“He… won… The Black-Haired Tyrant had bested the Son of War!!!” A particularly excited audience member hollered out.
After the referee had announced the conclusion of the match, Lucha Amphitheatre entered into a brief state of silence. For one, they were overwhelmed by the gorgeous display of might that both contestants had shown and had yet to recover from the stimulating match. However, what truly shocked them all was the manner in which Shin had taken down Suji.
Putting his body in harm’s way, Shin ensured that he created an opening where the Son of War couldn’t defend himself. Using the silver acupuncture needles, that he had fired just dozens of moves prior, the Black-Haired Tyrant sealed all of Suji’s movements, thus ending the match in his favour.
The level of foresight and courage needed to execute such a fearless task was a rare attribute to find, even amongst seasoned war veterans that had braved a thousand battles. Yet, Shin who was not even sixteen years of age dared to pull off such a risky stunt. Of course, now that the youth had reaped the rewards of his dangerous play, it was time for him to face the risk.
“Hah… Hah…” Shin panted heavily as he got onto one knee.
Shin’s vision started to become blurry as the world spun around him. He could heal all he wanted, but there were no healing spells that could quickly replenish that blood he lost. Furthermore, there were the remnant electric currents that were running amok within his consciousness. The fact that he could even stand just seconds before was perhaps a miracle that couldn’t be explained through conventional medical science. However, now that he had won, Shin could finally ease his heart as his entire world blacked out.
“Shin!!!” All of his friends cried out from the respective locations. Although Shin had been trying to heal the massive laceration on his chest, the fact remained that he was still severely injured and was in pressing need of emergency treatment.
Unable to spectate any longer, Lady Seph broke through the barrier that enveloped the entirety of Lucha Amphitheatre with the wave of her hand and turned into a beam of light. Not wasting any time, the blonde beauty released the Iofiel Angel and cast the strongest healing ability that she had.
Lady Seph’s sudden appearance came as a shock to all of the audience members, especially those from the auxiliary department. An angel was one of the rarest Spirits a cultivator could awaken and the mana being supplied from the newly arrived blonde bombshell was enough to suffocate even the Spirit Lord teachers that remained near the arena.
“A Spirit Venerate! That woman must be a Spirit Venerate! The spiritual energy that surrounds her is immense!!!”
“Wait… Why does that angel look so familiar?”
“That… Looks like a mural I’ve seen in Yara Pass.”
Angel bearing the light element… Spirit Venerate… Mural from Yara pass… Shin IOFIEL… It didn’t take long for some of the most perceptive audience members to figure out what was happening. Furthermore, Shin had already publicly shown his ability to heal. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that there was a relationship between Shin and one of the most famous living healers of the Himmel Empire.
“You bloody idiot… I know that you wanted to win, but was it worth getting this messed up over it?!” Lady Seph chided the sleeping black-haired youth.
The world gaped in awe as Lady Seph’s divine light entered Shin’s body instantly patching up all of its scars and exterior injuries. It wasn’t long until a perfectly intact body, freed of any impurities or blood, was lay bare on the floor. Unfortunately, as mystical as Lady Seph’s healing abilities were, she wasn’t able to replenish the boy’s lost blood in an instant.
For now, with his life out of danger, Lady Seph had to move him into a facility where she could slowly nourish him back to the pink of health. Picking up the youth in a princess carry, the blonde beauty slowly walked away, with the intent of flying straight back home, where she held the best materials to rejuvenate the fainted youth.
However, before she could leave the vicinity, the medics in the area weakly called for Lady Seph to stop.
“What?!” Angered, Lady Seph screamed out with a popped vein. She wanted nothing to do with the academy anymore. What mattered most to her was bringing Shin back for further treatments.
“T-That… Student Shin has sealed student Suji with the Divine Needle Binding. If we carelessly touch him, student Suji would possibly…”
It was the curse of the Divine Needle Binding technique. If someone other than the executioner of the technique carelessly removed the needles, the victim would experience a pain that would be equivalent to the worst torture that humanity could develop. Of course, if someone at a much higher cultivation level than Shin, with sufficient knowledge of the Divine Needle Binding, were to act, the pain that Suji would feel could be minimised. With Shin out cold, there was only one person present that could free Suji from his shackles, but unfortunately for him…
“And why the fuck should I care about that?”
“Go and ask someone else, you idiots! I have no interest in that boy!” Lady Seph scoffed and glared at the paralysed Suji. Only capable of moving his eyes, Suji shook in fear as Lady Seph’s spiritual pressure mounted by itself, in response to her increasing hatred for Suji.
“Tsk, what a waste of time! *Whoooooooosh!*.”
Instead of wasting time killing an immobilised student, Lady Seph would much rather spend her time treating Shin. Launching herself into the air, the blonde beauty turned into a beam of resplendent light as she darted back to her abode. There, she would have the resources to completely patch up the injured youth.
