Ending – Reasoning
“Lord San Shen, why are you here? Where have you been the past five years?”
Long Cheng stayed on his knees. His delight seeped into his voice involuntarily. Teardrops sat on the edge of his eyelids. His smile couldn’t have been missed.
Frankly, not even I could provide a concise rundown of what transpired over the last five years. Both the world and I changed drastically after we separated at Lawless Cliff. Yan Shisan became a latrine caretaker. Ximen Chuideng went missing. Divine Moon Cult was practically exterminated. As for me, I lost the desire to continue life in the pugilistic world.
I examined Long Cheng in detail. He had white hair. His age caught up with him. The youngest of the four Lawless’ Guardians was the most accomplished and particularly commendable when it came to reporting information and scouting. He made lots of sacrifices and sacrificed many lives for his work back in the day. If logic applied, he shouldn’t have struggled so much during the five years given his internal strength prowess. He clearly had it rough, though.
I helped Long Cheng up and, with a friendly expression, said, “It’s hard to tell you what happened in a few sentences. All of you get up. Check this place out with me.”
I led the group to the stone door I smashed. Seeing the rubble, Long Cheng stammered, “L-Lord San Shen, your skills have improved. I have no words to describe my admiration for your strength.”
Some of the others tried to flip the rubble over but failed. As a result, they looked at me as if they were looking at some monster. For some reason beyond me, Long Cheng looked as if he was in a dilemma: “Your subject apologises for attacking you before.”
‘You’re apologising after I nearly killed you? I feel bad now, Guardian Long!’
The four Lawless Guardians held a high rank in Divine Moon Cult. They were granted plenty of freedom and authority. They took direct orders from their leader. Long Cheng, who served Dark Moon Faction, only took orders from Dark Moon Faction’s leader and Old Ximen; not even the three Guardian Kings could order them around, yet he apologised to me after I nearly killed him. If the elders who set the rules for Divine Moon Sect were to learn Long Cheng apologised to me, they’d be furious.
We entered the last secret room. The atmosphere suddenly turned oppressive; nobody made an utterance solely out of instinct. It was no place for idle chatter. As Long Cheng and company said, something more important than their lives and mine was located there. I noticed a moon symbol was drawn in every corner. An altar for worshipping was set up North and South.
Stopping in my tracks, I said, “Salute the North. The moon is within… I thought so…”
I ran my hand over the stone tablet and fell into deep thought for a good while.
“I finally found you…” I recalled the old man saying as if it was yesterday.
“Feizhen, come here. Come here. Play a game of go with this old one,” he would suggest.
“Don’t cheat. Don’t be an ass! You lost. We agreed the winner would slap the loser. You slapped this old one ruthlessly just before. It’s his turn now,” he would whinge.
“Ow! Is your face made of rocks?! We agreed not to shield ourselves with our energy! Your face is thicker than the city walls!” he would joke.
He was old, yet age seemed to be nothing more than a number to him. He never quit after losing. He was always brimming with life. He was comparable to a kid who never grew up.
“Your subject cannot match your wisdom, Lord San Shen.” Long Cheng stood behind me: “Your subject only found this place when Kong Duan led him here. Fortunately, although the scum held it hostage, he did not damage it, or else…”
Learning what happened really triggered me. I smiled passive-aggressively: “I was wondering why the fearless Dark Wind Branch members would help him.”
I eyed the huge underground space: “Why did our place become a venue for fighting entertainment?”
Perhaps I unknowingly spoke in a cold tone; Long Cheng suddenly clenched his teeth out of anger: “That was all due to your subject’s failure. Your subject failed to watch over it; he dares not ask for your forgiveness, but he would like to request permission to personally execute the vile Kong Duan, and then face punishment for his failure at the altar! Your subject needs his right hand to exact punishment. Please take just your subject’s left hand as compensation!!”
Long Cheng drew his dagger from his waist as he finished and swung down at his left wrist. The other members of Dark Wind Branch cried for him not to, but he was too fast for them.
Clang! The blade soared through the air. It took a while for Dark Wind Branch to realise I saved Long Cheng’s left hand. They were grateful I intervened, but also wondering, “What style was that? He was faster than Guardian Long.”
They looked at me as if I was some monster… again.
All I did was flick the dagger away using celestial spider silk. Long Cheng’s subordinates thought there was no way his swing could be stopped…
‘Fucking hell, man, you have a grudge with me or something, giving me a bloody welcome? Name one scenario somebody celebrated meeting their superior with a bloody hand!’
I asked Long Cheng, “What was that about?”
Long Cheng bowed his head: “Your subject failed miserably. Unless he does this, his mistake cannot be pardoned, and he cannot face his brothers again.”
