‘A bit more… Come on! A bit more!’ A low murmur reverberated through the air as an adenoidal voice broke the silence of the night.
The sky was on the verge of daybreak as the glimmering crystalline moon above began to be obscured by the darkest of clouds while it descended past the horizon. Sounds of nocturnal animals disappeared as they returned to their burrows, preparing themselves for the morning to come. As daybreak approaches, the housewives of Chilyoja Waypoint started to awaken from their sleep, cooking a nutritious breakfast for their families, unaware of the carnage that had befallen on the Frie Clan the night before.
The staff members of Yakkyoku Clinic shared the same fate. Sleeping soundly in their rooms, they had no idea about how their poster boy’s life had changed drastically and how their overlord had decided to leave the waypoint for the Capital. Speaking of their master, Lady Seph was currently secluded in the private cultivation chamber that was specially built for her by Mayor Nadeo. Being a Spirit Emperor, the amount of spiritual energy and spiritual pressure that she would release while cultivating was immense. A regular Spirit Practitioner would easily succumb under the power that she released, causing the need for unique means to be built.
Using some of the thickest stone and densest Aether Crystals, the craftsmen of the stone chamber were somehow able to contain the suffocating spiritual energy that Lady Seph would release during her cultivation, into the room, allowing the Spirit Emperor to cultivate without worrying about injuring her fellow kin.
‘A bit more! A bit more!’ Lady Seph screamed out in her mind. Golden aura seeped out voraciously out from her pores and tainted the dull stone chamber in a brilliant light, similar to that of a golden sun. If there were any religious fanatics nearby, they would undoubtedly assume that there was a coming of God and kneel immediately, basking in the golden light.
Behind the elderly woman, an illusory beauty, draped in the most delicate white gown that was unblemished by any impurities, spread her divine wings as a golden halo descended upon her head. Without the stone cultivation chamber absorbing all of the mana that the Iofiel Angel was spewing out perhaps a riot might ensue as the mere mortals would get drunk with Lady Seph’s holy might.
Lady Seph’s freckles started to furrow as vivid images of yesterday drowned her mind. The wailing face of Shin, begging for help as he watched as the First Elder explained everything that the Frie Clan had done to the Awter Clan. The image of Shin sitting despondently in one corner during their journey to Frie Mountain to stop the battle started by the Black Masks. And finally, the scene where Shin and she watched as Ariel got viciously mauled by the Ice Spears.
“What good are healers if they can’t save Ariel’s life?!” Shin’s heated words repeated themselves in the subconscious of Lady Seph’s head.
With his failure to rescue the one he loved most, Shin had decided to abandon the path that Lady Seph had put forth for him and pursue a different way, just so that he could gain power; and to a certain extent, the elderly woman understood where the distraught youth was coming from. A healer was only useful when the person was already injured, and that was the dilemma of the Healer’s Association.
Over her long years, Lady Seph had seen countless deaths. Even though healers were treated as divine individuals that rid misery from those who were suffering, they too were unable to heal someone that was too far gone.
‘What if… One day, I watch as Shin dies, and my powers are unable to save him?! What would I do then?!’
Imagining the day where she was helpless to save Shin, Lady Seph’s entire consciousness quivered in despair. The image of Ariel dying was enough to frighten her, not to mention the possibility of Shin passing on in a place where she couldn’t reach. Desperate to create a skill that would prevent her worst fears from coming into fruition, the elderly woman heightened her comprehension abilities to the highest as she browsed through all of her knowledge that she had accumulated over the years.
Inside of her Spiritual Body, the profound golden light that had been stagnant all these years had begun to show signs of evolving, as if in reply to Lady Seph’s intense emotions. Her eyes glistening as tears dripped out, and her forehead was drenched with sweat. Just the thought of losing Shin in the same manner as how Shin lost Ariel, frightened the elderly woman to her very core.
