CHAPTER 83: STRIKE THE WATER
SOMEWHERE IN VANGUA
The sky lightens as I look at the city in front of me. I have been riding for days now. A week has passed by my calculations.
The sunrise intensifies, growing brighter, the sun showing its face, as dawn is replaced by the revealing brightness.
The mountain huge and mighty appears black as the sun rises. Mount Di’llion. Maybe that is where it is among the Churches, and temples and fire Temples.
The smell of the earth emerge, the smell of the grass and flowers releasing their scent while the sun touches my skin and warmth seeps in.
It has been long since I enjoyed such….peaceful morning. In the castle there is always some tension and unease.
Plots and intrigue need to dismantle, battles that need to be won.
It is pleasing this kind of morning. The birds coo and sing and call their companion to spread their wings and fly. The movement of people began.
The City of Tryon.
The cities near the mountain where many temples are built. Surely one of them will know where the direction for Linzi temple is.
After all to seek Linzi Temple here with so many temples and churches here would be hard if I don’t ask the locals for help.
I reached Bayern border and the mountain around Lorai’ne is where I need to go. That is what I gather from my short conversation with the people I meet.
I need to ask for some direction so I dismount from my house at an inn, pay them gold, to look after Firebringer and went into the marketplace to restock and seek information.
This city is quite lively.
I could see the wooden stalls, selling and bartering their products, vendors with bright fabric roofing where they hang their merchandise.
The wares are laid out on cloth while the sellers calling out to the passer-by, selling food, vegetables, jewelry, weaponry, books, bright bolts of cloth and silk, spices, fruit, alcohol, ale, clothing & shoes, elixirs and so many other stuff.
I could see children working the crowd and stall; some are begging, merchants in their wagons creaking as they pass me, beef meat sizzling on a grill.
There is also the troupe, the same one I once admitted to my state. I remembered they once performed a play during Levitia Homecoming in my region. Remembering the Festival, reminded me of Lisa and Kyle.
So they are still performing I mused.
I had to avoid some people while walking. There are so many people walking, talking, running over the market and the noise is lively.
This is almost as busy as Acro I muttered to myself.
But not busy enough. In Acro smell of spices, people of different race and religion, people from Distant Lands all traded there. In liveliness this city is the same. In trade it is far from Acro.
But I had to squeeze through gaps of people just to reach a stall. At least that part is the same, though in Acro they would open a path for me, but since I’m here in disguise they view me as just another traveler.
The bread stall seems popular. Maybe it is delicious and tasty, I guessed. I could eat at the inn but who knows? My destination is near. Better to have some supplies of bread.
I stopped at a bread stall and smell the yeast from the baked bread and bought about 5 of them.
Then I bought a few vegetables, some potatoes, leeks and eggs. It reminds me of my mashed potatoes with smashed egg the type of dish I always serve Lisa ,Helia and Kyle during our quest.
I am their lord but in our quest I’m usually the cook with Helia helping me slicing the onion while the siblings always choosing the patrolling job.
After buying some of the breads, I begun going to the taverns to find some information. Usualy the tavern is full with people and a hot bed for miscellaneous information. Surely the tavern keeper would know the famed Linzi Temple.
On entering, I quickly ask the tavern keeper and he said that Linzi Temple is on the top of Di’llion Mountain.
Thanking his service I bought an ale as a sign of gratitude, rushed out of the tavern and return to the inn, took my horse and ride to the mountain before night comes.
Firebringer has ridden speedily like he always is. The path to the mountains is steep but not impossible and Firebringer can do it.
West and Kyle right now must have departed to Aetherland. Kyle has reservation with the plan but I convinced him saying that I need to establish contact with some Vanguan lords to help Arrandy influence here.
But of course that was a lie. I have no intention of meeting the other lords but mostly to cure the ailments that ills me.
After a few days, of constant vigilance, I am finally convinced. No one seems to be following me. No one knows I’m here.
No one knows what I’m doing here. My plan worked. I just hope the second part of the plan also worked.
