It’s A Pity We Weren’t Acquainted Earlier
I cleared my throat: “Got it, got it, inferior to an ass. I guess you would compare him to pigs, dogs, chickens, ducks, fish, three coins, a discount or anything but thunderclap. You would not have overreacted when I said ‘… akin to lightning,’ otherwise.”
“Enough with that! Are you testing my patience?!” brayed Lie Shang.
Elder Shou: “Calm down, Brother Lie. Asserting Young Master Zhong does not know of Young Master Ling’s honourable name is a baseless claim, nonetheless.”
“Elder Shou, look at the way he’s leering and treating this as entertainment. Plus, his father is a debauched man. Do you really expect him to have any decent knowledge? I am straight forward and have no qualms with offending people if it means sticking to my principles. I acknowledge Young Master Ling is an esteemed individual and adept swordsman. Even so, Mount Lu Sword Sanctuary’s rules are strict; they always keep a low profile when travelling. I doubt we would have recognised him if we were not all heading toward Huzhou. He clearly is trying to butter up Young Master Ling,” contested Lie Shang, before shooting me a hostile glare. “If you can tell us who Young Master Ling’s father is, I’ll commend you! If you can’t, I’ll cut you as payback for humiliating me!”
I sighed and shook my head: “Hero Lie, you are an eminent individual, yet you would offer such an unfair deal?”
“How is it unfair?”
“If I lose, I have to let you slash me once, yet all I am rewarded with is praise? What sort of reward is ‘praise’? Moreover, you are forcing me to take on the greater risk?”
Because everyone burst out in hilarity, Lie Shang’s anger rushed to his face: “It was a slip of the tongue. If you win, you may penalise me as you see fit.”
“I do not really need to penalise you. I only ask you agree to a request of mine.”
I could see confidence escaping Lie Shang from the way he looked at me. He, however, thought, “There are countless swordsmen from Mount Lu Sword Sanctuary’s thousand years of history. There are seven descendants from the head clan alone in this generation, totalling more than a dozen renowned swordsmen. I’d like to see you guess who his father is.”
“If you win, I’ll do exactly as you say,” agreed Lie Shang.
“You will dive into the ocean if I ask you to?”
“I’ll jump into an inferno, as well, if that’s what you ask!”
“Terrific! That was what I was hoping you would say!” I then said, “Here it is!”
Su Xiao suddenly effused, “Great Saint, please shine the light!”
“Idiot!” I shook my head and put on the airs Wudang’s patriarch would when misleading people. I ran my gaze up and down Young Master Ling. Pointing at him, I said, “He was born on the third of the twelfth month of the lunar calendar during the third year of Emperor Yuansheng’s reign. The winter that day on Mount Lu inspired his name. ‘Ice akin to agate. The thousands of clouds break through the wall,’ was the phrase that inspired his name. He is Mount Furong Sanctuary’s master, Elder Ling Yaoshi. Ever since he went into seclusion to train, he stopped involving himself with anything pertaining to the imperial court. The Seven Champion White Princes have instated him as their leader. With one word from him, everyone would be at his command. By all accounts, he is an admirable man.”
Young Master Ling didn’t tell anyone else who he was. He applauded: “Impressive! Young Master Zhong is absolutely right.”
Emperor Yuansheng thought, “Young Master Ling is the son of the eldest descendant, Brother Yaoshi? Doesn’t that make him my nephew? Ming Feizhen sure has surprised me this time. How did he figure that out?!”
“I only knew of your name thanks to you punishing evil and saving a father and daughter at Luoyang a few months ago. You are the definition of a hero of justice.”
“Oh? That’s nothing worth mentioning, yet you knew about it? Hahahaha.”
It was true Mount Lu Sword Sanctuary strictly forbade their members from revealing their identities outside of the mountain; howbeit, Young Master Ling deliberately tried to stand out, afraid others wouldn’t know of his deeds. That was how he ended up in Black and White Reflection. They also reported he was famous at various brothels. He purportedly liked both men and women.
It was easy to figure out who Young Master Ling was. Flying Thrust Technique was split into four realms. Each realm had its own internal mental cultivation to learn. I wasn’t a swordplay expert by any means, but Ling Yaoshi’s son was the only person he mastered up to the fourth realm, Flying Descent Three Thousand Inches.
Young Master Ling’s ego totally overpowered his brains. He smiled: “Brother Zhong, we should get to know each other better when I have time. Your vast knowledge is commendable.”
I sported on an ambiguous grin: “I am humbly educated and only have stage plays as a hobby, especially Fourth Son of Yang Clan.”
“Which scene of Fourth Son of Yang Clan?”
“Visiting His Mother.”
“Hahaha, excellent! We’re on the same wave length! Now it makes sense!”
It was a pity the two of us only got acquainted then. We quickly got along because we had great chemistry. If only there was yellow paper to form a sworn-brothers pact.
I shook my head and draped an arm over Young Master Ling’s shoulder: “You’re a devil, Young Master Ling.”
“Young Master Zhong knows how to have fun.”
“Young Master Ling knows how to enjoy himself.”
“Young Master Zhong knows how to carry himself gracefully.”
“Nice! Nice! Nice!”
“You two done yet?” scathingly asked the maiden with the staff. “Disgusting creeps.”
Young Master Ling laughed in a deep voice: “If you have time, please visit me in Jiujiang.”
Young Master Ling stole a glance at Su Xiao; the latter felt his hairs stand erect.
“Bring your mistress along. I will ensure you are satisfied with my hospitality.”
“Aye, hehehe. Come on, let’s have a toast, brother.”
“Sure!” Young Master Ling took the drink and knocked it back right away. He scrunched his face when he felt the heat down his throat: “What wine is this?! It’s intense!”
“There are plenty of rare ingredients out in the wild. This wine is a local specialty. I heard it was called Ice Spring Inferno Burrow. It is akin to having ice and fire rush down your throat simultaneously. It is perfect for real men.”
Elder Shou smiled and gave me a thumb of approval: “Young Master Zhong, your knowledge seems boundless. This old one admires your ability to play with ice and fire simultaneously!”
Man, fuck you, old man! Do you have some sort of grudge against me?! Why do you keep throwing me into trouble?
Su Xiao was about to er-, wait. He didn’t give me a tongue lashing. Instead, he leaned in and whispered, “Big Brother Ming, what does he mean play with ice and fire at the same time? Why does he admire you for it?”
My forehead perspired after what I heard. Luckily, Su Xiao whispered. I answered, “Ice and fire, hahaha, it’s a secret technique taught in the pugilistic world, so I can’t say it out loud. As long as you understand it, just keep it to yourself.”
“Do you know it?”
“Only a tad, only a tad.”
“Can you teach it to me?”
“Huh?” I had no response. I smiled mischievously after coming up with an answer: “Sure. I’ll teach you when we have time.”
I had to stop myself from laughing when I imagined Su Xiao’s reaction once he found out what it was. He, however, was delighted. He clapped and enthused, “Sure! Don’t forget to teach me Playing with Ice and Fire Simultaneously.”
For fuck sakes, Kid! What did I tell you about being quiet?!
*Playing with Ice and Fire Simultaneously – Su Xiao misunderstood it as a technique. If you didn’t understand what the joke was, it just means bisexual.