News of the Star Class having a new talented student, that had been under the radar of all investigative journalists, spread around the school like a wildfire in a dry forest. In just the first two hours after Shin’s introduction, the entire campus had heard of the mysterious black-haired, azure-coloured eyes boy, who had already reached Rank 18 and had surpassed the Silver Spoon, Son of War and the Freak of the Dundlewoods. Furthermore, since Shin was extremely close to entering the Spirit Core Realm, many began to speculate that the new wonder kid would threaten the Witch of the South’s throne as the number one student among the monster generation of freshmen.
“Where did this Shin Iofiel come from?! Why haven’t we heard of him?” One student from Elite Class A thought out loud.
“They say that he’s a commoner that Principal Erudito picked up, and he has never made himself known before entering the academy. That’s why no one has ever heard of him.”
“No wonder… Hey, do you think that he’s capable of challenging Kanari for the top spot in the academy?”
“Impossible! Kanari is the goddess of the Himmel Empire! With all the resources given to her by the Highgarden Duchy, there’s no way that any commoner could possibly hope to keep up with her cultivation level!”
Many students started to talk among themselves as the news about Shin became more and more widespread. In fact, a cursory sketch of Shin’s features had already begun to hit the black market, showing the efficiency of the information peddlers in Imperius Academy.
“Emma… Looks like Shin is already famous…” While the whole cohort was in chaos, two purple-haired youthful girls were watching the entire ordeal with a tinge of helplessness. Even though they had expected their brother to become the talk of the school, they didn’t expect it to come this early.
“There’s no helping it. Shin’s cultivation level is something that all students would be wary of… I’m just worried about the fight challenges that might come his way in the future.” Emma shook her head in angst. Shin was strong, there was no question about that. However, compared to the monsters such as Shizen Dundlewoods or Suji Lasgeor, who had been training in the combatant path since they were born, Shin was still much too inferior.
“Ella! Emma! You didn’t tell me that Shin was currently at Rank 18!” Just as they were lost in their conversation, a frantic voice called out to the twins. Standing right before them, a silver-haired boy, that seemed to be playing with the borderline of the genders due to his androgynous features, puffed his cheeks in anger as he addressed the two young girls.
Isadore had prided himself with being one of the best information gatherers in the academy. Before he entered the school, the young boy had done his research on nearly every notable figure that might be of importance. Yet, he was ignorant of the fact that his very own ‘buddy’ was ranked number two in the entire freshmen year.
“You’re angry about that?” Ella raised her left eyebrow in shock as she stared down the silver-haired boy.
“Of course I am! Arghhh, whatever… At least I know now. So, I’m expecting that Shin’s quite the prodigious talent huh? I really wonder where the three of you came from…”
Being in Elite Class A, every single one of the students here were at Rank 13, with a few exceptions. Thus, when the twins and Isadore were placed in the same class, it came as quite a surprise to all of them. Even though they had met one another on the first day, they never would have expected that they were all in the Rank 13 Spirit Apostle Realm.
“Why don’t you tell us about yourself before you try and probe into our lives, Isadore?” Ella sharply retorted. Just like how the orphans didn’t want to reveal too much about themselves, the silver-haired boy had the same intentions. Up till this day, the twins and Shin knew next to nothing about Isadore. They didn’t know where he came from, what Spirit he possessed or even whether he was truly a male. To the orphans, Isadore was just an enigma that they could only marvel in wonder every time they met him.
“Haha, you quite the jester, Ella! Fine, fine I get it! I’ll just let sleeping dogs lie…” Realising that he couldn’t gain any new information from the twins, Isadore promptly retreated, leaving the twins alone with one another once more.
“That guy… Hah… Whatever, he’s not doing us any harm…” Ella scoffed.
“I’m worried about Shin though… Should we check in on him?” Emma suggested to her beloved sister.
“Honestly, there’s not much that we could do anyway. The people that would challenge him are all more powerful than us…”
“I know. We should at least be there…” Even though Ella seemed to be nonchalant about Shin’s predicament, her tapping feet and shivering shoulders suggested otherwise. When Emma noticed the physiological changes that her twin sister was going through, a warm smile crept up her face.
