White fog surrounded Huaishan City without anyone taking notice of it.
From the main street to the back alley, everything was covered in fog.
Rows of light yellow covered buildings stood side by side. A man could be seen strolling along the sidewalk in his white suit, playing with the keys circling his finger.
"This mission isn’t half bad… I can have a rest, even take a break from those three idiots. Also have a taste of a little girl as an extra."
The man seemed to be mumbling something to himself as he walked with a wide smile across his face. His eyes fixated on the little girl not far in front.
The little girl was Ying Er, who was leaving her house to buy some stuff. She was wearing a white t-shirt and low-waist jeans with her waist line showing. She had the slim legs and waist that many girls envied her for. Though her chest was not fully developed and her looks were average, but this young body that was rich with youth was the type that White Stallion liked the most.
White Stallion followed closely behind and couldn’t help but gulp, noticing the movement of her hips while she walked.
"I should take action once there are fewer civilians around…" He counted the distance and resisted his urge to act immediately.
After some distance, he spotted Ying Er humming while turning right into a narrow back alley.
White Stallion was delighted by the situation and increased his pace. It could be seen from his face that he could not hold back anymore. A white handkerchief appeared on his hand out of nowhere, coated with something needed for this occasion.
Clack. Clack. Clack.
Suddenly, footsteps could be heard coming from the corner ahead of him. Three tall men slowly walked out from the alley, each of them with golden earings of various sizes hanging from their left ears.
The three men prevented White Stallion from entering the alley.
"Piss off!" The good-looking one among the three told him. He seemed to be the leader of the group. His expression was dim, obviously in a bad mood.
This guy in front of White Stallion wore a brown coat with a furry collar and had his hands tucked into his pockets. His hair was bright red, like a fire burning in a fog. The golden earing hanging from his ear was carved with a clear number 6.
"Puny mortal…" The smile on White Stallions face faded. "How dare you to address me in this tone…"
The red-haired man was taken aback. He didn’t expect someone to speak to him in that kind of manner. He let out an awkward smile before speaking,
"It’s been so long since someone dared to speak to me like this…." He took out his right hand from his pocket. "It seems as though you are one of those experts that are tracking me… Would be disrespectful of me if I don’t give them a gift…."
"Cocky… Still, mortals are mortals." White Stallion smirked, reaching out with his right hand to take off his black gloves, revealing the Black Pentagon Tattoo. "I will gouge your eyes out and keep them for my new collection." A mysterious energy began forming around him.
"You must be looking for a death bed…" The two men beside the red-haired man retreated after he raised his hand. Oddly enough, a blood red scar began emerging from below his right eye. It looked like an eye shadow done by a lady, sharp yet enchanting.
A wind blew past, racking up some leaves along the way.
Garen was running hastily through the streets, surging past the pedestrians. He had already taken off his shirt and was gripping it under his arm. The upper part of the shirt was stained with blood.
"Damn it… Please don’t be in trouble!" His face was pale, heart growing more impatient by the second.
It was a 20 to 30 minutes’ walk to get from Pennington Street to Blue Tree Street, but Garen managed to reach his home in ten. Unfortunately his parents must’ve gone out, as well as his little sister, Ying Er. Garen wasted no time leaving the house and continuing his search along the street.
He was trying to figure out where his sister might have gone to while running wildly around the neighborhood.
"She might’ve gone to the market at this hour! Or maybe she’s at a fruit stall!"
Garen hesitated for a while before deciding to head off to the market.
The scenery beside Garen started to blur in reverse yet the road ahead of Garen was still clear in his eyes.
"Pass this crossroad and make a right turn, then I should make a left turn after a few hundred meters."
A muffled sound came from the empty street in front.
A blurry figure could be seen flying in the fog. It tumbled to the ground and rolled a few times before stopping in front of Garen’s boots.
He came to a halt, lowering his head to look at the man lying in front of him.
A suit dirtied to a point where it was barely recognizable to have been white once. Right now it was only grey and brown due to numerous stains. Even the man’s neat hair was thrown into disarray. However, what was most worth noting was that both of his arms were twisted in an unnatural way, obviously broken.
Then Garen noticed the Black Pentagon Tattoo at the back of his right hand.
"It’s similar to those guys’ tattoos…"
He bent over and grabbed the man’s collar, bringing him upward.
"You’re White Stallion?" he asked. After all that running, his breathing took a bit of minor adjustments to return to normal.
"It’s you… Hehe… I can’t believe I will die in the hands of a mortal…" White Stallion chuckled before letting out his last breath. His eyes slowly faded as his soul began to seep away from his body.
Garen was stunned by what he had just witnessed. He shook the body for a while before noticing a black shape emerging from White Stallion’s neck’s right side. It was connected with the Black Pentagon behind his right hand.
Garen tossed away the corpse and let out a breath. He took a few steps forward as he began to see clearer what was ahead of him.
Three tall men wearing golden earrings sat in front of a narrow back alley with exhausted looks on their faces. Dark blood stains could be seen under the nose of the one with red hair.
