“Fendry, you better have a good reason for disturbing me!” Once Vellan and the other Awter Clan members left the cabin, the bulky man angrily snapped at the attendant.
“Senior, it truly is urgent news. Do you remember the surveillance team that you sent to Frie Mountain to monitor their movements?” The scrawny man replied to the raging Vellan.
“What about them?”
“They had recently sent word that both the High Elders had left the clan! Right now, there is only one Spirit Emperor manning the mountain!”
“What did you just say?!” Stunned by the new revelation, Vellan hollered out. His subordinates, Junius included, all had eager yet anxious faces as they heard the news.
“Senior! This might be our chance! In all the years of their seclusion, never has there been a situation in which both their High Elder had left the clan unattended! Adding to the fact that our preparations to attack had been long completed, this is our golden opportunity!” One of the surviving Awter Clan members advised.
“That’s right, senior! We still have some surviving Awter Clan members living on top of the mountain. Even if we can’t damage the Frie Clan, we could at least recover Lily and the others!” Junius threw his advice in as well. He had sorely missed his girlfriend over the months that he had gone into self-imposed exile and couldn’t wait to reunite with her.
“Is there any chance that this may be a trap?” Vellan rubbed his chin as he thought out loud. The timings were too convenient for them that he suspected that foul play was involved.
“I doubt so… They don’t even know about our existence yet. Perhaps it’s just our luck?” Fendry tilted his head as he answered his superior’s random babble.
“Yeah… No, you’re right! A chance like this doesn’t come that often! Gather the troops, round up the Spirit Beasts from the Uncharted Wilderness! We have to hurry! Hahaha, such a joyous day this is! We reunited with our young master, and now, there’s a chance to severely cripple the Frie Clan!” Vellan’s laugh bellowed through the remote crevice as he took out an obsidian black mask from his pocket. On it, a gorgeous golden tree, the mark of a Brahmin, was exquisitely embodied.
“Senior, I should follow you to the mountain! I’m the most familiar of how the landscape is and which paths we could take to get to the orphan division as quickly as possible.” Junius blurted out.
In the one and a half year that he was gone, Junius had reached the peak of Rank 19 and was on the verge of forming his Spirit Core. Satisfied with his progress, the higher-ups in the Black Mask syndicate agreed to make him into a trainee. However, due to the nature of their missions, Junius was only able to attend to small matters. Only after he reached the cultivation level of a Rank 30 Spirit Adept, could he don on the notorious mask and call himself a Shudra.
“Yeah, we would require your knowledge… Alright, Junius! You can join us. Stay close though… We can’t have you dying right after we reunite with the young master.” Vellan fell into thought for a few moments before agreeing to Junius’ claims. Although they held a vast amount of information about Frie Mountain, it was still data that was collected. If they had Junius, who was familiar with all the routes within the mountain, guiding them, completing their tasks would be infinitely easier.
“Thank you!” Bowing down to Vellan, Junius expressed his thanks. Meanwhile, in the recesses of his mind, an ecstatic thought was brought forward.
‘Finally… Finally, our whole family will be reunited!!! Once Shin, Lily and the rest are together with me, I’m sure that we can take on the world!!!’ Junius screamed out in his head. Everything that he had worked for over the past year and a half was just for this moment. The moment where all the descendants of the Awter Clan were brought back together.
“Okay, let’s move! We don’t know how long the two High Elders will be gone, so we need to strike while the iron’s hot! I will relay the message to Headquarters and request that they send a Spirit Emperor to tie down that bitch, Enfen Frie!” Turning into balls of light that raced broke through space, Vellan and the other Black Masks exited the crevice to begin their mission.
Shin was sitting solitary on his luxurious bed with his hands grabbing his head, as he recollected the information that was just given to him. Shia, who was supposed to be tending to the perturbed youth, had exited to the kitchen so that she could prepare a meal for her young master. After sleeping for a significant amount of time, Shin needed a nutritious meal to help him regain his energy.
‘I’m from the Awter Clan… The Frie Clan killed my family… What’s going on?!?!?!’ Still unable to comprehend what Vellan had just told him, Shin kept questioning himself.
‘If we were from the Awter Clan that the Frie Clan annihilated, why didn’t the First Elder or the Instructor hate us? Why did the Clan Master and the Shrine Maiden protect us? Why did the First Elder start a dispute with the Second Elder to gain vengeance for my sake? I don’t get it! I don’t get it! I DON’T GET IT!!!’ Shin pulled on his hair as the throbbing headache he had intensified.
All his life, Shin had felt included in the Frie Clan. Sure, the Second Elder and some of the adults avoided the orphans like they were a contagious disease, but many members of the Frie Clan had treated them kindly. The First Elder, the Clan Master, the Shrine Maiden, the Head Librarian, the Instructor, the Headmistress… Some so many people were on the orphan’s side. Even though they were considered impure blood by many, the number of people that loved and protected them far exceeded that minority.
Not to mention, since young, Shin had been growing up with many of the Frie Clan’s younger generation. Ariel, Tobias and so many more. They had never once treated Shin like a filthy mongrel that was to be disposed of. If the Frie Clan truly hated the Awter Clan to its core, why did they save Shin, who was the sole heir to the clan?
Thousands of possibilities ran through his mind. Was it pity? Was it the reluctance to completely clear out the bloodline of the Awter Clan? Or was it because of some other reason that he did not know of?
