The Lantis Republic. High Elder Council Assembly.
In the complete darkness of night, where all denizens of the continent were soundly asleep in their own comfy abodes, dozens of honourable men and women had congregated into one spot in complete obscurity of their own subjects. The chambers boasted high ceilings that dwarfed any human in the room and contained gorgeous stone pillars that were carved with intricate imageries of Spirit Beasts and cultivators.
The building was designed in the shape of an octagon, with each wall donned with its own majestic flag, each with its own gigantic symbol. None of the flags was bigger than the others, embodying the complete equality between each entity that the flags represented. On one of the banners, an enormous whale, that seemed to have been swallowed whole by the Gods and regurgitated out was spun in a circle with a vast ocean of blue laid out behind it. It was the emblem for the Jingyu Clan, the clan that possessed the Monarch of the Oceans, The Colossal Leviathan.
The next banner contained a gorgeous white snake that was slithering all over its rich brown background. The Shenshe Clan, whose members all awakened the Champion of the Swamp, The Divine King Serpent, proudly wore that ensign on all of their articles of clothing. Adjacent to the Shenshe Clan’s emblem, a dark humanoid, boasting an octopus head and devilish wings, remained curled up in a ball while its tail and numerous tentacles spitting out of its body filled the backdrop of the dark blue flag. The Zhangyu Clan, who all held the ability to summon out the Terror of the Seas, The Abominable Cthulhu, were the proud owners of the banner.
On the next wall, a seven-headed dragon with four muscular limbs was roaring in all directions within the compounds of its greenish-blue flag. Of course, the ensign was depicting the Spirit of the Qilong Clan, the clan that possess the Majesty of the Rivers, The Seven-Headed Hydra. Following that, the banner of the Meijing Clan, which depicts a bewitching pink whale with a drill attached to its head, was in full view of those in the chambers. The Beauty of the Arctic, The Enigmatic Narwhal, was the Spirit that those from the Meijing Clan would awaken.
Next, there was a completely black turtle symbol that had its mouth opened so wide that anything could figuratively fit into its meaty body. Surrounding it, there were hundreds of crashing waves that decorated the flag, representing the massive powers that the turtle possessed. The Heigui Clan, which possessed the Devourer of Tides, The Obsidian Xuanwu, were the proud owners of this banner. Laid out high next to the Heigui Clan’s pennant, there was a lengthy silver fish that was lying in the middle of a light purple background. Unlike the other banners, it contained numerous fluffy clouds that were strange to have for a clan based in water. Its aloof expression and casual nature made it seem like it was much less intimidating compared to the other banners inside of the chambers. The Emperor of the Lagoon, The Heavenly Sturgeon which was depicted in the flag, was possessed by those from the Xunyu Clan.
Finally, the last banner depicted a small little cerulean Koi, that was surrounded by an entire ethereal lake of colours. Although its illustration seemed to be the least threatening of the eight, no one dared to look down on the Longyu Clan that held the flag up high on their clan grounds. The Eminence of the Lake, The Sovereign Koi was by far, one of the most infamous water elemental Spirits there were. Many of their cultivators had gone on to become some of the greatest Spirit Saints that the Terre Continent has ever seen and a huge reason why the eight ancient clans banded together to form a republic was precisely due to the direct manipulation of those from the Longyu Clan.
Jingyu, Shenshe, Zhangyu, Qilong, Meijing, Heigui, Xunyu, Longyu. These were the names of the eight clans that ran the Lantis Republic. Each one of the clans possessed a heap of Rank 70 Spirit Emperors and Rank 80 Spirit Venerates. Furthermore, there were even living ancestors of the clans that had reached the Spirit Saint realm and were all in their own isolated islands on the Lantis Archipelago.
“Has everyone gathered?” One of the toughened men in the room inquisitively asked.
“All High Elders that have registered their attendance have arrived.” The secretary-like woman standing in the corner checked her list one final time before replying an affirmative. Bowing her head down, she shuffled her feet back and exited the room, allowing the monthly High Elder Council to begin.
“First order of business. The Kori Federation have sent their delegates over. Due to the rising tensions between the Kori Federation and the Himmel Empire, both of their governments had sent ships filled to the brim with gold, hoping to buy our alliance.” An elderly woman, who was sitting at the chair position of the roundtable, kicked-off the meeting.
“Have they really? Honestly, when would they learn? We’re a neutral party, there’s no way that we would get into the business of those on the Terre Continent.”
