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(Teaching a fish to swim(1)

What Zen had accomplished was far beyond Roger's understanding of the marrow refining level. 'After chasing after the queen blade locust, in the insane manner Zen did, he not only survived but dealt with her and brought back her crystal core!' contemplated Roger in awe.     

His mouth formed a thin, sour line. "You talk a big talk, and it sounds great, but, it's just empty talk!" he said chuckling abruptly, his head bobbing so hard that the ponytail in the back of his head shook. 

"But... " There was a serious look on Roger's face. He paused and then added," I like it! You're very ambitious, Zen. So, I have decided to get involved and help you with this mess!"    

At Roger's acceptance to help, Zen's face lit up.    

 Almost any dispute could be resolved when one of the top seven noble clans was involved because no one would dare push back except another member of the same elite class. So, since Roger consented to assist in resolving the issue, things would go much smoother.

   "One thing though, Zen. What did you mean when you told me that Fren the loony had attempted to kill you multiple times?" Roger asked unexpectedly.    

 "It's sort of a long story. My dispute with the Zhuge family came about during the Blooded Test at the Cloud Sect," stated Zen. After a brief pause, he recounted the stories of what happened that got Chad kicked out from the Blooded Test and how he severely beat Fren the loony's steward, Thomas at Drizzle Peak.   

  With Roger staying to lend a hand with things, Sun gave up his plans to leave, even though he knew his presence wouldn't really do much. Everyone acted for their reasons, and in Sun's case, he decided, 'Since Roger thinks highly of Zen, there's no harm in befriending him!'  

Shortly thereafter, the three turned in, sleeping the rest of the night soundly, and the next morning, first thing, the three men strode to the Dragon Fort's center.   

  Housed in the Dragon Fort were thousands of barracks for squads, and the main barracks were surrounded in the middle.   

  Standing before the gates that led to the main barracks were two rows of stoic soldiers at attention, clutching spears and expressionless.    

 As the trio reached the gates, a soldier snapped to life and shouted," You have no business here! You need to leave!"    With an air of authority, Roger took two steps towards the soldier and calmly said," I'm here to see Jon Gou."    

"Officer Gou?" asked the soldier, the determined look on the soldier's face softening the instant Roger spoke the name Jon Gou.   

Any man, who referred to a superior by full name, wouldn't be just some ordinary person, and what was more, he uttered it casually, as if he were merely summoning one of his servants?!    

 Immediately, the soldier became polite and deferential. He tossed his spear to the nearest soldier and bowed to the three disciples. "Officer Gou is in the main barracks, now. If you could give me your name, I will inform him of your arrival, okay?" the soldier asked respectfully.    

 "You can tell him that Roger is requesting to see him." Roger had an inflection of tedium.     

After the soldier got Roger's name, he scurried off to the main barracks.    

 A short time passed before the soldier came back into view. He was smiling appealingly as he sauntered back.  

  His smile and even strut were because when he told Jon Gou, who was usually aloof, that Roger wanted to see him, he grew enthusiastic—more so than the soldier had ever seen, and even repeated his response, saying," Yes, show them in at once! Yes, show them in at once!"  

Not being naive, the soldier understood immediately that Roger was some big shot!    

 "If you three would follow me, please. Officer Gou is in the main barracks waiting to receive you!" announced the soldier happily.     

Following the soldier, Zen, Roger, and Sun walked through the main compound and were soon in front of Jon Gou.    

 Seeing Roger, Jon Gou was all smiles and warmly said," Young Master Roger, why didn't you tell me that you are at the Dragon Fort? If I had known, I would have prepared a nice treat for you!"    

While he gushed and fussed happily, Jon Gou received a lukewarm response in return. "The south has such poor products though, aside from blade locusts, what does the Dragon Fort have?" quipped Roger coolly. "What treat would you offer me?"  

Even though he was given the cold shoulder, Jon Gou beamed happily. 

"That's not true," he retorted half-heartedly. "The south has specialties all its own, Young Master Roger. You can't speculate that..."   

 "Cut the crap! Enough pleasantries, I've come because I have business with you," Roger cut in, impatiently, not caring how Jon Gou would feel. "You've got a Martin Lu here, right?"    

Jon Gou's expression became serious, and he nodded," Yes, he's the leader of the Green Haze Group. Are you here for him, Young Master Roger?"    

"Yes, release him," Roger ordered as he gave a small nod.     

When Jon Gou heard Roger's request, he hesitated and stated," Young Master Roger, I'm obligated to accept your orders." Then pausing a moment, he stared into Roger's eyes and added," However, while it would be a small thing to release Martin, please let me remind you..."  

"Yes, I am aware," Roger impatiently cut Jon Gou off again. Even before Jon Gou finished, Roger knew what he was about to say.   

  "But, the Zhuge family..." Jon Gou blurted out, unsure if Roger truly understood what he was trying to say.    

 "I know that Jon, I already told you that!" snapped Roger, his face set and hard.   

  Immediately, Jon Gou nodded briskly and said," Well alright then, if you insist, I won't worry about it, Young Master. Follow me!"  

  He led the three men deeper into the main barracks.   

  Deep in the main grounds, there was a courtyard, where four people sat at a blue stone table. It was laden with fruits, wine, meat, and many other tasty foods. 

  While the imperial army was permitted drinking, it wasn't allowed in the barracks, and anyone caught would face disciplinary action.     

But, the four men were sitting around drinking, unconcerned that they were violating the rules.     

"Actually, we should drink a toast to you, Randall!" Liam said laughing as he went on," Without you, things wouldn't have gone so smoothly!" Raising his glass, Liam then chugged his drink down.     

To the toast offered, Randall He tilted his head back and let the wine slide into his lopsided mouth before casually saying," Don't mention it, Master Fren entrusted the assignment to me, and it was a piece of cake."

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