CHAPTER 114: HEAVEN MOUNTAIN
The mountain path ahead was loose rock, each one washed smooth by the river that once ran freely over them.
Thickly dark green boughs arched over the path from each side, competing for the light.
Under their dappled shade the harshness of the midday sun was muted but it did little to make the steep incline any easier.
But Arial felt no fatigue unlike his companion. They have arrived at Heaven Mountain.
Trees and frost can be seen to rise, shielding them from the hot sun. The sound of rivers and water fall excite Arial heart.
The Heaven Mountain where rivers flow, and where there are greens and people all congregating in this one spot.
There is a sacredness here that transcends everyday concerns, worries, and worldly thoughts casting them into the timelessness of forests, of mountains. Such place is a haven for practicing Arial mused.
Arial can already hear with his ear, as his sense is heightened, hearing the chattering of people, sound of horses neighing, people laughing and screaming in anger. The schools must have reached this place earlier.
Arial jump another hill and began sliding down and he see the great expanse of green in front of him with people with colorful clothes all talking to each other, exchanging greeting.
Seeing this scenery in front of him, Arial could not believe himself that he just traverses a desert.
It is beautiful. Green all around. He could hear the birds chirping, feel the cool breeze of wind, the air of calmness envelope him. He could even hear the sound of water fall near the area.
Truly the name is apt for the mountain. The Heaven Mountain.
Arial notice the tent around the mountain but Arial have no time to stop and he could see in one for the wide expanse of area here, they are many people, congregating, talking to each other, with swords, knives, blade spear, and variety of weapon in their hand, on their back, all of them wearing a uniform of their school clothes.
Martial art schools. All of the famous martial art school is here, some representing their Kingdom some representing their sect.
After all even Kings and nobles wanted such divine treasure. For example House of Knives. They can be hired. Some is here to gain recognition, and to gain power for their sect and schools.
Wang Liao Ming and Chen Yahghua spotted their friends.
‘Lord Arial it seem here is where we will part’
‘Ah, yes. Of course’
‘Thank you for your guidance, Liao Ming, Yanghua.’
‘No, no. It should be us thanking you.’
They hugged him and then they disappear among the crowd. Arial look around him. First he needs to know how many school participated in the meet.
From Vangua Arial could see, Sun Moon Sect, Blinding Sword Sect and Yilin Temple.
From Northern Chu and Southern Tai, Five Fingers Shan Sect, Lishan, Limitless Blade Sect, Ermeishan Sect, Taojing Sect and The Northern Badger Sect, Nanshan.
From Renasia, Two Bladed Sect, House of Knives Sect and Shadow Skulker Sect. From Zettel, only one manages to come. Wuhao Sect. It is thanks to Chen Yanghua and Wang Liao Ming that Arial could recognize this school with one glance.
Arial strain his ear to hear the conversation around him.
From what he could hear among the chattering of the martial artist the tournament will begin this evening.
That is cutting it close. If only Arial is late a day, he might not have the opportunity to join the tournament.
Then suddenly someone fly to one of the hills, no doubt coming from the top of the Heaven Peak, standing majestically on the thin stone at the peak of the Hill.
She is beautiful in that her eyes are green and her skin is white like the sandy beaches in Seren.
Her skin is not just white but has that tint of red, like red rose mixed in snow. Her blonde hair circle her head, her eyes is lively, her white neck like milk, lilies and ivory.
While the way she carries her movement is like the fluttering of the first snow of the month.
‘Greeting, heroes and heroine, great figures of the martial art world.’ The voice said, a feminine voice reverberating around the vast expanse. Tremendous internal energy Arial mused.
‘As you all know my teacher has call all of you to participate in the Martial Art meet.’
‘YEAH’ many of the martial art shouted. Other follows the shout.
The other cupped their hand
‘We pay respect to Batrisya the Green Serpent’
Batrisya! One of the disciples of Western Serpent. No wonder some martial artist seems to respect her.
Her name, if Liao Ming story is to be trusted, she is quite famous in the martial art world.
‘As you all know this mountain have many peaks. My teacher, Northern Badger, Eastern Devil and their disciple is all at the top of the mountain. Here I will explain the initial rule of this time Martial Art Meet. I am your supervisor. And for each level there is a disciple to watch over you.’
‘Hmph!’ one of the martial artists snorted with arrogance.
‘So, are you saying the disciple is stronger than us? I don’t mind if the 4 immortals overseeing our fight but you? Your teacher might be strong but are you! One of the martial artists yelled and Arial know that this martial artist is also very formidable.’
That one eyed young man said. One of his eyes is being blocked by an eye patch. There seem to some enmity between this man and Batrisya.
‘Demon Eye Zheng is it?’ The girl asked and looking at her, she seems pretty confident she got the right name.
‘True, compared to the honorable and powerful expert gathered here today, who is to say that I am any superior? Who is to say Thunder Step Liao Bao or Veiled Little Devil is any stronger or faster or cunning then all of you combined? But my teacher and their teachers have shown you face, don’t waste their goodwill. I dare not call my teacher and said to her that one martial artist; arrogant enough to ask my teacher to watch over them, like little kids that need to be supervised their betters’
She said smiling, while her eyes show a glint of murderous aura. Demon eye Zheng stepped back.
