Two out of the three were people familiar with Garen, they were two King of Fists of the Black Mark Association, Ankh and Manila. Neither of them were wearing their Black Mark Association uniforms anymore, instead they both donned a white cloak contrasting a pair of black boxing globes with silver linings.
As for the other one, it was White Cloud Gate’s Corrine.
The two King of Fists stood in attention, and greeted Garen respectfully.
"Black Mark Association’s surrender is complete. From today onwards, we are King of Fists serving White Cloud Gate. Gate Master Garen, you possess great knowledge and great skill in martial arts, we dare not defy you; however, we have one request: please don’t put us in the same team as that traitor Leo!" Manila said calmly.
Garen turned around to face the group.
"Considering the conflict putting you all together might raise, I will be wary to not put you two and Leo in one group. You will each lead your own groups respectively, with your own respective names. In fact, you can just use your old names from your Black Mark Association days. Black Group and Mark Group was it?"
"Yes sir, that will be great."
Garen nodded in agreement.
"Leo will also set up his own group called the Lightning Group. Jack and Corrine, you will both lead the rest and form a group called Cloud Group in charge of gathering intelligence. Then there’s another group, that I will manage myself."
In a few simple sentences, Garen summarized and made order out of the complicated structure of White Cloud Gate.
In total there would be five groups, three of the masters of combats will lead three of their own groups, then there will be a fourth group made out of White Cloud Gate’s original followers. The remainder will be made out of freelancers and fighters from various groups in Galantia, these will form a group and be led by Garen himself.
This arrangement provided a clear distinction between the major powers within White Cloud Gate. Amongst all of them, the ones that were most loyal to Garen were Leo and the ones from the original body of White Cloud Gate. As for the rest, they were only submissive for now because they had been defeated.
However during such times, Garen could use all the help he could get, so the more power the better.
"Anything interesting lately?" Garen looked at Corrine.
Corrine nodded,"News from Cynthia, the first is about Mr. Su Lin and Celine. The two of them were collecting rare materials until they were caught in some conflict happening by the border. We still don’t know what’s their situation right now."
"Conflict?" Garen frowned,"Conflict related to the borders?"
"Only two states in the borders, the Confederation has already sent its army that way. Soon it will be dissolved," Corrine nodded,"then there’s a second piece of news: A cruise ship carrying Confederation students was boarded by members of the Weisman navy, they’re holding the passengers hostage and have already killed 13 students. Right now there are demonstrations all over the major cities condemning the Weisman government’s inhumane actions…."
"Please get straight to the point," Garen cut her short.
"Oh, the Confederation and Weisman have dispatched their respective fleets, a big fight’s is going to break out," Corrine summarized,"this came from Mr. Sulin and little sister."
Garen noticed that Corrine used ‘immediately’ instead of ‘is going to’ instead of ‘possibly’, which meant that Corrine was 100% sure about it.
"Su Lin’s father should have his own arrangements in mind for a situation like this. Manila, please make trip to the western border and see if they need any help while gathering any information you can about the country behind these conflicts."
"Alright," Manila nodded, he softly squeezed Ankh’s hand and turned around to leave.
Now all of Black Mark Association’s power was divided into three parts, one was the ‘Mark Group’ led by Manila. All of these groups were disciplined and well organised individually, collectively they were the elites of the Black Mark Association.
If it wasn’t for the Golden Hoop’s influence combined with Garen’s sheer power, the Black Mark Association would not have gone down so easily.
However, with the way things are now, if they did not surrender to Garen’s side, they would only be met with certain death should he decide to pursue revenge for what they did to him back then.
Manila and Ankh were sure about one thing, if Garen were to sent them to their deaths on some one way mission, they will not hesitate to run away. Lucky for them, Garen seemed to treat everyone the same, like there had been no conflict between them to begin with, maybe even nicer than before.
Garen watched as Manila left.
Each of Black Mark Association’s groups consisted of at least a few hundred, maybe even a few thousand fighters. On top of that, there was their wide real estate portfolio, intelligence gathering bodies, mercenaries, freelance fighters and even assassins etc.
Garen didn’t need to know too much of the details, as long as they served him with their abilities and influence, it was enough. There was still the support of the Golden Hoop, White Cloud Gate and Leo all watching his back and ready to serve at a moment’s notice.
"Ankh, once you’re done with moving your people you can begin taking over Galantia’s security. Can you assign guards for key influential people in the city?"
Ankh nodded, and turned to leave as well.
Corrine and Jack were left, awaiting Garen’s orders.
"Jack, what’s the situation like now with Leo? Have they found Duskdune Shura’s remaining Royal Generals?" Garen turned his gaze to Jack now.
Jack and Cynthia were still substantially capable in intelligence gathering. While they weren’t professionals, they were still better than most people since they were elites that underwent training with some of the world’s best mercenaries.
