05 SPRINGMONTH 1501 AFTERFIRE, 13 YEAR OF JULIAN ERA
The day is windy, as birds circle the forest.
Trees shed leaves, rustling down gently to the ground
The nearby small river surges on ceaselessly. Charles soak all of this in, his heart wide open, his body embracing the wind.
It has been two months since they started travelling from Liao to go to Daliang. The reason why they have to travel so far from Liao is because they wanted to go to the Tranquility Mountain
It is where the Righteous Temple is situated in.
Daliang is also one of the states of Aeropa and is ruled by the Duan family. Daliang capital is Qianzong and it was a large area even bigger than the Han state of Aeropa.
The reason why they did not expand outwards was because of their low populations and harsh terrains of mountains.
But Daliang people is known to be brave and sturdy owing to the harshness of their environment.
Charles just arrived near the mountain area with Liu Yi behind him, both of them appears a little tired.
Liu Yi is wearing bamboo hat and wearing black robe that cover his body. Charles also wears a bamboo hat that hides his face, on his left hip dangles his sword scabbard.
The sword he has comes from one of the bandits that tried to rob him.
The bandit unfortunately was only normal bandits and not a bandits that knows martial arts.
In the two months they travel together they heard many stories relating on what happened on the Peak of Tuhulu Mountain.
Mostly they heard the stories on some taverns or inns they stayed at. They were careful too maintain a low profile and only chooses inn that is below the class of Charles since that would make people pay attention.
They heard that the infamous couple Heaven Punishment Xue Hua and Martial Emperor Wu Di has disappeared after the Battle on the Peak of Tuhulu Mountain.
Old Demon went to Han to wreak havoc but was stopped by Old Immortal. They engaged in a world shattering battle on Xianyang peak.
People said the battle split off hills and changes the clouds, as rains and thunders accompanied those two grandmaster in their battles.
Deterred by Old Immortal martial arts, the Old Demon retreated. Who would have known that the Old Demon was actually a distraction?
In the three days they fight on top of the mountain, Liao kingdom sent an army to invade Chu beginning the Western Invasion from Liao.
The Huergai tribe of Liao attacked Chu state from Yanmen and conquered Shang a large city of Chu.
Leading them was a man named Murong Yan.
In the Battle of Shang his name resounded through the Central Plains after his victory because he has the numerical inferiority and still managed to clinch victory.
His opponent was General Yu Ling of Chu.
General Yu Ling of Chu led an enormous trained army of 50 thousand soldiers in order to defeat the invasion force of Liao.
General Yu Ling garrisoned Shang, a good place for guarding the land and confronted the enemy for a month.
General Yu Ling was a young, brash and arrogant General, easily angered and has little war experience.
But he is praised in the capital of Chu as brilliant in war strategies theory.
Yet, real life and theories did not conform the same. How can books and the Classics told the hardship of laying on cold hard ground, or repelling the beast that roams the forest.
For a privileged Young master such as Yu Ling how could he ever hope to compare to Liao general who lives on the grassland and shares the blood of the Western Barbarian.
While they did not dare to cross the Dragon Pass of Midgard that is only because they fear and respect the Black Dragon.
There is a famous saying in the grassland and Midgard, that as long as the Black Dragon lives, the Western Barbarian would never be able to set foot on Midgard
But, that is Midgard. While this is Aeropa. There is no Black Dragon here. So, the Liao fear nothing as they come down south.
Who doesn’t know that Liao and the Western barbarian shares the same root?
They are strong, hardy and learning from young to ride their horse and archery, hunting in the steppes of the grassland.
They even rivaled the famed cavalry of Westhold.
General Murong Yun commands a small but elite and mobile soldiers proficient in riding.
He sent troops to burn Yu’s food transport vehicles and led crack forces to raid Yu army’s grain station and burned up all provisions in a fire that signaled the doom of General Yu Ling defense.
Not to mention General Yu Ling did not win the hearts of his soldiers, with even the food supplies dwindling, any strategist could see the expedition is doomed.
