Imperial year 952, twentieth year of Emperor Anatheus' rule, Central Kingdom Alliance, capital city Navar, Sacred Academy.
Enki von Imvidra, the youngest imperial prince of the Divine Empire Sargon, was staring at the night sky through the window in his dorm room. The moonlight shining in from the window made his normally golden hair have a silver tint and made his blue eyes shine like sapphires.
'If only I could stay here forever.' sighed Enki.
It was his final year in the academy and a week before the graduation ceremony. After graduation, he would have to go back to the hell hole called the imperial palace, which he had managed to briefly escape from.
Enki was now seventeen and had started to attend the academy when he had turned twelve. He had some of the happiest years of his life here. Here no one tried to poison him on a daily basis, and he didn't have to hear the mockery of his half-siblings about how he was of lower birth than them.
Enki's mother was a dancer from the desert kingdom, Shariza that performed in the imperial palace on the celebration of the thirty-fifth birthday of Emperor Anatheus. The Emperor had taken a liking to the beautiful woman with the smooth and enchanting movements and had kept her within the palace.
And a year later, Enki and his twin sister Elise were born. They did not inherit the silver hair which was the symbol of the imperial family of Sargon, and both of them were born with golden yellow hair. The Emperor, upon hearing of the birth of his bastard children, had just ordered his court officials to find them a place to stay within the palace and grant the title of concubine to the dancer whom he had already lost interest in.
Thus Enki and his sister Elise grew inside an isolated wing within the palace, with two maids and their mother. Years passed by and the two never saw their father until came a fateful day.
Their mother had died of poisoning. The culprit had been found, and it was one of the maids that served the Empress. The maid was quickly executed, and the case wasn't investigated any further. Upon hearing of this, the then eight years old Enki had been furious.
He had marched to the throne room while the Emperor and Empress were having a meeting with the Imperial Council and caused a scene. Naturally, the Emperor had been furious and ordered his guards to drag the boy out and punish him.
But luckily to Enki, his brazen actions had piqued the interest of two members of the Council. Although that didn't save him from receiving a beating.
After having blacked out from the guards' beating, Enki woke up in an unfamiliar room. Turned out the Supreme Commander had taken a liking to the courageous boy and had asked the Emperor permission to groom the young prince after the Council meeting had ended. The Emperor was hesitant at first but the Commander had just stated that the brat will never inherit the throne anyway, so let him contribute to the Empire in some other way.
And thus started Enki's and his sister's days in the Supreme Commander's mansion and there Enki made his first friend ever.
'What is he up to by the way.' wondered Enki, after waking up from his own thoughts.
That person was sitting behind him on a bed, with his legs crossed and eyes closed while being covered in a bluish hue that was getting lighter by the minute.
'I think he is about to breakthrough soon.' thought Enki, while looking at his only childhood friend, Mago Barca, the only son of the Empire's Supreme Commander Darius Barca.
Soon enough, the hue around Mago started pulsating and Enki could feel a pressure emanating from him. Just like his father, Mago was extremely gifted when it came to practicing his inner core. He was probably one of the youngest in the Empire's history to break through to the cyan core level.
Inner core training could be categorized into four different stages. The first stage was Body tempering, where trainees had to exercise daily to the limits of their bodies until finally collapsing from exhaustion. This was done to ensure that their physical bodies were strong enough to handle the second stage.
The second stage was Body cleansing, which was pure torture, and to this day the thought of it made Enki shudder. In the Body cleansing stage, they would still train during the day, but it wasn't the primary focus of this stage. In this stage, the trainees had to take in the morning and the evening medicinal baths and ingest many herbs that made them feel like their insides were being turned out.
It was to ensure that as many impurities as possible would be expelled from the body. It might not sound so bad but the feeling of having your insides in turmoil, while expelling a horrid-smelling substance from within and feeling like you were being stabbed by hundreds of needles all over your body, was not pleasant, to say the least.
The third stage was inner core forming. During this stage, experts would guide them on gaining perfect control of their own bodies and how to absorb the mana in the air, and how to circulate it within their own bodies. After they mastered this, they could attempt to form the inner core.
