As Shin and Junius bade their final farewells, two figures could be seen in the distance observing their interactions. One of them was a middle-aged brunette lady with shoulder-length hair. She soft sigh escaped from her mouth as she saw the lovely and innocent relationships that the children shared. It pained her that she had to separate the duo from their friends, but it was not her choice.
“Ines, what’s wrong?”
Noticing the despondent reaction from his partner, the muscular, broad-shouldered man worriedly asked Ines.
“Lou… I just feel bad for them. They are just kids and must deal with this kind of parting so early on in their lives…”
The woman scratched the back of her head as she showed her concern for the orphans. Being part of the Frie Clan that had entered multiple battles over the years, she had become accustomed to partings and loved ones leaving. But she had never had to deal with farewells at such a young age. Furthermore, once Shin and Junius went, who knows when they would be allowed back into the clan. By the time the First Elder and Second Elder settle their differences, the duo would have long become adults.
The Instructor stroked his beard as he heard Ines’ statement. He shared her sentiment. Having Junius and Shin leave the clan at a young age might be detrimental to their development. The best time for a Spirit User to develop was during their adolescent age. With proper instruction, a stable foundation could be built and thus secure their future cultivation path. Hence, the Instructor felt that without his tutoring and the optimal conditions of Frie Mountain, the duo would be stifled in their training.
Only when the First Elder detailed out his plan for Shin and Junius did the Instructor agree with the decision. Even then, he felt bitter that they were effectively chasing out two of the Frie Clan’s most exceptional young talents.
“I know… But this is for their sake. If that bastard Second Elder were not so despicable and stubborn, we wouldn’t have to do this.”
“Watch what you say, Lou… The walls have ears.”
Ines placed her index finger on her rosy lips as her eyes moved to the other Frie Clan members loading items into the carriages. She agreed with the Instructor that the Second Elder was the cause of the problems they were facing. However, using such colourful language to berate the Second Elder in public could get them into trouble. No matter how hateful he was, the Second Elder has always served the Frie Clan well and commanded large amounts of respect on the mountain.
“I know… A slip of the tongue.”
Instantly lowering his volume such that only Ines could hear him, the Instructor pouted in dissatisfaction. It was the Second Elder who had forced this situation, and he could not publicly fight back due to the official statement made by the Frie Clan. He understood that the peace in the clan should not be easily broken but the Second Elder had clearly instigated an assassination attempt on Shin. In the process, Junius got severely injured and wound up close to death. And all the Second Elder got was a suspension of his title? At his level, that title meant little to him. He still controlled a large part of the Frie Clan, and the title was just a name for the old man.
The Instructor was forced to stomach his belly of hate, and that made him sick. His beloved student nearly died and was forced out of the mountain for doing nothing but protecting his junior.
“Glad that you know… So what are you going to do? Are you staying at Chilyoja Waypoint with the two or are you going to leave them there alone?”
Ines asked a question that had caused headaches for the Instructor for the past few days. His heart gravitated towards staying with Junius, but he couldn’t forgo his responsibilities to the other orphans. The Instructor wasn’t worried about Shin as he would have the guidance of the illustrious Lady Seph, whose cultivation trumped his own. However, Junius would only be assigned to the Mayor’s office. Unless the Mayor taught Junius, it was highly unlikely that the youth would get a capable teacher.
“I really want to remain there with them… But I have nine other students to worry about.”
In the end, the Instructor placed the well-being of his other pupils above his favourite one. Thankfully, Junius has already reached the Spirit Apostle level, and his cultivation is somewhat fixed until he reached Rank 19. Additionally, it was not as if the Instructor would never see Junius again. Every once in a while, he would visit the youth to follow up on his training.
“Yeah, that’s for the best…”
Ines squinted her eyes in gloom as she heard the Instructor words. She was very clear how much he cared for Junius and how hard it was for him to come to that decision.
“Hopefully, there is someone in Chilyoja Waypoint that can guide Junius…”
“Oh ho, you’re content with someone stealing away your precious student?”
“Hahaha! If he meets a better teacher than me, why not? But I doubt that’s possible. There’s no better teacher than me!”
“Wow, such confidence.”
Ines rolled her eyes at the Instructor’s shameless declaration.
“It’s about time…”
The convoy was set to depart at noon once all the vehicles were fully loaded up. The Instructor and Ines purposely slowed down the process so that the orphans would have more time to say their goodbyes. The trip to Chilyoja Waypoint would take about half a day. Hence, there was no rush for them to leave.
“Alright, time for the bitter farewells to come to an end.”
A lean man loaded the last carton of goods into the carriage and gave the Instructor a thumbs up. It meant that the caravan was ready for departure.
“Junius, Shin. It’s time to go…”
The Instructor trudged towards the youths to notify them that they were about to leave.
Shin took one last look at the north gate, his eyes dreary and mouth shivering. The Frie Clan had been his entire life. He had never stepped out of the clan and knew no one outside of the mountain. All his precious memories and most beloved friends stayed in the clan. Now that he was leaving it, he felt a surge of anxiety and powerlessness. Humans always feared the unknown. To Shin, anything outside of the clan was the unknown.
“It’s okay, I’m here…”
Noticing his younger brother’s state of panic, Junius reached out from his wheelchair and held Shin’s hand. No matter how mature he seemed, Shin was still a ten-year-old orphan.
“Yeah, you are…”
Junius’ hand managed to calm Shin down a little.
“Lily, you can stop now, Shin will take over.”
Glancing behind his chair, Junius pushed the girl who had been with him the entire day away. Since he was still in a wheelchair, he required someone to physically push him around.
But Lily stood still silently, as if in deep contemplation.
“Junius, what would you do if a random girl over there hits on you?”
Once he heard Lily’s comment and stern expression, Junius’ mouth failed to form words.
“Huh?! What’s with that reply?”
“N…no! I mean why would you think that?”
“Hmph! I’m sure you’ll jump at a chance to get a girlfriend!”
“No! Why would I do that?”
“Just a hunch… So, to prevent that from happening…”
Seeing that Junius was still in a stunned state and unable to move, Lily bent down rapidly. All that Junius could see was a beautiful face, free of any acne, coming straight for him. The next second, he felt a soft peck on his right cheek. Lily had kissed Junius.
“I have to place a charm…”
Smiling triumphantly like she had accomplished a momentous task, Lily straightened her back and giggled lovingly. Since Junius was about to leave, she decided to be more forward with her feelings. She had always admired Junius since they were young. Being the reliable senior who was always present to protect the other orphans, Lily slowly developed a dependency on Junius. Eventually, those feelings evolved into something much more profound than a regular senior-junior affection.
But she hid those feelings in fear of being rejected. After all, Junius might only see her as a junior or little sister. However, now that the youth was leaving, Lily wanted to affirm their relationship.
Junius placed his left hand on his cheek and struggled to speak after Lily’s action.
The Instructor whistled with a dirty smile. Recently, he had seen how much Lily was concerned with Junius and knew that one day, their relationship would develop beyond just friends. He just didn’t expect it to come so soon.
Ines similarly smiled teasingly. After her actions, Lily had deeply imprinted herself into the middle-aged woman’s mind.
Shin’s mouth opened wide enough for an apple to fit through. The other orphans had equivalent expressions. Even Ariel dropped her jaw at her friend’s actions.
The only thing that remained of the scene was Lily’s gleeful chuckle.