Shin drank down a cup of the Longyu Clan’s most exquisite wine with Kanari and Bingying by his side. They were on the deck of the gigantic warship where massive cannons with barrels large enough to fit a grown man were always on standby. It seemed odd for a man and two women to be drinking merrily on a battle frigate, but the trio didn’t care. Glances from the Longyu Clan sailors had become commonplace even if they tried to hide from the masses. Often times, some dedicated eyes would formulate excuses to walk down the corridor of the supposed ‘Prince of Water,’ hoping to catch a glimpse of the man’s features.
In the end, since there wasn’t much privacy, Shin opted to enjoy the calm ocean view with two beauties by his side. The dozens of gazes sent his way melted into nothingness with each passing cup of wine and the chilly breeze of the ocean. For Shin, who had been landlocked most of his life, he really enjoyed the moments he could share with the world’s largest source of water.
Taking two deep breaths in, he muttered to himself: “I wonder what natural wonders would the Longyu Clan have?”
Meijing Bingying smiled. “You don’t have to worry! Longyu Reef is by far the best place for a Scion with the Sovereign Koi to thrive. They have hundreds of lakes littered all throughout their vast island! I’m sure you’re cultivation rate would spike once you’re there!”
Shin’s Spirit, the Sovereign Koi, went by another moniker. The Eminence of the Lake. The Longyu Clan had existed for aeons, long before the age of the three superpowers. When they had settled down on the island reef thousands of years ago, they started to build the enclave into a nesting ground for the world’s top Sovereign Koi users. It wasn’t an exaggeration to say that Shin would cultivate at twice the rate for half the effort.
“That’s kind of unfair,” Kanari pouted, with her cheeks puffed out. Usually, she would take this opportunity to go in for some skinship, but the sailors on deck prevented the maiden from extending her hand. “Now that our cultivation levels are matched and you’re moving to a place where you cultivate much faster, it would be a matter of time before you beat me soundly.”
“Haha, says the girl who has an endless supply of elemental crystals!” Shin chortled.
One reason why Kanari could cultivate that quickly was because of her three elemental affinities. She could absorb fire, wind and mind elements, all to deepen her cultivation base. Yes, the Lantis Republic would have a disproportionate level of water elements, and her signature Foxfires would be handicapped, but it gave her an opportunity to master the other two elements. Not to mention, the Highgarden Duchess had sent a congregation to protect her daughter, consisting of one Spirit Venerate and several Spion guards. It would be easy for Kanari to get a constant supply of elemental crystals if she needed it.
Meijing Bingying smiled at the interactions between Shin and Kanari. They were so honest with their feelings, something she greatly envied. If she and Huanyuan could be same… ‘No, what am I thinking?’ The maiden shook her head before her mind went into that direction again. To completely wreck that train of thought, Bingying added on to the conversation. “You don’t have to worry about cultivation grounds, Kanari. The Lantis Archipelago has many mana-rich areas without the water element. Some of our volcanoes are excellent examples.”
“Oh, you have volcanoes?” Kanari’s interest was instantly piqued.
“There are thousands of islands in the Lantis Republic, of course, we would have one or two volcanoes!” Bingying beamed. “I’m sure we could find a place for you can continue to cultivate at your stupendously monstrous pace.” The Pearl in the East hid her thoughts of jealousy behind that smile of hers. Bingying was in her late twenties and was already a Rank 49 Spirit Spectre. Compared to the others in her generation, Bingying was unquestionably a genius among geniuses. Among the almost billion-odd cultivators in the Lantis Republic, perhaps only fifty people under the age of thirty were Spirit Spectres, and Bingying was in the upper percentile of that elite group.
However, against Shin and Kanari, Bingying could only kneel and accept her inferiority. They were already Spirit Spectres at the age of twenty. Furthermore, their abilities were strong enough to stand toe-to-toe with any Spirit Spectre or even Rank 50 Spirit Lords if they really had to. It wasn’t fair to compare them to anyone else. That couple was in a league of their own.
“See? You still have the advantage!” Shin teased. “Also, your Kumiho is a mystical beast Spirit! I’m sure you’ll be able to cultivate fast anywhere you go!”
