The rumours floating around about Luo Siming’s characters ranged from heroic, handsome and skilled, but the majority of them were mere word of mouth or based off the corpses he left behind, void of personal testimony. As such, they weren’t the best source of information to form an evaluation of him.
Luo Siming was often decorated as a young hero others should model because of his strict adherence to his clan teachings and scandal-free life with women. Oftentimes, he was compared to Luo Ming and Ling Hanzhong. That being said, when Ling Hanzhong was placed next to Luo Siming for comparison, the comment was always, “He can go take a hike!”
Luo Siming would’ve been an obscure name if he didn’t climb to the third rank of Seventeen Wyrms at the tender age of seventeen. People tended to forget that his father basically left him before he turned fifteen because his father succumbed to depression and turned to the life of a recluse.
Although young Luo Siming inherited his father’s aptitude with swords, he inherited his mother’s cordial charm instead of his father’s proud and solitary personality. As a leader, he was more open to ideas and met expectations. He never tarnished Luo Sword Manor’s reputation or let them sink. Even though his father, Luo Ming, was credited with establishing their foundation, Luo Siming deserved more credit for his efforts, negotiating with the imperial court and fulfilling all of his duties.
Owing to Luo Siming’s dedication to Luo Sword Manor, strong sense of justice and harsh criticism on himself if he slacked off, his personal life was as interesting as watching paint dry. He never touched a girl’s hand after breathing for twenty-four years – unless physical contact with Ao Xue during training counted. As a consequence, people called him an honest and slow-to-warm man, which really meant he was the one person a husband should never model. Nobody, however, could deny that he was genuinely kind to others.
Checking on Shen Yiren was the first time Luo Siming played doctor for any woman. The fact that he felt guilty touching her skin said all that there could be said about him. He didn’t expect himself to feel so flustered touching Shen Yiren’s skin, and the more he tried to clear the air, the more uptight he felt. He, as a matter of fact, couldn’t stop clearing his throat as well as looking back to Ao Xue to see if she was shooting him looks of despise.
“… As for taboos about men and women physically touching… Her wellbeing is more important than customs and traditions.”
“What taboos?” Ao Xue asked with her head angled.
“W-well, I have to check her pulse, so I have to touch her,” stuttered Luo Siming, finding it even more awkward when having to explicate.
Ao Xue, the maiden whose head was filled with nothing but swords and swordplay for as long as she could remember, responded, “Check her pulse properly to make sure you diagnose her correctly. By the way, what are the taboos between men and women?”
“L-like skinship with a girl as an unmarried young man.”
“Mm, indeed. What happens if an unmarried young man does touch her?”
“It is considered one of the indecent things scum does and a chivalrous man should never enact.”
Ao Xue stepped back, relieving Luo Siming for a second, questioning, “Are you going to touch her, Young Master? You want to be scum?”
Lucky the chair caught Luo Siming’s bottom.
Why have I never felt so flustered and shaky at the mere sight of her when I’ve checked my mother’s pulse? Focus, Luo Siming. Let’s get this over with or Ao Xue is going to pierce me with her gaze.
Luo Siming locked his brows together – a habit of his whenever focusing on his internal thoughts that his general manager and family kept reminding him not to do so given his status – as he checked Shen Yiren’s pulse. Bewildered, he transferred true qi into Shen Yiren’s meridians.
“This is baffling…”
“What is the matter, Young Master?”
“Someone used their internal energy to injure her gravely. You also saw the awful wounds she had when I brought her back, didn’t you?”
“Yes, she had been slashed, gashed, punched and kicks in dozens of spots, including some which she inflicted on herself. Many competent pugilists hurt her. Her most severe wound was the nerve gash on her left wrist. Had she not staunched the bleeding with a piece of material, she would’ve bled out. I suspect she suffered the wound during combat,” reeled off Ao Xue, breaking character whenever she had a chance to analyse martial arts.
“I agree. I didn’t see much at a glance when I first saw her. Plus, I shouldn’t be staring at a maiden. What perplexes me most is that the injuries keeping her in a coma are the injuries on top of her internal injuries.”
“So you did find the cause after being a scum.”
“Ahem. I surmise she is actually quite the pugilist. Otherwise, she would’ve been slaughtered against the odds she faced. Moreover, I can see she was the one launching the big attacks despite her left hand’s nerve being severed – though that is what led to her suffering such grave internal injuries. If her opponent sealed her meridians, they wouldn’t have needed to slam her with the last attack that clearly did the most damage. She has my respect for her determination.”
“Can she be resuscitated?”
“Mm… Frankly, I don’t know. That’s why I’m befuddled. I wouldn’t be surprised if a physician declared her dead. I wouldn’t last an hour if I lost as much blood, suffered external and internal injuries, and was left to drift in the water. If my estimate is to be trusted, she must’ve spent a day or two drifting in the water.”
“Could her internal energy be extremely developed?”
“No. Her meridians are sealed, so my true qi can’t help her at all. Given her age, her internal strength has only had so much time to develop. Else, it’s impossible to explain the wound no her left hand. I’m guessing she isn’t a Orthodox Realm user. We’ll only know if we can unclog her meridians, which is impossible. Honestly, I’m stumped. The seal must be due to the last blow that floored her. I wouldn’t want to cross swords with the one who bludgeoned her for the same reason I can’t see myself defeating my father. This leads me to the next point I can’t wrap my head around.
“… Judging from the last blow, she was an egg against a rock; they could’ve defeated her without even getting serious, yet they intended to kill her. What must she have done to trigger that sort of violence? That begs the questions, how did she escape from an opponent of that calibre, how did she fall into Taihu Lake and drift here? The only way we’ll find out is by asking her when she comes to.”
Just who are you? Who did you fight to end up in this tragic state? Why did you have to fight so hard?