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A deserted sect. Ransacked buildings. A single room lit by weak candlelight. Cracks ran along the wall and into the ceiling, moonlight creaking through them. A young boy knelt over in front of a small bed. There was an old man laying on the hay. His skin looked a sickly pale yellow and he coughed blood every couple of minutes. The rims of the boy’s eyes were red and swollen. He’d spent twelve days watching over his master, who’d suddenly collapsed. The young boy hadn’t closed his eyes to rest since. They were fixed on his master, his father, the only person he belonged with in the entire world. Please, Master, don’t die! Please don’t die!

The young boy was an orphan who’d been taken from the streets by his master. He had no recollection of his real parents and as such had placed that burden on his master. Even his very first real memory was of the day that changed his life. He was laying on the streets, bruised and starved, when his master reached a hand out to him. Why did Master pick me? I wasn’t the only one there. I-I think there were more like me. We were all begging for food. W-we were so hungry… Did Master see something special in me? Is that why he took me? He fed me and taught me. The young boy’s eyes suddenly went wide. He reached out to his master and felt the old man’s forehead. “Ma-Master! You’re burning up! What do I do? Tell me what I need to do! Master!”

“Eloi…” a tired voice crept out from the old man’s mouth. His breathing was weak and laboured. Like a candle at the end of its wick, his life flame flickered weakly. He was struggling right now just to hold on for a few more minutes.

“Master! I-I’m here. I’m here! You’re awake! Thank god you’re awake!” Eloi answered, frantic. He quickly wiped the fresh tears from his eyes and shouted, “Tell me what to do! How can I save you!”

The old man smiled and said, “Hah—Uch UCH! It, uch! It looks like this is it for this old sack of bones…”

“N-no! Master, you’re the strongest! You can’t die! Strong people don’t die! Y-you’ll get better! You have to get better! PLEASE GET BETTER!” Eloi shouted. He grabbed his master’s hand with both hands and squeezed down tightly. Despair flitted across his face. He bit on his lip, fighting back more tears, and begged, “Y-you can’t leave me! Not now! I-I still have so much left to learn! What about my training, Master? You promised to teach me your mysterious Shou style! B-but you haven’t taught me everything yet! Don’t leave me! Please don’t leave me…”

The old man forced himself up, but his arms wouldn’t support the weight of his body. He finally relented and waved Eloi closer with his hand. “That’s enough, Eloi!” he said sternly. “Listen to what I’m about to say. These are probably my last words as your Master…” He looked at Eloi and weakly smiled. His tone softened as he added, “And as your father.”

The old man groaned in pain and forced back another coughing fit, then said, “Eloi, I, Sylas Shou, hereby officially recognize you as the 14th generation successor to the Shou style. You may be young and inexperienced, but I have passed down all the fundamental knowledge to you. With your talents, I believe you’ll become a great martial artist.” Just this small speech took much of the lifeforce he had left. He coughed and the world twirled darkly before his eyes. But he forced himself to stay conscious as he continued, “I… I regret not being able to guide you on the last stretch of your training. Do me proud. Continue polishing… your techniques. The Shou style… I entrust it to you. Eloi, only you can unlock the secret techniques…”

Eloi sniffled and had held his tongue through the entire speech. Only when his Master finished did he nod and say, “Yes! Your disciple understands and accepts the burden, Master!” He paused for a brief moment before adding, “But you can’t die! You still have to teach me so much! You promised me! You promised!”

“Eloi, my boy…” The old man’s eyes closed. He reached them with his hand and tried to push them open, but the strain was too much on his sick body. “As your…” He took a few short breaths, the previous speech having taken most of what little energy he had left. “… father.”

“M-master! Spare your energy! Please! You still have so much to teach me! You can’t die! Don’t die! Please, don’t die!” Eloi begged, weeping.

A weak smile spread on the old man’s face, from his lips to the wrinkles on his forehead. He felt for Eloi’s head that rested on the bed and patted it. “Hah… hah… Eloi… I’m not leaving you. This body is. I will always be with you…”

“NO! NOOOOOOOO!” Eloi screamed. He grabbed his master by the shoulders and shook him violently. “MASTER! MAAAAAAASTER!” But there was no more response. The Master had spent what little energy he had left to leave his young student with some parting words. But Eloi was only 12 years old. The only family he knew was his Master. His only friend in the entire world was his Master!

