“Let’s see… ‘Regarding the Ranking of Raybeasts’. Raybeasts are ranked according to the total amount of dimensional energy within them. Just like with Status, the strongest raybeasts are classified with an S Rank, while the weakest among them are classified with an E Rank.
It is possible to get a more detailed summary of a raybeast’s abilities by checking its status, but invoking the skill requires that the caster be at a certain distance, so it’s not a viable option when searching for raybeasts. Meanwhile, energy can be detected and approximately calculated from a long distance, so it’s the preferred option for detecting raybeasts.
The downside with this method is that it only gives a rough estimation of a raybeast’s strength, but learning the more specific details of a raybeast is a scout’s job. What’s more important when looking for the enemy is to be able to check the most dangerous factor – the total amount of energy.”
“Why aren’t my attacks working!? Damn you!”
“Don’t just charge in, dummy! Eek, stop! Uwaa!!??”
At a corner of the D Rank area of the fields was a boy reading a textbook, not a hint of care about the tremors of the earth or the screams and jeers in the background. Even his servant nonchalantly groomed herself, not bothering to watch the unfolding battle between a group of ants and an elephant.
“Kyaa! Where are you aiming!?”
“You’re in the way!”
“Shut up, ladies! If you’re just going to be noisy, you might as well go someplace else!”
“Next one is ‘The Factors that Determine the Appearance of a Raybeast’. When dimensional energies are gathered into a single place, the resulting phenomenon that can interfere with the physical world is what is known as raybeast. Their appearance is infinitely varied, and even those that spring forth as a colony have minute differences between them.
The reason why has been a mystery for a long time, but presently, two related factors have been discovered. One is the location where the energy is gathered. The appearance that the raybeasts take on have a tendency to suit the environment they appear in. The reason is because their body’s mechanics are very close to that of living creature.
For example, if a raybeast were to appear high up in the sky, without any wings, it would just fall down to the ground and vanish. It is believed that this is an adaptation due raybeastified energy not being able to last long in the world. As such, it is impossible for the phenomenon to occur while resulting in an appearance unsuitable for the environment.
The second factor is related to that. Although not to the same extent as photons, dimensional energies have also been confirmed to react to human will. This too has an effect on the appearance they take, as the energy that is trying to adapt to the environment is also reacting to the unconscious thoughts of people, which then causes the energy to take on forms of existing beast and fictional monsters. The reason their appearance is different every time they appear is because the jumble of images in people’s minds are ever changing.
I see,” Shinichi said as he read the textbook.
A student wearing a simple exoskeleton fell in front of him, but he didn’t react. He might appear heartless, but he has his reason. The reason being that the student was completely unharmed. The centaur-like raybeast had thrown the student higher than its own height, and yet as soon as the student fell into the rocky terrain—
“Ugh, damn it… Y-You! What are you acting so leisurely for!?”
—His first reaction was to lash out at Shinichi. Evidently, he was full of life.
He did feel pain, and the impact would likely leave some bruises, but that’s about it; hence, the situation wasn’t dangerous enough for Shinichi to make a move.
“Well, I am acting as the examiner, so I figured I’d review the basics of raybeasts.”
The text he was reading was almost right at the start of the textbook, though. But that couldn’t be helped since the way he studied relied on methods that he couldn’t tell others about – that is, his so-called information gathering. And while he knew the gist of the topic, the way the textbook put it was much more organized and easier to understand.
“As I thought, reading textbooks makes it easy to understand. It’s so organized.”
“Don’t screw with me! Can’t you see that!?”
The shoulders of the male student heaved up and down as he picked himself up and pointed to the battlefield of the students and the raybeast. To the class of 1-D, that battlefield was death. To Shinichi, it was school.
The students of 1-D surrounded the giant raybeast and attacked it. Shooting armaments would rain fire, melee weapons would be swung, and skills would be invoked indiscriminately. Attack, attack, attack. After one attack, would come another, and then another, and then yet again another attack.
