“Are the preparations done?”
Fifty kilometres off the borders of Chilyoja Waypoint, two full black-robed figures stared intently at their target from a high vantage point. On both their faces, two thick and ominous black masks covered their facial features, preventing anyone from recognising their appearance. The slim man with the mask that bore a golden crescent symbol quietly inquired about their mission preparations with his eyes still fixed on the direction of the waypoint.
“Almost. We just need five more minutes before we a ready to strike. Soon, you will be able to give the signal, Captain!” The female Black Mask that was standing next to her superior replied with a loud voice. At the centre of her obsidian mask, a green snake symbol reflected the gentle moonlight.
“Good… Remember, try not to kill anyone this time. Our mission is to retrieve a single person. Any deviations might compromise the task.”
“Not to worry, Captain! We are all aware of the mission!” Clapping her boots together, the subordinate Black Mask saluted the Kshatriya.
“Alright, when it’s time, you know where to find me…” With his hands behind his back, the Kshatriya walked forward and ominously glared at the direction of the waypoint.
‘Hah… My brother… Give me strength…’
“The Imperial Military Academy? What of it?” Perplexed that Lady Seph had brought up such a different topic, General Elbert cautiously questioned the elderly woman.
“Hah… As much as it pains me to say it, I want to enrol my disciple into the academy.” Clenching her fists and placing them firmly on her bosom, Lady Seph finally brought up the topic that had caused her so much pain over the past few days.
Hearing his Master’s words, Shin distant eyes suddenly focused on the elderly blonde woman that was sitting right in front of him. It was the first time that he had heard her plans to send him somewhere else other than Yakkyoku Clinic and that greatly confused the black-haired youth. However, he wasn’t the only one who was perplexed. Lady Althea, who knew much more details about Lady Seph’s past, raised her eyebrows in bewilderment. She knew how much her disciple hated the Himmel Empire’s upper management and the politics of the world. Yet, here Lady Seph was, willingly trying to send her sole disciple into the lion’s den.
“Your disciple? Is it the young man standing behind you?” Since General Elbert had to rush towards Chilyoja Waypoint from the Captial, there was very little information dug up about Shin by the intelligence agencies of the Empire.
“Yes, and you don’t need to worry about his talent. Although he’s only thirteen, he had promoted to the Spirit Apostle realm and is already a full-fledged healer.” As its name suggests, the Imperial Military Academy gathers the Empire’s most talented youths and trains them to become future military assets for the army. Therefore, a certain degree of talent was required to even be considered to step foot into the academy grounds. For instance, if the Spirit User wasn’t a Spirit Apostle by age fifteen, there was no way for him or her to be accepted by the faculty.
“He’s already a healer at thirteen?!” For the first time since he’d met the two juggernauts of the healing world, General Elbert’s face showed shock.
“Forgive me for saying this but Lady Seph, are you sure you want to enrol your disciple into the Imperial Academy? Given his talents, I’m sure he would be successful anywhere he goes.” Trying to reaffirm the elderly woman’s intentions, General Elbert cautiously proceeded to question Lady Seph. Typically, a student would enrol in the Imperial Military Academy to gain a fast track in their career. However, it came at a price. Over ninety per cent of graduates entered the army or navy while the remaining graduates started government jobs. Essentially, once a student enters the illustrious academy, they were immediately tied to the Empire’s Imperial Courts. Thus, General Elbert had to make sure that Lady Seph was absolutely sure of her choice.
“I’m still sitting on the fence so hurry up and tell me all about that bloody school!” Annoyed that the General didn’t take her on her word, Lady Seph’s defined wrinkles were on full display as she frowned heavily.
“Ah, my apologies… The Imperial Military Academy is the elite school dedicated to training the future generation of army officials. Of all the year’s applicants, only one per cent would be considered to enter. The recruitment age for all first-year students is fifteen, and they would spend a total of five years of training to be fit for their future role.”
“I know all of that. What I want to know is how often can he come out or how often can I get in? After all, although I might be sending him there, I will not relinquish my position as his Master.” That was the major question that plagued Lady Seph’s mind. Lady Seph only wanted to use the Himmel Empire’s name to scare the Lantis Republic from abducting Shin. She had no real intention of letting Shin learn from another teacher while she wasn’t around.