“Don’t joke with me, Master! This isn’t funny. Just open your eyes! Please open your eyes! I need you, Master! How can I ever master the Shou style without your guidance? I’m just an incompetent student! I need your guidance! I can only improve with your guidance! Master! MASTER!” Eloi screamed, crying.

“Hahhh…!” A youth in a martial arts uniform readied a stance. His eyes were closed. His breathing was steady as he circulated the energy within his core. The energy flowed out from his core into the energy channels that ran throughout his body. It permeated deep into his flesh and bones, saturating and reinforcing them. And it overflowed. It seeped out from the pores of his skin and shrouded his body in a faint blue aura.

The youth’s eyes snapped open. He punched out at the boulder in front of him, unleashing all the energy within him in a single focused point. 


The boulder that was at least three times the size of the youth shattered into rubble. The hard rock was like brittle glass in front of the overwhelming force.

“Still no good.” Eloi shook his head and frowned. “I’m still nowhere near Master’s level.” Five years had gone by since his master’s passing. He’d followed his master’s wishes and continued to hone his techniques every day. He had grown to the point that he could handle the wild bears in the forest with ease. The monsters in the forest, like the goblins and kobolds, also didn’t pose a threat to him. Half a year ago, he had even become famous in the surrounding villages for defeating an orc chief.

Eloi wiped the sweat off his brow. He looked around the forest clearing, then up at the sky. The sun was already high up in the air. “Phew, lunch time already? I better start heading back.”

The clearing was located in a small valley within the forest. To get out, Eloi had to pass through a passage sandwiched between two cliff faces. Then, he had to cross a small river to get back on the forest path. From there, it was about a half an hour’s journey to get back home, barring any detours.

As he was making his way out of the valley, Eloi heard a strange noise in the distance.

“What was that?” Elo muttered. He was already used to the sounds that came out of the forest, but this one stood out in particular. His ears perked up, and he listened closely.


“A goat…? Out here in the forest…?” Eloi wondered. The Small Valley Forest was full of dangerous beasts and monsters. A hapless goat wouldn’t survive long here. “Maybe it wandered off from a nearby village. But this deep in the forest?”

Eloi rubbed his chin. “I should catch it before it gets turned into a meal by a party of goblins or a passing bear. Then I’ll bring it into town next time and ask if anyone’s missing a goat.” He nodded with a satisfied smile. “Mhm! That sounds like a good plan.” 

Eloi set off in the direction of the bleating. He passed through a dense patch of undergrowth, then emerged out of the other side to a small clearing. There, he stood at the base of a cliff. He scratched his head, confused. “I swear it was coming from here.”


“There!” Eloi looked up and saw a goat resting on a ledge high up on the cliff face. It appeared quite relaxed as it grazed on the small plants growing on the side of the cliff. “How did it get all the way up there?”

He cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted at the goat, “HEEEEEY! MR. GOAAAT! IT”S DANGEROUS UP THERE! COME DOWN!”

“BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!” The goat glanced at Eloi briefly before looking away. Then, it gracefully leapt onto another ledge on the side of the cliff, farther away from him. 

“W-what?” Eloi murmured. He wasn’t surprised that he’d been brushed off by a goat. No, he was mesmerized by its movements when it leapt onto the other ledge. It appears as if its hooves were stepping on clouds as its body lithely traversed the air. 

That looked like Master’s Flowing Cloud Traversal Step… What? No way. Eloi shook his head, brushing the thought aside. But his interest was piqued. He followed the goat from the ground and shouted, “MR. GOAT! DON’T IGNORE ME! HEEEEY! COME OOON. COME DOWN!” 

“BAAAAAH!” the goat bleated at him again, then  hopped away to a further ledge.

Eloi tried to coax the goat down for the next 15 minutes to no success.  “Seriously, what’s with this goat? Why won’t it just come down?” He stared at the goat in exasperation. He gritted his teeth and said, “Fine. if you won’t come to me, I’ll just come to you!”

