Solid Jade Snow and Argent Moon Qingluan
Great Spear Sect took it upon themselves to leave after Young Master Ling departed. Elder Shou and the girl in green were the only two left in the room. That was still enough to keep Emperor Yuansheng on the edge of his seat, so he quietly told me, “Of all the hostiles in the room, the girl is the most skilled combatant.”
“Do not fret. I am aware.”
The girl and I locked eyes. Our people loosened up after confirming she wouldn’t reduce me to mincemeat with her staff out of the blue. Actually, perhaps they were just worried my brains would stain their clothing. Eventually, she broke the stalemate: “You know what I want to ask.”
I smiled: “Indeed.”
“Why are you going to Huzhou?”
“I must go when my friend is in need.”
“Hmph, friend? You have friends?”
I scratched my head: “Sometimes I have a few.”
Our interaction befogged the audience. Long Zaitian acted as if he was close to Tang Ye and leaned in: “Ye, introduce us, man.”
Tang Ye pulled his eyebrows together: “What?”
Long Zaitian raised his eyebrows a few times: “Your sister-in-law, obviously.”
I had to stop myself from grabbing the bench and batting Long Zaitian in the head…
Think before you speak, moron! She could kill you without breaking a sweat even if you had two lives!
Long Zaitian brainlessly carried on with his eye signals: “Don’t the two of them look as though they’re having a couple’s quarrel? My insight tells me they know each other and have a bit of a dispute between them. Are you going to give me that baloney? When did your big bro find himself such a skilled girl?”
“I don’t know. I never met her before.”
Thank heavens Tang Ye was helpful.
“Come on, man. Just reveal a little. Are you really going to continue trying to protect your big bro’s image?”
Tang Ye shrugged: “I honestly don’t know anything. Big Bro has connections across all the land. How am I supposed to know which one she is?”
I take that back about Tang Ye helping!
Put a sock in it! You think she doesn’t understand Chinese?! She’d stomp you two dimwits at the same time!
“Who is she? You appear to be acquainted, Young Master,” inquired Emperor Yuansheng.
I cleared my throat and introduced the girl: “She hails from the mighty, strong, staff wielding, only female sect wielding heavy weapons I know of, Hangzhou’s Wutong Jin Yuxuan. Jin Yuxuan’s disciples learn an internal style lauded as Jiangnan’s martial world’s supreme power-based style, Solid Jade Snow. Their patriarch, Heroine Zi, Zi Wutong, has seldom appeared in the pugilistic world in recent years. She is Patriarch Zi’s third senior disciple. They call her Argent Moon Qingluan, Lian Qingluan.”
Hangzhou was one of the areas in Jiangnan outside of the Seven Champion White Princes jurisdiction. Night Fortress was the administrator for Hangzhou’s martial world. Thanks to Night Fortress keeping the Seven Champion White Princes’ influence at bay, numerous sects were able to nurture truly talented martial artists. The only sect capable to taking the place of Night Fortress, the strongest sect in Hangzhou, was none other than Wutong’s Jin Yuxuan.
Lian Qingluan only started her journey in the pugilistic world two years ago, and her weapon was seldom used, which explained why nobody recognised her. Her shifu, however, was a heroine everyone recognised.
The Seven Champion White Princes couldn’t rustle Zi Wutong’s status as Jiangnan’s mightiest female adept. Not even powerhouses, such as Mount Lu Sword Sanctuary’s madam and Valley of Yearning’s Bai Clan’s heroine, could name a single female pugilist who could match her. She, therefore, was deserving of her status one of the only three women ranked on Supreme Ten Saints. The only reason Night Fortress managed to stay in power was because, unlike Night Fortress, where we accepted anybody as if we were bargain shopping, Wu Zitong only accepted female disciples and enforced a strict criteria for who she accepted.
“It is a pleasure to meet one of Zi Refines Nightfall’s senior disciples!” effused Emperor Yuansheng, smiling and playing the role of an escort chief perfectly. “Heroine Zi is a terrific teacher, and it shows. Young Master, you should offer her a toast to clear the air.”
I just smiled: “She does not drink.”
I wasn’t making it up. Their disciples didn’t drink alcohol. Lian Qingluan could do serious damage despite being only nineteen years old tops. Their fervent pursuit of martial arts was more passionate than any other sect I had ever come across. Unfortunately for me, Emperor Yuansheng wasn’t educated enough to know that. As a consequence, he jerked back and gave me the same look Long Zaitian did.
Oh, great, here we go again. Don’t misconstrue the facts! I don’t know her that well! I know her, her two senior martial sisters and shifu, but that’s only because her shifu is my shifu’s ex!
Knowing my shifu’s character, I bet the fearless man has friends from every type of background across the lands.
