"Yeah, he’s a classmate." Ying Er smiled at Garen apologetically, not wanting him to misunderstand.
Nesari did, however. He shot Garen a look steeping in jealousy. "And this is?"
Garen glanced at him. "So I heard you’re Ying Er’s friend? I don’t think friends of opposite sex should sit too close to each other, don’t you think so?" He subtly switched his gaze into a darker undertone, slowly piling a veil of intimidation onto the boy.
Nesari shuddered uncontrollably. His face paled abruptly and moved beyond paleness into shades of emerald. Struggling to speak, he find himself making creaky sounds, but no words came out, causing him to go into panic mode as his tears and snot dripped wildly. It was embarrassing to say the least.
"What have you don-" Nesari’s middle-aged bodyguard scowled and stood up, trying to block Nesari from Garen’s direct line-of-sight and to stand off against Garen.
"Yes, what are you trying to say?" Garen interrupted him.
The bodyguard couldn’t finish his sentence, as his heart jumped and he started sweating like a sinner in church. He felt goosebumps creep down his spine and torso. It felt as if he’s wobbling on the edge of a cliff, the fall happening at any second. His senses of danger and crisis seemed almost real.
"We… we’re sorry!" The bodyguard forced the words out and pulled Nesari out of his seat. They escaped to the front of the bus, not even attempting to look back.
Ying Er and another girl Xiao Ling stared at Garen curiously.
"That kid decided to turn over a new leaf after our lovely talk."
"As if! Don’t bully people just because you know a little martial arts." Ying Er guessed the truth.
"Doesn’t matter, if the boys who want to be with you can’t get past me, how can I trust them to take care of you?" Garen smiled gently.
Ying Er blushed into a sakura pink and lowered her face.
Xiao Ling beside her curiously eyeballed them both one after the other.
All the other students in the bus stared at Garen in a gossipy manner, guessing the relationship between him and Ying Er. Soon, his identity as Ying Er’s brother surfaced. More and more student got on the bus on the way to school, and this incident spread like wildfire.
The strong-headed and cool Ying Er, as the president of the Bowmanship Club, was very eye catching, the difficulty of capturing her heart is unusually high. Furthermore, it was rumored that she has an obsessive admiration for her brother. Now that her brother finally appeared, people finally realized Ying Er’s strong-headedness is like a delicate dandelion when compared to Garen. When both of them sat together, it’s as if one is a boulder, the other is a flower.
Ying Er’s brother sat on his seat casually, but he gave out an air of a dangerous beast ready to attack. His imposing frame might as well be a blind, shielding Ying Er and everyone behind her.
Every time someone glanced at the back, his commanding figure would be the first one they gazed at before darting away in fear that he notices.
Xiao Ling leaned against Ying Er, she felt the suppression as much as the others do.
"Oh no oh no… Ying Er, your older brother looks too fierce, none of the guys who came in after us dared to even wave at the people in the back seats…"
"Really?" Ying Er looked confused, "My older brother is very mellow." She didn’t even noticed anything wrong, she only felt that everyone in the car were behaving really strangely.
Accompanied by the quirky atmosphere, the bus finally arrived at the examination hall, it was the school area of a vocational school.
After everyone alighted the bus at the examination hall, Garen waited outside the cordon as he watched his sister enter the hall. It was only after that he turned around and walked to the White Cloud Dojo.
Compared to Harmony City, Huaishan City is too small. Before half an hour was up, Garen already arrived at the entrance of White Cloud Dojo.
The clock tower at the side is still standing strong, the archway underneath it still receives countless pedestrians everyday.
The bakery opposite of the dojo is still there as well, with its bald owner crouching and writing the menu for the day on signboard.
At the entrance of the dojo, a pupil with yellow shirt was sweeping the ground before noticing Garen.
"Excuse me, who is it that you are looking for?" The male pupil looked about 15 or 16 years of age and was still quite new, he didn’t recognize Garen.
"First senior brother! First Senior Brother Garen!" A voice exclaimed behind Garen, stunning the pupil sweeping the ground.
The pupil abruptly snapped out of his trance and greeted Garen.
"Simon, it’s been a while." Garen turned around and saw a guy stepping out of a red car.
Simon kept a buzz cut and looked fit, it seemed he recovered quite well, one wouldn’t be able to tell which arm he even fractured.
Meeting Garen again, Simon was ecstatic, he hastily got in front and Garen and stood still.
"Welcome back!" He eagerly bowed at Garen.
"She’s still at the hospital, we are taking turns to take care of Master." Simon scratched the back of his head. "In case Black Mark Association decided to harm him."
"Good job," Garen patted him on his back, "I’ll take over the situation now that I’m back.
"Yessir!" Simon looked like he had been relieved of a huge burden. Garen’s return gave him a huge boost of confidence. As of now, the whole of White Cloud Gate is supported by Garen’s fame alone, otherwise any sect would be able to challenge and kick the White Cloud Gate to the ground.
