Almost immediately after Deputy Prime Minister Venus interrupted the match, Saint Firebird dived down onto the platform and grabbed Shin by his collar.
“We’re leaving…” The Spirit Saint didn’t elaborate any further and flew straight back into Himmel Empire hotel. There was no need to remain spectating any more matches. What he had got out of Shin today was more than enough to change his stance about handing the boy over to the Lantis Republic.
“Koshaku, come with me.”
Saint Firebird ordered the royal in a flat tone. If anyone other than a Spirit Saint had dared to rudely call out to a member of the Imperial Family in that manner, they would have been tried for Leste Majeste a thousand times over. However, instead of complaining, Prince Koshaku abandoned his seat in the stadium and flew into the heavens, alongside his Spirit Saint.
“Saint of Time. They’re gone with your prize.” The Mercenary Guild’s Spirit Saint, Saint Atossa taunted the unaging beauty with a sneer.
“It doesn’t matter.” Longyu Tian replied. Her tone was flat, and her face was hidden so that no one could see her expression. Shin had been taken away by Saint Firebird, but she didn’t feel the need to chase or monitor the Himmel Empire. After all…
“Shin will return home with me.” Longyu Tian laughed. Her eyes shone golden for a little while before returning back to its original hue. “That’s his destiny.”
The moment Shin left with Saint Firebird and Prince Koshaku, the entire stadium had fallen into an awkward silence. Many couldn’t believe that something that bizarre had just occurred and were on the midst of breaking down in cold sweat. They had mocked Shin, belittled him and called him undeserving of the Lantis Republic’s sacrifice. However, now…
No one dared to laugh at the young genius.
“Ella, Emma… What just happened?” Elrin had to confirm with the two closest people that Shin had in his life. She had been together with Shin for over a year now, and though he had shown signs of genius, it has never been to such an extreme degree.
“I… Don’t know…” Ella muttered out, holding back her cry. Was that really Shin? The same Shin that had to be kicked out of bed every morning, and the Shin that avoided training for the better part of his childhood?
“Shin has always been talented, but I’d never seen him like that…” Even Emma, who was considered to be the top three people in Shin’s circle, couldn’t bring out the words to describe her brother.
“Shin has… finally allowed himself to be free.” The answer that Elrin sought didn’t come from the twins. Kanari who had been silent for a significant portion of the bout finally muttered out under her breath.
“What do you mean?”
“Shin never wanted to be a fighter,” Kanari explained as if she had been with the boy this entire time. “He’s analytical in nature and peace-loving. If someone offends him, he would just look the other way in sloth. Never confrontational. However, after the death of Ariel and the betrayal of Junius, Shin felt that the path of the fighter was the only way forward. In the process, he had locked himself in a cage. A cage where only he had the key, but he didn’t wish to open it.”
Kanari looked at the sky. Her shoulders dropped and back hunched, the ethereal beauty lacked the posture that was befitting her title. However, she cared little for appearances now.
“Shin’s strengths lay in his control and his superior intellect. Even when he chose to become a fighter, he had learnt the weaknesses of the human body and sought to exploit them instead of overpowering his opponent. How stupid… He had thought of becoming a fighter, but no one can hide their true nature.” Kanari sighed. She had gathered a tremendous amount of intelligence of the boy named Shin. She had seen aspects of the boy where he himself wasn’t aware of.
“His fights in childhood. His loss in the Land of Dreams. Star Face’s death… And finally, the fight against the Prince of Sand. All of his life experiences had accumulated in this moment, where he finally… Set himself free. He’s now no longer bound by his own constraints. Shin has finally… Ascended…” As she said those words, Kanari’s voice cracked in sorrow. She knew. Shin was now in another plane of existence. It may seem like she’s ahead for now, but Kanari knew… Kanari knew that Shin was now too far to reach.
‘Nonetheless, I will keep climbing! No matter how far you fly, I will fly right up with you… To stand by your side!’ Kanari made a quiet resolution in her heart.
Her fellow noble from the Himmel Empire wasn’t that thrilled with Shin’s display though. The Young Drake Duke, Eikyo, was gritting his teeth while suppressing the urge to kick his entire table into a pile of dust.
‘Why is it… WHY DOES KANARI ALWAYS GET THE GOOD STUFF?!’ Eikyo’s face seemed serene, but mentally, he was screaming with everything that he had.
Kanari had the looks, the backing, the money, and the talent to make her the dominant force in the Himmel Empire. She even had a bloody Spirit Saint as her master! Now, Kanari had even nailed herself a supergenius that had a talent that was comparable to her own. Keep in mind, Kanari was slated to become the hope of the Himmel Empire, and Shin was on par with her!
‘Fuck, fuck, FUCK!!!’ Eikyo kept cursing out in his mind. As much as he would like to rant it out, he was still in the middle of the Himmel Empire’s tent and had to maintain his prim and proper exterior.
“Augustus… Go down and challenge Qilong Hu.”
“The exhibition matches aren’t over yet right? We have to regain some of our honour. So make sure you win. Otherwise, your supply for the year would be cut.”
