Face to Face
The scholar took his time finding a seat. He performed every motion incredibly slowly, but there was no pause at any point. He didn’t utter a word or do anything that stood out, but the imposing aura he emanated continued to intensify.
The loud snore of the guest at the neighbouring table created an atmosphere akin to an imminent storm that had everyone on their toes. As she couldn’t bear with the tension, Mountain Monster slammed her table, halving it upon impact. As a result, the ambience went back to normal.
“What the hell is that pretty boy?” grouched Mountain Monster.
“Scholar scum,” quietly answered Shen Yiren.
“I could tell with just a glance. Not a single scholar acting dignified is good news.”
“This one, in particular, is bad. Don’t praise him now.”
The scholar chuckled under his breath. “It is obvious you both have an issue with this one. Perhaps it is rude, but he would like to invite you to join him at his table.”
“Fine by me.” Mountain Monster fearlessly strutted up to Jiang Chen and sat down opposite him. “You think I’m scared of you. Tell me what you want.”
“This one does not recognise you. May he ask you to introduce yourself?”
Jiang Chen liked Mountain Monster’s reaction. He deliberately tried to override the harmonious atmosphere when he entered. If his foe couldn’t resist the urge to attack him as a means of stopping it, they’d be walking into his trap. You could say it was a way of gaining the upper hand before even throwing a strike. However, she evened out their auras with her table break and then further pushed him back with her verbal tirade. While it lacked finesse, it certainly was effective.
“The name is Gui Laimeng. I’m not associated with any sect. It’s too late for you to start sucking up to daddy now.”
Jiang Chen bobbed his head. “Judging from your palm strike just now, it derives from Beijiang’s style – combining softness and rigidness. Your internal energy cultivation is certainly praiseworthy. The stuff on the table is equipment for a disguise, correct? Beijiang’s Evil Spirits group happens to use this internal discipline. Among the four, only Mountain Monster is well-versed in the art of disguise. I apologise for not recognising you at first, Miss Mountain Monster.”
Mountain Monster found herself unable to bite back. She never expected Jiang Chen to identify her from a single strike.
Shen Yiren made her way over and sat down beside Mountain Monster.
Jiang Chen felt the gaze in his young foe resembled that of someone he knew in the past. She had the gaze of someone who’d seen what hell truly was yet was still willing to choose the hardest road without an ounce of quit. Every competitor who shared that gaze was worthy of him going all out to eliminate for they would eliminate him instead, otherwise.
“You finally decided to personally take action?”
“I have to. It is the only way to show due respect. Miss Shen, your family would be proud to see you as you are now. Your late father was called ‘Official Spirit’ and was hailed as Li Yong’s most capable personal warrior. I have always held him in high regard. Life is truly fickle.”
“If he were still here, your tricks wouldn’t have achieved anything. Enough with the tripe. This is our first meeting, isn’t, Jiang Chen? Or should I address you as Gongsun Chu?”
Jiang Chen’s sudden hostile aura change almost prompted Mountain Monster to draw her sword to guard herself, but she realised she didn’t even know where to start defending once she had a brief moment to think. It would’ve been her defeat if they were to actually fight right then and there. In comparison, Shen Yiren’s demeanour almost made it seem as though she was oblivious to the change.
The hostility vanished within a split second following its surge. Jiang Chen’s dilated pupils gave away the fact that he was genuinely riled up as a product of Shen Yiren’s question. Nevertheless, he quickly recomposed himself back to his prior self.
“Where did you hear that name from, Miss Shen?”
“I like reading gossip and letting my mind run wild. You’re not exactly secretive. The only thing that catches people off guard is your lifespan that is abnormally long compared to the average person. If you can accept that as being reasonable, then it’s not hard to decipher who you are. You know what my surname is.”
Jiang Chen let out a long exhale. “Shen Yu was an obstacle to my plans back then. I never imagined he’d spoil my plans again after so many years.”
Shen Yu, founder of Liu Shan Men, led the first generation of The Ultimate Three as Feiyu – Flying Fish.
“My ancestor showed great respect for you in his notebook. Having said that, he also stated that, for as long as you were alive, the world would never enjoy peace and prosperity. Based on your deeds following his time, it’s evident that he was right.”
“It is an honour to receive adulation from him. Your ancestor thwarted my attempt to infiltrate the palace and assassinate Li Wuming. The three of us fought three times and only slightly gained an upper hand. I suppose he was Li Wuming’s favourite lapdog for a reason.”
“I see you are without shame.” Shen Yiren didn’t care for the insinuation that he was the superior fighter. “The reality is, you couldn’t kill my ancestor; you couldn’t kill any Emperor of Li Clan. All you managed to do was kidnap a Prince like a sore loser. My ancestor supported the country and lives of the people. On the other hand, you possess skills and knowledge that people envy, yet you have only employed them to cause harm. It’s shameless for you to compare yourself to my ancestor.”
Despite Shen Yiren pulling Jiang Chen down enough pegs to level the playing field, he didn’t let it bother him.
“There is a lot you have yet to learn. This one dares not accuse you of being wrong. It is merely a case of us serving different masters to their best of our abilities.”
“Indeed. We are both acting for the sake of our masters. Since we are both carrying out undertakings, it is merely a questionable of who lives longer. Gongsun Chu, I know your secret and will publicise it. What are you going to do about it?”