Book 3: Aldrich’s Keep || Chapter 9: Learning the New Spiritual Ability (3)

Small ripples spread out on the surface of the vast, unperturbed lake each time Shin took a step forward. Although the black-haired boy knew that he was in his spiritual body and nothing here could harm him, he still felt a creeping sense of fear when he occasionally glanced down at the bottomless body of water. Shin’s bright, azure eyes dilated as his fingers began to tremble like a leaf. The oldest and strongest emotion known to man was fear, and the strongest kind of fear was the fear of the unknown.

Not knowing what lay in the darkest parts of the lakes brought out a primal fear that Shin could not shake off. For all he knew, a great white shark, the size of a house, might be encircling on his position. Unlike the shaking youth, The Sovereign Koi was happily darting towards the golden light, unruffled by the depths of the far-reaching lake. In spite of his fear, Shin still followed his Spirit. After all, with the shore far from sight, it was his only viable option.

It didn’t take long before the golden light in the centre of the lake slowly became more visible to the youth. Levitating in mid-air, the hereditary opuscule emitted a regal presence, not inferior to the aura that The Sovereign Koi was putting forth. The cryptic runes on the golden stone tablet had been pulled out from the rock, forming a series of radiant, floating words that surrounded the hereditary opuscule.

“What are those words?”

Shin scratched his face as he approached the floating slab. The Sovereign Koi eagerly flapped its fins in a frenzy as it returned to Shin’s side. As if it knew what was going to happen, the cute little cerulean Koi patiently levitated at its master’s side. Shin’s eyebrows slowly rose as he wondered what his Spirit was doing but after a while, he decided that learning the ability was much more critical.

Before he could get close to the golden stone tablet, the floating words surrounding the hereditary opuscule suddenly stood erect, as if noticing the arrival of the newcomer. Taken aback by the sudden change, Shin halted his footsteps, causing a massive ripple to spread out on the surface of the inanimate lake. Like a viper that had found its prey, the radiant words that were hovering about turned into rays of holy light and struck the black-haired boy.

Bathed in the hereditary opuscule divine splendour, Shin felt a surge of information overload his mind. Its purpose fulfilled, the golden stone tablet turned into a regular grey piece of rock and with a plop, dropped down into the darkness of the deep lake, eternally losing its unfathomable radiance.

Falling down to one knee, Shin brought both his hands up to the temples of his head. The immense invasion of knowledge from the stone tablet had given the youth a migraine of the likes he had never felt before. The cerulean aura enveloping the youth had started to glow with a faint golden lustre, making Shin look even more ethereal than he did before.

The once tranquil lake, which was void of any turbulence, now experienced a significant overhaul. It started with a mild wave that was harmless for any who was near. After a few seconds, the tides of the lake began to get more and more choppy as the sharp whistles of the wind graced the body of water. After a full minute, the lake had morphed into a breeding ground for mountains of barbaric rogue waves that dwarfed even the tallest buildings made by man.

The tempest in the lake continued on as Shin struggled his hardest to contain the pain caused by the golden words entering his body. Surprisingly, no matter how much he wailed, stomped or rolled, the turbulent lake would refuse to swallow up the young boy. It was strange to see a person moving on water like he did on land, but the only spectator was the cute little cerulean Koi, which was wiggling its body in hysteria and did not care about the laws of physics.

Thunder boomed out as lightning struck. Showing no signs of slowing down, the typhoon drastically became wilder as the black-haired youth couldn’t seem to snap out of his stupor. Awoken from the unexpected turmoil, from the depths of the lake, massive shadows slowly made its way to the surface. If Shin could see the change in the lake, he would most likely be scared out of his mind.

Beneath the boy, a large number of creatures that had been eluded by the lake made their appearances for the first time in his spiritual body. With each shadow bigger than the other, the gathering of the mysterious creatures, slowly calmed the ravaging lake as they surrounded the black-haired boy, who was toiling to complete the inheritance. Instead of running away scared, The Sovereign Koi was elated at the arrival of the colossal creatures and dived straight into the lake which it claimed as its own.

Returning to its territory, The Sovereign Koi glided through the lake at extraordinary speeds as it spun around in circles under the black-haired youth. As if answering the cute little cerulean Koi’s call, the massive shadows initiated a harmonious, inhuman song, that was loud enough to overshadow even the most deafening thunders. However, instead of feeling overwhelmed, as the melodious tunes entered Shin’s eardrums, the young boy felt a strange, warm, comforting pleasure enveloping his burdened ‘body.’

The runes in his mind began to simmer down as the throbbing pain in his head diminished. Finally able to read the words that his Master had bestowed on him, Shin entered into a dreamlike trance. His facial muscles, which had been overtly tensed beforehand, had returned back to its bubbly and smooth appearance. In his mind, Shin was slowly piecing together the complexities of ‘Heal.’

Seeing the state that Shin had entered into, The Sovereign Koi delightedly shot out from the lake and transformed into a cerulean beam that aimed straight at the young boy’s chest.

