Ethan: What’s the allotted time for resting?
Di Qi Ju: 9pm to 5pm.
Ethan: When’s the free period?
Di Qi Ju: The free period is first hour of our resting period.
Ethan:… Alright. Next.
The test took the form a simple interview and was conducted by the black haired adjutant. It consisted of a few random questions and was over in an instant.
I guess he wasn’t lying when he said it was easy.
After a while later, the test results came out and shockingly everyone passed!
Thank god, that round of eavesdropping paid off…I wouldn’t want to be only one who failed this test. That would’ve been embarrassing. I guess I should thank that seasonal wolf.
Ethan: Officer Breman, the test’s completed.
Breman: Excellent. Everyone, please head over here.
The blond officer walked out of the tent as he said this; a large crowd in tow. Their destination, an empty field nearby. By now, the skies had darkened significantly but the field was still clear for all to see. It was illuminated by several large lamps scattered around in different directions nearby. They all shone at the field like a bunch of stadium floodlights; lighting the field up, bright as day.
Hmm, these seemed different from the shimmering lamp fires on the streets. They are much more stable. Electric lights? I know a nation’s army tends to be equipped with the latest technology but to think they actually had electric lights…
I’ll have to keep an eye out for such matters in order to get a better grasp of this world’s technological standard.
Breman: Everyone, please separate yourselves into two equal groups.
The men bustled about as they worked to split into two groups as per the officer’s instructions. Soon, the requested groups took shape.
Breman: Excellent, now please look over to my right.
Everyone shifted their as the officer pointed to his right. It was relatively dark area with several large, squarish chests scattered around.
Each of them were covered with an ocean blue paint and had a height of half a meter. Giving them a quick count, their total number came out to ten.
About ten to twenty meters away from these boxes was an animal-drawn wagon.
Breman: As per recruitment procedures, the last step is a test of strength.
Breman: Given the nature of our expedition, even an administrative officer would have to travel quite a distance. This amount of strength is required.
Breman: Do you see those boxes over there? Each of them has the approximate weight of a grown man.
Breman: Team one, your task is to move those chests onto the wagon. Once you have done so, the test would be considered a success.
Breman: Team two, your task is the opposite of team one. Move those chests down from the wagon and you will have passed this test.
Breman: You have exactly four minutes…Hmm, I know that everyone has waited a long time for this test to start; some of you even skipped your meals to come for it. So I’ll give you guys some leeway.
Breman: Team one, you have eight minutes. Team two, you have ten.
Breman: Oh, I almost forgot to tell you guys. Out of those ten chests, there is one that is three times the weight of the others.
Breman: However, do not worry. That chest has two wheels attached to it. If you can’t move it, you can drag it across.
Breman: Make sure not to damage our goods as you do this. As you can see, the ground isn’t exactly flat.
Breman: Alright. Ethan, start it.
He walked up and began directing the first team.
Hmm…a test of strength.
While I didn’t face the problem of a skipped meal thanks to my dry rations, this was still a daunting task for me. Thanks to my bookish nature, I barely had any time to train my body.
If I assumed that these chests were at least 70 kg, moving them a mere 20 over meters should be easy. The problem was that this test got harder as we progressed and this was even before the 200kg chest was factored in.
Even if the wagon came equipped with a ramp with which we could use, pushing this chest up a 30 to 45 degrees slope wasn’t an easy task either.
Isn’t the jump in difficulty a tad high?! The previous one was just an oral examination!
More importantly, why the heck did I stand with team two!?
Moving those chests down the half meter high wagon is definitely a lot harder than move them up. An additional two minutes just isn’t enough to cover this difficulty gap.
And that damned 200kg chest…a single mistake while moving that behemoth down the wagon and it’s game over for us.
From the looks of things, I’m not fated to get this job…
Ethan: Time’s up.
Di Qi Ju: ———-!
I jerked my head up to see the first candidate collapsed on the ground, his arms around the blue box, and his chest heaving.
Lanky: No…this isn’t right…the previous selection wasn’t this hard…
Lanky: Plus…I haven’t had my dinner…it’s not fair.
Ethan: Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you Mister. Please head on over to the tent and rest. At the very least, you can enjoy Officer Breman’s hospitality.
Lanky: Damn it…
Even team easy’s veteran candidate was defeated in an instant…looks like I really have no business being here… Somehow it feels like I’m losing hope by the second.
Should I beat a hasty retreat? No…even if I don’t know the answer to the question, I can’t just hand in a blank answer sheet.
Filling up the answer sheet is the professional duty of an examination candidate!
Hmm. How about this, I’ll start with the heaviest chest. After trying a little, I’ll give up. At least, it won’t be as embarrassing…
Just as I had finished mulling over this matter, the pace of the selection began increasing.
Jeering Candidate: Come on, move it quickly. Stop strolling around like a wuss!
Jeering Candidate: Ha Ha! Did you see that? His legs are trembling, his legs are already trembling!
