SONG OF HEROES CHAPTER 25: DARK SILHOUETTE

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28 PUREMOON 1501 AFTERFIRE, 13 YEAR OF JULIAN ERA. 

His breathing slowly regains its rhythm. The maps are hidden inside the chest pockets of his clothes. 

The water drips. The grass sways left and right and the leaves rustle in the darkness of the night. The crickets hums a song. 

He sit still.  

With each breath, he takes slowly.  

Sweats slowly drips from his forehead. His heart is beating to the rhythm of his breath, like he was one with the forest. 

It was almost like he is the tree in this forest, unmoving and still. Charles was calm. Probably the most calm he has been today.  

‘Shelter.  I need a shelter’ He whisper to himself.  The wind felt cold as it pass over his skin.  

As he thought of this, the dark clouds that has been there overcasting the sky finally bring down its water. 

Wind and water combined to make his body colder. 

‘Huu’ he takes a deep breath regulating his inner energy. 

Thunder accompanied the water, as beating of Ulr hammer could be heard in the skies.  

The after effects of the light sparking in the Heavens, shows a shadows of Ulr, reflected in the clouds, his visage angry and dignified, as Charles look at the skies. 

‘Illusions and myth’ he said to himself. And the thunder sounded again. He smiles bitterly. 

‘Ulr’ he said.  

‘Is it only a myth?’ He thought to himself and found himself doubting himself.  

He is cold. He is afraid. And he is powerless. Thus, his mind plays tricks. But then he remembers his weird experience…and he could not truly says that magic didn’t exist.  

And if magic exist…could there also be Gods?  

Could the old stories be real? The fairytales?  

The grim dark stories his nanny used to told him when he was a child? Of merwoman, of old witch waiting in the dark forest, of a giant spider that spits fire and eats children? 

He clicked his tongue. 

‘Not the time’ he thought to himself. For now survive, he said to himself. On his hand, the dagger is gripped tightly. 

The dagger is still fresh, blood dripping from it.  

Charles got it from a soldier he killed.  

Luring him into a trap and letting a large rock falls into the head of that soldier, he then proceed to loot the soldiers from his possession. 

The sky slowly filling the ground with rain. The hard ground becomes wet, soft. Below, the soldiers of Liao is waiting.  

Charles did not see it but he could feel it…. That sensation of danger. That White Dragon of Liao has no reason to lie.  

So, he could not yet come down.  

And before he came down he at least need to make sure his life will not be jeopardized. The guards he has, is now probably dead, while Liu Yi might also die from the initial attack. 

Even as he thinks of all of this grim possibilities, Charles keep walking forward. His breathing calm, his face was expressionless and he exudes a single-minded pursuit. 

All of his desperation was sheathed inside his heart.  

He knew he could not broke down.  

Even as the rain falls down on his thin and small body, as the thunders strikes the clouds, he was not startled or afraid.  

His feet keep moving, one step forward each time. 

The hard ground has turn soft, and his feet slowly felt heavy as the mud accumulate on his feet.  

It was at this time, tired but determine, he unconsciously used the internal energy on his feet, his feet moves according to the rhythm of the wind, following the sounds, one with nature.  

Of course Charles himself did not realizes this. Because he was tired. And because he was determined. 

One need to sometimes look oneself from above to see but how many could see the tree without missing the forest, seeing the forest but not forgetting the tree, seeing both the trees and forest and yet not neglecting the flowers living inside the forest, below the tree? 

To be one with nature, is too see everything, to embrace yet not to be influenced.  

It is easier to say that than to do it and many master have come to the same conclusion. To be natural.  

Being natural means naturally one will be accordance to the Earth and Heavens.  

But how any realizes it and how many could manipulate that state.  

Did Charles broke that state?  

No, he did not. He only unconsciously tapped into it.  

Like any beast that is cornered, like any person driven into the edge of a cliff.  

When someone embraces death yet at the same time did not lose hope for life, he become natural in movement and instinct. 

But determined and tired, will make one blind like Charles is now.  

Walking a step forward, he did not realizes his steps are faster than normal, nor did he realizes he is executing twelve Steps of Heaven using the most minimal usage of his internal energy. 

When he dodges tree, he uses the Dragon Gliding Through The Sky, as the energy was minimized by Careless employing the Fairy Points the Way to Immortal Abode, the second step of Twelve Steps of Heaven. 

The leaves on the ground were sweep away by the vibrational energy released by his feet as he moves.  

Yet even this he did not notice.  

He is too fast. Too tired. Too determined.  

So, he did not see. He did not feel 

The distribution of energy in his feet and his breathing creates a synergy, a harmony between nature and his energy. 

This is the core of the Third Step Stepping on Top of the Dragon Scale.  

Yet, even this he did not notice.  

He leaps forward yet at the same time he understand nothing. When this crisis ends, he will not remember anything.  

Nor will he notice anything. 

It is not enlightenment. Accidentally being one with nature does not mean one becomes a master.  

An enlightenment is an enlightenment, an accumulation of good luck and crystallization of wisdom.  

