As soon as Tengan vanished out of the students’ sight, he materialized beside Headmaster Zegel who was standing in front of a well-decorated table inside a spacious circular chamber located at the summit of the Grand Hall. The room was sealed off from outward interference, only the most highly influential figures were allowed up there.
Inside the council chamber hosted 7 powerhouses who partially had their faces concealed with wooden masks. Only Tengan and Headmaster Zegel’s appearance was bare for all to see.
Among the elders was a portly crow who wore a wooden buffalo mask. He was rapaciously chowing down on the edible table decorations as he spoke with discontent to Headmaster Zegel, “3rd Elder how long were you planning on keeping the council waiting? I’ve gained 12 pounds in the amount of time I’ve spent waiting for your hoary feathers to grace my presence.”
Hearing this, Headmaster Zegel retorted mockingly, “2nd Elder don’t blame me for the unceasing stuffing of your face. Your newly acquired avoirdupois is the reflection of your insatiable greed. Probably, I should have the caterers bring less food the next time we hold an assembly.”
“What did you say to me, old geezer? Don’t forget who’s higher in rank here!” The portly crow was pissed to hear Headmaster Zegel’s insults. However, he quickly calmed down after receiving many glances from the other Elders present.
Headmaster Zegel apologized for his tardiness then sat around the table. Now that the atmosphere was calm and well-nourished, the council meeting commenced.
The 4th Elder wearing a wooden peacock mask clasped her fingers and made grave eye contact with the others before stating, “Our meeting today is one of great importance. Though the remaining Elders aren’t present, I will share my findings regardless.” Taking a deep breath, she spoke, “As of 48 hours ago, the 5th seal in the Shadow Realm has crumbled.” This utterance startled everyone inside the chamber, shifting their appearance from minimal curiosity to extreme alertness.
“4th Elder are you speaking the truth?” The 2nd Elder glared at his equivalent colleague with rage in his eyes.
“I have no reason to lie about such a crucial matter.” Answered the 4th Elder.
“And I’m just hearing about this now?” The 2nd Elder was livid.
Adding gasoline to his raging flame, the wooden butterfly mask 5th Elder who was the youngest among them said sternly, “The good thing is that you’ve been informed, 2nd Elder. We could have decided not to tell you at all.”
“5th Elder, you dear speak to me in such a rude manner?” The portly 2nd Elder resembled a fuming buffalo eyeing its prey for lunch.
In a cool response, the 5th Elder said, “What are you going to do about it, bite my head off? After that big whack you’ve just eaten, I doubt there’s enough space left inside your stomach to digest me.”
“You little shit! I’ll break you to piece!” Spurring up from his seated position after slamming the table, the 2nd Elder prepared to engage the 5th Elder who already had his weapon out, but they were interrupted by the eldest among them.
A dignified woman wearing a hummingbird wooden mask and whose experienced maturity showed in her appearance, mannerism, and commanding voice, shouted, “Silence brats! We don’t have time for your pissing contest! There are more pressing matters at hand.”
“My apologies 1st Elder.” Both 2nd and 5th Elder apologized simultaneously.
The 4th Elder voiced her input, “Back to the matter of the broken 5th seal. What do we do about it? I believe the sealing technique that All-Mother used to seal the Beast all those aeons ago, only a Prokeral God can perform it or the combined effort of a few Primordial Saints.”
The snake wooden mask 6th Elder responded, “If that is the case, we are aware of 4 persons who have broken through to the Primordial Saint realm.”
“Yes, but can we solicit the aid of those specific individuals?” Asked the 4th Elder with a concerning tone.
“If it was that simple, I would have done it a long time ago when the 6th seal crumbled.” Replied the 1st Elder.
“Then what do you propose, 1st Elder?”
“The matter is more complicate than you think.” The 1st Elder remained silent for a while in deep thought.
The racoon wooden mask 7th Elder proposed a question, “What about All-Mother? Couldn’t she rebuild the seal herself?”
