CLAIRE Boyce had been pacing back and forth at the front main gates of the Luyas’ castle, ever since the Commandant had left the castle with the rest of the Immediate Rescue Unit in such a haste.
Throughout her whole life’s career, she had never, not even once, seen her Commanding Officer looked so troubled than he’d looked a few hours ago.
As if it wasn’t enough, Claire herself had been in deeply shocked by the sudden appearance of Luna, whom had returned paled, battered and terrified, merely two hours ago.
The young Heiress had babbled in a single breath about the attacked on Andania and the Commandant’s request for reinforcements.
After she’d calmed down the nerves of the hyperventilating young woman and sent her off, Claire had given out orders to the newly selected Reinforcement Unit before she once again, waiting patiently for her Commanding Officer returned at the main gates.
It had been hours since then. Night was now approaching. Yet, there were still no signs of the Commandant whatsoever.
Claire worried dearly what might had happened in Andania. The distance between the Kingdom of Luyas and the town of Andania wasn’t far at all. The walking distance would only take them for at least an hour and half to reach to the town.
So what could possibly be taking the Commandant and his Units so long to get back here?
Sighed, Claire decided to ask the watchman in the tower.
“Any sign of them yet?”
The watchman shook his head. “None, Ma’am. But we’ll continue to keep a look out.”
“Do that.” Claire yet sighed again and crossed her arms on her chest. Her foot tapped impatiently on the ground.
What will become of the Kingdom now? Are the front lines still alive? Oh, how is the Commandant doing over there?
While Claire was busily pondering about all of the possibilities that might have happened to her Commandant and the others, her thoughts were disrupted when a Knight rushed heading toward her.
“Madam Boyce!” The Knight stopped and saluted. “The Commandant has arrived!”
Grants Rogue dragged his feet rather than actually moving them forward, heading to where the Castle was. His face was as white as a snow.
Fear was the probably the last word he could use to describe how he truly felt the entire journey home to Luyas, alone, in a blood-stained uniform.
Scenes of the unfortunate event returned to him in a flash; the disastrous town, dead bodies and corpses laid on the ground, the thick smell of blood everywhere he went.
Thirty members of his Rescue Unit had all died by the hand of the Spirits, except for him.
Grants had never really considered his feelings when it comes to the matter of Life and Death.
True, he had fought and survived in many wars, had faced gruesome battlefields, and had even encountered in near-death experiences more than he could ever counted in all of his thirty years of living.
He’d done so because it was his duty as a Knight to fight for the Kingdom and to protect his people.
However, this time, the feeling was different..
He felt scared. Terrified, even.
Terrified was a feeling he’d swore he would never have for as long as he’s a Knight and Commandant of Luyas.
He’d witnessed a gruesome battle. Survived its brutality. Yet, the feeling refused to go away.
Grants looked up as the Castle came in view.
Because he’d witnessed a massacre done single handedly by a blood-thirsty Spirit－a particular Spirit whom he’d known for the last seven years and had grown to care for her dearly as if she was his own daughter. He had even considered of adopting her once upon a time.
Grants walked through Castle’s gates when the memories of what had happened an hour ago filled in his mind. He remembered he had sat down beside the unconscious youths with an empty mind, when a beautiful paled-skinned woman wearing an Eastern traditional attire, had appeared out of nowhere and approached him with a few guards behind her.
The guards, Grants had taken noticed, were the members of the White Wolf Clan. He recognised them instantly due to the white tattoo crest on their right arm.
However, what surprised him the most was their presence in the Andania. It was a rare sight to see members of the Clan wandering around, especially in a large group like this.
Grants himself had only seen them once back in the days when he had just became a Knight.
The woman later claimed they were from the White Wolf Clan Main House and that the young man who’d saved Mika was actually their Leader and also the Head of the Clan, Prince Shinji Karou.
The moment Claire Boyce caught the sight of the Commander standing at the front gates, she immediately rushed toward him.
Her eyes widened at the blood stained of his uniform. Nevertheless, Claire ordered a nearby Knight to fetch the doctor while she escorted the Commander inside the Knight Hall, heading to his private chamber.
“The Commandant is suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s no wonder after what he’d just been through. Other than that, he’s fine.”
An elderly man wearing a white coat, wrote something on a piece of paper before he handed it over to Claire.
“He should still be on temporary leaves from all of his duties for the time being. I’ve already written down the medical description. You should be able to find them easily at a drug store.”
“Thank you so much for coming over on such a short notice, Doctor Wan.”
Claire thanked the doctor again before escorted him out of the Commandant’s chamber. Once outside, she let the guards led the man the rest of the way before making her way back inside of the chamber.
Closing the door gently, Claire stood still for a minute, eyeing the Commandant, who was now dressed in a clean white robe and sitting on his bed.
Quietly, she made her way to him and grabbed a wooden chair, before she seated beside the bed. Watching him still.
Grants on the other hand, was staring at nothing in particular. His head fell down slightly. Dazed eyes due to medicine the good doctor had injected to him earlier began taking its effect on him.
After a while of long silence, Claire cleared her throat.
Grants deeply sighed. He had his hands covered half of his face.
“I simply do not know what to say.”
“Take your time, Sir. Rest if you must.” Claire said kindly again.
Grants furiously shook his head. “No. I need to get this... this thing －whatever it is off my chest. If I don’t, it would only get worse and it will haunts me for the rest of my life.”
Taking a long deep breath, Grants lowered his hand and began telling her what had happened back then.
“When we got there...”
By the time, Grants finished telling Claire all that had happened in Andania, the Vice-Commandant was left speechless.
