Chapter 11: Preparing for School
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Once we got home, I was suddenly met with a thorough health inspection from mom.

"Does it hurt anywhere?"

"No."

"Does it hurt here?"

"No."

"Alright, take your clothes off."

"I'm fine!"

"Umm... Jessie, what about m-"

"You're fine."

She said with a blank expression.

"Haha... figures."

I managed to get out of her embrace while she was distracted.

"Freedom!"

Then I grabbed the thick book from dad and used it as a shield.

Now! Have at me!

She looked at me feeling a bit discouraged.

Sorry mom, but I still don't like the idea of getting naked in front of my parents.

After some time, she finally gave up.

"Fuh... Fine."

She then looked at the books we were holding and asked.

"What's all that for?"

"Oh right, we went to the magic library earlier and borrowed a couple of books. Here are some books on support magic."

Dad said as he handed the books to mom while mom received it with a frown.

"And I borrowed a book on magic formulas!"

I said as I lifted the book above my head.

Mom flinched when she heard the word 'magic formula' then looked at me with a hint of fear.

"Y-you're not going to ask me to teach you about that, r-right dear?"

"Umm... can you?"

She quickly stood up and clapped her hands.

"Right! Who's hungry?"

Huh? What's this? Did I just found mom's weakness?

"But what about th-"

"Oh dear, looks like the food is getting cold."

Ohoho, I think I just found my get-out-of-jail free card.

"By the way, what did you guys have for launch earlier?"

At the same time, both my dad's stomach and mine began to growl.

"Ha..haha... looks like we were having too much fun at the library that we forgot to get something to eat haha..."

Dad flinched as mom sent a chilling stare towards his direction.

Looks like it's my time to save the day.

"Oh man, I sure am hungry. Mom, can we eat now?"

"Oh, of course, son."

I then looked back at dad with a smirk.

Did you see that? Now don't go saying I didn't do nothin for ya.

***

After we had dinner, I went back to reading the book I borrowed.

Hmm, uhuh, interesting.

...I still don't get it.

Well, It's not like I understood none of it, it's just that there are too many concepts that I still can't wrap my head around to get a grasp on the full picture.

But I do feel like I've been making progress though.

...Maybe.

No wonder not a lot of magicians chose to specialize in magic formulas.

From what I heard from mom and Nancy, every magician is required to at least learn the basics of magic formulas. But most people who did graduate as a magician never try using it again. They think of it as a waste of time, that the payoff is too little for something so hard to understand and implement.

Although magic formulas enable a person to tweak, optimize or even create a spell. The basics only discuss how to tweak an existing spell to make it a little more efficient. But most people are satisfied with the standard spells, and tweaking it to cut down on mana usage is not worth the effort.

And as for creating one's own spell... I'm already struggling to learn the basics, I can't imagine how hard it is to create your own spell. Just thinking about it gives me a headache.

But can't you just learn a spell created by another magician?

Well... that's where magic circuits come into play. Every magician has their very own unique magic circuits, kinda like a fingerprint.

From what I understand, it pretty much determines the flow of mana inside the body. So a spell you create can only be fully utilized by you and you alone because it was specifically made for your magic circuit.

Note that I said 'fully utilize'. A person can still buy a spell from another magician.

Money makes the world go round after all.

But the spell they'll learn will be a cut-down, inefficient, and heavily compromised version of the original. And that's after tweaking the spell to closely match the person's magic circuit.

No magician is able to fully understand the magic circuit of another. The only person that can get a complete grasp on their magic circuit is the person himself.

Well, I have no intention of learning a spell from those guys anyway, not because I'll get an inferior version of their spell, but because I heard those things are hella expensive.

I'm not really thinking of specializing in magic formulas either, I'm pretty much also in the camp of 'this is way too much work for what you'll be getting.' I heard cutting down on mana usage doesn't really make that much of a difference for most people.

Although magic formulas are pretty interesting, I doubt I'll even use them in the future.

I'm primarily just using this book as a distraction.

While I was reading at the dinner table, dad looked at me then thought for a bit.

"Come to think of it, isn't it almost Red's birthday?"

Huh? Oh yeah, it's next month.

"That means he'll finally be able to go to school next year."

Right...

That's right! I almost forgot about that.

"That also means he'll need to start studying for the entrance exam."

...what? There's already an entrance exam?

Mom also decided to join in the conversation.

"Which means he'll also need to start reading up on these. Right?"

She said as she handed me the books dad borrowed.

Dad looked at her with a smile.

"Dear?"

"A-after I finished reading them of course."

What's this, did the power dynamic suddenly shift?

Doesn't matter, let's go back to the main subject.

"Umm... Mom, about the entrance exam."

"Huh? Oh that, you don't have to worry too much about that dear. It's only there to determine what tier they'll assign you."

Tier? This the second time I'm hearing about this. So they aren't your grade level?

"Mom, what exactly are tiers? And can you tell me more about school?"

"Of course, son."

***

Alright, let me summarize.

People can start going to school at the age of 6, but that doesn't necessarily mean they have to go to school at that age.

6 years old is just the minimum, but you can pretty much enter school at any age.

I mean technically, you can also start school at any age in my old world. But here, it isn't uncommon to find an adult entering school for the first time.

And that's where the entrance exam comes in. The entrance exam is there to assign you your starting tier.

But what are tiers exactly?

Well, tiers determine how advance the lessons you'll be getting are. Basically, it's your grade level.

That means you could enter school as an adult, take the entrance exam and automatically jump to a higher tier.

