While the two elderly folks were chatting about Shin’s future, the boy in question was busy entertaining his training partner. Curious about how his fellow orphans were doing, Shin asked all the questions that were plaguing him since leaving the mountain.
“Did anyone from the Second Elder’s faction cause any disturbances?”
Hugging his knees while sitting atop a bench, the black-haired boy worriedly inquired if there had been any disruptions in the orphan’s abode. Although Ariel did not live with Emma, Elyse and the rest of the orphans, she was very close with all of them and often visited their dwellings.
“No… Ever since you and brother Junius left the clan, there has not been any movements from the youth division of the Second Elder.”
Ariel had long heard about how the Second Elder picks on the orphans. She remembered the day when Lily complained to her about Leon and Linus barging into their courtyard, initiating a sparring session with Shin. However, oddly enough, after the Second Elder received the punishment that the Clan Master meted out, he had become somewhat reserved with his actions.
“I see, that’s good… Is Elyse still sad that I left?”
“Well, yeah… But she’ll get over it. Oh yeah, you promised to send her sweets right?”
Recalling that the sapphire-haired young girl had constantly reminded her to bring back the candy that Shin had promised her, Ariel brought up the topic.
“Ah! That’s right… I still have to buy them gifts!”
“What?! You have not bought the gifts yet?!”
There were two main reasons why Ariel had come to the waypoint. The first was that she was worried about Shin and wanted to see how he was doing. The second was to be a courier that delivered gifts back to the orphans on the mountain. Hence, hearing that he had forgotten to prepare the gifts, Ariel became slightly miffed.
“Hey! I was swamped alright! There was simply no time to go out and purchase stuff!”
“Yeah, right! I’m sure it just slipped your mind!”
“No! I really… Arghhh… Whatever. I’ll just go buy them now, will that be fine with you?!”
Through years of experience dealing with Ariel, Shin knew that it was better to stop arguing and just let her get her way. Otherwise, a dreadful flying fist would come speeding his way.
“Lady Seph! Can we leave a little earlier? I need to purchase some things…”
Shouting into the clinic, Shin asked for permission to leave.
“Hmmm? Yeah, sure… Why don’t you leave with that little lass over there? I need to have a long chat with Edward…”
The blonde elderly woman’s ears twitched as she heard the young voice. Raising up her bony hands, she shooed them away and proceeded to resume her conversation with the First Elder.
“Ariel, after you guys are done shopping, head straight to the Mushinkei. I’ll meet you there.”
Similarly, the First Elder gestured for them to leave and immediately began discussing matters with Lady Seph.
Gaining their approval, Ariel happily skipped out of the clinic with Shin trudging closely behind. However, before they left, Shin suddenly remembered something vital.
“Damn! I don’t know where in the town to buy souvenirs!”
Other than the first day in Chilyoja Waypoint, Shin had little leisure time to fully explore the populated town. And with all his meals entirely provided for, he had barely touched his monthly stipend.
“What? You’ve been here for so long, and you don’t know where to buy gifts?”
Ariel adorably rolled her eyes as she looked that the poor boy in confusion. The first time she entered the town, she had thoroughly explored all the tourist’s locations and bought a tonne of sweets and clothes. And all of that was done in a single day. Hence, she was taken aback at Shin’s confession.
“I told you, I was busy!”
“Wow, you sure are useless… Whatever, come let me show you the best places in town!”
Putting on her best local tour guide face, Ariel led Shin out of the western ward, where Yakkyoku Clinic was located and headed straight to the heart of the town.
The commercial district was bustling with life as merchants and customers interacted with each other, hoping to get the best deals. Old housewives mingled with young maidens in cosmetics stores while their partners sat in one corner, unhappy that they had become mules for their shopping.
Although the commercial district was a place of business and trade, having that many items together in one spot made a great date spot. Young couples would often stroll down the many shophouses and enjoy each other’s company. Adding to the fact that there were delicious eateries scattered around, it was not a surprise that the commercial district was a place where love blossomed.
And currently, there was a pair of young ten-year-olds wandering down the stone pavements of the district.
“So, what else do you need?”
Cupping her hands behind her back, Ariel twirled around and looked at the black-haired boy, whose hands were full of bags. Like a bull in a wheat field, Shin tried his best to keep up with the nimble girl, who was free of any load.
“Just shoes for Emma… Can’t you help me carry some of these bags?”
“No way!~ Those are your gifts so why should I carry them?”
“Then carry your own bags then!!!”
Shin started to slouch like a hunchback as he exclaimed. While shopping for items, Ariel had purchased an array of cute merchandise and clothes. Hence, around half of the bags that Shin was carrying belonged solely to the little girl, who spent money like water.
“Hey, that’s payment for my services! If not for me, how would you know where to buy all of those. Furthermore, a gentleman should always offer to carry a maiden’s bags!”
“I’m just a kid! Not a gentleman! And you’re no maiden! You’re a…”
“I’m a what?”
Shooting a menacing glare that sent shivers down the boy’s spine, Ariel edged Shin to continue his sentence.
“Hmph, that’s what I thought! Oh, the shoe tailor ahead makes excellent gomushins! I’m sure you can find a great one for Emma!”
Merrily skipping away, Ariel headed straight to the storehouse right in front of the duo. The wooden entrance was merely decorated with carvings of an assortment of women’s apparel. Boots, sandals, gloves and many other drawings gave customers a sneak peek on what the store has to offer.
Sighing heavily, Shin lifted up the multitude of bags that he laid on the floor and struggled his way into the store.
At the same time when Shin and Ariel started their shopping spree, in the filthy sewers of the commercial district, a lonesome brooding figure sat in a miniature hut formed with leftover sticks and straw. Every few seconds, the man would let out a few coughs, shaking the structure that he built and threatening to collapse it. His clothing had been viciously torn, leaving large patches of exposed skin to the repugnant sewage water.
Groaning in agony, the man applied pressure to the left side of his stomach, attempting to quell the pain. Unfortunately, the swelling had reached an extreme point. Days of leaving the wound untreated had caused the infection in the man’s body to spread to other areas. Now, for the man, there was virtually not a single cell that didn’t hurt.
“Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! DAMN IT! DAMN IT! DAMN IT! DAMN IT! DAMN IT! DAMN IT! DAMN IT! DAMN IT! DAMN IT! DAMN IT! DAMN IT! DAMN IT! DAMN IT! DAMN IT! DAMN IT! DAMN IT!”
Repeating curses like a chant, the man with pale white hair, tried to roll around but every time his exposed skin touched the cold, contaminated water, a new wave of pain surged through his body. Coughing uncontrollably, the man brought up a piece of torn cloth from his robe and covered his mouth.
Pumping his chest repeatedly, he managed to contain the coughing for a while. As he thought the worst was over, the man tasted iron in his mouth as red fluids started spewing out from the cloth that was on his mouth.
“Third time today…”
Crumpling the cloth, tainted in his own blood, the man gritted his teeth in anger. He was no moron. The fact that he was showing all these symptoms meant one thing. His days were numbered.
“Fuck that Andrew Watkin!!! Even in death, he’s causing me so much trouble!”
Since he murdered the wealthy merchant, the man had been on the run, trying his best to evade law enforcement. Sadly, the security in the town was too tight. And with his severe injuries, it was extremely hard for him to escape, even with his Spirit Core cultivation level.
“Looks like I’m not going to survive… Andrew, oh Andrew… If I’m going to die, I’ll bring down everything you hold dear!!!”
Finding his final resolve, the damaged man slowly got up from his makeshift home and gradually made his way to the sewer exit.