Minutes passed by unspoken between them when finally, Grants decided to be the first to speak.
“We’ll need to notify Lord Ranfel as soon as possible about this. Though, I’m pretty sure by now words have already spread out about this.”
“Sir, if I may ask, what do you think will happens to her now?”
Grant shook his head.
“I doubt Lord Ranfel and his Senators could do anything to her now that the White Wolf Clan has taken action into their own hands by keeping her under their wings. They rarely stepped outside of their comfort zone, let alone minding other people’s own business. If the White Wolf Clan is taking action, then there must be more of the Spirit’s attack than we knew.”
“What are you saying, Commandant? That there will be more to come?” Claire’s eyes widened.
“I’m not sure myself. Whatever that’s coming, we need to be well-prepared. For now though, let’s just leave things as it is. Besides, even Lord Ranfel is wise enough not to mess with the White Wolf Clan, unless he wants to provoke them.”
“Agreed. But why would they take her in? I mean, she is a Spirit, isn’t she?”
Grants shrugged. “The White Wolf Clan works in a unique way that nobody understands. But... For all they’re worth, I’m glad they took her in. Because if Mika were ever to step outside of their territory, there’s no doubt that she would be hunted and be bought back to here for the crime she’d committed.”
“What’s her penalty for-”
“Beheaded. Or hang. Just between you and I, no matter what she’d done to Andania, I still believe in her. I believe in my heart whatever she had done, it was without her consciousness. And that is why, I’m glad the White Wolf Clan had taken her in when they did.”
Claire Boyce could only stayed silence. Whether the Commandant had spoken under the influence of the drug, or if he truly believed in the young Spirit who committed a massacre, was something to be debate over later.
Why would the Commander went to such great length to protect the Spirit girl was beyond her.
For now though, Claire decided to let him rest.
“You should get some rest, Commander. I will be taking over the Knights until you’ve recovered well enough. Until then, please rest.” Claire stood up, greeted her Commanding Officer for the last time before she left.
After Claire left, Grants sighed heavily.
Lots of people had asked him why he bothered taking a Spirit girl under his wings when his own grandfather had been killed by the hands of a Spirit during the Great War.
Each time they’d asked, Grants would just shrugged it off like it was nothing, or told them to mind their own business.
What none of them knew however, the very reason why he’d become protective over Mika, was due to a long-time gratitude from a kind-hearted belated Spirit King he’d once owned his life to years ago when he had been just but a young naive Trainee, working his way to become the top Knight.
Grants could still remember the words spoken by the King to him then:
“You can’t simply climb a high mountain without falling down, young Grants. But you could however, build a bridge that goes up to the mountains.”
AN urgent Meeting Conference amongst the World Leaders of Fulaina was being held at the North region, in the City of Eden. The meeting was taken at the House of Eden — a place where the World Leaders and their representatives gathered to discuss political matters.
The House of Eden was hosted by the highest rank in the hierarchy House of Eden, the Master Oracle. The current Master Oracle, was a young wise King, at the age of fifteen.
He was the youngest amongst all of his predecessors to be given such honourable title, as he held the ultimate power not only in his own Kingdom, but also in the House of Eden, as well.
Five of the World Leaders seated in circle at the long rectangular table in the sealed soundproof Chamber, surrounded by bodyguards.
Sitting at the furthest left of the rectangular table, was Lord Andania. He was a frail looking man with a sharp and angular features, who looked like he had seen much better days for the past month since the sudden Spirit Attack. The dark circles under his eyes indicated he had not slept for weeks.
Sitting beside him was Lord Ranfel Heartlets. He looked far more annoyed than anyone else in the chamber and had been gritting his teeth ever since he’d arrived.
On the opposite side, was a king who lived the furthest from the rest of them, in the South: King Lewis XIII; a fearsome King in his early forties, he had white-greyish long strains of hair that always kept in a low ponytail style.
He was known for his menacing face. His kingdom was famous for its markets and was the World’s leading Trade Centre.
Sitting beside him was the Host of the Conference, Lord Eden Bowyn X. A tall man with long loose beautiful and silky white hair, he wore a long Eastern traditional dark purple hanfu with gold tiny flower patterns.
Lord Eden often depicted as an eccentric and mysterious man, as he was often seen wearing a pale silver mask that covered whole of his face except a small hole for his mouth, and only very few people know what his face really looked like.
The reason why he always wear a mask to hide his face was a mystery no one knew. Some had speculated that he wear a mask to hide an ugly scar across his face, where else, others had said he bore the face of an Angel.
Either way, the reason remained a mystery that later became the duty amongst the ladies in the City of Eden to reveal its mystery.
“Now that everybody is here. Let us begin the meeting.” Lord Eden spoke in a deep husky voice. “We all have gathered here on this day for a reason. Lord Andania, would you care to start first?”
“Ah! V-Very well.” Lord Andania spoke nervously, adjusting his glasses. “As everyone already knew, the S-Spirit attack on Andania that had happened in less than a month ago, has changed everyone’s lives. We are still trying to grasp of things and tried to put it behind us. However, it is simply said than done. The sudden Spirit attack on Andania had been a traumatic experience for all of us. Because of that, some of the people have feared to step outside of the house.”
“That is exactly why we should eliminate the Spirits while we still can!” Lord Ranfel interfered, one fist banging on the table. “What’s the best way to do it than to start with the one who was the caused all of it in the first place?”
“Calm yourself down now please, Lord Ranfel.” Lord Eden hold up his hand. “There is no need for us to spill more blood if we could find an alternative solution to solve this problem.”
