Coming out from the small living room, the banquet hall was still as lively as before; the band of violinists comfortably and elegantly played their violins, and in the merry music, a group of dignitaries continued on with their socializing indifferently.
As though they had not heard the scream of despair just now at all.
Garen and his uncle walking out from the small living room with a few bodyguards only attracted the attention of a few people. Other than that, there was no other response.
He swept his gaze over the entire hall, and unexpectedly saw his sister sitting on the side, somewhat frantically looking over in his direction; their eyes met coincidentally.
"It'll be okay." Garen gave Ying Er a reassuring look.
The banquet went on as usual; as the host, his uncle went onstage to speak a few words. After that, a few other important people went onstage to speak. Everyone joked about them and a few courtesans. The atmosphere was ambiguous and reserved.
Garen walked over to his sister and sat on the black leather sofa, taking a light sip from the glass of dark liquor in his hand. It was sour, kind of like sour plum wine.
"Brother..." Ying Er looked at him with a worried face, she opened her mouth to speak but she was not sure what to say.
"It'll be fine. There was just a bit of a conflict in there just now, nothing to do with me." Garen gave her a reassuring smile. "Come to think about it, it's been so long since the two of us had sat down quietly and chat."
"Yes... It's been a long time." Ying Er lowered her head. "I've already felt it very early on. Brother, you've become so mysterious. I don't know what you do everyday. I can't even see your shadow."
"What else would I be doing? I'm only following the dojo and joining exchange gatherings. There's nothing else besides that. Don't worry, if..." Garen had not finished speaking when his face suddenly became stiff; his eyes squinted slightly, before returning to normal. He changed what he was about to say, and continued. "If anything happens, I will definitely tell you. Oh right. Master has fallen sick recently. I still need to handle some stuff for the dojo. You know, after all, that I'm the master's last disciple."
Ying Er nodded as though she understood.
In the highest level of the building a short distance away from the banquet hall.
A masked man in black carried a black sniper rifle about two meters long, and was surveying the situation in the banquet hall opposite of him through the rifle scope.
His left hand adjusted the direction of the barrel, while his right hand reloaded the rifle lightly.
The bullets were golden yellow. They were very thin and sharp, like a straight, golden loach. Soft clicking sounds were made as these bullets slid into the bore of the rifle.
"Sting, there's no need to be so nervous. He's just a fellow who had been trained in the martial arts." Behind him was a man with short, silver hair, who spoke drily. He was playing around with a folding knife, wearing the same mask on his face; judging by the crystallic, deep-blue eyes and the handsome shape of his face, his disposition and looks were extraordinarily magnificent.
"Every dangerous person requires my alertness." The man carrying the rifle replied coolly. "Since we've taken the money, we are responsible for the client."
"Oh please, we are mercenaries, not professional bodyguards. Can you not be so dedicated? I'm afraid that Jia Loran will be looking for you to discuss the matter of you stealing their business." The silver haired man said, very amused.
"This can be considered a summit of the provincial leaders. Don't underestimate this." The dark shirt man responded unemotionally. "This fellow could have been well trained to fight, and might not be weak."
"Are you talking about the martial artists? Do you think that there is a martial artist who can get rid of their opponents two miles away? I seem to remember, my last record was 2.3 miles…"
"2.6," The dark shirt man added on abruptly. "You are still far."
The silver haired man gave a dry laugh.
"I'm talking about Dan Ke Tang, you are the professional who single-handedly killed Dan Ke. How can you compare yourself to such a small fry as me? Isn't that an insult to you? Within a mile, your special bullets can pass through an armoured vehicle."
The dark shirt man did not speak anymore, but watched a figure sitting by the right side window in the banquet hall through his circular rifle scope.
That man was holding a glass of dark liquor, drinking slowly while casually chatting with a young girl.
This man was Garen.
At that time, Garen could vaguely feel an extremely sharp aura locking fixedly upon himself.
He was sure that it was a firearm!
But never before had a firearm been able to cause him to feel so strongly threatened.
As he chatted away with his sister, the muscles in his entire body tensed up slightly. It could take a shot at him anytime.
