Chapter 121: The Wulin Masters Association
Mora nodded at Sila. Both of them walked back to the village zone next to each other.
No one said a word. It was like in the past. Mora wasn't a talkative person.
It was when they had walked for a while that Mora started a conversation.
"I wasn't kidnapped."
"I know, sir."
"Not long ago, sir. My anger clouded me so I was foolish enough to not realize that Montra shouldn't be capable of kidnapping you since you are my teacher and the owner of our dojo."
"Then, won't you ask me why I disappeared?"
Sila shook his head. "No, I won't. If Teacher doesn't want to tell me yourself, there is no way you will tell me."
He had lived with Mora for long enough to know his teacher's personality.
"I have heard from Sanon that you have learned Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws. How is it?"
"I think I have learned about twenty percent of what was written, sir."
"That's enough. We only want you to learn our martial arts. It doesn't matter if you master it or not."
Sila was dying to ask what that meant, but he knew better than anyone that if his teacher wanted him to know, his teacher would have already told him.
Mora put his hand into his shirt, pulled a book out, and tossed it to Sila, who caught it.
"That's correct. Sun-Melting-Fists. The leading martial art of our dojo, Yun Huo."
"It means Flaming Cloud. Once you read the book, you will come to know why our dojo has this name."
Sila had yet to open the book as he was memorizing the name of his own dojo after he had finally been told.
"According to our dojo's regulations, only the successor can be taught all of, and thus master, the dojo's profound art. I appoint you the position of successor from today onward."
"What did you just say, teacher?"
Mora wasn't interested in Sila's exclamation as he continued, "From now on, you will be responsible for deciding how our dojo develops and grows. I will only give you my guidance."
"Wait, teacher. What is this all about?"
"You can ask me all about it later. For now, all you need to know is that our dojo is in the middle of a crisis. The future of our dojo now lies in your hand."
Sila didn't dare to ask other questions. If his teacher stated that their dojo was in a crisis, then it must really be in a crisis.
Though, he was arguing in his mind that their dojo was in a crisis from the start. If he didn't purchase the land back, their Flaming Cloud dojo would no longer exist by now.
"That book is yours. Take good care of it. Don't let anyone see the contents though."
"Yes, teacher," Sila replied and kept the book in his system window.
"I already destroyed the actual book in the real world, but you can write it again when you are done memorizing the contents."
"Teacher, I know that you have your reasons, but..." Sila took a deep breath to summon up his courage as he had never objected to his teacher's decision before. "But, as I am the... successor of the dojo, I think I have the right to know what this is about. At the very least, I should have the right to know about the crisis that you mentioned, shouldn't I?"
Mora fell into silence as if he was pondering something.
"Fine. I will tell you some of it. As for the rest, you will get to hear it from us all later."
Sila didn't know who the 'us' that his teacher mentioned was, though he guessed that Sanon must be one of them. Anyway, he nodded.
"The crisis is the impending danger approaching the Wulin Masters Association."
"Eh?" Sila exclaimed. He had always thought that the Wulin Masters Association must be some kind of secret organization, and that his teacher was related to it. Heck, his teacher was even likely to hold a significant position within the association.
The possibility of it 'facing an impending danger' had never existed in his head.
"The Wulin Masters Association was formed hundreds of years ago by several sects and individual experts. Its objective is to pass profound arts on to the later generations. Although each sect and expert act as individuals and have to take care of themselves, they are obliged to listen to the command of the Wulin Lord who is the head of the association."
Sila frowned as he listened to Mora. Although he wasn't that smart, he could tell that this matter sounded strange.
Hundreds of sects meant hundreds of opinions. Why did they have to listen to the command of a single person?
"Why do the sects have to obey the head of the association, sir?"
"The Wulin Masters Association has a duty to provide help to any sect who experience common issues such as financial difficulties, dojo management problems, lacking successors, or something similar. You can think of us as a big family helping each other. The only requirement for joining the family is promising to obey the command of the Wulin Lord when the time comes. Nevertheless, don't think that the Wulin Masters Association is a secret organization that has a grand scheme. Our sole objective is still to pass on profound arts and preventing them from fading away. There have been many generations where the Wulin Lord never issued any command."
Sila thought about it for a while before guessing something.
"Could it be that our Flaming Cloud dojo is a member of the association as well?"
If his dojo was a member, it could explain why the matter about the Wulin Masters Association circled around him. Still, it couldn't explain what the impending danger that his teacher had mentioned was.
"Correct. Our Flaming Cloud dojo has been a member for a very long time. The money I used to manage our dojo mostly came from the Wulin Masters Association. The Wulin Lord of the two generations ago was even the former owner of the dojo, my teacher himself."
"How is our dojo in trouble when we are a part of the Wulin Masters Association?"
Mora didn't answer his question and instead asked back.
"Sila, can you guess how the Wulin Masters Association decides who is to be the next Wulin Lord?"
Sila shook his head as he had no clue.
"Normally, aside from the Wulin Lord position, there are Three Elders whose duties are to provide teaching and guidance while helping the successor for ten years before the successor can be appointed as the true Wulin Lord. When that time comes, the Wulin Lord will appoint three people to be the next Three Elders to prepare for teaching the next generation. I should tell you that I was appointed as one of the Elders when my teacher inherited the Wulin Lord position and I have held the position ever since."
Sila frowned. "Wait a minute, teacher. Wasn't your teacher the Wulin Lord two generations ago? Since two generations have already passed, why are you still an Elder?"
