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386 The Trial Begins!

    Please, gods! Be fair and strike that guy with lightning!

    Willard, Carmen, Launcelot, and others prayed. Their eyes were filled with hatred and resentment as they observed the scene playing in front of them.

    Zed being hugged by Rita and Divya.

    If hateful looks could kill, Zed would have died hundreds of times by now.

    Sophia - who was sitting next to Zed - was surprised as well. Her misty-blue eyes turned wide as she saw his face smashed between breasts.

    \"You are killing him!\" Sophia pulled Zed away and broke the hug forcefully.

    The nearby male geniuses were stunned.

    Killing?!

    If that is killing, then I want to be killed as well!

    Jenina giggled softly by Sophia's actions. Rita and Divya were embarrassed and their faces flushed as they realized what they have done in their excitement.

    Zed lowered his head, seemingly uncomfortable by their display of emotions.

    \"We didn't expect to meet you,\" Jenina said to break the ice. \"You mentioned how you weren't coming here...\"

    \"I apologize,\" Zed bowed down in apology, his voice filled with politeness and respect. \"But I wasn't lying back then.\"

    \"No, please don't... I never meant you were lying!\" Jenina was startled and she quickly stopped him. \"We are happy that circumstances changed and you arrived here.\"

    \"Yes!\" Divya agreed while internally thinking he was just like she imagined - a man with integrity and sincerity. His talent in other fields were just additional qualities. It was his character that made them act the way they did.

    \"Verna would be happy if she knew you were here,\" Jenina added with a smile. \"Sadly, she is in another trial area.\"

    This trial area was restricted to those under twenty-five years old. Verna was twenty-seven though no less talented or beautiful.

    \".....\" Zed remained silent.

    The nearby geniuses felt their hearts sink.

    Verna?!

    The man-hater would be happy to meet him?!

    They couldn't believe this. Many of them knew about Verna and were aware of her hatred of men. Yet as per Jenina, she at least liked Zed enough to be happy.

    They started scrutinizing him. All of them wanted to know just what he had which they lacked for him to be so popular among women, even among man-haters!

    Sure, he was handsome... Ok, he was extremely handsome. But so what?!

    In the era of evolution, power and background were the only things that mattered!

    As they were thinking, an announcement came in the enormous hall.

    Everyone inside the hall turned serious, their eyes filled with a burning passion. Finally, the time has come for them to show their capabilities!

    Those near Zed, they no longer paid any heed to him.

    So what if he was the center of attraction now? It was just a matter of time before the spotlight came on them! They had the utmost confidence in their abilities!

    The hall was almost half an sq. mile with engravings embedded on its ceiling. As the announcement finished, the engravings flashed and ripples appeared throughout the ceiling, projecting an unknown space.

    At the same time, a portal made of white light appeared at the center of the hall. The nearby geniuses looked into the portal, and noticed the projection on the ceiling was showcasing the space inside portal.

    The strange voice ringed in everyone's ears and information appeared in their minds. According to the information they gained, the trial would test Will by checking the strength of consciousness. Rewards would be on the time under which one completes the trial.

    Mutants with psychic abilities grinned. They felt the test was tailor-made just to reward them. The expression of mutants with other abilities turned downcast.

    \"The records didn't mention this type of test!\"

    \"Most likely the trials have changed!\"

    \"Damn!\"

    \"How are we going to compete with psychic mutants?\"

    \"They train their consciousness to manipulate mental capabilities!\"

    \"Everyone with telepathic, mind control, illusion, emotion manipulation or similar abilities are going to earn more rewards!\"

    The geniuses were pissed but sadly they couldn't do anything. If it was another time and place, they would have just killed psychic mutants to increase their chances, but now they couldn't. As per records of previous expedition, those who engage in fights or murder other contestants would be punished by the system of this world. At least, that was true for the starting trials. This was why they could only bitter accept the unfairness.

    Zed, Sophia, and others stared at the portal without saying anything. Some distance away from them, a youth stepped up and walked towards the portal.

    \"I will go first!\" The youth named Harlon said. He was a psychic with strong mental strength, trained under the guidance of powerful mind manipulators.

    Harlon swept a glance at everyone, temporarily stopping on Zed.

    So what if you got attention for a moment... now is it is my time to shine! I would be #1 in this round!!

    Harlot thought with a smirk.

    \"He is eyeing the reward for going first!\" A genius with the ability to control electricity said.

