“My name is Alan Sherman, I am the third son of the Sherman Fiefdom in the east! I am in the auxiliary course, and I’m currently at Rank 14.” An average-looking teenager clearly properly introduced himself, showing the aristocratic training that he had been receiving since he was younger.
‘Yet another Rank 14? Seems like the minimum standard for a student to enter into the Star Class is Rank 14…’ Shin theorised after hearing the third classmate introduce himself. Imperius Academy prided itself for having a meritocratic system in play, and the best way to sort the freshmen was according to their cultivation levels. Of course, cultivation levels were not the main determining factor for a student’s placing in a better class. Once the year was over, there will be many students from the Star Class dropping into the Elite Classes and many talented students from the Elite Classes rising into the Star Class.
‘But honestly… So many Rank 14 fifteen-year-olds congregated in one place is quite the anomaly… Imperius Academy really is something else.’ Shin was once again shell-shocked by the talents that surrounded him. In the regular cultivation world outside of the academy, just one Rank 14 fifteen-year-old would be hailed as a wonder kid and would be given all the resources that his or her family could possibly obtain. Yet, there were thirty plus students here that had all passed that threshold.
“Next person… Danroy Frithron!” While Shin was lost in thought, over half of the class had already introduced themselves in an orderly manner, and Mychael called out the next name.
Pushing his wooden chair backwards while he stood up, a pudgy teenager, who had dark rings surrounding his eyes, aggressively glared at the brownish-red haired boy that was sleeping in one corner. Danroy Frithron, after he got thoroughly smashed by the Freak of the Dundlewoods, was forced to eat his humiliation and had barely slept a wink since the first day of orientation.
“My name is Danroy Frithron! My father is Colonel Nathan Frithron! The Hero of the battle for Kaelriel! I am in the combat course, and I am at Rank 15! One day, I’ll become the strongest general that the Empire has ever seen! Mark my words, I have already defeated a Spirit Core cultivator in an open battle! Furthermore…”
“Oh, shut the fuck up!” Unable to tolerate Danroy’s constant yapping Mychael threw a piece of chalk that was infused with his mana. To the view of the rest of the class, a white light that travelled faster than the human eye could follow whizzed through the room and landed straight in the middle of Danroy’s eyebrows.
“Owowow…” Immediately squatting down in pain, the pudgy youth rubbed his forehead while the rest of his friends turned a blind eye to his ordeal. Even the ‘leader’ of his group, Suji Lasgeor, didn’t care that his childhood friend had been assaulted by his homeroom teacher. In fact, he was secretly snickering at the plight of the overly-confident Danroy.
Since young, their families had been extraordinarily close and Suji and Danroy had been bosom pals essentially since they were conceived in the womb. With their talents being somewhat similar, Danroy believed that he was Suji’s lifetime rival and the two had always competed on who had the better cultivation level. Naturally, with Suji’s family being the more prominent of the two, the muscular teen that didn’t seem to fit in with the freshmen always had the slight edge due to the immense amount of resources that were devoted to him.
“Listen, brats!!! I asked for an introduction, not some long-winded commander’s speech! If any of you fuckers follow that piglet’s example, I won’t be courteous! Do you understand me?!”
“Yes, sir!” Immediately turning into military mode, the students promptly replied Mychael.
“Good, next!” Ignoring the scowling Danroy, who was still rolling on the floor, Mychael called out the next name.
Bit by bit, the students introduced themselves, giving Shin the necessary information he needed about the Star Class. And soon, it became increasingly clear the youth that Mychael’s order of name-calling had a logic to it. He was going from the student who had the lowest cultivation level to the student with the highest. The overwhelming majority of those in the Star Class were all at Rank 14. Some talented few, such as Danroy Frithron had reached Rank 15 and Mychael had yet to call out those that were above Rank 15. Soon, only five individuals were left.
The students in the Star Class were not morons. After they deciphered the code, they immediately turned their attention to the remaining five. Among them, four were known faces with a rich background account in the investigative books that were sold on the black market. However, there was just one black-haired boy, whose azure eyes resembled that of an ancient lake, that remained as an enigma. With that, Shin became a focal point of attention for the entire class, without him even doing anything.
‘There goes my plans to lay low for the first year…’ Shin sighed mentally as he menacingly stared at the gloating Mychael. He knew that he would eventually be put into the spotlight as he was aiming for the top place in the cohort, but he didn’t expect it to be so soon. Shin had planned to slowly build up his strength over the year, and when the finals came around, he would unleash all of his might; but due to the frivolous tanned skin scoundrel, Shin had to prematurely throw away those plans.
