“Heal! Heal! Heal!!!” An agonising cry, akin to that of a wailing beast, echoed through the burning Second Elder’s abode. A black-haired youth, with his face full of tears, attempted to resuscitate the motionless body that lay in front of him.
Ariel’s unmoving body was filled with a cerulean light as The Sovereign Koi danced, its face sharing the same anxiousness that its master had. Continually casting heal, Shin hoped and prayed for a miracle to occur.
“Heal!!! Heal!!! He…al! He..a…a..al…” Sobbing nonstop, Shin continued on his fruitless task of trying to resurrect Ariel. His eyes had turned bloodshot by the endless amount of tears that flowed out as his entire being shivered.
Standing next to him, Lady Seph watched as her disciple tried his best to bring his lover back to life. As a healer, she had watched as fallen soldiers left the mortal world and the elderly woman vividly remembered how much pain it was when she held the hands of her first ever dying patient. The pain and suffering that she went through were immense, and the young Lady Seph was unable to talk for three days afterwards. However, her agony paled in comparison to what her disciple was currently going through.
Shin and Ariel had a bond that transcended ordinary lovers. Knowing each other for their entire lives, the duo had lived together, trained together, cried together, played together, and went through tough times together. Lady Seph distinctly remembered how Ariel would look at Shin. How her face would just light up when the black-haired youth would walk into the room. How her eyes glistened with the purest of love when she tip-toed over bashfully. How she would scowl in frustration when a random girl tried to hit on the handsome youth. All these little things that had been etched into Lady Seph’s mind, all came flooding out.
“Sis…Sister Lily… Why? WHY DID YOU PROTECT ME?!” A mournful wail reverberated through the Second Elder’s abode, as Lady Seph’s attention was drawn to Max, who was agonising over the loss of his favourite elder sister. “It should have been me… Why? Why sister Lily? WHY?!”
The tears that Lady Seph had been holding back for so long finally dripped out. She had seen many lives lost in her days as a military healer but never had she shown this much emotion. As Shin’s Master, she had an extensive knowledge of the relationships that the orphans had. In fact, in recent days, the elderly woman had even felt like the orphans had become her extended family because of Shin. Watching the gruesome manner that Lily had passed, Lady Seph started to question her sanity. If she was this harmed by the deaths, how would Shin feel?
“Ha… Ha… Ha….” Breaking the tearful atmosphere, a dry and bitter laugh sounded out, drawing the attention of Lady Seph.
Kneeling on the floor with his hands sprawled out, the Second Elder was gazing heavenwards, spewing out dry laughter. However, he was not laughing at the miserable state of the orphans. Instead, he was merely chuckling to himself. His eyes were looking at the sky, but Lady Seph could tell that his attention wasn’t on the stars. In fact, he wasn’t even thinking about anything…
‘Ash… His mind broke…’ It was a sight that Lady Seph was all too familiar with. Whenever a soldier has experienced too much trauma, and there was no anchor support for him, he would be reduced to a state of a vegetable. Although his body and powers were fully functional, his mind would never be the same. The Second Elder had only one remaining link that he fought for, and that was Linus. Watching his beloved grandson die right before his eyes, and to see him go with a spear impaled through his scrotum was something that the Second Elder could no longer bear.
‘The Frie Clan has lost one of its High Elders…’ Lady Seph sighed in her heart as her focus quickly snapped back to the desperate youth trying to heal the corpse of his loved one.
“Shin! Enough! She’s gone…”
“Maaaaasssssterrrrr!!! Arrrrriiiiieellllll!!! She… Said she loved me…” Crying his heart out, Shin pushed the blonde elderly woman’s hands away and continued his attempt to resurrect the dead. Elyse, who had been the recipient of Ariel’s protection, sat there next to him with her hands firmly attached to her chest, praying for a miracle to happen.
Unfortunately, the dead could never return. That was the law of life.
As he was continuing with his useless endeavour, a blue sparkle shone from the centre of Ariel’s chest, catching the attention of the grieving young healer.