‘I…I didn’t mean to offend the Western Serpent’ he said stuttering.
‘Do not worry Demon Eye Zheng. If any of you prove to be so difficult or does not want to accept defeat, and we disciple couldn’t control you, then we will call our teacher to settle the matter. Are you satisfied?’
The other young disciples all nodded. After all the reputation of the 4 Immortals are widespread. Surely, they can contain any mishap that could happen.
Demon eye Zheng nodded reluctantly while gritting his teeth. He could not do anything if Batrisya bring up Western Serpent name.
‘Now that is settled, I have something for all of you’ she said and she conjured up a box, a wooden box
Then she throws it to the ground and it fall with a slow thud but the architecture of the box is intriguing that it does not break even though being thrown from such distance and heights.
The Abbes of Ermei School, Abbess Lin took it and position it in the center.
It seems Ermei has relationship with the Western Serpent because from the way they treat each other Arial has a suspicion they have met each other before and there is some cordiality between them.
Arial also remember during his fight in Linzi Temple, Ermei supported Western Serpent.
‘Thank you, venerable Abbess Lin. Now for anyone interested in joining the competition. Please write your name and your school name and put it in that box. For every school there must be only one representative. Seeing all of you here, I think you already know the prize for winning the tournament. The Annals of Divine Medicine.’
She said with a hint of longing.
‘Even I have not yet peeked on that manual of my teacher. To think she would let that out to the world just to make the Meet more festive, huh.’
It almost seem like she is complaining.
‘Alas, I don’t understand teacher intention.’
Then she turned back looking at the martial artist gathered down the hill and she speak
‘Tomorrow I will collect the box. Remember entering the battle mean you could lose your life. Even if you die, blood feud is forbidden. You have entered this under the Martial Art Meet. Don’t bring up past resentment. If you are not capable or not confident of your ability don’t enter. The battle of the rule will be explained later when we have decided who will fight who. ’
She said giving a warning.
Then she smile and give her farewell ‘May the Dawn Father guide you in the morning, and the Night Mother watch you in the dark nights’ she said and she climbed the peak of the mountain effortlessly.
Arial recognize this technique. Snake Seeking the Heavens. But Arial snickered. Compared to his Wind God technique, Snake Seeking the Heavens is nothing. Even Liao Bao lightness technique is more superior.
A few moments after arriving suddenly Arial is hit with that announcement. Linzi Temple has no representatives. But he already knows. And all the martial art school also knows.
Arial know he could claim himself as one of Linzi temple but he fears that people will mock Linzi temple for being cowardly. He did not come here to smear the name of Linzi Temple.
Even though they all know that Southern Healer need to impart the wisdom of Secret Technique of Linzi to his successor, surely the martial art world will still took advantage of that.
But Arial has no school. If he wins as an individual and then claim the honor to belong to Linzi Temple, then surely he will settle that debt of gratitude from the Abbot.
But a school? Which school would accept him as his representatives, not when all of them have their own representatives?
Even if he join one of the schools and persuade them to choose him, no matter how smart he is, even he would not be able to learn that school martial art technique in a day.
Even though he wins, people would say that the school that uses him is not the superior one.
After all Arial has his own technique. Then it struck him.
Hmph. If I don’t have a school then I just need to create one. A martial art school with only one practitioner.
In the box, many martial artists is congregating around the box. Most of the school representative took turn to put their name.
The martial school representatives all cheered on by their Junior Disciple as they put their name on the box.
‘That is the way Brother Bai’ said some disciples from the Lishan Sect.
‘You can win this Brother Bai. Those other expert is no match for us.’
From the Five Finger Peak Sect its Shun Liang. From the Limitless Blade Sect it’s Hue Xing. From Taojing, Zhu Wu.
Then someone came with considerable force that everyone moved from their spot, fearing impeding his walk to the box.
‘Nanshan’ some of them exclaimed.
‘The first disciple of Northern badger.’ Another chimed in
‘Why is he not on the top?’ Someone whisper.
Arial also understand this. After all, every disciple of the 4 Immortals is all situated on the top peak, The Heaven Peak. Then Arial heard the reason from the nearby chattering disciple of another school.
‘I heard he had an altercation with his Junior Disciple.
‘Something involving his Junior Disciple mother.’
‘Oh. So why is he here?’
‘He lost his battle against Thunder Step Liao Bao and as punishment his teacher told him to be worthy of him and reach the top with his own effort.’
‘Oh is that so?’ some other martial artist nodded.
Nanshan Sect is one of the largest sects rivaling that of Linzi and Ermei. Their Grand Teacher Northern Badger inspires awe.
Their leader or Head Sect which is the Northern Badger is rarely at their headquarters in Nan Mountain.
Their technique could be described as hard and unyielding. Their most notable technique of their sect is Mountain Shaking Punch and Raining Fist like Wine.
Anyone can join their sect regardless of their birth which is why it is popular among the common people.
