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At dinner, El is part of a large group that gathers six tables together to discuss the idea of calling a tribunal to punish the four seniors. Clarita Acevedo-Cruz, the senior valedictorian, approaches the group and speaks to them. She says that it isn’t fair to the seniors that the graduation hall that they must pass through will be flooded with maleficaria as a result of Orion’s heroics in saving over six hundred students. After some exchanges, Clarita and El agree on a plan to fix the cleansing mechanisms in the graduation hall, which will clear out the majority of the maleficaria for the seniors as well as for future classes. The various enclaves offer seniors guaranteed spots if they volunteer to join the mission to fix the cleansing mechanism and eventually a team is chosen. It will include Orion, who will fight monsters, and five incanters (including El and Clarita), who will cast a group shield spell. The mission is planned for the morning of graduation to allow as much time for practice and preparation as possible.
On the morning of graduation, the team descends through maintenance tunnels to the lowest level of the school to reach the graduation hall. Then they fight their way across the hall and start working on the machinery. Orion fights many monsters, and a few students die. After repairing the machinery, the incantation group activates a spell that quickly pulls them back to the senior residence hall. A bell rings, indicating that the cleansing will start, followed by the senior hall dropping down to the graduation hall. El and Orion run up the stairs as a wall of mortal flame starts to fill the hallways. Thinking that they are going to die, Orion kisses El. She hits him with her knee and starts to cast her own mortal flame spell to act as a firebreak.
This chapter focuses on the central conflict of self-preservation versus collaboration as the students are forced to confront the problem of unusually ravenous mals. When Clarita presents an initial plan that relies on Orion sacrificing himself to save the seniors, El is able to convince her and the rest of the school that a collaborative approach would be more successful. El’s plan gives the room hope as it offers a chance to save the seniors without sacrificing the underclassmen. The adoption of the plan proves that though the individual drive for survival is strong, most people do not wish for others to be forced to sacrifice their lives. The plan ultimately works specifically because of the combination of effort from students who excel at different areas of magic, from maintenance and artificing to incantation. This outcome demonstrates that even though the Scholomance encourages self-sufficiency and selfish hoarding of resources, the best way to help the students survive is teamwork.