15 Chapter Fifteen
(Correlated with the manhua's chapter 15)
"Who could have guessed that Mo Fan, our unassuming classmate…would actually be stronger than Mu Bai?!" Thought Zhou Min, the fire magician with the ponytail who achieved a rating of nine of ten in magical energy quality and was ranked 4th among her peers.
"It's just like that one saying—there's always a bigger fish!" Thought Xu Zhaoting, the lightning magician also rated nine of ten while ranked 3rd.
"I…placed…SECOND! HOW HUMILIATING!" Mu Bai screamed in his thoughts, grimacing at the knowledge that he was rated lower than Mo Fan.
"This… Is this the scent of academic success? I might just faint at its seductive aroma!" Thought He Yu, a water magician with a magical energy quality rating of eight of ten and ranked 34th. "This is the first time I've ever been placed into a top class! If all goes well, I'll be able to enroll in Pearl Magic Academy and aim for even greater heights!" He Yu's cheeks were rosy with excitement as she daydreamed of what the future had in store for her, overjoyed with how she managed to enter the top class as a second-year.
He Yu felt a finger prodding her shoulder from behind and turned to see a fellow student smiling at her.
"Hello~ My name is Zhang Xiao Hou and I'm a wind mage. What about you?"
Suddenly, Zhang Xiao Hou paused, seeming to remember something as he pointed at a student seated closer to the front.
"Oh, right. That's my bro, Mo Fan, the guy who scored first on exams. I'm sure you know who he is!"
He Yu was too excited to see how Zhang Xiao Hou was using his friend's fame to get closer to her as she comprehended the words that came out of his mouth. "You… You know Mo Fan?! The top student in our grade?!" Just the idea of being ranked high enough to enter the top class of her grade was enough to send shivers of joy down her spine. Being ranked first? Only the most talented of magicians would even rank in the top ten! To be first? She couldn't even imagine.
"That's right! We grew up together and we're suuuuuuuper close!"
"Zhang Xiao Hou, you've just entered a new class and you've already started blabbering? You're a second-year now!"
"M-Mr. Xue... Good morning! Ha ha…"
The magical energy quality examinations at the end of the school year resumed as usual after Mo Fan's spectacle, and when the students were ranked, Mo Fan came in first place despite not having fought one of the examiners. He had the same magical energy quality rating as Mu Bai, but the few attacks he displayed, although under strange circumstances, clearly exhibited more power and finer control than Mu Bai's, resulting in the examiners giving him a higher score.
Now, Mo Fan, Xiao Hou, and the rest of the top-ranked students of their year sat in their new classroom as second-year students, coincidentally with the same teacher from their homeroom the year before.
"Anyways…" He Yu continued, "I'm He Yu and my element is water. I'll be in your care."
Too ecstatic by the look of respect and interest he received after revealing he was friends with Mo Fan, all Xiao Hou could muster was, "Okay!"
"Stop with the whispering back there!" Glaring at Xiao Hou after reaching the front of the classroom, Mr. Xue began addressing the class. "Now then… Even though you are all among the best and brightest of our nation's future magicians, this is all still only the beginning." Mr. Xue set down the suitcase he'd brought with him into the room on his desk, slowly opening it. "Every magician wants to increase the efficiency of his or her magical training."
"Wow, it's actually a…"
The students began leaning forward in their seats, staring at the contents of the suitcase with awe and wonder.
"As such, stardust acceleration equipment is something that every buddy magician dreams of obtaining."
Fully open, the suitcase revealed three metal rings of silver covered in crisscrossing lines—bracelets.
"These damned kids… It takes a stardust acceleration device to get them to pay attention!" Mr. Xue was irritated by how the students behaved, but he didn't let it show on his face as he continued speaking. "Stardust devices are extremely expensive. In addition, our class has only three. When you're using them, please make sure to treat them with care! From here, I will be distributing this equipment out to the class. We'll start with the students with the highest scores on the recent examination. Mo Fan, step up to receive a device."
As Mo Fan walked up to Mr. Xue to accept the valuable bracelet, whispers arose in parts of the class—the students prone to gossiping revealing themselves. It being the case that young magicians, especially those at the top of the power hierarchy of those their age, were fiercely competitive, discussions broke out about various topics regarding the top-ranked second-year student.
"Yo, look at Mu Bai. It's like there's a shadow hanging over his face! But, I don't blame him. When a guy as powerful as Mo Fan is in the same grade, what can you do but hand over the title of Number One?"
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"I don't know man. Mu Bai showed some pretty good skills when sparring against that wind mage examiner. Even if Mo Fan's attacks are more powerful, a strong sense for battle can be the winning factor in a real fight."
Ignoring the whispers, Mr. Xue presented Mo Fan with the stardust accelerator device. "Make good use of it, Mo Fan."
*"As someone who has to train two elements at once, the value of this device simply can't be overstated! Even without it, I am considered a genius! Now that I can increase my efficiency…"*
Mo Fan was on his way back to his seat, smiling and giddily chuckling when he passed Mu Bai, who scoffed, "That's nothing more than an ordinary stardust accelerator, yet here you are, looking at it like it's your baby or something." The loathing Mu Bai felt for Mo Fan was clear to everyone that heard him, but no one was surprised. Mo Fan chose to actively offend the members of the Mu family during the examinations, showing that he had some bad history with them. For Mu Bai to detest Mo Fan just seemed natural to them.
However, the surrounding classmates could not keep quiet when Mo Fan retorted.
"Oh? Ha ha…" Mo Fan's lips formed a cruel smile as he looked down at Mu Bai from where he stood. "Of COURSE you'd have a problem with me acquiring a stardust accelerator to the point of uselessly posturing. After all…" He began slyly chuckling and released just enough magical energy from his body to warm the air around him to suit the atmosphere. "If I can already take first place with no training resources at my disposal from someone backed by a powerful family, you stand no chance at even reaching my feet now that I have such resources."
Lying on his bed back in his dormitory, Mo Fan absentmindedly stared at the stardust accelerator bracelet in his hands as he recalled the conversation with Xiao Hou after classes ended that day. Mo Fan had remembered that Mu Bai referred to the stardust accelerator he received as "ordinary" and asked Xiao Hou about it.
"You didn't know? Weird, considering how many times I've seen you at the library studying magic… Magic equipment comes in different grades. For example, spirit-grade equipment is the next grade after the so-called "ordinary" stuff like the bracelet you got. The increased efficiency in training that you can get with spirit-grade equipment is more than double than what you have! I heard Mu Ningxue has such equipment." Xiao Hou told him.
*"Well, knowing that there's better equipment doesn't really help me when I can't obtain it. However, I now have a goal to strive towards!"*
Mo Fan once more stared at the bracelet which he spun it on a finger, watching as the light from his bedroom lamp shined off its silvery surface.
Suddenly, Mo Fan lost control of the bracelet when he spun it too hard, causing it to fall on his chest, colliding with his dragon pendant and causing sparks to fly and some kind of magical disturbance.
Then…the stardust accelerator shattered.