“So, who wants to go first?” Gray addressed every recruit and they all blankly looked at him. None of them really wanted to step forward.
No matter the situation, anyone with a rational mind would do everything to not be first if they don’t have information. At the very least, they would want to see someone else make the mistakes that they would not want to make.
“I’ll go!” Allan raised his hand. Of course, certain people just don’t give a crap.
Gray chuckled. “All right then. Prepare whatever you need and go whenever you’re ready. Take a potion with you too. The Trials in the First Plateau aren’t that dangerous but they still have their risk. We won’t be able to help you once you start, so a health potion is the least you could take.”
Allan nodded as he showed a thick belt he was wearing under his shirt. It was one made to hold many different objects; potions included. He had bought it from the Shop earlier on.
“Good,” Gray nodded approvingly. “The stage is yours,” he added and retreated to the back lines with Vera and Quill.
“Teach, can I copy one of your magics?” Allan asked Flavia.
“Of course,” she said and extended her hand. “But, does it work the same with several affinities?”
“Yep,” Allan said and grabbed her hand before closing his eyes. Ten seconds later, a small green glow wrapped around his body before fading away. He then looked at his hand and grinned. “Done. Thanks,” he declared and started walking toward the arena.
“It seems like he copied your wind magic,” Nyx commented.
“How do you know?”
“It’s not very hard to feel the nature of mana when you’re used to it,” the former goddess said and Flavia gazed at her for a moment before going back to Allan who was getting close to the immobile stone golem. Rakna was silently watching next to them.
When Allan got close enough, a System prompt was sent to him and the golem’s eyes suddenly lit up with a red light. Its entire body began to tremble as it stood up. At the same time, a spherical barrier was erected around the arena that not even the overseers would be able to bypass.
Rakna then took the time to appraise the thing’s status.
❮ ◈ ❯
Trial Stone Golem
Strength: 15 | Endurance: 15
Speed: 10 | Dexterity: 15
Intelligence: 0 | Luck: 0
Note: A magical puppet specifically made for the Trials. When defeated by a Host, it will repair itself to engage the next one.
❮ ◈ ❯
It was a really simple status. Nothing else but the attributes and the usual additional note provided by Appraisal. ‘Sadly, it wasn’t enough to level up the skill again,’ Rakna thought as he watched Allan take a stance.
The hotheaded blond should be able to win without too much trouble. Not even mentioning five minutes, one or two minutes would be enough. ‘Though, it still is a dangerous opponent. This golem can both hit and take hits for sure. But all things considered, it’s quite an easy Trial.’
Meanwhile, Allan seemed to be waiting for the golem to stand up as he glanced at the virtual count down the System was giving him. When it hit zero was the instant the golem finished standing and threw a punch with a speed that normal humans wouldn’t be able to cope with.
And although Allan wasn’t the swiftest guy around, he still had the necessary reflexes and instinct to step to the side and dodge. He then dealt a kick that made the golem’s fist accelerate downward and bury itself in the ground.
He clenched his fist and entered the golem’s close space. He threw a punch with everything he had at the being’s torso. His fist collided with the stone and dug a mark whilst cracking everything around.
But the golem didn’t seem to be bothered by that fact. It ignored the damage and swung its other arm which Allan blocked with his forearms, wincing a bit at the pain. He retreated by a few steps and wanted to retaliate from another angle but unfortunately, the golem’s speed was higher than his and he was forced to dodge another punch instead of attacking.
At the same time, his gloves were starting to accumulate momentum and a faint glow was growing stronger around them.
Allan scowled at the golem that now stood still after pushing him away. Compared to Rakna or Flavia, he knew he wasn’t that resourceful when it came to strategy, but he felt like he needed one to win this fight without injury at least.
But, unluckily for him, the golem didn’t allow him to finish thinking as it finally moved from its initial spot. The magic puppet kicked the ground and rushed at him with its arm extended.
Allan ducked under the reaching hand of the golem and remembered Rakna’s advice from earlier before trying to coat his hands in mana. His whole left arm began to release a green aura as he tried to get closer again.
Like the previous try, the golem used its superior speed to change its stance and throw a punch in its closed space. But this time, Allan pressed his palm on the approaching fist and released the power he had been converging.
A gust of concentrated wind shot out from his palm and made the golem’s fist slow down as well as deviate from its trajectory. Then, within that timeframe, Allan followed up with a punch with his right arm, right where he had struck earlier.
The hole he had made in the golem’s torso became even deeper and more cracks formed as visible fragments fell on the ground. But the lifeless creature still didn’t show any weakness and repeated its previous behavior, attempting to push Allan away, with a wide kick this time.
Allan’s eyes widened in momentary panic and he crouched to evade and then jumped back to dodge a fist that shattered the arena’s ground to dust.