Zi Wutong had a reputation for being proud, a loner and strict. Actually, she was pretty much the most ruthless person in the pugilistic world. Years ago, when she had yet to reach her peak in martial arts, she was already showing the strict character she was glorified for today. She refused to show her opponents mercy. She’d turn fights into wars of attrition to exhaust her opponent to death if she couldn’t finish them. After she mastered Solid Jade Snow, she started wielding a blunt heavy sword. With her new weapon, she mowed down the Central Plain’s criminals in droves. Unorthodox sects attributed her name as the symbol of death. Those unable to match her would even quit and switch their allegiance. The last thing they wanted was to be another victim on her list. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that she was a major contributor to cutting down the number of criminals in the martial world.
Can you believe my shifu had the balls to go and provoke Zi Wutong after that?! But it gets crazier. Maybe someone fatally unlucky rubbed their bad luck off on her. Maybe something went wrong with her eyes. God forbid I ever fathom why in the world such a proud loner developed a crush on my shifu! To this day, I still suspect he cast some sort of unorthodox technique on her. Else, how do you explain why outstanding women from venerated orthodox sects, such as my shiniang, would choose the scumbag?
Anyway, Zi Wutong and my shifu were in love for some time. Given both of them were patriarchs of two eminent sects and her not being too much younger than my shifu, they were a perfect couple. Sadly for my shifu, he already had three wives. Sure, he could marry a fourth; in saying that, Patriarch Xia’s ego held her back. After a quarrel, she avowed she wouldn’t marry him unless he divorced his three wives.
My three shiniang’s weren’t pushovers; they weren’t just going to roll over and die. Hence, they formed a united front and reported my shifu to my grandmaster. For all the years they had been at Mount Daluo, they would cook for my grandmaster. Moreover, my grandmaster wasn’t the sort of man you could sway with force. So accordingly, he always supported them. That case was no difference.
After my shiniang’s reported my shifu, my grandmaster lambasted my shifu. I had to give it to my three shiniang’s. They quelled one of the Supreme Ten Saint’s attempts to invade their home of all people. Patriarch Zi’s ego took over again. She played the card, “You’re dumping me? I’m dumping you!” And so, their relationship went from rocky to shattered. Wutong Jin Yuxuan swore an oath to never stand alongside Mount Daluo henceforth.
The fiasco took place a decade ago. My shifu continued to visit Wu Zitong after the debacle. Alas, he was never pardoned for he never sorted out his relationships. For the same reason, her disciples would frequently harass Night Fortress while I was running it.
Lian Qingluan was only a young girl when Wu Zitong’s disciples commenced their constant harassment. When I stepped through the door, besides noticing she had grown into the belle of the room, I recognised her at first glance. That was why I used a fake name to hint to her I was putting on a show.
Those with Lian Qingluan only gave me apprehensive looks, while she appeared irate to an extent. She badgered, “I am participating in the convention. Since we’re not together, I shan’t let you go.”
Lian Qingluan clinched her staff tighter and gently twirled it, shaking the ground, demonstrating Solid Jade Snow had the potential to inflict damage with its residue damage.
Grinning, I shifted a foot forward, dispersing the shockwave making its way toward us. Utilising Voice Transmission, a tactic Lian Qingluan flinched in response to, I pointed out, “Miss Lian, unlike your senior sister, you have only mastered up to the second layer of Solid Jade Snow. You know how to fire off, but you don’t know how to condense the force, limiting the length of time you can keep up the high output. If I am correct, your limit is three executions per day. That, plus the previous usage, means you are only able to deploy the technique one more time.”
The limited number of times Lian Qingluan could use the technique was a deadly secret. Without the titanic power acting as their armour, practitioners of the style were fatally vulnerable. Jin Yuxuan only permitted disciples to use the last usage to situations where their life was on their line exclusively.
“Our shifus’ relationship is complicated, but it’s not our business as the next generation. Why must we fight each other?”
Lian Qing analysed the circumstances before she jabbed, “Long-term ailments have plagued Shizun these years. If someone had a conscience, he’d know what to do.”
I put a palm and fist together before me: “I will be sure to forward the message.”
“Keep your word.”
Lian Qingluan picked up her staff and vanished into the night as a ray of emerald.
By the time I turned around to my allies, I saw them gossiping amongst each other.
“She has to be one of his exes. I mean, his lines give it away.”
“Didn’t they mention Patriarch Zi is ill?”
“That must be her way of reproaching him for failing to fulfil filial piety. I mean, you expect a wife to not be angry when her husband won’t visit her sick shifu?”
“I can’t argue with that!”
Your brains are missing components! All of you!
“Haha, that is your true nature, able to withstand all sorts of trouble,” remarked Elder Shou, looking my way. “Would you be able to identify this old one with your vast knowledge, Young Master?”
“Your identity? Of course.” I smiled back and performed a palm and fist salute: “Greetings, Wudang’s Elder Shou.”
*Shizun = shifu. It’s just another term as Shishou and Sensei are in Japanese. This also applies to the broader usage shifu and sensei has. Like a doctor can be called sensei, a taxi driver is also called shifu. Shizun is a rather archaic term and only used for martial arts.