The Worst of the Worst
Though Ming Feizhen managed to shake off the doubt cast on his identity, his new nickname
“Depraved Talent” also damaged him. Had the kitchen not served up food, the man would still have had a long face.
Pointing to the door Mr. Qian bolted out of, Ming Feizhen asked, “Patriarch Yi, are you not going to accompany your friend?”
Yi Wangyou nonchalantly pulled out a seat at a table, prompting those at the table to scuttle away. Grinning the way a man relishing another’s misery would, he answered, “Boss Qian is Young Master Luo’s friend, not this one’s. Having come all the way here already, this one might as well broaden his horizons instead of leaving with nothing in return.”
Even though it seemed that Ming Feizhen had averted a crisis, the real challenge was driving off the unorthodox sects’ members, which made up the majority of those in Canhu Town since they had misgivings about travelling to the island. The customers were all cold-blooded murderers and full-time villains. Those who don’t believe in religion would most likely take up religion if their kind left them alone.
To say that they were thugs without a sense of loyalty or set of principles would be unfair on them. It was just that they wouldn’t hesitate to uncork a punch instead of discussing evidence, logic or expecting them to reason with you. While others might interrogate a suspect, they would kill anyone they were suspicious in the name of erring on the safe side.
Ming Feizhen could sense them suppressing their bloodlust as they merrily dined whilst contemplating when the best moment to spring was. By no means was Ming Feizhen the only attentive one; Yi Wangyou’s desire to witness some chaos proved the latter was already aware of the brewing bloodlust.
Although the group could’ve assailed Dragon Phoenix Inn’s team at any given moment, they were still on the fence for they were in Luo Sword Manor’s territory, while they were far away from their territory. To that end, they were gradually spinning their web as they treaded through Luo Sword Manor’s territory. Secondly, they had noticed a big group of imperial troops stationed in the vicinity, with some assuming Luo Sword Manor requested their service as a security detail for the upcoming event. They couldn’t afford to make an enemy out of Luo Sword Manor or the imperial court.
Could Su Xiao have been the reason they hadn’t attack yet? How many were on that boat? There was no way to answer either question, and it wasn’t deemed probable enough to muse over.
If dozens of groups’ elites executed a coordinated assault, they could accomplish their goal, erase their traces and retreat in less than an hour, which was fast enough to avoid Luo Sword Manor and the imperial court’s closest units. In summary, if Yi Wangyou or Yin Changmei did the dirty work for them, then life would be perfect.
Ming Feizhen, who concocted a plan to deal with the hostiles while he dealt with Mr. Qian, asked, “Patriarch Yin, are you also staying here for the same reason?”
Yin Changmei responded, “I didn’t come all the way here to be entertained. Just because Patriarch Yi is convinced you’re innocent, doesn’t mean I’m convinced. Manager Long doesn’t carry himself professionally. Every single one of you wields words as weapons. How do I know you’re not a wordsmith, Depraved Talent?”
“Call me that one more time, and I’ll make a ball out of your head!” Ming Feizhen folded his arms and went on, “You seem to have a lot of spare time on your hands. Are you waiting for someone?”
Yin Changmei laughed through his nose: “Prudent, are we? Once my sworn brother is here, we’ll get to the bottom of this.”
“Who is he talking about?” queried Ye Luo.
Dugu enlightened, “His elder sworn brother, Bai Zixuan, call themselves Midnight Ghost Cry. They’re feared unorthodox adepts in Nanjiang. Bai Zixuan, also known as Baizi Xuanye – White Black Night – wields a weapon called Black Night Fork and is stronger than him. It sounds like they made an appointment to meet up here.”
Ming Feizhen successively whispered directives to Dugu, Tie Hanyi and Long Zaitian to deal with the imminent crisis, to which they all flashed their pearly whites at and then headed off with their eyes on the ground. The imperial court soldiers stationed around also pulled out, leaving only Ming Feizhen, Mountain Monster and Bai Laimu, who was still writing calligraphy.
The abrupt and unexplained clearance left the hostiles on the edges of their seats because they feared losing the initiative.
“What the hell is going on? I’m sick of watching you go back and forth while I’m trying to dine! Stay where you are!” The disciple of Mad Desert Blade Sect leapt up to the second floor to seize an imperial court warrior, only to be countered with Heavenly King’s Pagoda, throwing the disciple back to his seat with a non-linear push.
