Deus Citadel. Day 2 of the Summit.
A new day dawned on the Land of Dreams. The commotion from yesterday’s Spirit Saint dispute had found itself carried forward into day two as the buzz among the representatives of each superpower only intensified. News of the boy named Shin had begun to surface, and the gossip machines spun wildly to relay his information to those who wanted it. Before long, everyone in the Summit knew who the boy was, how he looked, what Spirit he owned, how old he was… And the list went on. Furthermore, it wasn’t only the younger generation that was interested in the news of the black-haired boy…
“I apologise for yesterday’s situation.” Talking to his fellow compatriots at the Apex of the Citadel, Ingram bowed his head in regret. Although he wasn’t the primary cause of the mayhem, as the host, he should have done a better job in planning contingencies if the Spirit Saints were to fight.
Prince Koshaku nodded. Deputy Prime Minister Venus frowned. Xerxes from the Mercenary Guild grimaced, while Raphael from the Healer’s Association couldn’t find the words. Only Clan Master Zhangyu Yaoguai had an ashen face, one that hinted his lack of sleep and overall compounding stress.
“While we had to abruptly end yesterday’s conversation, I’m sure that we had enough rest to continue it today.” Ingram opened his arms out wide with a brilliant smile. Fortunately, the Summit has yet to end, and everything was still on the table for discussion.
“Clan Master Zhangyu, why don’t you get the ball rolling?”
“…” Scratching on the surface of his forehead, the Clan Master fought off his headache by downing his hot cup of tea. “The Lantis Republic will commit two hundred thousand troops for the cause.”
“What?” Ingram unconsciously spewed out his real thoughts. Just yesterday, Zhangyu Yaoguai was adamant on using only ten thousand of his elites, yet, the number the Lantis Republic was willing to provide increased twenty-fold in just one night.
“We will handle everything in the east as well. If there are any missions regarding the Black Masks in our region, we will bear the full cost. The two hundred thousand troops that we will provide can go inland, but I recommend you use them sparingly. After all, they are former navy officials and aren’t that capable when it comes to land combat.” Zhangyu Yaoguai bitterly replied. It wasn’t the outcome that he wanted, but it was a necessary evil for the betterment of his nation.
‘Even Zhangyu Yaoguai is willing to move his position?!’ Prince Koshaku couldn’t believe his ears.
It was understandable that Longyu Tian would want to bring Shin into the Lantis Republic. He bore the blood of the Longyu Clan and could quite easily raise the reputation of the ancient clan once he matured. However, there was no benefit for the Zhangyu Clan to bring him in. In fact, Zhangyu Yaoguai should be against the deal with every fibre of his body. Not only would his actions here strengthen the Longyu Clan, but it would also send hundreds if not thousands of his own men into battle. It was a lose-lose situation for the iron-faced man.
‘Something is really not right… If Zhangyu Yaoguai is willing to change his stance for the sake of procuring Shin as well, there must be something more to the Mark of the Celestial Dragon. Something that the Lantis Republic isn’t telling us.’
“Of course, we won’t be doing so for free.” The representative from the Lantis Republic folded his arms. “The Himmel Empire must relinquish their hold on Shin Awter and promise to never hold any relations to him anymore. Additionally, they must not brand him a traitor or ban him from entering their country. Only when these conditions are met, will we provide our military.”
The room went silent. The rumours were true. For the sake of one child, the Spirit Saint from the Lantis Republic waged a battle against the combined forces of the Himmel Empire and the Healer’s Association.
‘Venerate Seraphim was right… We have to investigate the true nature of Shin’s Spirit before we hand him over.’
“Clan Master Zhangyu, thank you for your reconsideration.” Prince Koshaku bowed down. “We have heard the Lantis Republic’s stance, but we can’t just give the boy over right now.”
“You!” The hideous man slammed his fist on the table. No matter how anyone looked at it, the Lantis Republic was making a substantial concession. By just giving up one Spirit Core cultivator, the Alliance between the three superpowers would gain a tremendous amount of military might. Even the Venus from the Kori Federation begun to look at Prince Koshaku funny after he denied the deal that she would have accepted in a heartbeat.
“Please don’t misunderstand. We’re not saying that Shin Awter wouldn’t be handed over to the Lantis Republic. In our Empire, he goes by the name of Shin Iofiel and is currently studying under Imperius Academy. Currently, he is a sophomore and is among the best in his class.”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
“We wish for him to complete his schooling before he goes to the Lantis Republic formally. Of course, we’re not barring him from entering your island nation during his schooling period.”
“Hmph! Such idiocy!” Zhangyu Yaoguai couldn’t control his rage and began to curse loudly, forgetting that he was in the presence of high-levelled dignitaries. “The Lantis Republic will adhere to those terms if you surrender Shin Awter immediately. Otherwise, our earlier agreement stands. We will give you ten thousand men, and this time, they will be from the bottom of the barrel.”
Presenting a take it or leave it case stance, Zhangyu Yaoguai fell back on his chair, indicating that all conversation was over. The Lantis Republic wasn’t going to budge again. They wanted Shin, and they wanted him now.
“Guild Leader Ingram… It looks like the Lantis Republic has made its view quite clear. Why don’t we discuss other matters in the meantime?” The passive Raphael knew that any further discussion regarding this issue today would be akin to beating a dead horse. Time would be much better spent negotiating the logistics and attack plans of the Alliance.
“That’s a good idea. Let’s move on then. We will get back to this issue later on in the week.”
Ingram also figured out that it was best for the Himmel Empire and the Lantis Republic to settle their affairs on their own. At the moment, there were much more pressing matters to conclude.
