8 Breakfast To Boot

The following morning, Northern awoke with a slight headache.

However, the tantalizing aroma of his mother's freshly baked bread immediately lifted his spirits.

That bread was his weakness; no matter how much he consumed, he always craved more.

He spent a few moments pondering the previous night's events.

The feeling was akin to when he purchased a brand new car back on Earth, but even better.

He strode into the main parlor, where his mother was setting the table. Observing his hurried approach, she shook her head.

"No, not yet. You need to bathe first. Today is special, remember? Shin informed me about it last night."

'Oh, damn that blabbermouth.'

They shared the same quarters, so of course, Shin would divulge everything. Now, his chance of clearing this misunderstanding had vanished.

With slumped shoulders, he trudged back to his room as his father emerged from his own, yawning.

Eisha embraced him, exchanging a kiss before he settled at the table's edge.

"What about your injuries? Are you sure you're up for today, or should I go in your place?" she asked, concern evident in her voice.

"No worries, I'm perfectly fine. Your healing was superb," Shin replied with a grin, leaning in to whisper to her, "Plus, you're in no condition to handle the stress."

Eisha's expression turned exasperated, but she hushed him quickly, wary of Northern overhearing.

"Don't say that here. We don't want Northern growing suspicious."

Shin shrugged, murmuring, "Sorry, I just worry he might feel hurt if he finds out later... especially with the news about a younger sibling."

Eisha's demeanor shifted, briefly crestfallen as she considered her husband's words. Her ears perked up at the sound of Northern finishing his bath.

"Don't fret. I'll tell him after the test. It is you I'm concerned about; what if you encounter one of them..."

Shin was impatiently eyeing the hot breads. He quickly shifted his gaze to Eisha.

"Who? Them?" Shin asked, his attention divided between his wife and the tempting bread.

Eisha shot him a stern look, wordlessly reprimanding him. Shin sighed and settled back into his chair.

"I'll do my best to behave and refrain from severing anyone's limbs," he quipped, earning a scolding glance from Eisha.

"Just remember, you have a son whose future is at stake. Whatever transpires in the city mustn't jeopardize his prospects," she admonished.

"Yes, Mother," Shin replied with a smirk.

Eisha's expression turned serious. "I'm not jesting," she warned.

"Precisely, Mother. I said yes, Mother," Shin retorted playfully.

Before Eisha could react, Northern emerged from his room, prompting the couple to quickly compose themselves.

Both observed their son carefully as he took his place at the table. The unusual silence hung awkwardly in the air.

Normally, Northern would regale them with tales of his exploits. But today, he ate his bread quietly, lost in thought.

Shin, unable to resist the freshly baked bread any longer, tore off a slice and began chewing, speaking through a mouthful of food.

"So... what's been going on with the kids?" he asked, his words muffled.

"Dad, don't talk while you're chewing. What do you want to say that can't wait?"

Shin and Eisha exchanged a glance, as if silently passing the baton to each other.

"We were just wondering if you've been doing okay lately. Most of your friends have gone off to the academy. You must be excited to join them," Eisha offered.

Northern chewed thoughtfully, considering her words.

Northern was silent as his mother's words came while he was eating bread, so he finished chewing before responding. But he pondered as he chewed.

'Do I really look forward to meeting them at all?'

Northern didn't want to sound cynical, but he had learned the hard way about the treachery of people. His experiences on Earth had shown him the worst side of humanity, from betrayal by friends to the ultimate betrayal by his girlfriend, her father, and his supposed best friend.

He couldn't trust easily anymore. Making superficial friendships was not a priority.

He understood the importance of networking and alliances, but he was wary of forming close bonds. His past experiences had taught him to be cautious.

He finished chewing and swallowed, then addressed his mother.

"I can't say I'm excited to see them, but I've always wanted to attend the academy since I was a child."

"Boy, you talk as if you're no longer a kid. You're fourteen..." Shin interjected.

Northern shot him a glare, silencing him.

He continued with his food.

Ignoring the comment, he continued, "Never mind."

There was a vast contrast between drifters and those without talent - the unawakeneds.

Due to the prowess, comfort, and utilization that drifters provided, they were cherished, loved, and granted outstanding privileges.

One could find drifters serving as a special knight force for a kingdom. Although an unawakened could enlist and train to become one, they could never match a drifter's power.

There was a very noticeable difference. But fortunately, the unawakeneds rarely wished to become drifters.

Except for children, of course, who did not comprehend the dangers and perils that awaited them even at the start of their journey.

They didn't know about the rifts. They didn't know the level of danger they posed and how many drifters perished daily.

