Chapter Sixteen: Contradicting Views?
Whatever was going on outside was now too loud to ignore. Vorm could even make out screaming and the clashing of metal on metal. He quickly made his way outside, Valan following warily. The two were met with an interesting sight. All the soldiers were up in arms and standing in a defensive formation with terrified expressions on their faces. At their head were the armoured knights Vorm came with, only they looked like they had been mangled by a wild beast.
Following their scared eyes to the side, they saw an unkempt soldier dangling in one of Richard’s large hands, half lying on the floor. The rest of him was three feet off the ground but only held up due to Richard not letting go of his jerkin. He had already fallen unconscious and on the floor beside him was the poor knight who had only tried to keep things from escalating.
Confused, they tried harder to understand the inexplicable scene. The atmosphere was beyond tense. The soldiers looked ready to … retreat and Richard looked he was preparing to give chase. Despite this, the two sides seemed temporarily frozen. The servants were the only ones moving. Obviously panicked, some run indoors for shelter whilst others run out to watch.
The most eye-catching sight was Richard facing off against the scared soldiers. With the soldier in one hand, spear in the other and a knight beneath one foot, he looked like a warlord and the main courtyard, a battlefield. Then there was Valerian still surrounded by the many metallic articles that hovered around him like sentries. It was only after this that they noticed the bloody sight on the pavestones.
Just a minute ago.
Truth be told, the moment that Valerian recognised the yell as his uncle’s he knew he was safe. A sense of relief flooded his gut. However, he didn’t really calm down. Instead with his voice still high with panic he screamed out a frightened response.
“UNCLE RICHARD THEY WANT TO KILL ME!”
Everyone’s expression changed. The soldiers in particular were instantly filled with dread but they were unable to do anything in the short pause before all hell broke loose. Richard did not wait for a second opinion or side. He registered Valerian’s appearance as well as the things caught up by his arcane energy and turned to face the unkempt soldier and the broken heap behind him.
Then he burst into action.
He knew full well that Valerian had not been taught metal manipulation yet and that one of the few things that could force someone to manifest abilities early was danger. Combining this with the bloody soldier on the floor, the unkempt one with his friends blood on him and the fact that some of the soldiers still had their weapons out told him all he need to know.
In two steps he had the drunk in hand. “How dare you?” he growled.
The man tried to struggle but it was no use. A soldier still opening his meridians vs a knight at the very peak of the Lord tier. Like a field mouse vs a tiger, it was comical. The armoured dragoon who tried to break things up earlier tried again. Racing to Richard’s side in an attempt to stop things from getting out of hand, he made to extricate his subordinate whiles saying.
“Please calm down. We can settle this…”
All he received as thanks was a swift backhand that knocked him out and a not so nice place to rest on the floor.
“Settle this? You come in here and attack my nephew and now you want to settle this?” Richard barked.
Sparing the man no mercy he stomped on his chest. Denting his armour and keeping him knocked out and pinned. Even if the man had been awake he would certainly have gone back to sleep. And that was the intention. According to the fighting arts of Harry and Clude, a battle was never over until you had well and truly put your opponent out of it. The knight was definitely out.
However this sparked the anger of the other knights and they rushed forth. Their own colleague had just been callously smacked unconscious and trampled before them. How could they not be angry? He was such a nice guy. Kind, honourable, loyal and dedicated he fully filled the role of a chivalrous knight. All he wanted to do was help and all he had received was a cruel, savage blow.
In response to their charge and fury a long spear appeared in Richard’s left hand. It was a little more than three meters long and its shaft was made from a pitch black metal capped at the bottom with a dark grey metallic spike. The shaft was covered in a few silver glyphs but was otherwise unadorned. The spearhead was a different matter however. It was made from two distinct metals or perhaps one metal with two colours.
The sword-like blade was forty centimetres long and came with a v-shaped hilt where it met the haft. The blade was double edged, eight centimetres wide where it met the hilt and slowly tapered to a sharp point. It had a lustrous silver core making up its middle four centimetres and a dark grey metal at the edges.
