70 Skyhaven City - Barnett Starsword (1)

The Eridan Imperial Palace grounds were expansive, covering thrice the size of the palace itself, and none of it was unused. Massive gardens surrounded the palace, ponds with little fish swimming about, numerous high-altitude trees within which numerous special avians nested were only some of the sights of the palace grounds. Of course, quite a few magical creatures lived in the area, such as a Fierce Tiger that behaved closer to a big dog than a powerful hunter, a Thunderhawk half the size of the Golden Crow Storm that often aided the groundskeepers with watering the flora, and a vigilant Wind Wolf that was an honorary Imperial Guard due to its self-taught discipline and quick response time.

Towards the central parts of the grounds, as the palace stood closer to the gates than the centre of the area, surrounded by serene gardens and the occasional bird tweet, stood a gazebo built over a large pond full of rare fish. One side of the gazebo was entirely wood, while the remaining three were opened to the world as one would expect. Reaching this gazebo was a challenge, as all ways to reach it were removed, leaving only the method of walking on the water to it.

Seated just in front of the solid side of the gazebo was a grey-haired man dressed in simple yet elegant robes, his eyes closed as he remained in a perpetual state of meditation. Hung on the wall behind him was an oddly-shaped sword that bore colours of purple, black and blue, designed with a blade akin to those of Halo's Energy Swords, save for an orb that took the place of where the original handle should have been. The two gave off extremely sharp and powerful auras, which was thankfully restricted to just the area covering the gazebo and pond. This man was the Founding Emperor of the Eridan Empire and the legendary continental conqueror, Barnett Starsword, who remained in the gazebo for meditation for nearly eighteen centuries.

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This scene was what greeted the group of three men and two boys as they reached their intended destination. Other than Emperor Valinor, who had met his ancestor previously, the other four were emotional, albeit in varying ways: Prime Minister Wyndham had a look of reverence akin to a priest, Continental Guildmaste Johann Juneau was nervous and fidgeting with his sleeves, Prince Andrew Eridan was ecstatic and hyper, and lastly the Greenwood Demigod King Seran Greenwood was thoroughly impressed and respectful. The young demigod mentally sighed as his mental image of the legendary being that brought about a seventh-tier class that only had two betters in history, the revered [Sword King] class, which was then superseded by a following eighth-tier class by the same being to become the strongest non-hero Fighter class, the almost mythical [Sword Emperor], was finally given a proper figure to match his vision.

Emperor Valinor beckoned for Seran to come forward, "We must cross the water on foot, but Johann is too busy being nervous to focus, Andrew can't use it yet and old Wyndham doesn't know how to. I'll have to ask you to help ferry them across." After Seran gave a quick affirmation, the incumbent emperor began calmly walking towards the gazebo, his steps uniform as he barely alighted on the water's surface. After a minute of crossing, attributed to the needed requirement of adjusting to the truly grand pressure of the Founding Emperor's aura, he arrived at the gazebo and immediately kowtowed in silence, as was customary for such a visit.

After quickly enchanting the remaining three with a [Water Walk] spell, Seran began bringing them across one-by-one beginning with Wyndham for his advanced age. His presence lessened the crushing weight of Barnett's aura enough for the old official to handle with his brittle body. After assisting Wyndham to the gazebo and leaving enough of his mana to resist the aura to some extent, he returned and did the same thing with Johann, who was still lost in his mind. It took much less energy for Seran to defend against the aura for Johann, who eventually recollected himself upon feeling it. Eventually, the Water Sage proved himself worthy of S-rank by withstanding the pressure on his own after he adjusted, leaving only young Andrew back on the shore. For him, due to his borderline newborn physical state, Seran fully fended off the aura, remaining directly beside the prince to do so. Andrew had been left until last for this very reason as well.

Once everyone had arrived, with only Seran not taking the position of kowtow but still adopting a respectful position by sitting in seiza, silence reigned until the Ancestral Emperor spoke, his eyes still closed, "For what reason have you disturbed my meditation, Valinor, and with company?"

From his position in kowtow, Emperor Valinor began to explain, "Ancestor, I apologise for disturbing you. I have two reasons for doing so, and I will accept punishment if they should be lacking. The first reason is to introduce this young lad to Your Imperial Majesty, as I believed was necessary."

This reason, oddly phrased as it was, led to a slightly displeased tone in Barnett's following words, "A minor reason such as this was worth disturbing me?"

Sensing the emotions of his ancestor, the incumbent emperor continued after being permitted to, "If it had been any other, it would not have been. However, I presumptuously decided that Your Imperial Majesty would wish to meet this one, as it was critical to the state of the Western Continent's peace."

After a moment of silence that scratched away at the nerves of four of the five visitors, the ancient swordsman spoke again, "Is it the one sensed a year prior?" Unsurprisingly, despite his solitary meditation, the Ancestral Emperor was not completely isolated from the outside world. For him, it was no challenge at all to sense fluctuations in the Western Continent's relatively stable state.

"Yes, ancestor, it is him. Upon hearing he was coming to Skyhaven City, I thought it best to bring him here as soon as I could."

A small hmm came from the old swordsman as he released more of his aura towards Seran, who continued to remain unaffected by it without much issue aside from the intense sharpness. After a moment of probing the demigod, the aged Founding Emperor finally opened his eyes, causing his aura to strengthen universally in the area and cause discomfort to most present. His blue-grey irises slowly scanned the room before finding on Seran, who respectfully bowed his head to him, "You are the boy that caused a large ripple in a small pond when you awakened. Seeing you in person confirms my suspicions of your demigodhood." Barnett's long-closed eyes quickly focused on the boy as he continued, "I am Barnett Eridan, titled as Starsword by the goddess Demeter herself, and the guardian of the Western Continent for two millennia."

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