‘I’m the heir apparent to the Awter Clan?!’ Shin yelled out in his mind. He was unable to process the stunning information that had been given to him.
“Young master. The fact that you had awakened The Sovereign Koi is the best proof of your identity. Based on Junius’ recollections, that bastard Ash tried to kill you after your Spirit Awakening Ceremony right? That’s because he found out who you really were!!!” Gritting his teeth in frustration, Vellan hollered out, frustrated that he wasn’t there to protect the last bloodline of his Clan Master.
“But… But…” All of a sudden, many things that didn’t make sense before started to clear. The reason why the Second Elder hated the orphans. The reason why many adults from the Frie Clan avoided him. The reason why he was exiled. As it turned out, he was the sole heir of the Awter Clan that the Frie Clan sought to destroy.
“Then… Why did the Frie Clan pick us all up? Why did the Frie Clan go into battle with the Awter Clan? What the hell is going on?!” As his mind begun to implode, Shin uttered out various questions.
“I’ll explain it all to you, young master… The Frie Clan and the Awter Clan had their differences in the past. However, their relationship was mostly cordial. In fact, there were even talks of making an alliance so that the two clans could share the mutual benefits of dominating the western region.” Vellan patiently explained.
At that moment, a fragrant aroma permeated through the empty hallways and into the noses of Shin and the others in the room. Shia had returned with a pot full of aromatic tea and handed the teacups over to her fellow clan mates. Knowing that Shin was still rather weak, the young woman attempted to assist Shin with his drinking, but she was stopped by his unwilling glare.
“Later…” Shin sharply blurted out. He hadn’t recognised them as trustworthy allies and would much rather protect himself from any impurities that might have been added to his drink.
“Ah! Thank you, Shia… Young master, there’s no need to worry. We wouldn’t dare to spike your drink…” Sensing the fear that Shin had, Vellan assured him that the tea was safe to drink.
“Please continue… What happened next? Why did the Frie Clan fall out with the Awter Clan?” Shin simply brushed off the bulky man’s words as he pushed to find out more.
“As I explained, the western region of the Himmel Empire is quite bare. There is no strategic importance here, as the Kori Federation was up north and the Lantis Republic was to the east. Additionally, the Uncharted Wilderness had been tame throughout the years, never causing unnecessary trouble for the Himmel Empire. Therefore, not many notable and powerful clans chose to set up their headquarters here, with the Frie and the Awter being the most prominent.” After exhaling a deep sigh, Vellan continued on his story.
“Over the years, the Frie Clan started to have disputes with the Awter Clan. No one really remembers who fired the first shot, but from then on, the Frie Clan basically cut all ties with the Awter Clan and our relationship had turned sour. That was about three hundred years ago. As the years gone by, minor clashes became a staple of our strained relationships, with many of our brethren getting injured. Nonetheless, the higher-ups of both clans knew that a war between them would cause needless bloodshed and therefore, often times the battles would remain as minor scuffles that didn’t claim any lives. However, there was still mutual hatred that remained.” Recalling the days where he and his buddies cursed the Frie Clan during his training years, Vellan groaned.
“Still, peaceful times can never last… One day, during an expedition by the Awter Clan, we found something that every single person, clan and country lusted for. We found an aether crystal mine…”
“…” Shin’s eyes widened as he could guess where the conversation was headed towards. In recent years, as the world became more modernised, the reliance on aether crystals had started to mount. Unfortunately, due to their scarcity, the prices of those precious jewels were sky-high, and anyone who owned a mine would undoubtedly be one of the richest in the land. In fact, the fight for Yara Pass, which was the battle that made Lady Seph famous, was a battle fought between the Kori Federation and the Himmel Empire on who got to own the newly discovered aether mine.
