When Science and Magic Go To War ~Tales From Other Worlds~
Chapter 11: Examinations Part 2 – James
In the same room deep inside the main building, James was about to take his examination, Chester had been given the highest practical score in history, followed by the lowest academic score in history. The same Headmaster was watching over James’ examination, and this time he was to be careful not to cause damage to the Academy.
“I assume you can’t read too?” (Headmaster)
“Under these circumstances it would be the same as Chester.” (James)
“Then like your friend I will exempt you from the written test, the conditions will be the same.” (Headmaster)
“My interest in this Academy is its technological records, so I will endeavour to learn the language.” (James)
“You’re very similar to your friend in that respect, however he seemed more carefree. Well, we will go through the interview, verbal test and practical exam. Are you prepared?” (Headmaster)
“Yes sir.” (James)
“The interview and verbal test are merged as one, so while I’m asking personal questions I may also slip in graded questions, please keep that in mind.” (Headmaster)
The Headmaster was blown away by Chester’s performance, and had high hopes for his friend. This boy had a much more disciplined behaviour. He too seemed to be educated, and it also seemed like he was a more calm and rational person with higher physical fitness.
“Then do you mind giving me your name and age?” (Headmaster)
“My name is James Ward and my age is 19.” (James)
“You were also pulled into Edelstein by the magic ruins?” (Headmaster)
“Chester was researching a sample I provided, and the accident happened.” (James)
“Are you also from Japan?” (Headmaster)
“No, I’m from the island of England, I had travelled to Japan as part of work.” (James)
“Hmmm? Another island. What work was this?” (Headmaster)
“I was working for the military on a new type of material. I thought my friend, Chester, would be interested so I brought him to view it.” (James)
The Headmaster was elated to hear that James worked for the military, moreover in the development area. It seemed that while Chester had the theoretical research covered, James had the practical application covered. They were a pair easy to see how they formed a friendship. He wanted to jump straight to the military questions, but he needed to make it look harmless and continued as planned.
“Unlike Chester, you have no magic correct?” (Headmaster)
“No, however I do wish to investigate Magic Tools. I hope to apply my knowledge to that area, to compensate for the fact I can’t use magic.” (James)
“The Academy has some people who deal in that field, however they’re not experts.” (Headmaster)
“That’s fine, any step is a step forward.” (James)
“Then to test your magical knowledge, can you explain your friends spells?” (Headmaster)
“Hmm, they basically just compress light and send it towards a target. There’s not much else to it. To be honest without his notebook I can’t be sure.” (James)
The Headmaster’s ploy to learn Chester’s secret failed quickly, however his true target in this interview was different. He wanted ascertain the engineering knowledge this boy held.
“Do you understand the principles of the weapons they’re based on. Such as cannons?” (Headmaster)
“Cannons? Well he’s based them on lasers more than cannons. That said, cannons are a rather simple weapon which are obsolete. Without knowing how much you’ve developed yourself though I can’t say anymore.” (James)
(Tsk. He won’t reveal anything new. That makes sense, he would be increasing our military might if he gave anything away. I’ll have to tread carefully and dig deeper. I’ll move on for now.)
“What was your occupation the military.” (Headmaster)
“I was a junior exchange engineer. I travelled from location to location to be taught the basics in equipment and weapon management. Eventually I wanted to work on the new experimental weapons.” (James)
This boy was just as much as a goldmine as the other, he had extensive knowledge on the design and function of weapons. If they could get him to work for their military then their equipment would advance by leaps and bounds. Their defeat at the hands of Lorial was a result of equipment, Lorial Steel was world renowned.
“Do you have any other military experience?” (Headmaster)
“I went through basic physical training, however I was never taught how to handle the weapons I worked on.” (James)
“You never got any swordsmanship training?” (Headmaster)
“None, swords aren’t used anymore. I was also focussed around the navy, so I was more into operating than fighting. Unlike Chester, who’s good at thinking of strategies, I focus on tactics. If he controlled the fleet, I’d control the ship. So to speak.” (James)
(A strategist and a tactician? For two to exist so close together means that the military over there employed them in battle. It’s possible their philosophy of war is different.)
“Then before we head off I have one last question, why does your military make such heavy use of advisors?” (Headmaster)
“Where we come from, wars aren’t fought on how much money you can spend and how big your army is. It’s fought with who can spend the least money and have the smallest army. If someone could send 500 people to capture a fort, but 250 die. Then isn’t it better to send the man who can use 100 people to capture the fort when 50 of them die?” (James)
(I see, so their philosophy is almost the opposite. The person who can win with the least deaths is the one who gets command. Nobles who win with overwhelming numbers won’t get the chance.)
“Then shall we head off, follow me to the practice field, the practical exam is next. Unlike Chester, you only have to survive the duel with our instructor, since you can’t use magic.” (Headmaster)
Returning to the field, this one was adjacent to Chester’s, which was damaged and had a large hole in front of it. Emergency repairs to the wall were already underway. After Chester’s commotion, a large crowd of students had gathered hoping to see spectacular magic.
“Now since you’re here as an assistant to your friend, and to research Magic Tools we’ll skip straight to duel and then end it there. There’s no point doing magic reliant tests for someone who can’t use magic” (Headmaster)
“Yes sir.” (James)
“““Aw man.””” (Students)
Chester and Misato were having a chat when the instructor walked on to the field, his face dyed in anger. It was obvious that he was going to try and get back at Chester through James.
“I wonder, will James use his own weapon?” (Chester)
James had the option of using his pistol to push the instructor into submission, however with so many witnesses an advanced weapon could cause political trouble. Instead he opted for the survival kits multipurpose dagger.
“You know the rules, let the duel begin.” (Headmaster)
Facing a magician, James couldn’t jump into a melee blind. The unwieldy sword and armour would have given him an advantage, but without knowing the opponents magic it was a suicide tactic.
“You’ve got this!” (Chester)
The fireball flew over James has he rolled to the side, the floor was strangely cushioned. It seemed that magic had architectural uses too. Readying his dagger, James kept his distance. This was a battle of attrition, and the enemy had a ranged attack.
“I don’t suppose you can tell me what magic you can use?” (James)
“Hmph. <<Firebolt>>!” (Instructor)
“Now I understand, <<Firebolt>> is quicker and weaker than <<Fireball>>. I wondered what the difference was.” (James)
James was quickly assessing the situation, paying attention the opponents move to ready a counter. This was the fundamental difference between Chester’s strategy and James’ tactics.
“I’ll stop your dodging right here!” (Instructor)
“So this is your profile?” (James)
Weaving his way towards to the instructor, the two finally engaged in a melee. James wielded his dagger to deflect the sword and, after viewing its width, blocked it again. This time it was locked in a groove and couldn’t be twisted out with ease, leaving the instructor defenceless.
Quickly rolling away, James narrowly avoided the close quarters spell, he could smell the embers singe the ground. At that moment, the hourglass ran out, and it was James’ victory. The magic students were disappointed in the result, but the Headmaster knew that James rivalled the soldiers for Lorial’s Military Academy.