing nothing less than showing off."
"I'm simply doing what I'm told," I tell her. "And this is the last stage of the exam."
We're dismissed, and I make my way out of the academy and across the bridge to see if Alex has left yet. They haven't dismissed their applicants yet, so I have a few minutes to wait. Lina and her two guards approach, and I remember that her brother is applying for the Royal Knight University.
"So that's what it's like," she says. "To meet someone who was trained by the Sage of Magic, Samuel himself, while also learning magic from a very young age."
"Sage of Magic?" I ask.
"Yes," she smiles. "Your seven parents are the Seven Sages, masters of their crafts and legends in their own rights."
When I leave the university, I spot Jason waiting by the bridge that leads across the river to the Royal Magic Academy. My heart sinks a little when I see him talking with quite the beautiful girl, two more girls standing behind her. By the swords on their hips, they are likely bodyguards, and she is probably a noble of some sort. His outfit suggests he is as well, even if it's obvious he exercises.
Not muscle training, though, but strength training. He has a lean, firm build, and his tight, well-defined abs are obvious through the gap in his vest. I would call him handsome, and judging by the gazes of one of the noble's guards, I'm not the only one.
Jason chuckles, scratching the back of his head with his left hand, and I notice a bracelet of some sort on it. It looks woven of some sort of rough fiber, which doesn't match with the expensive vest, pants, and boots he's wearing. Or those weapons. The knife is mithril, so his sword must be expensive, too, even if it looks like some sort of mithril-something alloy.
I was hoping that maybe he would be willing to train with me, since I doubt someone that talented in fighting and with a build like that would not train, even as a magician. Seeing him with the noble girl, however, reminds me that I run in a different circle from most.
A former street rat isn't exactly the kind of person who should deal with nobles. I came to Varil City last week hoping to turn my life around and make a different sort of name for myself.
Four more knives are hidden on my body, and there isn't a pouch of money in sight on me. If I can attend the Royal Knight University, I can try to turn my life around in what I feel would be an honorable way.
A way worthy of my true past.
Even if most won't want a street rat like me around. There isn't a chance Jason would train with me, and seeing him laugh with the ladies reminds me of that and my status.
I turn to leave.
"Alex!" Jason's voice calls out, and I turn to find him beckoning to me. "Come here! I was waiting for you!"
He was? Someone who finds three beautiful ladies the first day he's in the city and is obviously into the noble circles and women?
I approach hesitantly.
"Lina, this is Alex," he says. "The guy I told you I met and got directions from. Alex, this is Princess Lina, we met while taking the exam. We were put into the same group."
Is he screwing with me?
"Lina!" Someone calls out, and I turn to find someone I learned was Prince Jacob approaching, his two guards following. "Are these men bothering you?"
"No," Lina smiles, then gestures to Jason. "Jacob, this is Jason. The one Papa told us about. This," she gestures to me. "Is an acquaintance of his, Alex. They met when Jason got lost on his way to the university."
"From what I heard," Prince Jacob gives me a distrustful look. "Alex is a street rat with a bad reputation. Alex xan Richard xal Varilar, also known as Leviathan Alex, former leader of the north gang of Varilar. I would check your money, Jason, if he led you here."
"I keep my money in a spatial storage," Jason says. "And he didn't try to steal from me. I prefer to base someone on the merits they show me than the ones from before we met. If he is attempting to become a soldier, knight, or slayer, does that not mean he wishes to improve his life?"
"It could also mean he wants to get close to someone," Prince Jacob says.
"Perhaps," Jason shrugs. "But we cannot know, can we? Unless you want me to read his mind, but at this point, I am not inclined to."
"You can read minds?" Princess Lina asks in surprise.
I'm a little frightened by that thought, too.
"Yes," Jason nods. "I have to be touching them, and unless I delve, which takes time and a lot of control and concentration, I can only read surface thoughts – what you're thinking at the moment. Jacob, your father is like an uncle to me, which makes you, just like Lina, like a cousin to me. Would you trust your cousin when he says to trust based on merit proven to you and not on rumor?"
"Why would you trust me?" I ask Jason. "You're obviously a noble, how can I trust that you aren't just trying to play with me?"
"I'm not a noble," he smiles. "I'm a foreigner. I come from out of Varil, from out of any nation. My parents were Varilan before they left, which is likely why you haven't noticed a strong foreign accent. It was just me and my parents, and sometimes, their father.
"As for why I would trust you," Jason says. "The universities are about merit, that's why they're free to all and entrance is based on what you know and what you can do. They offer a chance at a new life. Until you give me reason to believe otherwise, I will trust that you want to be some sort of warrior for Varil."
"I want to be a Royal Knight," I state with determination. "My goal is to enter the Royal Knight University. When I graduate, I want to either serve in the castle or lead slayers against ogres and corrupted."
"And should you fail to enter the Royal Knight University?" Jason asks.
"Then I pray to the gods," I say. "That I manage to enter one of the Slayer Universities, and when I graduate, I will hunt ogres and corrupted to keep this nation safe. I wish to put the life as Leviathan Alex behind me and become a new person."
Someone worthy of my true past, of who I was before I was Leviathan Alex, street lord of the north gang of Varilar.