Slowly, not more than a few moments later, this aura gradually moved away. He was then able to relax and breathe easily.
Just as he had let out a sigh of relief, suddenly, there was a small scuffle in the banquet hall.
"Don't come over here!! Don't come over! Don't you hear me! I'm telling you to stand still!" A somewhat crazed voice of a man came from the middle of the banquet hall.
Garen and the guests from the surrounding corners all stood up, and looked to the center.
A young, golden haired man dressed in a white suit was holding a white handgun, holding it against the neck of a middle-aged lady.
What was mystifying, was that the middle-aged lady's face was cold; there was not a hint of panic on her face, as though this was not the first time she was going through such a fuss.
The guests around them also did not look at all nervous. Some of them had even put their heads together in a whisper, a cold, uncaring look as they watched what was going on.
"Elena... Do you need our help?" A golden haired girl, wearing a red, sleeveless gown, stood out and asked casually. Her long ponytail was swept over her shoulder and fell from her neck all the way to the front of her chest. Her eyes were narrow and sharp, giving off a stinging, beautiful aura.
The woman who was being held hostage shook her head.
"Dante, I did not think that you'd do such a thing."
"You did not think? Ho… Ho ho… For that man, you can throw aside anything, you can give up everything... What would I not be able to do?!" The man in the white suit said in despair. He slowly tightened his grip on the trigger of the handgun.
In a moment, there was a round, bloody hole the size of an egg on the back of the man's hand, which was wielding the gun. The hand was not the place with the bloody hole; right on the man's sternum was also an egg-sized hole of blood.
His hand and his chest had been pierced through at the same time. The hand that wanted to pull the trigger could not move anymore. The handgun slipped to the rug on the floor quietly.
"All hail... Black Flag Gang!!" He struggled to scream out his last words; a hissing sound, like a balloon's air being let out, was emitted from his mouth. It was somewhat hoarse. Finally, he fell to the floor. Fresh blood flowed out of his chest in spurts, and dyed the white rug on the floor red.
Garen, who had been standing on the side, pulled his sister into his arms before she could see anything clearly, covering her eyes.
He looked to where the bullet had been shot from, and for a moment the pupils of his eyes constricted.
This bullet had pierced through the wall before passing through the man. The wall was a cement wall of approximately ten or so centimeters; to be able to pierce through a wall of such thickness, and then piercing through a man, before leaving a deep, black hole in the rug, the bottom of which could not be seen. This threat….. This decisiveness of the blindshot…
"This is the power of a true elite sharpshooter, partnered with a powerful rifle." His uncle, who had been nearby, walked over, and stood next to him, speaking in a low voice. "Garen, you can use martial arts to strengthen yourself, but if you really wish to kill your enemies, the strongest martial artist can never defeat a bullet of this caliber."
He patted Garen's shoulder, and took a deep breath.
"Sting is an elite mercenary in my service, and also the secret personnel that watches over the safety of this event. There are over a hundred of elite sharpshooters like him in the entire federation. They can kill their intended target from a few miles away. An elite Grandmaster of Combat, they say, is not afraid of an ordinary bullet, but... This is not the age of martial artists anymore..."
Garen was silent.
He knew that it was impossible for him to overcome an elite sharpshooter of this sort, and this bullet of such penetrating power. This was already comparable to Adrela's full strength attack with his sword, the Three Star Convergence. It might even be more powerful. With such a powerful bullet, without even talking about better bullet, if some poison were to be brushed onto the bullet, he would be killed on the spot.
"Come. Help me." Uncle Anjer had already known about Garen's talent in martial arts, but firearms were not something that martial arts could defend against.
"I still have some matters to deal with. Let me think about it for a while, uncle." Garen said casually.
"Alright, but you had better be quick." Anjer felt like his nephew's tone of voice had finally relaxed, and he nodded his head somewhat relieved. Casting an indifferent glance at the Ying Er in Garen's arms, he turned around and left alone.
"Ying Er, something has come up. I'll need your help later to persuade mum and dad."
"What thing? Just… Just now, what happened? How's the man? Brother?" Ying Er asked doubtfully. She had already guessed it a bit, and her voice was slightly shaking.
