Refining Divine Confusion – A Blunder Among the Jobs
Worried his father’s injury shut them down, Luo Siding hastily blurted, “What are you standing there for?! Are we just going to let an outsider push us around?!”
One of those staying out of the scuffle between Luo Siming and Luo Yan spearheaded a charge. Yu Feiyuan slowly pulled her brows in – presumably a sign she was contemplating how to respond – when, suddenly, another maiden outside blustered, “Just you try attacking my senior sister!”
Argent Moon Qingluan came in armed with her big cudgel, while Lightning Rain Huofeng wore her rage on her sleeve. Following behind the pair emitting polar-opposite auras were another eight disciples equipped with swords or cudgels.
The group mopped the floor with Luo Clan’s members, ensuring they did so technically and deftly. The upper echelon of the branch families were the only ones who could hold their ground against the eight, so they were lucky Lian Qingluan and Huofeng didn’t intervene.
Luo Siming thought the disciples fighting were only there for flare since Lian Qingluan and Yu Feiluan didn’t introduce them but surprise, surprise. He changed his opinion, surmising they were an elite team. In reality, the twenty-odd disciples Matriarch Zi chose were chosen with as much thought as drawing names of those who didn’t go out on the previous mission out of a hat.
Those familiar with Wutong Jin Yuxuan deemed the current generation the strongest in their history. Matriarch Zi only had three direct disciples, while others trained the remaining disciples. Even so, they praised Matriarch Zi for being an excellent patriarch capable of harnessing such talent from disciples she didn’t personally tutor. In truth, Matriarch Zi’s insight shouldn’t have been attributed to their growth but their senior sister, Yu Feiyuan, who was highly demanding, so demanding that they called her “The Devil Instructor”.
Yu Feiyuan wasn’t as cold or strict as people described her to be. She merely followed what her shifu’s instructions to the T and was used to her shifu’s standards. Ever since she took up the mantle as head martial arts coach at the sect, the disciples’ improved at an exponential rate. She also took up leadership when her shifu was training in seclusion or travelling, which were activities that Matriarch Zi often engaged in.
When Yu Feiyuan led squads on missions, such as raiding bandits’ dens, she would never assist her juniors regardless of circumstances. She never avenged her juniors when they were defeated, either. Instead, she provided advice until they successfully completed their job.
Matriarch Zi once said, “There is time for work and rest.” Ever since Matriarch Zi mentioned the quote, Yu Feiyuan demanded disciples assemble in the training grounds at sunset to train their internal strength, swordplay and various weapons until the yellow ball of fire changed to hues of orange and then almost tangerine. Right after that, it was time for reading.
Disciples of Wutong Jin Yuxuan had breakfast before the sun kissed mountain peaks and had lunch at noon; however, they weren’t permitted to eat once the sun prised the last of its amber limbs over the rooftops.
Disciples had to turn in on time and sleep for eight hours. Should they fail, they were expected to perform one thousand sword swings and a hundred punches as punishment. Some disciples didn’t take the threat serious until Yu Feiyuan forewent sleep to catch those not sleeping at night.
Matriarch Zi never intended to implement such a strict schedule. Howbeit, Yu Feiyuan kept it up. It might’ve been dull and repetitive, but it worked a treat. Lian Qingluan’s ability to utilise Vajra Divine Might wasn’t because she was gifted but because Yu Feiyuan trained her hard. Those reasons were why nobody, besides Matriarch Zi, was as respected as Yu Feiyuan in the sect.
“Out of the way!” Lian Qingluan threw Luo Clan’s members off balance and scared them off with one mighty sweep.
“Anyone who challenges Wutong Jin Yuxuan will go down!” blustered Huofeng, freezing them with her booming voice.
Since Luo Yan was still recovering, Luo Siding stepped up, ribbing, “All that confidence is because Wutong Jin Yuxuan was backing you, huh? Sure is easy leeching, hey? Life must be good when you can ask a group of nuns to save your behind without any effort.”
The only nun, Huofeng, widened her eyes, accosting, “Uncouth people spout uncouth libel. Come see if I need a second breath to lay you out!”
Arrogance isn’t a synonym for moronic. Hence, Luo Siding scampered back ever so slightly, still sporting a wry smile: “This isn’t Hangzhou. If you want to start here, you better check to see if you can afford to affront Luo Clan.”
Luo Siming reproached, “Luo Siding, my guests won’t oppose our clan. Should you continue with your insults and provocations, I will put you in your place. I am Luo Clan’s young master and patriarch right now. I don’t think I will be challenging all of Luo Clan if I’m putting someone stepping out of line back in line.” Luo Siming needed to put it out there in order to stress to everyone that he was still in charge.