“Fine words for the man of your capability, Lord Eden.” King Lewis spoke next. “That’s more than I could say for the tyrant Lord who only way to solve the problem is by spilling bloods.”
“Shut your mouth!” Lord Ranfel retorted angrily.
A young male teenager sat on the opposite side of Lord Eden, dressed in a white Eastern-style robe with golden lines around the neck, stared calmly at the rest of the men at the table.
“Please forgive my rudeness, Master Oracle Fye.” The King slightly lowered his head and apologised.
“I understood how stressful the situation is. However, I ask that as the World Leaders, we should think throughout about the decision that we make in a calm and collected manner and with an open-mind.” Hazel eyes looked from King Lewis to Lord Ranfel.
Both of them looked down, slightly embarrassed at being addressed at by a mere child.
“Let’s back to the topic shall we? Lord Ranfel, I believe everyone in this chamber knew the young Spirit who had massacred half of Andania is your adoptive child, is she not?” Lord Eden asked.
Lord Ranfel sneered at the question and snorted aloud.“Was. Even if I were to take actions against her for the crime she’d committed myself, I could not.”
“And why is that?” Asked the young Master Oracle.
“Because the insufferable White Wolf Clan has taken her into their own custody! The darn clan should very well mind their own damn business!”
“The White Wolf Clan, you say?” King Lewis whispered lowly. Something about the mentioned of the said Clan had bothered him－it was shown in his eyes before the unspoken emotion vanished.
Unfortunately for him, Lord Eden happened to hear him whispered about it.
“Why would they took the Spirit in? If the White Wolf Clan is involves with this matter, then this is not just a mere child-play. After so long of not hearing about the Spirits, here they are. Out for revenge, maybe?” said the Master Oracle Fye next, tilted his head at the rest of them.
Lord Eden slowly nodded.
“Possibly. In any case, we should first further discuss what to do with the Spirit who was responsible for the massacre. As mentioned by Lord Ranfel, since the White Wolf Clan has taken her into their own custody, we can’t simply break into their home and drag her back to Luyas. What we can do is...”
At the private residence of the White Wolf Main Mansion, inside of a chamber, a pair of gentle hands gently put a soaked cloak on the young unconscious Spirit’s forehead.
Suzumi sighed softly. Her eyes, filled with sadness and pitifulness, stayed on Mika, who was laying on a comfortable bed and appeared to be deeply asleep.
The chamber itself was very spacious. The ceiling and walls were painted in pearl white. There was no dust to be found in the room at all! The entire floor was made up by Bamboo tiles.
‘How could any of this befallen on this poor child?’ Suzumi pondered.
Just then, the sliding door of the chamber opened almost soundlessly and a figure entered.
“How is she?”
Suzumi sighed softly. “There’s nothing else I can do for her. Right now, it’s between her body and mind whether she wants to wake up or not.”
Shinji simply nodded. He looked tired and exhausted. Having just finished with the Clan’s meeting, he decided to drop by and rest for a while before he had to leave for another meeting.
The two siblings sat quietly next to each other, merely just looked at the unconscious Spirit.
After the long silence, Suzumi decided to take a leave and proceeded to get up on her feet. She patted her little brother’s shoulder lightly, and gave him a small smile.
“Have faith in her, Shinji. Let me know once she’s awakes.”
Shinji mutely nodded.
After she’d gone, Shinji rested his head against the walls and closed his eyes. The black circles under his eyes were obvious. It had been days since he had any decent sleep, worrying over the girl and wondering if she would ever wake up.
Shinji remembered a close deceased friend had once told him about the Spirits race and their origins:
“The Spirits race was the largest ethnic group in the Spirit World — a fearsome and bloodthirsty race that ceased to exist. Because of their great abilities and high status quo, the Spirit World was under the rule of the Spirit’s Royal Family, with their belief that the females who are born in the Royalty are said to bring great prosperities and fortunes to the Spirit’s World.”
Shinji quickly reopened his eyes when he heard the soft and faint cough.
Her fingers twitched. Her eyes were still shut tightly and refused to open. Sweats quickly formed on her moist forehead. Mika began to murmur distinguished words.
Hands roughly pushed the sliding door opened, Shinji shouted, “Suzumi!”
A servant who happened to pass by, quickly rushed over to him. But before she could asked the young Prince what was wrong, he cut her words off.
“Call the doctor now! SUZUMI!”
Mika thanked the servant for serving her a cup of herbal tea. The servant in return, nodded politely before quickly making her way out of the room.
Sipping on the hot tea, she recalled what had just happened a few minutes ago upon her awakened from a coma: Mika had almost pounded on Suzumi who sat beside her and checking on her condition, in a reflective act of self-defence.
Luckily for them, Shinji had been there to restrain her.
Once she had calmed down enough to know where she was at the moment, Mika had furiously apologized to the older woman, she’d even went as far as kneel down with her head touched the floor.
Suzumi however, had chuckled at her reaction and gently asked her to raise her head. She had then told her not to mind it at all and that it was natural for her to be reacted that way.
A little while after their introduction and get-to-know sessions, Suzumi slowly and carefully began to explain to Mika what had happened in Andania and while she had been unconscious for a month.
Mika did not stirred, nor did she blinked after Suzumi had finished telling her about the incident and the aftermath afterwards.
Suzumi expected her to burst in tears but instead, the young Spirit simply thanked her in a low and quiet voice.
“We can talk about it later once you have enough rest. For now, please make yourself at home. If you need anything, please call the servants for help. Okay, Mika?”
Mika nodded her head silently.
