Give me a sec…
I think it was… ten years ago? That was when innocent me was blindly running around in the pugilistic world and was led astray. I couldn’t tell you the details even you put a blade up to my neck because I couldn’t even remember what I did on which day when so many things happened. Long-story short, those were my wild years of youth. Those days, I was a tad-slightly-just-a-little unstable.
At the time, I felt I had completed my training and believed I was unstoppable, so I eschewed a condescending attitude. I’d walk out the door believing I was the man with the strongest arms, the man with the greatest charm and the man who could do the most harm. Since I had my junior brothers following me, I believed the entire world was my domain after a few drinks. Patriarchs, matriarchs, shifus, cult leaders, sect leaders, world leaders, I believed I could drop one with one punch and two with one kick. When I was in a good mood, I’d show some respect. When I wasn’t in a good mood, they had to call me “Daddy”!
My chunnibyou days didn’t last for long, but I did commit a number of wild deeds, such as using a slingshot to shoot the plaque of Shaolin’s Buddhist Texts Library, lathering Wudang’s statue with mud, divulging my shifu’s whereabouts, pissing into a sandstorm with Ximen Chuideng… Just, you know, not virtuous stuff. As if that wasn’t enough, scoundrels around me sowed discord, leading to yours great truly losing his way.
Every great master since the beginning of time had to create his own martial arts to leave his mark in history. Grandmaster had Daluo’s Five Divine Styles Manual, and Shifu had Heavenly Net Sacred Records. If people discovered I was still relying solely on my shifu’s teachings and other disciplines I learnt via unscrupulous means to make a name for myself, they’d laugh themselves to death. As such, I manifested the desire to create a never-before-seen-historic-unmatched-evil-spirit-scaring-god-staring-heaven-shaking-earth-trembling-explosive martial arts discipline. However, as you could see from my description, due to my lack of liter-, experience due to young age, I couldn’t think of where to start after several days of hard thinking.
I could use a decent number of disciplines, but it was dreadfully difficult to create a new discipline when later generations of Mount Daluo copied our predecessors’ works, but I had held the wolf by its ears; I couldn’t compromise my credibility after all my talk, right? For that reason, I synthesised all the skills I could utilise to create the blade techniques.
Everyone clapped with disappointment until I performed the techniques seven times consecutively. That was when they finally unanimously admitted it was a never-before-seen-historic-unmatched-evil-spirit-scaring-god-staring-heaven-shaking-earth-trembling-explosive set of blade techniques. Later on, I learnt that all their praise was just lip service and that they thought I was pathetic, so I unfriended them.
Everyone has been young once, so let’s not talk about our childish times, okay?
Once I had a few more years to mature and read more, my literacy l-, experience levels caught up, when I was adept with the pen as I was with the sword, I came up with the epic-explosive Seven King Strings!
Tell me now that I’m illiter-, inexperienced!
Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Although the usage method differed, I only created the one set.
I believed Lang Qing improved by leaps and bounds after learning the techniques given it was a never-before-seen-historic-unmatched… heaven-shaking-earth-trembling-explosive set of blade techniques. However, I remembered my knowledge was not that m-, a lot lower than it was at present, so I couldn’t understand how I could’ve possibly written so much text… that was actually even comprehensible. A manual? That was impossible for me to author. Everyone on Mount Daluo knew I mistook swordplay manuals for broadswordplay manuals and mistook broadswordplay manuals for recipe books. The only thing you’d become through studying my broadswordplay manual would be an excellent chef. Jin Dagang’s corpse was still warm, yet here we had another broadsword freak. I didn’t even know what year Lang Qing referred to. Moreover, even if Lang Qing did somehow pick up a broadswordplay manual I somehow managed to write, that didn’t explain why the masked assassin shared the same techniques.
“How should I know?!” grouched Lang Qing. “His techniques and the way you snatched my weapon from me is identical. Although the visual appearance was different, the amount of force and method of applying force were identical. How could they be so similar if the mental cultivation was different?”
Yes, I did use my original skill to disarm Lang Qing, but it was effortless because his technique derived from mine. It was basically taking back what was originally mine.