“But there was one problem. We had found the mine, but it was within the borders of the Frie Clan’s territory. However, it was really just at the border. If we drew the borderline just two kilometres the other way, the mine would undoubtedly be part of our territory. Moments after our discovery, the Frie Clan too discovered the mine after monitoring our scouts and scurried to claim it for its own. Furious, our Clan Master, your father, brought troops over to the aether mine to obtain it for our clan. After all, we had found it first. As you could expect, the Frie Clan wasn’t so thrilled about our arrangement and brought fighters of their own. From there, a disgustingly long battle ensued, and both sides suffered severe injuries.”
“Realising that the dispute was unresolvable by their own means, both clans went to the Empire to help adjudicate who had sovereign claim over the mine. I remember the hope that your father had when he suggested we took it to the government. He held an amazing faith that the courts would do the Awter Clan justice.” Tears began dripping down Vellan’s rugged face as he recollected the optimistic face of his now deceased Clan Master.
“…” Shin gulped down a mouthful of saliva when Vellan brought up his father. Believing that he had no parents his entire life, Shin couldn’t help but wonder what kind of people his parents really were.
“He held so much faith… Yet, the courts betrayed him. Questioning where the loyalties of the Awter Clan lay, the judge awarded the aether crystal mine to the Frie Clan. The government believed that if we claimed the aether crystal mines as our own, we would sell it all to the Lantis Republic, the superpower that directly rivalled their own powers. How would we dare? The Himmel Empire was our home! Why would we threaten it by selling the aether crystals to others?!” Getting emotional, Vellan slammed his fist onto the bed that Shin was sitting on.
One could see the logic behind the judge’s reasoning of awarding the mine to the Frie Clan. The Frie Clan had a long history with the Empire, and they were true patriots when it came to defending their nation. Whenever the Imperial family needed their assistance, the Frie Clan would throw their entire army of Spirit Users to assist the empire. On the other hand, the Awter Clan was a relatively newly established clan that had ambiguous ties to the Lantis Republic. Especially in recent years, where the Longyu Clan had attempted to patch relations with Awter Clan, hoping to bring back some of the Spirit Users that awakened The Sovereign Koi.
“Pissed off by the verdict, our Clan Master demanded that a portion of the aether crystals go to our clan, but the Frie Clan Master refused! From there on, the conflict had escalated into a full-fledged war where all of our bottled up grievances over the years burst forth. Not only did the Frie Clan steal a good source of our income, but they had also caused trouble with our clan multiple times before!”
“The war raged on for years upon years. There were times where we could have won, and there were times where they could have won. Ultimately, because our powers were about equally matched, the battles became more and more frantic and bloody. Dozens of corpses were being wheelbarrowed back, and many families have ripped apart. On both sides, the fatalities were enormous. Since it was a dispute between two family clans, it was not convenient for the government to intervene, but deep down we knew, the Himmel Empire had been sending aid to the Frie Clan…” At this point, Vellan could hold back no longer, and he hollered out in rage. The other Awter Clan survivors similarly gritted their teeth until their jaw started to hurt. The memory of the dreadful battle was too painful to bear.
“Outgunned, outnumbered and weakened, as much as he didn’t want to, the Clan Master turned to the only hope that we had left. We had requested help from the Longyu Clan. Naturally, we didn’t want to make it into an international affair, as we still believed that we were part of the Himmel Empire. However, our backs were up against the ropes. The Longyu Clan was one of the eight ancestor clans of the Lantis Republic, and their powers were unfathomable. If they agreed to save us, even ten thousand Frie Clans wouldn’t be able to take us down.”
“Unfortunately, the Longyu Clan was stopped in their tracks by the Himmel Empire. The Imperial family believed that should they allow troops from the Lantis Republic to march all the way to their western borders, the consequences would be dire. Once that had happened, the fate of the Awter Clan was sealed. We were headed to oblivion.” Vellan mournfully cried out.
