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The Red Mage.

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In the mystical realm of the Crimson Robe Mage Academy, a figure draped in vivid scarlet robes stands tall, their smooth head adorned with intricate and peculiar tattoos. A wicked smile graces their lips as they address a group of trembling youngsters, "Welcome, apprentices, to the Crimson Robe Mage Academy. Those among you deemed unworthy will serve as our experimental subjects." Among the novices is Panni Sean, a character marked by the stark contrast of a blood-stained scalpel on the dissecting table and an indifferent expression on their face. The air is thick with fear as the aspiring mages witness the ominous atmosphere within the academy walls. As the crimson-robed figure reveals their intentions, an unsettling blend of curiosity and dread fills the hearts of the young apprentices. What secrets lie hidden beneath the façade of the academy, and what dark experiments await those who fall short of its enigmatic standards? Within this tale of mysticism and trepidation, the Crimson Robe Mage Academy unfolds its ominous narrative, weaving a tapestry of suspense and intrigue. The apprentices find themselves entangled in a web of arcane practices, their every step shadowed by the looming presence of the enigmatic crimson-robed figures. Panni Sean, with their dispassionate demeanor and bloodied instruments, becomes a symbol of the academy's mysterious machinations. As the young mages grapple with the uncertainties of their fate, the academy's dark corridors hold secrets that threaten to unravel the very fabric of their reality. In a world where magic intertwines with malevolence, the Crimson Robe Mage Academy beckons readers into a gripping tale of suspense, unveiling a sinister realm where the pursuit of power comes at a chilling cost. Will the apprentices succumb to the ominous experiments that await them, or will they unearth the mysteries hidden within the crimson-robed walls? Dive into the arcane depths of this captivating narrative, where every page unfolds a new layer of mystery, leaving readers enthralled and eager for more.

Chapter 1

**I. Apprentice of Serl**

**Chapter 1: The Surgeon**

"Apprentice! Arrange the specimens and materials, the experiment is concluded."

This was a dimly lit underground chamber, illuminated only by the faint magical light of an unseen lamp at the door. A smooth head adorned with peculiar tattoos, belonging to a red-robed figure, faced a black-haired youth in the room. The indifferent voice emanated from the red-robed figure as the door closed with a soft click, and the crimson robe disappeared from the view of the young apprentice.

The youth adjusted his black robe and began tidying up the room. Due to the infrequent exposure to sunlight, his skin appeared somewhat pale. His facial features were delicate, and although his slightly flat and less sculpted face did not conform to Ferren's aesthetic standards, it could still be considered attractive. A faint smile might even impart a touch of youthful charm. However, the allure of his visage diminished significantly as he engaged in the task at hand – cleaning the remnants of bloodstains on the dissecting table. The pale reflection of the light on the bloodstains added an eerie effect to the room.

In this eerie light, one could discern the inscription on the nameplate of his robe – Panni Sean. Within the Crimson Robe Mage Academy located by the Serlan Lake, this intricately patterned nameplate served to some extent as a guarantee of his safety—albeit a limited one.

The young apprentice emerged from the cramped and oddly scented laboratory. Numerous hurried and gloomy-faced mage apprentices passed by him. Most of these apprentices appeared to be around the age of ten, significantly younger than the black-haired youth. Their disdainful and envious gazes lingered on the young apprentice, resenting why this fourteen-year-old waste, incapable of reaching the inner layers of the magical network, received such favor from the mentors.

In this academy, if one failed to acquire the qualification of a wizard by the age of twelve, they would be "demoted" or rather "promoted" to experimental materials. While the experiments in this academy, belonging to the Enchantment school, were not as horrifying as those of the Necromancy or Enspell schools, they were still unnerving.

Therefore, all apprentices who entered at the age of six exerted every effort, channeling every ounce of energy into studying the magical network, just to evade such a fate.

However, Panni Sean managed to avoid this destiny due to some strange abilities, such as dissecting any creature flawlessly with closed eyes.

Having such a skill led back to Panni Sean's experiences before traversing. In reality, being a surgeon was indeed prestigious everywhere. Not only could one sit in a hospital in the celestial realm receiving red envelopes, but in an alternate world, one could also gain additional expertise. It was quite practical.

In this world called Ferren, where such feats were deemed difficult even for high-level mages who touched the 5th or 6th layers of the magical network, Panni became the favorite assistant of many mentors. These mages, primarily dedicated to the study of arcane arts, were often lazy, especially when it came to dealing with bizarre creatures.

Hence, Panni enjoyed the affection of numerous high-ranking mentors—on the surface, at least. To them, this apprentice possessing a peculiar talent was more preferable than the death-defying experiments. However, the envy and resentment of the younger apprentices persisted. Over the past two years, Panni had faced numerous ambushes, attacks, plots, and even assassination attempts.

Yet, for Panni, who had lived almost forty years in total, counting both lives, and possessed a mature mindset, dealing with these much younger and relatively mentally straightforward kids was a walk in the park. In this lower-tier institution, he navigated with ease.

This was the northeast region of Ferren, situated west of the endless wilderness, the mountains, and plateaus. It was the descendant of the ancient Imaska Empire, ruled by the Crimson Robe mages, in the land of Serl.

Having lived here for fourteen years and with the experience from his previous life, Panni had a profound understanding of the rules of survival.

Conspiracy, deception, lack of trust, and cruelty defined the world of Crimson Robe mages.

In this realm, being too foolish was useless, and the fate of fools was to become experimental material or cannon fodder. Similarly, being too intelligent was also undesirable. Excessive excellence, apart from making it easier to climb the ranks, increased the likelihood of jealousy from peers, leading to many outstanding apprentices meeting untimely ends – deaths in beds, at tables, in toilets, gutters, and gardens were common.