The older woman looked at her for the last time, before she stood and headed toward the door. Suzumi knew she needed some time for the information to sink in.
Shortly after the older woman had left the room, Mika’s head fell on the floor in a heavy thumped. Her shoulders sloughed as she buried her face in the pillow.
‘No. No! NO! NO!’
She had committed a crime.
The beast inside her had finally been released. Her hands are now stained with the blood of the innocents...
Shinji stood in front of Mika’s chamber with a cigarette in his mouth. He sighed heavily for the tenth time of the day. Decided that he needed to get this over with as soon as possible, Shinji pushed the sliding door, before stepping into the room.
Violet eyes immediately spotted an emotionless, almost lifeless young Spirit girl sitting on her bed.
In all honestly, Mika looked as if she was waiting for Death to come and get her. Within two weeks, she’d changed drastically from a healthy and fit young Knight, to a skinny and sickly Spirit.
It killed him to see her like this.
On his right hand, he held a silver tray contained a medium-sized bowl of plain porridge, a plate of sliced grilled meats and a small bowl of fresh vegetable.
Shinji’s other free hand was on his hips. He stole a glance at the previous untouched meal sat beside her small bed.
He sighed aloud, this time.
Ever since Suzumi had told her what had happened in Andania, Mika had fallen to a deep depression. She had refused to eat, talk, or even to take a bath.
The foolish girl was in fact, starving herself to Death.
The only thing that had kept her alive up was the magical jab on her wrist that kept her hydrated non-stopped.
The servants had done their job well in terms of making her eat. However, when the news about the servants who had then refused to take any more meals due to Mika’s own stubbornness and aggressiveness increased, Suzumi had then became furious with the young Spirit.
Thus, the care taking of Mika landed on Shinji’s laps －much to his own cringed and annoyance due to his seemingly never ending hectic schedule, on top of all.
His sister had made it very clear to him that the Spirit girl must be well fed, gained back her weights, get fit and most of all, become healthy again or else.
Knowing Suzumi, Shinji knew better than anyone else than to ignore her threatened words.
Suzumi could get really nasty and a lot scarier when she’s threatening people rather than her just being angry and upset.
Sighed again, Shinji decided to get this done and over with before he had to run for another Clan’s Meeting.
Shinji put the tray on the small table beside the bed before letting himself sit on an unoccupied chair. He turned to face her.
Shinji was halfway in reaching for his cigarette inside his pocket sleeves when he hesitated. It won’t do him good if the Spirit girl’s condition got even worse from inhaling the cigarette’s smoke.
Gritting his teeth, Shinji swore silently before he brushed his hair all the way to the back.
Mika’s dazed and lifeless eyes continued to stare blankly at the meal presented to her. Shinji cleared his throat.
“Come now. You ought to eat something.” Shinji persuaded again.
She made no indication to move a muscle. The slight movement she’d done so far was blinking and letting out small coughs every now and then.
Shinji scratched the back of his head. His patience was running very thin due to her stubborn behaviour. Nevertheless, he knew if he he knew if he were to lose his temper now, she would only shut herself down more.
And by then, it would be impossible for him to reach her.
Clearing his throat, he reached out for the spoon and began to scoop a bit of the porridge before bringing it to her mouth.
“Open.” He commended.
Mika ignored his command and stared in the air.
Swallowing the hiss in his throat, Shinji said it again in a stern voice. “Open your mouth, Mika.”
Again, she ignored him.
Taking a deep breath and counted from one to ten in his head, Shinji decided that enough was enough!
He had plenty of things that he needed to do, places he needed to go and people he needed but did not wished, to see!
“Open your mouth this instant, Mika! Either you eat and finish this meal yourself or I will force feed you, and believe me I will if that’s what it takes to keep you stay alive!”
The sound of metal hit on the ground. Shinji’s own eyes widened at the unexpected reaction he’d caused coming from the lifeless Spirit girl.
Beautiful emerald eyes glared sharply at him. Mika had turned her head to face him quickened than Shinji had anticipated and slapped the spoon from his fingers. Her eyes were puffy and swallowed, and her hair was in great mess.
For a while, Shinji had thought she would hit him on the face, based from the look she’s giving him — a look as if she’s ready to tear him apart with her own bare hands. Or even send snappy comments to his face for daring to threat to force feed her.
Instead of doing one of the two things, Shinji only received the glare before Mika returned to her previous state and stared aimlessly at the empty air before her.
Shinji hated to admit it, but even he felt the sweat on his back rolling down his spine at her glare at him earlier.
Taking a deep breath, Shinji tried again. This time however, he decided to use a different method.
Reaching out for his robe, for one of the many pockets, Shinji found what he was looking for and took it out — small wrapped a sweet-bun.
During one of the Clan’s Meetings he’d attended today, Shinji had not had the time to eat his lunch and thus, had asked the servant to wrap the bun they’d served for appetizer so that he may be able to eat it later.
Shinji then tore the bun in half and put the other half back inside the wrap. He began tearing small bites of the half bun in his hand before he turned to Mika who eyed dangerously at his hand holding the small bite of the bun.
“Open your mouth.”
Mika shook her head furiously, and he took a deep breath.
“Open your mouth, Mika.” Shinji said more forcefully this time and she was unable to resist.
Very slowly, Mika began to open her mouth. As soon as she opened her mouth, Shinji immediately slipped the small bites into her mouth.
“Close your mouth.” She closed her mouth, widened eyes still looked at him. “Now chew.”
Mika narrowed her eyes defiantly at him. When she threatened to spit the bun out, Shinji clamped over her mouth with his hand.
