As the man sitting on top of the Shuthe Serpent saw the sweet, milky face of the young woman, he felt a warm, affectionate feeling rise up in his chest. Hewla’s perfectly straight long hair covered her cheeks, hiding the round and chubby face of hers. Apparently, the woman had a small complex about how full-figured she was and tried her best to conceal her excess fat.
Gawil always frowned upon her overly conscious nature as he believed that she was perfect the way she was. However, Hewla always put her husband’s words on deaf ear. Nonetheless, the two lovebirds would always make up after serious fights, showing how much they cared for one another.
“Hewla! I’m home!”
Descending from the corpse of the Shuthe Serpent, Gawil immediately rushed over to his precious wife. Stoking her smooth face, the man rubbed off the beautiful tears that dripped down her cheeks. After leaving for an entire day, he couldn’t begin to imagine the amount of worry he made his wife go through.
“You bastard… You’re late!”
Lightly admonishing Gawil, Hewla used her fists to softly tap her husband’s chest. Although she had seen him off for many hunting trips, Gawil had never faced a beast that was as dangerous as the Shuthe Serpent. Hence, when the expedition was running a little late, her imagination ran wild as she feared the worst.
“I’m sorry… The Shuthe Serpent was much more elusive than we thought. It took a while for us to really locate it.”
Lovingly caressing Hewla’s fragrant head, Gawil’s fingers reached her nape and begun to massage it. Whenever his wife was feeling tense or stressed, he would produce this manoeuvre to calm her, and it worked every single time. Feeling intoxicated by her husband’s care, Hewla seemed to have melted as she entrusted her body to Gawil. Taking advantage of her delirious state, Gawil moved his fingers from her nape and gently raised her chin upwards. Bringing his lips closer, the man went straight for her unprotected, cherry red lips.
“Hey! Not here!”
Figuring out what her husband was trying to do, Hewla brought up her hand and pushed the oily face that was rapidly closing in on her.
“Come on! I just fought hard for our village! Shouldn’t I get a reward?”
“Not in front of everyone! My grandmother is here too!”
“Then we should show her how loving we are!”
As everyone saw how Gawil and Hewla were behaving, the villagers gathered there started to nod their heads in approval. As the village head’s only son and the village elder’s only granddaughter, the couple were like celebrities in their little community. When they had their wedding ceremony three years ago, every single soul attended and watched them become united in matrimonial bliss.
“Hahahaha! I know that you guys are a loving couple, but do it somewhere where I can’t see it!”
A brawny man approached the duo from behind the carriage. Stroking his unkempt beard, Bawil teased his son and daughter-in-law making Hewla face turn as red as a tomato.
“Father! If that’s the case, may I return home with Hewla?”
Gawil’s grasp on his wife’s hands became tighter as he impatiently asked his father if he could leave.
“Of course! Go and make some grandchildren for me!”
At his words, Hewla was unable to endure the teasing anymore and helplessly blurted out. Although she had been subject to such teasing many times before, they were currently in the presence of every single villager.
“Hahaha! Oops, looks like crossed some sort of line! Gawil, you don’t have to stay for the dismantling of the beast. However, I do need you to report to me tomorrow morn… Wait, scratch that, tomorrow afternoon! Take your time tonight!”
Ever since Gawil married Hewla and broke through into the Spirit Core realm, Bawil had thrown away his stoic demeanour and replaced it with the loving father behaviour. After all, if all went well, Gawil would inherit his place as village head, and he would eventually retire will a hall full of grandchildren.
“Understood! Leave it to me!”
Elated by his father’s approval, Gawil gave him a thumbs up while embracing his flustered wife’s waist.
“What am I to do with the two of you…”
Putting her palm on her forehead, Hewla let Gawil drag her off while the rest of the villagers smiled at their bliss.
