Nearly a month has passed since the attack on Atera. While Asha continues to recover, mostly sleeping and occasionally eating, Leez is bored out of her mind since she has been restricted to the Fire temple grounds.
In the temple's plaza, Leez encounters Lorraine and Ruche arguing over a present. After introductions, they all decide to visit Asha. However, after being warned she would be an a bad mood, they change their minds and decide to visit Brilith instead. When ordering drinks, Ruche asks for tea, Leez requests curry soda, and Lorraine wants whatever is the most expensive. Brilith says it is fine as long as she drinks it in one shot. To Lorraine's dismay, she is served a bottle of soy sauce. Ruche first asks Brilith why the barrier has become weaker, but she would rather change the subject... Ruche next asks Leez about Asha since she is her fan, but Leez honestly answers that she doesn't know Asha all that well. Ruche then asks Brilith to tell them a story about Asha.
Four years ago, when she was 17, Brilith went to the Magicians Guild in Rindhallow to take her magic test. The test administrator (wearing a scary green mask) told an unprepared Brilith that she needed a partner, and it was just her luck that someone a year younger was available. Brilith initially balked, assuming the other person would be too young to have the proper skills, but then Asha (whom she at first assumed was a boy) appeared with a bad attitude and stated her skills had little to do with age.
When Brilith and Asha first meet at the Rindhallow Magicians Guild in the year N11, they both have bad first impressions of each other, but agree to be partners so they can begin their magic exams. Laila informs Brilith that Asha is unable to use her right hand. Except for the third exam, all the exams would be done individually.
The first exam is Rapid Calculations 100, in which Brilith (test number N11122550) scores 50/100. Asha finished earlier and waited outside the testing room, and scoffs at Brilith when she claims she did well.
The second exam is the Divine Affinity Test, where Brilith uses the hoti agni spell. As they wait outside for her score to be announced, some of the other examinees wonder why Asha did not take her magic exam in Eloth where she has many fans, and that maybe she is in Rindhallow to keep a low profile. Asha continues to make fun of Brilith's first exam score, but when her second score is announced (a relatively high 2058), Asha concedes that she is not a completely talentless priest, and they set off together for the third exam. As they walk across a small plaza, Brilith hears a loud commotion coming from the waiting room they just left.
Before the third exam begins, Laila receives (and ignores due to the sheer volume of mail) a document from Saha On, from the Magicians Guild in Eloth, stating that Asha must take the magic exam at either Eloth or Mistyshore due to potential catastrophic damage to her exam partner.
Brilith and Asha arrive at the testing site for the third exam, where they will fight simulated mara-ranked suras in a magically-created space. This exam would greatly influence their final magician ranking. Rindhallow's version of the third exam differs from the other magicians guilds because it uses the results of the previous two exams to adjust the difficulty of the simulation. A typical exam would have around 5-10 suras. Partners are required to cooperate, since a large difference in scores would result in deductions.
The pair enter Exam room #6, and are faced with possibly over 100 suras. Asha asks Brilith if she is better with bhavati agni or hoti agni; when Brilith responds with hoti, Asha first casts hoti kubera to strengthen her left arm, then launches her into the air with bhavati vayu. After a few moments of panic Brilith casts hoti agni, but Agni (who had been sleeping to minimize any interference with the exam) wakes up, realizes she is calculating incorrectly, and tweaks her spell a little. Her attack burns the surrounding area, to Brilith's relief, but as she nearly reaches the ground again, her partner boosts her back into the air. Brilith protests, but Asha responds that it is for her own safety as she approaches a group of suras.
The test administrators are unable to figure out why the test for room #6 has so many suras, especially since there is no apparent system malfunction. The bring up the pair's information on the screen, and Asha's second exam score, 0515, raises a red flag among the administrators because of the leading zero. Also displayed are Brilith's triple attributes (agni/agni/agni) and Asha's singles (marut/indra/vayu).