“Are you guys really taking this seriously?”
But despite their frantic efforts, they could at most inflict shallow wounds.
Compared to that, just the shockwaves from one swing of the raybeast’s arms was enough to send the students flying. It didn’t even need to hit them directly. The only reason the students haven’t suffered much was because of the simple exoskeletons they were wearing.
If the raybeast was the only reason why they were getting hurt, it would still be fine, but unfortunately, the students also incurred a lot of friendly fire. They didn’t care, though, and just kept on attacking anyway.
Shinichi never expected much teamwork from them in the first place, but with this, they really had nothing going for them but number. They knew their attacks weren’t working, but they just kept on attacking and never really tried to make use of numerical superiority.
Although the scenery had changed, 1-D was performing exactly as they’ve done before.
“Terrible. Utterly terrible. Even worse than what I’d expected.”
“I’ve had enough with you!”
But of course, if he were to say something like that without explaining anything, it’s only natural that the person he’s talking to would get mad.
When the student in front of him acted exactly as expected, Shinichi sighed.
“Are you seriously turning your back on a strong enemy while in the middle of battle?”
He was about to grab Shinichi by the collar, but when Shinichi said that, it was as if cold water was poured on him. Meanwhile, Shinichi was impressed that his head was still working well enough to realize what was about to happen next.
The student turned around immediately, but the hairy giant fist was already upon him.
Before he could scream for his life, however, he was suddenly pulled from the side and was narrowly able to escape danger. When he realized what had happened, he realized that Shinichi had pulled him far enough to get away from the shockwave. The only reason his breathing was a little hard was because he was pulled forcefully by the nape of his neck.
“Don’t complain to me that your neck hurts. I’m not so nice that I’d go so far to take care of a man’s body.”
While he was both surprised and relieved to have escaped, Shinichi’s incomprehensible words left him confused.
Actually, Shinichi could have saved him without hurting him, he just didn’t care enough to bother. But of course, the student couldn’t possibly know that, so his confusion just became worse.
“You guys sure make a lot of work for me.”
Shinichi said with a sigh, then looked at everyone before judging that they’d reached their limit. Although neither side has given the other fatal damage, there was a stark difference behind the reason.
In 1-D’s case, it was because their attacks lacked power and coordination. In the raybeast’s case, it was because they kept avoiding a direct hit. If they were to run out of gas, the class of 1-D would be turned into no more than a heap of corpses.
“…Any more than this is dangerous—Do it.”
She cried out in affirmation and immediately bolted off.
Nimbly, she jumped up the protruding rocks, then using those as her footing, jumped up even higher to reach the raybeast’s head. Crimson flames covered her entire body, and like a jet propulsion it blew behind her, pushing and transforming her into a shooting star that shot forth toward the face of the raybeast.
Seeing that, anyone would have imagined a loud collision to occur next, but no such thing happened. Instead a hole was opened right on the face of the raybeast before its body was penetrated next.
Even after puncturing two big holes on the raybeast, her momentum didn’t lessen. She had to use the ground to break her speed, forming a long trail on the rocky terrain.
With the energy crystal of the raybeast punctured, it could no longer remain and quietly vanished.
She shook her body to extinguish the flames, then glanced at the speechless class of 1-D, and then as if proud of herself, she cried out in a jeer and quietly returned to her master.
No one could obstruct the small creature’s that easily defeated the raybeast that towered them. They could only look on with awe. After all, they had just seen for themselves the height of this creature’s strength, which they’d previously only read about in their books.
“It’s past 12. Well, you did survive for an hour, so I guess I’ll give you passing marks. With this we’ll conclude the morning test.”
As soon as those words were said, all of 1-D collapsed into the ground.
With the existence pressuring them gone, it was as if the thread keeping their emotions was suddenly cut, and all the fatigue that had built up came flooding in. They didn’t even have the will left to remove their simple exoskeletons.
But let it not be forgotten why they had to fight a B Rank raybeast in the first place and who it was that gave that order.
