"Sylphalan, are you going or not?! Give me a specific answer!" The black shadow again echoed.
Sylphalan frowned, his gaze was stuck on the blue eyed girl, her warm smile and expression made him feel warm too from the inside out.
"Big sister why aren’t you saying anything? Is it because that old bastard behind me is too noisy?"
"Yes, it must be because that old bastard is too noisy. I have always hated him anyways, I didn’t expect you to be uncomfortable around him too. Just give me a moment, I’ll kill him now!"
His body suddenly floated like it had no form, and with a loud WHOOSH he flew towards the black shadow by the entrance of the hall.
In a split second his body suddenly dispersed into a shadow that covered the sky like an infinite blanket of mud covering all of the hall in an instance.
"Sylphalan you!!!" The black shadow was enraged as he yelled his disagreements under the shroud of the black mud.
"What mad episode are you having again?!!" The old man made a low hum and broke through the black mud, dashing towards the bottom to escape.
Sylphalan appeared out of the black mud.
"I’m still too weak… Big sister, do you think that if I were to become a little bit stronger, that I would be able to kill that cree old bastard?" He looked at the blue eyed girl again, who smiled back, filling his heart with warmth once more.
Suddenly his vision was blurred, and the girl disappeared, he was left with emptiness.
His face instantly turned into one of regret and sadness.
"Big sister are you unhappy again? I must have disappointed you." He touched the left side of his neck, and was suddenly happy again.
"My time scar has grown longer by a bit! Do you see it big sister? With this little bit, I can live another extra two days!" His face was suddenly filled with childlike happiness.
"1 month and 5 days long…. I have never had such a long time scar, big sister you would be happy too right?"
At the bottom of the mountain, a black shadow appeared, and stumbled onto a tree for stability.
A red shadow appeared beside him, it was Flamingo, he was plain faced, with his Sword of the Sprites sheathed on his waist, he looked up at the hall above.
"Sylphalan gone mad again?"
"Damn this, I don’t want to be with that madman anymore! Whichever one of you want to you may go ahead!" The black shadow emitted the voice of the restless old man.
Flamingo squinted at the direction of the hall.
"Sylphalan has always been a madman. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. Just stay away from him, he is a pitiful one after all."
"Pitiful?! If he’s pitiful, who will pity me?!" The black shadow was enraged,"His someone who should’ve disappeared a long time ago! The time scar determines how long more he has to live. He is only alive because he keeps extending his lifespan by absorbing the Blood of Eternal Life and the life force of other humans! What ‘sometimes good, sometimes bad’, he is just completely mad!"
"Consuming life force to maintain his life scar comes with a side effect. Between periods of time he will experience great pain. The more he absorbs, the more the life scar learns to fight the effects so each time the effects of the life force decreases. Sylphalan…..he won’t be living for much longer." Flamingo stood silently for a moment, then continued upwards,"let him be."
In the days after, Garen focused solely on recovering.
The medicine from Andreala was quite effective, it did away with the pus infection on his wounds very rapidly. These wounds inflicted by Palosa’s Unrivaled Skyfall were a massive annoyance to fix, each wound was a pit, like the injuries from the Mitsubishi Army, they wouldn’t close up.
This also deterred Garen’s self recovery abilities from taking effect.
However once the pus infection was dealt with, the wounds started healing rapidly. Once they reached a stage where they resembled the behaviours of a normal human wound, Garen’s recovery abilities were able to take over once more.
While this happened, Garen was hanging out in the manor every single day, playing Go with Andreala and occasionally having some causal spars, then he would try to gather some intelligence from Andreala about the world outside.
His wounds healed faster and faster each day.
The situation with the Confederation was also getting more complicated after each passing day. The third fleet positioned by the ports were finally exchanging fire with the Weisman’s Imperial Greenbird Fleet.
The Confederation was loaded and powerful. With the Third Fleet directly fighting the Weisman’s small fleet of ships, if all goes well, it should end in a total annihilation of the Weisman’s fleet.
Everyone expected the Confederation to win this battle easily. All they had to worry about was the counter-attack from the Weisman’s after.
However something shocking happened.
The Confederation’s Third Fleet was annihilated instead. Ten of their destroyers were lost in a mere 20 minute span.
Even the Weisman Empire were shocked by the results. When the news came in, they thought that it was a ruse by the Confederation to lure them into a trap.
The Weisman’s Greenbird Fleet was just one small fleet out of the Empire’s 23 small ship fleets. All of the fleets were populated by small ships with weak firepower. While these fleets have served in the wild world of the oceanic borders, one wouldn’t have expected them to win on a head-on fight with the Confederation’s Third Fleet.
Suddenly, the true face of the Confederation was revealed in the eyes of all neighboring countries.
The truth was, that it’s army was severely underfunded, its federal reserves were empty and its ships were long overdue for maintenance. Even the guns and cannons were loaded with inferior ammunition, while the ships’ armors were all replaced with cheap metal.
