Lombarth and Phelia stood in front of Garen and his uncle.
"Garen, seeing you succeed, I’m happy for my sister and brother-in-law. With us Jody’s, I’m still considered to be pretty well off. And now there’s you." Garen’s uncle Tyr said earnestly. "I’m old now. Some things are harder to manage, more tiring. You’re different, you’re young, you can still go for a long while."
"Uncle, you don’t have to beat around the bush with me, you can tell me anything straight." Laughing in spite of himself, Garen leaned forward, suggesting he’s genuinely interested.
"That’s good to hear," Tyr nodded in appreciation. "I asked Lombarth here, so you, as his elder cousin brother, can help advising him in the future if he messes up anything. Of course, only if you have the time. The Anjer household can still afford to keep him fed and housed without much difficulties."
"Of course." Garen nodded, "Lombarth was a little immature then, but people do change. You needn’t be so worried, uncle, maybe he’ll even do something huge in the future, no? Quite a number of people only made it later in life."
"And Phelia too," Tyr held his daughter’s hand. "Your younger cousin sister has always been obsessed with the war chess, to the point of neglecting everything else. Even now, she’s preparing to take part in this King of War Chess Competition in the Bolsha province. It had really taken over her life!"
"Don’t worry, uncle. Phelia is still young, she’ll learn to prioritize after she matured a little more, it won’t affect the important things in the future, I can assure that." Garen had heard about the popular war chess, it was said to be unusually complicated in that everyone who participated will win or lose something, even sacrificing their lives.
"War chess is not a game for children." Phelia protested, pouting. "This is an Open Sea Championship with a reward of one billion dollars*! And I am one of the three representatives for the Galatia province! Don’t underestimate me!"
"One billion!" Tyr and Garen both flinched.
"A championship with such a large amount of reward? That’s crazy!" Garen’s uncle frowned.
Garen shook his head, "I’ve heard of this war chess game. It’s said to be peculiar in the sense that winners will get stronger while losers get weaker. People who always win would achieve immense success in whatever they do, while the more people lose, the more they suffer from bad luck. The war chess has rumors of it being dangerous and mysterious."
"Fine, just be careful." Tyr shook his head, "I’ll let Kerrigan escort you there."
"Thanks dad!" Phelia grinned happily.
Garen shook his head, speechless. He resumed his conversation with his Uncle Tyr about the issues with the development and arrangement of the province. He accepted his uncle’s suggestion about employee’s benefits, transforming White Cloud Gate into a for-profit organization with each aspects of the welfare of their employees. That way, he’ll be able to utilize everyone’s capabilities and influence the best possible way.
This inspired Garen a lot.
He decided to use this same concept on other newer influences like the teams from the former Black Mark Association, Cynthia, Jack and the other mercenaries, as well as some other new elites in the Martial Arts community.
If they were bound together with their subordinates, even if the forces under White Cloud Gate were to leave due to issues, they would not have huge issues running on their own.
Garen finally left his uncle’s place after dinner. The opinions and advices Uncle Tyr had given him were valuable experiences. Even though he’s a member of the Information Era from Earth, many things will not work with just pen-and-paper theorizing. In that aspect, Uncle Tyr provided Garen much needed help.
Back at White Cloud Gate, Corinne finally got back along with representatives of Circling Dance Gate and Seven Moon Gate to greet Garen.
After arranging White Cloud Gate’s new system of operation, Garen took a flight to Hubo City
His sister Ying Er had left to Shengying University, he wanted to meet her there.
Soon, he’d be leaving to a closed off Smoke Island, where he planned to destroy the ship to force Sylphalan out to fight with him. Before that, he needed to make sure he had prepared for every situation.
On the yellow field in front of the library building.
Garen was wearing black T-shirt and jeans, blending in with all the other university students. Garen sat on a white marble bench underneath a tall Japanese pagoda tree. The winter sun sprinkled its light onto Garen, bringing him only a slight warmth.
The library of Shengying University was a maroon building with a roof resembling two cones. On the steps in front of the entrance, students were walking in and out of the entrance.
Two long-haired girls exited the library. One of them had black hair and red eyes, the other one had blonde hair and purple eyes, both were equally pretty.
On seeing them, Garen slowly stood up.