“Shut it!” Luo Yan, having recovered, stepped forward to greet Yu Feiyuan. “Interim Patriarch Yu, this old one is grateful you held back.”
Yu Feiyuan had qualms about killing someone from Luo Clan on Repository Island. That said, gravely injuring Luo Yan was as simple as snapping her fingers when three Luo Yans wouldn’t offer her a challenge. The fact that she gave him more than a quarter during their exchange was a demonstration of confidence that she could maim them on a whim. He had no reason to remain hostile to them when the three senior disciples had shown up and easily mowed their forces down.
“May this old one ask how you came to our island? Was it his nephew who guided you?” inquired Luo Yan, obviously prying for Luo Siming and Wutong Jin Yuxuan’s connection.
Yu Feiyuan shook her head: “No. It is shameful to admit, but this great one and her martial sisters should be attending a banquet on Flying Fish Island. This one is sorry about trespassing onto the island without permission, the scene caused here and hurting your disciples. She would like to beg your pardon, Young Master and Elder Luo. This one came here for an enquiry that he would like to seek clarification for from your patriarch. She apologises for interrupting your training session…”
Only then did it occur to Yu Feiyuan that the disciples of the smithing department were brandishing weapons and aggressive, while the disciples of the swordplay department were bleeding and seething.
“Why are so many people hurt? Were you also training? Mm…” Yu Feiyuan turned to Huofeng and, with a stoic face, instructed, “Second Sister, they are training on New Year’s Eve and even training with real weapons, only stopping until they are bleeding. This must be why they are one of the Seven Champion White Princes. We must keep up with them. Henceforward, we will also spar seriously.”
As cultured as Luo Siming was, even he found Yu Feiyuan’s words scathingly insulting. Her martial sisters knew better than anyone that she wasn’t playing around, though.
“Good god, we might as well kill ourselves while we’re at it!” thought Huofeng. “They’re actually scrapping, First Sister! They’re not training; they’re trying to take each other’s heads off!”
“They’re scrapping?” Head tilted, Yu Feiyuan questioned, “Why? Aren’t they from the same clan?”
“I can’t let people know my senior sister is a dullard,” Huofeng inwardly told herself, deciding to step in as Yu Feiyuan’s replacement. “We’re equally puzzled as to why they are swinging weapons at a banquet. Young Master Luo, would you mind explaining?”
Luo Siming glared daggers at Luo Yan and Luo Siding: “I would like to know myself. Second Uncle, could you enlighten us?”
The hall turned so quiet that everyone’s breaths were audible.
“All right… Luo Siming, Refining Divine Convention will introduce chaos into the martial world and bring a disaster to our clan. This old one cannot let you go through with it.”
“That is a preposterous claim. First and foremost, I am not the one holding the event; Father is the one who instructed us to hold it. Although he is training in Sword Spirit House, we still deliver letters for him to pen down directives if he has any. You and I open his letters together. Why, all of a sudden, has it become an event I am trying to host? Second Uncle, do you swear in the presence of our elders, disciples and Wutong Jin Yuxuan’s disciples that I have told any lie?”
“That is true. You and I personally open Big Brother’s letters together, and it is his handwriting.”
“Given that is the case, why are you accusing me of igniting turbulence in the martial world? Also, are you accusing my father of trying to harm Luo Clan?”
“Indeed, Big Brother ordered it. With that said, I am not convinced it is his will! Ever since we promulgated Refining Divine Convention, how many of our disciples have been challenged and hurt? A hundred at the very least. We are basically challenging half of the martial world. Though we might have a military, the imperial court does not like us mobilising our forces, let alone mobilising them to slaughter people in the pugilistic world. Are all of these sacrifices for one weapon worth it?
“I wouldn’t have bothered with this if the directive didn’t come from my brother. I’d like to see you host the event without our smithing department. Good luck manufacturing a weapon. I have constantly warned you to be cautious and offered advice to reduce the conflicts that would occur. Look at what’s been taking place in the last month. There have been over a hundred skirmishes between groups travelling to Huzhou. Luo Sword Manor is a clan of heroes. What are we doing? Lighting the flames of war? I’ve known Big Brother all my life. He would never like this.”
Luo Siming was privy to the complications arising. He, nonetheless, believed his father had his reasons for the directive. That was not to mention he was the obedient type when it came to his father.
“Second Uncle, we both know Father gave the command, though.”
“Maybe it is his idea. Maybe he’s gone senile. Either way, we can’t proceed with it!”
“Second Uncle, you are now publicly defying Patriarch’s orders.”
“Patriarch this and Patriarch that.” Simpering, Luo Siding went on, “He hasn’t shown himself in ages. If he’s training in seclusion, where does he find the mood to butt into clan affairs? This event is massive, yet all the minute details are taken care of. Is he training in seclusion or designing this event?”
