Fifteen minutes had passed since the Instructor left the trio at the table outside the restricted zone and the orphans were starting to get bored.
“What’s taking him so long?”
Shin moaned. First, he had to get up early today. Secondly, he had to get through that nasty terrain to enter Athenaeum. And all this was before seven in the morning! Now he had to sit here patiently doing nothing as he waited for the Instructor? He was slightly pissed at the situation.
“As much as I hate to agree with Shin, we have undergone so much for a single morning…”
Ella complained too. They were bored senseless.
“Shhhh… Lower your volumes. Didn’t the Instructor say that we can’t bother anyone?”
Emma reminded the two. They were in a library-like place. There were people reading books and researching all around them. It was weird to see so many people with their books this early in the morning, but it was routine for the researchers of the Athenaeum.
“Yeah, sorry about that…”
Instantly using a softer voice, Shin apologised to Emma.
“It’s alright! Anyway, have you guys heard of the harvest festival?”
“What of it?”
The harvest festival was an annual event the Frie Clan held to celebrate the excellent year of crop harvest. Usually, after the Day of Spirits, food production would slightly increase, and the surplus of crops meant that there would be a feast for everyone. The harvest festival would be held for one week, and on the last day, a grand feast will be conducted. Every year, the orphans would attend the banquet and leave immediately afterwards. Hence, Shin naturally knew of this event.
“There is a tradition of the Frie Clan that those who awakened their Spirits must take on a single mission during the harvest festival.”
Still whispering in a soft voice, Shin exclaimed. It was the first time he heard of this.
“Yeah! But we are not doing the missions solo of course. We will be placed in groups, and even a Spirit Apostle will accompany us at all times.”
Ella, who knew about this event, chipped in with her knowledge.
“Wait, we will be assigned missions during the harvest festival? What kind of missions?”
Exasperated by the revelation, Shin questioned Ella.
“It depends. Most of the time, it would be simple clan-issued missions such as collecting herbs, but there are some more difficult ones. Junius actually participated in a beast hunt for his harvest mission.”
“Really?! He never told me!”
“Its probably cause you weren’t listening…”
Only half of the words Junius says would actually stay in Shin’s mind. Maybe Junius had mentioned it once in the passing, but Shin would have probably forgotten.
“Hold up, hold up! So we will be forced to take missions?”
“Don’t think of it as being forced… Take it to be our coming-of-age. One way or another, we will have to take missions in the future. The harvest missions are like the first step to prepare us.”
“Well said, I agree with the little lass.”
A voice, other than Shin and the twins, sounded from the next table. An old woman, dressed in a white scholarly robe, stood up from her table and sat on the empty chair beside Shin.
Neither Shin nor the twins knew this woman. However, heeding the Instructor’s earlier warnings, the orphans were trying to be polite even though the old woman randomly joined their table.
“Child, you should learn from your little friend here. Knowledgeable and wise at her age, reminds me of my younger self! Hohohoho…”
Apparently, the old lady took a liking to Ella due to her earlier words.
“Senior, I’m sorry to say, but we are here with our Instructor… He told us to stay here quietly so he might be upset when he returns and sees you with us.”
Shin tried to drive the elderly woman away. Although he was okay with talking to her, the Instructor might scold them when he comes back from the restricted zone.
“Hohoho… There’s no need to worry Shin. Lou would not dare be upset at me.”
“Wha… You know me?”
Shin was stunned that the old lady knew who he was.
“Of course. The orphan whose spirit triggered a natural phenomenon. You are quite famous in the clan now. All the higher-ups know your name.”
Finding out that he became renowned in the clan, Shin gasped in shock. His name must be spread quite a bit if a random person he never met could recognise him.
“Hohoho… There’s no need to be that alarmed. Hidden gems are gems nonetheless. Eventually, people will notice their worth and seek to unearth them. Anyway, seeing that you’re here, you must be finding a suitable cultivation technique!”
The old woman guessed their reason for entering the Athenaeum.
“Ermmm… That’s right.”
Still wary of the woman, Shin decided that it was better to just humour her.
“Hmmm, alright then. Release your Spirits and let me see. I will help you judge the best cultivation technique for you!”
