The character test proceeded smoothly, and once again, whether by coincidence or not, Lone was the only remaining person who had yet to be tested by Elder Talion.
Swind had been given a low pass due to how passive he was in most situations, but he was deemed as having a kind heart.
Breena was given a normal pass because she avoided trouble in her questions, even if trouble led to the morally correct choice, but if it came to helping the powerless, she voluntarily threw away her life. This was only in the given situations and were it real life, she would obviously rely on Lone in a similar manner to Sophie.
In all of Eolande's situations, she had no power to help anyone, so she mercilessly chose to ignore all options to help and was given a failing grade, however, Elder Talion made a note of how, while she wasn't selfless, she also wasn't evil.
Rachel was given a perfect pass once again. As it turned out, she was pure of heart and extremely good-natured. Her only flaw was her naivety as far as Elder Talion could see. Falin grew somewhat bitter at having his score be surpassed by a Foxkin, but so long as it wasn't Lone, he could endure it.
Both the demon princess and Fep were given Low passes due to their somewhat selfish natures while Eko was given a normal pass since he was very violent but extremely kind and wouldn't hesitate to sacrifice himself for the greater good.
Finally, after most of the participants had been tested, it was Lone's turn. Now that the skill test had been over for a while, Lone's temper had cooled down and he looked far calmer than he was earlier.
If you were able to forget his recent actions during this test, it would be hard to not resist his handsome face and high amounts of charm. Unluckily or luckily for him though, almost everyone completely hated his guts.
Lone stood in front of Elder Talion and began fiddling with his Dwarven glasses. "Go ahead and ask your questions, Elder Shan'len, you slimy fuck."
Lone's lack or respect and exceedingly rude attitude sent ripples through the crowd. Elder Shan'len gripped the armrest of his chair so hard with anger that it shattered into a million pieces. "You filthy ingrate... To dare call me a-"
"Oh shut up and get on with it. Didn't you waste enough of my time during the last test?" Lone seemed to be very bored and it looked like even playing with his glasses wasn't keeping him entertained.
"Nine-tails, please, I beg of you to mind your manners," King Ele'hunda requested with a stern and unhappy voice. While he didn't agree with Elder Shan'len most of the time, he was still a council member, and such behaviour would usually warrant disqualification from the test and result in being expelled from the world tree with Lone's knowledge of their language and power structure being erased.
"Sorry, I just don't understand why I'm being picked on by this guy when I've done nothing during these tests except tried my best." Lone was understandably frustrated.
"My apologies if you felt that way, Nine-tails." Elder Shan'len had calmed himself down after hearing the King vouch for him, so he stood up before approaching Lone. "Shall we start the test then? I promise that if you pass, and there is no evidence of you cheating, I will formally apologize and compensate you for my actions thus far."
'Though it's impossible for you to pass, you little ingrate, I know you're personality type,' Elder Shan'len thought to himself.
"Sure," Lone replied dismissively.
"First question. You find yourself being the given a choice. Your family and the entire populace of a kingdom have been killed. You can revive your family or the kingdom's people. Which do you choose?"
The king frowned. 'A question where the answer is so blatantly obvious... Does Elder Shan'len genuinely not plan to trick the nine-tails?'
"I choose the kingdom's people," Lone answered truthfully, shocking Elder Shan'len.
"You... what? Elder Talion! Is he lying?" Elder Shan'len asked with urgency clear in his voice.
Elder Talion looked at him and smiled a bit wryly, "I'm not sure what you're hoping for, but he is telling the truth."
"Nonsense! I know your type! You are selfish and care nought for people unrelated to you!" Elder Shan'len's outburst wasn't an unfamiliar scene to the council, the King and every participant that had done this test before. There was always one person that Elder Shan'len would pick on, and it would be an outsider without fail if there was one present.
It was widely known across the tree that Elder Shan'len was easily angered and his racism towards anyone not of an Elven lineage far surpassed that of any fellow Elven keeper. The only reason he was able to maintain his seat amongst the council was due to that fact that he was exceedingly fair and magnanimous to his fellow Elves.
Lone shrugged. "You're not wrong, but I really would choose the many over the few."
"... Why?" Doubt was overflowing from Elder Shan'len's voice.
"Because I'd find a way to revive my family on my own. I wouldn't want someone else to do something so important," Lone answered as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"Lunacy! As if reviving is such a simple thin-"
Elder Shan'len's shouts were cut off by Lone's cold voice. "If someone in this situation is able to do it, then so am I."
"That's enough. Elder Shan'len, continue the test," King Ele'hunda ordered.
The elegant Elf wanted to question Lone more, but he gave up that idea after seeing the seriousness in his king's eyes.
"Second question. You have just witnessed the person you love the most being violated by an unknown man and after questioning him, you come to know that your most cherished person's body was special and he required her essence to save the world which was only obtainable via intercourse. What do you do, forgive the man or punish him?"
The King immediately wanted to get out of his seat and roar at Elder Shan'len for asking a question with such a topic, however, he was unable to move. Lone was no longer visible and a deep black smoke covered his entire body.
"Oh? I've been released after such a long time... Hehehehe... Oh oh oh? What's this? Hmm? A weak and powerless whelp caused such a reaction from my host? Ohohoho?"