I recalled the same scenario happened in the past. Divine Moon Cult was a sect associated with religion. Consequently, there were a decent number of individuals who strictly adhered to religious practices. Guardian Long was one of them. Everything they did had to adhere to the religious practices, or they’d walk themselves to the ritual area and punish themselves. They were practically the religion’s incarnation.
Ximeng Chuideng, of all people, found those religious devotees to be a headache. He hated listening to their religious lectures and recitals daily. That was why he sent Old Dao off to learn broadsword skills. I think Old Dao was quite annoyed with good ol’ Ximen, too. That’d explain why he hurriedly created a technique and passed it on to Dark Wind Branch. Guardian Long would probably already be dead if he didn’t swear an oath to never cut down those within the group.
“Is it my turn to bear the brunt of it after Old Ximen…? Too young too simple,” I thought. I decided, “You’re just a younger, excessively rigid board. I’ll show you a superior’s power. I wish you’d know how tiring it is to play the badass superior…”
I narrowed my eyes: “Hmph, what would I need your hand for?”
I smiled mischievously the way I saw girls at brothels did and suavely said, “I only eat braised pork shoulders. I don’t like raw hands.”
I didn’t wow Long Cheng. He, instead, looked baffled and said, “In that case… you could fry it in soy sauce…”
‘What… the… fuck…?! Why am I eating your hand? Is your hand a trotter?! You’re Blade Demon’s disciple; at least value your hand! If Old Dao heard you say that, he’d split your head in two, you stupid oaf!’
‘By the way, don’t tarnish my reputation! I only like pork trotters; I don’t have some preference for hands! Chicken feet are infinitely better than your hand! Your subordinates are going to go from looking at me as a monster to looking at me as a freak! Piss off with your middle-aged man hand!’
“All right. All right,” I fumed, giving up on the badass charade. “Just… just don’t amputate your hand!”
As Long Cheng went to speak, I added, “Guardian Long, you did terrific. I’m not talking about you serving the imperial court; I’m saying it was the right choice to turn the place into a fighting area. That being said, there is something called priority. This place is the most important place. If this place is damaged, I couldn’t avenge the grudge even if I turned the world on its head. I’d have to risk my life to murder everyone in the imperial court. Imagine the chaos the martial world would be plunged into after. You put up with all the humiliation and bitter feelings to protect this place and me. I should be thanking you for that.”
Because Long Cheng was such a serious man, I had to speak in the same serious manner to get through to him. As he was still hesitant, I sternly elaborated, “It’s my duty to protect this place, so if anyone is to blame for letting it fall into Kong Duan’s hands, it would be me. If you have to take your own life for it, I would also have to take my own life. If you amputated one of your hands, I would have to amputate one of my hands to make it up to you to honour your valiant act.”
Long Cheng regretted his actions: “You cannot take your own hand, Lord San Shen. You are the only one worthy of leading our cult among the three survivors of our cult. To add, we need your leadership to revive our cult from here on out. I would be a sinner if I let mishap befall you.”
Long Cheng was one of those types of characters who’d kill himself if he said he would unless you convinced him otherwise. Honouring things was very important to him. It took a lot of explaining to convince him donating his hand and feet wouldn’t revive the cult before he gave up on it.
“Lord San Shen, how shall we proceed?”
“We’ll take the tablet and altar. We’ll have to abandon this place.”
“But this place is…” Long Cheng hesitantly said.
“I know,” I interrupted. “Since Kong Duan found out about it, I bet the Emperor has been keeping tabs on it, as well. There’s no way we can hide its existence any longer. Staying here is basically waiting to be arrested. The place isn’t going to sprout legs and run off. We only need to take the items here. We’ll eventually take back what’s ours.”
“What belongs to you now? You confuse me,” proclaimed the Emperor, from outside the room.
The Emperor appeared outside the steps. He heard everything we said, since we didn’t stifle our voices or anything of that nature. I recognised a number of faces among the big group he brought with him. Tang Ye and Bai Lian were on either side. There were four of the Seventeen Hidden Dragons. Lord Zi was also with him. I suppose they were reunited.
For the most part, things proceeded as I planned. As the three cases we were assigned were all linked to Kong Duan, it indicated the Emperor had suspicions about him. If there was someone who could eliminate Kong Duan, it would have to be the Emperor. I just never expected Kong Duan to occupy this place and control Dark Wind Branch.
*Too young too simple was actually written the same way in Chinese, but its gibberish in Chinese, because it’s written to sound similar to “Too young, too simple” in English. It’s a similar scenario to the Shui Tuwan and three, two, one homophones. It took me a while to figure out what the author was doing.