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The Best B-Rank Mage

3

Chapter 3

3

In the quiet embrace of the early morning, Gus quietly tiptoed around his room, trying not to disturb anyone. The sun had yet to rise, casting a gentle hue of pink across the horizon. It was a time of day he had rarely experienced, as sleep often won the battle against waking up early. However, today was different. Today, he was determined to change his routine.

 

As Gus gathered his jogging gear, his younger sister, Macy, sleepily stumbled into the hallway. Rubbing her eyes, she asked, "Where are you going, Gus?"

 

Gus turned to face her, a mischievous smile playing on his lips. "I'm going for a jog, Macy. Starting my day off right."

 

"But it's so early!" Macy protested, her voice filled with grogginess.

 

Gus nodded, understanding her surprise. "That's exactly why. I want to jog before heading to school, so I can be energized and ready for the day ahead."

 

Luke, their younger brother, who had been roused from his slumber by the commotion, appeared in the hallway, his hair adorably disheveled. "Can we come too?" he chimed in, his eyes still heavy with sleep.

 

Gus gently tousled Luke's hair, a wave of nostalgia washing over him. He never thought he would have the opportunity to see his siblings so young and innocent again. "Sure, but only if you promise not to slow me down."

 

Macy's eyes sparkled with excitement as she jumped up and down. "We promise! We'll keep up, Gus!"

 

Gus patiently waited as Macy and Luke hurriedly put on their shoes, their enthusiasm infectious. Once everyone was ready, they stepped out into the cool morning air, ready to embark on their jogging adventure.

 

During their jog, Macy couldn't contain her curiosity. "Why are we jogging, Gus? I mean, it's great and all, but what's the reason behind it?"

 

Gus smiled, his breath steady as he explained, "Well, Macy, jogging is not only good for our physical health but also for our magical endurance. It helps me become a better mage."

 

Macy's eyes widened in surprise. "Wow, Gus! I'm surprised you've taken this initiative. It's really cool!"

 

Luke, who was running alongside them, interjected with a puzzled expression. "But... wait, we don't have magic, Gus."

 

Gus chuckled, his pace unwavering. "That's true, Luke. However, jogging can still benefit you. Think about it. You can become the fastest runner in your school! You’ll gonna be the best at the game of tag."

 

A mischievous smile spread across Luke's face as he sped up, his tiny arms stretched out like wings. "What do you mean? I'm already the fastest one!" he declared, his childish laughter filling the morning air.

 

Gus and Macy laughed along.

 

As they continued their jog, the neighborhood slowly revealed its scenic beauty. The soft glow of dawn painted the streets and houses, giving everything a fresh and promising aura. He never noticed that this place had changed a lot over the years. The air felt cleaner. The neighborhood looked more peaceful.

 

After completing several laps around their neighborhood, Gus noticed that Macy and Luke were starting to show signs of exhaustion. He decided it was time to take a break for now, leading them to a nearby bench to catch their breath.

 

Gus couldn't help but feel a sense of happiness and fulfillment as he sat down, his heart pounding with the joy of training alongside his siblings. He reflected on his past, realizing that if he had taken such initiative earlier in life, he could have become an even better mage.

 

Luke, still panting heavily, looked up at Gus with a mix of awe and fatigue. "Are you going to do this every day, Gus?"

 

A determined gleam shone in Gus's eyes as he replied, "Yeah, Luke, every day. I want to get better."

 

Macy admired her older brother's newfound determination. She had never seen his brother this positive before ever since their dad was gone. Macy smiled. "Maybe Luke and I can join you every time. We had a lot of fun."

 

Gus beamed at the idea. "Of course! The more, the merrier, right?"

 

Luke flopped onto the ground, his energy finally giving out. "I want to go back to sleep though..."

 

Gus chuckled, ruffling Luke's hair affectionately.

 

As the trio sat there, catching their breath and basking in the warmth of their shared experience, the morning sun continued its ascent, casting a golden glow over their youthful faces. Seeing his siblings, Gus felt more grateful for this second chance he has

 

***.

 

The homeroom of class 1-B buzzed with the restless energy of Gus's classmates. Conversations filled the air as students chatted and fidgeted, waiting for the arrival of Professor Nero. But as the professor entered the room, a sudden hush fell over the class. All eyes turned towards him, eager to begin the day's lesson.

 

Professor Nero scanned the room, his sharp gaze landing on Gus. There was a flicker of recognition in his eyes, a silent acknowledgment of their previous encounter. Without breaking eye contact, Professor Nero cleared his throat and began his lecture.

 

"What do you think is the difference between an A-rank mage and a lower-rank mage?" he posed to the class, his voice carrying a tone of authority.

 

A student raised their hand tentatively and answered, "Their mana, the amount of magic they inherently possess."

 

Professor Nero nodded. "Indeed, that's the logical answer. But let me tell you, there are A-rank mages with low mana reserves who still outperform the rest."

 

Confusion rippled through the class as they exchanged puzzled glances, wondering what the answer could be.

 

Gus's voice cut through the silence. "Their access to better grimoires."

 

A hint of surprise flashed across Professor Nero's face, but he quickly regained his composure. "Interesting. It is a fact that A-rank mages receive better grimoires, but do you know why?"

 

Gus squared his shoulders, meeting the professor's gaze head-on. "Simple. Discrimination."

 

A faint smile tugged at Professor Nero's lips. "That's a very shallow understanding, I'm afraid. You were so close to the answer. It's control."

 

"Control?" the class echoed in unison, their curiosity piqued.

