Rumble… Rumble… Rumble…
The earth surrounding Shin’s chambers shook violently, shaking many off balance, even from a seated position. The air started to thin as the water elemental energy poured into the enclosed chambers. Xunyu Huanyuan, who was the most attuned to the water element, felt breathless at the phenomenon. Even Meijing Bingying and the orphans who had awakened water-elemental Spirits could feel the effects of Shin’s advancement.
“Can… Can a Spirit Adept hold that much mana?” Huanyuan cautiously asked. The amount of spiritual energy that had been sucked in was colossal. If the elemental density of the courtyard was that of a humid rainforest before, now it was as bare as a dry desert in the middle of a hot summer day. They were sure that if they released their own mana into the atmosphere, it would be gobbled down by Shin’s power-hungry body, leaving nothing for themselves.
“Even the ice-elements are being sucked into this frenzy...” The Pearl in the East remarked, softly. She couldn’t believe what she was witnessing. “What on earth is Shin doing in there?”
Just like before, only Lady Seph and a handful of experts were allowed into the chambers, where Shin remained floating in the air. Initially, the Spirit Venerate wanted to continually monitor her disciple using her own mana, but she instantly scrapped that idea when her spiritual energy just became an early morning snack for the youth. They were now just as hopeless as the spectators outside.
“How are the mana crystals faring?” The blonde healer roared.
Principal Erudito took one look at the six walls that sealed Shin in. The originally glistening gems of the ocean were now void of any light, turning back into common ores that miners would throw away in contempt. “All depleted!!! Should we get more?!”
“No, it’s useless!” Lady Seph scrutinised Shin. Right now, the boy was in a state of complete metamorphosis. He lacked mana, so his body automatically sucked up the spiritual energy in the area. No matter how many mana crystals they brought over, Shin’s body would still attempt to empty the atmosphere, sucking it clean of any energy. “We just have to stand by and assist him if he sustains any injuries. I’ll slowly supply him healing mana. Just follow my lead.”
Yes, they were worried about Shin, but his current situation was extremely peculiar. No one knew what could cause an adverse reaction, so they had to be exceedingly cautious. Giving him too much mana might place a strain on his weakened body, while not doing anything could potentially derail his entire cultivation, breaking down everything that Shin had worked so hard to achieve.
And so… The waiting game began.
Shin’s consciousness was clearing up rapidly. As the world turned white, Shin braced himself out of reflex. Though, he soon recognised his silliness. Within his own Spiritual Body, Shin was king. Nothing would actively come out to hurt him. Opening his eyes, Shin was greeted with a spectacular sight. The world had turned entirely white. The natural lake that he loved was gone and the Mark of the Celestial Dragon that dominated the skies disappeared. It was like he had entered a fluffy white cloud, where nothing but heaven’s dust remained.
Shin took one step. There was no reaction from the ground. Or more importantly, was there a ground? Shin couldn’t tell. The world was white all over. He could feel any spiritual energy, and he couldn’t comprehend where he was. However, there was one silver lining.
The Sovereign Koi circled around the young man like a joyous puppy. It flapped its adorable fins and snuggled up on Shin’s meaty neck. Even among all of this uncertainty, his Spirit still retained its flippant attitude. Shin smiled, and he turned to his right. Shin didn’t know where he was, but there seemed to be a magnetic force pulling him to the side.
And he was right to follow his instincts. The world Shin knew off may be gone, but the four crystal obelisks still remained. They were glowing in the same manner as before, unfazed by the chaos that roamed around them. The Sovereign Koi spun around the shafts happily, seemingly directing Shin into the space between them.
As Shin slowly walked in, he thought of the spiritual abilities he had. Standing next to the very first obelisk, Shin saw a phantom of the Sovereign Koi. It was about the same size as the monolith that it enveloped, making it far more massive than the Sovereign Koi in Shin’s hands. Not that size mattered though.
Shin’s first ability, the innate ability to create and manipulate water, was one that had aided him tremendously throughout the years, especially in recent times. After being ‘mentored’ by Lukman, Shin now knew how potent his first spiritual ability was and had taken it to new heights, rarely seen before. However, this crystal obelisk was the only one that he had no part in creating.
Turning his attention to the second one, Shin placed his hands firmly on its surface. ‘Heal...’ Shin had learned this ability after spending two to three years under Lady Seph’s tutelage. Initially, he was forced into the healing path by the First Elder and the Frie Clan. Despite that, Shin had really come to appreciate his time as a healer. He’d met with Lady Seph, perhaps the most important person in his life at the moment. Shin had gone on so many adventures and help so many people when he was actively on the healing path. Slowly, a phantom of Lady Seph appeared behind the crystal obelisk. With a gentle smile plastered on her face, the phantom looked at Shin with loving eyes.
Shin circled around and looked at the third obelisk. After the loss of Ariel, Shin had been devastated. He hated the world and how useless he really was. Shin loathed the healing path as no matter how much he tried to treat his fallen loved one, the girl would never wake up from her eternal slumber. So, he defected to the path of the warrior. To protect his loved ones, to bring Junius to justice, Shin thought that the fighter’s path was the only option he had.