“We still haven’t located her whereabouts and we have no way of reaching out to her in person. She seldom appears in worldly matters.”
“But this isn’t no simple matter. The complete breaking of the seals which bind that malicious Beast to the Shadow Realm could threaten the very existence of this planet. Is there really nothing we can do to prevent the seals from further breaking?”
As the wisest among them, everyone gave their attention to the 1st Elder. “I can’t discuss that matter just yet. We need to gather all the remaining Elders within Aether who have evolved their Krowqui to the Hermit-Class. Then I can discuss my plans.”
Hearing the requirements of the 1st Elder stimulated an unsure response from the 3rd Elder (Headmaster Zegel) “Hermits, there’re not that many within Aether. Should we gather some from the west as well?”
“No! This matter must remain private. The west has its own problems to deal with and I can’t risk vital information leaks. Don’t forget that they are many ill powerhouses out there who would do anything to get their feathers on the Beast’s fathomless powers, including the high ranking Hermits and Primordial Saints who might exploit its boundless energies to break through to the Prokeral God realm. Do keep in mind that the Beast’s power is equal to that of All-Mother. If it were to fall into the wrong feathers then the entire world would be at stake.”
After listening keenly to the 1st Elder’s explanation, the 5th Elder thought internally, ‘The Beast’s power is equal to All-Mother’s? If I could get my hands on it, I would be the most transcendental crow in existence. But such an undertaking won’t be easy with these ancient monsters around. Fine, I’ll cooperate with them for the time being until I see an opportunity.’
“5th Elder!” The raving of the 2nd Elder shouting his title aroused the butterfly mask Elder from his cunning thoughts.
“Ah? Sorry, what were you saying?”
“5th Elder, you will cooperate with the 3rd Elder in rallying the remaining Elders. Myself, 6th, 7th and 4th Elder will gather the necessary ingredients needed to patch up the seal.”
“What about the 1st Elder. What will you be doing, old master?”
The 1st Elder responded to the 5th Elder’s inquiry with a shroud of silence. “This meeting is adjourned. We’ll meet again in 3 crescent moons.” The 1st Elder began to vanish from her feet up. “Be cautious.”
Soon after her disappearance, the 2nd, 4th, 6th and 7th Elders also vanished; leaving only the 5th Elder, Headmaster Zegel and Tengan in the council room.
The 5th Elder rose to his feet with a calm air of hubris. He waved nonchalantly at the 3rd Elder. “Well, I’ll be leaving the gathering of the other old monks in your capable hands, Headmaster. I have something important to take care of.”
Headmaster Zegel became internally livid when he heard this. “What can be more important than our pressing issue?” Receiving no response to his inquiry, he added, “5th Elder, the others might put their trust in you but I don’t. What are you scheming?”
Cracking a wry smile, the 5th Elder answered, “You’ll know when the time is right. See you later, old crow.” He instantly teleported out of sight, leaving Headmaster Zegel with a disgruntled expression.
“That damn runt. I bet you he’s up to no good.”
“I agree with you, sir.” Said Tengan. He later suggested, “Do you want me to follow him?”
“There is no need. You’ll never be able to keep up with his elusive presence.”
Tengan felt insulted. “Are you underestimating my abilities, Headmaster?”
“No, however, in a game of chase, the 5th Elder’s potential vastly supersedes yours. That disrespectful runt is one of the youngest prodigies to become a member of the high council, moreover, receive the title of a single-digit Elder. It wasn’t by mistake that he was appointed 5th Elder.”
“I thought it was his family’s connection that got him on board the high council.”
“You’re wrong, Tengan. The 1st Elder would never allow family ties to influence her decision on these types of matters. Don’t be so discouraged, Tengan. I still need you by my side.”
understand, Elder Zegel.” Tengan didn’t bother keeping tabs on the 5th
Elder. He and Headmaster Zegel vanished out of sight. A few seconds later, the
2nd Elder reappeared inside the council chambers and scraped up the
remaining scraps of food on the table into his feathers before vanishing again.