Imperius Academy’s academic year was split into two significant segments. The first half of the year was for students to learn as much as they possibly could from their classes and they would be graded on their progress with the mid-year practicals and tests. After which, the students are entitled to a one month break, where they could return home to their families and friends. The second half of the year follows a similar pattern, but there was more emphasis on self-learning. Although classes would still resume, students were given much more free time to explore their options and enter into a state of self-discovery.
While the academy had become rather empty since students had readily left the vicinity, a particular black-haired youth was in the midst of attacking straw dummies that stood innocently in his path. In his hand, numerous silver needles, that seemed to be as thick as a strand of hair, remained, were dancing about as the boy twirled his fingers.
“Hah… Hah… Again!” Shin wiped off the sweat on his forehead before sending yet another surge of mana to his feet. Dashing forward, Shin felt his hair being pulled back as he made a beeline and swept all of the straw dummies at a blinding rate.
“Damn! I failed again…” Shin chided himself and dragged his body to observe his work. On the straw dummies, there were hundreds of red markers that acted as targets for where the acupuncture points would be for the average human. However, instead of having all of his needles firmly fixed into those vulnerable spots, over a third of Shin’s spirit armaments had missed their mark, which was an overwhelming failure to the perfectionist.
The Divine Needle Binding technique was an art developed by ancient physicians to protect themselves from assailants that were aiming for their life. When Shin first discovered the tome in the forbidden zone of the library, he was absolutely awestruck. For the martial art to work, the user had to have extensive knowledge about all of the acupuncture points on the body, and how to exploit them. Additionally, the Divine Needle Binding would only work if the needles were inserted in the correct order. Of course, due to the nature of the technique, it requires a great deal of speed and precision to pull off. However, if the martial art were executed to perfection, the martial artist would be capable of dealing with cultivators at a much higher realm, something that intrigued Shin greatly.
Due to the immense difficulty of the technique, Shin had spent most of his time trying to perfect his precision, often forgetting about the time during his practices. “Let’s go again…”
“Hey, Shin!” However, this time, there was a rude alarm coming to wake him up from his stupor.
“Hmmm?” Stopping in his tracks, Shin pivoted his head around, only to see a middle-aged, bespectacled lady walking straight in his direction. “Madam Warulee! What are you doing here?”
During his time training to condense his Spirit Core, Madam Warulee had been one of the two pillars of support that he had received alongside the unreliable Mychael. Being in charge of the auxiliary course, the woman had tried multiple times to draw the youth to her side, using the temptations of new resources and private cultivation chambers. Unfortunately, Shin had a clear mind on what his goal was. Eventually, Madam Warulee stopped being so adamant about bringing him over, but she would still occasionally try to poach Shin to her course.
“Well, for one, the training yard had been closed for over an hour now, so you’re actually overstaying your session.”
“Oh! Is that so?! I’m so sorry! I didn’t realise!”
“But that’s not the main reason why I’m here…” The bespectacled woman bit her lip as if she were trying to contain jubilation that would burst forth at any moment. “I’m just an escort for a far more important person…”
“Huh? What do you me-” Before Shin could probe any further, he felt a hard impact on his chest, forcing his body to fall back rapidly toward the ground. Raising his head, Shin turned his attention to the source of the pain and to his surprise, a petite furball was gnawing on his sweaty shirt. Its tail was wagging back and forth rapidly, as its eyes started to wet.
“YIP YIP YIP!!!”
“Bingbing?! Why are you here?” Evidently recognising the creature that he had spent so much time with, Shin sat back up and patted the snowy white gerbil’s fur.
“Yipyip~ Yip! Yip! Yip!”
“Yes, yes… I missed you too!”
“Yipyipyipyipyip!!!” Bingbing continued on her rant all while her claws edged deeper into Shin’s robes. However, after a while, it took a deep breath before continuing on with her raves. “YIP!!! YIP!!! YIP!!!”
“Okay, that’s enough…” While Shin was still firmly pinned onto the floor, an adenoidal voice accompanied a heavenly arm that promptly descended from the heavens and detached the Kamaitachi from his chest, forcing the poor beast to wiggle about in the air.
Now that he was freed from the clutches of the snowy white gerbil, Shin was able to get a clear view of his saviour. A divine beauty, with luscious, blonde hair that resembled that of the purest of gold, was lightly chiding Bingbing with a helpless smile. Donning on a pearly white robe that seemed to be untouched by even a single speck of dirt, the woman bent her waist down until she was in a squatting position before letting out her nasal voice once more.
“How long are you going to stay there, Shin?”
“Master?! What are you doing here?!” Jumping to his feet, Shin quickly gave a bow to Lady Seph, whom he hadn’t seen in such a long time.
“Don’t mind me~ I just came to visit my unfilial disciple who didn’t even bother to inform me about how he had promoted into the Spirit Core realm.”
