CHAPTER 137: COMING HOME
In the cave the sound of the trickling water from the ceiling of the cave is calming. In the dark cave there is the scent of fire and two shadows can be seen.
Then a sound of coughing, a painful coughing, as his chest with his hard cough, the noise reverberates along the dampy cave.
‘Teacher, are you alright?’ Xiyun said as he rubbed Arial chest trying to ease his etacher pains.
‘Do I look like I’m alright?’ He still is coughing a lumpful of blood.
Arial after he and Xiyun fly down the mountain Arial quickly hid in one of the caves, just outside the range of the mountain, before venturing to the harsh desert, as he is recovering his internal energy and Xiyun helping him bandaging his wound.
There is no other choice. He does not know if his bragging work and he knows he is weak right now.
Xiyun has helped him most of the time. Running while carrying him on her back. It seems Xiyun is a dutiful disciple. Arial once again is grateful that he has such disciple.
Then Arial remember. The Meet is over, the winner has been determined. He needs to return. Return to his homeland.
‘I need to return,’ he muttered, his voice is still weak and listless.
‘Return, Teacher? Where?’
‘To my domain. Arrandy. To return…..home.’
He then looks at his own pitiful state. His body is suffering internal injuries, his pale face looks like a corpse and his own fingers is shaking with lack of energy.
And if he is right, the martial art fraternity is hunting him right now.
And many forces in the martial art forces have reason to pursue him. He might be strong but right now if those elders from the martial art fraternity take him on an ambush, he doesn’t think he will survive.
‘But this time we need to be in hiding.’ Arial said whispering inside the cave. He has decided. For now they must kept a low profile.
‘Hiding?’ she said surprised that her teacher would suggest hiding.
‘Teacher, a man as strong as you-‘
‘No, Xiyun. I am injured. Heavily. Right now, even if it was you, I would die if you use your palm attack. Do you think defeating the Immortals an easy task Xiyun? If the fight went on longer I would have died in vain. There is no excuse. I was weaker than them’ Arial said, regretting. Xiyun looks at her teacher with stubborn indignation.
‘No teacher! You are not weaker than them. It is that bitch! That shameless bitch. You have already won the battle yet she still did such an underhanded method. She did not honour the rule of conduct of a duel.’ Xiyun said fuming with anger.
Arial on the other hand, even though he is injured, look at Xiyun with an amused expression.
‘Bitch? Did you just call the Western Serpent that everyone in the martial art world fear and respect, bitch? Are you not afraid of her name?’
‘Afraid? Why should I?’ and then she grins.
‘My teacher is the Central Celestial, the Celestial Dragon. The strongest of the martial art world. Who dares refute me?’
Arial chuckle a bit. She has a gut of a stone, this girl.
‘You do know I say that as a bluff, right? I was just following up with your idea. If not, I don’t think those Elders would let me come down the mountain without even chasing me’ Arial said. In a way he was not wrong.
If not for his show of bravado, then maybe after fighting the Immortals the other elders that was waiting on the side, with their disciples’ corpses in their arms, with gritted teeth, and with silent hot white fury in their hearts, they would charge him by the hundreds no matter the consequence.
After all even they have their pride. Life is only once but honour is forever. How shameful would they be if they let that happen?
But because of Arial declaration, they were so stupefied, so stunned that they unconsciously view Arial as stronger than them even though logic dictates that Arial was exhausted.
That is how charismatic Arial appear when he make that declaration for all the martial art fraternity to hear
Xiyun help is of course appreciated and Arial is grateful of course. It is fortunate he still have a little of internal energy at the end, to put such a display of great announcement to the martial art fraternity.
‘Yes, but that doesn’t make it any less true. You have defeated three of the immortals by your own power.’
One, Arial was about to say. The other two was defeated by Gaveror but if he says that then there is a lot of other stuff he needs to explain.
