The third exam was similar to the previous one. The duo was dropped in a seemingly random location without any information on what to do. Under such circumstances, it was clear that they only had to dispatch their enemies to pass.
As the heir to the emperor, all Lara had to do was pass three tests, and she would qualify to inherit his position. Then, that would be that, yet the previous night, she had received a notice that three more tests had been added to their schedule. As a budding royal, she had her own information network and a plethora of subordinates, so it wasn’t a surprise that she would receive advanced information about the testing schedule; she just hadn’t expected the additions to be so difficult, not to mention that the information would come with a caveat.
The last three tests were optional for her but mandatory for Darius. Nevertheless, participation in the fourth test and the later ones came with incredible rewards she found difficult to resist. However, she was in no mood to rejoice the vast possibilities. It was clear that these tests were meant for Darius and that she was just a fortunate bystander.
At first, she had been outraged and humiliated, but after some time had passed, she remembered what Darius had done to those jade sea serpents. Her humiliation quickly turned into plain shock. She couldn’t get around how someone as weak as Darius could become so powerful in one day.
“Is this the power of the Indomitable ability?” She murmured as she gazed out onto the grassy plains ahead of her. There was only green waving grass for as far as she could see. Cool winds blew from time to time, swaying the weeds like an orchestra of nature.
Lara only spent a moment to observe her surroundings before quickly turning her attention to Darius who stood right beside her.
The moment she took a look at those limpid eyes, she knew that something about him had changed, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. He had zoned out the moment they had arrived, staring into nothingness, but had snapped out of it after a while.
“Welcome back to Earth,” said Lara sarcastically.
Darius laughed shyly and coughed. “Hello, your Majesty? Or is it your Highness?” Darius asked in a high pitched tone.
“What kind of idiot are you?” mumbled Lara as she slapped her own forehead. She felt aggrieved that such a fool possessed such power while a princess as gifted as she was had to play second fiddle to him. She sighed in resignation and decided to focus on the task at hand. She had attained an Honour level ability, so her foundations were solid. She was confident that given enough time, she would become stronger than Darius. She failed to take into account, however, that Darius would get stronger in time as well.
“Focus, Darius, focus!” Darius kept mumbling to himself in order to soothe his fraught nerves. He tightened his grip on the hammer as he focused on their surroundings. Lara did the same but to no avail. For the first few minutes, nothing happened. After a while, Lara started to lose her patience and decided to explore the area.
“Hey! Where are you going?” asked a nervous Darius. There was something about their surroundings that made his nerves stand on edge. As time went on, he instinctually felt as if he approached the jaws of death. It was an unpleasant feeling, yet he could do nothing about it. Lara’s sudden action of walking away did nothing to calm him down. In fact, it made him feel even more nervous because he suspected her next actions would activate the trap.
“I’m going to explore. Standing around doing nothing has done nothing to help our cause,” Lara said in a confident tone. Darius wanted to retort, but he had nothing logical he could say to refute her argument. They hadn’t been given any instructions or any objectives, and unlike last time, no spirits attacked them of their own volitions.
“This is supposed to be a test, one that focuses on combat, yet we were placed in the middle of nowhere. We have to be proactive and gather information if we want to finish the test sooner,” said Lara confidently. As soon as she had finished speaking, she turned her head back and looked at Darius.
What greeted her was the sight of a terrified Darius. His face was pale, and his lips quivered. She wanted to ask what the problem was when she saw him point to the ground beneath her feet. At that very instant, a premonition of death washed over her body, causing chills to run up her spine.
Despite being an extravagant princess, Lara had a plethora of battle experience; she was by no means pampered and protected. She had taken the lives of both spirits and men many a time in order to train herself. She was accustomed to killing intent and bloodlust, so much so that she had developed a keen instinct like any other distinguished warrior would develop after the baptism of a thousand battles.
Many a man could feel the towering shadow of death looming over their heads, but few had the ability to react instantly in order to escape, and Lara was one of those few.
Without even looking down at what Darius was pointing at, she activated her secondary ability, Double Critical. It was an ability that doubled her reaction and movement speed. Using this newfound speed, she leaped from her position and flitted toward Darius’s position.
Every ability had a primary and secondary ability. Indomitable was no different. The elder had explained that Indomitable’s abilities were a bit special. The first one, Imperishable, made one’s mind immune to mental attacks while inciting one’s bloodlust and cognitive abilities. The second ability Overdraw increased one’s all-around sensory and physical abilities, allowing one to fully use one’s innate bodily talents.
Darius was not a fan of the fearlessness side effect of Imperishable, so when they had arrived at their new location, he had only activated Overdraw. The elder had spent quite some time teaching Darius how to use the abilities separately. The elder had warned that Overdraw must be activated from the get-go while Imperishable was something that had to be handled with caution.
As Lara had started walking away, Darius’s senses had started tingling, and his ears had started to pick up a vibration from the ground. As the seconds went on, his ears had zeroed in on the ground directly underneath Lara. It had been a shuffling noise akin to one moving large mounds of dirt. His sixth sense had started to scream danger, leading to Darius feeling extreme fear and pointing below his counterpart’s feet.
The old Darius would have turned tail and run at that moment, but within that split second, his instincts had changed from ‘I need to run away’ to ‘I need to warn her.’ Within that short instant of time, Darius character was revealed: he saw Lara and himself as one entity. It never even occurred to him that he was doing something out of character.
Darius could hear the rumbling of the earth beneath her feet intensify. He wondered whether he would even get a word out before she was attacked by whatever was coming. To his surprise, she reacted immediately and managed to leap away just in time. Within a split second, she was already beside him.
“Fast!” Darius did not have time to marvel more at her speed. It was here that…