Danroy Frithron’s father, Nathan Frithron, was one of the most distinguished rising stars in the Empire’s recent history. Born to a father who was just a mere officer in the army, Nathan Frithron barely had any clout when he was young. Nonetheless, his talent for combat and cultivation quickly became apparent, and when he was fifteen years old, he managed to secure a spot in the prestigious Imperius Academy.
There, the young Nathan Frithron took advantage of the resources that were given to him and deepened his cultivation at an astonishing rate, dominating the rankings in the process. However, his biggest windfall for attending Imperius Academy wasn’t his growth to become one of the top rankers, but his lasting friendship with the scion of the Lasgeor family, Suji’s father and the current patriarch of the military family, Gaji Lasgeor.
Joining the Lasgeor family’s ranks after his tenure in the academy was over, Nathan developed himself even further so that he would become a tremendous asset for the ancient family. Naturally, the elders in the Lasgeor family quickly took note and brought him to the forefront of their forces, allowing him to gain valuable life and battle experiences. At the same time, Nathan became best friends with Gaji Lasgeor, and they started to trust each other, sometimes even more than they trusted their own kin. In fact, it was Gaji who had introduced Nathan to his wife.
Years had gone by, and Nathan soon became an indispensable force for the Lasgeor family. Up till that point, Nathan had always been a subordinate and remained as a Captain in the Imperial Military. However, that all changed during the Battle for Kaelriel.
Holding off a fort from an army of attackers, Nathan Frithron utilised the Bangeo Rhinoceros to the best of his ability, decimating fighter after fighter. Unfortunately, the gridlock lasted for days until it came to the point where he was down to his last hundred men. Unwilling to surrender, Nathan jumped down the fort, and single handedly stopped wave after wave of enemies. Having focused on defence, the Bangeo Rhinoceros Spirit could last for hours with its barrier up, giving his men a chance to launch an aerial assault on their enemies. Eventually, after a full day of bloodshed, the battle finally came to an end, with Nathan successfully driving back his enemies.
Tales of the victory spread insanely quick around the Capital and almost overnight, Nathan had become a household name. The Hero of the Battle for Kaelriel, they called him. Instantly, the Imperial Military bestowed upon to him a medal of honour and an immediate promotion of two ranks, while the Emperor personally commended Nathan and granted him a nobility title.
Elated that one of their subordinates had gained influence in the Empire, the Lasgeor family once again pumped resources into Nathan Frithron and his family, giving him riches that one could only dream of. If all went well, Nathan was guaranteed to become a general or at the very least, something equivalent during his lifetime, bringing his value as a rising star way up.
Nathan Frithron’s story was that could only be heard in fables. Something that the Frithron family took great pride in, even Danroy, his only son. As the old adage goes, a tiger father would not beget a dog son. From the day that Danroy was born, nothing short of greatness was expected from the young boy.
Training daily with the new heir of the Lasgeor family, Suji, Danroy was expected to emulate his father’s success, and live up to his bloodline as the descendant of a hero. Frequently rubbing shoulders with members of High Society, Danroy had grown up listening to his father’s tales of bravery, and how expectant everyone was for his future. Thus, the young boy soaked all of that information in, and a seed of faith had been planted in his mind.
‘One day, I’ll surpass my father! I’ll become the greatest warrior the Himmel Empire has ever seen, and I will become the Chief General of the Army!!!’
Danroy’s dream was simple. Become the strongest. That really was it. Years had passed, and the dream that he had created when he was a child still held true. Of course, with his goal to become the strongest, there were multiple complications when people of higher talent showed up. Firstly, there was the Witch in the South, Kanari.
When Kanari burst into the scene, the whole world started to call her the greatest genius that the Empire ever had. The praises that Danroy got begun to diminish as everyone’s attention was affixed on the black-haired girl, whose power was strong enough to dominate her competition for years to come. Well, there were whispers whenever Suji or Danroy did something significant, but it was nothing compared to the buzz that was generated whenever Kanari did something.
Following Kanari, there was the Silver Spoon, Elrin Zedcris. Elrin became a household name not because she was the sweetheart of the magnate Terlus Zedcris, but due to her overwhelming talent in management and talent scouring. Not to mention, her Spirit was perhaps the top auxiliary Spirit of her generation.
