The sound of the birds chirping and the sound of water fill his ears like a soothing music. The leaves on the trees sway back and forth like they were dancing.
Charles looks at his surrounding and smiles a bit before crouching down to the water stream. Slowly he uncorks his leather flask and fills it with the clear water.
‘Shut up already!’ A woman voice, harsh and cold could be heard not too far away. Charles look behind him and sighed.
The wind blows his hair, soothing and embracing him as Charles tries to forget worldly matters for a while and sighing as he sadly could not.
Sighing and shaking his head he look towards the direction of the woman and shouted
‘Keep it down!’ The woman a distance away was startled and her face turn red but she quickly drop her head down.
But then she replied
‘Yes, Young Master.’ She glared at a man tied up in the tree as the beaten man chuckles a bit.
Beside the young woman was a short man. He was giggling clearly enjoying that the young woman got scolded.
Charles could only shake his head and release a sigh containing his exasperation.
As he finished filling the leather flask he wash his face on the stream water dripping down his face as the water away the sweat, dirt and dust.
‘Clear water and fresh air a rare commodity on that Earth’ he said to himself as he almost chuckle.
Looking at the face reflected by the water there is a certain maturity etched on the expression of his face.
Washed by the water, the dirt falls off revealing a white healthy flawless skin, his blond hair trimmed neatly, straight as always.
And looking at the reflection he noticed the thunderbolt scar on his left forehead.
‘Mark of Ulr’ he muttered as he said this his hand unconsciously touch the scar, feeling tingly on that part.
On his left hand the bracelet that his mother gave him is still there.
The yellow round stone in the center of that bracelet is still dim.
Finished doing his task, he stand up and look forward, his posture was upright and straight his face shows a warm smile, two dimples, one on each cheek appeared that made him look even more beautiful.
Looking at the position of the sun, noon is near.
‘Months pass us by and there are many that need to be accomplished. The Civil War is intensifying at Norveg, The Two Princes of Avillon strengthening their military while the Western Capital Old General Keenan has come out of retirement and trying to slice of Southern Han territory. I hope the letter I sent to her could be some use to her.’
He takes a deep breath and enjoys the fresh air.
‘I am far away so there is many that I might overlook but if to handle that problem in the border I am confident of my ability to drive that General away’ he said to himself.
He was full of confidence
Charles has started his first move. It would probably be his most important move. He could not be famous as Charles Martell, to be conspicuous and low key is the way for now.
But he could be as flamboyant as possible as the Sleeping Dragon.
His first move started a few months ago when he got the news that Old General Keenan of the Western Capital has come out of retirement.
This is not good news for Southern Han but it is also not good news for Westhold.
But Charles knew that the Old General is cautious and would not eat more that he could.
In a way that is why the Old General could get old.
While other Generals who is braver and more powerful than him in Western Capital has all turned into dust and buried beneath the earth he is still alive and kicking.
Western Capital is not big enough to eat Westhold but is powerful enough to threaten Southern Han and even might be able to annex some territories and expand their borders.
By expanding their borders and not eating too much, the Western Capital could have more lands to harvest and more people to their population.
If left unchecked they might one day threaten Westhold and that is not what Charles would want.
Since that is the case he could lend a helping hand as the Sleeping Dragon and raises his prestige.
He has a plan regarding the Old General.
A particular strategy that could only be used against the Old General precisely because certain criteria has been met.
If he uses this strategy on other people it would not work. But if it’s the Old General, it will work.
At the same time he also has plans regarding the Queen of Southern Han.
The plan is a bit cruel but in the end, Charles knew it would be a win-win situation for both of them.
Now, he only hopes that the Queen could use his suggestion and is ambitious enough.
Because Charles could not work with unambitious person because Charles plan is a grand plan. A continent away and he could still create a plan like he is on the battlefield.
If anyone knew that this young child is capable of this feat, every King would ask his counsel or send assassins to kill him before he grows.
Charles is not naïve. Extraordinary people without power must hide themselves first.
When you have sufficient backing and power then only then could you reveal yourself and march to the center stage of the world.
One might say, he has sufficient backing.
