When Shin and Junius entered the training facility, they saw Lily training four kids that were younger than ten. One of them was the overly attached Max, who followed Lily wherever she went. Other than Max, there were two girls and one boy.
There are eleven members of the orphan division. Firstly, the oldest of them all, Junius. The ‘mother’ of the group, Lily. The hot-blooded youth, Ryner. The kind and gentle older sister, Lia. The cute tomboyish purple haired duo, Ella and Emma. The lazy black-haired boy, Shin. The boy whose blue hair was cut in the shape of a bowl, Max.
Similar in age with Max were the two girls. The first girl had cornflower blue hair that flowed to her waist, making her the orphan with the longest hair. Fionn is a skilled fighter who frequently trains with the twins as she lives in the same dormitory as them. Although she was not as strong as Ella, she was not one to be underestimated.
On the other hand, the other girl who had her sapphire coloured hair tied into a ponytail had a meek and gentle demeanour. Elyse was influenced heavily by her roommate, Lia, and turned out to be somewhat passive.
Finally, there was the youngest member of the orphans. His viridian hair was combed entirely to his side as he stood emotionless while watching the demonstration Lily was giving. Jacob stayed with Ryner and learned his brooding ways. Fortunately, he was not as impulsive as Ryner, and would never openly pick a fight. Not yet at least…
Junius, Lily, Ryner, Lia, Ella, Emma, Shin, Max, Fionn, Elyse and Jacob. These eleven are the first ever batch of orphans the Frie Clan had ever accepted into their ranks. The previous Clan Master looked for children who showed proficiency for water elemental Spirits and brought them back nurture them into a pillar of the Frie Clan.
And he was right. The orphans that underwent the Spiritual Awakening Ceremony were able to summon tremendously gifted Spirits. Even the kids that have yet to awaken their Spirits are talented in their own ways.
“Oh, Junius! Shin! You’re here.”
Noticing the duo as they walked into the training facility, Lily called out to them.
“Lily, seems like you are hard at work training the juniors.”
“Of course! Today is the start of the harvest festival so the Instructor won’t be present. Someone has to guide them so might as well be me!”
Lily and Junius loved to take care of their juniors. In fact, there was even a friendly competition between them to see who was the most caring.
“Don’t overdo it though, since the Instructor won’t be here, just let them relax for once.”
“Hmph, you don’t have to tell me that! I was just training them in the morning, and the rest of the day, they would be free!”
Snorting cutely at Junius’ statement, Lily told him her plans for the young kids.
“Shin! Where are you going this early in the morning?”
Seeing that Shin was dressed up, something that he would rarely do, Elyse went up and pulled his sleeves.
“Elyse, today Junius, Ella, Emma and I will be heading to the Main Hall. So you guys be good until we come back okay?”
Cuddling the cute creature in front of him, Shin explained that he would be gone for the day.
“You’re going to the Main Hall? Are you going to attend the harvest festival?”
“No fair! I too want to eat candied haw!”
“Candied haw?! Shin you are going to eat candied haw without us?”
Once the four children heard that Shin was going to the Main Hall, they immediately thought that he was participating in the harvest festival to eat their favourite treat, candied haw. Even the usually nonchalant Jacob had bits of saliva dripping from his mouth. Max, Fionn and Elyse were turning nine this year while Jacob was turning eight. Naturally, they have acquired a sweet tooth, and the best treat they had ever tasted was the candied haw during the banquet on the last day of the harvest festival.
“I wish I was going to eat candied haw…”
Tears started accumulating as he remembered the possible danger the harvest mission brings.
“Shin, you’re crying? What happened? Did someone bully you? Don’t worry! I will protect you, Shin!”
Like an angel who descended from heaven, Elyse comforted the sobbing black-haired youth.
Moved beyond words, Shin lay comfortable in the little girl’s embrace.
“*Ahem* Elyse, Shin is not being bullied. He just has to participate in a clan mission.”
Coughing at his little brother’s shameless display, Junius clarified Elyse’s misunderstanding.
“Eh? So Shin is not being bullied?”
“Yeap! Now that he has grown up, Shin must partake in missions for the clan. Today is his first mission, so he is rather nervous.”
“So that’s it! Shin, you are old now, so you have to do grown-up things! Don’t worry, after I awaken my Spirit, I will help you!”
Finally understanding the origin of Shin’s anguish, Elyse encouraged the troubled youth. Witnessing the determination in her eyes, Shin felt terrible about exploiting her kindness.
“Don’t worry, Elyse! I’ve regained my energy! Thank you for helping me!”
Petting her hair and playing with her ponytail, Shin thanked Elyse.
When Elyse was younger, Shin doted on her a lot. If his closest friends were the twins, Elyse was the person who he honestly saw as his own little sister. Max was hanging out with Lily, Fionn stayed with the twins and Jacob grew attached to Ryner. So when they were younger, the person he had the most contact with after Junius was Elyse. Thus, he spoiled the little girl by giving in to her every demand. Thankfully, Elyse is an angel that came from heaven, so she was naturally kind and was never unreasonable or domineering.
“Whenever I see the two of them interact, they truly look like brother and sister.”
Junius beamed as he watched Shin and Elyse playing with each other.
“Yeah, how good would it be if it were true…”
Lily agreed with his observation.
“Don’t worry, although we are not blood-related, our bonds go even deeper than that…”
Junius clenched his fists and mentally swore to protect his ‘family’ no matter the cost. The smiles that are present here should always remain. Being the oldest of the orphans, he felt a self-imposed pressure to grow strong so that he could become the support of his juniors. Currently, there were many forces in the Frie Clan that did not like the orphans. The Second Elder is one example. To adequately protect them, Junius had to become one of the most influential members of the clan. That was the reason why he trains to a maniacal degree.
“Junius, we can all feel that you care for us, is there really a need for you to push yourself that much?”
It was a conversation the two of them had multiple times before. Junius trained without restraint and hardly cared about the side-effects of overtraining. There were many times where he collapsed from overworking his body. But in the end, the results speak for himself. In four years, he had reached Rank 11. In fact, his combat ability might even be on par with a peak Spirit Apostle of Rank 19 due to his superior martial arts prowess.
“Lily… You know that it will never be enough. Even though the First Elder and other seniors are kind to us, we must ultimately rely on ourselves.”
“But none of us want to see you get hurt… I don’t want to see you get hurt…”
Lily fidgeted nervously as she said those words to Junius.
Before Junius could mouth a reply to that statement, two identical figures appeared at the door.
“Ah! Sister Lily, you’re here!”
Ella noticed Lily and bolted in her direction. Emma, on the other hand, strolled happily towards Shin and Elyse.
“Hah, I guess it’s time for us to leave…”
Rubbing his nose, Junius made the call to exit the training facility.
“Ehhh, can’t it wait a few minutes? We’ve just arrived.”
Ella moaned. She wanted to talk to her beloved elder sister Lily for a while before leaving for an entire day.
“We should be as punctual as possible. Going there a few minutes early won’t hurt.”
Junius promptly denied Ella’s request.
“Fine… I’ll see you in a bit sister Lily!”
“Okay Elyse, be good. We will probably be back tonight.”
“Yeah! Stay safe, Shin! Emma!”
“Hey hey, what about Ella and Junius?”
“Oh yeah! How could I forget? Stay safe Ella! Brother Junius!”
“Hahaha! We will!”
As the four orphans were walking out of the training facility, Junius felt two hands grasping his right arm.
“Junius, stay safe…”
Lily managed to utter out these words as Junius began to leave.
“Yeah, I will…”
Bidding their farewells, Junius led the trio towards the meeting point in the Main Hall.