25 PUREMOON 1501 AFTERFIRE, 13 YEAR OF JULIAN ERA.
The gathering has started. At the top of the Mountain was the Shadow Shroud Sect disciple running around setting chairs and table all around the Mountain peak.
It turns out that the Shadow Shroud Sect has already been here for the past week setting up everything from the tournament stage, chairs, tables and wine and food.
Tu Jia and Tian Ji both did not speak, acting like a mute bodyguard and wear black mask that cover their bottom part of their face.
The reason was because they saw the True Heart Temple and the Shadow Shroud Sect.
The Shadow Shroud Sect was plundered by them both in the past and the True Heart Temple was burned by them.
But these two sects was also one of the sects that have the most deep seated enmity with the Saber Monarch.
The Saber Monarch in his Pilgrimage of Warrior killed Shadow Shroud sect leader Tie Youguang and proceeded to kill a hundred disciple of their sect.
The True Heart Temple Abbot body was split into four and scattered on the True Heart Mountain to be eaten by wolves and beast.
This was tantamount as declaring war with the two sects and enters in a blood feud.
This enmity was deep seated as the sea, could not be reconciled and be resolved by a few words.
Blood demands blood.
The True Heart Temple is not like the Righteous Temple that is always preaching about the Path of Nirvana and didn’t eat meat.
They were warrior monks that are fierce, the representation of the Enlightened Teacher wrath which exterminates evil and demons.
The True Heart Temple could not pursue the Saber Monarch because when they wanted to descend the Mountain, the Three Great Mountains heroes went to persuade the newly anointed Abbot to respect the peace agreement between the Purple Fairy and Saber Monarch made in Water Flowing Mountain.
On the other hand, the Shadow Shroud Sect mourned and grieves for their leader and brings out their banner before were stop by some Elders that knows fighting the Saber Monarch in their weakest moment will lead to the sect annihilation.
If not for they had to rebuild after the Seven Days Battle of Purple Fairy and Saber Monarch at Water Flowing Mountain they would have surely chases the Saber Monarch all the way deep into Liao kingdom.
The wind blows and heroes gather forth, sword drawn out from the sheath as all of the martial arts world heroes climb the peak of the Mountain to seek redress.
Charles was sitting on his chair with his hand elegantly pick up the teacup on the table beside his chair and slowly sipping it, savoring its taste
Beside him Tu Jia and Tian Ji sit on his left and right. Tu Jia has a large saber and Tian Ji has a long sharp spear.
Both are not their signature weapon as they hide their weapons. This spear and saber were bought from one of the Sword Sect Mountain disciple.
They fear their weapons will be recognized by the heroes gathering here. They try to remain low profile and as inconspicuous as possible,
Liu Yi on the other hand is talking with many of the Sword Sect Mountain disciple, chatting, laughing and drinking.
‘Gathering of Heroes, huh?’ Charles said as he put down his teacup.
He and the Sword Sect Mountain were the few that arrives here the earliest. By the time they arrived some sects also arrived.
True Heart Temple also here which exchanged greeting with Charles and reminisce how they used to see the Old Immortal once reign all over Jianghu, the undisputed number one and express their desire to see the Old Immortal again.
But Charles reply by saying that his grand teacher is like the wind, no one knows where he will appears.
Laughing, the group of monks agreed and sits on the left of Charles tent.
Each tent was given a wooden plaque that is attached to the tent top. The tent is made from sturdy wood and could even withstand rain and storm.
Tian Ji carved the words Jade Palace Gate on the wooden plaque and with her internal energy struck her palm to the plaque to the top of the tent making it seems like the door to enter the Jade Palace Gate.
Not long after, even a known evil sect Valley of Villains also climbed up with their members wearing variety of clothes in black and dark purple.
Leading them was a young man with slender physique and red hair. His clothes were made from the fur of bears
He was smiling yet there is certain coldness in his smile but he was a young handsome man with charisma oozing from the way he carried himself.
Behind him were two men and one woman. They are the famous Four Evils of Villain Valley. The leading man is the leader of the Four Evils, Han Xu who uses a Double blade.
He is known to have an unpredictable temperament.
