Laughing Finger Tiannan
Luo Ming removed more and more self-imposed restrictions as he closed in and boldly exerted his desire to kill me. If he wanted, he only needed to leap in order to lodge a sword through my head, add some seasoning and then fry it up in an iron pot for a dish of Ming Feizhen, all of which would take him a few seconds to complete.
Breathing is paramount information to assassinations. You need to find the lapse, which is in between movements, to strike because a lapse can only exist between two linked motions. The counter, then, is straightforward: don’t connect motions and make them inconsistent.
As a result of me constantly breaking my own rhythm, the old bugger would reach for his sword, only to then shake his head. He’d poke his head out and start charging, only to then duck back behind cover a moment later. You might think he looked comical, but I wasn’t much better off, walking, jogging, stopping and then jogging. You tell me what that resembles. But you know what? Better looking stupid than fighting the bugger!
Luo Ming didn’t fear me; he purely needed a reasonable excuse to explain why a disciple of Mount Daluo died at Luo Sword Manor’s place. If he failed to assassinate me in one fell swoop while I was roaming wherever guards went, risk of exposure upon performing a second attempt would jump exponentially. If nobody was around, he could write whatever he wanted on my toe tag. Otherwise, he wasn’t going to take the risk.
If I did everything right, I should’ve shrouded myself in a mysterious cloud. The fact that I was Ming Huayu’s disciple instilled the belief that I couldn’t be a martial arts “cripple”, especially when factoring in the claim that I was the successor of the sect. By the same token, he wouldn’t be reckless in public.
Now why the hell does Xiao Huangquan want to meet around three?!
Since I couldn’t just dog Xiao Huangquan but regrettably couldn’t shake off the reaper behind me who could crush a fly between his brows, I had to embarrass myself in front of all the guards.
Man, if you don’t want to assassinate me, then don’t! Why do you stalk me and then complain that I’m tough to kill?! The logic of some people, I swear.
Contrary to Xiao Huangquan’s vibe of a mad man due to his unkempt mannerism, he was quite educated. That’s why the broth-, flower society that he took me to wasn’t too shabby. The musicians there knew what they were doing. The girls were pretty and a good reward for the hand. It was a pity I never grasped what was so cool about flowers.
Upon arriving at the meeting place – Green Spring Bamboo Lodge – I heard Xiao Huangquan communing with somebody. I shouldn’t have been surprised to know someone met up with him to drink and cuss, but they were someone I knew.
“Are you happy to live the rest of your life like this?” Only one person would sound so hardened – Boss Shen, and I saw her standing outside the bamboo pavilion upon approaching them,
“Hahaha, this old one begs your pardon. He does not understand what you mean,” responded Xiao Huangquan, nipping on wine inside the pavilion.
“Laughing Finger Tiannan back then was the third-rank adept of Liu Shan Men’s rankings. While you were not ranked on Liu Shan Elite Rankings, I heard of your prowess from the time I was a child. I religiously read the cases you solved and learnt so much from them.”
“This old one is but a wanderer. To call him an adept is insulting literature, Miss.”
“Shifu mentioned you many times and told me that I must call you back if I ever meet you.”
“Who’s your shifu?”
“His surname is Yan as in wild goose. His hometown is Zhongzhou. He also has a lot of nicknames that people gave him, such as Martial God, Sword Demon, Greatest Constable and so forth, but he always s-”
“’Yan Shisan is Yan Shisan. Yan Shisan is only ever Yan Shisan,’ correct?” Xiao Huangquan’s were still close to shut, although he looked a tad more tired than he did drunken. Instead of an infectious smile, his smile carried a forlorn undertone that would spoil any merry atmosphere. “He’s right. No matter where, there is only one Yan Shisan. Only he can be Yan Shisan, and he is only Yan Shisan. You’re Yiren?”
Boss Shen placed her fist and palm together: “Yes, Elder.”
“He always said his only successor was quite the fiery girl. Guess this old one is fortunate to meet you before he has to bid this world farewell.”
“Shifu never forgot you. Liu Shan Men has continued to plummet ever since the imperial court put it in limbo several years ago. I wish to invite you back to resume your duties as a constable.”
“You have an option. Reviving Liu Shan Men isn’t a shabby idea. If you could call back Brother Yan’s subordinates from back then, Liu Shan Men’s forces would be several folds stronger than it currently is.”
“You’re on the right track, but it can’t include me for the chivalrous Xiao Nantian is no more. There is only the handsome but useless Xiao Huangquan.”
“… I will be back.” Boss Shen left after saluting Xiao Huangquan.
Luo Ming didn’t strike me down despite me dawdling there, arms tucked under my armpits during the conversation – presumably because he heard a name he hadn’t head in a long time. After all, that was the name of a man who supervised Jiangnan’s martial world on his own.
Back in Yan Shisan’s era, Liu Shan Men was basically what Qilin Guards are now, so they were allowed to appoint members internally. My old friend, Xiao Huangquan, was once promoted to one of the three vice-captains of Liu Shan Men and the commander of the branch in Nanjiang, reporting directly to Yan Shisan. Strictly speaking, Xiao Huangquan would be more accurately labelled as the brains of a pugilistic world organisation than an administrator. He, accordingly, never met Emperor Yuansheng.
If Boss Shen brought Xiao Huangquan back to Liu Shan Men… If it hasn’t been obvious enough, let me spell it out: I couldn’t trust his mouth. You might as well give him a speakerphone to expose me on the main street.
Luo Ming’s hostility started to intensify as he stalked me into the pavilion since there was only Xiao Huangquan and me around.
Great, what shall I do now…?