The moment it appeared, an aura of power and might swirled around it revealing to all just how powerful it was. Perhaps this had something to do with the three daemonic essence crystals embedded in it. Starting at the hilt was a large gold oval crystal followed by two smaller cyan and bright red ones. This was not all. Like the shaft, the blade was inscribed with glyphs along the core, only these ones weren’t silver, they were gold.
Valerian looked at the spear like he always did; with awe. It was his uncle’s pride and joy; Cloud Piercer. The Royal Artefact that had served as the Richard’s father’s weapon. Damaged in the battle that claimed the man’s life, Richard, Jonas and the magistrate had put in a lot of resources and effort to make it even better than before. It showed.
From the instant the spear materialised, the hearts of the five knights clenched. From the ease with which Richard had subdued their colleague they knew that defeating him would be very difficult but once the spear appeared they knew it was impossible. Gear was an important facet to strength. Richard already surpassed them in power so with such a weapon there was nothing for them to do. One quickly communicated a plan to his comrades with a voice transmission.
The plan was simple. They might not be able to beat him but they did not have to. Four of them would confront him and force him away whilst the last person would grab their colleague. With this in mind they rushed him. Subsequently, they failed utterly.
Two strikes! That’s all it took. Two one-handed spear strikes from a man with a soldier in his right hand and another under his boot. That was all it took to send them reeling and bleeding.
Sparks of admiration nearly shot out of Valerian’s eyes like fireworks. He had always known his uncle was powerful but seeing him in action was another thing. The man was an immovable mountain. He defeated those other knights with such ease he had trouble believing it. Spears were two handed weapons but he wielded it with one hand. His left hand. Without any skills or flashy attacks, without releasing his captives or using his qi, without even transforming he defeated five other knights so quickly Valerian did not even see the attacks clearly.
Seeing that effortless strength, that unquestionable might, created an intense desire in Valerian’s heart. It must be understood that just a few seconds before he was on the verge of despair. A single low ranked warrior was about to kill him and yet his uncle had fended off five high ranked ones without even trying. Staring at that broad armoured back gave him a glimpse of the kind of person he wanted to grow up to be.
The opposite was true for the soldiers on the other side. Their dread had turned into terror. Seeing how their superiors had been so easily dealt with made them understand that they were doomed. There was no way they were getting out of this mess.
Fortunately for them Vorm and Valan appeared and the issue was quickly resolved without any more violence.
Valerian was in his courtyard. The morning’s start was still fresh in everyone’s minds but standing there in the quiet courtyard provided an atmosphere that was more calming than the blood stained pavestones of the main courtyard. Here, Valerian was surrounded by his family, most of whom looked at him with pity. The reason for this was due to his punishment. Yes, he had been punished and at the moment he was kneeling, hands clenched, feeling cheated.
“But they started it!” he argued.
“That does not matter!” his grandfather yelled furiously. “They might have been in the wrong but it was not your place to do anything about it. What have I told you? If someone does something you come to me, your grandmother or your uncles. You seek an adult you don’t take it into your hands”.
“The guards were there and they weren’t doing anything!” he mumbled.
“All the more reason for you to ignore them! Or did you honestly think that attacking a squad of warriors accompanied by six dragoons was a smart choice?” Valan carped.
“I thought I had pressed upon you that violence is not a proper means of solving problems. That only brutes have that mentality. Had you thought it through you would have remembered that your Uncle Richard was not far or that you could come get your Uncle Vorm to quell the disorder. They were his soldiers and he is the one responsible for them not you”.
“Remember! Violence cannot be your first resort when it comes to solving problems. That is a bad habit many cultivators have. They seem to forget that there are other ways to deal with issues. Rather than negotiate or apologize they compound issues by fighting. You have to be better than that, smarter than that.”
Valerian kept quiet he realised that no amount of arguing would get him out of this. That didn’t stop him from feeling angry inside. Why didn’t his grandfather understand? It was like he did not hear all the insults that people were muttering behind their backs. If you did not shut them up they would continue to do so with impunity. Mentally, he scoffed. Reasoning was something that was done among equals.
