8 To the world
<Do you need to overcome a near-death experience to be strong? No, the strong do not experience such things.>
-Farain, the hail divider. Ra-Bander from 800 years ago.
<Death, or near-death crisis.>
This was the opposite of what he believed in, and he hated the word for it. He could not understand the stories of the famed warriors in history. One of the most famous men was someone named Eclipse, a man who went across the Great North Wall to train himself.
He understood why one had to fight against impending death.
However, to deliberately put oneself into such a situation become stronger?
That defeated the purpose.
The world beyond the Great North Wall was infamous for being hell on earth. Even he knew of this though he had never left his province.
Training to become strong was a way to survive, but to put himself into such danger to become strong?
The man, Eclipse, was a Grand-Bander, but after he went across the wall a hundred years ago, nobody heard from him since. He was probably dead.
However, many still regarded him very highly because of that.
To Sian, what Eclipse did was not reasonable. He highly valued his own survival.
Due to this, he refused any type of difficult training that might put himself in danger, and his father agreed to that. However, his brother Rian was the opposite. He was a firm believer of putting himself in danger to grow stronger. The only reason Sian could not outright oppose the idea in public was due to his brother.
And this was the reason why he was currently deep in thought. The only way to overcome his current concern seemed like the one he had always refused.
It seemed like his consciousness was whispering to him that it was the only way. He would face death itself and then be guided out of it to crush the wall that was blocking him.
Maybe he already knew this, but he wanted to ignore it.
<I must put myself into danger.>
After coming around to that thought, it was easy to make up his mind.
'Let's give up.'
It was easy. It felt wrong to give up now, but he did not want to put himself in any danger. He saw no point in killing himself because of it.
His father always told him to look after himself. His brother seemed like a bad son for not listening, but he was a good son. He planned on staying as such.
Besides, he could not think a way to put himself into danger inside this safe capital of the Kingdom.
He felt good about his decision. He had delved into his thoughts in search for other routes, but there were none. As the only route was impossible, (at least to himself) he felt it was easy to give up and choose a new path.
'Yeah, I'll go out and meet new people… learn instruments… try horse riding… and do what those other Nobles do!'
Sian decided to talk this over with his parents the next day.
'Good. I should've done this earlier.'
He moved to his bedroom. He knew he was going to sleep well.
Morning came and he smiled as he looked outside. After fixing up his clothes while deciding on what he should start with, he went downstairs.
He once asked his father why they did not have maids to wash and clothe them, but after looking at his father's expression, he never asked again.
When he went down, his parents were sitting at the table and the maids were serving the food. Count Kerbel's visit seemed to have lasted through the night and they looked tired.
"Oh, Sian. Good morning. Have your breakfast."
They greeted Sian and resumed eating. Sian also began eating his breakfast. They spoke of simple issues, but nothing important while eating.
After breakfast, the maids brought out some tea and Sian noticed that something was different. His father seemed like he wanted to say something and his mother left, allowing them some privacy.
Count Roman turned to Sian, breaking the silence.
"Hmm… Sian, you must know that Count Kerbel visited yesterday."
"Yes… it's about the Guards of the Great North Wall. Count Kerbel told me about the upcoming recruitment."
He stopped there and looked at Sian.
Sian also knew of this. It was a huge issue five years ago when his brother Rian insisted on joining the Guards. His mother, Celine, objected so strongly that he couldn't go. Sian remembered this.
It was also then that he learned that the most powerful warriors were going to be stationed in the most dangerous places in the Guards. After that, Sian began hiding his true power, even from his father.
He never intended to join the Guards, but there was no telling what might happen, so he decided to hide it. The most dangerous station of the wall, Traz Sector 13, had one of the two existing Ra-Banders on the continent and three out of the seven Stars of the Exalted Magical Council stationed there. There were also powerful high priests of the Sun God and the War God protecting the place. That meant it was a literal hell.
"Yes, Father. Although I'm not sure when."
"It's pretty soon."
"I see. But what about it? Is Rian volunteering to go again?" Sian asked. He could not understand why his brother wanted to go to such a dangerous place so badly.
Unlike him, Rian was famous and was known for his skills. If he went there, it was possible that he would be stationed at the Traz-level sectors.
It was the place where four-horned Harijans roamed, where Masters and Grand-Banders died… he could not understand.
"No, your brother will not go there. Rian knows his place now. He will not want to strain the Royal family with his absence. Of course, your mother will be relieved."
"That's good. To think of what he did five years ago… there are many families that want to go. We'll let them go," Sian answered.
"Yes, but they aren't to be trusted. They all have different agendas. The recruitment has become more competitive. Besides, you were also on the list," Count Roman told Sian, speaking as if it was none of his business, to tease him.
"Huh? What? NO- Father, what?"
To his expectation, Sian looked beyond shocked.
"What's so surprising? The most important aspect in the recruitment is trust. There are a lot of talented individuals, but they value their factions over the country, families over factions, and their own over families. Our family is the most trusted in this case. You should know this by now."
"Don't worry, I turned down the request. We have our responsibilities to the King, but we cannot be forced. I have no intention of sending my son to his death. However, I have a different task for you."
"What is it?"
Sian seemed relieved to hear that he was not being sent to the Guards.
"As you know, you are now of age, and you must now work for our family. I talked with Count Kerbel about that. When the recruitment begins, the capital will become busy. Go to the central capital and stay with your brother. Help him and learn."
"But Father, why so suddenly…"
"I hope you didn't intend to stay home and do nothing forever. You are an adult now and you have a responsibility as a Noble."
Sian looked grim, his expression indicating that he was unwilling, but Count Roman spoke firmly.
His son could not object right now, but he would soon try his best to find a way out of it. Count Roman wanted to make sure he could not do that.
"…Understood. If there's no other way."
Count Roman was relieved to hear his son's acceptance. He did not listen well to his words lately, so he was expecting more of a commotion, but it looked like he understood his position.
"Is that so? Good. Then…" Count Roman continued, explaining what he had planned with Count Kerbel the previous night.
He believed that this would be the best for his second son who had no experience in the world. His only hope now was that Count Kerbel would lead him in the right direction.