Published at 29th of December 2018 09:38:44 AM
Chapter 61

Lars let his mind be enveloped by the illusion array, then heard a voice speak in his mind as his consciousness began to blur .

"Level 1: Early Normal stage . "

Then a scene appeared before him . An open plains with short grass under his feet . It stretched about 200 metres in every direction and was bare except for the grass . Beyond 200 metres, all he could see was mist at the ends of the horizon . Probably a mana-saving measure to reduce the number of illusion pixels the illusion processor had to generate .

"Prepare for combat: 10 goblins . "

Lars yawned . Too easy . Might as well take it slow and easy since there was no time limit, right?

He leisurely killed the goblins one by one, dissipating their illusory figures with just 1 finger . He dodged back and forth without moving his legs even once the entire time, casually releasing finger-flicks to their foreheads . The moment he touched them, they would explode in simulated gore, before quickly fading away .

Then as he moved about, he tested out using mana and blood energy to unnecessarily power up his strikes . It was really overkill - the poor little goblins popped like balloons when he so much as breathed at them!

But despite the apparent waste, he obtained good information from his experiments .

'It seems our abilities really are fixed at the beginner Adept level, and we really don't use up our physical stamina, mana or blood energy . . . Looks like the only thing tested is skill, abilities and comprehension of martial techniques . . . ' He smiled as he realised that he had an unfair advantage over the rest of the kids .

'I guess comprehension of the laws works as well . . . Though no-one below World-class should ever have such accomplishments, right . . . ? Except me . . . ' He laughed as he languidly stretched and sent a last relaxed swipe of his finger at the final goblin, mutilating its chest with a gentle touch .

'Mmm, my technique is improving . . . Looks like the Space-time Sword concepts from Draken Blacksword are applicable even when just using my fingers . . . I'd better practice to my heart's content while I'm in here, haha!' He smiled in anticipation of this priceless training ground . He would make full use of it since it was free anyway, right?

"Completed in 18 seconds . Congratulations, proceeding to level 2 . "

"Level 2: Mid Normal stage . "

"Prepare for combat: 30 goblins . "

'Oh, no time given to rest huh?' Lars smiled . He didn't need rest anyway .

* * * * *

[In the Gorun Stadium control room]

A serious looking man with short black hair stood beside Mr White as they watched the status monitors .

On the control panel before them were numerous screens showing the candidates statistics such as Physical and Mental State, Warning Indicators in case they were in critical conditions, Current Level and Time Taken per level .

And from this control room on the 3rd floor observation deck, they had a clear line of sight of the entire magic screen displaying the candidates progress in the testing illusion array .

The serious looking man in charge of surveillance and monitoring grunted in appreciation and nodded as he saw the stats, then reported to Mr White, "Sir White, congratulations . The candidates this year are exceptional! All of those ranked in the top 10 have successfully progressed to Level 5 . "

Mr White nodded and signalled for his top staff, Mitsui, to continue his report .

"The fastest of them was Natalie as expected, taking just 4 minutes and 27 seconds while the God-tribe descendant Shen Long is right behind in second place . In third place is Adahn, while in fourth place . . . Ninth place . . . Twenty-second place . . . " The man continued on until he reached #64, then looked up at his supervisor to seek confirmation before he continued to the next metric .

Mr White cocked his head slightly, looking puzzled . Why hadn't he heard Lars' name yet? Was there something wrong? So he asked, "What about Lars, #777? Where is he ranked right now . . . ?"

As a model employee, Mitsui did not question his superior and quickly scanned his eyes down the list until he found #777 - Lars .

"He's currently ranked 128 sir . . . "

Mr White nodded, then said, "As expected of the genius acknowledged even by General Weres . . . " He stroked his smooth chin that he made sure to shave everyday, then spat out saliva, wetting the face of his top worker .

"WHAT?!? Did you just say he's bottom???" He nearly grabbed his staff's collar when he asked this, but restrained himself from assaulting his aide .

"Y-yes sir . . . " Mitsui wiped off the saliva, taking it in stride, then continued, "He's just passed Level 3 . . . "

Mr White's eyes widened in shock, then he hurried over to the windows to look up at the magic screen and check on the boy .

"What is he doing . . . ?" His mouth widened in confusion and shock .

Mitsui ran over quickly to take a look at what his boss had seen, then he too was stunned, mouth hanging open and jaw dropped .

