Garen fisted his hands as he leaned against the wall. He felt that his skin was getting thicker, as if a layer of hard substance was put over his body, just like when he first reached the elementary level on the Explosive Fist Arts.
"Such a strong change."
He stood up straight and felt that his body was much heavier. No, a better word for it would be firmer.
"The elementary level of Explosive Fist Arts only offered increased defense, but if I remember correctly, the intermediate level should offer the vibration effect. I have to carefully test it."
He didn’t stop and went directly to the test rooms at the back of the field. He looked around and picked one without anyone inside. He carefully locked it from the inside just to be sure no one would be looking.
He walked up to the wooden weapon rack and picked up a curved knife.
He stabbed the knife into his left arm. It didn’t pierce through the skin, stopping at the surface as if it had hit a very hard wooden surface.
Garen slowly applied more and more force onto the knife. The strength applied to the knife instantly went over 50 pounds, then slowly 100, 150, 160, 170…
After a slight noise, the tip of the knife went through his skin, and Garen immediately stopped applying the force. He looked at the point on his skin that the knife had pierced.
There was a very little red dot on his skin, and a tiny bit of blood was slowly flowing out of it. However, it quickly solidified, as if it was an injury that a needle left behind.
After placing the knife back in the weapon rack, Garen pinched the part of his left arm that got stabbed.
"170 pounds of endurance and defense. That means that as long as my opponent’s strike with a sharp weapon has less impact than this, I won’t get injured. But if the weapon is dull, then it’ll be much easier to defend against. I think even 200 pounds of strength with such a weapon won’t injure me at all."
He rubbed his hands together, and they made a vague rustling noise, as if his hands were two rough metal plates.
"The martial arts at the White Cloud Dojo are very impressive. They must be on the same level as the Shaolin technique: Golden Bell Cover and Iron Shirt.
"I will specifically test my punches next."
Garen slowly walked up to a black sand punch bag that was hanging off of a rack. He lowered his back and swung his arm, throwing out a side punch.
The punch bag swung around, not flying out too much. However, both the punch bag and the rack holding it up shook violently like there was an earthquake. For a time they vibrated aggressively, making buzzing noises.
Garen drew back his arm and punched straight this time. The fist shot out like an arrow and hit the punch bag right in the center.
The punch bag swung backward and fell to the ground with the rack. The dust on the floor was sent into the air, and Garen quickly covered his mouth and nose as he coughed.
After a while, the dust gradually calmed and settled back on the ground. Garen squatted down and made some careful observations.
The rack was made of metal. It was painted black and was nailed to the ground by long iron nails. Its bottom formed an shape to secure it against impacts from all angles.
Right now, all the hard iron nails were perfectly pulled out of the floor without any sign of damage on them.
Garen picked up an iron nail that was about the length of the index finger and looked at the others as well.
"Is it because of vibration? Apparently, it has this effect on nails, I wonder what kind of effect it would have on humans?"
He stood up as he thought about it and stretched out his arms and chest by swinging his arms horizontally backward. The jacked muscles on his back were compressed and bumped against each other as he moved his arms. It felt like there were strands of iron chains twisting and intervening with each other under his skin.
He took a deep breath as he closed his eyes and recalled the moment when he punched out.
"It’s a vibration… A strong vibration."
He threw out a punch into the air, using the Shot Form.
After he punched out, there was a vague whistling sound.
"The strength would cause vibrations after it’s used, and transfer a huge vibration in the opponent. This type of attack would deal a great amount of damage to living creatures’ internal organs. I have to find an opportunity to test it out since I’m still not sure where exactly I stand in terms of combat abilities."
Garen drew back his fist and stood up straight. He stretched his neck and looked at his well built upper body. It was at that moment that he realized that he had turned from a weak teenager to a tough, muscled man.
"This change is really significant when considering that only a few months have passed by." He pulled on the button of his shirt, trying to cover up his chest muscles.ł However, it was impossible. He helplessly resigned the effort.
"I can’t really use my full strength when I’m practicing with senior sister and brothers in the Dojo. It seems like I’ll have to find other alternatives if I really want to test my real combat abilities. Now, that the situation at the Golden Hoop, Silversilk Castle, and with uncle are all mixed together, it’s very chaotic.
"I don’t have to worry too much about the situation with uncle. However, the Golden Hoop will soon find out that I had killed that Number 102, and they will certainly come for me again. It will be a great time to see what I'm made of." Garen bumped his fists together as he thought, "Next, I will just have to keep a close eye on Grace."
Garen shook his head after looking at the sand punch bag on the floor again. He turned around and walked out.
Four days later…
Back at his home on Bluetree Street.
"Brother, I’m going with my classmates to Jaderipple Lake tomorrow. Do you want to come?" Ying Er’s voice came from next door.
"Jaderipple Lake again? Who’s going?"
Garen was thinking about the progression on Dale Quicksilver’s case. He was surprised by his sister’s sudden question.
"After doing so much and thinking about so much external work, I almost forgot that I’m only a high school student…" he thought to himself.
"Just my classmates, and a few of my best friends from junior high school. We are planning to have a grand barbecue at the lake," Ying Er answered as she combed her hair in the bathroom.
"What about dad and mom?"
"They said that they’re going to a dinner party, a celebration party put on by their company. They told us to solve our own problems and eat by ourselves."
"Again…" Garen shook his head. He had nothing to say. It was something that was no surprise to him.
