As soon as that voice echoed in our ear, without any second thought, our feet froze at the position as if a bolt of lightning strike us.
Following the voice, a woman around her late thirties, wearing an apron walked toward us. The sound of her footsteps in the corridor was enough to send shiver down our spine. And before we could process anything, the figure stood right in front of us with a ladle in one hand whose other end was moving back and forth in the other hand of hers.
”So, will the authority do the favor to bestow me with the knowledge of where were they wandering at this hour? ” – her tone was so cold that the words were piercing our heart just like a spear of ice.
Even meeting her fierce and scary gaze was beyond my level of courage so both us stood there with our head lowered, before saying any word in our defense.
”W..we were– ”
”Ahh yess, you were– ” – she slumped towards me a little as my voice was slightly low due to the turmoil.
Using this situation while her attention was fixated on me, Coco tried to sneak away quietly.
”I think I announced my command loud enough…. didn I lord coco? ” – and with this her attention shifted from me to coco.
”Y…, Yes of course and I-I was going nowhere, just adjusting my tail…. hehe ”.
I could clearly anticipate cocos situation by the weird smile curling on his face. No matter how scary and robust his figure appear to others, in front of mom, he is nothing more than a little pup.
”Is that what it was….it better be so…., and kai what were you saying earlier- ” she said in her scary tone while turning back her dazzling dandelion eyes towards me.
”We, by accident ran into an unknown ground which was quite befitting for our training so we were actually trying out some new moves– ” I said with a smile which failed to reach my brows.
”Exactly, we were so immensely drowned in our training that almost forgot the idea of clock. ”—coco claimed like it was actually the truth.
Though I did not want to admit but I was a meagre when it comes to playing with words.
”Is that all?? ” she asked with her expression turning back to normal.
”of course, you think we have what it takes to hide something from you mom… ” – coco answered as we slowly walked past her just like a cat escaping with her tail between two legs.
”Oh really coco, then what about the scent of the blood of demonic creature Im getting from your body– ” she exclaimed without even bothering to turn towards us.
At this, we shut silent…. as all of our cards were sabotaged. She slowly turned her head towards us as her smooth and winsome auburn hair gently waved from her shoulder to her back and as she was glaring at us, it didn took long for that ephemeral smile of hers to fade away.
”GO WASH YOURSELVES RIGHT NOW!! AND I WANT BOTH OF YOU AT DINING TABLE IN 5 MINUTES…. ”- she yelled mercilessly, her voice piercing our eardrums.
I swear, at that moment, she was appearing much more terrifying than any demonic creature.
We immediately rushed to the bathroom and undressed to take shower.
Though I have confronted an astonishing number of demonic creatures in past regardless of my age but while washing our bodies, the stinking odour of blood of demonic creature was something I could never get adapted to.
After rubbing our bodies to the bottom most layer of skin, we came out and begin to dress up. While coco was drying up his fur with dryer, I was dressing up to catch up to the dining as soon as possible.
Then, both of us finished up with the task and proceeded for the dining table to finally fill our empty bellies.
As we were approaching, the delicious odour of the meal in the corridor was suffusing my nostril, making my appetite grew more and as we entered the space, we were encountered with another two figures, positioning themselves comfortably on the seats of chair.
”Oh my, look who we have here… again getting scolded today. Its only third day of this week and you have already been scolded twice. I still don understand what you get by getting on moms nerves…. hehe ” – a little girl with her violent emerald orbs and a thick brown braid resting on her shoulder reaching about her armpit, taunted.
I twitched my brows in frustration at her on this unpleasantly for a moment before replying.
”Coming from the hypocrite who sneaked up in my room behind my back– ” my voice came out more rough than I wanted it to.
”You got any proof….? If not, then don accuse such false charges on me…. or perhaps is it you spitting your anger of being scolded on me? ” – she revolted with her expression turning serious as if Im the one at fault here.
”Then what about the locked window in my room? Theres no one else who would do that.… ” – I barked with my voice a little higher.
”What are you talking about? I don know anything about that. It must be you who locked it before leaving and forgot…. And even if I did so, how did you know that the window was locked? Don tell me you left it unlocked on purpose to quietly barge in the house without letting anyone know…. is that so kai? ” she said boldly while her lips were forming into smile which irritated me to the bottom of my skin.
Coco, ignoring this trivial mess of ours, walked around the table and sat at his specified position, while waiting for his meal to arrive.
