Chapter 12: Departing the Storm Castle (1)
And so, another 6 months went by.
March 12th, 1790. In the Mitel Kingdom—located south of the Storm Castle—spring was finally here. In another half a year, Jin would turn 10 years old and leave the Storm Castle.
In the end, Luna never informed the clan about Murakan’s existence, just as he had bet 100 apple pies on it.
However, he didn’t get a single apple pie for winning that bet as Jin also ended up betting that she wouldn’t betray them. So technically, Jin had also won the wager.
The past 6 months were a period of peace and boredom for the knights and servants working at the Storm Castle. On the other hand, it was a period of growth and development for Jin, for whom time went by in a flash.
“I’m sick of this. I’m so freaking sick of this.”
Murakan spoke as he stared blankly at the soon-to-be 10-year-old.
“Not only did you manage to reduce the time it takes you to transfer mana from 10 minutes to 5 seconds in a single year, you also learned how to release mana in half a year. And you act as if it’s so easy for you! I can’t believe my eyes.”
Just as Jin had planned, he mastered mana transfer in 1 year instead of the 2 years Murakan had predicted, and mastered mana release within the 6 months after Luna’s visit.
Jin successfully held himself back and learned how to fine-tune his control over mana. And that wasn’t the only favourable result.
In his past life, he rushed to quickly reach the 5-star stage within a mere 3 years, so he had no time to train and practice the basic techniques. Since he was already 25 years old by the time he began learning magic, he didn’t have the leeway to take his time learning the basics.
However, now that he had repeatedly practiced mana transfer while making sure he had full control over his speed, Jin felt like he had attained a new realm of magic. It was like the difference between sprinting and taking a slow stroll. The scenery one sees during those two instances are completely different.
“I’ve always behaved the same way ever since I met you, so no need to overreact now.”
In addition, after Luna’s visit, Jin began to train mana release.
Just like mana transfer, it was an easy task for the regressor, but he still practiced seriously for 6 months. And through this training, he realized that his past life’s basics were sloppy.
“Be grateful that you’re currently living in the Storm Castle, kid. If this were the Vermont Empire’s academy, the others would’ve alienated you for your talent.”
Jin had heard the exact same words dozens of times from his past life’s ‘master’.
‘I wonder what Master is doing right now. I suppose he’s just a shitty brat whose nose keeps dripping or something.’
The boy recalled his master’s face. The magician who had informed Jin about his talent in magic and taught him everything was, in fact, 2 years younger than him.
‘Despite that, he was a 7-star magician back then. Actually, he was almost at the 8-star stage. Geez, there are far too many geniuses in this world. I can’t let myself be pushed around by them. I need to devote myself to my studies and training.’
Jin shrugged with a smirk forming on his face.
“Then, will you teach me how to release spiritual energy starting today?”
“That’s right. Tell me when you’re done transcribing those books.”
“Murakan, do you care that little about me? I already finished transcribing all the books a week ago.”
Except for the ones Jin didn’t need, he had fully copied the contents of all the secret tomes that were only available to the clan’s flag-bearers.
He still couldn’t understand every notion and idea explored in the books, but Jin would slowly realize their meanings in the future as his swordsmanship got better.
All that was left for him to do before leaving the Storm Castle was to learn how to release spiritual energy.
When Murakan first mentioned this technique, he never imagined Jin would be skilled enough to start learning it before leaving the castle.
The dragon had only told Jin about the technique in order to motivate him to train harder, but it seemed that Murakan had underestimated the child.
He would be at Jin’s mercy until they left the castle.
“Oh right, that’s true. It’s not that I don’t care about you, it just slipped my mind. Well then, let’s begin now.”
With a serious tone, Murakan sat down with his back straight, and Jin followed suit.
“I’m warning you in advance, but releasing spiritual energy isn’t a technique you can quickly master. It’ll take longer than it did for mana transfer and release.”
“So don’t be impatient. Just like I said before, it’s both a basic and lethal technique. Let me show you.”
Even before he finished talking, a dark energy materialized like smoke and burst out of Murakan.
It was spiritual energy. If Jin’s spiritual energy was like a light fog that blurred one’s vision, Murakan’s spiritual energy was like the deep abyss that could swallow light and extinguish it.
It was Jin’s second time ever seeing the dragon’s power—the first being the day Murakan woke up.
‘It’s a lot denser and heavier than my energy.’
Jin observed the dancing energy that swirled around.
It felt as if the energy was waving at him, telling him to approach it. Jin caught himself about to reach out to the dark smoke.
“The energy’s colour is different, but overall, it looks similar to mana release, right?”
“Yeah, but it does feel a lot more mysterious.”
“For magicians, mana release is the act of connecting the mana inside their body with the mana in the environment. What’s the intention behind that technique, Jin?”
“It’s for mana recovery and strengthening.”
“That’s right. By releasing mana, the body is open to accepting the outside mana. Then, you can use the outside mana in order to recover your own, or to strengthen the magic spell you’re about to cast. Releasing spiritual energy is more or less the same, but there are a few differences.”
“What are they?”
“Releasing spiritual energy isn’t connecting your energy to the energy in your surroundings. It’s connecting the natural energy around you to your inner energy.”
“So… it’s the other way around?”
It was somewhat difficult to understand this notion.
The aura and magic inside humans behave like rivers.
The water in rivers always flows towards the open sea. Rivers are never bigger than seas or oceans. They’re offshoots of the sea that branch out into the land.
However, it was the opposite for spiritual energy.
