In a vast forest where nothing but trees could be seen in all directions, a small airfield could be found hidden in all the greenery. Next to the airfield were several small modern barracks and a medium-sized concrete building. Inside that building, in a room with many cabinets and tables, sat a brown-haired woman in front of two computer screens.
When she heard the sound of a door opening and closing from behind, she turned around in her chair and looked at the person who just entered.
"How did it go?" She asked.
Mr. Basara, who was holding two cups in his hands, shook his head with an irritated expression.
"Not good. Those old geezers are too bullheaded. It doesn't matter what anyone says; they won't give up. And some of the others are being convinced now too. Even Crawford is openly supporting them."
The woman had a sickened look on her face. "Does that surprise you?"
"He's a bastard, yes. But I didn't think he would join them."
The woman shrugged her shoulders and turned back to the screens. "It's about what I would expect of him. Bastard has no morals as far as I am concerned."
Basara sighed but didn't argue with her about it. He then placed one of the cups on the desk in front of the woman.
"Here. Sorry about pushing all of my work on to you."
She looked down on the steaming hot coffee in front of her and smiled. "Thanks," She said and took a sip, ignoring the fact that the coffee was hot enough to burn ordinary people. "And you don't have to apologize. It was an important meeting, you missing it wouldn't have been good."
Basara took a sip from his own cup and smiled somberly. "It would have helped if you were there too."
She took another sip of her coffee and stared at the screens. Right now, both of them were showing different variants of the same map, depicting a large forest with over a hundred moving dots on it.
"I told you, I'm tired of dealing with those bastards. Right now, I prefer staying out here."
Basara slowly nodded his head. "I know," He said and observed the maps. "So, has anything happened while I've been gone?"
The woman looked glad that at the change of subject. "Yes. A few of your students ran into each other, but they all separated not far after, so it wasn't a problem. It took me a while to notice, but one of your students also disappeared for a while."
Basara's expression froze as he was about to take another sip of his coffee.
She grabbed hold of the mouse and pressed an option that displayed names next to all of the dots. "I said one of your students disappeared for a while. I didn't notice it immediately, so I don't know how long he was missing, but he reappeared again after a few hours."
Basara furrowed his eyebrows heavily. "How could one of my students disappear? Who was it?"
"Calm down; he's back now." She reassured him as she looked through a list of names on one of the screens for a few seconds until she eventually found the name she was looking for. "Ah, it was this guy. Kim Hooper." One of the dots was highlighted on the map.
"Hooper?" Basara's expression changed into that of surprise.
The woman picked up on his change. "Is there anything special about him?" She asked curiously.
"Depends on how you see it. His results on the entry exam were low, and his performance at the start of the term was even worse. To be honest, I suspected foul play and considered bringing it up with the headmaster, but then he improved pretty quickly. He even turned out to have a specialized gift."
"Really? Sounds special to me."
"Yeah, but he's still far behind any of the other students physically. Although Tanju Shar did seem to take an interest in him."
At that, the woman's eyes shot open in surprise. "Tanju Shar? How does she know him?"
Basara looked at her. "She's class 1's archery instructor."
"How did you manage to convince her to do that?" She asked, but she quickly remembered something and looked at the list of names on the screen again. "I see. Marley's granddaughter is in your class. That would explain it."
Basara shook his head. "Only you would address a living legend by their first name."
"Privilege of the few." She said, and took another large sip. "So this Hooper kid, he's an archer then?"
"Yes. But how did he disappear?"
The woman dragged the mouse over the screen a few times and zoomed in on a part of the map. "He was around here when he disappeared. There are cliffs here, so I think he must have entered a cave, and his watch lost the signal."
Basara furrowed his eyebrows once again. "Shouldn't it work, even in a cave?"
"In theory, yes. I've been in my fair share of situation where technology haven't worked as it should. It's not common, but I've seen it be unable to track students here a couple of times before." She answered leisurely.
Basara didn't look entirely convinced. "Could there have been another reason?" He asked.
The woman leaned back in her chair. "There could be over a thousand reasons. None of them are very likely, though." She turned to look at him. "Unless you think he had a reason to do it purposefully."
He seemed to think about it for a few seconds before he shook his head. "No, I can't think of a reason why he would. But tell me if he disappears like that again."
She shrugged her shoulders and looked back at the screens. "Sure. Will do."
I woke up the next day in good time to see the sunrise through the foliage. I was damp and a bit cold, but I quickly warmed up once I started moving. The first thing I did was break up my shelter and cover up my fireplace. Then, I got to work on clearing the other objectives. I ended up spending less time in the dungeon than I feared, which left me with ample time to find food, and some of those targets that had been hidden in the forest.
The targets themselves were small green figures placed on the branches of some trees. Hitting them from a hundred meters turned out to be easy, but finding them was a bit trickier. They were rare, so even with my Watching Eye ability, I only managed to find six altogether. As for food, I mainly gathered berries and was satisfied with that.
Because I sacrificed all of my water in order to bring that magical water with me, I ended up being very thirsty at the end of the day. When the sun had set, and I received a message on my watch about the challenge being completed along with coordinates for us to gather, I was elated. However, on my way there, I realized that we would probably have to turn in our canteens after the challenge. We were only borrowing them, after all.
Therefore, when I closed in on the coordinates that I'd been sent, I decided to pour the canteen's contents into my quiver instead. It was a modern quiver and was water-resistant. While it would feel awkward having water splashing around in it, the challenge was over, and I didn't have to care much about it now.
When I finally reached the gathering spot, I saw several small barracks and a larger building next to a short airfield. Several of the other students from class 1 had already arrived and were currently gathered around Mr. Basara. When he saw me approach them, he nodded his head and seemed to check something off on his smartwatch.
I greeted Raul and some of the others that had already arrived, but we didn't talk much. Most students looked a little tired and were only waiting for the rest of the class to arrive so that the teacher could have a brief talk with us before letting us go to sleep in barracks for the night. An airplane would then come and pick us up again in the morning.
I'm guessing that I was further away than most students because I only had to wait for five minutes before the last of class 1 appeared. Mr. Basara then lauded us for a job well done, told us the rules of the barracks here as well as the time we had to be ready in the morning, and then sent us off for the night. When he was finished, he looked at me oddly for a few seconds before wishing us a good night's rest and leaving.
I had a decent idea of what that was about. I'd already thought up an excuse for my small little venture, but if he wasn't going to bother me about it, I didn't mind — less trouble for me. With that, I left with the other students towards the barracks.