"My Neptune Fist is one of the best in the history! The secret techniques are ahead of its generation; the pinnacle of secret techniques! With the amount of talent you have, you can achieve what nobody has achieved before. You might even achieve what the Duskdune Shura are trying to obtain! I am giving you the opportunity to reach the pinnacle of martial arts, the opportunity to improve further from there onwards! You're not even considering it?!"
"Don’t waste your time. My mind is made." Garen replied flatly.
"Fine. You are still young anyway. There are plenty of chances to regret afterwards " Celine said in a low voice.
"Forget about the secret technique for a minute; when do you plan on leaving?" Su Lin asked.
Celine immediately looked elsewhere and whistled.
Su Lin immediately knew that this girl had taken fancy to this place, was trying to use it as a shelter.
"Celine." Garen’s deep voice boomed. "As the successor of the Neptune Fist, besides your own Neptune Fist, surely you know of other lower grade secret techniques right?"
"Low grade secret techniques? I know a whole bunch, why are you asking this?" Celine lowered her head and asked out of suspicion.
"Don’t you feel that you need to repay us somehow since you’re treating us as bodyguards right now?" Garen asked as he glanced at Su Lin, looking at him for support.
"Yeah that's right. We never agreed on letting you stay with us. You’ll only bring us trouble." Su Lin nodded repeatedly.
"If you do not want us to leave you behind when we’re in trouble, you should give us something in return, right?" Garen sneered.
"You want low grade secret techniques?" Celine asked. "Why do you need low grade secret techniques? What use are they?"
"I won’t object if you want to fork out secret techniques with higher grades, but would you want to? " Garen shrugged.
"Fine." Celine replied happily after some consideration. "What kind of secret techniques would you like? Of what type? I have quite a few secret techniques under my Neptune Fist. Let’s see what you have in mind."
"But I'll have to warn you first; once you've decided, a long period of time is required to master it. Your rate of progress will plummet once you reach the age of 25, and will only get harder from then on. You have to get the basics down pat first, before anything else. The higher the grade of secret technique the better it'll be for you, and the highest I have with me is the Neptune Fist Fundamental Secret Method." She added on.
"Your highest grade secret technique? Is it stronger than Master Andreas?" Aris asked out of curiosity.
"Definitely." Celine proudly replied. "In addition, I can only give one set to Su Lin and Garen. My Neptune Fist’s secret technique is not free after all."
"Fine. I want a secret technique that's based on hidden weapons." Su Lin voiced out immediately.
"I want one that is based on palm strikes." Garen added on.
"Hidden weapons and Palm Strikes? No problem." Celine nodded her head. "Have you made up your mind? This will be the compensation for protecting me and Erudas. You'd better be sure!"
"Of course." Su Lin answered without any hesitation.
Garen nodded in agreement as well.
"The grade better be good."
Celine nodded her head with some finality.
"Don’t worry, I will give you the basics first. I'll teach you guys the level 2 once you have mastered level 1. Figuratively speaking."
"Alright! Let’s do this now, since the Slash organization is set to leave this afternoon." Su Lin said as he couldn’t wait anymore.
"There’s no need to rush, I'm sure they won't be able to touch the Duskdune Shura even if they're there. He's on another level of cunning. I know a bit about him, and of the situation at hand. It’s most likely correct." Celine curled her lips as she explained. "I'll let you decide on the secret technique first. Alright, tell me what you'd like to learn. What path will you take?"
Half an hour later…
Both Garen and Su Lin went back to their own rooms and started packing for the trip with the task force.
On their hands were two pieces of paper, both packed to the brim with information on their respective secret techniques.
Garen half-sat, half-laid down on his bed, studying the first page of his paper on the first line, the name of the secret technique was written clear as day.
‘Red Jade Secret Method’
It was a full set, consisting of different kinds of palm strike techniques. It even had guidr to achieving the special effects of the secret technique.
It was similar to the Mammoth Secret Technique containing the White Cloud Combat Technique and Explosive Fist Arts. They come in a set.
Garen flipped to the annotation section in the last page.
‘The Red Jade Palm, once mastered, instills the palms with extreme heat. Combustion of any object is easily attainable when combined with proper palm techniques, an the heat of palms has very high penetration and is thus able to disrupt the temperature balance of the enemy’s body, killing the enemy silently.’
This Red Jade Palm was catalyzed off a subspecies of poisonous snake known as the fire jade snake. Its combat techniques were classified into wrapping, biting and twisting.
These three techniques were mainly used for evasion, attack and defense.
Garen gazed at the skill progression tree in front of him.
A technique from the Red Jad Palm had manifested on the paper.
‘Red Jade Palm: Not Learned (Three levels total) Requirement : Strength 0.7, Agility 1, Constitution 1.5, Intelligence 0.9. Requirement met. Do you want to learn this technique?’