“The Frie Clan members were savages. The killed and they burnt. They killed, and they burnt. Everything that we once held dear had been burnt into crisps. Even blood that flowed down the battlefield had evaporated instantly due to the intense heat. Forcing all of our troops back into Awter Lake, the Frie Clan was planning to annihilate us entirely. To them, we were just pigs in the slaughterhouse waiting to be served…”
“Only a few were lucky enough to avoid the massacre. Or should I say unfortunate? Up till this day, I have been plagued with nightmares about the end of our clan. I would see the memory of my brothers and sisters perishing in flames. And it’s all the fault of that fucking Frie Clan. If I had the choice, I would torture every single soul on that bloody mountain to appease my deceased brethren.” Vellan’s face turned vermillion as he recounted his hate for the Frie Clan.
“Those of us that survived wandered through the Himmel Empire, living aimless lives while cursing our own fate. However, one day everything changed. An ethereal voice, one of the likes that we had never experienced before, beckoned to us. He promised us vengeance. He promised us that we could restore the Awter Clan back to its glory days. He promised us power.” As he said those words, Vellan laughed hysterically, like a crazed evangelist that was preaching the teachings of his religion maniacally.
“W-Who is it?” Shin unconsciously asked.
“The leader of our organisation, the one above all! The Allfather! His powers know no limit! His virtue is as boundless as the oceans! Young master, once you feel his energy and get baptised in it, I can confirm that the Awter Clan will rise again!”
“Junius?” Feeling threatened by the sudden change in the attitude of Vellan, Shin turned to the only person he trusted in the room.
“Shin, we can trust the Allfather. I had personally experienced his power, and I know that with it, we can easily trample the Frie Clan and save our trapped family. Lily, Ryner, Lia, Ella and Emma. The Awter Clan will be reunited!”
“Junius…” Sensing that his elder brother had undergone some sort of drastic change, Shin grimaced in disgust as he unwittingly backed away.
Before Shin could gather his thoughts to ask another question, hurried footsteps could be heard rushing from the outside of the cabin. In just a few moments, yet another individual appeared in the crowded master bedroom that Shin was staying in.
“Fendry! I thought I said not to disturb me when I’m in the cabin!” Vellan snapped at the newcomer, forcing him to cower in fear.
“I-I-I know, senior! I’m sorry to disturb you during your private time but there is an emergency, and I have been told to inform you immediately!” Shivering and shuttering, the young man fearfully told the raging muscular man.
“Hmmm… Fine! Young master, please rest well for the time being. Shia will be staying by your side to cater to your needs. I will be right back after I’m done with my chores.”
“Wait, I’m to remain here?! Can’t I go outside?!” Shin retorted.
“No. It’s no longer safe. We can’t have you disappearing on our watch, young master. Not to worry, it is only temporary. Once everything is sorted out, and you’re inducted into our organisation, we can let you roam free.”
“So I’m to stay here indefinitely?! What about my Master? My friends? My…” Shin stopped abruptly as Ariel’s name hung on the tip of his tongue. He had just learnt that the Frie Clan had massacred his family. Could he truly be in a relationship with someone from that dreaded clan?
“Young master… You will come to your senses soon enough. There’s no need for all of them when you have your family. You must be tired. After all, you need to process all the information I had just given you. If you have anything to ask, Shia will be with you. Now, would you pardon me? I require to go back to work.” Bowing respectfully to Shin, Vellan gestured to his followers to leave the room.
“Shin, I will be back soon. At that time, we can talk more in detail.” Junius flashed a smile at his younger brother before leaving the room and closing the door behind him.
‘Arghhhh!!! What the hell is going on?!’ Shin’s mind was about to burst. As it turned out, he was not an orphan and was part of the Awter Clan that was destroyed by the Frie Clan. The very same clan that had raised him since he could remember had annihilated his biological clan, and the remnants of the clan had joined up with an infamous criminal syndicate that was planning to retaliate against the Frie Clan.
Turning his head, Shin stared at the only remaining person in the room. The light blue haired woman smiled joyfully at her young master, as if unaffected by his perturbed mental state.
‘Urghhh!!! Someone wake me up from this nightmare!!!’