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Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Things were going so swimmingly that there was no reason to expect any major split from expectations: the exams would end without any complications, the students would return home for their semester break and their festival, Baiyi would “celebrate” the merriment alone, his new student intake would be carried out as usual, and then finally — the finale to the spat between Voidwalkers and the Church would end once and for all.
At least, that was what the script in Baiyi’s head said until the same day when he had just managed to secure a verbal agreement with the Church morphed into an eventful night.
He was planning to resume his research on that antique armor, Mystique, when Attie had practically burst into his room, her body slamming the door open without a courtesy knock.
“What is this? The start of a violent porno?” Baiyi drawled casually, his eyes scanning Attie’s flushed face.
“No time for jokes, Master! Some students have gone missing !” She shouted frantically.
Another one of Baiyi’s convictions as an educator was that his students’ safety always comes first, way ahead of their academic performance and personal excellence. Because of that, he would never allow any student to wade, unsupervised, into a potentially perilous situation — a decision reflected in all of Da Xue’s operations. Anything that seemed dangerous was only superficial; everything — from the Alchemy Faculty and their penchant for explosive shenanigans to the Trials of Parazonium — had a prevention plan as well as related safety measures to safeguard the students’ wellbeing.
This conviction to prioritize the students’ safety was then drilled into the minds of every instructor and lecturer in the institution, which was why her students’ disappearance mortified Attie. However, this time, the originator of that protective ideal himself did not share her anxiety.
“That’s all? ” Baiyi almost sounded moanful. “Come on, did you really have to break my door in the middle of the night just because some brats had gone outta’ sight? It’s nothing to worry about. The Hitman Walker will take care of it.”
Students were prone to go “missing” during regular, supervised activities such as micro-realms excursions, so it was only natural that the same thing would also happen in events when they appeared to be left on their devices such as the Trial of Parazonium. The reason why Baiyi’s first instinct was to handwave it away was that these students were all outfitted with security precautions; their metallic mission sheets, for example, were all enchanted with an emergency transporting spell that could activate automatically at the first sense of danger. They were also enchanted with a tracking spell that could locate every student anywhere in Mount Parazonium, even if their disappearance was deliberate.
On top of that, Mount Parazonium itself was a close, small environment. All of the actual apex predators in its ecosystem had all long been removed by the Hitman Walker even before the Trial existed. Finally, there was the fact that the senior students were so familiar with the place, they often treated the Trial as a sometimes-violent frolic in their own back garden.
Baiyi was confident that that was only one real reason why two students or more may be missing under these circumstances.
“They aren’t really gone, Attie. They’re just playing hide-and-seek. You can’t find them in any of the surveillance screens, I presume?” Baiyi explained indifferently. “The All-Seeing Eye is a powerful surveillance Forbidden Spell, but even a spell-dumb knight like yourself knows that there are many ways to slip past an antique spell like this by now, right? The Faculty of Sorcery, Alchemy, Engineering… all of them had developed a way to counter that spell already. Pretty sure those ‘missing’ students must have purchased something from them to evade us so that they could do some pata-pata.”
Under Baiyi’s enforcement, Da Xue held a conservative view on relationships. Even though there was technically no explicit rule banning romance between their students, the academy made no illusion of it ever being encouraged; one might even take one look at the Jawflower being stationed outside the female’s dorm as a silent repudiation. Any form of a sexual relationship between male and female students, meanwhile, was completely off-limits as explicitly stipulated in the academy’s student ethics codes. The rationale was that if Grand Principal Bai himself had never once displayed any intimate action with his consorts within academy grounds, then the students could not possibly be allowed to do any of that, neither.
However, when there’s a will, there’s a way, and these brats’ will was so reinforced by the power of hormones that they found ways to taste that forbidden fruit anyway. Obviously, the Trial and other kinds of excursions were events when they could leave their instructors and Grand Principal Bai’s sight, so some horny kids quickly seized the opportunity to indulge in their heat.
Besides, all surveillance spells had loopholes or blind spots. There was even an elective class from the Sorcerers’ Faculty centered on surveillance evasion and even anti-surveillance magic. On top of that, the stealth techniques taught from the Hitman Walker’s class, when in the hands of a true pro, could also be used to slip past the All-Seeing Eye.
Of course, Baiyi knew about his students’ tricks; he just did not think he should close in on it too hard. Brats would be brats, and if one repressed them and forced them into a rigid mold for too long, their personality might become twisted. Baiyi supposed that sometimes, he should turn his eyes elsewhere and pretend not to know. He would feel even worse if his conservative attitude towards sex had inadvertently caused some of the boys to become rapists, or if their rut compelled them to dress up one of their friends as a trap just so they could release their urges through him.
Back in the real world, Baiyi extended his hand to ruffle Attie’s hair. “See? It’s not a real disappearance, isn’t it?”
Much to his surprise, instead of allowing him to coddle her while she closed her eyes like a satisfied cat, Attie swatted Baiyi’s hand away. Then, wrapping her arms tightly around his, she pled, “I get what you’re saying, Master, but this is different! Just come with me right now, you’ll see!”
As if to counter his reticence, she shook his arms and added, “Once everything is over. I’ll do all sorts of cute things for you to see!”
‘Since when did she learn the very same tactic that Little Mia used all the time?’ Baiyi’s mind reeled. This was the precise technique Little Mia had used to force Baiyi into buying her a new dress! ‘ When did this Kitty Cat Maid learn that? Besides, you’re no longer a child, Attie! How are you supposed to “act cute”?’
Regardless, the trick was obviously very effective against Baiyi, because he immediately followed her to Mount Parazonium.
