While their observable techniques differed, the intent and spirit behind each technique was identical. Like a heavy downpour, one exchange immediately followed the next, passing targets by a hair’s breadth. Finally, after more than a hundred exchanges, their wood swords met as loud as a wave crashing onto shore. At that point, they resembled two frozen fossils until one of them decided to exit the strength contest. Their pace went from absolute stillness to multiple afterimages within the blink of an eye, but their movements still didn’t make the slightest sound. It was as if two lights were trying to outshine each other on a clear night.
Ming Feizhen didn’t bother watching because he neither could see their movements clearly, nor could he appreciate what he saw. Nobody could see better than him that, although there only a few metres, there was a clear boundary, a boundary that set apart swordsmen. It wasn’t something he could fathom; he never attempted to for he was aware that he wasn’t a swordsman. He, however, could see the boundary purely because he was born with the perceptiveness.
Ming Feizhen sat there as he hinged everything on Huang Yuzao’s performance. Either he was going home victorious with Huang Yuzao, or he was surrendering his head, as well.
Up until this point, Huang Yuzao and Gongsun Chu’s swords had intersected no more than three times, yet none of them had varied their swordplay once.
The swordplay Gongsun Chu specialised in exceeded Huang Yuzao’s knowledge by an enormous margin. Ignoring the fact that the current Confucian institute was only a branch of the former Confucian institute, the swordplay taught now was only a fraction of the original. Their swordplay techniques were Gongsun Chu’s collective knowledge, if not his creations. To make matters worse for Huang Yuzao, Gongsun Chu also inherited Gongsun Clan’s knowledge. In terms of swordplay knowledge, it’d be insulting to mention them in the same breath.
Huang Yuzao stubbornly insisted that the swordplay he learnt from his shifu would beat Gongsun Chu despite Gongsun Chu being its inventor. He never considered using another swordplay from the moment he issued his challenge.
As the creator of “Principle of Six Swordplay”, Gongsun Chu couldn’t respond with a different swordplay. As such, he didn’t consider utilising another swordplay, either.
The cornerstones of “Principle of Six Swordplay” revolved around “dao”, “virtue”, “nature”, “spirit”, “enlightenment” and “fate”. Nothing in the universe could be without the six. Furthermore, the swordplay progressed from small to large, just as everything in the universe grew from small to large. Its design reflected Gongsun Chu’s mindset when he cared for the wellbeing of the world.
Virtually nobody came close to Huang Yuzao’s comprehension of Principle of Six Swordplay when he had patiently studied it for two decades in every way he could. Alas, it was impossible for him to grasp it better than its creator.
After passing the five hundred exchanges mark, their swords intersected more frequently, showing that one of them was starting to struggle. All else being equal, it was obvious who understood the intent behind each technique better.
Huang Yuzao’s ranges of motion continued to shrink. Meanwhile, Gongsun Chu pulled his brows closer and closer as he sped up.
The next time their swords met, Gongsun Chu clearly had Huang Yuzao at his mercy.
“How many times do you need me to tell you? How could you beat me with what I created? Confucianism ends here due to your arrogance.”
It was perfectly normal for Huang Yuzao to be panting and in pain given he lost his internal energy and was fighting intensely after a long period of inactivity. However, he was frowning because he was contemplating something. Not one part of his expression suggested he was risking his life when he wore the same look as he often did at the academy. Even for his opponent, it was an annoying reaction.
“Who killed my shifu?” Huang Yuzao didn’t mean to question anyone. He merely mumbled aloud a thought on his mind.
The question stupefied Gongsun Chu to the point that he froze for a moment before cracking a helpless smile. “You’re still asking that question in this situation?”
Huang Yuzao continued musing for a moment prior to focusing on Gongsun Chu, then shook his head. “You don’t have what it takes to kill him.”
Gongsun Chu smiled. “What do you mean?”
“I’ve always wondered who could kill my shifu, not to mention without leaving any traces. Not only do they have to be strong, but they also need to be close to him. For those reasons, I suspected you all this time. Despite you having learnt an unorthodox discipline, you still remain very capable, and I stopped questioning myself once you asserted it was you.”
“Indeed, I did say it was me.”
“Indeed, you did say so, but how could it be you?”
Gongsun Chu didn’t get angry over the mumbling and questions that didn’t seem to be for him. “Why not?”
“It wasn’t you.” Huang Yuzao shook his head again. “I believed it was you until just now. Having witnessed your version of Principle of Six Swordplay as well as having exchanged hundreds of blows with you, I’ve come to realise that the culprit couldn’t have been you. You’re too weak… You’re insulting Principle of Six Swordplay with your level.”
Gongsun Chu’s smile disappeared. “What was that?”
“Your Principle of Six Swordplay looks legit, but it’s riddled with mistakes. If your principles are wrong, how can your Principle of Six Swordplay be correct? You can’t even beat me with it when I’m still inferior to my shifu’s level back then, so how could you have killed him?”
Gongsun Chu, finally ticked off, argued with composure, “Reality decides whether I can or can’t.” He raised his wooden sword and brought it down again.
“I just told you that you have it all wrong.”
Their swords continued travelling past each other once again. It was very obvious this time that there were two breezes. Although they blended together, they were distinctly unique. They both had their own interpretations.
This time around, Gongsun Chu ended up with a sword pointed at his throat.
“See? You’re wrong.”