Himmel Empire. Lady Seph’s Estate.
As the monsoon season came to its peak, the torrential rain that fell from the heavens became more and more commonplace and often times, it would rain for over twelve hours each day. No matter where you were in the Capital, there was no running away from nature. Fortunately, many loved the stormy weather. Rain gives them an excuse to stay indoors and snuggle up in bed, something that Shin used to love doing. However, after being bedridden for two days, even he started to get bored stiff.
“Master is such a worrywart… I can move just fine!” Shin grumbled to himself.
After being rescued by Lady Seph, Shin was forced to eat over five meals a day, take ten blood-nourishment pills, and for some reason, he was given a crimson liquid to consume that seemed suspiciously like blood. Furthermore, he was forced to lie still in bed without much to do. When he brought up his concerns, it was immediately struck down by the blonde beauty.
“What do you mean, I’m still in a weak state? I can move just fine right?” Sighing the black-haired boy hopped to his feet, only to find that his legs turned wobbly. Struggling to stand upright, the youth wiggled his body like an acrobat, hoping to regain his balance. It was only after twenty seconds of ‘dancing,’ did he finally fall back onto his bed with a thud.
“Okay… Maybe not that fine…”
“Hey, Shin! You tried to walk again right?!”
While he was recovering from his stumble, an infuriated voice echoed down from the hallways as a shadowy figure edged closer to his door. A bead of cold sweat flowed down his forehead as Shin started to brace himself for the scolding that he was going to get.
“Elyse! Let me explain! I was trying to get myself a cup of tea, and…”
“I told you, if you want anything, just call for me! I will come immediately to help you.”
Slamming open the door, a sapphire-colour haired girl stormed in with puffed cheeks, akin to that of a squirrel who was hiding its nuts. Wearing an apron that was stained with a variety of sauces and oils, it was evident that the girl had just emerged from the kitchen.
Even though Elyse was two years younger than Shin, she had hit puberty earlier this year and was no longer the innocent young girl that clung to the black-haired boy at every turn. She had grown in height and was already at 1.5 metres, even though she was only thirteen years old. Due to the nature of her wind-elemental Spirit, Elyse boasted a lean body that contained the minimum amount of fat, so that she could move with great agility.
Learning to fend for herself, Elyse had reached the Spirit Apostle realm and was fast pushing Rank 11. Since her goal was to enter Imperius Academy, the girl had long reached the minimum threshold required, and only had to wait one more year to be accepted. However, for the past two days, the blooming girl had put aside her intense training regimen, to become Shin’s exclusive nurse.
“Sorry…” Always weak against Elyse, Shin dropped his head and apologised.
“Shin, you have to learn to rely on me! Your body is still not fully recovered, so you shouldn’t think about moving!”
“Are you going to treat me as a cripple from now on?”
“At least until Lady Seph says its okay for you to move on your own.”
“What?! If Master says never, then wouldn’t I have to stay here for eternity?!”
“Oh~. That’s actually not so bad…”
The two teenagers stared at each other silently for almost ten seconds. However, unable to bear it no longer, Shin was the first one to burst out into laughter. “Pfffft, hahaha! What are we doing?”
“Hehe, it’s been a while since we did one of those plays.” Elyse giggled back. “Alright, your dinner is almost ready. By the way, you have some guests. Fionn is bringing them in now.”
“Guests? Are they Emma and Ella?” Shin thought to himself before making an educated guess. The only people who knew where Shin was outside of Lady Seph’s abode were the twins.
“Yeah… And the brought back some friends.” Elyse smiled and peeked out the door. “I’ve heard that there were two pretty girls along with them.”
‘Pretty girls? They must be Kanari and Elrin…’ Shin thought of the clique that he always hung out with and could roughly guess who his guests were. “How many people are there?”
“Don’t know… I was only told that you had guests and there were pretty girls.” Elyse shrugged her shoulders. “You know, you never told me anything about your friends in school… I wonder what they’re like?”