Soon after she made that thought, a vortex that seemed to endlessly suck in mana spun rapidly inside of the elderly woman’s Spiritual Body, as the restraints of a Spirit Emperor eroded away into nothingness. In cultivation, once a Spirit Emperor breaks through their threshold to become a Spirit Venerate, their entire physical body enters into a metamorphosis state. Once in the Spirit Venerate realm, a Spirit User was more similar to that of a divine being than a mere mortal. Their physical body would become nothing but a shell for the tremendous amounts of mana that they possess and destroying it would mean nothing to a Spirit Venerate. As long as their Spiritual Body remains, a Spirit Venerate would perpetually exist in the realm of mortals. Naturally, they were still at the mercy of mother death once their time was up, but otherwise, they were essentially given eternal youth.
Lady Seph’s soul was drifting through the luminous golden river that was contained inside of her Spiritual Body as the image of her next created ability finally came to be. Everything that she had learnt over the years had been leading to this moment. All of her knowledge that she consumed. All of the spiritual energy that she had absorbed. They all boiled down to this final moment. Once she passed this hurdle, she would step into the realm that had eluded her all these years.
Sensing that it was finally time for her Master to change, the Iofiel Angel cocooned the elderly woman within the compounds of her wings, making sure that she was safely tucked inside. Fresh crimson blood started to pour out from the pure white wings of the angel as flesh and bone fell out in droves. Turning her physical body into a paste, all that remained in the cocoon that the Iofiel Angel created was the Spirit Core that Lady Seph had created many moons ago.
An ethereal existence that could only be described as Lady Seph’s soul was wreathing itself around the golden core that was discharging significant amounts of mana. The illusory cocoon throbbed gently, akin to that of a heartbeat at a regular pace, as Lady Seph delved deeper and deeper into her consciousness, trying to give form to her new ability.
‘I don’t want to be a mourning Master! I don’t want to see Shin die while I stay there powerless! I need to protect him!’ A dolorous wish echoed inside of the chambers, as the light formed from the cocoon shone brighter and brighter.
“*Ding!*.” A celestial power pulsated through the air, creating a ripple of energy that only those with high cultivation levels could feel. Eight golden halo rings, each representing one of Lady Seph’s current spiritual abilities, engulfed the solitary cocoon, giving endless amounts of mana towards the immobile soul. The light that brought out from Spirit Core shone brighter and brighter, until…
“Tssssssss…” A low hissing sound emerged from the cocoon as a ring made out of an exquisite golden string enveloped Lady Seph’s soul, forcing her to break free from her restraints. Finally, Lady Seph had created her ninth spiritual ability.
Like a butterfly, the woman broke the wings of the Iofiel Angel that protected her and burst forth into the mortal world once more. A young woman, resembling that of Lady Seph’s body in her prime, emerged from the cocoon. However, instead of a pure physical body, she was in a heavenly state. Her eyes were glowing in a grey light as a mystical mist fell off her illusory body. If someone were to enter the cultivation chambers right now, they would mistakenly think that a ghost had come out from hiding to haunt those in the mansion.
“Yes… I have yet to complete my promotion…” Being the person who created her ninth ability, Lady Seph was well aware of the current state that she was in. She was not a Spirit Emperor anymore, but neither was she a Spirit Venerate. Lady Seph was stuck in the middle of the two realms, and only she knew why.
“I need to cast the Golden String of Fate!”
The Golden String of Fate, Lady Seph’s newly created spiritual ability. Realising that healing was useless if the person was never injured in the first place, Lady Seph created this protection ability that would connect her to anyone that she had cast that ability on. Using the Golden String of Fate, Lady Seph would be able to use the full extent of the Iofiel Angel’s abilities on the targeted person and would be able to protect him no matter how far they were apart. Healing, blessings, protection spells, anything that she could do to herself, she was able to do on the person on the other end of the golden string. However, such an overpowered ability came at a price.
Lady Seph could only cast it on one person.
Once their souls were tied, Lady Seph could protect him no matter the distance, and she could even summon a phantom of herself if her targeted person were in peril. The Golden String of Fate was her answer to how she would protect Shin from here on out and she could not complete her promotion to the Spirit Venerate realm as long as it hasn’t been cast.
‘Time to go to Shin’s room…’ Since she was in spiritual form, Lady Seph could easily float through the walls that stood before her, therefore, making her way to Shin’s room was the easy part. Her only fear was how Shin’s Spirit, The Sovereign Koi, would react once it senses a foreign power enter the Spiritual Body of its Master.
