25 PUREMOON 1501 AFTERFIRE, 13 YEAR OF JULIAN ERA.
The peak was filled with tables, with each table full with valiant heroes and cunning schemers with each one with their plans and objectives.
Lifting the wine cup, they toast and cheer each other with smiles hiding blades.
The tent was reserved for people with sects while the tables were full with vagrant and wandering martial artist.
They all came to enjoy the festivities and to have something to talk about while they wander the world and met fellow martial artist.
Many secret factions also appeared like the Yi Manor and the Su Villa, bringing with them their disciples in armor.
Some look at Charles tent with a mixture of shock and incredulity but none dare speak anything.
They were incredulous to think that even a child is allowed to come here to this gathering.
They were shocked because the two bodyguards beside the young boy seem to be powerful reaching almost the peak of middle realm of Worldly Wanderer level.
Some wanted to protest that a child is allowed to come but then they look at the curtain tent of Swordsman Zhu and they restrain themselves as they calm themselves down.
After all Swordsmen Zhu was a disciple of the Divine Sword Mountain when he was ten. At least this new Holy Son of the Jade Palace Gate is eleven.
After all everyone knows that Jade Palace Gate Sect is a mysterious sect and their martial arts are wondrous.
This reputation is not built in a day but built in a span of a thousand years.
Martial artist of course knew the backstory of Charles Martel.
Lancel Martel was famous in Jianghu and has relations with the Successor of the Jade Palace Gate, the Purple Fairy.
This is why they were wary interacting with Charles and Charles also knows this. Not because he was the Holy Son of Jade Palace Gate but because he was a noble of Midgard.
This is different than when Lancel was journeying since he was the Second Son and has no title other than the second son of Wellham.
But Charles Martel is the third son of the General Arthur Martel family, a Titled Prince of Westhold.
In Westhold Prince Arthur word is law. Offend someone in Jianghu one could hide from the victim but offending a noble personage, they would hunt you to the end of the earth.
Not to mention The Martell holds military power.
The most troublesome thing for a martial artist which values freedom over other thing is to involve in nobles fight especially a foreign noble problem.
They are not idiots. It is obvious that Charles use Liu Yi to offer some of the martial artist here a chance to be recruited by him.
They could only sigh as they do not dare. There is also the fact that he was a Northmen.
The Aeropean does not discriminate in teachings of martial arts if not how could heroes like Black Dragon Rheon Shone, Red Sword Lancel and the Vicious Tiger of The Tiger Gorge could exist?
But that does not mean they would actively seek out a Northmen to impart their skills.
After all they were not natives of either Aeropa or Midgard. They were from Old Norveg, the old Empire that rule in the far North which now is a sea.
They were rebels.
Of course the cause of that rebellion were the fault of the old empire of ancient Han but still to some people of Aeropa they surely will not forget that Midgard was once their Empire.
If not for the Bourbon dynasty that assimilates both culture and promote culture blending, the hatred of both races might not have been alleviated.
Even in Midgard many officials have some form of relations with some Aeropean and the same could be said for Aeropean which interacted with many Northmen.
Charles looks at the tent intently as he tries to remember the feeling of that sword intent. It was straight.
It was the straightforwardness feeling of his sword that leaves such an indelible impact on Charles mind.
He wanted to comprehend that sword intent since it bears a resemblance like his teacher sword intent but fiercer.
His teacher sword intent while it is calm it possesses a sharpness that he couldn’t possess not with his currents strength.
Yet he did not have any weaker sparring partner.
He knew that by only interacting with his teacher his normal sense of sword strike might be perverted since his teacher is actually bad at teaching and do not know how to hold back her power when doing a demonstration .
If not for his own comprehension he would not have progressed this fast. It is not that Lin Ziyan is a good teacher but it is Charles that is a good student.
Charles had the feeling that the swordsman Zhu sword intent and his personality are one and the same. His action depended solely on his likes and dislikes, loves and hates.
