Book 5: The Capital || Chapter 50: The Spirit Core Realm (2)
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Himmel Empire. The Capital. Imperius Academy. Shin’s personal cultivation chamber.

Imperius Academy was a multi-faceted institution that boasted some of the Empire’s best facilities for students to use. From spacious and well-equipped training yards to cultivation chambers that was filled to the brim with dense spiritual energies. The school allowed many of its most deserving students to take advantage of these facilities for their own gains, letting them grow exponentially in the process. And that was precisely what Shin was doing.

When Madam Warulee found out of Shin’s affinity to the water element, the third most powerful figure in the academy personally authorised the usage of the academy’s densest water elemental cultivation chambers for Shin. Made with an aether crystal that had been gestating at the bottom of the ocean for hundreds if not thousands of years, the chambers that Shin had been staying in was one of the best places for a Spirit User who awakened a water elemental Spirit to cultivate. In fact, there were many influential figureheads in the Himmel Empire that would pay good money just for their children to gain access to the famed cultivation chambers. Unfortunately, since it was a facility that was only reserved for the usage for talented students of the academy, no one outside of the student body had ever gone near to it.

Sitting on top of his meditation mat, Shin was absorbing the surrounding water elements at an exceedingly fast pace as he chanted the Celestial Water Mantra. Following the young teen since he first awakened The Sovereign Koi, the Celestial Water Mantra has always been Shin’s sole method of comprehending his Spirit and how to grow it. Although it was far too profound compared to the regular cultivation manuals of the modern day, the young boy had been able to interpret the mantra according to his own comprehension ability and thus far, it had served him well. Reaching Rank 19 in just over five years, Shin could proudly say that he has written his name in history as one of the most talented geniuses of the Himmel Empire. However, he was not satisfied.

With a hunger to grow stronger, grow faster, so that he could bring Junius and the Black Masks to justice. So that he could protect the ones he held most dear. So that he could chase Yggdrasil and meet the one that he loved the most once more… Shin had to live the extreme existence and push himself farther and farther down this path. 

‘I can become stronger!’ Shin hollered out in his mind. Taking out a replenishment pill that Madam Warulee had prepared for him, Shin continued to persevere on, even though it was his fifth consecutive hour repeating the Celestial Water Mantra. The Sovereign Koi, which had been circling around Shin’s hands, stopped abruptly as it shot a look of concern for its owner. Its reflective eyes showed a tinge of worry as it flapped its tail fin so that it could reach the nose bridge of Shin’s face. 

Currently, Shin was at a critical juncture. Even though he was wholly aware of the transformation in his body, his Spirit could clearly tell that something wasn’t right with the boy. His Spiritual Body had grown exponentially as the unfiltered water elemental energy flowed in like a raging current, contaminating Shin’s mana reserve in the process. To combat this phenomenon, The Sovereign Koi diverted all of its focus to cleaning up all of the excess energies that were running amok within Shin and purifying it so that the youth would be able to reap the benefits of his cultivation sessions. And to reap he did…

A warm and pleasant sensation crept up the boy abdomen as he felt a surge of mana fill his entire spiritual being. In fact, there were even small amounts of mana creeping out from his pores due to the amount of excess inside of him. Heaving out a huge sigh, a puff of mist flowed out from Shin’s lungs and dissipated into the dense spiritually rich environment. A luminous cerulean aura started to form around the youth’s body, as The Sovereign Koi celebrated its accomplishments. Finally, Shin was at the peak of Rank 19.

“Two months… At long last, I have reached this stage…” Shin raised his right arm towards his eye level as he carefully observed the mana-rich aura that he was giving off. 

During this two months where Madam Warulee would shower him with resources, Shin made full use of the opportunity to absorb as much knowledge and supplies as he possibly could. Training every day while taking advantage of the medicinal baths and tremendous resources such as mana-infused food items, the young teen wouldn’t waste a single second in his attempt to grow faster. And thankfully, the hard work that he had put in, has finally paid off.

“With this amount of mana, I wonder how well my Spirit Core would turn out.” Shin wondered.

Overflowing with an ungodly amount of spiritual energy, the youth felt like he was on top of the world. If he were to compare it, his current state could store at least a hundred times more mana than when he promoted to the Spirit Apostle realm. Once he condensed everything into one small little Spirit Core, Shin couldn’t help but wonder how powerful he would become.

“But before I could do that… I need to figure out how my Spiritual Body Enhancement would be like…” Shin got out of his cold meditation mat and slowly walked towards the table, filled with manuals that he had burrowed out from the library. 

Ever since he first decided to learn a Spiritual Body Enhancement as his third spiritual ability, Shin had studied on the topic extensively, so much so that he could recite the manuals from cover to cover by now. However, the youth also loved to re-read his books, just in case he could interpret the words differently.

“Spirit Users that create a Spiritual Body Enhancement ability with their fish Spirits would gain streamlined scales and gills that enable them to breathe underwater… If I go down that route, won’t I look like a Spirit Beast instead?” Shin thought out loud. Noticing the adorable cerulean Koi that was swimming about in the air around him, the black-haired youth addressed it with a mocking tone. “Hey, would you like it if I became more like you?”

“…” Unaware of what its owner was trying to convey to it, The Sovereign Koi spun one round while its reflective eyes shone in a confused light.

“What am I doing? Trying to ask my Spirit for advice?” Shin leaned back on his chair as he muttered out in a self-deprecating tone. “Spiritual Body Enhancement huh?”