“Venerate Seraphim has left with the boy huh?” Up in the VIP stands, the Duchess of Highgarden giggled and turned her head towards Principal Erudito. “I wonder how you’re going to explain all of this to Gaji?”
“Your Excellency, there’s no need to worry. I will personally inform the Lasgeor patriarch about his son’s defeat.” The bronze-faced man reluctantly replied.
Since it has come down to this, there was no need to hide Shin’s relationship with Lady Seph anymore. Glancing at Vice-Principal Hirda, Principal Erudito gestured for her to get ready for the mountain of bureaucracy work that was headed their way. As much as she hated that more paperwork was imminent, Vice-Principal Hirda nodded her head and rushed out of the arena to begin the procedures that they had set into place.
“Well, judging from that boy’s injuries, I reckon it would take him a few days to fully recover. That would disqualify him from the finals, no?” The Duchess of Highgarden finally revealed the reason for her sinister smile. With Shin out of the picture, Kanari would undoubtedly be crowned the winner of the year-end tournaments.
“I wouldn’t be so sure of that, Your Excellency… She still has one match to contest before she could reach the finals.”
“Do you honestly think that she would lose against the Freak of the Dundlewoods?”
“That remains to be seen…”
“Hoho, you sure have some faith with the boy that you had picked up.” The Duchess laughed. “However, you forget one thing…”
“What is it, Your Excellency?”
Turning her head down towards the arena, where dozens of staff members were scrambling to fix the broken down ring, as well as the dispersed barrier that Lady Seph had shattered, the Duchess stretched her arms as she walked over to Principal Erudito.
“My daughter is the greatest genius the world has ever seen… There’s no way she would let her match be the second best in the academy’s history.”
Thirty minutes had passed since the spectacular match between Shin and Suji had ended. Working ceaselessly to fix the mess that remained, the staff members had mostly repaired all of the broken down pieces. It took a while, but the other semifinals of the year-end tournament could finally commence.
Walking up to the stage, Kanari and Shizen both moved with clenched fists and gritted teeth. Shin was a dear friend to both of them and the fact that they weren’t by his side to mend his broken body was killing them inside. Nonetheless, they had to put aside those thoughts for the moment so that they could contend for the final spot in the finals.
Even though they were part of the same clique, Kanari and Shizen shared a somewhat distant relationship. Naturally, Kanari wished to recruit the monstrous genius that was Shizen into her camp, but each time she tried, the brown-haired youth would play the fool and divert the topic altogether. To Shizen, the only one that mattered in the clique was Shin. Sometimes, he would have an amicable exchange with Elrin, since she always brought the dark fuzzy addicting liquid that her company produces, but otherwise, Shizen would always remain aloof.
Kanari knew of that fact. She also knew how little Shizen truly wished to do battle. However, now that they were on the ground about to face one another, the usually laid back youth was now burning in a red hot passion. The resolute glare in his eyes would stun any of his acquaintances, and the spiritual energy being spilt out from his pores would suffocate any normal Spirit Apostles that came near.
‘Well, who can blame him? After witnessing a match like that, it would take a Pope to remain calm…’ Kanari sighed to herself.
Initially, she didn’t want to use all of her power in the fight. After all, Kanari didn’t want to harm Shizen, and she wouldn’t want all of her secrets to be exposed. However, after seeing how hard Shin struggled to win, Kanari couldn’t bear to hold back.
“Let the match…. BEGIN!!!”
The referee swung down his raised hand, signifying the start of the match. Instantly, Shizen summoned out the Adivinar Tree and created thousands of vines, hoping to make the arena into his domain. At the same time, he cast the Leaves of the Dundlewoods, dominating the ground and air.
Kanari smiled and merged with the Kumiho Spirit that slept deep within her soul. Nine luscious tails emerged from the top of her petite butt, and three gorgeously pale blue flaming balls orbited the girl rapidly making her visage seem divine. Her nails sharpened to an extraordinary degree, it wouldn’t be strange if Kanari decided to use them as weapons to maul her enemy limb from limb. Furthermore, with her newly added fox ears and enhanced sight, smell and hearing, Kanari could trump any cultivator that came within five metres of her.
Unfortunately, Kanari wouldn’t get the chance to utilise her innate physical advantage against Shizen. The roots, vines and leaves that he created continued to increase at a rapid pace, not caring in the least that Kanari had cast her spiritual body enhancement. It would take a couple of seconds before Shizen launched the first strike.
In response to Shizen’s crude attack, Kanari dropped one of her foxfires onto the floor and allowed it to form a ring around her. Waving her tails in a unified manner, Kanari fanned the flames using her gale control, rendering the attack sent by the Adivinar Tree obsolete. Not ten seconds had passed since the start of the match, and the arena had been split into two fronts.
One, a serene and organic environment, filled to the brim with roots, vines and leaves, while the other, had become a purgatory of blue flames, strong enough to melt even the toughest of metals. Unlike the match before it, which constituted of a plethora of martial arts, Shizen and Kanari favoured fighting with their control over the environment.
