Reaching the Shore
“Luo Ming and I have a deal. If I cannot win at Refining Divine Convention, I will have to present him with someone’s head. We need Luo Sword Manor’s support. We cannot afford to lose. Please provide me with a feasible plan.” Emperor Yuansheng omitted his suspicions of Luo Ming, deeming it unnecessary information in the grand scheme.
The Emperor’s entourage lent their ears and eyes, not their mouths – unless asked. That was why Dugu didn’t have anything to suggest when put on the spot. Long Zatian, who was only looking to ask if Emperor Yuasheng wanted an egg with his noodles or not, had the brains but needed time to think before he would give advice. After all, speaking carelessly around an Emperor on such an important subject was a quick way to land yourself in hot water.
“Say something one of you,” demanded Emperor Yuansheng. “… Something?”
Long Zaitian strode forward and held his hands in salute: “Your Majesty, we cannot win!”
“You think I need you to tell me that?! What have I been feeding you all these years for? I pay you to solve problems, not to tell me the problem!”
“I think my chances are about thirty percent,” Dugu opined.
Dugu shook his head: “I would say my chances of survival are only about thirty percent.”
“Get out! Both of you!”
Dugu explained, “Your Majesty, none of the adepts invited should be underestimated. Among those whom we have met, there is already Wudang’s Elder Shou and Metal Yu Feiyuan. If you wish for me to try, I will give it everything I have without scruple. If you wish me to win, though, I will tell you the truth.”
Long Zaitian added, “Dugu is the strongest among us, Your Majesty.”
The point of feeding the army is to deploy them when you need them, yet I’ve been feeding all of you for what?!
Long Zaitian sulked, “We are not rusty. If you are using a kitchen knife to chop a tree, you are just asking to fail.”
“If we lose, I’ll deliver your head on a platter as an addition if it’s not your head he wants!”
“If you are willing to risk your dragon head, my dog head is b-”
“Shut up!” Emperor Yuansheng let Long Zaitian taste a dragon’s foot.
Someone knocked on the door outside to say, “Please excuse this one for disturbing. This one is Luo Sword Manor’s chamberlain, Luo Wuchang.”
“How can I help you, Chamberlain Luo?” Emperor Yuansheng inquired. They quite liked the elder who seemed as affable as one could be.
“A dangerous person has trespassed onto Taihu Sword Island and has broken through Four Seasons Sword Formation. Master has asked this one to move you to the bank, which is by the shore and also where we dock our boats.”
“Ah?” Emperor Yuansheng couldn’t believe somebody had already overcome the formation only two hours after he met with Luo Ming. “Mm… Brother Luo should be able to handle the situation. Why does he need us to move there?”
“Master has personally gone out and even engaged the invader.”
“He must have caught the intruder by now, I assume. Does Brother Luo want us to see him?”
“No, uh… Since you and Master are friends, this one shall not hide it from you. Master was unable to detain the intruder.”
Someone could escape him even now that he’s learnt Repository Sword Theory? I thought he might’ve gone beyond Divine Realm. Whoever this person could be, he should have a good chance of matching Brother Luo. If I could recruit him to our side, we should be able to come out victorious.
Emperor Yuansheng gave Luo Wuchang an amiable smile: “In that case, we shall get moving now.”
Wh-why does he seem so happy to hear Master failed? His smile is making my skin crawl…
“Please wait a moment. Your litter is on its way.”
Emperor Yuansheng wagged his hands, still smiling: “It’s okay. It’s okay. We can walk.”
“The road nearby is not flat, and it is still slippery from the rain last night. You should not ruin your shoes.”
“It’s no big deal.”
Long Zaitian and Dugu were going to deter Emperor Yuansheng, when the latter spun around and, in a low voice, asserted, “We’re crawling even if that’s what it takes!”
Emperor Yuansheng called for everyone else and then walked to the bank as he said he would, meeting up with Shen Yiren, who was already touring the place with Luo Siming and Ao Xue.
“Yiren, where is Master Luo?” Emperor Yuansheng inquired.
Shen Yiren pointed to the shore.
Silhouettes of birds flew home across a sky that was now magenta. The sun was half into the water, but its reflection in the sea made it look complete. Emperor Yuansheng joined his old friend to question, “How are things looking?”
“He got away,” Luo Ming replied in a monotone voice.
Emperor Yuansheng went back to Dugu and Long Zaitian with a wry grin. “We have a chance,” he told them. He then went back to ask Luo Ming, “Why did you call us here, Brother Luo?”
“Repository Island is the chief island of Taihu Sword Island as it has the ability to oversee the current. I noticed a boat coming this way, so I was worried about your safety. As long as I am beside you, I can protect you.”
Emperor Yuansheng nodded and then went back to his group to with a long face: “I take that back. The guy might be coming to offer his own head.”
Long Zaitian flicked a thumb to gesture, “Our Emperor is a man who doesn’t sweat the small details. No Emperor before him can match him.”
“Master, s-someone is rowing over!”
Luo Ming immediately trained his gaze on the small boat closing in and muttered, “You must think nothing of me, huh?”
It felt as though it took a long time for the people inside the black awning, and the feeling was explained when Emperor Yuansheng saw the elder strenuously rowing, though it left him with another question: that elder is the one who escaped from Luo Ming? Even Luo Ming had an inclination to scratch his head.
“Hmm… He’s… familiar…” Su Xiao sniffed the air and commented.
Luo Clan’s swordsmen brandished their swords, waiting for the command to separate the trespasser’s head from his body.
“Why are there so many people?” The tall young man, smiling innocently, looked totally bewildered as he looked back and forth between the people assembled where he docked. “Is there a festival or something I don’t know about? Why the grand welcome?”
“Big Brother Ming!” Su Xiao threw his arms around Ming Feizhen with total disregard for those around.
“Idiot!” Su Xiao clobbered Ming Feizhen over the head.
“I thought you’re here to welcome me.”
“Idiot! Moron! Reckless fool! How strong do you think you are?! Why’d you go running around on your own?!”
While taking hits, Ming Feizhen regarded Shen Yiren with a nod, who reciprocated it. How they felt would be something only they knew.