“Iofiel? Isn’t your last name Awter?”
“It was…” Shin laughed. “However, now it’s Iofiel. I would like to be called by that name.”
“Haha, fine! Shin Iofiel! Let me see how far you can go!” Lukman cried out. Thus far, there hasn’t been anyone that impressed Lukman as much as the black-haired freak standing right in front of him. Bringing forth all of his power, Lukman pressed forward with absolute glee.
“W-What’s… G-Going on?” Meijing Bingying crystal clear eyes hadn’t blinked for almost a minute. The Pearl in the East didn’t want to miss a single detail of the match. However, although she was ‘seeing’ it, Bingying couldn’t understand it one bit. “How is Shin able to copy Lukman’s skills that quickly?! Have they met before?”
That was the only logical answer. Shin had been training for years with the Prince of Sand, and they were currently putting on a play for the audience. That was the only way that all of this made sense!
“You know that isn’t true…” Qilong Hu rubbed his chin, all while hiding his grim expression. “One’s from the Kori Federation, the other is from the Himmel Empire. Shin was even getting thrashed around by Lukman just a few moments ago. The boy, he…”
Qilong Hu didn’t want to finish his sentence. No, none of the Luminaries in the Lantis Republic wanted to finish that sentence. If they did, they would all accept that they were inferior to the young boy, who hadn’t spent a single second in the domain of the Lantis Archipelago!
“Tsk… I knew that I disliked him for some reason.” Longyu Linji spat out venomously. As much as he didn’t want to admit it, once Shin took the Longyu name, his position in the clan would be kicked down a notch, as all of their resources would be poured into the young sixteen-year-old.
“Isn’t that amazing?!” Only Jingyu Taiyi kept a positive outlook and was hopping around in joy. “His control over water, his comprehension abilities that defy logic! Shin might be the Scion of Water that fulfils that age-old prophecy!!!”
“That’s right…” Xunyu Feifei nodded her head at Taiyi’s hypothesis. “I finally understand why Saint Longyu Tian was so adamant on obtaining him… Even if he’s not the one, Shin would undoubtedly become a Spirit Saint if nurtured correctly! Sacrificing a few armies for the sake of a future Spirit Saint? That’s definitely worth the trade!”
Before the fight, the Luminaries of the Lantis Republic were mostly seated on the fence. They didn’t understand why their blessed Saint of Time would be willing to wage war just for the sake of one child. However, after seeing Shin display his monstrous abilities, none of them dared to question the wisdom of their Spirit Saint anymore.
And the sentiment wasn’t just shared among the juniors.
“Saint of Time, oh Saint of Time. So this is what you saw in the boy!” Saint Thor from the Blacksmith’s League cried out in a mixture of apprehension and horror. Shin’s display wasn’t just shocking for those with weaker cultivations, but even the battle-hardened Spirit Saints, who had years of experience in watching the rise and fall of talents, couldn’t believe what they were seeing.
“Hahahaha! As expected of my Grand-Disciple!” Saint Althea laughed merrily along. She had long known that Shin was a rare talent that defied all logic, but this? This was something else entirely.
“…” Saint Firebird kept his silence while alternating his gaze between Shin and Longyu Tian. If he had accepted the Saint of Time’s terms, would he be handing over a potential Spirit Saint to a competing nation?
‘We… Can’t let Shin fall into the Lantis Republic hands…’ Saint Firebird thought to himself. A Spirit Saint was on an entirely different scale than any other entity in the world. In terms of value, Spirit Venerates and even armies a million strong pales in comparison to what a Spirit Saint could offer to a country.
Be it military deterrence or overall combat powers, Spirit Saints were at the top of the food chain. They could move oceans and destroy mountains with just a thought, making them the most desirable force that any country would like to obtain. However, due to how difficult it was to advance to Rank 90, there was a limited supply of Spirit Saints in the world. That’s why Luminaries were so treasured. Being the best of the best in their generation, they had the most significant chance of becoming Spirit Saints, but even then, perhaps only one in a hundred Luminaries would make the leap.
On the other hand, Shin was unique. Rank 24 at sixteen. Youngest healer in history. Has the Mark of the Celestial Dragon. Capable of beating Suji and Danroy after one year of combat training. And now… He had shown a comprehension prowess that had no equal. It wasn’t a question of if he could become a Spirit Saint. For Shin, it was a question of when would he break through that final barrier and move into near godhood.
‘He might even be capable of becoming the next Spirit Immortal… My god, we nearly gave up such a talent for some military might?! Kanari really has a good eye for talent!’ Saint Firebird was now wholly on the Shin hype train.
