Book 3: Aldrich’s Keep || Chapter 10: A Pleasant Surprise (1)

Slowly regaining his bearings, Shin rubbed his forehead to quell the throbbing headache that he had. His pinkish complexion had turned pale white from the stress that he had undergone earlier on. Although his consciousness was in disarray, Shin’s mana pool boasted a different story. When Lady Seph scanned her disciple’s body, she could clearly see that Shin had perfectly refined the remnant spiritual energy that had been used for his promotion to the Spirit Apostle realm.

Not only was his mana more defined, but Shin’s physical attributes had also increased exponentially. The thin layer of fat that enveloped his body had long been burnt off as his toned muscles became denser. Keeping his lean figure, Shin started to look way more mature for his age. In his milky, azure eyes, if one looked hard enough, they would be able to sense a tint of golden splendour hiding in the depths of his retina.

“Shin, you alright?”

Taking out a piece of wet cloth, Lady Seph wiped off the beads of cold sweat from the panting youth. Although she knew that her disciple had no visible traumas, the elderly woman was not omniscient. There was no way for her to check if Shin had sustained a psychological scar from his advancement into the Spirit Apostle realm through one cursory scan.

“Yeah… Just a little tired…”

Everything that Shin had experienced all occurred in his spiritual body, thus the sense of fatigue that he was feeling was all in his head. After composing himself and a short rest, the black-haired boy would be up and running before he knows it.

“Good! So how was it? What is your interpretation of ‘Heal?’”

Now that her disciple was almost back to full health, Lady Seph could no longer hold back her suspense. Like an anxious mother, eager to hear of her child’s examination results, the blonde woman’s eyes sparkled in curiosity.

“Master… I think I will need to trouble you to get a new gourd…”

“Huh?”

Shin reached out to his waist and grabbed one of the pearly-white ceramic gourds that were attached to his belt. With a mischievous smile, the youth uncorked the flask and clutched his hands together, with the gourd in his firm grasp. Mana congregated in Shin’s hands as his fingers emitted a cerulean glow. Spirit particles moved from his delicate palms and entered the flask. The uncoloured water soon changed into a luminescent fluid that made it look supernatural.

“I call this, ‘Healing Water.’ I took your advice into consideration. The part where you said if I’m on the battlefield, no enemy would just let me heal my allies. So I thought about it. I currently have two gourds. One is filled with my enriched mana, that allows me to have more precise control of the water in it. The other is laced with the paralysing drug, that immobilises any living creature.”

Shin’s first spiritual ability was the creation of water and the skill to manipulate it. Taking that into account, Lady Seph taught him this fighting method to maximise the young teen’s capabilities, and it worked wonders. One gourd focused on inanimate objects while the other focused on taking on living creatures. With those two gourds, even an apprentice healer like Shin could take on weaker spiritual beasts with relative ease.

“And then I thought if I already have two gourds, one for defence and the other for offence, why not have another one for healing? That way, even on the battlefield, I won’t be impaired at all!”

The primary benefit of having the gourds was that Shin need not summon out his Spirit everytime he wanted to start a fight. All he had to do was prepare the liquids, safely store them in the flasks, and when the time comes, Shin could just use the manipulation skills that he had honed so desperately over the years.

“Shin, for this ‘Healing Water,’ is there any loss in efficiency?”

After hearing her disciple’s explanation, Lady Seph was slightly sceptical. She had heard of water elemental users creating similar abilities, but each one of them had severely toned down the effectiveness of heal. For instance, ‘Heal’ in its unadulterated state was able to piece together a deep wound within seconds. However, the versions that other water elemental users had created might only be able to stop the bleeding and not entirely close the injury.

“I don’t think so…”

“Try it on me!”

Taking out the scalpel once more, Lady Seph made a small cut on her left hand and prompted Shin to demonstrate his newly formed ability.

“If you say so…”

Tapping the gourd twice, Shin’s forehead creased as he manipulated the dense ‘Healing Water’ out of its flask. Being a new form of liquid, it took him a while to get used to its viscosity, mana and some other factors. However, after a few seconds, the ‘Healing Water’ that Shin had created made its way to the bleeding cut, like a viper stalking an unsuspecting mouse.

