As the Instructor was readying himself for a clash against the notorious black masks, Shin sat nervously in the aether car’s chair, feeling the vehicle rattle as it dashed through the cold evening road. A few moments prior, a well-dressed young man, no older than thirty, yanked the car door open and took over the driver’s seat. Although they were startled, Shin and Junius felt no menace coming from the youth. Furthermore, they had recognised him from their previous interactions with the other escorts.
“Boys, sit tight, it’s going to get bumpy.”
After warning the two orphans, the suave young man started the engine of the car and immediately steered the car away from the assailants.
“Are we under attack again? Did the Second Elder send them?”
The black-haired boy clutched his arms together giving himself a degree of self-comfort. Thinking that he was being targeted once more, Shin trembled in fear. Junius, being the older brother he was, noticed his roommates anxiety and wheeled his chair over, disregarding the fact that the car they were in was speeding at top speeds.
“I don’t think it’s the Second Elder this time. The people attacking us should be bandits that just want our supplies. I doubt they would try to harm us. Even if they did, look around us! Everyone here is doing their best to fend off the attackers. Nothing bad will happen to you, I assure it!”
Grasping Shin’s shivering hands, Junius showed the youth that he was well-protected. Junius was a Rank 11 Spirit Apostle while Shin only recent awakened his Spirit. All they could do was provide moral support as the other members of the Frie Clan dealt with the black masks. Nonetheless, the escorts sent on this mission were the cream of the crop.
“Besides, I’m here. They won’t get to you if with me protecting you!”
Junius brotherly instincts kicked in as he saw the boy he grew up with scared out of his wits.
“No! You can’t fight! It’s alright, I’m fine now…”
Putting on a tough face, Shin attempted to compose himself.
‘I can’t be a scaredy-cat anymore! Junius is injured, and it’s up to me to protect him!’
Ever since Junius had been severely injured during the assassination attempt on his life, Shin had been beating himself down. The assassins were undoubtedly sent to claim his life and yet he came out unscathed while Junius got the short end of the stick. When he first saw Junius lying unmoving on the hospital bed a fortnight ago, Shin felt his world come crashing down. The valiant and immovable elder brother of his could actually plunge into such a state. And once he realised that he was the cause of Junius’ coma, Shin instantly wanted to make amends. Thus, he had been willing to serve at the feet of the disabled youth, tending to his every need.
Now that they were being attacked and Junius was as vulnerable as ever, it was up to him to protect his wheelchair-bound brother.
“Junius, you just rest… I’ll take care of anyone who comes.”
Gathering spiritual energy, Shin raised his right hand and concentrated the torrent of mana to his opened palm. The cerulean light congregated and illuminated the dark aether car. The next instance, a fishlike silhouette started to glide through the compact boundaries of Shin’s adolescent and little palm. Its huge eye bubbled as if annoyed that it was brought out of its slumber and it fluttered its fins to a fanatical degree. If it were in water, there was no doubt that the fish would generate splashes that would create miniature waves. Contrary to Shin’s brave declaration that he would protect Junis, the sight of the indignant cerulean Koi did not spark any faith in those words.
“Haha! Then I’ll be counting on you.”
Junius chuckled in a half mocking, half encouraging voice.
“Hmph! The injured should just shut up and recuperate!”
Shin’s face turned vermillion as he groaned. He had seen the heroic figure of Junius summoning his Azure Water Blade while delivering cool lines and he had fantasised himself doing the exact same thing multiple times. However, his cute little cerulean Koi did not care about his delusions.
At this moment, a deafening blast reverberated through the fields, and the ground trembled in fear.
Shin immediately scurried to the opposite window and peeked out to see what had happened.
Gasping in terror, Shin brought his free left hand to his mouth.
Curious at Shin peculiar behaviour, Junius likewise looked out of the window.
“What the hell?!?!”
Widening his eyes in terror, Junius opened his mouth so wide that an orange could easily fit through. The two orphans saw the sight of their Instructor, hovering over twenty metres in the air. Additionally, the tight robe that covered his ripped body had long been torn off exposing his upper torso for all to see. With muscles that would make any bodybuilder weep in inferiority, the Instructor flaunted his physique to intimidate his opponents. But that was not what startled the duo. The initial fiery club that was already massive had expanded to over thirty metres long. The most frightening fact was, even with his Spirit severely surpassing his body size, the Instructor still managed to comfortably lift the colossal club above his head.
Swinging the gargantuan Spirit downwards, the Instructor aimed his club at the six black masks that led the charge against the convoy. Sadly, there was no way members of a notorious syndicate that terrorised the empire, would stand still and let the brawny man have his way. Though the Instructor’s Spirit was exceedingly powerful when it was enlarged, it had one critical drawback. The club was too slow. As with every oversized object, it was rather hard to control.
The six black mask effortlessly evaded the oncoming threat and retreated to safety. Missing its target, the monstrously sized club crashed into the grass floor creating a cloud of dust and dirt that towered over any nearby structures. The impact caused a massive shockwave that advanced towards the nearby caravan, nearly toppling it. If not for the drivers’ quick-wittedness, the aether cars would have long rolled away from the road.
The Kshatriya, who wielded a black obsidian blade, took this chance when the Instructor was recovering from his attack, to launch a full-on assault. Kicking off the ground, the Kshatriya became a blur to onlookers as his figure tore through the wind as his sword craved the fresh blood of the jacked man. Realising his mistake, the Instructor ceased sending mana into his Spirit and willed for the club that was as tall as a building, to shrink.
‘Compress, compress, compress!!!!’
The Instructor mentally hurried his Spirit to diminish its size. But before his club returned to its regular size, the Kshatriya was already within reach of the Instructor’s body. At this moment, the Instructor felt as if time had slowed down. He could thoroughly examine the black mask now that his assailant was less than two metres away from him. The mask had its signature golden crescent moon pattern etched firmly into the item. With the darkness of night enveloping them, the Instructor even noticed that the decoration started to glow in a mysterious mystic light. That luminous design seemed to contain a hint of foreign mana that the Instructor had never experienced before. Now the Instructor finally understood where the rumours that donning a black mask would give the user a significant power increase came from.
‘Now’s not the time to be mesmerised!’
Pulling himself together, the Instructor brought the club, which had just returned to its original size, inwards to his chest to parry the oncoming attack. Luckily, he had done so in the nick of time as the obsidian blade clashed with the club, and sent the Instructor crashing to the ground.
One second was all it took. From the start, where the Kshatriya launched himself to the vulnerable Instructor to when the burly man plunged headfirst into the grass floor, happened in the span of one second.
“Wow… So that’s how Spirit Lords fight!”
Shin exclaimed in awe. He had seen the Instructor spar multiple times. But on each occasion, the Instructor never even used a tenth of his full strength. Seeing the Instructor go all out in a battle against someone of his calibre, really broadened Shin’s horizons.