“That I do not know, my Lady. However, I’m sure arrangements can be made should you talk to the principal of the school.” Since he was not part of the faculty, General Elbert could not speak on behalf of the academy. However, no one in their right mind would deny such a simple favour from one of the best healers breathing today.
“Seraphim… Are you truly intent on sending Shin there?” Lady Althea chimed in on the conversation with a doubtful query.
“Althea, this is my decision. The Healer’s Association has no say in it.”
“… Fine, fine… I’ll respect your wishes.” Raising her two hands, the Spirit Saint ‘surrendered’ to her disciple while a wry smile crept up her lips.
“…” The person in question, Shin, on the other hand, was utterly stumped when he heard the news. It was the first time that Lady Seph had even brought up the topic. Up until this point, Shin had not thought too hard about his future prospects. Like a boat floating on top of the endless ocean, he merely went wherever the currents took him and tackled problems one step at a time. Shin was never the type of person to consider where he would be in ten years time.
“Master… What about Junius?” Currently, the most pressing issue that he was dealing with was the fact that Junius had gone missing. Thinking that both the Frie Clan and the Constable’s headquarters had given up on the search, Shin was worried that if he left the waypoint at this time, no one would even remember the viridian-haired youth in a few months time.
“Not to worry, Shin… There are still two more years before your admission. That’s plenty of time to find the young lad. In fact, now that Elbert is here with an army, who knows? Perhaps in a few days time, a random patrol officer might find clues about Junius.” Placing her wrinkled hands on the black-haired teen’s head, Lady Seph reassured her disciple. Since an additional hundred thousand troops are surveying the entire west side of the Empire, new clues about Junius might surface.
“*DINGDINGDINGDING!!!*.” At that moment, the deafening chimes of the town bell resonated through the empty streets of the night, waking everyone from the comfort of their beds. Abruptly turning to look outside of the window, Lady Seph and Shin gave out a deep frown. Evidently, they knew what the sounds implied.
“What’s going on?” Lady Althea, possibly the most uninformed of the bunch, perked up her ears as she asked the others.
“Emergency. Whenever the town faces an emergency, they would loudly ring the town bell of the incoming dangers. Judging that there have been no alerts sent out that an emergency drill was commencing, this time it’s the real deal…” Lady Seph ominously blurted out.
Ever since the fall of Aldrich’s Keep, every single town had increased their defences and had even conducted emergency drills to help improve the readiness of their citizens. However, whenever an exercise was being held, there was always a town notice on the exact date and time of the drill. Thus, seeing that there was no prior alert, Lady Seph immediately concluded that Chilyoja Waypoint was under attack.
“Elbert, you left your army at Ophis right?”
“Yeah… But I did bring some of my most elite men. Don’t worry, I will ensure the safety of this town.” Since General Elbert was only at Chilyoja Waypoint to attend a meeting, it made no sense for him to march his entire army over. Nonetheless, the men that he did bring were amongst the very best under his command. Being either Rank 50 Spirit Lords or Rank 60 Spirit Kings, they could quite easily decimate any beasts that dared to venture near the town.
“Fine, go do your thing. We’re done here.”
“Then I’ll be taking my leave!” Cupping his two hands together, General Elbert gave Lady Seph and Lady Althea a deep bow before squeezing his way out of the narrow corridor.
“Captain! The beast horde has reached the walls of the town! We are ready to commence the operation!” The female Vaishya saluted the tall and lean Black Mask leader that she followed.
“Good… We have five thousand Spirit Beasts attacking the waypoint, it would create more than enough time for us to seize the target… Remember, we are to be as discrete as possible. If you can, try not to use your mana to prevent alerting others of your location.” The Kshatriya barked out orders one final time.
“Yes, Sir!!!” Shouting out in unison, every single Black Mask in the cell replied at the top of their lungs.
“The target is a black-haired thirteen-year-old teen with clear blue eyes! Once you discover him, signal out to the rest, and we will congregate to your location! We will split into three groups. One will scout the Mushinkei, one would scout Yakkyoku Clinic, and finally, the remainder of you will be wandering the streets just in case he is roaming about. DO NOT HARM A SINGLE HAIR ON HIS BODY!!! Am I clear?!”
“Good… Then let’s commence the operation…”