"Hmmm Quite a lavish celebration this is," Master commented, looking around Jin city's main street that was filled with expensive decorations.
"The princess is supposed to be a genius according to most. Even though she just came of age, her Cultivation Point had already matured at fifteen," I noted. "She's still nowhere near Master's talent though."
Master smiled wryly, "You flatter me too much, I'm already part of the old generation you know?"
"Old? Aren't we about the same age?"
Master stopped, "Oh Yeah, we are. Hahaha, it's a little joke."
Huh. Perhaps Master has been burdened by his talent that he no longer feels young? They do say that the more talent one has, the more people expect out of you. With Master's talent, I have no doubts the burden he had to bear back in his student days was immense.
The fact that the Lindulf Family is a powerful and influential House as well must mean Master's burden from his Family was exceptionally high.
During my time at Century Minor Sect, I've seen my fair share of supposed 'talented geniuses' break under pressure. They have been praised and coddled throughout their lives but when they were thrust into the Sect where only their abilities mattered, they quickly realised that all the coddling was left behind.
Having experienced the feeling of failing someone's expectations for the first time, these 'talented geniuses' start to suffer breakdowns from the accumulated stress. Only a select few managed to break out of that stage but even then, they would have started to lag behind the average students which further diminishes their own self-confidence.
The Practitioner world is not all fun and games after all. If you were weak, you get trampled on and made use of, it was as simple as that.
Fairness? There is no such thing. Everyone is ultimately selfish in the end, it's just how well one can hide it.
Master must have clawed his way out of that cesspool, working harder than anyone else just to get to his current position. I have no doubt that even after being coined as the "Strongest Practitioner", he still had to work hard to maintain his position. For such a lofty title, there must be countless risks and hardships that go along with it, right?
This is why I respect Master so much, for I had been one of the 'talented geniuses' myself that had fallen from grace before clawing my way up again. The amount of betrayals and bullies I had to face were numerous and beyond counting.
While I was lost in my thoughts, an old lady approached us with a basket of flowers held in her arm.
I noticed how her eyes seemed to shine when she laid eyes on Master, immediately making a beeline towards him.
"My, young man Might you be familiar with this town? I've just arrived here to celebrate the princess's coming of age ceremony and I'm looking for an inn to stay at. Could you guide me to one?"
My most benevolent Master simply gave her a smile, "Of course madam. I shall escort you."
"Ohoho~ What a kind young man you are! Here, a flower for you."
She dug through her basket of flowers to pull out one that had a rainbow hue on its petals, handing it over to Master.
Master seemed to be a little stunned by the flower which caused me to tense up slightly.
"This flower Where did you get this?"
"Hmmm? It was a gift from a very close friend," The old lady explained, looking at the flower fondly. "Unfortunately that friend has long passed but the flowers remain. I just take care of them in their stead. Is something wrong with them?"
"I see No, it's quite unique. I'm sorry for your loss."
"Ohohoho~ Don't be, it won't be long before I rejoin them anyway. But please, take it."
Master received the flower gracefully before pinning it to his collar.
"For such a gift, Madam, I shall even pay for your accommodations."
"Oh my You are too generous young man, I cannot accept such a thing!"
"Please don't mind it, Madam. I insist. Shall we?" Master offered his arm for her to hold.
"Ohohoho~ What a gentleman."
Master turned back to me, "Since it's a free day, why don't you visit your family first? I'll come find you when I've got us settled in? The celebration is the day after tomorrow anyway so we can take it easy today."
I bowed, "Thank you Master. Have a safe trip."
I watched Master disappear through the crowd while guiding the old woman. I'm not sure why, but she felt a little strange to me, a peculiar feeling that I can't explain. But since Master did not mention anything about it, it must just be my imagination.
Turning around, I followed the road up towards the deeper sections of the Noble district, a route that I used to be so familiar with now seems so alien to me.
How long have I not seen my family?
It's a good thing that they moved to this new house, my older brother's infrequent letters are still being sent to the old one so I don't need to worry about my family finding out about him. At least not yet.
When I finally gain enough power, I will personally go to that damnable knight academy and give my dumb brother a good thrashing, maybe that might wake him up from whatever delusions he's having.
It didn't take long for my Family's manor to come into view, the gates guarded by the usual group of guards.
"Young master Vera?" One of the guards called out upon seeing me.
"It's been a while Nur, how are you guys doing?"
"Oh wow! It's been a long while young master! We thought you might not even come back this year since you got sent to Century Minor Sect!"
I waved my hand, "That was what I thought, but I was accepted into a Major Sect and we're invited to participate in the princess's coming of age ceremony. My Master allowed me some time off while he went to settle our accommodations. Is everyone home?"
Nur nodded, "Yeah, they're home! But there's one thing I have to ask"
His buddy, Hans, knocked him on the head, "Don't ask you idiot. What if we get skinned for it?"
"He'll find out eventually man" Nur protested.
I raised my eyebrow, "Find out what?"
"That your father might have had an affair that resulted in you having a half-sister," Nur replied before Hans could cover up his mouth.
I gaped at him, my father was never that sort of person.
"How How do you know?"
Another of the guards stepped up, scratching his head, "A pair of girls turned up yesterday. One of them was a real beauty, I almost thought she was a princess or high noble when I saw her. Then there was a little girl of I think around ten years old following her."
Hans sighed, "Yeah And the woman told the little girl that this place was her father's house. I'm not sure what happened after that but Well"
"The servants also said that your father welcomed them with open arms like they knew each other very well. He even got Sergei to show the kid around," Nur remarked.
Hans shrugged, "We're just telling you what we heard so..."
Arrrgghhh Why does such things have to happen when I come back?!
"Damn it, I'll go talk to my father then"
"Welcome back, young master," The guards bowed as I stepped past them.
I sure hope that this is nothing more than an idle gossip...