“You have arrived, Senior Fenris,” Raven said with a shallow smile, completely ignoring the fact that Fenris was holding her by the collar of her robes, much like a mother-cat would hold her cubs by their neck-skin. “It took longer than I expected.”
“When there was such an interesting show to watch, why rush?”
Raven snickered contemptuously inside, but let none of it show on her face. ‘I’m starting to agree with brother about this ones personality. . . .’
She glanced across the room below. It seemed like Fenris hadn’t bothered to freeze anyone this time because everyone except Gadwall and Swan were staring up at them with shocked confusion, not daring to move. Raven ignored them all, instead flashing a cold glare at Gadwall.
“Does Senior Fenris have the proof he needs?” she asked without looking away from the green-gowned man hovering beneath her. She could see the latter narrowing his eyes at her words.
“I was getting there when you decided to make an attempt at taking a chomp out of my arm.”
‘Ah’, thought Raven as she glanced down at Fenris’ unblemished sleeve; ‘that explains why even my teeth are hurting.’
Even through the dazed anger, Raven knew that she had been striking Gadwall with every bit of force she could muster. Unfortunately, the difference in cultivation level between the two was simply too large; if you punch a mountain wall with all you’ve got, will the mountain or your hand take more damage? Currently, Raven was hurting and bleeding all over, with several serious injuries, both external and internal.
That was, however, yet another thing she ignored at the moment.
“Then I’ll leave it to you, Senior,” Raven said and lowered her head in a bow, which looked very comical, considering how Fenris was holding her.
Fenris only smiled and turned his attention to Gadwall, but in her head Raven heard Fenris’ playful voice reminding her; “You owe me one, young Raven.” She suddenly got the distinct feeling that the favor in question would give her plenty of headaches in the future.
“You know this brat?” asked Gadwall, his question snapping Raven back to the present.
“Not really,” answered Fenris nonchalantly and actually tossed Raven to the side, letting Headmaster Swan catch her injured body. “But I believe that’s beside the point at the moment, don’t you agree?”
From Swan’s arms, Raven noticed Gadwall’s muscles tensing in frustration and anger but in the end he restrained himself, opting for a different path. “I have done nothing wrong, Spirit Legend Fenris,” he said; “she attacked me first so my actions were in self-defense.”
Fenris raised a quizzical eyebrow. “Oh, so altering the events of a realm by blocking an execution is self-defense in your eyes? Interesting. Does that mean the woman from before was actually you?”
Both Gadwall’s and Raven’s eyes twitched at Fenris’ words, but for very different reasons.
‘A good show, huh?’ mused Raven bitterly. ‘Bloody old fox – only doing what was agreed on! He could at least have stopped Anhinga from fleeing. . . .’
“I wonder,” continued Fenris when Gadwall didn’t respond. “If I looked into this matter a bit more carefully, would I find traces of Trivian spirit essence anywhere? The Council would be very interested in my findings, I’m sure.”
“You wouldn’t dare!” shouted Gadwall, finally unable to suppress his rage. “You might be strong, but one word from me and my family wou-. . .”
“Would cause all kind of trouble for me? Yes, I am well aware how the Wutu family handles things,” smiled Fenris; “but you have to be alive to utter that word, no?”
Deep blue spirit essence billowed out from Fenris, surrounding him like an awe-inspiring halo. Down on the floor, the oppressive force of that spirit essence wasn’t too hard to handle but, judging by his pale face, the same did not apply for Gadwall. The spirit pressure alone was enough to force him – who was way stronger than the low Spirit Masters Sky Empire had present – down several feet. In fact, Gadwall seemed to be struggling hard just to keep himself airborne at all.
“Besides, even your family wouldn’t survive the full wrath of the Council.”
Raven observed the two men closely, paying little attention to the healing spirit essence Headmaster Swan was pouring into her. It was clear that while Gadwall was still utterly enraged, he was nonetheless afraid.
“So, what do you say; do I kill you now and deal with the consequences, or will you leave this realm peacefully and let bygones be bygones?” A hungry glint flashed by Fenris’ eyes as he stared at Gadwall, as if hoping the latter would pick the first option.
Gadwall’s face practically turned black. Clearly he didn’t like any of his options. His eyes scanned the floor beneath him, his eyes finally landing on Raven. A vicious grin appeared on his lips. Gadwall once more faced Fenris.
“Fine,” he spat; “I will leave. This realm doesn’t really have anything worthwhile anyway. However,” Gadwall added and pointed at Raven; “the fact that this brat attacked me remains. I will deliver justice on her before I leave.”
It all happened so fast that not even Raven could keep up. One second, both Gadwall and Fenris had been hovering in the air, talking. The next second, Fenris stood in front of Raven, his green robes fluttering softly, with his hand stretched up. Between his thumb and index finger was a grey-black blade, stopped dead in its tracks, aiming for Raven’s neck. Everyone was busy staring in shock when, like an afterthought, a massive pressure wave blasted out, instantly shattering every window in the room and knocking even the Spirit Masters off their feet.
“Why do you block my path?” shouted Gadwall, livid with anger. “It is my right to kill that brat – she wounded me!”
Fenris laughed. “Wounded your pride, you mean? Or are you seriously implying that a mere mid Spirit Champion actually managed to hurt you, a Sage? Such juicy gossip; the young lord and heir to the esteemed Wutu family, hurt by a Champion of a lower realm!”
Raven stifled a laugh as she watched Gadwall’s face turn from black, to red, to white and then back to black again.
“Don’t be silly! How could she hurt me!?” he protested vehemently. “But the brat still attacked me – that is crime enough. Move aside!”