But the adults knew... which was why they were content with their day-to-day lives. Or at the very least, they awakened utility talents which were utterly useless in combat but contributed massively to civilization.

When destruction rained and chaos spread like wildfire, in those days, the number of drifters that died at every rift was alarming. Even though humans had awakened, they were lost on how to use their powers. Suddenly, a man and his friends arose from the rubble.

Challenging rifts and growing stronger... the three of them were praised as heroes of the Central Plains. It was said that no rifts did they enter that they had never emerged from.

But time wasn't easy on them. The man and his friends decided to build an academy to train awakeneds, arm them with the knowledge of rifts, teach them about how talents worked, broaden their knowledge by teaching them battle styles and expanding knowledge about magic.

In that way, the ratio of awakeneds that perished would reduce, and their legacies would live on forever.

A mighty academy, with colossal, impenetrable walls, was built on an island that belonged to the Central Plain continent. Different races from all over the world came to this place to become awakened.

To increase their survival rate and become legends. The reasons were diverse and personal, in even unthinkable ways. But the academy was a pinnacle not just of the Central Plain but the entire world.

They had a place for everyone... all one needed was a talent.

Which made Northern very apprehensive.

He had a talent, right? But he was very sure he would fail the talent test.

After learning of the academy, he yearned to be there so badly. Unlike these countryside bumpkins who merely thought attending the academy would bring fame and automatically make them established awakeneds.

He wanted to know more about the world, about the rifts, about talents, and about himself. The origin of his birth. He could never forget what he saw that night... and even though he didn't care too much, there was no harm in finding his true mother, right?

He needed to get away from this village that stood on the border of a small kingdom if he wanted to do that.

So he needed to attend the academy.

Which was why he decided to remain silent about not having a talent.

It wasn't even a sound plan in his head...yet, he wasn't sure telling his parents would be the best course of action.

"So, North! We were thinking about going for the talent test today? We could determine your rank and..."

"Yes."

Northern's answer was immediate. It made Shin freeze with surprise.

"Okay...? That was fast..."

He wasn't expecting his son to agree to the request so readily. He stared at Northern tentatively and leaned forward, smacking his hand on the table.

"Why?!"

"Because I want to take the test and know my rank?"

Northern responded with a slight frown.

"Yes. But why? Just yesterday you weren't at all elated even when you awakened your talent. I even thought you were disappointed because you awakened a lame talent like my own. But all of a sudden you are giddy about going for the test, what am I missing?"

Northern chuckled.

"Dad, your talent is A class why will I not feel elated of awak…"

Northern closed his mouth after realizing what he had just spewed.

"Of course… of course, it's not a regular Cloning talent. It's basically a body double ability."

Luckily his father was not too smart to notice. Shin had never mentioned the grade of his talent nor has Eisha too. Both of them don't even talk about talents.

Northern had always wondered why but never spoke out the question. However, he knew this couple had a story and were hiding something and just settled with playing dumb.

"So… when do you want to go to the…"

"Today."

Shin again was shocked. His looked at Northern suspiciously.

"Northern is something wrong?"

Northern bit the last of his bread and responded.

"What could be wrong. I too would love to enter Milhguard academy and became a great drifter. Is that out of place?"

Shin and Eisha stared in silence.

"What? Other kids my age dream of stuff like this too you know? Donrak and his peers had left, I have no one to talk to around here except infants and steeds."

Both of them were still looking at each other in total silence and shock. Then Shin spoke:

"But son… you've not exactly been like other kids. This is the first time I've seen you express any passion whatsoever for going to the academy. In fact, I didn't even think you were interested at all."

"Yes Northy, we both thought you were not interested since you never mentioned it."

Northern couldn't blame them, the only reason why he didn't think too deeply about it was because he was aware of their financial situation.

He had seen how parents worked their asses off just to send their kids to the academy.

While it is possible to enter that place on scholarship, it's near impossible for countryside bumpkins like them without extraordinary talents.

Except one… but Northern hated him so let's not go there.

But things were different now that he had discovered that he could copy talents. If he wanted to grow strong, he needed to copy lots of talent and kill lots of beasts.

And the only place to do something like that freely was to go to Milhguard academy.

So he was either going to be selfish and be sure to reward them handsomely or he was going to try to get in on scholarship and since the evaluation test might fail, he was currently searching in his mind for ways to make that happen.

He stood up after packing his plates together.

"I'll do the dishes and when I'm done can we go to the city then?"

Shin looked at Eisha who nodded at him. He closed his eyes and sighed.

"Fine… there's no problem. We'll go when you are done doing the dishes."

Both them watched their son in silence as he took the plates to the kitchen to wash.

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