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Tom listened to the old man in front of him in confusion.

[Who the hell is Paul].

Tom quickly ran through everything he'd seen and done since coming to this planet. He didn't know who this Paul person was but felt that, given the current situation, he should. Thinking over everything he soon made the connection. Paul was a relative of Tom Cardinal and had been on the outing with him. Furthermore, the old man in front of him was Paul's father.

After having processed through all this Tom answered the man in front of him in a somewhat monotone voice.

"Paul's dead"

"What!" The old man shouted at Tom as he began to shake.

"What did you say? What do you mean, dead!" he continued to shout.

Right now, Paul's father was quite distressed. He hadn't been sleeping well recently, and, by chance, he was awake at this early hour when some of the household guards knocked on his door. He was informed that Tom, one of his distant relatives, had shown up at the city gates covered in blood. This usually wouldn't be something that would concern him, but, it just so happened that his son had been travelling with Tom. They were meant to be back the previous day but hadn't arrived yet. Honestly this hadn't concerned him too much. Not only was Paul a grown man, but, it was usual for trips to sometimes take longer than thought. He assumed that he would be staying in the town overnight and hadn't given it much thought at all. Unfortunately, things weren't the way he assumed they were.

After being informed by the guards of Tom's appearance, Paul's father felt a sinking feeling in his heart. He quickly got dressed and rushed out, following a man from the city guard who had come to inform them of the situation. Not long after; they came across the captain from the east gate, a bloodied Tom and a man wearing the Iron fist's sect uniform.

Upon seeing Tom's figure, the sinking feeling he had earlier grew at a rapid pace. He was filled with unease. When Tom told him that his son was dead, he was filled with pure shock. He couldn't believe it, he didn't dare to.

He grabbed Tom and began shouting at him.

"WHERE IS MY SON!!!? WHAT HAPPENED! WHAT HAPPENED?"

It was at this point that Tom came face to face with a sensation he hadn't experienced for a very long time. This sensation was pain. Paul's father wasn't a very strong member of the clan, only at the 7th level of body strengthening, but, Tom's current body hadn't cultivated at all and Paul's father, in his current emotional state, wasn't controlling his strength as well as he should be. Tom felt like the bones in his shoulders were about to be crushed when suddenly, he heard a shout coming from the distance.

"Take your hands off my son!"

Everyone present looked over and could see a man with similar features too Tom rushing over. This was Tom Cardinal's father; Gerald Cardinal, 10th elder of the Cardinal clan. Like Paul's father, he had also been notified of the situation. After all, his son was at the crux of the matter. However, unlike Paul's father, he had been asleep and so had taken longer to get dressed and leave the estate. Now that he was here he could hardly let someone shake his son half to death in front of him.

Paul's father didn't remove his hands from Tom straight away. He was still in shock and worried about his son, but, when Gerald drew closer he had no choice but to withdraw his hands. He didn't care much for Tom in this situation, nor how he was treating him, but, Gerald was an elder of the clan and also far stronger than him. He knew that if he didn't take his hands off Tom, Gerald would do it for him.

Tom was very thankful for the timely arrival of Gerald. Honestly, he hadn't considered the fact that he would have to experience all of his new body's sensations, pain included amongst them.

Gerald looked Tom over and immediately began giving out orders. First he dismissed the captain of the east gate and told him to go back to his post, and then he told one of the household guards to run and fetch a doctor.

"That's not necessary" Tom said, stopping the guard. "It's not my blood".

"Ask him what happened to my son!" Paul's father shouted. Normally he would have never talked to an elder of the clan like this but given that he'd just been told his son was dead he wasn't concerned about being polite.

Gerald too wanted to know what had happened for his son to appear at night, in blood soaked clothes, at the east gate without Paul or the guards who were accompanying them. But, the previous shouting had woken people up and was starting to attract unwanted attention.

"Not here, let's go back to the estate first and hear what happened there" Gerald said, half a suggestion, half a command.