"Big brother!" The red eyed girl squealed when she saw him, and started jogging toward Garen before giving him a big hug.
"How are you here all of a sudden?" After a while, Ying Er looked up and asked.
"I’ll be going away soon, so I can’t visit for a while. I just had to drop by before that." Garen smiled, "How’s it going with the school?"
"It’s okay…" Ying Er curled her lips indicating her indifference, "Lots of assignments lately, a little tired. Thank goodness Nina’s helped." She pulled her friend up, "Big brother, this is my roommate Nina, Nina, my big brother. He came here to visit from home, he’s studying at Harmony City."
"Nice meeting you." Nina greeted Garen with grace.
"Nice meeting you too," Garen smiled politely, "Thanks for helping Ying Er with her things."
"It’s nothing. Ying Er helped me a lot too." Nina replied with a slight shyness.
They both gave Garen a tour around the cafeteria, the sports field, as well as other places like the indoor swimming pool. If it wasn’t for the restriction of boys in the girls’ dorm, Ying Er would probably want to bring him to her room.
Ying Er was pretty popular at school, very soon, the parade was joined by two other girls.
The girls were all very interested in the mysterious big brother Ying Er kept mentioning, including how she used to bully him when they were kids.
Everyone had always imagined Garen to be a scrawny, androgynous boy. Upon meeting him, they were surprised by his good looks and lean, muscular physique.
It was almost lunchtime when they finished touring the campus.
The five young people went straight to the cafeteria to order dishes.
The lunch was simple, only some raisins, white bread, potato soup and some turkey meat*. Simple as it may be, it was pretty nutritionally balanced.
After lunch, the girls brought Garen to the hawker street behind the campus, where all sorts of street food can be found due to the food variety, or lack thereof, available in the cafeteria.
It wasn’t until they were stuffed that they returned onto the grassy park.
The sunlight at noon was much warmer than the morning. Garen and Ying Er strolled behind the three girls who conversed among themselves, drawing glances and gazes all around.
"Just a while ago, the dorm keepers caught Ivy keeping a squirrel she caught in the woods over there. You should have seen the squirrel, it’s so cute I wanna kiss it!" Ying Er recounted funny stories she’d experienced spiritedly.
"Remember grandma’s house at the farm? There were lots of squirrels in the woods behind, you can go catch a squirrel or two to keep." Garen smiled.
"I know, but I can’t even take care of myself properly…" Ying Er kicked at the turf.
"Big brother Garen, can you play badminton? Do you want to come play with us at the badminton court over there?" A girl in front, Ivy turned around and asked.
"Badminton…" Garen was about to nod when a tall man scuttled to him and whispered in his ears.
Surprise flashed on Garen’s face before he returned to normal.
"Excuse me ladies, I have some urgent business to attend to. Maybe next time?"
He pinched Ying Er’s face lightly.
"Study hard, I’ll visit again when I can. Try to visit home during the holidays."
"I knooooow, I’m not a child." Ying Er swatted at Garen’s hand.
"Let’s go, Garen shook his head and turned around, leaving in a hurry with the tall man following without a word.
It was only then that the girls realized some five or six pedestrians trailed behind Garen as he leaves. Obviously, the men were Garen’s hidden bodyguards.
"Such an illustrious send-off!" Nina’s jaw dropped. A few white limousines with silver patterns stopped in front of Garen at the entrance before him and his bodyguards got on and left quickly.
"Who is your brother? How do we not notice the bodyguards before? That’s so extravagant!" Utterly confused, Nina turned around and bombarded Ying Er with questions.
"That’s so over-the-top, not even the trust fund babies can compare to it. That’s a send-off fit for a government official! Ying Er, be honest, what is your brother!"
"Spill it! This goldmine cannot be let out before we could take a bite off it! Let us, your roommates, have him!" The last girl teased before bursting out in giggles.
Ying Er turned bright pink, unable to answer anything at all.
1. Author didn’t specify the currency unit in this chapter. Translator is part of the group that took on the project after the previous one abandoned it. Readers should be able to do the math.
2. It wasn’t described, but the dishes implied a traditional Chinese meal setting i.e. every sitting around a table sharing a few dishes a la Chinese dinner. Google image Chinese dinner for reference.