Shin nearly jumped out of his skin the moment he heard those ominous words. Longyu Tian was wearing a radiant smile that could do no harm, and yet, Shin felt as if the walls have started to cave in. The Spirit Saint wasn’t joking around. She was ready to bring Shin back to Longyu Reef, even if it meant abandoning the entire Summit.
“Saint Longyu Tian… Could you elaborate on what you mean by returning?” Shin resisted all while fidgeting nervously from his spot. He knew the answer, but Shin wanted to have a verbal confirmation.
“What’s there to elaborate?” Longyu Tian chuckled. “Rejoin the Longyu Clan! Abandon the Himmel Empire and everyone in it! If you want, I can arrange someone to pick up your fellow brethren that are residing in the Capital. Come! Let us return to your rightful home!”
“Saint Longyu Tian… I can’t just desert the Himmel Empire.” As much as he hated the Imperial Courts and being used as a pawn in their game, Shin had been born and raised in the Empire.
He had formed everlasting relationships with many residents of the land. Kanari, Isadore, Shizen, Elrin. Shin had become best friends with those youngsters who had their entire life intertwined with the fate of the Himmel Empire. Shin also felt a firm connection to the mentors that had guided him throughout his learning journey in the academy. The sleazy bastard, Mychael. The bronze-faced scholar, Principal Erudito. And even the persistent yet compassionate head of the auxiliary department Madam Warulee. Shin owed a debt of gratitude to those in the Academy.
Not to mention, one of the most important people in his life, Lady Seph, was a blood citizen of the Empire. She may have had her differences with the nation, but she would never do anything to betray her motherland. If the word had gotten out that Lady Seph’s sole disciple had defected to the Lantis Republic, one could imagine the catastrophic hit to her status.
“I have obligations to fulfil… Friends and family that I want to protect!” Shin gritted his teeth as he replied. “Furthermore, I have no relations to the Lantis Republic!”
“Nonsense!” The Spirit Saint scoffed. “You are a blood member of the Longyu Clan and a bearer of the Mark of the Celestial Dragon! Your relationship with the Lantis Republic is much deeper than anyone else in the archipelago.”
Shin couldn’t have known how important the Mark of the Celestial Dragon was to the Lantis Republic. Among the millions in the Lantis Republic, there were only eight individuals that possessed the infamous mark. While some didn’t live up to their expectations, over half of them had become superpowers of their own. Longyu Tian, the Saint of Time, was the finest example. Even among the Luminaries that were present at the Summit, two of them had awakened Spirits with the Mark of the Celestial Dragon.
Now that a ninth bearer had awakened, not to mention it was a young cultivator with the Sovereign Koi, there was no way that Longyu Tian would let Shin slip out of her fingers.
“There’s no need to debate.” The Spirit Saint snappingly shut down all avenues of conversation. “You’re still young, so you can’t understand. Wait a minute… Young… Shin, how old are you?”
Longyu Tian couldn’t believe that she hadn’t asked that question yet. She had been so swept up in Shin’s story that she had even forgotten to enquire the boy’s age and cultivation level.
“I’m turning sixteen in September.”
“What?!” A wretched cry broke out in the empty courtyard. “Sixteen?! How can this be?! Aren’t you in the Spirit Core realm?”
“Yeah… I’m Rank 24.”
“…” Longyu Tian dropped her jaw. Her eyelids twitching while her pigmentation lightened instantly.
Shin didn’t get any formal training from the Lantis Republic, and he was never baptised by the Celestial River. Yet, he had managed to accomplish what few before him ever did. To advance to Rank 24 in six years, meant that he averaged four ranks per year.
Exceptional talents in the cultivation world would be capable of promoting two ranks a year, while geniuses could go one step further and bulldoze their way at three ranks a year, and that was the rate that most Luminaries would follow. However, Shin had entirely thrown the rules of the cultivation world out of the window and broke through as he pleased, reaching Rank 24 halfway through his sixteenth year.
‘He reached Rank 24 without the Longyu Clan’s guidance, and the baptism of the Celestial River?!’
Previously, Longyu Tian wanted to bring Shin over just because of his ties with the Awter Clan and his Mark of the Celestial Dragon. However, this fresh news was a game changer. If Shin were telling the truth, then the boy would be the most exceptional talent that the Lantis Republic could ever hope to have.
‘He also mentioned something about being a healer? Oh god, what have we done?! We had almost ruined the life of this monstrous genius!!!’
Longyu Tian thanked her lucky stars that Shin wasn’t part of the unfortunate victims of the Frie Clan massacre. In her eyes, Shin’s value had skyrocketed to the point where no entity could compare. If he was born within the compounds of the Lantis Republic, Shin would have been treated like a King and would unquestionably be the most guarded figure in the nation.
“Shin. We’re leaving.”
The Spirit Saint could wait no longer. Her stone-cold heart, which had been in sleeping ever since she took the first step to divinity, began to beat wildly for the first time in decades. After centuries of living, there wasn’t much that could surprise or excite her. However, Shin’s immense talent and his capability for growth was something that surpasses common sense.
Shin was the perfect package. Tremendous cultivation talent. Comprehension ability was second to none. And even the problem that most geniuses had, possessing a feeble mental fortitude, was void in Shin. After going through setback after setback, the youth was clearly someone who didn’t shy away from adversity. He always bounced back with the desire to improve and move at a much faster pace.