“Haha, this is not the first time that they have tried it, so why bother? Either way, we’re getting free benefits.”
“Hmph! That little gold can’t be considered as a benefit! Whatever just treat the delegates the same way we did the Himmel Empire’s envoy.”
“I concur. We shouldn’t waste our resources fighting in someone else’s war.”
“Is that the consensus of the caucus?” The Chairwoman asked.
“Aye!!!” A resounding vote echoed through the chambers.
The High Elder Council was the place where all major decisions, domestic or foreign, were brought up, discussed and implemented. The position of High Elder was only awarded to those who possessed a significant cultivation level, had done meritorious deeds and was a critical asset to the Lantis Republic. Furthermore, the title was not limited to those from the eight ancient clans, and anyone within the Lantis Archipelago was entitled to a shot at the title. Though the clans took the overwhelming majority anyway.
“If that’s the case…” Lifting up her wooden gavel, the Chairwoman slammed it twice onto the table causing two loud knocks to echo through the chambers. The scribe sitting in the far corner was speedily jolting down all of the notes and decisions made by the council.
“On to the next issue at hand… A few days ago, a certain undulation had been observed in the Western Skies.”
“What do you mean?” One of the High Elders questioned.
“It was very minute, and our preliminary scour can’t confirm its exact identity… But there’s a high chance that someone bearing the Mark of the Celestial Dragon had appeared on the Terre Continent.”
“What?! That’s quite unusual… Was there any other descendants living on that landmass?” The High Elder rubbed his rugged chin as he started to fall deep into thought.
The Mark of the Celestial Dragon was an oddity that only appeared in a handful of Spirit Users that bore any of the Eight Scions of Water. Cultivators with the Mark of the Celestial Dragon were essentially children of water. Anytime they absorbed spiritual energy, they would convert it into mana at twice the regular rate and their comprehension ability when it came to water was something that no conventional Spirit User could hope to touch.
“We can’t confirm it, but we have sent scouts to triangulate the exact location in which the undulation was first sensed. Hopefully, the Spirit User shows off their Spirit more, so that we could finally track down his or her location. Either way, if it really is true, we could gain yet another cultivator with the Mark of the Celestial Dragon during this generation.”
“This makes it the ninth cultivator living that has the mark right? That’s unusual…”
The Mark of the Celestial Dragon was a rare occurrence, even by the eight ancient clans long history. Each generation, there would be at most three Spirit Users that contained the mark. Yet, there were nine of them during this generation.
“Well, it’s good news for us! We can continue to strengthen ourselves while the Himmel Empire and the Kori Federation are at loggerheads!”
“With that being said, we still haven’t completely investigated so just keep this news as an afterthought. When we have more information, I will bring it up to the council again.” The Chairwoman knocked down her gavel once to stop the chatter in the room.
“Yeah, you do that.”
“Great! Let’s move on…”
The High Elder Council convenes once every month, which meant that numerous issues had to be resolved. Hence, the council couldn’t stay on one topic for an extended period of time. The meeting continued on into the deep recesses of the night, only ending when the sun finally came up, hinting the dawn of a new day.
Himmel Empire. The Capital. Imperius Academy.
Breaking through into the Spirit Core realm was a rather quiet affair for Shin. Since he had broken through within the compounds of his personal cultivation chamber, the only one who knew that he was even attempting to make the leap were the twins, Mychael, Madam Warulee and Principal Erudito. Naturally, there was no way that Shin could keep his promotion under wraps for too long, and people would start to get suspicious after finding out that he had stopped getting lessons from Mychael and his benefits for helping him advance into the Spirit Core realm had been revoked. Nonetheless, Shin hoped to enjoy the calm before the inevitable storm. Thus, he opted against telling anyone.
It has been a week since he had condensed his Spirit Core and the young boy was still in the midst of adjusting his physical state. Unlike regular cultivation, advancing from one realm to the other gave a significant boost to a Spirit User’s physique and overall resistance to the environment. For instance, before, Shin would be hard pressed to open his eyes while sprinting forward at full speeds with his mana enhanced body. However, in the Spirit Core realm, Shin could easily observe his surroundings while keeping up his newly improved speed.
