“Shin, are you alright?”
After splendidly healing two consecutive patients, the newbie healer could feel his exhaustion pile up as he spent a significant amount of mana in a short period of time. It was the first time he could feel the symptoms of mana fatigue. Even Lady Seph’s spartan training sessions did not manage to push him that far. Taking in deep breaths, Shin felt his mind grow a little hazy as he tried to regain his bearings.
“I’m fine… I just need to rest for a bit.”
Apparently, using ‘Heal’ repeatedly was a harder hurdle to cross than he first expected. Each injury is unique, and the mana required to treat them varies drastically. If the person only has a bruise, the mana spent for ‘Heal’ would be far less as compared someone who had a massive puncture at the centre of his chest. All this while, Shin had been treating minor injuries and occasionally, a deep cut here and there; and that was with familiar bodies such as his own or his Master’s. Thus, when a foreign patient comes along, it would take him much more mana to effectively treat the person.
Sitting at one corner with Ariel wiping off the beads of perspiration that congregated on his forehead, Shin closed his eyes and started to mentally chant the Celestial Water Mantra. It was one of the few ways that he had to stabilise his condition.
“Excuse me, coming through…”
However, his rest was soon broken by a sonorous voice that pushed through the crowd. Unable to cover up his excitement, Escred wanted to meet the wonderous youth as quickly as possible. With his concentration broken, Shin annoyingly raised his eyebrows and glared at the hazel-coloured hair man.
“Sorry to disturb your rest young man, but may I know your affiliation?”
Escred clearly knew that Shin was recuperating his lost spiritual energy, but nonetheless, he could not hold back. It was the first time he had seen such a young Healer anywhere in the Empire.
“Hey! Can’t you see that he’s resting? Move aside, old man!”
Ariel snapped at Escred for disturbing Shin during his meditation. Like a guardian of a watchtower, the fiery scarlet-haired girl made sure that no one could come near her childhood friend in his time of weakness. Seeing someone that she could only best describe as an uncle come forth, Ariel sharply pushed him away.
Escred, on the other hand, was not used to be treated so nastily by someone else, especially a person of the opposite gender. As one of the top Healers of the Keep and an eligible bachelor, many nurses and female soldiers fawned over him. It also helped that amongst the ruffians, his charming good looks made him stand out like a rose surrounded by a pile of manure. Shaking his head while wearing a bitter smile, Escred decided to take a more direct approach.
“I’m sorry, but you can’t heal the patients without proper authorisation. Thus, I need to confirm your affiliation.”
To a certain extent, Escred’s words rung true. If you were not a registered Healer, then you were barred from treating the patients. However, in Aldrich’s Keep where the number of qualified Healers was few and far between, any extra pair of hands would be greatly appreciated. What Escred truly wanted to find out was who trained this youth and for what purpose did his Master send him to the war-torn Keep.
“Ariel, it’s fine… We shouldn’t cause any trouble…”
Still drained from using ‘Healing Water’ twice in a row, Shin drearily raised his hand to stop his partner from going wild. Resting his head against a nearby wall, the black-haired teen said:
“My name is Shin. I am an apprentice healer that recently learnt ‘Heal.’ My master sent me here to help you guys treat the wounded.”
“Your master? Who is your master?”
“I’m not sure if you would know her, but people call her Lady Seph…”
Unbeknownst to Shin, he had just dropped a bombshell on every single soul in the sick bay.
“That legendary healer is here?!?!”
“My god! There’s hope for Aldrich’s Keep after all!”
Bit by bit, all those soldiers surrounding Shin started to exclaim joyfully. These few days have been hellish for them. Week after week, there were hordes of beasts running out from the Uncharted Wilderness threatening to overrun the Keep. Every single day, the soldiers had to deal with the fear of a sudden raid where no one knew if they were going to win. In fact, many warriors had committed truancy and escaped from the impregnable fort as they did not want to be subject to the mental and physical torture that the Keep was putting them through anymore.
Thus, hearing that the hero of Yara Pass was currently present in the Keep greatly boosted their morale.
“Y-y-y-y-your m-m-master is L-l-lady Seph?!”
Escred stuttered uncontrollably, entirely unlike his previous authoritative self, as he heard who taught the prodigious young boy sitting in front of him. He had long heard of the illustrious Healer, but ever since she vanished all those years ago, there had been no word from her since. Now, someone was claiming that he was her disciple and that she was currently present in the Keep made Escred’s mind overload.
“Yeah, what about it?”
Unsure of why everyone was so up in arms about his Master, who was a temperamental elderly woman that wouldn’t even do her own renovations for her clinic, Shin looked around in confusion.
“I-is it true? Lady Seph is in the Keep?”
