Gentleman on the Beam Waiting for Information
“Brother, you were too impulsive. My father was the one who stipulated only those with invitations could attend. You are putting me on the spot by asking me to make an exception,” Luo Siming complained with a long face in his abode where no outsiders were present. “Every sect must possess a famous and quality weapon to receive an invitation. Even if they win, I cannot afford them an invitation, so the bet is annulled.”
Green Prince responded, “I have everything I want, and I can’t even feel the teeniest bit interested in fighting, which you already know. How do you expect me to have such a weapon in that case? Relax. I’ll do my dues and pinch a weapon in the next two days so that you can justify it.”
“You cannot do that! You must not steal an invitation. If you just want to witness the convention, I can have Ao Xue lend you her Proud Snow Sword as a loophole method because I trust you. I would never loan Proud Snow Sword to an outsider, though.”
Chen Wanyun scoffed, “Do you think they have a chance of winning, Young Master Luo?”
Yi Wangyou verbalised, “We have elite weapons and wielders in addition to sound strategies. If we lose to them even with those advantages, we can only blame ourselves for being lousy.”
“Wow, why wasn’t I invited to this party?”
Luo Siming contracted his brows upon seeing Luo Siding welcome himself in and rudely let his eyes roam: “What do you want?”
“What’s with that reaction, Cousin?”
“I don’t remember having a cousin who likes to start with me.”
“I’ll do as I please. My father told me here to give a report and keep an eye on you. You promised to find out who the culprit is at the banquet, but who’s to say you’re not liaising with them? If you’re in it together, hehe.” Luo Siding wiped away his smug expression upon seeing Green Prince sitting there and greeted in a flattering tone, “Hehe, how are you doing, Your Highness?”
“Is that a trick question? My wife eloped with another man. You have some free time? I’m looking to pound someone to blow off some steam.”
“What are you here to report in the middle of the night?” Luo Siming queried.
Luo Siming switched his riveted cheeks for curled lips; however, a draft from the door interrupted him with a recoil of the neck: “What the freak is this weather?”
“Did nobody ever teach you that you’re supposed to check your surroundings before you share important news? You’re going to report something important with the door open?” Luo Siming admonished, going to close the windows himself.
Still worried, Luo Siming, one of the very few young masters capable of employing his true qi for reconnaissance, performed three successive swings into the air, each shot of qi aimed in a different direction. Unless they were inconceivably proficient at concealing their presence, such strikes would trigger one’s instinctive defence mechanisms, thereby giving off their presence. As such, Luo Siming confirmed that there was only the group in the room present when their bodies reacted. He then stated, “We are fine to talk now.”
Yi Wangyou joyously praised, “That was an excellent demonstration of Three Silver Reflections, Young Master Luo.”
“It is an honour to receive praise from a sword master at the pinnacle.”
Mm, these Chinese hawthorns are darn good. If only the chilly breeze didn’t cool them down too much.
The draft that made Luo Siding shiver was generated when I zipped into the room and lied back on the beam above them. You have to know who your enemy is to devise a counter strategy, right? With the tight lid everyone kept on Refining Divine Convention, it would save me a lot of trouble if I went straight to the source instead of jumping through numerous hurdles for information from a second source. As a bonus, I could find out what their plan for our mini tournament would be.
“Whatever you have to say, say it now,” demanded Luo Siming.
Luo Siding aggressed, “The hell do I look like to you, a messenger? If my dad didn’t tolerate you, I’d have alr-”
“I told you I welcome a fight at any time. You’re the one who backed out.”
“Hahaha, they say, the louder the bark, the less their bite. This is like challenging a man with your tail between your legs,” derided Green Prince.
It was hard not to believe rumours that the branch family of Luo Clan coveted leadership over Luo Clan based on Luo Siding’s attitude toward Luo Siming.
Luo Siding couldn’t clap back at Green Prince and, thus, relayed, “Not long after you left Repository Island, we received news that someone found that Yin Changmei was beaten and left hanging by a thread five kilometres north of Canhu Town, while his Three-legged Crow Widow Broadsword has gone missing.”
Luo Siming fumed, “Another theft case?!”
Yi Wangyou verbalised, “Yin Changmei is Widow Broadsword Sect’s sabre is he not? The unorthodox pugilist is labelled as a bloodthirsty killer owing to his innumerous ambushes on orthodox sects’ members late at night.”
“Yes, that is him. We do not discriminate between unorthodox and orthodox sects for Refining Divine Convention. I never expected someone to attack him.”
After listening to Luo Siming’s patient break down of Yin Changmei and his history, Yi Wangyou asserted, “We assumed the fights for invitations were decided based on survival of the fittest, which would not be an issue. To think it would be involved with something of this scale was unexpected. Your Highness, you must stop while you are ahead. If you are suspected of being the culprit, it will be a sticky situation.”
Now I get why Luo Siming was so apprehensive in my presence. He must’ve labelled me a suspect.