If the masked assassin’s technique derives from the same source, then… did he also pick up the manual? Is his version more sophisticated because he knows more of it compared to Lang Qing?
That doesn’t make sense, though… Sure, my techniques were explosive, but they had nothing to do with heaven’s dao. That proved that the masked assassin learnt his martial arts from somewhere else that had nothing to do with me. In other words, in addition to training my discipline, he trained a discipline related to the research of heaven’s dao. The conclusion just led me back to the starting point.
There were reasonable grounds for me to suspect Bai Yumo and Bai Laimu. On top of their affiliation, the fact that Zuo Suniang planned to bring in elites meant that the assassin could very well be a part of them. So, in the end, the Seven Champion White Princes were still the prime suspects.
Lang Qing said, “I assumed you two were fellow disciples, but now I have no clue since he wants your life.”
“Stop thinking. The carriage has arrived.”
Yuan Kou and Zhao Tiankui entered.
Zhao Tiankui saluted me with a cupped-fist salute. “My respects, Duke Ming.”
Boy, was I glad to see Yuan Kou. No matter how tough the masked assassin was, surely he couldn’t slip past Zhao Tiankui and Lang Qing, right? By the time he was locked up with them, the Qilin Guards would have enough time to arrive on the scene.
“Brother Zhao, you need to be on 120% alert level!” I commanded.
Zhao Tiankui. “120%?”
“As high as you can go. Protect me with everything you have! You don’t have to worry about anything else!”
Teng, Gu Xianxian, Ning Zhuoru and even Yuankou reactively glued themselves to me.
… Fine. Better to have meat shields than nothing at all. Your lives, not mine.
The short journey from Eight Deities to Daren Academy went without a hitch. I felt a weight off my shoulders once we entered the academy. Besides the skilled security detail on the academy grounds, Uncle Huang’s direct senior disciple, He Kanyu, who was said to have reached Quasi-Divine was also around. Still, I told them to tighten up security. Thankfully, the first day of the idol competition had ended, so the team wasn’t too spread out.
When I met Tang Ye, I asked him how things were going.
“We have a bit of a problem,” answered Tang Ye. “Che Gulu’s group basically competed for last place in mathematics, but Xiao Han won when it seemed that Song Chi’s group would win.”
“Su Xiao’s calculations were so on point?!”
“I guess. Xiao Han said he was good at mathematics before he left home to be begin with and had expanded his knowledge under Miss Jin’s tutorship.”
That explains how Su Xiao suddenly had so many ploys and deployed them so skilfully. Why didn’t His Majesty send Xiao to the Ministry of Revenue to study when Xiao has a photographic memory? He probably could’ve cooked the books to make me some extra dozens of thousands of pocket money.
“In short, we are at an advantage at the moment; I guess we’ll see how the next two rounds go. Right now, though, there is something more important.” The most important thing at the moment was determining if the Seven Champion White Princes were allies of the masked assassin. “Ling Mabi around?”
“Why are you asking about him? He’s not around; I haven’t seen him once today.”
… What? Besides being vain and looking useless, that lame guy is useless. Is he actually Sword Deity’s secret disciple? Is Sword Deity’s vision impaired or something? His choice in disciples is worse than my grandmaster’s.
“Stop where you are!”
I left my mental plane to see Lan Jiqiong chasing Ling Mabi right past me.
“How dare you peep on students bathing on the academy grounds?! It’s wrong to peep on female students, but you peeped on male students!” raged Lan Jiqiong, racing after Ling Mabi like a mad bull.
“It was for love! Love!”
Probably every corner of Daren Academy heard Ling Mabi’s proclamation.
Once they were out of sight, Tang Ye pulled his clothing tighter around his body and muttered, “No wonder why he was nowhere to be seen today.”
I take back what I said. There was no way Ling Mabi was Sword Deity’s disciple. He’d never learn from a sword deity; the only deity he’d learn from was the sick-pervert deity! I, therefore, figured the Seven Champion White Princes weren’t guilty of targeting me.
“Is Bai Yumo around?” I queried.
Phew. Glad to know I was overthink-
“She just came back; she pretty much returned right before you did.”