Shin’s eyelids rapidly flickered. He was in a trance-like state all this while, so all of his five senses had been cut off. However, as Shin slowly awakened, he started to hear worried cries.
“Shin… Shin...” The first few calls were soft like a mother’s lullaby. “Shin… Shin… Shin!” The next few, not so much. “Shin! Shin! SHIN!!!” Finally, after hollering out for a few minutes, Lady Seph’s roars had got into the youth’s consciousness, and his eyes immediately slammed open.
He observed the room. Lady Seph was standing right in front of him, her tense face finally dropping down as a sigh of relief flowed out her opened mouth. Principal Erudito had the same relaxed expression. They had been watching over Shin for almost six hours now. Whenever Shin twitched, the experts in the room would flinch along with him. Whenever he exhaled and continued to meditate, they would watch on with nervous eyes, careful not to miss anything out.
Now that the youth was finally awake, they could all release their fears and drop their alertness entirely. Lady Seph was the first to talk to the young man. Placing her hand on his forehead, the blonde healer sat by his side examined spoke directly into his ears. “Shin, are you alright?”
“Master...” The boy’s voice was low and monotonous. He was still dazed from coming out of his Spectre Soul and needed some time to adjust to the material world. “Yeah...”
“Thank god!” Lady Seph brought her disciple into her embrace when she heard those words. They couldn’t confirm if Shin was adversely affected by the sudden leap into the Spirit Spectre realm, especially since it happened so suddenly.
The Divine Healer had checked all facets of the boy’s cultivation. His mana circuits had been fully healed. The Spirit Core that he once had was now converted into a thriving Spectre Soul, with mana deep enough to drown droves of Spirit Adepts and, most importantly, the youth’s beaten up constitution had recovered entirely. So, Lady Seph had to check the final component of Shin’s health. And that was his mental state. Fortunately, there were no issues there, as well.
“Can you speak?”
“Yeah...” Slowly, but surely, Shin was getting accustomed to his new body. The fogginess in his mind had dissipated, and his eyes started to glint with a light of comprehension.
Everything now seemed so clear to him. All of the colours of the world, hairs on the flowers inside of his chambers, even the grains of wood at the faraway doors. They were all so clear. The potent aroma of sandalwood was now ten times more defined. His ears could now hear all of the clamouring outside of the sealed room, and each time he opened his mouth, the youth could taste the wetness of his surroundings. Finally, as Shin touched his master’s soft skin, he started to feel everything inside of her. He could feel the blood being pumped through her veins and the pulsating of her heart, all through his pinky touch.
Perhaps it was due to his entire body being reconstructed but, Shin’s five senses were now in another realm altogether. No… His six senses were now in another realm. Shin’s spiritual sense was heightened beyond belief, and he could ‘see’ all the way to Imperius Academy. Shin could ‘feel’ the water elements, or rather, the lack of water elements in the atmosphere much more acutely. Shin could tell distinctly that his body was far different than before. The mana flow inside of him was so smooth and defined that Shin thought that he was in another person’s body.
‘A Spirit Spectre… No wonder it’s called passing the first barrier of mortality...’
“Shin! How did you trigger the ascension into the Spirit Spectre realm?” Now that the boy had finally woke up, Lady Seph asked the crucial question. “You were at the peak of Rank 37! Logically speaking, it should have taken you a few more months, perhaps even a year to promote! How did you do it?”
Shin thought about it for a moment before laughing bitterly. “I… Did it accidentally?”
“I don’t know...” Shin scratched his cheeks. “I was in the middle of my daily cultivation, and I suddenly thought of the Spirit Spectre I wanted to become.”
“The Spirit Spectre you wanted to become?” Lady Seph wanted to push further, but she saw the look of apprehension in the boy’s eyes. He was sending awkward glances at Principal Erudito and the other experts in the room, unsure of whether he should divulge such personal matter in front of others that he wasn’t that close to. The Spirit Venerate wasn’t dense. Immediately after seeing Shin’s uneasy look, the blonde beauty turned around.
“Eru. Thank you for your assistance. Could you inform the rest outside that Shin’s out of danger? It would be unpleasant to keep them anxious, after all.”
“Ah, of course!” Principal Erudtio smiled. “Congratulations on your promotion, Shin! I’ll see you in a bit.” Cultivation was a private matter. Naturally, the Spirit Emperor wouldn’t mind being phased out. The rest of the experts in the room did the same. With jubilant smiles, they unsealed the chamber doors and exited the room one by one, until only Lady Seph remained.
“So, what happened?”
“Master… Have you met the children of those you killed?” Shin started off with a question.
“No...” To begin with, Lady Seph hadn’t killed many in her long years as a healer. After all, her job was to save lives, not end them.
Shin’s eyelids eased up, and his shoulders dropped. “That day, when I forced Star Face into suicide, I had changed Latina’s life forever. So, I started to wonder… How many of those I killed had children? Had families that loved and cared for them?”
“Shin… Like I said...”
“No, master. I understand.” Shin interrupted. “My perspective has shifted after some reflection.” The young man continued, looking at his two transformed hands. Initially, all he could see was blood and death. Now, Shin saw a radiant light, each one beaming out tremendous amounts of hope.
“It doesn’t matter if I did it out of justice and righteousness. The fact remains that I still killed them. The lives of those who were my enemies.” Shin didn’t think that his actions weren’t warranted. As Lady Seph had explained to him, if he didn’t kill Star Face, someone else from the Alliance would. Eventually, for aiding the vilest criminal syndicate in modern history, the mercenary would have to face the music. The same goes for all those that came at him.
