As the sun reached the peak of the crystal clear sky, its blazing hot heat warmed the earth with little care for its inhabitants. The milky white clouds drifted with the winds as they decorated the blue sky. The heat radiating from the streets made the atmosphere unbearable for any form of physical exercise. And in the midst of this blazing afternoon, stood a group of young children with mixed expressions.
“Shin! I don’t want you to go!”
A snotty nosed girl with her sapphire coloured hair tied into a ponytail clung to a black haired boy who was carrying a large suitcase on his back. Her baby-soft heart-shaped face that was often the victim to many pinches was now covered with tears and snot, indicating that she had been crying prior. Usually, Shin would tease her for being a crybaby, but currently, even he felt misty-eyed parting with this cute little creature.
“Don’t cry, Elyse… It’s not like I’m going to disappear forever!”
Gently patting the head that was buried in his chest, Shin bitterly chastised the girl. Ever since they were young, the two had one of the most profound bonds amongst the orphans. Shin genuinely saw Elyse as a younger sister, and the girl loved Shin as an elder brother. Although they were orphans, relying upon and comforting each other over the years had made them as close as blood-related family.
“Hic… hic… But Shin! We won’t see each other anymore.”
When the news broke that Junius and Shin had to leave the clan, the orphans were devastated. Each child had a different reaction to the revelation. Lily ran to find Junius and accompanied him as if he were living on borrowed time. Ryner vocally called out the Instructor and tried to convince the man to stop the transfer. Lia, Emma, Max and Elyse wailed uncontrollably, and even the stoic Fionn and Jacob were in a bad mood ever since receiving the news.
But all of them had a common goal, to spend as much time with the two youths before they left the clan for god knows how long. Unfortunately, time flowed by like a river and Shin and Junius were standing in front of the North gate with their bags packed.
No matter how much Shin tried to calm Elyse down, the more she thought that her beloved brother was leaving her, the more tears dripped down from her big, round eyes.
“Hah… What to do with you…”
Sighing in melancholy, Shin reached for the nape of his little sister and gently massaged Elyse’s neck. Whenever Elyse felt insecure, Shin would often perform this manoeuvre to calm the girl.
Meanwhile, his roommate wasn’t having a gentle time either. Still firmly fixed to his wheelchair, Junius could only move his hands in helplessness as a pale-blue haired girl tended to his every need. Holding up a pink, paper umbrella with floral patterns, Lily sheltered Junius from the fiery heat of the sun. Occasionally wiping off the sweat beads that formed on his forehead, Lily seemed like an overprotective mother caring for her sick child.
“Lily, there’s no need for you to do all of that. I’m fine on my own.”
In the morning, Lily arrived in front of Shin and Junius’ lodging as per usual and helped to carry the bags over to the gate. However, ever since they rendezvous, Lily had not uttered a single word. Silently nursing Junius, the awkwardness rose to an unbearable level for the disabled youth.
Ignoring his plea, Lily continued to raise her umbrella, faithfully standing next to Junius.
“Lily, I can manage. You are probably tired from all the moving. Rest for now…”
At the North gate, there were multiple carriages each loaded to the brim with various trading materials such as grain and spices. After the harvest festival, the Frie Clan would typically send a caravan to trade the excess produce they farmed.
“Junius… If you go, when will you come back?”
Shivering while biting the tip of her lip, Lily mouthed out her first words of the day. Internally, she had not prepared herself for the absence of Junius. As the two oldest orphans, they had always been a dynamic duo. Junius being the shield of the group while Lily took care of the orphans like a mother would. With Junius gone, the pressure on her would increase multiple folds. Not only must she continue on with her role as a caretaker, but she also had to block any threats that might be directed at her younger siblings.
But the most important factor to her was the fact that her mental support, Junius would be gone. In front of her juniors, she acted like a stern mother that lectured the group at every turn, but when facing Junius, she could become the thirteen-year-old girl that she was.
“I don’t know Lily… It’s up to the First Elder. Worry not, I will send letters every month…”
Grasping her quivering left hand, Junius assured the girl. Naturally, he knew about his role in Lily’s heart. Once he left the mountain, she would have to step up to efficiently take care of her fellow orphans. Hence, Junius had actually implored for the Instructor to be more observant to the orphan’s situation and even provide more assistance if needed.
“Hey! Who knows? The place we are being stationed at is only a day or two away! Maybe you can come visit or vice versa.”
Shin and Junius were being sent to Chilyoja Waypoint for their own protection. Maybe it might take a year for the situation to calm down or perhaps the two will only be able to come back in ten years. No one really knew. Hence, the First Elder had assured the orphans that they would be able to visit one another in the future.
“But Lily… When I’m gone, please be careful… Try to reign Ryner in. I’m sure there will be troublemakers from the main bloodline coming over to try and instigate a fight. If Ryner loses his calm, there might be undesirable consequences.”
Although Junius seemed nonchalant about leaving the clan, deep down he felt frightened. If something happened to his family while he’s gone and he wasn’t there to defend them, Junius thought that he would go crazy with guilt.
Feeling the grasp on her hand tighten, Lily finally gave a soft smile. Even when Junius was being evicted out of the mountain, he still placed the orphans’ interests above his. That’s why he’s publically known as the big brother. That’s why she…
Lily’s earlier anxiety slowly melted away as she placed the rough hand that was filled with scars and blisters due to years of using the sword on her silky, smooth face.
“I know… You too. Be careful…”
Finding comfort in the warmth of his hands, Lily purred happily much to the dismay of Junius. The embarrassing scene was witnessed not only by the other orphans but by the other Frie Clan members that were accompanying them on the trip. Whistles of praise could be heard as smiles and laughter plagued the area.
Noticing that they had become the centre of attention, Lily quickly let go of Junius’ hands as the young couple started to blush uncontrollably.