Xiaoxia woke up earlier than expected, the room was still dark and the sky had an orange hue to it. Between the gaps of the skyscrapers, the sun could be seen creeping slowly above the horizon.
It has almost been three months since his arrival at the Artisan’s City of MeisterSchloss. His parents had visited him regularly over these few months. However they could only stay a few days before returning to Black Iron Anvil Village.
Within these few months, he had learnt how to use the sole plate. Captain Jongbae had introduced him to his nephews who did a good job at teaching Xiaoxia how to properly control the contraption. Captain Jongbae’s family nucleus was rather big, and he had plenty of nephews and nieces, a common trait for the Nan Han race.
He used this to travel frequently to Menon’s compound where he had learnt many useful things. First he learnt about the value of money and what the average cost of items were in Yuan Zhong.
He then learnt what his test results meant, they were mostly elemental alignments, mental capacity, Ki talent and other related results.
Next he learnt certain blacksmith skills from Menon, skills his father did not have. He easily understood them and was able to create some items with them. But what he wanted to learn most was Menon’s Earth alignment.
However he did not have any chance to learn the Earth alignment skills from Menon, as there wasn’t any chance. Menon had simply avoided the questions Xiaoxia asked and he did not use any skills or processes that showed the Earth alignment.
At first, Xiaoxia pursued the matter for another week or so, but afterwards he just let it go, as he could see Menon was adamant about not wanting to discuss it.
So rather than being all depressed over this matter, Xiaoxia started on a trial and error basis to repair some of the stuff that were piling all over Menon’s compound.
Very soon and much to Menon’s surprise, he started taking apart many items and reconditioned a wreck of a flying craft all by himself.
Xiaoxia had salvaged and repaired the craft by referring to many notes and manuals that he had accessed in Menon’s office. It took him a little over a month to complete the overhaul.
As he laid in bed, he thought about bringing this flying craft out for a test ride, however that will have to wait.
“Ah today is the enrollment day,” Xiaoxia said to no one in particular.
Groggily sitting up, he headed to the shower and prepared himself for the day ahead.
He still recalled about three months back the terrifying experience of having been declared ‘NO TALENT’ and still shuddered at the thought of it.
But that was in the past, and today he was entering the Academy of Six Elements. The premier Academy known throughout many empires as one of the best around.
It is situated 1,200 leagues north of where Menon had given a residence to Xiaoxia. It was actually one of his old storage places.
After thoroughly emptying the place, Menon sent some Artisans to remodel it, now it was nothing short of a techno junkie’s dream home.
The whole house is filled with the latest contraptions and gadgets and had top of the line devices installed. It is powered by the latest Ki power plant which had custom grade Azure crystal cells powering it.
After preparing, Xiaoxia put on his uniform which was sent to him a week earlier. A distinct chevron with a small ‘SS’ symbol made of custom grade vermilion crystal was attached to the point of his left collar.
In his opinion it was rather gaudy, as it marked him as a double S grade Ki talent student. This was totally unheard of, since a single S was the maximum on the Ki talent charts. He didn’t want to stand out, but it was the Academy’s rule that everyone should display their chevrons
Looking in the mirror, Xiaoxia said to his reflection, “You can do it!”
However not seemingly convinced enough, he did it a few times. Then he felt as if someone was looking at him. He turned around to find Captain Jongbae grinning at him.
“It’s not what it looks like,” Xiaoxia quickly said, face turning red.
“No problem young friend,” Captain Jongbae replied while still grinning.
Within these three months, Captain Jongbae and Xiaoxia had grown rather close. Having meals, exploring the immense city and on occasions grabbing parts for Xiaoxia’s side projects.
Later seeing that he was haphazardly flying around on the sole plate, Captain Jongbae passed Xiaoxia some Ki manipulation manuscripts, but otherwise did not instruct him. Hoping it would keep him distracted and kept out of mischief up till the day of enrollment.
Xiaoxia read them greedily, his was extremely curious and learnt many things exceptionally fast. Even without instruction, he managed to ascend into Apprentice Realm 3rd Tier.
When Menon found out, he was not that impressed, kept insisting he would be much better once he attended school. On the other hand Captain Jongbae was very happy for him.
However the fact that Xiaoxia was still very naive besides his capacity to learn was very apparent. He did not understand figure of speeches and idioms, as people back in his hometown spoke in simple layman terms.
But he was learning quick and was influenced by the people he interacted with. In these three months, he was more extrovert and independent.
One of the main influence was Captain Jongbae, older than he looks at 75 years old. Whenever he could, he would visit Xiaoxia or accompany him in one of his endeavors. Today happened to be one of those times.
“Hey Senior Jongbae,” Xiaoxia called, having dropped the Captain part over the weeks.