Meanwhile, the Saint of Time tightened her grip over her two chair handles, doing her best to subdue the urge to kidnap Shin right this moment.
‘Just how many more surprises are you going to give me, Shin!!!’
The fight between Shin and Lukman had finally reached its climax. Lukman had created thousands of sand tendrils and Shin had done the same. Due to the methods of the Prince of Sand, Shin now knew how to efficiently divide his mana so that he wouldn’t expend it all within the first few minutes. The creation and destruction of each structure continued on for almost two minutes, giving Shin the insight to learn dozens of combinations through that one exchange.
“How about this?! ‘Mist’!” Lukman executed the most difficult technique in his arsenal. The technique that had barred Shin’s movement in the air just moments prior.
The desert beneath his feet released millions of sand particles into the air, forming a terrifying hallucinatory mist that obscured Shin’s vision of the Sandman.
‘Those sand particles… They’re not being controlled individually. They’re injected with a minute trace of mana through that aura that he’s creating.’ Shin analysed the ability in an instant. ‘I would have to create that aura to execute that mist ability, huh?’
Figuring out what he had to do, Shin replicated the aura once, and for the first time, the black-haired boy failed in the first try.
‘It’s harder than I thought… Maybe it’s this way?’
The second time he tried, Shin failed again. However, this time, he had understood his folly.
‘What am I doing? Sand isn’t water! I can’t just use water droplets to create mist! I have to split the droplets into vapour. How do I do that?’ Shin brought out one water droplet and played around with it like it was a ping-pong ball. He tried spinning, splitting and crashing the water droplet, but it all ended in more water droplets forming. And that was when he figured something out.
‘Speeding it up makes it hotter, and it evaporates?’ Shin experimented on the water droplet once more, and to his absolute delight, Shin had finally produced vapour out of his created water.
‘Now I can generate mist!’
The lake beneath Shin began to emit out a thin white mist, which slowly accumulated into a thick cloudy fog, similar to that of Lukman’s own ability. However, there was one stark difference… Shin’s ability could produce true mist, while Lukman’s was just an imitation.
‘Hmmm, what happens if I add ‘heal’ to this mist?’ Shin scientific mind took over, and a dim cerulean-gold light glimmered out of his body and affected the fog that surrounded him. Immediately, the numerous cuts and bruises on Shin’s skin began to dissipate, and his mind became more and more lucid.
“W-What?!” Raphael jumped out of his seat screaming out in horror after witnessing Shin’s deed. And he wasn’t the only one. All the leaders of the six organisations heading the Summit were on their feet.
Shin copying Lukman’s abilities were shocking enough, but now, he was improving on them? All while fighting in an intense battle with a Spirit Spectre? The Spirit Emperors, Spirit Venerates and Spirit Saints were literally speechless. Slackjawed, Raphael pointed his shaking index finger at the boy, turning to his fellow Divine Healer in the process.
“Seraphim… What’s going on? How is he able to create ‘Healing Mist’ without even promoting a level?!” Raphael was on the verge of screaming hysterically. ‘Healing Mist’ was a well-known spiritual ability that all Water-Elemental Healers would love to learn. Its mass healing potential was tremendous and a godsend during times of war. Just imagine. A battle where their allies were coated in ‘Healing Mist’ while their enemies weren’t. Wasn’t that the perfect scenario for a colossal victory?
“Shin’s ‘Healing Water’ is something he comprehended himself. Since he can create mist using his created water, naturally he could create ‘Healing Mist’ without promoting.” Lady Seph explained as if it were a matter of fact. However, deep down she was shocked as well. Going by that logic, could Shin replicate her own spiritual ability, ‘Divine Rain?’ The very same spiritual ability that made her famous as the defender of Yara Pass?
“T-That’s… Insane…” Prince Koshaku gasped. It was as if with every passing second, the Himmel Empire finally began to realise what a gem they had, and how stupid they were to even use him as a bargaining chip.
“HAHAHA!!! You even copied that?!” The Prince of Sand was at his utmost limit. He had shown Shin almost fifty per cent of his own creations, and he had replicated them all perfectly. Lukman felt like he was staring down a bottomless chasm. No matter how much he threw it, Lukman couldn’t fathom how deep it was.
However, instead of the usual reply, Shin ignored Lukman. Closing his eyes, the boy opened his palms and rested them horizontally from his body, as if he were seeking guidance from a deity. The ‘Healing Mist’ dissipated and in its place, a rapidly swirling orb of water was spinning overhead. Unlike the normal water spheres that Shin usually created, this orb was emitting a bright white light, all while thousands of luminous water droplets oscillated it.
“Hahahaha!!! What? Are you bored with copying my techniques? Now you’re making up your own?!”