Ever since the Border War, the Confederation has been slowly falling into corruption. During the Border War, all the countries looked up to the Confederation as the leader of the world. Nobody dared to challenge its might, anyone who tried were wiped out in easy fights by the Confederation’s army. This led to those in charge of the military becoming comfortable and overly proud of themselves.
While sitting in the tea room of the Manor, Garen held his freshly poured tea in one hand, while he held the newspaper up to read with a serious face on his other hand.
The headlines spelled out: ‘Who Will Pay For The Death of The Third Fleet?’
"Looks like things are bad," Andreala sat across Garen and was reading an exact copy of the Confederation Daily, the primary newspaper of the entire country.
"It’s not just bad, it’s really really bad," Garen added, putting down his tea,"This is because the Western Seas Company successfully opened a new shipping route but failed to draw up a mutually beneficial profit share plan with the Weismans. This led to the Weismans to declare war on the Western Seas Company, and subsequently leading to this. If the Confederation doesn’t face this properly with proper countermeasures, they risk losing all of the respect they’ve gained over the years from the other countries, that would put us all at risk."
"A proper countermeasure would probably mean they will mobilize the Ninth Army. All eyes will be on that," Andreala frowned as well. The nation’s security was in the interest of every citizen. Afterall, when they were outside of their own country, they would be identified by their nationality first, if the country they belonged to was weak, it would make doing business or anything at all tough.
The both of them had heavy hearts, but there was not much they could do as individuals. No matter how powerful they were, they were no match in a direct against something like a destroyer. Not to mention that each destroyer was staffed by at least a hundred seamen, some even up to the thousands. Even if they could make it onto a destroyer and kill every single one on the ship, by the time they’re done, the enemy would have already won the battle.
As a martial artist in the face of real war, especially one that concerns the air, sea and even land, they could only sit and feel conflicted.
Dong, Dong, Dong.
Someone knocked softly on the door.
Garen put down his papers, and put on a plain face again.
Jack walked in in a white army-like uniform.
"Gate Master, the ingredients you asked for are ready, the medicine has also been brewed according to your instructions by a master brewer. Should I go over now?"
"These small things let the small ones do it,"Garen frowned at Jack,"you should be focused on enhancing your martial art abilities and improving yourself. Has that Eight Arm Dragon King bastard agreed on coming yet?"
"No, Mr. Yoda left Mr. Su Lin’s manor half a month ago, we don’t know where he was headed to. He was followed by the small bastard as well," Jack said briefly,"Also I would like to add that for someone like me whose age is nothing close to Cynthia, practicing martial arts won’t affect my abilities much anymore. I am sure of the direction I am headed to and the choices I would make in life."
Garen did not say much anymore, and just looked at Andreala.
"Do you want to go?"
"No thanks, I am headed to the baths later. I do not have a naturally tough body like yours so I need to use different ways to train and manage my body’s flexibility," Andreala wave his hand in denial.
"Your body’s flexibility? What if your body was strong enough? Then you wouldn’t need to fuss over this then?" Garen stood up and asked.
"Of course, but sadly for a martial artist to focus on one thing is already the limit. If I try any harder I will not reach a higher level anyways," Andreala shook his head.
"I have a secret technique, it can increase your body’s strength in a short period of time. Would you be interested?" Garen suddenly said,"the side effects aren’t too bad either, and the explosive strength is pretty terrifying."
"Oh? You actually have a secret technique like this?" Andreala’s eyes lit up in excitement,"what do I have to give you for it?"
Garen shook his head and smiled.
"Just a simple exchange of knowledge."
Andreala was stunned, and just stared at Garen, unable to conjure a proper reaction.
"Do you know the true value of a secret technique that doesn’t come with a horrifying side effect?"
"Of course," Garen knew the value of the technique best, since he had acquired it back then in a trade with the Tenth Hoop where he paid a great deal of benefits, money, real estate and rare materials in exchange for this secret technique. By his rough estimates, they were worth hundreds of million, a fifth of White Cloud Gate’s total assets then.
Andreala lowered his head and said softly,
"Alright, I too have a secret technique, I suppose we could share and exchange."
Garen was slightly shocked.
The reason why he was so generous was because Andreala was technically on his side. This bastard valued martial arts as much as his own life, he even remembered the time he still owed Garen a favor, and was the first to automatically send free medication over after the fight with Palosa.
In this world, not many people stood alongside Garen on the peak of martial arts practice. The two of them were just die hard fans of martial arts, an exchange of knowledge felt like they had moved from acquaintances to close friends instantly, friends interested in each other’s growth.
Garen did not spend much time practising, so he lacked experience, but he had a lot of combat experience from his life and death situations. Whereas for Andreala, who was experienced as he had spent many years practicing and perfecting his abilities, but lacked experience in fighting high level opponents, which made it hard for him to determine his own standing.
This exchange would be perfect for the both of them to help each other.
A few minutes later, the two of them stood on an empty space behind the manor.
The empty space’s floor was made out of white rock tiles, it was specifically designed for the purpose of practising martial arts, and also for the occasional spar between high level fighters.
Around the arena was a circle of flowers, and further outwards was a perimeter of 5 meter tall black walls with electric barbed wire.