“I said chew.” Shinji growled.
For a while, Mika resist of not grinding the bun in her mouth. She kept her eyes shut. Trying very hard to resist the sweetness of the bun.
“Now swallow.” Shinji commended.
Mika reopened her eyes and glared at him. Tears were now gathering in her eyes and rolled on her cheeks.
After a moment of struggle, Mika eventually managed to swallow the small bites of bun in her mouth. She immediately collapsed in his arms afterwards and letting the tears ran freely on her cheeks.
It took Mika an hour to finish wailing in Shinji’s arms. After her tears had dried out, her stomach began to make a very loud noise after finally tasted the first food in two weeks.
With Shinji’s help, he guided her hand to a mouthful of porridge, meats and vegetable. With each spoonful, Mika gained back the strength and energy back that she had lose in a month and a half ago.
The colour of her skin returned to normal.
A proud smile graced on Shinji’s lips as he stroked her hair while she continued to eat the porridge hungrily by herself.
“Atta girl. You’ve won your first battle.” he whispered quietly to no one.
After her simple meal of porridge, meats and green vegetable, it took a few rounds of meals one after another on that night itself to satisfy her hunger.
Poor the chefs had to work hard and long hours on that night to prepare meals for a starving Spirit girl.
In the end, it was all worth it. The plates were polished and cleaned as Mika had eaten every last morsel there was on the plates.
Another couple of weeks were spent mainly focusing on Mika regaining back her lost strength after being bedridden for a month.
During those weeks, she had spent most of her time by talking and getting to know the strange handsome young man whom she’d found out later, was the Prince and Head of the White Wolf Clan named Prince Shinji Karou who saved her life and had even willingly to take her under his highly influential family’s custody.
Mika was bewildered and curious when she’d heard of it. Why on Fulaina would a man of his status went through all those troubles for a nobody like her whom, she added, was Mankind’s greatest enemy and also the one who was responsible for the Massacre in Andania in the first place?
Nevertheless, despite her many attempts to ask him why, Mika never gotten the chance to ask him as the man constantly seemed to be wandered around the Mansion from one meeting to another.
His daily schedule was hectic and the amount of time he was forced to spend on his Clan’s Affairs usually taken him hours－days even－to settle.
Sometimes, Mika saw him went out very early in the morning with his entourages and only came back home very late at night.
The only time they were able to meet and spent time were during his short breaks and at nights when he’s at home before they both went to bed.
One night however, changed her perspectives on him entirely. It was one of the rare nights Mika had finally be able to spend time with him after not seeing him for such a long time.
As usual, the young Spirit girl was more than eager to tell him about her day had been before asking him how his day had been treating him.
They both chatted for quite a while, before Shinji decided to inform about the Clan’s History and their sacred belief of choosing a true Apprentice to be the next successor.
Having never heard of the Clan’s History before, Mika was very interested to know about it, though, she was a little bit sceptical and wandered why he suddenly telling her about this.
As the topics deepen, Mika’s doubt began to grow for the worse.
His next words clouded her mind and stroke fear in her heart:
"Because of our unique Clan, We, the White Wolf Clan believed that each one of us has our own ‘Chosen Apprentice’. A Chosen Apprentice is someone who is bond by fate and destined to serve and protect their Master and became the next Successor. The Master’s instinct can immediately tells if that person is the Chosen Apprentice for them. The Chosen Apprentice would then be trained by the Master. The strengths of the bond between the Master and the Chosen Apprentice depends on how much trust they put on in each other.
There were however, small cases that had the Master being forced to eliminate his own Chosen Apprentice due to a bad misleading. Sometimes, this could even lead to death. There were also cases of the Chosen Apprentice died protecting their Master from the enemy and vice-versa. When such things occurred, the Master has a choice to choose whether he would like to take another Chosen Apprentice or not, because the bonds between the Master and Apprentice could be as thick as blood.
However, should the Master died while protecting their Chosen Apprentice, the Chosen Apprentice must then, be the one to take over their Master’s place and continued on. If the Master has a family, then the Apprentice will be taking care of the family in the late Master’s place.”
Shinji gazed into her eyes. There was something in the way he spoke to her in a soft voice that made something inside Mika felt warm and trembled at the same time.
“You are my one and only Chosen Apprentice, Mika.”
Those words startled her at first. The next thing they both knew, Mika fled from him faster than Shinji could blinked his eyes. He heard the loud door of her chamber being pulled and then shut tight, and then he sighed.
Weeks after Shinji had told her she was meant to be his Chosen Apprentice, Mika had been avoiding him like he was a plague itself.
Truthfully she was afraid of Shinji. Afraid that beneath the kind and caring self he always presented to her, there was a mean, sick and sinister man who was trying to seduce her and take advantage of her in her current weak state all along.
Mika didn’t tell anyone about it. Not even to Suzumi. How could she? Here she was staying in a home with a man who may or may not had an ulterior motive toward her.
Mika had thought of running away. Now that she was strong enough to move around, she could have easily made a dash to the front gates.
Although she was ultimately grateful to the Clan for taking such a good care of her all this while, however being with a man who, out in the blue, had suddenly declared her as his ‘Chosen Apprentice’ did not sit well with her.
Thus, Mika had decided to plan her little escape the following night.
she’d waited until everyone had gone to bed before she began her little escape plan.
Around one o’clock in the morning, being as quiet as a mouse, Mika sneaked out of her room, with a small bag on one hand, and headed straight to the main gates. The night was freezing cold, but she was determined to escape one way or another.