The red-haired man raised his head to look in Garen’s direction after hearing the footsteps.
"It’s you." He let down off his guard for a moment. "Damn it, I thought there was another monster like him coming!" He scowled while trying to get up using a wall.
"Might I ask, expert, what kind of monstrous opponents are you facing exactly? I even had to let out my qi-gong because of him! You’re lucky I got here in time or your sister would be in deep trouble by now."
Garen just nodded along, not knowing what had happened. He noticed that the golden earring on the man’s ear had a number 6 carved on it.
"I owe you one, Sixth Golden Hoop." He turned his eyes toward the other two. "What about them?"
"Temporary henchmen, they practice Body Hardening Technique. They helped me block some of the attacks but from the looks of things they won’t live long." The red-haired man shook his head. "I’ll have someone inform their families." He suddenly turned and looked at Garen furiously.
"I’ve already taken care of this incident for you! Don’t tell me you’re still not joining the Golden Hoop? Don’t blame me if I turn against you!"
Garen was speechless. All he could do now was force a smile.
"Take this!" The red-haired man tossed a piece of a golden earring toward Garen.
Garen caught it properly and took a look at it. It was a golden earring with a number 9 carved on it. It was as big as a finger nail and it looked delicately made.
"Temporary replacement for Ninth Golden Hoop?"
"Not temporary. Didn’t you almost take care of Tenth Golden Hoop? It’s only natural that you have this ranking." Number Six sneered.
"You even know this?" Garen was stunned.
"The trait of your combat arts is too obvious, even your whereabouts are too obvious."
Garen shrugged, having nothing to say.
"Alright, go take a look at your sister. I have to ask someone to take care of things here." The red-haired man wiped off the blood stains from around his nose and walked toward the dead corpse.
Garen picked up his pace and walked into the back alley. This was the shortcut his little sister always took. After getting out of the back alley, Ying Er’s back figure finally appeared within Garen’s eyesight.
He rushed out, hugging his little sister.
Ying Er felt a familiar presence hugging her from behind. She almost dropped the tomatoes and potatoes that she was carrying from the market, startled by this sudden action.
"Brother! What are you doing! Are you not embarrassed? We are on the main street!" She struggled to get away from Garen but felt the difference in strength between them. Trying a few more times to no avail, she gave up and just let him do what he wanted.
"Ying Er… I’m so glad you’re fine…." Garen held his half-a-head shorter sister tightly in his arms.
"Fine from what?" Ying Er was being hugged by Garen from behind with her hips awkwardly positioned against Garen’s crotch region. "Let me go or I’m going to be so pissed!"
"Okay, okay, I’ll let go." Garen also felt the awkwardness and swiftly removed his arms from around his sister. He was relieved to know his sister’s current condition. Most of the passers-by stared at them ambiguously, assuming that they were a in a relationship.
"Where is mom and dad?" Garen asked, ignoring the attention of the passing people.
"They went to get some coal and firewood. The winter is coming, we need to have these stuff prepared to avoid getting cold." Ying Er held up the groceries she bought from the market. "It’s your turn to carry this as a punishment for the jump scare just now!" She shoved the sack to Garen.
"Okay!" Garen was relieved. He felt good at this moment.
"I have to continue buying groceries. You follow me closely and try not to lose me okay?" Ying Er turned and walked forward, toward the sidewalk not far in front of her. Both sides of the street were full with various stalls selling vegetables along with some housewives who had woken up early to pick the fresh ones.
Garen carried the groceries with one hand, while tucking away the golden earring into his pocket with the other.
"I owe the Golden Hoop big this time… Still, at least the safety of my family is guaranteed. If the Golden Hoop’s background is what Number 8 said…"
If it was true, it should be a good thing for Garen to join the Golden Hoop. One thing for sure was that he had to be cautious when he was around Dale and the gang. One false move may lead to them discovering his secret identity.
Taking a deep breath, Garen realized that he was too lazy to concern himself with this issue. His heart sank when he recalled that the old man had gotten himself into trouble.
"Judging from the looks of these guys just now, the old man should’ve been a respectable figure in the past. Just his name was enough to frighten them back there. As to the master they were mentioning…"
Cold determination flashed through Garen’s eyes.
"Whoever brought harm to you, I swear, I will take revenge for you… I swear."
A sweet and fishy smell suddenly burst from his chest and to his throat. Garen immediately covered his mouth and forced it back down. His entire throat was covered with a sticky smell of blood.
It was the internal injury he had gotten from forcing himself to fight the three black-suited henchmen earlier on. He didn’t take the time to adjust himself before rushing out from the scene. It was not until 10 minutes after that he took a proper rest.
If it wasn’t for Garen’s strong physique, and he was like other Martial Adepts, he’d be left unable to move.
"That power felt like psychokinesis. Its force was really strong. Luckily it was countered by pure strength, but other types of fighters would find it difficult to face. Maybe I can get some evidence from the corpse…"