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347 One of a Kind Part 2 of 3

    After the tests for the lightning and wind essences, came the test of water essence. As the kid-like lightning elemental had stepped back, the water elemental with the appearance of a middle-aged man took his place.

    Instead of warning the participants of the incoming attack like the other two elementals had done, he quietly waved his hand, and forced the humidity in the surroundings to condense around the bodies of the cultivators in blue robes, as well as those in white robes with blue stripes.

    The purpose of this test was not for the cultivators to avoid drowning, as their brains would be able to survive without oxygen for years at their current level of cultivation. The true test consisted in surviving what came next.

    The water of which these spheres of water were made of, quickly began to seep into the pores and orifices of the participant's bodies, threatening to fill their lungs, and even try to replace their blood.

    The appearance of this sphere of water was so sudden, that most of the cultivators, caught by surprise, had used rushed methods in an attempt to prevent the water from entering their bodies. Some pushed it back with their immortal cultivation, some tried to make it evaporate by turning their sking scorching hot thanks to fire essence, and some even allowed for their immortal cultivation to come out of their bodies in the form of clay, or other substances that could keep their bodies isolated from the water.

    Of all of the seven elements, the test for the selection of the inheritors of water was considered to be the one with the highest in shock value, but also the one with the easiest solution. That had been shown by the few cultivators that had managed to maintain their calm, and that instead of panicking, had created a crystalized layer around their bodies, or turned the whole sphere of water into a large sphere of ice.

    Similarly to the other tests, only around ten participants had remained after it had concluded, and once the test was over, these ten were either teleported out of the arena, or into the area that belonged to the water elemental, leaving on stage the white robed cultivators, as well as the aspiring inheritors of the essences that had yet to be tested.

    Once these three elementals finished their tests, the wind elemental in the form of a human woman clothed in light green robes took a step forward, and said, "Those who haven't been tested yet, come back tomorrow." She then turned to look at the area that contained the inheritors of wind, and walked in their direction.

    Roley believed to have passed all three of the tests, but since he was applying for seven of them, he would have to participate the following day as well. However, before he could leave, Roley noticed that the eyes of all three of the elementals had, at some point, moved on him. They then turned back towards their inheritors, and left with them.

    The remaining participants went back to their teachers, where the students that had failed the previous three tests were already waiting.

    "I think it went better than expected" Said the woman in red robes. She was one of the two teachers who, along with the dean, had accompanied Roley and the students of the manor to the event. Of their institute, only one student per element had been selected.. while the rest would have to keep practicing, and try again five years later.

    "Is there something that you have learned today?" Asked the dean of their institute while looking back and forth from the students that had failed the test, and the ones that would have to be tested the next day.

    When his students had failed, they had asked him and the other two teachers why they hadn't been selected. In their eyes, they had done what was asked of them, and their solutions were, at times, even more effective when compared to those of a few others who had passed. However, the teachers were forbidden from explaining why they had failed.

    What they were allowed to do instead, was to make their students talk to each other. If lucky, one of them would have understood the tests, and be able to give the right answer to this question.

    "The test is total crap!" said a young man in light green clothes. He had tried to beat the test of wind essence by opening a spatial portal that could stand in between him and the powerful gust of wind, and since he believed to have solved the problem brilliantly, his failure had come as a great shock to him.

    The teacher in red clothes looked at this student in light green clothes with disappointment, then turned towards the others, and asked, "Is there anyone that would like to point out why he failed?" Her eyes unconsciously went towards Roley, who was sitting with his legs crossed above a stone wall a few meters away. However, she was ignored by him.

    "He is right! They told us to survive, and that is what we did!" Said a student in light blue clothes with indignation. He had tried to pass the water test by clogging his own pores with his own immortal essenceb in order to prevent the water from seeping through.

    A girl in green clothes chimed in, and said, "You two are idiots.. What are your eyes for? The ones that passed were those who used the same type of essence to protect themselves.." She too had made the same mistake as the previous two, but at least, she understood what she had done wrong. Nevertheless, when she turned to look at the teacher in hope to receive a nod of approval, she realized that, while not being completely wrong, something was missing in her reasoning.

    Once again, the teachers looked at Roley, but instead of staying quiet, the dean asked him, "Do you know what the point of the test was, Roley?"

    After being asked directly, Roley turned to look back at the old man and opened his mouth to respond, however, before he could say a word, one of the other students interjected by saying, "Dean, why ask him? Of all of us he is probably the only one that has no chance of passing any of the tests to begin with. Why would he be here with us otherwise?"

    "I agree, it's impossible that somebody like him could have reached a level of affinity required to even understand the test. Not while studying so many essences." said the cultivator in light green clothes with clear disdain.

    "Quiet!" Said the woman in red clothes with irritation. She then turned once again to look at Roley with hopefulness. Unfortunately, these young students had already said enough to irritate Roley, who instead of responding, turned away and feigned ignorance.

    While it was not allowed for the teachers to reveal what the tests were about, nothing prohibited a student from learning about the test, and revealing it to his companions.

    The whole reason for the three teachers to ask for Roley's explanation, was so that he could explain the rules of the test to the other students, and allow them to obtain a higher score during their own tests. However, while the teachers had big hopes for Roley, his peers were not the same. To them, he was still allowed to be tested because he had mastered all seven essences, and in their minds, there was no doubt that he had failed the first three.