There were guards patrolling the mansion around the clock, so Mika had to take extra precautions. Living with the White Wolf Clan for a month had taught her to be extremely silence as the guards had extension hearing － they heard everything around their surroundings. Even a drop of pin wouldn’t escaped their sharp and extensive sense of hearing.
Mika had to be very careful as not to get caught or seen by any of them. It was a hard task, but she was very determined to see it through the end.
Finally after playing a game of hide-and-seek, Mika successfully reached to the Entrance of the Mansion without being heard or seen by the guards.
Taking a deep breath after being forced to sprint and ran, Mika looked back at the mansion behind her and sighed softly.
“Thank you so much for your generous helps. I knew if I were to be left alone, I wouldn’t be here. I don’t want to be a burden to anyone any more. I’m so sorry.” she spoke those words softly, before bowing her head to the Mansion.
Taking another deep breath, Mika began to walk toward the main road. She took a couple of steps away from the mansion, when a deep male voice echoed in the quiet of the night.
“How long do you intend on running away? For the rest of your life?”
Mika stopped abruptly. Her heart nearly stopped at the sound of the voice. Slowly, she turned her head to face him.
Shinji came out from the shadows. He wore a thick white robe and his silky long forest hair was left untied. He gazed at her stoically with dark violet eyes.
Mika turned her back facing him. She refused to look into those eyes that could easily petrify her.
Her hands started to tremble.
With a shaking voice, she asked, “What are you doing here?”
“Just taking a night stroll.” Shinji answered shortly. He reached for a packet of cigarette he kept inside his robe. He popped one to his mouth and lit it. “What are you doing out here late this hour?”
“I... I was just... Y-You should head back to bed. You need to wake up early for work, don’t you?”
Shinji inhaled and exhaled the smoke.
“Aren’t you going to answer my questions?” He asked again smoothly, and watched how Mika’s shoulders twitched at the question. He could clearly see how trembled her hands were.
Shinji was no idiot. When he had said he was taking a late night stroll, it was just an excuse. He had actually, been waiting to speak with her. He knew the young Spirit had been avoiding him ever since he’d stated that she was his Chosen Apprentice.
Shinji understood how his words had affected her. Hence, he had respected her needs for a little privacy and had stayed away from her. He also knew on top of her treating him like he was some kind of plague, she had also been thinking of running away from here.
Hoping to catch her in the act, Shinji had made an excuse, saying he wasn’t feeling well to avoid another Clan Meeting and headed to his own chamber to wait until he could sense her coming out from her own private chamber, before he had then followed her.
All the sudden, Mika did something that was totally unexpected of her that was enough to cause the cigarette to fall out of Shinji’s mouth－she went down to her knees on the cold hard ground!
The long front of her bangs was covering half of her face.
“I’M SORRY!” Mika's lips trembled but she forced the words to come out. “I-I know what you must have think of me, that I’m being ungrateful after all that you and your family had done for me... But the truth is, I can’t accept the fact that I am. I-I mean, what I meant to say is...”
Mika shut her eyes and forced herself to take a long deep breath and gathered her words carefully before she let it out.
“I do not wish to become your Chosen Apprentice.” She opened her eyes and looked straight into his deep violet eyes.
“It’s crazy to even think someone like me could be a serve to someone as calibre as you! What concrete proof do you have exactly that would really make me believe that I am what you said I am? Nothing! Those were just merely words spoken from generations to generations! There’s no real evidences that I am your Chose Apprentice, now is it?”
When Shinji didn’t reply, Mika nodded her head. “I’d thought so. That is the reason why I’m leaving tonight. Thank you for everything and farewell.”
As Mika turned to walk away once again, she was stopped by a few guards who were patrolling the area as they came rushing over to them.
“Your Highness, is everything all right? We heard a loud shout just now.”
One of them looked from the Prince to the Spirit girl who stood still frozen with her back facing them,alerted them immediately.
“Leave us.” Shinji’s sharp and icily tone shocked the patrol guards, even Mika.
Mika would be lying if she said she wasn’t expecting him to be this calm and collected over his emotion. She had already mentally and emotionally prepared to hear him burst in anger to her rejection of becoming his Chosen Apprentice, and shoot out cruel and mean words to her for being ungrateful after all he and his family had done for her.
The guards repeatedly apologized to him before returning to their posts and left them alone. They wondered what the heck just happened between the Prince and his Chosen Apprentice, but were wise enough not to question.
Meanwhile, Mika was reduced to her knees, silently weeping. Truthfully, she had no idea why she had even bothered to apologise and even cried in front of him in the first place. She desperately wanted to escape from him, didn’t she?
Shinji didn’t looked like he was going to stop her anyway. Then, why did she felt guilty over leaving him?
As Mika pondered on those thoughts while shivering from the night’s cold temperature, she felt something warm fell on her shoulders－a thick white robe.
Eyes widened in shock at the robe, Mika looked up to the man who had just dumped the expensive robe on her and was only wearing a silk pyjamas.
He stared back at her with the same stoic eyes.
They both stared at each other for a minute and without words. Finally, after a minute passed by, it was Shinji who chose to look away first and headed back to the mansion.
Mika clenched on the thick soft cottoned robe with gritted teeth. Turning her head, she looked at the mansion behind her.
Her mind drifted back to a moment ago:
As Shinji broke the eye contact and straightened his back, he looked down at her one last time, and as softly and lightly as he could, he touched her shoulder.
It was a mere glimpse of a moment between them when it happened, before Shinji had to retrieve his hand from her, headed to the Mansion and never looked back.
