Remembering these, Garen could not help but be reminded of Andrela.
"As for me, at that age, Andrela had already entered into the rank of Grandmaster of Combat. I don't know how much he has had to sacrifice, how much he has experienced. No wonder his spirit feels a bit abnormal. Perhaps it's only because of such focus and extremism that has allowed him to entered into such a high level at such a young age. Compared to me, I can be said to have cheated my way in…" He was very aware that he was not some gifted being.
Reminiscing all the young masters that he had met, only Andrela had gone into the Grandmaster of Combat level. Even the performance of Beo from the Crimson Sand Sword was only close to the Grandmaster of Combat level. It was clear that he lacked the bravery. His martial arts cultivation might have been perfected, but his soul cultivation had not yet been achieved.
Tucking away his thoughts, Garen straightened up the suit he was wearing, and walked out in great strides from the wing towards the main entrance of the great hall. Uncle Anjer had already been standing by the door, coming to greet him.
"There might be a bit of trouble later. On the surface, for my sake, they will not cause you any trouble, but as for any issues with the juniors, I have no reason to interfere, so it is up to you. I have also arranged for Venia and the others to follow you. Take care of your own safety, do not rely on the fact that you've trained in the martial arts to pick a fight with them. Do you understand?" His uncle exhorted in a low voice.
"I understand, uncle." Garen nodded helplessly in response.
Only then was Anjer satisfied, and he reached out to pat his head, "It's been a while since we've met, you've become taller again. It's only been a little over a year, and you have grown so strong. That bean sprout in the past has totally vanished. Not bad, not bad."
He caressed Garen's hair, laughing loudly. Garen, helpless, could only let him pat as much as he pleased.
"Alright, follow me in. Make sure to be a bit more polite, everyone inside is a dignitary, much stronger than your background as a master. Establishing good connections will be beneficial for you in the future."
"Okay." Garen could only nod and agree.
Just as they walked in through the doors, he saw the local governor of Huaishan City, Boravil, in the corner, who was laughingly chatting away with two middle-aged, goateed men, completely in character as an accompaniment.
"It looks like they are really not typical people." Garen was momentarily curious about his uncle's hidden societal influence.
The strongest force he had encountered in the martial arts world were the Celestial Circle Gate and Sun Lin's clan. Only, he did not know which level the ten or more people in this great hall belonged to in comparison.
However, these all remained mere thoughts; he still obediently followed after his uncle, putting on the polite and demure look of a junior.
Not far away, two middle-aged people, a man and a woman, were watching Garen and Anjer walk through the doors attentively.
"That is the future heir Anjer has chosen?" The woman was wearing a red, sleeveless dress, body-fitting and had a high collar; with a neat, golden ponytail tied to the side, and long, narrow blue eyes, she gave off a sharp and noble allure.
"Anjer has been working hard for a huge chunk of his lifetime. This time, he has more or less decided to retire after all the success he has achieved. However, his industry is neither here nor there. It won't be easy for him to retire completely." The man had his arms crossed. There was a little blonde goatee on his chin, and his short hair was combed to the right; he looked unusually mild mannered.
"Actually, after the banquet this time, all cards would be on the table, yes? Then I'm guessing that there will be news tomorrow."
"Let's wait and see." The woman laughed lightly. "Compared to this Garen, I am more inclined towards the Delai Xima and Vaeneris there."
"With just the support of Anjer, even if this Garen is of no use, he is still a formidable contender. A bit more time can still be stalled. Oh, right. Between Delai Xima and Vaeneris, who do you support?" The man asked in a low voice.
"Depends on the situation. Both are young leaders of the next generation, with authoritative support behind them." The woman said very nonchalantly, "Are you thinking of pulling me over to support Delai Xima again? He might be very outstanding, but he is not the type that I admire. I don't have to say much more."
"So you have noticed." The man smiled bitterly. "Cheers."
"Cheers." The woman smiled, pretending to raise up her wine glass and clink it against the man's.
Garen followed after his uncle, politely answering the questions from the elders all the way. Various appraising eyes continuously focused on him.
As he smiled and hurried forward to the thirty-plus year old man in front of his uncle, nodding in response, he swept his gaze quickly over uncle Anjer's face.
He did not know just how much of uncle's help he had received as he was growing up. Even his sister and himself were enrolled into the academy simply because of his connections here. Although his uncle's sexist opinions were rather bad, but it was really nothing for him to complain about. Only, what was causing him confusion now was this sudden desire to pass on the business to him.
This was so unexpected.
Last time, he had fought for it to the utmost of his ability, but his uncle's attitude had remained firm. However, even if Lombarth was not trying hard enough, he still would not be so willing to pass all the assets to Garen.