”You…. ”- but before I could say another word a voice interrupted me.
”Emily, they have just arrived, let them at least put something into their stomach first. Im sure your mothers words weren enough to fill their appetite ” – said the other elderly figure from behind the newspaper he was holding, while sipping strokes of tea from his cup in another hand, regularly after a time gap. His pearl river grey hair were not so smooth but long enough from back to make anyone misunderstand him for his masculinity at first glimpse from behind.
But then again, the same could be said for his beard which was thick and sophisticated enough to clear the mist of misunderstanding in an instant.
”Grandpa—not you too…. ”—I said with a really exhausted expression, my voice filled with tiredness.
”Well, what else can be the best for an old man like me than to have some fun and quality time like this with his grandchildren ” – he exclaimed with a fishy tone.
”ehhh…. stop with the act grandpa… we all here are well aware of your physical conditions. You are going nowhere…. At least for now, so stop being so dramatic ” – said Emily, her words sharper than any blade.
But after all she wasn completely wrong; regardless of the age, grandpa was one of the best Martial of his generation and also the one who trained me and coco from beginning; our Master.
The hierarchy through out, among the martial are distributed on the basis of their strength and their individual aetheric attribute Enigma, under which the lowest rank that is assigned to a martial is E-rank which then, is followed up to
and lastly the martials, with unbelievable aether manipulation skills and strengths, incomparable to any other are assigned S-Rank. The S-Rank Martials are so powerful that it takes about 5 to 7 AA-Rank Martials to stand their ground against a single one, but paradoxically the number of S-Rank Martials in the nation is so scanty that they only appear when the demonic creature, breaking through the portal is higher than at least A level. Though these are roughly measures but are plenty to get a gust of their might.
However, its not just about strength, but the rank of a martial is also seen as his status symbol and is also the factor that determines their value. If I compare an E rank martial to an A rank Martial, the treatment they receive from others and privileges they posses are on a completely different level. While E rank martial are seen nothing more than labour to fill in the lacking spots, an A rank martial is treated same as any celebrity.
However, The title S-Rank itself is influencing and prestigious enough to make anyone submit themselves in respect or else cave under pressure just by mentioning it.
However, even to become an E-Rank Martial, you must achieve a threshold set of skills and strength and also…your age must be above 18.
Sounds absurd, considering the demand of Martials but it is what it is….. and thats the reason why Im not a martial either. theres still few months left for me to turn 18 but once I turn, I will be qualified to be an official Martial.
Though I don have any idea of what rank I would be assigned, but the least I have expected from myself and hope for is D-Rank.
Well back to the point, the figure right in front of me is itself an S-rank martial and not just any S rank, but an elite one among them…. Riley Vellirin. Though its been long since he retired from his official martial title, I highly doubt his skills and strengths got any huge variation.
And hes the one whos the owner of the dojo, constructed right behind our abode, which he started not too long after retiring, to train and prepare Martial to fight against demonic creatures and contribute to humanity even after retiring. He was so outstanding and remarkable among other Martials that he achieved a nickname for himself by them, which was – The unrivalled sword which didn take anyone long to get a gist that it was because of his unparalleled sword skills.
But before I could break more about him a familiar voice echoed in my ears.
”Kai, coco, heres your dinner ” – said mom while carrying dishes in her hands, which were releasing so delicious aroma, enough to make anyone starve even if his appetite was full.
So without wasting a second, as soon as they were served, I and coco started to gorge it like a prisoner, left to starve for days.
It was so delicious that it buried all other thoughts, going in my mind in the moment, pushing me in a daze and I could somehow feel it was same with Coco.
”Father, don you think you should have a word with him…. He can just roam around the town, messing with every Demonic Creature ” – her voice still sharp rather than concerned.
”However I look at it Kai, June is right, you shouldn interfere too much with Demonic Creatures….. not until you become a Martial atleast ” – said grandpa, his tone changing to sincere from mocking.
”Yea…. your sword is given to you for the purpose of self defense, not self destruction ” – added mom as she was still not over it.
”I know grandpa, mom and Im considerate on the matter…. ” – I said with in a low tone, reducing my pace of swallowing the bite on my tongue.
As we were on the topic, I was reminded of the uncanny, that I faced earlier today…. that abnormal ghoul and though I didn wanted, there was already a faint expression of thoughtfulness on my face.
”You alright kai…. Is there something bothering you?? ” – said grandpa calmly.
Even though I was still intaking my meal, somehow grandpa noticed this invisible expression….or so I anticipated.
