Taken aback by Gawil’s sudden outburst, Lewis stood up from his crouching position and slowly backed away. One of his eyebrows raised in bewilderment as he remembered that after chasing the man for so long, this was the first time he had heard of the felon’s name. All the while, the constables and the public just referred to him as the Watkin Murderer.
“My… name is g…gawil… Jefferson!”
Huffing and puffing, Gawil tried his best to enunciate his name. However, due to his weakened state, he was unable to clearly say it out loud.
Lady Seph’s frown only grew deeper after seeing how desperate the man was. She clearly understood the amount of pain that he was going through. Just trying to breathe was hard enough and now, he was attempting to shout out his name.
Giving out a big sigh, the elderly woman sent a surge of resplendent golden light straight towards Gawil. As the holy light enveloped him, the decrepit man felt his energy returning to him as he started to stabilise his breathing. Letting himself get drunk in Lady Seph’s power, Gawil felt as if he had entered an ocean of healing water, where every drop of fluid rejuvenated his damaged body.
After a short while, he regained control of his mental functions as he started to become more and more lucid. Looking up at the woman that enabled him to recover, Gawil gave her a slight appreciatory nod and tried to sit upright. Unfortunately for him, he was unable to feel his legs and many parts of his upper body. Hence, he continually collapsed the moment he attempted to get up. Like a toddler learning how to walk, Gawil kept falling much to the annoyance of the constable captain.
“Here! Now can you speak?!”
Picking up Gawil, Lewis rested him up on a nearby shelf and urged him to continue his story. Although he was a hundred per cent sure that the man in front of him killed Andrew Watkin, he didn’t know his motivations for the murder. Was a single man’s homicide plan? Or was he part of a greater group? Lewis wanted to find out.
Gawil replied weakly. With Lady Seph’s added power, he was able to regain a little of his strength.
“Did you kill Andrew Watkin?”
“Yeah, I did…”
“Why did you do so?”
“He deserved to die… That bastard deserved to die…”
Questioning Gawil, Lewis pressed on every single query he had.
“Why did he deserve to die?”
The fat constable captain wanted to push on with the interrogation, but at that time, Gawil’s eyes moved away from the man and gazed a nearby little boy. Standing next to Ariel, who had primarily recovered and was in some sort of stupor, Shin was attentively listening in on the conversation between Lewis and Gawil. Suddenly, he felt the earnest stare of the man who had tried to kill him earlier on.
Becoming the focal point in the room, many of those present wondered why Gawil turned his attention to the black-haired boy. But they didn’t have to wait long to find out the answer.
“You there, what’s your name?”
Gawil affectionately asked Shin. It was strange to see his assailant look at him with kind eyes. Unsure of the man’s motives, Shin just gave his name.
“Shin huh… I see… You reminded me a lot of myself… The look that you had when that little girl was about to die in my grasp… I think you should be able to understand…”
Knocking his head on the wooden stand behind him, Gawil stared into empty space as he said:
“Would you listen to my story?”
In a countryside, where the majority of nature is untouched by human civilisation, it was a small, humble village. Focusing primarily on hunting and farming, the inhabitants of the small town were somewhat withdrawn from society and only mingled with their inner circles. However, even though the villagers had little knowledge of the world surrounding them, they had plenty of awakened Spirit Users. The village head was even a Rank 34 Spirit Adept, who was strong enough to deter bandits from raiding their homes.
And one day, during the Day of Spirits, the very same village head, who was ordinarily stoic and undeterred by his surroundings, was nervously walking around in circles with furrowed brows and a back drenched with cold sweat.
“Bawil! Stop moving about! You’re making me dizzy!”
A middle-aged lady furiously reprimanded her husband. Holding a sewing kit, the woman was in the middle of putting on the final touches on the pouch she was working on. Having the man moving around in circles really distracted her.
“Sorry, my dear… It’s just, Gawil is undergoing his Spirit Awakening as we speak! What if he doesn’t awaken a good Spirit?!”
The village head was extremely nervous because his son was about to undergo the Spirit Awakening ceremony. Although he put on an indifferent expression earlier on when cheering on his son, in front of his beloved wife, he let his feelings burst forth.
“What to do with you… Gawil is your son! Obviously, he would awaken the best Spirit there is! There’s no need to worry!”
“No buts! Now shut it, I’m trying to finish up my gift to Gawil! Go take a walk or something! Stop bothering me!”
Shooing her husband away, the lady picked up her sewing needle and continued to work on her embroidery.
In their village, during the children’s Spirit Awakening ceremony, no one other than the village priest was allowed in the venue. Hence, many of the nervous parents could only patiently wait in their own abodes for their children’s results. An evil thought flashed past Bawil’s mind, thinking that he should just take a small peek at the chambers but he eventually brushed it off. And just as he was about to leave the room, he heard a young, familiar voice.