Accidental means it could not be replicated nor should it be replicated. 

If there is one thing that could be said a flaw for Charles is that he thinks too much. The purer the mind, the easier one to advance in martial arts. 

Being pure of mind does not mean being stupid.  

It means being true to one heart, and as one is true to one own heart, so does the mind will follow the heart.  

It is not that honorable men did not know offending powerful men will bring them terrible death, but their heart could not be lied to.  

They rather face death than not being true to one heart.  

Charles was full of schemes.  

As one who dares scheme against the world, his intelligence would surely shock the world, and there is nothing to be said about his bravery. 

But thinking too much….it would be detrimental to become a powerful martial artist.  

Li Wentian become the Old Immortal not by playing in schemes or plotting but by being true to his core belief. 

This, Charles lack.  

And until he realizes that himself, he would never be a great man that could wield a sword that could cut apart everything and a fist that could break through everything. 

Even now, as he should have realized the weird movement his body is doing he is more concerned about the encirclement below the mountain. 

From what Charles deduced it will not be long before that encirclement will be broken.  

After all, how could the many states in Aeropa be so ignorant? 

This is Liao territory but the rulers of the sates of Aeropa would surely come if they hear about the Treasure of the Han. 

Of course the states will not attack Liao but they can send a few of their elites to open the encirclement and to invite some of the martial artist back to their states and tell them what happens here.  

They all would surely be interested. 

So, Liao also has a time limit. 

Of course how could Charles knew that right now at the foot of the mountain, that Wu Di and Xue Hua has killed seventy person each, breaking the encirclement by themselves and has fled while the renowned strategist Xu Bailong was injured in his shoulder by a spear strike from Xue Hua. 

The renowned strategist of Liao retreated as heroes march forth and leap to their freedoms. 

They all have retreated awhile the sects and martial artist all have fled the Tuhulu Mountain and seek safety from their friends and sects.  

The sect member of many martial artist that witness the battle on top of the Tuhulu Mountain is returning now to Aeropa to warns the kingdoms and states of Aeropa about Liao 

Liao is casting its eyes to invade and pillage, to unify the Central Plains. But they also spread the news about the reappearance of the Martial Emperor and Heaven Punishment. 

These two great master who once rocked the martial world has appeared again and surely old masters that wanted to settle old debts will also reappears. 

Charles however, did not knew of this matter, so he stays in the mountain.  

He seeks shelters while avoiding detection not knowing that his pursuers have already been dismantled, Xu Bailong retreated and the Liao forces all have returned.  

But the mountain is not yet empty.  

There is still many members of Heaven and Earth Gate hiding here searching for the Holy Son of the Jade Palace. 

While Charles did not knew about the soldiers retreating, he knew that there is still members of the Heaven and Earth Gate since he nearly run into one in his escapades. 

The reason why Charles need a shelter is to keep his will to survive or more improtantly his body. His will to survive is high and his determination is undoubtable.  

But his body is still of that of child, no matter how many reserve his internal energy he has in reserve.  

If this was anybody else, they would probably be in despair.  

But Charles knew.  

To always maintain calm. The more dangerous spot you are in, the more important it is for you to become calm.  

Thankfully his clothes are made of high quality fabric. 

He should also consider a few consideration when choosing the site of his helter. 

It must provide concealment from enemy observation, has escape route, and provide protection from wild animals and rocks and dead trees that might fall especially in a large forest like this 

It was then he saw a crevice hidden by a tree.  

The crevice is hard to spot since it is below a hill. If not for the wind sweeping the branches and slightly reveal that crevice, he would have missed it.  

He stops and the state of one with nature was stopped.  

He did not notice what he lost but that was because his concentration was concentrated toward that opening inside the crevice. 

‘A cave’ he muttered.  

The leaves of the sturdy trees rustles as thunder shout towards each other in the sky. 

Ulr is hard at work striking his hammer. Charles somehow is reminded of the lore that he used to hear when he was child.  

Slowly Charles hike down towards that crevice. Slowly and cautiously. The ground is slippery and the rain shows no signs of letting up. 

Arriving at the front of the hole he smiles. It is truly a cave. With the thunder getting louder, he quickly enter the cave. 

Drenched in water and full of mud and leaves sticking on his clothes he felt relieved that he felt warm, inside the cave 

He sits and seeks a dry spot inside that cave. He did not take a deep breath instead he quickly moves. 

He doesn’t have too much time. He is too tired by now. The dagger on his hand has loosened a bit.  

So, he must be faster. He gathered rocks. Found some dry twigs untouched by the heavy rain on top of the crevice. 

Fortunately, there is a tall tree that covered this opening to this cave. It is a perfect place for him to seek shelter. 

It provides concealment and it is dry but it will not be for long as the water slowly seeps in inside the cave 

With rocks he created a fire wall to direct the heat where he wanted it.  

He created a kindling of fire using small twigs and when there is a kindling of fire he rips a part of his cloth and feed it to the fire.  

Warmth fills him as he dries his clothes. 

He was nearly caught by a soldier.  