West is disguised as me as per my order, and to inform the people of the castle to keep up the ruse among the House Council.
He is riding the carriage while Kyle is guarding him like he usually guards me to avoid suspicion. Now that Edward position in the Court is secured I can go to my real objectives of coming here to Vangua.
Maybe not entirely secured but still safe enough. He will have his problem. Plots and intrigue to fend off.
I have my problem to settle. The Linzi Temple, I muttered, reminding myself of the destination that may hold an answer, a cure to this poison that grows stronger every day.
It will not be long before I succumbed to the pain. This is why this measure is imperative for my survival.
The famed and Great Linzi Temple, revered among the people of the martial art world, and a trove of historical and precious documents from the Lost Generation.
It is the abode of the Abbot of Linzi Temple, the Southern Healer one of the Four Immortals. Abbot Montesquieu of Frank descent is the Souther Healer.
The reason I came here is because beside the Church, the only one who have text on Lost Generation that survives the burning of books is the Temple which make them one of the rare places that have countless of precious book from the Lost Generation.
The protection of Levitia serves them well during his purge.
I am sure Montesquieu would know how to translate the book and give me some definitive answer on what I have to do cure my poison.
With the text I got from Michael, I am at high hope.
Then night came. Looking at the mountain, I surely will arrive at the morning if I ride at dawn. For now I camped around one of the trees, setting up fire.
Alone, I look into the clear moonlight, after finished eating the bread. I whistled to alleviate the loneliness.
The sky is clear today, and the moon appears among the starlight.
“It cast shadows, while dark things roamed” I recite.
I always wondered while I always quoted the Book of the Dark god. To me it stark difference with the book of Light always leave me puzzled.
The Book of light which always focus on good fighting evil and always prevailing is not so interesting compared to the Dark God testament.
In the book the story begins a little different though it almost sound the same.
“In the beginning there is darkness. And then light came and shower the world with it Grace. The One created many creatures.”
That is how it usually goes for the book of Light. The book of the Dark god beginning is like this
“There is great wisdom here for those who are enlightened. Open the pages, read the verses. There are words veiled and obscure meanings hidden beneath small and great shadows.”
That is how it started and in the end of the book it ends with
“O look at the stars you Ignorant fools. Look towards the moon. Look towards the sky. Look and be awed”
“Forbidden energy, shadows forms and predator comes to hunt. This is the peril of darkness The Maid said to her companions”
Thinking about it the Maid in the Gospel of the Dark God may refer to the First generation.
No one knows how this organized religion is formed but anyone knows they have long existed before Levitia.
Though there is some chapter added later like Levitia Quest and Alan Gospel, the other stories in the both book of Church and Light refer some things that happens thousands of years ago, Journey of the Maid, reunion of the Tribes, The Trials of Family.
It is the story of people with great morality and great strength, where the God is vengeful and swift in his judgement.
I look back at the moon and marvel at its beauty, remembering the many times I met Helia under its light.
I smile to myself.
For a moment I forgot all the things that worried me and just…look. Still in the cold night air, illuminated by the shining moonlight, breathing, feeling the peaceful serenity of the forest and just look.
My quest of gaining some information for my disease would hopefully be fruitful. Then the pain strikes again and I quickly clutched my chest in pain.
‘Arghh’ I winced labouring under the pain.
Quickly I regulate my breathing and slowly regulate my tangled internal energy. I could feel it fighting against each other.
‘I have to bear it.’ I said gritting my teeth.
At least for tonight.
Then the cloud covers the moon and with that I feel the weight of my tiredness weighing on me.
I should sleep and with that I lay my head on the ground, under the starry skies and with hope in my heart I close my eyes.
NEAR THE LINZI TEMPLE
I just reached under the Temple.
One more hill and I will arrive at my destination. Since morning I noticed many people is going to the temple.
I first encounter them at dawn. They are all resting at the forest, and from the looks of it seems they all camped at the same place.