It almost seemed like even his intestines were straight. And Charles could feel that if his sword left its sheath it would have a sharp cold edge, as straight as the precipice of the mountain.
Zhu Liang on the other hand, sitting on his seat, his eyes was sharp as he scanned the area and nodding.
As he pondered the sword intent, the organizer of the meet yelled
‘My name is Su Wen from Shadow Shroud Sect. Today, let us first toast the fallen heroes fighting the Saber Monarch!’ and the heroes all lift their wine cup and down it in one gulp.
Some nodded in agreement while some have moisture on their eyes.
The monk did not touch the drink but their eyes are showing ferocity the moment they heard the name Saber Monarch.
Then looking at the heroes gathered here he smiles and then with a solemn look he yelled his voice booming filling the mountain peak.
‘The Heaven and Earth Gate have descended from their Mountain and supporting them is the Great General Tuoba Yu. The Heaven and Earth Gate have conquered all the small sects on Liao and they are moving west. Jiuyuan, Yunzhong, Shanggu, Yanmen, these cities of the Barbarian have all submitted to Liao King and created a collation with Murong Yun is heading to Chu while Tuoba Yu will head to Han.’
He spoke these words clearly and loudly, his voice vibrated between the mountains. The heroes gulped after hearing this.
‘And the reason why they are coming here is because of this.’ And Su Wen brings out a beast skin from one of his pockets.
‘The Lost treasures of Ancient Han. This is one of the maps that shows the location of the treasures and it is because of this the Saber Monarch comes to the Central Plains all those years ago. The Liao wanted this map for they desire the wealth and with it they would use the ancient treasure of Han to rule the world. And it is known that some martial art sect possesses the other part of the map hence the Heaven and Earth gate mission of ruling the martial world.’
Hearing the lost treasure of Ancient Han almost all heroes on the peak perked their ears. This famous treasure has always been called a myth of wealth.
But today, a piece of the map is revealed. Almost all people in Jianghu and the states in Central Plains of Aeropa had at least once heard of this treasure.
But Charles was surely not the native of Aeropa thus he did not know. But he surely realizes the change in the surrounding the moment Su Wen mention the ancient treasure of Han.
Tian Ji and Tu Jia shares glance that shows a different expression than the other people on this peak.
It was not a look of shock, awe or greed. It was a look of understanding. Like they realizes something.
On the tent of Zhu Liang sword intent is slowly rising. His face did not show any change but the feeling has stirred and as feeing stirred, his intent grown fiercer.
Liao. It is a thorn to the many kingdoms of the Central Plains of Aeropa. But this is the martial world.
The fight between nations while it affects them, it does not affect them as terrible as it will affect the commoners.
Commoners are weak and martial artist is strong.
In times of war, many martial artists rise to become generals but not all wanted to enter the secular world and gain fame and fortune.
To walk the martial path means to polish the mind and hone their skills. Wars and battles are different.
Each martial artist knew this.
‘Isn’t this the gathering for capturing the Saber Monarch? Aren’t we all here to skin that Saber Monarch and stole back the manuals he stole when he raided many schools during his last visit to the Central Plains? When did this gathering becomes a gathering for a treasure hunt?’ A voice booms in the back part of the large crowd near the platform.
It was a drunken martial artist that spoke, his hair is scruffy and his clothes were full of holes.
His cheek is red, with his odor reeks of alcohol and he has a round belly, while on his back is a wooden staff.
Su Wen did not flinch as he cupped his hand and said
‘Junior Su welcomes Senior Liang to the gathering. I did not notice Senior is there if not this Junior would surely greet Senior.’
The other was shocked. It turns out the drunken old man was actually the Drunken Beggar Liang Wangsun.
The people on his table all got up from their seat and perform a greeting. The Drunken Beggar only slightly nodded before gesturing them to sit again.
The Drunken Beggar is known for his Drunken Palm and Drunken Fist and is also a powerful senior as he used to contend with the Three Grandmaster during his youth.