At the point of contact, the ‘Healing Water’ shone in a bright cerulean light, and immediately kickstarted the healing process. Lady Seph felt a refreshing sensation enveloping her arm as the water did its magic. Sucking out the impure blood, the stream of water rapidly closed the wound and even hydrated the dry, wrinkled skin of the elderly woman. In no time, the wound on Lady Seph’s hand had made a full recovery. Returning back to Shin, the stream of ‘Healing Water’ spat out the bits of infected blood it had obtained from the woman and entered the ceramic gourd once more.

“Although it’s rough around the edges, this ability is indisputably ‘Heal…’ HAHAHAHAHA!!! Good! Shin, you did well! You did well!”

Unlike the watered down versions that she had heard about, the ability that her disciple had comprehended had retained all the properties of ‘Heal,’ and that excited her. Just imagine, if one day, Shin was able to produce gallons upon gallons of ‘Healing Water,’ wouldn’t he be the greatest asset to any organisation out there?

“Here, drink this tea. It will help you replenish your mana.”

Since Shin had only recently promoted to the Spirit Apostle realm, using ‘Healing Water’ was somewhat taxing on his mana reserves. Taking this into consideration, Lady Seph had long prepared a pot of ginger tonic tea that would aid in his recovery process.

“Thank you, Master.”

“So, how was the whole ordeal?”

“Terrifying…”

“Hahahaha! Don’t worry, many Spirit Practitioners who first break through all feel this way in the beginning. In the later stages, advancing a realm would become less frightening since you have gone through it once before!”

“I guess…”

The master and disciple duo laughed merrily as they shared their experiences. Lady Seph would hear Shin’s questions and give relevant answers to the best of her knowledge. Essentially, it had turned into a discussion session for them. However, the peace of their conversation by a blunt bang on the door.

“*Knock!* *Knock!*. Lady Seph? It’s me, Lymark!”

“Arghhh, this brat only knows how to intrude at the worst possible times huh?”

Lady Seph’s kind and loving face turned gloomy after hearing the disturbance. Yesterday, the general of Aldrich’s Keep had sent one of his most trusted aides to invite her to the fort. Fearing that it would be overrun by beasts in the upcoming purge, General Anmac knew that the esteemed healer’s prowess would be required. However, he also clearly understood how much Lady Seph hated the military. Thus, General Anmac had sent Lymark, who was his human resource officer, to help convince the grumpy elderly woman.

Being the head of human resources in Aldrich’s Keep, Lymark’s bread and butter was to manage relations between disgruntled parties and ensure that the morale of the fort remained high. He had mended broken relationships, insecure soldiers who missed their family and many more cases regarding human relations. Regarding the human psychology, he was not inferior to the top healers in the Healer’s Association.

Hence, before he came to Chilyoja Waypoint, he had done as much research as he could on the woman named Lady Seph. Her history with the empire, her likes, her dislikes, anything that he could use to help convince her to join their ranks in the upcoming purge, Lymark wanted to find out. Thankfully, General Anmac was compliant and gave him the necessary information. However, because Lymark now knew of her past, the seasoned veteran recognised that bringing Lady Seph back to the military was an insurmountable challenge.

Yesterday, when he met the elderly woman, he could tell that she was unwilling to join their crusade. Thus, after contemplating on it all night, Lymark had devised a series of plans to convince Lady Seph to answer the general’s calls. In the hopes of buttering the elderly woman up, Lymark purchased a basket of premium tea leaves that were only available in the capital.

“Lady Seph! Here’s a gift from me to you. If you wouldn’t mind, could you spare me a few sec…”

“Shut it, Lymark. I accept Anmac’s request. I’ll follow you there within the week.”

“…onds to talk to you about… Huh? ”

Cutting off the middle-aged man mid-sentence, Lady Seph collected the basket of tea leaves and slammed the door shut on his face. Still stunned by the interaction, Lymark stood rooted to the ground, unmoving while trying to comprehend what had just happened.

“That was easy…”

Of course, there was no way Lymark could have known that Lady Seph had already made up her mind before he had arrived. Thinking that it was the magic of the tea leaves, Lymark made a mental note to himself that the best way to deal with Lady Seph was to gift her tea. Naturally, that would prove to be dastardly in future, but that’s another story altogether.

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