“What’s the situation here?” General Elbert rushed towards the concrete barrier that protected the borders of Chilyoja Waypoint. From the top of the barracks, a pudgy middle-aged man recognised the famed General and immediately rushed down from his position.
“Sir! It’s an attack by a beast horde. Initial estimates number them at four thousand with the strongest being a Tier 6 Orc King.” Lewis reported all of his findings to the General. Even though he was not under General Elbert’s command, regarding the Empire’s hierarchy, the muscular fully armoured man was at a much higher position.
“Hmmm, any signs of a coordinated attack?” Now that he had started to gain a cursory understanding of the Black Mask syndicate, General Elbert had to be wary of any possible scheme that the criminal organisation may hatch.
“It seems to be unlikely. The beast horde consists of mostly orcs, and they are only attacking from the east, which fits the past modus operandi of beast hordes led by Orc Kings.” Spirit Beasts, like humans, acted based on reason, and the best reason to attack a town was to gain sweet and delicious meals out of the thousands of humans living peacefully there. Since the Orc Kings had limited intelligence, they just acted on instinct and preferred to launch an all-out assault, wreaking havoc wherever they could.
“I see… Do you need our assistance?”
“Thank you for your generosity. However, I believe that the forces that we have are sufficient to wipe out the threat!” The excess fats on Lewis’ stomach jiggled as he bounced up in a salute. A five thousand strong beast horde was not one to be underestimated but neither were the forces that the town had harvested. Siege weapons and anti-beast devices were installed all over the walls of the borders, further assisting the powerful guards that oversaw the battlements.
Rank 50 Spirit Lords were evenly spaced out between the walls, eager to begin their battle to wipe out as many enemies that they could. On the muddied floor surrounding the walls, deep trenches had been dug out and were filled with deadly traps to slow the advance of any beasts that roamed near. Currently, the civilian town had been transformed into a military fort that could even hold back the toughest of enemies.
“Well, it’s better to have an extra pair of helping hands. Furthermore, my men and I have nothing else to do, so we might as well help out.” Cracking his knuckles, General Elbert felt his dormant blood start to boil. It has been a while since he last did battle and he couldn’t wait to release some stress.
“Do you have people guarding the other three gates just in case an attack comes from those directions?” However, before he could let off some steam, General Elbert had to make sure that the entire town is secure.
“Yes, we have men stationed at every gate. Additionally, we had set up a communication network that would inform us if there are any potential threats.”
“Great. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry. You wouldn’t mind if I sent some of my subordinates over right?”
“Naturally! The more hands we have on deck, the merrier!” Although Lewis was slightly disgruntled that General Elbert didn’t fully trust the capabilities of the town’s elite defences, there was no way he could disobey a superior. Wearing a bitter smile, the Chief Constable watched as the bulky General snapped his fingers.
At that action, twenty silhouettes appeared from the shadows and surrounded both the General and Lewis.
‘W-What? Where did these guys come from? How did I not sense them?’ Many questions rushed through the obese constable’s mind as he stared wide-eyed at the various individuals that had suddenly made their appearance. Some of them were petite women with eyes while others were colossal men that towered over the majority of the soldiers. Nevertheless, all of the new entrants shared one distinct characteristic. They all bore the full-body armour of General Elbert’s legion.
“Send two people to each gate. The rest… Follow me.” General Elbert had always been a man of few words. Giving a short and concise order, the towering warrior leapt down from the battlements, disregarding the terrible height that he was falling from.
“*BOOOOM!!!*.” Landing squarely on the earthen floor, the immense weight of General Elbert caused a crater to form underneath his thick army boots. Thankfully, there were no innocent bystanders nearby. Otherwise, the impact would have swept them off their feet and possibly toppled them into the deep trenches surrounding the town.
“Come out, my companion!” Dense amounts of spiritual energy congregated around the General’s body as his entire being shone in a green light. The ground shook as a tempest that surrounded the hulking man formed. Pulling back from the scene, Lewis and the other soldiers who were on top of the town walls, covered their eyes with their forearms as dust and dirt flew in all directions.
After a few seconds, a gigantic emerald axe, that was twice the size of an average child, formed in the right hand of General Elbert. As he sliced through the air with his Spirit, the General felt a nostalgic feeling rise up his chest. It has been a while since his cleaver tasted the sweet nectar of beast blood, and as if eager to get back into battle, the Emerald Cleaver emitted a low buzzing sound.
