"I don’t know. I haven’t seen him in full force, so no one knows his exact ability. But, compared to Tenstar Ni, he should be at the Grandmaster of Combat level. You have to be careful. He is still a novice, so he isn’t considered a Grandmaster of Combat yet. Also, there are at least two or three Grandmasters of Combat within the older generations of Celestial Circle Gate and they are a force to be reckoned with. With Tenstar Ni’s age, he was one of the hopefuls to become a Grandmaster of Combat. Unfortunately, you killed him." Su Lin sympathized
"If he didn’t die, I would have died." Garen was speechless as he remembered the last fight with Tenstar Ni. If Tenstar Ni had not been so foolish and had ignored his big mouth, Garen would not have had to kill him. Fighters at this level were not ordinary people that would be severely hurt after one punch. The resilience they possessed meant that they were well trained to take hits. Their stamina was also incredible. If they were to advance another level…
A slight tension gripped Garen’s head, but it was more of an odd blood boiling passion. It was the expectation of facing a worthy opponent. Martial artists, especially novice practitioners, all possessed a fervent passion for combat.
Although Garen had a lot less training time compared to regular martial artists, he was no different. His passion for the arts was as feverish as anyone else.
From the first moment that he chose the path of martial arts, he did not want to use his special ability to expand his social presence. Instead, he chose to push himself to the limit and become a true martial artist. He wanted to witness the peak that the human body could achieve and challenge to those limits. Fortunately, he had the aid of his special ability.
He knew his capabilities better than anyone else. He was neither gifted nor talented. Without his special ability, it would have been difficult to enter the martial arts world in the first place. Since he was a normal and ordinary person without any talents, he had to stay dedicated. It was impossible for an individual to achieve excellence in everything and separated effort would only result in overall mediocrity. For example, take two geniuses at the starting point. If one only focused on science while the other studied everything and anything on a whim, the difference would be obvious after a short amount of time.
As for the one in a century type of genius that could master anything, if that kind of talent only focused on one subject, the heights that could be achieved would be unimaginable. The truth was that with the waves of scientific advancement around the world, subjects were being separated into finer areas of study and it would be nearly impossible to master everything. From the start, Garen knew the type of path he wanted to take.
"Are there any Grandmaster of Combat level fighters near me?" Garen recollected his thoughts and asked with his voice lowered.
Su Lin retracted his lighter and gave it a thought. "There is one. Beside Galantia in the Eliza Province, there is a Grandmaster of Combat called the White Eagle Holy Fist, also known as Palosa. He lives in seclusion at the Skylark Mountain Waterfall. If my father didn’t mention it once, I would not have known that an older generation Grandmaster of Combat lived there. The toxic gas and miasma are so thick that normal people would not be able to enter Skylark Mountain. Even the herb gatherers are not willing to venture to this vast and sparsely populated location.
"There are no others?" When Garen heard this name, he knew that this person was an older generation Grandmaster of Combat that was indifferent to worldly fame and fortune. The chance of conflict with him would be minuscule.
"There are none. The majority of the Grandmasters of Combat are concentrated within Celestial Circle Gate and Crimson Sand Sword. The heads of Celestial Circle Gate and Crimson Sand Swo
rd are both older generation Grandmasters of Combat, but I don’t know about the others."
"Do you know the background of Behemoth Gate?" Garen changed the topic to ask.
"Behemoth Gate is a nefarious organization that secretly recruits and trains young talents. They are mysterious in nature and I don’t really know too much either, but they are certainly not weak by any means. You have to be careful." Su Lin turned serious. "After you go back this time, you’ll have to reorganize the internal structure of White Cloud Gate and take control of the situation. Although Master Fei did not suffer a serious injury, this injury will impact his martial arts due to his old age. White Cloud Gate will be dependent on you."
"I know." Garen nodded.
Galantia Province Huaishan City.
Among the forests in the rural areas, the dense and green trees had already recovered from the misery of winter. The morning sunshine pierced through the leaves and illuminated the ground. With the moist air and tiny drops of dew, the forest emitted a refreshing vibe.
Deep within the forest.
A square and dark looking courtyard rested quietly within a circle of trees. Green colored vines covered the black stone tiles.
The courtyard was enclosed by a few two story buildings and slanted stone stairs led up to an entrance on the side. The stairs were a shade of black with moss slightly peeking out from the top corner. The passage of time was evident.
A bald man with a beer belly stood on top of the stairs. Fat protruded out of his face. He wore a black suit with a white shirt hanging on his shoulder and his hands were on his waist as he took deep breaths. It looked like he was performing a morning routine.
It was evident that he did not cleanly shave as stubble covered his face and neck. The hair from his sideburns connected to his beard and it was impossible to differentiate which was which. While the man was doing this morning routine, a short-haired man slowly strolled up from the stairs.
"Mr. Bouvini." The man walked beside the bald guy and greeted him with a lowered voice.
"Mhmm, do you have any news?" The bald guy shook his upper body and seemed like he was exercising his waist.
"All the other shareholders support your attempt to take command. It’s just that a few key assets are only known by Dojo Master Fei. The dojo’s relationship with the governor would make this difficult to handle," the man reported in an undertone.
