All the martial arts practitioners were in a bustle.
After witnessing Seven Moon Gate's hidden force being a despicable Grandmaster of Combat like Mallone, they started to look at members of Seven Moon Gate strangely.
Disciples and students of Seven Moon Gate wanted to hide their faces in shame; they were red in the face and ears and hung their heads low.
Even the Second Elder and several senior officials from the corporate group couldn't stand the shame, and turned to leave with their people.
The Great Elder had green veins popping out on his pale face. He was a retired confederal general—not one of those casual officers—but a real military commander with widespread influence and immense power. When he came into contact with Mallone and other martial art practitioners, hearing how Mallone toots his own horn, he didn't think much of the other so-called "Grandmasters of Combat". He had a Grandmaster of Combat by his side too, who was the strongest of them all, the unbeaten Red Python Fist Mallone.
Just from his title you could tell he was powerful. Coupled with witnessing Mallone easily defeat competing martial arts practitioners, including two famous ones, the Great Elder who initially had doubts became more confident, and didn't doubt the veracity of Mallone's title.
Now, he couldn't believe that Mallone actually fled on his debut!
Suddenly gazes of disdain were directed at him from all around; the din of chatter sounded like buzzing bees.
The Great Elder spit out a mouthful of blood, and fell over backwards.
"Spitting blood again… This old man only knows how to spit blood!" the elder from Celestial Circle Gate was speechless. "If not for my martial arts being abolished, I wouldn't be able to help myself in giving him two good slaps!"
"Elder, I think he won't make it this time…" Xin Luo, who had just gotten up, whispered beside the elder.
Sure enough, the disciples from Seven Moon Gate all rushed over in panic.
"The Great Elder has passed out in shock! Quick, get him to the hospital!"
"Send him to the military zone general hospital! Who has any acute medicine? Quick, someone perform CPR!"
"Apply pressure to the heart, quickly!"
In the commotion, members of Seven Moon Gate finally carried the Great Elder—who had temporarily regained consciousness—and made a swift exit.
Rampas anxiously stayed by the Great Elder's side. Even though he had an altercation with the Great Elder because of Garen, the Great Elder had always taken good care of him.
Before he left, he turned around to look at Garen who was standing silently in the courtyard; there was a complexity in his gaze.
The Seven Moon Gate who had arrived aggressively suddenly became a farce.
Everyone's gaze quickly fell back onto Andrela and Garen.
"I owe you my life," Andrela took a deep breath, swiftly took a pill handed to him by the girl from the group of three Celestial Circle Gate members, and swallowed it.
"Rest assured, in my honor, my faction in Celestial Circle Gate won't find trouble with you from here on out. Also, I will give you a full explanation. You have to be careful, the Black Mark Association and the Gate Master won't let this go peacefully. Finally, this defeat, I will claim it back."
Garen didn't say anything. His body relaxed, and he gradually shrunk to his normal state.
He looked on as members of Celestial Circle Gate gradually left carrying their injured. He walked to the pond in the courtyard; the goldfish in the pond were swimming about without a care in the world.
Jaimea Lilliette and the others from Circling Dance Gate walked over. Taking in the messy courtyard, they didn't say anything, but merely looked at Garen.
Garen let out a long sigh. Suddenly he felt an immense sense of relief.
The spectators gradually dispersed. The Master of Red Obsidian Gate begrudgingly led his disciples back.
The unification plan of Celestial Circle Gate and Black Mark Association had been completely halted by Garen.
As long as Garen was at Southern Twelve Gates, it wouldn't be so easy for Celestial Circle Gate and Black Mark Association to unify all the forces. After this battle, Garen had become the emblem of Southern Twelve Gates. The leaders of the sects that left had a clear idea of the situation now; they had only two choices.
One was to maintain the existence of their sect and align with Garen for refuge. The second was to dissolve their sect and merge with the Black Mark Association.
No one wanted to dissolve their sect and merge with Black Mark Association to be managed by someone else. After all, these were martial arts inherited through the years. Each sect had their own beliefs and ideals, which was not something they would simply give up over some benefits.
Now, as long as Garen didn't fall, Southern Twelve Gates would not completely fail as the obstructive force against unification.
As time passed, the crowd dispersed from Circling Dance Gate. Even the police maintaining security had left in their police cars. The lockdown on the area had been lifted and traffic resumed.
The girls at Circling Dance Gate bolted the broken door in the courtyard. Garen retrieved a checkbook from his room, wrote a number on it and handed it to Jaimea Lilliette.
"This is for the damage caused to the site during the fight. Take it."
Jaimea Lilliette wasn't sanctimonious. She really needed the money now. She received the check and looked at the number on it: one million!
Garen smiled. "This matter with Celestial Circle Gate is temporarily resolved, I should return." He had slowly been removed from the sphere of an ordinary high school student. Coupled with the fact that his mental age was far beyond the seventeen years of a high school student, there was no point in going back to school anymore.
Moreover, there were loose ends that needed tying up. Celestial Circle Gate and Black Mark Association had merely retreated temporarily. The matter with Sylphalan remained unresolved. Members of the Immortal Palace were unusually mysterious; they were untraceable.
Garen was sure that Sylphalan didn't intend to kill him, but he seemed to have taken something from him in their previous encounter. He checked for a long time, but didn't discover what was missing. All he could do was keep wondering.
He didn't know why Sylphalan wanted to draw him out. It could be part of Black Mark Association's plan; it could be something that he had on him; it could be some other reason.