It was fortunate that Shin had delivered himself right to her doorstep. Judging by how loosely the Himmel Empire had treated Shin, one could assume that they didn’t comprehend the full extent of Shin’s potential. There was no doubt in Longyu Tian’s mind, that once he was groomed by the Lantis Republic and herself, the adolescent boy would become the most powerful Spirit User of the modern era.
“Don’t worry. I’ll arrange everything. The first thing that we need to do is to bring you back to the Lantis Republic.”
“Wait! I can’t just leave! The Summit isn’t over yet!”
“Yes, you can.” Longyu Tian struck down his protest. “As long as I’m here, you are free to go anywhere.”
Longyu Tian undid her time restriction field, and all movement was restored into the world. Bingbing, who had been seemingly frozen in place, was confused for a split second before gaining control over her bearings. Seeing Longyu Tian standing so close to her beloved Shin, Bingbing pounced on the black-haired woman, only to be stopped mid-air by the Spirit Saint’s trademark spatial control.
“Let us go.”
The Spirit Saint grabbed the boy by his wrists and nearly launched herself in the air. However, before she could even reach a few centimetres above the ground, five gleaming lights darted into the skies and barred her escape out of Deus Citadel.
“Saint of Time, what’s with the ruckus?” A coarse voice entered the eardrums of Shin and the Spirit Saint, bringing their full focus to the bright azure sky.
Clad in coils of lightning, a towering two-metre-tall man descended from the heavens as if he were a God of Thunder gracing the mortal realm with his presence. His browned face that had been marinated by the years of exposure to soot was covered with a thick black beard. Folding his arms in akimbo, Shin could clearly see the popped veins of his enormous biceps. Chiselled to the bone, there wasn’t a single ounce of fat in the man’s body. Fortunately, he had to be dressed in appropriate attire, and he had to hide his rock solid body. Otherwise, Shin would have lost any confidence of a man that he had.
“Saint Thor, this matter doesn’t concern you.”
“Oh, I beg to differ. You had cast your own time abilities in Deus Citadel… In my domain.” Saint Thor sneered. When he first felt a Spirit Saint’s aura being released, the man was under the impression that a threat had been placed inside of his priceless artefact. “You owe me an explanation.”
“No…” The elderly red-robed man who had arrived with Saint Thor shook his head. “You owe us an explanation. Why are you grabbing one of our Empire’s juniors?”
Initially, Saint Firebird had flown over with a curious mind. What could have caused the Saint of Time to break the unspoken rules of the Summit? Furthermore, if there really were a threat to the Citadel, an additional helping hand would be much required. However, once he arrived, he saw Longyu Tian grasping on the hands of his Empire’s own Shin Iofiel.
While he had no attachments to the black-haired youth, his favoured disciple, Kanari, shared a close relationship with Shin. She had even asked for the Spirit Saint to protect Shin should anything go awry.
“Your Empire’s junior?” Longyu Tian snorted in derision. Based on Shin’s accounts, the Himmel Empire didn’t care the slightest about how the boy lived his life. “I don’t know what you’re getting at, but he’s part of the Longyu Clan now. Saint Thor, if you may, please lower that annoying energy field. It’ll impede my return back to the Lantis Republic.”
All five Spirit Saints in the air frowned. Longyu Tian was about to abandon the entire Summit just to bring Shin back to the Lantis Republic?
“Shin, what happened? How did you even get into this situation?”
The Healer Association’s Spirit Saint landed just three metres away from Shin and the Saint of Time, with confusion in her eyes. The first ever Spirit Saint that Shin had ever met was precisely this gorgeous looking woman who didn’t seem capable of ageing a day.
“Shin, you know her?” Even Longyu Tian was taken aback by the Saint Althea’s friendly attitude.
“Of course, I know him! He’s my Grand-Disciple!” Before Shin could even muster out a word, Althea puffed out her chest and declared in pride. Shin may have abandoned the path of the healer, but he still retained his Healer’s License and continued to share a Master-Disciple bond with the Divine Healer, Lady Seraphim. If Shin was ever in peril, there was no way that the Spirit Saint of the Healer’s Association would merely look the other way.
“Saint of Time, could you care to release my Grand-Disciple? Before I get really angry?”
Among the Spirit Saints gathered, only Saint Firebird had an inkling about the relationship shared between Shin and Saint Althea.
“I can’t do that.” While she was momentarily stunned, Longyu Tian shook her head and affirmed her stance. “This is an internal matter. Shin shares my blood, and I’m taking him back to Longyu Reef right this instant.”
“So what if he shares your blood?” Saint Firebird walked forward with bloodthirst in his eyes. He could tell that the Saint from the Lantis Republic wasn’t willing to listen to reason and was going to do anything to get her way. “He’s a member of our Empire’s procession. Trying to kidnap him is tantamount to waging war against our nation.”
“War?” Longyu Tian laughed. “Do you honestly think that you could win in a battle against me?”
The Golden Sovereign Koi encircled the Saint of Time once before turning to stare at the five Spirit Saints. There was a reason why Longyu Tian was the most feared Spirit Saint of the Lantis Republic, and that was because of the unorthodox Spirit that she possessed. Even in a one against two situation, there was no doubt in Longyu Tian’s mind that she would triumph.
“I’m taking Shin away, and that’s final.”
Day one of the Summit. The most monumental event in modern history. All of the world superpowers had gathered with the notion of protecting the peace of the mortal realm, and yet…
It was placed into jeopardy by a certain black-haired boy.