“You’ll be surprised…” Shin laughed as he sat upright on his bed. It wouldn’t take long for the group to reach his resting area, so he did his best to look perfectly fine.
As anticipated, two minutes later, a variety of shadows came walking down the hallway and entered the room. At the helm of the group, was a short thirteen-year-old girl, who seemed to be slightly tomboyish. Just like Elyse, Fionn had just entered puberty and was in the midst of growing. However, unlike her peer, Fionn had developed condensed muscles that made her resemble a warrior from the Amazon.
“Shin, I brought your guests.” While she spoke in an apathetic manner, Fionn’s eyes were trembling as she pointed her thumb to the side, confusing Elyse on what had tripped her up. However, the moment Shin’s guests came into view, the sapphire-colour haired girl dropped her jaw in awe.
Excluding the familiar faces of the twins, Elyse eyes nearly popped out of her sockets after observing the other members of the group. There was a brown-haired boy, who seemed to be no older than herself. The moment he saw Shin, his eyes begun to mist and he ran straight to the bed without caring of the reprecussions.
Behind him, a silver-haired boy, whose features would rival that of any celebrity woman, helplessly shook his head. In his hands, he held a basket of luxurious items, such as the best grade of abalone and body nourishment food items. Although Elyse had minimal experience in shopping, even she knew with one glance that the articles in the basket would cost anyone a fortune.
Standing next to the silver-haired boy, a white-haired girl donned in the most extravagant robes giggled and continued her way inside the room. Instructing the boy beside her to put the basket down with care, it didn’t take an idiot to guess who was the one who purchased that extravagant care package.
However, the true perpetrator of Elyse and Fionn’s shock was the young maiden standing at the very back. Her ruby eyes that mesmerised all who gazed into them shone brilliantly with the dim lights of the room. The black haired that flowed down to her bum was free from any entanglements or dirt that it made one question how could a fighter like her condition her hair to such perfection?
Kanari was never one to wear makeup, as her natural beauty was potent enough to fall even the most devoted of men. However, on this day, the girl’s face was dabbed in rouge, and her lips were highlighted with a dark lip balm. Wearing a pure white dress that emphasised on her figure, the girl was perhaps, the most beautiful she had ever been.
“So pretty…” Elyse unknowingly blurted out.
Initially, after being conditioned by Lady Seph’s heavenly looks, Elyse thought that no one on planet earth could rival the Spirit Venerate’s beauty. However, on this day, she was proven drastically wrong. Her imagination had been lacking. The girl in front of her wasn’t a human, but a descended goddess here to stir up the hearts of all living creatures that saw her.
“You must be Elyse… Emma has told me much about you.” Glancing down at the thirteen-year-old, Kanari smiled radiantly and offered her hand. “I’m Kanari Saniela, Shin’s classmate.”
“A-Ah, yes! My name is Elyse! A pleasure to meet you!”
“The pleasure is mine.” Kanari shook the trembling hand of Elyse with a raised eyebrow. She didn’t understand why Elyse was being so apprehensive to meeting her for the first time. Nonetheless, every single one of the orphans was vital in her quest to bring Shin over to her camp, so Kanari was determined to make a good first impression.
“Shin! Are you alright?”
While Kanari was dealing with the tongue-tied Elyse, the rest of the group had gathered around Shin’s bed, with Shizen bawling his eyes out.
“Relax guys, I’m fine,” Shin reassured the group with a wry smile. “I just lost a little blood. It’ll take some time for me to completely recuperate, but otherwise, I’m completely healthy.”
“You were too brash, Shin…” Isadore folded his arms and lay on a nearby pillar. Among the clique, only he knew of Shin’s plan to deal with Suji. “I told you that it was a stupid idea in the first place.”
“But it worked! I won the match, so all is good!”
“That’s not the point…” Isadore slapped his forehead. “By the way, I heard that the Lasgeor family head wanted to visit you… Have you received him yet?”
