“Hahaha.” Besides melancholy and anger, it also sounded as though Zhuo Fengru was grunting from an old wound opening up. “If this old one denies, you will think lowly of him.” Once he raised his head, his gaze had converted into sharp blades. “Correct. This old one derivedGale Swordplay andConqueror Palms from Xu ClansAerial Flower Divine Seal. Never did this one expect it to be completely meaningless against Fang Clan. It really is a humiliating memory.”
Zhuo Fengru showed no signs of guilt or shame when mentioning how he stole Xu Clans knowledge, but the gaze he cast upon Xu Yanran didnt escape Ming Feizhen. “… The man from Liu Shan Men was right on all accounts,” Ming Feizhen murmured.
“The last timeAerial Flower Divine Seal was seen in the martial world was two hundred years ago, wasnt it Though this old one knows you are well-educated, he never expected to hear the name from you.”
The name of a discipline itself wasnt the basis for anything. As lauded as Repository Theory was, after so many years, save for the progenitors, Luo Sword Manors Repository Sword Theory was the only clan to still able to promote it. An outsider, nevertheless, wouldnt be able to tell which was a new swordplay and which component belonged to the original principles if they were to see Luo Sword Manor disciples perform a series of techniques. Therefore, nobody shouldve remembered a discipline that hadnt been widely practiced for two centuries.
“I certainly didnt think of it. To be frank, I have two people to thank for telling me about the discipline I never heard of.” The first source, naturally, was Kongcang, who notified Master Xu about its resurgence. If the information didnt cost the two Shaolin disciples lives, Ming Feizhen wouldnt have paid particular attention to it. Ming Feizhens second source was Shen Wuzhengs in-depth information on Repository Theory that cleared out the clouds covering Ming Feizhens train of thought. “In saying that, I wasnt just making wild guesses. I dont know anything about it even after musing. If you have time, how about you tell me more.”
Zhuo Fengru glanced at Xu Yanran, then slowly exhaled. “Guess this old one has to explain. As you know, this discipline…”
Nobody saw Zhuo Fengru move an inch, yet a strand of white hair fell from Ming Feizhens head, much to Ming Feizhens confusion and vexation.
“…Xu ClansAerial Flower Divine Seal hasnt been seen for two centuries, and Xu Clan has ceased teaching it from this generation. I diligently trained back then so that I could make my mark in the pugilistic world. Unfortunately, it was extremely difficult without a teacher. Despite believing Im not bad, nobody would take me on as their disciple. Due to my impoverished background, nobody gave me the time of day. Only Brother Xu treated me as a friend. I suffered every kind of humiliation I can think of back then because of my pedigree. I never feared the bullying; I only feared people being nice. Brother Xu was too nice to me…
“On the day he mentioned his familys secret martial arts discipline, I took two of my fingers the next day, avowing to never mention a word about it, and I meant what I said. In my younger days, I was enthusiastic about loyalty, so I never cared for secret manuals, let alone a familys heirloom. Howbeit, it was a fact that I wasnt skilled. Losing two fingers further ruined my chances of ever becoming adept. In turn, I drowned my disillusionment in alcohol at Xu Estate.
“One night, I woke up from one from another session that inebriated me to find myself at Xu Estates cellar. Mayhap I was searching for wine when a servant accidentally locked me in. When I threw a physical tantrum in my drunken stupor, I think I accidentally activated a contraption that opened a hidden door. I ventured into the darkness. To my surprise, I esp-”
“You didnt coincidentally espy the martial arts manual, did you” Ming Feizhen grabbed his head as if he was protecting his hair from a horrible barber. “Thats how you mastered the skills to become a revered adept Come on now.”
“I saw a huge black stone tablet.”
“I didnt recognise the Chinese character on the tablet until I learnt from a book later on that it was readIntelligence. Extrapolating from the books description, the tablet had to have existed for more than a millennium, yet its appearance indicated it was brand new. It was like… it was in a different dimension. The stack of books beside the tablet was covered in dust inches thick. The moment I finished reading the first page, I knew I couldnt put it down because it was my saviour… If you guessed it was the martial arts manual, youre correct.
“By the time I regained awareness of my surroundings, I had already finished reading one book. Ever since then, I sneaked in to Xu Estates cellar every night to read… until I memorised every character. You already know what happened thereafter. The Zhuo Fengru before you now is the Zhuo Fengru who made his second attempt at making his mark.”
Ming Feizhen fiddled with his chin.
“Whats everyone doing Holding a meeting” Kongkonger asked from outside.
“Please come in. How did it go”
Kongkonger came in with his lips curled. “Xin Buyi almost arrested me! Thank heavens for the item you gave me. He had his teeth clenched when he released me.”
“So what happened in the end”
“Hahaha, as you predicted, Young Hero Ming.”
Zhuo Fengru looked to Ming Feizhen for answers.
Ming Feizhen smiled. “Prior to throwing the bouquet, I asked the legendary thief to request a favour from Liu Shan Men. One of the things I had Liu Shan Men do was investigate your family. Seeing as they have been monitoring your family for a good length of time, they must be familiar with your family. Specifically, I asked them to find out when your estate in Yichang was constructed, when you became a resident, what year your son was born and how many times you visited Xu Clan annually. Initially, I thought I was being too imaginative. Now that I think about what you just told me, my conjecture does not sound so outlandish.”
“… You are very astute, but did you ever think about this”