A Congregation of Talents
Ernst Institute. The finest magus academy in the entire Yulan continent.
The Ernst Institutewas located in a rustic area approximately twenty kilometers south of the Holy Capital of Fenlai City. The Ernst Institute was founded and financially supported by the Radiant Church. Naturally, it was wealthy and knew how to throw around money. They took up a very large space, with a circumference of ten kilometers. Such a huge academy was nearly the size of a city.
Outside of the Ernst Institute, few visible signs of human presence could be seen, just an empty mountain range.
Restaurants, clothing stores, bars, and other sorts of service industries were all located on the campus itself. It could be said that the students of the Ernst Institute spent their entire lives within the campus.
“What an imposing style.” Linley stood at the gateway to the Ernst Institute. He couldn’t help but sigh with emotion.
The main gate of the Ernst Institute was fully fifty meters wide. Above the great gate was an enormous, crescent moon shaped construct, covered with all sorts of magical scripts which one could tell at a glance were amazingly complicated. Just from seeing how complicated the scripts were, one could imagine how powerful and mighty the magical formation protecting the Ernst Institute was.
Right now, the main gate of the Ernst Institute was a very lively place. There was an row of academic staff, and a single youth who had brought his admission letter and his proof of identity and had begun to be processed for intake. Linley immediately grabbed his own documents and headed in for processing as well.
“School officially starts February 9th. Today is February 8th. Based on the notification, students must arrive before February 9th. Since the young man in front of me is also just arriving today, no doubt he also lives rather close to the Institute.” Linley thought to himself.
The young man in front of Linley could actually be more precisely be described as a child. He was half a head shorter than Linley, and there was an old man by his side.
“Hi there. I’m from the O’Brien Empire, and my name is Reynolds [Lei’nuo].” The student being processed for intake in front of Linley suddenly turned his head and warmly greeted Linley.
Hearing that he came from the O’Brien Empire, Linley was startled. “The O’Brien Empire?”
The O’Brien Empire, one of the Four Great Empires, was located to the east of the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts, while the Ernst Institute was located west of it. In order to reach the Ernst Institute, one had to circle around the entire Mountain Range of Magical Beasts from the north or the south. After all, aside from combatants of the ninth rank or Saint-level combatants, no one dared to directly cross that mountain range.
The Mountain Range of Magical Beasts was over ten thousand kilometers long.
For someone to come from the O’Brien Empire, the entire trip would have consisted of at least twenty thousand kilometers worth of travel. If they came from the eastern part of the Empire, the journey would have been even longer.
It probably would’ve taken about a year or so to travel twenty thousand kilometers.
“My name is Linley. I’m from Fenlai Kingdom.” Linley courteously said to the boy called Reynolds.
Reynolds blinked, and sighed emotionally. “Fenlai Kingdom? Then you had it nice and cushy. It took me a full year just to get to Fenlai Kingdom from my home. It didn’t take you too much time.”
“Right. From my home to here, I travelled for about half a day.” Linley honestly replied.
“Whoah…” The expression on Reynolds face was priceless.
One of them travelled for over a year. The other, for just half a day.
“Students, hurry up.” One of the test administrators nearby urged.
One of the intake processes for new students was to retake the magus test. After all, the Ernst Institute was afraid that someone might steal an admissions letter and falsely enroll.
“Coming.” Reynolds went to take the test.
Upon seeing the results, Linley couldn’t help but feel shocked.
This boy named Reynolds had high elemental essence affinity…and as for his spiritual essence…
“Reynolds, eight years old. Spiritual essence, thirty-two times higher than students his own age. Exceptional level.”
Hearing these numbers, Linley’s eyes briefly bulged. But the test administrator seemed to be very calm, and not the least bit surprised.
“Linley, what is it? Amazed just by this?” Reynolds said dismissively. “This is the Ernst Institute. Each year, they accept only a hundred students from across the entire Yulan continent. Which one of them is not an amazing talent? My results can only be considered average, across the student base.”
“But the Ernst Institute does show some favoritism to the Holy Union. They accept fifty students from the Holy Union, and only fifty more total from the other Four Great Empires. It is so unfair.” Reynolds sighed.
