A Gloomy Place
In another one of the rooms at Liu Shan Men, the window was shut, the door was locked and the candle was out. There was only a trace of sunlight that’d shine through the door from time-to-time, changing the shape of the shadow on the floor.
There were two people in the room, one standing and one seated.
The one standing looked feminine, exuding a gentle beauty and was thin. Yes, it was Shen Yiren’s younger brother, Shen Kuang.
Shen Kuang bowed to the man sitting and said: “Captain, the recruitment event is over. My sister, she… *cough*, the vice-captain passed a total of twenty-seven people. Twenty-four of them are treated as freshman and treated the same way as the other normal members. The other three are different as they passed all parts of the exam and have been accepted into Liu Shan Men.”
The captain sat steadily in his chair as he said to Shen Kuang in a very friendly tone: “Not bad, not bad. Those three aren’t bad.”
“You already know about them?”
“I arrived early and saw them from the sidelines. The recruits aren’t bad, but your sister? Hmph!”
Shen Kuang was sweating bullets. The captain and his sister had some issues between them to begin with, and Shen Yiren went and fought with Si Tuo in front of the masses today. It looks like another fight is brewing. Shen Kuang immediately changed the topic by saying: “Those three are great. Recruiting those three will be hugely beneficial for Liu Shan Men.”
The captain was relieved after hearing what Shen Kuang said and said: “Hahaha, true. Those three aren’t just mere talents. They’ll also be valuable assets at the upcoming tournament in two weeks. Your sister usually makes a mess of things, but I must say she made splendid choices this time.”
Shen Kuang didn’t understand what he meant by them being “assets”, so he asked: “Oh? How might they be useful in the upcoming tournament?”
A broken boat’s metal can still be put to good use. Liu Shan Men may not be as it once was, but there are still skilful fighters there. Based on that logic, it’s possible to find people with skills better than the three, and hence Shen Kuang’s question.
“It looks like you haven’t figured out what your sister is thinking yet. Come here, I’ll tell you.” The captain looked like he was in a good mood. After all, he even complimented Shen Yiren. Shen Kuang expressed his interest.
The captain said with a smile: “The emperor is holding the tournament to give Liu Shan Men an opportunity. Winning or losing isn’t the end goal. The emperor simply wants to be pleased. He knows full well how many people work at Liu Shan Men and their worth. Forget your sister who’s been here since Yan Shisan’s time. The emperor knows all about me and the other elites here like the back of his hand. Your sister is aware of this fact, and therefore recruited those few skilled ones.”
Shen Kuang recalled the idiot known as Ming Feizhen, who even mistook him for a girl. “So you’re saying, those three could please his majesty?”
Shen Kuang thought to himself: “That idiot, Ming Feizhen can?”
The captain cracked his fingers and said in a confident tone: “Of course. First, Tang Ye’s martial prowess is incredible. He’s no less than the elites at Liu Shan Men. For one to be able to learn a great style from a reputable master is rare, and yet he learnt from many. Just as importantly, he’s skilled in each style. He’s a highly gifted individual. If he was taught Liu Shan Men’s top skills, he’d be in among the best of the best in Liu Shan Men within months. He’ll easily win the emperor’s favour. His majesty likes talent, so he’s bound to like such young talent.”
Shen Kuang was worried because there was still Su Xiao, who although is young, lacks in the martial prowess department…
“Su Xiao? He’s built well and is quite smart. He’s bound to make a name for himself someday, but no, not at his current level.”
“That’s what I meant.”
The captain shook his head with a smile and said: “Kuang, you’re still too inexperienced. Don’t forget that winning isn’t the most important thing in the upcoming tournament, but rather the impression you give the emperor. As for how the emperor will see us, that’ll also depend on what his consorts and princesses think.
Su Xiao is amazingly handsome and pretty. In fact he’s more pretty than girls by a long-shot. He’ll definitely win favour with the ladies. What your sister sees in him is his handsome face.”
“Oh, I see…”
Shen Kuang couldn’t help but admire Shen Yiren’s unique ability to spot talent. But then he suddenly thought of someone. The person he was thinking of wasn’t particularly skilled, wasn’t young, wasn’t particularly handsome, and was frankly, full of shit. But he was recruited nevertheless.
When the captain saw the look on Shen Kuang’s face, he knew what he had to say.
The captain faintly said: “Ming Feizhen is just like bait. That brat’s martial arts skills are so-so, and he’s fairly useless. But he has a good background. Mount Daluo was once one of the three big sects alongside Shaolin and Wudang, so they’re a potential powerhouse. Mount Daluo also has a lot of disciples who watch each other’s backs. If one of them meets with the trouble, they’ll be sure to help. Your sister recruited him when she considered that.”
“Hmm, I see.”
“The martial arts tournament is a big opportunity for us, hence why your sister is taking it very seriously. I myself also argued with her multiple times over the tournament matters, but it looks like her decision to conduct a public recruitment was correct.”
“Yes, my sister has been running herself into the ground over this.”
They continued their business talk.
Then the captain suddenly laughed and said: “Kuang, don’t be so formal with me. We’re done with business, so let’s go. Let’s go have some tea with your sister.”
Kuang froze in place… The captain had an argmuent with his sister not too long ago. If he were to go see her with the captain now… Would that cause any complications?
“What’s wrong? Your sister doesn’t want me to come along?”
Shen Kuang quickly busied himself with waving his hands as he added: “No, no. Why would she not want you to come along now? She’ll be fine with you coming, brother-in-law.”
The captain smiled and left the room with Shen Kuang.