Book 5: The Capital || Chapter 17: Strange Encounters (3)

“What the fuck are you doing back here?! Didn’t I tell you to scram?!” Mychael yelled at the black-haired youth that scampered into the cave where he was resting. 

The Imperius Academy teacher had been using the cave as his own personal cultivation chambers, due to its remote location and how accessible it was from his workplace. Without the constant noise that was synonymous with the rowdy campus, Mychael was able to find some peace and quiet. However, that tranquillity was now being threatened by the young teen that had just moved in just a few kilometres from his grotto.

“Senior! I need you to teach me how to train!!!” After being thrown out like a javelin, Shin realised that the thin man sitting right in front of him was the real deal. If he were to teach him, wouldn’t his future progress in the path of a fighter be infinitely smoother?

“Hargh?!?! Did you hit your head when you landed on the floor?! Why the fuck would I teach you?!” Mychael widened his eyes in astonishment. 

“Please! I need to know how to train in the path of the fighter, but I don’t know how to start! I had been working hard on my physical body, and as you said, I have no clue about how I could improve!” Falling to his knees, Shin started to beg the tanned skin man. At this point, the young teenager was grasping for straws. He needed to become capable enough so that he could impress Principal Erudito.

“Tssssk, this is why I found this hidden cavern outside of the academy… GET OUT!!! I’m not interested in teaching yet another student in my free time.”

“Senior! Please! I have to enter the path of the fighter! That’s the only way forward for me!” Shin’s eyes were filled with determination as he continued to stand his ground.

“Urggh, as I said, I’m not teaching anyone for free!!! Mingling with snot-nosed brats in the academy every single day has been driving me insane! Now you’re telling me to teach you in MY free time?! Go fuck yourself!”

Shin took the insults that Mychael spewed out with a grain of salt and focused on one specific aspect of his maniacal speech. “What if I paid you five gold ingots to teach me?!”

“Are you deaf or… Wait, what did you say?” Thinking that he misheard Shin, Mychael stopped himself mid-sentence to get some clarification.

“I can give you five gold coins if you teach me how to strengthen myself!!!” Shin declared without the slightest shred of hesitation. After working at Yakkyoku Clinic for quite some time, he had been earning a doctor’s sum, and since he had no immediate expenses, Shin had saved quite a significant amount of money. In total, his net worth was worth about fifteen gold coins. Thus, Shin could afford to pay the foul-mouthed teacher for his services.

‘Five gold ingots… That’s about six months of my salary! Looks like this young kid is really the child of some wealthy merchant! Wait, isn’t it against academy policy to accept money from a student?’ Immediately tempted by Shin’s offer, Mychael fell into deep thought. ‘No, he’s not even a freshman yet! So it shouldn’t be against the rules to extort him a little right?’

“Are you sure that you have that kind of money?!” The tanned skin man folded his arms and shot Shin a ruffian look. 

“I do! I only have a few silver coins in my possession right now, but the next time I visit you, I can prove to you that I have the money!!!” Shin exclaimed.

“Nope! No money, no honey! Give me all of the gold upfront, and then I’ll consider if I should teach you!” Like a shady merchant, Mychael attempted to cheat the young boy of all his possessions.

“Senior… If I give you all of the gold, won’t you just run off without teaching me?”

“WHAT?! Do you not trust in the great Mychael?! I’m fucking Mychael Dryttimria!!! I don’t need to swindle young boys of their money!” Even though the scrawny man declared otherwise, internally, he was commending Shin for his shrewdness. ‘Damn it!!! He’s not some gullible chick that I can just cheat!’

“Of course, I do not doubt you! After all, all I need to do is tell Principal Erudito that a certain Mychael Dryttimria took all of my money if that happens!” Realising that he could capitalise on the situation, Shin flashed a sinister smirk.

“Urghh… Yeah… You WOULD do that…” Mychael’s brows began to twitch as he recognised the blunder that he had made. ‘Fuck me! He knows the Principal?! God damn it, should I just leave this bloody asshole here? But I don’t want to lose this cultivation spot!!!’

Just as the tanned, tall man was about to leave the area, Shin’s bartering voice echoed through the cave. “Why don’t we do it like this? You teach me for six sessions! Today will be the first one, and I’ll leave all of my silver and copper coins here. From the next session onwards, I’ll pay you one gold ingot each time.” 

Putting forth a fair trade, Shin waited for the tanned man to reply.