Linley chuckled when he heard this.
The Ernst Institute was founded by the Radiant Church. Of course it would show favoritism towards the Holy Union.
“My turn.” Linley ran towards the test giver as well.
Reynolds wrinkled his little nose. “This fellow called Linley is from the Holy Union. He no doubt had a much easier time being accepted than me. I bet he isn’t as talented as I am.” Reynolds was extremely confident.
But when the test administrator reported Linley’s results, Reynolds was shocked.
“High spiritual essence, exceptional elemental essence affinity? And dual-element affinity for earth and wind?” Reynolds was totally speechless.
Exceptional elemental essence affinity was already extremely rare, but Linley was not only dual-element, but had exceptional affinity for both the wind and the earth elemental essences. This was a true talent, one rather more formidable than even himself. After all…dual-element magi were extremely powerful.
“Reynolds, don’t just stand there looking silly. Let’s go.” Linley laughed.
“Oh.” Reynolds was a year younger than Linley, but judging from appearances, seemed three years younger.
Linley and Reynolds accepted their Ernst Institute student ID’s, then acquired their residence keys. At the Ernst Institute, all students, regardless of wealth and economic background, had to live together. Tuition fees and residence fees were totally waived.
“Hey, you have to pay tuition?” When Linley saw the old man accompanying Reynolds pull out the tuition money, he couldn’t help but feel shocked.
Hillman, besides Linley, laughed. “Linley, the tuition waiver and rent waiver provided by the Ernst Institute is only for members of the Holy Union. All others have to pay an extremely high fee.”
Reynolds nodded also.
The old man next to him smiled at Linley. “That’s right. This isn’t just the rule for the Ernst Institute; the number one warrior academy in the Yulan continent, the O’Brien Academy, does the same. They provide a full tuition waiver for their own Empire’s students, but charge an astronomical fee for students coming from other places.”
Linley wasn’t stupid. He immediately understood.
“Linley, my young master has the same residence key as you. The two of you should be living in the same residence. I hope that in the future, the two of you can help each other out.” The old man said.
Reynolds said unhappily, “Okay, Grandpa Lomu [Lu’mu], you can go back now. I’ve already arrived at the Ernst Institute.”
“Uncle Hillman, you can go back as well. I can take care of myself.” Linley smiled as he spoke to Hillman, and Hillman nodded back, satisfied. “Linley, then I’ll go back now. Work hard.” Hillman encouraged.
Linley smiled and nodded.
“Linley, let’s go.” Reynolds warmly grabbed Linley by the hand, and began to run into the Institute.
“Farewell, Uncle Hillman.”
Hillman and the old man both watched the children enter the Institute. Only after a long time did they depart.
After saying his farewells to Uncle Hillman, Linley and Reynolds entered the Ernst Institute together. The Ernst Institute was filled with shady groves, lakes, stone bridges, ancient buildings…an ancient aura permeated the entire place. Just from the size of the giant trees, which seven people would have to surround in order to hold hands, one could imagine how old the place was.
“It really is something. It isn’t nearly as gaudy as some of the newer institutes. This is what is known as ‘sophistication’.” Reynolds curious eyes took in their surroundings while he spoke.
Within the Ernst Institute, as a one-time event, there were many instructional signs telling students where each location was. Clearly, this was intended to help assist the new students.
“Linley, let’s go find our dorm.” Reynolds, pulling Linley’s hand, began hurrying in the direction of the dormitories.
Dorm number 1987.
Linley and Reynolds had completed their intake processes at the same time, one after another. Most dorms held four students. When Linley and Reynolds arrived at the dormitory area, they couldn’t help but sigh in amazement. At first glance, there appeared to be thousands of stand-alone dormitories.
Amongst the thousands of dormitories, there were even a few two-story apartment style dorms.
“1987, 1987…” Linley and Reynolds inspected the dorm numbers, running south nonstop.
The dorm area was numbered very logically, beginning from 0001, with each row housing 100 individual dorms. When Linley arrived at row 20, he saw dorm 1901. And then, as they continued running east, Reynolds began to pant for breath, until finally, they arrived at dorm 1987.