Having the higher ground in combat always provided the upper hand as the one above could dump their entire body weight on the one beneath them. As such, even an untechnical brawler could give a more experienced fighter trouble if he had the height advantage. Yet, the imperial court warrior overcame the disadvantage, technically and effortlessly throwing the disciple back. Just as importantly, his allies didn’t bat an eye; if it didn’t surprise them, then his technical standard was average amongst them if not beneath them.
“Did you happen to be a tumbling fan?” Ming Feizhen mocked.
Following the logic of, “If you spill a drop, you might as well spill the entire cup,” the disciple drew his shiny broadsword: “Since they retaliated, that’s your cue to get up! Get them!”
Those seated proved that working together was an elusive concept to them.
“Let’s talk this out.”
“I have nothing to say to you. You claim you’re not robbing weapons when you brought so many adepts with you? My three days of waiting haven’t gone to waste. Let me enlighten you: the majority of people here are here for the same reason as I am. They want entertainment, so let me kick off the dance! Bring it on!”
Ming Feizhen tugged up the corner of his lips: “Patriarch Chigan, do you intend to let your disciple continue running wild?”
Despite being surprised he was identified, Patriarch Chigan maintained an affable smile: “Young Master Zhong, my disciple has Stupid Disease. When it acts up, nobody can stop him. Since you are well-versed in medicine, could I ask you to treat him?”
“Ah, I see. Consider it done.”
“Yes, your head is done with your shoulders!”
Ming Feizhen didn’t budge, yet the disciple went zooming back faster than he closed in on Ming Feizhen’s left, his blood trail’s procession preceding his landing.
Mountain Monster rustled some feathers with her aggressive gaze that didn’t defied convention because of her supposed age and swift finish. She berated, “If you want to lay your hands on this dastard, you have to get through my brutal blade work first.”
Mountain Monster was empty handed, but they understood what she meant for they recognised her strike to be a broadsword style. Let us not explore what Ming Feizhen coerced her with using Voice Transmission and focus on the smug grin he wore. Everything he did was deliberately intended to provoke an attack on himself.
For the reason that anti-tradition men only preyed when they smelt blood, Ming Feizhen had to give them a fright if he was to ever get through to them with words. With his goal accomplished, he loudly verbalised, “I understand what you are all here for now. It is understandable that you would suspect us since we don’t have anything to identify ourselves. It is an honour to have you here every day. In saying that, stealing is not on. Men!”
While everyone was still wearing their confusion on their sleeve, fifteen or so doors upstairs burst open. Since the building’s centre was vacant from bottom to top, it was shaped in a ring. As such, just as those on the fifth floor could hear music from the first floor, the customers on the first and second floor’s dining hall could hear people fighting and grunting. Soon enough, several people were thrown off the third, fourth and fifth floors. Thankfully for them, their allies on the first and second floors caught them before they plunged to their deaths.
“I was wondering where everyone was.”
Those who revealed themselves when they rescued their allies lowered their heads in silence, much to Ming Feizhen’s glee.
“You keep tabs on the first and second floor during the day and head back to your groups at night. You have your subordinates stake out around the clock, nevertheless. I can see why you would do so, and I don’t think it’s a big deal. That being said, it seems that you have bad habits that you can’t break. You often loiter in our storage area or our accounting room. Consequently, I have to remind you to behave.”
Ming Feizhen enhanced his listening radius the moment he entered the inn, passing on his knowledge to his cohorts to have them go capture the thieves.
“This one offers his apologises for failing to teach his disciples better.”
The other patriarchs followed suit. As they didn’t have anything to leverage and had revealed themselves, the groups who were busted had to give up, less they pile more dirt on the reputation in the casket.
Patriarch Chigan turned to Ming Feizhen and chided, “Young Master Zhong, you think this is going to make me quit? There are forty-six sects here, all of which are here for their fallen comrades. You won’t fool us with cheap tricks. Sorry, but this one cannot believe you are here in Huzhou purely to spectate instead of enjoying your wealth back home.”
“There is one statement you made that does not stand. Even though I am wealthy and eager to travel, that does not directly lead to me committing theft, which I abhor. Frankly, I also want to attend Refining Divine Convention but have not received an invitation.”
