7 Breakthrough

Jason searched for a good spot outside the school building, and he sat down on the flourishing grass field with a few trees surrounding it.

The reason to pick that spot was that Jason could see the slightly denser mana flow within the area.

This was also probably why it looked so beautiful through normal eyes, but Jason didn't care about the aesthetics right now. He felt that his mana core was close to breakthrough into the second level.

Right now, he was at the 1st Novice rank which was extremely bad compared to the average 8th Novice rank.

Because his rank would also be tested and graded, Jason had to break through before afternoon.

But this wasn't because he wanted to score more points, rather he wanted to curtail the deductions from his points as much as possible.

His classroom teacher had told him a few days ago that the worst grade to score in would be the 4th Novice rank and each subsequent lower grade would deduct 20 points from his score.

That meant Jason would get 60 points deducted because of his 1st Novice rank and that wasn't something to be proud of.

Every single point was crucial and could change someone's position on the waiting list for the soul awakening. Each point was equivalent to a shift of hundreds or even thousands of ranks up or down in the ranking and thus extremely important for him.

Furthermore, it would be even worse for him as he wanted to at least apply to a decent high-school

Jason had to calm down before gathering and infusing mana into his core in order to prevent any instability. So he waited for five minutes before he started to gather mana.

Hours passed and Jason didn't even realize that Greg and many other students had left the classroom to eat lunch and relax before the practical exam would begin.

Greg saw Jason sitting between some bushes from far away and he came closer to take a look.

Greg wondered why Jason had chosen to gather mana so far away from the mana gathering platform but after nearing him he noticed the reason.

`This mana density is worse than the one at home but it's still a lot better than what the mana gathering platform provides… How did he find this?`

Greg was curious but he was distracted by his classmates calling his name.

He wasn't friends with them like Greg was. His classmates would flock to Greg and try to befriend him ever since they found out about his parent's business and fortune.

Greg left Jason to join his friends but he was still curious about Jason's odd behavior. He made a mental note to never underestimate Jason even if he was blind.

Jason meanwhile had noticed someone getting closer to him but he hadn't felt any animosity. Thus, he hadn't felt the need to pause his mana gathering as he was inching closer and closer to the threshold of the second level.

He calculated that he had at least 2 hours left until the practical exam would start and decided to abandon the practical examination if he wouldn't break through until then.

Having fewer points deducted was more important to him than scoring a 0 in the practical exam or being marked as 'absent' for the test.

This would look slightly worse for his applications but he didn't care about that, as -60 points and a '0' score in the practical exam were even worse than -40 points and `not present` in his opinion.

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Unfortunately, he would get his rank tested today and wasn't scheduled for a different day like the soul awakening, otherwise, he would have more time to break through his level.

Before the soul-awakening would commence, every student would get their total score the next day as an AI-controlled every exam and their queue number for visiting the Beast Pagoda.

The Beast Pagoda was where the soul-awakening orbs were located. Every student had to use them to properly awaken one's soul. Additionally, the Best Pagoda also served as a shop verified by the government for the sale of beast cubs and eggs.

Almost everyone got their soulbonds from the Beast Pagoda and the employees of the shop received many benefits including discounts, priority, and many more.

Jason had heard that even Greg, whose parents were professional beast merchants and captors, would get his first soulbond from the Beast Pagoda as it was the traditional way.

That was, at least, the rumor, but Jason thought it was rather because Greg's soul-awakening was random. He believed that his parents couldn't catch hundreds or thousand of different beasts of each rank and elemental ability, only for Greg to pick a single one.

The beast pagoda was the easiest way to help students choose with its big variety of beasts.

Almost two hours had passed as Jason was fully enveloped in a white film of mana.

A crack appeared in the white cocoon that began to spread slowly and grow in size as Jason exhaled black mist.

This black liquid-like mist that he exhaled were his impurities and it looked extremely disgusting and reeked even worse.

Unfortunately, Jason had no time to take a shower or to change his clothes, as it was already time for his practical exam.

He stood up, took out his cane, and 'rushed' to the gym.

Meanwhile, the practical exam had already started as the students stood around a bunch of machines. The machines would scan one's DNA and blood samples to assess one's health.

