“Who are you?”
Fickle as A-Ji was, he couldn’t make any sense of the things Lai Jingzhen said. It wasn’t a case of A-ji not paying attention to his surroundings; A-Ji would’ve thought it was merely draft blowing in if Lai Jingzhen was lurking outside of his vision.
Concerned for Lai Jingzhen’s wellbeing, Su Xiao cried, “Run! He’s a cold-blooded killer! Go call for help.”
A-Ji: Who is teaching him his internal style? He shouldn’t be able to speak so coherently.
A-Ji used his internal energy to mute Su Xiao, though Lai Jingzhen didn’t appear to have plans of running or even hear Su Xiao, for that matter. Lai Jingzhen just swept his gaze around at the same time as mumbling calculations. Only one name came to A-Ji’s mind that would fit the characteristics of the fengshui practitioner in front of him.
Why is he here now of all times? Is someone… leading him? Whatever, there’s only one way to deal with him now that he’s here.
“Is my guest the current daoism leader, Wudang’s immortal, State Preceptor Lai?”
“This old one came here for two reasons. The first was to find Abels, and the second is to retrieve Luo Clan’s sword. He’s found Abels. The sword should be here, so why doesn’t he see it?”
A-Ji had more faith in his speculations now as Lai Jingzhen didn’t answer the question. Reintroducing his smile, he asked, “Could this be the sword you are looking for?”
Lai Jingzhen removed his eyes from his fingers: “It’s an incredible sword, the sword of a sovereign, the greatest sword among swords, a monarch’s weapon, a sword that can help its wielder evolve into a dragon, a formidable sword. Back on Mount Zisheng, this daoist’s divination told him a dragon weapon would be born in Huzhou. There is already a true dragon, so the sword must go to His Majesty. As state preceptor, this old daoist has a duty to aid His Majesty. Since this trip’s purpose was to meet Abels, retrieving the sword is conveniently on the way. As for that sword, let’s see…” Lai Jingzhen manoeuvred behind A-Ji and stripped off the black cloth, revealing Purple Forbidden Enclosure Dragon Slayer. “It should be the sword on your back”
As A-Ji torqued away, Lai Jingzhen spun after him. As a result, A-Ji moved away from Tang Ye and Su Xiao, while Lai Jingzhen remained behind A-Ji just as before A-Ji tried to flee.
“Young man, you shouldn’t move like that. What if this old daoist hurts you while trying to take the sword?” Lai Jingzhen chided with a straight face.
“Hahaha.” A-Ji gave up on running and folded his arms. “So, State Preceptor, how do you evaluate the sword?”
“An Emperor’s sword cannot be ordinary.” Lai Jingzhen brought his face right up to the sword and, starting to calculate on his fingers again, uttered, “Incredible. Incredible. How did such an exceptional sword come to be?”
“Indeed, indeed, it is a great sword. Thing is, it is not yours, so how can you take it?”
“Everything in the universe has its destiny. Should it not be within this old daoist’s destiny to possess it, he will never be able to possess it. Else, you will give it to him.”
“Can I assume you are going to snatch it, then?”
Lai Jingzhen’s blinking suggested he never thought about that: “Snatch it? A sword is a sword. A person is a person. The two are not related. How does snatching have any part of this?”
Lai Jingzhen stretched his arm out fast for the sword, but A-Ji pivoted and moved away at the same time, positioning them face to face.
“That does not make sense. People produce swords, which makes them the sword’s master. State Preceptor, this act of theft is deigning yourself.”
Taken aback, Lai Jingzhen shook his head: “The universe produces everything, but who is their owner? People may create things. Howbeit, that does not qualify them to be the owner. Since the sword was born in this world, nobody can be its owner. Whoever it deems its owner is its owner.”
“Fair argument. Why have you not taken it yet?”
A-Ji struck out with one open hand in a claw shape and another in a fist. Lai Jingzhen, still musing, caught both hands thrown at him. A-Ji saw five successive palm strikes without any system to them, but he saw that as an intelligent style.
Lai Jingzhen’s style really didn’t follow a specific system. In saying that, he did meld together daoist and natural mental cultivation for effective counter hitting.
Due to Tai Chi no longer being in Wudang’s possession, all of the seniors, save for Lai Jingzhen, were impacted negatively. The reason Lai Jingzhen was an exception was because his specialty didn’t derive from Tai Chi but Polarisation Style. Lai Jingzhen’s shifu is the junior of Wudang’s current patriarch. Only Wudang’s patriarch could understand how Lai Jingzhen was so successful. Because he was able to eat meat, consume alcohol, gamble and visit brothels, he had more opportunities to train himself to not let anyone or anything get in his head.
The madness Lai Jingzhen exhibited was a consequence of learning the style that turned contradictions into weapons. Even so, it was ranked as one of the four greatest styles ever invented for it enlightened its practitioner to the highest level of thinking. Lai Jingzhen had yet to complete his training, yet he was already one of the Supreme Ten Saints.
Every successive strike, Lai Jingzhen corrected the mistakes of the previous ones to inch closer to acquiring his target. A-Ji could see himself struggling to repel the sixth one and, unsurprisingly to him, Lai Jingzhen finally stung him in the chest as well as snatched Purple Forbidden Enclosure Dragon Slayer simultaneously.
From the ground, A-Ji burst out in laughter: “How lucky for Wudang to still remain the greatest of all sects to this day. The greatest daoist lives up to his fame.”
“This sword has the power to alter the world’s destiny. As such, this old daoist must take it. Umm… Who are you again?” Lai Jingzhen scratched his head and then clapped. “Ah, this old daoist apologises for not introducing himself. My name is Lai Jingzhen. I’m a daoist.”
“… I don’t think that’s a secret.” A-Ji chuckled.
Eyeing the sword in his hand, Lai Jingzhen complimented, “You’re an exemplary martial artist. In fact, you are the best among all of the people this old daoist has competed against.”
Still lying on the ground, A-Ji cracked a grin to himself: “You’re a bully, don’t you think? You going to hit a downed man?”
Lai Jingzhen, reflecting on the short fight, knitted his brows together and then shook his head: “It must be my imagination. No human being could be capable of that.” Upon turning to leave, a sense of danger impelled him to run a calculation on his fingers. “Hmm? A very ominous sign. Where? It’s coming closer… It m-”
“Behind you!” Tang Ye mustered up everything he could to yell upon regaining a little control over his body.
“What a hassle.” A-Ji’s voice drowned out Tang Ye and Lai Jingzhen’s.
A scarlet firework went off from Lai Jingzhen’s chest as something black streaked through. The Enlightenment hit so fast that Lai Jingzhen hit the ground without feeling a thing. His blood spilt from his chest as fast as though he had a gaping hole there.
“It sure isn’t easy to take down one of the Supreme Ten Saints. Why did you have to show up here now of all times?” A-Ji spread his arms to the side as an exaggerating stage actor would prior to beginning an announcement. “Ah, apologies. I also forgot to introduce myself when we are meeting for the first time.”
Once he regained awareness of his predicament, Lai Jingzhen felt as if all of his accupoints had been pricked with needles. He was confident he had the strength to force needles out of his accupoints, but he didn’t have the faintest idea how A-Ji caught him. Immobilised, he could only wait for the finishing blow.
A-Ji swiped his face, revealing his face was a mask. Under that mask was another mask, a jet-black mask. Gazing down on the fallen daoist, he condescendingly, yet exuding a menacing aura, said, “I don’t have a name, but maybe you can call me… Mr. An.”