“Ming Feizhen!” Jiang Chen almost knocked himself over with his roar. “You… What is Ouyang Xiucai doing?!”
“Oh, him?” Ming Feizhen set his plate down on the coffin lid and took his sweet time licking the grease off his fingers. “I hate to sound like I’m lecturing you, but you really need to do better research. You ordered him of all people to kill me? Do you know what our relationship is?”
Ming Feizhen shook his head as if he was disillusioned with a student.
Yesterday, Ming Feizhen leaned back on the wall as he awaited the finishing blow. Elise and company were on the other end of the underground palace holding back the Fiends’ Genesis group, and the only person who could move about freely was Ouyang Xiucai. Poisons, hidden weapons, provocations, mind games, none of them were effective against Ouyang Xiucai, nor could any of them deter him. For those reasons, Ming Feizhen realised his only option was to use the card he had been holding on to.
“What… did you just say?” Ouyang Xiucai never imagined he’d take it upon himself to pause his attack or that he’d be stunned stiff for so long after hearing Ming Feizhen’s short question. The longer he scanned Ming Feizhen, the more Ming Feizhen’s face fit the image of a certain white-haired youth. Even his tone of speech felt increasingly identical.
The fact that Ming Feizhen was still alive proved to him that the card he held onto was effective, so he asked again, “Is your dad, Zhuo Fengru, still well?”
In response to the change on Ouyang Xiucai’s face, Ming Feizhen cracked a smile that didn’t belong to Wu Ping, Lord San Shen, or the schemer Jiang Chen ordered the death of. Ouyang Xiucai recognised the authentic smile that he hadn’t seen in a long time.
“Long-time no see, Zhuo Yupin.”
Had he heard that name before he saw the smile, Ouyang Xiucai – or rather, the swordsman going by the name Ouyang Xiucai – would’ve instantly killed the speaker on the spot. After all, what good will could someone possibly be harbouring if they were aware of his secret, yet they never mentioned it?
“Are you really…”
“My name’s Ming Feizhen. I whooped you several times back then. Need I say anything else?”
Ouyang Xiucai dropped to his knees. “Zhuo Yupin’s humble greetings, Hero Ming! Please allow this one to give you the bow he never had the chance to give you for saving his family!”
Zhuo Yupin was actually a bearer of the “Xu” surname and an inheritor of the one of the six Repository Theories. Guilt-ridden after learning Xu Clan’s discipline without permission, Zhuo Fengru, a man who once had a hand in assisting the Western Regions’ Lotus Cult’s Lord Miguo cause grief in the Central Plain, swapped his daughter for Xu Clan’s son so that he could pass on the knowledge to the rightful heir. Instead of bearing a grudge after learning Zhuo Fengru wasn’t his actual father, Zhuo Yupin treated the man who raised him with even more gratitude.
After Zhuo Fengru retired to the Western Regions’ with his family of four, Zhuo Yupin diligently studied under Zhuo Fengru, changed his name to Ouyang and established himself as someone deserving of respect through his adventures in the Western Regions.
Zhuo Fengru had no qualms with his daughter staying in the Western Regions, but he didn’t want Xu Clan’s knowledge to be lost to history, so he told Zhuo Yupin to return to the Central Plain for self-development and that he could use the Xu surname whenever he deemed appropriate.
Zhuo Yupin insisted on bearing the Zhuo surname, but he switched to using Ouyang so that he could protect Zhuo Fengru’s peace. The surname swap was the reason nobody ever managed to find out his history, not even Jiang Chen.
After his heartfelt bow, Ouyang Xiucai helped Ming Feizhen up from the ground. “I apologise for my rashness. Hero Ming, why are you h-, no, more importantly, why did you never tell me your true identity?”
Although Zhuo Yupin and Ming Feizhen didn’t start off on the right foot, all grudges were erased after Ming Feizhen saved his family from Miguo. Moreover, Zhuo Fengru often applauded Ming Feizhen and expressed regret that Zhuo Yupin didn’t have more time to learn from Ming Feizhen. Of course, he frequently stressed that Zhuo Yupin was to help Ming Feizhen in any way he could to repay all Ming Feizhen did for them.
“You still haven’t told me how Elder Zhuo is doing.”
“Though he has not fought since retiring to the life of a recluse, his love for martial arts has taken him to new heights. He has always been well in health.”
“He was already strong back then. I really want to see him now. Tell him I’d like to catch up with him over some drinks.”
Ming Feizhen recognised Zhuo Yupin from the first time they met in the underground palace, and that was also the same moment he began plotting to bring Zhuo Yupin onto his side. If he hadn’t been backed into a corner, he never would’ve exposed Zhuo Yupin since the latter was never a threat to him.
“Ming Feizhen!” Jiang Chen didn’t have the faintest idea why Ouyang Xiucai would spare Ming Feizhen and how Ming Feizhen could be in the sacred place without as much as a bruise. It no longer mattered, nevertheless, as Ming Feizhen had desecrated his wife’s tomb. “Get down from there!”
“Fine, geez.” Ming Feizhen begrudgingly hopped off, still holding onto the snapped sword. “Wait, I can’t leave my chicken behind.” He clumsily turned around to grab the plate, resulting in grease sullying the coffin.
“I’m going to kill you!”