Book 8: The Mercenary’s Promise || Chapter 8: Finding A Guide (2)

“CITY MANAGER! CITY MANAGER! We have an emergency!” In the not-so-peaceful chambers of Huuring City’s top executive, a worried cry echoed through the hallways as a harried young man, whose face had been burnt red by sweat and fatigue, rushed into the room with a small yellow note which was crudely folded.

“What now?!” The City Manager thrust his scroll down on the table and leaned back on his chair. After the arrival of the Imperius Academy heroes, there had been mayhem all over the town as many demanded to meet with the famed prodigies. Particularly the Oligarchs that ran the city. Though they were influential in Huuring City, compared to Kanari, who was a future Duchess, and Shin who could be considered as an heir of the Longyu Clan, they were far too inferior. Thus, it made sense for them to gain a few connections with the talents that were only in town for a couple of weeks.

Nonetheless, the City Manager was a tactful person. He knew that the seven youngsters wanted nothing to do with the ruffians in town, and had denied any sort of contact with Shin and the others. However, that didn’t stop the hopefuls from trying. Just this morning, a major Oligarch rushed down to his office and offered ten gold ingots in exchange for a meeting with the seven heroes. The City Manager already had enough on his plate, he didn’t want to future complicate his life.

“Didn’t I tell you not to bother me if it’s nothing to do with the seven heroes?”

“But… The news is from the observation team you dispatched! They said that a group of thirteen Spirit Adepts led by Guide Winfred Elipaul has begun an assault on the young heroes!”

“WHAT DID YOU SAY?!” The City Manager slammed both his palms on the desk and grabbed the collars of his attendant. “Didn’t I lay down the rules that no one was to disturb them?! Wasn’t that order sent down to everyone in the city! Didn’t Winfred get the memo?!”

“I believe he did, sire. It’s just…” The subordinate went quiet. This was Huuring City. A roughened town in the remote regions of the Kori Federation. Here, not many cared about rules and regulations. They did things based on their desires and were mostly free to do so. So what if the City Manager told them not to touch the young seven heroes? There were definitely brazen outlaws that didn’t care about the reputation of the town.

‘Winfred Elipaul… On the surface, that man might seem prim and proper, but deep down, he’s just a lustful demon that would do anything to fuck the prettiest thing that moves. I bet that in Winfred’s mind, as long as he gets to rape the Witch in the South, he would die a happy man.’ The City Manager instantly deduced the man’s plan. ‘But to think that he’ll act so quickly! Whatever, I must first settle this before this becomes an international affair!’

“Send all the experts in the building towards the inn that the seven heroes are staying at! I’ll head there first and see what I can do!” Immediately speeding out of his small chambers, the City Manager flew at top speeds, hoping to reach the inn before something terrible happens.

‘Please, let me reach there in time!’

❖❖❖

Turning back the clock a few minutes, the black-haired boy and the Sovereign Koi floating overhead were staring straight at the disgusting foes that dared to trespass on their territory. Now that this entire field was filled with water, there was no need for Shin to fear facing multiple enemies at once.

One step. Two steps. Three… Shin took small baby steps towards the thirteen assailants that didn’t know better, each time exuding out a faint cerulean aura that slowly accumulated to create an indomitable field. Bits of silver water droplets that had been infused by Shin’s mana floated all around him while tendrils formed from the flood beneath their feet. Though he was facing thirteen Spirit Adepts at the same time, Shin didn’t feel agitated or nervous in the slightest. In fact, his face was as serene as someone who was going out for an afternoon stroll in the park.

“Tskkk! Such arrogance! You think that your sneak attack will work against us again?” Winfred conceded that Shin had dealt a blow to the thirteen of them, but he didn’t think that it’ll happen twice. The ghastly scoundrel was too blinded by his lust to give a proper assessment of his foe’s power, and with flared nostrils, he ordered his men to gun Shin down.

Particles of fire, water, earth, lightning and wind elements sped through the air as the mercenaries fired upon Shin’s young flesh. If it meant that they had to get through Shin to claim the beauties for themselves, the dirty old men would do anything in their power to forcibly relocate the boy. However, just before the rain of elements tore Shin’s body limb from limb, an incredibly high wave of water brushed past the young man, bringing the fruitless attack to a halt.

“Let’s try something out… Flow-Style Technique, Mines of the Ocean.” Shin raised his palm and almost instantly, dozens of spiralling whirlpools appeared beneath the thirteen Spirit Adepts. Feeling danger, they wanted to immediately jump into safety in the air, but the suction force was too great and its appearance too sudden. Before they freed just one foot, it was far too late.

