At the time that Nicole came looking for him, Clear Water Mirror was in the midst observing the basic training of the new Demon Hunters. Having paid her respects first, she then dove straight into business.
With regards to this genius female disciple of Thousand Snow Flowers, he had always held her in high regard, going so far as to gift her an Epic-grade weapon…An Epic-grade weapon! A normal kingdom would have treated such a weapon as its national treasure and yet here he was just giving it out. In fact, Nicole actually became a target the moment she received this gift. That was due to her lack of actual combat strength in comparison to her weapon. In her hands, the weapon could barely exert 20% of its original power. As long as one avoided the weapon’s edge, it really wasn’t all that hard to snatch it from her.
Thankfully, Nicole wasn’t an ordinary girl at this point. She was the personal disciple of the headmistress of Azure City’s Warrior Academy. Also, could a gift given by the mighty branch leader of Azure City’s Demon Hunter Division ever be an easy target to steal? Unbeknownst to Nicole, Thousand Snow Flowers had quietly slain those who dared to eye her weapon. It was only then that those fools finally calmed down.
Having met him for the first time since he gave her that sword, Nicole immediately asked the question she had regarding the situation of the Demon Hunters. Clear Water Mirror furrowed his brows in thought for a second before finally deciding to bring her to the casefiles room where he handed over a single folder to her.
Nicole ripped the document from his hands and anxiously tore it open. However, she merely read through half of it before collapsing to the floor…she simply couldn’t bring herself to accept what was written on it.
Seeing her lose her composure like that brought a sigh to Clear Water Mirror’s lips. Nicole’s condition was, in a lot of ways, similar to what he had gone through in the past. Afraid that she might just act rashly, he called for a female Demon Hunter to help her to her feet after which he personally escorted her to Azure City’s Warrior Academy.
At the time of their arrival, Thousand Snow Flowers was in the midst of mulling over a mess her nephew had started by trying to assassinate the Third Prince. In truth, her nephew wasn’t the only troublemaker in Azure City. Ever since Mo Ke sang that song <<Insignificant Me>>, the entire city seemed to have gone crazy. Because Mo Ke’s body was host to Ferti’nier who was a talented Soul Bard, he ended up inheriting her talents as well. The moment he poured his entire heart and soul into singing, a mysterious wave of sound energy washed over the city and resonated with those who had experienced a similar plight as him.
Because the song was about love between childhood friends, anyone in Azure City who had experienced this before was immediately affected by his song.
Those who were already in love fell deeper in love because of that. However, nothing in this world was all roses; everything had a flip side to it. A large number of people ended up risking everything in the pursuit of love. For example, there were those who eloped due to their circumstances and then there were those who resorted to more…extreme measures such as murdering his love rival…
In short, a lot had happened to Azure City in the interim and not every story had a happy ending.
For a mere song to cause such havoc, even Thousand Snow Flowers had no choice but to give the prophecy more credit. She was definitely still skeptical of the whole idea of ‘the Singer can destroy the world’, but gone was the disdain she once held of it.
All in all however, she was still dismissive of the Apocalypse seeing as those of the Divine level weren’t able to enter the Western Human Realms because of the Creator’s rules. Even if all the Devil Kings managed to invade the Western Human Realms, the human race had their own Semi-divine experts as well. Besides, for an incident of this magnitude, the other races, like the Elves or the Beastmen, wouldn’t sit still either. Because of that, she didn’t buy into all that apocalyptic talk; it wasn’t like there was a lack of such doomsayers anyway.
However, even she had to admit the potentially devastating consequences of that Soul Bard. Just based on the fact that a single song was able to affect the entire city, that singer deserved her full attention. Not too long ago, she had made use of her family influence to send that prophecy Clear Water Mirror mentioned to the palace. As for how would that king react, well, that wasn’t something she could affect.
Now however, she had a more pressing, and arguably more annoying, matter to deal with –the assassination attempt by her nephew on the Third Prince. Thankfully, her family’s influence in Tarnia was strong, and the prince himself didn’t actually get injured in the attempt either. Because of that, the entire matter ended with the family pledging to assist the Third Prince in his bid for the throne.
As for why would her nephew even attempt such a foolish thing…it was because the Third Prince’s fiancee was once his childhood friend…
Thanks to this mess, Thousand Snow Flowers ended up having no time to supervise Nicole’s training at all. It was about that time that Nicole told her about wanting to join the Demon Hunters to avenge her little brother.
