Book 5: The Capital || Chapter 20: Facing The Bronzed-Face Bastard Once More (2)

As the day of reckoning soon arrived, all of the orphans gave all the support that they possibly could for their beloved sibling. Lia ensured to prepare some of the best dishes that Shin loved. Ryner, Ella and Emma did their best to accompany Shin during his arduous training sessions, even going to the extent of putting their bodies in harm’s way to help him improve his physical condition; while the rest of the younger orphans all provided the mental support that the youth sorely needed.

Being Shin’s master, Lady Seph also tried to give as much support as she possibly could. She had fully accounted what Principal Erudito’s Spirit was, from his strengths and weaknesses to how he would potentially face Shin later in that week. Naturally, since Shin was just a Spirit Apostle, there was only so much that he could do, and so much that he could prepare for when facing a Spirit Emperor of Principal Erudito’s calibre. Nevertheless, the young teen still trained tirelessly so that he could achieve his goal of entering the combatant course.

Minutes turned to hours as hours turned to days; and soon, the promised day had finally arrived.

Dark clouds gathered in the overcast sky as a chilling wind swept through the hilly terrain. Minor crackles of thunder boomed through the atmosphere, with flickers of blue lightning becoming the common sight for those down below. The soft pitter-patter of raindrops could be heard from the interior of Lady Seph’s mansion as the orphans eagerly waited for the arrival of the bronzed-face scholar.

“Looks like there’s going to be a downpour soon… Would you be alright, Shin?” Emma worriedly asked the black-haired teen, who was silently sitting down in a corner meditating.

Gingerly opening his eyes, Shin softly replied the young girl. “No worries… In fact, the rain might be helpful for me.” 

Being a water-elemental Spirit User, Shin’s Sovereign Koi thrived in damp weather. Especially since the water elements were the most prevalent when rain was involved. Ever so often, Shin would glance out the window, hoping to catch a glimpse of the scholar that he was expecting to show up any moment now.

For the past four months, Shin had been training hard every day without even taking a single rest day. If he weren’t out trying to improve his physical condition, the youth would be in the cultivation chambers of the mansion, trying to further his spiritual abilities. 

“Shin, if you fail the test, what would you do?” A breathtaking blonde beauty nonchalantly asked the seemingly calm youth.

For Lady Seph, the most ideal outcome would be Shin recognising his folly and voluntarily returning to the path of the healer. Nonetheless, after finding her new resolve to support Shin no matter what he chooses, Lady Seph would not force the young boy if he genuinely doesn’t want to. 

“I won’t fail, Master… But, yeah… If I really do fail, I think I would find a different academy or join Ryner in his hunting exploits… That is the path that I must follow!” Shin’s mind never wavered about his goal. To fight off the Black Masks. To force Junius to kneel at Lily’s grave. To return to Frie Mountain so that he could visit Ariel one more time. To chase Yggdrasil and become the next Spirit Immortal. The only method that was evident for Shin to accomplish all of that was to join the path of the fighter.

“I see…” Lady Seph sighed deeply with a trace of melancholy in her voice. However, since Shin was so focused on the task at hand, he failed to recognise his Master’s wistfulness. 

“Shin! They’re here!” As the orphans were all anxiously anticipating the arrival of Principal Eurdito, Ryner ran in from the opposite room with some big news. “They’re already waiting in the main hall!”

