While the three of them were chatting, Grace, Imogen Lilliette, and another girl were preparing sweets and lunch in another clean white room.
"Grace, you go get some rest. We can handle it here, so it's fine!" Imogen Lilliette persuaded multiple times, but to no avail.
"It's alright. This is part of my duty anyway." Grace gave a weak smile. "But it does seem that there's nothing for me to do to contribute here. I'll just go out and buy some daily necessities for the next few days."
"Don't worry, just go. But don't forget the way back. Or should I accompany you?" Imogen Lilliette offered as she peeled a small potato.
"No, it's fine," Grace declined.
"You be careful then."
As she flicked away the water on her hands, Grace walked out of the kitchen. A trace of gloom flashed across her face.
She quickly walked out of the corridor into the courtyard, heading straight for the entrance.
She had barely walked out of the door when a small blue shadow dashed into her arms. She was surprised to find that it was a little blue bird with a white paper bag tied to its foot.
Grace quietly removed the paper bag, looked around, and gently let the little bird fly away.
The blue bird was swift and silent in flight, disappearing into the sky in the blink of an eye.
Grace opened the paper bag. There was a packet of white powder inside, with some inscriptions on the packaging paper. Her face went ice-cold after reading it.
In the afternoon, the sky gradually darkened. With only dense gray clouds and no sunshine, it felt heavily depressing.
Garen quietly sat in a bedroom at Circling Dance Gate. In front of him was a low square table with five thin manuals laid out on the white surface. There were no names on the manuals. A faint fragrance of ink emanated from them.
"I can't believe they've gifted me with their entire treasured collection. This is really…" Garen didn't know what to make of it, but he felt appreciative.
These five Secret Martial Arts manuals were the secret books that he just got from Circling Dance Gate's underground library. Initially, he had picked out a few to carefully study, but he didn't expect them to simply hand over all the secret books to him. He further selected a few from the timeworn library and, without discovering anything more, he finally brought all the Secret Martial Arts manuals back to carefully study them in the room that they had arranged for him.
The entire process took him just over an hour.
"Of these five Secret Martial Arts manuals, three are Secret Martial Arts tailored to women. I'll give up on those, but I might still be able to derive something in terms of technical attacks. The remaining two…" Garen's gaze fell to the two books on the right.
Boulder Martial Arts and Augustus's Two-Handed Ancient Sword Technique.
"Boulder Martial Arts…" Garen felt that this name was similar to the names of Eastern martial arts. He picked up the secret book and started reading meticulously.
The image of a white lotus was printed on the pale yellow cover and the words "Boulder Martial Arts" was handwritten in Confederation text on the edge.
He turned over to the first page.
"Boulder Martial Arts originates from the East and is a common, highly popular Body Hardening Technique. Upon mastery, it will inflict the powerful effect of anti-Vibration on opponents."
Garen continued turning the pages. What followed was a concise and direct description of the specific postures for the technique as well as preparation and practicing times. There were no external drugs needed as supplements, but it was very strict regarding practicing times. It started from one o'clock midnight and ended at three in the morning.
There were three specific levels: they were merely three strange poses. However, the method and route of blood and Qi circulation, as well as the breathing technique, were enlightening.
On the other hand, the two-handed ancient sword technique book was a martial art that relied on vocalized practice. It had typical domestic characteristics.
"Too bad I left the Weeping Sword in the main dojo and didn't bring it here. Otherwise, I could carefully study the features of a martial art involving vocalized practices." Garen gently put down the two books.
Knock knock knock.
Light knocks on the door were heard.
"Please come in." Garen slowly closed his eyes and put his hand on the two secret books, deep in thought.
The room door gradually opened. Grace came in with two cups of coffee.
"Garen, I've brought you some hot coffee."
She wore a short white dress. The thin black stockings under her short dress vaguely revealed the white underwear between her legs and her high breasts exposed a wide area of fair skin.
She gently laid down the saucers on the table by the secret books and sat across from Garen. When she saw that Garen's eyes were closed, she could not help but show a trace of disappointment on her face.
She reached to pull her dress down a little to cover her underwear, then put the coffee in front of both of them.
"Leave it there for now," Garen said casually.
The atmosphere in the room settled down. Garen was pondering a problem, but Grace started to feel restless and uneasy.
"Grace," Garen suddenly spoke. "Back then, what was the reason that made you decide to follow me?"
Grace was silent for a while. "Because of the corporation, and also probably because you spared my life."
"And mostly because my master was the Sect Master of White Cloud Gate?" Garen asked bluntly.
Grace paused. "Yes."
Garen opened his eyes and calmly looked at the seductively dressed girl in front of him. There wasn't a hint of desire in his eyes.