No matter how much Thousand Snow Flowers tried persuade her, Nicole adamantly insisted on joining the Demon Hunters and leaving the academy. With no way to persuade this disciple of hers, all she could do was ask Clear Water Mirror to look after her.
Nicole’s choice was one that Clear Water Mirror himself welcomed, especially given that Thousand Snow Flowers had gave her blessing as well. After all, Nicole was a top class talent in cultivating Fighter’s Aura. She had even managed to clinch first place in the recent Freshman Martial Tournament. Even though that was in large part due to the Epic-grade weapon that Clear Water Mirror gave to her, her own abilities played a significant role as well.
Furthermore, Nicole’s opponent in the finals had an Epic-grade weapon as well. On the day of the match, it could be said that the entire audience stand was awash in shock that Nicole, for the first time ever in the competition, didn’t have the advantage in terms of gear. In fact, she was now at a disadvantage given the lack of a powerful household to support her.
Ever since joining the Demon Hunters, Nicole ferociously dove into learning their techniques. She took half a year to learn what would usually take others three to learn.
With that, the time for assessment came as well. Clear Water Mirror called Nicole to his office and solemnly handed over the first mission of her demon hunting career…
“Teacher, you’re looking for me?” Asked Nicole as she stood there dressed in a prim and proper white swordsman getup. On her chest was an ordinary looking breastplate that wrapped around her breasts. In her left hand was a 120 cm long sheath and plain looking sword that was devoid of any sort of marking, just like her own flawless yet emotionless face. Her blazing red hair was braided into a simple ponytail that seemed to strike an odd contrast to her cold demeanour.
Nodding, Clear Water Mirror said: “Nicole, in this past six months, your progress has been very fast. This time, I’ve called you here because I have a mission for you. After completing this mission, you will be a fully fledged Demon Hunter. However, this mission must be completed by you alone. Even though it will be a tough one, you aren’t any ordinary Demon Hunter either, what you will face in the future won’t be ordinary as well. From this moment on, you need to be prepared to stare death in its eyes. Once you step out of this room, you will no longer be a child and neither will I treat you as one. Are you ready?”
“Teacher, please give me the mission.” She bluntly stated, not wasting any unnecessary words or emotions in the process. She merely stood there quietly, patiently waiting for her teacher to hand out the mission.
“This morning, some of our members brought in three suspicious characters who are now kept in Cell 7. We’ve confirmed the presence of a werewolf amongst them though we haven’t been able to determine who it is. Given how adept they are at hiding, it will be difficult to uncover who it actually is unless he shows himself of his own accord. The three of them all claim to be innocent even after we exhausted all applicable methods. Your mission is to uncover who the werewolf is and kill it. Because all three of them are locked up together, I need you to protect the last remaining one. Got it?”
“Go then, this mission must be completed alone. I won’t send anyone out to help you no matter what happens.You will have to depend on yourself entirely for this mission.” Clear Water Mirror threw her a last look before saying: “If you fail, you might just die. Let me ask you one more time, will you take this mission?”
“I’ll take my leave first, Teacher.” Choosing not to answer his question directly, she merely turned around and left. Even though she never said so explicitly, Clear Water Mirror knew that she was heading to Cell 7.
As he watched her dainty figure leave his office, he couldn’t help but let out a silent sigh.
The training every Demon Hunter had to go through was gruelling to say the least. One could only imagine how much effort Nicole had to put in to finish the three year course in just six months. It was her hate that drove her to such extents, that gave her the energy to take each step.
The building of the Demon Hunters’ Division could be roughly divided into five blocks: the residential block, the training grounds, the weapons warehouse, the guest block and the core block. The guest block was located at the main entrance and performed the same functions as a mercenary guildhall. It was there that missions were given out and received. Demon Hunters would visit that area to retrieve the necessary mission details from the administrative staff.
The biggest difference between them and a mercenary company would be that their main mission was to hunt down creatures of the darkness like Devils, Occultists, Demoness, Necromancers, Werewolves, Vampires, etc. Mercenaries on the other hand, performed escort missions, exterminated bandits, killed magical beasts and even participated in wars.
Next to the guest block was the residential block. It was there that the Demon Hunters lived and where their basic amenities were located; bars, diners and etc…
The training grounds were located at the edges of the entire branch building. Because this was where all their training was held, the total area set aside for this purpose was nearly a third of the entire building.
In order to reach the training grounds, one had to first pass through the core block and the weapons warehouse.