Murakan spoke out as he waved his hand to disperse the smoke covering half of his appearance.
“Spiritual power is derived from shadows. In that case, where do shadows come from?”
It was a simple and short question. Yet, it was full of divine subtlety.
“I imagine that they come from Solderet.”
“It’s not ‘I imagine’. All shadows in this world unambiguously originate from Solderet. He’s the master of all shadows around the world, and you are his one and only contractor.”
Murakan voiced powerfully as he continued.
“In other words, you can also become the master of all shadows around the world.”
The countless offshoots around the world called ‘shadows’ would gather to a singular point. To the ‘sea’. To Jin Runcandel.
That was the theory behind spiritual energy release.
Murakan’s spiritual energy began to swirl in countless tiny vortices, no bigger than plums. They then suddenly fused and created a bright and colourful pattern.
“Pay close attention to what’s about to happen.”
Jin focused all his senses and observed his surroundings. It felt like time had slowed to the speed of a crawl as he tried to see what change the energy release would bring.
‘What on earth!’
Jin could only gasp in shock when he noticed a big change.
Near the glass coffin behind Murakan were several candlesticks and torches.
The shadows of these light sources in the underground chamber extended like long streams of water, and began flowing towards Murakan’s energy whirlpool. Jin turned back to observe the other objects in the room, and the same phenomenon was affecting the bookshelf’s shadow.
Soon, a sudden dizziness struck the child.
A powerful sense of dissociation encroached upon him. He could feel the damp sweat in his tightly clenched fist. An urge to take several steps backwards rose in him.
‘Is this an illusion?’
As soon as such thoughts came to mind, Jin shook his head to clear his mind. However, the phenomenon occurring before him was no illusion. The shadows of the objects in their surroundings were indeed gathering towards Murakan.
It looked like a supernatural spectacle.
The overwhelmingly menacing aura around Murakan made Jin’s hair stand on end.
It was as if… not a single existence in this world could ever kill the being before Jin.
And Jin instinctively realized that he couldn’t let this threatening aura crush his spirit. According to Murakan, the ones who should be trembling in fear were the shadows.
Because one day, Jin would be the one wielding that dark and terrifying power.
Murakan smirked at the sight of fear dissipating from the child’s eyes.
“Good. That should be the attitude of the promised contractor of a thousand years.”
The shadow vortex soon halted its movement, and the rivers of shadows returned to their respective positions.
Having gone through an intense experience about the extent of this power, the usual peaceful and calm scenery around him somewhat felt pleasing, unlike before.
It was like the night had passed. Or maybe like a festival had finally ended.
The last stream of shadow reached its original object, and the oppressive atmosphere had completely vanished.
Jin was sweating buckets, but wore a refreshing smile as he pulled his drenched shirt away from his chest.
“How was it?”
“Is that all? You do realize that was the Great Murakan’s killer blow, right?”
“It was like you had complete control over day and night inside this room.”
Murakan nodded, seemingly satisfied by Jin’s spontaneous comment.
“Day and night… I haven’t heard that expression in a long while. People love associating users of spiritual power with those kinds of words and expressions since ancient times. Things like ‘Ruler of the Night’, or ‘Creator of Darkness in Daylight’. They’re pretty childish, honestly.”
“Yeah, that’s so embarrassing.”
“I know, right? And ‘Ruler of the Night’ is a nickname that holds so many misconceptions and prejudices… For your information, people used to call me that around two thousand years ago. Actually, it’s technically not wrong to call me that. Bwahahaha!”
‘Is this dragon seriously saying such cheap jokes in front of a child?’
Jin swallowed his comeback and giggled.
“Hm, in any case, do you understand what spiritual energy release is? Technically, it’s just like a different version of mana release, so I assume you understand the principle behind it.”
“I’ve got a good grasp over it. Just give me one hour. I think I’ll be able to do it.”
“Get off your high horse, kid. Like I said earlier, releasing spiritual energy isn’t something you can master in a short period of time…”
“I know that. I didn’t mean I could master the technique with your level of proficiency in an hour, but I think I could at least manage a small energy release. You know, like how the simplest of sword slashes performed by a novice and a swordmaster can be completely different.”
“Exactly! That’s why I said that spiritual energy release is both a basic and lethal move.”
“Then, what level of mastery was the technique you showed me just now?”
“Around intermediate level. Maybe a bit above intermediate.”
Jin was sure of himself. Even if a grand magician from the Zipfel Clan were to perform a 9-star magic spell, it wouldn’t be any stronger than the energy release he had observed just now.
Murakan hadn’t used the spiritual energy to destroy anything in order to show its strength, so Jin had no concrete proof to back his opinion. However, even if he didn’t see its destructive power with his own eyes, he could accurately sense the spiritual power’s superiority over 9-star magic.
“If you fully master this technique, you could even completely annihilate an army of one million in an instant. Having the shadow taken away from a lifeform is synonymous to death.”
A couple of torches placed in the corridor suddenly broke apart and fell to the floor.
“And having the shadow taken away from an object is synonymous to destruction.”
Jin couldn’t hide his shock, and blankly stared at the broken torches.
“…Still, dammit! I did my best to hold back so that nothing would get destroyed, so why did those torches break?! We’ll have to fix those before leaving the castle. What a pain in the ass.”
The torches weren’t the only things that broke down. The stone parts of the glass coffin Murakan was slumbering inside of had large fissures across them.
A deep sigh escaped the dragon’s mouth as he frowned. He now had small chores to do while waiting for Jin from here on out.