“Hah… So it’s finally time.” Composing himself once more, Shin calmed his heavily beating heart and stood up from his meditative state. ‘I hope the preparations that I made are enough…’



~~~



“Erudito! You’re really going forward with this bet huh?!” An aged feminine voice rung in the ears of the bronzed-face man, prompting him to turn his head over his shoulder to address the concerned Hirda.

“A promise is a promise, Hirda. I can’t back out now! Especially since Shin is the disciple of Lady Seph!” Evidently, the leader of Imperius Academy wasn’t too thrilled about the idea of facing Shin either. If not for the fact that Shin was the illustrious student of the revered Spirit Venerate that was once the Imperial Physician, the scholar wouldn’t even bat a single glance in his direction.

“That’s why I called you impulsive. Everything was fine, but you had to go and agree to his ludicrous request. Do you know how much trouble I had convincing those assholes in the Student Registry to withhold the confirmation of Shin as an auxiliary student?! I couldn’t even tell them the reason why!”

“You’re the Vice-Principal, and you can’t even order your subordinates to do something that simple?”

“OH MY FUCKING GOD!!! LOOK WHO’S TALKING!!! YOU’RE THE PRINCIPAL SO WHY DON’T YOU DO IT YOURSELF!!!” Unable to hold back her resentment, Hirda spewed out all of her hatred for the academic that liked to dress like a fighter.

“Hey, hey! Language! We’re going to be in the presence of Venerate Seraphim! You should learn some restraint!!!”

“@#$%^&*(!!” As his partner started to hurl out profanity after profanity, Principal Erudito covered his ears and waited for the arrival of Lady Seph and the orphans. Fortunately, he didn’t have to wait for long. Elegantly stepping into the hall where the two Spirit Emperors were anxiously expecting her, Lady Seph entered the room with nine children following right behind her.

“Venerate Seraphim! I apologise for imposing on you once again!”

“Like I said before, Eru… I’m the one who’s grateful for your assistance back when I first returned to the Capital.”

“Haha, don’t mention it! As promised, I’m here to deliver the school uniforms for those who are entering the academy next month.” Clapping his hand twice, he signalled for the Vice-Principal to bring forth the pristine white gowns that all students had to wear on campus grounds. Rolling her eyes, Hirda temporarily hid her displeasure and brought the gorgeous outfits forward.

“Miss Emma and Ella, here’s your uniforms for the combatant course! Do work hard!” Handing over the female uniforms that were gracefully folded together, Principal Erudito flashed an amicable smile.

Imperius Academy separated their students into two disciplines. The combatant course and the auxiliary course. In each course, there were many modules that the students could take, based on their Spirit competencies such as close-ranged or long-ranged combat; and since the twins were experts with their Ice Bows, their admission to the combatant course was all but guaranteed. 

“Thank you!” Accepting their uniforms with their heads bowed down, the twins gingerly eyed the expression of the black-haired youth that stood behind them.

“As for you, Mister Shin… I have brought along two uniforms with me.” Using his right hand, Principal Erudito held up the male version of the combatant course uniform. With his left hand, he held up a similar looking attire. However, it had a different symbol sewn on its breast pocket. “Which one you would end up acquiring, would be entirely up to your growth in the past four months.”

“I understand.” Shin succinctly replied. 

“Good… I assume that you’re prepared?”

“I’ve never felt better.” Staring at the bronzed-face scholar, Shin obstinately showed his resolve.

“Alright then, let’s not waste any more time… Where do you want me to access you?”

“Could we do it outside of the mansion? I don’t want to mess up Master’s new property.” 

“That sounds reasonable.”

After he said those words, Principal Erudito followed the black-haired youth out into the thin drizzle and out of the mansion. Behind them, the orphans were all carrying paper umbrellas to shelter themselves from the rain, while Lady Seph remained seated in the stone pavilion of her front porch, with Hirda and Bingbing accompanying her. At that moment all eyes were on the two individuals that were eyeing each other down in the cold shower from the heavens.

Confident that history would repeat itself, Principal Erudito stood a short distance away from the young black-haired teen with his arms folded in akimbo. Even though millions of raindrops were making its way down to the earth, the scholar that was dressed in a grey combat robe, remained as dry as a bone, due to the invisible air barrier that he had created. 