He is the son of a Prince, his teacher is famous in Jianghu and his Grand teacher is Old Immortal Li.
But none of that power belongs and backing truly belongs to him.
It all depends on the whims of those people.
And so, he could not trust those backings
The Prince of Lindberg, Arthur Martell might abandon him when the loss is more than the profit.
His Teacher while powerful is not invincible, thousands of schemes and thousands of plot, even if his teacher is a Heavenly Immortal even she could not guard herself every day not to mention Charles.
His Grand Teacher…if his life has to be traded for the safety of State of Han, Charles has no doubt while his Grand Teacher would be sad, he would look at the big picture and sacrificed him.
Charles knows it himself that his talent is the only one in this world. Charles has full confidence in his strategies.
And as such he knows that if people knew of his talent, people would rather kill him than to ask him work for them. Too much talent invites envy and fear.
In Midgard, this month would be Dawnmoon.
‘A year has passed.’ He said as a matter of factly before he sighed.
He is still in Aeropa, honing his martial art skill, travelling through Jianghu, and enacting the pillars for his future.
He is eleven now, a half feet taller, standing at almost six feet, tall for his age.
This is all because of his training of martial arts and a healthy diet.
As a noble son of a Prince house, he is blessed with wealth enabling him to buy food that is suitable for promoting growth unlike the many peasants that have to live day by day.
The fact that he also practices martial arts is also a bonus as it strengthens his body and helps his growth.
‘The Second Prince of Norveg, Prince Hakon…hmm. He seems the closest to the throne. From the report I got from the merchants and the sect spies in Midgard, it is probable he is the most likely candidate to sit on the throne of Norveg after the dust settles.’
‘He is cautious but bold when the situation requires it and chooses the most profitable solution. He also a very smart person as he know the power of the people, painting himself as a benevolent ruler’ And Charles nodded.
‘If he succeeds the throne, then I expect that Norveg will enter a new age of strengthening. And the Two Princes of Avillon would not like to see that. Hmm. A year passed and my prediction is slowly beginning to come true. I just didn’t expect that the Two Princes of Avillon to be very talented, delaying the decay of Avillon. I would be naive not to think that those two Princes not to have anything to do with the death of King Ragnar of Norveg.’
Then Charles sighed.
He might speculate as he wants but he is still on the background.
He wanted to shine in the center stage and use his talent. But age, his position and his preparation are inadequate so he will wait.
For now that is the only thing he could do.
To wait for the opportune moment.
‘Like I said we should knock him out instead leaving him conscious’ a shrilly voice like someone choking the air out of the person windpipe spoke.
Charles walks towards the direction of the sound. Saying those words were a short man which is immediately being rebuked by the tall woman.
The tall woman rebuked by saying
‘Idiot! If we knock him out cold, how can Young Master get any information from him?’
The short man was triggered as he shouted.
His shrilly voice was funny but the energy exploding from his body was terrifying, showing the mastery of the internal martial arts of this short man.
‘You tall spinster monster! Who are you calling idiot! You are the idiot! Who would marry such a tall monster?!’
The tall woman face flushed red but she snorted and spit to the ground
‘Talking to you is a waste of time. An idiot how it could understand human words?’ she said sneering toward the short man which only makes him angrier.
‘Say that again! I dare you!’ The short man said as he unsheathes his saber on his hips.
The sound of the saber unsheathing was shrill like a scream of a monster and saber intent fill the area.
‘You are a pig that does not understand human words!’ The woman shouted towards him and the short man immediately slashes out an attack towards the tall woman.
A saber light heads towards the tall woman.
The tall woman snorted and she stomps her feet to the ground as the spear around her feet jolted upwards and the tall woman grabbed it.
‘Stupid she said as she pushes her feet backward gliding gracefully retreating behind a tree, as the saber strike stabbed into the tree.
The tree exploded as bark and branches splashed around like a lake was disturbed by a huge boulder being thrown into it.
The tall woman smiles and chuckles
‘You can’t even aim right. HAHAHAHA’ she mocked.
‘You’ll see’ he said in that funny voice of him.