‘Cut the crap!’ He shouted as he flick the bean on his plate and like a bullet it shot to Su Wen foot.
Su Wen was shocked but he tap his foot to the ground and dashed backward, gliding backward as the bean make a hole on the position where Su Wen feet was there.
‘Impressive for a young hero! Hahaha.’ The Drunken Beggar laughs as he drinks down another bowl of wine.
‘Thank you for the guidance’ Su Wen said but he was gritting his teeth.
‘Now, I thought I could come here to drink and watch people fight and then we could go down the mountain and hunt that ungrateful little Saber kid. Now, you want us to gather our strength to help the Central Plains?’
‘We all belongs to the Central Plains, Senior.’ Su Wen reply there is a trace of anger in his tone and he tries to hides it.
‘Tch’ the Drunken Beggar snorted as he could feel the feigned respect from Su Wen face. He has been in the martial world since he was a child, how could he not now people by now?
How could he not know people are scheming?
What hunt for Saber Monarch? Looking at it, this is just another ploy from the Central Plains of Aeropa to involve the martial artist into another war.
‘HAHAHA. Who sent you? Are you the dogs of Wei or Han? Or Qi?’ Drunken Beggar insulted Su Wen as Su Wen face flushed red.
‘Yes, we are the people of the Central Plains but we are not the army or soldiers. We are martial artist. We are more powerful than normal person, yes, since we train our body and souls but we are not invincible.’
And he hiccupped as he continues again, his body sway left and right as he moved forward.
‘Unless we are like Old Immortal Li that could defeat a thousand men alone, we are but slightly better fighter than normal people. You, Su Wen with your abilities could at least be a Vice Commander. Unless you reached middle World Wanderer level you would never be a great General like the Black Dragon. And here, today at this gathering how many people is actually at Worldly Wanderer level? Ptui’ he spits on the ground as he look at Su Wen in disdain.
‘Senior please calm down’ Su Wen tries to calm down the Drunken Beggar
‘This is bullshit! You first said you wanted the heroes to fight the Saber Monarch now you wanted them to fight the Liao? If these people wanted to fight the Liao, then ask them to join the army! Hmph’ the Drunken Beggar get up from his seat
‘Senior, wait’ Su Wen said but the Drunken Beggar execute a palm attack from ten feet away.
Gust of wind compressed and shoot towards Su Wen as Su Wen uses his Tiger Pouncing From the Shadow trying to dissipate the compressed wind.
The fist and palm strike collided, the wind disperse and the fist broken as Su Wen retreat ten step behind coughing a little blood.
‘Drunk Old Man, leaving so early?’ as a majestic and powerful voice envelops the peak.
Charles who was still amazed at the palm strike of the Drunken Beggar was shocked this time as the voice seems to echoes all over the peak.
He also notices Tu Jia is not here. He did not realize when Tu Jia is gone. When he looks at Tian Ji, Tian Ji just jerked her head not knowing where he goes.
Charles put it behind his mind as he could feel a violent energy is coursing through his body and forcing him to focus his mind on stabilizing his internal energy.
Tian Ji on the other hand look towards the area of the platform as she whispered
‘Are you planning to get it, Wu gege?’
Meanwhile when the crowd was still shocked hearing the voice reverberating on the Peak, Tu Jia was somewhere near the platform.
All people attention is on the staircase, curios of the owner of that voice.
Su Wen was gritting his teeth and balling his fist as nothing is going as he planned.
Shaking his head while sighing, he descended from the platform and wanted to go to his other senior and ask help when he bumps into Tu Jia.
This small event did not alarm anyone as Su Wen look at Tu Jia and just cupped his hand and Tu Jia nodded as Su Wen anxiously moved along.
Everyone already recognize these mask person.
The mute and deaf servant of the Holy Son of Jade Palace Gate sect so he did not say anything as Su Wen rushed to his seniors.