Eloi walked up to the base of the cliff and placed his hand on a hold. Then he started slowly climbing up. When he was about 30 meters off the ground, he looked up at the goat. It was about 10 meters away. For the time being, it appeared content to stay where it was. So he continued to slowly make his way towards it. 

A few minutes later, Eloi was only a meter away from the goat. It was still grazing on the plants growing on the cliff face, paying no mind to him. “There, I’m finally close enough!” He reached out his hand to grab the goat. But then it raised its head from grazing and looked up at him. 

“BAAAAAAAAAAH!” the goat bleated, and leapt away to another ledge.

Eloi’s expression dropped.”Really?” He sighed. He placed his foot on another hold  and followed after the goat. But whenever he drew close to it, it would bleat at him and leap away again. In his eyes, the goat was starting to grow more and more smug by the second. He was being looked down on.

“This stupid goat! Does it never get tired?” Eloi grunted, slightly out of breath. Even for a trained martial artist like him, climbing a cliff face like this for this long was exhausting. But it wasn’t like his efforts were wasted. He’d been observing the goat’s movements this whole time and he gained some insights on the Flowing Cloud Traversal Step. 

The Flowing Cloud Traversal Step was a high level movement technique of the Shou style. At the early stages of mastery, the user could close small distances on the ground in the blink of an eye. But at higher stages, the ground was no longer the limit. The user could move in the air as freely as if they were stepping on clouds. 

Eloi had been stuck at the bottleneck of the early stage for the past two years. Without his master to guide him, he was left to forge a path forward on his own. But now, he’d finally broken through that bottleneck. He was also confident in catching the goat! 

When the goat jumped to another edge, Eloi slowly made his way toward it like normal. But when he was five meters away, he came to a stop and observed the goat. It was ignoring him and grazing on the ledge. “Good. It’s not paying attention to me!” He grinned. He channeled his internal energy, then activated the Flowing Cloud Traversal Step. His body became as light as air as his feet left the ground. 

Eloi rapidly closed in on the goat. Before he could reach it though, it looked up at him and bleated, “BAAAAAHHHH!.” And it leapt away again.

But while the goat was still airborne, a silhouette came diving down from higher up on the cliff face. Eloi immediately recognized the creature. It was a juvenile gryphon, and it was heading straight for the goat! Apparently, it had been observing the two of them the whole time and seized this opportunity to look for a quick meal!

Eloi shouted, “WATCH OUT!” He leapt after the goat with the Cloud Traversal Step. But he realized he wouldn’t make it in time. The gryphon had already closed in. His face fell and his heart sank to the pit of his stomach.

But then Eloi’s eyes went wide like saucer plates. As the gryphon came dive bombing down, he saw the goat kick off the side of the cliff face with a front hoof. Then it spun around and delivered a powerful hind kick to the gryphon’s throat. 

“SCREEEEEEH!” the juvenile gryphon croaked out a cry and flew away to nurse its injuries.

The Flowing Cloud Reversal! T-that’s Master’s signature technique! Eloi’s heart swelled with shock.But he had no time to linger on his doubts. After kicking the gryphon, the goat was plummeting towards the ground below. He immediately kicked off the side of the cliff with the Flowing Cloud Traversal step and dove after the goat. In the blink of an eye, he closed the distance and grabbed onto it.

“BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” the goat bleated.

“M-master…!” Eloi cried, recalling the last words his master spoke before passing away. “Though I may no longer be here in this form, I will always be with you…” He shut his eyes and brought the goat into his embrace. Then he rotated his body so that his back faced the ground.

The young man and goat plunged from the sky to the forest floor.

Eloi slowly opened his eyes. He was lying on the forest floor, and the sun was shining down on his face. The last thing he remembered was blacking out after hitting the trees. He looked around at the broken branches around him, then at the man sized hole above in the forest canopy. The trees must have cushioned my fall… Then as if remembering something, his eyes snapped wide open. “MASTER!” 

Eloi looked down on his chest and saw the goat still in his embrace. He was a martial artist. His flesh and bones had been strengthened to the extreme by more than a decade of training. He was confident in surviving a drop from more than a 100 meters. But the same couldn’t be said about a goat. 

