“G-gawil… I thought you returned home…”
The store manager’s mouth shivered uncontrollably as he tried to form words. Meeting the broken-down man, who dressed like an impoverished beggar, once more greatly frightened him. The last time he saw Gawil, his boss, Andrew Watkin, was still alive and had just celebrated the opening of a branch store.
Back then, Gawil was a valiant and robust young man, who had plenty to be proud of. With his Rank 27 Spirit Core cultivation level, Gawil was definitely one of the elites in the waypoint. Thus, when the store manager saw how decrepit and haggard he was, he could not help but wonder the pains that the young man had went through.
“Manald… Do you think I still have a home to return to?”
Looking up at the ceiling, Gawil let his mind wander as he said those words. He remembered the beautiful open fields and the verdant trees that surrounded his humble little village. Children from that small town would run down to the nearby waterfall pool to play while their mothers would be nearby, doing their laundry while supervising them.
The majority of Gawil’s best and most pleasant memories was from that modest village which had next to nothing to offer. As he continued down memory lane, he saw a feminine figure beckoning him from the background of his unassuming abode. The woman was not the prettiest, nor did she boast the perfect proportions desired in a lady, but whenever Gawil saw her, a warm feeling filled his heart.
However, all of a sudden, he saw the woman fading away bit by bit. No matter how much he called out for her, she would not turn back. Knowing that it was inevitable, Gawil grasped his chest letting down an outpour of tears.
“That bastard Andrew took everything from me, Manald… HE TOOK EVERYTHING!!!”
Getting agitated, Gawil hollered out at the top of his lungs, gaining the attention of Shin and Ariel, who were still at the gomushin section. Curious about the commotion, the duo slowly put down their bags and plodded over.
“Y-you… D-don’t tell me you actually…”
In truth, when the news broke that Andrew Watkin was brutally mutilated, Manald had his suspicions about Gawil being the murderer. Nevertheless, it was just speculations, and he hoped that the man did not really do it.
“Yes, I did… I brutally stabbed him in the throat and heart multiple times. Even when he begged and begged, I did not stop. And you know what, after he knew that he was not going to escape, that fat bastard returned back to his incorrigible self…”
After saying so many words, Gawil felt a sharp pain reverberating through his body. He felt that his lungs had caught on fire and unable to control himself, he coughed out thrice spewing red fluids everywhere. Using his right hand, Gawil repeatedly beat his own chest to quell the pain.
“Fourth time today… Do you know what his final words were? I curse you, I curse you to hell! Curse me?! What he did to me?! Even on his deathbed, he was unapologetic. Do you really think that such a person deserves to live in the light for another day?!”
The store manager kept quiet and listened carefully to Gawil’s rants. Mostly because he was too terrified of the battered man’s strength. Manald was just a mere commoner, who had not even got the chance to awaken his Spirit. Although Gawil seemed to be in a weakened state, the store manager was not willing to take the opportunity.
“Manald, you know what people call me now?”
Containing his internal injuries for a short moment, Gawil leaned on a nearby pole and weakly addressed the store manager.
“They call me the Watkin Murderer… Even if I pass, that will be what my legacy amounts to. Just a random man who killed Andrew Watkin. Don’t you find it laughable?”
Taking off the grey robe that he used to conceal himself, Gawil laughed bitterly. He had wished to take revenge on Andrew Watkin for robbing his life, but now, his very own identity was tied to Watkin’s. Gnawing his teeth in frustration, the resentful man threw the tattered grey coat away revealing his pathetic state.
His sole shirt had been ripped from side to side and had turned brown from excess exposure to sewage water. At the left side of his stomach, there was an immense swelling that had spread to his chest and crotch. With broken fingernails and yellowed out skin, the man looked like more of a beast than a human.
“So, before I go down in flames, let me trash this store. The store he held so dearly his entire life!!!”
