Taking a stroll down towards his first class of the day, Shin was cautiously observing the surrounding students that were in his vicinity. With many of them being freshmen, they were not as focused on improving themselves as compared to their upperclassmen and instead, they were busy trying to forge relationships. There was no segregation between aristocrat or commoners as those who were able to enter the prestigious Imperius Academy were all the best of the best. In fact, many aristocrats were more welcoming towards commoners as it was much easier to bond with them as compared to their blueblood brethren.
Forming cliques and friendships, the freshmen were all laughing away as they explored the campus before school began. Some of the students had already become couples and were flirting in the scenic gardens of the academy. For Shin, having relationships like that was a burden. His sole purpose of coming to Imperius Academy was to become stronger so that he could face the Black Masks and his defected elder brother. Anything else that would hinder his goal had to be cut off.
‘I still have a little time before class begins… What should I do?’ Shin wondered. Well, the benefit and disadvantage of having no friends meant that he had a lot of time for himself. Typically, he would either study or self-train, but otherwise, Shin would just be staring into blank space, with nothing else better to do.
Wandering around the area, Shin found an isolated greenhouse that was free from student activity. Within the verdant garden, there was a plethora of gorgeous flora and a wide variety of alluring butterflies that flapped their wings about. It was one of the most relaxing places on the campus that Shin had ever seen.
Shin opted to take a step back and recharge his tensed up mental state. From the moment he entered the academy, it had been setback after setback. Furthermore, Shin had been holed up in his room or training area, doing his best to become the strongest person that he possibly could. However, even the most studious individuals needed a break, lest they got burned out. Carefully interacting with the exotic and fragrant flowers that the academy boasted, Shin emptied his mind.
‘It’s really has been a while since I took a proper rest…’ Shin plucked one flower from the gorgeous flower bed at his feet and dived his nose straight into the petals.
“Hey, don’t damage the plants. They’ll get angry.” Suddenly, a tenor voice resonated from Shin’s side, forcing him to jump back in shock. Sitting a mere three metres away, a young brownish-red haired boy, whose entire being seemed to have blended in with the oak tree behind him, was lazily staring at Shin, while rendering out a light warning. By the state of his ruffled hair and dreary eyes, it was evident that the boy had been sleeping just seconds before Shin had arrived, but even in his dishellved state, there was no way that Shin wouldn’t recognise that distinct face.
‘Freak of the Dundlewoods!’ Shin widened his eyes. The young boy sitting just a few metres away was possibly one of the strongest students in the freshmen cohort, and his fame far outstrips Shin’s. With just one move, he managed to take down a charging Danroy, who was also considered to be one of the best, solidifying his spot at the top of the food chain.
“Shizen Dundlewoods… I didn’t expect to see you here.”
“Hmmm? You know my name? Who are you?” Surprised that the person that he had just met knew of him, the young boy tilted his head in confusion.
‘He doesn’t remember me? Wow, looks he’s really as carefree as the rumours say.’ Shin thought out while recalling all the details about Shizen Dundlewoods from the recesses of his memory. There was not much information about the Freak before he entered the academy. The only thing that Shin knew was that Shizen had once taken out five Spirit Core cultivators all by himself, making him a dangerous individual to cross.
“I’m in your homeroom class, my name is Shin Iofiel.”
“My homeroom class? Oh, the class with that ape as my teacher… Whatever… That means you’re my classmate right?” After a brief moment of thought, the young boy jumped to his feet and walked over to Shin. Even though he was perhaps the shortest student on campus, with every step that he took, Shin felt like there was a colossal monster heading in his direction.
“Hmmm, that’s odd… You have such a cool aura. It’s rather refreshing… Hey, could you summon out your Spirit for me to see?” Making a sudden request, Shizen watched the black-haired youth with eager eyes.
Usually, Shizen would never pay attention in class as he felt that there was nothing for him to learn. As a result, the young boy never got to talk to any of his classmates as over half of the time, he would be fast asleep on his desk. Therefore, just like Shin, Shizen didn’t have any friends to hang out with, making him a loner as well.
“What do you intend to do?” Shin asked apprehensively.
“No, it’s just… I don’t know… I feel like something good would happen…” Shizen was unable to articulate his reasoning and was vague in his explanation. Just like a toddler asking for something from their parents. Ever since he was born, the young boy had been living off his instincts and thus far, it had proved to be immensely helpful in his life. Therefore, whenever his instincts started to tingle, Shizen would act upon it without caring about the consequences and currently, his instincts were screaming out to him.
‘Summon out my Spirit? Such a queer request… Could he have possibly recognised the aura of The Sovereign Koi?’ Shin theorised.
‘No… From what I’ve heard, the Freak was a hermit in the Dundlewoods and had next to no contact with the outside world. There’s no way that he could recognise my spirit.’ Using his trusty informant, Shin managed to scour some basic information about the young boy that stood before him.
