After leaving the judo, Garen was waiting for a carriage in front of the entrance.
"Mister, would you like a newspaper?" A young boy wearing a gray cap walked over with a stack of newspapers in his arms and held out a newspaper to Garen.
"Newspaper?" Garen thought for a while, grabbed the newspaper, and handed over a dollar from his pocket.
"Thanks." The boy left to continue looking for the next customer.
Garen shook the grayish-white newspaper and spread it open. An enormous black headline suddenly appeared in his sight.
"Tensions between Weisman Empire and Republic of the Tulip increasingly apparent!! The stance of the Confederation will become important."
He frowned and continued to look at the other headlines.
"The Chairman of the Confederation will conduct an ordnance inspection of the armed forces on the 19th at nine in the morning."
"Shocking massacre in the Western Alliance, owner of a manor and 42 other people murdered."
"Fascinating archaeological discoveries of historical remains found in Stonecliff Continent."
Rustling the newspaper, Garen was just about turn to the next page when a pedestrian bumped into him. A page of the newspaper fell out, revealing a black and white photo.
It was a dark wheat field with a slanted scarecrow alone in the middle, surrounded by a sea of black wheat.
There was a caption below the photo.
"Shocking discovery of a purple wheatfield in the Southwest Province."
Garen carefully looked at the photo; very subtly, he actually felt a trace of movement from his supernatural ability.
He scanned through the content below, and the name of a location appeared in his eyes.
The sound of a carriage approached from a distance, and Garen quickly rolled up the newspaper and raised his hand to hail it.
The grayish-black carriage slowly stopped in front of him.
"Go to Bluetree Street."
"After the Border War 15 years ago, the world has reverted back to a peaceful state. As one of the superpowers of the three continents, it is our historical duty to maintain world peace..."
The geography lecturer was standing on the podium, giving a history lecture filled with his own opinions. The adorable bald elderly man was vigorously waving his arms while turning back from time to time to chalk down important key points.
Within the white classroom, Garen was sitting in the back row by the window with his chin resting on his palm, flipping through the geography textbook on his table.
The entire textbook was white except for the cover, where a black flying bird was printed in the middle. It was the flag of the Yalu Confederation. The four characters on top of the image meant geography.
Garen flipped through the front pages in the images section and stopped at the page with the world map.
The white rectangular area represented the ocean; three irregular gray lands were floating in the middle of the ocean.
The three lands formed a ring pattern with a tiny gap in the upper left corner.
The upper strip of land was labeled Stonecliff Continent, the bottom left was Azura Continent and the bottom right was Fivestar Continent. These three continents were surrounded by countless islands of various shapes and sizes.
Garen's finger slowly and steadily glided on the Stonecliff Continent and finally stopped at the middle part of the continent, slightly to the left. There was an irregularly shaped land in that location, labeled as Yalu Confederation.
This region was close to a third of the entire Stonecliff Continent.
"This world sure is strange... Even though planes exist, no one has been able to explore the entire world. The continents are entirely surrounded by water with no end in sight. All of humanity revolves around the three continents, and the surface area is equivalent to all of the continents on Earth combined, if not more."
Garen flipped to the next page, glanced through it and looked out the window.
A group of people was setting pole flags on a field at a distance away. It seemed like they were preparing for some sort of activity.
The late afternoon sunlight with a hint of redness shined onto the field, covering the dark green surface with a layer of golden red.
It had been three days since Garen returned from the dojo. He already applied during the audition at the dojo, and all he needed to do now was to wait for the results.
If he passed, he would directly become a formal disciple of the White Cloud Dojo; he would be able to learn a Secret Method and even receive a monthly allowance.
The sweet sound of the school bell rang out, marking the end of the class.
The geography teacher clapped his hands to get the class’ attention.
"Well, today's lessons end here. I hope that everyone reviews after going back. I will be checking next lesson. Lan Ruo, thank you for your hard work."
A black haired female student with twin ponytails stood and nodded. She then left her seat and waited for the teacher to leave before she rapidly wiped the writing on the blackboard.
The girl had a pure and cold disposition. She had an oriental look with large black pupils; her bangs slanted diagonally downward across her forehead, and her skin was fair and delicate.
Garen knew her; there were only twenty-five students in the class—there was not a single person who didn’t know her.
Lan Ruo was in the top three in academics in the class and top five in the entire grade. She was pretty and pure like a flawless ceramic doll, and her skin was as tender as milk jelly.
It was just that she had an indifferent personality and barely spoke to her classmates. Other than the basic greetings, she would always silently look at the person trying to start a conversation with her. Faced with her large eyes and expressionless face, they could only give up and leave.
"Have you seen Fayne?" Kalidor approached Garen from the front rows. With a head full of yellow hair, he wore a white shirt and yellow leather vest with a sapphire necklace hanging around his chest. With his thin frame and fashion, he looked extremely flamboyant.
