AOH – Chapter 40

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CHAPTER 40: THE DAY I MET HIM

1014 LIGHTMONTH

The crowd and the bustle of the city woke me. I can hear people hollering outside, already beginning selling their stuff. I peek at the blinds from the comfort of my bed.

Still early, I mused

There is no light struggling to get past the windows but I know the peddlers, the merchants, the traders all have set up their stall, open their store and their door offices.

Last night was….good. I rubbed my eyes. A city that never sleeps, I mused in my bed and began waking up.

I need to shower, breakfast then head out to center of the city. That is where you will get the most attention and many men surely confident in their abilities will swarm like bees.

But from what I hear there is no great master here, or martial arts here but who knows? Maybe some wanderer from the North is passing through the city. After paying the nice innkeeper for her kind service, I packed up my bag and ready to go meet my opponents today.

And once again I’m awed with this city. Any longer and I’ll fall in love towards this city.

Yesterday we came here at evening, the sun coming down so I could not really appreciate the beauty but now I could see in perfect clarity.

The street was glorious in its inception. The sidewalks were smooth white stones probably brought from Seren, joined with such precision that the joins were almost invisible.

The walls are sturdy, like they have in the rural of Renasia, sharp edges and corner.

The buildings stand tall and proud, like a bastion, marking this city as a trade center. The street is clean and well maintained.

I was enjoying the view. This is what I want for my city, for my Kingdom.

A city like this invites envy. And if that is not enough, the city is flooded by sea of people all heading in different directions.

The nobles and the lords strutted down the white street with their exquisite clothes, with intricate design and color fill their garments.

The traders and the other merchants sell things to the nobles, the common folks buy things. On every corner, there are minstrel, bards, troupe of performers.

Some sing. Some dance. Some act.

The food stalls, restaurants, taverns which sell food and drink is highly frequented either by new visitor or the people of the city.

Restaurant like Long Prosperity has many kinds of food which made many people mouth water.

Finally I arrived at the stage

‘Everything ready?’

‘Yes mistress’

‘Then let’s begin’

*********************************

The crowds have come, massing around the stage. Many people have tried but all of them is defeated.

‘Anyone else’ I yelled. I smirked just beating another person.

It seems that no one could defeat me here. I was confident of this.

The people looked at me with amazement, fearful and some just smirk at me and smiles.

This is the World of the martial arts.

Then a fat man, probably ten and thirty hold up his hand. He smiles a greasy smile. I felt disgusted seeing his smile. He must oil his lips every day. I mused.

‘How about me?’ I laughed.

I couldn’t even imagine him become my husband. Not that I would really become anyone wife even if I did lose.

Well, other than martial arts I also learn cunningness from my teacher.

So I said playfully ‘So old and yet desire such a young wife?’

‘Come then. I always liked a challenge’

I don’t think this old man can defeat me. The fat man jump into the stage.

The moment he stepped inside the stage he began an assault at me. For an old man, his grabbing and holding technique is quite good but I’m too fast for him.

My movement is ever changing, fluid like water. I remember my teacher words.

The fat fellow tries and presses his attack, using Wolf Chasing His Prey, clearly a technique from the South, projecting his internal energy to deal injury to me, but I change my direction in the middle of the attack and instead of attacking suddenly I lull him into a false sense of security, and that is when I strike. I stepped back fluidly; my left arm pivoted and struck the back of the fat fellow who flies outside the stage, vomiting blood.

‘Hahaha’ I laugh so hard tears are forming

The crowd also laughed and jibes the old man.

‘Know your place, fat man’ I said. He got up covering his mouth, blood on his cloth and quickly with an embarrassed look he disappeared from the crowd

The crowd cheered and applause.

‘Thank you, thank you’ I said.

The wind blows and the standard flutter. I planted my spear on the stage and challenge the crowd again.

‘Is there no else?’

Then a boy younger than me, I presume approached the stage. He was….handsome.

He has clear blue eyes like the sky, and his hair is white, white like snow, not that I ever see snow living so far east, and his hair is exceedingly long covering his left eyes.

And he is tall for his age and have broad shoulder, his eyes has certain ferocity in it, powerful in appearance, a son of noble lord probably.

He looks charismatic and commanding. And I was a little awed. He was…beautiful. And the melancholic looks only add to his mysterious feature.

