“My, my, what brings you here? This one apologises for not welcoming you earlier.” Mr. An’s black mask gave the impression he was wearing seven emotions on at once.
Ming Feizhen let Mr. An have his fun: “You sound like you know me.”
Mr. An flicked up a thumb: “Who does not know of Night Fortress’ master? This one has been busy and still is. He would have offered you a drink when you arrived, otherwise.”
Ming Feizhen folded his arms and leaned back on the wall, fully aware he was watching a charade. The longer he left the man of the darkness to his devices, the more threatening Ming Feizhen felt him grow. Ming Feizhen yawned and said, “Take your time speaking. If one hour isn’t enough, you can have two. If one day isn’t enough, you can have two. The celestial prison’s food is pretty good, I hear. I’ll be happy to have three drinks with you when you’re there.”
“… Guess we’ll cut to the chase, then.”
Although Ming Feizhen didn’t budge, it took Hong Jiu and Tang Ye everything they had to not suffocate themselves from shock when Mr. An discharged his cold, diabolic qi.
“Master Ming really is Master Ming. This one has something he would like you to enlighten him to.”
Ming Feizhen pinched his nose: “Go ahead.”
“Don’t be like that. The imperial court’s reinforcements have only just arrived when you already beat Luo Ming, so you should be busy. Why are you here?”
“Are you telling me you can’t figure that out for yourself?” Ming Feizhen joined the game of farces and wore on a disillusioned look.
“I’m a stupid man and can’t stand it when I don’t have a clear-cut answer to my queries. Please indulge me.”
“… There seemed to be more than what met the eye, so I had Second watch for anyone present trying to reap the fruits of someone else’s labour. If there was, then he was to notify me.”
“It is an honour for a minor character, such as myself, to catch your attention.” Mr. An scratched his head as though he was embarrassed until he heard, “I wasn’t referring to this event but further back.” He responded, “… Oh?”
“If this minor character you speak of is A-Ji, then, no, I didn’t pay much attention to him. You did well to conceal yourself. I never would’ve suspected a young man with Luo Ming; I just drew conjectures based on the bigger events.
“Since my fight with Jin Wangsun in the imperial city, I’ve had this suspicion that someone has ensnared me in their trap. There’s no chance somebody can spy on me without my awareness, but Jin Wangsun was a different case. All they had to do was instate him as the spy, and use him to predict my moves. After he went missing, I’ve been trying to figure out what was really going on. No matter how I tried to reverse engineer it, there were always two conditions that had to be fulfilled regardless of what the truth was. First, there had to be something enormous to gain from the risky operation. Second, the one who pulled it off… had to be an extremely skilled adept working behind the scenes.
“In Luo Ming’s underground secret chamber, I learnt about his revenge plan, and it was surprisingly simple. Forge a Nine States Enervating Blade and then go to Nanjiang. There’s nothing surprising about his motive. The important question was, who supplied him with the blueprints? He nearly dies in Nanjiang, and then not only does he suddenly possess the blueprints, but he also colludes with Abels, frames people and a whole series of other things. The inherent high risk of the plan reminded me of my match with Jin Wangsun. Coincidentally, the plan also required the exact same two prerequisites to work.
“When I was still questioning if it was pure coincidence, Luo Ming swiped all my doubt away and gave me the confidence to conclude I was onto something with his sword. A-Hu took something from Zhaixing Hall, though I don’t know what it is. The cold qi” – Ming Feizhen fixed his gaze on Purple Forbidden Enclosure Dragon Slayer, making it vibrate as though his gaze rustled its feathers – “is identical to the one coming from the sword. When I saw the sword, I realised that defeating Luo Ming was only the beginning of the real show.”
“… You mean to say you purposely sent the sword flying? No wonder why it happened to land in such a convenient spot, yet well out of sight.”
“Are you… stupid…?” Ming Feizhen asked with a sigh. Slowly but surely, his eyes glinted red. “Given I could beat Luo Ming when he had the sword, a clear mind and polished skills, why didn’t I just finish him when he was injured? Was there any point in waiting for him to finish his sword?”
“… Why, then?”
“I was luring you out, Mastermind.”
I’ve been dancing to his tune all this time? How amusing. So I’m still human, huh?
“Hahaha.” As he laughed, Mr. An’s appearance contorted along with the flames flickering on the candles. “Ming Huayu must be proud to have raised such a competent disciple. Now this is entertaining, hahaha.”
“Sounds like you still don’t get it.”
Mr. An fossilised.
By the time Ming Feizhen raised his head again, his red eyes were drilling a hole their target’s heart. “Let me repeat myself.” Ming Feizhen’s fingers cracked as they curled up. “The reason I’ve had to endanger people I care about and helplessly pray they will be fine, as well as resist the torment to raze this manor to the ground, is to lure you out and capture you. Get it now, dimwit? I don’t care what your machinations are. It doesn’t matter to me anymore. Walk your behind over here. I’ll happily kick it for you, you snollygoster.”
H-he’s making my brain stutter?
“… Just putting it out there: I always felt we’d meet face to face when we least expect it and say what you just did. Only, I didn’t expect to meet so soon. My, my, Ming Zhen, you no nice. Why did you have to expose me already?”
Ming Feizhen hiked up a corner of his lips: “How about you stop trying to sound friendly with me? I don’t know any slimeballs, like you.”
It’s not time to fight him yet. If we fight, it won’t end until one of us dies…
“You want to party, huh? … Hahaha, all right, let’s make this an even bigger party.”
Mr. An zoomed back into the room, reaching the end in no time, thereby cornering himself.
Hong Jiu: “Is he really going to charge into a wall?!”
Boom! Mr. An crashed through the thick wall and made a beeline to the ring, landing fifteen metres away from Emperor Yuansheng, who had Qilin Guards all around him.
“Hahaha.” Mr. An spread his arms and bowed in an exaggerated motion once again. “Reigning Emperor, this one’s name is… Mr. An.”
Pinching nose – When you’re trying to be rude (whether as a joke or not), you might use the phrase that’s used when saying, “Fart” in Chinese, implying whatever someone says is utter bullcrap. Yes, you literally substitute the word “fart” for “speak”. Ming Feizhen is implying the same thing when he pinches his nose. I changed Mr. An’s response, which was, “Please smell it,” to “Don’t be like that,” since there’s no way it can make any sense to you unless you know that fact.