"Your family is one of the major families in Huaishan City with great influence. Was it what your corporation wanted or what your family requested of you?"
Grace widened her eyes in shock. Her expression couldn't help but finally change and her breathing started to become heavier as well.
"How did you notice?"
Garen smiled. "When you found me at the station, I noticed that your heartbeat was very fast. You didn't do any strenuous exercise and you were calm on the surface, but still your heart raced faster in front of me. If it were ordinary girls, I would probably guess that they fancied me, but not you."
He watched as Grace sat there stone-faced, then continued, "Also, when you came in with coffee, the two coffees had different smells. My cup is obviously impure."
Grace felt a chill in her heart.
She looked at Garen smiling kindly in front of her and suddenly felt that everyone had probably underestimated this ordinary 17 year old youth.
This drug powder was clearly declared by Celestial Circle Gate to have an undetectable scent that could not be sensed Secret Martial Arts practitioners, but it was easily identified by Garen.
"His true strength… what level has it actually reached…" Grace was in a panic all of a sudden. She looked into Garen's clear, deep, red eyes and bit her lower lip. "How… how do you plan to deal with me?"
"Your heart rate is fast again." Garen took a sip of the coffee without the drug powder. "You're afraid? What are you afraid of?"
When Grace recalled the information that her family had obtained, she suddenly felt that she had been too naïve. Originally, she had thought that the information about Garen was exaggerated and she had not witnessed it personally, so she did not take it to heart. However, from the looks of it now… Killing dozens of people along the way—all of them elite fighters—it must have been true!
Garen let out a sigh of disappointment.
"Actually, if not for the fact that I never fully trust anyone, the chances that your plan would succeed were great. But unfortunately…" He shut his eyes as a trace of fatigue showed on his face. "Leave."
Grace's eyes opened wide as she looked at him in disbelief. She seemingly could not believe what he just said.
"You're… not going to do anything?" Suddenly she recalled the manner in which Garen usually handled things: even though it was not cruel, it was not peaceful either. She did not expect him to let her off on this.
"Just leave. This marks the end of our relationship. Don't appear in front of me again. I won't be so merciful the next time we meet," Garen said calmly.
Grace's pale face regained some color. She slowly stood up. When she saw that Garen remained seated, she was delighted.
"What an idiot! Who lets an enemy who tried to poison them go? No wonder you've come back in this sorry state after just one trip! Obviously your stupidity is the cause." She started to relax. Although she did not care for Garen's compassionate gesture, she only dared to think of some ideas in her head and did not dare to make any wrong moves. Her life depended on it, after all.
"Celestial Circle Gate is very powerful! You be careful," she said, faking some guilt before leaving.
She did not wait for a reply. Gently closing the door behind her, she hurried towards the courtyard. It was only after she exited the entrance of the Circling Dance Gate dojo that she let out a quiet sigh of relief.
"Even though the plan failed, at least I managed to keep my life. I need to report back immediately. There is a great discrepancy in the information we have on Garen!"
She quickly hailed a horse carriage taxi and stepped on.
Departing from the main dojo of Circling Dance Gate, she reached a remote corner in the suburbs a dozen minutes later.
After paying for her ride, Grace stepped off and walked into an alley filled with filthy and smelly homeless men.
"Get out of the way!" She kicked aside the thigh of a homeless man blocking her path and walked onward with a look of disgust. "Who sets such a place as a contact point anyway?"
Under the greedy gaze of this group of homeless men, she flashed the silver handgun on her waist and succeeded in frightening the ones with malicious intentions.
She was muttering as she walked into the depths of the alley. She retrieved an engraving dagger from the corner of the wall and forcefully carved an inverted "V," then stood up and turned around.
"You!" Blood instantly drained from her face as she backed up a few steps and hit the wall.
It was unclear when Garen had appeared behind her. He had looked at her with mild interest as she carved the mark.
"This is your secret contact code?" He walked over and touched the wall. Suddenly a layer of white stone powder showered down. The mark was easily erased.
"Grace, I treated you as a friend. What a pity…"
"I thought you said you'd let me go…" Grace's heart was beating fast and her entire body was sweating slightly.
Garen grasped her neck tightly with one arm and held her to the wall. He applied a light pressure.
With her neck broken, the glow in Grace's eyes slowly faded away. Her initial violent struggle gradually weakened, before finally ceasing.
Without a sound and without alarming anyone, she died straightaway in silence.
"Indeed, I did not intend to kill you earlier," Garen said calmly. "It would be inappropriate if you were killed in the Circling Dance Gate dojo. After all, it's someone else's place."
Unconsciously, after killing so many people along the way, his heart had become oddly calm.