Wildebeest could never talk lions out of eating them no matter how they attempted to reason with them. Why? Because they were weak and the lions were strong. Their only hope lay in fighting the lions off or running away. That way they either got away or convinced the lions that they would be too much trouble to deal with.
Valerian knew the truth. Today had confirmed it for him. When his attackers realised he could fight back they changed their tune. Hadn’t they stopped belittling him? Granted the situation escalated but that was only because he wasn’t strong enough to properly put them down. When Uncle Richard did it no one stepped forward again because they rightly recognised that he was someone they could not beat. He had the might necessary. One day he would too.
Valan looked at his grandson finally taking note on of the hard set of his jaw and the tightness of his fists. Immediately he knew that he was not getting through to him. He sighed. Perhaps it was not such a good idea to lecture him when their emotions were still so charged. He would leave the boy to finish stewing and then calm down before broaching the topic again.
“Remain kneeling and think about what you have done today. I hope you will understand the consequences of what happened today and how far they could have reached. Think about what would have happened if your uncles were not here to protect you and the trouble you could have brought upon yourself and this family. I will be back when I feel you have had enough time to do so”.
With that he turned and walked away. ‘Why can’t they never understand?’ he asked himself.
Cultivators were all too proud. The problem came from their power and how they were treated by society. It made them too arrogant. The attention caused them to view things from how others would do so. It made them overly conscious of how they were viewed by others and caused them to base their esteem on the way their fellows viewed them and act with that in mind.
He had seen and heard of too many people who had died to ‘save face’. He had been witness to far too many disputes that could have been stopped if either side had just taken the time to talk things through instead of posturing and blustering. He had judged too many cases where things got blown completely out of proportion when all it would have taken was one smart person to halt the catastrophe at the beginning.
Who cared about your face when you were dead? A short epitaph to your stupidity and then your dependents would be left to fend for themselves. That was all you got.
The world of cultivators was built around their powers and their reputations. It was why instead of talking or using their heads they’d use their powers instead. The thing about being strong is that there is always someone stronger. What if you ran into that person? The whole thing was a trait he had to prevent Valerian from gaining and he would.
Vorm shot Valerian one last look before following his uncle out of the courtyard. Richard followed as well. He had to admit that he was surprised. From all accounts, Valerian was a smart, level-headed boy but today he had seen his fierce side. His mind went back to the image of the soldier with the broken arms. To think one punch from an eight year old did all that damage…
“Richard, would you mind telling uncle that I am fully behind his plan, whatever it is. We cannot let that boy waste his talents. If he has this much power now, imagine what he could achieve in the future? I will contribute a share of the resources he needs.”
Richard shot him a glance. He was not happy with the way things had been resolved. To him the punishment was unfair but he understood it. He was just unhappy that more attention was not being focused on the people who had caused the whole mess in the first place.
“Why don’t you tell him yourself?” he asked icily.
Vorm knew Richard and so he could pin point the source of his aggression. The man wasn’t angry with him per se but the soldiers who caused this mess were under his command and so the responsibility was his nonetheless. He answered the man’s question hoping that would appease him.
“I have to oversee the punishment of some eighteen soldiers”.
Richard shot him another glance and said gruffly, “I’ll do it later”.
Vorm was puzzled. “Later? Why?”
“I have some guardsmen to see to and I am sure that the manor will probably need new ones tomorrow” he replied curtly.
Richard had not forgotten. Half of the problem stemmed from the inaction of the guards stationed in the main courtyard. They had ignored their duty and stayed on the side lines. Even when their young master was attacked they did nothing. He would make sure to teach them a lesson they’d never forget.
This is the first chapter to be released after the move. It is also the first to touch on one of the more serious themes in the novel. There’re some interesting perspectives in this chapter on the matter.
Nonetheless, this is a happy occasion. The 25th to 29th of July are special days in my family. Nothing sacred. It’s just that a lot of birthdays, anniversaries, special occasions and such, happen to fall in this period. It is a time (and an excuse) for celebration. You won’t be left out. I’d planned to release the first extra/bonus chapter during this period as well. That plan remains unchanged. As such, Chapter Seventeen. Tomorrow.