"I am a friend of your father's. Ask him to come out and see me, he'll know," Su Lin said with a smile.
Garen stood to a side an observed their exchange silently. Suddenly he heard faint footsteps. When he turned around, he saw the boy who was weaving earlier cautiously stick his head out from the end of the alley in curiosity and look over. His small dirty face had a wooden sense to it. Two streaks of transparent sticky mucus flowed from his nostrils; he sniffed hard and the mucus was retracted back into his nose.
He took a look at him then ignored him and turned back around. Su Lin had already asked the girl.
The two of them were led into the shop and offered two chairs—the cleaner ones of the lot—to sit down on.
Soon, a middle-aged man with a full-faced beard pulled aside the tattered cloth partition separating the inner part of the house and walked in. He looked like an honest fellow. His face was calm and indifferent, his gaze complex with the vicissitudes of life; obviously he had been through a lot.
When he walked out, the impression he gave was no different than that of a common blacksmith.
Honest, straightforward, strong, crude, and of course, he had oil stains all over him.
The first thing that the man saw when he walked in was Su Lin sitting on the chair. He furrowed his brow slightly. He wiped the oil stains off his hands on his clothes, walked over and sat down in front of Su Lin and Garen.
"It's you? Once I saw you, I knew my peaceful life was over. Tell me, what do you need my help for?" His sized Garen up and seemed to have doubts.
"Come on. I had a hard time getting that promise from you before. If you went back on your word, I'll be suffering a big loss. To think for your sake, I had to…"
"Alright, just come out with it. What do you want?"
Su Lin was cut short by the man, and didn't manage to finish his sentence.
The young boy and girl stood to one side and were left confused by the conversation; they had no idea what was going on.
Su Lin looked at them, and knew that the man had no intention of hiding anything from them, so he spoke his mind.
"I've run into some trouble."
"What kind of trouble?" The man leaned forward, and took his outer coat off.
The man abruptly stopped what he was doing.
Silence filled the air.
The man didn't speak, Su Lin didn't speak, and neither did Garen.
Affected by the atmosphere, the boy and girl standing to a side didn't dare to breathe too heavily either. They looked puzzled; the girl even seemed vaguely excited.
After a while, Su Lin spoke again.
"What's the matter? The Eight-Arm Dragon King of yore is now speechless at the mention of Duskdune Shura?"
The man's eyes flashed.
"What's the use of reminiscing about the past?"
The Eight-Arm Dragon King!
Garen sitting to a side was instantly stunned. He had never heard of this title, but to be able to carry such a name was proof enough of his terrifying true strength in the past.
Regardless of the field, for one to be called a king, they were definitely no plain characters. Not to mention he was acknowledged by Su Lin as an absolute companion in countering the impending attack from Duskdune Shura!
When he saw the man evade, Su Lin didn't let up. "You're really able to let go of that thing with Duskdune Shura before? I don't believe it."
The atmosphere turned somber again.
The youths were mostly confused, but caught the gist of it. The old man in the shop must have been a powerful big shot in the past. He merely resided here because of some kind of grudge. These two people in front of them had obviously come to ask the old man to come out of retirement.
"I thought I could live peacefully till I died of old age. I didn't think there would be such a day…" The middle-aged man let out a long sigh. "Unfortunately, I have let it go entirely."
At these words, Garen saw Su Lin's face turned unpleasant.
"You're joking?" his voice became very deep. "What about the promise you gave me before? Also, could you bear to see your daughter and apprentice toil on in mediocrity, forever living in this dingy corner till they die?"
The Eight-Arm Dragon King was unfazed. "I will not go out. But owing to my previous promise, I will give you a satisfactory explanation."
"Explanation? What further explanation can you offer?" Su Lin said coldly. Suddenly, he took out a piece of something from his front pocket: it was part of an unknown ornament, like a brass hoop. It was cracked at the bottom.
At the sight of this, the Eight-Arm Dragon King's eyes immediately widened. "Why is this with you?" his voice became unusually frigid. In contrast to his calm and passive demeanor a moment ago, he became frantic and dangerous in an instant.
"Don't you bother why it's with me," Su Lin sneered. "I…"
Snap! The words had barely left his mouth.
The Eight-Arm Dragon King erupted instantly. He drew two machetes out with both hands and hacked at Su Lin's arms with a swoosh.
The blades froze to a halt inches above his skin.
The Eight-Arm Dragon King lowered his head and saw a large hand clutching his throat.
He instantly flew backwards into a pile of debris, and broke numerous items as he went.
Garen gave a cold scoff and retracted his arm.
Su Lin only managed to react then, and started to break out in cold sweat. Although he could hold his own, compared to a Grandmaster of Combat, he was definitely not as good in close quarters. Even Garen, who wasn't fast, had quicker reactions than he.
"This is your so-called expert?" Garen frowned at Su Lin. "Weak."
Su Lin gave a wry smile, and was about to speak.
Suddenly a click could be heard.
Garen's pupils narrowed; a sharp sense of danger overwhelmed him. He turned around immediately to look at the direction he sent the Dragon King flying.
In the dark, four sleek black rifles were steadily aimed at Garen's head and all around his body.
The Eight-Arm Dragon King stood by the wall with an icy gaze. He had two sniper rifles in his hands and two at his feet.
Four heavy duty rifles were aimed at Garen and the directions in which he could dodge.