But he has killed that soldier using only a few traps and wits. There is many things in is mind right now.  

How to get out of this situation.  

How to get past the blockade. 

And there is many ways….if he still possess his original body.  

Even though here he knows martial arts his attainment are pitifully low, and unable to break through encirclement by himself. 

With short feet and short hands, there is a gap in his thoughts and actions that create dissonance in his movements. 

‘There is nothing I can do about that’ he said as he huddled up near the fire. It is a temporary shelter.  

He also stocks up the water by letting the rainwater drops into his leather flask. 

With the fire brightly burning Charles already stock up quite a large amounts of dry twigs, and branches.  

Dry leaves could be seen scattered around nears the makeshift bed made of leaves 

Only then did he take a deep breath. The moment he take his breath, he was spent. Fatigue overtakes him.  

He falls down onto his makeshift bed.  

The rain outside reminds him of a peaceful evening, having tea in his estate in England before the World War. 

He shakes his head.  

Another world, another life.  

In that life he was also involved heavily in warfare but yet he did not rack up military contribution because he lack certain things. 

Decisiveness and the desire to come out on top. Unless you aim for the top, then you would always lose to the person who is aiming for that. 

Experience has shape this Charles.  

He is in a child body, but he is mature beyond his years, determination shone in that eyes of him.  

But beyond that determination…it is ambition. A hungry wolf that is eager to devour. A sharp, dangerous, wild untamed ambition. 

The moment he sent that letter to Southern Han, he knew he could not turn back.  

Precisely because of that he sent the letter.  

He wanted to cut off any thought to turn back.  

In this new life, he is determined.  

If he lose, he would become dust and ashes. But if he wins his name would be immortalized in the annals of history. 

Now that he is slightly relaxed he sits as he opens the map.  

Being written on beast skin, it is ancient . But the map shows outline. A part of the map. He knows there is other parts of this map. 

As his hand traces the beast skin, Charles felt something sticking out from the back of the map. It was then he flip the map and saw a scribbled words 

’Righteous Temple, The Sealed Pagoda, Ninth Floor, in the wooden floor where Enlightened One reclines’’ 

‘Righteous Temple?’  

It was then something clicked in his mind. If there is one thing Lin Ziyan value the most about this disciple of hers, it was his intelligence that surpasses others. 

Charles knows the gist of the story of this map.  

The map first belongs to the Saber Monarch.  

It is reasonable to say that when his master defeated the Saber Monarch she takes the map and probably that one part of the map is in Jade Palace Gate. 

And Charles also knows that Tu Jia and Tian Ji before they became like that was famous in Jianghu and do anything they wanted. 

Probably they too got a hold of the map locations since this is the kind of thing that they likely would do.  

In their time, the Ancient treasure of Han must be one of the fabled treasures and capture the imagination of all martial artist of Aeropa.  

Or maybe it was them that have the map in the first place and hides it in the Righteous Temple. 

‘If this conjecture is true, then, I have to visit two places. But if the rewards are truly as it rumored to be, then it will not be a wasted trip.’ Charles remembered what Su Wen said in the gathering 

‘ 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.’ He quoted exactly. 

‘That must be the Jade Palace Gate.’ Charles muttered to himself.  

Looking at the map on his hand it was ripped from two direction. So, it is logical to say or more reasonable to say that there is three parts of the map.  

Of course there could be more. But what Charles is thinking right now, he hopes that it is only three. 

If it’s only three this task would be easier. 

If not, he just need to spend a little bit more effort. As he look at the map, illuminated by the fire he makes, Charles notices something.  

‘Isn’t this…’as he saw the illustrations on the map. It reminds him of something. 

‘Could it be…..’  As he squinted his eyes and then he laughs.  

‘I didn’t think this is the case. I forgot. Where is the root of Ancient Han? Isn’t it there? No wonder why Aeropean never found it! HAHAHAHA! So, that is the reason.  Fine! It like the Heavens want me to find this treasures. I will seek the other pieces.’ 

He was excited as he laughed half naked  

‘Where should I go first? Should I go to the Temple first or the Gate first?’ Even as he said it a smile formed on his face. 

He notice something important in this part of the map. No wonder the renowned strategists wanted this part of the map.  

It is probably the most important hint about the whereabouts of the treasures. But Charles also confident that Shadow Shroud Sect make a copy of this map.  

So, he need to be fast. Else by the sheer power of wills, the Shadow Shroud Sect might find the treasures before him even if they didn’t have the other part of the map. 

It was then after his curiosity has been sated, he could go to sleep. He is already to tired to think about other stuff. 

Leave it for tomorrow his body seems to be saying. So, he went to sleep. 

But unbeknown to him, a pair of eyes is looking at him outside the cave. The lightning flashes day and a dark silhouette was reflected on the entrance of the cave.  

Blood streams down from that person clothes. Dripping furiously as the rains washed down the bloody red.  

That person, then walked forward entering the cave. 

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Here is a new chapter after a long time hiatus following LS return. Now, LS in hiatus so this series and Age of Adventure will be posted. Hope you all like it and thanks for reading 

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