Wanyu’s day and night could aptly be compared to a young maiden, energetic during the day and restful at night.
It wasn’t the first night Luo Clan’s fourth young master silently spent his night beside a horse carriage while everyone else got on with work. Ever since joining Emperor Yuansheng, Luo Siming spent every night guarding his father’s horse carriage despite him and his father not exchanging a single word.
Though Luo Siming was given a command post, he had yet to contribute in any capacity besides delivering meals to Tang Ye on his way to accompany his father or exchanging a few words with Tang Ye. Instead of being productive, he carved wooden statues whilst keeping his father company, mumbling to himself or humming as he carved away.
Every disciple in Luo Clan’s sword department learnt to carve wooden figures during childhood as part of their regime to steady their swordplay, and the skill stuck with them, if not improved, as Luo Siming demonstrated through his recent projects.
Long Zaitian rubbed his hands together as he waited for Emperor Yuansheng’s potatoes to finish roasting. Emperor Yuansheng, meditating on the ground, spent every night with them ever since Abels came back injured for he had qualms about their operation.
Smiling as he shook his head, Luo Siming added wood to the fire as the night was still long. Next, he picked up a long length of wood, unsure of what to carve tonight.
Luo Siming had a chance to relive his childhood over the last few days. He had free time and was no longer burdened with the duties of Luo Clan’s patriarch role or the misery of his father never recovering from depression constantly looming over him. He wasn’t, by nature, an affable, prim young master; he was the naughty type to jump in wells, climb roofs and even roast manure.
As a kid, Luo Siming would duck behind his mother whenever his father was angry because his formidable father was always meek when his mother spoke up for him. One time, his father refused to come out to see him after he caused trouble again, leaving him to cry until he had no more tears. Nobody could bear to blame his father. Even his uncle only patted his head and said, “You can’t blame him.”
Luo Ming hung up his sword as a judge of the pugilistic world and hung up his uniform as a blacksmith following his wife’s passing. It would also be correct to say that he lost his motivation to reach higher realms of swordplay and smithing from that day. All he did was leave behind a semblance of a path for his children.
Perhaps it would be hard. Perhaps it would take five years – maybe ten. Nonetheless, there were people who hoped and believed Luo Ming could pull himself out of the mire for he was their hope as well as their saviour. In the end, though, it took longer than anyone expected and longer than anyone had the patience for.
Never did it cross anyone’s mind that Luo Ming’s southern campaign would become the start of his downfall instead of his next level up. The assumption was seeded in the belief that he was a man who pursued the way of the sword, the epitome of a swordsman. If they were to ask Luo Siming, however, he’d opine differently.
Owing to his obligation to carry his clan on his shoulders, Luo Ming had higher standards than others when it came to swordplay. In saying that, Luo Siming didn’t believe his father subscribed to the axiom that true swordsmen were loners. By the same account, his father’s pinnacle of swordplay wasn’t a profound set of skills that encompassed all skills in the world. Luo Siming believed his father pursued swordplay infused with emotion and character.
Luo Ming used to hold Luo Siming by the hand to impart his swordplay knowledge, but his mother would occasionally pull pranks. Even though it annoyed him, Luo Ming would smile.
Luo Siming was so focused on what his hands were doing that he was oblivious to the ruckus made when Emperor Yuansheng and company sortied. The project he chose for tonight was the sword his father first taught him to forge. Nothing special. Just nostalgic.
“Dad.” Luo Siming gently uttered, “I miss Mother.”
The loud sound of a hasty retreat and the sight of warriors practically fleeing helter skelter interrupted Luo Siming. Their body language bespoke their despair.
Even though the python must’ve been “ambling”, the trail of devastation terrified them. Nothing was as scary as the smirk, nonetheless.
“Run! It’s one of the Evils!” Sima Huai bellowed, no longer able to exhibit his signature collected side.
Luo Siming wanted to leave, but he couldn’t since there was a man he couldn’t abandon behind him. The smirk on under the rust-like yellow eyes showed the python had no compassion to give him, though. Nobody doubted it’d crush Luo Siming once it slithered over him – until a wave of sword qi exploded on its head!
The impact of the qi explosion undulated all the qi in the atmosphere, splintering rocks it flitted past. Still, nothing could be more shocking than the fact that the python actually stopped.
Only those who were there to witness it ten years ago would recognise the slash that drove back the beast. The same man would stop it again ten years later in the same fashion, except that the sword he wielded ten years later was merely a wooden sword.
The man standing in between his son and an old enemy muttered under his breath, “Stubborn boy.”
Hot silver streaks coursed down Luo Siming’s face. Likewise, Heavenly Swordsman released his restrained tears.