    While the rest discussed about what could possibly be missing from their comprehension of the tests, a message came into the ears of Roley's friend in the form of a wisp of sound essence. What this voice said, was, "The test is based on the idea that, one day, we will be one with the tested essences. Defend yourself from the attacks as if the essence would be unable to hurt you."

    After listening to Roley's words, the white-robed young man in his mid twenties turned to look at him in surprise. He then bowed with appreciation before pretending that nothing had happened.

    The tests of the day had ended, so the teachers brought their students back to their hotel rooms. Once there, those who hadn't been tested yet, would be able to prepare for the tests for the four remaining elements.

    ----

    The next day, when the students arrived to the stage where almost half of them had been tested the day before, they immediately noticed that the elementals that would test them had not only arrived already, but also that they were four, but seven. Along with four new testers who appeared as normal humans and were dressed in red, brown, dark green, and grey clothes, were the teenage-looking lightning elemental, the light green-robed elemental which presented herself as a woman, and the middle-aged man in light blue clothes.

    From the faces of the teachers that were spectating to the event, something like this was unusual. The only ones who appeared to be unfazed about the presence of the three elementals were the dean, and the teachers of the manor where Roley had spent the past three years.

    The buzzing of conversation resounded all around the area where the participants stood in wait, and it was only stopped after an old man in brown robes took a step forward from the group of elementals, and started talking.

    "Aspiring inheritors of mother heart, prepare yourself." Said the old man as the ground underneath the feet of the partecipants turned into grains of sand so thin, that to them, it felt like the solid ground had suddenly disappeared.

    After sinking knees deep, the sand immediately turned into a muddy substance that was kept together by thick amounts of earth essence.

    When compared to the first day of testing, many more participants had stepped closer to the right way of passing this test. It was clear that during the night, these groups that came from different institutes all over Elementi, had put their wits together, and discovered some clues about it. In the end, what they were able to come up with, was to use the element that was being used to test them, to counter the attacks.

    Unfortunately, most of them were, once again, wrong.

    Of the hundreds of participants, only around a dozen had approached the test differently, and instead of using methods to free themselves from this trap, they plunged deeper into the ground the moment it had turned into fine sand.

    What these cultivators had bet on, was that the trap would not work to keep them from falling deeper into it, but only to keep them from escaping. So while many tried to take control over the mud that was trapping them, this small number of cultivators dived deeper into the trap, until they found the edge, past which was normal and uncontrolled dirt.

    When they moved past the trap, they quickly noticed that it did not encompass the whole area, but only the area underneath each cultivator dressed in brown robes. A minute later, they dug out one by one without a problem.

    Amongst them, was Roley, as well as his friend.

    When these few cultivators emerged from the ground, all of the ones that were still trapped understood what the correct method was, but it was already too late. They hadn't been able to think as an earth elemental, and the thought of escaping from undergrand, hadn't even crossed their minds.

    The moment the last of the successful cultivators emerged, the old elemental in brown robes waved his hand, causing for the participants in brown robes to be pulled into the ground. The next time they were able to see the light of day, with exception made for the ten brown-robed cultivator which had passed the test, had found themselves outside of the testing area.

    The same happened for the following three tests, whose requirements to be passed, became trickier and trickier.

    At the end of the day, on the testing area, only twenty cultivators remained. They were all dressed in white clothes, and they were those who had passed more than one test.

    After the tests for single essences ended, the cultivators that had shown an unusual talent in more than one element would remain. They would then be tested once again for both elements at the same time. The test which the participant would have the least difficulty in solving, would ultimately become the element to which they would merge with during their ascension.

    One by one, these cultivators were tested by a pair, or a trio of elementals who would attack them at the same time. The cultivators that had remained on stage were the truly talented cultivators, and no matter if two or three, all of them were able to easily repel each and every attack they received. However, after their performance, the elementals would always be able to come to an agreement on which element had been the easiest to defend against. That, was the element to which the cultivator would have the highest affinity, and therefore, would be selected as his element when he would undergo the process to become a half elemental, and half human.

    The performance of all of these cultivators was shocking to begin with, as their sheer presence on stage meant that they had been able to obtain double the results of any other cultivator. However, one of these cultivators was attracting the most attention.

    "I can't believe he hasn't been kicked out yet." said one of the cultivators that belonged to Roley's group.

    Next to him, a girl dressed in white robes, and with a light green and red stripes on her right arm, nodded in agreement, and said, "It must have been luck. Who knows what kind of training he has gone through before appearing in the manor."

    While amongst these few cultivators on stage were a few with three stripes, the majority of them had only been able to attract the attention of only two of the elementals.  That meant that while their comprehension of the three essences was perfect, only the affinity they had developed with two of them was considered adequate.

    Naturally, the same thought the cultivators that were observing the seven stripes on Roley's arm.

    Time passed slowly, until finally, came Roley's turn. He stood in the middle of the arena, now alone, and looking as his friend was teleported into the area dedicated to the inheritors of the earth element.

    The crowd looked attentively at the elementals, expecting for two of them to step forward, but then, what they saw caused their jaws to drop. One by one, all seven of the elementals stepped forward. The elemental dressed in light green clothes which had tested the inheritors of wind, took the lead of the group of elementals, and while looking at Roley, she said, "You can use any means necessary.. Prepare yourself."
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