“Hoho, you’re really here. I was worried that you wouldn’t show up.” Inside of the isolated training yard, a miffed Danroy was sitting on top of a small boulder in the middle of the field. Watching as five individuals walked through the entrance, the pudgy youth was slightly taken aback. Especially when he noticed a certain reddish-brown haired boy that seemed way too short to be a fifteen-year-old. “And I see you brought reinforcements. What are you sending someone else to do your battles for you?”
“Of course not. I just needed to take precautions, you know…” Shin replied to Danroy while taking off his jacket.
Scanning the vicinity, he saw three other individuals other than Danroy inside of the facility. Suji was leaning his back against the wall at a far corner, merely observing the faces of Shin and the party that he brought. At the other corner, two of the academy’s, scratch that, the Capital’s most desired beauties were sitting together on a bench with eager eyes.
“Hmph! I’m offended that you think that low of me! I would never use my influence to beat down one person.” As a treasured son of one of the most prideful military families in the nation, Danroy disdained the thought of bullying the weak. Not to mention, if he did gang up on Shin, his father’s name would be dragged through the mud, which was the last thing that Danroy would want to see.
“I apologise. I just needed to be sure.”
“Whatever! Shin Iofiel! I challenge you to a duel! Do you accept?” Danroy declared his intentions with his chest puffed up.
“Honestly I don’t see the benefit for you… Why are you so adamant about beating me?”
“So that I’ll prove my superiority! Shut the crap, do you accept or not!”
“Since I’m already here, what else could the answer be?” Dropping his head in disappointment that he failed to convince Danroy to withdraw his challenge, Shin sighed deeply.
“Good! Watch carefully, Freak of the Dundlewoods! I’ll show you the true extent of my powers!” Danroy screamed out at the dreary-eyed young boy as if he had already won the match.
“Again… Why do people call me a freak?”
While Shin was busy preparing to face the obese teen in front of him the spectators all held their own thoughts about the situation.
‘Who is that?’ Suji raised his eyebrows in confusion. He was instantly able to recognise Shizen and the twins, due to their new found fame. However, as he carefully examined the silver-haired boy with androgynous features, Suji’s mind drew a blank. Since he was together with the talented bunch that was Shin and his party, there was no way that Isadore was an ordinary freshman.
Kanari, on the other hand, was completely surprised by the little boy’s presence in Shin’s entourage. ‘What the hell are you doing there, Isadore?! Weren’t you supposed to lie low?’
Her furious gaze met with Isadore’s innocent one, forcing him to flash a gullible smile before turning back to face Shin. ‘Arghh! He’s going to be the death of me… Hmph, wait till I tell on you, see who would be laughing then!’
“It’s starting, Kanari!” Elrin excitedly tapped on her bosom friend’s shoulders. “Arghhh, I should have bought some popcorn! Who do you think would win?”
“Elrin, show some decorum. No matter how excited you are, you’re still the daughter of Terlus Zedcris. You should learn to control your emotions.”
“Blah, blah, blah… I don’t want to hear that from the girl who dragged me over here to watch the match with you.”
“Don’t twist the facts. You were the one who insisted on following me…” Kanari shook her head in disapproval. Earlier in the day, when she found out that Danroy had challenged Shin to a match, her first actions were to find out where the bout was being held. Eavesdropping on her conversation, Elrin found the prospect of watching a fight between two of the academy’s best talents intriguing and pestered Kanari to let her tag along.
“Hehe, you say that, but your eyes were telling me otherwise! You didn’t want to be alone to watch the match since it would be awkward!”
“… I don’t have a response for that.”
“So, are you finally going to tell me the reason why you’re so interested in this black-haired mystery boy?” Abruptly changing the subject, Elrin gazed deeply into Kanari’s eyes. As her childhood friend, Elrin knew most of Kanari’s behavioural habits and the majority of the time, she would remain aloof to her the matters of her peers. Yet, for the sake of Shin, the young girl had gone out of her way to convince Danroy to let her spectate the match.
“Oh, come on! There’s definitely more than that!”
“Leave it be, Elrin…” Kanari turned her head away from the white-haired girl that was pestering her and focused on the two boys down on the field.