On the other hand, Shin lacked such an ability and was starting to get drenched by the rain. Congregating his mana, the young teen let out a bright cerulean light as he summoned out The Sovereign Koi.

“Hoho, you already reached Rank 18? Your cultivation speed is really terrifying…” Principal Erudito marvelled at the teenager’s ability to quickly advance through the ranks. Typically, at fifteen years old, a brilliant Spirit User would be struggling at Rank 9 as they would be trying their best to advance to the next stage. The criteria to enter Imperius Academy was for the freshmen to be fifteen years old, at least in the Spirit Apostle Realm, and have an outstanding talent that separates them from the rest of the crop; and Shin had blown all those criteria out of the park. Yet…

‘Why is he so adamant on switching paths? If he followed down the auxiliary path, he would unquestionably become one of the best talents our academy had ever fostered… What a pity…’ Shaking his head, the scholar let out a mental sigh and waited for the young teen to strike.

“Senior… I’m coming now.” After giving the bronzed-face man a simple warning, Shin spread his hands out wide like an eagle taking flight and created nine enlarged spheres of water. One of the water spheres turned into a humongous tendril and lashed out at the scholar’s barrier as if to test the endurance of Principal Erudito’s defences.

‘Is he looking down on me?’ However, that action proved fruitless as the tendrils seemed to have collided with a diamond wall, instantly sending Shin’s controlled water flying all over. Nonetheless, the young teen was undaunted. Turning the remaining eight spheres into tendrils again, Shin continuously lashed out at the air barrier.

‘Hah… If that’s all that he has, then it really is disappointing…’ Principal Erudito shook his head in disapproval. ‘Whatever, I’ll just wait for his mana to run out…’

Thinking that the exact same set of events were about to repeat itself, the bronzed-face scholar relaxed his body and aimed to wait until Shin ran out of mana. Shin grimaced in dissatisfaction and slowly crept closer and closer to Principal Erudito, all while continually bombarding him with water bullets and tendrils.

“Shin…” The orphans all worriedly watched on as their grip on their umbrellas tightened. From an outsider’s perspective, Shin was just like a toddler that was trying to hit an adult. No matter how hard he tried, Principal Erudito wouldn’t even bat an eyelid to his actions.

For thirty straight seconds, Shin would repeatedly send futile attacks at the Spirit Emperor, while taking his time to close the distance between him and Principal Erudito; and the bronzed-face scholar simply allowed him to do just that. Only after Shin was three metres away from the Spirit Emperor, did he finally stop and begin to hunch over, panting heavily like a dog in the process.

“It looks like you’re finally spent huh? Like I said before, you’re not suited for the combatant path. Just give up.” Looking down at the slouched youth, Principal Erudito tried to persuade Shin once more.

“Senior… You don’t understand… The pain that I felt back then. How helpless I felt as I watched as Ariel breathed her last in my arms.” 

“…”

“That pain, that suffering. There’s nothing comparable to it in this world… I never want to feel that way again! That’s why I’ll train. Train to become the strongest person in the world! That way, I will never fail to protect the ones I love ever again!!!” Shin screamed out in a declaration. Images of the remaining orphans, Lady Seph and Bingbing all flashed through his mind, giving him the drive to push forward no matter what the cost was.

Bursting out in a cerulean light, Shin threw out gallons of his created water at the scholar still protected by his air barrier, forming a thick sheet of water that blocked Principal Erudito’s vision. At the same moment, Shin mana enhanced his entire physical body, letting him give out a slight spiritual pressure. Something that was uncommon for someone who hasn’t formed his Spirit Core. 

“Hoh…” Lady Seph raised one eyebrow as she observed Shin new transformation. Over the past few months, she had been engrossed with settling affairs in the Capital and building up her laboratory that she had neglected watching over Shin’s training. After all, if he were in any mortal danger, her Golden String of Fate would automatically protect him, without her intervention. Therefore, seeing Shin using Mana Strengthening to such a degree came as a decent surprise to her.

“What?! To think that he learnt Mana Strengthening in just a mere four months!” Evidently, Hirda shared the same sentiment.

With his enhanced body, Shin instantaneously appeared behind Principal Erudito and threw a heavy punch into the barrier that the Spirit Emperor had created, and to everybody’s surprise, his blow actually forced the bronzed-face scholar to fall forwards.

