Interlude: The Elder

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Morgan Draxler was one of the foremost Spiritsmiths in existence, but his life was dry. Everyday seemed bleaker than the previous one. His search for a true disciple had turned up nothing.

Everyday he woke up, the flames of his ambition further withered under the grinding beneath the sands of time. He was an old man now, and like most old men, he lived his life in a slow and relaxed manner. He was still quite fit and far from meeting the end of his life, but from his point of view, his life had already lost all meaning.

He was not living; he was merely alive. This, however, changed on one fateful day…

“According to the reports, the Royal family’s little princess is about to take her succession test. As such, they have requested Master Draxler to create a pair of swords for her… Master Draxler, are you even listening?”

A blonde, blue- eyed beauty stood in front of Morgan while reading a few reports from her tablet. Morgan’s office was incredibly large, befitting a man of his status. Plenty of smiters adorned the walls, each of impeccable quality.

Just one of these equaled the value of a small city. They were Morgan’s finest treasures, parts of his collection, but even they seemed to be losing their luster with each passing day.

“I’m sorry, Ana. It’s just—sigh, you know what I mean.” Morgan leaned into his chair and swiveled to look out at the view outside his window.

Ana was slim with jade-like skin whose luster would put some porcelain to shame. She was one of Morgan’s faux disciples and his assistant in the Spiritsmith guild. Morgan was one of the supreme elders of the guild, holding incredible sway within the organization.

Even the emperor would have to pay his respects whenever he met him. However, to him, none of this mattered if he could not pass his inheritance to a proper disciple, and Ana knew this well.

She knew of his struggles and wished she could be of help, but unfortunately, she was not fit for that role. She was an incredibly talented Spiritsmith, so much so that a few grandmasters had even offered for her to be their true disciple, but she had refused. Her loyalty to the elder before her was unwavering, and she refused to leave his side.

She wished she had the qualities he searched for, but unfortunately, she did not. The qualities to receive his inheritance were just too… unique, to say the least.

It would not be far fetched to say that it would take a miracle for any human being to fit those incredibly harsh requirements. She bit her lower lip in frustration at the reminder of how she was not qualified. Alas, fate was cruel. She was gifted, but not in the manner she wished.

“Master Draxler, perhaps it’s better to leave things up to fate,” she suggested. Morgan understood her point because there was no point in mulling over that which could not be controlled.

“Very well, what were you saying again?” Morgan spun to look at her and gestured for her to continue.

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Ana was a bit sad, but at the end of the day, there was still work to be done. Important work that could not be shrugged off.

“Ehem. As I was saying earlier-”

“Shoosh!”

Suddenly, out of nowhere, Morgan shushed her with a serious expression. Ana was baffled as she adjusted her glasses, trying to understand what he had noticed.

Morgan left his seat and closed his eyes. He then placed one ear to the ground, his concentration evident from his expression. After what seemed like an eternity of awkward silence, Ana was about to open her mouth and ask what was happening, but just the very act of her breathing distracted the old man’s attention.

“I said shush, d*mn it!” He yelled while flailing his arms about. Ana felt insulted. She was being shushed like a naughty student attending school.

‘He seems quite serious. Just what on earth is he doing?’

In an attempt to better understand the situation, Ana mimicked his actions and placed her ear to the ground. Seconds turned to minutes, and a miracle… did not happen. She still heard and felt nothing.

All she got for her efforts were a dirty ear and ruffled hair. She stood up and tidied herself. Finally, she decided to return once he had finished whatever it was that he was doing. As she left his office, she suddenly heard him exclaim.

“Ana, I will be back in a moment!”

By the time she had looked back, all she saw was an open window. The wind blew into the now empty office.

Ana quickly ran to the window; after all, with her training, she was no slouch. She arrived in an instant, only to see her master’s form becoming a dot in the distance. A resigned look plastered itself on her face.

Morgan Draxler, like most Grandmasters, was eccentric, but he was more normal than most. His actions were usually logical, albeit a bit odd. Thus, these actions were completely out of character.

Bang!

Bang!

Bang!

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Bang!

Bang!

Morgan arrived in the air above Darius while he hammered away at his anvil. He had activated an invisibility spell to secretly observe the lad.

To the common soul, the boy was making unnecessary noise, but to Morgan, it was music. A beautiful symphony that carried the very essence of smithing. All his actions were exactly the same, smooth and practiced.

‘Just how many times has this boy done this? Wait, could this be the Pretorius Curse?’

Many thoughts ran amok in the old man’s mind as he watched Darius work. Hitting an anvil with nothing on it was quite unusual; hence, only the Pretorius Curse came to mind. The old man watched Darius finish, the boy immediately collapsing onto the ground. Morgan took the opportunity to surreptitiously take a picture of the boy and send it to Ana along with a voice message.

“Ana! I want you to find out everything you can about this boy! I want to know everything about him, including what he has been doing for the past few days. Everything!”   

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