Chapter 17: Failure.
“Mabel! Take your hands off the scroll right now!”
As Violet shouted, the heads of the all students turned to follow her gaze.
A female student, who seemed extremely tense and nervous, was unfolding the scroll, was unable to move.
Suddenly, her arm started to ignite.
Violet created a dense blue barrier and wrapped it around the female student’s arm several times.
The student’s face had already turned pale.
“What are you trying to do with a volatile scroll by holding it in your hand? Are you out of your mind?”
Violet sighed as she bent down to examine the remaining scroll fragments.
“Unquenchable flame scroll…? Where did you get this kind of scroll? If you're going to get or use it, at least know how to use it correctly.”
“I should take her to the infirmary first.”
All the students and I clearly heard Violet muttering that.
Violet turned to face the students who had been quietly observing the situation.
“Everyone just wait and don't do anything.
I overestimated all of you.”
Mabel walked after Violet, trembling, with her face covered in tears.
As they moved away and disappeared from sight, Aria burst into laughter.
“What a joke…
She's just at a primitive level.”
Whether you unfold the scroll or use it, there's nothing difficult about it.
How did she manage to get an A rank?”
“She probably brought an expensive-looking scroll.
Shall we take a look at what she brought?”
Muttering like that, Aria reached out to the scroll lying on the floor.
“Just leave it.”
Without realizing it, I muttered.
I couldn't stand the act of touching someone else's belongings without their permission.
I quickly turned my head and looked at Aria and her companions.
I didn't bother avoiding their gaze.
“Look who's this? Isn't it Flan?”
Aria approached me, and as she got closer, she scanned me up and down with her sharp eyes.
“Flan, your response earlier was really cool.
I almost fell for you.”
After looking around, she burst into laughter and continued her words.
“Hey, everyone~ Flan, who entered with an F rank, can explore dungeons without a scroll? Is he planning to commit cheating?”
Upon hearing that, the other students also burst into laughter.
It was hard for me to guess exactly what part was amusing enough to make them laugh so hard.
After thinking for a while, I finally deduced that Aria and the other students considered me a cheater.
I wasn't angry, just amused by their low level.
In the end, I couldn’t stand it and burst into laughter as well.
Then Aria tilted her head, seemingly unable to understand my reaction.
“What's up? Why are you laughing? Was it ridiculous even in his own thoughts?”
Looking into her sky-blue eyes, I quietly uttered her name.
At the same time, I raised my index and middle fingers up in the air.
“Well, why bother calling my name and all that…
Aria Fontaine couldn't finish her sentence.
More precisely, I made sure she couldn't finish it.
With a simple use of telekinesis, I just grabbed both of her lips.
Even though it was not direct contact, it felt quite dirty.
Perhaps Aria was quite startled, she tightly held her own lips with both hands.
No matter how hard she tried to open them with her hands, her lips wouldn't budge.
It looked quite ridiculous.
She belatedly realized that she couldn’t open her mouth on her own.
She opened her eyes wide and glared at me like she was going to kill me.
It probably meant she wanted me to let her go immediately, but I had no intention of doing so.
Fortunately, Professor Violet had left the scene, and I had no intention of enduring the unpleasant noises.
I had always lived like this.
All the trajectories of my life that I had been through, suffered, and walked were like that.
The students who had been alternating their gazes between me and Aria started whispering to each other.
“Did Aria get subdued?”
“……Isn't that the case? I guess she can’t open her mouth right now?”
Around that time, I released Aria's lips.
At this point, it seemed like the warning had been sufficiently delivered, and holding on any longer would waste both my time and mana.
Having regained her freedom, Aria started burning up in anger.
She approached me with large strides.
By then, all the students were observing us with bated breath, even Trixie’s, who had been preoccupied with something else, turned her gaze towards us.
“You crazy bastard.
Why are you so cheap?”
For a moment, I thought Aria might have read my mind because her words perfectly matched what I was thinking.
I looked down at her with an expressionless face.
The confrontation continued for a while.
Aria muttered without taking her eyes off me.
“Someone make a mana crystal.”
One of her companions quickly made a mana crystal, and she placed it between us.
“Flan, why are you so shameless?”
I didn't bother to answer.
She asked again.
“You started it, didn't you? You are not using a magic scroll because you are confident, right? Well, let's just have one of us withdraw today.”
Aria looked up at me crookedly and continued her words.
“You were regarded as a support mage, remember? Let's make a bet.
The one whose mana crystal flew shorter will withdraw.
Let's do it this way.”
Her voice was as cold as ice, but her eyes were burning with animosity.
The other students were greatly agitated as if they couldn't believe what Aria was saying.
I, too, was somewhat amazed by her confidence.
I only now realized how much she was disregarding me.
There was not much deliberation needed.
I nodded my head toward Aria.
“You go first.”
As a condition for accepting the bet to withdraw, I only offered that much.
Don't change your mind later, you bastard.”
Aria Fontaine, with her arrogant attitude, placed her hand on the mana crystal.
I found that attitude somewhat amusing.
I briefly contemplated what gift I should bestow upon her, someone who believed she would definitely win.
“F*ck, let me show everyone how I create a dropout right now.”
She began to concentrate her mind.
I, too, made my mana crystal.
As I simultaneously visualized three magic formulas in my mind, they seamlessly interlocked like exquisite gears.
After a brief consideration, I decided on an interference-type spell.
Violet was absent from her position right now.
In other words, there was no presence in the plaza capable of perceiving high-level magic.
Aria Fontaine was currently using all her power.
She would pour all her efforts and abilities into launching the mana crystal.
She would try to create the best possible outcome and forcefully claim victory for herself.
However, the mana crystal in the air merely trembled with a picking sound.
There was no forward movement.
“What is this?”
Aria's bewildered face was quite satisfying.
It was only natural that the mana crystal didn't fly away.
I had interfered with part of the spell she visualized in her mind, part of the mana mixture that entered the circuit, and the flow of mana she intended to control.
Unless I reconnected them, the mana crystal would never receive support from Aria.
With sound, the mana crystal trembled once more.
Overwhelmed by confusion, Aria swallowed her dry saliva.
“Why is this? I’ve never had anything like this in my life….”
It was a failure.
“Make a mana crystal again and give it to me.”
“What the hell is wrong? This is driving me crazy, damn it.”
It was another failure.
I subtly asked Aria, who was anxiously sweating,
“How much longer do I have to wait?”
“How long did you wait? Just wait quietly!”
I nodded my head and gave her a calm smile.
“Why, why is this happening…
Why is it like this…”
And once again, it was a failure.
“…Why can't she do it?”
“Um, is she weak in this field, perhaps?”
“Aria herself said she was confident.”
Other students started whispering.
With each word pouring towards Aria, her face grew paler in proportion.
Aria Fontaine chose to take a deep breath calmly.
She gathered all her power and made another attempt.
And in front of everyone's eyes, she failed to produce the desired result once again.
A drop of sweat ran down her chin and fell to the ground with a thud.
Before she knew it, Aria's entire body was drenched in sweat.
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