At a tender age of eleven, Elrin had gained the favour of High Society and had created ties with the major heirs and heiress of the Empire. Some of them had already joined her camp, while others, such as Kanari, formed close alliances with her. With her position as an heiress of the biggest conglomerate in the Capital, Elrin’s future was as bright as the morning sun.
One by one, talents rose, further pushing Danroy’s name downwards in the pecking order. Shizen, Shin, Natasha, Ella, Emma… And of course, who could forget the biggest shadow caster of them all?
From his childhood years, Danroy had not only been pursuing the legacy that his father had made, but also a particular youth that had always been one step ahead of him. No matter what Danroy had accomplished, Suji would always be in front. Cultivation levels, martial arts, resources, recognition… The list was endless. Sometimes, since he was overshadowed that much, Danroy would be referred to as Suji’s carry-on, or sidekick. And that didn’t sit well with the youth.
Training harder and harder, Danroy hoped to escape the shadow that both his father and Suji had cast on him. Becoming Rank 15 in five years? Check. Mastering mana strengthening until his body became as hard as steel? Check. Defeating Spirit Core cultivators when he was just at the Spirit Apostle realm? Check.
However, no matter what he did, Danroy was never enough. Kanari, Suji, Elrin, Shizen, Shin… All these talents continued to overshadow him, so much so that he felt like he was constantly drowning. Nonetheless, he continued to persevere. Unfortunately, just having the desire and work ethic wasn’t enough. Just being studious wasn’t enough! Just being talented wasn’t enough!
It wasn’t long until the world had forgotten his name. Even in his fight against Shin, Danroy was just a pebble that the Black-Haired Tyrant had to topple so that he could springboard himself for a showdown against Suji. So that left one question to linger in Danroy’s mind…
‘How did I get to this point?’
“Hey, what’s going on? I thought that Danroy was much stronger than this?” One audience member cried out.
“Yeah, the Black-Haired Tyrant is just unloading onto him, and Danroy is just acting like a punching bag… Honestly, he’s kind of disappointing…”
“Tch, if I knew that Danroy was this weak, I wouldn’t have bet for him to win!” One disgruntled spectator spat out.
Currently, in the arena at the centre of Lucha Amphitheatre, a fight, which could only be described as a mauling, was taking place. After Danroy got taken off guard by Shin’s ripping off his barrier, the obese youth had yet to regain his wits as the black-haired boy kept pounding onto his meaty body.
Punches, kicks, palm strikes, hip thrusts, elbow uppercuts, high knees. There was no shortage of moves in Shin’s arsenal. With Shin’s superior speed, Danroy wasn’t given the opportunity to summon out his phantom barrier once more and was forced to defend with his mana strengthened body. Naturally, for moves that were too powerful to protect against, Danroy had to evade. Otherwise, the match was just a beatdown.
“Dan! What the hell are you doing?!” Suji bit his lip while his muscles twitched silently. Resisting the urge to fly down and protect his long-time friend, Suji felt his mind heat up like a blazing hot sun on a summer’s day. “Come on! Fight back!”
“Shin’s going to win…” At the other side of the stadium, Isadore was seated alongside Elrin and the twins, and watched the one-sided match with great enthusiasm, alongside everyone else. “Danroy has no means of recovering, and even though he’s protecting himself with mana strengthening, eventually his body won’t be able to take the toll, and he will fall.”
“Yeah… I didn’t expect for the match to be THAT one-sided…” Elrin remarked.
“Hmph! Serves him right for injuring Shin before! Karma’s a bitch right?” Ella added on with furrowed brows. Evidently, she still hadn’t forgiven Danroy for the beatdown that he had ushered onto Shin.
Meanwhile, on the field, Shin was keeping up the intensity, not giving Danroy a single chance to recover. After all, if he summoned out the phantom of the Bangeo Rhinoceros, it would be much harder to gain the upper hand once more. However, there was something vital that was bothering Shin.
‘I knew it! Something is wrong with Danroy! He’s not even attempting to fight back! Is he throwing the match?!’
