Luo Swordsman and Dragon
No White Prince ever prayed for the imperial court’s collapse or plotted to usurp power despite their relationship freezing over time. That was not to say they were loyal to the imperial court or ancestors’ promises. If they were to compare, the majority of the seven had a longer history than the imperial court. They were purely cognisant of the reality that they were only seven powerhouses in the pugilistic world without the imperial court’s backing. They were more influential than Emei and Clear Mirror Palace. However, they wouldn’t claim they were more influential than Wudang and Shaolin or the four unorthodox groups. Thus, they always did what was necessary to protect the imperial court’s rule and spared no mercy to traitors.
Perhaps the seven were slowly corrupting themselves in their authority, power and ambitions. True or false, recent developments made it clear that they were growing malignant tumours in the nation. Of course, it was too early to rule out the possibility that Emperor Yuansheng didn’t have a need for them any longer.
Luo Ming changed into a long robe, polished his appearance and smiled helplessly to the mirror. If Emperor Yuansheng was a despotic Emperor, Luo Ming wouldn’t have any qualms; no tyrant would risk his neck to visit the home of a White Prince.
“You’re the future patriarch of Luo Sword Manor?” Emperor Yuansheng asked back when he got lost for days in Lotus Root Ground after rushing over from Nanjing. He was trapped in a net and painted with blood, yet he smiled brightly. “We’re probably going to be friends for a long time, so I came to see you.”
Upon learning the identity of the young man wearing the childish, yet unyielding and victorious, smile, Luo Ming had an omen that Emperor Yuansheng would be the one to end the era of the Seven Champion White Princes. Emperor Yuansheng’s visit this time came earlier than Luo Ming predicted. Whether that was something to celebrate or mope about had yet to be answered. Whichever the case, it did imply that Luo Sword Manor wasn’t going to be Emperor Yuansheng’s first choice for a friend. At least, Luo Sword Manor during Luo Ming’s absence wasn’t considered an ally.
In recent years, the imperial court gave vicious, brutal Qilin Guards more power, replacing them as Liu Shan Men’s role as overseer of the martial world. Once they did away with Demon Sect, Qilin Guards’ were even more intimidating. While Emperor Yuansheng’s era wasn’t as violent as the previous era, since the previous era was engaged in wars, the imperial court’s might in the martial world had overtaken the peace Yuansheng Era was known for. Emperor Yuansheng’s aim in setting aside his power and venturing to Huzhou couldn’t be any more obvious.
Edgehearing House was Luo Ming’s favourite place to sharpen his swordplay without any distractions and meet with friends thanks to the serenity it offered. As a monarch, Emperor Yuansheng could be received at the main building on the island; however, Luo Ming’s decision to meet at Edgehearing House was his way of hinting, “We are only going to catch up as friends, not discuss business.” Luo Ming had no doubts he could respond to any sort of ball Emperor Yuansheng pitched at him. Nevertheless, Luo Ming swallowed the words he wanted to say upon seeing Emperor Yuansheng studying the swords hanging on the walls of Edgehearing House, stuck for what move to make.
Back facing Luo Ming, Emperor Yuansheng voiced, “It’s been over ten years, yet Brave Shine is still enrapturing,” referring to the straight sword that the rising sun inspired. It was just a pity that it was forged early on in the forger’s career, resulting in the quality failing to meet the standard of Luo Sword Manor’s top-tier swords.
The reason for Luo Ming’s silence was that it was the first sword his eldest son, Luo Sijian, forged. Never did it cross Luo Ming’s mind to take the sword off the wall. None would ever even suggest the idea or mention the words “Brave Shine”.
Ostensibly oblivious to the tension suffusing the building, Emperor Yuansheng kept his smile on as he continued, “Sijian was still around and touted as the most stellar swordsman when I first saw Brave Shine.”
Unable to lift the corners of his lips as he did during practice, Luo Ming responded, “Yes, Sijian has passed away for a decade,” without sounding as though he was lamenting.
“It’s atypical for you to do start this and even more bizarre of you to dictatorially call so many people to forge a sword without a specific goal. Is it related to their deaths?” Emperor Yuansheng pivoted around, twisting the atmosphere into his figurative hands and taking control of the room: “Ten years ago, Liu Shan Men tried to find out how the owner of Brave Shine died.”
“Br-, Your Majesty, what did you hear?” Luo Ming caught on to Emperor Yuansheng’s stance from the latter’s tone, understanding the latter was questioning him as Emperor, not as a friend.
“Nothing. All I learnt was that you went out one day, but Sijian, Sinian and Sijyu never returned. The constable investigating it never found any concrete information, and it still remains a mystery case at Liu Shan Men.”
“You… investigated this peasant?”
“I would not audaciously pry into your privacy. If I did not respect you, I would not have entrusted Lyu’er to you. You cannot expect me to be indifferent to rumours of the Seven Champion White Princes being overlords of Jiangnan, but I trust you. I did not bring any men with me today to ask you a question: is Refining Divine Convention a hoax or not? Please dignify the question with an answer.”
Though he is no longer energetic and youthful, his seriousness is just like the young blunt and honest version of himself.
“Your Majesty… you are silly.”