His body begin unleashing a powerful energy as his saber vibrate but then a voice pierce through the chaos
‘Enough’ Charles scolded as he come toward that area.
‘Young master!’ both of them said in unison, dispelling any thought to continue fighting. Charles throws the flask towards the short man and the short man quickly grabbed it.
Charles keeps looking at him, he did not say anything only his gaze pierced the short man and the short man shivered in fear.
The short man knows that his young master wanted an explanation.
The tall woman also sense the gaze of his young master and like they have rehearse this both of them said in unison
‘Apologies, Young master’ both of them said as they look down on the ground. There is fear inside their eyes.
‘It is Tian Ji fault young master’ the short man said as he pointed towards the tall woman with his finger.
‘Hmph’ she snorted as she drive her outstretched spear to the ground, the shaking of the spear edge as it drives itself towards the ground produces a shrieking noise.
‘Tu Jia, you are the one who is so easily offended.’
They look like they will have a second round but Charles could not deal with them both fighting again so he held up his hand and both of them dropped down their head, not speaking any more words.
They could see that the Young Master did not approve so they shut themselves up.
‘It seems after being put to use by the sect, you have forgotten that both of you are being punished. To be at peace, and seek knowledge, to be serene with the world changing time, to be in harmony with Heaven and Earth and to seek life in that sliver of death.’
Then Charles looks at them and shakes his head.
‘Which one of you shows peace, as you let your emotion run governing your head and heart. Instead of seeking knowledge in our journey both of you seems content to be in ignorance. You prioritize your passion, governing your body with the basest instinct of an untrained warrior, indulging your passion for fighting yet understanding nothing. Instead of trying to find harmony you incite chaos in every place we go and you both love life too much. How could you then worth much!’ he scolded.
Then shaking his head he look at them both and sighed.
‘No wonder the Grand teacher restrict both of your internal energy and let you become only a guard. You have no shame when meeting your fellow sect members.’
They could only drop their head down not daring to match eyes with Charles. Both of them shuddered in fear.
Charles might be a young boy but he is the Holy Son of the Jade Palace Gate.
And in the sect that means a big deal.
Not to mention he have the Heaven and Earth Medallion enabling him to control the Intelligence Gathering Personnel of the Sect and even have the authority to have both of them guard him.
Then there is also the fact that poison in both of their bodies will flare up without the Pills Charles provides them.
The man tied to the tree, looking at the fearful expression of his captor snickered before both of them shot a murderous glance towards the man and he immediately clamp up.
‘So this is the person skulking our camp’ Charles said after noticing the man.
He put his hand around his back, like a scholar viewing the autumn season sending.
Charles wears a black silk brocade cloth of the Bourbon style.
Bourbon style refers to the clothing of the Northmen during the Bourbon dynasty and is mainly worn by Northmen which is the dominant ethnic group in Midgard.
Even though it is called Bourbon style clothing even now long after the dynasty end, it is still widely popular.
It was banned momentarily during the Pendragon dynasty who wanted to create a new culture but that move was widely unpopular with the common people who was used to the culture of Bourbon style clothing.
It is an important part of Northern culture so after the end of Pendragon dynasty the wearing of Bourbon style clothing was revitalized.
The wearing of appropriate styles of Bourbon clothing is an important part of courteous refined behavior.
The style itself can be summarized as containing garment elements, arranged in distinctive and sometime specific ways.
Most of them are gender neutral and simple in cutting.
But hundred years have passed since the Bourbon dynasty so the design also has change.
Clothing for women usually accentuates the body natural curves through wrapping of upper garment lapels or binding with sashes at the waist.
Charles clothes were refined symbolizing his status as a young master of a noble house.
Charles looks at the man from top to bottom. With one look one can see Charles was a noble descent.
Silk brocade fabric, patches at collar and sleeve cuff sew meticulously, with blooming floral and dancing dragon patterns. Charles swishes his sleeve and two pills flew out towards Tian Ji and Tu Jia.
Both of the skillfully grabbed it and look at it before beaming with appreciation.
‘Thank you for your generosity Young master.’ They said as they bowed slightly as they pocket their pills into their inner pockets.
