01 - What is strong on him...
On a desert road, a large and exquisite black bus drove along the hot asphalt alone. Inside, several different people were doing different things, completely ignoring the unique view from outside the window.
Infinite sand spread out where anyone might look. Small dry bushes scattered by the sand and the cracked earth separately would be just another common sight, but to see this scenario together in such an immensity that human eyes couldn't even reach the end would give a feeling of insignificance to any onlooker.
Inside the bus, in the cool climate of the air conditioning, some teenagers of roughly 16 or 17 years old were playing cards to try to contain their excitement, but by the noise they were making while laughing and having fun, obviously the game was barely achieving its purpose.
On the back side of the bus, some older men and women were sitting without saying a single word. They all sat with their eyes closed and cold faces as their minds wandered among their families, their dreams, their hopes, and the doubt of if today they would make it home again. Sometimes it was even possible to see two or more men and women sighing at the same time, probably from hopelessness.
It was clear, the difference between the group of men who had experienced this before and the group of teenagers who were going there for the first time. But even with the teenagers being very noisy, the adults did not complain at any time, since they knew that on the way back after everything they would go through in the fortress, these excited teenagers would no longer be so much in the mood for these games.
The men knew this, because after all they too had been that way: energetic, full of life, their hearts burning with the desire for adventure, the drive to test the new powers they acquired, imagining that they would return home rich, famous, and with several women fawning over them. But life wasn't like that, no. Life was too far from what they imagined.
After seeing so many friends and companions die in front of them without being able to do anything, they finally understood how weak and insignificant they really were. The anxiety they had for getting better and getting stronger was just unrealistic, and now the rush they felt before for adventures became a longing just for them to come home alive at the end of the day.
This was the sad and hard life of a Blessed Rank F and E like themselves. Different from the life of Blessed Rank B, A, or S, who were considered superstars, making millions just to drink a can of soda and say it was refreshing in front of some cameras.
Separated from both groups was a young adult of 20 years. He sat alone in a corner of the bus with his head resting on the glass of the vehicle window, watching some sparse bushes and trees pass by while his mind was focused on something that the others besides him could not see.
Gazing at the young man sitting alone, a girl in the teenage group found him to be quite attractive as she stared at him. The young man had medium black hair with a fringe that covered one of his eyes as he anchored himself to the glass, as well as a thin but athletic figure. Her only doubt about him was what blessing he received.
Thinking that presenting herself to him might be a good idea, the girl readied herself to get up from the bus chair and go towards the young man. But before she could take a second step towards him, a friend who was to her side held her and frowned.
"What is it, Amy?" The teenager asked the friend who held her arm.
"You weren't planning on going to talk to that guy there; were you, Wendy?" Amy asked her in a serious tone.
Noticing her friend's serious tone of voice, Wendy felt intrigued and asked, "Are you, by any chance, interested in him too?"
Listening to what her friend said, Amy couldn't help but sigh and answered calmly, letting go of her friend's arm since she knew that the friend would wait for her to explain. "I understand you are attracted to him; that's the problem. Since you are the first Blessed in your family, you never heard of him. His name is Noah Stern. Just like us, he became a Blessed at 16, but the blessing he received is completely useless in a fortress".
"Why? His blessing is that weak?" Wendy asked with a curious look.
"Weak would be praise; his blessing is useless. They say that after he was blessed, his appearance began to change little by little until he eventually looked that good," Amy said as she took another breath.
"But... you still haven't told me what his blessing is..." Wendy responded.
"Actually, I did. They say his blessing just made him beautiful, and that's all: without an increase in strength, without an elemental control, nothing."
"So... how is he still alive? If he has a blessing, he has the right by law to enter the fortresses. But if he entered so many years ago with the strength of a normal human, it wouldn't make sense for him to leave there alive every time if even some Blessed ones can't..." Wendy was shocked.
"Nobody knows... Some say he only hides when he enters the fortresses, others say he keeps giving support from afar, but the only thing that all rumors about him agree is that he has something very strong..." Amy said in a mysterious tone.
"What? What is very strong about him? Does his ability actually do something? Does he have a very strong weapon? Tell me!" Wendy was curious and anxious.
"What's very strong about him is... the fear... He lives from fear of monsters and dying. So while other Blesseds run up to monsters and end up dying, Noah stays far away in the safest place from fear of dying. They say he is very lucky because no time had he entered did the entire team die. So even if they can't finish the fortress, he always managed to slip out alive with one or two members of the invasion team." Amy showed a face of contempt while looking at the lonely Noah.
Wendy, hearing this, felt unmotivated to go talk to him. As good as he looked, according to what her friend said, that was all. Wendy was raised since she was a little girl to always long for a strong man: a man who could protect her and protect her family, a man to walk by her side, not a useless man to just walk behind, who depended on her to support the family in the future. After Amy's speech, the small interest that Wendy had for Noah was now gone, just as a leaf would fall from a tree to be forgotten for eternity. But what she didn't know was that this leaf she dropped might not be as insignificant as she imagined.
As everyone talked, the teenagers began betting on who would kill more monsters. Some of the older travelers talked about how much food and sustenance they could buy for their children with the money from this fortress, and some even ridiculed Noah out loud, saying how useless he was.
Noah was not paying attention to any of this. In front of his eyes, a black screen like darkness was floating with the message he had waited for so long during these last 4 years.
[Congratulations Descendant of Lucifer. You managed to complete the testing period of the System alive and finally became qualified by demonstrating your determination to Lucifer: the angel once loved, glorious, beautiful, and especially powerful of God. Do you accept to absorb "Lucifer's Descendant System" for yourself?]
Reading that message, Noah finally felt that all those years of being mistreated, running for one's life, judged, sometimes even beaten for being "useless" were worth it. Knowing that this was the only opportunity to change one's destiny from being useless to someone powerful and important, Noah replied…