Somewhat regaining his composure, Escred coughed lightly and asked the boy once more. It couldn’t be helped. The news that he received was way too surreal.
“Yeah, Master is here alright…”
“I’m sorry but could you produce some sort of proof?”
Unconsciously, the hazel-coloured haired healer edged slightly closer to Shin, unaware that his fervent gaze caused both Shin and Ariel to cringe and back away. Sensing that her second favourite person was under threat, Bingbing, who was resting comfortably in Shin’s bosom, scurried out of the young teen’s clothes and released a surge of spiritual energy.
Before he could get in a word, the temperature of the sick bay drastically dropped as if a sudden snowstorm had arrived. A biting cold frost filled the area as chunks of ice started to form on the concrete ground. Escred, who was closest to Shin and Ariel, bore the full brunt of the attack. Almost instantaneously, he was brought to his knees as his healthy pink complexion turned blue as bits of ice covered his skin. Bingbing’s eyes glowed in an ethereal white light as she glared straight at the foolish peasant that attempted to harm the boy she wanted to protect.
“A Kamaitachi! What the hell is this spiritual power?!”
One of the soldiers instantly recognised Bingbing’s species and cried out in horror. Being one of the sovereigns of ice, a Kamaitachi could fly through the ranks and become a Tier 8 Spirit Beast with ease. However, none of the warriors at the Keep believed that a Tier 8 Spirit Beast could be domesticated and even dispatched to protect a mere young boy. Nonetheless, the reality was much different from their beliefs.
“What’s going on?!”
At this point, every one of the healers and nurses in the medical tent ran out to identify the source of the attack. To their horror, they saw their top healer, Escred, kneeling on the floor and coated in a layer of ice while two young teenagers stared at him with their mouths wide open.
Nurse Hannah ran at top speeds summoning out her Spirit in the process. Thinking that the Keep was under siege by the two youths, she directed her mana at the black-haired boy whom she thought caused this situation.
Breaking free from the layer of ice that bound him, Escred held his hands up high stopping the assault from the brunette woman. Halting in her tracks, Nurse Hannah gave the man a queer look with a mix of anxiety and concern. Shaking his head, the hazel-haired man gestured for the woman to stand down.
“Thank you for staying your hand. I was too impulsive earlier on…”
Bowing down to the snowy white gerbil in Shin’s hands, Escred issued an apology. He realised that he was too brash and the Spirit Beast had no intention of ever killing him. After all, if Bingbing really wanted him dead, he would have no way of escaping the ice that she had summoned out.
Puffing her cheeks while showing a little of her razor-sharp fangs, Bingbing nodded in satisfaction and returned back into Shin’s shirt. As a Tier 8 Spirit Beast, she had her own pride. If not for Escred’s overly aggressive attitude against Shin, she could not even be bothered to raise her paws. Now that her ice had cooled the man’s head, she could continue on basking in the warmth of Shin’s body.
Shin, on the other hand, was utterly overwhelmed it was the first time that he had seen Bingbing in action.
“I’m sorry for my earlier behaviour. Healer Shin, would you forgive my impudence?”
Escred stunned every single one of the healers and nurses with his current demeanour. He was even calling this strange young boy a Healer!
“Hah… Thank you so much! If I may be so rude, may I pay a visit to the esteemed Lady? I wish to pay my respects!”
“Master didn’t say anything about receiving guests so I doubt she would say yes…”
“Ah! Of course! The esteemed Lady must be very busy. How foolish of me… Pardon my rudeness but may I ask you some questions?”
Although he was unable to meet the hero that every Healer idolised, Escred didn’t mind it one bit. For now, he should curry favour with this talented young boy who had learnt ‘Heal’ at such a tender age. Shin was the sole disciple of the famed Lady Seph and was even a gifted Healer. Even a fool would realise that in the future, this black-haired teen would be a rising star of the Himmel Empire.
“Errr… Okay then…”
“I just have two questions… How old are you and what is your cultivation level?”
Escred asked the two most burning questions that he had. In the records of the Healer’s Association, the youngest ever person to become a healer did so at age sixteen. However, it was evident that Shin was way younger than that. A bubbling excitement arose from the depths of his soul as Escred realised that the boy in front of him might have just shattered that record.
Shin was still taken aback by Bingbing’s prowess and did not give much thought to answering the questions. If he knew of the repercussions that it would have brought him, Shin might have possibly held back on his answer. Unfortunately…
“I’m turning thirteen this year, and I just promoted to the Spirit Apostle realm by comprehending ‘Healing Water,’ a variant of ‘Heal’ that I learnt through Master’s hereditary opuscule.”
“A self-comprehended ability?! Just as I surmised!”
Jumping up in joy, Escred shouted out. It was true. He was currently staring at the youngest Healer in history.