The next day, after a rough, sleepless night, Gawil unwillingly trudged out of his humble abode and headed to the house of the village head. After marrying Hewla, the couple had been allocated a place on their own by Bawil so that they could experience life together. In the future, when Gawil inherits the position of the village head, they would not be able to spend as much time as they could now. Thus, Bawil tried not to overwork his son too much.
“Ahhhh… Morning, father…”
Stretching his arms as he yawned, Gawil entered his father’s office while trying to keep himself awake.
“It nearly noon, Gawil… I assumed you had fun last night?”
“That’s not something you should ask your son!”
“Then I’ll ask you as a fellow married man.”
“Just shut up!”
Sitting in front of his desk, Gawil poured himself a cup of tea while striking up a conversation with his father.
“Hahaha, judging from your ghastly face, I presume that my long-awaited grandchild will be arriving soon!”
“Just get to business!”
“Alright then! Gawil, you’re performance when hunting the Shuthe Serpent was exemplary. I believe no time you will be able to surpass me!”
Reclining back in his chair Bawil praised his son with a broad, proud grin on his face.
“Is that why you called me here? Just to praise me?”
“Of course not! Gawil… One day you will become a great Spirit User, perhaps you might even become strong enough to contend with those great family clans of the Himmel Empire! So, before I transfer my position to you, I want you to inherit my dream…”
Confused by his father’s words, Gawil probed a little.
“Gawil… Are you content with the way the village currently is? Working day and night on the cotton plantation for a little produce and selling it for a marginal profit? Sending the able-bodied men to become hunters so that we can feast on meat once a fortnight?”
Hearing his father question the village’s way of life, Gawil frowned a little. He had been living the same lifestyle for his entire life, and now suddenly, his father was saying that he was unsatisfied with it.
“There’s no way you are content! The world is vast and much bigger than this small village! Primordial beasts roam the continent and the sea while Rank 90 Spirit Saints, who can bring a nation to its knees, rule every living person! My talent is unable to even dream about reaching their level, but I believe you can!”
“Of course! And when you do reach that level, every single soul in the empire would remember your name! Our name! The Jefferson name!”
Bawil fervently exclaimed.
“My son… Your useless father had always dreamed of leaving a mark in history. Unfortunately, my talent has always been lacking; but the heavens have not abandoned me! They sent me you…”
Worried that his father was beating himself too much, Gawil attempted to stop Bawil from speaking any further. However, the village head raised his hand to stop his son.
“Even in my old age, I can’t see myself progressing any further in my cultivation. So I had diverted all my attention to easing your future path. Our village harvests cotton at an astonishing rate. By using that as a bargaining chip, I had invited a wealthy fabric merchant who is living nearby, to visit our village.”
“Today he’ll be coming over to inspect the plantations. I hope that you could meet him. After all, you two will be interacting much more in the future. Put on your best behaviour though… The man owns one of the largest fabric business in our area. A large majority of shoes, clothes and other apparel are made by his companies.”
“Remember son, this is just a stepping stone for us! Once our partnership with the merchant takes off, we will be able to earn much more money than we are earning now! With that added cash reserves, we can purchase the best cultivation manuals for you, and perhaps even send you to those expensive sects!”
As Bawil continued to share his dreams, a knock on the door could be heard.
“Village head, your visitor has arrived.”
An attendant informed the Bawil of the arrival of his guest. Getting up from his chair, the village head dusted off his robes and gently combed his hair.
“Send him in!”
After a few short seconds, heavy footsteps could be heard closing in from a distance. Giving his son a wry smile, Bawil prepared himself to receive the guest that he was anticipating. The bamboo door creaked open as a large, obese man appeared in the hallway. Gawil’s eyes opened up in shock after seeing how large the man was. Perhaps it was due to the living conditions in the village, people that fat were hard to find. Wearing a luxurious green robe, the man unfolded his paper fan as he walked into the office. Squinting his eyes the man scanned his surroundings first before turning his attention to the two men in front of him.
“Good afternoon, my name is Andrew Watkin.”
It was the first fateful encounter of Gawil Jefferson and Andrew Watkin.