The three orphans nearly raised their voices in the silent third floor when they heard what the old lady wanted them to do.
“But, senior. Isn’t summoning our Spirits in the Athenaeum banned?”
Ella, who had a favourable impression of the old woman, asked.
“No, usage of spiritual abilities is not allowed. Releasing your Spirits for a short amount of time is fine.”
The old lady replied the confused Ella.
“But, our Instructor had already gone in to search for cultivation techniques that are suitable for us…”
Emma timidly claimed. She was still fearful of the Instructor’s previous words that the people here were not to be crossed.
“Hohoho… Looks like Lou holds an esteemed position in your hearts. Don’t worry about it. Lou will understand.”
Unsure of what else to say, the trio remained silent. The old woman was adamant in looking at their Spirits.
“Come on, hurry up…”
Gently urging the kids, the woman gave a bright smile.
“Okay, then senior, then Emma and I will release our Spirits first.”
Giving up, Ella agreed to the old lady’s demands.
Emma nudged her twin sister and gave her a ‘what are you doing’ look. She feared that when the Instructor comes back, he will provide them with a harsh reprimand.
“It’s okay Emma. Let’s get this over with.”
Emma felt an indescribable sense of comfort when talking to the old lady. She felt like they were peas from the same pod. Maybe it was due to the woman’s earlier compliment or some other reason, but Emma felt that she could trust this stranger that she just met.
Reluctantly, Emma followed her sister’s lead and gathered up spiritual energy. The next moment, two beautiful Ice Bows appeared in the twin’s hands. The frosty aura being emitted out gradually lowered the surrounding temperature by a few degrees.
Looking at the two Spirits, the old woman fell deep in thought. Occasionally, she would raise her hands to touch the Spirits and fall back into her thinking state.
“What is she doing?”
“You ask me?”
Emma and Ella were also dumbfounded by the senior’s current state. However, after inspecting the Spirits for a minute, the old woman snapped out of her contemplative state.
“Looking at the Spirits, I assume that Lou recommended you two to cultivate a water bow spirit cultivation technique and in the future, adapt it into something that better suits your Spirits am I right?”
Accurately pointing out the Instructor’s plan, the old woman stared at the twins.
“Ah… Impressive, senior. That is precisely what the Instructor has told us.”
“Hmph! What an amateur!”
Snorting in derision at the Instructors proposed arrangement, the elderly woman started to scold the muscular man.
“Two mutated elemental spirits and he suggests the most basic option? That is just a waste of their talents! There is obviously a much better alternative, and he chooses the simplest one? Looks like he needs a refresher course on cultivation techniques!”
Shocked by her outburst, the orphans started to slowly back away from the old woman. The Ice Bows that the twins summoned disappeared as the three of them tried to make their escape.
“When Lou comes back, I’ll make sure I set things right! Hey, where are you guys going? I still need to see your Spirit, Shin!”
But that was not possible. The old lady noticed them trying to run and locked on to the black-haired youth.
‘Damn it! Why must I run into so many problems this early in the morning.’
Usually, Shin would be just waking up at this time. But he had endured an entire week of problems jammed into a few hours.
‘Whatever… Let’s just do as she says…’
Helpless, Shin gathered spiritual energy and summoned his cute little cerulean Koi Spirit.
‘Hoho… It truly is The Sovereign Koi…’
As the saying goes, seeing is believing. In the council meeting held in the debate room yesterday, the Clan Master said that Shin had awakened The Sovereign Koi. She was even backed up by the Shrine Maiden and the two high elders. However, even though the old woman was present in that chambers, she still held a certain degree of scepticism.
‘For The Sovereign Koi, there is only that legendary cultivation technique… Question is if the council will allow me to pass it on to this child… Argh! To hell with it! I’m not particularly known for obeying orders… You had better thank me, Edward!’
“Hey, you kids, what did I say about…”
Just as Shin released his Spirit, the Instructor left the restricted area with two manuals in hand. Noticing that the trio was talking to someone else and even released their Spirits, he stormed in their direction ready to give them an earful.
“What are you about to say? Lou?”
The old woman, however, glared viciously at the Instructor. As if he was ruining her fun.
The two stared at each other until eventually…