Black Robe. Frosty Visage.
Everyone showed themselves to their prepared rooms after the official “dismissed” announcement. While the streets were rife with perpetual clamouring, most of us were worn out and turned in even if we weren’t as we anticipated a busy day tomorrow. We didn’t even need lights in our rooms for the streets were bright.
I hit the pillow in the room on the top floor, while the others chose to sleep on the third floor, refusing to be anywhere near me. I got rid of Su Xiao, who wanted to sleep with me, using my deafening snores that I liberally exposed everyone to for two hours.
The two hours of shut eye were my express sleep and probably the only sleep I would get for the night. I boosted my listening sense to cover the entire inn, checking on every minute movement, even their breathing and heart beats, before I sat up.
I used my celestial spider silk to tug down a bag Black and White Reflection’s storage prepared for me. I had prepared the black robe, bottles of antidote, poison and a bronze mask beforehand in case I needed to conduct reconnaissance in the middle of the night.
Unlike the form-fitting black robes normally worn when performing espionage or assassinations at night, Black and White Reflection supplied me with the loose-fitting version that came in a lower body and upper body garments. It wasn’t the optimal choice as armour or for movement purposes, but it did its job as a camouflage set of attire.
I readied poisons in case I ever needed to interrogate someone and antidote in case I was poisoned.
I ignored the individual who shunted my door open and kept getting dressed.
“They are if I don’t have to sleep in them.”
Tang Ye’s still looked as messy as the clothing he had yet to change out of. Ever since losing to Yi Wangyou, he role played as the clear-minded and focused statue on the first floor’s hall.
“You didn’t tell me to visit you at night to join your gang of thieves, did you?”
“If you stepped out the door in that shape, everyone on the street would give you donations without you having to hold out a bowl. Anyone with a functioning brain would fathom you can’t be stealthy when you stand out like that.”
Tang Ye stepped forward and asserted, “What did you want to see me for, then?”
I took my time tying my hair up into a ponytail and checking if there were any white spots in the mirror – to add some hair dye if there was.
“You don’t have to come if you don’t think there’s any point in coming.”
“… Why are you… always such a jerk?”
Tang Ye zipped in and double hooked me with scalding fists, one on each side. I shifted my head position to let his fists go by. Knowing the difference in our speed rendered feints pointless, Tang Ye pressed his palms together and knife handed down toward my collar bone.
I had never seen that technique before. I supposed Desolate Sword Dance inspired the technique; told you Tang Ye had the potential to be a great fighter.
I caught Tang Ye’s knife hand between two fingers, cancelling out his heat energy, and then yanked him off balance. He bounced off the ball of his foot to go up the wall on an angle and then propelled himself off the wall. Before his momentum tapered off, he rotated to launch himself off a pillar.
I casually aimed my right fist in the trajectory he was heading straight toward. Sensing the danger of colliding with my fist, Tang Ye twisted his body vigorously to the side, resulting in him teetering sideways.
“Not bad.” I turned to the mirror to cheerfully adjust my clothing, continuing, “Reflexes and judgement are still there. Your comprehension of techniques has also improved. You’re improving daily.”
“… Where are you off to? We’re not done.”
I always laid Tang Ye out in two exchanges, but he’d always pull himself up with sheer determination to fight the pain for he was always eager for another exchange, another learning opportunity.
“That’s it for today. I didn’t call you here to spar.”
“… I don’t get it.”
I put on my bronze mask: “I don’t think I’ve ever told you this. My name is Ming Feizhen, a thirty-seventh disciple generation disciple of Mount Daluo. Although my skills don’t belong to Mount Daluo’s style, my shifu did teach them to me. As such, I can’t impart them to outsiders just because I feel like it.”
“Why are you suddenly bringing that up? I don’t care who you are?”
“Because you want to learn martial arts from me, correct?”
Tang Ye recoiled very subtly.
“If you just want combat experience, I can give you as much as you like. That’s not what you need right now, though, is it? No matter how hard and consistent you run, you’ll need a decade to catch up to Yi Wangyou. I’m not overstating; I’m telling you what I’ve concluded based on what I’ve seen. What you need now is something more direct. You need power that can overwhelm him, correct?”
“Why do you want to defeat him so badly? Knowing you, one defeat shouldn’t have you so discouraged… There may be plenty of fish in the sea, but there’s only one Daoist Yuxu.”
Tang Ye began to tremble.
“He is Kunlun Sect’s senior. More specifically, he holds the same seniority as Yi Wangyou’s shifu. He surpassed Kunlun’s swordplay with Weak Water Swordplay and is enough to scare off pugilists in the Western Regions. He’s a fan of travelling and once sojourned Beihai’s Clear Mirror Palace. I also heard his traces ended several years ago in the north. Coincidentally, it his appearance and disappearance corresponds to the before and after of Shangri-La’s massacre.”
“You figured it all out…”
I folded my arms: “Only that much. Don’t assume I know everything. Let’s hear what it is you desire.”
“He…” Sounding like a hurt beast – though I wasn’t sure if it was due to anger or sorrow – Tang Ye continued, “Daoist Yuxu is my father’s friend. He was the one who taught me Yang Blood True Qi.”
“He’s your shifu, then?”
“I don’t know… I… I saw him go to Shangri-La with my father during the incident, but… his corpse wasn’t found among the dead. There are only two explanations I can think of. He was either strong enough to escape or died elsewhere during his escape. Otherwise…”
“Otherwise, he must’ve been one of the culprits, and you find the first two hypothesises to be suspending reality.” I ignored Tang Ye’s ashen face and inferred, “You’ve turned him into your imaginary enemy and, therefore, conclude that you can’t have your revenge if you can’t defeat Yi Wangyou.”
I sighed, believing Tang Ye’s silence was a tacit nod.
“You’re not wrong when you presume that my tuition combined with your aptitude and diligence would expedite your progress; I dare say you could rival Yi Wangyou within two years and stand with the best in the pugilistic world five years later… But I won’t teach you. Mount Daluo’s styles can only be taught to Mount Daluo disciples. I can’t teach you anything more from the syllabus as I have chosen my successor.”
“.. Su Xiao?” Tang Ye queried with his face scrunched up.
“As sharp as I thought.”
Upset and jealous, Tang Ye questioned, “Why Su Xiao? In what capacity does he surpass me?”
“He can’t match you physically, aptitude, sprit or fight IQ. The only advantage he has over you is his ability to memorise anything he sees once and… well, is more of a lady killer. I’m… just not teaching you.”
“Give me a reason… Big Bro!”
I understood the emphasis at the end was Tang Ye’s way of stressing to me how much he looked up to me.
“I don’t teach a man who seeks death.”
Tang Ye’s legs buckled, dropping him onto his bottom.
“You plan to throw your life away for revenge? You plan to live on after you get your revenge? If it’s a ‘no’, do you think I should teach you?”
“Teaching you would be sending you to your death, brother.”
Daoist Yuxu – He shares the same name as the character from modern wuxia author Liang Yusheng’s 瀚海雄风 series. It’s not a translated series if you’re about to ask.