"Go to the treatment room to treat your chest wound." Fei Baiyuan left a few words before he casually strolled downstairs.
Garen stood in place as his expression changed. He didn’t make a sound.
He watched his master went downstairs as his figure disappeared around the corner. He waited for his footsteps to fade away before he gently stretched the cloth around his chest.
A copper bullet was embedded in the left side of his chest near his heart, penetrating his pale skin about one centimeter deep.
He dug the bullet out with his hand as the wound on his chest immediately contracted. The edge of the wound was a little burnt with only a sliver of blood flowing.
"So this is a bullet..." He gazed at the bullet in deep thought.
He went downstairs and asked the doctor at the White Cloud Gate to treat his wounds before he slowly walked out of the dojo’s main gate.
On the empty streets, a few patrol police dressed in full black strolled in front of the dojo. They were talking and laughing as they held a dim oil lamp.
A group of men in gloomy factory uniforms sat on a set of stairs across the street. Drunk from alcohol, they kept their hands their pockets. Garen didn’t know what they were talking about.
"There’s a clothing factory near here that manufactures jackets and cotton clothes,"a male trainer said casually as he passed by Garen. He glanced at the clothes Garen wore.
"Hey man, you’re training pretty late. Where are you going? Do you need a ride?"
"That’s fine; I’m waiting for someone." Garen smiled as he pointed at the black car in the front.
The car window rolled down as Grace’s delicate face appeared.
"Not bad!" The male trainer laughed a bit and patted Garen’s shoulder without saying anything else. He then approached the other parked car.
Grace stepped out of the car and walked in front of Garen.
"Garen…" She momentarily didn’t know what to call him as she hesitated.
"Just call me by my name." Garen shrugged, "Let’s leave and head to my home. I’ll listen to your situation on the car."
"As long as you are pleased, we’ll provide any compensations!" Grace adopted a pleading look.
"I didn’t dare to explain in front of the Dojo Master, but the actual situation is that we are not the
only ones who stole the artifacts. In Huaishan City there’s another company competing with us in this area."
"No rush, explain to me in detail."
Grace looked at Garen’s expression and slightly relaxed since as he didn’t seem to be irate.
Once the two got in the car and closed the doors, Grace slowly started the car as the antique vehicle began to lurch forward. Amid the rumble of the engine, Garen sat silently in the passenger seat as he stared at the retreating scene of the night.
The light fragrance of Grace’s perfume whiffed into his nose. The street lights cast shadows across his face one by one. His previous excitement finally calmed.
"I am part of the Manuyllton Corporation, one of the three biggest gang-related companies in Huaishan. One of the other two companies has no common business areas with us, but the Blackplume Corporation also accepts hiring missions and the selling of restricted items like us. They are the ones that escalated the tension between us," Grace explained as she drove.
"Restricted items and hiring missions? What are these?" Garen lowered his voice.
"Restricted items include firearms, artifacts, and drugs like rainbow candy. Hiring missions include, robbery, or even murder. This is nothing surprising and a lot of gang-related companies are similar. These two areas offer the most lucrative profits, while the primary operations of the company act as a cover. The money from the legitimate business is only considered a bonus."
Grace started to feel less tense.
"Your company is called Manuyllton Corporation? What’s the size of the company?"
"There are approx
imately 50 people that act as the core. The other supporting individuals total to less than 200 people. I am middle to upper management and in the middle of the pack. But don’t worry, with Master Fei, the upper management will do anything to compensate you. I am certain about this point."
"Do you still have the artifacts with you from the first time we met?" Garen asked as he remembered the Potential increase from when he tried to stop the car.
"The artifacts are still there and in one of my houses. Do you want them now?"
Grace let out a sigh of relief as she was afraid that Garen wouldn’t ask. But since he asked, the problem became much easier. Garen was clearly new to the scene, but with the backup of Master Fei and his three seniors, even the boss of the corporation would not dare shortchange the compensation.
"Now would be the best time. Where do you live?"
"Downtown, beside the central park."
"Not too far, let’s go grab the artifacts and then I’ll go home. This is part of the compensation." Garen nodded.
"Then the other compensation…"
"Let’s not rush this. You have some means of selling artifacts in your company right? Maybe I’ll have to ask you for help in the future," Garen said without any fluctuation in his voice.
"No problem, I’m at your disposal." Grace immediately nodded.