The leader of Deer-Lion Gang yelled, “He must be possessed! You just admitted to stealing weapons because you don’t have an invitation, didn’t you?”
“Not at all. I have a witness to prove my innocence.”
“Patriarch Yi, should you not speak up?”
Yi Wangyou flinched and then smacked on a smile: “This one? This one is still suspicious of you, or he would not be here. How can he testify in your defence?”
“While we are seeking a means of entry, we are not the only ones seeking a means of entry. Patriarch Yi’s friend is one such individual. We agreed to compete for a chance at entry on the thirteenth this month via a five bouts tournament, where Luo Sword Manor’s fourth young master will referee the tournament. The victor will be granted entry to the island. Patriarch Yi is one of the contestants in the tournament. Do you have anything to rectify, Patriarch Yi?”
“Forsooth.” Yi Wangyou was frustrated at the turn of events as his goal was to put the nail in the coffin when opportunity presented itself, not pull Ming Feizhen out of the mire.
“If we are the thieves, we would already have a weapon to gain entry. For what reason would we engage in a tough match against Patriarch Yi with our lives on the line? It makes no sense.”
“Reporting: is Widow Broadsword Sect’s second master present?” someone outside asked.
Yin Changmei enthused, “Is Big Brother here?”
Yin Changmei’s subordinate broke down in tears: “Second Master, F-First Master died outside the town!”
“What?!” Yin Chengmei, at a snail’s tempo and in clunky fashion, turned back to Ming Feizhen: “You murderer! I’m going to maim you to avenge my brother!”
“I have been here the entire time, yet I am the culprit?” Ming Feizhen rhetorically questioned.
Mind clouded with flames, Yin Changmei bent his fingers and tried to walk down Ming Feizhen until Mountain Monster stepped in and singlehandedly defused his wild attacks, saving his life only because she wasn’t armed. Once Yin Changmei had a brief stretch to catch his breath, he tensed up every muscle in his body, indicating he was going to go all out in an effort to smite Ming Feizhen.
“Wait,” hollered Yi Wangyou. “Do you have his corpse?”
Someone immediately carried Bai Zixuan’s corpse in. Yin Changmei abandoned the fight to dash to his late brother’s corpse and had an emotional breakdown.
Yi Wangyou quickly furrowed his brows after examining the corpse. Deciding Ming Feizhen was the more apt person to consult in the pathology sector, he inquired, “Young Master Ming… No wounds are the product of sharp weapons. He died with his eyes and mouth wide open, so this one assumes an internal style expert harmed him. In your opinion, what style do you think the assailant used?”
“The way he died tells us that he reacted frantically. Patriarch Yin, can you save the sobbing for later? You, where did you find your master’s corpse?”
“I found it just before in his house,” answered Yin Changmei’s subordinate.
“Hmm, there might still be time. Patriarch Yin, step aside.”
Ming Feizhen pushed Yin Changmei aside gently, yet the latter couldn’t stop himself tumbling several metres away. He wasn’t convinced Ming Feizhen was strong due to the latter’s age and his emotional disruption.
“Wh-what are you doing?” Yin Changmei stuttered.
Ming Feizhen grabbed Bai Zixuan’s neck with his left hand and then struck multiple accupoints with his right hand.
“What are you doing?” repeated Yin Changmei.
“Using my clan’s secret method of treating internal injuries,” Ming Feizhen expounded.
“Wh-why are you healing a c-, you mean my brother isn’t dead?”
“If you keep hindering me, I guarantee he will be.”
Ming Feizhen carried on without more disruptions, releasing Bai Zixuan’s neck and then procedurally thumping the latter’s body with both hands. The actions were but a ruse; the real trick was him providing a true qi transfusion using Yijin Jing’s style. He injected true qi via his left then thumped with his right hand just to hide the purpose of his left hand. Once Ming Feizhen was ready, he palmed Bai Zixuan on the head.
“Who the bloody hell hit me?! You’re going to catch these hands!” Bai Zixuan blustered upon coming to.
“Brother Yin? What happened to the man in black I was fighting?” Bai Zixuan was still weak – evident from his voice. Howbeit, he had successfully weathered critical condition.
