[Write something so sweet, it makes your teeth hurt.]
Smoke billowing from dozens of fires, clouds above threatening rain, horns in the distance signaling reinforcements. But they were too late. Faebyen stood atop a pile of rubble, his sword dripping blood. He cast sorrowful eyes upon the corpse at his feet.
“If it wasn’t for you, Dyf…”
Faebyen clenched his teeth in frustration, angry at the body. If Dyf hadn’t been such scum, his thousands of family and retainers wouldn’t have had to lose their lives. Yet, he was scum, coveting the very sword Faebyen used to kill him, forcing a fight, thinking he could effortlessly win, but resulting in the devastation of his entire branch.
Exhausted from battling someone an entire realm above him, Faebyen looted Dyf’s corpse before limping away, sure that he could restore enough qi to flee before the main family arrived to exact revenge. As he walked, he sent his spiritual sense out to search for survivors in the rubble. He wasn’t optimistic, however, because the shockwaves from his battle with Dyf left no building standing. To survive the fallout of such a battle, one would have to be at least Faebyen’s stage in cultivation, which none of Dyf’s people were. They were mostly mortal retainers, but even Dyf’s own family members had only reached the Liquid Core stage, a far cry from Faebyen. It appeared that the head of the branch, Dyf, was the only talented member there.
Eventually, Faebyen grew tired of counting corpses and retracted his spiritual sense…but not before he sensed a trace of life. Suddenly alert, he cast his spiritual sense out again toward the life. From what he could tell, the person had a cultivation base but was very weak.
“To think that I’m worried for an enemy…”
Faebyen often wondered why he was so softhearted, going so far as to care for the wellbeing of an enemy’s household, but never did he doubt his decisions. Dyf may have been scum, and the clan he came from corrupt in many ways, but that wasn’t enough for Faebyen to disregard the life of an innocent caught in the crossfire of their battle.
Faebyen detected someone stuck in a cellar far underground, which explained how they survived the battle. He quickly made his way to the cellar entrance, which was buried under a collapsed storage facility, and cleared the area. A second later he opened the doors to see a…four-year-old child. Faebyen’s mouth hung open in shock as he swept his spiritual sense over her again, confirming that she was at the Qi Condensation stage.
Having been rescued, the little girl ran up to Faebyen, hugged his legs, and cried into his robes. She hadn’t seen it with her eyes, but she was aware that a great battle had taken place in her family’s manor, as the screams of countless friends and family told her so.
Faebyen unconsciously moved a hand to pat the little girl’s head in an attempt to comfort her as he thought of the implications of what he just saw.
“This four-year-old is at Qi Condensation…which even I only reached at age seven. She has the Lu Clan’s trademark white hair and dark-green eyes, meaning she’s a direct descendant.”
Faebyen grimaced as he realized that the child he found was a genius capable of leading her clan someday. He would have been happy to leave her for her clan to find had she been a retainer, or even an average member of the Lu Clan…but she was a genius.
Faebyen looked down to see the little girl holding on to his robes with one pudgy fist while wiping her face of snot and tears with the other.
“Do you… Mister, do you know where they are?”
She looked straight up at her savior’s face, looking for answers.
“No.” Faebyen softly said, getting down on one knee to look her in the eyes. “I don’t know where they are, but they’re likely dead. You seem to be the sole survivor of the battle.” He ruffled her hair a bit before lifting her and placing her in his arms. “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of you.”
The girl didn’t seem to have any concerns about being taken away by a stranger, but then again, she’d just gone through a traumatic experience.
“And we have to go, right now.”
The Lu Clan reinforcements were getting too close for comfort, and Faebyen should have already departed the branch family grounds by then. He took off at blinding speeds, making sure the trip wouldn’t be uncomfortable for the tiny passenger crying on his shoulder.
“If they know about this kid’s talent, then they’ll stop at nothing to retrieve her, meaning I’ll probably have to leave the country.” Faebyen sighed, thinking to himself. “I don’t have the heart to kill her and I can’t leave her in the ‘care’ of those corrupt bastards…meaning I’ll either have to ask someone to raise her, or become a parent.”
Faebyen thought for a moment, searching his mind for parental candidates, but quickly came to the realization that the child’s very presence could endanger those who took care of her. After all, few people on their continent had the Lu Clan’s unique physical traits, so if word got out about a genius that looked like one of their members, an investigation would immediately be carried out.
Ignoring his snot-covered shoulder, Faebyen resigned himself to the future he’d chosen. “Here’s to becoming a father…”