Luo Sword Manor was the clan most tightly associated with the imperial court. There were four clans that made up the crux of the Central Plain’s military forces: Beihai’s Clear Mirror Palace, Demon Realm Sky Palace, Jiangnan’s Luo Sword Manor and Tang Clan.
Sky Palace and Tang Clan focused on work as artisans; however, they adopted a narrow-minded way of operating. It was rare to ever see weapons they produced. Clear Mirror Palace was the biggest group of blacksmiths in the pugilistic world. They produced the majority of the renowned weapons in the North and Central Plain. As for Luo Sword Manor, they were the biggest blacksmith association in Jiangnan. Luo Sword Manor’s fame came from their reputation for producing quality swords for the hundreds of years. During that time, never once did they fall out of favour. Everybody in the martial world hoped to eventually have a sword Luo Sword Manor produced.
Things changed approximately a century ago, when the nation was first established. The Founding Emperor followed in the footsteps of others and expanded his lands rapidly. As a consequence, he faced a weapons shortage. Though a courageous man, handling logistics wasn’t his forte. Subsequently, he struggled to think of a solution. Frustrated, he vented on rocks and boulders. Had Hero Shenzhou not stepped in to talk him out of it, he probably would’ve done a lot more damage.
The master of Luo Sword Manor at the time sympathised with the people suffering from war. He, therefore, decided to aid and offered to cover the military’s gear requirement. The master ignored the clan elder’s opposition and broke the rule their clan abided by for centuries, which was to not involve themselves with the pugilistic world or imperial court’s affairs.
The master of Luo Sword Manor enthusiastically got his military workshop up and running. Together with his clan’s artisans, they burnt the midnight oil to design new gear with two fundamental requisites: high quality and possible to be mass produced. The fire by Taihu was never extinguished for years, for they were constantly producing gear to resolve the Founding Emperor’s biggest dilemma.
The blacksmiths of Luo Sword Manor and their technique were unrivalled, evident from the impeccable quality of the gear they produced. Besides being tested in the workshop, they were also proven to work on the battlefield, saving countless soldiers’ lives when their lives depended on them.
Master Luo designed what he termed Heaven and Earth Steel Armour. The “Heaven and Earth” part of the name referred to its clever design that left no openings for weapons to sneak through. The creation put him on the map as a major contributor to the military’s success in battle. To this day, Heaven and Earth Steel Amour still helps keep invaders from Beijiang out.
In return for all the merits he contributed, Luo Sword Manor was bestowed the rank of third member of the Seven Champion White Princes and assigned the privilege of providing combat gear to the imperial court’s militaries for the long-term. For generations, they were also asked to reside close to the imperial court and be conferred official ranks higher than Black Robe Brotherhood.
The current master of Luo Sword Manor went by the name Luo Ming. The martial world acknowledged him as the swordsman with the best prospect among three other swordsmen of becoming the greatest swordsman in all the land. Under his leadership, Luo Sword Manor developed rapidly and climbed high enough to be said to rival the three biggest sects despite them being located outside of Jiangnan. There had long been rumours Luo Sword Clan surpassed the second prince among the Seven Champion Princes already and could challenge First Prince. The only reason it remained speculative was because Luo Ming had spent the last decade training in seclusion.
The facts above were derived from the Black and White Reflection, 12th Lacquer Edition.
I shut the Black and White Reflection then didn’t utter a word.
The Emperor’s idea wasn’t bad. Based on what I knew about Master Luo, he would’ve been able to fight Abels to a draw if not defeat the latter. The prerequisite was being able to persuade Master Luo to come out of seclusion.
The Emperor’s declaration to go on tour covertly was met with every official’s disagreement. What would an Emperor leave his throne to run to the pugilistic world for? It was absurd, especially when the thirtieth was three days away. If he wasn’t going to attend a banquet with all the officials, he might as well have told the world he wasn’t in the palace.
