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5 Julien D. Evenus [4]

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Expectations were minimal before his entrance.

Behind their desk, the four examiners conversed with each other, reviewing the files of the examinees.

"The overall talent level is lower than last year. It's rather disappointing if I'm being honest. At this rate, the other institutes within the empire will catch up to us."

The man with the red beard mumbled—Herman Chambers, a High-Wizard, and a man known for his discernible eye for talent. As such, he was put in a position of recruitment for the upcoming year at the Haven Institute.

Just by visualizing the flow of mana coming from an examinee's body, he could more or less tell if they were talented or not.

From the thickness, and its purity... He'd be able to discern the overall level of the examinee before they even performed.

"Please bring the next examinee."

Compared to last year, the talents were severely lacking.

But.

"We've found a couple of little monsters, haven't we?"

There were a few exceptions.

And those few exceptions were far above the norm.

"...I guess you're right."

Herman crossed his arms and leaned back on the chair. From the corner of his eyes, he glanced at the woman sitting beside him.

She adorned herself in formal attire, exuding a near-perfect aura. Her captivating presence left a profound impact on those around her. The flawless combination of appearance and clothing made her stand out from the rest.

Delilah V. Rosemberg.

There were no imperfections or voids in her, to the extent that she appeared to embody perfection itself.

Elegance seamlessly permeated her every action, word, and facial expression, defining her entire being.

She was an unreachable being to many.

Apprentice at 18.

Master-Mage at 19.

High-Wizard at 21.

Arch-Wizard at 24.

And one of the Empire's Seven Monarchs at 27.

Many foresaw her as the future of the Empire, destined to fill a position that had remained vacant for centuries—the most formidable mage among them all.

The Zenith.

'How can someone like her work here...?'

Such a question stumped many, Herman included, but whenever someone asked, all she'd return was an empty smile.

She wasn't a woman of many emotions, but when she did show emotions...

One'd feel chills.

"...Our next examinee should be from a Barony."

Her crisp and clean tone rang in the room. It lacked substance and yet seemed to pressure at the same time.

"Julien Dacre Evenus."

She mumbled a name, almost chewing on it as her eyes lingered over the document in front of her.

"Talent. Elemental and... Emotive."

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"Emotive?"

Herman raised his brow and picked up the document in front of him. 'Indeed, he has talent in the emotive field...' His expectations diminished.

It wasn't that he hated Emotive Mages, or looked down on them.

But.

"It's tough."

Muttering with crossed arms and a dismissive shake of her head, Cathrine Riley Graham, a middle-aged woman with long flowing brown hair, expressed her thoughts.

"An emotive Mage deals with the manipulation of emotion. It's not a rare talent, but..."

Pursing her lips, she halted mid-sentence, allowing for another voice to complete the sentence for her.

"...One might lose themselves if they immerse themselves too much into the study of emotions."

"That's right."

The Emotive field was a dangerous field. To study emotions... Understand them. One had to immerse themselves in them.

Immerse yourself too much... and you might end up losing sight of yourself.

"I've seen my fair share of talented ones lose their minds trying to further their path. It's unfortunate. Really unfortunate..."

"Well, at least he's talented in the Elemental field. Curse Magic? Not a bad field."

There were no bad elements.

Only bad people.

Closely examining the paper in front of him, the door to the room opened. A young man in his late teens entered.

"You must be Julien."

Delilah spoke, her crisp and clean voice ringing throughout the room.

His appearance grabbed the attention of all present.

'He's handsome, but... disappointing."

Herman's first impression of Julien was one of disappointment.

'His mana flow is irregular. The density is light and he doesn't seem to have control over it.'

Was he really a noble? As if he wasn't the only one who thought this, Catherine mumbled,

"Seems like this one is a bit of a bust. Disappointing considering that he's a noble."

Herbert Newberman, sitting on Herman's right, shared similar thoughts with her.

"His mana flow is all over the place. At first glance, he doesn't seem to know how to properly utilize mana. What a rough batch..."

In the mind of the examiners, Julien seemed to have come in vain. His performance was going to be one that they'd need to erase from their minds.

But if there was one thing to take note of, it was his demeanor.

The way he carried himself... His expressionless face, and calm even steps...

It seemed to exude boundless confidence.

An overconfident idiot?

'Well, whatever. Let's get this over with. I've seen worse.'

Herman nudged the young man that stood in front of them.

"Jason, go test him."

He was a first-year, or more like second-year now... cadet. He wasn't exactly the most talented cadet, but to test new examinees he was good enough.

"Yes, sir."

Jason began to move, but just as he had taken a step forward, his face changed.

So did that of all the examiners.

"What is he doing?"

"...Is he checking his pulse?"

"What sort of nonsense is this?"

With a blank expression and finger pressed against his forearm, Julien stared ahead. He seemed out of it.

His face was blank.

Like that of an empty sheet of paper.

"What is this guy doing...?"

"Examinee? Examinee?"

Herman called out for him several times until he snapped out of it.

"Ah...?"

"Examinee? Is everything alright? We don't have all day."

He irritably pointed at Jason.

"...Show as what you've got."

Just as Herman pointed at Jason, a sudden change occurred with Julien. His pupils dilated. His face paled, and his arms began to tremble.

His sudden change took everyone aback.

Julien's eyes trembled, darting around hastily with an air of desperation. He seemed to transform all of a sudden, a complete difference from how he previously was.

His shoulders shrunk and his breathing quickened.

"Haa... Haaa... Haaa..."