    When the rewards were given, the trial would give special consideration to the first person. After all, this person would have a handicap, unlike others who would learn from his experience through the projection.

    By the time others realized this point, Harlon has already jumped into the portal. Almost everyone lifted their heads and gazed at the projection of the space has been transferred into.

    When Harlon appeared in the new space, it transformed into a life-like world of its own. It was a city setting, and he was in the middle of a meeting with his crush.

    He has completely forgotten he was in the core region just a moment ago.

    This was similar to how people find themselves in a dream. They feel the moment is real, while forgetting about previous events.

    Besides this, the illusion offered a touch of reality. One could feel every emotion and sensation, including pain.

    \"I have liked you,\" The female in front of Harlon said. \"Would you go on a date with me?\"

    Harlon's eyes brightened. He has always liked this woman but she never showed any interest in him. Now she was asking him out!

    Things couldn't turn out better. He instantly nodded and said, \"I would love to!\"

    \"Great!\" The female jumped into his arms for a hug. She kissed him and went away. Harlon looked forward to the date.

    The setting changed, and he was now in the middle of date at a club. His crush was giving him all signs of something special after the date. He was having a hard time controlling his happiness, and if not for the surrounding, he would have pinner her to the floor, and vent his lust.

    At the same time, inside the hall. As people observed the scene in projection, many of them started laughing.

    \"Haha! Look at that stupid grin of his!\"

    \"I can't wait to see his expression when he learns it was just an illusion!\"

    \"Poor guy! He is in a wet dream!\"

    \"He wanted to be first! Hehe, and he even considers himself as strong psychic mutant!\"

    \"Great mental strength my foot!\"

    People loved to take pleasures in the misfortune of others, and this was especially true when it was an opponent or enemy. Seeing Harlot making a joke of himself, they felt great.

    Only a dozen or so geniuses kept silent without any expression. They didn't focus on Harlot's plight but rather in understanding the nature of illusion.

    \"Most likely the illusion brings out the desires...\"

    \"Harlot is from a rich background and considers himself a genius... so while he thirsts for power like all of us, and want to evolve...\"

    \"The trial would have judged that giving him his unrequited love is the best way to engulf him into this illusion.\"

    \"Indeed! That female is similarly from a high background...someone out of his reach in real life! No wonder he lost himself!\"

    Everyone here was a youth and at an age where they involve themselves in a matter of love. Hormones might be a reason but heart was the greatest reason why Harlot lost himself.

    \"We all misunderstood! The test was never about mental strength...the announcement only said, Will!\"

    \"Right! Even if you are a psychic mutant, the trial could easily overpower your consciousness!\"

    \"This is bad! When our time for test comes... we wouldn't remember anything this! We will be like Harlot... believing in the setting!\"

    \"Fuck!\"

    The other youngsters - who were taking joy in Harlot's situation - stopped laughing and felt a heavy pressure. Their time for test wasn't far away, and they knew there was a great chance they too would become a joke.

    Meanwhile, inside the trial zone.

    Harlot was grinning from ear to ear as his 'girlfriend' brought him to her house. He threw away his shoes and jumped on her.

    \"Patience, tiger!\" She said with a seductive smirk.

    Harlot could be anything but patient. He has been looking for this from years, secretly hoping for her love and body. Now, that he was finally getting it, he couldn't hold himself back any longer.

    Just as he opened his pants and undressing her beautiful figure with his eyes, his heart thumped.

    \"Wait! Didn't I went to Desolate Blood Forest...?!\"

    As this thought appeared inside him, he felt as if he has got electrocuted by ten thousand volts. The lady under him started fading...

    Harlot's expression was unsightly.

    Damn! How could I lose to an illusion! I'm a psychic!

    The illusion disappeared and space changed to absolute white. Harlot was at the center of this white space.

    Harlot's expression was ugly but when he heard the announcement, his eyes brightened.

    First part?

    Does that mean there are other parts?!

    There was still hope!

    He was still thinking when he jolted and grabbed his head tightly. Veins protruded out of his forehead and neck, and he screamed.

    The white space was showcasing every memory. It was like he was experiencing every moment of his life again in fast motion... Every minute took him through a year of his life, bringing both good and bad.

    Thankfully he has good mental strength and lived a happy life, so the pain was still bearable. He only screamed when he has to relive the cruel training under his elders.

    Outside.

    People looked at the memories playing on the projection.  Almost every moment of his life was played one after another; thankfully the secrets or private moments weren't shown to them.