Shin didn’t reply. His eyes had been shut tight, and his mana was spiking at an incredible pace. Many in the audience couldn’t comprehend what Shin was attempting. However, those from the Himmel Empire shook violently as their hearts nearly stopped. Particularly those who came from Imperius Academy…
“That’s! Kanari’s Lunar Beam!” Elrin cried out in horror.
The black-haired beauty was in a similar state. That structure, that mana signature, those movements. It was as if she was looking at a version of herself take the field once more. Her most powerful attack. The spiritual ability that allowed her to reign supreme in her generation was now being replicated by Shin’s very own first spiritual ability.
“No… There are some differences! That’s not Lunar Beam!” Being the one who created that ability, Kanari knew that what Shin was attempting wasn’t a one-for-one recreation. Instead, it was a variant that was unique to himself.
The water droplets around the gigantic ‘moon’ twinkled like sparkling stars in the night sky as more mana was being provided to their aqueous structure. When he was finally ready, Shin snapped his fingers, bursting the humongous water orb, and sending a torrent of water meteorites straight at the Prince of Sand.
BAMMMM!!! BAAAMMMM!!! BAAAMMMM!!!
Lukman created multiple sand dunes to protect himself, but it was barely enough to withstand the first wave of attacks. The sandy mist that he formed melted away at first contact with the water meteor shower, leaving Lukman to deal with the attack with his own body.
For the first time in almost five years, Lukman was sent backwards in a fight.
The Kori Federation Luminaries all cried out in angst. Lukman has never been knocked back ever since making himself known to the nation. Even against Rank 50 Spirit Lords, the Prince of Sand would never let himself be pushed back and would rather die than let himself fall to his knees. Yet, the Sandman was now lying on his back after taking a hit by a Rank 24 sixteen-year-old.
“Good… GOOD!!!” Leaping onto his feet with a kick-up, Lukman wiped the drop of blood that was flowing down the side of his mouth. Evidently, that meteor shower that Shin had just performed had caused some significant internal injuries.
“Shin Iofiel! You are the best opponent I have faced in years!!! For that, let me show you why I’m called the Prince of Sand!!!”
Lukman spiked his mana, bringing his entire half of the arena into a sand maelstrom. The first ruby in the Bayda Grail glimmered brighter than any star that existed as numerous shadowy figures began to form behind him.
“Let me show you, my Beasts of the Desert!!!”
“No, you won’t.”
A cold and detached voice echoed out in the stadium, instantly terminating everything that lay inside of the arena. Lukman’s created desert? Gone. Shin’s created lake? Gone. The residue mud from each clash? Gone. All that remained was the concrete floor and three figures who blankly stared at one another.
“Deputy Prime Minister! What are you doing?!” Recognising the person who stopped the fight, Lukman nearly committed treason by screaming at his country’s second top executive.
“Lukman… You… were going to teach him everything.”
“What do you…!” Hearing Deputy Prime Minister Venus’ words, the Prince of Sand finally understood his folly.
Shin wasn’t a compatriot from the Kori Federation. Instead, he was a child from the Lantis Republic and a disciple of someone from the Himmel Empire. He shared no allegiance to the Kori Federation and yet, Lukman was about to teach him everything that he knew. So what if they were temporarily allies? The Kori Federation had no interest in training another nation’s supergenius that could somehow bite them in the butt in the future.
“Deputy Prime Minister… I…”
“It’s okay, Lukman… People don’t think well in the heat of the moment. However, this match ends now.”
“I… understand…” While he was dissatisfied with how the bout ended, Lukman still adhered to Venus’ orders. “Shin Iofiel… Let’s settle the match next time!” Leaving the arena unwillingly, Lukman took his place among his fellow companions.
“Shin Iofiel, huh?” Deputy Prime Minister Venus stopped and observed the young black-haired boy. If they were out in a barren land where there were no witnesses, Venus would have been tempted to eradicate this talent from the face of the world. After all, if future Shin decided to bare his fangs at the Kori Federation, there won’t be many that could handle his wrath.
“I’ll remember your name.”
Leaping out of the arena, Venus left Shin all alone to bask in the limelight.
Fear, elation, shock, desperation. These were the prevalent emotions in the eyes of the audience. Who could have imagined that Shin would be so dominant in a field where Lukman was expected to win. Yes, the Prince of Sand was forced to only use one spiritual ability, but didn’t Shin do the same as well?
Now that Shin’s adrenaline had subsided, he could clearly feel the thousands of eyes that he had ignored during the match. If possible, the young boy would have killed to find a hole where he could hide in.
‘A-Ah… This is a problem…’