New Year’s Eve
It would take a miracle for a physical altercation to not break out when there were over a hundred sects gathered inside and outside Canhu Town, except they gathered for gains, others to exact vengeances. When it did, it was guaranteed to match Divine Moon Cult’s day of reckoning.
New Year’s Eve was a time for family to gather, a tradition prevalent even in the pugilistic world. Accordingly, nobody, regardless of who they usually were, picked a bone with anyone else despite the situation resembling insects in a jug.
Luo Sword Manor’s members, whom resided on the main island– Repository Island – among the islands of Taihu Sword Island commenced New Year’s Eve’s dinner before sunset unlike many others. That was just them adhering to their clan’s rules.
A month ago, the ingredients were delivered. Starting from two days ago, those working in the kitchen were constantly busy. Everybody in the manor speed walked around. Clearly, the strict demands extended to the quality of their dinner, as well.
As expected, everyone arrived at the main hall on Repository Island in time, servants sitting where servants were meant to sit and clansmen sitting in their assigned seats. While some clans were lax on rules during such a major celebration, that was never the case at Luo Sword Manor.
Luo Clan’s dining system on New Year’s Eve was analogous to a line production system, where sixteen chefs constantly served up dishes as the clansmen ate, which meant they worked from sunset until midnight. Today, however, the dishes on the table were already cold, yet nobody had picked up their chopsticks.
Luo Yan, a stocky, tall man sporting a long beard on his rectangular face, exuded an aura that left everyone else stressed from his seat. The man the pugilistic world knew as Scorching Sun, the manager of Sun Worshipper’s smithing department, guzzled cup after cup of wine, occasionally shooting glares at the seat reserved for Luo Clan’s patriarch. He, understandably, wasn’t the only one trying to combust the empty seat with his eyes. They merely kept a lid on it as Luo Yan, who held higher status, didn’t comment.
“I apologise for my tardiness, everyone.”
The exclamation, “Finally!” flitted across many faces upon hearing their saviour’s clear voice. Luo Siming, leader of Moon Worshipper, made a beeline for his seat. He was late owing to the mountain of tasks he needed to attend to for Refining Divine Convention, mainly appeasing the sects that arrived. Just prior to his arrival, he had to welcome Wudang’s patriarch.
“Young and ignorant,” denounced Luo Siming’s second uncle, Luo Yan. “Since when did we start marginalising rules to the point that nobody knew where our patriarch was on New Year’s Eve?”
“I apologise, Second Uncle. In my rush, I forgot to notify the servants. I shall drink three cups as penance. Please forgive my oversight.”
Luo Yan knocked back another cup as though he was trying to move the proceeding on at his own pace.
Luo Siming did as he said he would, finishing three cups and then raising a toast to everyone present: “I offer this toast to Luo Sword Manor. Let it be another prosperous thousand years for Luo Sword Manor!”
Those in attendance raised their cups in response: “For Luo Sword Manor!”
The chefs on standby summoned their spirit to their eyes and backs, promptly serving up new hot dishes, awakening everyone’s appetite and the celebratory atmosphere.
“It should be my father who is hosting this banquet. Unfortunately, he rarely speaks to us and never steps outside of Sword Spirit House. Elders, I beg your pardon in advance for any shortcomings tonight,” conveyed Luo Siming, repeating the paragraph he repeated every year ever since replacing his father.
Most of Luo Clan’s clansmen perceived Luo Siming’s speech to be nothing more than a formality as they were no longer convinced Luo Ming could do better than his son if he were to return to his helm.
“You might not feel embarrassed and disgraced repeating yourself annually, but as your senior, I do feel embarrassed when I hear you repeat it,” berated Luo Siding, eldest son of Luo Yan.
Nobody dared to look over to Luo Yan and his twenty-eight year old son, who bore a striking resemblance to him, yet treated all things indecorously.
“Could I trouble you to enlighten me, Cousin?”
“Hahaha, I’m in no place to enlighten you. That being said, something does flummox me. You claim my uncle has shut himself in at Sword Spirit House, yet there are rumours that he frequently gives out orders. People buy into your story. I, to the contrary feel something is amiss.”
“And that would be?”
“Thanks to this Refining Divine Convention, Luo Sword Manor has now earned the ire of the majority of the pugilistic world, leading to us resolving innumerous conflicts daily. My question is, is this event really Uncle’s idea? Can you swear you didn’t make up his orders?”
Ao Xue drew her sword on Luo Siding: “That is uninvited impudence!”
“I’m more than happy to exchange pointers with such a beautiful girl,” provoked Luo Siding, deflecting Ao Xue’s strikes.
Luo Siming drew his sword, Siming Sword, releasing torrid energy: “Second Uncle.”
“Is this your way of showing that you intend to oppress our branch? Without my Flame Emperor, your Siming Sword is no longer one of the Seven Dynasty-Founding Blades.”