“Hehe, I guess you’re right!”
The calm waves continued to splash on the thick hull of the frigate. Shin quite enjoyed the sound of the ocean waves in the backdrop. It was serene and calming, especially with the company of two of the world’s most beautiful maidens. They continued to drink and chat about their future in the Lantis Republic until a fourth voice disrupted their peace.
A young teenage girl walked out from belowdecks. She was about a hundred sixty centimetres tall, a little below the average height of girls her age. Wearing a luxurious healer’s robe, the bob-haired girl looked far more accomplished than her age would suggest.
“Kesyl? What’s up?” Shin replied, his eyes firmly attached to her chubby face. Apparently, she wasn’t at the age to shed off all of her baby fat.
Back during his days in Yakkyoku Clinic, Shin had been working as a healer and a mentor for Kesyl, Duke Mesyl’s only daughter. After failing to perform well under Lady Seph’s apprenticeship many years back, the Duke wanted one of his children to live out his dreams to become a successful healer, one that wouldn’t be inferior to that of Lady Seph’s expertise. So, when Kesyl showed some promise and interest in the field, Duke Mesyl attempted to get Lady Seph to accept his daughter as her disciple.
Unfortunately, Lady Seph didn’t have any intentions of accepting another disciple. One was more than enough, she said. Still, ever since Shin decided to pursue his own path, he felt that there was one less helper, one less tea-brewer for his favourite temperamental master. So, he persuaded Lady Seph to give Kesyl a chance.
For the first few years, it worked out fine. Shin was often not at home, either living in the dorm of Imperius Academy or out on a mission to train. So it was quite handy for Kesyl to be around. She had even become a Novice Healer, learning ‘Heal’ directly from Lady Seph’s methods. Although Lady Seph wouldn’t admit it, the young girl had virtually taken over Shin’s old role and was on a one-way track to becoming the blonde healer’s disciple. Shin even started calling her Junior Apprentice Sister in private.
So it was apparent that Duke Mesyl would allow Kesyl would follow Lady Seph to the Lantis Republic, a place out of his jurisdiction. There was no way he would undercut the years of hard work it took for Kesyl to get to this stage.
“No, I was just wondering how much longer would it take to get there,” said the girl, her face becoming a little green. “I don’t think I do that well with swaying boats...” Just like many of the Himmel Empire children, Kesyl had rarely been on a ship before. For someone like her, getting sea-sick was inevitable.
“Why don’t you take some medication?” Shin asked. Master has some ointments that help resolve sea-sickness.
“I did, but I think that my body has become accustomed to it,” Kesyl remarked. They had spent three long days on the high seas. The first day was a nightmare, especially at night when the waves were far more choppy. The teenage girl had to rely on her own healing abilities and had even doubled the potency of Lady Seph’s supposed miracle ointment. The second day went rather well for Kesyl. Perhaps it was due to her actions the day before, Kesyl was immune to the waves and enjoyed the night sky alongside all of her friends. However, as the effectiveness of the drug wore off and her body had become accustomed to the ointment, Kesyl could feel the sea-sickness starting to kick in again.
“Ah, you don’t have to worry about that for long.” Bingying overheard the entire conversation and smiled. “Look at that!”
Everyone followed her pointed finger and saw a flock of strange birds flying. Every few seconds, one would bolt down like a falling meteorite, crashing onto the ocean below. Shin found it weird that those birds were behaving in such a strange manner, however, as if laughing at the boy’s ignorance, the bird would emerge out from the ocean with a fully intact fish in its mouth.
“Those are Gannets, birds indigenous to Longyu Reef,” explained Bingying. “If we’re seeing them now, we can’t be too far off our destination. I estimate that it’ll be about a few hours until we arrive.”
“The girl is right.”
All of a sudden, a fifth voice stunned the Shin and the three maidens. Shin was the first to turn around. Almost instantly, he felt the world starting to slow as the movements of his companions became sluggish. The waves that slammed ever so often came to an abrupt halt, and the birds in the sky all remained suspended as if frozen in time. No, not as if. They were frozen in time.