Raven couldn’t see Fenris’ face but she could feel his body stiffen. ‘The old fox is losing his patience?’ she wondered, curious.
“You feel like killing her, I feel like protecting her.” Fenris answered curtly. “Leave.”
Not noticing Fenris change in temper, Gadwall pushed on; “Why are you blocking me anyway? It’s only one little brat.”
“I said leave!” This time strong spirit essence accompanied Fenris’ voice, causing Gadwall to be thrown back like a kite.
Looking at Gadwall’s sorry state as he got back on his feet, Raven couldn’t help but smile coldly. If possible, she would like to Gadwall to die, here and now, but she knew that was not going to happen. She was too weak to do it herself and Fenris had made clear to her that he had no intentions of killing Gadwall for her. However, seeing the man being miserably defeated like this was undoubtedly second-best.
‘But he won’t escape me forever,’ she thought as dark killing intent flashed across her eyes.
Gadwall glared angrily at the white-eared man in front of him. He couldn’t belive his bad luck right now; not only had his carefully laid out plans, seven years in the making, been uprooted by Fenris, the damnable man wouldn’t even let him vent his anger!
‘Why did he even turn up here!?’ Gadwall lamented; he had been so close! Or had he?
Thinking about it, a lot of things had gone bad recently and while a man like Fenris would jump on the occasion to make trouble for Gadwall, he was not the kind to get involved in politics.
Meeting Fenris’ now cold stare, Gadwall knew that he had lost. If he didn’t leave soon, Fenris might not bother keeping his temper in check anymore. But to leave without knowing why he had failed? No way!
Getting back on his feet slower than necessary, Gadwall gave everyone in the room a good look-over. ‘The mastermind behind it must be here,‘ he thought and as his eyes fell on that the cross-dressing ex-student of his, Gadwall paused.
‘She had called him Senior, so they must know each other from before. Could she be. . . ?’ Gadwall shook his head. It was more likely that Fenris was impressed by her cultivation and just talked to her randomly at some point. How could Raven Nightingale, the nine-year-old do anything against him at all, except oddly survive all the time? ‘But. . . .’ No matter how illogical it seemed, Gadwall’s gut told him otherwise. His eyes narrowed slightly.
“Very well,” Gadwall said, as he brushed off his robes and stretched his body. “I will leave.” He made a show of moving towards his man-made exit, but then paused. “I’d just like to know this: who is the mastermind that blocked the Talon Clan’s every move the last couple of years?”
The room fell silent. Gadwall didn’t expect anyone to speak out – why would they? No, Gadwall used his eyes rather than ears to get his answer. Practically everyone gave each other confused looks – even Fenris looked at those around him with interest, not staying too long on any particular person – but not everyone feigned their ignorance that well. The Emperor and Empress looked at everyone but the academy headmaster, who in turn had initially looked at his student only to quickly look away, never to look again.
The verdict was in and Gadwall’s anger reached new heights. He had been one-upped by a nine-year-old, female child!?
“You!” he howled and jabbed a finger at the little brat. “I don’t know how you did it, brat, but you will pay for this!” Gadwall was about to dash forward to attack the girl yet again but he then remembered who was standing in his way.
Gadwall growled in frustrated rage. Then he started laughing.
“Haha, hide behind your guardian all you want, brat, but he won’t be there forever!” Vicious killing intent surged out of him, almost tangible. Gadwall glared at Raven, wanting to scare the child to death here and now. “One day, I’ll come for your life, little brat, mark my words!”
He was expecting to see her shake with fear, but, to his surprise, she just stood there – looking at him with cold, red eyes. “No need,” she said calmly. “I will come for yours.”
Despite himself, Gadwall shuddered, making him even angrier. Why was he afraid of this girl? Bloody images filled with despair and suffering flashed by in Gadwall’s memories, bringing him back to that land of death that Raven’s mental attack had plunged him into. He felt cold sweat forming on his back, his soul prism shivering slightly, but quickly the fear turned into more anger.
“Very well, brat! I welcome you, if you have the guts, but since you’re so fond of death I think I’ll give you a little parting gift! Finally, you will truly be the sole genius at the Sky Academy.”
Gadwall smiled maliciously and before even Fenris could stop him, Gadwall used a special Divine Skill to pull at the dormant spirit essence he had left within some of the students at the school. Instantly the spirit essence burned up without a trace. There wasn’t a lot of his spirit essence within these people so it would only sting a bit. For now.
Laughing Gadwall pulled out a black rock from within his spacial ring and crushed it beneath his feet. A formless black smog spread out, quickly enveloping him. “Bye!” he laughed as the smog warped and disappeared, taking him with it.
Raven stared blankly at the spot where Gadwall had just been standing only seconds before.
“A teleportation talisman,” explained Fenris when he noticed her daze. “It’s a one-way-ticket to a preordained place.”
“So he’s left the continent?” she asked.
“Do you know what gift he was talking about?”
Fenris shrugged indifferently and Raven rolled her eyes. He might not be bothered, but for some reason, she was feeling really uneasy.
Raven glanced around at the half amazed, half terrified, people around her and was just about to ask Fenris if he could do something about their memories when a flustered voice rang out in her head.
“Sister!” Hoatzin called, “So-something is wrong with Javelin!”
Raven froze as Gadwall’s parting words echoed in her mind: “Finally, you will truly be the sole genius at the Sky Academy. . . .”
Before she knew it, Raven was running. Running as fast as her legs could carry her.
‘It can’t be. . . ,’ she told herself. ‘I checked him every day; there was no black spirit essence within him!’
Raven kept running. ‘It can’t be. . . ,’ she repeated, but her gut told her otherwise.