“You want to join the training exercise with the military?” An adenoidal voice shrieked out, forcing Shin to cover his ears in agony.
“Master, there was a lead that a Black Mask operation was being hatched in the area! If I want to confront them, this is an excellent first step!” Unfazed by his Master’s wrath, Shin tried his best to convince her. “Furthermore, I’ll merely be part of the supply lines, I won’t really be in the thick of the actions.”
“That’s not my issue, you brat! The military is a vile organisation! I thought I made it crystal clear to you!”
“I know that, and I haven’t forgotten it!” Shin knew that his master was going to have an adverse reaction to his decision to aid the military. Thus, he was prepared to convince her with all he had. “However, if I simply remained holed up in the academy for six years, there would be no room for me to grow. Even you said it before! Reading ten thousand books isn’t as good as travelling ten thousand miles! If I want to combat the Black Masks, I can’t just stay in the academy for six years!”
“…” Now that Shin was putting words in her mouth, Lady Seph had no significant counter. She had always feared the day where Shin would join the politics of the nation and tread down the path she hated the most. “Must it really be with the military?”
“Master… I understand your difficulties. So I have a proposal.” Sensing that the blonde beauty was softening up, Shin opted to land the final blow. “Either way, I wasn’t invited to join the expedition since I’m still a sophomore. However, I will be attending as an assistant to a teacher who was in charge of guarding the supplies. Technically speaking, I’m not directly involved in the joint military training, and there will be minimal interactions with the soldiers from the Imperial Army.”
For Shin and Isadore to sneak into the joint training exercise as sophomores, they had to find a legitimate reason. Thankfully, through the silver-haired boy’s excellent connections, they found one in the supply lines, where there was a severe deficit in manpower. Under the guise of ‘assisting their teachers,’ Shin and Isadore would be given a way to sneak out of the camp and investigate on the Black Masks syndicate all on their own.
“I’m still not entirely sold…” Seated in her chair, Lady Seph furrowed her brows and took a large gulp of her tea. “Tell me the details of this so-called ‘clue’ you got about the Black Mask operation.”
Shin smiled. He could tell that the odds were now tipped to his favour. Recounting his entire conversation with Isadore, the black-haired youth patiently explained all that he knew. He had even told Lady Seph about how resourceful Isadore was.
“Isadore… That’s the name of the silver-haired spear brat right…”
“Yeah! He’s my neighbour in the dorms. We have been hanging out since orientation week.”
“Figures… To think that Eru had linked the two of you together…” Lady Seph continued to drink her tea while her mind wandered back to the year-end tournament. The first time she lay eyes on Isadore’s Spirit, she knew that there would be a major upheaval in the Empire. As much as she hated the Imperial Courts and the military, she had nothing against the Imperial Lineage, as well as the Imperial Ancestor that stood behind Isadore. “Well, if you got information from him, it should be legitimate.”
“Master? You know of Isadore’s background?” Shin couldn’t believe his ears. Isadore was an enigma. He didn’t look particularly fit, but he was undoubtedly the best martial artist in his generation. Although he denied being part of High Society, he had ties to Kanari as well as an information network that could rival the Imperial Family’s intelligence agency, Spion. His Spirit was a deadly spear, but yet, there didn’t seem to be any elements emitted from it nor has he shown any sort of spiritual ability.
In all, Isadore had always been secretive about his origins, and often times, Shin would hypothesise that his good friend was merely a ghost.
“Hmmm, I guess I could tell you, but don’t go spreading it…” Lady Seph shut the drapes and lowered her voice. “I don’t want that leather-faced asshole to come looking for me after all.”
“…” Shin unconsciously gulped down a mouthful of saliva and leaned in close. He had been with Lady Seph for almost six years now, and there were very few moments where she would appear this serious.
“Where to begin? The Himmel Empire has a long history, that dates back to the years of the warring states. Back then, conflicts were rife, and clans or sects would rise and fall at the snap of a finger.” The blonde woman tapped her fingers on her desk and brought out a piece of paper. Reverting to her historian mode, Shin’s Master drew a simple map of the ancient Terre Continent to aid in her explanations.
“One of the most prominent family clans in the ancient world was one called the Himmel Tribe. As the name suggests, the Himmel Tribe were the ancestors of the men and women we call the Imperials today. The descendants of the Himmel Tribe were all valiant warriors, with many of them easily attaining Spirit Emperor status through sheer will.”
“Eventually, one of the mightiest ancestors of the Himmel Tribe broke through the final barrier of humanity during the Day of Spirits and ascended into the Immortal Realm, allowing more and more spiritual energy to seep into the Terre Continent. It was a cause for a worldwide celebration, but well… The ones who benefited the most from the ascension of the Himmel Tribe ancestor was none other than the Himmel Tribe itself.”
“You see, a few years after the ancestor ascended, a few newborns of the tribe suddenly awakened a new type of variant Spirit. Initially, due to the mutation of their genes, the children were deemed as cursed, as they didn’t bolster the same features that their brethren had. Although they were shunned, they weren’t really prosecuted and were given the same basic training that their peers had. However, it quickly became clear that the Spirit they wielded were much more different than it seemed.” At this point, Lady Seph heightened her senses to ensure that no one was eavesdropping on the conversation. From this point on, everything that she was going to divulge to Shin was exceptionally classified, and she just had to be sure that the location was secure.
