An elderly man and a little girl slowly stepped foot into the clinic where Shin had suffered at for the past few days. Dressed in rich, luxurious robes, the pair looked like a wealthy merchant and his adorable granddaughter, who have come out from their opulent abodes to mingle with the ordinary folk.
After a cursory glance, the little girl, who was a slightly dazed, suddenly flashed a radiant smile as her eyes lit up when she saw the black-haired boy standing rooted to the ground.
“Shin! You’re here!”
With hurried steps, Ariel headed in Shin’s direction. The two had not seen each other in weeks, so naturally, Ariel was somewhat anxious to see if her training partner was doing well.
“A-ariel… W-why, are you here?”
Stuttering on his words, Shin struggled to comprehend the reason for the scarlet-haired Amazonian to visit the place where he worked.
“Hmph! Why can’t I be here? Staying on the mountain every day is rather suffocating. So grandpa and I decided to visit you! And of course eat some delicacies here.”
Being the granddaughter of a High Elder of the clan, Ariel had experienced several privileges. One of which is visiting Chilyoja Waypoint once every few months. Usually, she would follow her grandfather on official business and take the chance to experience life outside the clan. However, this time, she had a specific reason for coming to the town.
And that reason was standing right in front of her…
“Also, don’t misunderstand. I’m here as a courier and messenger. Emma and Elyse kept pestering me to personally see how you’re doing.”
As one of the few members in the Frie Clan that could freely visit Shin, the other orphans pleaded with Ariel to check on their sibling’s current condition. Also, she was here to deliver some gifts for Shin and Junius from their family back on the mountain. At the same time, when she returned, she would deliver the souvenirs that the duo had bought for the other orphans.
Hearing the two familiar names, a wave of nostalgia hit the young boy. He could clearly remember the sorry state that the two young girls were in when they saw him off. Elyse especially. He terribly missed the snotty nosed girl with her bright sapphire hair.
“*Cough* *Cough*, Shin, is this your little girlfriend?”
Not knowing how to read the situation, Lady Seph, who was silently watching the two children interact, lightly coughed and attempted to tease her attendant. When Ariel entered the building, she did not even notice the old woman as her attention was wholly focused on the training partner she had not seen for a long time. But as she looked up to scan the elderly woman, her eyes widened, and her mouth gaped in horror.
“You’re that crazy old lady!!!”
“What the hell did you say?!?!?!”
Ariel mindlessly threw a comment at the unprepared Lady Seph. When Lady Seph stormed into Frie Mountain, stirring up a frenzy, Ariel who was sleeping soundly, was rudely jerked awake. Finding for the cause of the commotion, she saw the terrifying elderly woman floating up in the air, being escorted by the revered Clan Master down to her dwellings.
It was only the next day when she asked her grandfather what had happened, did Ariel find out the identity of Lady Seph. Unfortunately, when the First Elder was explaining the situation, he occasionally slipped in a few insults which had rubbed off onto the innocent young girl.
Squealing in fear, the valiant Ariel shivered as she scurried back to the safety of her grandfather. Currently, Lady Seph looked like a demon reincarnate as she viciously glared down at the little girl.
“What a presumptuous lass. I wonder who on earth taught you your manners…”
Cracking her knuckles, Lady Seph menacingly advanced towards Ariel, who was shaking like a leaf. Shin, who knew the pattern of the diabolical old woman, closed his eyes and muttered a silent prayer for his training partner.
“Errrr… AH!!! I’m sorry to have insulted you. I-I just heard my grandpa call you that once and I unknowingly…”
While hiding behind the back of her trusted grandfather, the frightened girl twiddled her thumbs as she sold the First Elder out. Stunned by his granddaughter’s betrayal, the First Elder turned his head round to see Ariel quivering while holding her knees. Evidently, Lady Seph had made an enormous impression on her that day when she first barged into the clan.
“Oh ho… So you’re the one bad mouthing me huh, Edward… In front of children no less… It looks like you can’t wait for mistress death to claim your life… Why don’t I do the job for her?”
Spewing out ominous words, a golden light emerged from the depths of Lady Seph’s soul as a humanoid phantom started to form behind her willowy body. The elderly man could felt his heart palpitating wildly as daunting memories of the Iofiel Angel resurfaced.
“H-hey… Seph, you shouldn’t joke like that. No, wait. WAIT!!! ARGHHHH!!!”
In a peaceful corner of the western ward of Chilyoja Waypoint, where few humans reside, a desperate scream of agony reverberated, stunning all living creatures who had the poor fortune of hearing it.
“Damn it, you’re still as unreasonable as ever…”
“Serves you right! Nobody told you to badmouth me!”
