The Singing Springs was deadly silent as everyone seemed to be waiting for the other shoe to drop. Everyone was peering between the Clan leader and Yulen Li. Yulen was still dressed in her Night Hunter wardrobe with her arms folded behind her back. Her face finally revealed and it was almost a spitting image of Mayu-Ren. Her eyes were a deep shade of wine purple with her black hair pulled into a high ponytail that rests on her midback. There was an uproar almost immediantly, Aijah's parents being the loudest.
"How dare you! Have you forgotten what his mother has done?!"
"You would go against the wishes of our Clan Leader!?"
"My daughter deserves this more than that boy!"
Naxio shrinks under the weight of his family's hate-filled words. Each felt close enough to a physical hit and his poor heart grew heavy. It was no secret in the Mizune Clan of everyone's dislike of his mother for the crimes she committed and to honest, never would he believe that he would have the chance to become a Daemon Hunter due to that.
Mayu-Ren's eyes seem to stare straight through her youngest daughter as if seeing her for the very first time truly. She raises a hand to silence the complaints and yelling before addressing Yulen Li.
"Why would you go against my wishes? Did I need to make it an order?"
Yulen Li stands as steady as a statue, not even faltering under the withering glare of her mother.
It was silent for a few moments as everyone seems to be dancing on the knife edge. It has been common practice that everyone addresses May-Ren by her formal title as Clan Leader, even her daughters have followed this rule to a fault. Everyone except for Yulen Li that is. Mayu-Ren's face seems to clench up as her anger rises but she didn't yell or even call Yulen Li out for her break in customs.
"Then why would you give him approval? Aijah has trained years for this opportunity, her abilities go far beyond that his!"
"And she will have her chance to prove herself next year."
Everyone's eyes were jumping back and forth between the two. The tension in the air felt so thick that one could choke on it. Everyone could sense a fight brewing and could only watch helplessly on.
"Yulen Li, I asked you why! It would be smart to answer me."
Mayu-Ren words were hissed out in a hushed tone and for a moment Yulen Li's gaze falls on Naxio.
"He proved himself."
The Mizune Clan Leader only glares back in response, clearly not expecting that reply.
"He acted bravely and fought an enemy well beyond his hopes of winning. The Daemon Hunter core needs those who will fight even if all seems doomed. We face death almost every day. To take on someone who we know is unprepared is dooming ourselves."
Her words, though spoken in a faint tone, were unfriendly and stated in a matter-of-fact manner. Aijah's parent was less than pleased, her mother, in particular, Lajan was upset and voiced as much.
"How dare you Yulen! My daughter is more than qualified to join! Who do you think you are?!"
Yulen Li spares her a look, however, her face never changes.
"Lajan, while I'm sure Aijah may have the ability that is acceptable for you. The Daemon Hunter Core is more than some training ground. Aijah is young and still needs to understand more about the world. So take some time out of your busy day to teach her, sister."
If looks could kill, the glare on Lajan's reddening face only could strike Yulen Li down where she stood. Just as another argument was about to fester Clan Leader Mayu-Ren called to order.
"Enough... So you say the boy is qualified so take it as that. From this point onwards, he is your responsibility. The Mizune Clan doesn't tolerate failure or embarrassment. He will not bring the name of the Mizune Family down, am I understood?"
Yulen Li bows to her with respect but says nothing further. With one last glare at Naxio, the Clan Leader turns and leaves with a huff. Her servants following behind her silently as mice. Yulen Li also leaves just as quickly, not even giving on passing glance to the rest of her family. As soon as Yulen Li's form becomes a speck in the distance Lajan lets out a frustrated huff.
"That bitch Yulen Li! She may be my sister but she has always acted like she better than everyone since she became a Night Hunter?!"
Lajan's husband tries to calm her but to no avail. Lajan isn't one to be humbled down from anger, she must first vent out or else her poor temper will continue throughout the day.
"She dares tell me? ME?! Just because I choose to be a mother instead of a Daemon Hunter she thinks she has the authority to talk down to me?!"
Lajan then suddenly turns to Naxio who in an instant shrinks back. The acceptance scroll is clenched tight in his hands and his head dips down in shame.
"And you..! You must have cheated?! Just like that wicked mother of yours using cheap tricks and dark magic to-"
"Lajan, my sister that's enough!"
