The next few days before the harvest festival were rather mundane. Shin and the twins visited the Athenaeum every day to learn their cultivation techniques while the other orphans continued on with their training. Junius had been pestering the First Elder to ensure that he supervised Shin during his harvest mission and the old man finally relented. Realising that there was a potential threat when sending Shin out of Frie Mountain, the First Elder planned to have the black-haired youth secretly protected by a loyal member of his division. Given the state that the Second Elder was in, who knows what could happen.
Speaking of the Second Elder, once he found out that the Celestial Water Mantra was handed down to Shin, he barged into the Clan Master’s office demanding an explanation on why the issue was not discussed. Sparing the child’s life was one thing, but actively trying to strengthen Shin without consulting the council was something he could not ignore.
The Chief Librarian was summoned to account for her actions. After five gruelling hours of interrogation, it was found that everything she did was for the interest of the Frie Clan and she was punished leniently by revoking her seat in the council for three months. Although the Second Elder was unsatisfied with the result, all he could only swallow his grievances. The issue had just aggravated the divide in the clan.
Unaware of the impact he had caused since awakening his Spirit on the Day of Spirits, Shin was still anxiously preparing himself for the harvest mission. Reading the Celestial Water Mantra fervently, Shin was trying to soak in as much knowledge as he possibly could. After hearing Junius’ ominous premonition, Shin felt the need to become stronger quickly to sufficiently protect himself.
But time waits for no one. The day Shin dreaded has finally arrived…
“Shin, wake up! Today is the first day of the harvest festival! You need to be in the Main Hall to accept your mission!”
“A…ahhhh! Junius, I’m not feeling very well today… Could you help me tell everyone that I will be staying in bed for the duration of the harvest festival?”
“Get up, Shin! Your miserable excuse won’t work!”
“Come on! Just help me this time! I don’t want to attend the harvest missions!”
Shin complained to his elder brother.
“Although I understand where you are coming from, no child has ever skipped a harvest mission! Do you really want to be the first?”
“That sounds great! So help me tell the First Elder that, alright?”
“Shin! That’s not how it works. Didn’t we go through this before? You will be completely safe! The First Elder is putting you in a four-man group that will be led by me! And everyone in the party will be people you trust!”
“What?! Trust? There’s no way I’m taking a mission with Ariel and Ella! Both of them will torture me to death before the Second Elder gets to me!”
The harvest mission requires that the children form into groups. A Spirit Apostle would be assigned to each group, and the children were free to choose who would be in their parties. However, seeing that the Second Elder could potentially harm Shin, the First Elder brought matters into his own hands. He first formed a four-man cell consisting of Shin, Ariel, Ella and Emma. Next, he assigned Junius to be their Spirit Apostle chaperone even though the boy had no experience in leading a party. This was because the First Elder was entirely sure that Ariel, the twins and Junius would never harm Shin.
The First Elder also assigned a Rank 50 Spirit Lord to shadow their every movement and protect them from any harm. Of course, it was done behind their backs. After all, the purpose of the harvest mission is for children to experience the world outside of the Frie Clan. If they knew that they would be protected, it would not serve as much of a training.
“Shin! If you don’t leave your bed, the headmistress would personally come and wake you up!”
“The First Elder expected that you would react this way and instructed the headmistress to come here if you are not in the Main Hall by eight. Do you really want her to come here?!”
“Damn it… Why did that old geezer do something like that?!”
“So hurry up! Even I don’t want to see her inside our rooms…”
Junius shivered as he imagined the headmistress entering the dormitory of the two. The woman was a germaphobe and detested filthy areas. Shin and Junius have many good qualities but being neat and tidy was not one of them. If the headmistress entered their rooms and saw the mess it was in, her shrieks would be so deafening that even people on the other side of the mountain would hear her.
Giving up on his earlier plan of pretending to be sick, Shin got out of bed and started to change.
“Junius, what kind of harvest missions are there?”
While changing into his standard training gear, Shin asked the youth standing nearby.
“There are many. The most common of which being going down the mountain to collect herbs for the Clan. It seems like a simple task, but most of the herbs are found in the forest nearby. Inside the woodlands is home to numerous beasts that could easily kill a Spirit Practitioner such as yourself. So the purpose of the trip down the mountain is to expose you to the possible dangers outside of the Frie Clan.”
“Sounds kind of sadistic to send children to such a dangerous place for experience…”
“Haha! There’s no need to be that alarmed. The population of beasts in the forest is heavily controlled by members of the Frie Clan. Any beasts that are as strong as Spirit Apostles would have been driven deeper into the forest. The harvest missions only require you to scan the outskirts of the place.”
“So that’s why Spirit Apostles have to be assigned to each team…”
Shin realised the reason why Junius had to accompany them.
“Yeap! The enemies we might face will be easily defeated by me. All you need to do is to focus on your mission.”
Finished changing, Shin left the dormitory with Junius and headed towards the orphan training facility to rendezvous with the twins.
“Oh yeah, Ella told me that for your harvest mission, you had to take down a beast?”
Recalling the conversation he had with Ella, Shin questioned Junius on the rumour he heard.
“Ah, that isn’t really considered a beast hunt… My harvest mission was to help find a missing object in the mine at the foot of the mountain. Unfortunately, while tracing the item, we met a beast. It turned out the article that we were finding for was a shiny gold tooth one of the Frie Clan members had misplaced when exploring the mine. Hehe, guess what happened to the tooth…”
Grinning, Junius urged Shin to speculate the fate of the missing golden tooth.
“The beast you’ve met took it?”
“HA HA! Not only did it take it, but that monkey beast also shoved the tooth up his ass like a plug! HAHAHA! Oh my god! You should have seen the look on the guy’s face when he saw his prized possession lodged in a monkey’s rectum! My God! I can’t…”
Wheezing while laughing hysterically, Junius placed both his hands on his abdomen to attempt to stop his laughter. But the more he remembered of that day, the more he laughed.
Even Shin could not help snickering.
“So what happened next?”
Curious about how the story progressed, Shin pressed Junius to complete his tale.
“Hahaha! The Spirit Apostles that were assigned to us took care of the beast. It was a hard fight though, it took the collective effort of three Spirit Apostles to finally defeat the monkey…”
“So you didn’t do anything during the mission?”
“Well, it was an unexpected turn of events. Too unexpected if I must say so myself.”
Wiping his tears, Junius composed himself.
“Hopefully we would be assigned a simple mission like yours…”
“There’s no need to fret! Harvest missions are usually immensely straightforward. Irregularities such as my first harvest mission are rare. The upper management just wants the ten-year-olds to experience what it’s like outside.”
While the two were cheerfully discussing the harvest mission, they reached their destination.