This first thing that happened at Ducson Academy of Magical Instruction was finding William a room in the dorm. “Shouldn’t I have to pass the test before I start staying here?”
“Yeeeeeeah, I guess.” Headmistress Lorenz shrugged. “You’ll pass though. You don’t even have to take it if you don’t want, but if you do well we can reduce your fee. We like smart, studious people here… and to be honest we don’t really need the fees to keep the school running. They’re nice though, and mostly go to pay for the primary education system.”
“Is the primary education system more expensive?”
“Not really, it’s just that it’s free. It can’t pay for itself, at least not directly. I wanted people to have the opportunity to study and learn even if they don’t have money but… most people still don’t. Maybe they’re not interested, or they don’t have time… or they don’t know. That last one is the worst, but we can’t just send people walking around the city announcing it.”
“Well… the people who need it aren’t usually around during the day, and nobody else seems bothered to talk about it. We can put up signs, but that isn’t much good for people who can’t read, now is it?”
William was appalled at how low the education standards were in Ducson… or perhaps more at peoples apathy toward it. Caister had better education… didn’t it? Perhaps William had just assumed that, since his parents educated themselves and him. No, it had definitely been better than Ducson, which was sad because Ducson had free education. William couldn’t understand why that would be.
The test was a lot harder than William thought it would be… but he also understood that it was designed to find the limits of the participants, instead of just making sure they reached a minimum standard. Fortunately, there weren’t too many questions that required him to know specific chants or the names of particular materials or other jargon. Instead, many of the questions involved thinking about something rather than just memorizing information from a book. They could still be difficult if one didn’t know the right direction to think, but they were possible without any prior knowledge. Finally, there were questions about mana and mana control. They were relatively easy, but if those taking the test had never bothered to think about what they were doing when using magic, William saw how they could be difficult. He was glad that he actually could see and control mana now, because otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to give very good answers, as they would be secondhand information at best.
What surprised William the most was the complete lack of practical tests. Sure, all gevai could see mana and use magic, if they knew how, but that didn’t mean they were all equally capable. They still had differences in natural talent… and practice. However, the academy here didn’t seem to care about that. William wondered whether the other academies were the same.
In the end, William got a moderate scholarship, which was great because he hadn’t known that the possibility existed before coming here. He was somewhat disappointed he hadn’t done better… but he was glad that he got the opportunity to review his results. He thought that next time he saw similar problems, he would be able to solve them. Perhaps there might be even more thought provoking questions to be had, but they would likely not show up in the entrance examination.
Because most of the students stayed in the dorm, William quickly came to know how many students there were at the academy. The answer was surprisingly… few. The thing that limited the wizard’s guild in Ostana the most was just finding people who could do magic, but here everyone could do magic. Even so, they had fewer people than the Ostana wizard’s guild. Sure, there were other academies, but the numbers still seemed terribly low. There were merely dozens of students… but on the other hand, there were nearly matched by professors and researchers. When William brought into mind the lower birth rates… it was still lower than he expected, but it made more sense. There were less gevai in any particular year of birth. Still, there should have been more older gevai wizards, but they simply weren’t around. On the other hand, William could guess why that was as well. Though the Demon King war was a long time prior… it was only really a few generations, and those older wizards might perhaps be all that was left. That was speculation though, because William didn’t go around asking everyone how old they were, and whether they knew anyone who died in the war. Headmistress Lorenz had apparently known at least one person, and it seemed a sore subject. William had even less reason to bring it up, because it was entirely possible that he had killed the person himself. Maybe not, but he’d killed a number of people in that battle… and then perhaps everyone else, when he destroyed the Demon King. The lake filling a crater didn’t seem to indicate that there would have been many survivors nearby.
William made an effort to interact with the other students, even though they were mentally quite a bit younger than him. Some of them were physically a few dozen years old, but he could tell they were still actually relatively young. After that point, William became less accurate at judging people’s ages… especially since there stopped being physical indications. William was glad he did talk to everyone, at least a little, because he made a new friend. Matfey Beaulieu was the son of a merchant in a neighboring city, though William didn’t care about that part much. Mostly, William cared that he was interesting to talk to. He had many ideas about magic, and though not all of them were correct, they were interesting. At least he thought about things… and even usually realized later when he was wrong. William tried to gently guide him toward the correct ideas about things, both because it would be rather rude to blatantly tell him when he was wrong, and because he learned better that way anyway. Even though he had more experience, William still got a good idea or two from him. There weren’t any amazing new revelations, but William didn’t expect that. Perhaps given time he might come up with something actually revolutionary… but perhaps not. William already knew some things that might be revolutionary for magic… but he wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to share them. Lorelei knew about chants being unnecessary, and he would prefer to ask her opinion before spreading such knowledge in her country. Besides, he didn’t want any demon lords to learn it, because it would be easier to kill them if he knew what magic they were using. Not that William was planning to go around killing demon lords. Not seriously anyway. Not yet.
Author’s note: Haha wouldn’t it have been embarassing if I’d written headmaster instead of headmistress every time for the last few chapters? That would have been silly. It’s a good thing I didn’t do that, and even if I had I would definitely have secretly fixed it in the master chapters and not brought it up in a note.