Su Lin didn’t say another word. He stood there beside him and watched the intersection traffic below the building together.
The room gradually became quiet, only the sound of Celine blowing at the coffee pot could be heard.
A long while later.
"What do you plan to do once you go back?" Celine asked the two of them from behind. "Su Lin, if you can help me sort out the Poker Incident and help me recover my body, I promise I will help you twofold, no matter what it is."
"Are you serious?" Su Lin swiftly turned around and asked her. He knew exactly how strong Celine was. Although she was not as strong as Garen, she was not that far behind. He estimated that she was as strong as Yoda.
"Alright. I’ll arrange for everything once we get back." Su Lin nodded.
"My injury is very tricky to handle, and I’ll need to borrow your father’s authority." Celine was being serious, which was a rare in itself.
"Don’t worry about it." Su Lin smiled.
Garen knew everything about Su Lin, as both of them were members of the Golden Hoop*. Su Lin was actually the general manager of the Golden Hoop group of the southern region. He even had the final say in the decision of the examination tasks. Garen smiled once he heard him, as Su Lin could probably solve the whole thing by just making use of the Golden Hoop’s resources.
*Refer to Translator's Note
"Speaking of which, what should I do with my examination task…"
He looked at Su Lin. His mind couldn’t escape the issue; his entrance to the Golden Hoop would concern his power and authority, and was the only way for him to not rely on Su Lin in this aspect. It would also have benefits for his dojo, obtain protection for his family members, not to mention a fixed amount of salary annually as well.
"It’s alright. You’ve been a great help to me this time round, so I’ll just accept this incident as the examination task instead." Su Lin replied readily. "You should wear the golden ring at all times for ease of recognition once you have officially joined us."
"No problem." Garen nodded.
Celine didn’t ask any questions, though the two hadn’t seemed to plan to hide it.
The three of them were shooting the breeze inside the room. Su Lin’s perfume was scathingly criticised by the other two, and Garen avoided mentioning the Golden Sword Throne at all, as if he had already forgotten about it.
However, Garen understood that Su Lin had deliberately chose not to mention the Golden Sword Throne as he had already figured out that Garen really needed it.
"The item is in my care. Is it alright if I return it to you a year later?" Garen initiated the topic. He estimated that he needed a year to absorb all the potential from the Golden Sword Throne.
"You decide on that, since you’re the one who fought for it. That thing is no longer important anyway, it was only meant to be a research object for the officials." Su Lin shrugged his shoulder since he didn’t care much about it.
They chatted a bit more, and before they ran out of time, Garen went out to an art shop and bought gifts for his sister, parents and uncle.
Sin Gerro produces a myriad of ores and gems. Garen picked a blue jade gem for each of his parents, as there was a lasting superstition that it had properties that relaxed one’s body. He picked a amethyst corsage for his sister for its minimal design and elegance.
As for his uncle, he went with a model of a wooden ship with two masts. The work towards the model was detailed and of high quality, which set him back twenty-something thousands dollars. After that, he simply bought a bunch of snacks as souvenirs for everyone remaining.
The three of them then gathered back at the hotel in the afternoon and headed straight to the airbase nearby via a shuttle carriage.
It took them only 8 hours to get back, even though it took them close to 2 days when they came rushing to Sin Gerro. They laid over twice and finally arrived at the Huaishan City Airbase in Galantia Province.
Garen got down from the airplane, while Celine and Su Lin continued their journey to their manor in Harmony City, since he still needed to heal Celine and sort out her incident with the Poker Organization.
Garen arranged for himself military transport and went back to the city area.
It was already 10pm when he arrived home.
The clouds swallowed the moon, leaving behind a pitch black sky. The whole of Huaishan City gradually settled down into peace and quiet.
A black carriage slowed down near the front of a residential area in the bluetree district and came to a stop.
It was marked with a black bird, its wings spread wide. It was the emblem of the flag marking it as a military carriage.
The driver was a young female soldier. She went to the back and knocked on the carriage frame after she had halted the two black horses.
"We have arrived sir."
"Oh. We have?"
Garen carried his baggages of varying sizes and got down from the carriage.
"Thank you very much, Sergeant Anli."
"It’s nothing. I shall pardon myself now."
The carriage took a U-turn and rushed off where it came from, and soon disappeared into the darkness of the unlit street. The faint light of the horse carriage was the lone visible thing in the distance.
Garen turned around and walked towards the gate, and saw a drunk, bald security guard sleeping soundly on a chair in the security booth.
He walked along the familiar community area and he could occasionally still spot a few homeless men snoring just beside the walls under the yellow street light. There were also people who were busy commuting to their night shift job.
He walked towards the building into the staircase and started climbing up a floor at a time. Occasional arguments from within apartments and music leaked out of the walls as he climbed. He stood at his house’s front door after reaching the fourth floor.
