Different Year, Same Thing (Part 14)
Ming Feizhen’s eyes gave the target the vibe that he was able to see all of their weaknesses, yet they couldn’t explain why they had that impression. They had visions of his murderous intent manifesting inside their bodies, gradually spreading until he tore asunder their body from within. Ling Hanzhong needed several breaths to calm down despite him usually bossing others around.
“You’re Night Fortress’ new leader… the senior disciple of that old bugger?”
Anyone would assume Night Fortress caught wind they were among the sects to be conquered and, consequently, wished to put up a futile resistance. If an outsider was listening in, though, they wouldn’t understand what “the senior disciple of that old bugger” meant.
Only the Seven Champion White Princes would understand what Ling Hanzhong referred to for Night Fortress’ identity as a branch of Mount Daluo was their insider top secret. Ling Hanzhong only divulged the secret to his sons, not because he was afraid, but because he was prudent, trying to avoid alerting Night Fortress. If “Old Bugger” heard of his plans and came down from the mountain, Ling Hanzhong’s plans would likely go down a potty.
“You’re speaking to him, yes. Greetings, Patriarch Ling,” replied Ming Feizhen, sucking his finger he just used to hold his sweet.
“What’s with your discourteous attitude? Did your shifu not teach you any manners?”
Based on seniority, Ling Hanzhong would be a rung higher than Ming Huayu, classifying him as Ming Feizhen’s martial grandfather. Yet, Ming Feizhen looped his left arm around his weapon’s grip and held his chin in his hand, treating Ling Hanzhong as if the latter was asking a stupid question.
Ling Hanzhong simpered as though his mouth had a cramp, disparaging, “This old one knew his disciple would be as trashy as him given his char-”
“You like spouting drivel, do you? If you brought all your cronies here just to waste my time on that nonsense, you can show yourself the door now.”
“In the pugilistic world, might makes right. I’ll cut to the chase since you’ve come here: Hangzhou is mine. Night Fortress is still nothing despite all the time you’ve been running it, and Hangzhou’s martial world still isn’t united. This old one is more qualified to rule Hangzhou. Not even your shifu could defy me.”
Ling Hanzhong never perceived Night Fortress to be a threat for a split second. Territorial conquests in the martial world were different to pugilists determining who was superior, the latter being a duel and the former closer to a gang war. He had over a hundred elites with him already, and reinforcements were on their way, which was a force large enough to quell all of Hangzhou’s martial artists even if they came together. Therefore, an alpha hero was just another troop to squash. Sure, he knew a fight was inevitable, but since when did he ever shy away from slaughtering anyone?
Ling Hanzhong’s true concern was Ming Huayu, the enigma whose whereabouts were less predictable than the weather. Unlike his son, Ling Hanzhong was privy to what the three biggest orthodox sects were capable of. Even with Mount Lu Sword Sanctuary’s full force coming out en masse, they wouldn’t be able to defeat any of the three big sects without taking severe damage. He desired Jiangnan; he didn’t want to have any conflict with the big three.
“Night Fortress will inexorably become part of Mount Lu Sword Sanctuary. This old one understands you are young and hot headed. By the same token, he understands you fervently trying to stop the inevitable. Out of respect for your shifu, I shall overlook your rudeness. Leave now. Don’t get in this old one’s way. If you want to keep Night Fortress in existence, come apologise for your rudeness another day. As long as you apologise sincerely, he is willing to consider forgiving you.”
Ming Feizhen didn’t need to utter a word for his scarlet eyes were all telling.
“Since you insist on opposing me, how do you want to do this? Call your men here. Demons, devils, monsters or clowns, line them up, and I’ll happily cut all of them down,” declared Ling Hanzhong.
Ling Hanzhong had a meeting with the imperial court’s representative in the morning and then immediately went back on what he said, racing to Hangzhou to launch a surprise raid before the imperial court could assemble their forces to sortie. He had successfully fooled the imperial court, and all that was left to do was to show Hangzhou’s martial world his might to realise the vision he had repeated in his mind daily ever since the downfall of Demon Sect.
“I don’t have any.”
The patient predator was eager to make history for Mount Lu Sword Sanctuary in perfect and epic fashion. In saying that, he couldn’t do that if they all beat up Ming Feizhen, who was there on his own. What would be so epic about a group ganging up on one man?
“You didn’t bring any men with you?”
“They’re busy escorting your son and some other criminals to the magistrate office.”
Assuming Ming Feizhen was trying to win using a hostage tactic, Ling Hanzhong clapped: “Now I know you have a spine. Great job. Wise move. In other words, you don’t care about the consequences of being a hero of justice. You came here to have this old one send you to the other side with your courageous brothers, did you? Hahah-”
“Did I say that?”
Ling Hanzhong was on the verge of eruption. Literally, he inexplicably had difficulty breathing and felt his temperature soaring.
“They’re quick to exact vengeances and return favours, going with what their instincts tell them to do, but I’m past that stage of life. That’s why I can only do what I am capable of.”
“And what’s that?”
“They went out for those who deserve to die. I’m here for those who don’t deserve to die.”
Ming Feizhen marginalised the army’s piercing gaze on him and strode forward, each step shutting down their morale.
“If that rat Ming Huayu didn’t start accepting disciples twenty-odd years ago, I’d be convinced this kid has already reached Divine Realm,” Ling Hanzhong inwardly analysed. “Couldn’t tell you were such a benevolent man. This person you claim deserves to die is Qingshu, isn’t it? So who doesn’t deserve to die? Everyone part of Night Fortress?”
“Ambitious, are you? You want to save the seven big sects of Hangzhou, as well? Hah, I get it: people don’t want to part with things they’ve been part of for a long time.”
“Not quite there yet.”
“Impudent boy, you mean you want to save the entire martial world of Hangzhou?”
“Still not quite there yet.” Ming Feizhen stared deep into Ling Hanzhong’s smile as he elaborated, “And all the lives of Mount Lu Sword Sanctuary. I don’t want to see so many people die.”
“At your service! The causes of death on your tomb will be ‘arrogance and impudence’!” brayed Murong Song, sword already on its way to its target.