In the end, the Emperor argued, “Abels is a foreign villain who has invaded my border and killed my people. Right this moment, I want nothing more than to butcher him and drink his blood! What makes you think I’m in any mood for a banquet? None of The Ultimate Three are in the capital at present. If I don’t go, how will we ask Master Luo to come out of seclusion and help us? Were you friends with him without my knowledge? Moreover, it’s just a New Year’s banquet. Big deal if I’m not there. Empress Dowager isn’t in the palace at the moment, which is perfect. Announce I went to Zisheng Mountain to join her and fulfil my duties as her son. Filial piety is the most important value of all values. Can anybody argue otherwise? Perfect!”
The Emperor laughed shamelessly, while the officials could only concede.
‘Listen to the Emperor. Listen to him. He even used Empress Dowager.’
‘Fangzhang, did you think about how you would explain yourself when your mother comes home?’
Nobody could stop the Emperor since he insisted on going. He told us to go home and pack; we were setting out right away. So, I did as I was told and revised the information on Luo Sword Clan, as well. I also had to bid Young Shiyi farewell; that was the hardest mission.
“Hmph, you said you wanted to keep me by your side, but how many days have you spent with me since I joined?” sulked Young Shiyi, turning away after hearing my story. “Besides the first two days I was here, yesterday was the only other day you visited me… How much have we said to each other? Your shiniangs told you to look after me. We live right next door to each other, yet you… don’t even come over to greet daily now. Is that any way for a junior to ‘respect’ his senior?”
I rubbed my hands and replied, “Well, you know… Boss Shen is in a pinch. As her subordinate and friend, I am duty-bound to go. I heard the silk at Huzhou is fantastic. The first thing that came to mind was bringing some back for you. You’re going to look more beautiful than beautiful in it.”
“Brown nosing doesn’t work on me. So, you’re ignoring me to save Shen Yiren, is that it?” Young Shiyi grumbled. After shooting me a mean glare, she pitifully covered her face with her sleeve and sulked, “You unfaithful man. Look at the state I’m in. You’re so heartless that you would aggravate me, too?”
“Look for yourself!” Young Shiyi lifted her chin and looked aside. She extended her arms out from under her sleeve. She widened her eyes and unreasonably said, “I’ve lost weight.”
I carefully inspected Young Shiyi’s arms. There wasn’t a centimetre of difference to what I remembered. As for her body, she always looked after it and trained, so it was always perfect. She said she lost weight, so I couldn’t resist checking her perky bosom. They were as blood-nose inducing as I remembered. I glanced further down to see her ample thighs. Her robe for the day highlighted her curves more than usual.
I gulped: “No you haven’t… In fact, they look bigger…”
“Where do you think you’re looking?! All you’re good at is using your glib tongue!” Young Shiyi smacked me over the head, but her face glowed red, and she sounded shy. With a sigh, she lamented, “First it was a private job. Then, you had a business. Now you’re combining business with your private matters to rescue your beautiful superior. I really wonder what I am to you.”
I doubt anybody could’ve imagined Young Shiyi being so flirtatious when she was usually so casual and brazen. I was really happy to know she was only ever childish with me, so happy that I walked up close to her before I knew it.
Young Shiyi looked away and pretended to be indifferent: “Go on. I’m old now, so I won’t stick my nose into the affairs of you young ones; else, you’ll s(ay)-.”
“Young Shiyi…” I leaned in and said in a soft voice.
Young Shiyi opened her eyes slightly: “What do you w-, ng!”
Young Shiyi’s eyes flew wide open as she moaned. The moment I kissed her gently on her forehead, my lips were set alight. She looked back at me with a dumbstruck look. Gradually, her face turned red. She did her best to avert her gaze from me as she said, “You didn’t even consider my feelings first… You didn’t even create the ambience.”
I smiled: “Next time, then. We have plenty of time.”
Young Shiyi gently touched her head and giggled. She nodded but didn’t comment. I pinched her pink cheek and smiled: “Wait for me.”