“The afternoon exam will start at 1PM. You can do as you please until then, but don’t leave the exam area.”
“Got it— Wait, what!?”
“Haa haa haa… Huh?”
It was currently 12:16PM. There were only 44 minutes left until 1:00PM. The break they were alloted was simply too short for having just fought such a powerful foe.
“W-Wait— I mean, please wait. At least, give us some more time…”
Perhaps that’s also the reason why despite being about to lash out at him, they instead asked him nicely. Unfortunately, Shinichi wasn’t the sort to hold back just because of that.
“A little under an hour. That should be more than enough. Don’t worry the exam in the afternoon will be a lot easier.”
They were shot down as expected, and on top of that, Shinichi even claimed that the exam later would be much easier. Everyone from 1-D paled.
“Y-You’re kidding, right?”
After all, there was a spectacular good-man’s smile plastered on Shinichi’s face. After the past few hours, they already knew exactly what that meant. Nobody took it at face value.
“Looks like you all get it. Alright, dismissed. Now then, shall we have lunch?”
After saying that, Shinichi walked away with the creature on his shoulder. The exhausted and unmoving students saw them off before realizing it.
“Yeah. It’s lunch time already…”
The sudden replacement of the examiner, the constant abuses hurled at them, the problem of taking the exam or not, and then suddenly having a B Rank raybeast thrown at them. Everything happened so quickly, they couldn’t keep up.
That’s why they forgot the part of the test that tested them on their adaptability to unknown environments by requiring them to source their own food.
“What are we gonna do? I don’t want to move anymore.”
“Stop complaining. We’re all in the same boat. There should be a lot of food in this area.”
“It is a D Rank area, after all. Surviving the next three days should be a piece of cake.”
Fortunately, or perhaps, just as one might expect, the exam area assigned to the D Class was rich in nature and clear flowing water.
If they just looked, they would easily be able to find fruits, vegetations, and even fish from the rivers. It was an area designed precisely for beginners.
“Is there anyone who can distinguish which food is edible?”
But of course, that was only true for those with the appropriate knowledge.
The student had only asked that to confirm, but what he got instead was a silence so deafening it was depressing. When the students realized that they might have just found themselves in the worst possible situation, fear and panic appeared on their faces.
“H-Hey, isn’t there anyone with survival skills or camping experience!?”
“I’ve gone camping with my family before, but my parents took care of everything.”
“If I had a fishing rod, I could fish, but… I’ve never prepared a fish before.”
The class of 1-D asked each other what they could do, but every one of them was at most at that level.
Despite knowing that they would be staying in this place for three days, they foolishly overlooked the issue of sourcing food. One big reason behind that was because they thought that with so many of them someone would surely know how. This is a topic that will be covered in the later 1st year classes, but for now, it’s an experience akin to a baptism. A rite of passage about the importance of preparation. In other words, regardless which class it was, so long as they’re in their first year, they would have to go through this ordeal.
“Huh? But then what is that guy going to do?”
The student wasn’t worried when he asked that, he was just curious. Unfortunately, the answer to that question was cruelly shown to them when the clock hit 12:55PM.
“Huh? You guys didn’t move at all? *Chomp.”
Sapped dry of stamina and without any knowledge, the class of 1-D decided that it would be too dangerous to move, so instead they shared the food they’d brought with them.
They were allowed to bring food as long as it was just enough to fill their pockets. Of course, for someone as starving as them, that did little to fill their bellies.
That’s why when they saw that, they couldn’t help but swallow their saliva.
Shinichi knew how they were feeling, but he still chewed without reservation.
“I’m not giving you any. *Chomp.”
They looked longingly at Shinichi, but Shinichi just chomped on the red fruit in his hands. Make no mistake, this boy was a demon. He greedily indulged in the juicy red fruit while a group of starving children watched on with envy.
“W-What’s with that? Just where did you find that?”