”N-no grandpa…. its nothing ” – of course I wanted to discuss it with him but I restrained myself this time as I didn wanted my mom and sister to get worried for nothing.
”Well then…. also kai, I want you to meet me in my room before going to bed. theres something I need to fill you with and discuss about ” – said grandpa but this time…. his words were so that can be ignored.
”yea, sure grandpa…. ” – I replied while focusing back on my dish.
”Well, Im done here…. lets get to the bed, see you tomorrow everyone ” – gestured Emily as she left.
And soon while I was at it, Everyone else was leaving one after another, beginning the chain from Emily.
”I should be get going too…. see you later kai ” – said grandpa after finishing her late night tea.
So now its just me, mom and coco left here I guess. While we were eating, she was washing the left over dishes in the kitchen and seeing her like this, deep down somewhere I really wanted to apologize for pushing her more on edge and make her worry about me. and so after gathering the courage and taking an audible sigh, I finally said it.
”Hey mom…. are you really that mad on me. I know you are nothing but concerned about me but I can just ignore or turn a blind eye to someone who I can save…. but if you still don want me to indulge myself more with demonic creatures I will try my best not to…. ” I said with my hoarse voice.
At this, she stood silent for a moment and continued with her work without bothering to even react so I thought she was still pissed off but seems that wasn case as she replied….
”I know kai…. you don do things on purpose and as a person I should be really proud of you for protecting others and saving their lives but Im also a mother….. your mother…. and somewhere deep down a part of me will always restrain you to not indulge yourself with such danger….. I know its selfish of me but Im not ashamed for prioritizing my son over anyone else…. ” – she said her voice, just so that I could hear, without turning back to me.
”I know you want to become a martial, one just like your grandfather and you will face a lot of hardships in future after becoming one but as for now, until you aren a martial, I want you to stay safe ” – her voice getting more concerned with every passing word.
”I know mom…. thanks ” – I replied, I wanted to say much more at the moment but I couldn …. like theres a heavy weight on my chest preventing my words to escape my lips.
”You know kai, what your father used to say?…. Its not the strength or advanced skills that makes one powerful, but a heart which don hesitate to stretch out a helping hand to another person in trouble…. no matter what the circumstances and disadvantages they are at ”.
”Th-thats really bold of him – ” – I said with a faint smile which wasn reaching my eyes.
Father huh…. just as she mentioned the word, an unknown emotion shrouded my heart…. it was no blithe but instead a grieve or a sorrow nostalgia.
I really didn knew how to react whenever I heard of this word father and before I could know, my attention deviated towards the person in the picture, hanging on the wall above the drawer, framed well.
He was my father…. Andrew Vellirin. I don know why but every time I was reminded of him, a weird emotion arouses inside me…. something I don even know myself. Weather I should be happy or grieve about it…..
It was all because of a calamity which occurred years ago… when I was about 7 years old. We all were living happily…. me, Mother, Emily, Grandfather and Father. both my father and grandfather were well known Martials and lived upto their title until the day, the tragedy fell upon us. They say a portal broke near our house and demonic creatures swayed out of it in a ruthless number. Both my father and grandfather was occupied by another mission but somehow my father managed to come for our aid. However, till the time he arrived, it was already too late; the calamity had already stuck us. Our house was on flames and the destruction caused was so horrifying, it didn took long for the infrastructures around to turn to ashes. My mother just barely but somehow managed to protect me and my sister but the disaster was so severe, I got injured during the evacuation and since then I have no memory of my past. They say my father got so depressed and outrageous at his failure to protect his family, he charged towards the demonic creatures alone, blinded by pure rage and a shattered heart.
However, battles can be overwhelmed by pure rage…. if you lack strength, its nothing more than a suicidal charge and so were the consequences of this calamity. It was the day when a father lost his son, a wife lost her husband and a kid lost his father.
However to pull me out of my daze, a roar fell upon my ears and caught me in surprise.
”Kai…. are you listening?, Im finished here. Lets go, we have to meet master ” – said coco while waging his wide, fur black tail.
”Ah yea, Im almost done here too ”.
And so we left our messy dishes in kitchen sink and went to meet grandpa.
Till this time, mom and Emily were already asleep in their room so I maintained the silence in corridor while moving, to not interrupt their night.
And soon, we were already in front of the door of grandpas room.
Before I could knock the door, a voice fell upon my ears ”COME IN– ”.