Brilith (in the present) reflects that she had not realized her magic skills were not nearly as great as she hoped, until her experience with Asha during the magic exam made her realize reality.
In the simulation room, Asha casts hoti kubera to strengthen her legs, then bhavati marut to slash both the surrounding suras and the landscape. Brilith is astounded at the power of the second spell since Asha only has one marut attribute. When the next group of suras poise for an attack, Asha casts hoti vayu for a quick escape, then hoti indra for a mass electrocution, and finally a powerful hoti agni (using none of her birth attributes) to finish them off. Brilith continues to be amazed at the speed and accuracy of Asha's calculations and the power of all the spells. When she finally brings her attention back to their situation, she spots a sura about to ambush Asha, and quickly casts bhavati agni to destroy it. This last action gives her the false idea that she must have some hidden talent, when in reality Agni has been helping her out.
The test administrators are still trying to figure out how Brilith calculated so fast since she bombed the first exam, and why so many new suras keep appearing. Debate over Asha's divine affinity score resurfaces; it seems her score was originally announced as 9999, before it was recalculated at 0515. But they finally agree that 0515 is incorrect and decide to notify Laila.
All suras in Exam room #6 are eliminated, and both partners pass the exam. The two continue to butt heads until Asha in the end thanks Brilith for the final attack.
Brilith takes the 4th exam, the Barrier Test, in the triple-Agni exam room. The examiner notes that her results were not as good as expected of someone who maintained a flawless barrier. Her vigor is not replenishing, either, as if she were maintaining a second barrier at the same time. Brilith realizes that this is because of Agni.
Next, Brilith waits outside the triple-Marut exam room, where Asha is arguing with the test administrator to allow her to take the exam. The administrator refuses since she is not a triple Marut and it would be too risky, so Asha grabs the administrator's shirt in a threatening manner.
The pair soon stand before Laila once again, and Brilith tries to defend Asha's actions so that she would not be disqualified. Laila, after letting the young girl's impassioned pleas go on for a bit, admits that she was just messing with her since she was not about to disqualify Asha for something so minor. She then hands them their licenses: a pink A-rank card for Brilith, and a black card for Asha. Laila explains that she made a special rank, A++, for Asha for achieving the highest score ever at Rindhallow in spite of the fact that she only took three out of four exams; the 4th exam would have been required for the AA rank.
Only 4 magicians currently hold the AA rank. An A++ would have the same privileges of an A+ rank, but Asha wants AA privileges in order to access the Human Search System in Eloth. Laila gives Asha written consent to use the system, under the condition that she take Brilith with her before returning her to Atera, and tells her to ask the other AA magicians aside from her for permission. Said magicians are all in Eloth. Brilith is pleased that this (plus her A rank) would allow her to retrieve the Staff of Agni from Eloth.
Brilith ends her story there, just before Asha wakes up.
The four ladies—Brilith, Lorraine, Ruche, and Leez—drop by Asha's room. She was expecting only Lorraine, and being ogled by the group makes her uncomfortable. Ruche says they absolutely had to see her today because it is Asha's birthday. Ruche offers up her present first, a swimsuit and floating patch that Asha had been looking for. Lorraine has no gift yet, but tells Asha she can have her pick from a shipment arriving from Eloth. Brilith's gift is a handmade red hat that is not quite Asha's style. Leez feels bad about not knowing about Asha's birthday, realizing that she is not as close to her as she thought. She quietly slips out of the room.
When Asha decides to get dressed and go find her, Lorraine protests, saying that the resistance from a barrier with different attributes from hers must have put a huge strain on her. Asha replies that to the contrary, there was no resistance since she changed the barrier attributes to her own. Lorraine finds this to be absolutely brilliant, and recalls a past conversation with Laila in which she called Asha a genius.
After moping alone around the temple grounds, Leez decides to put her gold coin to use and takes off to find Asha a present.