Five Exchanges (Part 5)
“Brother Ouyang, it’s not very nice to kick me to the curb once you achieve your goal.”
“Hahaha, to tell the truth, I am impressed with you, but Granny Lianhua is someone whom I respect. No matter how I think about it, the best approach is for me to not take any side. I sincerely do feel it is a pity, though.”
“You believe my funeral date is set?”
“If my eyes haven’t failed me, apart from losing a significant portion of internal energy, your arms are also severely damaged. Swordplay is your primary form of combat; how will you wield your swordplay with compromised arms? Additionally, while your swordplay is praiseworthy, compared to Granny Lianhua’s abilities, though, how do you feel?”
“In an internal energy contest, I am far from being her match. In a swordplay contest, however…”
Ming Feizhen was no sword expert, wasn’t knowledgeable on swordplay and didn’t sound confident. Luckily. Luckily, he had met his fair share of supreme swordsmen and could imitate them quite accurately.
“Bring me my sword.” Despite his injuries and being the underdog, Ming Feizhen sounded confident when he gave his command. Upon receiving his sword, he leaned his head back and laughed, then said, “Young Master Ouyang, I’d like to have a bet with you.”
Ouyang Xiucai stole a gander in Elder Lianhua’s direction before smiling. “Among all the men I have met in my life, your fearlessness ranks among the top three. I admire your daringness to start something when you are about to meet your demise.”
“Hahaha, should I win, all I ask is that you treat me to a drink. What do you say?”
Ouyang Xiucai felt he had heard the tone from somewhere in the past, but he couldn’t name where and when. “Deal. If you can get through this, we will drink until we are satisfied. Deal? Granny, this one shall act as today’s witness.”
“Hahaha, that’s what I’ve been waiting to hear.”
Elder Lianhua wasn’t pleased with the development. Seeing as Ouyang Xiucai was going to act as a referee, it was now a fair duel in the pugilistic world, so she couldn’t follow her original plan of catching Ming Feizhen off guard.
Ming Feizhen waved his Melancholic Sword around and praised, “Superb broadsword.”
Elder Lianhua was cautious ever since she heard Ming Feizhen spoke, so she was now even more defensive due to his confidence. With that much attention devoted to auditing every detail, she had no spare cognitive resources to engage in conversation.
As Ming Feizhen ran his hand down the blade, he asked, “May this one ask how long ago was it that Mr. Jiang Chen helped you?”
Elder Lianhua coldly responded, “Why are you trying to lure me into divulging Mr. Jiang Chen’s affairs?”
Ming Feizhen raised his head and paused. “… If I were to hazard a guess, I would estimate it was twenty years ago.”
Elder Lianhua didn’t appear bothered. “What do you gain from knowing more about the past? This old lady’s heart has turned to stone. Nothing you say can save you!” She slammed her walking stick into the ground, causing qi and blood in people around to swirl in crazy ways.
At this point, Yuan Kou realised he would’ve been done in no more than five exchanges if she didn’t hold back against him.
Yan Jiangnan knew better than anyone what sort of condition Ming Feizhen was in. Yan Jiangnan thought Ming Feizhen called out Ouyang Xiucai with a plan in mind. At this point, though, it seemed as though death was still the end result for them.
Ming Feizhen, in contrast, just stood there as though he was oblivious to his own circumstances. “Your oath to kill this one leaves him with no choice. Before he dies, there is one thing he wishes you could tell him.”
“… What else do you have to say?” questioned Elder Lianhua.
“Thirty years ago, many symbolic and tragic heroic events were recorded during the battle between orthodox sects and Fiends’ genesis, some of which became heroic epics that launched warriors to stardom. Many people, however, don’t know that a romance that the world didn’t look upon kindly also blossomed during the battle.”
“What are you…”
“This one’s question is, what is the line you hate most?”
Elder Lianhua stretched her eyes open as she opened her mouth, but she decided against saying anything in the end.
Ming Feizhen smiled. “Love too deep is hard to sustain. Being too smart is tiring.”
Elder Lianhua’s legs buckled, her vigour seemingly evaporating along with her spirit.
“I was unsure when I saw just the kasna lotus, but I now understand why you refuse to tell what Jiang Chen, I mean, Mr. Jiang Chen helped you with. In your case, it’s not ‘deep’, it’s ‘hidden’.”
“Unequalled talent and craftsmanship.”
“So you are a member of Tang Clan.”
Elder Lianhua trembled. She did everything she could all her life to keep her family background a secret, yet some young man she had known for less than fifteen minutes had ruined decades of effort.
In Elder Lianhua’s moments of distraction, a silver light filled her pupils. Everyone was watching from beginning to end, yet nobody, including Elder Lianhua, could comprehend how her lungs were impaled. She dodged the sudden attack, but Ming Feizhen followed up three more successive strikes. Even though she could fight well, she could only dodge his attacks. When the fourth attack came, she found herself in no position to do anything besides eat the attack.
Elder Lianhua struggled to procure oxygen as blood continued trickling from her chest.
“My mistake. Granny, your limit is four,” Ming Feizhen stated.
Elder Lianhua looked back at him with the ultimate clarity in her eyes. “You ar-”
“Brother Wu, wait!’ cried Ouyang Xiucai.
“Apologies.” Ming Feizhen twisted Melancholic Sword onto a horizontal axis, then yanked it out as though he wanted to drag whatever life was left out of Elder Lianhua’s body.
Blood shot from Elder Lianhua’s chest as if it was a broken showerhead while she fell backward, gaze still fixated on Ming Feizhen.
Ming Feizhen whipped the blood off his sword and frigidly lamented, “I did what I had to in order to survive. My apologies.”
“Deep” and “hidden” – Just in case you missed it, Ming Feizhen is alluding to the lines that Elder Lianhua hates most, substituting the “deep” with “hidden”.