The boy had his eyes closed, dodging and blocking the goblins' sword swings with just his fingers .

And he had been at it for the past 3 minutes and 30 seconds .

* * * * *

Lars had easily passed Level 2 with minimal effort . The 30 goblins fought with abysmal skill, leaving him yawning and unchallenged even with his strength suppressed as it was .

So he had wiped them out leisurely, and was now honing the mastery of his mental body against the 50 senior goblins in Level 3 .

But after several minutes of practice and exercise, he felt like he had reached the limit of what he could learn from these puny insects .

Then he decided to test out the sword moves he devised from Draken Blacksword's memory fragment .

"Chasing Shadow!"

He pointed a finger and shot out a shadowy, elusive blade light that shimmered in and out of sight as if camouflaged . It was limited in power but made up for it by its esoteric and concealed nature, though its speed was also only average among his moves . Nevertheless, a casual movement easily decapitated a half-dozen goblins!

"Void Splitter!"

He chopped down aggressively and coldly with his knife-hand, leaving a black rip in the fabric of space and time snaking out from where he struck . The black fissure devoured and ERASED whatever it touched, be it air, wind, light or the flesh, blood and bones of whichever goblins it grazed past!

"Heavenly Star's Path!"

He released a violent thrust and rotated his wrist and arm as he did so, sending out an incandescent beam of light that pierced through everything and finally dissipated when it hit the borders of the illusion field! Wherever it passed by, it would leave a smoking trail as the light created incomparable heat from the friction with the air .

And finally, his personal less than 0 . 001% comprehended interpretation of the sole sword move above the heavens' that he had witnessed in his soul .

"Sweeping the Sky!"

He gathered all his comprehension of the space-time laws in his being and reached out to the particles of aether in the void, then slowly waved his palm before him, as if he were splashing a bucket of paint over all the goblins in front of him .

And though it seemed as if his sword-slash executed with his palm moved ever so slowly, in actual fact, the move was completed in less than 0 . 01 seconds - and everything in its path was turned to a mist of blood gore, every particle ground to pieces and sliced apart like tofu a million, billion, trillion times!

As the carnage of the goblins disintegrated bodies settled, Lars gaped in astonishment at the might of the single move .

He had meditated on the move endlessly over the past week and theorised that it would be truly magnificent and overbearing in power, but he had not expected it to be so f***ing powerful!

He had just used 1/100th of his strength to execute the move as the goblins were just small fry, but even then it was an overkill beyond overkill, excessively power . . . So powerful that even with his mere beginner Adept powers, its might exceeded even the middle Elite-level and neared the border to the next realm!

. . . And that was only with 1/100th of his capabilities unleashed . How much more fearful would the single sword strike be when used with 100% power . . . ? Peak Master level? Beginner Grandmaster?

And if that was how powerful it was while just using beginner Adept level strength . . .

Then how bloody kick ass would it be if executed with the capabilities of a Legendary mage . . . !!?

As his jaw dropped in stunned awe, he shivered, thrilled at the prospect of fully mastering Draken Blacksword's legacy!

Then his eyes lit up in excitement as he looked forward to rolling in the lucky draw for more fragments of the transcendent inheritance!

. . . Little did he know that he had already become a gacha gambling addict!

"Completed in 4 minutes and 58 seconds . Congratulations, proceeding to level 4 . "

"Level 4: Early Adept stage . "

"Prepare for combat: 10 ogres . "

"Ohh, that's a good step-up . In fact, it seems a little hard for a regular beginner Adept . . . The testing array for the descendants of noble houses is truly different, truly different . . . "

But he closed his eyes and slaughtered his way through the levels with a breeze .

* * * * *

Leocadius Trenel was standing on the private terraces, accompanied by Vignis Jamal .

Earlier, they had not even bothered to watch the assessment, however when they heard the results after the first two rounds, they were stunned and could not help but watch, enthralled by the developments .

Right now they were watching the magic screen that showed the positions of all contestants, from 1st place to the 64th place, the last person to qualify for the finals; all the way down to 128th place .

And at this time, Lars was placed last, a full stage behind his rivals!

"Hmmph! I told you that he was just physically strong! There's no way that he can compare in skills, arts or capabilities to we of the ruling class! Especially not against the invincible Natalie! Just as expected, an ant remains an ant . . . Sigh . . . I had my nerves ruffled for nothing!"

