In the spacious hall, Luo Ming addressed, “The reason Luo Sword Manor has stood the test of time because of its strong martial arts foundation and profound swordplay. Our ancestors have contributed very little to protecting justice in the pugilistic world, so it has fallen on your shoulders all these years. This one has been so focused on his own training since being instated as patriarch that he has let down the smithing department and his ancestors. That is why he has been thinking about how to forge a weapon that his great ancestors would be proud of. Refining Divine Convention is something this one came up with from a spark of inspiration. Please reprieve him if he has inconvenienced you in any way.”
Firstly, if Luo Sword Manor wasn’t strong, they wouldn’t be where they were. Secondly, the imperial court wouldn’t hire them as their primary and exclusive weapons supplier if Luo Sword Manor wasn’t manufacturing weapons up to standard. You can blow your trumpet as you like, but there will come a day when your quality will have to do the talking, and there has yet to be any bad reviews of their weapons.
“Why does he keep beating around the bush? People who don’t get to the point can’t be good people,” thought Su Xiao, arms crossed as his head bobbed rhythmically.
Emperor Yuansheng could see through the fib of Refining Divine Convention’s origins. Sadly, he had no proof to convict Luo Ming or any right to cut in while Luo Ming was addressing the people present.
Xiao Huangquan, on the contrary, didn’t care so much about how others judged him and opined, “You need not be so humble when we all know you are without equal with a sword in hand. There are no more than three clans in existence that could forge weapons rivalling your clan’s. You know that Tang Clan secludes themselves in the mountain, while Skycloud Palace’s whereabouts are unknown for the most part, leaving only Clear Mirror Palace as your competition. It is a pity they are barbaric despite their extravagance unlike your clan’s polished background.”
Xiao Huangquan’s notoriety for being playful and carefree preceded his reputation for occasionally helping as a defender of a justice. Nobody expected an alcoholic, who was already drinking again, to speak as well as a scholar based off his notoriety and dishevelled appearance.
Luo Ming lifted up the corner of his lips: “You flatter this one, Hero Xiao.”
“This old one does not know about that, but he does know you are close to the imperial court as one of the Champion White Princes.”
Seldom did heroes of the land associate with the Seven Champion White Princes for they preferred to have their freedom instead of being dragged into the political arena. By the same token, Luo Clan’s status as one of the Champion White Princes raised a lot of brows, though nobody dared to mention it.
“This convention of yours had nothing to do with this old man. Out of the blue, your clan sent him a sword, saying you wished to compare it to his Faithfulness Sword. Hehe, hard not to speculate you harbour ulterior motives.”
Su Xiao, finally unable to repress his curiosity, inquired, “So, which sword is sharper, elder?”
Xiao Huangquan answered, “Good question. This old one sold it for ten silvers at the foot of Mount Song to buy dozens of wine jugs.”
“Hahaha.” Thought Su Xiao expressed himself freely, others fought with their lips.
Since Emperor Yuansheng and his escort went on ahead, they were next to Luo Ming, while Su Xiao was far away.
“Kiddo, you not worried about trouble finding you for joining this old man?”
“What is there to fear? Patriarch Luo is a famous man. Would he pick on a kid?” Unbeknownst to many, Su Xiao had learnt to be shameless when the situation called for it.
Luo Ming just kept smiling: “Sending you a sword as an invitation was merely this one’s gift. Although it might have been somewhat careless, to say he harbours an ulterior motive is a stretch.”
“Hahaha, tell us more, please,” responded Xiao Huangquan.
“Do you not plan to take your Faithfulness Sword out from your red calabash to enlighten us?” Luo Ming inquired.
“… Hahaha, all right, all right, that is Luo Ming for you.” Xiao Huangquan drew his sword with “Faithfulness” etched onto the blade from the bottom of his big red calabash. “And? Now you have seen it, what next?”
“You obtained your sword from Faithful Gentleman, Dan Weishan, in Nanjiang. While it is not a well-known sword in the Central Plain, this one does know it is a fine sword. The sword this one gifted you must have been a disappointment in comparison,” Luo Ming replied.
Xiao Huangquan chugged some wine with his eyes as slits.
“Did you happen to read the small text carved onto the Crimson Pine Sword this one gifted you, Hero Xiao?”
“Text? Never checked.”
“That is fine. This one can remind you. It said, ‘Butterfly Shadow Shuttle Light. Rain and Dragon Appear with the Clouds. Cold Face, Clear Edge. Sin Weishan.’”
Xiao Huangquan beat Dan Weishan by a hair’s breadth back then in Nanjiang after their three-day duel to obtain the sword, a story that Xiao Huangquan never told. Dan Weishan was one of the three top swordsman in Nanjiang during that era.
The passage Luo Ming read out, bringing memories of the duel back to the front of Xiao Huangquan’s mind, was the four most advanced moves of Faithfulness Swordplay that Dan Weishan practiced. What made Xiao Huangquan stiffen up was the specific order that Luo Ming read them in. When Xiao Huangquan fought Dan Weishan, the latter never used the four moves in that sequence. “No counter. No counter,” Xiao Huangquan muttered as he visualised the four moves being executed in succession.
Luo Ming expressed, “Luo Sword Manor is not qualified to challenge the various great weapons wandering the world. That being said, this one does have some opinions he could provide for your research from his martial arts studies. This one assumes you all share the same desire.”
No sane man would attend a shady convention; the only reason they attended was either because their skills or weapon were inferior to Luo Ming’s. The point that Luo Ming tried to make was that Luo Sword Manor weren’t limited to only forging excellent swords. They also had a remarkable swordsman – Luo Ming.