“Elrin Zedcris. You’re up!” Unfortunately for Shin, Mychael hardly cared about his feelings. All the scoundrel wanted was revenge for having his beloved Mimi taken away from him just as he was about to enter heaven.
“Hi, there! My name is Elrin Zedcris! Some of you may know me as the Silver Spoon!” The cheerful white-haired girl stood up and shamelessly referred to herself by her nickname. “I’m currently in the auxiliary course and my cultivation is at Rank 16. My father is Terlus Zedcris, owner of the Zedcris Conglomerate. So, if you need anything, feel free to go to any of our family’s shops! I’ll offer you a discounted price since you guys are my precious classmates!”
Somewhere along her introduction, Elrin had added a sales pitch, so that caused many of the students in the room to drop their jaws. Getting a discount from Zedcris was notoriously difficult, and yet, Elrin was offering a deal for all of the students in the Star Class.
“Of course, our beloved and mighty teacher is also entitled to a discount!” Striking the final blow, the tactician that was Elrin adorably winked at Mychael.
“Hoho… I see that you have a bright future ahead of yourself young lass… I’m sure that you would go on to do great things with the Star Class.” Nodding his head in approval, the tanned-skin scoundrel praised the white-haired girl, causing the rest of the class to roll their eyes in annoyance. In the end, everything boiled down to money for the infamous Mychael Dryttimria.
“Hmmm, next is… Suji Lasgeor! Introduce yourself!” Once Mychael called out the next name, soft murmurs broke out within the class.
“That black-haired boy has a higher cultivation level than the Silver Spoon and the Son of War?!”
“Who the hell is this guy? Why haven’t we heard of him?”
“Black hair with azure coloured eyes… Were there any noble houses with those characteristics?”
“Not that I know off… Maybe he’s a monstrously talented commoner?”
Many of the students had begun to speculate where Shin had come from as a large portion of the stares in the room landed on the young teen, who was trying his hardest to stay aloof. At that point, even the famous individuals in the class had started to search the recesses of their memory to find clues of Shin’s prospective identity. Even the tranquil Witch of the South, Kanari Saniela, couldn’t help but send an inquisitive gaze down the black-haired youth’s direction.
‘Oh my god… What did I do to deserve this?!’ Although his exterior remained placid, Shin’s mindset was currently at a mess.
“My name is Suji Lasgeor… I come from the Lasgeor family, I’m in the combat course, and I’m in the Rank 16 Spirit Apostle Realm…” Succinctly stating the main points, the muscular man cooly sat down and folded his arms.
‘That’s it?! Speak for a while longer! Give me some more time for me to prepare my heart!’ Shin mentally screamed out.
“Okay. Next is… Shizen Dundlewoods. Wait, seriously? You named yourself after the Dundlewoods?” For the first time ever, Mychael revealed the Freak of the Dundlewoods real name. Squinting his eyes to ensure that he read the name right, the tanned man shook his head in disapproval before realising that the petite teen was still fast asleep.
“Such a pain… HEY FREAK!!! WAKE UP!!!” Channelling his mana into his voice box, Mychael’s bellow caused the ground the shake and forced many of students to cover their ears. Instantly jerking the young boy awake, Shizen Dundlewood sat up straight as a transparent line of drool dripped from his mouth and onto the ground.
“Wha… What?” Confused about what had happened, the reddish-brown haired boy turned his head left and right, hoping to get some answers about why he was so rudely awakened.
“Hey, Shizen. Introduce yourself. Tell the class your name, course and cultivation level.”
“Ahhh! It’s the ape that poops on the ground!”
“Who are you calling an ape? HARGH?! Want to gain another lump on your head you asshole?!” Oddly enough, Mychael didn’t deny the fact that he had defecated in an uncultured manner, leaving many of the students hard at work, trying to hide their chortles.
“The ape is mean… Whatever… My name is Shizen Dundlewoods! I’m in the combat course, and I’m currently at Rank 17! That’s all! Can I go back to sleep now?”
“Shut it! No more sleeping in my class! Just because I was kind to you doesn’t mean you can abuse my compassion!”
“What?!” Shizen screamed out in indignation as he puffed his cheeks out like a frenzied squirrel.
“…” Shin was utterly speechless at the interaction that Mychael had shared with the so-called Freak of the Dundlewoods. Unlike his mighty and insurmountable demeanour that he possessed when he floored Danroy with one hit, Shizen’s current behaviour seemed to resemble that of a spoilt child.