“Detonate.”

BOOOOMMM!!! BOOOOOMMMM!!! BOOOOOMMMM!!! BOOOOMMMM!!!

The earth trembled in fear as the flood water above it quaked violently. The Spirit Adepts felt their skin rupturing and saw crimson red within the waters that surrounded them. Looking down, they noticed that their sealed legs were now riddled with bruises and scratches as if they had just walked through a veritable minefield.

“Hmmm, the mines aren’t strong enough to break through your Spirit Adept bodies huh? Well, that’s to be expected.” Shin sighed. His first spiritual ability may be versatile, but it had its limitations. Compared to someone who actually learnt the Mines of the Ocean as a spiritual ability, Shin’s version had much less firepower. “Let’s try this then, Shape-Style Technique, Spears of Sparta.”

Shin snapped his fingers, and a significant portion of the water on the ground all flowed into the air and split into a thousand different silver raindrops. Slowly clenching his outreached palm, Shin forged the water droplets mid-air, and soon, the silver raindrops became ornate silver spears, each with their own distinct characteristics. One had a serpent’s tongue as a tip, another had three blades sticking out the top, and the pattern continued. However, the spears all had one thing in common, they were all sharp enough to rip through the thickest hide of crocodiles or bears with one thrust.

“Go!”

SSSSWWTTT!!! SSSSSWWTTTT!!! SSSSWWTTTT!!!

The Spears of Sparta tore through the wind and whistled their way towards the thirteen troublemakers. Angered that they were still being undermined, the Spirit Adepts displayed all of their spiritual abilities to melt down or evade the oncoming onslaught. Someone created a fire shield that managed to block the spears that charged ruthlessly at them, while someone else kicked a giant boulder out from the solid rock under them. While most of them got out unscathed, there were some that weren’t so lucky.

The Spears of Sparta lived up to their names by piercing through two of the thirteen lustful demons, sending out wails of agony in all directions. Shin had explicitly aimed for the legs that had been weakened by his prior attack, Mines of the Ocean, which significantly lessened the difficulty of him breaking through the Spirit Adepts’ defences.

Now that he had his spears lodged into them, Shin raised his fists up in triumph and controlled the two spears in their thighs to be reduced back into the droplet of silver water. Snapping his fingers, the Prince of Water rapidly rotated the silver raindrops to create a spinning disk within the legs of the two mercenaries. And then…

“ARGHHHHH!!!!” The two Spirit Adepts faces got splattered with thousands of crimson beads as their entire thighs got ripped out of their body. Unable to bear the pain, the two fell to the ground as tears fell out of their closed eyes. Watching as their two comrades fell, the remaining mercenaries felt their bodies turn cold. It all happened so quickly. They were barely able to comprehend what Shin had just done, and two of their brethren had already been amputated.

“Hmph! Two down!” Shin harrumphed and instantly cast his Spiritual Body Enhancement as well as his various mana strengthenings. He had fought many vile Spirit Adepts in his life, and he knew that after first blood was drawn, the battle would evolve into its next stage rather rapidly.

“DAMN YOU!!!” A close comrade of the two fallen charged forward, squirting ink out of his squid-type Spirit. At the same time, he created several water jets that aimed straight at Shin’s throat, hoping to end the battle with one move.

“You honestly want to compete with me when it comes to water?” The black-haired young man scoffed. Shin had spent a good part of these four years observing and learning how water is used in combat. He wrote notes as two Tier 6 water-elemental Spirit Beasts fought right before his very eyes. He experienced dozens of natural disasters, from floods, hurricanes, tsunamis and whirlpools. And this mercenary wished to challenge him as a water-elemental Spirit User? Shin was barely able to hold in his laughter.

A few water tendrils easily parried the water jets and absorbed the squid ink, bringing Shin face-to-face with his assailant. Since the mercenary had committed his all to that one attack, the force that propelled him forward had no halt button. Taking advantage of his continuous trajectory, Shin created a water pyramid, one of the likes that would make the ancient pharaohs cry in shame. Kneaded together with an endless amount of water threads and sealed by tremendous mana, Shin trapped the squid Spirit User, leaving him there until he was at the brink of drowning.

“Shape-Style Technique, Pyramid Prison. Stay there for a while, yeah?”

Three down, ten to go. The battle hadn’t even lasted for a minute, and Shin had shaved down the numbers with relative ease. While Winfred was still recovering from the shock that he had received from the Mines of the Ocean, three of the best combatants in the group swung their spear, sword and hammer respectively, hoping to cave the boy’s body in with superior martial arts might. The mercenaries thought that Shin was a specialist in mid-range combat, and there was no way that he could defeat them if they were within arms reach. Alas, they were far too short-sighted.