‘People is the essential part of the State, and food is the people’s heaven, is it not right that those in authority should value and be careful of both?’
That was what Charles say to Liu Yi after he heard the story of Yu Ling defeat.
Yet, General Yu Ling committed a taboo. He disregarded the opinions of his officers, relying in his theory instead of experience and loses his ration.
By not being careful, the Yu’s army with shattered morale either ran or surrendered.
General Yu Ling committed suicide on the city wall as he could not bear to watch the disaster that is about to befall his state.
The enemy’s cavalry hooves thunder through the land of Chu, killing and slaughtering, the blood flow through the tiles road of Shang, heads rolled from the walls.
Murong Yan then in an act of heroic chased and attacked by all routes and wiped out over 30,000 enemies.
Corpses littered the road from Shang to its border
The surviving officers fled to Beidi with only 1000 cavalries and the King of Chu in his anger fainted in his royal palace.
With this news Charles immediately knows that Aeropa is entering another period of war.
Chu is in terrible danger, Han as Chu neighbors has also strengthen their border security.
In other rumor Liu Yi heard the Heaven and Earth Gate Sect has massacred all members of Shadow Shroud Sect in their search for the pieces of map.
None was spared.
Blood flowed down from the forest trails leading to the Shadow Shroud Sect headquarters. They were merciless, cruel and swift in their execution.
At the same time the Heaven and Earth Gate Is also searching for Xue Hua and Wu Di. Charles believes Xu Bailong believes that the map is on them.
Xu Bailong also sends some of his secret agent to search form him since Charles was at the time protected by Xue Hua and Wu Di
Other than that, Charles did not know too many news.
He didn’t even dare contact the Jade Palace Gate since so many people searching for him and he had to pass Han so he did not have the opportunity to contact Jade Palace intelligence agency at Han.
It is for this reason Charles walks in disguise, covering his face sometimes.
After all he is conspicuous. He is a Northmen and possess white skin and blue eyes, with blonde hair.
He is not exactly like the people of Aeropa who has black hair and brown eyes.
He is conspicuous. So, he had no chicories but to disguise himself by altering his height and changing his muscle and bones.
Of course he could only change it for a short period of times since altering bones and altering muscles is not easy to do.
It is a disguising technique.
Charles only uses this technique if someone seems suspicious to him.
He learn this technique from Liu Yi.
Once again Charles was shocked of the techniques this Liu Yi learns.
He was not interested at all to learn those sword and saber technique or strengthening body technique, instead preferring to learn technique like running and changing faces.
It is called The Thirteen Silhouettes Techniques.
By using internal energy to forcefully elongate or shorten bones, contracting and relaxing muscles one could change facial structure and even body physique.
For those who masters this technique they could even impersonate someone.
But of course both Liu Yi and Charles could not master such techniques in just two months no matter how genius Charles seems to be.
Even Liu Yi who possess this manual for two years could only reach the Four Silhouette Level.
Charles only reached the first silhouette levels a few weeks before. Since then he tries to break through to Second Silhouette but he always fails.
But even though he only attains One Silhouette level, he could already confused and tricks his pursuers and that is all Charles needed.
As Charles think of many matters, Liu Yi hit Charles shoulder.
‘Charles, we arrived on the footpath of the Righteous temple.’ Charles was startled before he nodded as he looked up.
The Righteous temple was founded during the Sixteen Barbarian States Period in Midgard and during the years of instability in Aeropa.
It has a long history and was considered one of the leading force of orthodox martial arts after the Jade Palace Gate went into seclusion.
Charles saw the mountain peak. Surrounded by white clouds and flying birds, it looks like the residence of carefree immortals.
‘Brother Liu, let us rest for a while in that creek before we climb up
Liu Yi nodded
As they refill their leather flask with water from the creek, they could see many big fishes swimming freely inside the water.