What he could sense, was the complex and inexplicable attitude Sylphalan had towards him.
Then there was the issue of supporting Southern Twelve Gates, and Su Lin's matter.
Apart from those two things, there was still the matter of relying on Detective Dale to track down the Antiques of Tragedy. Dale Quicksilver and the others were still in Blue Gulf City, Evenia Province investigating this case.
These three aspects of matters seemed independent, but had a common thread.
That is, Immortal Palace seemed to be involved behind the scenes in all of them.
What Garen needed to do was investigate each matter thoroughly, and in the process, continually search for Antiques of Tragedy to enhance his true strength.
That was his current purpose.
"Are you going back?" asked Imogen Lilliette, a hint of disappointment in her voice. "Can't you stay for a while longer to give us guidance?"
"Next time, hehe," Garen detached from the mode of Grandmaster of Combat, and replied with a grin.
"So when are you leaving?" Jaimea Lilliette, in contrast, asked casually.
"I'll need to trouble you to help me buy some clothes." Garen awkwardly pointed at his bare upper body; even his white pants were soiled. "Walking out like this doesn't seem too appropriate."
"Yes, indeed." Although Jaimea Lilliette still maintained an unusually cold attitude, but the way she looked at Garen had very much softened.
The battle at Circling Dance Gate shocked the entire martial arts world in the South.
The principal person at Celestial Circle Gate, Eldest Senior Brother Andrela, had been defeated by Garen of White Cloud Gate in a direct confrontation. This meant that the momentum in unifying the Southern martial arts world had been halted.
There were currently seven major sects within the Southern Twelve Gates. Apart from Seven Moon Gate which had suffered a drastic decline in power due to the plunge in their reputation, the other five major sects combined with the rest from Southern Twelve Gates had spontaneously formed a coalition organization to counter the rise of Black Mark Association. This organization held the top expert of the South, White Bird Holy Fist Palosa as their leader, and was acknowledged by Palosa. Coupled with the reputation of Garen of Southern Twelve Gates defeating Andrela of Celestial Circle Gate, the fame of both Palosa and Garen gathered a large group of people with noble aspirations who had long resented Celestial Circle Gate, Black Mark Association and Crimson Sand Sword.
Moreover, this organization had inadvertently obtained a 'no-intervention' policy from Celestial Circle Gate and Crimson Sand Sword. Under the situation where external forces maintained a neutral stance, the battle with Black Mark Association was extremely intense. Formal martial arts challenges between the two sides constantly emerged, but none at the level of Grandmaster of Combat. However, both sides kept urging companions to join in the fight, making the scope of the battle larger and wider, and the intensified conflicts elevated.
After a period of stalemates, the organization officially announced the establishment of a unified force named 'Southern Sky Holy Fist Gate', implying that it was the supreme fist arts sect of the South.
While Southern Sky Holy Fist Gate and Black Mark Association were battling, Garen returned to Huaishan City to handle things at school. He applied for a temporary suspension and started sorting out the affairs of White Cloud Gate. But the first person he had to face was the person in control of the assets of White Cloud Gate, Bovini.
At a building downtown.
In an extravagant room.
Garen and Bovini sat across from each other, a cup of hot coffee in front of each. The strong aroma of coffee slowly filled the air.
Garen didn't speak. He was invited by Bovini to come.
Sitting on the couch, he recalled his time since transmigrating here. He had experienced an infinitely more interesting life than in his past life on earth. It was no longer dull, no longer boring, no longer repeating a mechanical, monotonous life, and was no longer submersed in the monotony of life to the state of depression, deterioration and finally, rot.
He ran his fingers on the delicate texture of the white porcelain cup; he could only feel the slight warmth of the hot coffee through the wall of the mug.
Garen snapped out of his thoughts, and looked up at the bald stout man sitting opposite him.
"Mr Bovini, you've invited me here to…?"
Bovini had a relaxed smile on his face. He took out a document which he had put to a side and placed it on the table beside Garen.
"Mr Garen, these are the various properties transferred to your name, with asset valuations by the valuation company on the side. Please have a look."
"Transferred to my name?" Garen was slightly stunned.
"Of course." Bovini slowly took a sip of coffee. "You have been through hell and back for White Cloud Gate and made such a huge contribution. Transferring some properties to your personal name is no big deal. I imagine even if Master Fei woke up, he wouldn't blame me for such a trivial thing."
Garen instantly understood what Bovini meant.
All the properties of White Cloud Dojo were under Fei Baiyun's name. It didn't mean anything to him. It was his master's assets, he couldn't utilize them, and didn't even have the right to manage or intervene. Now that White Cloud Gate was withering, he was the only one left to call the shots. Bovini's intent was to invite him to the dinner table splitting the assets of White Cloud Gate, and shut his mouth by offering him some practical benefits.
"Mr Bovini, I think you have misjudged me," Garen couldn't help but laugh, and shook his head slightly.
Bovini's expression remained unchanged; he maintained a passive smile.
"It's alright. We can discuss this slowly. We'll find a common point of exchange eventually."
He calmly took out a stack of documents from the briefcase by his side and put them in front of Garen.
"Please have a look first."
Garen picked it up and glanced at it. The documents were the asset transfer agreements for the casino, factory and antiques trading company under White Cloud Gate respectively, all effective upon his signature. Attached were the asset valuation report and a Confederal Industrial and Commercial Bank check—the amount written on it was 20 million dollars.