Book 1: The Frie Clan || Chapter 45: The Curtain Falls (3)

‘He’s injured quite badly…’

Glancing at Junius, the Instructor determined the state of the youth. Junius, who was barely awake, knelt motionless on the floor. Red fluids dripped from all over his torso, and the tears on his robes made it seem like he had traversed through hell. Seeing his pupil’s plight, the Instructor clenched his fists in rage. Of all the orphans, the one he loved most was Junius. Being the oldest orphan, the Instructor had spent the most time with him. Furthermore, Junius’ hardworking etiquette thoroughly impressed the veteran of the Frie Clan. Hence, the Instructor showered the youth with the most care. He had even taught one of his own spiritual ability to Junius.

Thus, seeing that Junius was hanging by a thread, the Instructor was about to erupt into a fit of rage. He desperately wanted to snap the necks of those responsible for Junius’ injuries, but he knew, there was something more important right now.

“You guys… Leave now before I kill you!”

“…”

The three assassins were speechless at the Instructor’s words. Once the two-metre tall giant appeared, they had entirely resigned to their fates of being captured or even beat down. After all, arresting them would be the most significant evidence that the Second Elder was involved. But currently, the Instructor was letting them walk away from the crime scene.

In fact, the Instructor did have that thought. Not only did he want to capture them, but he also wanted to wring their necks alive. But Junius’ injuries were not light. If he delayed even a few minutes, the youth would have met the grim reaper before he reached treatment. Hence, with an indignant expression on his face, the Instructor made the painful choice of releasing the assailants.

“Did you not hear me? SCRAM!!!”

A torrent of red spiritual energy flowed out of the Instructor’s body as he roared at the three black-garbed men. Heat waves could be seen emitting out of the ground as the infuriated man allowed his mana to seep into the surroundings.

The assassins weren’t going to squander away the chance of leaving and scurried away like frightened mice. Even the two who had an arrow sticking out of their bodies ran at a speed that made it seem that their injury was non-existent.

“You’re too brash, Junius…”

Lightly reprimanding the youth who was about to lose consciousness due to the lack of blood, the Instructor touched Junius on the forehead and transferred a small amount of mana into his body. All the Instructor could do was to warm up Junius’ body using his mana. The Instructor was not a healer, but he could alleviate Junius’ current suffering.

“Instructor… Shin…”

Seeing that the Instructor had arrived in the nick of time, Junius was glad that both the twins and himself were able to make it through the ordeal. Relaxing his body, Junius felt a comfortable, warm darkness enveloping him. However, before he embraced the tempting call, he tried to explain Shin’s circumstance.

“Instructor! Shin and Ariel are still fighting! There are two more assassins in that direction!”

Ella explained the situation while pointing to the east, preventing Junius from completing his sentence. Currently, he was severely injured, and any unnecessary movements might expedite his trip to the netherworld.

“I know. But there is no need for me to go… There is already someone going there to help them. So rest assured, bringing you to treatment is the first priority right now.”

Not wanting to waste any more time, the Instructor carried the two twins over his shoulder with his left hand like a sack of potatoes. Using his right arm, he cradled Junius like a precious baby. The three orphans were currently immobilised. Hence, he had no choice but to carry all of them at once. Thankfully, his physique allowed him to move them with little effort.

Hearing that, Junius fell into a state of tranquillity and lost consciousness in the Instructor’s arms.

“Is Junius alright?!”

Once Junius fainted, Emma exclaimed, worried that her older brother might have passed away. Likewise, Ella wore a frightened expression.

“He’s still alive, for now… We need to hurry!”

A red aura engulfed the orphans in the Instructor’s arms. With a kick, the Instructor leapt out of the forest and flew straight towards Frie Mountain. The twins could see the world move around them at rapid speeds, but they could not feel any sort of wind. It was as if they were untouched by the outside world once protected by the Instructor’s aura.

“Please make it in time…”

The Instructor pleaded as he rushed desperately towards the medical facility in the Frie Clan.

-.-

On the other side of the forest, Ariel and Shin are at a standstill with the one remaining assassin. His comrade is squirming in agony on the floor as he had come into contact with the spores of the polka dot mushroom. Currently, it is a two versus one. Even though the assassin is a Spirit Apostle, he is under orders not to use his Spirit. Furthermore, Shin and Ariel are not regular Rank 1 Spirit Practitioners. Both of them awakened Spirits that triggered a natural phenomenon, and are competent martial artists.

“Ariel, how did you do that?”

Noticing that the assassin did not intend to attack, Shin asked Ariel about the lava puddle that lay uncharacteristically on the forest floor.

“Hmmm? Oh, that! That is my first spiritual ability! If I will for it, I can coat my Lava Warhammer with fresh molten lava!”

“What?! So you can hurl lava with every swing?!”

Shin uttered out in horror. If Ariel’s Spirit glazed itself in lava, which weapon could possibly hope to contend against it.

“Hehe, strong right? But I can’t use it forever. Every time I swing my Lava Warhammer using my first spiritual ability, a large amount of mana is consumed. Currently, I can only use the ability ten times before I run out of mana, so I have to use it sparingly…”

Ariel explained the nature of her first spiritual ability and its limitations.

“I see…”

Shin had mixed feelings about Ariel getting stronger. On one hand, with her power, they will be able to escape from their current predicament. On the other hand, once they returned to the Frie Clan, she would want to test her abilities with her training partner.

“Well, thankfully there’s only one left standing… What did you do to that guy over there who is rolling on the floor like a dog?”

Unaware of Shin’s conundrum, Ariel questioned him about how he managed to disable one of their enemies.