“I’m sorry… It’s just I had been so preoccupied and…” Shin choked on his words as he realised his wrongdoings. Although he had been busy with his training, the fact that Shin didn’t even bother to send a message to Lady Seph and the other orphans was a severe misdeed on his part.
“Haha, there’s no need to be THAT flustered my child…” Changing up her wronged expression, Lady Seph flashed a gentle and womanly smile before bringing Shin’s head into her bosom. “How have you been? Has the academy been treating you well?”
Stunned by the sudden development, Shin widened his eyes while trying his best to compose himself. Naturally, he wasn’t the only one who was frozen. Madam Warulee, who had heard rumours about how unsociable Lady Seph truly was, had her mouth hung so wide open that an apple could fit through.
Being comforted by the familiar scent, Shin felt that his entire soul was soothed. Even though he was an orphan, the closest thing to family that he currently had was precisely the woman who was embracing him tightly. In fact, based on all of the sacrifices that Lady Seph had given him, Shin wouldn’t mind if she became his real mother.
Shin didn’t tell her of all of the struggles that he had been through. How much agonising nights he had trained or how much suffering that he had endured. After all, it wasn’t her burden to bear. After a minute of relishing in the heavenly beauty’s embrace, Shin opened his eyes in revelation.
“Master! Can you really come out in the open? Wouldn’t those from the Imperial Courts track you down?” Shin cried out.
One of the primary reasons why Shin tried his best to keep his healer background under wraps was to hide the fact that Lady Seph had returned to the Capital. As her disciple, he knew how much the blonde beauty hated the Imperial Courts and how she wished to be hidden from them.
“Don’t worry child. That issue has already been settled. The courts won’t disturb me anymore.”
“Is that so…” Although he was sceptical, Shin opted not to press any further. No matter how close they were, there was a limit to what the black-haired youth could ask his master.
“I see that you have been training?” Letting go of the sweaty youth, Lady Seph’s blue eyes shone in curiosity as she observed the straw dummies on the field. Immediately noticing the red markers that Shin had placed on the acupuncture points of the strawmen. “A needle technique huh?”
Being a Divine Healer, there was no way that Lady Seph wouldn’t recognise what Shin was trying to accomplish. “What technique are you trying out?”
“The Divine Needle Binding.”
“Hmmm, that’s not a bad start… The Divine Needle Binding is a hard technique to execute, but if done right, it would be a good defence tool for you. Furthermore, with your knowledge about how the acupuncture points work, I’m sure it would be easy for you to learn the technique.”
“Yeah, I got the gist of how it works, but I can’t quite seem to implement it accurately.”
“That’s because you’re trying too hard to be precise! With all needle techniques, what you need is awareness! No matter how good you are at striking the dummies, a real opponent wouldn’t just stand there and let you hit them. You need to feel, not think. Come, let me show you.” Lady Seph rolled up her sleeves and took off a handful of acupuncture needles from Shin’s hands.
Closing her eyes, the Spirit Venerate generate a dominant aura as the needles in her hands started to glow in a golden light. Succeeding in her mana infusion, Lady Seph continued to close her eyes as she sauntered forward into the straw dummies ahead of her. Throughout her advance, the woman never once allowed her eyes to impair her judgement, and within a span of one second, all of the needles in her hand disappeared into the straw flesh of the figures before her.
“Master! You know how to perform the Divine Needle Binding?!” Shin was appalled. He had never once seen Lady Seph use a martial art technique, and he simply assumed that she was a pure healer throughout.
“I’m a researcher. I like to know things. Needle binding arts had been in the annals of the Healer’s Association for a long time, and I naturally picked up some of them for fun.” Unlike Shin’s motivation, Lady Seph’s were a lot purer. “Come, it has been a while since I last taught you. Let’s reminisce on the past since we’re here.”
“You’re right… It has been a while…” With a bright smile, Shin stepped forward with Bingbing on his shoulders, ready to receive his favourite mentor’s tutelage once more.
“Ermmm, you do know that the facility is closed right…” Madam Warulee muttered under her breath, unwilling to directly tell the pair of that fact. “Whatever, it’s not every day that I get to witness a Spirit Venerate and a Tier 8 Spirit Beast interact with a Spirit Core practitioner…”
Resigning to her fate as an overtime employee, the middle-aged woman watched as the Shin trained alongside Lady Seph and Bingbing deep into the night.
Okay, I have never done this so forgive me for doing so now. There had been comments about how the story has been dragging on, so I took a long hard look at myself and the book, only to realise that it has been a bit long. The reason why I wanted book five to be a little long is that it was transitioning from Act 1 to Act 2. With so many new characters and locations being introduced, I wanted to be thorough in the explanations. How the relationships between each character will be and how Shin was going to change from the weak healer that he was to the powerhouse that he would become. So essentially, the book seems to be dragging because I tried to include all those aspects, albeit in a clunky manner.
What I’m trying to say is… The next few chapters would be the ones that you guys have been waiting for all this time. The tournament arc is next on
Dragon Ball Z, Spirit Immortal!