All the six Hundred and sixty-six participants of the Tournament gathered inside the Arena. The crowd cheered for the people whose names were on the tables with some points, and some people were encouraging those who failed the previous Test.
Right in front of the Host Tower appeared a Transparent disc-like platform, and on it, landed nine figures.
Everyone in the crowd and inside the Arena bowed to the lady dressed in silver, wearing a half-mask. Her trademark silver hair with black roots was fluttering softly, and her presence roused dread, envy, reverence, and respect from everyone, including the people who were not on good terms with her.
Jalaisha stood a step behind her Master, and the rest of the Seven people were standing a few feet behind them.
The Master of Ceremonies introduced the Judges Panel for the second Test as their information appeared on the Virtual Screen.
“The Second Test has two phases, and four rounds depending on the four Realms of Strength.” The Master of Ceremonies introduced in his brilliant voice, inciting interest from the audience. “The Test has been designed by Princess Keira Viser Zion and her shadow.” He smiled brightly as the astonishment of the crowd that now search for Keira on the Platform. Her presence was shrouded by Arianna’s, but people found her easily when they looked for her.
Keira was remarkably beautiful, and she was not hiding her face behind any mask.
“The two Phases are the Illusion Trial, and Monarch’s Pride,” The MoC informed, and the details of the two Phases appeared on the Virtual Screens. “The Illusion Trial would test your mental strength, but it also focuses on your reflexes. Participants would be entrapped in an Illusion and locked inside a space prison. The space prison would allow you to make any movements that you would like to make without endangering people around you.”
“Inside the Illusion Trial, you would all be placed together on a Battle Ground, where Specters of Light and Darkness Elements would try to catch you. Your task is to avoid getting caught. Each time you get caught, you lose half a point. Everyone starts with 5 Points, and if your points run out, you lose the Trial and can not participate in the Second Phase of the Test.”
“Additionally, there are certain rules that you must observe.” The MoC smiled at the Participants.
“Artifacts are banned.”
“Potions and Pills are banned.”
“All mystical edibles are banned.”
“You can not attack the Specters or other Participants.”
“You must survive for 9 Minutes inside the Illusion, and after that, you will be given 1 minute to wake up from the Illusion.”
“People, whose Points run out, will automatically escape the Illusion. But those that wake up within 9 minutes will not be eligible for the next phase either.”
The details of the first phase tensed the participants. They could feel that the Trial was not going to be easy. But the next words of the MoC scared them all.
“The Battle Ground you will find yourself in is special. There, you would come across your worst Fears, and also your craziest Desires. If you lose yourself in any of them, the Specters will catch you easily, and you would not even realize what happened to you.”
“What?!” One of the Participants worriedly called out.
“Anyone who does not wish to take part in the Test can give up now. You can still take part in the next Test of the Tournament.”
None of the participants chose to give up, but their nerves got more tensed.
“Please, stand at your respected positions inside your enclosures.” Irina’s voice resounded in the Arena, and a magic formation appeared on the ground.
There were four different enclosures, representing each Blood Realm. The enclosure of Royal Blood was purple-colored, the enclosure of Immemorial Blood was gold-colored, the enclosure of Ancestral Blood was white-colored, and the False-Origin enclosure was shining in spectral colors and was called the Myriad Enclosure.
Inside each enclosure was a circle, bearing a number. And as participants stepped inside their respected circles, bright lights lit up and imprisoned them inside a transparent silver prison that rippled constantly.
“The First Phase of the Mental Strength begins now!” The MoC announced and with a sharp ding, the countdown of 9 minutes started.
The Participants lost their senses and lost themselves inside the Illusion.
On the Virtual Screens appeared the performance of each participant inside the Illusion Trial. Each Judge of the Test had separate screens in their hands as they observed the performance of each participant closely. To the crowd, the specific situation was hidden so that the fears and desires of participants remain a secret, but the Judges could see everything.
“What’s the difference between the four Enclosures?” Akira asked Venus.
“Intensity…” Venus answered to her. “A standard difficulty was set for the Four Blood Realms, and the overall difficulty of the Test remains the same for each participant. Keira and the rest of the Judges worked together to make sure that participants won’t lose their sanity, and if they are mentally strong enough, they won’t give in to their fears and desires…”
“Ahhhh!!!” A horrific wail resounded inside the Arena as one of the participants in the Ancestral Blood enclosure convulsed uncontrollably.