Naxio looked close to a rabbit caught between a preditor and a hard spot, not sure whether to run or just accept fate. He has never suffered the full extent of his aunt Lajan's temper and is scared witless. Lou-Ren who had interrupted her sister's rant was giving her a scolding look as if she said something forbidden. Lajan gritted her teeth before turning and walking off in a loud huff, her husband and Aijah followed quickly. Lou-Ren let out a sigh, fanning herself a few times before looking towards Naxio with a disdainful frown.
"My my what a mess you've made. I suggest keeping out of her way for now and running back to your home."
Naxio still shook from the earlier outburst quickly bows and scurries away. It didn't take long for the news to spread throughout the compound, from servant to attendee, within a few days everyone knew about the selection mess. And if Naxio has thought life was complicated beforehand now things were much worst.
Ever since he was young, he has known harsh looks and cold gaze. His family has also considering him a "cursed child" due to his mother's dark ties. The only one who truly cared for him was his mother's old servant, Baja. Before however he at least has some kindness from some servants however now everyone's eyes are unkind and disgusted. Lajan's vindictiveness has no bounds.
She had gone around telling rumors of how Naxio cheated her daughter out of a spot and other nasty things. But Naxio was honestly expecting this sort of thing from her. She was also this way even from when he was young. So Naxio took his aunt Lou-Ren's advice to heart and stay low and just studied up.
In a two-month time, those chosen from the Daemon Hunter core will return to the compound to begin training and he was already well behind most of the trainees. He needs to at least catch up if he going to be able to prove himself.
"But how am I even going to do that?"
Currently, Naxio was in his training area in the forest just outside the compound. Originally, it was a hunting ground that his caretaker brought him to as she did with his mother. She would train him as much as she could but given that she couldn't channel Yang as he did, her training was limited. Falan-shi was floating diligently at his side, it let out small sounds every so often in a playful manner.
"Falan-shi I don't have time to play right now. I have to get stronger!"
"That is true, you don't have time. So we best make most of the time we have hmm?"
Naxio's head snaps in the direction of the mysterious yet familiar voice. Falan-shi floats before him like a shield, ready to do battle with the intruder.
Li-Ren steps closer to him in the clearing, she is dressed down in more plain attire. Most likely for training given the wear and tear of the outfit.
"Stand up and give me an attack."
At first, Naxio is conflicted, not sure if he is reading her words correctly. Given how things have been going, he was vastly uncertain of where he stood with her. She scowls before giving him an annoyed huff.
"If we are going to get anywhere, I need to know how much you can do. Now form up."
He then scrambled to meet her order, and with a flash from Falan-shi, he attacks. Without even missing a beat, Li-Ren's Komabue is summoned and deflect his attack with a simple flick of her wrist. Li-Ren seems even more disappointed after his attack and makes that known.
"Weak, there is no confidence in your attack at all. And to make matters worse, you lose control over your Yang at the very end of your notes!"
After the thorough dressing down, Naxio flinches back. Li-Ren who watches him for a moment lets out a sigh and crosses her arms over her chest.
"Naxio, I'm not trying to put you down however you are well behind all others. As you know the Mizune Clan uses instruments to channel our Yang, its been our way since our very first Leader. One cannot simply play notes recklessly or without confidence or you will lose power and control."
"I-I know that-"
"Then attack again!"
And so he did, over and over again. His attacks were all ineffective but in time grew more confident. After about half an hour however his strength wavier out. He slums over in deep shaky huffs, a cold sweat breaking out over his body. Li-Ren, who still appeared displeased with his overall power, did at least give a nod in his attempts.
"Hmm, it's a start. From now until we leave I will hone you as much as possible. I will not be kind so you better be prepared."
Naxio nods eagerly. That was how he spent the remaining months. Li-Ren didn't lie in her statement, she was a strict and demanding teacher. Pushing him from daybreak until evening to train and hone his skills. Every night he would feel his body practically screaming in exhaustion however he knew this was a prime opportunity not to be wasted.
Two months came and went in a flash, Naxio doing his very best to improve under Li-Ren's watchful teachings. The morning that they all left was cool with a slightly ominous wind. When they arrive back at the Daemon Hunter Compound, Naxio can only look on in wonder still in disbelief that he is able to get this chance. With a heavy sense of determination in his heart, he begins his Daemon Hunter training.