After that, the group travelled at a quick pace to the Cardinal clan's estate. When they had finally entered the estate Gerald turned back to his son and began to question him.

"Tom, what happened? Speak now"

"We were attacked by bandits on the road back to Hill City" Tom answered.

"What of Paul and the guards?" Gerald asked.

"They're all dead"

Hearing this, Paul's father finally couldn't hold in his grief. He collapsed into a chair and let out an ungodly wail before holding his head in his hands.

Gerald was a little suspicious about how Tom managed to survive through this ordeal, though he figured it must have something to do with the sect disciple who was standing beside him.

"Did you rescue him?" Gerald asked Arnet.

"No. I only found him lying on the road and then escorted him here"

Arnet had come this far because he was hoping for a reward. He wanted a physical reward, like cultivation resources or money, but even if it was only building a good relationship and reputation with the Cardinal clan it would be beneficial to him. Because of this he didn't put on any airs and didn't dare to lie to Gerald. After all, he'd only found Tom and hadn't actually saved him.

"Why didn't the bandits kill you?" Gerald asked Tom whilst frowning. He was happy that his son wasn't dead but he still had to get a full handle on the situation.

"They joked that it wasn't worth it. They said I was a nobody they could kill whenever they wanted"

This was the long prepared excuse that Tom had prepared for when he arrived at the Cardinal clan. He himself believed that there would be no reason for a group of bandits to leave someone alive in the situation he woke up in and indeed they had actually killed Tom Cardinal. The excuse he had just given was the best explanation he could think of for why he might have been left alive.

Hearing this Gerald became thoroughly enraged and the surrounding guards showed an angry expression. Although this was perhaps the best excuse Tom could give, it also caused the surrounding people to become furious.

From Gerald's point of view although his son was weak, fragile even, he was still a member of the Cardinal clan. This group of bandits had already brazenly killed a member of the clan so close to Hill City, but, also said that they could kill another anytime they wanted, even if it was a weakest one.

This was an insult to Gerald, as the father of Tom and as an elder of the Cardinal clan. It suggested that he, as a father and as an elder didn't have the power to protect his own son. In fact this was an insult to the entire Cardinal family. There was a group of bandits out there, nearby, who were thoroughly looking down on them. They didn't even put them in their sights, to the extent that they would kill Cardinal family members without thought and would go so far as to say they could kill them whenever they wanted.

Even the guards were reeling from this. If Gerald was angered by the accusation that someone could kill his own son so easily, given who he was and the Cardinal clan's position in society, the guards were angered by what this suggested about them. Many of them had devoted the majority of their lives working for the clan and took pride in working for such a prestigious family. Even if they didn't respect Tom or some of the weak members of the clan, they too felt insulted when the clan was insulted. They also felt that they were being looked down upon when they heard what Tom said. After all, they were the guards of the Cardinal clan. The words of the bandits disregarded them completely, trampling over their own personal pride.

Gerald sucked in a breath of cold air and then patted Tom on the shoulder.

"Did you see what they looked like?" He asked.

"No, it was dark and they ambushed us from the side of the road. They were also far more powerful than the guards and it ended quickly."

"I understand" said Gerald. "You should go and get some rest. I'll sort everything out"

After that, Tom walked past Gerald in the direction of his room which he'd seen in the memories of the old Tom Cardinal. Meanwhile, Gerald turned to Arnet and began asking him questions.

"What's your name?"

"Arnet"

"Can you lead us to where you found him?"

Tom wasn't able to hear anymore after that because he rounded a corner and then passed through a doorway. He made his way to his new room that he'd be spending a lot of time in from now on.

Upon reaching the room he breathed out a breath of relief. He'd been on this planet for several hours now and was quite exhausted. This was partly from the physical exertion of his new body and partly from general fatigue. As an ascended God Tom didn't have to sleep, but, it was a different story in this mortal body. He quickly found some fresh clothes to change into and then collapsed onto the bed and drifted off to another place.

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jmj1011995

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