Perhaps there was a type of excellence that, regardless of one's proficiency in the study of mysteries or the cunning of one's machinations, seemed close to great prospects. However, Panni knew the truth was otherwise.

Two years ago, there was an individual like that. All apprentices of the same year were impressed by his cunning and genius. Even Panni considered him a freak and suspected whether the person had also reincarnated. However, that person eventually fell—a living subject in a transmutation experiment during a class.

Panni personally dissected the body that had been tortured into deformity in that experiment.

This incident taught Panni that in an institution where coups and violent usurpation of power were commonplace, and where murdering colleagues and being subject to unwritten rules were encouraged, the majority of Crimson Robe mages who enjoyed controlling subordinates through terror and high-pressure would not tolerate signs of too much excellence. Even a slight hint of it.

Hence, Panni kept a low profile, utilizing his peculiar skill to maintain this delicate position. For the mentors above, this assistant was valuable and not to be wasted as experimental material. As for the apprentices below, due to the significant age and mental gap, even though they disliked him, they were no match for him.

Panni had no grand ambitions. In his previous life, he was indifferent to external material things. Every day, after being saturated with the smell of the hospital, his greatest pleasure was a cup of instant coffee after dinner, sitting in front of the computer, listening to music, and reading novels. Occasionally, he would watch poorly-made dramas. For him, to have enough money, live a carefree life, occasionally fool around with a few girls, and enjoy a peaceful life was the right path.

Coming to this perilous place was not his choice, but he had no alternative.

Unfamiliar with this world, he was born into a wealthy merchant's family, and he enjoyed a comfortable and carefree life until it was abruptly disrupted one morning. Two Crimson Robe guards carried him from his home to the local Crimson Robe Mage Association. After a series

of tests, Panni, who initially felt delighted to have magical aptitude, soon realized that it meant being thrust into this eerie and dangerous place. He had no choice but to survive first, and then see what could be done.

"When can I leave this place?"

He did not anticipate promotion because promotion meant leaving this relatively safe academy. The opponents would become the more cunning and treacherous official pre-red robes, consuming energy and attention exponentially. In Panni's view, it was not suitable—as mentioned earlier, with his personality, he did not want to invest his limited brain cells in the endless internal struggles of the Crimson Robes.

Panni sighed and, while apprentices were attending classes, he went to the cafeteria, grabbing a vegetable and egg soup and cheese biscuit. After a brief inspection to ensure it was not poisoned, he rubbed his hands together and began savoring the food. Daily indulging in food was one of his few enjoyments. It was akin to the feeling of looking out of the window after class in a sealed full-day high school. Even with nerves often strained, at this moment, he could relax slightly.

With nerves relaxed, he closed his eyes slightly. The movements within several dozen meters became part of his senses. Perhaps due to his reincarnation or possessing two souls, his perception was significantly sharper than an average person's. Even when he slept, he could sense people moving near his bed. This feeling of being clearly asleep yet still awake was wonderful, as if the other half of his soul manipulated a supernatural touch around him, providing him with heightened sensitivity. It allowed him to sense faint threats.

Although this extraordinary perception had some limitations—only effective on living beings, and after undergoing magical education, he found it could extend to supernatural forces, but it was completely ineffective against inanimate objects. Moreover, the effect was significantly diminished when he was fully awake, only about twenty percent of the effectiveness during sleep. Closing his eyes or sitting quietly could enhance it to some extent, but the maximum was only half of the effectiveness during sleep.

Despite the limitations, as a superpower, Panni benefited considerably. Many life-threatening assassinations were avoided through this abnormal sensory ability.

Sometimes, he used this power to secretly observe the happenings in various corners of the academy, like now. With closed eyes, savoring the food, his senses extended beyond the walls of the cafeteria. In the garden outside the entrance, hidden in the bushes, he detected a huddled figure in a dirty and tattered gray robe. Shrugged shoulders indicated to Panni that this was not a lifeless form.

Panni opened his eyes, dispelled his sensory tendrils, put a piece of food into his mouth, showing disinterest in the scene. In the Crimson Robe Mage Academy, while there was no rule against crying, certain mentors and apprentices found it annoying when someone cried. It wasn't unheard of for troublesome crybabies to end up conveniently disposed of.

Even though the Crimson Robes claimed not to believe in tears, the academy was never short of weeping apprentices scattered in various corners.

Panni didn't want to look any longer. He feared that he might develop a sense of sympathy, which would only bring trouble. With this kind of personality, it would soon be replaced by ruthlessness in this environment. Yet, this was something brought over from his previous life, formed over ten more years than the typical Crimson Robe apprentice. It was not that easy to erase. Therefore, he could only avoid any place that touched the softer parts of his soul.

Chapter 2

**Chapter 2: Creed**

This incident cast a sudden pall over his mood. Hastily finishing his meal, he exited the cafeteria and, with a glance to the left, unexpectedly spotted a trail of blood seeping out from a clump of grass. Pushing aside the foliage, he found the apprentice who had been curled up in agony just moments ago. The limbs of the apprentice now sprawled across the muddy ground, pupils losing focus, fresh blood oozing like a turned faucet from the wrist's gash. Witnessing this scene only worsened Panni's already bleak state of mind.

As a former surgeon, he bore a more indifferent attitude towards life and death than the average person, yet, paradoxically, he was more sensitive. The sight of someone dying before him inevitably brought subtle fluctuations to his emotions—after all, witnessing someone's demise never left one in high spirits.

If he were to turn away, this very body might end up, in an altered state, on the

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