He sat in front of his desk and started to work on the math questions that he had from school for the break. Temporarily, he threw everything that wasn't related to his student career to the back of his mind and focused on solving the math problems.
"Brother, are you going or not?" Ying Er peeked her head into Garen’s room.
"It’s ok. You guys have fun, I’m not going to go," Garen answered casually. "I’m busy with stuff."
"Suit yourself then. Peel your own almonds that are on the table in the living room. I’m going out. I have to prepare all the stuff that I need." Ying Er humphed at Garen as she left his room. She also intentionally stomped heavily with her feet on the floor and made loud stepping noises.
Soon, Garen heard the sound of the closing door. Ying Er had intentionally slammed the door, too.
Garen shook his head as he sat in front of his desk. "So childish at that kind of age. She is still like an elementary school kid," he thought. Then he immediately went back to doing his homework. After a full hour and a half, he sighed as he raised his head.
"Although math is easy, there are just way too many questions. Looks like I have to spend some more time on it if I want to finish everything in one sitting."
Garen closed his practice question booklet that he completed and stood up to rub his lower back. He looked at the clock on the wall, and it was 9:43 AM.
"It’s about time to go."
After quickly changing into a T-shirt and a pair of jeans, he grabbed some money and a handful of almonds from the living room table, and walked out of his home.
He quickly went down the stairs. But as he was about to get to the end of the staircase, he saw a white-haired elder slowly walking down the stairs in front of him. Garen slowed down and didn’t pass him.
The elder was wearing a delicate, clean black suit along with a black round hat, and held a reddish brown cane in his hand. He was walking down the stairs one stair at a time. He seemed to hear the noise coming from his back and turned around to look at Garen with an apologetic smile on his face.
Garen recognized this elder as the one who lived in this building. He saw him on a regular basis when using the stairs.
He smiled back and politely said, "Please be careful, and watch your steps. Don’t injure yourself."
"I’m in no hurry, just coming out to exercise a little." The elder smiled as he watched Garen walk past him. The smile on his face got brighter and brighter. "I’ve seen this little guy many times. He is polite every time I see him. This is rare to see nowadays."
Garen felt like the way the elder was looking at him was very strange. He paced himself as he felt a little uncomfortable. After he left the residential area, he walked down Bluetree Street toward the downtown.
He saw ox carts passing regularly on the road. All were carrying bricks and wood. He could see piles of black ox feces on the corner of the road, and they smelled really bad.
The human and car traffic on the streets was getting denser and denser as he got closer to downtown. Some of the perfume fragrance coming from off from passing girls and wealthy women who walked past Garen at the cross section covered up the smell of the oxes’ feces.
When he walked past a street that was full of stores selling clothes and accessories for women, he saw two familiar figures walking out of a jewelry shop on his left. It was Kalidor and Ai Fei.
They were holding onto each other’s hands, and Ai Fei leaned against Kalidor like a little bird resting on its owner. Both of them were wearing their school uniforms. Ai Fei’s was a dark purple dress, the bottom of which barely covered up her thighs. She also had some makeup on and looked even prettier than usual.
Both of them saw Garen, who was walking by as well, and were surprised.
"Garen, it’s you! Such a coincidence to meet on this street," Kalidor greeted with a smile. He subconsciously coiled his arm around Ai Fei’s waist as he saw Garen who was stronger, bigger and more handsome than him.
Garen smiled back and nodded as he glanced at Ai Fei. "You guys are out shopping? Yeah, it is such coincidence. Did you guys just get here?"
"We’ve been here for a while already." Kalidor chatted with Garen casually, but his arm subconsciously tightened its grip on Ai Fei’s waist.
Ai Fei looked at Garen who had changed a lot in the last couple of months. Although she had a slight smile on her face, she felt a little miserable. This great boy in front of her had shown interest in her, hinted that he did like her.
But after comparing Kalidor with Garen right now, Kalidor was no match with Garen in terms of appearance. In terms of height, Garen was literally looking down at Kalidor. There were also looks, figure, style, and temperament differences.
"Ai Fei, say hi to Garen."
She heard Kalidor’s voice, and that brought her back to reality. She quickly nodded at Garen and said, "Long time no see, Garen. How are you doing?" Looking at the tall and handsome man in front of her, the scene of them being deskmates appeared in her head.
But as she finished asking the question, Kalidor, who was beside her, suddenly reached his hand under her dress and started rubbing.
Ai Fei kept on smiling innocently, but her body stiffened as she felt Kalidor’s hand. She knew that Garen must have seen it. One of Kalidor’s hands was recklessly rubbing her bottom, and the other one reached out for her chest. It was formed into different shapes under Kalidor’s forceful fingers.
Ai Fei instantly felt like her body was getting hot, and her face burned. She saw Garen’s slight frown. At that moment, she felt like she was degraded.
This was in public, on a street with a lot of foot traffic in downtown. Kalidor had recklessly reached into her dress and dared to make it obvious!
She didn’t dare to resist. She knew what Kalidor was like. He was doing such a thing to directly tell Garen that she belonged to him. His temper wasn’t that good if emotions were involved.
If she resisted, she knew that it would be over between Kalidor and her.
At that moment, she felt like a whore. She had been trying to maintain her image one second, but was completely exposed the next. She could feel Garen’s stare, and the looks of other pedestrians on the street. She could feel them clearly! This unprecedented shame and embarrassment made her body shiver uncontrollably.