“It’s finally time.” Shin sat alone in the meditation mat as he ate a mana-rich fruit that had been prepared for him by Madam Warulee. Promoting a realm was much more different as compared to regular cultivation. Most of the time, the session would take hours and sometimes, days depending on how complicated the procedure was.
Condensing a Spirit Core was one of the most disgustingly difficult barriers that a Spirit User would face due to how arduous the process was. Often times, the Spirit Apostle that was attempting to promote would fail multiple times before they could get it right. And a significant reason why was how foreign the concept of a Spirit Core was for a regular human. To condense a Spirit Core, one must fully reduce their entire Spiritual Body into a small sphere, the size of a pill, and allow their Spirit to fuse with it. With no prior experience, it was tough for a normal human to perform such a feat.
“Hah…” Shin heaved out a deep sigh as he fell deep into meditation. Summoning out The Sovereign Koi, the youth sought to enter his Spiritual Body once more, so that he could begin the process of condensing his Spirit Core.
Deep inside his consciousness, Shin was once again greeted by the vast expansive lake, that was glittered by the reflection of the heavenly stars above. Falling down onto the flat, unmoving surface of the basin, Shin took one hard look around him. The lake had increased exponentially in size since his last visit. The pungent smell of the ocean filled the lungs of the young boy as he slowly explored the gorgeous lake. Taking a look down, Shin could see hundreds of marine life swimming about without a care in the world, and they were wholly ignorant that their divine god had returned to bathe them in a new power.
“I really love coming here…” Shin smiled in joy. It was the first time in a long while that he stopped everything to truly soak in the grandeur of his surroundings. “But that’s not what I’m here for.”
Forcing himself to walk forward, Shin immediately found three floating crystal obelisks in the centre of the vast lake, each marked with their own unique hue. The first one was filled with cerulean runes that gave off a gentle aura, one that soothes the soul of anyone who touches it. On the other hand, the second obelisk shone in a majestic aura, with rich, luminous golden runes that resembled that of Lady Seph’s handwriting. Oddly enough, there was a thin radiant string, that seemed to be weaved by the Immortals themselves, wrapping itself on the second obelisk, giving it a somewhat mystical air.
Finally, the last one was merely an empty piece of rock that lacked any decorations. Floating in mid-air like the rest of the obelisks, the final structure seemed to beckon to the young black-haired teen. Instinctively, Shin knew what the third obelisk was. For him to promote to the Spirit Core realm and learn a Spiritual Body Enhancement ability, Shin had to interact with it.
With three leaps, Shin propelled himself from his location and landed right in front of the third crystal obelisk. Scanning the structure, Shin placed his hand on the dull crystal as The Sovereign Koi started to circle around it.
“Come to think of it, this would be my first time doing this independently…”
Shin had entered his Spiritual Body just twice before. The first time was when the Shrine Maiden awakened his Spirit by sending her mana straight into his body, and the second time was with the help of Lady Seph’s hereditary opuscule. Furthermore, this was the first time in his life where he freely chose the path in which he would take. There was no one telling him what to do, nor were there anyone trying to affect his decision. He alone was responsible for the next step that he was taking.
“Hey, Sovereign Koi. Thank you for staying with me through it all.”
“…” Although he knew that talking to his Spirit was utterly ludicrous, Shin still felt the need to thank the adorable little fish, that was wholly unaware of what was going on.
“And watch over me as I continue down this path.” Gently stroking the scaly exterior of The Sovereign Koi, Shin scraped a single loose scale from its body and slammed it into the crystal obelisk. “Let’s go!”
The next moment, a radiant light shone from the bottom of the lake as Shin’s mana started to overflow. Shin was the sovereign, the absolute hegemon of his Spiritual Body. Inside of his consciousness, anything that he wishes to happen, will happen. The incandescent light spread all throughout the lake until the skies above were blinded by its grandeur and soon, the entire world inside his subconscious started to collapse.
Of course, since Shin was concentrating on the obelisk in front of him, he was unaware that the sky was falling down and the tidal waves that were crashing all around him. The scale that he had picked out from The Sovereign Koi melted into the crystal obelisk turning it oceanic blue in colour. A ripple of light spread from the position where Shin’s palm was at and pulsated through the structure, giving it the vibrant life that it lacked.
Realising that it was a critical juncture in his breakthrough, Shin closed his eyes and started to chant the Celestial Water Mantra, while visualising the skill that he wished to obtain. From the bottom of the lake, numerous shadow creatures surfaced and began to levitate in the sky as it watched their owner attempt to enter into a new realm. A soulful melody that was rejoicing the return of the king filled the air of the vast lake temporarily halted the breakdown of the entire area.
