Frie Mountain. Frie Clan household. Orphan’s division courtyard.
It was finally the Day of Spirits. Children like Shin or Ariel who have not awakened their spirits would not feel the difference but anyone who had their spirit awakened would instantly be intoxicated by the abundance of spiritual energy surrounding them. Especially in a spiritual hotspot location such as Frie Mountain.
A long time ago, after the first Spirit Immortal ascended, the early ancestors realised that there will be one day in a year where spiritual energy would be in excess. Spirit energy absorption would increase, spiritual skills would be easier to use and children who had a hard time awakening their spirits would easily overcome that hurdle.
Of course, such a discovery was later exploited. Generals decided to send their legions to war during this day and countless of lives were lost. Ever since then, the word Day of Spirits had become synonymous with the word, ‘Death.’
Spouses of military men would cry when the day approached and Lords feared the risk of an opportunistic strike. And soon, fifty years after the Day of Spirits first appeared, the greatest war mankind had ever seen broke out.
Every ancient civilisation participated in the war and the estimated population drop was more than 70%. A devastating war which peaked at the very auspicious time which was the Day of Spirits.
That day, blood flowed like a river and the pile of corpses were high enough to tower any mountain.
But with conflict comes growth. In that war alone, three Spirit Saints reached rank 99 and killed off every other spirit user who came close to touching their power. Realising that humanity was on the brink of extinction, they set aside their differences and gathered every human still alive. Tribal villages, fiefdoms and remnants of kingdoms were unified under one cause. To battle extinction.
The three Spirit Saints decreed that no one could ever fight on the Day of Spirits again. It would be celebrated as a holiday in which children could awaken their spirits and conflicts be set aside in commemoration of all the fallen in the great war.
After the decree, the Spirit Saints united the remaining humans to form an ancient empire that would prosper for thousands of years even after they left for the Immortal Realm. Communities grew, the population started to increase and humanity was on the right track for survival.
Seeing that their work was done, the three Spirit Saints smiled and ascended on the Day of Spirits in front of the entire human population. The Day of Spirits had only caused harm and grief to the human population. But when the three pioneers ascended, there were only happiness and awe.
As they turned into spiritual energy and broke through the sky, the entire world shook. Beautiful aurora borealis graced the sky and halos of spiritual light orbited the Earth. It was a magical day that no other Spirit Immortal since has replicated when they ascended.
With three spirit users breaking the barrier and entering the realm above, the Immortals were extremely jubilant as they rewarded the Earth with much more spiritual energy. Humans capitalized on the increase and many more spirit users were awakened. In less than a thousand years, the war which crippled humanity to the brink of extinction had become an afterthought.
Centuries and millennia passed since that great war and there have been many wars since. Even the ancient civilisation that was formed by the three historic Spirit Immortals had faded into the annals of history. The capital of said civilisation has been reduced to nothing but ruins. None of its previous lustres could be found. However, there was one thing that had stood the test of time. The rule that no battles were fought on the Day of Spirits.
Even though there was no one to mete out punishments to those who violated the rule, modern civilisation has placed self-enforced regulations on themselves. Till this very day, the Day of Spirits is a day in which conflicts are set aside, families which are separated due to work reunite and children of families awaken their spirits.
And the Frie clan was no exception. All the orphans, except the younger ones who have nothing to do with the Spirit Awakening Ceremony, were waiting anxiously for the arrival of the First Elder and the Instructor.
It was five in the morning and Shin was still grumpy about being woken up so early.
‘Damn it… Why must the Spirit Awakening Ceremony be conducted in the morning! Don’t they like sleep? On top of bullies, are the Frie clan elders insomniacs?!’
Shin was right to be pissed. The ceremony was slated to start at six in the morning, just before sunrise. This meant that the orphans must be awake by four in order to prepare and gather around for the First Elder to receive them at five. Furthermore, the Spiritual Awakening Ceremony required the orphans to be dressed in ceremonial clothing which was cumbersome to put on.
Junius, being paranoid that Shin would oversleep, kept calling him up like a personalised alarm clock. He even opened the bathroom door every minute to check on Shin when he was changing to ensure that Shin would not sleep in there.
‘You know what? Screw the Frie clan elders man. You can take a guy’s flesh and blood but don’t take his sleep time! I should suggest a protest in the name of sleep!’
Not being a morning person was Shin’s greatest weakness. And with the Frie clan obsessed with early mornings, Shin was suffering every day.