“Yes young friend,” Captain Jongbae asked.
“Want to race me to the Academy,” Xiaoxia asked.
“You are on, last one there is buying dinner! Hahaha,” Captain Jongbae replied as he hopped onto his two man flying craft.
“Ok, on the count of three” Xiaoxia hurriedly put on his goggles and face mask, and then counted, “One ….. Twoooo ….. Threeeee .. wheeeeeee!”
Two shapes, one small and one big zipped through the sky. In a fraction of a second a small sonic boom was heard, followed later by a louder one.
“Wooooohooooo,” Xiaoxia screamed as he exceeded the sound barrier. He flew past other flyers who looked like they were frozen in time as his speed kept accelerating.
Xiaoxia had discovered some theoretical calculations and tweaks that were proposed a long time ago. It was an effort to offset the widespread use of spatial portals in cities around the world, as the sole plate was losing out in market share. Unfortunately the proposal was shelved.
He found them among the stacks of books and scrolls in Menon’s office and salvaged stuff to modify his sole plate. This was the 5th attempt and it has produced amazing results.
Captain Jongbae’s flying craft was left in the dust and was soon out of sight as Xiaoxia sped headlong at speeds that was unbelievable.
He approached the floating public access spatial portals one after another in a relatively short time span. The first was 5 leagues from his home, and the rest between 5-10 leagues from each other.
He needed to traverse about 11 of them before he reached the one taking him directly to the Academy.
At these speeds, he literally had to fly parallel to the ground to avoid being bent over backwards at his waist. He also paid for a custom made suit with 10 low grade neon green crystals.
The suit protected him, as his skin was scrapped raw rather quickly during his first high speed test. During that time he also realized that if any debris were to have hit him, it would be really bad.
There were many fail safes in public access spatial hubs throughout the world, so accidents like bumping into someone who had just arrived at a hub was not possible. The portal entrances will not work if there is a person or persons within a certain proximity of the exit at the other end.
Even then Xiaoxia slow down significantly whenever he neared the spatial portals, and once he exited and was sure there was no one blocking the way, he blasted off at full speed again.
It took him less than 10 minutes to arrive at the main portal leading to the Academy and just in time as the Ki crystals for the sole plate were almost depleted. The sole plate at high speeds was extremely inefficient, but well worth it for the fun.
Around 8 minutes later Captain Jongbae arrived.
Getting off his craft he looked at Xiaoxia with a certain amount of respect, his face filled with perspiration and breathing loudly, “Haha, that is a magnificent piece of sole plate you got there, I have never seen anything going so fast around here”
“That’s because I cheated, this sole plate has been modified by me,” Xiaoxia grinned boyishly, unlike Captain Jongbae he was still in perfect shape.
“It’s no wonder my flying craft couldn’t even catch up,” Captain Jongbae replied, still breathing heavily. The intense concentration while flying at high speed can really take a toll.
Together they walked towards the registration station set up before the spatial portal. In the vicinity of the portal, there were many other children who were gathered, most looked to be about the same age as Xiaoxia wearing the Academy’s colors, while the remaining looked older and were in a myriad of other uniforms.
“Well we should register with the staff at the counter,” Captain Jongbae informed Xiaoxia.
“Xiaoxia!” a familiar voice called out of the blue.
“Menon!” Xiaoxia noticed Menon walking towards him with another individual who was covered from head to toe with a long hooded cape.
“Let me introduce to you Instructor Wei, one of the lead mentors in the Academy,” Menon introduced the person by his side.
“Chen Zhen Xia pays his respect to Instructor Wei” Xiaoxia bowed and cupped his hands towards Instructor Wei.
“So this is the boy you have been talking about?” a feminine voice asked Menon, while under the hood a smile can be seen as she softly murmured, “Interesting”
“Boy come with me,” Instructor Wei motioned for Xiaoxia to follow her, in a rather condescending way.
“Xiaoxia, Instructor Wei will accompany you through the portal to the school grounds, if there is anything feel free to contact me,” Menon said as he waved while hurried moving away.
“Young friend, dinner on me the next time we meet,” Captain Jongbae called out as he waved as well and left in pursuit of Menon.
“I will! You two take care as well!” Xiaoxia shouted to Menon and Captain Jongbae who were already quite a distance away, not wondering why they were in such a rush.
Xiaoxia then hurriedly caught up with Instructor Wei at one of the booths.
“Boy place your hand with the registration ID tag over here,” Instructor Wei motioned to a contraption on the booth.
Xiaoxia placed his hand over it and the rune he saw at the palace appeared. A glow encased his hands and he could feel a warm sensation, in an instant it was over and he notice the rune had changed a little. Then it faded away just like it had before.