“Tsk!” Shizen clicked his tongue after his first attack failed. Not relenting, the brown-haired youth continually brought out heaps of vines and leaves, hoping to breach the defences of Kanari’s fire field.
While most of the attacks were instantly incinerated, there were some that somehow managed to reach Kanari, but they were slapped away by Kanari’s superior strength. However, as time passed, those one in a million strikes started to become more common, raising the eyebrows of the young girl.
‘His innate ability allows him to absorb mana, is that what’s happening?’ Kanari hypothesised. Although it seemed like a stretch, judging from Shizen increased power and glowing body, that was the only viable reason that Kanari could think of. Furthermore, that light that Shizen was emitting instantly sent a wave of nostalgia to Kanari’s mind.
‘He… Reached the peak of Rank 19… Wow, looks like the academy will have its third Spirit Core freshmen huh?’ Kanari smiled as she observed the youth. Through this match, Shizen had found the means to grow yet another step. Now that he was the peak of Rank 19, the moment he left the arena, Principal Erudito would be sure to shower him with attention, just so Shizen could form his Spirit Core.
‘However, you’re still too green, Shizen!!!’
Jumping up high into the air, Kanari’s mana output peaked as the illusion of a moon appeared behind her. The instant the audience saw this sight, they all grasped the edges of their seat in preparation to witness the strongest offensive move among the entire student population. Since the mid-year practicals, people had been spreading the news of the destructive capabilities of Kanari’s Lunar Beam.
However, no matter how grandeur the description given by the eyewitnesses were, it was still the best to watch the ability with their own eyes.
As someone who lived based on his instincts, Shizen could sense how dangerous the oncoming attack was. Waving his arms, Shizen created thousands of vines and shot them heavenward, hoping to interrupt Kanari’s cast. Additionally, with Kanari gone, he claimed the other half of the arena as his own and hid among the vines and roots.
‘Hmph! Do you honestly think that would work?!’
Kanari created three more foxfires and used one to burn down the vines that were head towards her. At the same time, she threw the remaining two towards the ground and hoped to torch the forest-like ground in the process. However, instead of burning it all to cinders, the pale blue fires got absorbed as razor-sharp leaves emerged from the undergrowth.
‘Shizen… You really are irritating…’ A wry smile crept up Kanari’s face as she continued to supply mana to prepare her Lunar Beam. Shizen’s plan was simple, hide until it was safe to come out. In normal circumstances, it was a wise strategy. Unfortunately, he had met the monster that was Kanari.
‘Your tactic would work if there was only one Lunar Beam… However, what if there were five?!’
Spreading her five fingers, Kanari created four more ‘moons’ dropping the jaws of everyone in the audience. In fact, she had even shocked her own biological mother, who was comfortably seated in the VIP stands.
“… Lunar Beams?!?!?!”
The mana being supplied to the skies above made it seem as if gravity had gone bonkers and decided to butcher everyone on the ground. Kanari’s ruby eyes glistened in a glow of terror as her image begun to turn more and more savage. To maintain the ungodly amounts of mana she was outputting, Kanari had melded with the Kumiho Spirit even more than before, forcing her to revert back into a more primal state.
A deafening blow, incomparable to anything that came before it, shook the stadium. The last-minute enchantments that had been placed by the staff members had been utterly decimated while the poorly made barrier was at the brink of collapsing. The referee, who should have been adjudicating the match, had retreated to a safe place, far from the terror that Kanari had unleashed upon the land.
To burn… No, the Lunar Beams skipped the process of burning and instantly evaporated the entire arena, revealing the youth, who had his shirt burnt to cinders, lying still on the floor. Controlling the air around her, Kanari dove straight to the ground with astonishing speed and straightened her palm so that her claws at her fingertips were in full view. Stopping the chop just centimetres above Shizen’s throat, Kanari smiled.
“I’ve found you~.”
“Hah… Hah… Kanari, you’re really untouchable huh?” Shizen sighed bitterly. After Shin’s fight, he thought that it would be best for him to go all out, and hope that he could somehow wrestle a win away from the Witch in the South. However, Kanari was at the apex for a reason.
“Do you want to continue?”
“Don’t be stupid, who would fight you after that display?!” Shizen scoffed at Kanari’s suggestion and raised his hand to alert the referee.
“Wise choice.” Kanari withdrew her hand and released her spiritual body enhancement. Leaning down, the girl helped Shizen to get to his feet.
“I’m worried about Shin…” While stumbling, the brown-haired youth muttered out his worry.
“I know, I am too… Let’s visit him after this.”
“You know where he is?!”
“I have an idea… However, it would be best for you to behave before his master. Venerate Seraphim can instantly paralyse any one of us.”
“Yeah, I felt it just now… That woman… Scary…” Shizen shivered as he recalled the tremendous spiritual pressure that Lady Seph had released.
“Haha! What a perfect description of her!”
As the semifinals came to an end, Kanari felt her friendship with Shizen deepen as they bonded over their fear of a particular blonde woman…