Volume 12 Chapter 00 Prologue About View Page Source Additional Resources Visitor Testimonials
“You and I have many questions. Today’s show in the capital shall provide insight. When a man says ‘one’, he should mean ‘one’. When a man says ‘two’, he should mean ‘two’. Speaking of two, his second son had the audacity to lie to his father and plotted his father’s assassination with unorthodox factions. Don’t you find it strange?
“Orange Prince attempted to corner the son of heaven and even bestowed himself the title Chengkong, showing his intent to arrogate the throne. Luckily, our dynasty does not lack warriors who are willing to take a stand for what is right.
“First, there was Emperor’s Entourage’s Hupo. Second, there were the brave Qilin Guards. Third, we will have to talk about Liu Shan Men, the office where men struggle to keep up with the women. Not only did she embody captivating beauty but also exceptional judgement. Among the many talented individuals under her command, there was, was, was, who, you ask? Patience, sir. I shall get there.
“The tall man I speak of goes by the name Ming Feizhen. He couldn’t accomplish anything significant on Mount Daluo, but he added one merit after another next to his name in the capital thanks to Shen Yiren.
“When His Majesty met with Ming Feizhen in Jinluan Palace, he stroked his beard and sternly questioned, “What gives thee the confidence to seek employment in the imperial court?”
“Eh? What skills does Ming Feizhen possess? I shall tell you. I do not wish to speak to bystanders.
“Ming Feizhen knows how to wield blades. What blades? Broadswords, double broadswords, tiger-head broadswords, wild-goose broadsword, dancing arm flower broadsword, wind-cutter broadsword, shaver broadsword, Heavenly Dragon Slaying Sabre, Green Dragon Crescent Blade, madao, kandao, jiedao, yidao, straight broadsword, hook broadsword, the wind-cutter blade, Dog Cutter, Donkey Cutter, the shiny Dragon Cutter, Boar Slayer, Nose-Hair Cutter, pocket blade and the Turbulent-Times-Diving-Dragon-Tiger-Roar-Dragon-Roar-Thunder-Clap-Invincible-Heavenly-Pillar-I-Slept-Him-For-Three-Days-Daobitao Blade!
“His Majesty grabbed his chest and gasped, jumped up, flicked up a thumb and declared, ‘Good, great, excellent, spectacular, splendid!’ Henceforward, he always kept Ming Feizhen by his side. One day, he said to Mingming, ‘Let us head to Jiangnan,’ I mean, ‘Nanjiang’.
“He laughed in the face of Nanjiang’s insurgence. Safeguarding His Majesty was but child’s play for someone skilled, equipped with weapons, erudite, quick-witted and experienced. Throughout the mission, he constantly shed his old self to rise to new heights, won fight after fight, went from low-ranking constable to duke, never relying on flukes. That is the catalyst behind today’s party, where officials from every department are here to get friendly, but it is not a scene you can see just because you want to see. People on the streets are dying to see him be beat. I promised my wife to go line up for the meet and greet, so I need to bounce before the one who’s beat is me. Goodbye to thee.
“Concierge Shi, enjoy. Two more plates of braised pork shoulders over here.”
“Take your time, Mr. Ming. This one is going to go join the fun today.”
“What’s there to see? I guarantee you won’t see squat in the group.”
“Even if this one cannot see him, he can see others.”
“Concierge, Luo Ming has arrived!”
“Oh my, oh my, oh my! Heavenly Swordsman has arrived! Ladies and gentlemen, come on over! Let me share my philosophy on success and failure. Do not rush. Do not be surprised…”
A while later, the silent young man mumbled, “… Enjoy the view of flowers on the eaves,” then knocked back the cup of wine he was shaking.
Early summer’s sunrays split the clouds. The morning dew had nearly all been but a part of last night’s history. Leaves were adrift in their next journey after leaving home.
While bugs took flight, children came out to use the bugs’ shelters as hiding spots for another game of hide and seek while there was still a cool breeze.
Had it not been for the summer ruckus, Luo Ming would’ve preferred to sleep for a little longer. Nevertheless, enjoying a bowl of sour plum soup in the dining hall was a pleasant way to pass time in its own way. Sour plum soup was nothing rare, but it was rare to see someone enjoy it with ice due to the steep price of ice. Back home, he’d have breakfast prepared, but he and his family had to prepare breakfast themselves in the capital. No matter, for, despite them being more particular than ordinary families, their palates weren’t difficult to please.