The Watkin Shoebox was the first ever shop that Andrew Watkin had ever opened. Treating the store as if it were his own child, Andrew had placed a tremendous amount of emphasis on maintaining it even if the store was not generating enough money.
When Andrew Watkin passed away, his wife and other family members wrestled to split his estate and thus forming rifts in each one of his multiple stores. The Watkin Shoebox was no exception. Additionally, many customers started to avoid stores founded by the merchant, hence forcing many of them to shut down. Manald was one of Andrew Wakin’s most trusted aides and was given the Watkin Shoebox to manage.
“Gawil! Don’t do this, master Watkin is already dead! You have got your wish!”
Trying his best to dissuade the aggravated man, the store manager attempted to protect the one keepsake that was passed down onto him.
“SHUT UP! WHAT DO YOU KNOW?!?!”
Gawil’s veins started to pop as he bawled out in displeasure. All of a sudden, a dense, invisible pressure mounted onto everyone inside the store. Falling to their knees, Shin, Ariel and the store manager attempted to combat the force but to no avail. The two ten-year-olds were much better off compared to the poor manager though. Being far away from Gawil and Rank 2 Spirit Practitioners, they could still manage to breathe comfortably. Manald, on the other hand, was just a commoner with no spirit cultivation. If the enraged man wished for it, he could easily crush the poor man.
Shin asked Ariel with a little trepidation in his tone.
“It’s spiritual pressure. This is going to be troublesome… The man is at least at the Spirit Core realm.”
“At least… Once a Spirit User compresses his Spirit into his body to form a Spirit Core, he would be able to use spiritual pressure to weaken his enemies. Judging from the power of his pressure, he shouldn’t be a Rank 30 Spirit Adept, but nonetheless, the fact that he could form his Spirit Core means that he won’t be an easy opponent.”
Ariel calmly broke down the strengths of the decrepit man who was gathering mana at an astonishing rate. She had plenty of experience fighting Spirit Users that were well above her level and hence was able to accurately deduce her opponent’s strength.
While Ariel was thinking of the best way to escape from this predicament, Shin’s eyes were glued to the man’s injuries.
“Yellowed skin, inflamed swellings, coughing out blood… Where have I read about this before?”
Shin thought back on the numerous medical journals that Lady Seph had forced him to read for the past few days. The symptoms were familiar to him, and he swore that he had seen them in a book before.
Seeing that Shin had gone silent, Ariel asked the youth who was lost in his thoughts.
“I know!!! He probably has acute Amcinoma!”
From the depths of his mind, he managed to pull out a name that matched all of the man’s symptoms.
“Huh? What’s that?”
“Ermmm, how do I put it… He has a severe wound on his left stomach right?”
Pointing to the Gawil’s injury, Shin attempted to explain the man’s condition.
“Yeah, what about it?”
“It has been infected. And given the size of the infection, I assume he was unable to get it treated. His right eye has lost its light, and his skin had turned yellow. Coughing out blood is a sign of lung infection which is a classical case amongst patients who have Amcinoma!”
Excited that he was able to use the vast amount of knowledge that he had learned to good use, Shin patiently explained to Ariel.
“I see, so he is currently sick?”
“Not just sick, extremely sick. Given how bad the infection looks, the man must be in significant pain. I’m surprised to see him able to walk actually. From what I’ve read, people who catch acute Amcinoma usually won’t be able to move, due to how painful the whole ordeal is.”
“Good, that means we have a chance to bring him down!”
“Why do I feel like you’re getting pumped up?”
Shin shook his head once he saw Ariel’s flushed expression.
“Don’t worry, follow my lead!”
Gathering her mana, a red light began to shine from the crown of Ariel’s head. The next instant, a black Warhammer, with primal crimson markings formed in the delicate hands of the little red-haired she-devil as an impish smile crept up her face.
Similarly, Shin mentally chanted the Celestial Water Mantra and summoned out the cute little cerulean Koi.