Behind him was another slender man who wears a purple flower pattern robe and looked regal while wearing it.
On his head is a golden dragon carved coronet and his right hand is fanning a steel fan as his long hair was slowly sways as he fans his face.
He is called Zhao Tuo and some said he was an illegitimate child of the royal family of Zhao.
Beside him was another slender man who wears a black robe with golden lines on the edges of his clothes.
He was shorter than the other Four Evils and his face has a burn scar on the left side of his face. He is infamous in Jianghu to torture people with fire and his name is Lu Jia.
Unlike the other members of his group he does not used weapon instead he fight barehanded. He is known to master the Bone Shattering Palm and could waste a person martial arts attainment if they were struck in their dantian.
The woman on the other hand is Yao Feng who killed all of her family when she was thirteen years old and is the personal disciple of the current sect leader of the Villain Valley.
She wears a tight purple robe with red liens on the edges of her sleeve and a veil covering the bottom part of her face.
She uses a Double Sting.
They are similar to daggers but they have blades on both ends and a metal ring in the middle which allows them to be worn on the third finger of both hands.
The blades can be spun like a windmill with the rings as a pivot and she is known to master the Wind Reaping Heads technique.
The moment they came on the Gathering Grounds the True Heart Temple was wary and their Warrior Monk is all on guard.
The Four Evils snickered and smiles and take their seat on the other side of the Peak of Tuhulu Mountain.
‘Hmm. They are all prideful and would be detrimental if I were to use them. I could not guard my back if this kind of person is to be used’ he thought to himself.
He sighed and shake his head as he look at the villain valley disciple sitting on their tent.
From what Charles knew the Saber Monarch steal their Bone Shattering Palm manual, learning it for seven days before using it to kill the elders of the Villains Valley, leaving a trail of blood from the Inner Hall of their sect to the entrance door.
The Saber Monarch cut the heads of ten elders, put them on a bamboo stick and decorated it on the outside of the Valley and carved these words on the name stone on the bottom of the Villains valley
‘Ten Elders of Villains valley in their arrogance challenges me the Saber Monarch in a death match duel. I reply to their challenge and this is my answer.’
Since then the Valley of Villains have always views the Saber Monarch as their nemesis even more so than the righteous sect.
One of the disciples of Valley of Villains was about to make trouble with Charles when he saw a young kid sitting alone in a large tent with only two bodyguards before stopping himself after he was just a few steps near the tent after seeing the wood plaque.
Jade Palace Gate
It is known that the Jade Palace Gate is a righteous sect but if any sect dares to harm their disciple then the full might of the entire sect will come down on them and they will not be merciful.
And with the entire state of Han as their backings with even the Royal Guard under the influence of their sect, to incur the wrath of Jade Palace Gate in Jianghu is akin leaving oneself without a way to live.
And the Old Immortal Li deterring force is still present here in Jianghu. When Li Wentian reign supreme in the martial arts world, most of the people here was still sucking their mother tits.
But even though he is old, people seeing the Old Immortal would always exclaimed in shock how lively and vibrant he looks.
He is old so his eyes should be weak, yet the Old Immortal eyes were still sharp like a hawk.
He is old and his body should be failing him but many martial artists that met him all attest that Old immortal Li Wentian body was as hard as steel and his internal energy is boundless.
If not for Old Immortal Li did not desire fame and fortune he could have conquered the entire Wulin and become the Alliance Head like the past powerful martial artist.
The Jade Palace Gate is a secret sect and even their headquarters is in a secret place.
The Old Immortal himself never claims himself number one but as long as he is still alive, there is no martial artist that dares declares themselves number one.
He was towering existence for the junior generation and even the Three Grandmaster respect and reveres the Old Immortal as he is their senior generation and the Three Calamitous Star would take the long way around when they heard the Old Immortal is in the vicinity.
He is known as Old Monster in the Evil Sect since even after almost two hundred years he is still alive and did not die.
Many even believe he is a true immortal and will not die. As long as Old Immortal Li is alive, the reverence that people felt towards the jade Palace Gate will not disappear
From what Charles heard from Liu Yi get from the organizer of this Gathering, they are here to discuss about the Saber Monarch.