But Arial also know that Nanshan sect is a huge supporter of the Blood Brotherhood, training the people in the Blood Brotherhood.
No wonder most of the Blood Brotherhood member technique is almost the same as people of the Nanshan Sect.
The man put his name in the box, and walks away, while the rest of the martial artist make a path allowing him to quickly disappear from the crowd.
Then a group of beautiful lady can be seen moving in group to the box. They are all beautiful and graceful in their attitude and even the way they walk have a hint of grace and easeness in their movement.
‘Ermeishan’ one martial artist said looking at the Sect with loving eyes. More like lecherous eye, Arial mused.
They are all beautiful.
Turtle Back Dimorph then said ‘but their technique is not to be underestimated. Ice Soft Finger can turn jade to bones, ice to flesh.’
‘What’s that supposed to mean?’
‘Don’t know but I hear the Abbes once said during her fight with Wuhao Sect in the past. There is enmity between those two sects.’
The other nodded. A beautiful woman name Mu Liyun put her name on the box.
‘People say she is an expert in playing the qin, a formidable warrior.’ One man gives his opinion.
‘Mu Liyun the White Rose will join. Hohoho. This certainly would be interesting.’ one martial artist says.
‘Who would have thought?’ Another chimed in.
‘I thought the Abbess would not let her participate. Everyone knows the Abbess dotes on her.’
‘White Rose is not an easy opponent. The name White Rose aptly describes her.’ one man said.
‘I nearly lost my life fighting her once. Her Ice Needle Palm is terrifying. Such a beautiful face but such vicious attack. To think they are one of the Righteous Sect’
‘That is one of the Abbesses technique isn’t it?’ Another exclaimed in shock.
The man nodded.
‘Yes. That is why I say that she is dangerous. That is a secret technique of Ermei. Another one of their secret technique that is famous is what Senior Dimorph said. Ice Soft Finger’
The rest nodded in understanding
‘Pity the Abbess does not enter. Surely the Abbess could give the 4 Immortals a little bit of a challenge’ another martial artist said.
‘Junior Zhen of course the Sect leader does not enter. Will they stoop to such behavior? No one here is thinking to challenge the 4 Immortals. Most of them want to win the prize. In Ermei case, the Abbes want her disciple to experience battle.’
‘What is the point telling us that we can challenge the 4 Immortals if no one will?’ the junior protested. Arial felt an urge to laugh listening to the young man complains.
‘That is not fair Junior Zhen. The 4 Immortals are the top expert of the world. If not why would every sect leader have to give them face? They reached the pinnacle of martial arts. Only a stupid and arrogant person would be crazy enough to throw their life away, fighting those monsters.’
Arial could hear the man talk to each other. Arial is still listening. Information after all is the most important.
From Two Bladed Sect it’s Aeri. Two Bladed Sect. The most famous assassination school in all of the Human continent.
From what Arial heard of their reputation, they are a ruthless group that garners fear from all the other school.
Even the evil sect is afraid of them.
Their most famous technique is Shadow Blade. Most of their technique is a single blade technique. Which is strange considering their name.
Not to mention they put the name of their representatives as a disguise. But Arial of course understand the reason why the participant from an evil sect such as Two Bladed Sect need to conceal their identity.
After all, their job is an assassin. Maybe even they, have someone they have to protect.
House of Knives and Shadow Skulker Sect also disguise their representatives both named Eain another name for the Death God that fought the Sun Emperor in myths.
Shadow Skulker just uses the name Shadow as their representative’s name.
Sun Moon Sect sent Xiao De as their champion also known as Sun Tiger for his fierceness in battle and how he most shines in battle.
Sun Moon sect is fill with people who is intelligent and most of them are high level practitioner of internal energy.
Xiao De is sent not because he is the strongest but he is the most bloodthirsty of all the members of the Sun Moon Sect.
The Sun Moon Sect that is mostly intelligent people usually tries to solve thing with their mouth but Xiao De is always using his fist. To be honest Arial thought Xiao De would better thrive in Yilin or even Nanshan Sect.
Blinding Sword Sect send Louis also known as True Blade Louis. Yilin Temple sent one of its most seasoned monks.
Many believe that either Shu Ren Gui from Nanshan or Monk Sigrid will win. Monk Sigrid come from Yilin Temple one of the Five Righteous School.
The Five righteous schools is Yilin, Nanshan, Linzi, Ermei, and Five Finger Peak. Of this 5 only 4 have strong influence in the martial art world.
This four is Yilin, Nanshan, Linzi, and Ermei. After the massacre of the Elder in Five Finger Peak headquarters, their position in the martial art world becomes rather weak.
This competition might be a chance for Five Finger Peak to show their determination and power, to rise again, tempered by blood.
They are all in festive mood looking at each other, trying to identify their possible foe ignoring completely one man that is leaning in one of the tree. That man just looks at the box, hearing people talk.
Finally in the middle of the night, when the cheers and the festivities atmosphere quieten down, that man leaning on the tree began to move, with a plan.
That night Arial went to the box and with a piece of paper he wrote his name and the name of his school, put it in the box and with a smile he returned to his sleeping tent.