Unlike their fellow family members back in Lady Seph’s residence, Shin was having a rather uneventful day. After his theory lessons, he would get hounded by Mychael in close-combat class, and cultivation class was simply learning how to meditate, something that Shin was already an expert in. The only thing that interested him was the spiritual tools module, but there were no lessons today. Of course, for someone of Shin’s position, even if he goes out of his way to avoid troubles, disturbances would always find a way to come to him.
“Mister Shin Iofiel, would you accompany me for a brief moment?” Just as school ended and Shin was taking a stroll back to his dorm room, a prim and proper female butler stopped him in his tracks. In her mid-twenties, the butler boasted a healthy youthful look, and her dark eyes eluded any information about her true identity. Although she seemed to be rather young, Shin felt a sense of dread similar to that when he faced the Instructor. Even without her summoning out her spiritual pressure, Shin could tell that the butler was an expert in her craft.
“I’m here under orders from my young mistress, her grace, Kanari Saniela. Don’t worry, we don’t have any bad intentions for inviting you over.” Bowing courteously, the butler reaffirmed that she didn’t have any intentions of harming the young black-haired teen.
‘Her again? What does she want?’ Shin exasperatedly exclaimed in his mind. “May I ask why she wishes to see me?”
“It’s not proper for me to divulge the intentions of my mistress. However, you don’t have to worry. This visit would only bring benefits to you, I guarantee that.” The butler continued with her pressing as if she wouldn’t take no for an answer.
‘Kanari Saniela again… Honestly, I want to remain as low key as possible but having her on my side could reap me some benefits…’ Shin took a few seconds to think about the butler’s words. Even though he was somewhat apprehensive to meet with the greatest genius in the Himmel Empire once more, he ultimately relented, as he felt that the benefits far outweighed the demerits.
“Looks like you’ve made up your mind. Follow me.” Catching the minute change in his expression, the butler pivoted her feet and led the young boy down the familiar route to the hidden auditorium. The walk over was an awkward one, with the butler refusing to answer any of Shin’s questions. Eventually, after realising that he was unable to move the butler, Shin shut his mouth and conserved his energy for the meeting ahead.
Stepping into the abandoned hall, Shin felt a wave of emotion rush through his mind once more. The refreshing sensation that he had felt when he had first visited this area pulsated within the depths of Shin’s soul, albeit in a lighter manner than before.
Sitting on the crystal table that was a few metres away from the prominent Soul Tree, a young girl, whose beauty could only be described as divine, was sipping on a cup of tea, while calmly staring into space. Her angelic face that transcended all regular appearances and her delicate movements hinted her noble background. Turning her head slightly, the young girl noticed the two newcomers and her reddened lips curled up slightly.
“Mister Shin! You have arrived!” Exclaiming in a soft voice, Kanari laid down her teacup. Shin noticed that unlike the first time they interacted, Kanari’s tone had a tinge of respect as if she were addressing a fellow noble instead of a commoner. “I have been waiting for you.”
“Good day to you too, Miss Kanari… I wonder why you have called me here yet again?”
“Haha, we’ll get to that later. Please, take a seat.” Gesturing for her peer to sit opposite of her, the young girl jubilantly poured him a cup of her tea. “It’s Pu’er Tea. I hope you don’t mind it.”
“Thank you, but I’m not thirsty.”
“Oh, that’s a shame…” A sour pout emerged from the lovely lips of the young girl as she put on a dejected expression. If it were a typical male, they would undoubtedly feel a prick in their heart for causing such a pretty girl to go through such stress. Unfortunately, Shin was no regular man. With his heart already buried together with Ariel, and his standard for beauty raised significantly after spending an exorbitant amount of time with his Master, Shin was basically immune to Kanari’s charms.
Shin stared vigilantly at Kanari, hoping that she would take the first move and state her intentions for calling him over. However, even after a full minute, the only thing that was shared between them was silence. Kanari was busy cooling the hot tea down with her puckered lips and totally ignored Shin.
“Miss Kanari… If there’s nothing of importance, would you excuse me? I have some matters to attend to.”
“Mister Shin!” Just as Shin was about to leave, Kanari raised her voice slightly.
“What is it?”
“You know… I’m a talented individual.”
“Huh?” Shin dropped his jaw after hearing Kanari’s self-praise. It was one thing if everyone called you a genius, but if you address yourself as a rare talent, it would have come across as being smug and arrogant.
“From the day I was born, I was destined to become the greatest. I was born to a High Duchess that controlled over a million human lives, and I was first in line to inherit that Duchy. I was given the best resources to administer my Spirit, and I had some of the best teachers that the entire world had to offer.” Instead of getting to the point, Kanari went off on a tangent and began to narrate her backstory.
“When I awakened my Spirit, I triggered a natural phenomenon, and my world became even more hectic. Thousands, if not tens of thousands of people gathered to congratulate me. The best resources that I received since I was young, they doubled. The best teachers, they improved. I was even given the right to visit the Imperial Palace whenever I wanted, something that not even Dukes or Counts had the right to.”
“…” Shin silently listened on to the young girl’s ramblings without moving a muscle. It was a rare chance for him to find out how Kanari formed her Spirit Core so quickly, so he didn’t dare to interrupt.
“Do you know the term there’s always a mountain higher? The funny thing was, I had always been the highest mountain. Whenever I compared myself to my peers, even if I didn’t want to be overly confident, my talent far surpassed theirs. The only one who came close was Suji but even he was five ranks lower than me.” With a lonely sigh, Kanari displayed her despondence. To be at the top of the world, came solitude. Even though everyone was gunning for her spot, with just a mere wave of her hand, Kanari could sweep her competition easily.