Many of them felt that the merciful judgment of the Purple Fairy back then was wasted on such an evil martial artist.
They decided to choose a gathering of heroes to confront the Saber Monarch and answer for his crime.
The Saber Monarch is ruthless but when he is challenged in one on one duel he has never decline.
If not how could he bear the title of the Saber Monarch?
But Charles did not think it is that simple…this gathering of heroes. He snickered as he found that this gathering of heroes is not as simple as some people think.
Tu Jia and Tina Ji is a simple person of course they did not think too much.
If the Saber Monarch is truly such an evil martial artist then why The Three Mountains did not descend and hunt him?
Why would the Four Gates did not intervene and send their branches to help the other righteous sect?
The Three Mountains and Four Gates is the leading voice of the martial art fraternity for the righteous sect.
One of the Three Mountains is Five Finger Mountain which incorporates the teaching of the Boundless Path in their teachings.
Their most famous skills are Carefree Sword and Heaven and Earth swordplay. Then there is the Righteous Temple which incorporates the teachings of the Path of Nirvana in their martial arts.
Their martial arts are known to be strong and fierce, hard and unrelenting. Their staff technique is known to be the most powerful in all of Jianghu.
It is also one of the most famous forms of martial arts in Jianghu. And they excel in internal skills.
Their famous skills are Steel Fist, Dragon Claw, Pounding the Dragon, and Arhat Demon Subduing technique.
And they have one of the most famous manual the Marrow Cleansing Manual an outstanding technique created by their first Abbot, Abbot Yuanzhen.
The last of the Three Mountains is the Divine Sword Mountain a holy land for swordsmen.
The most respected Five Finger Mountains, originator of all martial arts Righteous temple and sword came from Divine Sword Mountain.
This saying is famous in Jianghu.
The Divine Sword Mountain martial arts mainly comprise swordplay technique and inner energy cultivation skills.
But this did not mean they do not possess any bare handed technique.
They have the Mountain Splitting Fist, Diamond Smashing Fist, Iron Finger and Tiger Subduing Palm.
But it is swordplay that the Divine Sword Mountain is famous for.
Their famous swordplay technique includes the Divine Sword Mountain swordplay, Thirteen Styles of Divine Sword, Reverse Dual Sword style and Dancing on the Edges of the Sword.
These are the Three Mountains.
Five Finger Mountain, Righteous Temple and Divine Sword Mountain, each of their sect lies on top of mountains thus they were called the Three Mountains.
The Four Gates is Dragon Gate on the East of Aeropa founded by a fallen Prince of the Ancient Han who turns to path of Nirvana and called himself Reverend Xian.
They are famous for their Six Palm of Heavenly Dragon.
Then there is Earthly Immortals Gate which is mysterious and rarely involves themselves in martial arts after they used to fight the Divine Sword Mountain fifty years ago.
Another one of the Four Gates is Iron Courage Gate which is famous for their Steel Body and Steel Fist.
And then there is the Sword Flower gate which only admits women into their fraternity. They are famous for their Cloudless Strike, Blood Moon Soft Palm and Jade Maiden Sword.
Their inner energy technique most famous skills is the Icy Body skills which people said incorporates the concept soft as Yin.
And this is the Four Gates Dragon Gate, Earthly Immortals Gate, Iron Courage Gate and Sword Flower Gate which have branches all over Aeropa.
When Demoness Zixiang was young and started committing her atrocity all over Jianghu the Three Mountains heroes descend and hunt her all the way to Liao.
Because of the death of Daoist Yu from Five Fingers Mountain Demoness Zixiang escaped.
The Daoist was old and his hearing and sight was bad and while he could fight with the Demoness in equal par even in that situation, the Demoness is from the evil sect.
How would she play fair?
She uses poisons and sneak attacks and the Daoist succumb to her scheme and die while she escapes and ten years later Demoness Zixiang becomes the sect leader of the White Bone Peak and is known to one of the Three Calamitous Star of Jianghu.
Charles was suspicious of this matter precisely because the Three Mountains and Four Gates did not participate.
Even if they did, they must be something else. The Saber Monarch…who is this person that he would elicits different response in the martial arts fraternity?