As time flowed by, more and more ripples of light pulsated out from Shin’s palm and into the empty obelisk before him. Soon, the wide crystal shrunk to half its original size and it took on a more slender form. While that was happening, Shin had completed his visualisation of the technique and was sending all of his thoughts straight to the inanimate obelisk before him.
“*Pik* *Pik* *Pik*.” Fishy scales, mostly resembling that of The Sovereign Koi’s, grew out from the crystal obelisk, turning it cerulean in colour instantly. However, unlike the first obelisk, this third one emitted out a ferocious and resilient aura, causing any lifeform that came into contact with it to kneel down in fear.
At the same time, the celestial stars in the heavens above came crashing down, creating a vortex of dense energy, halting the collapse of Shin’s Spiritual Body. A lengthy scaly serpentine body, which seemed long enough to wrap around the entire planet multiple times over, graced the vault of heaven, as its head tilted down to observe the young teen desperately trying to create his third ability. Its talon-like teeth that each matched the size of a small house were in full view as it opened up its jaw, letting a transcendent mist flow out its body in the form of a breath. The crystalline eyes that struck fear in any creature it held beholden to, had dilated extensively as if it was looking at something it loved more than anything in the world.
While Shin was wholly unaware of the heavenly affair, the creatures that lived in the lake all bowed their heads down with respect as they welcomed the arrival of the colossal creature. However, when The Sovereign Koi saw the beast, it simply smiled at flapped its fins in excitement, as if it were welcoming an old friend.
“*Bling!*.” Finally finishing up his visualisation, Shin allowed his consciousness to fall deeper and deeper into the abyss as his instincts took over. His eyes still closed, the youth raised his right hand and arched his fingers as if he were holding a ball. Although he wasn’t aware of his actions, his subtle gesture had caused all of the creatures surrounding him to nod in approval.
Knowing that its duty had been accomplished, the colossal creature flew up into the vortex and dissipated into nothingness. At the same time, the massive beasts that were levitating in the air returned back to the lake, leaving only Shin and The Sovereign Koi alone in the complete white world. With the beasts gone, the collapse of Shin’s Spiritual Body could continue and space distorted rapidly. The water in the lake, the obelisks surrounding him and even the celestial sky above. They all broke down and condensed themselves into a small ball within the right outreached palm of Shin’s.
Gaining control of his awareness once more, Shin opened his eyes and was stunned at the developments that had happened. The world that was created by his Spiritual Body had collapsed entirely and was now in the midst of being compressed into a miniature sphere, all while he spectated. Even though there was destruction all around, it didn’t affect the youth in the slightest, and it was as if he was watching a movie. While he was lost for words, the last bit of the world finally collapsed and a fully condensed Spirit Core was now in the midst of Shin’s hands.
“So this is my Spirit Core…” Shin was absolutely blown away.
The Spirit Core was a pure cerulean marble that was transparent enough so that the world within it could be seen perfectly. Peering deep within, Shin could see the vast, gorgeous lake that was once inside of his Spiritual Body and the three crystal obelisks that represented his three spiritual abilities.
“Haha… I did it… I’m in the Spirit Core realm…” Shin muttered to himself in disbelief. He blankly stared at the exquisite bead within his hands, his mind completely empty as he lost his ability to speak. Only after a few minutes, did his system reboot itself as he realised the gravity of his achievement. “I really did it! I condensed my Spirit Core! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! I DID IT!!!”
The Sovereign Koi, which had been silently waiting at Shin’s side all this while, finally let out a bitter smile as it swam happily towards the Spirit Core in Shin’s hands. Currently, Shin was still stuck in his sub-consciousness and had not made it back to the material realm. To allow the boy to do so, there was one final step that had to be taken…
“…” The Sovereign Koi circled around the dazzling bead in jubilation as it rejoiced with Shin. However, when its excitement died down, The Sovereign Koi flapped its tailfin at the youth before letting out one final smile.
“*SWWWIIIIIIII!!!*.” When the cerulean Koi finally merged with the Spirit Core, a radiant light blinded the black-haired teen as his consciousness was snapped back into reality, and he was returned to his cold and empty cultivation chambers.
“I’m back? Wait!” Closing his eyes, the youth dug deep into his body to confirm that he had really succeeded and thankfully, at the very ends of his abdomen, Shin was able to find the exact same crystal bead that he had once held in his hand.
