Turning back the clock a few hours, the day had just begun on Deus Citadel, and the members from each organisation were just getting out of bed. Stretching out his tense muscles, Shin breathed in a big mouthful of fresh morning air, as the refreshing breeze flowed onto his supple white skin. Rubbing off the weariness that had mounted on him throughout the night, the black-haired boy took ten five minutes to completely rejuvenate himself.
As he opened the window and allowed the sweet nectar of morning dew to fill his humid room, a soft nasal snore could be heard from the adjacent bed. Since the sun was still just rising up from the horizon, the skies were still relatively dark and being the late-riser that he was, Shizen was enjoying his hibernation with an opened mouth and a satisfied smile.
‘It’s like he’s not even aware that we’re in a different country…’ Shin giggled to himself. While everyone was tensed up about the Summit, Shizen could barely muster up the power to give a damn. If not for Kanari promising him a reward for participating, Shin really doubted that Shizen would even bother to follow them to the Land of Dreams.
“Yip yip?” Bingbing, who had been nicely snoozing away on Shin’s bed, felt the sudden lack of warmth and got up herself. Clawing on the bed sheets, the Kamaitachi finally realised that Shin had left for the showers and waited for him at the washroom entrance.
“Bingbing, you’re awake too?” After putting on a change of clothes, the youth dried his hair and allowed the snowy white gerbil to rest in his bosom like she always did. In the land where experts were as vast as the stars in the night sky, Lady Seph had ordered Bingbing to stay by Shin’s side at all costs.
“Yeah, it’s finally the first day of the Summit. I can’t let this chance go to waste.” Shin stroked the Kamaitachi on her head lovingly. “Master said that she’ll help me, but I can’t just sit back and do nothing. Every second count.”
“Yip yip yip!”
“Hehe, I know that you’ll protect me.” Taking one final look at the sleeping beauty, Shin jolted down a few details saying that he was gone shopping and placed the note on the nightstand next to Shizen. “Sleep tight.”
Leaving the room, Shin was greeted by an extravagant hallway that was filled to the brim with an ungodly amount of lights. Even though it was still dark outside, Shin had a clear vision of everything inside the hotel, something that was rare even in the luxurious Capital.
‘This place is really well-built…’ Shin thought to himself. During the tour of the Citadel yesterday, Shin was introduced to many places as well as the mechanics that made each zone tick. For instance, the lights that were turned on twenty-four hours of the day were being powered by an innovation from the Blacksmith’s League called a fusion reactor.
While they were vague in their explanation, the guide claimed that at the core of a citadel, there existed a tremendous device that generated vast amounts of energy that powered all of the electricity, energy barriers, active defence mechanisms, humanoid automatons, and basically everything in Deus Citadel. While the reactor acted as an energy device, due to the immense heat being generated from the device, it also doubled as a forge that could melt any form of metal.
Hundreds of masterpieces had been created using the Exalted Forge that lay under the Apex of the Citadel, some of them even earning the title of an Immortal-grade Spirit Armament.
‘Immortal-grade Spirit Armaments… Just how much would one cost?’ Shin thought back on the news that Elrin had told him where three of those fabled items would be up for sale during the duration of the Summit.
A unique-grade Spirit Armament could easily fetch a price of ten gold ingots, an amount that could equal an average middle-class family’s yearly income. Legendary and Mythic grades had broke records, reaching amounts that not even an affluent family clan could possibly hope to attain. So what about the highest quality of Spirit Tools? What exorbitant price could those items possibly reach?
‘Hah… Maybe I should free up a day to follow Elrin around.’ Thinking about the young white-haired girl who had turned into an obsessed shopaholic, Shin sighed. He may have a clear objective for coming to Deus Citadel, but learning a little more about the world of Spirit Armaments wouldn’t hurt at all. However, for now, Shin had a more pressing matter to attend to.
‘Qilong Hu. Age, twenty-six. Rank 43 Spirit Spectre. A Luminary from the Qilong Clan that had awakened the Seven-Headed Hydra.’ Shin read out the report that was handed over to him by Lady Seph religiously. Now that he was on his way to the Lantis Republic’s abode, Shin had to figure out the best method to interact with those distinguished youngsters and learning all of their characteristics was the most essential part.
‘Meijing Bingying. Age, twenty-four. Rank 42 Spirit Spectre. Known as the Pearl in the East, she is considered to be the best Ice-Elemental Spirit User of her generation. With her Enigmatic Narwhal, she had once frozen dozens of Tier 5 Spirit Beasts without breaking a sweat. Wow… If the Himmel Empire has the Witch in the South, the Lantis Republic has the Pearl in the East huh?’
Reading through each one of the five Luminaries biographies, Shin formulated a plan to approach every one of them. And it wasn’t long until he found himself right at the base of the Lantis Republic’s designated hotel. For some odd reason, the security didn’t even bother checking his identification or why his purpose for entering the hotel and just allowed him to waltz in.
‘It’s still early. They probably won’t come down this early.’
The sun may have already climbed out of its slumber to warm the skies and those who inhabited the earth, but it was still rather early for anyone to actively participate in any form of activities, especially since the shops wouldn’t open for another hour or so.