‘But as expected… The number of students in the Star Class that are in the combat course is astonishing.’ Shin observed. Of all the students that had introduced themselves, only a third were in the auxiliary course. The rest were all hardcore members of the combat course. Worried that the competition would be too fierce, Shin bit his lip in contemplation.
While he was still trying to wrap his head around the Shizen situation, he felt many stares landing on his body as Shin quickly realised that he had become the centre of attention. With the majority of the class already introducing themselves, there were only two individuals left. The illustrious Witch of the South, whose face and name was recognisable all around the Empire, and the unknown black-haired boy that no one had heard about.
“His cultivation level is even higher than the Freak of the Dundlewoods?!” One whisper by a student was caught by Shin’s ear.
Initially, everyone in the academy assumed that the top two positions of the cohort would be going to the Freak of the Dundlewoods and the Witch of the South. After all, their names were the most famous and their deeds were known by many in the Empire. Yet, there was a mysterious black-haired boy that surpassed the Freak and could perhaps challenge for the throne that the Kanari was expected to sit on.
“Now for the next person…” Mychael flashed a sinister grin as he stared deep into Shin’s soul. When their eyes met, Shin felt that he could read the tanned-skin scoundrel’s thoughts and vice-versa.
‘You asshole! You set me up!’
‘Serves you right! Let me give you hell!’
Naturally, the two didn’t possess a Mind-elemental Spirit that could connect their thoughts, but somehow, Shin and Mychael were able to communicate telepathically.
“Shin Iofiel! Stand up and introduce yourself!”
Shin and the other orphans lacked any last names due to the nature of their departure from the Frie Clan. Furthermore, they couldn’t use their real last names, Awter, in fear that the Black Masks would identify their identity and launch yet another attempt to kidnap them. Therefore, Lady Seph came up with an idea. Although the orphans couldn’t take her last name, as it was way too famous and anyone with half a brain would recognise it, Lady Seph would give them a made-up last name that didn’t exist anywhere in the database of the Empire. Therefore, Shin was given the surname of Iofiel, named after the Iofiel Angel that Lady Seph possesses. Even though her last name was well known, not many people would be able to recognise the name of the Iofiel Angel unless they were hardcore Lady Seph fans.
‘Looks like I can’t hide it anymore…’ Sighing internally, Shin stood up and firmly returned the stares of the numerous curious students. Among them, the white-haired beauty, Elrin Zedcris, watched on with an earnest stare. Suji Lasgeor, the block of muscles, squinted his eyes in preparation for his future competition. The Freak of the Dundlewoods, Shizen Dundlewoods yawned out loud and the Empire’s number one beauty, Kanari Saniela was intrigued by the prospect of someone her age reaching her cultivation level.
“My name is Shin Iofiel. I am a commoner that has the privilege to enter the combat course, and I’m…” Shin unknowingly paused mid-sentence. Not because he was hoping for a dramatic effect, but it because the words were truly stuck in his throat. He knew that once he let the cat out of the bag, a mountain of troubles would just pile up for him.
“I’m Rank 18…”
“*Gasp!*.” The class uniformly drew a breath sharply as Shin revealed his cultivation level.
“He’s really stronger than the Freak of the Dundlewoods?!”
“Well, at least he still hasn’t formed his Spirit Core. Otherwise, Kanari would be in for a tough fight.” Various voices, some shocked, some relieved, were echoing throughout the classroom as a small commotion began.
“Okay! Settle down! There’s still one more person that has yet to introduce herself!” Clapping his hands to quieten down the class, Mychael shot a triumphant look at Shin, as if he had just avenged his entire family’s murder. “Kanari, you know what to do.”
After Shin’s introduction, Mychael lost interest and opted to finish the homeroom session in one go.
“Good day, my fellow classmates. My name is Kanari Saniela. I’m the eldest daughter of the Duchess of Highgarden I am attending the combat course. By the good fortunes granted to me by my family, I have reached the Spirit Core Realm and am currently at Rank 21. I might be lacking, but I hope to have a wonderful year alongside all of you.” Giving an elegant bow that made many of the boys blush, the Witch of the South concluded her introduction, and gracefully took her seat.
“Alright, you maggots! Now that you know your classmates, I hope that you can get along well! In the future, during the interclass competitions, knowing your classmates’ strengths and weaknesses will earn you a significant advantage! Okay, homeroom’s over! Go fuck off to your next class!” Stepping out of the room as quickly as he came in, Mychael left Shin alone in the room with a pack of curious gazes.
‘What am I to do with this situation.’