Tu Jia on the other hand smiles mischievously as he pat his chest feeling something else is stuffed inside his pocket as he rushed back to Charles tent, smiling.
Meanwhile on the area near the central area of the peak, the heroes could still hear the echoes of that voice, which have effect on the internal energy.
Only the Evil sect seems to be unaffected.
‘Drunk Old Man, leaving so early?’
‘Drunk Old Man, leaving so early?’
‘Drunk Old Man, leaving so early?’
Charles chants the Heartless Sutra calming his heart as he closes his senses especially his ears as he could feel his internal energy was riled up and had the chance of being berserk.
‘That voice has violent Qi’ Tian Ji whispers.
Tian Ji put her palm on Charles back, channeling her internal energy to help Charles calm his violent outburst of energy.
Charles was sweating on his forehead and his hand was trembling but he manages to say Thank you to Tian Ji as his chanting fills his mind as his internal energy slowly calms down.
It did not end there. The moment the echo ended, the person arrives, his footsteps could be heard as he climb the staircase.
The closer he is to the Peak, the fearsome that aura that appears before become. Zhu Liang hand was on his sword; his mind and body are not affected by the shouting before.
His heart and his mind are one, none betraying the other. He will not say what he did not believe and will not do what he didn’t want to.
A straight, unbending, unbreakable person.
Drunken Beggar on the other hand keeps drinking just waiting for the person to arrive no longer interested in joining this farce.
He looks towards one of the peaks in the distance and his smile turns bitter.
‘You’re here too, Bailong?’
And when he arrives, a thick slaughter intent envelope the whole peak that causes the Four Evils to tremble.
Zhu Liang grips his sword and unsheathes it from his sheath.
‘Senior Old Demon, you are not welcome here. Begone now’
And he shot forward; his body lurched forward catapulting himself forward as he glides through the air, his sword intent rises up to the Heavens, a straight sword strike aimed at the old man heart.
The old man was smiling. Then suing his finger he caught that sword strike between his fingers.
All the heroes present were shocked.
Nobody here would dare to receive that sword strike, and even more could not see the sword strike technique when it was being executed.
But some discerning eyes could see. Tu Jia snorted while Tian Ji beamed in excitement. Charles was puzzled and confused.
‘Hidden dragons are everywhere here’ he mused.
It was straight and unbelievably fast. The footwork requires and the strength of body needed to execute that technique, only a few swordsmen in the world could do it.
The title prodigy isn’t wasted on Zhu Liang.
Yet this old man not only receive it but he even broke Swordsman Zhu sword strike.
‘You don’t think I deserve a seat? Youngster these days lack manners’ he said while smirking malevolently.
The Drunken Beggar, take a gulp of wine from his wine gourd, looking at this spectacle and the pale faces of the organizer and the heroes present, hiccups and then said
‘Old Demon Yao, don’t tease promising youngster. If that kid Ling Tianfeng knew you humiliate his grand disciple he would not be at ease until he comes to your Demon Mountain and request a duel’
The other heroes were shocked once again.
Kid Ling Tianfeng?
In the martial world who would dare speak the name Ling Tianfeng with such utter disregard.
Ling Tianfeng is one of the three Great grandmasters and the current sect leader of the Divine Sword Mountain.
‘Oh, little Ling grand disciple. Finally he found a good seed. But, this boy tries to attack me. Leave your sword’
Then with one jerk of his finger Old Demon forces the force of internal energy infused on Zhu Liang sword strike to be rebounded back on Zhu Liang forcing him to release his grip.
But he did not.
Straight…also means being stubborn. And Zhu Laing stubbornness surpasses other people stubbornness.
If not how could he cultivate the Codex of Ten Thousand Sword of the Divine Sword Mountain and become the most apparent choice to inherit the position of sect leader in the future?
His internal energy exploded out but colliding with the Old Demon internal energy, it was devoured and crushed forcing once again Zhu Laing to release the sword.
Yet, he was still stubborn with the Drunken Beggar shaking his head in disapproval.