“How crude…” Shin used Mychael’s Lightning Swallow Steps to great effect, leaving after-images just before his opponents could land a hit on his body. Though he had trained extensively in improving his water-elemental skills, Shin didn’t dare to slob on the close-combat training that Mychael had ingrained into his veins throughout his first and second year in the academy. It had even come to a point where Shin was able to defeat Mychael in pure martial arts when it came to agility and footwork. Compared to the top martial arts instructor in Imperius Academy, the mercenaries movements looked like three slobs that were trying to reach for the nearest beer jug.

“Even my younger sisters fight better than you lot!” That was true. After Elyse and Fionn joined the academy, the two youngsters had become rising stars of their own right. They rose to the Star Class with ease, and the young and timid Elyse had become an absolute assassin with her Cinereous Cyclone Dagger. Her tracking and stealth skills that could trick even Shin had propelled her to the top three students within her cohort.

Fionn wasn’t that shabby either. The Reaper’s Scythe that she awakened turned out to be a top-tier Spirit if trained the right way. Due to her close relationship with Shin, the orphan was given special treatment within Imperius Academy, and a specialized instructor was hired by the Himmel Empire to train the girl to become the best cultivator that she could possibly become.

While the two girls took vastly different paths, they had one thing in common. And that was their martial arts that would easily trump the rancid movements that the mercenaries were currently displaying. In just ten moves, Shin had already analysed and determined all of the weaknesses of his three assailants’ and created dozens of water needles to exploit said vulnerabilities. In just two seconds, Shin had sealed all the meridians of the three mercenaries and landed the knockout blow with his Seismic Combinations.

“Six down, seven to go.” Shin cracked his knuckles to release some of the stress that his fists had sustained.

‘W-What’s going on?’ Winfred began to question everything that he was seeing. He must be dreaming right now. How else could one twenty-year-old Spirit Adept deal with thirteen veteran mercenaries so quickly?

‘M-Monster!!! I have to run away!!!’ As a mercenary, he had been in many life-or-death scenarios in his entire life. However, this youngster that always seem to possess an inquisitive gaze that dared deep into his soul terrified his entire being at a molecular level. There was no point in continuing this battle. They had lost half of their men while the seven heroes still had all of theirs completely intact. It was a fight that Winfred was bound to lose.

‘I can’t move my legs?! What’s go-…, !!!’

Due to the adrenaline pumping to his head, Winfred didn’t notice that his entire feet had been covered in a layer of thick ice. Likewise, many of his compatriots suffered the same fate. They only felt the chill from the permafrost when it was too late.

“Ah… It took me over ten seconds, huh?” Instead of celebrating on his victory, Shin shook his head, disappointed that his water took this long to turn into ice. “I’m still far-off from Sister Bingying. Well, I guess that’s my limit for now.”

Shin was a water-elemental user, and while he could somewhat feel the ice-elements in the air, the young cultivator wasn’t proficient enough to bend them to his will like how bonafide ice-elemental Spirit Users could. Instead, Shin used the same theory that allowed him to change water to a mist by doing the inverse and slowing down the water molecules within his own created water so that the heat was lost and it changed its structure.

‘We were being played? All this while, we were just guinea pigs for him to test his skills? God damn it! I need to run! He’ll kill us all!!!’

“Sorry but please don’t try to run.” Before Winfred could even thaw the ice off his feet, Shin’s languid voice stopped all movements by the mercenaries. There was neither urgency nor excitement in his eyes. Hydraulic chains with bayonet tips, jumped out from the flood water, barring the path of retreat for the mercenaries. They had taken the trouble of coming all the way to this remote inn, the least that Shin could do was give some top-class ‘hospitality.’

Hundreds of water-made weapons dominated the skies as spiralling orbs of death, that could detonate at any given moment, oscillated around the seven remaining assailants. At the same time, thousands of water silver bullets levitated around the young man as a heavenly mist formed behind of him. Remembering that there was a twelve-year-old behind of him, Shin created that mist so that the gruesome scene that he was planning out in his mind wouldn’t haunt the dreams of that young child. However, for the mercenaries, Shin didn’t care what horrors they experienced. Brimming with a harrowing smile that would remain in their nightmares for years to come, Shin’s jovial voice echoed out once more:

“I still have many techniques I want to try out. If you run, who’s going to be my test dummy?”

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