"Because something unexpected happened. My teacher selected a certain person as his successor, but that person died before inheriting the position. It was an unprecedented situation, so us, the Elders, have to come up with a solution. We selected another suitable man but he refused to take the position. In the end, the position inevitably fell into your generation."
Sila couldn't follow the story but he nodded anyway so Mora would continue.
"We searched for a long time until we finally found another suitable person. Although he was only eleven back then, his talents were outstanding. He is the person who you know very well."
"Montra?" There was almost no need for Sila to guess.
"Correct. Montra was selected as the successor nine years ago. He was the youngest successor in the history. Even though he was still a kid, we were confident that we had made the right choice. Despite his young age, Montra was a genius both in martial arts and strategic knowledge. No one was more suitable than him."
Sila followed that line of thought and nodded. "Yeah. Montra is skilled. What is the problem, then, teacher?"
No matter how he thought about it, Sila couldn't find out how these series of problems connected to him. In the end, Montra would be the Wulin Lord while he would be living his own life. How could this become a problem for him?
"Later, we changed our mind. One year ago, all of us decided not to accept Montra as the successor even though it is almost time for him to become the Wulin Lord. This decision was unprecedented as well. Anyway, us Elders all agreed that we needed to find another successor. We are willing to spend ten more years for that."
"Could it be that..." Sila pointed the index finger at himself "Me?"
Mora nodded. "Correct. You. That's why Montra is doing everything he can to try to destroy you."
"But, teacher, you are an Elder yourself. Can't you do anything?"
"Without the Wulin Lord, the successor is considered to be the head of the association. Only, he can't issue any commands. Us Elders only have a duty to guide him, so Montra could choose to ignore our orders unless he fails to carry out the mission that we have assigned to him."
"What mission, sir?"
"Aside from receiving guidance, the successor has a duty to complete the mission assigned by the Elders before he can officially inherit the Wulin Lord position. Once, there was a problem where the mission issued to the successor
being too difficult, leading to his death. Thus, Montra's mission is to gain two consecutive victories in the war events of Monster Soul."
"Correct. The first time might be due to ability, fluke, or anything, but his opponents would prepare themselves better for the second time, leading to the actual test of his ability. If Montra fails, his successor position will be invalid, and we Elders will have the right to select a new successor."
Sila quietly digested the information he had just obtained.
"Sila, you only spent two days to study Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws so I will allow you just one day and one night to study Nine Sun-Melting-Fists. As for the matter about the Wulin Masters Association, don't think about it for now. The thing you need to do now is practice Nine Sun-Melting-Fists. Whether you succeed in learning it or not, you have to show yourself in this place and at this time tomorrow."
Mora's eyes showed a hint of gentleness, but Sila was deep in his thought so he failed to notice that.
"Sila, are you okay? Where do you live now that you don't live in the dojo?" Mora walked ahead, showing his back to his disciple.
"I'm now living with Uncle Rashane, sir."
Once he had the answer, Mora didn't wait for Sila to continue as he flew away from the valley. Sila couldn't even call to him in time.
"...Only one night?"
Sila let out a sigh. His teacher always stayed true to his words. If he said he gave Sila one night, that meant Sila really had one night.
He went back to the old house and found that Crow was spending his time eating snacks while enjoying sake. The old man beckoned to Sila.
"Hahaha. Young lad, you really passed that hidden quest. We need to celebrate, then... Oh, you can drink sake, right?"
Sila immediately declined, "Sorry, Mister Crow. I will have to practice a martial art tonight. My teacher will come back to test me tomorrow."
"Eh? Practicing? You just came out of the Cave of Immortals, right? You are much stronger already. No need to go straight back to practicing. Come, come, join me."
"I really can't. I will make it up to you later, sir."
"Okay, okay. I'm not a persistent person. You can go practice your art while I'm drinking sake waiting for you... No pressure, okay?"
"You shouldn't be doing that, sir. It will take me a while before..."
Sila had yet to finished his sentence when Crow interrupted.
"Hahaha. No need to worry. I'm just joking around. You are too serious, kiddo. Just come join me and drink sake together whenever you're free."
"In that case, please pardon me." Sila bowed his head to Crow and entered the room that he had used to practice Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws.
He sat on the bed and thought about all the things his teacher had said.
From what he was told, he had realized why Montra and his peers hated him. If he was in Montra's shoes, trying hard to achieve something for nine years when his goal was suddenly snatched away by some unknown person for some unknown reason, he would feel angry too.
Well, the first thing he would do would be finding out why he was dismissed from the position, not blaming his competitor.
"Why did the Elders changed their minds? What did Montra do a year ago?"
It was a question that he wanted to ask his teacher. He believed that Montra, too, wanted to know the answer to this question.
"No, I only have one night. I need to focus on studying Nine Sun-Melting-Fists first."
Sila picked up the Nine Sun-Melting-Fists book from his system window and hoped that it wouldn't be as thick as Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws' book.
He took a look at its cover, which simply said Nine Sun-Melting-Fists, before opening it and beginning to read the contents briefly without minding the details. After finishing, Sila was surprised that it only took him an hour to go through the entire book.
This book contained less than two hundred pages, similar to the Tiger Dragon Qi book, even though it was about an art and its martial moves, which usually require many pages to explain the user's movements.
There was another reason why he had read through all of it so fast. Aside from the explanations in the first ten pages, the rest of the book contained only illustrations without a single character to describe them.
If the contents of Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws book were too detailed, the contents of this book were too shallow. Sila couldn't understand a tenth of the art just by reading.
Sila scratched his head as he went outside to the backyard. He aimed to study the art using his body since the room was too narrow for him to move.