“Boy you are now registered. Now, let me inform you that Lord Menon asked a favor from me to look out for you and ensure of your proper welfare,” Instructor Wei spoke in a very cold tone that somehow sent shivers down Xiaoxia’s spine.
“Given the extenuating circumstances, he has the full backing of the MeisterSchloss Council of Elders. So I will play it by ear as long as you do not cause more trouble than you are worth,” she added.
It might have been the light playing tricks on Xiaoxia’s eyes, because even as she continued the next sentence she somehow grew much bigger and her presence became extremely foreboding, “Boy do you understand?” Instructor Wei asked.
“Yes Instructor Wei!” Xiaoxia answered unaware that his body reacted instinctively by standing straight with his stomach in and chest out.
“Good, since we understand each other. Please do not go around telling anyone about this, I have enough headaches with those special class disgrace of society in the Academy,” Instructor Wei sneered at the word ‘special class’ and almost sounded like she spat.
Normally Xiaoxia could feel a person’s aura, in the three months he spent here, there wasn’t anyone in particular who had been worth noting. But now after meeting with Instructor Wei, he realized that she could possibly be the highest he have met so far.
“Good! This Academy staff all based a students value on their merits. However, we cannot stop the strong from bullying the weak unless a live is at stake, nor can we stop the socially inadequate from being ostracized. You will do well to remember this. Are you clear?”
“Yes Instructor Wei,” Xiaoxia replied in exactly the same way he had previously. Fully comprehending it as he had the exact same thoughts for Xiuxiu two years ago.
“Excellent, it seems you have a glimmer of hope,” Instructor Wei gave a passing compliment and continued, “Do not forget you are a fry in a big pond. There are things that you should live and let live, sometimes needing to strike while the iron is hot and on many occasions its always better that you live to fight another day”
“Do you understand?” Instructor Wei once again had that foreboding presence.
“No, Instructor Wei,” Xiaoxia blurted, immediately shrinking away. He actually wanted to say yes.
“Huh?!” Instructor Wei lost her composure a little, apparently never hearing anyone saying ‘no’ to her under such a scenario.
“Boy what do you not understand?” if she was angry it did not show, but her tone had a hint of irritation to it.
“I do not know how to fry a fish in a pond, are we learning blacksmith skills? Also I do not live to fight but to protect,” Xiaoxia blurted out what he honestly felt, feeling rather proud of the last few words.
“Boy are you stupid?” Instructor Wei was a little shocked at his reply, then she place her hands over her eyes and wondered if she should cry or laugh.
“Boy come over here,” she finally broke her demeanor, and had a suspicious tone to her voice.
Xiaoxia was still oblivious to what had just happened. As he approached, Instructor Wei immediately took out a oblong prism and swipe it over his right hand.
A hologram immediately appeared as she tilted the prism to adjust the viewing angle.
Student Name: Chen Zhen Xia Race: Sha Mo Ren
Allegiance: Hu Yuan Empire Origin: Black Iron Region
D.O.B: 10th Day / 1st Moon / Year 107,924 (107th Era)
Residence: Chen Clan Hall, Black Iron Anvil Village, 1st Colony, Hu Yuan Empire
Next of Kin: Chen Daquan (Father), Wanmei (Mother)
Ki talent: Verified – SS class
Elemental Alignment: Verified – Information Classified
Mental Capacity: Verified – Information Classified
Ki Realm: Verified – Apprentice Realm 3rd Tier
Martial Affiliation: Unverified – none
Martial Instructor: Unverified – none
Ki Cultivation Instructor: Verified – Chen Daquan, Wanmei
Ki Stamina: Verified – Information Classified
Ki Quality: Verified – Information Classified
Instructor Wei appointed as mentor, under the authority of Grandmaster Liu Yiyang.
- Elder Menon, MeisterSchloss Council of Elders, Artisan Grandmaster, Earth Alignment.
- Captain Jongbae, MeisterSchloss Captain of the Homeguards.
- Grandmaster Liu Yiyang, Chairman – Academy of the Six Elements.
- MeisterSchloss Council of Elders
- Arch Duchess Amelia, 12th in Succession, Sovereign of Crescent Lake Colony Capital, 1st Colony, Hu Yuan Empire
- Viscount Maling, Sovereign of Scarlet Condor Province, 1st Colony, Hu Yuan Empire
Only three things stood out for Instructor Wei when she read the transcript.
‘Unverified – none’
‘Unverified – none’
‘Instructor Wei appointed as mentor’
She almost shouted out in frustration and her hands were shaking with rage!
“Damn that Menon, he had this all planned!” Instructor Wei cursed Menon under her breath.