Luo Siming elaborated, “Many orthodox sect members have been invited onto the island. The issue is that the majority of the unorthodox sects can’t trust us due to our status, not to mention that many orthodox sects have enmity with them. An abundance of unorthodox sects’ members now roam Canhu Town. Accordingly, your risk is exponentially higher if you try to rob in Canhu Town now, Brother.
“I don’t have a solution at the moment due to the complexity of the network of people. I will personally inspect the town tomorrow and search for clues on the culprits behind the attacks. Luo Siding, if you can’t trust me, you’re more than welcome to follow me. If you don’t show tomorrow, don’t go senselessly wagging your tongue afterwards, or you will get your comeuppance.”
Green Prince acknowledged he agreed with a nod.
If I met Luo Siming a couple of years earlier, I’d probably be friends with him. I like his brave and responsible character.
Yi Wangyou opined, “Let us draw up thorough plans, then. Let us now move on to the tournament on the thirteenth. Young Master Zhong sounded confident he would win, so we must tread carefully.”
“I cannot tell you what exactly it is, but I believe he is not just the son of a wealthy clan. There is more to him than what meets the eye; he noticed Samuume Four Swordsman’s presence when they concealed themselves,” Luo Siming asserted.
Green Prince enthused, “That’s perfectly natural. He is the son of the man with the biggest chain of brothels in all the lands. Such a man can’t be an ordinary rich young master.”
I thought you’re not a fan of girls from brothels?! Have you developed an interest in the mysterious world of brothels because you’ve been dumped so many times?
Luo Siming, seeing Yi Wangyou bite his lips, inquired, “Is something the matter, Patriarch Yi?”
“No… This one is just thinking back on what transpired. When this one went to cripple Tang Ye’s four limbs, this one was knocked back. Even though this one only used half of his full power, he needed twenty-four metres to terminate the force. This one could not have knocked himself back over a distance that far and with that speed even if he went all out. If Tang Ye didn’t have an adept in hiding, then Young Master Zhong is hiding his true skills.”
“If someone could knock you back without anyone noticing, he must be as advanced as my father.”
“Although Patriarch Luo’s swordplay is among those at the apex, he cannot compare to the one who knocked this one back in terms of brute strength… It would not be a stretch to say that those who possess that level of might can be counted on two hands.”
W-wait, hey! Be nicer to Mingming, will you? Why am I already under suspicion? I exposed myself on my first showing? This is embarrassing! I just used a tad too much strength, didn’t I…?
Luo Siming shook his head: “It is impossible for him to rival Father at his young age, though.”
“This one concurs.” Yi Wangyou scoffed, “There must be a trick to it. If he did not use some machinery, he must have used voodoo techniques. He neither budged his shoulder or hand, yet he managed to drive this one back. For someone to achieve that, he would be at the summit of martial artists.”
Shall I start introducing myself as the overlord of the martial world? Basically, none of you believe it’s me? We’re good, then. I would find it hard to believe if I wasn’t Ming Feizhen, too.
After deliberation, Luo Siming conveyed, “I will find time to assign a team to research him. If he really is Zhong Hualiu’s son, then so be it. Else, they must be linked to the recent robberies.”
“How will you do that?”
“If he is the son of a rich clan, he must have something about him that stands out from commoners that we can notice. For instance, those in the martial world carry characteristics that allow us to semantically identify their membership.”
So you’re the honest type but also a deep thinker when it counts? Damn, you’re the type I hate going up against. Lucky I came here tonight, or I’d get screwed over without knowing how I died.
Yi Wangyou stressed, “In that case, let us get back on topic. What are we going to do about the tournament?”
Chen Wanyun, fiddling with his beard, asked, “This old one only learned about said tournament from word of mouth. Patriarch Yi, how do you evaluate the competition’s strength?”
“… It is hard to tell, frankly,” Yi Wangyou answered.
“Could you please elaborate?”
“Putting aside our mystery Young Master Zhong, there are several more not to be underestimated. Unfortunately, this one was unable to identify their styles based off the limited exchanges they engaged in.
“Two of them are heavy punchers focusing on big swings. You should be able to defeat them with standard punches and feints. There was one young man who was quick enough that I could not see his strikes and can still not analyse how skilled he truly is. Another one was a broadsword wielder. He might have a splendid style in his repertoire, but he is not a threat. Based on the limited moves this one saw, his style resembles Valley of Yearning’s Bai Clan.”
“If that is Patriarch Yi’s assessment, then myself and Patriarch Yi are the only combatants under His Highness who are qualified to compete.”
Green Prince chimed in: “What do we do, then? We can’t afford to lose now.”
“Worry not, Your Highness. We can hire outside help,” recommended Chen Wanyun.
I expected as much. By the sounds of things, Chen Wanyun is the strategist, while Yi Wangyou the general. One flatters with his mouth, and the other flatters with his limbs?
Chen Wanyun, sounding every part a flatterer, expressed, “This old one has a candidate you will be happy with for sure. He is Wudang’s Elder Shou. He is currently a guest a Luo Sword Manor. Young Master Luo, could this old one trouble you to pass a letter on to him?”