The audience saw that she was surrounded by the Specters of Darkness, and her points drained as each Spectre easily entered her body. She was slumped on the ground inside the Illusion and no one knew what nightmare she was facing that left her incapable of moving or realizing the presence of the Spectres.
The Judges pulled her out of the Illusion as soon as her Points completely drained. The Space Prison shattered in specks of light, and she appeared outside the White Enclosure.
The despair on her face when she realized that she was the first one to get knocked out was sad. The Devil’s wings on her back trembled, and tears dripped out of her eyes. The Charm of the Succubus worked on the crowd, and lustful men and women cheered for her and consoled her with soft words.
It wasn’t long before several cries rose in the Arena, and there were not just cries, there were moans, wails, and even laughter that could be heard. However, none of the words that the participants unconsciously spoke could be heard. They were filtered for their privacy.
Some participants were constantly moving inside their Space Prison, and they evaded the surprise onslaught of Specters of Darkness and Light. The intensity of the Mental Strength awed the audience, and people couldn’t help but shiver at the hardships of the participants.
Nearly one-third of the total participants lost and woke up within 9 minutes, and there was not a single participant who had all their 5 Points safe, everyone had lost some points.
The count-down of nine minutes ended, and the Space prisons turned to a shade of red as a new one-minute count-down began.
Aizen’s heart thumped hard when he saw the method Yuliya used to wake herself up. She drove a dagger in her heart and escaped the Illusion and the Space Prison.
“First Place: #301: Yuliya Lycan. Affiliation: Star Palace. Points Preserved: 2.5.”
The Information appeared on the Points table, and people cheered for her. One by one, participants arrived out of their Space Prisons, and Yuliya failed to keep the top spot in the Gold Enclosure.
“First Place: #367: Nimra Nageshnami. Age: 37. Affiliation: Shivanjani. Points Preserved: 3.5.”
“Second Place: #402: Gorukh Bagh. Age: 45. Affiliation: House of Ligeria. Points Preserved: 3.”
“Third Place: #301: Yuliya Lycan. Age: 22. Affiliation: Star Palace. Points Preserved: 2.5.”
“Fourth Place: #397: Alkan Lycan. Age: 49. Affiliation: Velrich. Points Preserved: 2.5.”
“Alkan is Yuliya’s older brother… ” Venus informed Aizen.
“Mhm..” He nodded at her and then turned her attention to the Points Table of the enclosure of False-Origin.
“First Place: #643: Audren Lycan. Age: 88. Affiliation: Velrich. Points Preserved: 4.”
“Second Place: #633: Ruka FoxHeart. Age: 77. Affiliation: White-Fox Temple. Points Preserved: 3.5.”
“Third Place: #627: Insia FoxHeart. Age: 72. Affiliation: White-Fox Temple. Points Preserved: 3.5.”
“Fourth Place: #615: Zeros Azereus. Age: 45. Affiliation: Star Palace. Points Preserved: 3.5.”
“Fifth Place: #619: Kyren Belphezar. Age: 67. Affiliation: House Belphezar. Points Preserved: 3.5.”
“Sixth Place: #616: Lyla Azereus. Age: 31. Affiliation: Star Palace. Points Preserved: 3.”
“Seventh Place: #629: Xera Lucifer. Age: 49. Affiliation: House Lucifer. Points Preserved: 3.”
“Eighth Place: #636: Rain Finlan Zion. Age: 89. Affiliation: House of Zion. Points Preserved: 3.”
“Ninth Place: #641: Zen Arkas Hexis. Age: 81. Affiliation: House of Hexis. Points Preserved: 3.”
“Tenth Place: #599: Jonnah Belphezar. Age: 61. Affiliation: House Belphezar. Points Preserved: 3.”
The competition of the False-Origin enclosure was the most intense. The difference in points was less, and the rank was decided on the time they took to wake up in the final minute.