Leo spoke as if everything he said were the self-evident truth of the universe, which had always gotten on Vignis' nerves . Yet the sharp-eyed, ever serious and aggressive girl merely sneered at him and asked a simple question .

"Want to bet . . . ?"

Leo drew himself up slightly at the three words she had just said . He felt as if it were an affront to his dignity for anyone to not agree with him, to not see what was clearly so obvious! And if they could not see the wisdom that he saw, then they must be fools to be corrected!

And so he sighed as he took it upon himself to educate the poor, ignorant girl . He said, "Very well . How do you wish to bet . . . ? And what will be your stakes? Mind you, I will not accept an idiotic bet such as you betting that he will be last place - that much is already a given!"

Vignis' expression of amusement did not waver at his words, making Leo mildly uncomfortable at her sneer .

The brash and in-your-face girl stepped towards Leo with an unwavering gaze, stopping when she was just about 2 metres away . Then she put her hands on her knees and leaned forward, as if talking to a child and said, "I'm betting that he'll win . And I'm betting . . . "

She put her index finger on her lips and put on an innocent wide-eyed look, pretending to think for a while before speaking, "Your entire slave trade!"

Her rakish grin looked like the smile of a demon in Leo's eyes right now .

"W-what?! Why are you asking for such high stakes? This is just a tiny preliminary round! There's no way I'd agree to such a preposterous arrangeme--" He looked flustered and protested strongly while frowning, but he was interrupted halfway by Vignis .

"Bah! Who are you trying to fool!" Her eyes narrowed dangerously even as she continued to smile widely . "You think I don't know? That the true prize comes after being selected for the princess' entourage?" Her grin widened so much that it no longer looked like a smile but instead like the bared teeth of a wild beast .

Then Leo's expression of consternation disappeared, along with his frown .

The cunning, snake-like youth maintained a completely stoic and neutral expression as he replied, "If you know, then alright . But let's change things up slightly . The bet will be for the full competition . "

At those words, Vignis cocked her head slightly and smiled bemusedly . "You mean . . . ?"

This time Leo smiled in earnest and looked away from her . His eyes travelled to the magic screen, to the scene of the boy Lars slaying his opponents in the illusory array with ease .

Then he turned his head to meet the ginger's eyes again and said, "Let's see how your little prince charming will fare against true experts . "

And his smile widened as his eyes glittered in a passionate challenge to the girl before him, one that she would not back down from .

"If you or that boy wins this competition, you can have my 10% of my ownership of the flesh-trade, but in exchange . . . Those odds are stacked against me, so If I win . . . "

He smiled confidently and quietly said, "You'll give me your two entry tickets for the highest grade of bloodline enhancement! Kikikiki!"

At these words, the fiery girl's smile faded and her eyes flickered .

'The relative value *IS* more or less the same . . . And it will be a pain and slow my growth if I lose my two annual tickets . . . But it's strange . . . He would never take on a deal that he isn't 100% confident of winning . . . But in this case . . . Does he really have the confidence to take the title from me? He's never beaten me even after all these years . . . What is this fox scheming . . . ?'

She stared at the smiling and honest looking boy before her, an exterior that they all knew was just a facade for a venomous, ruthless and heartless schemer .

Unable to spot the trap within his words or anything wrong with the arrangement, Vignis, true to her brash and forward personality, decided .

'To heck with it! Whatever schemes this snake has, I'll just crush them with my own two bare hands . . . '

Then the two youths widely considered as the confirmed #1 and #2 smiled and struck hands together, making it a deal .

And as they turned away to return to their divans, Leo smiled sinisterly, while Vignis sneered inwardly .

'After all . . . That Darius isn't the only one with God-blood . . . Hehehe!!' she thought while sniggering, the blood within her veins pulsing with world-shaking power .

'Foolish girl . . . Do you really think it'll be just the same as 2 years ago . . . ? Kihihihi!!!' he gloated in his mind as he reached into his pocket and touched an ornate, evil-looking statue, one that looked like a miniature xenomorph with 6 tentacles and no eyes .

And while this was happening, a boy continued to absorb immense epiphanous revelations of sword-arts and the laws of space-time, while a certain golden-haired dragoness smashed apart her illusory foes, imagining that she was pummeling Charley, Lars and all her other mental demons .

The stage was now fully set for the upcoming defining battle of a thousand years .