“Danroy Frithron. Spirit, Bangeo Rhinoceros. Cultivation level, Rank 15. Please advise me.” Following the rules of a proper duel, Danroy cupped his hands together and bowed down to the black-haired youth. Almost instantly, the pudgy teenager glowed in a radiant light as the air around him became distorted. The spiritual energy being released from his springy fats had altered the space of the facility as a phantom of a Rhinoceros head enveloped Danroy’s entire body. It was his first ability and the one that would cause the most headaches to any foe that the young teen would meet. The all-encompassing, defensive ability that could even block Suji’s destructive blade. The Dome of the Rhinoceros.
‘He’s really going to go all out…’ Shin mentally sighed. Danroy was using the match against Shin to make a statement. Danroy wanted to show Shizen and the rest of the elites in this chamber that he was one of the top dogs to beat. ‘You see me as a stepping stone, but I’m not pushover you asshole!’
“Shin Iofiel. Spirit, The Sovereign Koi. Cultivation level, Rank 19. Please advise me.” Not willing to be outdone, Shin instantly summoned out the adorable little cerulean Koi and generated eight globes of water with his first ability. Opening the gourds, Shin created two more spheres, one made out of the paralysing agent that he personally brewed, and the other would contain Shin’s own Healing Water. If Danroy was going to go all out, so was he.
“The Sovereign Koi?!” As members of High Society, all of those present recognised the famed Spirit instantaneously and collectively dropped their jaws. Shin had kept his Spirit a secret, and not many on the campus knew what Spirit the mysterious black-haired genius had awakened, and who could blame him? The Sovereign Koi was one of the world’s most famous Spirits. So much so that Kanari, Suji, Elrin and Danroy didn’t dare to believe that what they were seeing was a reality. Even Isadore was utterly floored by the revelation.
‘How could it be?! Wasn’t he from the west of the Empire?’ Kanari was starting to doubt all of the information that she had acquired over the past few weeks. ‘No, that can’t be! If he’s from the Longyu Clan, there is no way that Principal Erudito would let him in! What the hell?! The information doesn’t add up!’
“I see… So that’s why you were so interested in Shin…” From her side, Elrin’s amused voice echoed in Kanari’s ear. “Hehe, a fifteen-year-old Rank 19 Spirit Apostle, who had awakened The Sovereign Koi… Any organisation’s dream hire…”
‘Crap!’ Kanari widened her eyes in horror. Elrin and Kanari shared a deep relationship where they could hang out, and if any of them were in trouble, the other would do anything in their power to bail them out. However, that was the extent of their relationship. Ultimately, Elrin belonged to the Zedcris Conglomerate, and Kanari was the heir of Highgarden Duchy. Between them, a struggle to find the best talents to join their ranks existed, and the outgoing Elrin was much more successful in that department, as compared to her reserved friend. Now that Elrin had discovered Shin’s talent, there was no question in Kanari’s mind that the white-haired girl would attempt to use her charms to bring Shin into her organisation.
“So you were hiding such a vital secret from me… I’m kind of hurt.”
“… Shut up, Elrin.”
“Hehe… I wonder what other secrets you are keeping from me?”
“…” Kanari kept her mouth entirely shut. If Elrin found out more about Shin, there was no question that she would use the billions of gold in her father’s vault to rope the young genius into joining the Zedcris Conglomerate.
“Sovereign Koi?! Are you from the Lantis Republic?!” While Kanari was busy trying to fend off Elrin’s inquisition for information about Shin, Danroy was taking a more direct approach.
“No, I’m not… That I can assure you. I was born and raised as a Himmel Empire citizen.”
“That’s impossible! The Sovereign Koi is-”
“DAN!!!” Before he could finish his sentence, Suji impassioned roar reverberated through the spacious training yard.
“He was handpicked by Principal Erudito. If he really were a spy, that man would know.”
“It’s fine… I trust in the Principal. Not to mention, if he really was here to screw the Empire over, I’ll wring his neck myself!” Suji hollered out a threat, sending a cold shiver down Shin’s spine. Taking one hard look that the impassioned Suji, Shin could visually see the muscular man’s patriotism shining out from his soul.