This was a stage where most people were stuck in their whole lives, for it took immense talent to form a core without any guidance, and getting the guidance from experts that were highly sought after and usually employed by the army or noble houses, was close to impossible to commoners.
After the forming of their inner core, the practitioners could use the core and store mana within it. Using the stored mana allowed them to reinforce their bodies and exert superhuman strength and speed.
After the forming of the inner core came the final fourth stage: reinforcing and strengthening the core. The newly formed cores were always red in color, and thus the practitioners that had just formed their core were called Warriors of red rank. The inner core had eight ranks: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, cyan, silver, and white.
Although Warriors could use mana through their core, were they in no means "magicians" or "mages". Mages were people who were naturally born with a mana well inside of them and could use the mana to cast spells based on their affinity.
While the Warriors could use mana to strengthen themselves, were they unable to cast spells with it or exert it outside of their bodies, but they were highly resilient against magic attacks because mana had tempered their bodies from their inner core.
After successfully breaking through, Mago opened his emerald green eyes and grinned at Enki.
"You are getting further and further behind." grinned Mago.
"Everyone doesn't have such monstrous talent like you.", complained Enki while rolling his eyes. He had a blue inner core and was considered one of the geniuses of his generation, but compared to Mago his training speed was a lot slower. It would probably take him a year or two before he would have a breakthrough.
While the two of them chatted, a head popped out from above Mago's bed.
"Would you two please shut up? Some of us are trying to sleep.", complained Bismark, one of the other two roommates that Enki and Mago had.
Bismark was a mage and had a unique affinity for time magic and an affinity for wind.
Mage's affinities were categorized into three ranks: basic, special, and unique. Most mages only had one affinity, but in special cases, some had two or more.
Basic affinities were fire, earth, water, and wind, and most mages had an affinity with one of these.
Some of the more famous special magic affinities were: summoning, psychic, lightning, ice, metal, light, and shadow. Special affinities were uncommon and only one in every hundred mages had a special affinity.
Unique affinities were even rarer, and only every one mage out of ten thousand had a unique affinity. Among unique affinities were space, time, death, and life.
So ever since Bismark was found to have a unique affinity at the age of six, had his father had him trained by an Archmage before sending him to the Academy to study. The Archmage had been fanatic about training a young apprentice with a unique affinity so he had given Bismark no time to rest, except sleep at night, for the six years before he left for the Academy.
This had made Bismark detest work and studying, so he spent most of his days in the Academy just lazing around, not caring about the faculty staff or his grades.
The last of Enki's roommates was Ragan, who, like Bismark, was a mage. Ragan had a special affinity which was lightning. Ragan was not as lazy as Bismark, but he wasn't really interested in studying either. Most of the time he just spent flirting with the girls of the Academy.
His absence from the room tonight, indicating that he had lucked out.
The Sacred Academy was the only place in the Western continent that taught the subjects of studies of magic, warrior training, politics and governance, military affairs, alchemy, and magical engineering, in one place. Thus it had the nobility and talented commoners, as well as rich merchants, send their children there to learn, even from the Central Kingdom Alliance's neighboring countries. Each year they accepted five hundred new students for each of the subjects to major in.
Of course, the Academy wasn't the only place where one could study these subjects, but it was the most renowned one and was located in the central parts of the continent, making it easy for most countries to send their children there.
The Academy let the applicants freely choose the subject they wanted to enroll in, and then out of them picked out the most talented ones. Besides choosing their major, were the students free to choose a secondary subject to study if they wished to.
Enki was majoring in politics and governance while having warrior training as a secondary subject. After receiving the training from Supreme Commander since young, did he not feel it necessary to focus as much on warrior training.
Mago was majoring in military affairs and had warrior training as a secondary subject as well. He planned on following in his father's footsteps and enlist in the army after graduating.
Bismark was majoring in magic studies and no secondary subject. The same went for Ragan as well.
"Fine, fine, let's get some sleep.", answered Enki to Bismark's complaint.