“The children who awakened their mutated Spirit had no elemental energy, and neither did it follow any of the conventional methods of cultivation. It even lacked the most basic concept of all Spirits… It was unable to create spiritual abilities…”
“WHAT?!” Shin gasped. “You mean they can’t promote above the Spirit Practitioner realm?!”
For a cultivator to promote from the Spirit Practitioner realm to the Spirit Apostle realm, they had to learn a spiritual ability, either through a hereditary opuscule or comprehending one themselves. It was a well-known fact of the cultivation world.
“No, they can promote, but they can’t or rather, they don’t need to learn a spiritual ability to advance. They only need to cultivate as per usual, and they can advance all the way to the Spirit Saint realm if they are talented enough.”
“What a preposterous Spirit…” Shin cried out.
“No, Shin… It isn’t preposterous, it’s absolutely frightening…” Lady Seph shivered and felt her throat dry up. Emptying the teacup that stood before her, the blonde beauty deeply inhaled as a dreadful memory surfaced. “That Spirit is the sole reason why the Himmel Tribe had transformed into the Himmel Empire.”
“What do you mean?”
“In the war to end all wars, thousands of family clans, martial sects and ancient organisations fell. However, the Himmel Tribe continued on fighting till the end and had even gained enough power to reign supreme over the south. While the Kori Federation held the power of thousands of tribes, and the Lantis Republic relied on the bloodline of the Eight Scions of Water, the Himmel Empire alone was formed with the descendants of the Himmel Tribe at its core… Why do you think that’s the case?”
“That…” In truth, this was a question that boggled Shin as well. How could the Himmel Empire still remain as a superpower that could contest against the combined might of thousands of clans?
“It’s precisely because of the Spirit that your friend had awakened… The Spirit of Himmel.”
“That’s the name of the spear he wields? The Spirit of Himmel?” Shin exclaimed.
“Mmmm…” Lady Seph nodded. “In the Imperial Family, there are currently two cultivators that awakened the Spirit of Himmel. Your friend Isadore is one of them… While the other is the current true Hegemon of the Himmel Empire. The Imperial Ancestor.”
‘To think that Isadore had such a background!’ Shin mentally screamed out. He thought back to the many times that he chided Isadore and ‘playfully’ screamed at him. If those incidents were being monitored, Shin would have committed Lese Majeste without even knowing about it!
“Few Spirit Saints are residing in the Himmel Empire, but the Imperial Ancestor is undoubtedly the strongest among them. In fact, to a certain degree, he might even be the most powerful Spirit Saint in the world. Even though he had washed his hands off the issues of the mortal realm, if it comes to raising an heir that had awakened the Spirit of Himmel, there’s no way that leathery-faced bastard wouldn’t interfere.”
“That’s why your friend’s position is a little special. The Himmel Empire could lose of few Imperials, and to a certain extent, they could even lose the current Sovereign Emperor, Tenno, if it really needed to. However, there was no way that they would sacrifice Isadore.”
“You’re saying that Isadore is more important than the current Emperor?!”
“Of course! His Spirit is one that would be the eternal shield of the Empire! Although that leathery-faced bastard is near invincible, even he can’t outswim the river of time. The day he dies, is the day that the other two powers start thinking about an invasion. After all, his Spirit of Himmel was capable of taking on an army of millions with ease. Hence, he would raise Isadore as if he were a treasured-being. If you’re going with Isadore to the Land of Dreams, make sure to keep close to him! I reckon that there would at least be a thousand guards watching his every move. You would be safe with him near.”
“Master, are you saying that I can leave for the Land of Dreams!”
Shin recognised the nuance in her speech and realised that she had subconsciously given him the green light. Caught off guard, Lady Seph could only stutter as she realised that she had been checkmated.
“Tch, even though I hate the military and the Imperial Courts, I have nothing against the Imperial Family and their dastardly ancestor… Fine, you can go! But no helping those bastards, you here me! I don’t want to hear a tale of MY disciple laying a single finger to heal or assist those in the military! If you see some officer dying before you, just end his suffering! Don’t use MY healing abilities to treat them! You hear me?!”
“Hehe, Master you’re the best!” Shin giggled and teased the blushing blonde beauty.
“You little brat… Go brew me some Oolong tea first! I need to quell this belly of fire!!!”
“Haha, of course!”
The sweet aroma of tea leaves being boiled filled the humble office of the Spirit Venerate as Shin’s hands moved on instinct. Even though it has been a while since he brewed tea, his body still remembered the precise steps that had been ingrained into him over the years.
“By the way, Master… What’s so special about the Spirit of Himmel? Why is it capable of taking down an army of millions?” Finishing the final step, Shin elegantly poured the tea into a warmed-up cup.
“You really want to know?” Lady Seph grinned. “Well then, take a seat first cause the answer would shock you to your core!”