‘Thankfully, I don’t have any ties to the Lantis Republic… Otherwise, I think that Suji might really kill me!’
“If you say so…” Danroy unwillingly agreed with Suji’s statement and returned his focus onto Shin. “Whatever, the point of the duel still remains the same. It doesn’t matter if you have that famed Spirit or not.”
Bending his waist, Danroy got into a kneeling position and was prepared to launch himself forward. “Are you ready?”
Hearing the obese boy’s words, Shin moved his ten water spheres into their ideal locations. The orb made out of his healing water was placed firmly behind his back while the drugged water orb was hovering by his side. “I am now.”
“Good!” Kicking off from his position, Danroy charged forward at a blinding speed, the horn on his Rhinoceros head viciously thirsting for the scrumptious flesh of Shin’s.
“Lightning Swallow Steps!” Using Mychael’s signature martial art technique, Shin evaded the oncoming assault by the strand of a hair. To be entirely honest, Shin wasn’t even able to see the charging Rhinoceros horn. However, with a cursory understanding of Danroy’s fighting habits, he was able to make an assumption of how the obese boy was going to approach the battle.
Once he evaded the phantom head of the Bangeo Rhinoceros, Shin probed Danroy’s defences by creating eight water drills. The moment the water drills reached Danroy, the pudgy youth increased his mana output, and the Bangeo Rhinoceros head shone in a radiant light once more, instantly dissipating the attack.
Undeterred by his failure, Shin shot hundreds of water bullets at Danroy, hoping to find even the slightest flaw in his defence. Aiming at the eyes, mouth and nose of the phantom head, Shin hoped that even one of his bullets could break through. Unfortunately, the protection that Danroy had was akin to that of an impregnable fortress.
“So annoying…” From Danroy’s perspective, it was as if he was in a car and his windshield had been drizzled by a relentless downpour, hindering his vision in the process. “Screw off!”
Lunging forward in the general direction of Shin, Danroy broke the platform below him and caused the facility to shake in terror.
‘I can’t dodge that!’ The attack was too fast for Shin’s eyes to track. Crossing his arms together, Shin mana strengthened his body to the absolute limit as he prepared to brace for impact.
Almost instantly, Shin saw a bright light flash before his eyes, and before he knew it, he was flying up high in the air. On his abdomen, a piercing pain could be felt as Shin tasted iron in his mouth.
“Shin!!!” Emma cried out in horror. Like a broken ragdoll, Shin did dozens of somersaults in the air before viciously colliding on the ground. However, instead of staying down, the youth used his Healing Water to immediately tend to the wounds. Standing up like an undead zombie, Shin spat out the heap of blood that had gathered in his mouth and assumed yet another combat stance.
“You’re sturdier than I thought…” Danroy applauded the youth for resisting his attack. He did not hold back that time, and that charge was something that he had done to take down a Spirit Core cultivator. Yet, Shin was able to stand up from that relatively unscathed.
‘He used ‘Heal’ that quickly?!’ Unlike Danroy, who lacked the insight to comprehend how Shin survived his blow, Kanari was absolutely stunned. Even Elrin and Suji, who lacked information about the youth, knew that Shin had done something spectacular.
‘I can’t let Danroy harm him too much… If Shin breaks something that can’t be repaired, that would be disastrous.’ Kanari made the courageous decision to intervene should matters go south.
“Again!” Clasping his hands together, Shin merged his orbs of water together to create a dome of protection around him. Danroy’s charge was simply too fast and evading was near impossible. The only thing that Shin could do was create layers of protection and hope for an opening to show itself so that he could counterattack.
“It’s useless! My Bangeo Rhinoceros can rip that weak defence easily!” Once more, Danroy bolted forward and utterly decimated Shin’s defence, sending the black-haired boy flying in the air once more. However, for the second time in the row, Shin stood up from the life-threatening assault and readied himself for another.
“You really are stubborn…” Danroy let out a deep sigh before bending his knees once more. “Since you’re not going to admit defeat, let me break you until you beg for defeat!”