"Leo’s group sent back a telegram. They found traces of Duskdune Shura and Charlotte by the Sand River. Looks like the news we put out earlier worked," Jack responded immediately,"Duskdune Shura is still recovering from his injuries. The same injuries caused him to lose a majority of his power and along with it, his membership in the Immortal Palace Alliance. Right now he’s being chased by his enemies alongside Charlotte. Once we released the news, they responded pretty soon. Looks like they can’t take it anymore."
"There is no hatred between Duskdune Shura and I that can’t be settled. He should’ve heard the news about my fight with Palosa now, not to mention we even have the Blood of Eternal Life that was originally stolen by Behemoth’s Gate. All this must be incredibly tempting to him. Now let’s see what he has to offer to trade with us. Last time we were begging him, but now look at how the sides have shifted."
Jack nodded,"Lastly, we found out who it was that hurt Gate Master Fei."
"Oh?" Garen was intrigued.
"The martial artist is called Sicilian Saldin, with him was his only follower and son Chukufa Saldin. They boarded a long distance cruise towards the east half a month ago, we found them on the guest list."
Garen stood up, a maple leaf fell onto his palm, and he rubbed it between his fingers.
"The east again….."
He has always wanted to venture east, but he had his family here, his sister, parents, uncle and his friends. Should he head out to sea, it would take more than a year even with the stable routes. If something went wrong during this period of time….
"We’ll set this aside for now. We can’t do much in a short period of time anyways. Oh right, do we know anything about what’s going on with Dale Quicksilver’s side of things?" He suddenly remembered that a few days ago he had dispatched Jack to look into that famous detective.
Jack’s face suddenly turned into a quizzing expression.
"Gate Master, that detective is still in the Evenia Province. We don’t know what he’s doing exactly but it seems like he’s being watched by some others because he knows some secrets about the Immortal Palace."
"He actually hung around there for this long," Garen rubbed the stubs on his chin, his face filled with thought.
He had only two objectives for now: First, is to kill the man responsible for his master’s death. Second, is to kill Sylphalan who did not just kill the Elder but also injured him severely once.
The mysterious Immortal Palace Alliance seemed to be hiding some other big secret as well.
"Pity that my injuries still haven’t recovered completely," Garen pressed his chest softly, a great deal of pain reverberated from where he placed his hand.
"You all may retreat back to your work, if you hear anything about Dale Quicksilver, report back to me immediately."
"Take care and rest well Gate Master."
Corrine and Jack both turned to leave together.
Garen sat back on his stool.
"Immortal Palace’s secret...," for now, Garen’s only enemy is the elusive Immortal Palace Alliance. Soon he will settle his score with Sylphalan.
"Sylphalan… I bet you can hear me huh?" Garen looked up into the endless sky beyond the maple trees.
Somewhere in the middle of the ocean between the three continents.
On a small white sand island.
The island was oval, like a green spot with white borders etched into the endless sea.
In the middle of the island was a thick plot of trees, on the top of a certain high ledge, was a massive marble hall sitting on white circular pillars.
The white marble hall stood alone at the end of the black colored rock ledge with no growth about it at all.
The marble hall was like a triangle stacked on top of a rectangle. It had a simple structure, with only a slight air of complication shown through the carvings on the wall that reflected an air of eternity.
By the entrance of the hall, was four rock pillars, each with a radius of 4 meters. Around these pillars were white snakes with pointy ears.
By the ledge right outside of the entrance was a shorter pillar with a square bowl on top of it. It looked like it was made to hold something important.
As the sunset, a short haired man with a cold expression stood by the square bowl. The wind made waves out of his blood red hair.
The man reached his hand into the square bowl and took a quick swipe, then his hand was instantly stained with a hint of blood, he flicked his fingers and drops of blood flew off the ledge to the bottom.
"Sylphalan, we need an immediate replacement for Duskdune Shura."
A weak old man covered in black robes appeared from the back of the short haired man. This old man’s whole body was hidden under a black cloak, none of his body was exposed, one could only hear his voice from under the cloak.
"When do you plan to take action?"
"I do not feel like leaving now." The short haired man smiled,"if you want, you can go yourself. Trash will always be trash, he couldn’t even take a hit and he even lost the precious Blood of Eternal Life."
Sylphalan turned around and looked to his right. Suddenly there was a friendly lady standing right beside him, she had eyes that were as blur as the ocean and skin as white as snow.
"Big sister! When did you come here? Ever since I killed our older brother, you’ve been showing up more often! I knew I was right!" Sylphalan was suddenly happy, he stopped doing what he was doing with his hand earlier and rubbed his fingers clean,"Big sister, do you think I should go out this time? I haven’t even recovered from my past injuries, and this trip will be incredibly tiring. But if I don’t go, our plan has reached a key point…."