And uncle was only about forty years old this year…
Thinking about uncle's age, there was an increase of profoundness in Garen's eyes.
Suddenly, a weak voice sounded from behind him.
Garen was slightly startled, and turned his head to see his sister Ying Er standing behind him.
"Why are you alone? Where is mum and dad?"
"They did not want to come, so they rejected the invitation." Ying Er was wearing a black dress with a drawstring waist; the skirt reached her knees, and there was a black hairband tying up her long, waist-length hair. Her lips were pink, and her eyes glistened with brightness. It was obvious that she had been dolled up by professionals.
"Rejected?" Garen was stunned. Although he had known since he was young that his parents and his uncle were not on good terms, he had not imagined it to be this bad.
Ying Er walked over to Garen's side and stood next to him, greeting uncle Anjer.
Anjer smilingly nodded in response.
"It's been a long time since you siblings have met. Have a good chat between yourselves." He patted Garen's shoulder. "In a while, when I ask for you, come over immediately. Don't dawdle."
Garen could vaguely feel the predicament that his uncle was facing now. He nodded resolutely.
"Brother, what is going on?!" The moment their uncle left, Ying Er immediately spoke and asked; her eye were filled with doubt and a bit of concern, as well as a sliver of confusion and unfamiliarity. "How could you came back and did not even check up at home for a bit? And how is uncle able to have such great influence?"
Garen led her to a corner and found two quiet seats. The two of them sat down.
"To be honest, I am also not clear about the situation here. Uncle suddenly wants me to take over his business. I am completely unprepared." Garen himself was in doubt, "However..." He had a vague guess, but did not speak it aloud. "Forget it. Let's hope that I can get through tonight. Don't you bother with these things. It'll be alright as long as I'm here."
"But why didn't mum and dad come over? I heard that you were here, brother, that's why I hurried over. Otherwise they wouldn't have let me." Ying Er could not understand. She suddenly felt as though her parents and the brother who was just right in front of her had all become strangers now.
"They did not come here. Is it because they were unwilling?" Garen was thoughtful. "In a while I'll go back and take a look. I've also just returned, the dojo the master was heavily ill, so I had no time." What he said was the truth; originally, before he had settled everything completely, he had not been planning to go home. He did not expect to meet his sister here.
"Then come get me in a while, don't slip off by yourself!" Ying Er felt totally uneasy at such a banquet, and unconsciously stuck closer to her big brother.
"I know." Garen laughed, and leaned on the sofa casually.
At the cocktail party, some wealthy dignitaries were complimenting each other; there was a struggle amidst their words, both openly and covertly. They had hidden agendas. It all looked to be the same old thing, but in reality, the danger was real. Being the slightest bit careless at the cocktail party could mean offending some narrow-minded people, and getting oneself into trouble. If caught just a bit unaware, one could leak out some vital information about oneself. So everyone was extremely reserved and polite; every sentence was carefully worded.
After sitting about for a while, Garen and his sister saw their uncle waving at him, not so far off.
He hurriedly got up and walked over.
"Mr. Pand Di, this is my nephew, Garen. How is he? Easy on the eyes, yes? Garen, where is your greeting?" Anjer smiled and patted Garen's shoulder. The other person was a huge client of his corporation, not to be taken lightly. He was also a very huge threat.
"An honour to meet you, Mr. Pang Di." Garen smiled, stretching his hand out to him.
The grey-haired man named Pang Di gave Garen a cold look.
"Hello. However, although Anjer recommends you, my impression of you is not so good. Of course, if you can satisfy me in the future, I might change this opinion of mine. Who knows."
"Mr. Pang Di." Anjer interrupted from the side in a deared voice, "What do you mean by that?" His eyes flashed as he fixed them on the man. His nephew was being accused in front of him; naturally he could not just ignore it.
"No meaning whatsoever." Pang Di smiled, "Anjer, we have worked together for so many years. To be honest, I am quite disappointed in your decision this time."
Standing at the back, listening to these callous words that made him look bad, Garen, however, did not feel strange about it at all.
The few dignitaries who had come over just now were also like this, albeit they did not express it as forwardly as he had.
Only, he had never intended to take over his uncle's industry. Uncle was still young, and wanting to retire at such an age…..
He suddenly stepped forward, and, with a smile, politely asked Pang Di: "Then what can I do to give you that satisfaction?"
Pang Di was slightly startled, as though he had not expected Garen to suddenly step up and speak. He turned his head and looked at Garen closely. Before breaking into a sneer.
"Do you know anything about business science? How much do you know about classic case studies in the market?"
"The information in the regard is, in the end, only information. I am very confident with my ability to learn. I'm sure you have also gone through my relevant data?" Garen said calmly.
Pang Di was still sneering.
