The students were piqued by the appearance of a kid on the podium.
Noah also watched the doll-like young girl with intrigue.
Anyone who read the student pamphlet already knows who she is, she is listed in the director's section of Kouryou Academy.
That's right, that teenage girl is Kouryou Academy's chairman.
She's a genetic engineer affiliated with the Dawn Organization, Tsukumo Sakuya.
If the students here are white mice waiting to be experimented on then she is the researcher planning to use the students for her own arcane experiments.
The chairman addressed everyone with her cute but devious smile.
"Welcome to Kouryou Academy, I am the chairman of this school, Tsukumo Sakuya."
Everyone assumed she's going to give a standard welcoming speech when she threw a curveball.
"Though I want to make a remark on how far everyone came to reach this stage, now's not the time. That will have to wait until you guys experience the traditional activity of this school, the Qualification ritual."
A qualification ritual?
Imari and the other students were just as puzzled as he was.
The chairman didn't care that the students were confused, she started explaining herself.
"Everyone, please look at the person sitting next to you."
"Next to me?"
Noah and Imari exchanged a look.
Noah and Imari sat together.
The chairman grinned. Her cold voice chilled the auditorium.
"Now then, duel with the one sitting close to you."
The students uttered gasps of shock.
"Duel each other?!"
Noah's and Imari's eyes shrunk in an instant. They couldn't believe their ears.
Noah gazed in Sakuya's direction, his black eyes flashed brilliantly.
The chairman continued explaining like she couldn't hear the disturbance.
"In the next duel, the victor will be recognized as students of this school while the loser will have their Astar Marks expunged. That about sums it up. Blaze usage is permitted. If the duel lasts more than 10 minutes then both duelists will be kicked out of this academy!"
The petite chairman chuckled as if she's amused by her own joke.
"Of course, you guys can choose not to use your Blaze. I feel like I should tell you that Blaze is a manifestation of one's soul with the help of Astar Marks. Dealing damage to your opponents through Blaze will only result in mental fatigue, it will not result in physical harm. If you don't use your Blaze then I am afraid you're left with no choice but to inflict bodily harm on your opponents."
The students were still incensed by her words.
"What do you mean a duel won't harm us?!"
"I thought you guys said we only had to be compatible to enroll?!"
"Are you scamming us?!"
The chairman floated a nonchalant grin.
"Don't forget, this place was built to nurture combat talent. We only want the best of the best. If you students cannot understand this basic rule then give up your Astar Marks and leave Kouryou Academy!"
The air froze.
Then, silence enveloped the auditorium.
Imari clenched her fists, she couldn't accept the cruel rules laid down by the chairman. She wanted to say something when she heard the sound of a chair being pushed back.
Including Sakuya, the other students and faculty members looked at the youth who stood up.
Noah gave Sakuya one last glance and he made his way over to the exit.
Noah chose to leave much to Sakuya's exasperation.
Imari is the first one to call out. She grabbed Noah's sleeve.
"Wh-what are you doing?"
Noah turned around and he answered with visible confusion.
"I think I should be the one asking that, what are you doing?"
"Y-you are planning to leave just like this?"
Imari clenched harder. Her steely gaze fell on NOah.
"Are you sure you want to leave?"
"Isn't that obvious?"
"The chairman said we are all free to leave, what's so strange about leaving?"
"You will have your Astar Mark removed."
Imari couldn't understand his motives.
"Is that okay?"
Noah patted Imari on her head with a bright smile.
"I don't know why you must stay but if you want to become strong, it's okay if you don't rely on Astar Marks, I thought you should know that."
The other students' eyes almost popped out.
You don't have to rely on Astar Marks?
The very same supernatural enhancement that can grant a human recipient supernatural abilities?
The chairman stared at Noah and she opened her mouth.
"You mean you're going to use your own power to become an Exceed?"
Noah raised his head to stare straight down Sakuya's barrel.
"Is that so strange?"
"An Astar Mark gives you superhuman physical and mental abilities, it can also manifest your soul in the form of a Blaze. An Exceed is someone who exceeds the abilities of an average human."
Sakuya mocked Noah's innocence while shaking her head.
"Humans will never obtain a power like this!"
Noah raised an eyebrow. He looked at Sakuya before turning his attention towards the students around him.
"Alright, let's try a different type of Qualification Ritual."
Even Sakuya herself is taken aback by this sudden challenge.
"A different type of Qualification Ritual?"
Noah removed Imari's hands from himself. He went past Imari as he stared at the faculty members standing near Sakuya.
"I am guessing the teachers here are also Exceeds? They graduated from this school and are proven to be stronger than the Exceed students here, right?"
The teachers had no clues as to why Noah raised this point.
Noah's next line petrified the teachers.
"I will limit myself to human-level powers."
"Why don't you pick one Exceed teacher to fight the 'human' me?"
The students gasped in astonishment. They too, were turned into statues by the rapid turn of events.
The teachers didn't expect this from the new student. They were stunned that they got turned into the focus all of a sudden.
Only Sakuya had a thoughtful look although her eyes still had hints of shock.