Though the moment was fairly short, it was enough to make Mika’s head spun with questions.
Among all of the questions she had regarding the White Wolf Prince, one question kept playing in her mind throughout the rest of that night:
"How long do you intend on running away? For the rest of your life?"
A week had passed peacefully in the White Wolf Mansion ever since that fateful night.
Mika did not know what had possessed her to stay with the Clan. Was it the subtleness of his action? Even when she’d tried to leave him, he still cared about her well-being by giving her his robe.
Whatever it was, it had made Mika thought everything through for the rest of the night until she had shown up to see the Prince in front of the whole Clan’s Council Members, the very next morning, and asked for his forgiveness and permission to stay.
Shinji had been happy and willingly to accept her into his Clan again. However, Mika had firmly told him that though she had chosen to stay by his side, that did not mean she would blindly follow his orders.
Her mind still could not accepted the fact that she was his Chosen Apprentice after all.
Mika had told Shinji that should ever, she found him to be suspicious in any way, she would not hesitate to leave him the next time.
Despite the loud protesting outbreak that had came from the Clan’s Councilmen after Mika had dared to speak up to her Master and even had the nerves to put on terms in their Master-Apprentice relationship, Suzumi had able to shut them all up and told them it was Shinji’s decision to decide and not them.
Shinji for his part, had said nothing on her terms. He simply nodded in their agreement and had wished her in time, she would understand about the Clan’s and their Beliefs.
They had since then rekindled their bonds.
It was yet another boring day at the mansion. Shinji was sitting on the porch, smoking as he watched over his young Apprentice sweeping the dried leaves in the wide spaced-garden.
He snorted and rolled his eyes.
Earlier in the day, Mika had approached him and stated that she had grown tired and restless of not doing anything except sparring with him and exercising, and that she wished to help out the servants with the house-chores around the Mansion.
Shinji had snorted at this. He had told her there was no need for her to bother with the chores.
Shinji advised her to watch her status and reputation within the Clan now that she was his Chosen Apprentice. However, Mika would not have any of it.
She firmly stated that she grew up scrubbing the kitchen’s floors back in the Castle, even when she was the official adopted daughter of Lord Ranfel.
Her stubbornness and persistence had eventually won him in the end. However, Shinji had only permitted her to do minor chores around the Mansion.
Shinji was finishing up with the last piece of his cigarette when one of his guards approached him and whispered something into his ears.
Shinji nodded his head and dismissed the guard before he got up on his feet and put on his slippers and approached Mika.
“I think that’s enough for the day.”
Mika looked at the small mountain of the dry leaves she’d gathered. “But there are still more left to sweep!”
“You can finish them later. You have visitors.”
Commandant Grants and the Vice-Commandant of the New Light Brigade, Claire Boyce, stood in front of the big gates of the White Wolf Clan. Both of them looked at the tall bronze statues of three wolves that were standing in front of the main entrance in awed.
While waiting for the guard to fetch the Lady of the Mansion, they were both mesmerized with the mansion’s layout and how tight the security was.
′Impressive,′ nodded Grants, impressively. No matter where he looked or turned, there were guards everywhere surrounding and within the perimeters.
Each of them carried different types of weapons.
Grants spotted a group of them on the rooftops and another group on the treetops — archers and snipers.
One wrong move and no doubt he would be dead in no time, either by arrow or bullet.
“My apology for making you wait, Sir Rogue, Miss Boyce.” A soft voice snapped him out of his thought.It was Suzumi, greeted them with a graceful smile.
“We should be the ones apologising to you for coming here without informing you beforehand, Milady.”
“As I was expecting your arrival, there is no need for you to apologize. Wouldn’t you like to come in?”
“Yes. Thank you so much for having us.”
Grants and Claire entered the gates. They were in the middle of a conversation with Suzumi when Claire suddenly stopped and stood in front of the Commandant, much to his great shock.
One of her hands outstretched for the hilt of the sword as two figures came to their views.
“Vice-Commandant Boyce! What on Fulaina do you think you’re do-” Grant’s rants quickly faded as the two faces approaching them getting nearer.
Mika’s face turned pale. The pit of her stomach grew heavier with each steps she took the moment Shinji had told her there were guests coming over to see her after two long months.
Bravely, she glanced at Shinji who was walking beside her with an unreadable face and a deep scowl on his forehead.
As they approached the main gates, her heart dropped at the sights of waiting for her at the gates.
“Commandant Grants. M-Miss Claire.” Mika whispered breathlessly.
Grants shook his head and cleared his thoughts. The memories of Andania still haunted him till this day, but he was able to control them a lot more compared two months ago.
Taking a deep breath, Grants made the first move.
“Mika. It has been a long while. Come forward,” he ushered her to come closer. “A bit closer if you will, please? So that I may take a closer look at how you’ve been.”
Grants offered his slightly trembled hand toward her and a small smile. He encouraged her to do the same.
Nodding, Mika took a few brave steps toward the Commandant. Halfway approaching him and just as Mika was about to take on the offered handshake, when a sharply pointed blade aimed threateningly at her chin.
“We are hereby under the order of Lord Ranfel Heartlets XII to capture you and take you back to the castle for your long overdue punishment for the crime you have committed. Should you resist, I am forced to take drastic action against you. Do I make myself clear?”
Shortly after Claire had finished her sentences, a swarm of guards had her instantly cornered and circled their swords pointed at her.
Snipers and archers on the roofs and tree tops were all ready to take her down.
Shinji let out low growl before he marched forward and stood in front of his stunned Apprentice. He glared narrowed at the paled-looking blonde woman before him.
