Walking down the familiar path of the Land of Dreams, Shin felt as if he was transported back in time. Before the Black Masks completely had their way with the unfortunate city, the Main Hub was a bustling metropolis with thousands of smiling faces going about their everyday lives. Vendors would push their carts and sold sugary refreshments for the masses while rickshaw drivers would offer their ferrying service. However, now that the original residents of the Main Hub had been thoroughly wiped clean from the face of the earth, the town seemed rather empty in comparison.
Nonetheless, due to the tremendous amount of coverage that was given towards the international Summit, legions of reporters, merchants, and even ordinary bystanders had flocked to the empty Land of Dreams, making it almost as compact as it originally was.
“There are so many people here…” Elrin whistled in wonder. She had personally witnessed the desolation, the pure death that the Black Masks had left in its wake. Yet, now there were thousands of men and women roaming the streets of the Main Hub. “Makes you wonder if a massacre really happened here.”
“Elrin… You and I both know that it happened… You shouldn’t joke about it.” Shin lightly chided the white-haired girl. They were both one of the first people present to witness the necrosis of the Land of Dreams.
“I’m not joking. Just surprised that’s all.” Elrin stuck her tongue out in an adorable manner. “Also, I need to take my mind off the constant stares.” With a brilliant smile, Elrin lightly moved her head to point to the side of the road.
Currently, Shin was part of the procession that the Himmel Empire had sent to the Land of Dreams. Their first order of business was to pay respects to the fallen of the Main Hub at the monument that was erected at the centre of the city. Hence, they were forced to parade through the crowded streets where hundreds of journalists, merchants and even regular civilians gathered.
“Look! That’s the Young Drake Duke, Eikyo!” One female spectator that travelled from the Himmel Empire exclaimed. When he heard his name being called, Eikyo turned to the woman and gave a gentle wave. Almost instantly, the young girl cried out in great fervour.
“Tsk… Show-off.” Kanari muttered under her breath. Kanari’s advisor had been poached by the suave young man through his superficial charms, making her feel extremely aggravated whenever she saw him using it on someone else.
However, her anger wasn’t able to last for long…
“Isn’t that Kanari?! The Witch in the south?” One man quickly identified the black-haired beauty among the hundred-odd cortege that the Himmel Empire had sent.
“Holy shit! You’re right! Black-hair with ruby-coloured eyes and a beauty that was otherworldly! It can only be Kanari Saniela!” Another onlooker agreed with the man’s conjecture. “To think I would get to witness the beauty of the Witch in the South first-hand! The arduous trip here is well worth it!!!”
At that moment, all of the spectators that had gathered to witness the Himmel Empire’s procession had diverted their attention to the gorgeous young woman, whose face had turned entirely vermillion. She was just blaming Eikyo for using his looks to charm others, yet she was the one under the microscope from the entire public!
Stifling their laughter, Shin and the rest of the group did their best to keep a straight face as they closed in on the monument. Six granite pillars, each representing one of the major powers that were attending the Summit towered over the rebuilt Main Hub. The Himmel Empire, Kori Federation, Lantis Republic, Blacksmith’s League, Mercenary Guild and the Healer’s Association all claimed one of the pillars with their own crests, marking the first time that all of the major powers had come together in unity.
In memory of those who had fallen, every single resident’s name that had perished in the massacre had their names engraved on the six pillars, and it had become preserved with a thick layer of mana coating. Never eroding, never degrading, the names will be forever protected, so long as the monument stands.
The Blacksmith’s League, who were the ones responsible for constructing the monument, had taken it one step further as well. Should the monoliths be ever placed in danger, a tremendous energy barrier would deploy out automatically, protecting the monument from any form of danger.
Stepping forward to pay his respects, Shin marvelled at how sophisticated the structures given with the little time that the Blacksmith’s League had to construct them. When Spirit Immortal Dream terminated the lives of the millions of her country, the remnant engineers and scientists all banded together with an older organisation that had a history of metal-working to form the Blacksmith’s League. The Blacksmith’s League functioned more like an association where talented craftsmen from all over the world could join without leaving their country’s affiliation, allowing them to grow with relatively little political influence. Hence, throughout the years, the Blacksmith’s League had grown to become the most technologically advanced entity in the entire world.
No other organisation in the world could possibly hope to contend with the technological ingenuity that the Blacksmith’s League had. Not only did they create the infamous Deus Citadel, but the majority of all modern weapons were also being produced and sold by them. They were even the only entity that could create the highest tier of Spirit Tools, the Immortal-grade.
“So pretty…” Emma commented.
“You’re right. It really is quite gorgeous.” Shin ruffled the poor girl’s short hair. For the first time, he began to really comprehend how significant the Summit really was. The three superpowers were finally ready to set aside their differences for the sake of battling the menace that was the Black Masks. There was never an instant in the entire history of mankind where all powers of the world stood together on one side.
‘The Land of Dreams? This place should be renamed as the Land of New Beginnings.’ Shin smirked. The Black Masks had burnt the city down, but it had risen from the ashes to become the location that birthed the alliance of the world’s nations.
Looking at the thousands of names that were engraved onto the six pillars, Shin felt a burning surge of desire rise up from the pit of his stomach.
‘I swear that I’ll avenge all of you!!!’
The Himmel Empire procession continued to pay their respects amidst the constant stares of the onlookers. While some reporters and commoners came just to see the men and women of the convoy, there were some peculiar faces mixed within the spectators.