Shin trained under Mychael tirelessly and continuously honed his body techniques and martial arts until they were among the top in the academy. He wanted to fight more, so he created his Spiritual Body Enhancement, enabling him to stand toe to toe with monsters like Natasha, Danroy and Suji. Why? Because he never wanted to feel isolated, he never wanted to see someone close to him die again.
Soon a red humanoid phantom took shape behind the obelisk. It was a familiar face, one that Shin had never thought that he would see again. The girl wasn’t that pretty. Her freckles still as defined as before. But Shin still saw her as the apple of his eye.
“Ariel...” The youth weakly muttered. If she was still alive, how different would Shin’s life be? Ariel’s phantom wore a bold look, one reminiscent to that of a warrior preparing for war. That was what Shin had aimed to become. An indomitable force that never settled when it comes to the safety of his loved ones.
Shin admired the young maiden’s face for a short while before turning away. The phantom before him was just a hologram created by his memories. It wasn’t the real Ariel. Finally, his gaze landed on the fourth obelisk. It was barely withstanding the pressure being emitted out from the Shard of the Azure Dragon. Though Shin wasn’t afraid. In fact, he was excited to experiment on the shard once he breaks through into the Spirit Spectre realm. Just imagine all of the variations he could create if he merged it with his water techniques.
Just like the three before it, a phantom began to congregate behind the obelisk, taking the form of a handsome young man. Its viridian hair was so striking, and its expression was so calm. Shin gritted his teeth in annoyance.
Why did Shin need to get the shard into his arsenal? Why did Shin push himself so hard to become stronger? Wasn’t it because of this dastardly young man that haunted his nightmares?
All of the spiritual abilities that he learnt. All of them. They were influenced by Shin’s desire at the time. And this time, it was no different. The originally placid world started to turn turbulent. The remnants of his Spirit Core were now rapidly flailing about as if it were the early beginnings of the universe. Then, a single crystal pillar dropped down from above, landing right in front of the young man. It was dim and dull. If placed on an auction house, no one would possibly give out a bid. However, to Shin, that crystal obelisk was perhaps the most valuable treasure he would ever have.
Shin placed his hands on the monolith and chanted. The white world continued to run haywire as all of the debris fell into the calm structure, bringing out a torrent of elemental energy that Shin had never felt before. The phantoms from the other obelisks watched on with great interest, happy to welcome the new addition to the family.
Shin learnt ‘heal’ because of Lady Seph. He created his Spiritual Body Enhancement because of Ariel, and he assimilated with the shard to gain the power to decimate Junius. So, who was behind his next ability? Who was the driving force that pushed him to become a Spirit Spectre? Shin got his answer quite quickly.
The uninteresting crystal obelisk turned azure, beaming out an acute celestial light. Just like the other monoliths, particle rose out from the structure and moulded itself into a phantom right before Shin’s very eyes. Jet-black hair that flowed down his neck and two spiritual eyes that kept a serene lake within, Shin knew this person very well.
Why? Because it was himself.
“Me?” The young man widened his eyes slightly before letting out a happy smile. “Right… I am creating this ability for myself. I don’t want to go on a fighter path or a healer path. I want to make my own path… I don’t want to kill random people in cold blood. I don’t want to create another Latina. I want...”
Shin didn’t voice his spiritual ability out. He closed his eyes and started to pray. The crystal obelisk became more defined by the second and the white world slowly brought back more colour. All of the broken fragments of his Spirit Core were now coming back together as Shin’s Spectre Soul took shape. He didn’t know it, but Shin’s outer body was also undergoing tremendous reforms, changing his mortality entirely.
Skin and muscles tore off his body while the Spectre Soul took the dominant position. Shin’s high regeneration rate helped in recreating his body. His complexion turned much more radiant, and all of the impurities that laid within were seethed out in droves. The mana circuits that had been crippled were now wholly replaced, and Shin’s entire body had undergone a complete metamorphosis. Now that his Spirit Core had been shattered and was replaced by a nascent Spectre Soul, Shin’s mana had been lifted to another level altogether. He was no longer beholden to the physical limits of a normal human being. In essence, the youth was no longer what he used to be.
The white world now had a vast lake, one much wider than the one in Shin’s Spiritual Body. The water was as deep as any ocean and the mana being supplied far exceeded anything Shin had ever felt before. Snowflakes swirled from the dark sky, and the azure light from the lake rose to meet them. The five crystal obelisks now shot out laser beams of different colours, right into the skies above. The Mark of the Celestial Dragon returned, this time twice as great as before. Beating slowly like a real human’s heart, Shin swore that the mark looked like a butterfly inside of a cocoon, ready to burst free into the world.
Though, all of that didn’t matter.
The Sovereign Koi spun around in pure joy, flapping its fins at the now strengthened youth. Shin was no longer limited by the human fleshy body anymore. Now…
He was a Spirit Spectre.