After a short while, the car slowly stopped in a downtown area with a circular park. Grace got out of the car and entered a white building on the left side. She ran out after a few minutes.
Once she got in the car, she placed a black bag in front of Garen.
"These are the artifacts we found in the city. There are a total of three items. Are these what you’re looking for?"
As soon as Garen touched the bag, streams of coldness flowed from the bag into his body.
Joy emerged in his heart as he opened the bag without much of an outward reaction. Inside was a white rectangular wooden box with a shade of yellow. The lock was open.
As he lifted the cover, there were three cross emblems sitting inside on the black velvet cover. From left to right, there was a bronze, a burgundy, and a silver-white artifact.
The three emblems had the same design, only the letters in the middle were different. They were A, P, and M.
Garen immediately recognized that the burgundy emblem was the one lost by Old Man Gregor. It was also the one that had Potential.
The moment he opened the box, an enormous amount of Potential flowed evenly into both of his hands. The cold streams flowed directly from the veins in his arm, past his shoulder, and across his neck before they concentrated around his eyes.
Garen clearly saw the Potential Meter in his visual field increase steadily.
From 80%, it rapidly rose to 90, and then to 100, 110, 120, 128, 133.
In the few minutes since he had opened the box, his potential skyrocketed to above 200%.
At this moment, the stream of energy from the box began to slow down.
Garen then felt a source of potential from the burgundy cross emblem in the middle, the same artifact he had discovered at the old man’s antique store.
While the burgundy emblem continued to release potential slowly but steadily, the other two emblems had released all of their potential.
He gently touched the bronze cross emblem’s surface as the rough and cold sensation transmitted to his fingertip. He only took this emblem.
"No, these are the only things I have with me. Out of the three emblems, only the middle one was collected from the city. The others were transported from other places." Grace rushed to answer.
"I’ll take this emblem with me. The other requirement is that the rest of the compensation goes to my master. Now take me back."
Garen responded simply and did not say any more. He slowly caressed the bronze cross emblem.
"Ok. So when should I train with you?" She looked relieved as her feeling of impending doom subsided.
"It will start after the Formal Disciple ceremony."
Grace forced a smile. She had heard about the role of practice trainers at the White Cloud Gate. Certain explosive techniques must be practiced on humans to measure the results. Only a few knew the details about the practice trainers. Rarely would they be healthy without any injuries.
The best case scenario was to have a few broken bones, while more severe consequences included organ damage. It would take at least a few years to recover, but it was also normal for the practice trainer to be killed. Usually, they would find people who only cared about money and not life. If she wanted to survive this time, it would depend on Garen.
The car gradually came to a halt two hundred meters away from Garen’s neighborhood. Garen gently closed the door after walking out of the car. He watched the car turn before it disappeared.
He raised his right hand and looked at a piece of white paper. The Confederation Bank’s name and an absurdly large number were printed on it.
"One million dollar bank deposit. Money comes pretty fast." He shoved the deposit slip in his pants pocket and he strolled toward the direction of his home.
"I am back."
As he closed the door behind him, the living room was pitch black. Only a yellow light slipped through the door cracks of his sister’s bedroom.
No one responded.
"Only two people at home again?" He took a breath before he changed into his slippers and turned on the light.
He sat on the sofa. A dark yellow wooden cup filled with brewed black coffee was left on the table.
Thirsty, Garen chugged the coffee. It tasted bitter but sweet as it was completely cold. The edge of the cup had the scent of a cigarette.
"Father didn’t finish after he brewed it." He put the cup down and leaned against the sofa. He felt the bronze cross emblem in his pocket continue to provide him with potential.
"I don’t know how much potential this emblem will provide. The other two were finished in just a few short moments."
He felt joyful as his potential in his vision continued to rise.
"As long as I have sources of potential, I can continue to grow with the help of Potential points. There is almost no limit. I am confident that I can surpass anyone!"
Suddenly, the smile that appeared on his face faded.
He realized that the potential increase had slowed down compared to moments ago.
The coldness from the emblem continued to flow without any difference in thickness, but the numbers on the Potential Meter began to slow down.
"What’s going on?"
Garen sat straight as he carefully examined the increase in potential. From the moment he touched the emblem until coming home now, the potential points had already rocketed to above 300%. Now, however, the rate of increase began to diminish.