But he did not release his sword and the Old Demon also did not have the desire to give it back.
‘Hoh’ that is the only thing he exclaimed.
Two terrifying internal energy collided with each other, the other one was domineering pure while the other one was domineeringly chaotic.
Yet, how could Zhu Liang contend with the old Demon, one of the Three Calamitous Star of the Evil Sect?
This time, Zhu Liang internal energy was almost sent into a berserk condition.
‘I would not let people said that I bullied a kid. This is my last move. ‘
And he jerked the finger where he was holding the sword and like the ringing of the bell, the sword vibrates but Zhu Liang still did not release the sword even though he knew what is going to happen.
The Old Demon sighed, released the sword from between his finger as the entire Peak heard the sound of bones snapping.
Zhu Liang hand was broken with his five fingers all cracked and slowly broke, his breath was labored and his right hand was trembling in pain.
Yet, on his hand, his sword is still on him. He did not lose his sword.
‘You lot of the Divine Sword Mountain are all stubborn. Mark my word. One day you will all die because of your stubbornness.’
Then flinging his sleeve Zhu Liang was thrown back but he landed gracefully, his left hand now holds his sword.
Zhu Liang first cupped his hand and nodded in appreciation showing that the Old Demon going easy on him did not escape his attention.
But that is that. This is this.
The Old Demon appearance rattles a lot of people here especially on the righteous sects as they are cautious and vigilant, their hands on their weapons, ready to pounce once someone begins.
He then said his voice slightly rose up
‘Old Demon, do you want to break the truce between the Three Great temples with your Demon Mountain?’
His eyes swept through the entire peak and wherever his eye gazes, the heroes dares not meets his eyes.
‘Truce? Hmm. The truce is still effective. From the moment I came here, I did no kill anyone. I only came here to pick up an old friend’ The Drunken Beggar nodded as he walked to the Old Demon and laughed.
‘The matters of the world, truly it is reprehensible. The world is no longer peaceful’ he said wile laughing as passes by the Old Demon and pats his shoulder.
It is enough, Old Yao. People of different aspiration should not have met. This could not be stopped. And you could not stop it. And you must not stop it. You are a citizen of Liao. Whichever you choose, you are a traitor. So, borrowing the words of those boring monks of the Righteous Temple “Isn’t it fine not to choose?”
Old Demon smiles and said
‘That is what I intend to do. People who wanted treasures could fight for treasures. People who wanted to become a patriot can become a patriot. People who wanted to be a hero could become a hero. Let them all choose. I am only the messenger.’
‘Old Demon what are you talking about?’ Zhu Liang said as he felt something is wrong.
Now that he has the chance to calm himself he realizes that there is other aura here all over the peak.
Because of the domineering slaughter intent of the Old Demon Zhu Liang did not notice these other aura that was overshadowed by Old Demon slaughter intent.
Now, that he senses the other aura, his left hand grip his sword tighter as he look at the Old Demon with apprehension.
The Old Demon turns back as he follows behind Drunken Beggar climbing down the staircase.
But he managed to leave his sword.
‘White Dragon of Liao is coming. Your gathering here is a trap.’ Saying this both the Drunken Beggar and the Old Demon jumped down to the forest trail.
‘What?’ Su Wen on the platform was shocked. Before he could even process what the Old Demon means, suddenly the sound of gong being hit filled the area.
Fire arrows were released and people with armor burst out from the forest, while another corps of soldiers jump up from the edges of the peaks.
Blade unsheathed, spears trusted out, a great battle unfolding as a person dressed in white robe reveals himself standing on one of the peaks, overseeing the battle as he shouted.
‘Retrieve the map, kill the heroes of the Central Plains that resist and capture Zhu Liang and the Holy Son of the Jade Palace alive.’
Su Wen was a coward man. He wanted to throw the map and run away. So, he rummaged his pocket and to his abject terror he realizes the map is not there.
