TGL Volume 5, Chapter 13 (2)

“You useless child, why can’t you be more like your cousin? Do you know how embarrassing it is for your father and I to raise a talentless nitwit like you? Already three centuries old, yet you haven’t even developed your vermillion flame seed to the first stage.” 

As a child, what can I do when my parents berate me other than lower my head? A gifted genius might be able to resist, but like my mother said, I’m a talentless nitwit. My cousin, who’s less than half my age, has already developed his vermillion flame seed to the third stage; meanwhile, I haven’t even breathed out my first breath of vermillion fire. 

“Even now, you have nothing to say for yourself? You have no talent, and you have no spine; it’s hard for me to believe you were hatched from one of my eggs.” My mother stood up and spread her wings wide open, blotting out the sun from my view. “From this day forth, you are no longer Gallagher Flameborne; I revoke your name. Begone from my nest. I wish to never see your face again.” 

What? I know my talent isn’t that great, but to be banished for— 

“Didn’t you hear me? Begone!” 

I didn’t even have a chance to open my beak before a wave of fire flooded over me, pushing me out of the tree I once called home. The flames wrapped around my body, preventing me from opening my wings. There wasn’t anything I could do but watch as the trees at the cliff’s edge became smaller and smaller. Although the rushing wind was the only thing I could hear, I was sure the cliff was filled with laughter. Vermillion birds always laughed when a talentless mook like myself was cast away. 

Soon, a damp sensation covered my back. It didn’t feel like much time had passed, but I had fallen far enough to enter the sea of clouds that obscured the clifftops from view. For a while, my vision was filled by the white and gray of the clouds no matter which direction I looked. At the same time, the flames holding my wings in place weakened as they clashed with the spiritual energy within the clouds. Not long after the last bit of flames holding me down evaporated, I fell through the lowest layer of the sea of clouds, and the ground, which I had only heard rumors about, came into view. It was … as ugly as the stories depicted. Creatures actually lived down there? I’d have to live down there? 

Even if I’m a talentless vermillion bird, I’m still in a class leagues beyond any creature of the earth. My wings spread open, and I caught a stream of warm air, using it to right my body. Being cast out of the nest all of a sudden, it comes as a shock. Deep down, I had a feeling it might happen, but I never actually expected it to. I haven’t made any concrete plans. What should I do? The most important thing is to focus on survival. I need a shelter and a source of food. Since I’m near the heavenly cliffs where vermillion birds reside, there shouldn’t be danger in the form of transcendent beasts. As long as I’m careful, I won’t have to worry about being eaten. 

If only I could find a heavenly treasure to elevate my strength, but what are the chances of something like that happening? The rarest of all flame-based fruits, the Fire Heart, is rumored to be potent enough to let an ordinary sparrow transform into a creature equal to a vermillion bird. If I had something like that, my cousin would be the one kicked out by his parents for being a talentless hack. What does the Fire Heart look like? It’s appropriately named as such because it looks like a heart made from flames, a little like that dot just ahead of me…. Is that…? A Fire Heart!? 

No, it can’t be. A Fire Heart can’t be located at the base of the heavenly cliffs; it would’ve been discovered by vermillion birds ages ago. There’d be dozens of vermillion birds guarding it, waiting for it to ripen. It’s impossible for a completely ripe Fire Heart to appear out of nowhere, especially in front of me the moment I’m cast down from the cliffs. This is a prank from someone who’s trying to kick me while I’m down; however, even if I know this is a prank, how can I resist? In the slim chance that might as well not even exist, what if this Fire Heart is the real deal? Before anyone else notices it, I have to eat it! 

Amazing! Truly amazing! Simply by approaching it, I can feel the blood within my body burning. If I swallow this fruit, I’ll instantly undergo a qualitative change. Although it’s a little larger than my body, vermillion birds are capable of devouring creatures up to ten times our size. This fruit shouldn’t be an issue, but it’ll require all my focus to properly digest. For now, I’ll keep it in my beak, and if there’s any sign of someone trying to take my fruit away, I’ll swallow it immediately. 

What’s going on? Do Fire Hearts have a mind of their own? This one is trying to escape from my beak. As a heavenly treasure capable of boosting a sparrow’s bloodline to that of a vermillion bird’s, I know it’s incredible, but does it really have to be incredible enough to try and escape being eaten? It’s a fruit, for heaven’s sake; it’s meant to be eaten! It feels like it’s moving in a certain direction. No matter which way I turn my head, it still flees towards the north. Perhaps there’s something there that caught its attention; however, there’s no way I’m going to let it go!

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