Charles just nodded.
On his waistband a tiger shaped jade hung as decoration swaying left and right as he come closer to the man tied to the tree.
‘Who sent you?’ Charles asked as he squat down, looking at the man beaten face without joy.
‘Those two really didn’t know how to hold back’ Charles thought to himself.
The man looked at Charles and smiles.
‘Young Master means are too formidable and young master guards are overbearing.’ He said forcing the word out as he glared hatefully at both Tu Jia and Tian Ji.
Charles just smiles bitterly.
Charles did not say anything but waiting for him to continue. This man do not seem like a stubborn man Charles thought to himself.
‘Let me, introduce my lowly self to young master. My humble name is Liu Yi and I came from Heaven Edge sect. I was sent here by the Red Snow Palace to report about Young Master whereabouts.’
‘Hah!’ Tian Ji shouted
‘So you come from that sect order’ Tian Ji said before looking at Charles and immediately understands something.
‘No wonder. No wonder. I could understand why that sect sent your small sect to monitor our Young Master. It must be her that is sending these orders’ Tian Ji said but Charles did not understand.
‘Red Snow Palace?’ Charles was puzzled.
Looking back at the man he asked
‘Tell me why did Red Snow Palace send you to follow me? What offense did I do to that sect?’ Charles could not understand why a sect he did not know would target him without reason.
Liu Yi looks at Charles and he almost laughed.
‘Could it be Young master don’t know?’ He asked.
‘Young Master let me explain’ Tu Jia said as he comes closer to Charles.
‘This relates to your uncle most probably’
‘My uncle? What do you mean? Explain’ he sighed. Looking at Liu Yi he just shakes his head.
‘Only a small fry’ he muttered. Then he began explaining,
‘It is famous in Jianghu that Red Sword Lancel and the Mad Fairy Xintong have some bad blood. Mad Fairy has always hated Red Sword Lancel. No one knows why. Though there are many rumors Young Master.’
Tu Jia spoke and Tian Ji nodded behind. Both of them have been in Jianghu for a long time so how could they not know this famous story.
Speaking about Mad Fairy Xintong suddenly Charles remembered. It is that red robed woman who attacked his uncle on the Western Plains.
Charles remembers the sound of their battle that night.
That Mad Fairy was powerful enough to force his uncle to use his skills. Now that he has been in Jianghu for a year he now truly understands how famous his uncle really was in Jianghu.
In the younger generation there are not many that can be compared to his uncle in swordsmanship and internal energy.
Of course, this does not mean his uncle is invincible but there are not many that can force him to show his real skills in battle.
This is a testament to his uncle abilities and proficiency in a battle.
There is also the fact that his uncle is known to be righteous and help the orthodox sect giving him a reputable prestige among the fraternity of martial artist.
Only people who aren’t on the orthodox side would challenge his uncle.
Still what is the personal problem of his uncle and the red robed woman has to do with the Red Snow Palace Sect?
‘What does this have to with the Red Snow Palace sect?’ Charles asked. Tu Jia then answered with a hint of disdain
‘Young Master, she is the successor to the style of Thirty Six Strikes of the Blood Gale. It was one of the deadliest sword skills of the Red Snow Palace. She also learns beneath the Demoness Zixiang teaching her the Devil Maiden Sword Arts. Then there is also the Southern Flower Nanhua.’
Charles was shocked to hear the name Demoness Zixiang. If the orthodox sects have the Three Grandmaster then the Evil Sect had the Three Calamitous Star.
And this Zixiang is one of the Three Calamitous Star, her cultivation nearly reaching Old Immortal Li but her Path of martial arts is bloodier and more vicious and so she is punished by Heaven.
At least that is what he has read from one of the report from the intelligence he got from the Intelligence Gathering Personnel.
Old Immortal Li Wentian is not one of the three grandmasters since he rarely intervenes in the matters of Jianghu and has always been content being in the state of Han.
As long as no one tries to start a problem with him, he would not go around searching for problems.
Even that is the case, he is still revered and even the Three Grandmaster and the Three Calamitous Star respect and fear the Old Immortal.