‘Was that a reaction?! Is there hope for Ariel?’ Shin thought out.
Bringing his hands closer to her neck, Shin tried to find the cause of the sudden shine and what he found broke him. On her chest, there lay the same amethyst necklace that Shin had bought for Ariel many moons ago. All this time, Ariel had kept the cheap keepsake that the black-haired youth had bought for her, right next to her heart. Even though Ariel was a clumsy and lazy girl, the pristine condition that the necklace was in suggested that she had polished it every night as if it was the most valuable possession that she had.
“Ariel… Why… Why did you leave me?!” Releasing control over his healing water, Shin grabbed the necklace and placed in close to his chest.
“You told me you loved me… But I didn’t tell you that I loved you more… Why… Why did you leave me?” Shin broke down in tears, tightening his grip on the amethyst necklace until his hand bled.
Recalling the moment of helplessness, Shin relinquished all control over his emotions. Watching as the Ice Spear created by order of Junius, falling straight into the tender body of Ariel was too much for Shin’s young heart to endure.
‘I’m the youngest healer in history… I awakened The Sovereign Koi and triggered a natural phenomenon… I have all these accomplishments, and yet I’m still so useless… All I could do was watch as that spear killed you… What good does healing do if I can’t even save the person most dear to me?!’ Shin trembled in agitation.
The first time he fought against the assassins during the harvest mission, he was weak. The first encounter he had with the Black Masks when he was travelling to the Waypoint, he was weak. The first time Gawil Jefferson, the Watkin Murderer attacked him, he was weak. The first time he fought in Aldrich’s Keep, he was weak. The time where Junius used his abilities to defeat him and kidnap him to the Black Masks’ safe house, he was weak. And now… He watched his loved one die right before his eyes.
It seemed that everything that he had done up until now had been a waste of time. From the time when Shin first awakened his Spirit till now, he hadn’t grown stronger at all. He was still the weak little black-haired boy that needed someone to protect him.
‘I’m too weak… The healing path is too weak!!! Ariel died because I was too weak!!!’ For the first time in his life, Shin desired a higher power.
“Master… Your disciple is unfilial…” A defeated voice broke out from Shin’s chapped mouth as he addressed the blonde elderly woman that stood near him. Though, a tinge of resolution could be sensed in his cryptic words.
“H-Huh?” Taken aback by her disciple’s sudden declaration, Lady Seph stood rooted to the ground.
“Master… I’m abandoning my pledge. I can’t go on as a healer.”
“W-What do you m-mean?!”
“I need power! I can’t protect my loved ones as a healer… In fact, YOU couldn’t even save Ariel! I can’t continue down this road Master! I need to become stronger! Stronger than anyone in this world!”
“Shin… You’re just confused! You’re mourning over the loss of Ariel, and this isn’t you talking! Don’t let a setback deter you from your original path!!! Your talents as a healer are second to none!”
“AND WHAT GOOD HAS THAT DONE ME?!?!?! ARIEL STILL DIED!!!”
“…” At her disciple’s sudden outburst, Lady Seph’s entire face dropped. The words of rebuttal that she had wanted to voice out had been forced down her throat as she stood there with her mouth hung open.
‘Shin… He’s serious…’ Her mind racing at two hundred kilometres a minute, Lady Seph tried to find the right words to convince her faltering disciple. However, when she recollected the scene where she watched helplessly as Ariel was so viciously pierced, the elderly woman, as much as she didn’t want to, found some merit in Shin’s claims.
If Lady Seph weren’t a healer and was a fighter instead, perhaps she would be able to exceed her limits and save Ariel in time. Unfortunately, the majority of her spiritual abilities were all healing ones, and there was no possible way for her to have saved Ariel in time. Not to mention, although healers are an exalted profession in the Himmel Empire, not even the Lady Althea, the world’s best healer, can save someone from the bony fingers of the Grim Reaper.