And Arial don’t think Gaveror would be too happy if many more people knew about the heart swapping than there already is.
‘There is no one in the martial art world could compare themselves to you, teacher. Truly your disciple has great eyes when choosing a teacher.’ This invites a little chuckle from Arial.
‘Are you praising yourself Xiyun?’
‘Of course. Who is as lucky or as insightful as me to snatched and found such a wonderful teacher? Teacher did not beat me. Teacher do not torture me neither Teacher disregard me. Teacher teaches me and care for me. As a disciple there is nothing else I wish.’
‘Hmmph. You and your buttery words.’ Arial said, grinning a bit while Xiyun wipe the sweat beads on his forehead.
‘Did I get caught? Hehehe. Teacher, don’t be so angry. I will accompany teacher. Of course as your disciple I will follow you to the city of Acro. I heard from many people, it is the City of Lights. Stall and shops is by the hundreds and merchant ship went by the harbour and pier by the thousands. People of every race and land are on that city. From the demon beast of the Dark Lands, to the people of the Land of Eternal Season and Vorthy, Land of Eternal Winter. From Asteros builders, to Ariundus scholars, hundreds of people of every profession congregates on that city of yours, teacher. I never went there so this would be a good opport-‘
‘No!’ Arial said, his hand grips Xiyun hands.
Xiyun is blushing red, feeling the touch of her teacher on her hands. She could feel that Arial hand is smooth which is weird.
Those who practices heavily with weapons usually have coarse and rough hands but Arial hand is smooth, like he never hold even swords. She even dare say, that her teacher hand is smoother than hers.
This is because Arial have reached such a level of control of internal energy, that the internal energy repair the damage he has done to his own body.
It seems Xiyun in her excitement rant all she knows about Arial city. But Arial is saying this for her safety.
‘You will leave me here, Teacher?’ There is a sense of anxiousness in Xiyun tone.
And a little fearful too of what her teacher might say. Did he…Is he….does he not trust her?
‘What are you talking about? I don’t understand.’ Arial does not understand where this question is coming from.
Quickly Xiyun kneels and there is a tear in her eyes.
‘Do you want to abandon your pitiful disciple, Teacher?’
‘No, no.’ He finally understand what Xiyun is implying. It is not Arial intention to abandon Xiyun at all. But Xiyun has misunderstood his noble intention.
‘There is a dangerous journey ahead of us. I need to hide until my internal energy recovered completely. My wound is also not yet healed.’
‘So, wouldn’t two people would be safer-‘
‘No, I don’t want you to risk your life. If you too, are killed because of me, I could never forgive myself.’
Xiyun finally understand her teacher inner dilemma and she felt touched by the sincerity of her teacher words. She got up from kneeling and said with all the sincerity she can muster.
‘If I die teacher, in result of protecting you, there is no other honourable death I can imagine. I, Xiyun am many things. Mischievous, naughty and aloof sometimes but I am not an ungrateful person. If because of fear of death, I leave teacher here, what would that make me as your disciple? If I die, I will never blame you teacher. I am your disciple. As the teacher teaches the disciple so does the disciple teaches the master. If the disciple need to learn to respect their teachers, the teacher need to learn to love their disciples and trusting their decision. If by my life or death I can protect you, I will. ’
Arial look at Xiyun as his estimation of Xiyun rises.
‘HAHAHA. Who would have thought you would fight me to this degree, Xiyun just to protect me? Fine. If that is what you feel, then I will not worry about you and I will not question your choices. I have made a fine disciple. Do any of the martial art sects have such a self-sacrificing disciple like you? The Abbess is stupid letting you go, and the others are stupid for not recognizing you. I, Arial also not a person lack of gratitude. Xiyun seeing that you possessed such virtue in you, I promise, I will raise you to be a talent that will shakes this world.’
Xiyun nodded and smile.
