Darius once again experienced the fleeting sensation of molecules transferred from one place to the other. Lara appeared beside him.
“Clearly, these next trials are just for us,” She said as she looked around their surroundings. Since their rankings for the previous tests had been equal, Lara and Darius would take the exact same ones for the next sections.
For some reason, that they had been plunged straight into the next trial didn’t phase Darius. If anything, he couldn’t wait to find out what it was. This feeling was uncharacteristic for him. He wasn’t sure what was happening, but his adrenaline rushed like he was on drugs. The tension from imminent danger was ecstasy.
They stood on one island in a small chain of desert-like islands. She knew a few things about Spiritknights and their powers. So to her, she felt pretty normal. Her short navy blue hair blew softly in the wind as she tried out her new power. The spirit she’d slain was the two-headed jaguar that for some reason had had six legs and two tails. It had been a twin spirit, among the hardest to find and kill. Although thanks to Darius, she hadn’t landed the killing blow, the creature must’ve died from the brutal wounds she had inflicted.
Like Darius, she could feel some of the Dantians more passive effects taking hold inside her. She was more aware of her surroundings as if she had two separate brains. As she unsheathed her sword, she noticed the most subtle of changes. Her left hand was no longer dominant: she was now ambidextrous. With her two brains, it didn’t take long to come to terms with what was happening. Darius, on the other hand, was a different case.
Lara had studied spirits and their energies before and realized what was happening to Darius. His demeanor had completely changed. He wasn’t oblivious to danger, but for some reason, it didn’t phase him at all. Then, it made sense to her.
The spirit he had defeated in the cave was far more vicious and bloodthirsty than others. In particular, its willingness to do anything for a kill, and insane bloodthirst did not conform to most spirits. Before, Lara had simply attributed this to it simply being a possessed creature, and its own general stupidity. Now, she realized exactly what class it had been.
“Indomitable,” She muttered.
Darius surveyed the water, waiting for anything to reveal itself.
Usually, he would have been terrified, but for the second time in the same week, he had changed. Although not sure if it was for better or worse, he was sure that whatever was in those waters was about to have the battle of its life.
Darius felt stronger, faster, tougher. His senses were heightened, and his hazel brown eyes could see farther, he could smell the sea, the air and everything composing it; he could even taste the salt. He heard both the sound of Lara breathing a few meters away from him and that of the ripples the spirits made gliding through the water. Although this wasn’t exactly new to him, he felt that one of the spirit energy’s side effects was that it unlocked his full potential.
Lara watched Darius. She knew that if she sat this one out, he would almost certainly die. The Indomitable ability was both a blessing and a curse. It could free one from all fear, unlocking their potential through pure bravery and courage. However, at the same time, those with the ability were often brash and acted irrationally. The ability came with a certain cockiness toward fighting, yet fearlessness often led to early demises.
The Indomitable skill was extremely rare and powerful. The last person known to have it was Lady Ferah of the Desolate Wastelands, the vast deserts that lay to the south of the continent of Valar. She was one of the greatest Spiritknights to ever live and had died over a hundred years earlier defending the southern borders and their inhabitants from a Spirit horde, the size of which had never been seen previously. She was said to have laughed at the face of death and could draw energy from allies who fell in her presence, be they fellow Spiritknights or civilians, and would use it to fight all the harder in their names.
In the battle for the southern borders, she had been the first to arms and the last to fall. Without her, however, the southern borders became infested. The blitzkrieg skirmishes still raged on to this day.
Lara could have let Darius get himself killed, but something about him made her want to keep him alive. Besides, this would be a great chance to test out one of her abilities. She closed her eyes and concentrated, focusing part of the twin spirits’ energy just under her ears. It took some time, but with her enhanced brain power, she figured it out and was able to mold the spiritual energy into what she wanted: a second pair of arms in the form of pure energy!
At that moment, a supply drop fell from the sky, landing right in front of her. It was a long black case with her family’s insignia engraved on it: two dragons entwined in a sort of dance.
She opened the case to find two more swords, identical to the ones she already had in her scabbards. Clearly, this was a reward for her newfound skill. Strapping her scabbards on her back, she saw something else, but it wasn’t for her.
Meanwhile, Darius observed two Jade sea serpent spirits headed his way. One had two heads, while the other one had its eyes locked solely on Darius. Its intentions were clear from its gaze. It was out for blood.
Darius realized his intelligence had improved to suit his new attitude. Before, all he would have thought of in a situation like this was how to run away and hide, but right now, the only thing going through his mind was how he would win.
“These are for you.”
Lara walked up to Darius with her hand outstretched. She had a new strap for his hammer, courtesy of her family.
As soon as Darius looked at her, she took a step back. The way he looked at her was different. She felt quite small and insignificant in his gaze. This man before her resembled nothing of the whimpering coward she had almost died within the cave. Even the lust he had once displayed had almost completely disappeared. Now, she felt like a sentient rock, an object whose only purpose was to, at times, speak and otherwise merely exist.
Darius raised his hand to receive it. His face was cheerful; however, something about him still seemed somewhat menacing yet ambivalent.