“The heavens have eyes! They have not abandoned my family!”
The Emperor stood up and roared with laughter. James and Peter, Lionel’s two older brothers, had wry smiles on their faces, while Lionel’s face was deathly pale. The third test had ended, and the results had been spectacular.
Darius had once again single-handedly dealt with a spirit in a most spectacular fashion. The Emperor had a smug grin as he returned to his seat.
“Lionel, my son, accept your fate! Haha!” The Emperor’s laughter was like the sound of death creeping closer and closer for Lionel.
‘My life of luxury! Gone!’
Lionel did the best he could to prevent himself from wailing in misery, lest he lost even more face. Rarely did his plans end up blowing up in his face especially in such a spectacular fashion. Thanks to Darius’s efforts, he was now in the running for Emperor directly in competition with his sister. His sister was still the favorite by a long shot, but this result forced him to act the part of a prince.
Gone were the days he could fool about. Gone were the nights he could disappear where and when he pleased. Gone were the days he could come up with random excuses for skipping training…
As Lara and Lionel were twins, their talents were not far apart. In fact, Lionel knew quite well that he could best his sister in terms of talent for battle, even at that very moment despite his consistent skipping of practice. He just did not want it to be revealed. In truth, Lionel was already a Spiritknight. He had chosen to find himself his own Dantian in an attempt to convince his father that he was not qualified for the test and thus have the Emperor help him find a substitute. Under normal circumstances, becoming a Spiritknight before the test disqualified one, but the Emperor would have none of that. He had forced Lionel to swallow a pill that temporarily made one a normal human again, much to the latter’s chagrin.
Lionel was neither a coward nor was he untalented, but he had managed to fool his family into believing otherwise. Now, his years of effort had been thrown down the train by an unassuming hick from the countryside. Now, he had to reveal his true talents. If not, his life would become even harder, and the reason for that was sitting right next to him.
Contrary to what most might think, the one most unhappy at the current turn of events was not Lionel, but his eldest brother James!
James was eyeing his father’s throne, and he had already secured Peter’s support. Lara, however, was like the sun, melting any chance he had of seizing power. James had come up with many schemes to take her life, but he would only act once she became a Spiritknight. As a Spiritknight, she would be thrust in many a battle, willingly or not. Not to mention that she was anyway a battle maniac and would probably actively seek out these perilous encounters. There would no doubt be plenty of opportunities to get rid of her in the near future.
Lionel was a wastrel, so James had not seen him as a threat… until now.
The only person who had noticed James’d true intentions was Lionel himself. Despite his lazy nature, there was no doubting the boy’s cunning nature. Part of the reason he had intended to bow out of the race for the throne was his understanding of his brother’s unrelenting avarice.
Lionel was content with not having to look after his own neck. However, he had now no doubt entered James’s radar. James was greedy, but it was Peter who was the real problem.
Peter unconditionally followed James. It had been so ever since they were young children. James was more of a warrior while Peter was, much like Lionel himself, more of a schemer, except that he was even more devious.
It was Peter who had discovered the clause that allowed for Lionel to use a substitute. He had informed Lionel, who had taken the hint, and immediately acted on it. Little had Peter know that his discovery would set into motion a chain of events that would rock the entire empire!
Now that he had entered James and Peter’s sights, Lionel had no choice but to fight for power in order to better protect himself. If he did not, he would be forced to work under his brothers, which would only make it easier for them to ‘take care’ of him.
Lionel was lazy, but he was not subservient. If he could not lead a life in luxury, then he would lead a life of power. He would be damned if he had to submit to his older brothers, and they knew that very well.
James had had a sleepless night the day before, but now, his greatest worries had truly cemented in reality. He glanced at his brother who understood the gesture.
Peter looked at Lionel and said, “Welcome to the fold, brother. We expect much of you.”
Lionel laughed powerlessly and shrank into his seat. He sighed in resignation upon realizing the situation he was in. Nevertheless, Lionel was, after all, Lionel. It only took a few moments, but a plan quickly formed in his mind.
He sat up straight while a regal disposition oozed from him. This change caught the attention of his brothers. James stared at Lionel, obviously challenging him to enter a confrontation.
Peter simply smiled and stared at his younger brother. The message was simple: you are either with us or against us. Lionel took a sideways glance at his brothers; he particularly focused on Peter. For a moment, the atmosphere thickened as the brothers read each other’s minds. It was as if sparks flew between the two.
James was displeased about being overlooked by his younger brother, no, enemy, but he shrugged it off. After all, it was merely Lionel. What could he do? All the crafty plans in the world meant nothing in the face of absolute power. After a moment, he continued observing the battle.
Peter did not underestimate Lionel as much as James, but he still did not regard him as a worthy opponent, mimicking James’s actions.
The Emperor was no fool; he was well aware of what was happening, but he pretending as if he saw nothing. The wily old fox was definitely up to no good because a subtle grin suffused his face.
Lionel’s plan was meticulous, but it required a lot of steps to be taken, and the key was right in front of him. Lionel’s eyes zeroed in on Darius’s visage on the screen.
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