“Yeah… I can finally let loose…” Being a Spirit Emperor, there weren’t many chances for General Elbert to enter a battle. Typically, in times of war, he would be commanding the troops from a safe distance as sending out a Rank 70 Spirit Emperor was always seen as a last resort. However, since there was no need to bother about the repercussions of his actions, the backed-up warrior could finally bare his vicious fangs once more.
“Hah… As I expected, he went off by himself.” Peering down from his position, Lewis sighed as he observed the battle-hungry General. Behind him, a dozen of his subordinates all summoned out their Spirits and was ready to do battle as well. Facing the pressure of a Spirit Emperor and twelve Spirit Kings and Spirit Lords, even the Orc King had second thoughts about attacking the town.
“Arghhh, whatever… At least we won’t have any casualties this time… Archers! Provide the General with long-range support!” Barking out orders, Lewis shook his head is disapproval. He had wanted to defend his town with his own powers, but with General Elbert and his subordinates taking the vanguard position, it was highly likely that the beast horde wouldn’t be able to reach within twenty metres of the town walls.
“Haha, what a worrywart…” A broad smile crept up the general’s face as he saw the actions that Lewis was undertaking. Raising his Emerald Cleaver, General Elbert released a torrent of green mana, increasing his physical capabilities over a thousandfold.
“Well then… Shall we begin?”
Himmel Empire. Chilyoja Waypoint. Yakkyoku Clinic.
Once the town bells began ringing, the citizens all went into a panic, locking their doors and reinforcing them with heavy furniture. Townsfolk left outside hurriedly returned to their lodgings or sought shelter in nearby constable boxes. Dogs barking loudly while cats shrieking in terror, the entire waypoint seemed to have descended into anarchy. Yet, in the remote clinic that Shin was currently staying in, everything was rather peaceful.
Lady Althea raised up her cup of Oolong tea and took graceful sips from it as if she was in a tranquil village, unburdened by the outside world.
“Oh my, what delicious tea! Seph, you must tell me where you got these!” After quenching her thirst, Lady Althea’s eyes brightened up in excitement as she sampled the best tea that Yakkyoku Clinic had to offer.
“Shut it, Althea… Why are you still here?” Now that the meeting had concluded, there was no reason for the top person in the Healer’s Association to remain idle in a foreign domain.
“You’re chasing me out?! Come on! Look at the mess outside! If a poor girl like me goes out, who knows of what dangers I might face?!” Bringing her hands to her chest, Lady Althea gasped in horror.
“Wow… You really went there… You’re a bloody Spirit Saint, what could possibly faze you?!” Lady Seph rolled her eyes in annoyance at the black-haired beauty’s marvellous acting. As a Rank 90 Spirit Saint, the number of people that could match her in the Empire could be counted with the fingers of one hand. In truth, if she so wished for it, Lady Althea could easily decimate the beast horde with a snap of her fingers. However, since her life wasn’t directly in threat, the Spirit Saint simply didn’t have the motivation to neutralise them.
“Hahaha, you got me! Hey, can’t I stay with my precious disciple and grand-disciple for a bit longer? How could you be so heartless? Furthermore, I have something to say to you…” With a wide grin, Lady Althea stared blankly at Shin while addressing Lady Seph.
“Is that so… Shin, leave us be for the time being…” Getting the hint, Lady Seph dismissed the young teen.
“Okay…” Taking a bow, Shin kept the empty cups and promptly left the room, leaving the two behemoths of the healing world behind.
“*Tap!* *Tap!* *Tap!* *Tap!*.”
“…” Once Shin was gone, an awkward silence descended upon the room where only the sound of Lady Althea tapping on the wooden round table remained. Her bright black eyes lay fixated on the wrinkled body of Lady Seph’s. The Spirit Saint’s earlier frivolous attitude seemed to have evaporated into thin air as she reverted back to the stern Master that Lady Seph had always remembered her to have been.
“Seraphim… Oh, Seraphim… I’ll just cut to the chase… Are you still going to be so stubborn?”
“Master… You know very well what my thoughts are. If I go down that path, all that I’ll ever amount to is another you! I want to transcend you!”
“What good would transcending me be when you’re fucking dead?!” Slamming her palm against the table, Lady Althea abruptly stood up, pushing the chair that she was sitting on straight to the floor. Knowing that her Master’s loss of temper was coming, Lady Seph closed her eyes as she prepared for the iron fist that she was all too familiar with.