‘What is your intention coming here to Acro?’ he shouted and the crowd makes way for him. His voice is like thunder, a force that comes from confidence.

Arturo stepped forward and explains it to the young man.

‘You’re bragging.’ He said chuckling

‘Maybe I am’ Arturo said smirking. Then Arturo talks again.

‘Enough talking, Arthur’ I said

‘Let me fight this man’

He holds out his palm

‘I will fight you, but I do not wish your hand. All wish is if you lose you will return back to wherever you came from’

 The arrogance. I don’t not wish your hand? Like I want him to be my husband?

‘You spoke like you will win’ I said seething in ager.

Like I said. My temper is a problem. He smirked

‘Of course I will’ he said almost like it is a sure thing

‘What is your name?’ I asked

‘What’s yours?’ He asked

‘I will only tell you if you won’

‘Well, me too.’  And he smirked while I frowned, smirked and then laughed

‘Fine, I will take pleasure beating you into submission.’ I said and then I quickly charge.

I threw a blow with my fist. He avoided using Snake Slither the Ground moves sidestepping my attacks and quickly positioned himself behind me before returning the blow using his elbow. I blocked but I was forced to take distance from him.

Then I try to attack him but he was too fast and elusive. My blows only hit winds.

‘Stay in one place, you jerk’ I said annoyed. He laughed

‘And let you punch me? I don’t think so’

He is confident. I want to wipe that smile of his face so bad. I used Eagle Snatching Snake technique to stop him from using the Snake moves, and I almost had him but he dodge it by a hair breaths.

The crowd cheered and in awe, seeing both of us perform and attacking each other.

This boy is…who is he?

All that I employed against him is a high level technique but he did not lose his cool and dodge every one of them.

I try again but he was fast. Too fast. Who did he learn from?

Arturo said there is no one to note here. Not to mention I noticed when we were exchanging blows he did not channel his internal energy in his attack

Is he looking down at me? I looked at him, puzzled

“You are…fast” I said

“Thank you my lady, but you too. Pity such a young woman learn such a vicious technique” My face flushed red.

‘I didn’t, I mean it’s not that vicious’ Then suddenly my temper take over.

‘… SO WHAT! Why are you holding back!’ I yelled

‘You noticed?’ He said and his face is surprised that I notice it.

How much you want to insult me, young boy? I mused.

‘Yes. Why didn’t you use your internal energy?’ Now I’m angry

‘Are you looking down on me? Because I’m a woman?’ I glare at him. But he did not offer any answer so I attacked again, flying towards him with killing intent, using my agility while he used power to counter back.

Finally I saw an opening.

I struck two blows at him and I have perfect confidence that the attack connected and this boy will stumble and fall in the stage but instead I was thrown back from the sheer force of his internal energy.

I felt fearful. This is an expert in internal energy. I could sense it the moment his internal energy collided with mine.

‘What was that! How can you have so much internal energy?’ I said flummoxed and a little fearful.

My teacher advise me to pick my enemies carefully as one would do when picking friends. Did I pick the wrong enemy? But how could that be?

He’s younger than me, clearly, but how could he have such internal energy?

The crowd cheered more. Like a carnival is happening. Then he answered

‘I train my lad-‘

 Even before he finished my sentence I must find some opening and take the first initiative. Maybe my agility will caught him off guard.

And the moment I did that I quickly employed Piercing Spear one of my teacher famous technique, which could leave a hole in a man body.

I have no doubt that the boy in front of me is one of a kind prodigy. There is no other way to explain his internal energy.

He fell in the stage, dazed.

But yet his body is fine. One of the most fearsome techniques that my teacher has, and the boy has only become a little dizzy?

This boy is a monster. The crowd let out a cry of surprise.

He regained his senses and moved away from me, maintaining some distance.

‘You…are fine? Impossible’

This is just impossible. The words of my teacher rang into my ear. “The world is vast. There are many people that have great martial arts”

The word rang truths. Truths that I did not understand until now. Younger than me but….

‘You…you are Eastern Devil disciple right?’ he asked

The crowd quieted. Some backed away

‘How…did you know?’

‘Piercing Spear is one of his techniques that is known widely as his trademark. No wonder your attack is vicious and cruel, so you are his disciple.’

‘Yes I’m his disciple. DO YOU FEAR ME?’

I try to get out of this fight. Who knows if he would back up and leave me alone using my teacher’s name? I understand. I could not defeat him.

