Time Flies By. A Monarch and His Vassal.
You’re just done fighting a big fight. You’re exhausted, but you finally exhale relief, letting the pent up fatigue circulate to every fibre of your being as you crack a victorious smile. Before you can relish it, nonetheless, you’re faced with the fact that you had only just defeated one enemy, and there’s a second one equally strong already waiting for you. That was Luo Ming’s unforgettable experience.
“What sort of fiend was in Nieyao City?”
“I don’t know. His Highness never entered, and he never met up with Luo Ming after the Luo Ming scouted the interior. One person who managed to escape the city in time was the one who told others that Luo Ming’s three sons perished in battle,” Yi Wangyou answered.
I turned to River Monster: “You know what it is?”
River Monster recoiled.
“You’re the only survivor of Morcher’s imperial family and the only one who escaped. What attacked your city? You can’t tell us you don’t know when you were there, can you?”
River Monster grabbed one shaky hand with another shaky hand. “I…”
“Don’t be afraid of the memory. This is your chance to shake off your demons. You have to face your demons to conquer them,” I asserted.
“But… I don’t know… It…”
“You do. You can tell us.”
“It… It was… a dragon.”
“You cur! How dare you?! How dare you strike a deal with the leaders of Nanjiang in private and use your adopted father?! You… you… You wretched cur!” Emperor Yuansheng would’ve bludgeoned his son to death if he wasn’t immobilised.
Green Prince hid his face as best as he could and murmured, “… Father, you have never liked me and exiled me to Nanjiang, so I got scared and came up with the idea as a self-defence measure. I asked Adopted Father to help me blaze a safe trail. I never… I never wished to compromise my brothers.”
Emperor Yuansheng was never fond of Green Prince owing to his plump physique, but Green Prince was assigned to Nanjiang as it would keep him out of harm’s way from the contest in the capital. Nonetheless, the thoughtful decision wasn’t interpreted accurately for Emperor Yuansheng never implied or explicated that. Instead, Emperor Yuansheng always maintained a blunt, stoic tone with his son, scaring the latter.
“Using me to procure power is wrong, but his biggest sin was providing false information on the situation in Nieyao.”
Green Prince raised his head and brought it to the ground. By the time he lifted it again, his blood had stained the floor. “Adopted Father, I have not dared to indulge once in the last ten years and have been plagued with insomnia. On all of my three visits, I came prepared to die. I always wrote a letter to Father, one to Mother and one to Fourth Brother every time I came to Jiangnan. Once again, I am here to offer you my life for what I did ten years ago, but please spare my father,” Green Prince implored, banging his head on the ground again.
“Brother Luo, whatever the error is, it starts with me failing in my duty as his father. If someone must pay, I will pay.”
“No, this is my fault, Father. This is my responsibility. I have no reason to stay. Adopted Father, please take my life.”
Instead of sparing Green Prince a glance, Luo Ming kept his gaze and grin on Emperor Yuansheng. Speaking from behind his splayed ashen wall and chattering teeth, Luo Ming rasped, “Because I believed your son’s claims, I lost Yi Clan’s brothers and my three sons in Nanjiang. My family heirloom broke in the line of duty for him, costing my clan its reputation. Nobody has been able to learn my clan’s ice and fire internal style or inherit it.
“I couldn’t even collect my sons’ corpse; they didn’t even die with their bodies intact. All they left me with is a nightmare that has tormented me ever since. Because of your son, I’ve spent the last decade plotting, stealing, blaspheming my name, betraying people and I’m now on my last legs as a cripple. Who else but Li Clan should pay for my clan’s suffering?”
“Yes, I should pay.”
At first, Yu Jian thought Luo Ming’s hand shook with anger until it dawned with him that he was mistaken. Luo Ming aggravated his existing injuries during his affray with Dugu. Nonetheless, he worked with what he had to aim the sword at Emperor Yuansheng.
“Any reason you would argue I shouldn’t kill you now?”
“We are sworn brothers. An elder brother cannot kill his younger brother.”
Luo Ming sliced of several strands of his hair. “That brotherhood is no more henceforth.”
“Luo Sword Manor is tasked with protecting the monarch. A vassal cannot kill a monarch.”
“I’ll even kill ten Emperors should I hate them.”
“You have a sword. I am unarmed. Can you kill unarmed opponents in the pugilistic world?”
“You… want to fight?”
“A fighter cannot go down without a fight. I will fight even if I am bound to fall.”
Luo Ming mulled over the dispute, then decided to release Emperor Yuansheng. “Give him a sword and leave us.”
“But, Shifu, y-”
“Don’t make me repeat myself.”
Once the four swordsmen left, Emperor Yuansheng picked up the sword projecting his younger appearance. “I never thought our second duel would be a fight to the death.”
Luo Ming cut Emperor Yuansheng’s cheek without letting the other catch what happened. “If you’re done talking, then lay down your life.”
Luo Ming cutting his hair – Cutting one’s hair used to be a serious issue in cultures/people who believed in Confucian values because it’s something you get from your parents. There’s also using it to symbolise the end of a marriage as one way of describing marriage is (translated literally) “tying (insert subjects) hair together”, but that’s clearly not the context here. Hence, Luo Ming essentially severed his brotherhood with Emperor Yuansheng with this action.