Craig and Susan were Vaishyas, ranking members of the Black Masks. If Shin didn’t kill them, the White Knights would. Winfred, the lustful demon that tried to rape Kanari and kill off the rest of the group, eventually, his lust would consume him, and others would hunt him down for vengeance. In this world, every action would trigger a reaction. If you were evil, justice would arrive. That was what Shin had thought.
However, when Shin’s saw Latina’s tearful face, the one with hate and fear hidden in her very eyes, he started to question himself. What was evil? What was justice? For Shin, evil was the Black Masks, and by extension, Star Face had sinned for helping them orchestrate the worst massacre in modern history. So justice had been dealt when the man paid for his sins with the ultimate price.
On the other hand, Latina didn’t care about those complicated issues. Star Face was her father, and he was a loving one at that. When Shin had killed the mercenary, Latina’s life had been sent into a downward spiral. For Latina, Shin killing her father was the evil deed. Yet, she couldn’t enact her justice and could only retreat far away, hiding with the only kin she had left.
“Master, I don’t want to be an executioner based on my own values of justice,” said Shin, his face a little saddened. “A person’s life… It’s not just weighed by how heavy his or her soul is. It’s also about who would be affected if they’re gone. I can’t be the one enacting that warped form of justice. So, I created my fifth spiritual ability… That way, I’ll never be an executioner again.”
“Your spiritual ability? What is it?” Lady Seph’s interest was piqued. Since Shin had so abruptly advanced, there wasn’t any time for him to discuss what kind of spiritual ability he wanted or what would be most suited for him.
“Hmmm, maybe we could go out? My ability wouldn’t really affect you, master.” To accurately show his ability, he needed the assistance of a few guinea pigs.
Now that he had promoted to the Spirit Spectre realm, Shin’s entire body had been reforged, and the injuries he sustained from igniting the shard had dissipated into nothingness. He could walk on his two feet easily, and if he wanted to, Shin could roam happily in the skies, dominating the world as he wished. Though, that wasn’t important right now.
The clamours from outside got noisier and noisier, and when Shin finally opened the doors for his chambers, everyone screamed out in joy. The white light of day had switched to the red amber of the evening. Shin had been attempting his advance for nearly half a day after all. Elyse was the first to burst forth from the crowd, jumping into the embrace of the young man.
“Shin! We were so worried!” Elyse cried out as snot dripped out of her petite nostrils. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine...” Shin smiled. He then turned to all the familiar faces that had come to visit him. Kanari and Elrin breathed out in relief, holding their chest to quell their anxious hearts. Shizen was tempted to jump in, but Ella’s fingers were pulling him back. Isadore smiled, proud that his bosom friend had finally made his advancement. Meijing Bingying, Xunyu Huanyuan and the rest of the representatives from the Lantis Republic were likewise relieved that the young man had made it through intact.
All of his close friends and family were here, and that really warmed the youth’s heart.
“Shin! Thank god!” Kanari went over and bravely held the man’s hand. She wanted to keep a low-profile, but by now, everyone knew of their budding relationship, so no one had any choice words. “You really have a habit of worrying us this past few days!”
“Sorry about that...” Shyly, Shin scratched his head. “But it’s okay. Everything’s fine now. Look! My body is as healthy as ever! Actually more so!” The man flexed his biceps jokingly.
Kanari observed the young man. His height had increased slightly, and his white skin was now as unblemished as jade itself. The two azure pupils that he hid sparkled like the most pristine lakes of Highgarden and his oval face had become more toned. However, the most distinct change that Shin had was his overall demeanour. Now, Shin seemed more dominant… More confident… Which made him all the more attractive.
“Yeah...” Kanari replied. “So… What’s your spiritual ability?” Everyone was curious. What kind of spiritual ability would the Prince of Water come up with?
“Ah, right! Could those below the Spirit Spectre realm please take a seat?” Shin jumped down the steps and entered the courtyard outside his room. In essence, what he wanted to do was for the orphans and some of the seven young heroes to gain some support.
Although they were unsure of what Shin was trying to do, they still obliged willingly. Shin took a deep breath in and began to meditate. His body slowly radiating out an azure light, while dense water elements rose out from Shin’s body. The temperature dropped drastically, and all the moisture that had been lost in the mansion were now slowly being returned to it. Then… Shin unleashed it.
Like the stars from the milky way, an azure nebula burst forth from Shin’s body, filling the entire courtyard with dense mana particles. Those below the Spirit Spectre realm instantly felt breathless while those above that realm tried to contain their afflicted smiles. Shin’s fifth spiritual ability, like everyone expected, was a domain one. However, the boy wasn’t done…
“My fifth spiritual ability is a domain one, and its property is...” An impish smile crept up the face of the young man, and he raised his right hand. Joining his middle finger and thumb together, Shin concentrated on every single soul in his domain and unleashed the hell he kept within.
As his fingers rubbed passed each other, everyone beneath Rank 40 lost consciousness. Their eyes turned white, and their bodies fell to the ground, like broken dolls that had their strings being cut. And it wasn’t just those below the Spirit Spectre realm who were affected. Even Meijing Bingying and Kanari, who were geniuses of their realms, felt dizziness unlike any they had ever felt. Only those at a much higher realm, like Principal Erudito, Elder Baobiao and Lady Seph, were wholly unaffected.
Shin looked over his shoulder and smiled.
“That’s my fifth spiritual ability, Master.”