Yin Changmei turned to kowtow to Ming Feizhen: “Thank you. Thank you so much. I apologise for the things I said earlier. I apologise.”
“Don’t worry about it. It was a fluke. Brother Bai merely had his qi clogged; he didn’t actually die.”
In reality, Bai Zixuan already had a foot in his coffin.
Yin Changmei briefed Bai Zixuan on what happened, inflaming the latter. Bai Zixuan turned out to be fiery unlike Yin Changmei’s more collect disposition.
“We apologise again for accusing you of theft and murder when you are so kind that you would save my brother. Everyone, I can vouch for Young Master Zhong’s innocence. You all saw him resuscitate my brother. Should anyone want to harm him, you’ll have to get through us first.”
The hostiles rose up to congratulate the brothers for reuniting and gave Bai Zixuan their good wishes – as well as praise Young Master Zhong for his benevolence. Ming Feizhen didn’t loosen his guard for it was painfully obvious that the smiles and words weren’t sincere in the least. Rustling their feathers could intimidate them. Bringing Bai Zixuan back from the brink of death ephemerally stopped their provocations. Howbeit, they still suspected Ming Feizhen; rather, they weren’t done until other challengers were incapacitated. The only way he could possibly get the hostiles off his back was if he put them on their backs.
In Deer-Tiger Gang’s leader’s mind: “He’s a slippery one. I can’t trust everything he says. I’ll play along with now, but I’ll catch your tail, hehehe.”
In Green Snake Valley’s master’s mind: “Can’t do anything now that those two are protecting him, but we have time. I’ll capture a few of your men and coax them into speaking with my beautiful snakes.”
In the mind of Tri-Route Heartless Sect’s patriarch: “We’ll leave for now. I still have men hiding in the inn, so I still have eyes on you at all times. You’ll drop your guard sooner or later.”
In the mind of Mad Desert Blade Sect’s patriarch: “That girl hurt my disciple and beat Yin Changmei, so I should prepare a few poisoned flying daggers to deal with her.”
In the minds of a certain number: “As if we’re leaving. We’ll leave at midnight and be back at one in the morning. We still don’t have a suspect, so there are thousands of reasons to suspect you. I refuse to believe you’re innocent.”
“Wow, everyone left.” Su Xiao emerged again with his hair done up in a bun for the sake of convenience while working. “I didn’t even get to say goodbye.”
“Save it for next time. You’ll definitely get your chance.” Ming Feizhen kept conversing with Su Xiao until a certain detail caught his attention.
“What is it, Big Brother Ming?”
“Nothing…” Ming Feizhen swiped his finger gently across Su Xiao’s face, paying attention to the black filth that smudged onto his finger: “What’s this?”
“Huh? I wiped my face for a while, yet it’s still on my face.”
“Is this grime from a pot?”
Ming Feizhen discovered he could read Su Xiao’s lips before the vocal chords in Su Xiao’s throat could provide the enunciation, which read, “I just went to help in the kitchen because there weren’t enough people.”
Oh. God. No!
“Dear customers, please wait, hang on, hold up, one second!” Ming Feizhen hollered.
Thus, Black and White Reflection entered in another event in chapter “Huzhou’s Grand Event”.
On 4th January, 31st year of Yuansheng’s reign, Dragon Phoenix Inn’s third day in business, there was a severe outbreak of food poisoning that had people developing a phobia of food for some time.
Kitchen assistant: “I’ve never seen anything as terrifying before. She just fried some tomatoes and eggs…”
Survivor testimony: “The taste reminds me of hell. I was stargazing with my kid back home by the time I came to.”
Testimony of someone who did a meta-analysis of survivor testimonies: “Su Xiao, I thought you only make terrible food, but it turns out you’re a grade-A actor, too!”
People suspected Luo Sword Manor was behind it on the account that the majority of victims from unorthodox sects. Based on the potency of the poison, nevertheless, it was difficult to support the conjecture. They said that only Nanjiang’s Gu Poison King could achieve the feat. Hence, rumours of his return to the pugilistic world were soon promulgated.
To this day, Dragon Phoenix Inn still attracts tourists. Apparently, the calligrapher who wrote, “Dukang wine is the cure for problems,” also accidentally wrote dead centre of it, “Fried tomatoes and eggs is the weapon to thwart your enemies.”