“Five Monster Blood, Three Devil Blood, and Two God Blood.” Akira smiled brightly. “Monster Blood are bestowed with greater Mental Strength, and the Points Table is a Clear reflection of the advantage they have in the Test.” She was pleased to see her kin in the Top 10.
“Audren is her brother as well?” Aizen smiled at Venus.
“Yes,” She nodded. “He is Fenris’ second son.”
Aizen looked at Yuliya who was conversing with her older brother Alkan inside the Arena. She was wearing a light smile and nodded from time to time, and Alkan seemed to be enthusiastic at meeting her. He was talking to her with a big smile and kept rambling about things.
Audren would glace at his siblings from time to time, but he did not go forward to stand by Yuliya or even sent her a greeting. He was not showing any pleasure at coming First in the First Phase, and his eyes were scrutinizing everyone inside the Arena. And that was the same for most of the people who were trying their best to get hold of their nerves and get ready for the Second Phase.
Out of 666 participants, only 302 remained for the Second Test. More than half the people had failed the First Phase.
“This is the new record.” Venus giggled. “Never before have so many people lost a Round in such numbers.”
“Keira doesn’t like things easy.” Aizen chuckled. “And I am sure that the Monarch’s Pride would shatter most of the remaining participants.”
“Mhm… Some might even lose hope of doing better in the next Test.” Venus nodded at his words.
The Points Tables concluded after a few minutes. The participants who failed the first Phase stepped away from the four enclosures, and the rest of the participants were asked to once more enter the enclosure and stand inside the circle bearing their number.
“Monarch’s Pride. For the people hearing the name for the first time, it is a Test of Mental Strength that Lady Arianna herself officiates.” The MoC informed everyone. “She will restrict her Realm of Strength to the Intermediate Royal Blood Realm, to the Intermediate Immemorial Blood Realm, to the Intermediate Ancestral Blood Realm, and the Intermediate False-Origin Blood Realm. She will use her Spiritual power to unleash three waves of Mental Attacks. And anyone who can last the longest wins.”
The MoC proceeded to introduce the rules of the second Phase.
“No Pills or Potions!”
“No mystical edibles!”
“You can not leave the circle you are inside.”
“The second Phase will determine your overall result in the Mental Test. Overall Points will be assigned as follow: First Place gets 5, the second place gets 4. Third place gets 3. Top 10 get 2.5. Top 25 get 2. And every one that passed the First Phase will get 1 point each if they fail to make Top 25.”
Arianna slowly floated up in the air before she disappeared from her position, and appeared in the middle of the Arena. She folded her arms on her chest and majestically looked down at the participants.
No one could sense what her true Realm of Strength was, but she stopped hiding it as soon as she lowered her Strength to that of Intermediate False-Origin Blood Realm.
“The Primordial Heart of the Monarch…” She whispered.
The wind softly fluttered around her, and the Colosseum of Ends turned solemnly quiet.
“Myriad Enclosure, are you ready?” The MoC asked the False-Origin Blood.
“Yes!” Their determined answer resounded in the Arena.
Everything happened mystically. A sparking red light danced around Arianna in the form of a flame, and above the Myriad Enclosure appeared a sea of red light that was descending slowly.
All the Participants only glanced at it and braced themselves. The Monster Blood activated their mental manipulation, and those that had any Bloodline abilities to guard their minds activated them.
The sea of life crashed onto the Participants, and their bodies shivered. In a matter of a couple of seconds, more than half of the False-Origin Participants fainted and appeared out of the enclosure. In another second, only 16 remained.
Lyla gritted her teeth and squeezed her eyes shut, but she failed to hold on for another second and lost consciousness. The next second, only 5 remained, a Zion, and 4 Monster Blood.
Zeros held on for as long as he could, but right before the first wave finished, he fell unconscious. And with him, three more fell.
“Do you wish to receive the second wave?” The MoC smiled at the last remaining Contestant.
“Yes!” Audren Lycan grinned brightly, his brilliant black eyes glinted in determination, but the moment the second wave touched him, he dropped on his knees and fell unconscious.
The participants in the other three enclosures braved cold sweat. Their hearts palpitated in fear after witnessing the dreadful might of Arianna’s Spiritual Attack.
Arianna’s strength sharply dropped to the Intermediate Level of Ancestral Blood Realm.