Once you got a starting tier, you can take a test at the end of the year to advance to the next level.

There are a total of 7 tiers. But only 4 tiers are available for those under the age of 10.

This is because the 5th tier and above involve more practical lessons like magic casting. Which of course can only be done at the age of 10 where you can actually start to feel and control the mana inside your body.

But most people actually reach the 5th tier around the age of 16. This is because advancing to the next level gets harder the higher your tier is. It's actually quite normal to spend 2 to 3 years on a single tier.

Also, once you reach the age of 10, you're pretty much free to take the final test and graduate any time you want no matter what tier you are. That's IF you can actually pass the final test at that age that is.

Well, that's something I'll worry about in the future. right now, I have an entrance exam to think about. Which reminds me.

"Mom, what was your starting tier?"

Mom thought for a bit.

"I think I started at tier 3. But that's only because I entered school at the age of 13 and already had a pretty good understanding of magic then. Most 6 to 8-year-olds actually start at tier 1. But the smart ones usually end up at tier 2."

Hmm... Maybe I should at least try to aim for tier 2. I know I have a body of a child but my mind is pretty much that of an adult. It would be pretty embarrassing for me if I couldn't at least reach that.

"What about Nancy?"

"Nancy entered at the age of 7 but already had a starting tier of 3."

Woah!

Well, that's a genius for you. But she started at the age of 7, not 6? I guess that doesn't matter, it's only a year difference.

Mom continued.

"We actually ended up in the same class and became friends afterward. She was also the one that helped me study to advance to the next tier."

"Wait, wasn't there like a 6-year difference between you two. Did no one made fun of you for taking lessons from a kid?"

"Nope, because the ones who did, received a painful bea-... lecture from me."

She said with a gentle smile.

Alright, I didn't believe it at first. No, I didn't want to believe it but... Mom might not be as gentle as I initially thought she was.

"Speaking of Nancy, maybe I should ask her tomorrow if she'll be willing to help you study too."

"Ooh! Sounds great, maybe- hold on... too?"

Was she teaching someone else?

I thought as I looked at mom.

Mom then gave a wry smile then sighed.

"...You see, dear. As soon as I finished the 5th tier, I immediately applied to become an adventurer. I never really got to graduate back then."

Mom was an adventurer? But more importantly, she never got to graduate?

"Does that mean you're studying at a school right now?"

"Not quite. I'm only studying for the exam on support magic. You don't necessarily have to be enrolled at any school to take the license exam."

I thought for a bit.

Dad said that mom apparently has a pretty low affinity with support magic. Which probably means that she'll have a more difficult time passing that exam compared to the others. Although I acknowledge Nancy as a great teacher, I doubt she'll be able to match an entire institute specialized in that field when it comes to teaching.

"Mom, isn't that licensing exam pretty hard? Why don't you try studying at a school that specializes in support magic."

"Fuh... I would if I could."

"Why couldn't you?"

She paused for a bit and gave a bitter smile.

She then placed a hand on top of my head then spoke in a gentle tone.

"Don't worry too much about that, son."
[Don't worry too much about that, son.]

.....

...I see now. That was the same thing my parents used to tell me whenever I asked them if they were having trouble financially.

I don't want to become another burden. It's clear to me that my parents in this life are also struggling with money.

Maybe I should-

"Son."

My dad interrupted my train of thought.

"Just like what your mother said, don't worry too much about it and just focus on having fun at school, okay."

But... no, if I really want to help lighten their burden. I have to become someone great in the future.

"Okay."

Our situation when it comes to money back in my previous life wasn't very good. But my parents were a happy-go-lucky bunch, whenever something bad happens, they always managed to laugh it off and keep moving forward.

Even though we were struggling financially, they always provided me with everything I ever wanted without a single complaint.

We weren't rich, far from it. But we were happy.

Until... I ruined it of course.

This time, I'll try to do-

No...

I'll definitely do better.

***

The next day, I pretty much spent my time reading the book I borrowed as well as some of mom's book on support magic. Mom said that Nancy agreed to teach me and she'll be visiting tomorrow.

Then tomorrow came by and sure enough, Nancy came to visit... along with a pretty huge backpack.

"You brought your house with you?"

I asked jokingly.

"I- woah."

"Let me get that for you, Nancy."

"Oh, Thanks, Jonathan."

Nancy gave the gigantic backpack to dad then he carried it inside the house.

"Fuh... Anyway, I heard you wanted to study for the entrance exam next year."

"Oh, right. Yeah, I'm thinking of aiming for tier 2."

Nancy paused and looked at me with a confused expression.

What? Was I getting way ahead of myself?

"Why stop at tier 2? Didn't you ask me to teach you because you wanted to reach tier 3? Besides, reaching tier 2 should be pretty easy for you anyway."

"That only applies to geniuses."

"Aren't you also one?"

"Sadly, I'm only a genius when it comes to being cute and teasing baby sitters."

"I really wish you weren't though."

"Can't, I was born with it."

"I was talking about the teasing part."

"I WAS talking about that part. Anyways, what's inside the bag?"

"Oh right, I brought all the books I read back when I was studying for my entrance exam."

"Oooh! And here I thought you packed it with all sorts of board games."

At the same time, something fell out of the backpack.

And sure it enough... It was a board game.

I looked at Nancy with a disappointed look.

"I-I just thought you might feel a little bored studying all day."

"You mean, YOU would get bored."

*Sigh*

Well, she is helping me study. The least I can do is play with her.

And thus, my little study session began.

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