‘Let’s just wait in the courtyard. If I see them, I’ll approach them.’
Shin’s strategy was exceedingly simple. Ambush the five Luminaries if he sees them. It may seem like a rudimentary idea, but even if he fails to form a connection, his face would at the very least be remembered by them.
Flipping through the notebook that Lady Seph had handed down to him, Shin continued to analyse the details of the Luminaries hoping to find a talking point to latch onto.
An hour passed, no one came down from their rooms. Two hours passed, still, no one came down from their rooms. Three hours passed, Shin became so bored that he thought the garden gnomes in the courtyard had come to life.
‘What’s going on? Why is there no one coming down?’ Shin looked up at the sky. The blazing star had risen up high, indicating that it was halfway to noon. Yet, there was no activity from the members of the Lantis Republic. In fact, even the guards seemed to be part of an infinite loop.
“Took you long enough to notice.”
Stunned by the sudden voice next to his ear, Shin jumped and entered into his combat stance. Likewise, Bingbing jumped out from the young boy’s clothes and mounted her mana, creating an ice spiked dome that enveloped Shin.
“Oh, there’s no need to be that surprised.” The voice laughed as if she were a child playing a prank on her parents. A golden raindrop fell on the ice dome and instantly melted the solid defence that Bingbing had made.
Her senses heightened, Bingbing prepared herself for war. Expanding to the size of a wild bear, Bingbing circled her tail around Shin’s waist and was ready to fly off into the horizon.
“What a splendid relationship you have with this Kamaitachi!” The voice exclaimed, seemingly surprised that a Tier 8 Spirit Beast was actually ready to defend Shin to the death. “However, I can’t let this chance slip, can I?”
Once again a golden raindrop fell from the heavens and landed right under Shin and Bingbing. A brilliant auriferous ring soon expanded out of the dense mana bead and created a field inside of the vast courtyard.
“Just like that. Time. Slows. Down.”
Bingbing, who had been ready to pounce at any moment, immediately froze in place. No, it wasn’t just Bingbing who was suspended. The birds in the air all halted mid-flight, and the insects that inhabited the yard had stopped moving.
Only Shin had retained his freedom of movement. While he was surprised by the sudden change of events, the youth still readied his combat stance to face the owner of the mysterious voice.
“Child, there’s no need to fear.” From the heavens above, an immense glimmer of light descended onto the earth, right before Shin’s eyes. A celestial mist flowed out from the light, revealing a divinely beautiful woman.
Her luscious black hair that flowed to her back was free of any impurities, and her gorgeous smile highlighted her pristine azure eyes that shimmered like a pure lake in the middle of the night. Donned in a sublime white dress, the woman appeared to be rather priestly as Shin swore that he could see a transparent halo forming above her head.
“I just slowed time down in this Sanctuary of mine. Your Kamaitachi won’t be affected in the slightest.” The woman calmed Shin down by assuring that Bingbing wasn’t in any form of danger. He had his guesses on who could have possibly performed such a superhuman feat, but the woman’s short answer had all but confirmed his speculations.
“Greetings, Saint Longyu Tian!!!” Shin bowed down in respect. There was only one entity in the entire world that could affect time and space to this degree, and her name was as famous as the Sovereign Emperor of the Himmel Empire.
“…” The gorgeous woman didn’t even flinch after hearing her name from the young boy’s mouth. Instead, she continued to observe the boy as if she were a scientist looking at a rare specimen.
“You know, I didn’t want to come to the Summit at all.” Longyu Tian chuckled to herself. “Meeting all of these meddlesome people, escorting the annoying juniors of mine that desperately keep trying to strike a conversation… I could have easily spent that time to cultivate or test out new techniques of mine.” The Spirit Saint monologued to herself, expressing her disdain for the Summit.
“It was on a pure whim that I used my Future Sight to look at what could happen at this Summit. Of the thousands of possible futures that could have occurred, I saw a particular someone in over ninety per cent of them. With jet black hair and azure-coloured eyes, I initially thought that he was someone from my very own bloodline.” Longyu Tian began to ramble.
“However, when I checked the faces of everyone in the clan, I couldn’t find one that resembled the boy. Nonetheless, it was still an interesting fact that this boy kept reappearing in my visions even when I kept using Future Sight, so I agreed to come and look for him myself. But you know what really stunned me?”
“I have seen the future many times now. Whether it was the imminent death of a junior of mine or the precipice of a natural disaster, I have seen it all. There were only a few cases where my Future Sight had failed to see anything, and they had always concerned those who have equal or stronger cultivations to me. Yet, this boy, who was nothing but a Spirit Core cultivator, once I’ve met him in my visions, everything else becomes a blur.” Longyu Tian walked over to Shin with a peculiar gaze. She had never encountered a situation where she couldn’t see the future of a junior.
Shin took a step back as the woman closed the distance. Even though he knew that the woman wouldn’t harm him, Shin couldn’t help but feel constricted by her immense presence.
“So, let me ask you this, boy.” Unfortunately, running from a Spirit Saint was practically impossible. Creating an invisible wall with her control over space, Longyu Tian finally asked the question that had been bothering her for over a month.
“Who are you?”