‘The Three Mountains did not appear but will the Four Gates participate?’ Charles asks himself.
Charles smiles as he waited in anticipation.
Charles never had any intention of joining the hunt for the Saber Monarch. He knows his limitation.
With his meager skill, the only thing he would be doing if he participates in the hunt will be to offer his head to the saber monarch.
He is here because of another reason.
He wanted to know the factions of the martial art world and to see heroes worth recruiting. All these heroes have high pride and does not like working for noble families.
The reason why Tian Ji and Tu Jia protect him is because he is the Holy Son of the Sect.
And Charles knows if he tries to recruit help from the sect to expand his power in Midgard, his teacher and Grand Teacher will be disappointed and might even expel him from the sect.
Not many sects like to involve themselves with politics of the court whether it is here or in Midgard.
But Charles didn’t need an entire sect to back him up.
He needs only talents. To build his independent power that is not of his father or the kingdom.
He was planning something dangerous. He wanted to make a name for himself when the new warring era begins.
The death of King Ragnar Hardstone might delay the fall of Avillon but it is only that. Delaying the inevitable.
A corrupt government will be the first to fall not only because the will of the people did not approve but also because the foundation is already shaken.
A shaken foundation will eventually crumble.
It needs only a little push.
Smart officials will surely jump ship.
With internal problems plaguing Avillon and fierce inner court fighting how could the Avillon prosper their kingdom and pacify the people?
They care not about the people and the world opinions of them, thus their doom is sealed.
The officials fighting for each other benefits while the Princes aiming for the throne, killing innocent people in the way.
The righteous will not help a corrupt government and wise officials will wait for wise master to serve.
The government is corrupt and the Princes are unwise, thus they will not find able advisors.
Without the will of the people and the remonstration of wise official, how could Charles not predict the fall of this might kingdom?
It is the easiest thing to predict.
If this was in a peaceful era, Avillon might reverse this situation but in this era where each kingdom secretly wanting to unify the world, how could Avillon stands against the flow of time and survives?
The Princes will accumulate enemies that would surely be more than happy to sell information to either Norveg or Stormholt.
The Two Tigers of the East would devour Avillon when the time is right.
Charles has no doubt about his conjecture. Meat is already served in a platter how could those two tigers resist?
When the civil war of Princes in Norveg ended, that would signal the end of Avillon and the Merovech dynasty.
And Charles likes to be ready when tat times comes so he could carve his own domain of power and influence.
Charles has a strategy mind but his strength right now is insufficient to execute many of his plans.
For administration talent he will go to the city. But to seek capable generals, the martial art world is the answer.
What place is better to seek out martial art talent then a gathering of heroes? Charles think and his eyes gleamed bright.
To carve a place for himself he knows the answer is military power. As a descendant of the Martell, he is from a lineage of general families.
When he is of age unless he pursues literary profession, he would be given a chance to prove himself fit in the battlefield and if he is proven to be fit; his father would grant him an estate and a retinue.
As the Third Son, Charles position in the House of Martell should be low but it is not, no doubt because he was of Wellham lineage.
And when he has his own army, he needs capable general leading them.
The Jianghu called this the Gathering of Heroes but to Charles eyes this is nothing more than an audition.
He already recruited one talent, Liu Yi. Liu Yi is lazy in his martial arts training but it is the way he is with people that captivated Charles.
He has a way of making people put down their guards, and has talent in negotiation.
He already informed the Martial Hall of the Jade Palace Gate to protect the Heaven Edge Sect from the Red Snow Palace.
In exchange he wanted Liu Yi to accompany him in his journey to acts as his guide.
The sect complained but since Charles is a Holy Son of the Sect and not only that but the disciple of the successor the Jade Palace Gate, the Martial Hall did this for him.
Charles has never judged a person wrongly before.
He wanted this talent very much that he would move his sect to move and possibly enter a conflict with the Red Snow Palace just because of Liu Yi.
Liu Yi was full of gratitude since his sect will no longer be oppressed by the Red Snow Palace and accompanied Charles willingly since he likes to wander around rather than practicing martial arts.