“What the hell are you doing? Stand down now!” Grants hissed angrily at his Vice-Commandant. He moved slowly forward with both hands lifted up in the air, and stood between his subordinate and the White Wolf Prince.
“B-But Sir! Lord Ranfel had specifically ordered us to-”
“Stand down now, Boyce.”
Shocked beyond words at the sudden low and calm tone of her superior and the usage of her last name, Claire dropped her sword on the ground and slowly raised her hands in the air.
“That goes the same for the rest of you. Return your post immediately!” Suzumi barked to the guards surrounded Claire.
Soon after the guards had left them, Grants gravely sighed and massaged his forehead before he counted from one to ten in his head.
“My sincere apologies to all of you on behalf of my subordinate’ reckless behaviour. I assure you it will not happen again. If, by all means it does, you have my permission to cut me off immediately.”
“Commandant! How could you said that when I was just simply following a direct order from Lord Ranfel?” shouted Claire, feeling very offended by her Commanding Officer’s words.
“Indeed you were, Vice-Commandant. However, mind you that I have absolutely no intention of doing what was ordered by Lord Ranfel. Far from it actually. My only reason coming here is to give them updates of the current situation as per request by Lord Eden and also the Master Oracle himself. You may report my action to Lord Ranfel, if you wish. I won’t stop you.”
Claire looked at Grants with widened eyes, speechless at his given words. Instead of saying or do anything, she moved her gaze from the Commandant to the ground.
“Well then.” It was Suzumi who broke the awkward silence. “Now that everything is settled with, let’s talk about this more privately, shall we?”
AFTER the commotion at the front gates, Suzumi had led the two Luyas Knights to a more comfortable dining room where tea and snacks were already served for them.
Mika seated in between Shinji and Suzumi while Grants and Claire sat opposite them across the long rectangular dining table.
Grants cleared his throat.
“I would like all of you to know first and foremost that we－the Master Oracle, Lord Eden, and I, had tried everything that we can to ensure and convinced the House of Eden and its Councilmen to lower down the sentences for Mika’s crime.” He spoke in low and uncomfortable voice.
“As you could imagine, there were plenty of debates, protests and arguments went over this for the past couple of months before finally, they reached to an agreement.”
Grants looked straight into Mika’s eyes.
“The sentence is this: Mika is to be exiled from the Kingdom of Luyas. Should she ever to be found anywhere within Luyas’ territorial grounds for whatever reasons at all, the knights will hunt her down and kill her.”
There was a long silence among them.
Something deep inside Mika cracked the moment the words came out from Grants’ mouth.
She could feel it. Mika knew something like this would befall on her for the crime she had committed.
What she did not expect was the burning pain she felt on her chest of losing and having to force to leave the only place she could called as her home for the passed five years.
“It was extremely hard to negotiate and reach for that agreement, considering what you had done.” Claire eyed coldly at Mika.
“You should be grateful to the Commandant who’d kindly requested for you not to behead immediately.”
“There is no need to make her feel any guiltier than she already is now is it, Vice-Commandant Boyce?” Grants gave her a sharp glare.
“We did the best that we could. Lord Andania had been kind enough to ask the townsmen to leave you alone. Though, it won’t be long until one from their side to finally cracked and start to search where you are. It would be best if you leave from this place while you still can.”
Grants looked at Mika with sadness in his eyes. He no longer cared the shocking look of his Vice-Commandant’s face at the expression he wore at the moment.
He’d failed her. He’d failed to protect her.
“I’m sorry, Mika.” Grants spoke softly, now standing at the front gates with the Vice-Commandant by his side and after a long pause. “It should have been my duty as the Commandant of the New Light Brigade to protect my subordinates... Yet, I’ve failed to protect you.”
“It’s not your fault, Commandant.” Mika wiped away the tears threatened to fall. She put on a little smile for him. “Thank you for all that you’ve done for me. I could never repay the kindness you’d shown me.”
After a long while, the two Luyas Knights decided it was best to get going.
Standing on their feet, Grants was just about to excuse themselves and thanked for the hospitality when Suzumi stopped him.
“Please wait a moment.” Suzumi called upon a servant and whispered something to her before she left. A minute later, the servant returned with Mika’s nicely folded knight clothes, together with her Knight sword.
“I believe these belonged to Luyas.” Suzumi handed over the two items to Grants, in which he accepted with a heavy heart.
“It’s a great shame things turned out this way, Mika. Though I am no longer your Commandant and not be able to protect you, allow me to speak this from the heart at the very least: you are if not, one of the best Knights we have ever had in years. You are reliable, cheerful, strong-willed and a hard-worker.”
Mika’s eyes immediately grew widened at his words.
“Now, I am not saying these words merely just because you’re a Spirit, thus, you are capable of doing certain things that we humans lacked of, no. I’m saying these words is because I believe in you. I believe you have proven yourself not only to me, but also to the very few among of the society that you are more than just a mere Spirit. The bravery that you had shown back at Andania, is still the talk of many. I’d been surprised in fact, when your exile was announced by Lord Ranfel yesterday, there were few Knights who were greatly disappointed by it, along with some of the people both in Luyas and Andania. There are people who still see you as a deemed worthy individual, Mika. Do not let the world brings you down and always be proud of who you are.”
Grants smiled sadly for a bit before the usual stern façade of Luyas’ ‘Devil’ Commandant resurfaced.
He took few steps outside from the gates before he turned his head and looked at Mika straight in the eyes.
“I wish you the best of luck in life. May we be able to meet again under a different circumstances. Farewell, Mika.”