Jeering Candidate: Yo! I thought you wanted to move two of those chests at once? Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!
Jeering Candidate: Amazing! Big Bro is just too amazing! It hasn’t even been four minutes and you’re done with this test!
Di Qi Ju:……
Hey, what’s with the tough crowd tonight? At this rate, I’m screwed once it reaches my turn.
Black Haired Seasonal Wolf: Mhm.
Oh hey, it’s that seasonal wolf. He’s in team two as well.
The crowd fell silent in an instant; everyone wanted to see how this non-human brute would perform.
All they saw was him walking up to the wagon and inspecting the chest and a light heave, easily lifted the chest onto another chest.
Is he planning to…
Jeering Candidate: Woah woah woah—–!
Jeering Candidate: Three chests in one arm? Six Chests in one go!!?
Jeering Candidate: Hey showboating will get you struck by lightning!
Jeering Candidate: Trip, trip, trip, trip—–
Jeering Candidate: Fall down, fall down, fall down—–
The previously silent crowd began to clamor once more. A round of golf claps echoed in the air as the crowd jeered. Amidst the background noise, the wolf continued his confident stroll to the end point.
His bulging arms smoothly lowered the chests without even breaking a sweat.
Jeering Candidate: Woooo—-He did it!!!
Jeering Candidate: If he had managed to fail with a body like that, there’s no way any of us could’ve passed!!
The jeering immediately transformed into a round of applause and praise.
These guys…they were just trying to stir up the crowd. I thought that there was some form of racial discrimination involved…
The seasonal wolf’s second trip was just as smooth as his first. It wasn’t long before he passed this test.
Ah, must be nice being so strong. All that work and not even a sweat.
Ethan: Next. It’s your turn.
Di Qi Ju: Huh? Oh…
I was caught up in the atmosphere of the crowd and had completely forgotten about my soon-to-be, embarrassing shot at stardom.
I wandered around with a lost look on my face as I searched for the 200kg chest.
Jeering Candidate: Hey the scrawny kid over there—-are you looking for your mommy?
Ahah, I haven’t even started moving them and you’ve started jeering.
Found it! I reached out to the bottom of the chest and began my plan.
Hmm…should I act as if I had overexerted myself and fall backwards or should I just fall over onto the chest?
Meh…Either way I’ll get laughed at.
I laughed to myself in a self-deprecating manner and then started—–
Di Qi Ju:……
Di Qi Ju: Ah re??
The chest shot upwards in an oblique angle as I began my act.
Black Haired Seasonal Wolf: …..?
But I didn’t even exert any force…all I did was hook my fingers underneath the chest and it rose up naturally.
This weight…this isn’t three times the weight of a normal adult. It’s just an empty box isn’t it…
What’s going on?
Sudden, the memory of my stint as the pillar of Poppy’s house and those bulging muscles, came to mind.
I would rather not remember such a scene but…don’t tell me this too, is the side effect of that ability wish?
S***. If this gets exposed, it will be a lot worse than my real identity being exposed!
As I thought of this, I immediately withdrew my fingers.
Jeering Candidate: Ha ha! The brat’s fingers got clipped!
Jeering Candidate: If you can’t do it, then just go back to your mommy. This isn’t a kids’ playground!
I turned around and flashed the crowd a fake, awkward smile : These pricks are forcing me into a corner!
In that case…I’ll just start with the normal chests.
As I picked up the heavy chest, —-it’s not— my knuckles turned white from the strain as I wrapped my arms around the chest and started moving it—It felt the same as that 200kg chest…
I mimicked the speed of the previous candidates and made my way to the end point.
Jeering Candidate: Hurry up, Kid!
Jeering Candidate: Move it, we ain’t got all day!
I bet if I sprinted right now, you guys would be left speechless for the rest of the day.
After my “strenuous” first trip, I rushed back to get my second box.
Breman: ——That’s enough.
Di Qi Ju: ……?
Jeering Candidate: Huh??
The crowd fell silent once more at the previously silent officer’s sudden interruption.
Breman: You’ve passed. Ethan, begin the next round.
Ethan: Yes sir.
Di Qi Ju: ……Eh?
Ethan walked into the testing grounds and casually resetted the position of the chests.
Ethan: Your attempt is over. Next!
Di Qi Ju: Oh…
That was kinda strange but passing is a good thing…right?
Jeering Candidate: ……
Jeering Candidate: Corruption! Someone had just publicly cheated!
Jeering Candidate: Faith’s army officer is openly abusing his authority! And it’s just to get someone the lowly rank of a laborer!
Breman: Will the blindman shut up!
Jeering Candidate: ……!
The previously kind and quiet officer Breman had finally flared up. The crowd immediately quieted down. From then to the end of the test, no one jeered.
Special thanks to 7STARDARK BLADE! The first ever patron of Catato Patch Translations.
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.