“ARIELLLLL!!!!” Before Lady Seph could continue her sentence, a grieving cry bellowed through the air as a red beam of light shot straight down at the Second Elder’s abode.
The First Elder, after forcing Malgen into a retreat, rushed back into the clan with the Clan Master on his shoulders. As he flew high up in the sky, his piercing eyes caught the drastic aftermath of the attack on the Second Elder’s abode, instantly shattering his heart into a million pieces.
Watching as Shin, with his eyes full of snot and tears, attempted to heal the motionless Ariel, the First Elder felt his mind break. Ariel was the only family member that the First Elder had left in this entire world, and yet, there was, lying in a pool of her own blood. Falling to his knees next to the young scarlet-haired girl, the elderly man seemed to have aged twenty years instantly as his wrinkles became more defined. His feathery white hair had greyed considerably as he proceeded to hug the unmoving corpse of his beloved granddaughter.
“Ariel… No… You’re not supposed to die… Ariel…”
It was the first time anyone of the orphans had seen the First Elder lose all control over his emotions. In fact, it was the first time for the Clan Master and Lady Seph as well. Always the happy-go-lucky person in their lives, the two Spirit Emperors had remembered the First Elder as someone who never faltered, even in the face of adversary.
“Arthur! Brenda! I have failed you… I have failed you…” Screaming out the names of his late son and daughter-in-law, the First Elder wailed out into the heavens above.
“Senior Edward…” The Clan Master, who was still unable to move a single inch, sat helplessly in the corner as she watched the downfall of her clan’s two High Elders.
“First Elder…” Shin unconsciously opened his mouth, forcing the mourning First Elder to turn his head abruptly.
Taken aback by the sudden movements of the elderly man, Shin visibly groaned as an invisible pressure mounted upon his body. In the eyes of the First Elder, a hate that was only reserved for his mortal enemies was being reflected, forcing Shin to gasp out desperately for air. Only after a holy golden ray enveloped his body, did Shin feel his senses coming back to himself.
“Edward! What are you doing?!” Lady Seph hollered out in fear. Moving in between the First Elder and her disciple, the blonde elderly woman used the Iofiel Angel as a protection from the wrath of the enraged Spirit Emperor.
“ARGGGHHHH!!!! WHY?! WHY DID ARIEL DIE?!” Losing his mind, the First Elder summoned out the Kyoli Ember Whip and had even prepared himself to charge forward to end the Awter bloodline that had caused him that much pain. However, after a few moments of deliberation, he halted his mana supply as he watched the ground with a defeated expression.
“No… This is our sin… Our sin… We massacred the Awter Clan, and the Immortals above have cursed us… We are sinners… We are sinners…” Now, the First Elder finally understood the meaning of karma. The more sinful the person, the more their future would be damaged. In fact, karma didn’t just affect the individual themselves, but the people that surrounded them. The sins committed by the Frie Clan had finally come back to bite them full circle.
“Please… Take them all and leave, Seraphim… Take them all and never return…” Although the First Elder didn’t specify who the ‘they’ was, both Lady Seph and Shin clearly understood.
After the tragedy that struck Frie Mountain, there was no way that the orphans could continue to call this place home. After all, the people responsible for the carnage that surrounded them shared the same blood as the orphans.
“Edward… Take care…” Not willing to refute the First Elder’s claim, Lady Seph grabbed all of the orphans, as well as the corpse of Lily, and placed them all onto the back of Bingbing. For the safety of her disciple, she had to leave Frie Mountain as soon as possible. Before the First Elder snaps and decides to finish off what the Second Elder had started.
As Bingbing departed into the night sky that had been tainted orange by flames of battle, Shin watched as the First Elder stood silently in prayer, next to the person that he loved the most. Ariel’s face was smiling, even in death. Her refined face was firmly engraved into the memory of Shin’s. Was she in a better place? Did she reunite with her parents in heaven? No one knew. All that remained in Shin’s heart, was the memory of the unfulfilled promise.