A Few Facts about Luo Sword Manor (Part 2)
Those serving the imperial court hated hearing The Four Unorthodox Factions mentioned because anyone labelled as their equal had the potential to overthrow the imperial court. Their very name was synonymous with treason. Emperor Yuansheng’s decision to reference them was a giveaway he disliked Refining Divine Convention.
“Yes, we’re deliberately complicating the issue and need to monitor Luo Sword Manor before deciding on a course of action. I am happy to reward them for forging an excellent weapon as it could be an event worth celebrating in the martial world. If they have other designs, do not spare them.”
“Yes, Your Majesty,” the three pugilists answered simultaneously.
“You don’t need to behave as though we are marching into enemy territory. At the end of the day, Luo Ming can still rein them in. I doubt Luo Xian would dare to attempt something he can’t fix. His brother would put him in his place once he comes out of seclusion. He’d have to have his head screwed on loose to go there.”
In the minds of the three: “You’re the tense one, yet you’re telling us to not be tense. His Majesty is playing Cao Cao and Guan Yu back to back; he’s the one slapping the cheek and the one rubbing the cheek.”
Emperor Yuansheng was trying to reassure himself when he tried to reassure his subjects. Rumours of Luo Ming suffering from bad health spread in recent years. Emperor Yuansheng was worried for his old friend and didn’t want to imagine the worst case scenario. He told himself, “Brother Luo, please be well. I will drink with you once I arrive at Taihu Sword Island.”
Emperor Yuansheng forced a smile: “What’s with those looks? Ahem, Hahaha, we have Miss Lyu to thank. Had she not risked her wellbeing to inform me of Refining Divine Convention, we wouldn’t be able to prepare for it. We’d be caught off guard if we only learned of it upon arriving at Canhu Town. We also need to thank her for telling us about Night Fortress’ master… Wait. Damn it.”
“What is it, Your Majesty? Is Old Luo Ming really a goner?” Long Zaitian asked.
“Nonsense! He’s doing well. I’m talking about Miss Lyu.”
Long Zaitian scratched his head: “What about the l(ass)-, Miss Lu?”
“Think about where she is!”
“Did you not say it was inappropriate for a young maiden to be with us? Was that not why you had her share a carriage with the imperial doctors? I noticed she looked unwilling to leave our carriage. I suppose she prefers our large and nice carriage, so sh-”
“Enough with the unfounded libel. Take a look at where Ming Feizhen is!”
Long Zaitian poked his head out. Ming Feizhen wasn’t with his mule. He thought he heard Ming Feizhen’s voice coming from Miss Lyu’s carriage. He came back in and answered, “It seems… Ming Feizhen is playing dice with the artisan. The punk uses some sort of tricks. I have never lost a game before, yet I kept losing to him. It was so heartbreak-.”
“Shut up or I’ll drug you mute! Don’t just sit there. Go and break them up.”
Dugu and Tie Hanyi caught on to what Emperor Yuansheng was implying. Long Zaitian was last to catch on. Once Long Zaitian caught on, he slapped a thigh.
Tie Hanyi: “Slap your own thigh!”
Long Zaitian cackled: “My bad, my bad. Your Majesty, Long Zaitian understands your concern. He shall split them up now.”
“I’m glad to see you’re still quick-witted, Vice-Captain Long. Go now.”
“Right away, Your Majesty!”
Dugu: “Is he really that perceptive? Does he actually understand?”
“Ming Feizhen is so thoughtless. I can’t stand him even though I’m just a subject. I am duty bound to intervene. How dare he try to cock block His Majesty,” Long Zaitian mumbled as he left the carriage. “Ming Feizhen must be out of his mind. You think you can put a green hat on His Majesty just because you have connections with Night Fortress? This dragon will teach you!”
Dugu and Tie Hanyi turned to Emperor Yuansheng.
“Did his stupidity infect you two?! Ming Feizhen couldn’t explain the gifts for Night Fortress’ master today and performed an impromptu act, forging his identity to craft his lie. He doesn’t need to explain any further; it’s obvious we’re both lying to each other. If Miss Lyu lets him know she told me the gifts were for Night Fortress’ master, however, he’d start to suspect us. We didn’t let Miss Lyu know about this. She will tell him everything if he asks her. Do you see the problem now?”
In Dugu and Tie Hanyi’s minds: “Put simply, we missed it because we didn’t spare Miss Lyu that much attention. His Majesty isn’t planning to commit adultery behind Her Majesty’s back, is he?”
Miss Lyu and I chatted for over four hours. I shared His Majesty’s seven sons and three daughters’ wealthy-family, tragic, intrigue melodrama in three parts. My main aim was to tell Miss Lyu the old timer was off the market. To my surprise, she ignored the story and focused on the part about all the women around him trying to dig his gold, take advantage of his martial prowess and character. That’s why she felt sorry for him after his “depressing” marriages.
“W-Wait, didn’t I say Mr Fangzhang likes his wives?”
“Even if they did develop feelings in the process, their motivation for marriage was not initially love. Did you not say they married him for his money?”
What the hell is this perspective? He was never depressed for a day. You were reciting Li Bai’s Quiet Night Thoughts when he was flirting with Feng Huang! Haven’t you realised the only lonely one was you?!
“How shameless!” I folded my arms and elaborated, “Open your eyes. Those types of rich and powerful men start flaunting how big their carriage is, how cool, suave, gentle, considerate and caring they are as soon as they see a maiden they like, such as you.”
“That is a lie!” Face ablaze, Lu Yaoqin argued, “Mr. Fangzhang is mature. He would not do that.”
“Hey, Ming Feizhen. Move aside. I’m here for Miss Lu!” Long Zaitian shouted as he barged in.
Lyu Yaoqin flinched.
“What do you want to see her for?”
“Hmph, this carriage is squishy and poor quality. Master invited Miss Lyu over to join him. Do we need your permission?”
My eyes communicated to Miss Lu, “See? What did I tell you? They’re bragging about their carriage, aren’t they?”
“What else did Master say?”
“What’s it to you? Master is cool and suave. You can’t compare.”
I turned to Lyu Yaoqin right away: “What did I just say? That’s literally word for word what I told you. You still have time to change your mind.”
“Look at this carriage. Unlike you, Master is gentle, considerate and caring…”
I didn’t need to comment again. Lyu Yaoqin was convinced. Her face was as red as a tomato. She hid behind me and quietly replied, “Th-thanks, but no thanks.”
Stumped, Long Zaitian turned back to see Emperor Yuansheng’s eyebrows together. I exchanged eye contact with Emperor Yuansheng. I saw the eyes of a wild beast staring hostilely and berating his foe. I interpreted his nod as, “You have guts!”
I nodded back to signal, “Fangzhang is old but strong!”
*To play Cao Cao and Guan Yu back to back is a reference to Cao Cao’s admiration of Guan Yu’s character and desire to have him join his ranks, but Guan Yu’s loyalty didn’t lie with him. In other words, one is asking oneself and rejecting oneself. I really didn’t want to remove the cultural element here, which is why I didn’t translate the expression straight out.
**Li Bai’s Quiet Night Thoughts is a real poem. In case you forgot, he’s a poet from the Tang Dynasty. The poem is listed as number 233 in the collection 300 Tang Poems. Sometimes, people refer to its first line instead of its real title.