'Lone' walked forwards with a humungous grin strewn across his face and he lightly stroked Elder Shan'len's face with his hand which now had five exceedingly long black nails on it. Each one lightly pierced Elder Shan'len's face and left deep cuts.
"The host wants you dead, hehehehehe... I wonder... Just what did you say? He's been so calm for so long... Ahhhh... This feeling... Freedom is so... delicious. Hehehehe!"
One by one the people below the stage started to faint. The bloodlust coming out of Lone's body was far too much for them to handle. Even Eko, Fep and the Demon Princess couldn't resist it, and they, too, lost consciousness.
Only Lone's group, the council, and surprisingly, Rachel, were able to resist. Whether consciously or not, Lone's bloodlust wasn't affecting his group in the slightest, while due to their vast power, the council was barely able to resist it.
Suddenly, 'Lone''s laughter stopped and the black aura that surrounded him was slowly taken over by a dark shade of purple.
"How troublesome... He'd been containing him for so long... Did Sky's control over Void loosen recently? Well, time to waste my abilities once again. It'd be troublesome if so many people remembered witnessing Void."
Darkness, using Lone's body, channelled his power and entered the mind of everyone present, even Lone's group, and he erased their memories of what had just happened. After that, the aura surrounding Lone disappeared and what was left was everyone just blankly staring into space, Lone included.
'Master, come to my pyramid when you have a moment to spare. We need to talk, also, it seems that something good came from Void's momentary escape... Congratulations on reaching the B-rank, Master,' Darkness giggled before he disappeared from Lone's mind.
Lone absentmindedly looked down at his hands and he had a confused look on his face. 'I reached the B-rank? What just happened...? Void escaped? I remember being asked my second question by this guy and then... Ah, I got enraged. Well, fuck. Void was the insane one, wasn't he? Guess I'll need Eolande's help once again to go talk to Darkness...'
"Nine-tails, please answer my question," Shan'len said after having come back to his senses. He wasn't sure why he had lost focus for a moment there, but he was still convinced that Lone was a cheater and that he didn't belong here with his personality.
"Ah... I'd kill the guy instantly," Lone replied with no emotion in his voice and it was clear for everyone to see that he was very distracted.
"Excellent! Third and final question. You find yourself in the lair of a lesser Wyvern after taking a commission from The Adventurer's Guild and you can see that within the beast's hoard room, there is a massive pile of gold which you need to get for the King so that he can fight off the recent famine and save his people, but on the other side of the room, there are several captive Demihumans who the Wyvern is obvious going to use as his supper."
"What do you do? Take the gold when the Wyvern is busy eating the captives or do you save those Demihumans and sacrifice yourself to act as a diversion?"
King Ele'hunda had returned from his momentary stupor as well and he couldn't help but ponder over how someone as powerful as he could have entered such a state, but Elder Shan'len's question made him forget about this momentarily.
'Yet another clear choice. Sacrifice the few to save the many. Obviously, the morally correct choice is to take the gold and save the King's people, no? Does Elder Shan'len really expect the nine-tails to choose the lives of the few?' King Ele'hunda didn't know that Elder Shan'len had a far firmer grasp of Lone's personality than he did.
"I choose to save the Demihumans," Lone replied.
"And what of the King's people?" Elder Shna'len asked with a smile on his face.
"I have a habit of saving slaves and captives that I see in front of me," Lone shrugged than started to walk off of the stage. "By the way, your face is bleeding," Lone added with an idle tone.
Elder Shan'len brought his hand to his check and noticed that Lone was correct. There were five scratch marks on his face and they were all bleeding rather profusely.
Her Highness stood up and quickly healed the elder's face while Elder Talion did her job and announced Lone's results. "You value those close to you, however, you have no sense of justice and only choose to help those that you can see, almost as if on a whim, and you ignore those that are hidden from you. You fail."
Lone shrugged again and returned to his group. "Eolande," he called.
"Hmm?" The small Tywlyth Teg looked up at her 'husband' with a smile on her face.
"I need your help to enter my mind again later today," Lone said, shocking her.
Eolande was going to refuse until she saw the seriousness in Lone's eyes. "Did something happen?"
Lone simply nodded. This wasn't the place to discuss the entities living within him. Lone took the following silence from Eolande as agreeance, so he looked at the stage only to see the King staring directly at him.
'He ranked up... How? Did he have an epiphany and broke through the bottleneck mid-test? Absurd! Not to mention... A minute of my memory is missing... What on Altros happened during that minute for him to rank up?' The King was full of questions.
While he wasn't the wisest person around, even he knew that it was next to impossible for someone who was weaker than a Divine-level being to meddle with his memories unless he allowed them to.
'Just what are you, Nine-tails? Are you a great fortune for my world tree, or are you a calamity that will only serve to bring it to its demise even faster?' King Ele'hunda wasn't sure which was right, but the risk-taker within him was willing to make one last gamble before the world tree died.
He paid no attention to the remaining character tests that were going on and he held his chin while staring at Lone. 'I need to talk to Great Elder Lipsilk of the trunk. Maybe he can offer more insight. He was always skilled at noticing hidden powers. Perhaps he knows more about the nine-tails...'
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