After two months of extensive practice and studying, Shin would be lying if he said that he didn’t have an idea of what he wanted his third spiritual ability to be like. In fact, he was almost certain that he wanted to take that route. However, since Shin was chasing perfection, the young boy couldn’t help but wonder if there was a better method for him. The ability that he would learn would stick to him until the very end of his life and if it wasn’t suited for him, wouldn’t that be a huge waste of assets?

“Ariel, what would you do in a time like this?” Shin dropped his shoulders as he released a huge sigh. Staring up to the ceiling, the young boy directly addressed his deceased lover, hoping to get some sort of divine intervention from her.

“What is the most important aspect for me? Is it power? Is it defence? What is it that I want to pursue?”

The black-haired teen hunched his back as he contemplated his future path. Ever since that night, he had been faithfully pursuing strength so that he could achieve the new goals that he had set for himself. However, he had no clue on which path would give him the most satisfaction and would best allow him to pursue his objectives. And then, the image of Ariel’s demise was bitterly brought to the forefront of his subconscious.

“That’s right… If I were faster… If I had more awareness… I could have saved her.” Shin suddenly came to a revelation. 

The Sovereign Koi was an all-rounder Spirit that lacked any powerful explosive properties like Suji’s Purple Dragon Crescent Blade or Danroy’s Bangeo Rhinoceros, which relied on its overwhelmingly potent defensive capabilities. However, one thing that The Sovereign Koi had over the rest of the Spirit that Shin had seen was its mobility in water. Being one of the most powerful water Spirits there was, The Sovereign Koi was basically a god when fighting in water, with it being able to control its surroundings and move and crazy speeds. If Shin wanted to go down the path of a fighter, adding a speed-oriented Spiritual Body Enhancement ability would be the best thing to do.

“If I were faster huh… That’s right! All of my combat abilities rely on speed anyway!” Shin exclaimed.

His deathly acupuncture needle technique and the seismic martial art combination that Mychael had taught him all relied on Shin being faster than his opponent. The best way for him to improve on his combat abilities was to improve on his agility and speed.

“Not to mention, if I meet someone that I can’t defeat outside, like Danroy or Suji, I could probably just run!” The moment he came to this palpable revelation, Shin immediately started to flip through the manuals on Spiritual Body Enhancements that emphasised on speed. Thankfully, with his superior comprehension ability, Shin was able to figure out all of the intricate details that he needed to know.

“Looks like I’m going to enter the Spirit Core realm this weekend after all…” Shin laughed to himself as he recalled the conversation that he had overheard between the two gossip mongers earlier that day. As it turned out, their wild speculation was about to become a reality.

~~~

“To think that the brat would reach this stage in less than three months… Honestly, what’s up with this year’s cohort?” Mychael complained with a despondent frown. 

When Shin stepped into the peak of Rank 19, he immediately informed all the relevant personnel that he was about to attempt to condense his Spirit Core. He quickly briefed the twins as well as the two teachers that were mentoring him. During these two months, Mychael had been faithfully carrying out the task of Shin’s mentor and had taught the youth everything that he needed to know about the Spirit Core realm. However, never in the tanned scoundrel’s wildest dreams did he think that Shin could reach the final step this swiftly.

“You should be grateful. Our academy would gain so many legends after this year’s batch graduate.” Madam Warulee, who was walking alongside the stunned middle-aged man, adjusted her glasses that was falling off her nose bridge. “Besides, weren’t you complaining that he was taking up so much of your time? Now that he’s going to condense his Spirit Core, you should be grateful!”

“I can’t argue with that… No, what am I talking about, that’s good news! I can finally go and see Mimi again.”

“Urghhh, you’re disgusting…”

“Haha! Say what you will! I can finally enter paradise again!”

While the two illustrious teachers were bickering, they finally saw Shin’s cultivation chambers in the distance. Standing in front of it was two young purple haired girls who were prancing around in circles. Even though Shin now had a relatively large group of friends, he opted to keep the affair private, only telling the twins and the teachers that helped him. If he told Elrin or Kanari, there was no doubt in his mind that they would bring over gifts worth thousands of gold to help him break through, and if he told Shizen or Isadore, the only thing that they could do was tell the rest of the world. Thus, only four individuals were present for Shin’s promotion into the Spirit Core realm.

“Mychael! Madam Warulee!” Noticing the arrival of the two teachers, Shin’s face lit up, and he sauntered towards them.

“Are there any issues with your current state?” Madam Warulee cautiously asked. Shin was a wonder boy of the freshmen cohort. There was no way that she would want him to come to any sort of harm.

“None whatsoever. In fact, I feel better than I ever had before!”

“Good… Then we can proceed today. After you condense your Spirit Core, make sure you take one of these mana replenishment pills. Also, take some time to absorb the water elemental energies around you! Also…” Madam Warulee went on and on with instructions for the youth, even though he had been through them multiple times before.

“You confident?” While the bespectacled scholar was busy nagging Shin off, Mychael stood across him with his arms folded and said two words. Over the few months that they had met, Shin and the tanned scoundrel had their differences. In fact, they weren’t the best of pals now either. However, when it came to the real stuff, not many words had to be shared between the two.

“Of course!”

“Hmph! Talk is cheap! Go ahead and do it! Then I’ll believe you.”

“Haha, I know…” Nodding his head, Shin took the resources from Madam Warulee’s hand and entered the private cultivation chambers once more. As the doors of the room closed, the twins gritted their teeth in anxiety. Since the chambers blocked out all forms of mana signatures, the only way that people outside would know of Shin’s result, was when the doors opened again.

“Good luck, Shin…” A soft mutter sounded out from the four individuals. No one knew who said those words, but it was the shared sentiment between all of them.

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