By the time they had reached there, Mount Parazonium was already enshrouded in the darkness of the night, broken only by the light emitted from the transporter portal where Baiyi and Attie emerged. Instead of casting a Lumos upon arrival, Baiyi turned to a shadowy blackness beside him and said, “Alright, I’m here. Tell me, is it really as serious as she made it out to be?”
A dejected Hitman Walker, who was still in disbelief that he had been spotted again, materialized out from the dark. He was just about to say something when the Soul Armature Practitioner emerged from behind him and made Baiyi jump.
“The hell?! I didn’t even know you were here! Gah, you gave me a fright!” Baiyi cried.
The Hitman Walker shot a gaze of morose and envy at the Soul Armature Practitioner. Luckily, he was quick to recover from his dejection enough to report, “Two boys had gone missing: a third-grader named Jeralt and a Northerner named A’Wei. After splitting from their original team, these two had been working together, but we haven’t seen them since dusk had fallen.”
“It can’t be normal for two boys to be missing, can it? We were all really worried about it, which was why we sent Attie to look for you immediately,” the Soul Armature Practitioner added.
By “normal”, he was referring to the number one reason for students’”disappearance”.
“I don’t know about you guys, but two boys trying to avoid adult supervision sounded just as normal to me, too. Maybe they just ran off to a random cave to jerk off to some smuts?” Baiyi grumbled under his breath before raising his voice and asked, “Now what? Did you even try to locate them by using our tracking spell?”
Then, after scanning the Walker for a brief few seconds, he added, “Also, why are you here, exactly? Have Soul Armature exams gotten so damn easy that they no longer needed that many invigilators? Is that why you’re free enough to run errands for the Knights Faculty?”
“First off, I did try locating the students immediately after they were gone. I wouldn’t have been worried if not for the fact that the receiving side of that spell was unresponsive! As for why am I here? Well, it’s because… I’m kinda worried that the Jawflower might have accidentally eaten them,” the Soul Armature Practitioner mumbled ruefully.
“Seriously? Shouldn’t someone who wanted to be an animal trainer — the very best — know that the Jawflower doesn’t eat humans ?!” Baiyi snapped, half-amused and half-exasperated.
Unlike other magical creatures born from nature itself (i.e. Sunny the Sunflower), the Jawflower had been reared by Baiyi since it was just a small seedling. It may be aggressive, cantankerous, and easily-triggered into a fight — qualities that might have been a little amplified by the Alchemist’s potion and the Soul Armature’s Territory — but it was still the Jawflower at its core. Hence, it was still a vegan.
Of course, the Soul Armature Practitioner knew that fact. It was the only reason why he had agreed to the Hitman Walker’s insane idea in the name of improved difficulty. Had he agreed without checking the magical plants’ dietary habits, and the Mutated Monsters ended up eating these students, these two Walkers were going to be forcefully reminded about how it felt to be literally “chillin’ in the Void”.
“See, look at the mess the three of you had created! Y’all abducted my Jawflower, used it to lazily bump up the exam’s difficulty, and now this happened. How are the three of you going to explain yourselves?” Baiyi scolded like a teacher reprimanding his students while the three could only hang their heads in shame.
As he admonished them, however, his fingers quickly went to work by drawing a runic symbol in the air. In a second, the sensitivity of the All-Seeing Eye increased sharply enough to render all surveillance evasion tricks null.
This strengthened version of the spell could only last for a few minutes and was only doable by the original castor himself, which was why Attie had been dispatched to get Baiyi into the loop. It was an upgrade so much more potent and not often used that the students could not possibly be able to counter it.
The runic symbol lingered in the still, black canvas of the night for a few minutes before it slowly dispersed. Alarmingly, Baiyi said nothing even by the end of the spell.
When he finally broke the silence, his tone was one of graveness. “How many participants are there this time?”
“Three hundred and six,” the Hitman Walker answered honestly.
“There are only three hundred and four students right now.”
Attie blurted in fear, “D-did the Jawflower really eat them?! It had always love biting someone’s butt, so maybe… Maybe some time in its butt-biting career, it had learned to savor the taste of human flesh !”
“No, these students aren’t dead, they are missing ,” He shook his head. “The way I cranked up the All-Seeing Eye is by reinforcing it with the Gnosis of Nature so that every single being with a lifeforce could be detected. Through it, I was even able to sense the lingering soul-remains of slain beasts. In other words, if the students are dead, I could sense them.”
“Huh. But there’s no one better to ask questions to than that beast now, is there?” Baiyi said and raised his head. A mini formation materialized on his mask.
He whistled, and the mini formation amplified it so much that the entire Mount Parazonium could hear its earsplitting racket. Students, supposedly asleep, sat up in shivers, wondering if a new terrifying beast had joined the fray.
Unfortunately, Baiyi had no time to worry about the students’ feelings. A series of thunders boomed from a distance towards his direction, making the earth quaked with each pound. A few seconds later, the mutated Jawflower X was hurrying towards them with a happy wag.
Being reminded of what his Jawflower had become enraged Baiyi, so he barked, “Turn this thing back to normal right this bloody instance!”
The Soul Armature Practitioner jumped into action as if he had been anticipating the Fifth Walker’s request. Producing a vial of alchemical potion from his pocket, he smacked it onto the Jawflower’s body and activated his Territory.
The Jawflower started to shrink gradually back to its original size, but for some reason, it continued to shrink until it was about the size of a human’s palm.
Now holding Mini Jawflower in his hand, Baiyi was practically shrieking at the Soul Armature Practitioner, “Are you bloody kidding me?!”
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