Arial then get up and stood at the edge of the cave, bringing his weary body to look at the sunsets, Xiyun holding him as the red dusk began showing its beauty, the yellow sun begin hiding his face, calling the beautiful moon to replace him. Xiyun look at the direction Arial is watching.
Arial look and said, looking far into the opening horizon of red, with gratitude as he survived another day
‘I am coming home’
Arial parted with Xiyun in Acro and he told her to learn the technique after one and a half year.
Xiyun insisted that she need to accompany Arial right in front of his castle door but Arial has already recovered much of his internal energy and his internal injuries are healing nicely.
And it is clear that Xiyun need to see the world a little bit more.
Now that she is known as the disciple of the Central Celestial, people would think twice before messing with her.
At least Arial reputation will protect her in her journey on the martial art world. They parted in an inn, and there is a hint of sadness in Xiyun to separate with her teacher but she accepts it wholeheartedly.
Her teacher is like the wind, come when he wants to, but also leave whenever he wants too.
The reason Arial told Xiyun to learn the technique after one and a half year, when it was supposed to be three years is because this discovery Arial made a few weeks ago.
It seems for inexplicable reason Xiyun internal energy increase by leaps and bounds. Arial has his suspicion of course.
He also felt his recovery is faster than he first imagined. Is it possible the tea and wine…Nah, this is ridiculous! He quickly dismissed the idea.
Xiyun is not that smart enough to create strengthening pills. Only certain people can do that, with years of researching the properties of herbs, with countless of trial, of errors and retrial.
Arial never have any strengthening pills and he still turn this strong.
And from what Arial could see, Xiyun while possessing a strong mind, and a quick understanding of martial arts, even she is not that proficient in medicines or poisons.
Maybe it is just because of the innate talent of Xiyun. He convinces himself. Then he keeps on walking into the city, already changing his tattered clothes to a better one.
When he walk on the city people who see him and recognize him quickly kneel. It is not that hard to recognize him.
Even though they may not have seen him before, everyone knows that the Vermont’s has white hair, white as snow and the Vermont’s are the lords of the region of the bountiful Arrandy.
Who does not know this is not qualified to trade in the city of Acro, Arrandy greatest city.
‘Lord Arial, welcome home’ the people of Acro that recognize him kneel and followed by the others.
Those merchant that doesn’t know him when they heard the ruckus and the deferential attitude they employed looking at him also understand something.
They also quickly kneel. The guards then come down from the city wall and quickly tend to his need.
The reason why the guards come down faster than light from the high castle wall, it is because they fear they will be blame by the duke for not receiving him well and without any honors befitting of a noble of such high stature.
After all such story is not uncommon in other places. Their lord is known to be generous and love by the people, but who knows with noble?
They are like a tiger. Sometimes they are happy and they will reward you. When they angry they will devour you.
More so, the Vermont’s. Even their crest is a dragon. Who dares incite the wrath of such family tempered by blood and steel?
Their rise is through war, through battle, uniting the South of Aetherland through marriage, the north by steel, the other family like Blacktons and Whitetree through words and blood.
Their name itself is associated with battles and war. Such is the fate of a family rising through blood.
In other part of the continent people bow to the King of the Kingdom but here in Arrandy, the Duke is the highest authority, people bow to him and only him.
The guards spotted a while ago a white hair man, a young man, but with a long flowing white hair entering the city with a majestic gait, and they instinctively know that this is someone of a high position.
Then and only then, their minds began remembering of their lord that resides in Soaring Dragon Castle, the House of Vermont, the lord of the city, the Duke of Arrandy.
‘I need a horse, guard’ Arial ordered.
‘RECRUIT’ the muscly guard yelled. A young man come forward and drops his gaze when he looks at Arial.
‘Get the finest horse from the stable and give it to our lord.’ He then turned to me.
‘My lord, please wait a while. My subordinates will come shortly with the horse.’
A few moments later the horse is deliver to me. I took it and with a dash, the horse galloped to the castle.