They all looked like the people of the martial art world. During my quest I sometimes meet some people of the martial art world and my spymaster informed me of such movement. After all, I too learned many martial art.
I just didn’t interfere or meddle in the affairs of the martial art world. I’m too busy with ruling and preparing that I never learned formally from any teacher.
It is lucky that I learned the Levitia technique and the technique hidden in the Imperial Library.
I have been, trying to create new technique combining the technique of the Imperial family and Levitia technique.
One technique emerge from this.
Dragon Palm. My own unique technique. Now I’m trying to create a feet technique utilizing the swiftness of Wind God technique and the force that the feet can employed in an attack.
“Ouii” I whistled and Firebringer slow his step.
They all seem to rest around this open establishment under the Temple Hill. I am curious. So ,I tied my horse to the tavern.
I notice the people looking at my horse no doubt curious about the colour of my horse. I take a seat and order some tea while I open my ears to listen.
‘I wonder what is happening around the martial world, Brother? Why we are here in the Temple Hills? So many people from all around the martial art world?’ someone with a sabre in a weird design talking to someone who is very thin but also had a sabre almost similar to the person.
The thin man just sipped his tea in silence.
‘I heard the Western Serpent has come from the West asking for a duel with the Southern Healer.’ One man chimed in
‘Is that so?’ another man said. I recognized the man pendant.
Sun Moon Sect. I looked around and saw the Blinding Sword Sect, Ermeishan Sect, house of Knives Sect all in the same stall, looking at each other.
I sipped my tea as I tried to listen to what they are saying, the tension intensifying.
I could feel it, the unease with so many people of different sect is here, with longstanding feud, chains of hatred and enmity.
‘Yes, that is true.’ The thin man replied.
‘Who knows who will win?’ The Blinding Moon sect disciple asked
The Ermeishan a sect of martial art that only accept woman yelled “surely the Western Serpent will win.”
Western Serpent is said to always cover her face with a golden veil so no one have seen her true face but it said that her eyes are green and her obsession with poison is feared among the martial art world.
Not to mention her strange moves and prodigious talent in martial arts made her the youngest of the 4 Immortals and very dangerous.
She rarely let the people who challenged her be alive and she is known never to spare anyone who stood in her way.
Her bitter rivalry with Northern Badger and her hatred towards the Eastern Devil is famous. Though her relationship with Southern Healer is a little different. It is said among the 4 Immortals, the Southern Healer is the only one she respected.
So, the story of why she would challenge the Abbot is weird indeed. Weird but interesting and may well hinder my sole reason for coming here.
Maybe I will know more stories if I hear them bickering. There is something afoot here.
‘Hmph!’ A man from Blinding sword Sect said spitting his spit to the ground.
“Western Serpent defeating the Head of Linzi Temple? High is your dream” he said and his companion laughed.
“Why not? Western Serpent must be really strong and bold to challenge the Linzi Temple” the girl shouted.
‘Like I said Linzi will win!’ the man shouted
‘Is that so? Then why are you here. Is it not to support Linzi Temple if somehow Southern Healer loses to the evil sect?’ she said mocking the man.
‘YOU!’ He said almost bringing out his sword but fortunately he is stopped by his companion.
‘Hmph, the Linzi Temple has maintained their reputation around the martial art world for a reason. How many times Linzi Temple has been challenged by how many sects and they have never lost.’
The debate started getting intense until one man of the man that have the weird sabre looked at the crowd and said
“Should we bathe in blood or should we watch the gathering in the Linzi Temple and watched the conclusion?” He asked and everyone turns quiet.
Who is this man? I asked myself. Then it hit me.
Weird saber, two people, one muscly, one thin, it is the Arathorne Brothers. I don’t know why I didn’t recognize them sooner.
They are a duo in the martial arts world, fear and respected. No, I mused. More feared then respected.
They once studied in Yilin but commit adultery and when they are brought to the Hall to be punished they refuse, fighting the 3 Elder Monk and won and cut their relationship with Yilin.
Since then they have been roaming the martial art world and have made quite a reputation for themselves.
