“Feng Yuge, hmm…” The Master made his white beard even messier as he caressed his beard, but he didn’t seem to mind. “There aren’t many martial artists who carry the ‘Feng’ surname. The most famous clan of martial artists would have to be Luoyang’s Feng Clan. You wish to look into the background of the highest-ranking consort?”
“No,” Shen Yiren immediately answered. “The person I am interested in has no connection to Luoyang’s Feng Clan. I trust Brilliant Consort. She would never harm him.”
It was hard to tell whether The Master was feeling nostalgic or consoled based on his visage, but it was visibly clear that he was no longer testing Shen Yiren.
Acquiring accurate information from The Master was no simple task. After all, his livelihood was sustained off selling information. For him, selling information was but another way to kill time. People couldn’t be picky about the answers they received for he had no obligations. Be it true or false information, if it was being transferred across a network or had been mentioned, he knew about it. Put it this way: he didn’t provide a service for separating fact from fiction even though he could. He only provided information to those who were competent enough to unveil the truth.
When The Master stood up, it was surprising to see how tall he was. Howbeit, his height didn’t make walking any easier for an elder in his eighties. Shen Yiren, therefore, stood up to support him straight away.
“Haha, you’re a smart girl, just like your father.”
Shen Yiren showed her rarely-shown warm smile. “I am happy to hear that.”
The Master was a man who remembered past events long ago much better than more recent events. On the way to The Master’s study, the two of them conversed about many topics, some of which Shen Yiren already heard about and some that occurred before she was even born.
“Whenever this old one sees you, he goes on a trip down memory lane. Shen Wuzheng, Ye Yun, Wang Muren, Li Linglong… they all visited this place in the past, coming and going as they pleased. They seldom visited after they grew up. Is supremacy in the pugilistic world so important? This old one has always wondered: do people change once they grow older? He has been watching the world for many years. At this point, he can accurately guess many things without even looking, but the one thing he still can’t read is the heart of men.”
“Father would visit whenever he had time.”
“Indeed. He’s soft unlike the other brats. When he was around your age, he performed the worst among his peers. He was a terrible fighter, and all he ever did was follow Fourth Prince around.”
The Fourth Prince The Master referred to was the former Fourth Prince – Emperor Yuansheng. Due to Emperor Yuansheng’s father refusing to crown a successor, it led to an all-out fight for the crown. Emperor Yuansheng was lucky enough to become the Crown Prince and then ascended not long afterwards.
Li Clan stipulated that the Crown Prince had to go on a journey for some time because the founding Emperor ruled excellently after spending twenty years in the outside world. Emperor Yuansheng fulfilled the adventuring requirement. However, he never expected to inherit the throne, and he didn’t have sufficient time to prepare for the role. Accordingly, Emperor Yuansheng would take up every opportunity to explore the outside world. Even though the trip to Nanjiang was necessary, it was true that he wanted to enjoy an adventure, as well.
Shen Wuzheng was the equivalent of Emperor Yuansheng’s shadow.
“Later on, though, he was the most accomplished among them. It’s a pity.” While he wasn’t emotionless, The Master didn’t convey any sorrow through his voice. This was because he had practiced not wearing his emotions on his sleeve.
“Do you feel my father and I are alike?”
Although The Master looked back at Shen Yiren, he didn’t really need to look at her to know she was almost her father reincarnated.
“You two do look alike, though your gazes are different. He’s more tolerant, clever, has a good network and doesn’t like to compete. He had the ability to solve everything as if it was a simple endeavour.” The Master faced forward again. “You don’t need to resemble him. Being too soft isn’t going to do you any favours. You’re perfect the way you are now, speaking your mind and never shying away from confronting things head on. You gambled at every single den until you found me. Well done. That mentality is what makes you harder to kill.”
They arrived at The Master’s study, which was situated between a verdant garden of bamboo, once they crossed the long corridor.
“Feng Yuge was an outlaw. Forty years ago, he rose to notoriety in Shanbei. For a while, he was without equal. Due to the speed at which he grew, nevertheless, he was singled out and crushed by the orthodox sects’ alliance. He was mighty enough to be considered a candidate for a rank among the Supreme Ten Saints. Alas, he was forgettable owing to his quick rise and downfall.”
The Master set down the scroll in his hand, turned his head and continued, “By the same account, this old one needed to reference the scroll to make sure he was getting his facts right. Perhaps he was on par with the current generation of Supreme Ten Saints and several of the big names in the unorthodox factions. His comrades in arms are no more, either. He had no successor.”
Shen Yiren didn’t seem to feel one way or another about Feng Yuge’s story.
“Lass, if you’re looking for him, you’re wasting your time. I promised to provide you with free information once back then because I hadn’t found the culprit behind your parents’ unfortunate end. It was a waste of an opportunity to inquire about him.”
“Please help me with the second person of interest then.”
“Who?” The Master asked in a tired tone.
The Master shut the book on hand rather loudly whilst looking stoic. “Don’t you feel you’re wasting an opportunity?”
“What makes you say so?”
“Dugu Longzi is a legendary swordsman in the world of swordsmen. More than sixty years ago, he was one of the Supreme Ten Saints and the greatest swordsman of his era, which is a status he held claim to after defeating every other swordsman. In addition to excelling in the realm of swordplay, he is the innovator who established the foundational theories and principles for swordplay in future generations. Every swordsman recognises his name. If you’re going to inquire about him, why not ask about Shaolin’s Dharma or Wudang’s Sanfeng? Don’t you think your query is a waste?”
“You are right. In that case, I shall move on to the third person.”
The Master grumpily sat back down and questioned, “Who?”
The Master let the breeze deliver a melody before he solemnly responded, “Lass… how much do you know, exactly?”
Wudang’s Sanfeng – For the non-avid wuxia/tai chi fan, it’s a reference to Zhang Sanfeng, whom you should know from Jin Yong’s condor trilogy, whom also is the character Jet Li portrays in “Tai Chi Master”, who Wu Yue portrayed in the latest remake of “Tai Chi Master”. I could list a whole bunch more of media he’s been featured in, but I think those are the most well-known instances of Zhang Sanfeng on the screen.