Chapter 23: The Old Man

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Four steps, each with 3 stars resulted in a total of 12 sub-levels. These were the distinguishing power levels of a Spiritknight. What determined the star you were at was the amount and quality of Dantians you had absorbed.

Take Darius, for example. He had absorbed two Dantians, so technically he would be a second-star Spiritknight of the first step. However, Darius had had no previous training in the spiritual arts, which allowed humanity to channel the energy gained from the Dantians to their advantage.

Lara had received plenty of training from the best of the best, which, when coupled with her incredible talent, assured her quick mastery of skills. Darius, on the other hand, had had no such advantages, meaning he couldn’t utilize his new abilities to their best potential.

Every dantian had a classification. There were thousands of classes corresponding to the thousands of spirits out there. Each class of Dantian contained a unique assortment of skills: a primary skill along with secondary skills. Lara had eaten a Dantian of the Binary class. The primary skill gave her ambidexterity. The energy arms she grew were a spirit art she had learned from her father, Spirit Arm. It allowed one to manifest spirit energy as arms. The technique which complemented the Binary class allowed her to fully control two extra arms.

When the first test finished, candidates received the Dantians of creatures they had slain. If you had slain more than one creature, the examiners would choose the best one and provide it to you.

Lady Katya, who was in charge of the exam, had faced an unforeseen circumstance. A Dantian created by one of the examinees exceeded the one they had made as a reward for defeating the spirit. Unsure of what to do, she had suddenly received orders to supply Darius with both Dantians. While she had felt relieved that she did not need to decide, she had also felt a bit irritated.

The order was absurd from her point of view because the human body was frail. One could only absorb one Dantian at a time. Only after a long period of training and acclimatization would the body be ready to accept another one. An untrained body receiving two dantians at once—Lady Katya was sure this would lead to instant death.

Although Darius’s brute strength and other skills were impressive, he knew no spirit arts, and not even a prodigy like Katya could absorb two at once. Orders were, however, orders.

Not even Emperor Farlene had the authorization to order her, so she felt shocked upon receiving commands on her mobile device. The clearance accompanying this order was far above anything she had ever seen.

After that, she had received further orders to allow a strange old man to take over the ritual rite. His identity was on a need-to-know basis, and apparently, she hadn’t needed to know. All she could do was accommodate him as best as she could because included in her orders was that she had to treat him with the utmost respect and follow his orders as if he were her direct superior.

The old man had presided over the ritual and performed the expected rites,  passing Darius both Dantians. The others were far too preoccupied with their own to observe the others and see this strange scene. In the control room, Lady Katya had watched gobsmacked as Darius had consecutively absorbed two Dantians.

“Good, good.” The old man appeared next to her like a ghost. Katya was a distinguished Spiritknight of the third step, but she hadn’t even sensed his presence. Despite her focus, only her eyes could reveal the seemingly weak old man muttering while stroking his beard.

“Just who is this old man? None of my other senses can perceive him.” Lady Katya seemed calm on the outside, but she was inwardly quite nervous. This old man was undoubtedly a powerhouse far stronger than she was.

His next orders were to gift the young man a hammer strap from the royal treasury. The order had been carried out, but Katya had still raised a brow. Just what was this old man doing here? Who was he? How did Darius absorb two Dantians? A myriad of questions plagued Lady Katya while she looked at the screen ahead.

The old man shouted a string of orders about what he wanted to occur in the next exam. Although he had definitely substantially increased the difficulty, who were they to object to orders from high above?

The old man grinned mischievously, both hands behind his back. Lady Katya’s guards nervously monitored the exam and their surroundings.

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Every time one ascended a star, a secondary ability unlocked. Darius had two stars, so he gained the primary and secondary indomitable skills, not to mention the primary skill of that odd monkey. Katya and her guards could not even tell what kind of spirit the monkey and the shrimp were. In fact, those two spirits weren’t even in any database she had access to.

So how on earth had they allowed spirits they didn’t know to enter the exam room? Lady Katya thought back to the events that had unfolded and the ones currently occurring. She could not help but cast a sideward glance at the old man and thought, “A plot is afoot!”

Jade Sea Serpents were powerful spirits of the first step. They often varied in strength and abilities,  which made them troublesome to deal with. You could never tell what class they were until the battle unfolded.

“To make it out alive, we need to cooperate,  so listen closely. We should each take a serpent. I will deal with the two-headed one while you-” Before Lara could finish her sentence, Darius bolted. “head for the other one…” Lara was not one used to being ignored, so she could not help but snort when she realized what had happened. Nevertheless, she was battle-hardened and followed after Darius.

The islands were only, at most, a few hundred meters in diameter, so crossing them was quick. The serpents crawled from the waters onto the islands, each spirit moving with villainous intent. It seemed as if each spirit already had a target because they split up upon nearing the duo.

Darius could tell that the bloodthirsty snake had it in for him, so he instinctually decided to dispatch it first.

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