"Fayne? We only just got off class and he's already gone. Why are you looking for him?" Garen puzzledly asked. "That guy's probably messing around with some girl somewhere."
"Since his elder cousin came, let's gather for lunch later. She'll be bringing a female friend with her, so it'll be me, you, Fayne and them. We're all in the same grade, and I heard that they're from an all girls' school." Kalidor raised his eyebrows.
"So what if they're from a girls' school? I need to go to the dojo later, so I can't make it."
"Why are you missing out on such a good chance?"
"I'll go the next time, really." Garen shrugged his shoulders. "This time, I really have something to do."
"You rascal... This is such a good chance!" Kalidor muttered to himself as he left the classroom.
Garen was speechless as he shook his head. After tidying up the book on his table, he stood up and walked out of the classroom with his black cloth bag.
Twenty minutes later...
White Cloud Dojo Martial Coliseum
Within a dim and spacious redwood hall.
A bald elderly man sat cross-legged on the floor with a burning fireplace at his back. The red flames were continuously propelled outwardly, creating a crackling sound.
There was no lighting, only the red glow of the fireplace.
Over ten youths in white clothing sat cross-legged in front of the elderly man on the floor. Each of them had a solemn expression on their face as they looked at the elderly man.
"Congratulations," the bald elderly man slowly said. "You're the latest batch of official disciples this year."
No one said anything, but their breathing became slightly heavier. Among them, the oldest was eighteen years old and the youngest was fifteen. However, without any exception, joyful expressions appeared on all their faces.
The elderly man noticed it and slightly nodded his head.
"When you become a formal disciple, the greatest benefit, other than not having to pay tuition fees, is that you'll be taught a Secret Method of Martial Arts."
"Secret Methods of Martial Arts are an absolutely undisclosed secret within each and every sect and dojo. So before we begin, I hope that you will be able to uphold the agreement that you just signed."
The elderly man took out an ancient yellow scroll from his black gi and gently spread it open on the floor.
"Starting from the first person on the left, come up here and look at this once, then step back."
The leftmost person was a girl who was sitting in a cross-legged position. As she stood, she walked to the front to pick up the scroll. After giving it a glance, she immediately returned to her original position. Then the second, third...
Each of them took less than ten seconds to finish reading.
Sitting in the rear was a purple-haired boy with red eyes: it was Garen who had rushed here directly from school to receive the Secret Method of Martial Arts. He was wearing a white gi with both of his hands on his knees, staring at the students who had seen the scroll.
It was soon his turn. Garen stood up and walked to the front. He knelt in front of the elderly man, picked up the scroll and carefully looked at it.
A human figure was drawn on the light yellow scroll: the figure was posing in a weird posture-- similar to the horse stance -- emanating a rich and special hidden meaning.
Garen looked at it once and easily remembered it. At the same time, he detected a light fragrance from the scroll. It was very faint and similar to the smell of honey.
As he returned to his position and sat down, he suddenly felt sleepy.
"Now, take the posture shown on the scroll. Take note of that particular hidden meaning," the bald elderly man's voice clearly sounded out.
Everyone stood up, spread out and began to imitate the posture shown on the scroll.
Garen followed suit as well: his arms were thrust to the front while tiptoeing on one leg and on his heels with the other.
After taking the stance, the skill section at the bottom of his field of vision suddenly changed. A new skill actually gradually appeared: White Cloud Fundamental Secret Method: Elementary.
Garen felt a warm sensation slowly converging in his chest and abdomen, then spreading to his four limbs. His entire body rapidly entered into a comfortable state.
Within the attribute column in his field of vision, his strength attribute slowly started to change. It jumped from 0.44 to 0.45.
The elderly man's voice sounded out again.
"Do you feel a pleasant feeling spreading throughout your body? It means that you have already successfully learned our White Cloud Secret Arts. In the future, use this pose to meditate. This Secret Method will increase your strength based on your physical condition and talent. This Secret Method has three stages: the beginning Heat Stage, intermediate Frost Stage, and finally Heatfrost Interchange . Every time you move to the next stage, it will increase your strength to a certain amount. If a normal person were to reach the highest level, their strength will increase to twice their original strength. Of course, it would take a while to reach that point.
"In addition, the growth of the Secret Method is progressive. There are also some restrictions when training with this method: do not train when you're too tired, do not train when you're too hungry, do not train where there are lots of distractions..."
Garen was sitting in the back, listening to the key points explained by the elderly man. As he continued to hold the posture, he was experiencing a pleasant feeling throughout his body due to the increase in blood flow.
He continued to listen to the key points as he monitored the attributes and skills section at the bottom of his field of vision.
After thinking for a while, his line of sight finally focused on his newly gained White Cloud Secret Method.
After a few seconds, a burst of energy suddenly rushed into the skill.
The display status of the White Cloud Secret Method gradually changed, from elementary to intermediate.