‘The reason why the Second Elder sent a team to kill me was because I awakened The Sovereign Koi, proving my link to the main bloodline of Longyu Yuan… If the Frie Clan really wanted the Awter bloodline to cease, why did the First Elder and the Clan Master protect me? Why did the First Elder rush into the Second Elder’s abode to seek justice, possibly tearing apart Frie Mountain? Why did, why did, why did!!!’ So many thoughts raced inside Shin’s mind, that it caused his brain to burn. The more he thought about the situation, the more questions emerged.
‘I need to find the First Elder and ask him everything!’ Shin exclaimed in his head.
He knew that thinking about it would only make his head hurt, and adding to the fact that he was recovering, Shin fell backwards into his pillow, brushing off everything all together. As much as he wanted answers, there was no way for him to escape from the clutches of the Black Masks. Shin wasn’t powerful enough to fight his way through.
‘Then again, something is off with Junius and the rest of those people… How could they join a criminal organisation?’ Shin wondered in silence.
Shin had heard many things about the Black Mask syndicate throughout the years, and it came to the point where every time he heard that name, he would retch in disgust. Assassinations, arson, murders… The list of heinous crimes that they were involved in goes on and on. Not to mention, they were the culprits for destroying Aldrich’s Keep and sending tens of thousands of Spirit Beasts into the Empire.
‘They also talked about the Allfather with such fervour… Allfather… Who the hell is that?’
From conversations with Lady Seph and many officials that were chasing the Black Masks, Shin had discovered the existence of the person behind the notorious crime syndicate. Seemingly invincible, the Allfather would distribute his powers amongst his subordinates using the masks that he created. He was even capable of killing his subordinates that had been restrained by the Rank 90 Spirit Saint, Lady Althea, from an undisclosed location.
‘Arghhhh!!! What a mess! I need to get out of here first… I need more information!’ Currently, Shin was confused about his emotions.
Now that he knows that the Frie Clan slaughtered the Awter Clan, the clan in which he was supposedly from, Shin felt that he should condemn the Frie Clan to hell. Yet, he didn’t have the will to. Perhaps it was too surreal for him to comprehend or maybe he didn’t feel any affiliation to the Awter Clan. Or perhaps it was a combination of both. His mental state and his emotions were in disarray, confusing everything that he believed in thus far.
“Young master, I have prepared your meal!” As Shin was in the middle of a mental breakdown, a soothing voice brought him back into reality.
Shia, who was busy cooking Shin’s meal, had returned with a tray filled with delicacies and sweets. Putting the tray on the nearby table, the young light blue haired woman arranged the dishes in an orderly fashion right beside Shin’s bed. Staring at the woman who was just doing her job, Shin couldn’t help but wonder of her story. Up till this point, he had only heard what Vellan, a general of the fallen Awter Clan, had told him.
“You… Were you there? When the Frie Clan killed off the Awter Clan?” A weak and defeated voice escaped from Shin’s chapped mouth.
“Young master? Ah… Yes… The day where the Frie Clan launched their final assault, I was just a young teenager at the age of thirteen. I saw it happen with my very eyes… The collapse of our clan.” Shia despondently replied.
At that moment, Shin realised that it would be better for him to stop that line of questioning as it could only get more depressing. Furthermore, he wasn’t able to process it anymore.
“My parents… Did you know them?” Shin asked the only questioned that mattered to him. All his life, he believed that he was an orphan. He thought that his parents either abandoned him or died in an unknown location. However, now that he knows that his father was the Clan Master of the Awter Clan, Shin wanted to know all the minute details.
“Of course! I mean, I was just a mere servant to the clan, but everyone idolised the Clan Master and mistress!” In an outburst, uncharacteristic of her previous sad self, Shia eyes glistened in joy as she remembered Shin’s parents.
“Is that so… What were they like?”
“Haha, of course, you would be interested in your parents! The Clan Master was a kind and respectable man. Even though his power far exceeded anyone else, he was always like a big brother that you could confide your worries with. His control over The Sovereign Koi made our enemies tremble in fear, and his powerful spiritual abilities were renowned throughout the empire!” With a prideful expression, the young woman blurted out everything that she remembered about the valiant Clan Master.
“I see… What about my mother?”
“Mistress Cassiel was the epitome of virtue and beauty! Not to mention, her intellect and cultivation level was not something to be scoffed at!”
“Mistress Cassiel?” Shin’s eyes trembled as a fuzzy feeling started to gather in his stomach.
“Yes! That’s your mother’s real name, young master! In fact, if I had to say so objectively, you resemble her much more than your father…”
“Then what was my father’s name?”
“… Your father, the Clan Master’s name… Hah… I’m sorry, I’m getting too emotional aren’t I?” Shia began to choke as she tried to restrain her sobbing. Remembering the good old days made her feel like a tidal wave of melancholy had come crashing into her heart.
“Your father’s real name was… Errol Awter. The best and brightest star in all of our lives!” Shia exclaimed out with happiness.
“Errol Awter… Cassiel Awter… Those are my parents’ real names…” Shin muttered out those names repeatedly in his head as if he were a broken record player.
“Tell me more! I want to know! My parents! What kind of people were they?!” Turning into a kid that wanted to hear a bedtime story, Shin urged Shia to continue.
“Hahaha, of course, I will! Mistress Cassiel was perhaps, the most gorgeous woman in the entire Clan! Her long and straight black hair that shone mystically evoked the envy of all women who laid eyes on her! With her charming smile, she entranced the clan and…”
Shin listened attentively as Shia went through all the details about his biological parents. The more he listened, the more comfortable he had gotten. As if a weight had been lifted off his shoulders, Shin could only smile giddily as Shia divulged everything to him. How did his parents meet? What kind of people they were? How they were perceived by the general public? Everything that he wanted to know, Shia would patiently tell him.
For the first time ever, Shin finally felt like he had returned home to a family.