The Young Drake Duke ordered his loyal subject, the Crimson Ghost, Augustus, to reclaim the stage, and to paint it in his colours. He didn’t care if the other side wasn’t prepared. Eikyo just wished to gain some prestige for his own camp.
“I understand…” As much as he didn’t want to take the stage straight after that spectacular performance, Augustus felt like he had no choice but to oblige.
Jumping out of the Himmel Empire tent, the Crimson Ghost landed on the platform as if he were a swan gliding on a lake, bringing the chattering audience to complete silence. His eyes closed, Augustus brought out a tremendous amount of mana as an immense pressure began to mount on the shoulders of those present in the arena. As a Rank 43 Spirit Spectre, the Crimson Ghost could easily overpower most of the men and women that were spectating him. If not for the energy barrier that was protecting the audience, the majority of them would have already have been forced to gravel on the floor.
Red light, one akin to that of the freshest of human blood, shone out from the depths of Augustus’ heart, as a two-metre-long pole began to congregate in the palms of his hands. Like the famous painting ‘The Blood of the Martyrs,’ the two-metre-pole absorbed the energy from the pool of blood that was below Augustus, somewhat bringing life to the inanimate object.
The pole in Augustus’ hands continued to pulsate until it finally took its final form. An argent metallic tip grew out from the front-end of the pole-arm, and strands of blood ignited to create crimson hair at the bottom of the spear-tip. Ancient runic symbols were engraved on the exterior of the spear giving the Weapon-Spirit a sense of quality that was unlike normal spears in the marketplace. Pointing his Crimson Spirit at the Lantis Republic’s top Luminary, Augustus declared:
“I, Augustus Dodnand, challenge Qilong Hu to a friendly spar!”
The crowd had yet to recover from their shock from that earlier match and were slow to react. However, after a few seconds had passed, cheers of enthusiasm rung out from the stands, shaking the stadium in absolute glee.
“The Crimson Ghost had challenged the Tempest Hydra!”
“Finally! A match between the two top Luminaries of the world!”
Everyone in the arena had paid a good amount of gold to witness the Clash of the Titans. An hour ago, the fight between the two would have been the main event. However, now that Shin and Lukman had fought, any other bout would merely be the icing on the cake. And Eikyo could feel that clearly. He even saw journalists rushing out of the stadium, hoping to catch a glimpse of the future superstar that had been kidnapped back to his quarters.
‘Tskkk! Weren’t all of you cheering for the two Luminaries to fight? Why are some of you leaving the stadium?!’
The Young Drake Duke wanted the world to know of his subordinate’s power. He wanted the world to know that the Crimson Ghost of the Himmel Empire was serving under his name! Why were the journalists leaving even before watching his match?!
‘Whatever, Augustus will defeat Qilong Hu anyway!’
Alas, the world didn’t bend to the rules of Eikyo.
“I apologise, but I have to decline your invitation for a spar.” Eikyo didn’t get the answer that he sought from Qilong Hu. Bowing down in remorse, the Tempest Hydra from the Lantis Republic politely turned down the Crimson Ghost’s challenge. “I have just gotten word that we have to return back to our hotel. My sincerest apologies, Crimson Ghost. Perhaps another day.”
It wasn’t just Qilong Hu who got the memo, all of the Lantis Republic’s representatives were called by Longyu Tian and Zhangyu Yaoguai to cease all participation in the exhibition matches, and were to return back to their own compounds. After Shin’s revelation to the world, there needed to be an emergency meeting by the upper brass. The Himmel Empire was most definitely going to change its terms, and the Lantis Republic had to have a plan for countering it.
No one was in the mood to spectate matches by some juniors!
“…” The Crimson Ghost didn’t answer. He could only stand alone in the middle of the arena while the Lantis Republic’s representatives all disappeared from sight.
With one corner of the superpower triangle gone, the Himmel Empire could only challenge the Kori Federation, who similarly didn’t have any plans on continuing the exhibition matches. Especially since Lukman had already taken the stage and ‘lost’ miserably to Shin. Their top dog had already fallen in battle, who else dared to step foot in the arena with the Crimson Ghost?
The host of the entire event, President Ingram, sighed as he realised that the situation has gotten out of his control. With no one willing to spar anymore, there was no point in continuing the exhibition matches.
“Since there have been some complications, I hereby announce that the exhibition matches are over!” President Ingram announced. “Deus Citadel will open its barriers at the end of the week. During your wait, you can continue to shop in the city. Thank you for participating and making the Summit a success!”
Through that final announcement, President Ingram had closed the Summit with a bitter smile. While there was the issue of the Lantis Republic’s involvement in the Alliance, most of the pressing matters had been settled through their earlier discussions. In truth, the Blacksmith’s League would be more than happy to let their visitors leave Deus Citadel should they choose to. However, judging by how the journalists and various representatives from each power reacted to Shin’s display, one could conclude that the Summit was far from over.
‘Damn it! Not again!’ Eikyo really couldn’t keep his rage bottled up anymore and smashed the head of his armrest into dust.
“Eikyo?” One of the Young Duke Prince’s female subordinates came forward, concerned over Eikyo’s sudden display of fury.
“Leave me!” Storming out of the Himmel Empire’s tent, Eikyo made his way back to his own abode, with no one capable of reading his thoughts…