Just as Shin was cursing every Frie clan member who ever lived, a silhouette could be seen in the distance.
“Good morning kids!!! What a fine day we have! I barely slept due to the amount of spiritual energy around!”
The bald instructor with crazy, unkempt facial hair called out the orphans.
“I agree… The amount of spiritual energy is much more different than that of normal days!”
Junius acknowledged the Instructors statement as he took a deep long breath.
“Instructor, where’s the First Elder?”
Lily questioned her superior at the absence of the old man.
“He’s waiting with the other kids so if there’s nothing else let’s move. We have to rush if you take your time.”
The instructor beckoned the orphans as he walked swiftly away.
‘It’s only five in the morning and they are so energetic…’
Shin sighed while looking at his surroundings. It seemed that if he did stage a protest, none of his friends would join in support.
‘Ah… There is probably that girl.’
Frie Mountain. Frie Clan household. Main Hall left wing entrance.
The orphans met with the First Elder at the left wing entrance of the Main Hall. Behind the first elder were seven young children who were around Shin’s age. Being under the First Elder’s wing, Shin recognised every single one of the kids. In fact, he might be more familiar with the freckled redhead with barbaric strength than most.
‘As expected, Ariel is half asleep.’
Even though she was from the Frie clan, Ariel hated early mornings. Shin and Ariel had almost nothing in common. But when it came to the topic of early mornings, they would often confide in each other as they felt that they were the only ones who hated to wake up early in the Frie clan.
In order to ensure that she would not get beat by her grandfather, Ariel developed a special skill. When she was walking, she would bend her head down slightly so that others could not see her face. And with the head looking down, she could sneak in a few short naps.
‘But that’s only possible with her physical prowess…’
Trained from an early age, Ariel had manifested superhuman senses. Thus, even if she was half asleep, she could still ‘feel’ her surroundings so that it seemed that she was truly awake.
‘How she does that is beyond me.’
Shin marvelled at his training partner’s skills.
“Yo! Junius! Shin!”
A young ruby red-haired boy walked to the Orphan’s direction once noticing them.
“Tobias! It’s been a while!”
Junius replied the boy. Tobias was one of the kids being trained in the First Elder division. The First Elder has multiple followers and the majority of their kids are being trained by instructors the First Elder had handpicked. The barbarian that is teaching the orphans was Lou Frie. One of the top fighters in the Frie clan. Even amongst all the instructors picked by the First Elder, Lou Frie would be the best. There were multiple protests when members of the clan found out that one of their best instructors was dispatched to train orphans they picked up. However, after seeing the spartan training regiment Lou Frie was planning to implement, they happily retracted their protests in fear that the monster would be in charge of their own child’s training.
Tobias was a child of a beautiful couple and it was evident that he retained their looks. Fortunately, both his parents survived the conflict that brought the Frie Clan to their knees and Tobias grew up in a complete household. Hence, he had a friendly and outgoing personality, often hanging out with the orphans.
“Wait… Tobias, you’re ten?”
Shin had his eyes opened wide as he looked at the boy he thought was much younger than he was.
“What?! You didn’t know that?”
Tobias was even more shocked. He had spent years with Shin and the latter did not even know his age.
“Maybe it’s because of your baby face?”
“Oh, you pissed me off now!”
Tobias lifted his fist up high and threatened Shin. Tobias had a minor complex. Due to him inheriting his parent’s good looks, as a kid, he looked extremely cute. Many older women would come specifically to cuddle the cute little creature that was Tobias. Hence, he would often be mistaken for an age much younger than he really was.
Junius was laughing at the side. But looking at the back of the First Elder, Junius questioned Tobias.
“Are all the seven kids that came with the first elder awakening their spirits today?”
“Of course! If not why would they be here?”
Junius was speechless. The orphan division was sending out three kids to awaken their spirits this year and it had already broken the orphan division’s record. But the First Elder’s main division alone could casually send out seven. And when he attended his first awakening ceremony, there were over ten of them.
‘A fallen great clan is still a great clan.’
Junius was in shock. The First Elder main division sent seven children this year. Including the orphans, it would be ten. Adding the children from the second elder division and other members of the Frie clan, the number of kids awakening their spirit this year might be well over thirty. Imagine that. Every year, there is an increment of thirty spirit users in a clan.
Maybe the Frie clan could weather out this tribulation…