“Hey! Shin Iofiel!” While homeroom had yet to start, an impassioned voice boomed through the classroom and ended up in Shin’s ears.
“Hmmm?” Turning his head around, Shin was greeted by a short and lanky youth, whose bulging belly would make even the laughing Buddha cry in shame. Moving forward at a rapid pace, Danroy quickly made his way to Shin’s desk and slammed the base of his wrists on the table.
“Danroy… Is something the matter?”
“Hmph! I heard that you actually made it to Rank 19! You must be quite strong then!” The obese youth called him out. “I’ll admit, I misjudged you after I saw your poor performance in the close combat class! I, Danroy Frithron, love to ‘make friends’ with talented individuals. After school, meet me at this location! Let’s get to know each other better.”
Throwing a sealed envelope down on Shin’s desk, Danroy turned to Shizen who was standing beside him and scowled in annoyance. As much as he wanted to exact vengeance on the Freak that had manhandled him before, Danroy knew that it wasn’t the time. When he grew stronger, Danroy would be sure to challenge Shizen once more, to reclaim his lost pride.
“Danroy has given Shin a letter of challenge!”
“I knew this would happen! Damn it, did Danroy say where the bout is going to occur? I want to go see it!”
Students in the Star Class broke into chatter once the pudgy young teen had thrown down the gauntlet. Every year, disputes among the elites of the batch were sure to happen. After all, they were all fighting against each other for a better spot in the rankings. Therefore, when Danroy finally challenged Shin to a one-on-one battle, it instantly became the talk of the class.
‘Urghhh, I didn’t want this to happen this quickly…’ Shin mentally sighed. Over the past few weeks, the young teen had received countless letters of challenge, and for the most part, he could simply ignore them as they were sent by hot-blooded freshmen that wanted to have their names announced to the campus by beating the number two first year.
However, a challenge by Danroy was different. Being part of Suji’s social clique and an elite at Rank 15, if Shin rejected the challenge, people would think that he was a scaredy cat that scurries away at the slightest inkling of danger.
‘I knew this day would come… Well, at least Danroy had the decency to not publicise the location…’ A bitter smile crept up Shin’s lips as he gingerly opened up the envelope. Etching down the location firmly into his mind, the youth kept the piece of paper in his jacket to prevent the spectators from peeking in.
“Who was he?” Shizen asked with a face full of innocence.
“You forgot?! Don’t you remember fighting a boy in the canteen during orientation week?!”
“Oh, that was him?”
“Wow, you really do live in your own world…” Shin shook his head in wonder. Shizen was a classic airhead where he would only do the things that he wants, whenever he wants. Not to mention, he won’t remember issues about people that he wasn’t interested in. Fighting against Danroy in the Main Cafeteria during the orientation week was simply something not that significant to the young boy.
“Hmmm, is he going to trouble you? Do you need my help?” Shizen questioned. After being ‘fed’ Shin’s special created water, the young teen had grown attached to the black-haired youth. In fact, there were often times were Shin would overlap the image of Bingbing with Shizen.
“No, this is something that I must handle by myself… Although it would be good for you to stand by the sidelines just in case anything happens.” Shin was no fool. There was no way that he was going into the lion’s den alone. He needed to bring strong reinforcements lest a crazy fight breaks out and Shin gets ganged up by Danroy and his clique.
“Okay then! Oh, and could you…” Shizen rubbed his hands excitedly in anticipation for Shin’s next move.
“Yeah, yeah… Here!” Shin threw over an empty gourd filled with the mana-rich water that he had created, forcing Shizen to wear one of the most disgusting smiles that the Shin had ever witnessed.
“Hehe… Thanks… I’ll sure to be there!!!” Rushing back towards his seat, Shizen took one big gulp of the pure liquid, immediately intoxicating himself in the process. Falling down on his chair as if all his bones were removed from his body, Shizen ripped out a loud and disgusting burp before entering a comatose state.
‘He’s really a happy-go-lucky guy…’ Shin couldn’t count the number of times he felt this way about the short reddish-brown haired boy. ‘Nevermind him, what’s more, important now is to focus on the upcoming fight with Danroy…’
Taking out a notebook from his leather bag, Shin turned to the page where he recorded all of the information about Danroy Frithron. Facing Danroy was an unavoidable fate for the young youth, hence using his faithful ‘encyclopedia,’ Shin recorded all of the information he needed to know about Danroy.
‘Danroy’s Spirit is the Bangeo Rhinoceros. With a hide that not even Suji’s Purple Dragon Crescent Blade could penetrate, the Spirit is considered to be one of the strongest defensive beast Spirits in the Empire. Danroy is Rank 15 with two spiritual abilities and a plethora of martial arts skills. His first spiritual ability is to create a barrier in the form of a Rhinoceros head and his second is to charge forward at a blinding speed…’ Shin quickly read out all of the details that he had recorded.