‘Hmmm? That seems alright… All I need to do is teach this brat for six lessons, and I get five gold ingots?! Much better than teaching those idiots back at the campus!’ As the old saying goes, money keeps the world spinning. Now that Mychael had a monetary incentive, he was more than happy to accept the young boy’s terms.

“Fine! I’ll agree with your nonsensical request! But first, give me all of your silver!!!” Mychael hollered out like a loan shark demanding for money.

“Thank you, senior!!!” Reaching into his pocket, Shin brought out his coin pouch and emptied in front of the teacher. Counting the number of silver coins that the young teen possessed, Mychael frowned in dissatisfaction. 

“That’s all you have? Whatever…” Swiping his hands in the air, the coins mystically disappeared from the ground, right before Shin’s eyes, causing his jaw to drop in awe. 

“Fine, let’s begin the lesson. First things first, introduce yourself to me. Your cultivation background, who taught you those morbidly self-destructive methods to training, anything related to your cultivation, I want to know.” For Mychael to effectively teach the youth, he needed to know a few facts about Shin.

“I’m a Rank 17 Spirit Apostle, and I cultivate the Celestial Water Mantra.”

“Wait wait wait wait wait, hold it right there! Did you say that you’re Rank 17?!” After Shin’s first sentence, Mychael immediately cut in.

“Yeah?”

“Aren’t you a going to be a freshman in the coming year? How old are you?!”

“Fourteen and a half… I’ll be fifteen by the time enrolment begins.” Shin succinctly responded. Although he didn’t feel that it was that big of a deal, every single adult who he met that was unfamiliar with his cultivation all shared the same reactions.

“Amazing… If you’re that talented, why are you struggling with your physical attributes?! It doesn’t make sense!”

“That… Hah… Initially, I wasn’t on the path of a fighter… I had been pursuing another path. But recent events had changed my mind, and I’m determined to become stronger on my own! However, I have no one to rely on when it comes to training my fighting prowess!” With a pained cry, Shin shot Mychael an earnest gaze. “That’s why I need your help!”

“Hoho, so you’re one of those kinds of people. Well, fucker, you’re in luck! I’m possibly the best physical fighting instructor in the academy!” Mychael blew his own horn as he continually tapped on his chest. “Anyway, continue…”

“Ah, yes! I possess a water elemental beast-type Spirit, called The Sovereign Koi.” Holding out his palm, Shin brought out the adorable cerulean Koi to show the tanned man that stood before him.

“I see… A beast-type, huh… Well, that should do well when you’re trying to conjure your Spiritual Body Enhancement later on.”

“Spiritual Body Enhancement?” Shin titled his head in confusion.

“An essential skill for all fighters. Look.” Stretching out his right hand until it was parallel to the ground, Mychael emitted out a green earthen aura that forced Shin to kneel down due to the immense spiritual pressure being released. The next instant, his outstretched hand turned completely brown as a thick layer of spiky scales grew out, like a snake shedding its skin.

“My Spirit is the Espigado Crocodile. I learnt this spiritual ability when I promoted from a Spirit Practitioner to a Spirit Apostle. I’m sure you have seen many beast-type Spirit users obtain this ability.”

“Yeah…” Shin unconsciously nodded, remembering that Ines, the ferocious Frie Clan nutcracker, possessed the same exact ability.

“Spiritual Body Enhancement allows the Spirit User to take on properties from their Spirits. Once cast, the Spirit User’s speed, strength and overall fighting capability would double or triple. So let’s say if you learn the Spiritual Body Enhancement when you form your Spirit Core in the future, using your fish gills, you would probably be able to breathe underwater effortlessly.” 

“I see…”

“But we’re not here to learn about that are we?” Releasing his mana, Mychael’s right hand quickly reverted back to what it was before. “We’re here to fix your bloody training regiment. Honestly, how did you thrash your body to that extent?”

“Haha…” Giving out a nervous laugh, Shin opted to withhold the information that he was healing himself of the injuries that he sustained through training. Lady Seph was adamant about keeping her arrival to the Capital as secretive as possible. Thus, Shin had to be careful about revealing too much information.

“Well, whatever… Whatever you had been doing, stop it. You’re not treating your body right. Let your injuries heal for two weeks before starting to train again. During that time, try not to overly strain your body. For now, you should focus on one thing entirely.”

“What’s that?”

“Mana strengthening. The most vital part of any fighter’s training kit. Using your cultivation mantra, try to infuse your bones and muscles with mana. Right now, you are just relying on training up your body without using the best tool that all Spirit Users have. The spiritual energy that you generate.”