These four guns gave him a strong sense of danger; they were obviously not to be trifled with.
The atmosphere in the room froze for a while.
"You could try firing at me," Garen said slowly. "Within ten steps, let's see if you kill me first, or if I break your skull open."
The Eight-Arm Dragon King retained his icy cold gaze.
He could tell that Garen was serious. An unprecedented sense of threat continuously stimulated his nerves, like needle tips constantly piercing on his skin. The subtle pain surged throughout his body like a tide.
"The distance…is too close…"
They were clear that, twenty meters away, the Eight-Arm Dragon King was stronger. Within twenty meters, Garen was fearless. Both represented strong threats to one another.
The atmosphere became more distressing and grim by the minute. The youths stood far away in a corner; they looked helpless. It wasn't just them. Even Su Lin didn't expect the situation to change so abruptly.
He was the only one who was clear about their strengths.
Both of them were at the peak in their respective fields, whether it was the Eight-Arm Dragon King or Garen. To really determine a winner, harm would definitely be done to both.
"Alright, alright. For my sake, let's each give in a little. Yoda, I will tell you how I obtained the item. It has to do with Duskdune Shura."
Yoda, the Dragon King, gave an apathetic scoff, then slowly moved the guns away.
"Nobody has dared to threaten me like this before." He looked at Garen, a hint of coldness flashed in his eyes. "You are unwelcome here."
Su Lin looked at Garen, his eyes pleading.
"I'll wait for you in the car."
Garen nodded passively, turned around, and walked out of the shop.
At this, Su Lin let out a long sigh of relief.
He should have foreseen that two people with such aggressive characters put together would definitely cause problems.
Both of them had absolute confidence and pride in their respective fields, and couldn't stand to be provoked. They were like barrels of gunpowder, catching fire with a spark. Fortunately he had a good relationship with Garen, and the latter gave him some face.
He understood that the Eight-Arm Dragon King merely wanted to frighten him so that he would give up the item. He didn't expect Garen to believe the threat and act on it. And from then on, both of them wouldn't see eye to eye.
"Looks like I'll have to split them up to handle things. Otherwise, we'll have an internal fight before Duskdune Shura's forces even arrive." Su Lin felt helpless. "This can't be helped. The more powerful one is, the more confident they would be, to the extent that everything revolves around them. This was the absolute confidence established from long-term success and victory. Therefore, any such person would have absolute certainty about themselves."
The Eight-Arm Dragon King was such, and Garen was no different. Greater achievement determined stronger confidence.
"What's the deal with that guy?" the Eight-Arm Dragon King asked after Garen left.
"Southern Sky Holy Fist Gate, Divine Marshal Garen. He's someone I hired as a temporary aid, and also a good friend of mine. Originally, I thought you could get along peacefully and complement each other… Looks like it was wishful thinking on my part," Su Lin helplessly sighed.
"Southern Sky Holy Fist Gate? The one from fifty years ago?" The Eight-Arm Dragon King was stunned. "Divine Marshal, hmph… What an obnoxious title! Obviously it's corresponding to the four Royal Generals of the past!"
"It was probably re-established by the older generation. You should know, whoever is named a Divine Marshal would definitely be a pre-eminent expert. And all in the name of White Bird Holy Fist. I trust you remember the Holy Fist White Bird from before?" Su Lin explained.
"Naturally…" The Eight-Arm Dragon King nodded. "That was the pinnacle of an era. But to be able to make me feel such a strong sense of threat, Divine Marshal…He deserves that title"
"Speaking of which, do you want to join Golden Hoop? You can consider it as paving a future for your apprentice and daughter." Su Lin didn't show any trace of the hostility from earlier, but instead seemed like someone who hadn't seen their best friend in years.
He knew clearly that, in terms of defeating an opponent in a direct confrontation, Garen was absolutely much stronger. But in terms of secret assassination methods and eliminating bodyguards, the Eight-Arm Dragon King was far and away more superior to Garen.
Each had their strengths.
If they could complement each other in action, they would become a force to be reckoned with!
But unfortunately both clearly didn't see eye to eye.
During his youth, the Eight-Arm Dragon King encountered Duskdune Shura, who had the combined skills of martial arts and firearms. In contrast to average assassins, he was clear about how terrifying the combined force of martial arts and firearms could be, so he would pay attention to happenings in the martial arts world.
"Forget it. You wait here for a moment. I'll give my apprentice and daughter a brief explanation." Yoda finally made up his mind, especially after being provoked by Su Lin and Garen like this. Garen had become a Divine Marshal of Holy Fist Gate at such a young age; this truly highlighted how old he himself was.
At this thought, he motioned his apprentice and daughter—who were timidly standing a distance away and looking at him like a stranger—to come to him.
"Piccolo, Nissyan, come over, I have something to say to you."
Garen walked out of the shop, and saw the boy with a runny nose stand in a corner and looking at him blankly again.
He put both his hands in his pockets. His face was grim; the strong Momentum on him was enough to make any adult frightened. But the little boy—albeit trembling from head to toe—could still persist in holding his gaze.
Crisp footsteps could be heard from leather boots hitting the ground.
Garen walked to the boy, and looked down at him.
"Kid, why are you staring at me?"
"I…I want to learn from you…how to fight," the boy looked up and said, as he inhaled the mucus back into his nose.