“Hehehe! Ella, you’re so adorable!” Bringing her sister’s flushed face into her bosom, Emma played with her ponytail.
“H-Hey! Emma! Let go of me!”
While the twins were happily enjoying each other’s company, their fellow orphan, Shin was currently producing buckets of cold sweat as he was sitting through his lesson regarding spiritual tools. At the very front of the class, a bespectacled man, possibly in his early thirties, had written a large amount of information on the blackboard. Since it was an introductory class, the professor had intended to teach the most basic material that he had. However, that, in turn, meant that the students had the luxury of letting their minds wander due to how simplistic the topic was. And when they had the freedom to do whatever they wanted, they all turned their attention to the black-haired youth that had caused a significant uproar in the academy.
“Is that him?”
“Yeah, it is!”
“He looks rather refined for a commoner!”
Just like before, Shin was seated all alone in one corner, due to his unwillingness to socialise during the orientation week. Yet, even though he had no one to talk to, everyone in the classroom was talking about him. As much as Shin wished to focus on the intriguing class that taught its students about how to use spiritual tools, it was kind of hard to give all his attention to the professor that was hard at work when there were dozens of eyes glued onto his body.
“Spiritual tools are everywhere in the modern world. By directly supplying the tools with mana produced from the Spirit User, the…” For some reason, the bespectacled professor remained oblivious to the fact that he had lost the attention of half of his class and continued on his rudimentary explanation about his subject.
“Spiritual tools are divided into several grades. Elementary-grade, intermediate-grade, expert-grade, unique-grade, legendary-grade, mythic-grade and finally, immortal-grade. Each grade is determined by who crafted the tool, what utility it provides and a plethora of other reasons.”
The main reason why Shin had chosen this course as one of his core subjects, was precisely due to the fact that it could teach him how to utilise spiritual tools or in his case, spiritual armaments that could bolster his effectiveness in battle. After training with Mychael for the past four months, Shin came to realise that for him to breach the gap between himself and the other monsters in the freshmen year, he must come to accept the fact that he had to use spiritual armaments that could boost his attack power.
As its name suggests, spiritual armaments were weapons of war that dramatically enhances the Spirit User’s capability in battle, whether it was mana regeneration, an increase in attack power or an impregnable defence that no spiritual ability could penetrate. In fact, the whole reason why Enfen Frie was able to fight off Malgen from the Black Masks was precisely due to her Mythic Armament that she had bought from one of the country’s most excellent craftsmen. For many Spirit Users that were combat oriented, using spiritual armaments was common, and the fact that Shin lacked any experience using them placed him at a severe disadvantage.
Although Shin had studied extensively about the subject, even before the academic year began, he was still lacking in practical knowledge and hoped to learn directly from the best teachers that the Empire has to offer. Yet, he was unable to focus in class due to the various gazes sent his way. In fact, from the other side of the room, Shin could see that the notorious Witch of the South was also staring him down.
‘God damn it!!! It’s all that asshole’s fault! Maybe I should tell Principal Erudito about every single curse Mychael had said about him.’Shin hatched a sinister plot to bring down the tanned scoundrel that had placed him in this predicament.
“I know many of you are interested in the spiritual tools due to how potent spiritual armaments are. However, there’s more to spiritual tools than weapons of war. For instance, Spirit Immortal Hippocrates once used his acupuncture needle set to heal thousands of terminally ill patients in one go. Additionally, the Blacksmiths Alliance would pay good money for a refined welding hammer.” Further explaining that his class wouldn’t be focusing on just spiritual armaments, the professor made sure that his class was crystal clear about his teaching methods.
‘So that explains why there are so little people interested in this class…’ Shin looked around the lecture hall and was unable to spot the numerous famous faces that were present in the Star Class. Other than the Witch of the South, Kanari Saniela, there was no one else that Shin could recognise in this class. Suji and Danroy, who were more interested in strengthening their own Spirits, disdained the usage of spiritual armaments as they felt that it would dull their raw combat abilities. Shizen Dundlewoods was probably not interested in a class where so much brain power was required and Elrin Zedcris most likely already had a heap of Mythic Armaments lying at home.