Luo Ming changed into a red robe with a lion sewn onto the left and a crane on the right – the uniform to see His Majesty. Luo Siming greeted his father after his father’s breakfast.
“Have the sour plum soup while it’s chilled, but don’t let the porridge go cold,” instructed Luo Ming.
As he referenced his appearance in a copper mirror, Luo Ming asked, “Have you trained this morning yet?”
“I noticed some errors with your Repository Sword techniques; seek your second uncle’s guidance later. Don’t overlook small problems, or they may grow into big problems, just like forging a sword.”
Luo Ming left his son with a few more instructions, then set out for the imperial palace.
Although the Emperor leaving the palace was meant to be a covert operation, there was no way he could return to the capital inconspicuously, not after people caught wind of Heavenly Swordsman and his contributions to quashing the unrest in Nanjiang, forged friendship with Tiezhen’s royalty and Morcher’s Queen, in addition to the figurative fruits he brought back through assisting other states. For that reason, there were ubiquitous clusters of people on the streets.
Luo Ming leisurely strode toward the palace, seemingly not minding the people’s curious gazes on him.
Tianhu emerged up ahead, but it seemed as though Luo Ming was the only person who could see him. “Welcome, Heavenly Swordsman,” Tianhu jovially greeted.
Although chief contributors to the campaign in the south and high-ranking officials were in attendance at today’s celebratory banquet, rewards weren’t the only things scheduled to be handed out. In order to reward, punishments had to come first, and first in line were high-ranking officials who were in hot water. Among the few in Huzhou and Nanjiang’s campaigns, nobody committed graver crimes than Luo Ming.
Red Prince effectively censored the crimes Luo Ming was culpable for, demonstrating his capacity as state proctor. In turn, many were taken aback upon learning of the crimes Luo Ming committed. Even so, Luo Ming appeared indifferent to the gazes on him as he entered the palace after Tianhu’s lead.
Based on the list of Luo Ming’s crimes alone, there was no need for the Ministry of Justice to give the obvious verdict. Howbeit, things didn’t exist in a vacuum. Never had any Emperor executed one of the Seven Champion White Princes in their dynasty’s history, and it was also the first time one of the seven committed treason.
When Emperor Yuansheng’s generation competed for the throne, the Seven Champion White Princes took sides, seemingly worried there would be peace. When Youtu invaded from the north, besides Dark Robe Brotherhood in Nanjing, the remaining six sent out average disciples to assist while keeping their elites cosy at home. “We are afraid of trouble in the capital” sounded noble on paper, but not one of the seven sent reinforcements to the capital when Youtu was right outside the capital. Had it not been for Flying General, the capital wouldn’t be what it was today. When the dust settled, the seven rushed to the capital, claiming they were going to help drive back Youtu’s forces. In reality, they were only there to help the Princes they supported. The Emperor at the time was one thought away from requesting them to come back and give the seven some “training”. Despite all that, not one of the seven received as much as a slap on the wrist.
One couldn’t be executed enough times for taking an Emperor prisoner. Execute Luo Ming, though, and Luo Sword Manor would undoubtedly revolt. Firstly, Luo Sword Manor was incredibly close to the capital. Secondly, although Luo Ming wasn’t praised for military prowess, no more than ten people in the imperial court could offer him a challenge. Such a battle would be gruelling.
While it wasn’t difficult for the imperial court to exterminate Luo Sword Manor right away, the challenge would be exterminating them without instigating the remaining six to start their own uprisings. An extermination wasn’t an extermination if there were stragglers. Anyone in the world might not understand that, but there was no chance the seven didn’t. The moment Luo Sword Manor announced their intention to avenge Luo Ming, the other six would definitely add oil to the fire in some shape or form.
Putting aside the difficulty and damages that were inevitably associated with fighting the seven, even if the imperial court won, foreign enemies, even Youtu, would take advantage of the Central Plain’s weakened state to initiate an incursion. Once the seven and the imperial court started fighting, it wouldn’t end with just one war.
