Winding the clock a few minutes back, a red-robed middle-aged woman was observing Shin and his party from afar. Continually looking for any signs of danger, the woman was assigned to protect Shin should there be any complications.
‘I would honestly doubt that the Second Elder would kill Shin in broad daylight though.’
The woman thought to herself. Even the High Elders had their limitations. It was not as if they could do whatever they wanted to without facing the consequences. If the Second Elder indeed killed Shin, he would face severe punishments. He might even be stripped of his title and exiled out of the Frie Clan. It was unthinkable for a High Elder to relinquish his title just to kill one orphan.
‘I mean I get why he wants to kill Shin… The Sovereign Koi is indeed a threat to the existence of the Frie Clan, but if trained correctly, the clan could really benefit from an expert using that infamous Spirit… Furthermore, Shin is just a child!’
The woman was disgusted by the Second Elder’s way of doing things. To sate his desires, he was willing to kill an innocent kid.
‘Hmph! But with me here, let me see what he can do!’
Driven to protect the black-haired youth, the woman increased her surveillance of the vicinity.
“Hoh… So you are the one the First Elder sent, Ines…”
A thick, masculine voice sounded behind the woman hiding in the trees.
Shocked beyond belief, Ines coated herself in mana and leapt off the branch she was resting on. She felt the world turn as she manoeuvred a somersault to land safely on the ground. When she looked up, Ines saw a burly and dishevelled man who only had his right arm.
Realising who her adversary was, Ines exclaimed in terror. Bates is a legend in the clan. A veteran of a hundred battles, when he was a Rank 50 Spirit Lord, he managed to kill a Rank 60 Spirit King at the expense of his left arm. Thus, he earned a nickname that struck fear to all who faced him. The One-armed Kingslayer. Now that he had promoted to a Spirit King, no one could accurately pinpoint his battle power. Some say that he should be as strong as a Spirit Emperor, others say that he was as strong as a peak Spirit King, but one thing was undeniable. Bates is one of the most powerful members of the Frie Clan.
“To think that the Second Elder sent you to kill Shin… It looks like he’s really determined…”
“What the Elder does is none of your business… If you value your life, just stay here with me and ignore the child.”
Bates’ thick voice resonated in Ines’ ears.
“As tempting as the proposition is, I have a job here… So I can’t play with you, Bates…”
Promptly turning down Bates’ proposal, Ines summoned her Spirit. A flame Ainu Wolf Spirit appeared beside the woman as she prepared her battle stance. The blaze Ainu Wolf Spirit was wreathed with fire on its head, shoulder blades and four limbs. As if it was sentient, it adopted a battle position similar to Ines. Although Ines was no match for Bates, a Rank 54 Spirit Lord such as herself was no pushover.
“Such a shame…”
Shaking his head in disapproval, Bates began to levitate in the air.
The ground shook as spiritual energy was being gathered in large amounts by the Spirit King. After a few seconds, Bates’ right hand began to illuminate a reddish light as all of the mana in he had gathered condensed and formed an ochre-coloured gauntlet covering his entire hand.
“But I can’t afford you to be messing with the Elder’s plans…”
As he said those words, the fire elements started to dance with joy when Bates summoned his Spirit. The air around Ines become scorching hot as a flame circle, hundred meters wide, appeared under the woman.
Before she even got the chance to react, Bates uttered his next words.
“I apologise… *Fire Pillar*.”
Snapping his fingers, the flames beneath Ines rushed upwards with blinding speeds forming a pillar that reached for the heavens. Immense amounts of mana enveloped the area and caused numerous surges of spiritual energy. Instantly incinerating the trees nearby, the fire pillar decimated the forest. As for the fate of Ines, no one knew…
“That’s the signal!”
Once the fire pillar lit up the sky, a teenager dressed in black garbs yelled out. In the briefing prior, the Second Elder mentioned that Bates would give a signal that signified that the operation had commenced.
“Senior Bates has given the signal. Do we know the location of the target?”
The leader of the five teenagers asked.
“Yes! He is two hundred meters west of us.”
“Good! The Elder said that once the operation commences, we will have less than five minutes to kill the target before reinforcements arrive. We must complete the mission within that time-frame, or else it is considered to be a failure. Remember, hide your identities. So that means no Spirits. Use only the throwing blades and sword that the Second Elder had bestowed on us.”
The assassins replied in unison. Although they were not able to use their Spirits, being Spirit Apostles, they should be able to handle a Rank 11 Junius and four kids who had just reached Rank 1.
Rushing west, they began to have visual on the group.
“Great, they are distracted by Senior Bates’ fire pillar. Use this opportunity to strike. Aim for Shin! Try not to hurt Ariel.”
The most skilled teenager in throwing knives aimed straight for Shin’s head and fired two blades at the unsuspecting boy. However, his attack was foiled by the sharp Junius who had summoned his Spirit and was ready to battle.
“That Spirit Apostle with them is rather capable. To be able to deflect high-speed throwing knives in that split second…”
“There is no time to admire him. If sneak attacks don’t work, we shall assault them directly. Surround them! Make sure that Shin does not have a route to escape!”
With that, the five teenagers emerged from the woods and confronted Shin’s group.