A nameplate could be seen hanging at the side of the copper red metal door stating: Eisen Lombard - Jody Vania.
Garen rummaged through his person for his house key and realized that it had already dropped at some unknown location during his journey.
Knock Knock Knock.
He had decided to knock on the door instead.
"Coming! Just a minute!" His sister Ying Er’s voice came from inside the house.
Then came the rapid footsteps.
The door was opened after a period of silence.
"Brother!" Ying Er obviously had seen Garen through the door’s peephole as she embraced him the moment she opened the door. She was hanging onto him by the neck. "When did you come back?"
"I came here the moment I got down from the car. Alright, don’t mess around anymore, I’m still holding my luggages." Garen’s big and strong body was the size of two or three Ying Ers. It didn’t matter to him at all that she was freely hanging herself by his neck.
It was just that her body had started developing, and he could feel the tenderness of her still developing, petite breasts as they squeezed against his body.
With Ying Er hanging onto him, Garen took off his flip flops and entered, closing the door behind him4.
"Where’s mum and dad?" Garen asked as he placed the luggages at one corner of the living room.
"Mum and dad got promoted to the management level in the company. The situation is a little bit tense lately and dad says that the rubber industry will be impacted by it. There is a sudden surge in order to and from the military, and both of them are busy dealing with it."
Ying Er was unusually hyperactive and it took her a while to get off Garen.
"Brother, didn’t you enrol in Mantra University? Where do you find the time to come back? I heard that there’s still quite some time before the holidays." Ying Er asked curiously.
"I finished my courses early and I didn’t have anything better to do afterwards. So I decided to apply for a school leave. Don’t worry about it."
"Is university exciting?"
Both of them were sitting on the sofa as they started having a conversation. Ying Er was saddened when Garen asked her about the college entrance examination.
"It’s finished. I flunked my first mathematics paper…" The little estrangement she felt with Garen over a long time apart was gradually washed away. Ying Er frowned when the examination topic was brought up.
"If only I was admitted under the university’s recommendation like you were…"
"Recommendation… Uh…" Garen almost forgot how he was admitted into the university. He was recommended by the university because he had specialised knowledge in identifying antiques. However in actuality, everything was Su Lin’s arrangement and Garen was in the dark.
Ying Er kept the conversation flowing endlessly, as if she was getting more and more cheerful lately. She told Garen everything, big or small, after he left the house.
From Ying Er’s account, Garen had come to find out that there were more guests than the last time he came back. His parents were promoted and had befriended a few big shots of the industry. They even attended the city’s upper class banquet parties in certain occasions.
"How is my master doing?" Garen asked.
"Dojo Master Fei was getting better. Everyday, he is conscious for a short period of time. Mum, dad and I had visited Dojo Master Fei too." Ying Er answered readily. "Oh right brother. Dojo Master said that you should go and visit him once you returned as he had something to tell you."
"Oh?" Garen frowned a little bit. "I will visit him tomorrow then. I went overseas with my friends for a short trip before coming back here, and I’ve gifts for master and you guys."
"A gift?! I like the sound of that!" Ying Er swiftly ran towards the luggages. "Which one is mine which one is mine?"
"Let me get it for you." Garen walked there and handed out an oval shaped box which was wrapped in a black fur.
"This is for my dearest sister Ying Er." Garen smiled as he placed the box into Ying Er’s hand.
"Thank you brother!" Ying Er blushed as she tiptoed and gave her brother a good kiss on the face out of the blue. Garen couldn’t help but to feel stunned as the lady’s tender lips brought upon a faint body fragrance.
"Alright alright stop fooling around."
"You’re not that much older than me. Why are you behaving ahead of your age?" Ying Er wasn’t aware that Garen had become more and more matured as time passed. He wasn’t like his old self, where he would submit himself to her and let her bully him. It was a sudden ,unknowing change.
When Garen treated her like how other elders treated her, she couldn’t help but to feel annoyed.
"I wonder when you became like this." Ying Er pondered.
Garen looked at her acting mischievously and pulled her cheek with an outstretched hand.
"Where is your mind wandering? You should go check out the gift in your room."
"Stop pulling! No one would want me if I became fat!!" Ying Er quickly struggled. "I’ll hold you responsible if no one wants me!" She carried the small box and entered her room after she struggled out of Garen’s grip.
The living room quietened down and he could hear her sister’s faint humming in the bedroom.
Garen sat down on the sofa and closed his eyes, wiping his face with both of his hands.
"Su Lin’s matter regarding the Celestital Circle Gate Black Mark Association’s foreign aggression should be taken care of by now."
"It’s time to take care of the internal issues." A cold gaze radiated from his eyes.