Charles picks up the tea cup again and takes another sip as the cold winds blows. Since they are at the Peak, the winds are clear and invigorating; the energy of the mountain could be felt.
As more sects climb up many more exchange greetings with Charles.
With each elders and Senior greeting him, it is quiet comical to see an eleven years old kid greeting but he astound the people with his perfect etiquette and even though he was eleven years old he was tall for his age.
The Elders and seniors of many sects nodded as they all felt that the Jade Palace Gate found a good seed.
After many have arrived and he finished greeting them Charles sits back when the crier announced loudly
‘Hero Zhu Liang of the Divine Sword Mountain has graced us with his presence. Please climb up, Hero Zhu’
Murmurs filled the Peak with many heroes form the orthodox sect beaming in excitement while the boisterous evil sects suddenly clamp up their mouth.
‘Who is this Zhu Liang?’ Charles asks Tian Ji.
Tian Ji eyes were also beaming with excitement as she informed Charles.
‘He was a child prodigy of Divine Sword Mountain. He joined the school when he was ten years old and now he already twenty. It is said other than the sect leader of the Divine Sword Mountain his knowledge of swordplay outstripped his peers.’
‘Hmph, horny woman’ Tu Jia mocked and Tian Ji face flushed red. They were about to fight again but Charles quickly said
‘Enough.’ Charles was about to sip his tea back when his hand suddenly stopped from reaching his tea cup.
‘This…’ and Charles stuttered a bit.
Charles could felt sword intent that is slowly enveloping this entire Peak. This kind of Sword intent is very powerful and pressures the heart of every single martial artist here.
The murmuring stooped with only the Monk of the True Heart temple chanting their Sutra as they endure the sword intent with a clear heart.
If not for that he was used to this feeling of oppressiveness, Charles would surely be out of breath right now.
‘This kind of feeling…’ Charles said.
This kind of pressure is the same as when he was in front of his Master, the Purple fairy Lin Ziyan.
And then from the stone staircase on the peak a man appears.
He was wearing a white robe, with his hand behind his back, as a clouds patter sheath strapped on his back he looks like a lonely swordsman.
His hair was tied neatly and his face was a little boyish yet one does not feel he is immature instead he felt mature regardless of his facial features.
The wind flutters the edges of his white robes, fluttering like the wind was in harmony with this man energy.
‘Is that person….human?’ Charles asked as he could no longer care about his tea.
To Charles that man seems more like a sword as he was standing still and even when he is walking.
Charles could felt the sword intent surrounding the man.
Charles felt that if the man unsheathes the sword on his back, the sword intent alone is enough to shatter his enemy’s confidence and might even kill them.
‘Sword and Mind as One’ Tu Jia said as he express his admiration.
‘This young hero could even compete with some of the great talents of our Sect.’
‘It truly is Sword originates from Divine Sword Mountain.’
‘Can you defeat him?’ Charles asked.
Tu Jia contemplates a bit.
‘If it is a real battle I would I win. But not without having some injuries. But…Hehehe…… Young Hero Zhu might be a prodigy but after all he is too young’
‘If your age is the same, he would slashes you in thirty moves’ Tian Ji interjected.
‘Then it is unfortunate he is born later than me’ as Tu Jia almost laughed before remembering that many of his enemies is here today and he hold his laughter.
Charles nodded but he no longer has that disinterested expression again. Only one person from the Three Mountains came.
But his pressure is enough to gain respect and incite fear.
As he walk to his prepared tent, the orthodox sect all greeted him with politeness and a little servility while the evil sect tries as hard as they can not to stand out and invite Hero Zhu ire and attention.
Only the Four Evils are glaring at Hero Zhu. But Hero Zhu pays them no heed as he enters his tent and sits down.
‘Begin’ he said and his voice while not loud, it was like everyone could hear it.
‘Utilization of internal energy’ Tian Ji said as she nodded.
‘He is also accomplished in his internal training. A formidable genius indeed’
‘One of the three Mountains even came to presides the matter. There must be something about the Saber Monarch ‘
Charles deduced this time his mind is quickly piecing the many information he has gathered but nothing comes to mind.
‘I will have to see how today will unfold’ Charles thought as the curtain of this gathering of heroes are open.