Once Shin escaped from the greenhouse that Shizen was happily taking a nap in, the young teen ran straight to his first lesson of the day, the class about world history. Even though Imperius Academy was a strictly practical school, where students were expected to perfect their craft, the curriculum still placed a minor emphasis on students learning some theoretical studies. Mandatory subjects such as etiquette training, world history and basic mathematics were universal for first-year students, no matter which academic course they belonged to.
Fortunately for Shin, learning from books was his forte and he had long memorised or mastered the entire subject during his self-study session in orientation week. Hence, Shin had the luxury to rest his mind or to reflect on his training regimen for the day.
“Shin, you’re daydreaming again!” An exasperated cry called out to the young black-haired boy who was letting his mind wander. Turning to his side, Shin’s eyes twitched as he watched Isadore penning down notes at a breakneck rate.
Theory classes such as world history didn’t separate the students according to their courses. In fact, they ensured that theory classes were a significant component of how students bonded together and formed lasting connections. After all, Imperius Academy was where all the elite children gathered, and mingling about was highly encouraged.
“Sorry, I was just thinking about other things…”
“I know that you want to focus on your combat skills, but if you don’t do well in theory classes, you won’t be able to move up a grade!”
“Oh, that won’t happen. I guarantee it.” Shin assuredly replied. The one thing that he was most confident about was his ability to learn and take tests. During his time learning to be a healer, Lady Seph had given him at least one test a week, and Shin had always aced them. Taking topics such as world history was a piece of cake for him.
“Such confidence… Well, it’s not like I would care about your grades.” Isadore smiled and continued on his note taking. Thinking that the young boy was as hardworking as can be, Shin snuck a peek at the notes that Isadore had taken. However, to his utter surprise, the silver-haired youth wasn’t writing anything about world history. Instead, he was logging down details about famous freshmen in the cohort.
“And you dare to reprimand me… You aren’t paying attention to class as well!”
“As much as I don’t like to brag, I’m actually a master at world history. After all, it had been drilled into my brain since I was young!”
“What do you mean by that?” Thinking that he had found a link to Isadore’s past, Shin probed further. Only aristocrats and members of first-rate clans would bother to school their child about the world history.
“No, it’s nothing… Anyway, in the morning, you had met with the Freak by yourself. How was the encounter?” Doing what he does best, Isadore switched the topic away from himself by diverting Shin’s attention elsewhere.
“You’ve heard of that?!” Shin was genuinely surprised. The encounter with Shizen literally happened less than an hour ago. Yet, Isadore’s connections somehow managed to gather that information.
“As much as I would like to praise my information network, I just happened to be there when I saw you talking to the Freak. There’s nothing more to it.”
“Oh, so you just ‘happened’ to be there…” Shin rolled his eyes and replied in a sarcastic tone.
“Right! I happened to be there!”
For a full ten seconds, Shin intensely stared into Isadore’s eyes, hoping to find any signs of deceit. Naturally, with Isadore’s poor poker face, Shin could instantly tell that him being there when Shin was interacting with Shizen was no mere coincidence, but he ultimately let it slide since arguing about it seems like a waste of time.
“Whatever… I didn’t do anything though. All we did was chat a little, and then we parted ways.”
“Hmmm… I’ll take your word for it then. On a more important note, are you going to the upperclassmen demonstration this weekend?” Isadore brought up an important event that was coming up.
“Of course. I want to witness the calibre that our famed seniors have reached.”
Every start of the school year, the winners of the inter-class competitions would gather together to put on a show of might to welcome the new cohort of freshmen. Using their potent powers, they would spar with each other or the teachers of the faculty. Naturally, since it was a big event, almost every single freshmen would do anything that they could to get front row seats.
“Hoho, I never thought that the introverted Shin would want to leave the confines of his room.” Isadore lightly teased the youth.
“Why don’t we go together? There haven’t been too many opportunities for us to hang out. Don’t worry, I can guarantee us a good view of the event.”
“Do I really have a choice? Either way, you would drag me along when the day comes.” After interacting with Isadore for an extended period, Shin could more or less guess what the silver-haired boy’s next actions would be. If he couldn’t get Shin to agree to something, he would turn his attention to the twins, and since Shin would respect the twins’ wishes, he would undoubtedly accept Isadore’s terms.
“Haha, that’s true.”
While the two young boys were conversing, the teacher that was standing in front of the whiteboard went on and on about the history of the empire. Even though there were many aspects of the module that was common sense, Shin learnt some valuable information after flipping through the textbooks that were given to him. For instance, the Himmel Empire’s Imperial Family was considered to be the strongest reigning monarchy in the history of mankind.
Throughout the long river of time, countless powerful families had risen and fallen. Some of them had established their own kingdoms or empires, but they had all fallen within a few generations. Yet, the Himmel Empire’s Imperials had continued their reign for tens of thousands of years and had weathered every tribulation that was sent straight at them. Furthermore, in recent years, they had solidified their position as a dominant power that could stand alongside superpowers such as the Kori Federation and the Lantis Republic.
