Time flowed on after that and all of Lone's companions were given a passing grade thus far. The only ones who hadn't been tested yet were Swind and Rachel.
Sophie had displayed her barrier magic and was given a perfect passing grade. Eolande's illusions were also graded as perfect while Breena's fear magic was given a low pass mark due to its limited usage and thanks to her D-Rank strength.
Eko gained a great pass for his holy palm and would have gotten a better score if not for the fact that it took far too long to charge up. Fep was given a high pass for his inherent ability to shapeshift and the Demon Princess was given a normal pass for a skill she called 'guttural impalation' which employed the use of her greatsword to create a large wave of energy that she fired into the sky.
At this point, Falin had given up on winning this test and simply showing his skill, cross slash, which made full use of his talents with shortswords. He was waiting for the character test where he was confident that he would outshine lone finally.
It took some time, but eventually, Swind was called up onto the stage. He didn't take notice of the dismissive and mocking gazes that were being thrown his way and he simply stood in front of the King as he waited to be told to start.
"I know you are weak, but please, try your best with whatever skill you have. I have already decided to accept you in consideration of the Nine-tails, so if you would rather not embarrass yourself, please leave the stage and await the next test, Lemurian," King Ele'hunda said in reflection of Swind's minimal battle power.
"Thank you, ss-Sir King," Swind spoke his first words to the king and his council with a neutral tone.
Swind then took the alterion greatsword that was strapped to his back and entered a stance that Sophie had taught him. Lone had created the greatsword with Swind's physique in mind and it was especially thin for a sword of its length since it was build to be used with one hand. It was, however, unfortunately still too heavy and not completely compatible with him.
Swind calmed his breathing and slashed the air with as much power as he could muster. He lost his balance and the sword cut through an inch of the wooden stage before the impact rebounded and forced the weapon out of Swind's hand.
Laughter could be heard from below the stage and every single member of the council except for Her Highness was frowning, the king included. "You have failed to display a skill. Failure. Please, return." King Ele'hunda made sure to be nicer this time so as to not enrage Lone again.
Swind ignored the laughter and mocking gazes that were being directed at him and he picked up his sword before going back to Rachel's side.
Lone had a bitter look on his face, but he didn't lash out this time because the King had been fair. Swind truly didn't know any skills at all, not even non-combat related ones.
Rachel could read the atmosphere despite her childish demeanour and she wanted to console Swind somehow. "Th-That was a great swing, Swind!"
The Lemurian turned his head and looked at Rachel with a puzzled expression on his face. "I appreciate your kindness-ss, Ms-ss Rachel, but I am aware that I possess-ss no battle power. I am not ashamed of this-ss, ss-so please, do not try to console me."
"Ah, oh, um... Sorry?" Rachel mumbled with a disheartened expression. 'I try to be nice just once and I get rejected... Uuuuu...'
Thankfully for Rachel, she was able to vent her emotions by displaying her skills. Naturally, she did as told and used her most powerful skill, kindling fireball, which she had created after absorbing Lone's unique pure mana fire magic.
She was given a flawless pass, the second best result thus far. Time quickly flowed after that and before long, it was time for the character test.
"As most of you returning participants would already be away, the character test is performed by Elder Talion who specialises in the mind branch of nature magic and is able to detect most falsehoods. The test will consist of three questions. Answer them as truthfully as possible, and you will be judged by Elder Talion based on your answers," King Ele'hunda explained thoroughly for the first time participants.
"This could be fun," Eolande commented from Kyuubi's back.
Lone nodded. "Yeah, I was always a fan of these kinds of things. Y'know, morality based questions? They used to be in a lot of the older RPG games. Shame it kinda died out in the early two-thousands."
Unfortunately for Lone, his rare moment of nerdiness was only understood by him. The only other people here from Earth were Sophie and Eolande, and one of them had left Earth three-thousand years ago while the other had locked herself away from the world for six-hundred years, so Lone only received blank stares from all of his companions.
"What's an 'RPG'?" Eko asked with curiosity in his tone.
"Role Playing Game. Put into layman's terms, a group of people or a single person plays a game while assuming the role of someone else and there are usually stats and levels included." Lone didn't expect anyone to understand, and low and behold, no one did.
After mentioning this, he couldn't help but remember his gaming friends who he'd played with the morning before he was sent to Altros. 'I wonder how Zar, Neon and Sino are doing? Did they keep playing after I disappeared? I wonder if they even know that I disappeared... This is a bit depressing to think about.'
"Your Majesty, I have a request," Elder Shan'len said, disrupting the King before he could announce the first participant's number who would be called up to get tested.
"Speak," King Ele'hunda ordered with an authoritative voice.
"I would like to personally perform the Nine-tails' test while Elder Talion judges his answers," Elder Shan'len requested.
King Ele'hunda looked at Elder Talion and the beautiful Elven maiden nodded her head in agreement as she saw no issue with this since, in her opinion, it was the answers that mattered, not the questions.