“WHAT?!” At this point, Hirda couldn’t hold back her shock and screamed out loud like a madwoman, without caring that the esteemed Lady Seph was sitting next to her. Thankfully, the Spirit Venerate was in the same boat as her. With her jaw dropped, Lady Seph questioned if Shin’s attack really affected Principal Erudito, someone that was way stronger than Shin in every aspect. However, after a split second of thoughtful analysis, a dazzling smile crept up Lady Seph’s beautiful lips as she realised what her disciple had done.

‘My god… Shin, oh Shin… Why are you so god damned adorable!’ The blonde beauty snickered in amazement. ‘Now Eru MUST give you that placing!

On the side of Principal Erudito, he was still recovering from the shock that he felt after Shin’s punch connected.

‘What’s going on?! How did he damage me when I’m inside my barrier?!’ The bronzed-face scholar was utterly stunned. Shin’s fist clearly landed on his air barrier and yet, Principal Erudito clearly felt something hitting his back. 

‘Wait…’ For the first time since he began the battle, the scholar heightened his senses to the absolute limit. To his utter surprise, he found that there were small amounts of Shin’s created water that had made its way into his barrier. ‘How did he do it?! I was clearly protected from the water tendrils and bullets! Unless…’ 

Turning his attention to the ground, Principal Erudito tried to validate his theory. However, what he found stunned him even further. Throughout the entire forest floor, the leader of the Himmel Empire’s top school found that a little of Shin’s mana was all around him.

‘Don’t tell me he sprinkled his created water all around the battlefield?!’ Setting the environment to one’s advantage was one of the most important rules of war. The side with that has control over the battleground, would the fight win nine out of ten times. Principal Erudito was well-aware of this concept and had even been teaching it to his students for years. Yet, since he underestimated his opponent, the seasoned scholar never bothered to check the environment, allowing himself to fall for Shin’s trick.

‘That means that everything that he had done beforehand was all just a ruse to let me lower my guard just so he could land this surprise attack?!’ Recalling the vain attempts that Shin had fired at him earlier on, the bronzed-face man was stunned once more. ‘To think that he planned this far ahead… Haha, I lost this battle before it even began huh?’

Even though Shin was much weaker than the dominant Spirit Emperor, he had one significant advantage. Principal Erudito had been underestimating the youth since day one, allowing Shin to hatch this elaborate plot to impress the seasoned scholar.

Taking one step backwards, the Spirit Emperor released his air barrier to instantly purge Shin’s created water that had come from beneath him. Unfortunately, being the opportunist that he was, there was no way that Shin would let the bronzed-face man do as he pleased. 

“Seismic Step!!!” Using one of the martial art skills that he learnt from Mychael, Shin launched a morbid stomp at the Principal’s feet. However, instead of pushing the feet of the Spirit Emperor deeper into the ground, the Shin felt like he had kicked an iron board instead. Nevertheless, it was within his expectations. Turning one half-round, Shin sent a roundhouse kick straight at Principal Erudito’s abdomen.

‘Mychael’s Seismic Combination?! How did he learn this?!’ Taking the blows head-on, Principal Erudito was astounded yet again. The attacks that Shin had just demonstrated were part of a set of self-created martial art skills that was coined by Imperius Academy’s very own Mychael Dryttimria. 

‘This… He must have learnt it from Mychael somehow…’ Although it was a deadly skill, since Shin was just a Spirit Apostle, he lacked the power to execute it to its fullest potential and could only force Principal Erudito to move one step backwards. Of course, for a Spirit Emperor to be forced to take a step back from a Spirit Apostle’s attack was an insult to his pride. ‘Argghhh!!! I’ll scold that asshole later on…’

Lightly slapping on the youth’s body, Principal Erudito pushed Shin three metres back and let out a despondent sigh. From the side of his peripherals, the bronzed-face scholar could see Hirda trying her best to withhold her laughter, as well as the expectant gazes of the other children. He knew that he had been beaten.

“So, senior? How did I do?” Recovering from the slap that the Spirit Emperor had given him, Shin beamed with the brightest smile of his life. 

‘This guy…’ Gritting his teeth, Principal Erudito shook his head as he said: 

“Hah… You really are a rare talent… Fine, you pass!”

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