“How did you know about that?” Shin widened his eyes. Gaji Lasgeor’s visit was not widely spread, and yet, the silver-haired youth somehow managed to obtain that information.
“So, have you met him?”
“Yeah… He was peculiar…”
Shin dropped his head and recalled the night where Gaji Lasgeor entered Lady Seph’s abode. Initially, Shin was scared stiff that the man wanted to seek revenge for Suji. However, the Lasgeor family head quietly stood there for ten seconds and carefully examined Shin from head to toe. After which, he just left.
“Hmmm, well at least you don’t have to worry about the Lasgeor or Frithron family. I’ve heard that when Danroy awakened, he convinced his father not to stir up any trouble with you or the academy.”
“Is that so?” Shin rubbed his chin as he thought back on the chubby youth he had beaten.
“Shin~ Open wide~.”
As if irritated that Shin was only talking to Isadore, Elrin removed the skin of a blood lychee she had brought and inched it closer to the disabled youth’s mouth. “I’ve heard you needed some nourishment, so I bought some of the best fruits and edibles on the market.”
“Thank you, Elrin.” Shin moved towards the edge of the bed and fitted the entire fruit in his mouth. “By the way, how are things in the academy now?”
“Hectic… Do you know during the coronation ceremony, Kanari was-!” Before Elrin could continue, Kanari slapped her childhood friend’s head down.
“It’s nothing of importance…”
“I see… Oh, speaking of the coronation ceremony, I’d nearly forgot! Congratulations on winning the year-end tournament! It’s a pity that I didn’t manage to compete with you.” Shin smiled. “Now you’re definitely going to become the valedictorian!”
“Hah… You still did better academically though…”
It was true. At the end of the year, Shin scored almost 990 points in his cumulative score, while Kanari only had 968. If not for the year-end tournaments, Shin would have been destined to become the freshmen’s valedictorian.
“Haha, yeah… I’ll do better next year though! Don’t get too comfortable with the view at the top!” Shin joked.
“… Shin, I have something to talk to you about.”
“What is it?”
“I have a new offer on the table. For you to join the Highgarden Duchy that is.” Although Kanari didn’t want to bother Shin while he’s in the midst of recuperating, it was imperative that he heard her offer. With all the noise being spread in the Capital right now, it wasn’t strange for all the large-scale organisations to target the genius boy, for better or for worse. Thus, Kanari opted to act as swiftly as possible.
“…” Shin’s squinted his eyes. “Why are you suddenly bringing this up?”
“Since you’re holed up here, you don’t understand the chaos that’s going on in High Society. A talented youth like you, who is unaffiliated with any organisations other than the Healer’s Association is an asset that everyone wants to get their hands on. However, there are also those with more sinister motives…”
“I see… So you’re trying to recruit me for my protection?”
“I can’t deny that I have ulterior motives as well. I need you to bolster my forces in Highgarden, you see.” Kanari pleasantly revealed her true intentions.
“I’m assuming that Elrin also has an offer from the Zedcris Conglomerate?”
“Ding, ding, ding! You’re so smart!” Elrin adorably stuck out her tongue.
“…” Shin sat there in silence for a brief moment. Thinking back to the past year, Shin reflected on all of his experiences. His world was turned upside down after the Black Masks syndicate kidnapped him and revealed the truth of his birth. His mind had been sent to turmoil by the loss of Ariel, Lily and Linus back on Frie Mountain. His life path had changed as he stepped foot onto the Capital, forcing him to start from ground zero. And now… He was about to traverse yet another crossroad.
“I reject all of your offers.”
“Shin!” Kanari raised her voice in angst and was prepared to use any means necessary to convince the youth to join her ranks. However, before she could rebut, the youth raised his hands.
“I have a counter offer…” Shin smiled. He could no longer let anyone else dictate his life. From now on, he was calling the shots.
“I’m thinking of forming my own organisation… Do you want to join?”
~~~ End of Book 5 ~~~