By I regained awareness of my surroundings, Huofeng had almost dislodged the doors on her way out with her kick.
“Big Brother Ming, what was she talking about?”
“Well… It’s… a story too long for now. In a nutshell, her senior was engaged to me from childhood.”
“Oh my god! Someone would actually want you? Is she blind?”
Are you insulting even someone you don’t know now?
“Mm… Abbess Huofeng is the senior of Miss Lian, right? Given Abbess Huofeng’s high standing in their sect, her senior sister…”
I figured Su Xiao would know Huofeng’s senior sister’s name since she had made her name for herself in the pugilistic world.
“Yes, you’re right, she’s Wutong Jin Yuxuan’s interim matriarch, the heroine they call Metal Yu Feiyuan.”
“You’re kidding me. Metal Yu Feiyuan is your fiancée?!”
I covered my ears: “What are you screaming for? My shifu set us up when he was drunk! There are no documents to officiate it or dowries. Do you trust a thug? Why would you trust my shifu, then?”
“Isn’t your shifu a daoist?”
“So what if he is?” I pinched my nose: “You’ve never seen a ruffian daoist, have you?”
I should take you to Wudang some time. I bet they’ll turn your beliefs on their head.
Our task was to find lodging, and we still hadn’t completed it. We picked up clues on Boss Shen but had no leads to follow. All that effort and we only ended up with Jie Daqian, who embraced his background as a beggar to the fullest, crawling toward the doors without any embarrassment.
As Jie Daqian crawled, he counted, “Ten more steps. Nine more steps…”
Su Xiao and I refused to give Jie Daqian ground. Smiling, I sardonically asked, “Where are you going, Elder Jie?”
“You know who I am, ignorant runt?”
Cueing Su Xiao in with a tug of my brow, the two of us took one side each, poking Jie Daqian’s laugh meridians.
“Hahaha, you two sons of a hahahaha! How dare you to this to hahaha! I won’t say any haha!”
Fifteen minutes later…
“I’ll talk. I’ll talk! I’ll talk!”
If it wasn’t for our sects’ friendship and Huofeng, I’d have made you spill everything.
And so, Jie Daqian recounted how Chen Wanyun recruited him to help Green Prince. Jie Daqian didn’t know Green Prince’s true identity and assumed the latter was a rich kid. They didn’t come from Luoyang but Shangxian City, a place far off in Nanjiang, which belonged to Emperor Yuansheng’s new domain in Nanjiang and was Green Prince’s territory. If anyone wasn’t convinced the fatty wasn’t Green Prince yet, that information should’ve validated it.
Green Prince didn’t come here on a whim; he had planned his trip to Huzhou months prior. What perplexed me was that Emperor Yuansheng only heard about the convention on the way here, yet was worried about his son coming here. Also, why “Zhong Ming” of all names?
I tossed a pancake I had to Jie Daqian when I heard his stomach growl. As he ate, he continued, “He came up with the name ‘Zhong Ming’ himself. Several days ago, a fellow they call Young Master Zhong Ming became an overnight sensation, assembling numerous heavyweights in Jiangnan overnight, yet nobody knew his background. Young Master reckoned Zhong Ming would avoid being conspicuous since he was hiding his true identity. Young Master, therefore, borrowed the name, believing he could leech off it and make the journey more convenient.
“There’s probably something wrong with his head. People from Luo Sword Manor visited him on multiple occasions and were courteous with him. Young Master Luo addresses him as an elder brother. I’m sure he could’ve asked for a ticket into the convention, yet he insists on snatching someone else’s weapon to enter. In the pugilistic world, loyalty and gallantry are the two most important things. You can’t go stealing from people just because you’re stronger.”
I hiked up the corner of my lips: “In other words, you deliberately attacked Huofeng?”
“Not entirely. I was pulling my punches, though. She, on the other hand, almost smote me. I doubt I’m going to be able to ask her to repay the favour.”
“A true veteran of the pugilistic world – sly.”
“You flatter me.”
Su Xiao visibly couldn’t keep up with the intricacies we didn’t explicate.
“How old is the Young Master Luo who addressed your young master as ‘elder brother’? What’s his appearance like? Is he the direct descendant of Luo Clan?”
“Not sure there. He’s a handsome man and polite. I don’t care for rich young masters, so you’re throwing hard questions. Oh, his sword is all blue. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“Bingo.” I got up and pulled Su Xiao to his feet: “Thank you, Elder Jie. If fate would be so kind, let us meet again in the pugilistic world.”
Jie Daqian held the pancake in his mouth to salute me.
By the time Su Xiao and I were back outside, the yellow ball of fire had changed to hues of orange and then almost tangerine, merging with the sky. The clouds blushed at the warm touch of the sun.
“Wait, wait! Big Brother Ming, don’t tell me you smell blood again.”
“I get it now. I know why we can’t go to a government office now.”
“Remember Master said he’s old friends with Patriarch Luo and are partially in-laws? What other reason might he emphasise ‘partially’ if it’s not for their children?”
“Mm… If they’re only engaged?”
“Exactly, but not right. Knowing how wise Luo Ming is, he wouldn’t betroth his daughter to him. Jie Daqian’s description has led me to a speculation.”
“I… am completely lost.”
“The blue sword Jie Daqian mentioned should be the sword of the swordplay department’s leader’s sword – Siming. That means the young master he mentioned must be Luo Sword Manor’s young master – Luo Siming. If the fatty is his elder brother, yet isn’t his brother-in-law, that means they aren’t in-laws. The only conclusion you can draw from that is that the fatty has taken Luo Ming as his adoptive father! Hence, Master was immediately alarmed upon hearing of this spectacle in Huzhou. He’s worried his son is involved in this. I figured out how His Majesty is connected after the fatty, Green Prince, showed up. Anyway, we need to go collect money now.”
“… Wait! You mean that piglet was Green Prince?!”
Didn’t I already mention it?