The Himmel Empire. A mighty nation that commanded over a population of a billion. One of the three superpowers that governed the land, the superior country easily towered over any civilisation in history with its robust military and modern government system. While it was technically an absolute monarchy, it had split its power into two, between the Imperial Bloodline and the Imperial Courts.
Knowing that nepotism and human nature would have caused the downfall of their empire, the early ancestors of the Imperial Bloodline did well to curb their own influence over the nation by appointing ministers that controlled various sectors of the government. Furthermore, with the inclusion of nobility, the Imperial Bloodline had to be always on their toes. For the most part, the separation of power had proven the Empire well.
Each time an Emperor had become too radical, the Imperial Courts were able to pull him back in line. Whenever the Imperial Courts decided to commit to something drastic, the Imperial Bloodline would be there to veto the decision. Finally, the nobles that had a foot in each camp were the ones supervising the whole government, ensuring that no entity becomes too uncontrollable.
The delicate balance between the Imperial Bloodline and Imperial Courts had guaranteed the prosperity of the nation for thousands of years. However, there was no such thing as a perfect system. On one fateful day, the balance had been shaken to its foundations, due to the existence of one particular individual…
“Lady Seph! Lady Seph!” A young chubby boy ran through the hallways of the palatial chambers with relative enthusiasm.
“God damn it! Why are you so noisy, Mesyl?!” An adenoidal voice hollered out in annoyance.
A blonde-haired woman, who seemed to be on the verge of entering her twilight years, halted her steps and turned back to face the oncoming adolescent boy. Her aquamarine eyes glistened in the chandelier light, bringing a sense of wisdom to her professor look.
“I’d heard that you’ll be leaving for the west! Are you abandoning the Capital?”
“Tskk, word travels fast…” Lady Seph clicked her tongue. She had just informed the Emperor that she was going to Frie Mountain to tutor the heir of the Frie Clan for a couple of months, and yet, this attendant of hers had already heard the news. “Yeah, I’ll be leaving in a few weeks. I still have to tie up some loose ends here.”
“Please, Lady Seph! Don’t leave us… Don’t leave me! I haven’t entered your tutelage yet!” Mesyl fell onto his knees like a beggar asking for some spare change.
“Disgusting… Is this how a future Duke should act?!” Not even caring about committing Leste Majeste, Lady Seph kicked the cousin of the Crown Prince away from her feet. “Listen up, boy! You can’t even boil a kettle of tea right! How could you even fathom of being my disciple?! All of the tests that I had given you, you had failed miserably! You can’t even control your own mana, how do you expect to become a healer?”
Spewing out deadly curses, Lady Seph degraded the young teenager as if he were the worst piece of trash that had ever existed.
“I know that I’m not worthy yet! Just give me a few more years! I’ll definitely live up to your expectations then!” Mesyl begged with snot dripping down his nose. “I will finish all of my assessments and master my mana control! I will definitely become proficient enough to become worthy of your student!!!”
“…” Lady Seph grimaced. The only reason why she was that harsh on Mesyl was due to his inferior talent for becoming a healer. Forget her, even regular healers would have to deliberately lower their standards to accept the young Duke into their apprenticeship. Lady Seph thought that after numerous months of berating and torture, Mesyl would finally give up on the healing path and find something else that suited his style.
Contrary to her expectations, Mesyl continued to persist. Enduring the venom that was spewed out from her mouth, the young Duke bit down on his lip and continued to focus on his tasks, hopeful that one day, the Divine Healer would finally relent and let him into her tutelage.
While she disliked wasting her time, Lady Seph could admire the dedication that Mesyl had for the healing path. He may be clumsy and ignorant at times, but at least he’s always striving to improve, something exceedingly rare in the Healer’s Association.
“Do as you will…” Not sure of how to deal with the tenacious Mesyl, Lady Seph decided to leave it hanging as she returned to her quarters.
“Thank you! Thank you, Lady Seph!!!”
“What a stupid boy.” Lady Seph chided the young boy softly. Nonetheless, she couldn’t help but feel a wry smile climb up her face. “The most that I could do is give you some guidance. Accepting a disciple?”
All her life, Lady Seph had never once thought of accepting a disciple. She had taught many talents in her life, but she had never once considered the idea of formally bringing someone into her tutelage. Perhaps due to her constant interactions with geniuses, her standards had been raised to an exceptional degree. Furthermore, she would much rather work on her own cultivation than to commit to raising another person with her expertise. Nevertheless, there was no such thing as absolutes in this world.