‘Do not kill me! Someone else stole the map!’ He shouted before he undresses himself. The White Robe eyebrows frowned.
Before Su Wen managed to undress himself fully an arrow pierces his head and one of the elite soldiers rushed to the corpse and check his belonging. The elite soldier looks toward White Robe and shake his head
The White Robe eyes glint dangerously before he order
‘Capture all the martial artist! Those who did not surrender kill! Find the map!’
YES, Master Strategist! They all replied as they moves even faster, fighting even fiercer.
Waves of energy burst out on top of the Peak, slashing and striking, cutting and cleaving as screams and wailing could be heard.
A great battle is fought with death toll rising by the minutes. All the great heroes clashes sword. Heaven and Earth Gate Sect bring their expert to counter Central Plains expert.
Crazy Monk Tian Ru a veritable expert of the Northern Dark Temple is keeping Zhu Liang busy as the cackle of the crazy monk stood out even amongst the screams and shouting.
Since they are both at the Middle Realm of the Worldly Wanderer level, their strength and prowess could change the outcome of such small battle.
Zhu Liang wanted to help his fellow heroes while Crazy monk would not let him. So, both of them is clashing, sword with steel staff, as spark of fires exploded with each strikes.
Even with one hand broken, Zhu Liang manages to contend equally with Crazy monk Tian Ru while at the same time dodging arrows.
The Monks form the True Heart Temple realizing that Zhu Liang is being attacked on two sides jump up the peak and slaughter the archers, some with fist, some with their staff, hunting each one of the to lighten the burden of Swordsman Zhu.
The commander of Liao also stepped in as they rushed and fight with the Monks of the True Heart Temple, not allowing them to do as they pleased and reducing the archers of their kingdom.
When it seems the tides of battle turns to the people of the Central plains of Aeropa, four people, clothed in beast fur leap from one of the peaks and enter battle, killing people with their fist as the stench of blood pervaded the peak.
‘The Four Tigers of Liao!’ some exclaimed as the Four Evils jumped forward and each one of them took to duel the Fur Tiger one on one.
Almost all the great heroes that are below Heavenly Immortal realm are here.
Charles could see all of this and he could not help but reminded of the word war of the other Earth.
Only in that world there were full of gunshot, while this world, the people fought using cold weapon.
For a kid his age he was unnaturally calm which sometimes frightens Tian Ji.
Charles was protected by Tian Ji and Tu Jia as they quickly rushed to the staircase as dozens of the soldiers are rushing to his tent to capture him
‘Hurry Young Master. We will protect you. We must leave this mountain!’ Tu Jia said as he unleashed a torrent of saber strike to one of the elite soldier that manage to jump from one of the hills and landed in front of Charles.
The elite soldiers did not even last three second before his limbs are all cleaved apart as Charles stomp the elite soldier head and rushed forward his golden shoes is now bloodied red.
On the other peak, arrows are aimed at him. Most of them are coated in paralyzing poison. The White Robe has ordered the boy to be captured not to be killed.
It is lucky stroke of chance that a person of the Jade Palace Gate appears in the Gathering of Heroes.
But to many, this is not a lucky stroke of chance but all a part of the calculation of the White Robe.
White Robe look at swordsman Zhu and the fleeing Charles and he frowned.
‘How could the bodyguard that guarded that boy could be that strong?’ He mused. His eyebrows creased as his white robe fluttered by the wind.
‘A minimal error at the start leads to a wide divergence in the distance. They must be killed first to avoid divergence from my plan’
Under the eyes of the White Robe, heroes of the Central Plains are dying as fires engulf the Peak of Tuhulu Mountain with a thousand soldiers encircling the Mountain making it a large prison.
The famous White Dragon Xu Bailong name will shake the entire Aeropa after today battle concludes.
New page of history is being opened. Liao is attacking the states of the Central Plains.
Here is the new chapter. Now, Charles journey truly begins after this ordeal ended. Hope you like it and leave some comments of supports or belter, donate some bucks for coffee.