I walked out of Eight Deities with the halved piece of jade. I never expected Jingan to assign Tianhu to my life. I discerned at first glance that the person who broke the piece of jade broke it using Mount Daluo’s martial arts. I couldn’t identify who it was, but the amount of force required to break the jade piece would require them to have mastered Mount Daluo’s Castoff.
Based on Jingan’s recount, I was quite confident in my conjecture of how it happened. Tianhu must’ve jumped into the battlefield while they were fighting, and some piece of crap sneak attacked Tianhu using Mount Daluo’s skills. Tianhu probably didn’t make a big deal out of it on account of them being from Mount Daluo, but he didn’t know they broke his possession and pinched half of it. The assailant didn’t show their real face. Instead, they posed as me to create a misunderstanding.
Since Jingan had spies in Fiends’ Genesis and Nanjiang, she learnt about Tianhu testing and suspecting me – as well as his enmity towards me. If someone with my appearance attacked him to protect Young Shiyi and, as a consequence, broke his most treasured possession, then he’d come back to me looking for revenge.
I only had one complaint. I couldn’t care less how hard it was for them to find the actor; at least get your facts right. I never even learnt Castoff! Where would you find someone remotely as handsome as me to pose as me?! Everyone knew I didn’t know a lick of Mount Daluo’s disciplines!
I wanted to learn Castoff; it was Mount Daluo’s signature internal discipline, after all. Whether you slashed, stabbed, punched or slapped, everybody would recognise you were Hero Shenzhou’s disciple if you used Castoff. Before my shifu reduced Mount Daluo’s reputation to its current tragic state, you just had to give them a tiny taste of Castoff, and allies would bow down in reverence, while hostiles would dig themselves holes. It was the equivalent of flashing an Emperor’s token.
Besides Sixth, no members of Mount Daluo dared to utilise Castoff anymore, and they’d keep a low profile if they had to. If allies heard, they’d come chasing after them to demand alcohol and brothel debts. If enemies heard, they’d gather their brothers for a war. Therefore, I didn’t care for it now. Back then, though, I was a diehard fan of it and even pestered Shifu to teach it to me.
Back then, Shifu puffed out a breath of smoke from his pipe, narrowed his eyes and replied, “Why do you want to learn it? Its name itself is a tell-tale sign that it’s bad luck. Castoff, Castoff, casting off life for success. What’s being cast off? The disaster it is, is being cast off. Shut up. No learning Castoff. If you have time to waste on it, spend that time practicing our sect’s Yijin Jing, Tai Chi… Just learn other stuff, okay? Leave me alone now. I’m busy thinking… Red dragon!”
Whenever I thought of Castoff nowadays, I’d also imagine a red dragon mah-jong hand.
Tianhu only left for Beiping a few days ago, so the jade issue was recent. They worked incredibly fast considering they already delivered the jade back to the capital. Assuming the jade was TIanhu’s and the story was genuine, then Tianhu was most probably already on his way back for me.
If Jingan sent someone connected to her to kill me, then Mount Daluo would eventually trace it back to her. Tianhu, on the other hand, was on the imperial court’s side, thereby reducing her damage to the absolute minimum. That being said, it was unwise for her to opt to kill me now of all times. Though she had tried an assortment of assassination methods in the past three years, she never attempted any of them with absolute determination to kill me. At most, she wanted me close enough to death that she could preserve my crippled body in a vat or something.
Mount Daluo hadn’t weakened just because we’d been keeping to ourselves for many years. If Grandmaster and Shifu were to come down from the mountain, the number of people who could handle them… Just know I wouldn’t be able to handle them. Jingan must’ve known this fact, so it perplexed me as to why she’d be in a rush to kill me. It still didn’t make it reasonable if it was on account of me being defenceless. Rather than kill me, wouldn’t it have been a better opportunity to marinate me in a vat of soy sauce and vegetables? The risk to return on investment ratio was terrible. Nevertheless, the fact that Tianhu had been assigned the task of assassinating me meant that she was determined to have me killed.
I didn’t have the foggiest idea what Jingan’s group was plotting behind everyone’s back, much less know what happened to spur them into suddenly wanting my life. Maybe I found out something that became a hindrance to their agenda?
“Benefactor, are you all right?”
“It just that you have been sitting in a squat at the door for ages. How about coming inside?”
I didn’t even realise I was crouching at the entrance of Eight Deities until Gu Xianxian pointed it out. Teng and company gave me a smile when I entered, seemingly impressed with how I managed to settle Zhao Tiankui.
“You seem to be troubled,” expressed, Gu Xianxian.
Trying my best to ease their unease, I tried to sound as casual as possible as I answered, “I’m fine. It’s just that Tianhu is coming for my life.”
It was suddenly so quiet that I could even hear the breeze outside.
“What?” I asked.
“What do you mean, ‘What’?! Do you know who Tianhu is?!”
Some guy who has to let me wash his hair with manure?
Lang Qing: “The debt may be written off.”
Teng: “They say all debts are off when a man is dead. The saying is very reasonable.”
“Most importantly, can you beat him? Are you not history if he attacks you?”
I wagged my hand. “I’ve been through all sorts of hells. I don’t care even if he’s The Apex Ultimate Three.”
The group began whispering amongst each other.
“Will it really be all right?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Shall we leg it?”
“Will we make it?”
“Wouldn’t it be shameful to betray him?”
“He’s dead meat. The best we can do is come back to offer essence.”
The three of them then came back to me acting innocent. “Benefactor, we have something to tell you.”
“Eight Deities’ food nice?” Taking advantage of their stumped reactions, I continued, “Yuan Kou ate it, and so did you three.”
The three of them looked depressed and enraged, especially Gu Xianxian.
“Your wife is pregnant.” I wagged my hand. “You’re too paranoid. I wouldn’t poison her.” Right when Gu Xianxian and his wife swapped their negative opinion of me for a good one, I added, “What good is she? She can leave whenever she wants.”
I’ve been paying for your wife’s food and living, yet she hasn’t produced any results – except for your kid. I’d have kicked her out if it wasn’t for the fact that she had nowhere else to go.
“Relax. It’s not like assassins will jump through the window any second. Will there be any end to it if you start worrying already?”
I had just finished reassuring them when a blast of qi came slicing down from the ceiling.
“An assassin really is here! Run!” cried Gu Xianxian.