Southern Flower Nanhua on the other hand is said to be a fallen princess from a fallen kingdom.
Other than that fact not many is known about her other than her ugly appearance resulted from the mistake of Red Sword Lancel which is why she hated Lancel from the bottom of her heart..
‘So?’ Charles said, trying not to gulp the saliva on his throat. Thankfully his subordinates did not notice his behavior.
‘Both of them are the Elders of the Red Snow Palace’.
‘So they are targeting me? No, that wouldn’t be right?’ Charles think as his hand behind his back tighten.
‘They wanted to find my uncle’ Charles answered. It’s the most logical answer.
‘Probably’ Tu Jia answers.
‘Hmm’. Charles contemplated a bit before asking another question to Tu Jia. The wind blows and the sun is coming down yet Charles must solve this matter before he could find peace.
‘Why wouldn’t they just seek my uncle in Midgard? It is not like my uncle is a wandering warrior moving around form places to places. He has a castle in his territory and usually is always there. If not for me insisting my Uncle would not bring me to Aeropa to learn.’
‘This..’ Tu Jia scratches his head in an awkward manner before answering.
‘The Red Snow Palace was banned from entering Midgard.’ Tu Jia finally said.
‘Banned? By who?’ Charles said. Which person or organization that is capable of banning a sect to enter an entire continent?
‘The Black Dragon.’ Tu Jia said his eyes beaming with excitement. It is clear that even Tu Jia who hails from Aeropa admired the Great General Rheon.
‘Great General Rheon Shone!’ Charles exclaimed.
‘Why?‘ Charles asked.
Why would the General who is known to be a person of Jianghu himself and rarely interfere in the matters of Jianghu would ban the Red Snow Palace?
Tu Jia gesture to Tian Ji to answer so she immediately explains.
‘A long time ago, the Red Snow Palace conspires with the Western barbarian and the Liao Kingdom to siege the Dragon Pass. It is said that the Great General at the time wanted to march East to help his old friend but because of his duty he had to guard the Pass to repel the invasion making him delayed in his effort and unable to save his friend life.’
‘After the matter was settled, his anger reaches the Heaven and he transmit a military order that anyone from the Red Snow Palace is banned from entering or even nearing the Dragon Pass. Those who dare disobey this banning order would be killed on sight. Since then, the Red Snow Palace and its agent have never been able to travel to Midgard.’
‘The General is truly formidable’ Charles expresses his admiration.
‘The Dragon Pass is like The Great General home, he knows every nook and cranny so because of that since the banning order was enacted, not one of Red Snow Palace disciple have ever seen Midgard. Those who try were all captured and executed.’
Charles finally nodded understanding certain matters.
Friend in the West? Repelling an invasion? This event probably happens thirteen years ago during the Rebellion of King Julius.
And that friend he wanted to save…must be someone that King Julius executed….Hmmm.
It seems that there are a lot of things he still needs to uncover. The Wellham’s also was purge thirteen years ago. Thirteen years ago the Great general also wanted to march East.
Thirteen years ago…hmm Charles mused.
It seems King Julius will never be able to sit still in that throne of his.
The famous General of Midgard, the Wellham’s and the Martell’s all are still in some way alive and a thorn to his eyes.
‘I could use this to my advantage’ Charles mused as his mind spins new ideas and strategy.
‘So, there is such story. No wonder. Looking at the temperament of that Senior Mad Fairy it didn’t make sense that she would take it lying down and not search for my uncle. Now, it seems it’s not like she didn’t want to seek him but she is unable to.’
‘So what should we do with him?
‘What is your opinion?’ Charles asked Tu Jia and Tian Ji.
‘Hmm….this boy while he did not possess superior internal energy or any powerful swordsmanship, his lightness skill is very powerful. If not for the reason that my cultivation and battle experience I would not be able to catch him when he first run away.’ Tu Jia gives his opinion.
‘I am of the same opinion Young Master’ Tian Ji reply. Charles looks at Liu Yi, crouched down and looks at the clear face of Liu Yi and said with a smile
‘I have decided’
His next words shock all those that is present.