Martial King’s Retired Life – Vol. 13 Ch. 71

Gongsun Chu

While the study located in the bamboo forest barricaded the summer heat, Shen Yiren’s request lit a fire in The Master. “Lass, how much do you know, exactly?”

There were very people who interested The Master and even less people who could evoke concern. Shen Clan was one exception. They had been connected for decades, and he had no intention of severing the connection.

The Master didn’t raise his voice. Even so, his warning was visually and audibly perceptible because there was a stark contrast to his typical communication style. Nevertheless, Shen Yiren’s eyes brightened up.

“Gongsun Chu was a massive Confucian influencer. A century ago, he was tasked with unifying the Confucian schools in the Nine Provinces and oversaw the martial world under orders of the previous dynasty’s ruler. The Emperor named a child his successor. Unable to resolve the crisis around them, the flames of war took hold of the country. Our dynasty’s progenitor, as a scion of a family of soldiers, took up arms to end the people’s suffering and usher in a new era. According to historic records, Gongsun Chu perished in the final stand in the imperial palace. If he were still alive today, he would be a hundred years old.” Like a granddaughter acting coquettish with her grandpa, Shen Yiren picked up the elder’s sleeve and winked. “That is all I know. By your rules, that should be enough for you to share some facts, right?”

“Hmph!” The Master sat back down in his chair, rubbed his face in frustration, then grumbled, “Old Shen sure noted down a lot in his notebook. What kind of person would write that in their diary? You’re a disaster for your descendants.”

Shen Yiren smiled. “Grandpa liked to keep a diary of things he had seen and things that piqued his interest. He also liked to record relevant information and notes for clarification. For every matter mentioned, there’d be several stories to go along with them for context. I used to love reading the stories as just stories.”

The Master knew about those habits even without Shen Yiren mentioning them. The Master and Shen Yiren’s grandpa were close childhood friends, after all. Although both men had a fondness for collecting information, The Master, contrary to his friend, preferred to only dot point key points. He believed all the extra notes were blasphemy to an information collector, and he pulled no punches in letting his old friend know about it.

“You concluded the three people are one and the same person based on the notes?”

“I am here for a conclusive conclusion.” Shen Yiren figured The Master was in a sour mood because he was reminded of his friend, so she couldn’t help smiling. “I have been researching Jiang Chen’s past as I suspect him. I noticed that one of the suspects in one of Tang Clan’s cold cases share traits of Jiang Chen – Feng Yuge. As I dove further into the case, I suspected Jiang Chen and Feng Yuge are the same person. The problem was that Feng Yuge is shrouded in too much history to continue tracing the lead on him, so I went through Grandpa’s notebook for more information. Juxtaposing Feng Yuge and Dugu Longzi, including their swordplay, I found many matching similarities. On Dugu Longzi’s page, Grandpa made numerous notes regarding Gongsun Chu, as well. As Gongsun Chu lived a century ago, Grandpa didn’t have much information. One thing that stuck out to me was that he made a note of Flying Fish on Gongsun Chu’s page.”

Even in the absence of further elaboration, The Master recognised the title “Flying Fish” – the founder of Liu Shan Men, a former number one of The Ultimate Three and an ancestor of Shen Yiren. Flying Fish and Gongsun Chu lived in the same era.

“Having read through Flying Fish’s diary, I can only say… the three of them have too many similarities that it’s hard to believe it’s coincidental. That is why I am here for a definitive answer from you. Your reaction has confirmed my suspicions. If you would, please supply me with all the information on him.”

Following a silence, The Master lit up his pipe for a puff. “Gongsun Chu,” he enunciated in a stoic voice. “Merely mentioning the name is enough to bring the guillotine down upon yourself. Eastern China Sea’s top swordsman would be willing to chase him to the ends of the world. You know about Gongsun Clan?”

Shen Yiren shook her head. She did know Eastern China Sea’s Supreme Swordsman inherited the “Gongsun” surname but knew naught of Gongsun Clan.

“I’m not surprised. Gongsun Clan is but a shell of its former glory. Over a century ago, before Broken Sword Imperial Tomb rose to the top, Gongsun Clan’s swordplay was considered the pinnacle of swordplay. When it comes to understanding swordplay, Gongsun Clan stands atop all else. You shouldn’t be surprised. In saying that, if you recognise Infinity Sword Ground, one of the current three sacred swordplay grounds, then you will know the magnitude of Gongsun Clan’s influence back then.

“Gongsun Chu was the face of Confucianism and the head tutor of the previous dynasty’s imperial family. His tolerant, impartial and just ways earned respect from friends and foes alike. While he was affable, he was firm. To embody both leadership of Confucianism and the status of a supreme swordsman, he can be said to have been unequalled in his era.

“He didn’t die in the final stand in the imperial palace. Or rather, he failed to die. Nobody can make his loyalty to the previous dynasty waver. No one. Alas, one man’s power is limited; one man cannot change the world’s tide. In the end, the dynasty he served fell, and the Li family claimed ownership of the land.

“He had been mostly forgotten by decades later. He doesn’t need to alter his appearance for he doesn’t age. He is a man who has cultivated himself internally and externally. Even if his strength has diminished, his skills with a sword were more than enough to rise to the top of the world of swordsmen again as Dugu Longzi. Many of Confucianism’s swordplay techniques taught today are his creations.”

“I am no longer surprised Principal Huang was no match for him.”

The Master apparently expected that response. He spoke of Gongsun Chu as though he was there with Gongsun Chu at the time. From the rises and falls in his tone, Shen Yiren could tell he admired Gongsun Chu as well as took pity on him.

“Feng Yuge and Jiang Chen are different names of the same person. This old one doesn’t know what he is planning. With that said, whatever it is, it’s nothing minor if he has returned. No matter how much his skills have regressed, someone who has lived for a 140 years and once been the pinnacle martial artists aspired to emulate is no pushover. Think thrice before you try to tackle him.”

The two spoke into the night, and Shen Yiren left after having dinner with The Master.

“You dropped by and are gone again?” The Master sounded as though he didn’t want Shen Yiren to leave.

“Once I have settled this matter, I shall pay you another visit. Take care of yourself so that I can visit you.”

Shen Yiren didn’t speak formally, but The Master preferred her casual manner of speech. It wasn’t difficult to find someone who could speak better than they could write; however, there was only one person who spoke to him in such a casual tone.

“I promised to answer one of your queries, yet you didn’t inquire about your parents’ case.”

“… You know the answer, correct?”

“… That being the case, why did you ask about something else? Wouldn’t it have been better to spend the opportunity on your parents’ case?”

Shen Yiren went silent for a while, then chuckled. “Yeah. Maybe I’ve gone stupid?”

 

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