“I read about mana strengthening before! But I have no idea on how to do that! I tried many ways, but they all turned out to be useless.” Being the bookworm that he is, Shin had read many manuals about mana strengthening. However, no matter what he tried, he was unable to grasp the concept without any practical guidance.

“Fuck me, you don’t even know how to train, how do you expect to comprehend mana strengthening?! Go and sit down on that mat!” Mychael hollered out while pointing at the nearby cultivation mat.

“Sit down? Okay…”

Shin walked apprehensively towards the end of the cave and settled down with his legs crossed in a lotus position. It was strange to be intruding on another cultivator’s personal space, but the young teen persisted.

“Honestly, since you use water, it would be best to submerge you in a tub filled with liquid, but this would do for the first day. Concentrate on your physical body! Try and sense all the anomalies in it.”

“I’ll try…” Shin closed his eyes and began to dig in deep into his consciousness. Naturally, being his first time, the young cultivator had no idea about what he was looking for and composedly sat there in silence.

“Fucking hell! I’m asking you to visualise your physical body, and there you are trying to sleep! Focus you asshole!”

“I’m trying!!!” Indignant that he was getting scolded, Shin hollered out in response. 

The light coming from the sun began to dissipate as the day turned to night. After an hour of endless back and forth between the tanned man that called himself the best teacher in the academy and the desperate student that wished to try anything to become stronger, was Shin finally able to visualise the damage that he had forced his body through.

‘What the hell?! What are all these red spots in my physical body?! How did I not notice?!’ As a healer, Shin took pride in knowing how bad a patient’s condition was. Yet, Shin was unable to sense the crazy amounts of damage that he had inflicted to himself during his lunatic drive to become stronger.

“So you finally see how badly you had been pushing yourself? Send a little of your mana to those parts of your body and see what happens.”

“Huh? Okay…” Following Mychael’s instructions, Shin carefully attempted to treat the injuries with his calm cerulean mana. 

“ARRRRGGGHHHHHH!!!!!” However, the instant his mana made contact with one of the red spots in his physical body, Shin felt a pain, equivalent to that of a thousand needles poking the insides of his skin, permeating through every fibre of his being.

‘What the hell?!’ Shin screamed out mentally.

“Haha, see?! That pain would last for at least two weeks. Try to continuously treat those parts using your mana, and once you’re done, you should learn how to use mana strengthening.”

“And how do I do that?”

“Well, there are three parts to mana strengthening. Muscle strengthening, bone strengthening and finally, skin strengthening. They’re all fairly straightforward, to be honest. For muscle strengthening, you would infuse your spiritual energy directly into your flesh. Although it seems simple, it will be hard to learn as you won’t get it first try. Bone strengthening tells the same story. You would need to invigorate them by sending mana to every single bone in your body daily. Both these tasks are extremely tedious and will take time to master.” Mychael explained.

“What about skin strengthening?”

“Skin strengthening is slightly different from the other two. Although you could use the same method, it’s far more effective to coat your skin with a layer of mana protection. So once you master all three parts to mana strengthening, you should be able to do something like this with ease.” Raising his right hand upwards, Mychael concentrated his mana into his fist and threw a light punch onto the nearby wall. 

“BOOOOOOMMMM!!!!” A thunderous roar reverberated through the quiet cave forcing the ground to shake beneath Shin. Opening his eyes, Shin was able to see a deep depression that was created by the light punch of the tanned man as cracks could be seen forming on the walls.

“Wow…”

“Well, mana strengthening is something like that. However, with the current state of your body, I doubt that you can make any progress. Go home and practice muscle and bone strengthening. Two weeks from today, I expect my due to be paid. Otherwise, I’ll go make some trouble at that mansion of yours.” Unaware of the ludicrous threat that he had just made, Mychael darted out from the dark cave and promptly retreated back to the academy.

As the saying goes, one day with a great teacher was better than a thousand days of diligent study. For the first time since he arrived in the Capital, Shin felt like there was a glimmer of hope for his future. If he continued on training with Mychael, there was a high chance of him succeeding once the four-month time limit was up.

“Woah! Look at the time! Damn it, I’m going to get scolded…” Finally noticing the darkened skies, Shin was reminded of the promise he made to Lia before leaving the house. “Urrghh, whatever, time to go home…”

Sighing internally, Shin feebly sauntered back to the mansion where an infuriated Lia was waiting for him at the doorstep.

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