“A long story… We should focus on the guy in front of us first!”

At this time, a red light started to illuminate out of the fallen assassin. As a defence measure, his Spirit began to form by itself to alleviate the pain that he was experiencing.

‘Shit!’

The remaining assassin cursed in his mind. Currently, it seems that they were unable to complete their mission. It had been over five minutes since Bates had released his flame pillar and reinforcements might arrive at any moment. Thus, they had to retreat. However, his companion was about to summon his Spirit, and if Ariel or Shin recognised it, the assassins could be traced back to the Second Elder.

*Whoosh*

To prevent the summoning of his companion’s Spirit, the assassin dashed towards the man lying on the floor in hopes to knock him out.

“Oh no, you don’t, Shin! Cover me!”

Ariel raised her Lava Warhammer off of her shoulders and charged towards the last assailant. Shin, realising his training partner’s intentions, conjured up yet another water bubble to cover her tracks. Although his ability was lacking offensively, it served as a great distraction.

Unfortunately, neither Ariel nor Shin managed to show off their battle prowess. Before any contact was made, a red light crashed into the forest floor right in front of the fallen assailant. It was as if a meteor had struck the earth. Shin and Ariel lost their balance and tumbled to the ground due to the impact.

A burly one-armed man wearing an ochre-coloured gauntlet walked out of the crater he formed and glared at Ariel and Shin. The forest seemed to have become a sauna once he appeared as numerous trees started to catch on fire.

“Senior Bates!!!”

Ariel instantly recognised the new adversary. Being the First Elder’s granddaughter, she is much more informed than a regular Frie Clan member. Hence, she knew every single one of the Frie Clan’s most valuable assets. Bates is one of them. The tale of him taking down a Rank 60 Spirit King when he was a Rank 50 Spirit Lord is legendary. And now that he is a Spirit King, people speculated that he could easily challenge a Spirit Emperor.

A few seconds after Bates arrival, another meteor-like object flashed through the forest and landed in front of Shin. This time, there was no impact. A tall, middle-aged woman, stood unwaveringly before the black-haired youth determined to protect the boy at all costs.

Looking at the woman, Shin noticed that she had dressed somewhat eccentrically. Instead of hands, she had a set of robust and sharp black claws that could easily be mistaken as a set of knives. Her entire skin had grown a coat of thick red fur that seemed to be able to defend against any sort of damage. From her behind, a fluffy tail wreathed in flames, uncharacteristically of a human, wagged slowly leaving behind a trail of fire wherever it went. Lastly, her head was protected by an Ainu Wolf’s skull.

“Aunt Ines!”

Ariel exclaimed. After Ines was attacked by Bates, she was forced to use her spiritual body enhancement. The spiritual body enhancement is an ability where the user merges with their Spirits to take a new form that dramatically increases their battle capabilities. Ines’ spiritual body enhancement creates an armour for her to wear and protects her from any fire-elemental damage. Hence, she was able to escape from Bates’ fire pillar relatively unscathed.

“Long time no see, Ariel. I would love to chat but for now, stand back.”

Smiling affectionately at her, the middle-aged woman urged Ariel to hide behind her.

“Bates! Do you honestly think the Clan Master will ignore this matter?!”

Rapidly changing expressions, Ines shrieked at the one-armed man who was protecting the two assassins.

“Ha… You’re right. Let me take responsibility.”

“Huh?”

Bates sighed and gave an answer that Ines was not expecting. She wanted to threaten Bates with the Clan Master’s name but never did she expect that the loyal subordinate of the Second Elder would be so quick to claim responsibility.

“I’ll personally bring these assassins back to interrogate them on who sent them… I believe I will be able to give the Clan Master a satisfactory answer once I’m done…”

However, his next statement cleared up her doubts.

“HUH?! What do you mean you will interrogate them?!”

If Bates brought the two black-robed assassins back, the Second Elder division would be able to spin up fake stories to deflect suspicion away from their camp. After all, there would be no evidence that the Second Elder ordered the assassination of Shin. They could claim that the assassins were sent by a random organisation to target Frie Clan members.

“Don’t worry, I will get to the bottom of this assassination attempt…”

When Bates crashed onto the forest floor, he had knocked out both of the assailants. Picking up the unconscious duo with his one arm, he bent his knees slightly in preparation to jump. However, before he left, he took one last glance at Shin.

“…”

“…”

Meeting eyes, Shin shivered at the one-armed man’s gaze. He felt that every part of his soul was being scanned by the bottomless well that was Bates’ eyes.

“Ha…”

Sighing, Bates jumped into the air and disappeared from the forest.

“To think he just left like that…”

Ines murmured out. Although she was unwilling to let Bates take the assassins away, she knew that there was no way that she could beat him. Furthermore, if she tried to wrestle the assassins out of Bates’ grasp, it would leave Ariel and Shin vulnerable to attacks. Thus, she could only unwillingly let the one-armed man take away their evidence.

“We should return to the mountain…”

“Senior! My companions are still fighting some other assassins back in the forest!”

As Ines was preparing to return up to Frie Mountain, Shin mentioned that Junius and the twins were still behind them. There was no way he was going to abandon his three siblings.

“Child, there’s no need to worry. When I was busy with Bates, I saw Lou running straight for your friends. If I’m not wrong, by now, they would have been rescued.”

“The Instructor?!”

Hearing that, Shin relaxed. If the Instructor was heading towards Junius, he could rest assured.

“Alright! Let’s return to the clan!”

Ines addressed Ariel and Shin as she released her spiritual body enhancement and returned to her regular human form.

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