Uncle Martial Paragon was stunned for a second before he burst out in laughter until his sides hurt. “Since when did Mount Daluo have someone so honest? I didn’t expect that at all.”
“Uh… I sincerely apologise on behalf of my shifu for imprinting a wrong image about us.”
“Come on. Get up.”
Because Uncle Martial Paragon waved his hand at me, it made me feel even guiltier about taking his arm from him. Therefore, I dug my head even lower.
“Haha, I wasn’t saving anyone. It was a fight. I was fighting you, not saving you. I can’t be expected to remember how many fights I’ve had in my lifetime. If people who lost to me want revenge, there wouldn’t be enough of me even if they ground me to bits. We Xiacang Anxi warriors don’t cry or make fusses if we lose an arm or a leg in a fight. Besides, how can I complain if I was inferior? You going to blame someone for hitting you when it was you who failed to defend yourself? Hahahaha.”
I was aware he was trying to erase my guilt – for the most part. I remembered how dangerous the situation was back then. Plus, I forced him to accept the fight. Head down, I expressed, “You had slept me; if you wanted to finish me, would I be here right now? You are being too modest.”
“You are mistaken again. If I truly overwhelmed you, how did I lose an arm? The reason I was able to sleep you was because you had lost your mind. To say I could kill you because I still had one arm is also incorrect. While you were out, you weren’t hurt. Given the sturdiness of your qi armour, I wouldn’t have been able to kill you. If you mean throwing you off a high cliff, then maybe I’d kill you. I’d live in shame for the rest of my life if people heard that, though, hahaha.”
Seeing me still down, Martial Paragon continued, “Don’t assume you’re the reason I retired. My strength was unaffected after I lost my arm. I even had a reputable physician stitch my arm up; I didn’t even lose a tenth of my skills. Get up now. You expect me to pull you up when I’m not strong enough to move you anymore?”
I slowly got to my feet.
That means he was able to reattach his arm subsequent to our fight but then lost it a few months later, eventually leading him to his current state.
“Let’s not talk about me now. I… have changed my opinion of you slightly. Seeing you bow your head and apologising gives me the confidence to bet on you.”
“We can flesh out the details another time. If you want my help, you also need to help me.”
“Consider it done.” I thumped my chest. “Give me ten requests, and I will complete one!”
“My bad. Old habit. Old habit. Give me ten requests, and I shall complete ten!”
Uncle Martial Paragon played with his beard for a brief moment: “I was going to ask you for help on the matter to begin with. If you refuse to help because I refuse to join your campaign, I shall blackmail you with the guilt of taking my arm.”
… The martial arts community and I want to banish you from the community!
“A favour for a favour is only fair. If you want my help, help someone on my behalf. If she is okay with you helping, I am at your service.”
“Mm?! A man’s word is as good as gold! No going back! Please sign and stamp a contract!” I whipped out all the compulsory writing instruments and wrote something to the effect of: Martial Paragon promised so and so on so, on so and so date. The terms and conditions were… Should he go back on his word, he must call himself a dog (‘dog’ written in enlarged font). “Stamp here!”
Uncle Martial Paragon curled his lips: “I guess it comes with being Ming Huayu’s disciple. He must’ve duped you a lot, you poor boy.”
Don’t just accept the fact! Why didn’t you stop him if you knew there was a problem with him?! Does your heart not ache?!
I jubilantly put away the contract Uncle Martial Paragon stamped with his finger at my badgering. “Okay, what is it that you need my assistance with?”
“It shouldn’t be hard for you, but you’ll need to work for this old one to talk.” Uncle Martial Paragon flashed a corner of his white pearls.
“If you can make me get out of my chair, I’ll tell you.”
Oh, you think you smart, huh?
I pointed to the last line in the contract: “Remember: if you do not d-.”
“The ‘you’ at the moment is you. Wait… You worried you can’t pull me out of my chair?”
As vexing as it was, he was right.
“I cannot lay my hands on you when I owe you.”
“Did you develop a wishy-washy side? At least show me how much you’ve improved. I still remember our fight like it was yesterday. I may be old now, but I can still have an exchange or two.”
I still couldn’t bring myself to attack my benefactor despite what he said, especially since he was getting on with age. What would I do if his fangirls got mad and came at me?
“What’s the matter? If you keep hesitating, the sun will go down. If you can’t get me out of my seat, I won’t give you the task.”
It took a while, but I finally found inspiration: “Uncle, my shifu often talks about you.”
“Oh? Your shifu? What did he say?”
“You suck at card games.”
Uncle Martial Paragon jumped out of his chair and clutched my lapels: “What was that?! You can take my head or drain my blood, but I will not forgive anyone for insulting my skills at card games!”
“You got out of your seat! A man’s word is worth gold!”