    \"This trial is more difficult than I thought!\"

    \"If the second trial is so tough... what about other trials?!\"

    Just the thought of this turned their bodies cold.

    ...

    Ten minutes later.

    Harlot was pushed out of the portal, and he appeared back into the hall. His face was pale but he gritted his teeth, and showed a brave front.

    The onlookers looked at him with multiple expressions. Most of them were of amusement while a few of deep contemplation.

    \"Shiet! This is not the spotlight I wanted!\"

    Thinking of the things everyone has seen, he knew he was done for. What truly terrified him was the likelihood of his 'girlfriend' learning about this embarrassing episode.

    He has no doubt that when she learned of this, he would have no chance of ever getting her favor. He was royally screwed!

    Harlot wished he could dig a hole and hide...

    Meanwhile, from the ceiling, a beam of light shot out. The beam of light crashed into the crystalline thread wrapped around Harlot's right wrist.

    A few seconds later, everyone saw the light beam transforming into a small bead - the size of a pigeon's eye.

    \"What?!\"

    \"Only one bead?!\"

    \"Didn't he received additional merits for being the first to take this trial.\"

    \"Yes! He must have!\"

    \"So after suffering everything... this is all he got?!\"

    \"Doesn't it means many of us would get nothing even if we pass?!\"

    \"Oh god! The difficulty is already high but the rewards are almost nonexistent!\"

    Besides the top geniuses and Chosen, almost everyone else was frightened. They lost their confidence and broke into cold sweat as they thought of their future.

    ...

    Even though the hall was filled with depression, the trial continued. Keiron Dotson - the young assassin from Mystic Dark Hands - was the second contestant.

    Ever since he arrived into the hall, he has been silent and didn't show any emotions. This continued even when he jumped into the portal while others were discussing.

    Much to the surprise of onlookers, he passed the first part of the trial in just a little over ten minutes! The illusion was life-like and brought his desires while making him forgot about the trial.

    That might be true, but his Will was not something that could be suppressed forever. Otherwise, how could he be an assassin?!

    The illusory world was not at all different from the real one, and everything seemed to be true... going as per his wishes. Yet, he broke out in no time.

    Inside the hall, as people saw him gaining clarity in the illusion before it was too late, they couldn't help but praise him.

    The final part of the trial started.

    People took a breath of cold air and their body hair stood up in horror as they saw the memories. The training faced by an assassin was filled with blood and terror at every moment. Then there were the assassinations where he came very close to death.

    Yet, despite painful moments, he didn't scream. He snapped his teeth and grounded himself, not letting a single sound escape his mouth.

    A few minutes later, as he appeared back in the hall, people looked at him with genuine respect and awe.

    Even Chosen from Eleanor Family - Alistair - gave him a nod of appreciation. Fatty Leonardo and other exceptional geniuses also nodded in acknowledgment.

    Swoosh~!

    Multiple beams of light surged out of the ceiling. Under the envious eyes of everyone, three beads fused with the crystalline thread.

    \"Three!\"

    \"This...! He is not even a psychic and yet three!!\"

    \"Don't forget he got no special merits, unlike Harlot!\"

    \"His Will is tenacious and the trial has rewarded him greatly!\"

    Harlot gulped down in disbelief and shock. He felt he didn't even deserve any comparison to Keiron.

    The others were the same as they eyed Keiron with both dread and awe.

    \"This is the difference between us and a true genius!\"

    As people showered him with praises, Keiron glanced at the corner of the hall where Zed was sitting alongside Sophia and other women.

    Much to his surprise, Zed has his eyes closed with no emotion on his face.

    There was neither envy or awe.

    \"Heh~ Let's see just how long you can be like that!\"

    Keiron snorted coldly. He has already decided to kill Zed for cheating on the bridge and taking away his rightful reward.

    \"You could cheat on the bridge but not here!\"

    Keiron thought with disdain. In the second trial, no pills or medicine would help. Even if one has a chip embedded in the brain to improve psychic endurance, it wouldn't make a difference.

    The entire consciousness was sucked out of the body and transferred into the illusion world. So there was not even a chance of using some secret treasure!

    \"Cheater like you have no place!\" Kieron muttered to himself while looking at Zed.

    Sophia sensed his gaze on Zed, and also felt Kieron's hatred.

    \"Does your family owes Zed a debt or something?\" Sophia asked.

    Kieron furrowed his brows and answered, \"No.\"

    \"Then stop staring like a creep!\" Sophia ordered in her sweet, bossy voice.
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