“Father! Mother! I’m home!”
Even if he was buried alive, Bawil was able to recognise his son’s voice. A ecstatic smile crept up his face as the village head knocked open the door, totally forgetting to put on his dignified demeanour.
“Gawil! Welcome home! So? How did it go?”
In the courtyard, there was a young boy, no older than ten-years-old who had a head full of vibrant brown hair and was a little on the chubby side. His father, the village head, was unable to hide his anticipation and immediately jumped into the topic.
“Perfect! I inherited father’s Blorgte Chameleon!”
With his right hand, he raised his index and middle finger, forming a victory sign.
“Really?! That’s great!!! Hahahaha! You did not let me down, my son!”
If not for his age, Bawil would have loved to grab his little son and hop up and down in ecstasy.
“Yeah! Even Hewla managed to inherit her father’s Spirit!”
“Oh ho… Hewla did huh…”
Thinking of the little girl, who was Gawil’s playmate from young, a mischievous thought emerged in Bawil’s subconscious.
“Thinking about that lass, isn’t she the perfect wife for you?”
“W-what are you talking about father?! We’re not like that!”
At his father’s teasing words, Gawil’s face turned beet red and his throat begun to dry. The little boy had a crush on the girl that was always with him and sometimes imagined that she would become his wife. However, that was all his innocent heart thought of.
“Hahaha! What’s there to be ashamed of? Hewla is the granddaughter of the village elder, and the both of you are talented enough to awaken Spirits. Furthermore, I’ve seen the way she looks at you! Hahaha! It’s settled then! I’ll propose an engagement with the village elder. I’m sure that they will agree!”
Typically, the Bawil would try to retain his leader persona in front of every single one of his village members; but today, he was too happy to bother. Gawil had awakened the Blorgte Chameleon, carrying on his legacy and he had found a prospective wife for his son. It was only a matter of time before he could retire with a room filled with grandchildren.
Gawil embarrassedly tried to protest, but his father’s thoughts were final. Amazingly enough, both the village elder and Hewla were rather fond of the engagement proposal and immediately accepted. However, what it resulted in was two very abashed little children who could barely look each other in the eyes, much to the amusement of their parents.
Fifteen years had passed since Gawil awakened his Spirit. The day to day activities of the village had remained mundane with the farmers working hard on the cotton plantation nearby and hunters bringing back carcasses of meat for the villagers to share. Children would playfully run about while their mothers supervised them from afar. However, the usually busy streets of the village were currently empty as every single soul in the small town were gathered at the large straw entrance.
“Are they here yet?”
“Not yet, I can’t see them!”
“Did something bad happen?”
All the villagers were gossiping while eagerly anticipating the arrival of something. At the forefront of the crowd, there was an elderly woman who had a head full of white hair and a young lady in her twenties. The lady was grasping the hems of her sleeves while biting the lips of her rounded face. Her bright black eyes trembled as she thought of the worst possible outcome worrying the old woman next to her.
“Rest assured Hewla, your husband will return safe and sound. After all, he is the best genius in our village’s history! Furthermore, his father is with him.”
The village elder reached out her hand and grasped her granddaughter’s shivering palms.
“But they are hunting down a Shuthe Serpent! How can I not be worried?!”
Hewla anxiously retorted. A few days ago, hunters from the village sighted a Shuthe Serpent just a few kilometres east from the town. If left alone, the beast, that could easily match a Spirit User in the Spirit Core realm, might make its way into the village and possibly claim some innocent lives. To deter that threat, the village head gathered some of the clan’s best fighters and launched an expedition to hunt the beast.
Gawil, also known as the village’s greatest genius, was also recruited into the expedition. He had reached the Spirit Core realm in thirteen years, smashing his father’s record. And due to his Blorgte Chameleon latent spiritual ability, Gawil was also among the best hunters in the village. Hence, if there was a hunt for a Shuthe Serpent, it was natural for the young man to be recruited.
“Why aren’t they back yet…”
Hewla looked into the sky and wondered about her husband’s safety. The hunters had left the village early that morning. And currently, the sun was about to disappear into the horizon. Every single villager had been camping at the entrance in hopes to see their fighters return safe and sound but since the expedition squad had been gone for an entire day, their imagination started to run wild.
“Look! From the forest!”
At that moment, a large object emerged from the darkness of the woods. Sensing the abnormal item, every single villager turned their attention to it. Gradually rolling out of the verdant woodlands, a large carriage carrying a twenty-metre long snake headed straight towards the village. Atop the snake’s head, there was a valiant young man, leisurely sitting on its crown.
The moment Hewla caught sight of the young man, her eyes began to glisten. Covering her mouth with both her hands, she calmed her beating heart and prevented herself from wheezing. After the anxiety in her heart died down, she put on a radiant smile and called out to the man that she loved.