“Bahhh….” the goat groaned. It was barely breathing, and there was a gash on its lower midsection. 

“Oh no! One of the gryphon’s claws must have grazed him! He needs treatment…!” Eloi said. He lifted the goat onto his back. After making sure it was firmly secured, his eyes flashed with determination. “Master. I won’t let you leave me again! Not this time!” He channelled the Flowing Cloud Traversal Step to its fullest and sprinted out of the valley.

“Master! How’s this!? Is my stance correct?”


“Then how about this?”


“Oooooh, I seeee! I should have tucked my foot inward here, and my energy flow was off there! Thank you for the guidance, Master!” Eloi said. He looked out at the courtyard, where the goat was grazing on grass.  Then he readied another stance and continued with his training.

A month had passed since Eloi brought the goat back from the valley. It turned out the goat was only unconscious, and the gash on its midsection wasn’t nearly as severe as he initially thought. After some quick treatment, it was back to normal by the next day.

Eloi had spent this time pampering this goat like his own master. He prepared a soft bed in his master’s old room, and allowed it to graze freely in the courtyard of the martial arts hall. Sometimes, he would seek out the goat for guidance. Other times, he’d glean some insights from observing its movements. Though there were a few incidents in the beginning with the goat chewing up some of the books in the technique repository, life as a whole passed by peacefully.

After finishing his training for the morning, Eloi wiped down the sweat from his face and body. Then he  looked out at the courtyard. It was much more barren compared to before. There were patches of bare earth, and many of the flowers had been eaten. 

“Master, those blue peonies were your favourite” Eloi said, looking at the goat grazing on the plants in the flower garden.


“Haha! I guess since they’re your favourite, that’s why you’re eating them!” Eloi chuckled. Then he scratched his head. “Still, we can’t have you cleaning out the whole courtyard. We should probably head to the village today and buy you some feed.”


“Alright! That’s settled! To the village we go!” Eloi said, clapping his hands together.

The nearest village, Lakegrove, was located north of the Small Valley Forest and south the Great Capricorn Lake. Normally, it was a three hour journey for Eloi to get to the village. With the recent advancements in his martial arts, he was confident in making it in an hour.

After securing the goat to his back, Eloi set off for Lakegrove. He channeled his Flowing Cloud Traversal Step and flitted across the forest floor with ease. 

About an hour later, Eloi arrived at the outskirts of Lakegrove. He came to a stop as his brows creased with worry. He could see smoke rising from above the village. “What’s going on? An attack on the village?” He glanced over his shoulder at the goat on his back and asked. “Master, we should go check it out!” 

“BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” the Goat bleated.

“Alright! Let’s go, Master!” Eloi dashed off. When he arrived at the entrance of the village, he noticed there were no guards. But he could hear voices and shouting coming from inside. 




Ekoi glanced over his shoulder and made eye contact with the goat on his back. “You heard them too right, Master?”


“Yes, it’s a bandit attack. I’m going to see if I can rescue the villagers.” Eloi lowered the goat from his back and let it back down on the ground. He pulled out a rope and tied it around the goats neck. Then he tied the other end of the rope to one of the wooden posts near the entrance. “It’s too dangerous inside. Master, you wait here for me!”

“BAAAH!” the goat replied, then started grazing on the grass around the entrance. 

“Good! I’ll be right back, Master!” Eloi ran into the village. As he arrived at the square, he could see two groups clashing at the square. The villagers were trying their best to hold off the bandits, but they were slowly being overwhelmed. One bandit in particular was especially fierce. He was wielding a giant greataxe and cutting down the villagers with ease. 

Eloi immediately jumped into the fray and started helping the villagers. With the Flowing Cloud Traversal Step, he got behind the bandits, then started knocking them out one by one.

By the time everyone reacted Eloi had already knocked out six of the bandits. Only four other bandits and the leader were remaining. 

“Eloi! You’re here!”

“ We’re saved!”
“You came in the nick of time!”

The villagers were the first to recognize Eloi. 

The bandit leader stepped forward and eyed Eloi up and down. “Oh? I didn’t expect there to be a person that’s actually somewhat strong out here in these sticks.” Then he glared at Eloi and said, “Kid, you better scram out of here while I’m still feeling merciful. Or else you’ll be leaving here without a head.”