They’d eaten the food they’d brought to get past lunch, but it wasn’t enough. After all, they were made to fight for roughly an hour against that raybeast. They were so hungry that if that fruit was from somewhere nearby, they would immediately go to eat it.
“From the forest before the river… So you really weren’t looking, after all.”
But that was a vain dream, and Shinichi’s evaluation of them only became lower. It was a 15-minute walk from here to the river. That was not a distance they wanted to cover while exhausted, and they didn’t have the time anyway. Shinichi also had only one fruit on him. That was not enough for them to consider stealing.
“I-It looks so delicious… H-Hey, what is that? Is that an apple?”
“No, it’s a fruit from Garesto. Look.”
A female student showed them one of the many textbooks she had on her foster.
Shinichi didn’t find this fruit by chance. He found it by looking for the picture he had on him. Unfortunately, as long as one is human, it takes time to eliminate the options one by one and make a decision. After all, these students didn’t have Shinichi’s ability to easily find unknown things.
“Umm, it’s a fruit that’s been growing in Garesto for a long time now. It’s called Lilik—”
“—It’s not a food you’d consider coming from Earth’s food culture. Its tree grows quickly and everywhere, so it was treated as a nuisance, but now that special trait is being used to cultivate it. It’s one of the few food exported from Garesto. On the outside it looks like an apple, but it doesn’t have any taste when eaten raw. When cooked, though, it tastes like meat. Did I get that right?”
A student tried to read the text, but Shinichi interjected and talked about the special traits of the fruit. Moreover, the things he said and the things written on the textbook were mostly the same.
“…I mean you’d normally research it, right? We’re staying here for the next few days, after all.”
It was only three days, but they still had to live here and procure food during that time. Finding out if something is harmful only after having eaten it is already too late. What’s more is that they were scheduled to come here. They had plenty of time to research.
Though in 1-D’s case, they had just entered school and were struggling to adapt to the new environment. They also had poor knowledge, so they had to spend more time studying. But even then, there was no denying that they looked down too much on this section of the exam.
“But you know, even if you didn’t know about these fruits, if you saw them, you’d still remember them, right? Are those eyes on your faces just decoration or something?”
They didn’t even notice these fruits during their long march. Clearly, they lacked foresight and attentiveness.
“It should be obvious by now, but your evaluation in the morning was completely negative. You marched head straight without even thinking about food or bedding. What’s more…”
“W-We get it already! We couldn’t do anything against that raybeast and we also didn’t pay attention to our surroundings!”
“And because you underestimated the food section, you now have to take the next exam on an empty stomach.”
‘Sad,’ Shinichi seemed to say mockingly with those eyes of his as he ate the rest of the fruit.
Be it the way he acted or the way he talked, everything rubbed the students the wrong way, but this time, no one could refute his words. He was right, after all. What’s more is that he actually prepared. At the very least, in this regard, no one thought he was unqualified to talk like this.
“…You’re meek in the weirdest places, huh.”
Shinichi thought they’d lash out at him again, but they didn’t, so it was rather anti-climatic for him. Now that he thought about it, this school did have a tendency to acknowledge those who could produce results. That was also the reason why no one complains about the arrogance of the special class students.
Of course, if their actions were to cross the line and break the rules, then the public morals committee would make a move, but in general, there’s a tacit understanding of ‘if you don’t like it, then climb up.’ That was the kind of school it was.
Although it’s hard to believe that they would adopt that kind of thinking in just two months. They probably received education along those lines too before coming here. It’s doubtful it would be on the same level though.
Knowledge, information, facilities, machines, personnel. Regardless what aspect it was, the other schools should be far worse.
That’s why they’re so incomplete.
“In that case, we might as well move on.”
‘If this is how they are, then…’ Shinichi changed his plans a little. They’ve already experienced an unwinnable battle with that raybeast from earlier. They’ve also experienced the consequence of failing to pay attention during their march. He was originally planning on using the whole first day to make them understand that, but they’ve already understood it, so…
Their next experience should be—