“It’s there… Thankfully it’s still there!” Shin heaved a sigh of relief as he patted himself on the chest. He had succeeded and had done so exceedingly well. “Hahaha, let me test my third spiritual ability!”
Closing his eyes, Shin congregated his mana all over his body in the same manner in which he performs his mana strengthening. However, this time, he was casting a spiritual ability rather than a mere improvement of muscle or bone. Almost instantaneously, thin cerulean scales grew out from Shin’s skin, making him look like a merman of myth. Lightly shuffling his feet, Shin felt his entire body slamming into the walls of the chambers, even though he had only intended to move a few steps.
“Hahaha! I really am faster!” Shin laughed out loud in euphoria. If Ella saw the youth in his current state, she would most definitely call him a lunatic for being so queer after hitting his head, but Shin didn’t care about that. He had accomplished his goal and didn’t mind indulging in some insanity.
“Right Madam Warulee told me to absorb as much elemental energy as soon as I condense my Spirit Core. Guess I should do that now…” Popping the mana replenishment pill into his mouth, Shin released his Spiritual Body Enhancement and returned back to his cultivation.
After spending so much mana condensing his Spirit Core, the current Shin was like a bottomless black hole that sucked in all forms of elemental energy into his newly formed Spirit Core. Furthermore, with his promotion in cultivation realm, Shin was now able to absorb the environment’s spiritual energy at a much faster rate than before. Thus, the young teen took his time to slowly refine the spiritual energies that were entering his body in order to convert it to mana that could replenish his Spirit Core.
“Is he going to come out soon?” Outside of the cultivation chambers, Emma worriedly asked the tanned scoundrel that was tapping his feet with his arms folded in akimbo. “He’s been inside for six hours!”
“Lass, promoting to the Spirit Core realm is a much more difficult task than you think. It’s not as simple as cultivation on your own and advancing by one rank.” Mychael snapped back in annoyance. However, there was a little fear in his voice as he could help but worry for the student he had spent so much of his time teaching.
“Mychael’s right. Furthermore, even if he fails to promote today, he can still try another time again. So you don’t have to worry child…” Madam Warulee tenderly consoled the anxious Emma.
“I know that, but…” Emma dropped her head and bit her lip in worry. Shin had taken so much time, and yet, there was no sign of movement from the isolated cultivation chambers.
“I understand how you feel… But you have to be patient alright? Have faith in your cousin.”
“*VRRRRR!!!*.” The moment Madam Warulee said those words, a low rumble could be heard as the doors of the stone room before them started to tremble. As the door opened up, the dense spiritual energy from the inside of the chambers gushed out like a relentless torrent, forcing the twins to take a few steps backwards while raising their arms to protect their faces. The two Rank 60 Spirit Kings, on the other hand, dropped their jaws in utter astonishment as the black-haired boy from within, confidently straddled out from his deep slumber.
“Shin!!!” The twins recovered from the initial burst of energy and ran straight at the teenage boy.
“How are you feeling?!” Emma asked with a face full of worry.
“Don’t worry… I’ve never been better!”
“So, did you succeed?” Ella cautiously asked.
“What do you think?” With a confident smile, Shin circled his mana within and allowed a thin cerulean aura to flow out from his pores. Suddenly, a slight pressure weighed down on the four individuals within his vicinity. Although it wasn’t strong enough to impair their movement, the pressure was heavy enough that it was noticeable, even to the Spirit Kings standing farther away.
“The ability to release spiritual pressure?! Shin, you really succeeded!!!” Emma threw her body forward and gave her sibling a firm embrace.
“Hehe, congrats!” Ella rubbed her nose in excitement as well and applauded the youth for his achievement.
“Thanks… But this is the first step for me… For us…”
“Yeah, we know…”
While the three siblings were merrily celebrating, Mychael and Madam Warulee, who was standing a good distance away, were utterly shell-shocked by Shin’s advancement. “Hey, Waru… Has there ever been a time in our academy’s history where there had been two Spirit Core realm fifteen-year-olds?”
“Never… Heck, when in our history was there one freshman in the Spirit Core realm?! Yet now we have two?!”
“Is this a precursor of what’s to come? Is there going to be a war against hell and the heavens sent down two angels to protect us?” Mychael hypothesised.
“You sure are imaginative… But, yeah… That doesn’t sound too far-fetched.”
Watching as the twins took turns to embrace the black-haired youth, the two seasoned teachers felt like they were witnessing the birth of a new legend that would rock the Terre Continent and all who inhabit it.