The second change that he had to get used to was how reliant the Spirit Core realm was on absorbing the surrounding spiritual energy. In fact, most times, cultivators that had condensed their Spirit Cores could live off meditation and absorbing spiritual energies alone for weeks at a time. Of course, that, in turn, meant that Shin had to get accustomed to doing nothing but cultivating for hours and hours, which required great mental fortitude to pull off.
The third and final change that Shin had to be overly conscious about was his skill in manipulating his Spiritual Body Enhancement, the spiritual ability that he had trained for months to acquire. Like he had wished for, Shin’s Spiritual Body Enhancement focused on speed, and he had adapted all his abilities and techniques accordingly. Although his scaly exterior provided a little bit of defence, compared to the defence-oriented Spirit of Danroy’s Bangeo Rhinoceros, it was practically negligible. However, it was never Shin’s intention to go big on defence.
To master the current abilities that he possessed so that he could protect the ones he loved, the best way to better himself, was with exponential speed. Furthermore, being the Eminence of the Lake, The Sovereign Koi’s mobility in fluids was amongst the top in recorded history. Hence, in his Spiritual Body Enhancement state, Shin could move over ten times his original speed, and his motor functions were heightened accordingly; but, that was both a blessing and a curse for the youth. During the first few days of his adjustments, Shin slammed his head straight into many hard objects that stood in his way, due to his poor manoeuvrability.
Only after the fourth day, did Shin started to see some progress with his Spiritual Body Enhancement, and by the end of the week, he was already capable of avoiding obstacles that were in his immediate vicinity. When Ella and Emma come over to help Shin with his training, on the first day, the only thing that he could do was slam his abdomen straight at Ella’s petite body. However, after days of arduous practice, Shin was finally able to dodge some of the girl’s deadly arrows.
With practice, Shin believes that he could be able to completely master the ability and would be able to take it to a higher stage as he challenges the monsters in his year.
The first opponent that he would have to beat was the one that he had suffered the most bitter defeat to, Danroy Fritron. Being the one with the lowest cultivation level among the monsters, Shin believed that Danroy was the best starting point for his renewal as a top-tier contender for the valedictorian spot.
Following that, he had to beat Shizen Dundlewoods, who had long became attached to the black-haired youth. Although he seemed to be silly most of the time, in battle, Shizen was an absolute nightmare to fight against, especially for someone of Shin’s forte. None of his water attacks would work on the Adivinar Tree, and once Shizen sealed Shin’s mana, he was essentially a sitting duck for the youth to bully. To triumph over Shizen, Shin had formulated numerous strategies that targeted the boy’s weakness. Of course, it was still in the theoretical phase and had yet to be tested, but nonetheless, it was an excellent first step.
The next opponent that Shin had to face the powerhouse juggernaut that was Suji Lasgeor. Suji’s barbaric image of him wielding the Purple Crescent Dragon Sabre was still fresh in Shin’s mind, and the young boy didn’t know of how he was going to deal with the vicious lightning strikes that Suji could call down from the heavens. Adding to the fact that Shin’s Sovereign Koi was weak against the lightning element, Suji was perhaps Shin’s greatest foe in getting the valedictorian spot.
Finally, there were the two ethereal beauties that the entire Capital knows about. Ruling out Elrin for the moment, Kanari was by far the overwhelming favourite to gain the number one position. Already at Rank 22, her Spirit Core had matured significantly, and her combat powers were second to none in the academy. In fact, Kanari could take the valedictorian spot from the second and third years easily if she was given a chance.
“So many opponents, so little time…” Shin sighed out loud.
Without knowing it, over a third of the academic year had passed and there were only a few months left before the final examinations and ranking. For his exams, Shin wasn’t overly worried as based on his preliminary test scores, he was confident that he could take the top spot. However, when it came to the practical assessments, Shin was still somewhat concerned. At the end of the year, all students would compete in a tournament-style competition to determine who would reign supreme. Of course, it wasn’t the only factor as a combat-oriented battle would disadvantage those from the auxiliary course, but the tournament still carried a heavy weightage of the final results.
“Even after promoting to the Spirit Core realm, I can’t relax…” Shin furrowed his brows in displeasure. Condensing his Spirit Core during his freshman year was a great accomplishment. However, his competition was just too tight. If he loosened up just a little bit, he was bound to lose his position as the salutatorian, let alone fighting for the valedictorian spot.
Taking out his notes that contained information about all of the talented individuals in his year, Shin started to ransack his brain on ideas on how he would take each one of them down in a one-on-one combat situation.