When the two of them returned to another stalemate, Allan groaned and glanced at his glowing gloves. “Okay, that’s it,” he muttered and used the wind magic he had taken from Flavia again. He had somewhat gotten the feeling from earlier and decided to redirect it to his legs this time.
He crouched and put his hand on the ground as a green aura appeared at his feet. He then sprung toward the golem that unsurprisingly reacted fast enough to send a punch aimed right at his head.
But, Allan didn’t even blink as he felt his entire body being flooded by his magic. He crouched at a speed he shouldn’t have been able to perform and similarly closed in just as fast. He reared his fist and swung it as a green aura still trailed behind him.
When his fist hit the golem, his gloves finally released their stored impetus and sent a shockwave through the entire frame of the stone doll.
The golem then splintered all over and froze mid-movement. A second later, the material that composed it simply crumbled into small rocks.
The barrier surrounding the arena was powered down right away and Allan sighed as the System confirmed he had passed the Trial; in forty seconds in fact. He turned around and stepped down from the area.
The second his feet weren’t touching the arena anymore, the debris of the stone golem shook and floated up before flying toward each other and reconstructing the golem in the position it was at the beginning.
When Allan returned to the group, Quill raised his voice before anyone else, “Good. You managed to tap into elemental reinforcement. If you train a little more, you’ll easily unlock the skill.”
“Elemental reinforcement?” Rakna said without thinking. “What’s the difference between that and normal reinforcement?”
“Regular reinforcement merely increases muscle potency,” Gray explained. “On the other hand, elemental reinforcement refers to strengthening your body with mana while changing its nature with an affinity. As you saw, Wind-Type Reinforcement increases agility and swiftness to a high degree.”
“Well, I’m just glad I did that under a minute,” Allan shrugged and sat down next to the rest. He wasn’t that tired but the battle had still been a bit taxing on his body and mind; especially trying to manipulate magic for the first time.
“Well then, next person,” Gray said and several Hosts came out with most of them being recruits from the Madness Guild. All of them pretty much had the same fighting style as Allan and it’s exactly what happened for the next half an hour or so.
Every close quarter fighter stepped up with their own martial arts and magic, all employing pretty much the same strategy; hitting one spot several times by closing in and retreating repeatedly.
When every member from the Madness Guild had passed successfully, with some of them having had to try twice, the last people that needed to go were Vera’s guild, Nyx, Flavia, and Rakna.
“I suggest we let the cheats go last,” Allan jested and Vera giggled.
“Truly, that may be better,” she said and glanced at Rakna who gave her his agreement with a wave of his hand. “All right, ladies,” she turned to her recruits.
“Compared to those muscle heads over there, you might be slightly disadvantaged since you do not have as much raw power nor is your magic too strong yet. If you fail, don’t worry. You can go train and come back later. Every Host has three years to complete the Trials on a Plateau after all.”
The girls nodded seriously and discussed who would go first. Rakna glanced at them curiously. If Vera had recruited them, it was safe to say they had some talent for magic if they were to become witches. But most people wouldn’t focus on intelligence during the Tutorial since their magic wasn’t unlocked yet.
Only people like Flavia and Nyx who had intelligence-based Nirvana Skills had been prioritizing their intelligence attributes.
In the end, after a minute of debate, the soon-to-be witches sent out Sena White, the girl that had quickly mastered her fire magic after Rakna had instructed them.
The fight that ensued was both predictable and surprising. It was predictable because of how it unfolded. Before awakening her magic affinities, Sena had mainly focused on agility. So, she had an easy time weaving around the golem and launching magic at it.
As expected, her fire magic didn’t do much damage but what she did afterward was witty enough for even Rakna to be impressed. She first conjured a strong flame that immolated the golem and sustained it last for at least an entire minute whilst avoiding the puppet’s attacks.
Then, she decided to switch to another magic element. She looked strained after maintaining her fire and probably used the rest of her mana to summon a substantial amount of water that drenched the golem and extinguished the flames around it in an instant.
When the sound of steam stopped, the golem was rooted on the spot and she used the rest of her stamina to charge at it and slam her entire body on it. The magical puppet promptly cracked and collapsed on the ground, breaking apart into numerous pieces.
“Thermal shock, huh?” Rakna commented. “She must have used a lot of mana to force the stone to reach the required temperature.”
Flavia nodded. “It was well done. Though, if I had her affinities, I would have tried to compress fire into a small explosive rather than do this. It might have taken a few attempts but at least it would have been less taxing.”
Allan’s expression twitched at those two’s clever conversation and settled on watching the rest of the girls’ Trials. In the end, some of them had good affinities to deal with stone, others had a stronger body and used reinforcement to win, while the rest regrettably didn’t have the same kind of advantage and were either forced to retry several times or abandon altogether.
“Finally, there’s only you three left now,” Gray grinned at the trio. “Who’s going first?”
“I’ll go,” Nyx calmly said and elegantly walked up to the golem.