 

"Yes, control over the output of their magic," Professor Nero explained. "Why would the Arcane Council grant mages lacking control access to complex grimoires? A simple misstep in an energy spell could lead to disastrous consequences."

 

Gus's mind reeled with Professor Nero's response. It was a perspective he had never considered before, an insight that went beyond his own experiences and prejudices as a former magic guard. He admitted to himself that the professor’s explanation made sense.

 

"All right, everyone, stand up and put on your magical cloaks," Professor Nero commanded, his voice carrying an air of authority. "We're going to put your control to the test."

 

With a wave of his hand, the chairs in the room moved on their own, rearranging themselves neatly at the corners of the room. The students exchanged glances, their curiosity mounting.

 

"For this test, we'll practice the control of your magic," Professor Nero announced, producing a small metal ball from his pocket.

 

"Duplico!" The metal ball shimmered and multiplied into two, then four, sixteen, thirty-two, until there were enough balls for each student in the class.

 

"Each of you, take a ball," Professor Nero instructed. "Your task is to balance that ball mid-air for a thirty seconds using a wind spell."

 

"That's easy," a confident student remarked.

 

"But where are our wands, sir?" another student asked.

 

Professor Nero's smile widened. "We all know that a wand is a tool to centralize your magic, aiding in control. It’s like a training wheel, yes? And training wheels are for babies. Is anyone here a baby?”

 

The class fell silent.

 

“That’s right. So for today’s activity, you won't be using one."

 

The class erupted in protest, their voices filled with disbelief and astonishment.

 

"No way!" someone exclaimed.

 

“I should have said that I’m a baby,” Shane regretted. “I’m just a baby!”

 

A mischievous glint danced in Professor Nero's eyes as he leaned against his desk. "I assure you, it's quite possible. Let's see if you're up for the challenge."

 

The room buzzed with a mix of excitement and uncertainty.

 

"I don't want any of you to depend on a wand to control your magical output," Professor Nero emphasized, his voice firm and resolute. "Remember, some S-rank mages can cast a spell with a blink of their eyes. No wands required. If you want to be the best, you must learn how to do this."

 

Gus's mind whirled with a mix of determination and uncertainty. He couldn't deny that his reliance on a wand had become second nature during his time as a magic guard. It had been years since he had attempted to perform spells without one. Gus grinned in excitement. This challenge would push him out of his comfort zone, but deep down, he knew it was a necessary step in his growth as a mage.

 

"Okay, let's begin," Professor Nero instructed, breaking Gus out of his thoughts. "Practice now. But if you're confident that you can do it, step into the center and show everyone how it's done."

 

"This is nuts, bro," Shane whispered to Gus as he attempted to make his assigned ball levitate. Gus nodded in agreement, feeling a mixture of excitement and nervousness bubbling within him. Other students attempted their own spells as well, their brows furrowed with concentration.

 

Gus rolled the metal ball in his palm, weighing its heft. It seemed deceptively heavy. He would have to account for its weight if he wanted to make it float effortlessly. Taking a deep breath, he focused his gaze on the ball and prepared himself for the challenge.

 

After a few minutes of practice, a student named Lester Bawler stepped forward, the first to try his hand at the task. All eyes turned to him. Everyone was quiet. Lester placed the metal ball on his palm and chanted, "Galeo." A gentle breeze of air enveloped the ball, causing it to hover a few centimeters above his hand.

 

Professor Nero started the timer, setting it at 30 seconds. The class watched intently as Lester struggled to maintain control. His face grew flushed with exertion, his hands were trembling.

 

20 seconds. Lester lost his focus for a second and the ball swayed erratically, nearly toppling. A collective gasp escaped from the students.

 

With each passing second, Lester felt his hands getting heavier. The class held their breath, hoping for Lester's success. But at the 15-second mark, the ball succumbed to gravity and fell back into Lester's palm. He let out a heavy sigh, sweat glistening on his forehead.

 

"Remember to breathe, people!" Professor Nero reminded, his voice carrying a hint of encouragement. "Strong and steady breathing is the key to this. Nice attempt, though, Lester."

 

The class continued their attempts, each student facing their own struggles and setbacks. One student cast the spell with too much force, causing the ball to shoot up toward the ceiling.

 

“Remember, stay calm and focused!” Professor Nero intervened, reminding them of the importance of a clear mind. “Emotions play a role too in your magical output.”

 

Feeling ready, Gus decided that it was his turn to take center stage. He placed the ball on his palm and chanted, "Galeo." A gentle gust of wind materialized, cradling the ball as it floated midair and spun in a mesmerizing dance.

 

Professor Nero initiated the countdown, and the entire class watched in awe and anticipation. Gus's concentration remained unyielding, his breathing steady, and his face a mask of unwavering focus. Though he was performing the spell without a wand, the elemental magic came naturally to him, a skill he had long mastered.

 

As the timer approached the 20-second mark, Professor Nero couldn't help but feel intrigued by Gus's sudden improvement in magical control. Initially concerned that Gus might accidentally cause chaos, Professor Nero found himself impressed by the restraint and precision displayed.

 

Gus, too, was acutely aware of Professor Nero's gaze upon him. The mixed emotions playing across the professor's face fueled Gus's determination. He was determined to prove his ability and finish the task with finesse.

 

Cheers erupted from his classmates as the timer ticked closer to the 10-second mark. It was the longest anyone had managed so far, and victory seemed within reach. But just as Gus was about to complete the task, a sudden gust of wind erupted from nowhere, knocking the ball off its delicate balance.

 

A collective groan of disappointment filled the room as the ball clattered to the ground.

 

Gus's eyes darted around. Someone cast a wind spell to sabotage him.

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