Martial King’s Retired Life – Vol. 09 Ch. 103

Kuang Lu

Lifting his left arm was a luxury to Dugu at this point. He inhaled and used what energy he had remaining to seal an accupoint, stopping the bleeding from his left shoulder.

“What happened to Shield Style?” Kuang Lu took his time wiping the blood off his sword and didn’t even spare Dugu a glance. “There are less people who know Shield Style than people who understand the advanced styles of Orthodox Realm. From what I’ve heard, it’s a counterattacking style. I was hoping to glean something from you, but you’ve let me down.”

Dugu lifted a corner of his lips and got up, raising his arms as though he wasn’t even scratched. “Quite the insight, Young Master Kuang. I have only touched the tip of the iceberg. Mastery is by no means easy.”

Though Kuang Lu disregarded Dugu a second ago, that smile reminded him he shouldn’t let his guard down against someone ready to die fighting. “I heard learners of the discipline can deflect their opponent’s technique. I have seen you perform it before, so why are you not using it today?”

Dugu refused to clarify.

“From our exchanges, I am certain the premise for deflecting techniques is to identify them first. You cannot deflect what you cannot understand, correct?”

“You are amazingly perceptive. You easily make the top three most judicious opponents I have encountered.”

“You amazingly have a knack for spouting drivel when you can’t even lift your arm. I shall spare you out of respect for you. Quit and leave.”

Dugu shifted his eyes to Kuang Lu’s borderline-white sword: “May I ask what the name of your sword is?”

“Lufeng Snow. It’s made from cold iron, giving it cold energy. It’s the very reason you can’t lift your arm.”

“It’s a great sword.”

“Don’t take chances for granted.” Kuang Lu sheathed his sword and took out a scroll from his case on the ground. He turned the knob on it to draw a sword that dropped the temperature around it. “This is Huxi Moon, my main sword. If you don’t want to die, leave now.”

Dugu just stood there with his smile.

“You had your chance.”

Technically speaking, Kuang Lu simplified his style. Howbeit, he dialled up his output enough to wobble Dugu.

Clang! Kuang Lu furrowed his brows upon hearing a sound that shouldn’t have been made when he penetrated Dugu’s body.

“… Shield Style’s foundation does lie in seeing through techniques; however, execution is not predicated on it. Even if the user cannot identify the style, Shield Style can still be used without drawbacks. The reason we must identify the style is to avoid deflecting the technique without our control, causing collateral damage. In other words, it’s just for accuracy purposes.”

“That’s why you let me strike you?”

“A shield’s primary job is to shield. If it’s used to impose harm, it should be named something else. Have you heard of anyone forging a shield to use it for harming someone?”

Kuang Lu already missed fourteen strikes in the span of time it took for Dugu to reply. After missing his even faster nineteenth thrust, Kuang Lu went for an all-out thrust. Halfway to his target, though, he felt his force diminish. He had no time to react for his sword reversed into his chest far too quickly.

Thud! From his knees, Kuang Lu muttered, “You couldn’t have figured out my style… How did you…”

“But I have.”

“H-how…?”

“There are innumerable variations to the brightness on a clear day, the darkness on a dark day, dawn driving off the dark, dusk swallowing the light. There is no means of remembering all of it to illustrate… This is an excerpt from Tang Dynasty Poet, Bai Juyi’s ‘Lushan Herb Cottage Record’.

“When Brother Ming put on his divination act to guess your profile, we were unaware he had pointed out who you were as we were so focused on his enigmatic behaviour. It had been on my mind for some time as to why he chose to recite those lines in particular. I suspected you are a member of Mount Lu Sword Sanctuary, but you and Young Master Ling are clearly not together, so I was lost until…”

Dugu cast his gaze to the basket with three scrolls still in there and elaborated, “I heard the name of your sword. You only carry four scrolls in the basket at all times, and it’s obvious they’re swords. Connect that with what Brother Ming recited… ‘The four places nearby that the eyes can see and ears can hear; in spring, flowers decorating valleys; in summer, the golden orb is visible through stone doors; in autumn, the argent light reflects off the creak; in winter, there is snow on Lufeng.’

“On our first meeting, you wielded Misty Mountain. Today, you drew Lufeng Snow and Huxi Moon. The last one must be Scenic Valley Flower, I suppose. All of your swords derive their names from Bai Juyi’s Lushan Herb Cottage Record.”

“So?”

“You identified yourself as Kuang Lu after Brother Ming’s divination. It has dawned on me that the ‘Lu’ in your Kuang Lu is not ‘Lu’ as in ‘deer’ but as in ‘cottage’. Mount Lu is also known as Cottage Kuang. I am now sure you did not come up with the name; it is a name Brother Ming slapped on for you when he pointed up at the centre of the room to conceal your identity. In other words, he pointed out that you are the leader of Mount Lu.

“Everything Brother Ming said points to one thing… The Young Master Ling we know is either a branch disciple or your cousin. As for you, you are the next patriarch of Mount Lu – Ling Ruoyun.”

Glossary

Huxi – It’s the name of a creek in front of a temple in Shandong. It can also be a title to address monks/daoists with courtesy.

Bai Juyi’s Lushan Herb Cottage Record – This goes back to the reference in Volume 7, Chapter 35. For the record, it’s a real piece of writing. In summary, it was Bai Juyi’s recount of the herb cottage and scenery.

Kuang Lu/Ling Ruoyun’s four swords – Some of them have gotten lost in translation, but they’re all from Bai Juyi’s work, using the seasons as themes. What Ming Feizhen did was cover the fact that he was giving away the names of the swords by reciting irrelevant stuff. Of course, it was on the listener to parse it for themselves and figure that out.

You know those secret messages where you need to read every third word or whatever to make out the real hidden message? This is similar to it, except you do need to know what Ming Feizhen was referencing and catch on as Dugu did to parse it. And, no, it’s impossible to keep that in the English translation.

 

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