Charles saw that the sun is going down in a couple of hours and he decided they better put up a tent here for they could not climbed down so close to sunset.
As Charles think of other matters, Liu Yi was bored and do other things.
Liu Yi caught some of the big fishes, and seeing there is no point of worrying things that not yet happen, Charles join in.
Charles practices the Divine Flicking finger, shooting stone pebbles at birds and small game, hauling in a few decent meal.
They rested for the night creating a tent with what is around them as they create fire and roasted their prey.
Belly full, rested and energized, they decided on the rotation patrol for the night. Every two hours they rotate in guarding each other.
When dawn breaks, they both walk up the mountain path. They did not talk too much since both of them knows the importance of this matter.
Both of them know what is at stake. Liu Yi has even make plans to follow Charles to Midgard if they survive this
As they climb up the mountain Charles seeing the beauty of this mountain could not help but admire the scenery.
There is cluster of wild flowers, green fragrant grass, hills and plains and the quiet open sky above.
In all directions they were surrounded by green fauna; they could not stop their spirit from being roused, and Charles find himself feeling refreshed and his mind becomes clear
‘This is a good place to train in martial arts’ Charles said to himself. Liu Yi overheard Charles and nodded as he said
‘True. There is great energy surrounding these mountains.’
There were walking up surrounded by the beauty of the mountain, the beautiful songs of the birds and the gentle breeze of the forest and finally they arrived at the Temple Gate.
‘Charles we have arrived.’ Liu Yi said as he look at the tall ten feet tall bronze gate of the Righteous Temple.
Charles look at the front of the bronze gate and saw the area was clean without any dry leaves. It was truly clean.
Liu Yi on the other hand take a deep breath and smile.
‘The Righteous temple’ he said to himself. It has been his dreams to explore the world and one of the places he wanted to go is the Righteous temple.
Liu Yi is a prankster and like to sneak away from the sect.
When he was 12 he sneak outside the sect and steal a few novels that is sold on the market. The story itself was nonsensical but it also fascinates Liu Yi.
More prominently many martial arts novel he read spoke intensively about the Righteous Temple monk painting them as the followers of Path of Nirvana that practice martial arts, with the aims of improving health, training in self-defense, upholding justice and helping the weak.
As such, Righteous Temple Monks were expected to behave ethically in addition to having a good mastery of martial arts.
Of course these people who know nothing about martial arts exaggerates the power of martial arts and the complexity of learning martial arts.
Not everyone was like Charles who possess such innate talent and heavenly gifted body constitution that is capable of great feats.
It is because of these novels, Liu Yi also list out the Righteous Temple as one of the places he wanted to travel to.
And today he truly has travelled far and could even see the famous bronze mountain gate of the Righteous Temple.
Liu Yi of course knows the story about this famous Mountain Gate.
It is said that Abbot Ling Xu during the Han dynasty discover a bronze steel in the nearby mountain.
With his junior brother he brought the bronze metal and smith the metal to become the Mountain Gate of Righteous temple.
It is said even Heavenly Immortal experts would find it hard to destroy this Gate.
The Mountain Gate was finished in the waning years of Han dynasty.
When the dynasty changed name and Song dynasty come into being, the founder of Song dynasty came to ask the Abbot to hold a memorial for Lu Dingqiu.
On the other hand Charles notices that the entrance tablet was embossed with golden characters of Aeropa.
Written on the entrance tablet is Righteous temple in black background, the stroke writing was vigorous and shows a forceful nature.
Liu Yi could see that Charles was seeing the entrance tablet and could not help but show off his knowledge of the Righteous Temple and said
‘Charles, that entrance tablet was personally written by Song Taizu after the Abbot help him in certain matters.’
‘We have to meet the Abbot and hope he would agree to our request.’ Charles said. Liu Yi enthusiasm died down as he remembers why they come here and tries as hardest as he can to imitate Charles frowning look.
He realizes that this beautiful young boy while he is smart and resourceful he also likes to frown like nothing could satisfy him.