“Fat chance!” Eloi shouted and read his stance. 

“Why does everybody always want to play hero?” The bandit leader charged forward with speed that didn’t seem possibly with a man of his size. He arrived in front of Eloi in an instant and swung down with his greataxe.

He’s strong! I can’t take any of his blows head on.  Eloi’s expression turned serious.He dodged to the side and evaded the swing. The greataxe struck the earth, digging out a large hole in the earth and sending an explosion of debris flying everywhere.

Eloi stared at the crater with a  wary look on his face.

“Haha! What’s wrong? Scared? Too late to back out now! Your head is mine!” The bandit leader grinned sinisterly. He brought his greataxe back to his shoulder, then charged at Eloi again.

He’s built tougher than an orc. My normal attacks won’t work on him. Eloi analyzed as he calmly evaded the bandit leader’s wild swings. What can I do? He thought back to the fight between his master the gryphon and his eyes lit up! That might work! I’ve been training hard for the past month! I should b e able to pull it off!

Eloi immediately put some distance between him and the bandit leader. He stared at the bandit leader, looking slightly out of breath.

The bandit leader looked at him,amused. “What, running away? Or is that all that your fancy martial arts is good for?” He heaved his greataxe on his shoulder and closed in on Eloi. As he cleaved down on Eloi’s head, he saw Eloi dodge to the side to evade again. “Hah! I knew you were gonna do that!” The bandit leader changed the trajectory of his axe mid swing from a vertical slash to a wide sweep.”I’ve got you!”

But Eloi was already prepared for that. He immediately bent his head and back down, dodging the axe. Then bracing one arm against the ground, he pushed off at an angle. FLowing Cloud Reversal! Taking advantage of the opponent’s momentum, he delivered a powerful blow to the bandit leader’s throat.

“GAHHHK!” The bandit leader’s eyes glossed over. His mouth foamed with saliva and blood. And he collapsed to the ground.

Eloi turned around to glare at the four remaining bandits. Their faces paled, and they dropped their weapons to surrender.

After rounding up the bandits, all the villagers crowded around Eloi and cheered. They showered him with gratitude and threw a small celebration. Then the village chief insisted he stay the night for a feast. By the time the villagers let him go, the sun was already starting to come down.

“Oh, right! Master! I left him there” Eloi said. He hurried back to the entrance of the village, but he was shocked to find that the goat had disappeared. All that was there was the rope tied to the post.

“M-Master! Where are you?!” Eloi’s expression sank as he started searching around frantically for the goat.

One of the villagers happened to notice Eloi and approached him. “Hey, Eloi. You okay? What’s wrong?”

“H-have you seen a goat near here! It was tied to this post?” Eloi said.

“A goat? No, I don’t believe I hav,’ the villager said, puzzled. Then as if remembering something, he smirked and inched closer to Eloi. “This was supposed to be a secret. But the chief called for all the goats in the village to be slaughtered earlier so that we can hold a big feast in your honour!”

“W-what!?” Eloi’s eyes widened in terror. Then he scrambled back inside the village and cried out, “N-NO NO! MASTER!”

After asking the village chief about where all the goats were, Elroi was led to the area where all the goats were being butchered. There, he saw many goat corpses hanging from hooks. He looked around frantically, but he couldn’t distinguish any of them from his master. 

In the end, Elroi could only give up. He was forced to accept the reality that his master had been stewed. Of course he didn’t blame the villagers. How could he? None of them were aware of the fact that his master had been reincarnated into a goat. 

After coming to terms with this fact, Elroi recalled his master’s last words. Not as a goat but as a person. “Though I may no longer be here in this form, I will always be with you…”  He let out a deep sigh and smiled. “That’s right, Master. We’ll meet again for sure, I know it!”

That said, even though Elroi had gotten over his Master’s death, twice, he was in no mood to eat goat any time soon. To the disappointment of the villagers, he declined their invitation to the feast and decided to return home.

“Sigh.” Elroi walked out of the village and gazed out into the horizon. There, he saw a silhouette atop a hillside standing against the setting sun.His eyes widened in shock and surprise.


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