“Maybe the Frie Clan heir has something that could shock me?” Lady Seph wondered.
While she hasn’t accepted any disciples, she wasn’t that repulsed to the idea of teaching another. In fact, in the Capital alone, she had given guidance to upwards of fifty prominent names. Whether it be in cultivation or on any research topic that she had been skilled in. Lady Seph may have the title of Imperial Physician, but her actual role in the Empire was much more than just a simple healer.
An Imperial Tutor, lead researcher of her own laboratory, and an advisor to all internal and foreign affairs be it small or large, one would argue that Lady Seph’s influence was no less significant than the Emperor’s. Merchants, ministers, diplomats. There was no shortage of personnel that came to Lady Seph for help. Which was why…
“Hmmm? A letter?” Taking off her coat, Lady Seph finally noticed an unsuspecting sealed envelope lying on her desk. “Is there someone asking for help again?”
Lady Seph picked up the envelope and circled her index finger around the seal. The moment her dainty fingers touched the wax insignia, a dense mana reaction burst out in a dazzling light, pricking the middle-aged woman in the process.
“What a strong seal!” Lady Seph exclaimed. “The sender must have really wanted it to be secure.”
Her interest piqued, Lady Seph encircled the wax seal once more, this time she had dedicated all of her focus and mana into breaking the envelope. After ten minutes, the Spirit Emperor finally was able to reveal the contents and continued to read the document with a smile.
The first paragraph… Her curled lips slowly descended to her dimples. The second paragraph… Lady Seph began to frown in displeasure as an unpleasant feeling crept up her heart. The end of the first page… Smoke whistled out of her delicate ears, and her face immediately turned crimson in complete anger. Finally, after Lady Seph had finished reading the entire letter, she broke out in an intense rage. The Iofiel Angel appeared within the luxurious office as the spiritual energies spike in the room.
“Those fuckers… THOSE FUCKERS!!!” Screaming out in hysteria, Lady Seph opened her arms and allowed the Iofiel Angel to merge with her body. Turning back into the body when she was in her prime, Lady Seph flapped her wings once and broke through the glass window, speeding out of the office at breakneck speeds.
Himmel Empire. The Capital. Research Facility Six.
“Lady Seph! What are you doing?!” An exasperated cry filled the stuffy atmosphere of the country’s leading laboratories.
A white-coated elderly man faced the angel that had descended from the heavens like a comet with a determined expression on his face. His knees were jiggly, and all the hairs on his body were firmly erect in fear, nonetheless, to protect his research, to protect the years that he had spent on this project, the elderly scientist was resolved to take on the infamous Imperial Physician of the Empire.
Initially, when she first read the anonymous letter, Lady Seph was sceptical. She couldn’t believe that the entity that she served, the Empire that she had held so dear to her heart could have done such an atrocious deed. However, as they all say, seeing was believing.
Glancing about in the laboratory, she could see countless of dead carcasses lying within the tubes that were specially designed for their usage. Snowy white fur, with gorgeous looking black eyes, Lady Seph could accurately recognise the poor species that had been experimented on with a cruel heart.
“Kamaitachis… So the letter was true…”
A few years back, when Lady Seph was running some errands for the Himmel Empire up north, she had encountered this wild beast. A lord of the ice element, the Kamaitachi was a spectacular creature that could easily reach Tier 8 with some guidance. Not only that, it was rather docile in nature and wouldn’t actively harm humans unless disturbed. During her expedition, Lady Seph found a friendly herd of Kamaitachis that had assisted her in completing her assignment.
Impressed by how friendly those creatures were, Lady Seph decided to mark down their den so that any future expedition members could find them and seek their assistance. Unfortunately, her actions had instead fueled the greed of the Imperial Courts. Thinking that they could harness the power of the Kamaitachis, the Imperial Courts ordered a mass capture of those surviving in the den for experimentation.
Just imagine. If the Himmel Empire exploited the nature of the Tier 8 Spirit Beasts and were able to mass produce Kamaitachis, wouldn’t the new force become the strongest in history? However, when they finally managed to bring back the dozen-odd herd, a problem arose. As it turned out, the Kamaitachis didn’t take the forced relocation too smoothly and turned violent almost the instant that they woke up. Creating craters of ice, while fatally wounding any that attempted to touch them, the Kamaitachis become the weapons that the Himmel Empire sorely wanted, just that their claws were directed straight that the Empire.
