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The whole class had gathered in front of the island's portal center. It was time for our first survival test. I'd thought that the forest that the exam would be set in was the forest on the island, but instead, we were going to the mainland. Now that I think about it having our class use the island's forest for this exam isn't very feasible. There are a lot of students in this school. If they were to close down the woods every time a class would do something like this, they'd never have time for the Group Subjugation missions for the other students. That forest was probably busy booked enough as it was.

Mr. Basara clapped his hands and announced that we could go through the portal now, and the gathering of students began moving forwards. No one brought anything but their uniforms, weapons, and smartwatches.

The test itself would involve us being dropped by ourselves in the middle of a forest. From there, we would be given further directives through our watches. What the watches would tell us and what we would be evaluated about would differ depending on one's role. One couldn't expect a supporter to perform the same tasks as a vanguard, after all.

Mr. Basara clapped his hands and announced that it was time to leave, and the gathering of students slowly moved through the open portal. We stepped out inside Berlin's portal center, which was swarming with people on all kinds of business. From there, a guide led Mr. Basara and us to a bus that drove us to a private airfield just outside of Berlin. We then boarded a large airplane that looked more fit to be used by a countries’ military than by a school for a test.

Mr. Basara told us that the test would be conducted in the Białowieża Forest, a massive forest located in Poland that was often used by the Lemorth Academy for activities like these. The reason we used the portal to travel to Berlin was because it was the closest active portal center in Europe. Portal centers were rare, and every country had one. The fact that The Lemorth Academy of Monster Subjugation had one showed just how prestigious that place really was.

Poland had been struck hard from the Awakening sixty years ago, and large parts of the country had been destroyed. While the international community did come to Poland's help, eventually, the loss had been devastating. The country still hadn't recovered entirely. Because of this, it hadn't been hard for the academy to negotiate a deal with the Polish government about using the forest for their student's training.

All of the students were chatting on the plane about what we might expect for the test. Some talked about the challenges themselves, while some were talking about what they were going to do about food. When we first boarded the plane, we'd all been given small canteens that we could attach to our belts. These canteens looked small, no larger than half a liter perhaps, but Mr. Basara said that they'd been magically engineered to hold almost ten times that. They were already filled, so water wouldn't be a problem during this test. However, he did warn us that they were expensive, so we better not lose them.

Whilst the others were discussing what they were going to do about food; I was thinking about what challenges I might be given. I didn't care about finding food for this test. I'd been without food for far longer than that dozens of times before. Two days would be a cinch.

Unless the challenge had something to do with food, it'd be far better for me to focus entirely on accomplishing that than to focus on gathering food. It was the safest way for me to make up for my low attributes.

We'd been flying for over an hour when Mr. Basara declared that we'd almost reached our destination and that we all of us had to get ready to jump. At this, many of the students were thoroughly shocked.

"What," Mr. Basara howled to drown out the airplane. "You thought we were going to land in the forest?! Of course not! You're all going to—"

[Magical anomaly detected]

The Authority of Hope interrupted Mr. Basara's commentary.

"What?" I whispered to myself.

[The effluence of mana was detected beneath Kim Hooper's location]
[The anomaly can no longer be detected. It is likely that Kim Hooper has already passed it]

A door opened at the side of the airplane. The wind started ravaging through the inside of the aircraft, and I could no longer hear anything except strong gale. Mr. Basara stood by the door, showing no sign of being affected by the blowing air currents, as he gestured for the students to approach him one by one.

Some students looked hesitant, but others showed no fear as they got out of their seats. Jean was the first to get up, holding onto railings on the walls as he walked over to Mr. Basara. As Jean reached the door, Mr. Basara took out a square patch of cloth-looking material and slapped it on Jean's back. He then proceeded to shove Jean out of the door immediately and signaled for the next student to come.

My heart stopped beating for a second when I saw it. Despite that, the next student, Kay, stood up and walked over to Mr. Basara. He repeated the same process and gestured to the next student.

What the hell did I miss?! There's no way they were trying to kill us, so that patch he was putting on everybody's back must have some effect that helps you survive that fall. But even though I knew that I still didn't like the thought of being pushed out of an airplane mid-flight.

After a dozen students had been pushed out by Mr. Basara, he signaled for me to come up next. This wasn't the time to hesitate and waste time, so I forced myself to get up from my seat. I grabbed hold of the railing and pulled myself over to the door. Now that I was this close, I could hear him yell, "Good luck!" as he put the patch on my back and pushed me out. I couldn't help but let out a short scream as I started plunging to my possible death.

