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349 The One Above the Lords

    It did not take long for Roley to realize that this setting was not common, and if not for the images he had just seen in the corridor, he would still have no clue about what was going on.. However, a crazy idea had begun to form in a corner of his mind.. the corner where all of the 'what ifs' questions were kept.

    Instead of waiting for any of the ancient elementals to talk to him, Roley walked up to the small platform around which the seats of the elementals were positioned. He then stood quietly in wait that somebody could explain to him why he was there.

    Silence resounded in the hall for a few moments, until finally, the elemental in red clothes broke it by asking, "You live in a community. Thousands are underneath you, but you live peacefully together.. One day, a stranger is found injured in your territory. Your people rescues him, and after his recovery, he choses to stay for awhile. He appears to be a likeable character.. what do you do?"

    The rest of the elementals looked at Roley carefully, it was clear that his answer was of extreme importance to them.

    "I don't have enough information to answer that question, the possibilities are too many to be summed up into a single sentence." Responded Roley right away, already aware that his test was not over. The information that Roley lacked was, what would these ancient individuals test him for?

    "I will allow you three questions, and I  might lie when answering questions for which it should be impossible for you to get an answer, in case you were in that situation." The elemental dressed in red answered as he refrained from showing any emotion.

    "What did this individual claimed was the cause for his injuries after he woke up?" Asked Roley after spending a minute in a pensive state.

    The ancient elemental of fire essence stroke his chin with his thumb and index, while thinking about it for a few moments, then responded by saying, "He was attacked by a group of bandits from which he was barely able to escape, by sneaking into your territory."

    "I would ask him to leave my territory."

    "Why is that?" Asked the fire elemental with curiosity. He clearly did not expect Roley to give a final response so quickly.

    Without even stopping to think, Roley responded to the elemental's question by saying, "Bandits target streets that are guaranteed to be threaded by merchants and rich travelers.. If he had been injured during his travels by bandits, he would have wanted to leave right after his recovery.. Be it if he is a traveler with a set destination, or if he is a merchant, which would grant him the burden to report the events."

    The fire elemental was not impressed by this answer, but he could see that Roley had more to say, so he allowed him to keep talking.

    The ancient elemental of lightning, however, was not as kind. He asked with his nasal voice, "Is that the only reason why you wouldn't allow him to stay? Did you consider that this man might be scared to travel alone, now that he is by himself? It seems that you make your decisions extremely rashly.."

    Roley was not surprised by this response, and instead of trying to defend his position, he added, "The reason I asked him to leave is much simpler than that."

    "And what might that reason be?" Asked the ancient fire elemental with renewed interest.

    Roley slowly turned to look at him, and said with an emotionless tone, "I would never allow for a group of bandits to roam the borders of my territory to begin with. Not when one of my people could have randomly encountered a group of them."

    The teenage-looking ancient lightning elemental was shocked by the presumption behind this answer, but just as he was about to debate Roley's logic, he was stopped by the ancient fire elemental, which while smiling faintly, said, "It's okay. It's all I needed." This simple phrase was enough for the lightning elemental to drop the matter despite still being unhappy with Roley's reasoning.

    "Very well, it is my turn." Said the ancient metal elemental before standing up, and slowly walking in laps around Roley. After a couple of laps, he said, "To become a half elemental means that your power will increase ten folds when in your territory.. To be able to live as long as you are in your element, to be a true part of the universe, that is what our faction offers. Do you understand that?"

    "Probably not the way you understand it." Responded Roley without even turning to look back at the large man in grey robes which was now behind him.

    The metal elemental did not take offence to his informal response, and instead smiled, and said, "That is quite accurate. You cannot possibly understand what it feels like to be part of the universe, but it is a spectacular feeling. I can give it to you.. I just need for you to bring me the heart of a human. It does not matter whose heart that is. Just bring me one, and I will make you one with the universal nature of metal. Do as I have said, and I will give you power."

    "I refuse." Responded Roley without even thinking about it.

    "Do you understand what I am offering to you? A power that will turn you from a simple human in the constant search of a grain of power to add to his own, to a god. All I ask is for a piece of meat." Said the metal elemental while in an attempt to make Roley understand what becoming a half elemental of any of the elemental essences meant.

    "My answer doesn't change." said Roley as the metal elemental walked in front of him.

    After hearing Roley's adamant response, the ancient metal elemental said, "Very well, you have made your choice." He then turned to look at his chair, and walked towards it as if giving up on trying to break down this human's stubbornness.

    Just as the metal elemental was about to sit on his chair, the old man in light blue clothes said "If metal essence is not of your liking, all of us can offer you the same deal.. You only have to pick one of us."

    "The reward is not the matter.. It's the premise." responded Roley after turning to look at the ancient water elemental that had just spoken to him.

    "How so?" asked the large man in grey clothes, which took back the control over the conversation from the water elemental.

    Roley slowly turned to look back at him, and with an expressionless face, he said, "You seem to have the presumption to claim that I could not possibly understand what it feels like to be an elemental, and yet you assume that a human would take the chance to gain more power at the expense of an innocent person. If I didn't know that this was a trick question, this conversation would have already been over."

    From the expression that appeared on the ancient metal elemental, it was clear that this answer had shocked him deeply. The words he was thinking of, refused to come out of his mouth, and he felt a degree of shame that grew the longer he remained quiet. All he was able to do was to turn to look at his companions in search of some sort of support. However, none of them had any intention of meddling into his test any longer.