Liu Yi knows better than to crack joke right now. But while the situation is serious, Liu Yi has always been the kind of guy that move with the flow. In a way he is a carefree person.
Liu Yi has already tell all the necessary information about the Abbott to Charles on the journey to this Mountain
The current Abbot is Abbot Xuan. And both of them know why they are here. The other part of the map is here.
The map of the treasures of the Ancient Han that used to rule all over Midgard before Northmen sail the Flaming Sea and conquer the entire Midgard.
The map which has doomed the Shadow Shroud Sect leaving no survivor is here, in the heartland of Aeropa martial arts.
It is said that the martial arts of Aeropa originates from the Righteous temple.
Charles did not forget what Wu Di has scribbled on the back of the treasure map
“Righteous Temple, The Sealed Pagoda, Ninth Floor, in the wooden floor where Enlightened One reclines’’
He still memorize it in his mind.
Somewhere, in the large Temple of the Righteous Temple is a Sealed Pagoda. And in that Pagoda there is one part of the map that has already brought chaos into the world.
And they of course have their cover story.
The Righteous Temple is the leader of the righteous sect.
And Jade Palace Gate is also one of leading sect of righteous sect and the relationship between the two sects is cordial
Liu Yi was the one that planned this. While Charles is good in strategies involving battlefield and intrigue, he of course did not know the etiquette and matters in the martial world.
Liu Yi ask Charles to ask for Oath of Martial Protection from the Righteous Temple.
As a sect that has good relations with the Jade Palace Gate, the Righteous temple is honor bound to lend a hand.
Of course this Martial protection time period is only ten days.
That has always been the case.
This martial protection could only be used three times in one life and only certain people could use it.
Usually righteous sect would only entertain people in martial arts who hold considerable influence within their own sect and pillars of the future generation
Even Li Wentian in his youth before he became the unparalleled martial art master he is today, once ask help from Five Finger Mountain.
At that time he was hunted down by his enemies all who wanted his head.
The Roaming Taoist of Five Finger Mountain spoke with their elders and agree to the Oath of Martial Protection of Li Wentian.
The people hunting Li Wentian besieged the Five Finger Mountain for five days before giving up.
Many disciples of Five Finger Mountain was injured but not even one of them complained since they agreed to offer protection.
After ten days, whether Li Wentian like it or not he had to go out since the time period of his Martial Protection has ended and he could not ask for the Oath again for five years from the same sect.
But in the ten days he is inside the Five Finger Mountain Sect the White Robe Taoist, a reclusive expert of the Five Finger Mountain give a few pointers to Li Wentian making him to be able to breakthrough in his understanding of the sword.
When he was out he fought off his hunters and break their encirclement.
When Li Wentian become an unparalleled master of martial arts and the Five Fingers Mountain was attacked by Tuo tribe during the chaotic years of barbarian tribes coming down from the west, Li Wentian went out form Jade Palace Gate and sliced the head of Tuo tribe leaders, leaving them without their leaders.
He then forces the Tuo tribe to suffer terribly as he keep massacring the Tuo tribe elders, leaders, and patriarchs.
In the end, Tuo tribe was terrified of Li Wentian and retreated.
Thus Li Wentian save the Five Finger Mountain from destruction and many of the disciples of the Five Finger Mountain believe that the Elders back then had choose the right decisions to agree to Oath of Martial Protection.
Liu Yi believes that the Righteous temple would surely shelter Charles.
When Charles ask why he is so confident of this plan Liu Yi said it is simply because Charles is the one of the Holy Sons of Jade Palace.
Not to mention, that the one hunting Charles is Liao soldiers. How could Righteous Temple turn back from such request?
But there is another reason why Liu Yi ask Charles to ask for Oath of Martial protection from the Righteous Temple.
Because this is the only way one would be able to roam inside the Temple and find the other portion of the map.
Even though people could come to the Temple, Righteous Temple is not like the normal Temple that seek the Path of Nirvana.
