Grounds for a Showdown
Gongsun Chu’s eyes were bloodshot. Despite his lack of internal energy, every step he took, he staggered forward with conviction and hostility. It was as though his fatigue and anger had overruled his rationality as he drew the short sword in his shirt. Never in his wildest dreams did he think he’d have to swing a weapon in the sacred zone, his late wife’s resting place and his ideal final resting place. By the same account, he never imagined anyone would see the flames and coffin before him. He never even had the chance to see his wife’s final moment. He was robbed of almost all his hope when Daxia collapsed; the last thing he expected was this sort of unwelcome reunion.
As ironic as it was, Gongsun Chu’s anger was justified in the revenge plot. If it wasn’t his wife who was the victim, he’d have laughed at the contrast between reality and what he imagined. He couldn’t, though, because anyone who entered the sacred place was deserving of death, let alone one who showed absolutely no hint of shame.
Ming Feizhen flinched when he noticed Gongsun Chu lean forward, had a think, jogged forward again, then supposedly thought of something, so he raised the plate and hopped his bottom back onto the coffin. “Stop right where you are! If I drop this, it’s going to be a nightmare to clean the grease off!”
Nobody would think such a childish trick would work against one of the most revered men in the history of Confucianism, yet Gongsun Chu halted in his tracks because he couldn’t and wouldn’t forgive himself if anything ever so slightly sullied his late wife’s coffin. He had lost his country, master, family, friends, lover and martial skills. The only meaningful things he had left in his life were his damaged body and wife’s tomb; there was no way he was going to lose her tomb, as well.
As soon as he saw the bitter dilemma on Gongsun Chu’s face, Ming Feizhen cried, “My hand is slipping! Whoa! My hand is shaking so much that I can’t control it! Step back!”
Gongsun Chu gave Ming Feizhen a vengeful glare. If he could’ve burnt Ming Feizhen, the entire place would be barren blackness already. Regrettably, his shameless foe had identified his weakness, while he had yet to find any openings to exploit.
Ming Feizhen knocked on the coffin with the broken sword. “Hurry up now.”
With his teeth clamped together as tightly as his grip on his sword, Gongsun Chu backed off. The moment Ming Feizhen dropped his guard, there was no mistake he would take Ming Feizhen to hell with him if it was the last thing he did.
Ming Feizhen wiped his sweatless forehead and curled his hair. “That’s more like it. We’re both gentlemen, so let’s talk this out.”
“Shut up! The only way this will be settled is if one of us dies.”
“Kill yourself then!”
“You asked for it!”
“Hey, hey, stay where you are! I’ll pour this oil onto the coffin and set it alight. Trust me: even though she’s just bones now, she’ll smell aromatic!”
Even when his rage had blinded him, Gongsun Chu was smart enough to calm himself right away before there was no salvaging the situation. The reason why Ming Feizhen was in the room was no longer of importance. What mattered was how to get rid of him. He was able to quickly recall Ming Feizhen’s flinch from moments ago, but he wasn’t the only one using his head.
“What do you think you’re doing, pointing a blade at me, huh? Put it on the ground.” Without giving Gongsun Chu time to think, Ming Feizhen heavily tapped the coffin with the snapped sword again. “Or I’ll have to reduce her to ashes.”
After all of Gongsun Chu’s efforts to calm himself, the threat undid all his efforts. Suppressing his urge to plunge his short sword through Ming Feizhen’s throat, he slowly crouched down. In that small timespan, he had figured out how Ming Feizhen entered the room.
The group at Ksana Temple were required to unlock Speechless lock – same as Pain of Parting lock. Had it not been for the assistance of Mount Daluo’s most senior disciple, though, they wouldn’t have been able to unlock the locks. There was no point mulling over how someone who had their scapula pierced and lost all their internal energy could accomplish the feat. After all, what benefit would it serve besides warning Gongsun Chu to not underestimate his opponent? There were likely people in the underground palace who aided him, which was particularly admirable considering he hardly had a bargaining chip that came to mind. Someone who could convert people similar to a sun lighting up darkness with its mere appearance was dangerous.
The unknowing Ming Feizhen continued tapping on the coffin. “Don’t act the fool with me! Th-throw the blade farther away!”
“… What’s the issue with it being close?”
As he slowly set his weapon down, Gongsun Chu queried, “Where are they?”
“In the underground palace.”
“Man, so you can speak without yelling. Can we not do the whole threaten-to-kill-you thing when we’re both people of prestigious standing, especially when I can’t beat you?” Ming Feizhen clumsily got off the other side of the coffin with his plate still in hand. “They’re gone. All of them. You think they’d hang around when I’ve found the exit?”
“… You’re lying. You wouldn’t know where the exit is.”
Ming Feizhen casually pointed out the location of the exit as if it was never a secret.
Following a silence, Gongsun Chu restored the frigidness to his eyes. “They’re all gone? Then why are you still here? Are you… not afraid of death?”