Half an hour after the Clan Master arrived, all the participants of the Spirit Awakening Ceremony had gathered. Including Shin and the twins, the First Elder’s division had a total of ten children undergoing the ceremony this year. The Second Elder’s division had fifteen. And the other parts of the Frie Clan had sent nineteen kids. A grand total of forty-four children were awakening their spirits today.
“Forty-four children! This should be the highest in recent years!”
The Clan Master remarked to the woman who was busy at work preparing the altar. The woman was dressed in a pure white robe with a thin cloth covering her head. She seemed to be in her thirties, but her demeanour and composure did not reflect her projected age.
“Enfen, stop bothering me. I would like to conclude the ceremony as soon as possible. With so many of them this year, it might take a while to awaken all of their Spirits.”
Casually calling the Clan Master by her name showed how close the two women were.
“Come on, Lien! Humour me a bit. I doubt a little conversation will hinder your preparations! You’ve been doing it for so many years, by now you could conduct the ceremony with your eyes closed.”
“Enfen, unlike you, I have a proper role here today. Go kill your boredom somewhere else.”
The woman named Lien had a point. Other than giving a short speech at the start of the ceremony, the Clan Master had no part in the Spirit Awakening Ceremony process. If she wanted to, the Clan Master could leave right after her speech. However, Enfen preferred to stay till the end. The Spirit Awakening Ceremony was the perfect excuse for her to take a break from the mundane tasks of Clan Master.
“You’re always such a bore! Even if you ask me to go somewhere else, there is nowhere I can go! The First and Second Elder are clearly divided and won’t talk. Also, everyone else here is all children. There’s no one from our generation over here!”
“Then go stand in the corner. I will be starting the ceremony soon, so I’m going to ignore you from now on.”
Clearly irritated by the Clan Master’s constant disturbance, Lien turned her back towards Enfen and continued her preparations. Perhaps in the entire Frie Clan, only Lien would talk to the Clan Master this way.
As the Clan Master walked away from the altar depressed, Shin and the twins were whispering to each other.
“Who is that woman dressed in white?”
Shin asked the knowledgeable Ella. Due to her close proximity to Lily, Ella was the most well informed of the three.
“That is Lien Frie. The Shrine Maiden. She is the officiant of every year’s Spirit Awakening Ceremony. It is said that her Spirit is an auxiliary one which helps in awakening Spirits. She maintains a perfect record of having no casualties while on the job!”
Ella educated Shin. Her eyes contained a slight tinge of reverence as she spoke of the Shrine Maiden.
“She is also the best friend of the Clan Master. Even though the Shrine Maiden vehemently rejects that claim, everyone can see that the two of them share an unbreakable bond. In fact, she is the only one who can talk down to the Clan Master! Not even the Elders have the courage to that!”
“Wow. The Clan Master neutralises the Elders, and the Shrine Maiden neutralises the Clan Master. Does that mean that the Shrine Maiden is the hidden boss of the Frie Clan?!”
Shin gave his theory.
“There’s no way! Stop imagining things!”
Ella did not appreciate Shin’s remarks.
“Of course I’m joking!”
Emma was bemused with the interaction between Shin and her sister. Even though they were at odds at face value, the truth is that they were quite close. Other than Junius, Shin’s most favoured contact was the twins due to them being the same age. Ella and Emma also liked hanging out with Shin as his goofiness served as an excellent way to pass the time.
“Okay, children gather around! The ceremony will begin shortly. Chaperones, please leave the premise and wait patiently outside the door.”
Just as the trio concluded their conversation, the Shrine Maiden had finished her preparations and gave instructions to the group. Junius, Lily and the other chaperones bowed to the altar and swiftly headed to the exit of the room. But it was not before Junius mouthed two words to the orphans remaining.
Smiling, Junius and Lily left the Shrine Room with a number of teens. As the last person exited, the doors slammed shut.
“Before we begin the ceremony, the Clan Master would like to say some words.”
The Shrine Maiden expressionlessly said.
The Clan Master, Enfen Frie, walked in front of the altar and faced the forty-four kids present. Her imposing presence overwhelmed those watching her as if her previous disposition when she was talking to her best friend was a lie. Even the high and mighty Ariel could only cower in front of this giant.
“Good morning to you all! I’m sure that most of you are anxious and afraid of what’s to come. You might be worried that you would get hurt or you might find it hard to awaken your Spirits. Not to worry, you are in safe hands. The Shrine Maiden here has been officiating the ceremony for many years and is one of the very best.”
The Clan Master reassured the children with her first few sentences.
“Some of you might be even worried that your awakened Spirit would not match up to the others. Worried that you would not awaken the Spirit that your parents have. Or even afraid that your Spirit would be a useless one. So let me tell you a story. There was once a Spirit user born into an incredible lineage of heroes. Each one of his family members awakened Spirits that made outsiders green with envy.”
“His father had a Sword Spirit and cultivated to Rank 80. His mother had a Dragon Spirit and cultivated to Rank 76. Everyone had high hopes for their child to awaken a crazy, never before seen Spirit to shock the world! The family invited nearly every human within a thousand miles to witness this little boy’s Spirit Awakening Spirit.”
“However, the reality was cruel. With thousands upon thousands of people watching, the young boy awakened a mere Dagger Spirit. Thought to be a trash Spirit at the time, the boy’s parents were left despondent and ashamed that their child had disappointed them in front of thousands. They started to distance themselves from the boy, and even members of their clan left the boy to rot in a corner.”
“Everyone gave up on the boy. Everyone but the boy himself. Instead of wallowing in despair, the boy sought a path that would prove his parents and all his doubters wrong. He cultivated and fought almost to the point where it killed him. He formulated all his own Spiritual skills and formed a martial arts technique that was specific to the Dagger he wielded.”
“Centuries later, the boy grew into a powerhouse of the world reaching the level of a Spirit Saint hitting the Rank 99 threshold. With his Dagger Spirit in hand, he stormed into the household which abandoned him to settle his grievances with his family.”
“With his mortal ties severed, he took the final step and like few before him, stepped into the realm above and forever etched his name in the history books. By now you should have guessed it. The boy in the story is the Eight Spirit Immortal ever. Immortal Damien. From then on, Dagger Spirits are lauded as one of the most deadly Spirits and were no longer the trash Spirit that everyone viewed them to be.”
“If you have one take away from this story, let it be this. Your Spirit does not define who you are or who you will be. What you choose to do with your Spirit defines you. Overcoming prejudice, Immortal Damien carved his own path to becoming someone everyone thought he could never be. Do not let your Spirit choose what you should become. Use your Spirit to become what you wish to be, like Immortal Damien.”
“I hope that all of you here present would become someone like Immortal Damien and fight for the Frie Clan.”
The Clan Master finished her story with a bright smile.