Luo Siming replied, “That is a surprising name to hear. What are the chances he will lend a hand, though? He has never liked to dabble in the pugilistic world’s affairs.”
“Haha, relax. This old one and he are old friends. He will help for sure. This old one will handle matters on our hand. Sit back and wait, Your Highness.”
Yi Wangyou requested, “Please help this one contact Lie Shang, who is on Sword Island, Young Master Luo.”
“You mean Dark Broadsword Lie?”
“Yes. He is both a friend and enemy. The two of us have been rivals for a long time. Though we never have anything nice to say to each other, he will never reject this one.”
Smiling, Luo Siming thumped the table: “If that is our lineup, then we can win for sure.”
You’re going to steal everyone I recommended to Long Zaitian? You’re all closer to them than I, as well?
“Who is our last participant?” inquired Luo Siming.
“How about your uncle?” suggested Chen Wanyun.
“Yes. You cannot partake for you are the referee. If he could help, we will easily win all five matches.”
“He is too intense and does not hold back. It may be a fighting contest, but we are not trying to kill them.”
“The Four Samuume Swordsmen are also viable candidates. Miss Ao Xue’s swordplay is decent.”
“While that is true, she is inexperienced. Moreover, it is better for Luo Clan not to send in any competitors since I am judging.”
I swear I’ve seen a similar scene somewhere…
I finished a skewer at that point and moved onto my next skewer. Part of the intermission included Green Prince and Luo Siding spouting absolute tripe that didn’t contribute anything.
If you lot can’t reach a conclusion, how about heading to bed? Alternatively, open the door, so I can leave…
Ending the interlude were tw-, someone dragging someone else along to the room. Nonetheless, Luo Siming’s four bodyguards stopped them. Judging from the footsteps of the two, the old one was quite a strong fighter, while the young one was a flick away from a knockout. The young man basically had no internal energy, but his internal strength matched orthodox sects. That being said, I couldn’t tell if he had learnt martial arts or even trained properly. If he was part of Luo Clan, I’d shed a tear for them.
The elder blustered, “Move aside. This old one must expose this scum. Young Master, this old one requests an audience!”
“Ah, Elder Doctor. Please come in.” Once his four bodyguards let the elder in, Luo Siming introduced, “This is our clan’s best doctor. He has saved countless lives with his marvellous skills.”
Despite him bristling with anger, the elder exercised pleasantries with everyone present one by one.
“May I ask what you need to see me for at this time of the night, Elder Doctor?”
“Young Master, this fraud would have killed someone if this old one did not bring him here!” The elder threw the young man to the ground, holding back enough so that the young man would land in the chair and not go through it.
Luo Siming questioned, “Is this not Reverend Zha? Are you accusing him of being the fraud? What do you mean, Elder Doctor?”
“What do I mean? What do I mean?! He claims his prescription can resolve all of the sleeping maiden’s symptoms but only needs to find a means of feeding her said medicine. He refuses to let anyone see his prescription until this one saw it today. H-he does not know squat about medicine! His prescription is an utter nonsensical slip, slop, slap of conflicting herbs. Even a clerk at a pharmacy would not come up with anything as remotely as insane. He would not treat anything with it. If anything, people will contract illness from consuming it. Spirit pills my foot; it’s poison, you fraud! Who put you up to this?!”
“Empyrean Wuliang,” replied the young man.
“Empyrean of Rubbish!”
“Doctor Luo, what evidence do you have to accuse my pill of being poisonous? Have you concocted pills before?”
“What would I create a harmful pill for?”
“Have you consumed it before?”
“You think this is a joke? Is it something safe to consume?’
“You have never concocted it before or consumed it before, so how do you know it does not work? To add, I hid my prescription, yet you surreptitiously pinched it from my Ultimate Deity Blessing Pouch when I sent my conscious off to commune with Earth God. Young Master Luo, you need to do something about your subordinates.”
“I saw it in your pocket when you were sleeping, you liar!”
“What is this about?” Yi Wangyou queried.
Listening to Luo Siming’s briefing, anyone could figure out the one claiming to be Zhou Botong’s disciple was full of crap. I supposed they didn’t expose him out of pity or because they were practicing humility.
The empyrean drank the tea and relaxed in his chair, entertaining the heck out of me. It was hilarious when you think about how the empyrean is duping Luo Siming given how clever the latter is. Even better was how convinced the fraud was when I could hear his heart racing as if he was running for dear life. You can’t deny someone who can lie the way he did and hold up an argument using semantics the way he did without biting his tongue is pretty darn good.
Curious, I poked my head down to confirm my suspicions. I was spot on about the elder. The young man, on the other hand, had the appearance of a middle-aged man.
Wait. There’s something odd about this guy’s face. There’s a subtle gap between his voice and facial muscles like people wearing a mask… Oh, wait, Zha Pi?! What the hell are you doing here. Hold up… That means the fraud is my subordinate?