“Fine… But if you want me to show my Spirit to you, you would have to show me yours as well.” Shin agreed on the terms that he got to examine the famed Spirit that took down five Spirit Core cultivators.
“Done!” Being the straightforward boy that he was, Shizen immediately agreed.
Closing his eyes, Shin began to congregate his mana into his outstretched palms. A deep cerulean colour shone from the depths of his body as droplets of water started condensing on the glass surface of the greenhouse. Within seconds, The Sovereign Koi, which had been lying dormant within Shin’s body, made its appearance once more.
“Ohhhhh!!! So that’s why I felt that aura from you!” Observing the summoned fish with jubilant eyes, Shizen buzzed about in joy. His overly enthusiastic vigour made Shin, and The Sovereign Koi unconsciously shiver back in fear.
“Ermmm, I summoned out my Spirit, so it’s your turn.”
“Haha, don’t worry!” Raising his hands up heavenward, Shizen summoned out a phantom of a divine tree that measured over five metres in height. The bark was as solid as could be and the variegated leaves made it seem otherworldly to all spectators. Even though there was no malicious intent directed at Shin, the black-haired youth unconsciously took a few steps back, as he knew what the tree was capable of accomplishing.
The Adivinar Tree. One of the rarest Spirit ever recorded in the cultivation world. With an inherent ability to seal any type of mana that it touches, a Spirit User that awakened the Adivinar Tree was a nightmare to fight against, especially, if its opponent was a Spirit User that relied on mana strengthening. With just one accidental contact, the Adivinar Tree could seal the entire fighter’s body, rendering it useless in battle.
“I knew it! Your fish Spirit is one of the strongest water elemental Spirits I have ever seen! I can feel it in the air, my Spirit is calling out for yours! As someone who uses a Plant-Spirit, your Spirit is one that complements mine greatly!” Screaming out with an excited cry, the Freak of the Dundlewoods jumped up and down like an excited young child. “Hey, hey! Could you try to pour some water onto my Spirit?”
‘Urgh… So he sees me as a watering hose…’ Shin finally understood why Shizen was so excited to see The Sovereign Koi, even though he clearly didn’t recognise it. ‘Whatever, let’s see what happens.’
Shin easily created a globe of mana-filled water and levitated it in the air. “How do you want me to do it?”
“Just pour it onto my body!”
“Huh?” Shin looked at Shizen like he was a deranged mental patient that escaped from his hospital ward. Classes were just about to begin and yet, Shizen was asking for an early morning shower that would drench his uniform.
“Go ahead! Don’t worry about it!”
“Okay…” Dropping the water sphere onto Shizen’s body, Shin grimaced as he watched the boy who famed as one of the strongest in the academy, closing his eyes and taking it all in like a person getting a luxurious massage.
“Hahahaha! This is perfect! Your water is really perfect!” Shizen excitedly jumped. A dim, earthern light began to absorb all of the created water into the young boy’s body, instantly drying him up in the process.
‘Hoho, now that’s a peculiar ability…’ Shin was stunned by the events that followed. Shizen’s uniform, which should have been as wet as a drowned rat, had been utterly dried up as if Shin’s created downpour didn’t happen at all. The Adivinar Tree phantom started to glow in a bright golden hue as long vines began to dance about in euphoria. Its owner, Shizen Dundlewoods, was also in a similar state, forcing Shin and The Sovereign Koi to cower back in disgust.
‘Looks like something not’s right in his head.’ Initially, Shin was in awe at Shizen’s ability and to a certain extent, envied his amazing powers. Yet, after watching how abnormal the boy was, Shin decided that there was nothing worth coveting.
“Be my friend!”
“If you’re my friend, you would feed me that sweet water every day right? So you should become my friend!” With some flawed logic, Shizen extended a hand of friendship to the stunned youth.
“Haha, that’s a nice joke, Mister Shizen.”
“I’m not joking! Your juice is the best I have ever tasted! From now on, I want to drink it every single day!” The Freak of the Dundlewoods was really living up to his name by pressing Shin with misleading terms that would make any girls who loved some guy-on-guy action blush.
‘This guy! Why is he so weird?!’ Shin hollered out mentally. Shin had seen his fair share of weirdos, but Shizen had undoubtedly topped the list. ‘I should make a tactical retreat for now…’
“Class is starting soon… I must leave now.”
“Wait! You haven’t agreed to.”
“Bye!” With hurried steps, Shin fled the greenhouse and ran towards his next class. Unfortunately, the deed has already been done, and Shin’s visage had been burnt deeply into Shizen’s mind.
“Hmmm, why did he run? Whatever, since he’s my classmate, I should be able to see him soon…” Shrugging his shoulders, Shizen returned back to his original position under the oak tree and continued on with his nap, not caring about the fact that his next class was in a few minutes.