At this point, the match has been ongoing for about three minutes and ever since Shin broke through Danroy’s barrier, the obese youth had been taking hits as if he were a meat bag. Typically, if a person were getting trampled on, there would be some hint of resistance, or at least a minute struggle. Yet, Danroy didn’t even show the slightest inkling of fighting back. It was as if, he wanted to get punched to death.
‘Tch! If you don’t want to fight, why are you letting me pummel you?! Just surrender already!!!’
Sending three fast kicks, one each at Danroy’s thigh, hip and head, Shin sent the youth flying once more. ‘Since you don’t want to give in… I’ll just have to force you!!!’
With Danroy in the air, Shin bent his body and congregated his mana into his fists and legs. Of all his martial arts, the Seismic Combination was still the most potent, and therefore, he opted to use it so that he could end this dragged out match.
‘I’m sorry, I’ll treat you if you get any injuries!!!’ His preparations ready, Shin bolted forward at a blinding speed and used all of his consciousness to focus on the eight greater meridians of his target’s body. Even though he couldn’t insert any of his silver needles into Danroy’s toughened skin, if he applied a tremendous amount of force, perhaps he would be able to temporarily disable the obese youth.
‘Wh… What am I doing? How did I get to this place… Why am I… so weak?’
In the midst of spinning around in the air, the young boy cried out mentally. He was the heir of a hero! He was supposed to become the mightiest general the world has ever seen! Yet, why was he getting mauled by this black-haired boy that came out of nowhere?
‘I’m weak… Suji… Father… Is this why you never cared about me? Is this my fate? To live in someone else’s shadow?’ Danroy thought to himself, as the world slowed down in his mind.
Danroy was always the side-character in someone else’s story. When he was with Nathan, Danroy was his father’s son. When he was with Suji, Danroy was the Lasgeor heir’s friend. He was never a protagonist. He was just… a disposable cast member…
As he came to that revelation, a brilliant light, akin to that of sunshine of a new day, dawned upon his heart and illuminated itself out from his spiritual body. His Spirit convulsed as his mind began to clear. The pain that he felt all but dissipated as his body infinitely strengthened.
‘NO!!! Fuck all of that!!! If this is my fate, then I reject it! I’m not going to live in someone’s shadow. I live my own life! I…’
At that moment, in the physical world, Shin’s mana-infused fist was about to land on Danroy’s first greater meridian. However, just before it reached the boy’s body, a thick earthen barrier formed, defending Danroy from the oncoming attack.
“What the?!” Shin cried out.
“ZZZZZSSSTTTT!!!” A dizzying hum echoed out of Danroy’s body as the mana he released nearly quadrupled in amount. Unsure of what to expect, Shin leapt a dozen metres back, leaving Danroy completely unhindered to complete his ability.
“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!” Screaming out like a primal beast kept in a cage, Danroy’s body started to glow as the phantom of the Bangeo Rhinoceros made its appearance once more. However, it didn’t end there. Instead of having just the head protecting him, Danroy had summoned out the full body of the Bangeo Rhinoceros, sending shockwaves all around the stadium, especially in the VIP stands.
“A full-incarnate summon?! He had achieved that?!”
“Even his father had to reach the Spirit Spectre realm before he could accomplish that feat!”
While the other members in the booth were marvelling over Danroy’s accomplishment, Lady Seph, started to bite her fingernail in anxiety. As a Spirit Venerate that had walked the earth for almost two centuries, there was no way she didn’t understand what it meant for Danroy to have achieved a full-incarnate summon.
“Shin… Things are going to get a little tricky for you now…”
His eyes glowing in a glorious light, Danroy felt power welling up in his veins as mana flowed out of his body to strengthen the fully cast phantom. The earth elements danced with joy while the air around the Bangeo Rhinoceros distorted.
“Tsmmm, hmmm…” Danroy inhaled and exhaled deeply, taking in all of his powers as he examined his own body state. Opening his eyes, he glanced down at the shocked Shin, and a wry smile crept up his face, and who could blame him? Just when everyone thought that he was done, Danroy rose from the ashes and broke through, as if he were a dying phoenix. Now that he held the upper hand, Danroy knew that it was time to compensate Shin for his ‘kind hospitality.’
“I have let you run amok for far too long… It’s time for me to return the favour.”