“So I have been searching. Searching for the higher mountain so that I wouldn’t be the sole trailblazer. However, I have never found someone that was more talented than me. Those who were had already made their mark on history. Amongst the younger generation, no one even came close to my talent. That is, until today…” Lifting her gaze from her teacup to meet eyes with Shin, Kanari gave a wry grin.
“I would have never had expected that I was in the presence of the youngest healer in history. You did well to conceal yourself.”
“You!” Shin abruptly stood up, sending the chair that he was sitting on tumbling in the opposite direction. This was the first time that Shin had lost control over himself since he entered the Capital. He had a good reason to hide his identity and yet, Kanari managed to figure out who he was within one week. “How much do you know?”
“Quite a bit actually. Your real name isn’t Shin Iofiel. You were an orphaned child that was picked up by the Frie Clan. For some reason, you managed to get apprenticed to the illustrious Lady Seph, and in a shocking turn, you learned ‘Heal’ when you were just thirteen! Attending in the battle for Aldrich’s Keep, you are an experienced healer with hours in the battlefield, and your healing is equal to that of an intermediate healer.” Kanari narrated everything that she had heard from the investigation report she asked for.
“To be honest, when I learnt all of this, I was absolutely floored. Even though you are three ranks lower than me, you’re way more talented. Not to mention, you weren’t given the kind of resources that I had, but have twice the amount of achievements. In fact, not many military men in the Capital have half of your accomplishments. If the world knows of your existence, all the major powers will rush to get you for themselves.” Kanari gave a high assessment of Shin’s worth.
“What do you want?” Shin got to the crux of the issue. For Kanari to conduct such a thorough investigation into his background, there must have been something that the young aristocrat wanted from him.
“How straightforward of you… Well, it’s not like I dislike that attribute in a person…” Kanari got up her seat and walked towards the Soul Tree that stood behind her. Walking up the steps until she was elevated from Shin’s vision, the young beauty did a gracious twirl and flashed one of the most brilliant smiles that Shin had ever seen.
“Join me, Shin! I can promise you resources that you could never imagine, and I will help you achieve all of your goals! Stand by me as we charge forward and create history!” Kanari determinedly exclaimed. The Himmel Empire’s future goddess and the youngest healer in history. If the two of them joined forces, every single entity in the Empire would be put on red alert.
‘I see… She wants to recruit me…’ Finally understanding why he was the focus of Kanari’s investigations, Shin let out a mental sigh. As tempting as it was to accept her offer, Shin could not grant the idealistic girl’s wishes.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t do that…”
“Why not?! We can become one of the strongest forces in the Empire within a few decades, and you would undoubtedly serve as a top official in the future!”
“No, I’m flattered by your offer. I really am. But I have abandoned the healing path long ago. I cannot give you what you seek from me. Now, I’m training to become the strongest warrior that I could possibly be. That’s why I’m not in the auxiliary course instead.” Shin explained himself. “Furthermore, my goals lie elsewhere, not within the borders of the Empire.”
Shin’s fight with the Black Mask syndicate was not limited to the lands of the Himmel Empire. The Black Mask syndicate, led by the elusive Allfather, had legions all over the world. To take down Junius, to finish the Allfather that had caused him so much pain, Shin would have to keep his freedom. He couldn’t be burdened by entering the world of politics that even his Master warned him to steer clear off.
“Why would you do that?! Aren’t you the youngest healer in history?! Why would you squander your talent?! If you continued down this path, you would unquestionably make your mark on history!!!”
“I have my reasons… I hope that you wouldn’t probe too much, Miss Kanari…”
Kanari stared silently at the black-haired boy who was wearing a helpless expression. Recalling something that she had read in the document presented to her, the young girl lowered her shoulders and heaved out a deep breath.
“Is it because of Ariel?”
“You!!! How do you know that name?!” Shin cried out at the top of his lungs. His voice becoming hurried as his blood pressure began to rise. The veins on his neck started to show, and the pearly white face of his had been dyed red with agitation. Ariel was Shin’s Achilles heel. The moment someone mentioned her, Shin would flip out in anger as the chaotic memories returned to his consciousness.
“I-I investigated…” Stunned by the adverse effect of her words, Kanari took one step backwards and unconsciously raised her hands.
“No… I lost control over myself… I apologise…” After watching the black-haired beauty’s frightened face, Shin realised the blunder that he had made and immediately made an effort to calm himself.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t accept your good graces. I have to leave now. Good day to you, Miss Kanari.” Taking this opportunity to exit the auditorium, Shin left Kanari alone and slack-jawed.
“Should I chase after him, young mistress?” The butler that led Shin over to the abandoned hall moved up to support Kanari.
“No… We should leave him alone for now. To think that he would have such a drastic reaction…” If Kanari was entirely honest, she barely knew anything about Ariel and only threw out her name as a means to convince him to join her crusade. Naturally, since she didn’t understand how much the deceased Ariel meant to Shin, she miscalculated and paid for her mistake. “Let’s wait a few weeks for him to calm down. Make sure that no one else approaches him for an alliance. If any aristocratic family sends an envoy to him, let me know immediately!”
“Understood, young mistress.”
Kanari barked orders at her butler while taking the time to reassess where she had gone wrong. There was no way that Kanari was going to give up on securing a partnership with possibly the most talented genius that she had ever seen.
‘Looks like the investigation wasn’t comprehensive enough… But, I can’t bring out the top-tier investigators by myself!!! Should I tell mother about him?’ Kanari started to formulate plans so that she could secure an alliance with Shin. ‘Whatever, I should let nature run its course for now…’