The First Elder rested his entire body, that was aching all over, on the sole bed in Lady Seph’s office. As a doctor, she had to have a resting area for her patients. After the elderly man pissed off his long-time friend, Lady Seph sent a relentless flurry of attacks his way. Due to them being on similar cultivation levels, the blonde woman held nothing back as she knew that the First Elder’s physique was able to take the damage.
And the result was swellings all over his body, his nervous system malfunctioning and an array of other injuries. Naturally, being a physician, Lady Seph knew how to not cause any permanent damage to her bosom friend. However, she also knew which points in the body caused the most pain.
“So what brings you here? Got bored of the mountain?”
After she meted out the punishment, Lady Seph sent the two children out to the backyard while she treated the First Elder. Knowing her friend, she knew that the elderly man would not visit for no apparent reason.
“Nothing much actually. Today I’m just a chaperone for my granddaughter.”
“You see, those two are training partners since young. They have never been apart for more than a week. Hence, my granddaughter was somewhat worried about Shin’s condition…”
Sitting upright on the medical bed, the First Elder glanced out the window to see his granddaughter and the boy he picked up, chatting happily in the backyard.
“Furthermore, you should be able to guess… Since he awakened The Sovereign Koi, there has been plenty of protests back in the clan. I’m here to ensure that no one from the clan actually makes a move on him…”
Reclining backwards on her chair, Lady Seph placed her hands behind her head to find a comfortable position. The First Elder’s words made her think about the whole situation surrounding her new attendant.
“Enough about me… So how is Shin? Do you think that you would accept him as a disciple?”
When the First Elder sent Lady Seph the letter extorting her to make Shin the attendant at Yakkyoku Clinic, he had hoped that the black-haired boy would somehow manage to learn the way of the healer from the legendary physician. Although he had hoped that the eccentric woman would relent and accept Shin as a disciple, he knew that Lady Seph did not casually accept new students.
Expecting an answer, the First Elder looked at the elderly woman’s direction. But all he got was a bitter smile and silence.
“You, how did you raise that kid?”
Before she answered his question, Lady Seph posed an additional query his way.
“What do you mean?”
“… Looking at your expression seems that you don’t know huh…”
“Don’t know what?”
“That boy… Is a genius.”
“Knowing you, you probably didn’t give him any proper scholarly learning throughout the years…”
Lady Seph’s speculation was right on the money. The First Elder and many others in his division had headstrong personalities. With an earnest brotherhood mentality, the First Elder attacks problems headfirst with little care of the consequences. Essentially, members in his division were mostly muscleheads. Ines and the Instructor were the prime examples. Even Ariel is developing like them.
Hence, from young, the First Elder had instructed the orphans to train extensively on their physical attributes. Although he allowed the headmistress to give them some elementary schooling, it was nothing comprehensive.
“That boy absorbs knowledge like he is drinking water. All my life, I have never seen a child so gifted in learning. No matter how much I amped up the difficulty, he just keeps surprising me…”
“Is that so…”
The First Elder tried to imagine Shin as a studious student. But no matter how much he pictured it, he thought that the boy was more suited for hand-to-hand combat.
“At this rate, I’d reckon he will be able to learn ‘Heal’ for his second spiritual ability.”
Raising his voice, the First Elder got on his feet, overwhelmed with shock. ‘Heal’ was an essential ability for any healer. In fact, the majority of the time, one could not be considered a healer if he did not have ‘Heal’ in his arsenal. However, to learn the remarkable ability, the Spirit User had to have a substantial amount of knowledge on the human body. Additionally, the Spirit must be compatible. Otherwise, it would just harm the Spirit User’s future prospects.
Most of the time, an apprentice would learn the ability when they form their Spirit Core at Rank 20. They must have also studied for at least ten years under a certified physician from the healer’s association. Thus, the First Elder was dumbfounded when Lady Seph suggested that Shin could learn the ability when he promoted to the Spirit Apostle Realm.
“You expect that much from him?”
Lowering his voice, the First Elder turned sombre as he faced the woman, who was gazing out the window.
“I will accept him as my disciple, Edward. Not because of you, but because I’m curious of what heights he can reach… But bear in mind, once he formally accepts me as his master, Shin will no longer be part of a mere Frie Clan.”
Undermining the family clan that the First Elder was from right in front of him, was usually a death sentence for anyone. However, the elderly man did not mind Lady Seph’s harsh words.
“I see… No, I’m grateful. If he stays under your wing, the threats to his life will diminish… As you know, his position in the clan is somewhat problematic.”
Now both the First Elder and Lady Seph looked outside and observed the boy in melancholy.
“Will you tell him?”
After a brief period of silence, Lady Seph asked him those four words. There was no need to elaborate on the details as both parties knew well enough what the woman was referring to.
“I’ll let the heavens decide…”
Puckering his lips, the First Elder’s eyes began to twitch as he thought of past events.