“Luo Siding, what are you insinuating?”
“What am I insinuating? It’s not called seclusion if you’re involving yourself in every affair. After giving the order, he hasn’t shown up once. Uncle would be able to give order to this situation if he made an appearance. We could refine deities and spirits if we wanted. How doesn’t this look suspicious? Cousin, you take care of Uncle’s meals, right? You also assign cleaning duties, right? With your status, you could easily slip a bit of something in here and a little something in there, right?”
Luo Siding had no time to react to Luo Siming unsheathing his sword and grazing his neck. All he heard was a crisp sound as Yu Feiyuan stepped in to pull Luo Siding out of Siming Sword’s range and shield herself with her arm guard.
Luo Siming took in two breaths to calm himself: “Thank you for stopping my rash actions, Interim Patriarch Yu. Luo Siding, if you dare to make baseless accusations or throw insults, I won’t give you a quarter. I have enough power to exile people from the clan if necessary.”
Forget Luo Siding being rattled, even Luo Yan was shocked Luo Siming could move so fast and ruthlessly.
“Although Ding’er said things that should not be said, he reinforced this old one’s point. While we may have opened the letter together, your department took care of Sword Spirit House. Now that everyone is here, I want to ask, is my brother still alive? If you claim he is, I want to see him to validate your claim.”
“Of course he is still alive! Father is a formidable martial artist and is not suffering from any injuries. Where does this senile claim come from? If you wish to see him… Father stressed he would kill anyone who trespassed into Sword Spirit House. If you are not afraid, you are more than welcome to test him, Second Uncle.”
Luo Yan didn’t have a dispute to offer Luo Siming’s righteous declaration. He also knew about his brother’s authoritative nature; his brother wouldn’t let even biological brothers challenge his authority. Still, he locked eyes with Luo Siming, both trying to search for doubt in the other.
“I will believe you for now.”
“Haha, since when did my father’s health come into question? Second Uncle, your claims continue to grow outlandish.”
“The problem we face remains. Until we can find a solution to these ongoing conflicts, I am vehemently against holding the event.”
“Second Uncle, you are really out of character today. Might I be able to ask if something happened?”
“All right, I’ll tell you. In exchange, I want you to answer me. Two months ago, Golden Phoenix Spear Sect, the sect that passes down a spear with a three-legged crow for the spear tip, in Shanxi was exterminated brutally. All the assailants took was the spear tip. Last month, Shen Yuan, master of One-Character Quick Sword Sect was killed, and the sword passed down in his family was stolen. Three days ago, someone severed the finger of my friend, Nan Yizhi, also known as One Finger of the South, to take his cold-metal ring. Do these incidents have anything to do with Refining Divine Convention?!”
“I genuinely do not know, although I did hear about them. Even I want to find out who the culprits behind these despicable cases are. I was not involved in them in any shape or form.”
Huofeng pointed out, “Why did you connect the incidents to Refining Divine Convention when none of them took place in Huzhou?”
Luo Yan’s gaze fell on Luo Siming comparably to an act of violence, while it was cordial when it shifted to Huofeng: “This old one has obtained the blueprint of the sword intended to be forged at Refining Divine Convention. The weapon requires the four rarest materials, including Black Aurum, Darksteel, Sea Steal and Snow Spirit Spider Silk, to forge. Ever since obtaining the blueprint, this old one constantly hears of cases with precious materials involved. This old one, therefore, isn’t convinced they aren’t related to the event.”
“That is not enough to suggest Young Master Luo is related,” Yu Feiyuan stated. “This one came to ask about this. We discovered Western Region’s swordsman, Lu Wangshu, passed out on the side of the road in Canhu Town early this morning. His sword, a sword forged from black aurum, was missing.
“Initially, this one assumed someone attending Refining Divine Convention was behind it and wished to discuss it with Luo Clan. It now seems that someone robbed him based on what you said.”
“I suspected my nephew was the mastermind since he is the only capable of accomplishing the task and has a motive to do so. If my brother has been harmed as my son proposed, then it could explain the spate of crimes. As my nephew and I are the only ones with the blueprint, I suspected him as it was not me. Now, though, this old one believes Siming is innocent based on his reaction just now. This means… there might be others collecting materials.”
“And, they must be incredibly formidable,” added Yu Feiyuan, presenting a piece of torn clothing, the hole in it smothered in blood around the edges. “The only wound on Swordsman Lu Wangshu was where this piece of clothing came from.”
Luo Yan noted, “It would take this old one more than fifty exchanges to defeat Swordsman Lu Wangshu, yet they defeated him and took his weapon in one technique?”
From what everyone assessing the hole could tell, the blow Lu Wangshu absorbed was a punch…