Garen looked to the top floor of the opposite building, and his vision seemed to pass through the walls, seeing a black figure propping up a long rifle, crouching quietly there.
"Nothing. Be obedient, don't open your eyes."
On the rooftop.
Sting slowly stowed away the heavy duty silencer, his dark eyes finally peering through the scope to take a look at Garen. He kept having this feeling that the young man seemed to have discover his position.
"What now?" The silver haired man asked, squatting on the side.
"Nothing. Let's go, on to the next point. The Black Flag Gang would not have only sent this small fry." Sting stood up and said coolly.
"That's true. I heard that lunatic has been hanging out with Duskdune Shura's men. Who knows, there might be unexpected people turning up." The silver haired man somehow had something out of nowhere and popped it into his mouth, chewing away.
"Duskdune Shura... Those guys who fuse martial arts and firearms together?" Sting was slightly stunned for a moment, "I heard that elite Grandmasters of Combat can tank bullets. Their speed is incredible, and their ability to fight in close combat is extremely strong. Perhaps I will get the chance to see this for myself this time."
"No one can defeat you, you are our trump card!" The silver haired man patted his partner's shoulder heartily. "The Black Flag Gang definitely could not have imagined that you would personally strike this time."
"Let's go." Sting said indifferently, as he turned around and walked into the darkness.
After leaving the banquet, Garen made a trip home and told his parents in detail about the situation of the dojo. Unexpectedly, someone had already talked to his parents concerning his studies and the reasons behind the subsequent arrangements.
After some enquiries, it was actually the people from the Golden Hoop. They had told his parents that Garen would immediately go to the capital of Eliza Province, Harmony City, and enroll for classes, jumping a few grades ahead. Furthermore, it was an entry exempted from the entrance exam requirements into a private university— the Matra University. It seemed that it was because the antique appraisers' requirements had been fulfilled, and he had achieved the recruitment standards of this university. That was why they had issued an invitation especially for him.
His parents at home had even received, earlier on, the special invitation by the antique appraisers at Matra University. They were so excited when they had heard the news, and kept on advising him not to keep on going to Uncle Anjer, and he must be independent. That sort of thing.
Garen and his sister's original plan to persuade them ended completely without a hitch.
Next up was one small issue to be solved.
He needed to bid his Circular Dance Gate friends and the classmates and teachers who were close to him farewell, and go to the telegraph office and send a telegram to Miss Fanny Cindy, to inform her about him leaving to jump grades and enrolling into a university.
Finally, a few days later, he finally stepped onto the train heading towards the capital of Eliza Province.
In the reddish brown train carriage. The train attendants and the guests came to and for. It was a bit noisy.
Su Lin and Garen sat opposite of each other; the two men were quietly looking out at the scenery outside flitting past quickly.
On the seats to their right, three young men were playing cards. The seats in front were occupied by a pair of young couple with a baby, and were coaxing the baby to sleep. Behind them, there were a few young men and girls who looked like university students, reading thriller novels and horrifying experiences. Their voices were rather loud.
The faint, white morning light shone in through the window, but the inside of the carriage was still very dark and grey. The skies were overcast with grey clouds, and occasionally there was a faint sound of thunder.
Su Lin gave Garen a look. "So sorry to trouble you this time."
"Don't talk about these things between us." Garen said coolly. "Tell me your situation."
"Me?" Su Lin pondered for a moment, "My parents still don't know about me. In my eyes, I'm only a toff, the second young master who just knows how to eat, drink and have fun. My parents still have my big brother. Even though they really like me, and whatever I want, I get, but this is not what I want. If it's not because martial arts has given me the opportunity to train my inner self, I might really still be a young master who only knows how to have fun now. Even though they have already prepared every safety measure perfectly for me, I still want to prepare a core layer of protection. You and another friend of mine. I have not revealed your identities to my family, I've only said that you're my friend, so in case there's any sudden development, you can still be covert and do what you're supposed to." He sighed, "After all, my reputation outside is not really good. They don't care about my squandering, even my family isn't clear about my background, not to mention outsiders. So you guys are my final trump card!"