"I heard that the White Cloud Gate lot safely escaped from Celestial Circle’s territory? They are on their way back?" the bald Bouvini asked.
"Yes. I don’t have the exact intel as no information has leaked. It is believed that the military has intervened and suspended any information. It’s believed that Dojo Fei was unconscious during the competition and will not recover within a short period of time. Even if he manages to recover, his power will drop by a few levels because of his age," the man hastily explained. "Mr. Bouvini, this is the perfect opportunity. If this opportunity slips away, it will become impossible to control White Cloud Gate’s assets."
"The other three shareholders have the same intention?" Bouvini asked in an undertone.
A thoughtful expression appeared on Bouvini’s face. "Then go prepare first. We have to welcome the dojo’s triumphant return."
"Understood, I’ll get right on it." The man thought about it before reaching a sudden realization. He nodded and left.
Three days later. In the morning.
In front of the gate of Huaishan City’s White Cloud Dojo, a fleet of black silver wave cars came to a gradual stop beside the road. The scene caught the attention of pedestrians and they occasionally peeked over. This kind of luxurious sedan was difficult to come by in Huaishan City. Now there suddenly was a fleet of five such cars, which garnered even more attention.
The car doors opened one by one. A simple stretcher transporting the comatose Fei Baiyun was carried out from the back. Collin and Simon carefully guarded the stretcher as it traveled toward the gate. Garen and Golden Loop Number 6 Su Lin exited their car. They raised their heads to look at the overhanging banner that named the dojo.
"We are finally back." Garen let out a long sigh of relief.
"Senior Brother Garen."
Rampas’s voice sounded from the other side.
Rampas and delicate girl walked over.
"We are finally back in Huaishan. It’s also time for Seven Moon Gate and Circling Dance Gate to depart. We are grateful for Senior Brother’s help this time, so here is our contact information and address. If there is anything in need of us, we will do everything we can!" He passed over a slip of paper.
"Wait a moment. How are the two masters doing?" Garen took the paper and looked behind the pair of disciples. On two other stretchers, the two unconscious gate masters rested.
"The military doctors have examined them and it’s not a big problem. The unconsciousness seems to be the result of a special technique, so they just need some time before they naturally wake up," Rampas explained. "Also, we have a contact in Huaishan City and we can arrange our own transportation. There is no need to worry about us."
"That’s good. In that case, so long." Garen nodded.
"Goodbye Senior Brother Garen." Rampas gestured before he left with his disciples.
"Senior brother Garen, if you encounter any issues, don’t forget about the Circling Dance Gate. I am Marianne!" The delicate looking girl smiled sincerely before also carrying her master away and departing in the other direction with her fellow disciples. This group met up with a few other female disciples that had heard the news ahead of time and had already been waiting.
Garen retracted his gaze. As he was about to head into the dojo, Su Lin suddenly whispered to him, "We just received intel that the strongest gate out of the Southern Twelve Gates, Murry Iron Chain Gate, was destroyed by Andrela." With a serious expression, Su Lin said in a lowered voice, "The Celestial Circle Gate heard that Tenstar Ni was killed, which angered their management. So they immediately retaliated and Murry Iron Chain Gate became the victim. Andrela took the lead and officially intervened in the incident where the Southern Twelve Gates were challenged. They eliminated Murry Iron Chain Gate from top to bottom."
Slightly shocked by the news, Garen responded, "No wonder. Celestial Circle Gate has had the intent to take over the Southern Twelve Gates for a long time and this incident was only an excuse. What about the Crimson Sand Sword?"
"Crimson Sand Sword is not reacting right now. It looks like they made a pact with Celestial Circle Gate." With a frown, Su Lin said, "This is going to problematic, very problematic. I haven’t managed to come up with a conclusion, so the hidden killer might be someone else."
"Who is it?"
"An emerging organization called the Black Mark Association. It’s rumored that they are in an alliance with Crimson Sand Sword and Celestial Circle Gate to end the separated situation in the southern area. They want to form three leading gates to focus their forces against the northern area."
Garen was silent for a moment before he spoke, "You can go back now. I’ll take care of this on my own. I already owe you a lot, so I’ll handle it this time."
"On your own? Can you handle it?!" Su Lin asked petulantly.
"You don’t have to be involved in this situation," Garen said emotionlessly. "There are no other solutions right now. Since Andrela will be here eventually, there is no way I can avoid this. My master is here and so is my family."
Su Lin stared at Garen fervently, as if meeting Garen for the first time, and it took him a while to open his mouth.
"You are afraid that you are going to cause me trouble? With just these words, I am your friend! Don’t worry, my troubles are far greater and bigger than yours. If I am by your side, not only would you have to be afraid of the Grandmasters of Combat that can strike at any time, but the assassination organization might also cause you trouble. Are you afraid!?"
"You really want me to answer with the arrogance that I am not afraid?" Garen was flabbergasted. "That with a background as fearsome as yours, my problem were bigger than yours? No one would believe me if I said something like that!"
Su Lin shook his head and led the way. He opened the dojo’s door and walked in. "Let’s talk inside. My problems are far greater than yours."
A bitter smile appeared on his face.
Garen immediately followed.