Forced to make a decision, the Imperial Courts ordered Research Facility Six to figure out a method to neutralise the threat that the Kamaitachis posed, and if possible, place them under their strict control. And thus, a series of unethical experimentations formally began.
The scientists tried declawing the Kamaitachis, separating the young away from their parents, drugging them into obedience, and had even wandered into the path of no return… Recreating a fresh Kamaitachi from scratch. The experiments were so wild and disgusting that it had led to one compassionate researcher from the team to write an anonymous letter so that someone could lead an end to this madness once and for all.
“You fuckers… YOU FUCKERS!!!” Waving her hand, Lady Seph sent a mana surge that rippled through the laboratory and eventually, the entire Capital.
The underground facility shook in fear, and the laboratory items all broke into a thousand pieces. With another wave of her hand, Lady Seph gathered the surviving Kamaitachis and cast her most potent healing ability. Of the bunch, some had their four limbs torn away from their body. Others had been injected with a mutation that made their eyes ten times bigger than it was supposed to be.
“Terrible… How could a human do this?” A teardrop fell down from Lady Seph’s sky blue eyes as she fell onto her knees.
She felt anguish. She felt hate. However, the one emotion that trumped them all was regret. She should have known better. She should have known that publishing the location of the Kamaitachis would have led to this result. Yet, Lady Seph naively believed that her brethren would do the right thing. She foolishly trusted the Imperial Courts with the lived of the sentient living creatures that could have done no harm if they were left alone.
“Yip yip?” A feeble cry echoed out from the mouths of the Kamaitachis. Sensing that a little bit of their power had been returned to them, the snowy white gerbils all looked at Lady Seph with an expression of happiness and benevolence.
“Even now, you still don’t blame me?” Lady Seph couldn’t stop her tears from flowing. The Kamaitachis were kind in nature. If someone helped them, they would treat them like family.
“Yip… Yip…” The most wounded Kamaitachi pointed deep into the facility, hinting that something significant had been stored there.
Without batting an eye, Lady Seph barged straight at the item that the mortally wounded Kamaitachi had pointed out, only to find a fat sedated Kamaitachi lying flat in a carefully constructed apparatus.
“She’s pregnant?” Lady Seph could tell that the slumbering Kamaitachi had been experimented on due to its unnatural size. If not for the device that was enveloping her, the Spirit Beast might have already passed on.
“…” Hearing that familiar voice, Lady Seph immediately frowned and glanced over her shoulders. Apparently, her flashy arrival at the research facility had started to draw some attention.
“Seraphim! What are you doing?!” The Imperial Court Chief Advisor ran into the chamber. “This is government property! You can’t just walk in here!!!”
“You fuckers!!! WHO THE HELL GAVE YOU PERMISSION TO EXPERIMENT ON THE KAMAITACHIS?!?!?!” Yelling at the top of her lungs, Lady Seph cast her strongest skill to bring the research facility, as well as all of its data, down.
“Seraphim! What are you doing?!”
“What is right!” Within seconds, the world crumbled all around Lady Seph and the Imperial Court Chief Advisor, ending the years of research that had been assembled.
“Y-you… Y-you…” Speechless by her actions, the only thing that the Chief Advisor could do was point his finger in indignation. “Do you think that you can get away with this, Seraphim?! What you have done has crossed a line that not even the His Majesty can spare you from!!!”
“His Majesty, huh?” Lady Seph shifted her gaze heavenward. The skies turned golden, and the air became crisper. Sneaking in a grin, Lady Seph turned to the advisor. “Why don’t you ask him yourself?”
Like a dragon descending from the heavens, a golden chariot powered by two celestial pegasuses thundered upon the facility, revealing two well-dressed individuals. The sissy-looking man first came out of the chariot and elegantly placed his short pole with a horse tail tip on the opposite end of his elbow joint.
“What’s with this ruckus in the middle of the night?!” Gonggong chided the two. “You have disturbed my… I mean His Majesty’s sleep!!!”
At that moment, a regal elderly man climbed out from the chariot and flew down towards Lady Seph and the Imperial Court Chief Advisor. Almost at the extreme end of his twilight years, the old man had a face filled with wrinkles, and the fire in his eyes had virtually died out. Each time he took a step, he had to be supported by an august cane with a dragon’s head, making it hard to believe that he was the Sovereign one of the most powerful nations the world has ever seen.