“Any questions?” Before he finished his lecture, the professor hoped to engage his students to the best of his ability.
“Professor Quinn?” Shin raised his hands to ask the only question that plagued him since he had finished all the readings required for the module.
“Yes? Ermmm, Shin Iofiel right?”
“Yeah… That’s me.” Shin apprehensively watched as his surroundings started to become rowdier. Although he hated to be in the limelight, Shin still wanted to receive an answer to his query.
“What’s your question?”
“Professor Quinn… Where does one obtain spiritual tools in the campus?” Shin boldly asked.
The young teen’s initial plan was to learn as much as he could about using spiritual armaments before running to the commercial district in the Capital to order a blacksmith to forge something for his own personal use. However, after Mychael forced him to reveal his cultivation level, Shin was forced to make a drastic change of plans.
“Hmmm, that’s actually an excellent question.” Rubbing his chin, the bespectacled man praised Shin’s inquiry. “Typically, first years are not allowed to acquire a spiritual tool, but there are some exceptional cases… How about this? I will reward an elementary-grade spirit tool to whoever scores the highest for my mid-year test!”
Imperius Academy follows a meritocratic system where the best students were given the best rewards. Following that tradition, Professor Quinn opted to give his class an incentive to work harder.
“Oh! The black-haired genius has sweet-talked the professor!” One student exclaimed under his breath.
“What kind of Spirit does he has?! To mind-bend the teacher’s thoughts?!” Another speculated on the nature of Shin’s Spirit.
Evidently, now that a new celebrity had been birthed, the numerous students wanted to find out as much information as they possibly could about Shin.
‘What sweet-talk?! All I did was ask a question?!’ Shin felt wronged by all of his classmates’ speculations and unwillingly dropped his head to hide his facial expression. As the bell rung signalling the end of the morning classes, Shin waited for his classmates to leave the room before he made his escape and rendezvous with the twins. Unfortunately, fate wouldn’t leave him alone that easily.
“Hello, classmate Shin. Could you spare some time to eat lunch with me?” At that moment, a sweet honeyed voice, that seemed to come straight from the heavens itself, called out to Shin while he had his head laid out on the table.
“K-Kanari Saniela?!” Glancing up, Shin was greeted by a gorgeous black-haired beauty, whose charm surpassed that of his Master in her younger appearance. The Witch of the South, someone that Shin had never crossed in his life, was currently wearing a friendly smile as she asked for a little bit of his time.
“Kanari is asking the black-haired genius out?! The number one and number two in the school are going to clash?!” One of the students exclaimed.
“There can’t be two tigers in one cave after all! Perhaps we get to see Kanari fight on the first day of school!”
‘Oh shut the hell up you commentators!’ Shin mentally screamed out in his head. “Why are you asking me?”
“There’s something I want to confirm. I would appreciate it if you would accept…” Realising that the direct approach won’t work on Shin, the black-haired goddess switched her tactics and was honest about her intentions.
“I see… Fine, there’s something I want to know as well.” Shin stood up from his chair and stared the young woman straight in the eyes. Even though they were of different genders, Shin was merely two centimetres taller than Kanari, making eye contact between the two much more natural.
Taken aback about how forefront Shin was being, Kanari slightly jerked backwards. It has been a long time since anyone had dared to stare her straight in the eyes, causing her curiosity for Shin to peak to another level.
“Thank you for accepting. If you would follow me.” Without beating around the bush, Kanari turned her heels and headed out of the room with Shin following close behind. Her gentle smile that would charm even the most celibate of monks frightened the young boy as he felt that it made her thoughts a complete enigma.
‘Whatever… I must find out how she trained that quickly to become a Spirit Core cultivator.’
The only reason why Shin agreed to the meeting was because he wished to find out the secrets to Kanari’s might. Even though he might be inviting himself into a trap, Shin still felt that it was worth the shot. As the two good-looking teens disappeared down the hallway, the word that the number one and two of the academy were going to have a standoff spread throughout the campus, forcing everyone to be up in arms as they searched high and low for Shin and Kanari.