‘His defence is his strongest suit… Which means that my paralysing liquid or attack water wouldn’t be able to reach his toes… Not to mention, his martial art skills surpass mine! Is there nothing that I can do to him?!’ Shin was agonising over the possible ways to fight against Danroy. Since he was still weak, Shin didn’t plan on defeating Danroy at all. After all, once he condensed his Spirit Core, the youth would have a much better arsenal to deal with the combat-oriented monster. However, Shin also couldn’t put on a poor performance. If he was aiming to be the best, he couldn’t be deterred by the overwhelming strength that Danroy possessed.
Spending the rest of the day worrying about the battle, Shin barely paid attention to the classes that he had while he kept trying to develop strategies to deal with Danroy. Unfortunately, no matter how hard he looked, he was unable to find a loophole in the pudgy youth’s defences. Eventually, the promised time arrived…
“*Ding!* *Ding!* *Ding!*.” The chimes of campus bells echoed through the school grounds, bringing heaven’s joy to the students who joyfully skipped out of their classrooms. For many, the time after school was a jubilant period where students could join co-curricular activities and hang out with their best mates. However, for Shin, it was as if hell had crept onto earth for him.
“Shin? You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to.” A worried voice soothed the frantic boy’s soul as she gently tapped on his shoulders. After hearing about the incident where Danroy challenged Shin, the twins immediately rushed to support their sibling in his time of need.
“Don’t worry, Emma. If I don’t do this now, Danroy will continue to harass me, and the consequences might be even worse…” Stroking on the gorgeous purple hair of Emma, Shin reassured her that he knew what he was doing. “Furthermore, I won’t overreach my abilities. If I feel that my life is in danger, I could simply throw in the towel.”
“Shin’s right… To rise to the top, he has to take down all competition in his way.” Ella chimed in from the side.
“…” Shizen, on the other hand, was observing the trio’s interactions. Since coming to the academy, the Freak of the Dundlewoods had barely made any friends and watching the relationship between the orphans made him feel a little lonely.
“Shin, are these two your friends?”
“To be exact, they’re my cousins.”
“Your cousins? I see… What is it like? Having a family?”
“!!!” Shin and the twins instantly stopped their tracks and widened their eyes at Shizen’s casual sentence. Being orphans themselves, they had wondered the exact same thing since they were young. After finding out the truth about the Frie and Awter Clan, the orphans couldn’t help but fantasise a world where they still had their parents and a world where everyone was still around. Junius, Lily, Ryner, Lia, Shin, Ella, Emma, Max, Elyse, Fionn and Jacob. Of the eleven orphans, only nine remain, with most of them already split up to their own fields.
Taking a look around, Shin met eyes with the twins. Recalling the good times where they would all play together on Frie Mountain, a warm feeling started to form within their hearts. So what if they didn’t have parents? They did have a beautiful family.
“Is that so?” Shizen dropped his head in sorrow. Growing up, he never felt the warmth of human interaction. Before he was ten, the young boy was adopted by a nomadic tribe for the simple reason of having a good servant around, that could wash their clothes and dispose of their defecations. However, when he awakened his Spirit, Shizen was instantly treated like a god and was revered by all who surrounded him. Never experiencing the love of a family, the young boy didn’t understand what the orphans were talking about, making him feel a little hollow inside.
“Cheer up! I’m sure you would find a family one day!” Sensing that something was off, Emma embraced the young boy from behind and gently consoled Shizen.
“Haha, yeah…” Tapping on Emma’s milky soft hand, Shizen let out a deep sigh.
As they were talking to each other, the entourage finally made their way to an isolated training ground, where no student life was present. To prevent the hundreds of curious eyes, Danroy had chosen a
“We’re here…” Shin announced.
“Hey! What took you so long?” An excited cry called out to the group as a silver-haired boy ran over to greet Shin. Being a self-declared leader of the best information network in campus, Isadore couldn’t miss out on a big event where two of the best elites were going to clash.
“We’re not late… You’re the one whose early. Honestly, how do you even move about that quickly?”
“I have my ways. Anyway, since I got here, I thought that I would do some reconnaissance for you. Danroy is only joined by Suji, so the probability of this being an ambush is quite low.”
“That’s great…” One of the greatest worry that Shin had was that Danroy would send legions of his minions to wreck him to shreds. After all, no one knew if Danroy wanted revenge against Shizen and decided to take it out on Shin instead. Therefore, Shin gathered some of his closest friends in the school to protect him just in case something of that nature happens.
“But there’s something else you need to know.”
“What is it?”
“Kanari and Elrin are inside as well.”
“WHAT?!” Ella hollered out in shock. No matter how mighty they were, if four of the top elites in the school ganged up against them, they would end up as meat pastes in just a few seconds.
“You don’t have to worry too much though… It seems that they are not partnering up. Kanari just wants to watch the match. For some reason, she has taken quite a bit of interest in you, Shin…” Isadore sent a queer look straight at the black-haired boy.
“It must be your imagination…” Shin quickly averted his eyes and avoided answering Isadore’s question. There was no way that he could tell the blabbermouth that Kanari was gunning for his talent as the world’s youngest healer.
“Hmmm… Whatever. If you’re prepared, we can go in. I’m really looking forward to your performance!”
“You’re right… I can’t put this off any longer… Let’s go.” Controlling his emotions to the best that he could, Shin steeled his nerves and resolutely entered the building.