“Greetings, Your Majesty!!!” Both Lady Seph and the Chief Advisor cupped their hands and bowed to the monarch that they served.
“Dispense with the formalities. Let’s cut to the chase.”
“Your Majesty! Seraphim has taken her privilege too far this time!” The Chief Advisor struck first. “She destroyed a research facility that we had spent thousands of gold on and years of expertise to complete!”
“Wasted gold and time.” Lady Seph coldly jeered. “Your Majesty, look at what the Imperial Court had ordered.”
Raising up the damaged Kamaitachis in her arms, Lady Seph showed all of the deformities that had been inflicted upon them during the experimentation.
“Kamaitachis aren’t mindless Spirit Beasts that attack innocents. A fully-grown Kamaitachi has the intelligence of a normal human adult. They have never attacked any populations, and they pose no threat to civilisation. Heck, they had even aided me in one of my campaigns. Yet, these monsters have tortured the Kamaitachis to this extent!”
“This is…” The Emperor looked appalled at the terrible state that the Kamaitachis were under. He was under the impression that the Kamaitachis would just be tamed using conventional methods, not experimented outside of human morality. If the word had gotten out as to how badly the Himmel Empire was treating the Kamaitachis, the international community would curse the nation into oblivion, giving others a legitimate reason to denounce the state.
It didn’t take long for the Emperor’s shock to turn into absolute rage. “Chief Advisor… Why didn’t you tell me that you’re green-lighting an experiment?! Especially one of this degree?!”
“Your Majesty?” The Chief Advisor finally realised that the Emperor was siding with Lady Seph, just like he always did. Feeling left alone, the elderly man similarly turned red-hot in anger.
“If I had told you, would you have signed the approval?”
“Chief Advisor! It’s not your job to determine whether I sign it or not! Your job is to tell me everything that the Imperial Courts plan to do!!!”
“No, that’s not my job!” The Chief Advisor shook his head. “My job is to protect the Himmel Empire, and this initiative will secure our future! A world where endless Kamaitachis are born and raised for the Army! We will be the strongest force in the history of mankind! No one will be able to question our sovereignty, even if all our Spirit Saints pass on!!!”
“ENOUGH!!!” A solemn aura shut the Chief Advisor up, bringing the conversation into an awkward halt.
“I have let you run unhindered for far too long…” The Emperor sadly said.
“No… You have lost sight of what’s important. The members of the Imperial Courts, they are all in agreement with this experiment. What’s one small sacrifice for the grand scheme of things?!”
“That means I have let you all run unhindered for far too long…” Looking as bitter as can be, the Emperor seemed to have aged even further. He had governed over the Empire for far too long. Now that his reign was about to end, his subordinates had finally turned rampant. “This ends today. Gonggong, convene an Imperial Session.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.” Accepting his orders and the fact that he wouldn’t get any sleep tonight, Gonggong took to the skies and returned back to the palace.
“…” The Chief Advisor glared at Lady Seph with anger written all over his face, until he too, flew off into the distance. There was no need for more words. Everything would be settled in the Imperial Session.
“Seraphim… I’m sorry.” Dropping his kingly atmosphere, the Emperor walked to the side of Lady Seph and apologised with all his heart.
“Your Majesty… I was the one that discovered the Kamaitachis’ den.”
“I was the one that gave them the location.”
Lady Seph tightened her hold on the eight remaining Kamaitachis in her arms. There were dozens of Kamaitachis when she first saw them, and now, there were less than ten. Furthermore, all of them who survived the experimentation had defects, and there was a high likelihood that they wouldn’t survive for much longer. Effectively, her words had caused everything that had happened to these pitiable creatures.
“It’s not your fault. No one expected them to forget their humanity.”
“Humanity, huh?” Lady Seph snorted. Humans? Even beasts wouldn’t torture their prey before eating them. What the Imperial Courts had done to the Kamaitachis went beyond torture. No word in the common lexicon could describe the suffering that the Spirit Beasts had endured. “Your Majesty… I can’t work for an entity that enables this.”
“Your Majesty… I’m handing in my resignation.” Placing the surviving Kamaitachis into a basket, Lady Seph turned to her employer for decades. “From today onwards, Seraphim will no longer be in your care.”
“Seraphim…” The Emperor couldn’t even put in a few words before the blonde woman took to the heavens like a rocket racing for the skies.
Just like that, the legendary Imperial Physician had disappeared from the grounds of the Empire, never to be seen again for decades to come.