If Shin were present, he would most probably be gaping in awe that the unyielding Lady Seph would have such a reaction to a mere scolding. However, that was the testament to how scary Lady Althea really was. The Spirit Saint could be said to be the backbone of the Healer’s Association and the reason why it had grown so prominent today. Her prowess was known not only to those in her immediate surroundings but also to all the bigwigs that controlled the modern world. Even though her primary field was healing, there was not one Spirit Saint that dared to face her in a life-or-death match as her spiritual abilities were utterly terrifying. Thus, Lady Seph’s fear wasn’t unwarranted.
“Hah… Seraphim, now that you have a disciple, you should understand how I feel. Can’t you just listen to me? Your lifespan is quickly coming to an end… Do you really want Shin to be without a Master while he reaches adulthood?” However, instead of the infamous iron fist, Lady Althea quietly sighed deeply instead.
“My lifespan… I still have a good decade left… With Shin’s intellect, that’s more than enough time to impart all of my knowledge over.”
“You’re as obstinate as ever, Seraphim… What’s wrong with learning any one of the spiritual abilities that our ancestors had left behind. Heck, I’ll even shorten my lifespan to store my ninth or tenth spiritual ability into a hereditary opuscule for you if you say the word.”
“Then I’ll just become another you! Master, I want to reach the heights of Hippocrates himself! For that to happen, I must comprehend my own spiritual ability!”
“And how is that faring for you?!”
“T-That…” Stumped by her Master’s quick rebuttal, Lady Seph stammered at her words.
To promote to the next cultivation level, a Spirit User must either learn a spiritual ability from a hereditary opuscule that a senior had made or self-comprehend an ability by themselves. Obviously, the latter method was much more difficult and time-consuming, and there was no guarantee that the Spirit User would be able to do just that. To put it into context, it was estimated to be a hundred times harder to comprehend a spiritual ability rather than to inherit one and it only gets more arduous the higher the cultivation level.
However, learning from hereditary opuscules came at a cost. Since the ability was inherited, there was no way for it to be hundred percent synchronised with the Spirit User’s cultivation. Furthermore, hereditary opuscules dull the cultivator’s senses and comprehension ability, thus making it harder for them to advance at higher levels. In fact, it was theorised that if a Spirit User only uses hereditary opuscules to promote, there was virtually no chance for them to become a Spirit Immortal.
Lady Seph’s lifetime goal was to reach the heights of the very first Healer that transcended his mortality and break into the heavens above. Therefore, anything that could compromise that goal was a cancer that she would avoid at all costs. Thankfully, she had discovered that fact early on during her cultivation and started to self-comprehend abilities to promote once she reached the Spirit Spectre realm.
Unfortunately, the good times didn’t last. Over the past few decades, she had been stuck at Rank 79, challenging to break through using her own comprehension at every given opportunity. Yet, no matter how hard she tried, how hard she begged to heavens to heed her call, the bottleneck that she faces seemed to be insurmountable.
“Seraphim, even if you don’t want to live, don’t you want Shin to be with a Master?”
“That’s why I have you… Althea, no Master… Of everyone in the world, there is no better person to carry on teaching Shin once I’m gone…” Giving the black-haired beauty a resolute stare, Lady Seph firmly stuck to her decision.
“Master… If I take your hand at this challenge that I’m facing, I will never be able to become a Spirit Immortal. I know you mean well, but I would much rather die tomorrow than live two hundred more years knowing that I will never reach the top!”
“…” Lady Althea’s upper lip twitched uncontrollably as she watched her disciple. The duo had this conversation many times in the past. Enough saliva had been spewed out between the two, and any more was just a waste of effort. Lady Seph would never budge on her goal, and Lady Althea will never stop caring for her disciple’s life.
“Hah… Why do I even bother? Seraphim… Just remember this… When you feel that the last flicker of your life is about to dissipate, return to Healing Palace. Return to your home…”
“I know…” As she said those words, Lady Seph felt her head being pulled straight to the ample bosom of the black-haired beauty. Her sweet fragrance that would make even the most celibate of men fall trickled the elderly blonde woman’s nose, filling her soul with a whiff of nostalgia.
Closing her eyes, Lady Seph buried her head deeper into her Master’s embrace. Now, it genuinely seemed to be a Master-Disciple reunion.