"Looks like constitution is the main attribute for Red Jade Palm. One needs at least 1.5 in order to be eligible to learn it. In other words, only the trained professionals are eligible to practice this technique." Garen thought to himself.
Garen’s stared at the ‘yes’ symbol for 3 seconds as the notification to learn Red Jade Palm popped up.
With a searing zap, the symbol disappeared.
The paper that was in front of him had, like a scanner, been transferred into his head. His understanding of the technique rose in quick succession, as if he had been studying it for a long period of time.
"Alright then, let's start with the basic breathing technique!"
Breathing technique, specific posture and even musical rhythm were a must during practice for any secret technique. The higher grade secret techniques may even require external energy as a catalyst. The Red Jade Palm was considered to be a second rate secret technique that was a grade higher than the Mammoth secret technique. It was one Celine wracked her brains to pick; one that did not require any external support.
For all its advantage of not requiring a catalyst, it had one caveat: it was incredibly difficult to master.
This secret technique was the type that required some blood and sweat.
Garen calmly matched his breathing with the technique. Breathing rhythmically without pause, his huge lungs inhaling and exhaling large amounts of air. A hissing sound began to echo around the room. As if there were snakes in the room, poised to attack.
It was morning, and he needed to head down to Sin Gerro with the Slash task force to eliminate Duskdune Shura in the afternoon. Although Yoda would not be with them this time around, the line-up was still very impressive; much stronger than their previous attempt. Although Garen hadn’t seen Beo in action before, he knew that he was no ordinary Grandmaster of Combat. With them were 2 more Grade D professionals, who could go toe to toe with himself, as well as members of the international police. There were also some from the Special Agent along for the mission.
Garen confessed that with this line up, with Beo singlehandedly locking him in place, in addition to the sheer firepower within the team, even Garen would be humbled.
Now that he had obtained a new secret technique, one that is of a higher grade than his own Mammoth Secret Technique, training was imperative in increasing his power.
"Now if I had the Golden Sword Throne…" Garen’s eyes were brimming with energy. The Golden Sword Throne had become his number one priority, as it would greatly improve his physical attributes and technique levels at an incredible pace. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity!
The Needle Green Pine Forest Ocean Park; a place covered in sweeping lands of greenery. In its center was an almost mirror-like pond, along with a river that partitioned the land with its meandering banks.
It was like drawing a landscape on a green coloured handkerchief
Within the forest lies a small, white road, penetrating through the forest. There was a signboard at the entrance, written in the Gerro language: Lake Road.
The center of the Lake Road was about 300 meters away from the entrance--
The sun blazed overhead, seeping through the cracks in the forest canopy, bathing swathes of land that littered across the uneven land in pillars of glorious sunlight.
Monochrome police cars were lined up in the forest clearing, flash lights in strobe; uniformed policemen were stringing a perimeter of yellow tape, and others were surrounding a deep crater at the center of the clearing. Camera flashes mimicked the police lights as flashes of strobe lights accompanied the shutter clicks of pictures being taken. Still others were furiously jotting down points on notebooks.
The sound of buzzing engines could be heard nearby, as another police car pulled up short of the yellow tape.
Three young policemen, two male and one female, exited the car with a rhythm of thumps of doors closing. They were dressed in plainclothes, the badges in their hands shining as they reflected off the sunlight.
"Officer Joseph from the Emergency Agent Department. These two are my colleagues. Please let us through."
The officers on duty looked at his police badge and immediately let him through, responding with an air of respect and reverence.
The man called Joseph was dressed in a black leather shirt. He had pale yellow skin, large eyes with thick eyebrows, and deep eye sockets typical of workaholics who work in the office. He bore a very stern look on his face.
He brought his colleagues toward the pit and knelt down to take a better look.
Inside the pit was the blurry outline of a male corpse, one half of its body nowhere to be found. It was as if something had torn it apart from its right shoulder to his right leg. Where his body would be, there was only soil, dyed red with blood.
"Identity of the deceased?" Joseph asked as he stood up.
"We’re still investigating. We can determine its identity by backtracking his time of arrival, and by matching his attire with ones of other places. However, we require more time." The policeman answered.
"None. It was as if there were wild animals moving about in the surrounding area. We think it was an attack by one of them."
Joseph massaged his own temple.
"Were there any forest rangers nearby?"
"Thomson has been looking. It might take a while for him to find one." The girl who came together with him spoke softly.
"This is the third incident within three days!" Joseph murmured.
"Are you ok, Joseph?" The girl beside him hugged him lightly and kissed him on the cheek.
"I’m alright, Annie." Joseph returned her kiss.
"Sir! I’ve found something!"
Joseph rushed to where the policeman was shouting; it was a green field under a big pine tree.
A white identity card sat serenely on the grass, unmoving.
Joseph knelt down, and wearing a rubber glove, picked the card up.
"Bring it back and perform a fingerprint scan."