A few days have passed since Shin was nearly kidnapped to the Lantis Republic. On the highest level of the Summit, negotiations had been going smoothly, and the Alliance Force was on the precipice of completion. The Himmel Empire and Kori Federation had finally settled on their respective compromises and had cited out all of the logistics and manpower they needed.
For the Mercenary Guild and Healer’s Association, they were satisfied with the terms handed to them as their elites were given high-levelled positions with well-paying jobs. Not to mention, they had their own say in whichever operations they were a part of, giving them full authority over their livelihood.
The biggest winner of all was the Blacksmith’s League, which had brokered a massive sale with the newly formed Alliance. Thousands upon thousands of weapons and armours were ordered, allowing them to rake in an ungodly amount of wealth in the process. Ingram was basically grinning from ear to ear as he signed the agreement and had been in an uplifted mood ever since. So much so, that it wouldn’t be strange if he broke into a dance for no apparent reason.
However, while the negotiations were going swimmingly, there still remained the elephant in the room. The Lantis Republic barely budged a single millimetre since and remained mostly quiet during all discussions. For them, Shin was non-negotiable. They would only listen to the Himmel Empire after their terms were met and the boy was surrendered in whole.
What the Lantis Republic didn’t know was the more they doubled down on Shin’s matter, the more suspicious the Himmel Empire felt. They were hoping that with time, the Elder Council and the Spirit Saints back in the Lantis Republic would talk some sense into Longyu Tian. Yet, to their utter surprise, the Lantis Republic had thrown their support for the Saint of Time’s decision and even changed their deal. If Shin weren’t handed over, the Lantis Republic would formally pull out from the Alliance, bringing the whole worldwide peace dream to an end.
The spectators of the whole fiasco could only rub their heads with shock. As much as they wanted the Lantis Republic to join their fight against the Black Masks, if the Himmel Empire wasn’t willing to relinquish their hold on Shin, there was nothing that they could do.
Now, the daily discussions at the Apex of the Citadel had turned into screaming matches between Prince Koshaku and Zhangyu Yaoguai. Knowing that the Summit won’t end until the two superpowers came up with a compromise, Ingram suggested that the friendly matches between the younger generation be pushed up so that there would be more time for them to think about their situation and bicker.
“Finally, something good will happen.” Zhangyu Yaoguai cracked his neck as he entered the temporary arena that had been set up at the outskirts of the Citadel.
Under his eyes, two deep dark rings that resembled the soot of a chimney hung deep while his roughened skin had somehow got even drier. It was well-known that Spirit Venerates were invulnerable to physical ailments. However, just one look at Zhangyu Yaoguai would force the history books to change that opinion drastically.
“Listen. I don’t care about the Kori Federation, but you have to beat up those assholes from the Himmel Empire as soon as you meet them!” Addressing the dozens of twenty-year-olds, Zhangyu Yaoguai barked his orders loud and language. “Don’t worry about killing them! Their superiors will intervene if they’re about to die! What I want you to do is humiliate them! Humiliate them until they wouldn’t dare to show their heads up high!!!”
“Yes, sir!!!” The young men and women replied in unison. No matter their identity, they were all subservient to the Eight Clans of Water, and Clan Master Zhangyu was at the top of the food chain. Regardless of their feelings, they had to obey the man’s orders.
“Good! I’ll be cheering for you in the audience.” With those parting words, Zhangyu Yaoguai disappeared from their sights, leaving them alone to prepare for the ‘friendly’ matches.
“Hah… To think that someone who awakened the Mark of the Celestial Dragon had appeared outside the republic…” Qilong Hu, the leader of the Lantis Republic’s younger generation, finally spoke his mind when their senior was gone. “Junior Brother Taiyi, Junior Sister Bingying. How does it feel? Now the two of you aren’t the only ones.”
“Hehe, isn’t that nice?” Jingyu Taiyi rubbed on his nose. “Now we have one more person that can attempt the Trial of the Celestial River!”
Meijing Bingying nodded. The girl had her suspicions when she first saw Shin at the memorial, but never in her wildest dreams did she think that it would be right. The way she saw it, the more people who attempted the Trial of the Celestial River, the more likely it was for the prophecy to come true.
“Hopefully our investment into procuring him won’t be wasted…” Longyu Linji coldly replied. The Lantis Republic was doing everything in its power to bring Shin over to their side, and not everybody agreed with their elders’ decision. Heck, even Zhangyu Yaoguai wasn’t that thrilled to offer up his armies for the sake of one boy.
“Now, now. Even if he doesn’t succeed, the boy’s still a Rank 24 Spirit Core cultivator at sixteen! If the Longyu Clan trains him well, he would undoubtedly become a force to be reckoned with!”
“Whatever…” Longyu Linji didn’t seem thrilled that his clan’s power would be increased. In fact, his azure eyes hid a little disdain for the youth that he had never met.
“Don’t be that way!” Xunyu Feifei hugged the dark-robed young man from behind. “If all goes well, Shin would become your junior… Our junior! We should work hard to receive and integrate him into our culture!”
“Yeah, yeah…” Longyu Linji brushed the happy-go-lucky attitude of the Luminary that embraced him and brushed her hands off his shoulders. “Before that, we have something more pressing to do.”
Dropping their playful demeanour, the Luminaries from the Lantis Republic all turned sombre. In just a few moments, their names will be called, and they would represent their country on the biggest stage there was. There was no monetary or physical benefit for winning their upcoming matches. It wasn’t even an official bout that would determine who was more powerful. It was only an exhibition match. However, their nation’s pride and honour. For them, the friendly matches were tantamount to war.
“Let’s show them which country is the strongest!!!”