Then quickly they all pay for their food and ride to Linzi.
I then went to the owner, pay for my tea, took the reins and ride to the Temple, with unease filling my heart.
It seem today will not be a good day to meet the Abbot. But I need to see him fast before my illness becomes more grave.
After hours of silently following the martial arts people, I finally arrived at the temple.
We have begun moving away from the Holy City. The huge and long bridge of Levitia. Today we began crossing it.
The wind that passed by is terrifying but the sturdy bridge hold us steady. After the lords all protest that we should began moving I have no choice but to continue marching
But it will be long before we reach the Wall. Maybe 2 to 3 days. I have explained it to Silas and he understands.
He also said to proceed as he has created a new plan. He has sent letters to Arrandy and notified the Commander of the Bleeding Wall.
He is close. So close he can smell the rats squeaking….His word. He is dramatic, that which Silas is.
Silas said he just need a few more days. He said that Aleister is the one heading the meeting so he said he will need some time to determine when he will hold the next meeting.
I must admit, Silas is a great spy and manipulator.
His connection with the beggars around the Holy City and the thieves he train from one of the many slave boys he purchased has shown their usefulness.
The slave girl on the other hand has been given their freedom and 1000 gold each to start a new life.
It seems that even though Silas can be cold at times, he has his heart at the right place. Now I must wait until Silas got the date.
He said for a few days he needs to disappear for a while to confirm his suspicion about something.
Today he has returned, hiding behind his cloak again.
He enter the tent in the middle of the night undetected and look into my eyes, smiling a crooked smile and said ‘I have a plan’ he said.
‘Say it!’ I said eager to know his plan.
He then laid out the situation for me.
‘I have been waiting for a long time, employed many means, and send many thieves but this mastermind, are as elusive as a shadow.’
‘His code name is aptly given’ I said
‘Yes’ Silas nodded but he is still calm.
‘We know that there are some nobles, lords and maybe Kings that wanted to get rid of you, from your throne. They may view this endeavour of war as their own making, searching for something, that is what I believed and that something lies in the Human Continent. But more I believe is lured to the prospect of wealth and glory, maybe even some zealots”
“But you couldn’t punish all of them. You could not execute all of them, innocent and sinners in the same execution block could you?”
“Yes. That would surely bring a lot of opposition” I said nodding again.
“Then they will rebel if you ever do something like that. But how do we force such elusive figures out from the dark to come under the light?” he said reciting a bit of Book Of Light.
“Time has passed and no moves are made from this alliance of these evil lords so…”and he looks at me and smiles a perfect smile of deception, hinting some mischievousness
“We have to draw him out and so that all the little rat come out of their tiny little hole, and only then the snake can gulp them down and the stars could shine light on these nameless traitors,” He said laughing referring himself as the snake considering his family crest is a snake and mine is a falling star.
“And how we do this? I asked
“Give Aleister Crow 10 thousand strong armies of the Orc King.’ He said calmly.
‘What! You want me to give my enemies an army?’
‘Yes’ he said
‘His army alone is 20 thousand. Giving him another 10 thousand would only serve to strengthen him.’
‘It would wouldn’t it?’ He said smiling, like he is seeing something more.
‘What is it that you are planning Silas?’ I asked began feeling curious of this confidence that Silas is exuding from the way he talked.
‘Your Grace, I am not a strategist like my own lord, the noble and virtuous Lord Arial but if there is something I have to admit, it is this, I’m superior then my lord when it is about reading people. This mastermind of this alliance may have a different reason to propagate a war between humans and demon race but Aleister? From what I can see, and what I hear he is greedy and selfish. Anyone who looks closely at him can see that he desires your throne, the power that comes with it and the guilty pleasure it would offer him. Never before I have been so disgusted of a demeanour of a man before. Even Alderam, have certain redeemable qualities.”
“Then, when I give him the army?”
“Then I’ll do the rest” and he sat close to me as he whispered his plan. And hearing it, I have to admit, he is a genius.