“There’s no mistake you’re next in line to carry Mount Daluo’s mantle.” Emperor Yuansheng jovially stroked his beard, expanding, “Ming Huayu, Ming Feizhen, you two had fooled me all this time.”
No, Emperor Yuansheng didn’t sound angry; he actually sounded happy and proud of himself.
Emperor Yuansheng called me to join him in the carriage so that we had private space to converse. We couldn’t just keep talking in the woods while everyone else was waiting, after all.
Emperor Yuansheng swamped me with questions about Mount Daluo and even asked about the paradise-like village on Mount Daluo; he expected every location on the mountain to be described in detail.
Riding the wave of momentum after exposing my identity, whenever I mentioned something cool, Emperor Yuansheng would smile and cry, “Yeah, that’s blah blah blah.” I’d then reveal a plethora of details to embarrass him, and we repeated it until he lost his confidence, ending his comments. You know that sort of situation where there’s always the one guy who has to comment on every topic to prove he’s smarter than everyone, even though he doesn’t know squat, until someone comes along and schools him? Emperor Yuansheng was basically that commenter.
I picked out things outsiders would find interesting to share, albeit having to start from my childhood, such as the thousands of people living in aforementioned village all their life, how many generations have lived on Mount Daluo and how they were residents of the mountain.
By the time I got to Grandmaster demonstrating swordplay, palm styles, divinations and miscellaneous knowledge, Emperor Yuansheng was akin to a kid at a toy store. He found Grandmaster so awe-inspiring that he couldn’t resist giving praise and effusing his thoughts.
After cups and cups of tea, pots and pots of tea, serves and serves of refreshments – courtesy of Long Zaitian, who thought, “How can they keep talking as though they’re long-lost family catching up?” and hours upon hours of speaking, Emperor Yuansheng finally repeated, “There’s no mistake you’re next in line to carry Mount Daluo’s mantle.” He was as tired of listening as I was of speaking. Emperor Yuansheng knocked back his cup of tea then drank even mine to quench his thirst.
“During my younger days, which was when your shifu was letting the world know his name, I did and still idolise him.”
“You idolise my shifu’s martial prowess?”
“No, I idolise his ability to still lead a carefree life when he has women across the entire land.”
I heard Emperor Yuansheng’s response as him bemoaning. I couldn’t say I knew how it felt, but I could imagine the headache his harem and family gave him when I knew what sort of people a number of them were.
“Nevertheless, my wish has finally come true. Although I can’t meet Ming Huayu, you have come. I’m glad these decades I’ve wrought in politics have paid off. Mount Daluo’s successor has finally chosen the imperial court.”
Can I say that this is all a misunderstanding?!
Brightly, Emperor Yuansheng inquired, “Why did you hide your identity? Had I known you’re Mount Daluo’s successor, I would’ve granted you a high-ranking position as an official even if you don’t want to leave Liu Shan Men. Why did you choose to work as an unknown constable?”
“Shifu told me that, before I turn thirty, I must travel the pugilistic world, but I am not to start a family, get into pointless fights or pursue glory in politics. Conferring me the rank of a rank seven warrior is tantamount to giving me a title without any actual power, so it is not against the stipulation Shifu set.”
“Really? No wonder why you rejected Hong’er faster than anyone ever would. I suppose a man of his calibre has his reasons for enforcing the stipulations. In that case, I won’t confer you any positions involving official posts.”
“My status as the successor is also a secret. This one implores you to keep the secret for him.”
“Naturally, naturally,” effused Emperor Yuansheng. “If people learnt Mount Daluo’s successor was aiding me, I would have to be wary of nations and the four unorthodox factions. Patriarchs of martial arts sects would be green with envy. The Seven Champion White Princes, in fact, would become an even greater threat. A wise man never tells the world what all of his assets are. You don’t think I’m stupid, do you? Hahaha.”
Nah, I think you’re incorrigibly stupid…
“Nobody besides you and I will know about this.”
Well, that’s reassuring, coming from a monarch.
“I feel much better if Luo Sword Manor knows you’re accompanying me. It’s unfortunate your self-defence skills are sheet.”
“What do you mean, Your Majesty?”
“Oh, I was saying that your shifu should’ve taught you proper martial arts. I know you’ve learnt a lot from his wealth of knowledge on numerous subjects and learnt to be as astute, but I think you’re past the age where you can become an adept pugilist now.
“I could never discern who you are because of your abysmal combat abilities. I doubt anyone would ever guess Ten Thousand Mile Dragon Rider, Ming Huayu’s disciple and Mount Daluo’s successor’s martial arts would be so sheet.”
“What does this ‘sheet’ mean?”
“Oh, it’s an ancient and eloquent adjective.”
“What is the conventional term now?”
“Put a ‘h’ between the ‘s’ and ‘I’ in ‘sit’.”
You want me to bounce your head off this carriage?! You want to see how ‘sheet’ my skills are? I’ll rearrange your face with my arms and legs tied! I’ll spit you to death, Yuansheng!
Su Xiao, you taught them the term, didn’t you? You’re the one who fights like sheet! Is this the type of stuff they teach in the imperial palace? What happened to all that cultured spiel you all love?! Why don’t you believe me when I say something, yet you all believe Su Xiao’s claims without question?
“Master, we have arrived,” informed Dugu. “Canhu Town is right in front of us.”
“Already?” remarked Emperor Yuansheng. “Let’s make our way in, then.”
“And what?” griped Emperor Yuansheng, annoyed with Dugu’s dithering.
Upon brushing aside the curtain and beholding the fragments littering the streets, Emperor Yuansheng no longer needed an explanation.
With the corners of his lips up, Dugu notified, “It is New Year’s Eve.”