"Very well, I will allow it," King Ele'hunda agreed.
'Perfect! With this, I can show the Nine-tails' true colours!' Elder Shan'len was ecstatic.
Lone frowned and held his chin. "What does that snobby prick have against me?"
Sophie tugged his sleeve and said in a gentle voice, "You did try to cut his arm off..."
"Oh, you're right," Lone replied with a light laugh.
The first person that got called up who Lone cared about was actually Sophie herself. The small girl let go of Lone's fluffy tails and walked up onto the stage. The King was still very interested in this nearly one-thousand-year-old Human, so he was greatly anticipating her results from this test.
Elder Talion wasted no time and immediately asked the first question.
"You find yourself stumbling across a camp of Demihuman slavers. You're not confident that you can defeat them all, but you can tell that they will soon be packing up to leave so you have no time to contact the local guards. What do you do?"
"I ask Lone if he can save them, and he does." Sophie's answer made everyone put on strange faces.
"Please change your answer. You are alone in this situation."
"That's impossible. I would never leave Lone's side." Sophie's voice contained so much confidence that it made Elder Talion falter.
"Well, you are certainly telling the truth... In the impossible circumstances that you would not be with the Nine-tails, how would you deal with the situation?"
"I would leave and tell someone in power, like the Adventurers Guild, about the slavers. If I can't defeat them, why throw away my life?" The cold and logical nature of Sophie's answer impressed King Ele'hunda.
"Very well, next question. You find yourself in a courtroom and you have just been convicted as guilty of committing several murders that you were not responsible for. What do you do?"
"I escape and let Lone find the real killer." Again, Sophie relied on Lone as her answer.
"And how exactly would you do both of those things?" Elder Talion was getting a bit frustrated. The answers were meant to be simple. Choose an evil and unlawful way to solve the problem or choose a good and lawful way to fix the issue, not let another person fix everything for you.
"With our skills." Sophie was getting uncomfortable. She was answered as truthfully as she could, but it felt like her answers weren't being seen as correct by this Elven woman, which was making Sophie upset.
Elder Talion looked at King Ele'hunda with a pitiful gaze, clearly asking him what she should do. "Hmm, it is not the fault of the Human. How about this, we shall change the questions to have only two answers instead of being open-ended? Afterall, you can detect if the person is lying when they choose the good option."
"Very well, Your Majesty," Elder Talion said after she bowed gracefully.
"The third and final question. You are in a town square and you can see several men harassing a young girl in an alleyway. Do you attempt to save her or do you ignore it?"
"Um... Hmm..." Sophie looked very cute with her thinking face and Lone desperately wanted to hug her, but he held himself back in consideration of her test.
"Do I still have all of my abilities, and how strong are the men?" Sophie asked after thinking for a moment.
'Finally, the girl says something reasonable,' Elder Talion sighed in relief. "You still possess all of your current strength and skills and the men are a group of well-known B-ranked hooligans."
"In that case," Sophie said with a bright smile. "I castrate and kill the men before saving the girl."
Something about Sophie's attitude and words sent chills up every present man's spine. Only she and Lone knew of her past with the Knights Templar, and while she had never been sexually assaulted by them thanks to God's orders, Sophie still abhorred anyone picking on the weak, which is why she tended to convince Lone to help people that he would rather ignore, like Swind.
"Mmm, you have a pure heart and are very innocent, though your reliance on the Nine-tails clouds your judgement and corrupts your morals. You get a low pass," Elder Talion stated.
Sophie wasn't very satisfied with that last remark, but she let it be and returned to Lone's side. After all, being in the spotlight wasn't something that Sophie was a fan of. Lone petted her head and offered her his bushy tails to console her. She happily squeezed a few of the fluffy limbs and felt her stress disappear.
The next person to be judged that Lone was interested in was Falin, the Elf who had challenged Lone.
"First question. You find yourself in a marketplace and you notice a wealthy noble dropped his purse. Do you take the purse for yourself, or do you return it to the noble?"
"I return it to the noble and leave before he could reward me for my deed."
"Second question. You find yourself at the annual town ball and the young maiden that you have been trying to woo for several years has arrived with your best friend as her date. Clearly, the two of them are madly in love. Do you confront your friend for stealing your love interest, or do you leave them be and try to move on?"
"I confront my friend, but remain open-minded and make sure to not lose my temper."
"Final question. Your mother has fallen ill and your family can't afford the medicine or a healer's services. Do you try to steal the needed medicine, or do you accept your mother's fate and stay by her side in her final moments?"
"I steal the medicine. My family matters more to me than the laws do."
"Very well," Elder Talion held her forehead and finally came to a conclusion, "You are kind but brash. Your confidence and pride are your biggest flaws, but you have a justice-oriented soul and you will always try to do what you think is right. I grade you with a high pass," she said.
Falin was aware of his own personal flaws, but he was absolutely sure that he was of a better moral standing than Lone was, so again, he sent a provocative glance towards the Nine-tails as he left the stage.
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