This was important for most high schools as it was pointless to spend important resources on ill people.

Most people would consider Jason as 'one of the ill people.' He hoped that his soul awakening would be extremely good and he wouldn't have any other health issues. This way, Jason could receive an invitation to apply to some high school backed by a strong recommendation of some eminent personalities.

In reality, it was rare for blind students to receive such treatment. They would need to have special traits or a 'God's children' soul, indicating one's uniqueness to be worth the price.

Also to receive such treatment one would have to sign a contract to work for the school or organization after finishing school for a certain number of years.

Concluding the facts, it wasn't worth it for Jason even if he was blind.

He had heard enough stories about such cases and most naive middle-school graduates who needed help from others belonged to a poor family. Though such students would get cured of their ailments after signing the contract, they would get exploited. Such students would be sent on the battlefield after being nursed back to proper health with adequate nourishment.

Jason wasn't blind anymore so he wouldn't even think about signing a contract if his soul would be unique.

As the students finished getting blood drawn out and tested one after the other, most of them boasted a smile on their faces. They were confident about being fit and fine but like every year there would be some who wouldn't make it. Some unfortunate students who considered themselves healthy would be shocked only to find out that they had contracted some disease that would harm the body later on.

Almost every such student was devastated and it looked like their soul left their body when they understood the meaning of this...kneeling on the ground, they cried out loud.

The best day of their life would suddenly turn into their worst nightmare.  They would not only get a bad score but also would have to suffer in the future because of their detected disease.

While the students were tested Jason arrived at the door gasping for air.

The teacher noticed him and called his name.

"Jason you're late. Come to me and let your DNA and blood be tested.

If nothing is wrong, you will get full points even if you are blind."

Jason was used to getting seen as a blind mole but it still annoyed him that everyone would highlight the fact by saying `even if you are blind` or something similarly hurtful.

If he could, Jason would punch his teacher once or twice every time such commentary came out of his mouth.

But he knew this was merely wishful thinking so he tried to relax by taking a few deep breaths. He straightened his back and slowly walked towards the teacher while gently tapping his cane gently to the ground in front of him.

His blood test results stated that Jason was healthy but slightly malnourished.

Nothing else was wrong with his health. Thus, Jason passed the test without any issues as malnutrition wasn't seen as a disease.

Eating more would solve this issue easily.

Though, a remark on his test result annoyed Jason slightly.

'Blind'

It was frustrating but Jason could apply for a test in a few weeks to get his eyes tested.

With a certificate, he would have this remark removed easily.

Around half an hour later everyone finished the test while a handful of the few hundred students who had failed the health test were kneeling on the ground with an open jaw, crying helplessly.

After the blood test ended the real practical exam started.

It included testing one's speed, stamina, strength, martial arts technique demonstration, and a real spar.

The combined score would be the points he scored in his practical exam.

Jason was sure that he would get some points for his stamina but he wasn't sure if his speed was fast enough as he couldn't run 100 meters straight without some assistance.

Strength was his weakest trait among these three so Jason wanted to make up for the loss by earning some points with his martial arts technique demonstration.

Jason received zero points for his weak strength and sparring straight out because he opted out of these exams. His decision led to some students and even the teacher being displeased.

Jason however wanted to focus his mind on his stamina, speed, and martial arts technique for now.

Some students noticed that Jason didn't forfeit the martial arts technique demonstration and wondered why this was the case.

A few hours passed and every exam except the martial arts technique demonstration was over.

Jason scored two zeroes in the exams he forfeited, 40 points for his stamina and 10 points for his speed because he had to run like he was blind coupled with his bad physique.

Nevertheless, it was better than scoring zero points.

Most students demonstrated one of the two martial arts technique sequences they had learned at school. One of them was the foundational federation martial arts while the other one was the basic close combat technique from the military: Azure feisty Ape.

Many students received average grades but their comprehension wasn't outstanding and they made many mistakes that Jason could observe based on the mana flow.

It was almost as if these students tried to mock martial arts but their score was still above 30 which surprised him.

Jason pondered if he should reveal everything he comprehended so far as he saw the demonstration of his peers..

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