Emperor Yuansheng made several reassuring moves that his predecessors never made. First, he married the daughter of Dark Robe Brotherhood. Not only was she the mother to one of his sons and one of his daughters, but she also earned the respect of his Empress and consorts for staying in her lane and even encouraging him to marry more women. Emperor Yuansheng liked both Li Tingzhu and Li Hongzhuang. The marriage put the hearts of Wang and Xie Clans in Emperor Yuansheng’s hands the moment their marriage was a done deal.
In regards to Gold and Silver Sect, they were unlikely to start anything while Emperor Yuansheng’s pawn – A-Hu – was monitoring them.
Valley of Yearning, Song Clan, Mount Lu Sword Sanctuary, Cold Mountain Temple… Emperor Yuansheng couldn’t read their movements, classifying them as the biggest problems. Even though they weren’t present, he could imagine the looks on their faces as they awaited news from the moment Luo Ming set foot in the palace. There was no way the four would sit back if three were removed. Consequently, Emperor Yuansheng had to be very selective about choosing who to tackle for his third target.
Executing Luo Ming meant war. Pardoning him meant surrender. There were reasons that rendered both unacceptable.
How to deal with Luo Ming rode on how determined Emperor Yuansheng was to remove the seven. For Emperor Yuansheng, this was his most difficult decision. Luo Ming was skilled, was once a hero, once the face of orthodox sects, a friend and a father to one of his sons.
Like his friend standing silently in the centre of the palace, Emperor Yuansheng merely stared in silence.
“How dare you stand in His Majesty’s presence?!”
Nobody could remember the last time he raised his voice when he was known for his laid-back attitude even when handling national affairs; they expected him to be just as blithe in the face of death, yet it was a fact that the shout came from Prime Minister Li’s direction.
News of Prime Minister Li going to pick up His Majesty from Nanjiang spread as fast as a national crisis alarm. When the man jovially met with the eleven monarchs who opposed Morcher’s restoration, the eleven looked as though a nightmare came through their door. Despite coming prepared, one could say they threw their helmet away, stripped off their armour and hurtled against Prime Minister Li’s verbal onslaught.
Prime Minister Li didn’t claim credit the successful debate. Instead, he expressed they were just being kind. He stayed out of the limelight as well as avoided seeing guests once he returned to the capital. Anybody who didn’t have an overgrown ego understood his intentions. Today, however, was a day he had to be present at regardless of circumstances.
Luo Ming dropped down to his knees. “This sinner‘s respects to Your Majesty.”
Prime Minister Li: “Referring to yourself as a sinner shows you still have a sense of humility. Tell me: what is the penalty for using Refining Divine Convention as a front to frame and harm the martial world, theft of weapons under the cover of the night, framing the innocent, taking people from families and causing families to lose their homes.”
“Correct. You killed Evil Spirits and offended Abels. Did you realise he is the uncle of Tiezhen’s King? Had he died at your hands, it’d be war. What should the penalty for starting a national calamity be?”
“Hmph, you lied to and abducted His Majesty, acts of treason that go against your duty as a subject and good morals. This is a serious crime that one cannot be accused of without proof. I personally sought verification of these events, and my proof is the thirty-seven testimonies from the three offices managing the martial world. Do you plead guilty?!”
“This sinner pleads guilty.”
“What is the penalty for your heinous, immoral and infuriating crimes?”
“The fact that you can say that proves you have the desire to turn over a new leaf. So, for what reason have you requested an audience with His Majesty today?”
“This sinner requests death.”
Heaven Dragon Slaying Sabre – Obviously a play on the Heaven Sword and Dragon Slaying Sabre from Jin Yong’s story.
Green Dragon Crescent Blade – The weapon Guan Yu was attributed with wielding.
Madao, kandao, jiedao and yidao – These names aren’t translated because they’re names we use in martial arts circles.
Weapons with capitals – They’re made up names rather than types, hence the capitalisation.
Extra note – I hope I’ve managed to capture the archaic tone in the first half of the chapter. The storyteller uses archaic language that is no longer used today. I neither know enough archaic English to re-write an equivalent nor foresee all readers from understanding it – not to be seen as an insult given Chinese people may struggle to read the first section of this chapter, too, just like I can’t read Shakespeare.