“White Enclosure, are you ready?” The MoC asked the group of participants that were determinedly looking at the sea of red light above their heads.
“Yes!” Most answered determinedly, and some only nodded.
The first wave descended on the White Enclosure and many fell unconscious within a second. The next second, only 6 remained standing, with three on their knees, barely conscious, and the next second, everyone in the White Enclosure was peacefully asleep.
Yuliya clenched her fists tightly when it was Gold Enclosure’s turn.
“Yes!” She answered the MoC when he asked if they were ready.
She didn’t realize when the first wave had descended on her. She had thought that she would feel pain, but her mind lulled the moment the Spiritual Attack hit her. Her legs wobbled, and Arianna’s image was imprinted on her mind. She tried her best to stay on her feet, but she couldn’t. She dropped on her knees, helped herself on her hands, but then she could no longer summon any of her senses and she fell in a sweet dream.
“That was… fast.” Akira whispered.
The second phase of Mental Strength finished within a minute.
“Zeros came second. Lyla came ninth.” Liafina searched for their names on the Points table, and then she searched for Yuliya’s name on the Immemorial Blood table. “Yuliya came third.”
The overall results were based on the collective performance in both the phases and the individuals were assigned points accordingly. And then there was the Table that had the overall Points tally of the Tournament,
Tournament Points Table:
“First Place: #615: Zeros Azereus. Age: 45. Affiliation: Star Palace. Blood Realm: False-Origin. Total Points: 6.5.”
“First Place: #565: Stephen Bronx Hexis. Age: 40: House of Hexis. Blood Realm: Ancestral Blood. Total Points: 6.5.”
“Second Place: #643: Audren Lycan. Age: 88. Affiliation: Velrich. Blood Realm: False-Origin. Total Points: 6.”
“Second Place: #619: Kyren Belphezar. Age: 67. Affiliation: House Belphezar. Blood Realm: False-Origin. Total Points: 6.”
“Second Place: #107: Kancer Goldritch. Age: 19. Affiliation: Chamber of Lights. Blood Realm: Royal. Total Points: 6.”
“Third Place: #627: Insia FoxHeart. Age: 72. Affiliation: White-FoxTemple. Blood Realm: False-Origin. Total Points: 5.5.”
“Third Place: #300: Valken Lucifer. Age: 34. Affiliation: House Lucifer. Blood Realm: Immemorial. Total Points: 5.5.”
“Fifth Place: #616: Lyla Azereus. Age: 31. Affiliation: Star Palace. Blood Realm: False-Origin. Total Points: 4.5.”
“Fifth Place: #301: Yuliya Lycan. Age: 22. Affiliation: Star Palace. Blood Realm: Immemorial. Total Points: 4.5.”
Aizen smiled after going through the Tournament Points Table. Akira was happy that all three were in the top 5 after the second Test.
“The next is the Strength Test!” The MoC announced. “All the participants are given a half-hour break. Those that are unconscious are not to be woken up or moved. They will be up before the half-hour mark on their own.” He warned the other participants and family members. “And the Strength Test is your last chance to gain points in the Tournament. Anyone whose overall Points tally remains 0 after the third Test will be Eliminated from the Tournament.”
The audience busied themselves in gambling and chats, whereas the participants who had failed to gain any points in both the Tests remained pensive and prepared their nerves for the Third Test.
“Why did he warn against not waking up the people who are under Arianna’s Spiritual Attack?” Akira frowned and curiously asked Venus.
“Lady Arianna has put them to sleep in a dream that is a Test of Reflection. It is their reward for making it into the second phase of the Mental Strength Test.”
“Test of Reflection?”
“Yes,” Venus nodded to Akira. “Everyone who is going through the test is on a search for seeing through their flaws that they previously never understood about themselves. They will all wake up within half-hour, but whether they can realize their short-comings in that time is all up to them.”
Akira was astounded at hearing the truth out of the Spiritual Attack. Her eyes turned to look at the Blood-Winged Lucifer who was floating in the air peacefully with her Shadow. Only this time, the reverence in Akira’s eyes was many times brighter.
♛ Author’s Note:
This is the last release for the month of August. See you in September! If you wish to read ahead, you can read on my Patreon. Be safe!.
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