White fluffy clouds graced the ever blue morning sky as the fiery ball warmed the inhabitants of the world. The empty streets that Shin saw the night beforehand started to become packed with residents of the waypoint as they went on with their busy, daily life. Shops opened up, waiting for customers to come and browse their stuff and traders drove through the roads sat comfortably in their carriages.
The current time was around ten in the morning and restaurants had started to fire up their kitchens in preparation for the afternoon lunch rush. Once lunch hour arrived, workers would halt their businesses to flock to the diners that served their succulent dishes.
Lunchtime was a great equaliser for a town filled with Spirit Users. Only in a restaurant, would you see a Spirit Emperor mingle with a regular Spirit Practitioner, enjoying themselves as they stuffed themselves with scrumptious meals. Although at higher cultivation levels Spirit Users won’t necessarily go hungry after skipping some meals, it was still a primal joy to binge their favourite cuisines.
One restaurant, in particular, was a popular destination for all residents of the waypoint. Whether they were young or old, fat or thin. Everyone in this little town frequent this one restaurant. Founded by one of the first ever residents to live in the waypoint, the Paradise Inn had been around since the town first came to be.
Serving their signature dishes, Sweet and Sour Pork Ribs and Aged Peach Wine, the Paradise Inn had attracted an array of die-hard fans. It was even rumoured that even the general stationed at Aldrich’s Keep would often sneak out from his dwellings to purchase some fresh wine from the distinguished store.
And due to its fame, the store had always been packed. Separated into five levels, the first three levels were for regular visitors to wine and dine. However, to get a seat in these areas, one must brave the long queues that stretched around the building from the moment the restaurant opens until its eventual closure.
The fourth level and fifth level was a premium area, where only members holding a membership card could freely enter. Each customer would be given a private room that can seat over twenty people. Having their own personal waitress, the customers can expect rapid service and their waiting time for food will be cut in half. However, only by purchasing a membership card, which costs a gold ingot, could one be entitled to access this area.
Since the average family would not have the financial capability, the two higher levels were often visited by the elite of the waypoint. Naturally, being one of the town’s most significant trading partners, Marshall held on to one such card.
“Hey, pace yourself… It’s not like the food is going anywhere.”
And currently, Marshall was busy trying to slow down the mammoth breathing down plates of meat as if it were air.
“Shut it! That old woman’s ability emptied my stomach in one go. I need to reclaim all my lost energy from her strike.”
The Instructor told a white lie as he continued to chow down on the mouthwatering Sweet and Sour Pork Ribs presented to him. That intoxicating flavour sucked him in every time, and he did not wish to stop.
“You too, Ines! What justifiable reason do you have for eating that much?!”
Similar to the Instructor, there was a stack of empty white plates standing tall in front of the middle-aged woman.
“No reason, I’m just hungry.”
“Goodness sake, I only meant to treat Shin and Junius to a good lunch and yet you are stealing all their food? As seniors, aren’t you ashamed?”
Marshall placed his palm on his face as he chided the two gluttons. After entering the building, they had hardly left a morsel of food for Shin and Junius. The orphans had to share a dish and a serving of white rice.
“Just order some more! Aren’t you like rich?”
Ines wiped her mouth, which was stained red from the Sweet and Sour sauce.
“It’s the clan’s money you’re spending, let me remind you! The clan’s money!”
Shin could not help but to stifle a laugh. The three seniors must have been really close in the past for them to act this way.
“Senior Marshall, I think we will be alright. Instead, could you tell me more about Lady Seph? Why am I about to become her attendant? In fact, who is she?”
Shin questioned the bony man. Widening his eyes, Marshall adjusted his tie and dusted off his suit before sitting in a formal position.
“I guess the First Elder didn’t tell you anything at all. No matter, I will brief you. Have you heard of the legend of Yara Pass?”
“Hmmm… Alright then, I’ll start from there. Do you know about the three great powers?”
“Yes, senior Ines told us. The Himmel Empire, the Lantic Republic to the east and the Kori Federation up north.”
“Exactly, although the three great powers had signed a peace treaty, stating that there will be no major wars, small skirmishes are quite unavoidable. The Himmel Empire is actually doing rather well with the Lantis Republic but the Kori Federation, on the other hand, have been seeking trouble in recent years.”
“About thirty years ago, a rare aether crystal mine was discovered near the northern borders of the Himmel Empire, exactly where Yara Pass is. Since both powers shared the same continent, there was a fight for resources every time one shows up. Being near the borders of both the Himmel Empire and the Kori Federation, there was a natural claim of sovereignty on who gets to keep the mine. While each great power had a legitimate claim, the result could not be sorted out by diplomatic talks.”
“Hence, the battle for the mine began. Since the two great powers did not want the conflict to escalate into a large scale war, neither sides sent reinforcements to the two citadels guarding the borders. Yara Pass consisted of fifty thousand able warriors that would fight to the end, but the Kori Federation had over seventy thousand. Being outnumbered, the champions of Yara Pass were at a loss.”
“The Kori Federation knew this and prepared to fight a prolonged battle, in the effort to tire the soldiers out and thus, winning the mine. But unfortunately for them, they had made a severe miscalculation. Yara Pass held a trump card.”
“A godlike healer, said to be Hippocrates’ reincarnation, happened to be at Yara Pass at the time and agreed to stay for the battle. She was not going to participate in the battle, but she would heal any who needed her aid. For days the battle raged on. Men who fell on the battlefield would show up the next day, fully recuperated and ready to continue the battle. Days turned into weeks, and as the Kori Federation’s assault began to slow, the warriors from Yara Pass started to gain traction and started to push their enemies back into their bases.”
“The general in charge of the Kori Federation dubbed the fruitless battle as ‘It was as if we were fighting a bunch of zombie soldiers.’ Since then, the name of the healer started to spread not only empire-wide but worldwide. Each one of the three major powers reached out to procure this healer, but only one managed to convince her.”
“Since then, the legend of Yara Pass began to spread like wildfire, further pushing her fame to superstar status. By now, you should know who I’m talking about right?”
Giving Shin a coy wink, Marshall urged the boy to guess.
“Don’t tell me… It’s Lady Seph?!”
“Exactly, the legend of Yara Pass is precisely the woman you’ve met earlier.”
“T-then… What is her cultivation level?”
Hearing the miraculous powers of his soon-to-be mentor, Shin could not help but ask.
“I’m unsure. When she was at Yara Pass, she was already a Rank 71 Spirit Emperor. Thirty years had already passed since then so who knows what heights has she reached?”
“B-but… but… A Spirit Emperor is going to be my mentor?”
Shin only knew three Spirit Emperors. The Clan Master and the two High Elders of the Frie Clan. Although he was close to the First Elder, he had not been near the level of an apprentice. Every now and then, the old man would give him some pointers, but that was about it.
“Shin… Looks like you have nailed a big fish…”
Junius, who was eavesdropping on the conversation, opened his mouth wide and remarked.