‘This ability!’ Shin had seen this phenomenon happen only once before. Back at the Summit, when he was waiting in the garden of the Lantis Republic’s hotel. There was only one person on planet Earth that could create such a weird phenomenon, and as he expected…
“Shin, it’s been a long time.”
When Shin turned around, there was a clear-faced woman, who boasted the same jet-black hair and azure-lake eyes as himself. Her thin brows sat beautifully above those crystal eyes, and her face was as small as Shin’s two fists. The woman gently caressed the metal railings as she approached Shin, smiling constantly.
“Saint Longyu Tian!” Shin attempted to bow, but when his head bent down ten degrees, he felt an unstoppable force preventing him from going down further. It was as if a muscleman had gotten a firm grasp over his head, refusing to let go in the slightest. Eventually, the force pushed him upright, bringing him eye to eye with the Saint of Time.
“There’s no need for formalities when you’re with me.” Longyu Tian chuckled. “Just treat me like an aunt you always had.”
“H-How could I do that?!” Shin immediately protested. “Saint Longyu Tian, I...”
The black-haired lady placed her index finger on the boy’s nose, stopping him from spouting any more nonsense. “That’s Aunt Tian for you. You don’t have any immediate relatives in the Longyu Clan, so let me play the role of your elder.”
The Spirit Saint had a point. All of his relatives had passed away during the massacre of the Awter Clan. Longyu Yuan, Shin’s great-grandfather, who was initially slated to become the next Longyu Clan head, had been denounced by the clan for failing to awaken the Sovereign Koi. In spite, Longyu Yuan had barred any of his descendants from returning to the clan for casting him out. So, even though Shin was from the main bloodline, he was more like a distant relative to the hundreds of Sovereign Koi users in the clan.
Longyu Tian knew that. So, to make Shin feel like his place was with the Lantis Republic, the Spirit Saint had volunteered herself to become an aunt to the boy, hoping to help him integrate a little better into the clan.
“Thank you, s-saint,” before Shin could continue, Longyu Tian’s glare shut the youth’s mouth, and he immediately corrected himself. “Aunt Tian.”
Shin smiled wryly. Calling a Spirit Saint, a being that reigned supreme in the cultivation world, his aunt was quite the surreal experience. However, as adaptable as he was, the youth quickly got over it. “Aunt Tian, could you release your Time Field? Looking at my friends being frozen isn’t that pleasant of a sight.”
“Ah, sorry.” Longyu Tian looked around her, raising her brows in thought. “I must’ve cast it unconsciously. See, it would be quite meddlesome if people saw me prancing around in public.” The Spirit Saint immediately snapped her fingers, ending the Time Field and bringing movement back to the frozen men and women.
“S-Saint Longyu Tian!!!” Bingying was the first one to notice the lady next to Shin. The sailors were all stunned as well. Almost in uniform, the Lantis Republic members all fell to their knees, with only Kanari and Kesyl still a little confused. From the bottom deck, Lady Seph and Kanari’s Spirit Venerate guard both rushed up after feeling the powerful undulations that the Saint of Time emitted. They were under the impression that there was an enemy attack. Only after seeing Longyu Tian standing in a relaxed manner next to Shin and the rest, could they finally breathe a sigh of relief.
“Dispense on the formalities.” Gone was the playful and jubilant aunt that Shin witnessed just moments prior. When she was in public, Longyu Tian was a sovereign and had to conduct herself as such.
“Yes, Saint Longyu Tian!!!” The sailors hollered back in a reverent tone. They wanted to stay and gawk at the rare appearance of the top dog in their nation, but the Captain spurred them back into their positions immediately.
Just as Bingying surmised, after two hours, the frigate caught the first sight of land. It was so near that Shin didn’t have to use his naval telescope to navigate the area. He could see the docks, the mountains, the bustling town with billowing smoke. Like Litong Harbour, Shin could tell that the place was well-built and designed to hold over a thousand boats, big or small.
“Oh, I almost forgot!” Saint Longyu Tian, who had been chatting away with Shin and his entourage for the past few hours, jolted slightly as if a thunderbolt had struck her. With the most radiant smile Shin had ever seen her display, the Spirit Saint said:
“Welcome to the Lantis Republic!”