It is a temple open only when they called over the heroes of the world to announce something shocking or relating to the martial world at large.
They rarely open their Temple to another unless it is truly unavoidable.
At most those people would only be able to see the courtyard they show and are unable to see the layout of the temple.
It was not like Liu Yi and Charles did not think to just sneak in. But that would be overestimating themselves.
While their lightness technique is truly wondrous it is not trained until perfection and they are not grandmaster level.
How can their sneaking around not be noticed by the powerful Monks residing inside the Temple?
So, the only way to enter is through the front gate. And if this was any other person they would find it hard to enter through the front gate to stole the map.
But, who is Charles?
He is the only disciple of Lin Ziyan, the future leader of the Jade Palace Gate. He is also the Holy Son of the Jade Palace Gate.
If that is not enough, he is the Baron of Windhill of Westhold.
While Windhill is not entirely a large village, Charles is still a noble lineage and the descendant of Prince Arthur Martell.
His mother is the famed Joana of Wellham’s. He is the nephew of the Red Sword Lancel.
Any of these identities is incredible in itself but when gathered into one person, this is terrifying.
So, that is why Liu Yi is confident the Righteous temple will surely shield Charles. And Charles also agree.
They both look at each other and smile. In their eyes, they both see each other excitement. Charles heartbeat quickened at the thought he could see the famed Righteous Temple he only heard in stories.
Charles look at the bronze gate and come forward as he look at the bronze door knocker in the shape of a dragon.
Liu Yi nodded.
And then taking a deep breath, Charles then knock the knocker three times, the sound vibrates through the mysterious bronze gate creating a sound that reminisce of the Enlightened Teacher humming the Sutra of Enlightenment.
It sounded like a gong being beaten when the sound reaches it ends, as its fade, assimilating with the wind.
The breeze blows and the leaves nearby fluttered.
For a while there is a moment of silence in the area. Only the sound of the wind, the chirping of the birds and the gushing sound of waterfall nearby could be heard.
The wind blows again as slowly, the bronze door hummed. It creak with that screeching sound of two powerful things rubs each other.
Then a gust of wind blows through Charles and Liu Yi as their robe fluttered wildly. Charles struggles to open his eyes. Liu Yi revolve his internal energy to dispel the wind gust.
The door slowly opens as Charles saw two monks one wearing saffron robe, another who wears a robe resembling the kashaya robe
Both of them have muscly physique, bald but with a gentle smile on their face that embodies peace and tranquility.
Charles could see both of the Monk is old yet their body gives off the same feeling like he was facing his Uncle Lancel.
The two monks look in front of them and saw the two child, still wearing that smile as the monk in the kashaya robe ask
‘Child, for what reason has one come to the Righteous Temple? To pray or to ask guidance?’
Charles trying to appears anxious and worried said with a stuttering tone to sell the image of him in danger said
‘My name is Charles Martel of House Martel, the disciple of Purple Fairy Lin Ziyan. I come here to ask for hoping to ask the Righteous Temple to lend help for a fellow orthodox martial art member.’
Both of the old Monk eyes gleamed with shine as they heard Charles Martel introduction. They were shocked by two things.
First was the name of House of Martell. The other one was Lin Ziyan.
While the Righteous Temple lives far away from the Pass, they heard of Lancel the Red Sword and as such knew is sister was Joana Wellham and married Prince Arthur of Martell.
Righteous Temple have a large supporter and information gathering has always been one of its greatest strength
This makes Charles identity a noble descent. Then they heard Lin Ziyan. Who does not know of the Purple Fairy in Jianghu?
They think to themselves and then they look back at Charles and said
‘It seems the esteemed young lord has encountered some problem. What could our humble Righteous Temple do for young lord?’
‘Please extend the Oath of Martial Protection to me’ Hearing this both of the old monk was shocked before they frowned. Then they both sighed.
The wind blows again as the leaves fall down onto the clean front yard of the gate
Hope you like the chapter and leave some comments.