In Garen’s absence, Simon and Corinne handled all the general affairs of White Cloud Gate, although the stress has constantly made them feel like they couldn’t breathe. If it wasn’t for the growing fame of their Senior Garen who even got invited as Southern Sky Holy Fist Gate‘s Sky Warrior, White Cloud Gate probably wouldn’t been able to last this long.
Even then, a lot of the peripheral forces of White Cloud Gate had broken away, preferring to go under under sects.
After all, having a strong fighting ability doesn’t equate to having strong managerial skills and resourcefulness. Garen is a young man who’s barely even 20 years old, no one was confident about his ability to manage the business. Some former business partners of White Cloud Gate thought of that before they decided to secede.
In short, White Cloud Gate was much weaker than what it used to be, but because of that, it’s also more refined and simpler, having been supported solely by Garen’s fame.
"Do you wanna talk in the dojo?" Simon produced the key to the dojo from his pocket.
"No need, let’s go to the hospital in your car. I wanna check on Master." Garen declined the offer.
They turned around and went in the red car.
Simon started the car, still rambling on about the current events from when Garen left.
"...and so I wanted to get even with Bouvini, but Corinne said he turned over to the light side, everyone makes mistakes after all. And about the thing with the governor, they were doing this civility spot check, the dojo’s business was affected as well. If it weren’t for Third Senior Brother Joshua’s contact through his father, the dojo would probably still be under seizure…"
Simon’s mouth was like a loose tap, spilling the news and gossips without stopping.
Garen, on the other hand, didn’t even need to talk. He only needed to respond once every so often so Simon to spill everything.
The two managed to recap almost everything recent during the drive.
"Oh right, the people from Southern Sky Holy Fist Gate came looking for you. I heard it’s about the division of jurisdiction areas."
"Jurisdiction areas?" Garen furrowed his brow, "Let’s talk about this another time."
From the side windows, a huge white building stood in the middle of a row of houses. A signboard, The Anning Mann Hospital.
The two mixed in with the crowd entering through the hospital gate. Simon lead Garen to the second floor with relative ease into a pale blue corridor with a peaceful and sterile atmosphere. Walking to the other end, Simon knocked softly on the door on the right and entered.
"How are you back here? Aren’t you supposed to open the dojo for the day?" A girl in the room stood up, surprised.
The girl is tall and had a sunkissed tan, she’s not gorgeous, but she’s surrounded by a heroic air. She had a luscious figure, with a well-endowed chest that bounces with her movements. She gave off an almost indescribable allure.
Her long black hair was tied into a ponytail, hanging behind her. Most obviously, a thin red scar lashed across Corinne’s right cheek, adding to her ferocity.
"Corinne, First Senior Brother is here!" Simon chuckled and stepped aside, letting Garen in.
"It’s been a long time." Garen entered the room and looked at Corinne by the bedside.
Corinne’s eyes reddened. She stood there stunned, and immediately covered her mouth, sobbing uncontrollably.
"You’ve done a great job…"
Garen understood the amount of stress the two had to endure since his absence. He approached Corinne and ruffled her hair, feeling slightly apologetic.
"Master… Master is…" Corinne was so upset, she couldn’t talk.
Garen saw the condition Fei Baiyun was in since he entered the room.
Fei Baiyun’s whole body was covered with a white blanket with only his head poking out, but even from his head Garen could tell he wasn’t doing well.
His body that used to be healthy is now skinny and bony, and looked like a skeleton wrapped under a layer of skin who’s sleeping on the bed.
Hearing the noise in the room, Fei Baiyun struggled to open his eyes. Seeing Garen at the side, a sign of excitement flashed in his eyes.
"Garen… you’re… back…"
"Master," Garen crouched at the side of the bed. He noticed Fei Baiyun’s ailing condition and felt slightly downcast. "I’m back."
"Good…" Fei Baiyun wrestled with the words, "You’ve grown… stronger…" He raised his scrawny arm toward Garen’s face.
Garen grabbed his arm promptly.
"Master was holding out for your return all this while. Now that you’re back to tie up the loose ends, he’ll be glad." Corinne stood beside Simon, her eyes still red from crying.
"If there’s… a chance, go to the East… That’s where White Cloud Gate’s... root lies…" Fei Baiyun uttered slowly and with a lot of pauses.
"Yes, Master." Garen nodded, his hands still clutching Fei Baiyun’s. "Rest, Master, don’t speak too much."
"I know my own condition… I don’t have much longer." Fei Baiyun’s speech started to become smoother, as if he’s experiencing a terminal lucidity*. "White Cloud Gate is now under your care. The Elders are gone, the two other… disciples I had were not… dependable. I didn’t think it would come down to my youngest disciple…"