 


 

I looked up at the destroyed branches above me with a blank expression. I'd been in many life-threatening situations before, but this was different from all of those. The feeling of falling over a thousand meters through the air without any apparent means to survive was not an agreeable one, that's for sure. But at least I didn't lose control of myself, although I might have flinched for a second just when I was about to hit the treetops.

Thankfully, that patch on my back hadn't been for nothing. Just as I was about to hit the treetops, it had activated, and a transparent shield of air had formed around me, slowing down my fall and breaking the branches in my way.

After lying on the ground like that for a few seconds, I forced myself to stand up. The patch that had been on my back seemed to have disappeared as it activated that shield that stopped my descent. I wonder how those things are made. And what they cost. It was pretty cool.

I looked over my bow and quiver. I'd made sure not to drop my bow as we fell, and the quiver was secured on my back and had a lid so that the arrows wouldn't fall out. I opened the top so that I was ready to grab an arrow at a moment's notice if necessary.

Then I put up my wrist and looked at my watch. I had one pending message.

-Main Objective: Survive in the forest for two days
-Optional Objective: Build a shelter and upload pictures
-Optional Objective: Start a fire and upload pictures
-Optional Objective: Find food and upload pictures
-Optional Objective (Sharpshooter): Targets are hidden throughout the forest. Each target gives extra points but can only be hit from a distance of over 100 meters.
-Warning: Cooperation with other students is not permitted

Reading over the message, I smiled. Judging from these objectives, it didn't seem like I was at that much of a disadvantage. While finding the targets might be hard, I think I could hit a target at one hundred meters without a problem.

Finding food, starting a fire, and building a shelter wouldn't be too hard either, as long as I used what I'd learned up till now in the Survival Class. The reason we had to upload pictures of this was probably due to the fact that our smartwatches could only track our locations, not our actions. The forest on the academy island was covered with hidden cameras that the teachers could use to check the student's results, but here they had to rely on pictures taken by the students themselves. It's not like they could cheat; they could track our locations so they would know if we achieved our results by ourselves or not.

As I was thinking about what I should do first, I remembered hope's messages on the plane.

"Hope," I said out loud.

[Yes]

"What was that you were talking about earlier? About a magical anomaly?"

[The effluence of mana was detected near Kim Hooper for 7.4 seconds]

"The effluence of mana? What, like at the academy?"

[Correct, although at a significantly lower scale]

"Does that mean that we passed a natural mana well?"

[Improbable]
[At this scale, it is most likely a dungeon]

"There's an unruptured dungeon in this forest?!"

Any dungeon that hadn't started letting out monsters into the world yet was called an unruptured dungeon. The time it took for a dungeon to rupture varied, but at the minimum, it was a few months. However, the odds of a newly created dungeon appearing here were low. But there was another possibility...

"Hope, do you have any idea how old the dungeon is?"

[The exact age is impossible to determine, but it is at minimum four years since the dungeon appeared]

"Four years...A hidden dungeon?" I mumbled to myself.

Not all dungeons ruptured. A small amount would stay unruptured forever. These dungeons were called hidden dungeons and were often highly sought after by guilds. The fact that there was an undiscovered dungeon here was astonishing. The question was what I was going to do with this information.

"Hope, where was this dungeon?"

[The anomaly was detected southwest of Kim Hooper's current location]

"How far away is it?"

[Unknown]

"Hmm..."

I had to wait about five minutes after the Authority detected the dungeon before I jumped out of the airplane. I don't know at what speed the plane was flying, but I think commercial airplanes usually operate at around seven hundred kilometers per hour. We were probably flying slower than that, though, as we were jumping out of the plane. We probably weren't flying any faster than five hundred kilometers per hour. By doing some quick math, I could calculate that we'd traveled at maximum forty kilometers by the time it was my turn to jump.

Forty kilometers... I could run that in under two hours if I really tried, although if I didn't want to tire myself out too much, three hours was a more reasonable speed.

A hidden dungeon, though. Should I contact the teachers and tell them about this? But how would I explain finding it? I could tell them that I had a Talent that helped me sense it, but did I really want to do that?

Whilst I was too weak to clear a dungeon by myself right now, not all dungeons had to be cleared to find valuable things. I'd actually been in a couple of dungeons before, and the beginning of those had been relatively easy. If I played it safe, I might be able to find some useful plants or treasures inside that dungeon without putting myself at too much risk. God knows that I needed all the advantages I could right now...

I looked down at my watch and the list of objectives that I had been given. I might have to sacrifice all of the objectives except the main one, which would make my evaluation low. But considering what I could gain, it felt like a worthy sacrifice.

With a small smile on my face, I used to the compass in my watch to find southwest, and then I started running.

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