Everyone could feel the rhythm of his breath.

It was getting faster with each breath.

He seemed to be the embodiment of a certain emotion.

What emotion...?

Ah.

It soon became clear to everyone.

'Fear.'

He had started to embody fear.

Herman felt a chill run down his body.

Not just him, but the other examiners too.

"You, what are you...!"

Julien walked up to Jason. Perhaps taken aback by the situation, he wasn't able to react on time. Julien's hands came pressing against his skull, squeezing almost.

And,

"Ahhhhhh...!!!!"

A scream shook the room.lightsnovel

It pierced through it and reverberated loudly in the ears of everyone present.

Suddenly, everyone in the room was motionless, not just Herman, Herbert, and Catherine, but Delilah too.

The impact of Julien's action was just that powerful.

With one single action, he left everyone in the room frozen.

"Ah...! No! Ahhhhh...! I don't want to die, no!!!"

It was intense, and one could vividly feel the fear that Jason was feeling.

Goosebumps.

Herman felt goosebumps.

"Ahhh...!"

Thump!

Jason fell liplessly to the floor.

Shaking uncontrollably, he clutched his head while writhing on the floor. Saliva spilled from his mouth.

"H...Help...!"

Despite his cries, none of the examiners moved.

All eyes were fixed on the young man that stood before them.

What was in front of them was the embodiment of someone who threaded a path hardly anyone took.

Recalling, Herman mumbled out loud,

"For one to understand an emotion one must experience it."

To display such fear, one must experience it. Everyone in the room was well-versed and knew this much.

They had traveled all over the continent and met many Emotive Mages. From there, they learned of the harshness that one who threads such a path must endure.

To experience fear, one must relentlessly chase after it.

Many failed in their paths, dying in the middle of training, or simply not being able to understand the emotion.

And yet,

"What sort of gruesome training did he undergo to display such emotion?"

Julien was able to do what many couldn't. He was far from perfection, but to be able to do this at such an age...

'Just how harsh has he been on himself?'

Herman's evaluation of Julien underwent a drastic change.

'Not only is he able to perfectly portray fear, but he also seems to have mastered the state of immersion.'

A state many Emotive Mages chased after. A state where one could separate reality and immersion.

Was that why he checked his pulse beforehand?

To check his condition before immersion?

'A monster.'

He was a total monster.

"If I may ask..."

Catherine was the first to truly break the silence that took hold of the room, briefly glancing at the trembling Jason on the ground before settling her gaze over to Julien.

"What sort of training did you do to be able to do this? And is it only limited to fear?"

"..."

Her question was met with silence as Julien stood still.

He then lowered his head and shook his head.

"Ah."

'Was it so bad that he doesn't want to talk about it?'

The judges felt their expressions harden.

And finally, Delilah, who had been quiet the entire time, with her gaze seemingly never detaching from Juline, opened her mouth to speak,

"You're dismissed. We'll let you know your results after we've evaluated all the examinees."

Julien nodded his head and calmly walked out of the room. It was as if he hadn't done anything worth praising over.

When he left, Herman and the others looked at her.

"Why did you let him go like that? We were still busy ex—"

"Take a look at the floor."

"Ah."

And that was when everyone finally realized.

"Ah...! Pl-please help me... Ah..."

"He's in no state to continue with the examination. Tell someone to replace him and send him to the infirmary. For now, we'll take a break."

"But...!"

"I know what you want to say."

Delilah raised her hand to stop the other examiners from speaking.

"You want to know more about him, right?"

When Herman and the others nodded, Delilah turned to look at the door where Julien had left.

Her gaze told a thousand words.

Herman could tell.

Like the rest of them, her interest had been piqued.

Without a doubt, she wanted to know what everyone in the room wanted to know.

A question none of them dared to ask.

To what extent had he immersed himself?

***

Everything was a blur to me.

From the moment I poured out everything to what unfolded next, my mind felt shrouded in a perpetual fog.

I couldn't think straight.

"What sort of training did you do to be able to do this? And is it only limited to fear?"

My sole focus was getting out of here.

I could feel it from deep within me. I still hadn't let it all out. It was lingering within my mind, slowly creeping its way up.

'I need to leave...'

So, then,

"You're dismissed. We'll let you know your results after we've evaluated all the examinees."

When the chance presented itself, I spared no time and left. Coming out, I felt the stares of everyone in the hall fall on me, but yet again, I could pay them no mind.

'I need to find somewhere safe... A bathroom, or room. I can't...!'

My steps faltered momentarily. I felt something rising from my stomach. Swallowing back, I forced myself forward.

"Move."

I pushed everyone in front of me away and continued forward.

"Hey...!"

I didn't care about their protests.

A bathroom... A room... Something...

I continued to walk. I didn't care to look where I was. I only stopped when I found a room. Glancing around, I entered.

It was a small room.

"Haa... Haa..."

And most importantly.

Empty.

"Blergh...!"

The contents I so desperately held back came out all at once. My vision fogged, and I hunched over.

My stomach clenched with pain as I could feel the sweat on my forehead.

"Ha-h..."

I clenched my shirt, feeling the beat of my heart in the process.

It was fast.

Really fast...

I took deep breaths to calm myself down.

To calm my beating heart, but...

It wouldn't stop.

"Ah... Ah...!"

The fear that had gripped me moments before had come back to haunt me again.

I couldn't stop shaking.

It was as if something had possessed me.

"Akh...!"

I could feel it.

Clearer than ever.

I...

Was being consumed.