Watching the sleeping face of her disciple a wry smile crept up the ghostly face of the esteemed healer. Throughout the night, Shin had suffered setback after setback. Emotionally, not even a war-torn soldier would be able to handle such stress. Yet, somehow or another, the youngster was able to pull through, not willing to succumb himself to depression. Sometimes, Lady Seph wished that her disciple wasn’t as mature as he was. Sometimes, she hoped that he would rely on her more as if a regular child would.
Looking down on his feathered cushion, Lady Seph could see a small puddle of water, that lay next to his pearly white face.
‘The poor thing… He cried himself to sleep…’ Using her illusory hands, Lady Seph attempted to stroke her disciple’s face, but it only managed to fall through the bed. ‘Shin… You’re always like that… Trying to hide your grief… Hiding how much something means to you…’
Ariel’s death had a much more significant impact on Shin than Lady Seph imagined. When she first heard of his plans to abandon the healing path, Lady Seph felt betrayed. However, as she continued on interacting with him, she realised that Shin wanted to gain more power. More power so that he could no longer feel the pain that was still throbbing in him.
‘Not to worry… I won’t let you feel that much pain ever again!’ Placing her two hands together, the ethereal woman started to pray. From the depths of her soul, a divine golden string, that seemed to be weaved by the Immortals themselves, descended upon the sleeping body of the youth and attempted to enter his soul.
Before she could proceed any further, a cerulean light shone from the depths of Shin’s spiritual body as The Sovereign Koi made its appearance once more. Using its bright eyes, it stared at the ghost that was standing next to Shin’s bed. Initially, it was worried that something was about to invade its territory and wished to use any methods that it could to prevent that from happening. However, when it noticed the Iofiel Angel that was standing behind of Lady Seph, it quickly shook its head in disapproval as it merely allowed the woman to do as she pleased. Evidently, it realised that fighting Lady Seph was something that it could not bear and would only serve to damage its Master in the process. Not to mention, judging from the spiritual energy being put forth from the Iofiel Angel, it could tell that the ability of Lady Seph’s was merely a blessing that would only empower both Shin and itself.
‘Such intelligence!!! There’s really something off about Shin’s Sovereign Koi!!! Looks like I must start researching on the history of the Celestial Water Dragon and the Lady of Water!!!’ Placing a mental note in her mind, Lady Seph quickly reverted back to concentrating on casting the spell. Since The Sovereign Koi had given its approval, casting the Golden String of Fate should be an easy task.
Still in the midst of his deep sleep, Shin was unaware of the drastic ability that was about to be cast on him, and how it would affect his life in the future.
“Shin… I will protect you!!!” As the golden string crept deeper into his Spiritual Body, the young boy convulsed a little, reacting to the power that was being etched into his soul. Finally, after a few moments of discomfort, a golden light emerged from his soul, symbolising the success of the ability.
All of a sudden, a mortal body pitched itself together right in front of the slumbering youth as a gorgeous twenty-year-old woman found herself fully naked on the floor. Her rich golden hair that resembled that of a waterfall of endless gold flowed effortlessly to the floor, making her look like a Rapunzel knock-off. With clear blue eyes that could gaze into any man’s soul and a perfect jawline that would make any escort green with jealousy, Lady Seph had turned back time and returned back to when she was a beauty that all men craved for.
“Tsssk must be the rejuvenation ability… Turning me this far back…” Lady Seph frowned in displeasure as she examined her smooth and milky complexion. Just like Lady Althea before her, she had become an eternal beauty that could turn heads every time she walked down the road.
“Hah… Now I have to deal with all those thirsty men again… How troubling!” When she was still a novice healer, her good looks were both a merit and toll. The toll being how many men would bend their backs backwards to try to score with her.
“Whatever… I could just make them impotent if they dare to touch me…” Shrugging her shoulders, she pushed that thought away as she continued to lovingly watch her beloved disciple rolled about in his sleep. “Sweet dreams, my child… For when morning comes, a new chapter of your life will begin…”