    What his eyes reached the ancient fire elemental, he quickly noticed the satisfied smirk on his face, and the slow nod that he performed with his head. These actions were enough to cause for a smile to appear on the face of the metal elemental, which lay back against the backrest of his chair, and said with a tone of surrender, "Very well, I have what I need."

    After seeing the way Roley had responded to the last two tests, the bored eyes of the rest of the elementals appeared be renewed with interest.

    "My turn now." Said the wood elemental with what appeared to be excitement. "How would you.."

    -----

    After more than an hour, the only elemental that had yet to be satisfied by Roley's answer, was the teenage-looking lightning elemental. His problem with Roley was that he behaved as if he was looking at a group of his peers, and not at a group of individuals that could turn him into nothingness on a whim.

    The two were currently standing in front of one another, and on the face of the lightning elemental, was a face that spelled "I don't know what to say." His eyes moved all around, and his teeth were gritted in irritation.

    He and Roley had spent the past hour debating about the utility of human's disproportionate competitiveness.

    According to the lightning elemental, competitiveness was useless. He personally would have felt the deepest level of pride, if an elemental of the lightning essence grew to become more powerful than him, and that that was the case for all of the others as well.

    Roley's case, on the other hand, revolved around the fact that competitiveness was not a trait that belonged to the human kind, but to any race with a bit of intelligence. Competitiveness was used as the base of a massive spectrum of actions, be it as a measure to achieve more power than one's peers, or to become a better person than those who came before you.

    This discussion had taken the majority of the hour that Roley had spent answering the questions, and after more than forty minutes, he was ultimately able to win the debate by pointing out how competitiveness breeded arrogance and superiority, and that the elemental's behaviour had done nothing but to prove that one did not need to be a human to misuse that mental trait.

    The teenage-looking elemental kept trying to find something to say, but not a single word was able to leave his mouth.

    "Enough, Loma.. you are a million years old, behave like it." Said the woman in light green clothes with exasperation. To the rest of the elementals, Roley had clearly passed the test. It was only due to the stubbornness of the lightning elemental, that they had been stuck at this stage for so long.

    Thankfully, the teenage-looking lightning elemental did not protest, and instead walked back in his seat before falling into a deep quietness.

    "Finally!" Exclaimed the fire elemental before turning to look at Roley, and saying, "As you might have guessed, this is not a normal test.. The reason you are here, is because-"

    "You are looking for a king." Said Roley while interrupting the fire elemental.

    The eyes of all seven elementals narrowed at the same time. Then, after a moment of silence, the fire elemental asked, "What makes you say that?"

    "Predisposition to command, charisma, moral inclinations, priorities.. What you have tested, was whether I would be fit to lead your faction."

    The elementals were shocked once again. However, this time, along with surprise, was an underlying feeling of embarrassment. They had created this whole method while thinking that it was failproof, and yet, it had been seen through the very first time they had used it.

    "W-Well.. You happen to be right. But let me explain why. You see-" Said the ancient fire elemental with clear embarrassment. However, he was interrupted once again by Roley's voice, which right now, had started to appear less and less appealing to the ear.

    "It probably has something to do with the fact that you are testing a method to merge a human cultivator with all of the elemental essences at the same time. You fear that if you will succeed, this being will be too powerful for you to control, and solved the problem by only testing the method solely on those who were fit to take the role of a leader for your people." Responded Roley looking back and forth from one end of the semi-circle to the other.

    The embarrassment quickly disappeared from the faces of these ancient individuals, leaving space for satisfaction to appear. It was clear that they did not mind Roley's ability to take in all of the information he was able to obtain, and squish them together until he was able to obtain such an accurate guess.

    "You are a brilliant young man." Said the fire elemental while smiling brightly. However, the smile quickly disappeared as he continued by saying, "In the past thousand years, we have discovered many noble hearted humans which we would have been happy to see lead our people, but whenever we tried to give them the power to do so by merging their humanity to more than one essence, one of the essences would inevitably prevail over the other, and in order to do so, it would be destroy the body of the cultivator."

    As soon as the fire elemental finished speaking, the old man in light blue clothes took over, and said, "It was only after we have seen the result of your test, that we have developed a new theory.. Humans are born under the seven elements, and nothing but all seven of the elements will suit their bodies. You can withstand the power of an element, but more than one, and your immortal essence ceases to be enough. But what if we create a balance inside a human that is identical to the balance that breeded them?"

    "Sounds like a dangerous theory.. Why should I accept to be the first test? And what would you expect from me as your leader?" Asked Roley after listening to what had been said to him.

    "We need a deterrent.. We face destruction by the Elementalist, one of Iewah's perverted children who wishes nothing but to pick us apart and absorb our power until nothing is left, and the greed of the universal government. We desperately need for that individual to appear before our enemies will understand that the repercussions of killing us all might be something they are willing to withstand." Said the wind elemental with a tone filled with anger. It was obvious that being surrounded by humans that saw them as valuable objects for hundreds of thousands of years had taken a massive toll on their minds.

    There was a lot for Roley to think about, however, before he could even ask for some time to consider this proposal, the ancient fire elemental leaned forward from his chair, and asked, "So, what do you say?"
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