The Lantis Republic consists of eight ancient clans that ultimately formed into one entity while the Kori Federation was essentially a conglomerate of family clans and martial sects that gathered under one banner. However, using just their bloodline and the numerous clans that decided to serve under them, the Imperials of the Himmel Empire could stand toe to toe with those giants without a significant disadvantage.
‘I really wonder what allows the Himmel Empire to remain as one of the three superpowers.’ Shin wondered.
On paper, the Himmel Empire was perhaps the weakest among the three superpowers. In the ocean, the Lantis Republic was unparalleled, and no navy could come close to beating them. With hundreds of Rank 70 Spirit Emperors that specialised in manipulating the terrain around them, they could effortlessly sink any naval forces that sailed their way and no entity from the Terre Continent in their right minds, would ever covet the bountiful lands of the Lantis Archipelago.
The Kori Federation, on the other hand, contained a wide variety of fighting forces. From sects that specialised in the way of the sword to clans with rare Spirit Users that controlled the elements of Mind, Light and Darkness. In fact, there were even rumours that a Spirit User had also awakened a Spirit with the rare element of Time, which had only occurred a few times in the long history of the human race.
Naturally, the Himmel Empire had their own strengths, but when Shin compared them to the other two superpowers, the young man couldn’t help but feel that the Himmel Empire, the place where he grew up in his entire life, was somewhat lacking. Of course, there were still many things that Shin didn’t know about the sovereign nation, and his view was somewhat limited.
As the lecturer continued on rambling on about the heroic exploits of the predecessors of the Himmel Empire, Shin felt the strong urge to fall asleep as he was not being taught about anything related to the textbook. However, when he turned to look at the boy at the adjacent seat, Shin could see Isadore’s eyes light up as he attentively listened to the teacher’s propaganda words.
‘I really don’t know a thing about this guy…’
Isadore was an enigma towards Shin. Even a blind person could tell that the silver-haired boy was hiding something, but since Shin lacked even a single ally to help him gather information, there was nothing that he could do to probe into Isadore’s background.
‘Whatever, it’s not like he’s doing me any harm.’ Fighting the impulse to immediately shut his eyes and wander off into Lalaland, Shin pretended to pay attention to class while waiting for the bell to ring.
Himmel Empire. The Capital. Lady Seph’s Residence.
After Lady Seph bought the unused mansion and renovated it to her liking, the seasoned healer left the day-to-day activities of the estate to the orphans who were living there for free. Cleaning the house, watering the plants in the garden, and all sorts of household chores were handed to the orphans to manage. Unfortunately, due to the sheer size of the estate, they could only clean so much before they would eventually get tired. Often times, the orphans would get lost in the residence due to how spacious it was. However, for today, the villa that seemed to be boundless had turned into a suffocating space, especially for the orphans.
Sitting up properly in the main hall, all of the orphans were gathered in one place with dozens of bodyguards surrounding them. Each one of the bodyguards was standing up straight with their arms behind their backs as the observed the orphans every movement. Naturally, there was no danger to the orphans’ lives, but it was still rather unpleasant to have tens of eyes constantly watching them.
“Senior… How much longer do we have to stay here?” Ryner carefully asked the effeminate man that was sitting at the main chair. With grey eyebrows and rather defined wrinkles, the man was without question one of the oldest people that Ryner had ever seen. His shiny pointed hat and luxurious articles of clothing indicated that he was someone of significant influence, and judging on how he could command the bodyguards that surrounded him with a wave of a hand, it would seem that the man controlled the orphans’ lives as well.
“Oh dear… Are you getting restless? Well, that’s understandable, since you have been copped up here for quite some time…” Fanning himself using a hand fan made out of crane feathers, the effeminate man sympathised with the orphans’ predicament.
“I’m sorry, but it seems like our master still needs more time to talk to Lady Seph. How about this, if you’re feeling stuffed up, why not got to the garden? Men!!!” Waving two of his fingers twice, the man summoned the bodyguards standing behind him, hinting that even if the orphans left the main hall, they would still be tailed by the numerous men that they wanted to escape.
“On second thought, I’m good…”
“Are you sure, we should be here for a while more.”
“…” Ryner was speechless. A few minutes ago, a procession of over a hundred men knocked on the main gate of the residence, hoping to seek an audience with the owner of the house. Naturally, with the limited forces that they had, the only thing that they could do was allow the hundreds of men inside, while Lady Seph met with the bigwig.
For their own safety, Lady Seph had allowed Bingbing to stay with the orphans while she dealt with the person that barged into her house. Sitting upright on the lap of Elyse, Bingbing observed the numerous guards that were surrounding her with ardent curiosity, causing many of them to shiver in fear as their sweat glands started to malfunction.
‘Urghhh, who the hell came here?!’ Ryner mentally screamed out, and his sentiment was shared amongst all of the other orphans.
Meanwhile, in the deep part of the mansion, where Lady Seph’s office lay…
“Hoho, to think that you would personally come to welcome me to the Capital. I’m not sure if I’m flattered or amused that the sovereign of the nation has so much free time on his hands.” Lady Seph mockingly said as she stared intensely into the bright green eyes of the man sitting directly opposite her.