“…”

A low buzzing sound reverberated through the emptiness of the lake as the meditation of the youth continued on. Seconds turned into minutes as minutes turned into hours. All the while, Shin remained floating, sitting in a lotus position, atop the lake as the blurry, gargantuan shadows all patiently awaited his awakening.

Suddenly, the oceanic blue lake began to turn into a rich cerulean hue as mana from the depths of the body of water, rose up. Like a brightly glowing meteorite, the lake illuminated the eternal darkness of the spiritual body as dense spirit particles congregated on the youth’s position. Shin was about to break through into the Spirit Apostle realm.

“ARGHHHHH!!!!”

Bellowing out at the top of his lungs, a pillar of light shot out from underneath Shin that reached high up into the cosmos above. Knowing their role had been fulfilled, the colossal creatures backed off gradually, giving the youth a venerating bow in the process. Like subjects waiting on their sovereign, the creatures stood watch as the boy stabilised his condition.

“*Boom!* *Boom!*.”

As the pillar of light surrounding Shin started to dim, two crystal obsidian obelisks, that seemed to appear out of thin air, surrounded the young boy. On the first obelisk, cerulean runes filled up the entire surface, and a gentle, pure aura it manifested made the crystal pillar look like a cordial monument that beckoned people to visit. On the other hand, the second obelisk was utterly void of any writings or drawings, as if it were a blank canvas waiting to be painted.

Only when Shin had finally fully comprehended the runes passed down by his Master did the second obelisk react. Golden runes emerged from the youth’s lean body and eagerly stuck itself on the idle pillar. Vibrating violently as more and more runes found its way on it, the second crystal obelisk similarly started to manifest an aura.

Instead of the gentle and benign feeling that the first obelisk gave out, the second one brought forth a noble and lofty presence, forcing anyone who sees it to gape in awe. The moment the runes on the second obelisk had been fully engraved, a surge of radiant golden light burst forth from the pillar, silencing the remnant unruly waves and winds on the lake.

In the complete stillness of Shin’s spiritual body, there were only a few things that remained. A meditating youth, the two crystal obelisks and the shadowy figures hidden by the lake. It was finally done. Shin had promoted into the Spirit Apostle realm.

Now that his purpose was fulfilled, Shin’s ‘body’ started to become illusory as he prepared to awaken from his ‘dream.’ Unfortunately, since he was still stuck in his stupor, Shin was unable to see the changes in his spiritual body for himself. The vastly large lake, which was already bigger than any body of water the boy had ever seen, had drastically increased in size. The darkness of the sky had been replaced with an endless cosmos that perfectly mimicked the night sky on the day Junius and Ariel shared their dreams with the forlorn youth. And finally, at the centre of the lake, there stood two crystal obsidian obelisks, each displaying contrasting auras.

Meanwhile, in the material world, Lady Seph had been patiently waiting for her disciple to complete his promotion to the Spirit Apostle realm. Occasionally sipping a cup of her favourite tea, the elderly woman did not divert her eyes from the youth for more than five seconds as she regularly monitored his condition. Typically speaking, learning a spiritual ability posed no risks for the Spirit User, but one can’t be too sure. If something visibly happened to Shin, Lady Seph would not hesitate to use all of her power to rescue her prodigious disciple, even if it meant destroying her body in the process. However, even after two hours, Shin showed no signs of waking up.

“That’s strange, I thought he would finish learning the ability within an hour…”

Stroking the snowy-white gerbil’s soft fur, Lady Seph thought out loud. When an average apprentice healer learns ‘Heal,’ it would usually take them about one to two hours to fully comprehend the technique, and that is due to how complex the ability was. For less profound abilities like ‘Elemental Ring,’ it would usually take the Spirit User less than an hour to comprehend the ability.

Lady Seph thought that with Shin’s talent, he should have been able to complete the inheritance process in less than an hour. Unfortunately, reality was always different from theories. Thankfully, there was nothing physically wrong with Shin. Otherwise, the overprotective teacher might have been tempted to halt the process altogether.

“Hmmm? He’s awakening!”

Shin had arrived first thing in the morning today, skipping his daily morning practices with Junius to report his advancement to the peak of Rank 9. Thus, even though he had spent quite some time in Yakkyoku Clinic, it was still barely midday. Shin’s eyelids started to twitch as his hands spasmed. The mana that he was releasing had all but receded. Gently opening his eyes, Shin looked around the room in a daze as everything was blurry for him.

“What… happened…”

Falling forwards, Shin was caught by the bony arms of his Master. At the moment of contact, Lady Seph sent a little bit of spiritual energy to probe for any irregularities. In that split second, she conducted a comprehensive scan of the fatigued boy’s body. Nothing could escape Lady Seph’s radar. Shin’s heartbeat, blood flow, and even the amount of mana the boy had left. Only after double-checking, did the elderly woman breathe a sigh of relief. Following that, she flashed a proud smile as she said:

“Congratulations, you are now a Spirit Apostle!”

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