“The Himmel Empire is finally here.” One tall, well-groomed man muttered out. Donned in a pale-blue vestment, the man appeared to have a posh background, which made it strange for him to appear within the crowd of peasants. “I wonder which ones are talented… Junior Sister Bingying do you know anything?”
“My guess is as good as yours, Senior Brother Taiyi…” Meijing Bingying bitterly replied.
The procession from the Lantis Republic had arrived just two days before, and they had already settled down in Deus Citadel. Since the Summit couldn’t formally begin until all parties were present, the younger members from the Lantis Republic decided to go incognito and explore the Land of Dreams as well as spy on the procession sent by the Kori Federation and the Himmel Empire.
Yesterday, when the Kori Federation arrived, Jingyu Taiyi had done the same thing and dragged his peers down to the monument, much to the dismay of Meijing Bingying. Unlike the standard dignified behaviour that the members of the Jingyu Clan usually displayed, Jingyu Taiyi was somewhat childlike in nature and loved to break the rules for his own entertainment.
“Hmmm, that girl right there! The pretty one currently putting her flower down! Don’t you think that she’s strong?” Taiyi ignored the annoyed expression that Meijing Bingying had and pointed straight at Kanari.
“What makes you think so?”
“Well, she’s pretty like you! So that means she must be strong right?”
“Just how did you even come to that conclusion…” Meijing Bingying rubbed the area above her eyebrows to quell the headache that her senior was giving her.
While her cultivation level was superior to Jingyu Taiyi, the youth was considered to be the frontrunner to inherit the Jingyu Clan in the future. Perhaps the strongest among the Eight Clans of Water, Meijing Bingying had to ensure that she maintained a good relationship with this scion, no matter how screwed up his head was.
“Hehe, all pretty girls are strong! That’s the rule!” Jingyu Taiyi smiled so hard that Meijing Bingying could see his molars.
“Although I don’t want to further your misunderstandings, you’re right for this instance.” The young girl frowned. “That’s Kanari Saniela, the Witch in the South. She’s considered to be the most talented cultivator in the entire Himmel Empire.”
“See? You did know something!”
“No, I don’t know much. I only recognise her because her features are so well-known. In fact, it’s weird for you to not know her.” Meijing Bingying shot Taiyi a strange look as if asking how could he know so little about someone as renowned as Kanari. “The heiress of the Highgarden Duchy, the girl reached the Spirit Apostle realm when she’s just twelve-years-old. Not only that, during her introduction to High Society, the girl challenged Spirit Core fighters and trumped them every single time.”
“That amazing?” Jingyu Taiyi snapped his head back to the black-haired girl with awe in his eyes.
“Yeah… If not for her young age, Kanari Saniela would have undoubtedly attained the Luminary status. Right now, she’s only sixteen, and they say that she’s on track to become a Spirit Spectre before the age of twenty-one. Honestly, she’s a freak.” Meijing Bingying gave her brutally honest opinion. “In my opinion, she’s not only the most talented cultivator in the Himmel Empire but also the most talented cultivator of our generation.”
“Wow, you actually rate her so highly!”
“If you paid attention to the world’s news, perhaps you would feel the same way…” Meijing Bingying sighed at her senior’s ignorance. Now that he had pointed out Kanari from the crowd, the young woman’s eyes were now firmly affixed on Kanari’s slender body that would ignite ire from any woman that existed on the planet.
However, after a brief period of observation, Meijing Bingying found her gaze moving towards another target.
‘Hmmm? That boy…’
“Is there something wrong?”
“Senior Brother Taiyi… Look at the boy standing next to Kanari.”
Although he was confused at the sudden change of topic, Jingyu Taiyi obliged and focused his attention on the black-haired boy that was talking heartily with the ethereal beauty. While he had a charm of his own, there wasn’t anything visually special about the lean youth.
“What about him?”
“Don’t you think that he looks awfully similar to Junior Brother Linji?”
“Now that you mention it…” Jingyu Taiyi’s smile disappeared as he fell deep into thought. A combination of black hair and azure eyes was extremely rare, especially among the citizens of the Himmel Empire.
Perhaps, there was only one bloodline guaranteed that their descendants shared that exact physical attribute…
“He really does look like Junior Brother Linji. Rather, he looks more like the younger version of the Longyu Clan Master.”
“You’re right… The resemblance is uncanny…” Meijing Bingying felt as if a thunderbolt had struck her cranium as Taiyi pointed out how similar Shin looked as compared to the current Longyu Clan Master. If she didn’t know better, Bingying would have assumed that Shin was the Clan Master’s illegitimate son!
‘A member of the Longyu Clan in the Himmel Empire? There’s no way… Wait! Maybe it’s that!’ As if coming to some sort of revelation, Meijing Bingying nearly screamed out in terror. From what she had heard, any bloodline that the Longyu Clan had outside of the Republic had been wiped clean!
‘Should I tell Linji?’ Meijing Bingying considered the possibility of informing the Longyu Clan about her hypothesis. ‘No… It’s not confirmed. If it turns out to be false, it would just be alarming the Longyu Clan for nothing.’
After a short mental debate with herself, Meijing Bingying opted to look the other way. For now, there was too little information for her act.
‘Either way, we will meet him in the Citadel. That would give me more time to gather information about him.’ Although Bingying didn’t even know the name of the black-haired boy, he had somehow made his way onto her list of people to investigate. ‘Let’s just pray that I’m wrong and it’s just a coincidence…’