“Haha, surely you jest. I too wish that there’s less work for me to do, but unfortunately, running a country isn’t as straightforward as it sounds.” Taking a sip of the Oolong tea that Lady Seph had personally brewed, the middle-aged man face brightened up as he lauded the drink in his hands. “As expected of you, the tea here is excellent. Perhaps I should send someone to learn tea brewing from you.”
“Shut it, Tenno. I know that you’re not here to sample my tea. Since you’re here, I’m assuming that those assholes in the Imperial Courts know of my return.”
“No. I made sure that it wouldn’t happen. Even today’s expedition out of the Imperial Palace was kept under wraps. So don’t worry. None of them would bother you. Well, not that you need any protection in the first place…” Tenno raised his eyebrows as carefully returned the teacup in his hands to its saucer.
“Not only have you promoted to the Spirit Venerate realm, but your connections in the Capital are also rather frightening. No minister or elder in their right mind would dare to cross you now.”
“What about your ancestors?”
“… Let’s not talk about them.” Carefully manoeuvring away from the subject, Tenno cupped his hands together and leaned forward.
“I’m here to talk about you and Empire… Return to us, Senior Seraphim. I will give you an advisory position in the Imperial Courts and reinstate you as Imperial Physician. Of course, those are all titles in name, you don’t have to do any actual work. You can continue doing whatever research you want, and the Imperial Family would shoulder all of the costs.”
“You know that it’s not going to happen, Tenno.” Without even taking a second to consider, Lady Seph sharply declined the Emperor’s terms. “I’m not going to rejoin your stupid government after everything that it has done!”
“I understand… But you have to consider it from my perspective. I can’t just let a Spirit Venerate, who has a feud against the Imperial Courts, run unchecked in my own backyard. Furthermore, the news of your return would eventually spread to those in the Imperial Courts. I can’t keep it a secret forever. When that happens, even if you don’t care about your own life, what would happen to your disciple who…”
“[You dare talk about my disciple!]” Finally opening Pandora’s Box, Tenno crossed the line when he mentioned Shin. Enraged by his threats, Lady Seph unleashed one of her spiritual abilities as an ethereal voice pressured the Emperor. In that instant, Tenno felt as if an ocean had appeared over his head, and it was only through great difficulty that he managed to resist the force that was pushing his body down.
“As I said. I come in peace. And a battle against you is the last thing that I want. If you join us, not only would those benefits come to you, I would also give your disciple the best resources the Empire has to offer. I know that he was from the Awter Clan and had awakened The Sovereign Koi. With my connections, I can bring him to the Lantis Republic to get baptised by the Celestial River, something that you can’t offer to him even with your status as a Divine Healer!”
“You…” Releasing her mana, Lady Seph stared deeply at the Emperor.
“Please consider this proposal that I have, Senior Seraphim… You have watched me grow up and had even backed my ascension of the throne! You infinite grace to the Imperial Family is something that I will never forget! Therefore, I don’t want to be the one to chase you out of my country!” Bowing his head down, Tenno did something that no Monarch in their right mind would do, lower his head to someone else.
“Tenno… No, I still can’t do that.”
“But! I promise to never lay my hands on the Imperial Courts. That’s something that I have no interest in. I swear, as a citizen of the Himmel Empire, I will never do anything that would harm my country. Is that fair for you?” Lady Seph addressed the central issue of the Emperor’s visit.
“That… Fine, I’ll take it for now.” The higher a Spirit User climbs, the more likely it was for them to honour their word.
“Just leave my disciple and me alone. I won’t even bother coming out in the open.” For Lady Seph, research and taking care of Shin were still the most paramount activities in her life. She genuinely lacked any interest in exacting vengeance against the Imperial Courts. “Of course, if you dare to harm even a single strand of hair from Shin, I’ll send all of you to the depths of hell.”
“I see… Fine, I’ll relay that to my ministers…” Standing up from his seat, the Emperor walked towards the exit and turned the doorknob. However, before he left, he addressed the esteemed healer one last time.
“Oh, Senior Seraphim…”
“What is it?”
“It’s nice to see you again. Do visit the Imperial Palace if you have some time. I’m sure everyone there would be thrilled to meet you once more.”
“I’ll consider it…”
Hi! I have a short announcement to make. By the time you see this chapter, I should be gone vacationing from 17-22, and I’m not sure whether I would get internet. So forgive me if I don’t answer any of your messages during this time. Don’t worry, I have scheduled the chapters to release on time for RoyalRoad and Webnovel.
Oh, and a pro tip… Since Patreon doesn’t have a good way for me to schedule and release my content, I have mass released the six chapters there. So those who subscribe to me right after you read this message, you would get a bonus +6 chapters for your tier. For instance, the lowest tier would get access to 7 additional chapters instantly while the highest tier would get 16 chapters! So do support me on Patreon! XD
Disclaimer: This is a one-time thing. Please don’t misunderstand that I’m changing the rewards for the tiers. It’s just that I mass released the six chapters right away since I won’t have internet overseas.