"So what? You're only a newbie who has stood out, you are not the rightful heir, and your network is far less impressive than the other two candidates. If it weren't for the support of your uncle, what right do you have to stand here and speak to me? You're only a common student who can't even get through the door."
Garen raised his eyebrow.
"Who hasn't stood up from the basics? There is some bias in your words, sir. I don't know what your requirements are for heirs, but believe me, if you choose me, I am confident that I can do it."
"You are very confident? You think you can definitely surpass the other two candidates?" Pang Di laughed.
"If I can, would you support me, then?" Garen said coldly.
"There's no 'then'. I simply don't like you. Although I don't know how a mere nephew you like could obtain Anjer's approval, but it has been the custom that the industries are passed down to the rightful first born. Don't try to use such small tricks to snatch what is not yours. No matter what you do! I will never agree to you being the heir."
This was what they really thought.
Garen finally understood.
All these people believed that he had been flattering his uncle on purpose, with the intention of obtaining the family fortune using dirty tricks.
Although he had never wanted to be a part of his uncle's business, this man's words were really quite irritating. However, he had only spoken to him because he had wanted to understand his passionate stand and attitude.
Only, Pang Di's refusal to listen to anything they had to say, had caused him to feel a bit indignant.
"Actually, I really want to say this too. I don't really like you much either." Garen retorted sarcastically. "Isn't it a bit too early for you to interfere with my uncle's decision?"
"Anjer's issue..." Pang Di's face turned cold.
"Alright, Garen. That's enough." His uncle's face had become solemn.
Pang Di harumped coldly, and as he brushed past Garen, there was a sliver of fear on his face. It was obvious that he knew something about Garen, and walked off immediately seemingly in respect for Anjer.
Although, amongst the gentlemen on the scene, no one was afraid of anyone, and everyone was equal, but he did not need to see Anjer's displeased expressions at all.
"Alright. Garen, don't you get upset as well. Pang Di's eldest son supports Vaeneris. Delai Xima and Vaeneris are two representatives of the younger generation from my wife's side. In a while, you shall go down and meet with them privately."
Anjer knew his nephew considerably well. The recent case with the Manuyllton Company, although he was not clear about the process, but he knew the result very well. Garen had, with connections to the special forces that he had borrowed from who knew where, single-handedly gotten rid of the entire Manuyllton Company. This had caused him to see Garen in a new light. That was why he did not wish for Garen to have hatred towards Pang Di over this matter. After all, he was still a good friend who had partnered with him for many years.
"It'll be fine, uncle." Garen smiled. "How about I go and meet my peers now?"
"That's good too. Let me send someone to go with you." Anjer pondered for a moment, and felt that the attitudes of the guests on top were so-so. The advantage obtainable for Garen here was too small, so he might as well let him meet the other juniors downstairs.
Very soon, under his uncle's arrangements, a slender man wearing a dark blue suit followed Garen from behind. An attendant brought the two of them out of the banquet hall, and through a sidedoor, entered into a smaller parlour.
The small parlour could only contain about a few dozens of people. The walls and the ceiling were all light yellow, and the floor was covered with white sheepskin rugs. The lamps on the walls emitted a warm, yellow glow.
Spread around the parlour, here and there, stood and sat over twenty young men and women.
A big group of them were clustered around two people, the rest were standing in the corners in twos and threes, completely unassuming.
The moment Garen walked in, he immediately saw the two exceptionally eye-catching central figures.
On the left was a young man with thick eyebrows, looking very experienced. There was a glass of dark liquor perched in his hand, from which he occasionally took sips. He was listening to what his companion had to say, but there was a bit of a distant look in his eyes. From the conversations around him, one could vaguely hear the others calling him Delai Xima.
The man on the right had short blue hair and dark eyes; there was a faint, thin and long scar on his forehead. He was the complete opposite of Delai Xima's quietness; he had complete control on the conversation. Although he was smiling, he still gave off a threatening, aggressive vibe.
When Garen walked in through the door, he immediately caught the attention of some of the people there.
"Garen! You finally have the balls to come out!" The mature man next to Delai Xima suddenly stood up and straightened himself, speaking casually. "Xima, wasn't this the guy you saw back then?"
Hearing this, Garen was surprised, and took a closer look at Delai Xima's face. He suddenly remembered the young man in the white shirt that he had met at the doors of his uncle's house. How long had it been that he had become so matured?
The wine glass in Delai Xima's hand had suddenly fell to the floor, and was smashed into pieces. The calm and the nonchalant look on his face had disappeared without a trace; in a moment, his face was drained of blood. Both his eyes were locked on Garen, vacant. It was obvious that his mind was now blank.
It was only after the people around him had shook him up, that he came back to his senses.