Instead he smirked

‘No, now it just get more interesting.’ Then he proceeds to tell me the flaws of my technique. I was shocked. How did he know teacher technique so well?

‘Who are you?’ One of the crowds yells

‘HAHAHA…girl it is a bad day for you. That boy is the Regent of duchy of Arrandy, ruler of this city, House Vermont, Arial the Dragon’

The crowd gasped.

A lord son? The count of this city? This means he is a high lord son.

How a noble son could know so much of the world of martial art technique?

Most of the noble sons in my county don’t even try to learn martial art anymore since it became so peaceful and no great war has ever happen for hundreds of years.

 An equal match. A young handsome lord and a beautiful feisty girl. A match made in Heaven. They whispered

I heard what they say. I look at him and I blushed. He is handsome after all.

‘A lord?’ Arturo ask

‘What does it matter?’ I nodded

‘Yes, what does it matter? You certainly are a part of the martial art world. There is no doubt considering your technique’

Then we continue. The spectator moved back a little, fearing injury by straying blows. It was a dance. A dance of Sun King and Water Princess.

“Hurry up.’ A cry came from the crowd.

‘Defeat her Lord Arial, marry her and make babies’ the audience burst out in laughter. We both blushed. I look at him and he looked at me.

‘What you’re looking at?’ I said yelling at me trying to hide my embarrassment

‘Nothing’

‘Are you ready?’

‘Ready for what?’ I said

‘Ready to be defeated’ he said and he quickly close his distance with me with flashing speed towards my shoulder.

He use a palm attack; I ducked, thus escaping the blow. The nearby wooden pillar explodes because of the force of the internal energy. I couldn’t believe my eyes. If that struck me, I surely would die by now. He must learn from someone powerful

‘You..you are an expert, an exponent. Who did you learn from? Northern Badger? Western Serpent?”

‘I teach myself’

‘Pah.‘Lies. That is impossible. Most of your attack is Northern style. You learn from Northern Badger didn’t you?’

‘Like I said, I didn’t learn from anyone.’

He is still denying. So I’m not even worthy to hear his venerable teacher name? This just make me more angry I attack him again, moe feocius than before.

Then suddenly the air changed.

Common people under the stage suddenly kneel to the ground, some have trembling in their hand. ‘Get away’ he yelled.

This is his doing. His internal energy. I’ve never seen anyone have such internal energy that is capable of making people feel pressured apart from my teacher.

Arturo began to move and threw a fist at him and he send a palm attack at his rib and I could hear the bones broke. He flew far away from the stage an unconscious down the stage.

‘ARTURO!’ I yelled

Some of the crowds were already running away, no doubt calling the guards. I need to get away from this maelstrom. I have to take the initiative.

I employed a palm attack. While jumping in midair the full brunt of the internal energy is fully directed at him.

With one hand he stopped me. His internal energy is highly profound. I was thrown down the stage.

‘Uhuk, uhuk’ I looked at my hand. Blood? Blood!

He flew down .Oh my God, he is going to kill me. For the first time in my journey I felt fear.

I throw the spinning knife laced with Devil Rot

He uses his internal energy to deflect it and the flying objects were stuck at some tree near the stage. ‘Poison’ he hissed

‘Hah, the Eastern Devil would be ashamed to have such disciple’ he said.

‘Using poison? That is Western Serpent technique. Eastern Devil might not be the most honourable martial art master, but at least he didn’t use poison when he fight his opponent’ he said

‘Heh .Well, I’m not him aren’t I?’  I have lost any will to argue.

He then raised his Palm, and sent a blow.  I tried to block it but it was futile.

‘This level…is like Grand Teacher level’ I whisper

‘Fun time is over.’

This time it’s do or die. So I got up take my white spear and once again I charge but his internal energy attacks are relentless.

The last thing I knew I hear my own bones crack. Thankfully I wear the armor or I surely would die instantly.

And then my eyes were shut but I could still feel the wind blowing, now harsh and …cold. And I could feel the water falling to my cheeks.

Then I feel like I was carried off. And there I learned my errors

There are legions of exceptional men in the Continent.

This young noble boy has a lot of palm style technique with sophisticated variations. I was too full of myself.

 Too confident. Too reckless. And headstrong. I need to be wiser. Need to be stronger. And with that last thought, I lost my consciousness.

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