Book 12: Chapter 34
“Fret not. We will take care of everything.”
“Stop.” The sight of his confidence reminded me of the scene each time they said that exact phrase in the past.
“Leave it all to you?”
“All right.” I nodded.
He switched to innocence. “Although your debt is an unbelievable number, we work out a happy deal between us every time. Where does shameless fit into all this?”
I raised a finger. “The first time, I was an innocent, ignorant teenager. Wudang told you to come collect something. I didn’t have money to repay you, so you cordially told me, ‘Fret not. We will take care of everything’. And then you had me filch Zhenwu’s Seven Spheres Formation’s diagram. In turn, I burnt down Zhenwu Hall. They all think it was the work of a ghost. Now, whenever I come across Wudang members, I feel guilty if I don’t lend them a hand.”
He gave me a smile. “Is it not great that you perform good deeds?”
“Second time!” I extended a second finger. “After I gave you the full payment you asked for and then asked you to help me find someone, you also replied, ‘Fret not. We will take care of everything.’ I went to the Western Regions. I didn’t find the person I was seeking. Instead, I had to fight that nutcase, Lord San Shen.
“Then I got to know a shameless old bugger by the name of Ximen Chuideng. After he talked me into becoming his sworn brother, he tricked me into joining Divine Moon Cult, only to then jump off a cliff and not even leave behind his ashes. I nearly bawled my eyes out. I still haven’t gotten over it.”
He heaved a heavy breath. “We only reported the facts. As for befriending Patriarch Ximen, that was your destiny. That is not our work.”
I wagged my hand. “I’ll skip the promises made ages ago. Last time, I only had a small meal, yet you told me to return to the capital to complete a task. I believed your bullcrap and even helped you expunge the underground groups in the capital, so I thought it was all settled. Out of nowhere, I chanced upon my shifu’s Imperial Martial Arts Tournament, causing me to marry that freak of a woman. I’m still too scared to return to my nest in Hangzhou. Every time you say that line, I’m hit with bad luck, so shut up!
“On the first occasion, you requested a nine variegated flames pill to save the life of Wudang’s Jianguan. We did not ask for much. Last time, you ate a meal that cost over a million taels. The profit we made from the task we entrusted to you was only enough to break even. As for the search, we are still searching. We have always felt ashamed we could not complete your request despite accepting your payment.” He then looked at me as an esteemed customer. “As for your misfortunes, we plead innocence. That is all your credit.”
He flicked up a thumb and continued, “Typically, people do not burn down Zhenwu Hall, fight Lord San Shen or marry a Princess, not to mention survive all those events. There is nothing we shy away from in order to keep a record of matters in the pugilistic world, but we have never publicised your information because we want to see what sort of trouble you can cause, this one meant, what sort of waves you can start.”
“I knew you were all waiting for entertainment! I’ve waited to voice my complaints to your editor for a long time now!”
“Ohoho, this one works in the debts department. He is not involved with the magazines in any capacity, so he cannot order the editor around.”
I wagged my hand. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever you want me to participate in can’t be so simple. Tell me the details.”
“Fret not. This time, we will also. Be. Honest.”
Stop smiling, then! Your smile is making me suspect you’re out to con my whole family!
I knew the group would never participate in a deal where they stood to lose.
Academy Idols weren’t a traditional Daren Academy event. It was something Uncle Huang started a few years as an answer to the students’ desire for such an event. The first edition was reviewed positively, and each successive reiteration was more successful than the last. By this point in time, it had become the students’ most anticipated and attended event at the academy. Apart from that, the number of people who paid attention to it only ever increased, allowing anyone with association with the academy to participate. Accordingly, the winners of the event were rewarded handsomely.
The first prize was “Coolcool Reading Token”, which permitted the holder to read any book at the academy without restriction. The second prize was “To-the-top Learning Token”, which was essentially a scholarship that the holder could use to exchange for free tutoring from any teacher of their choice. The most important prize was a valuable piece of jade called “dragonmark flame jade.” The jade piece was the real prize. The other two were just participation trophies!
The jade piece was one of the legendary glazed items. It was rare because it was an item with a black shell refined from one of the rare survivors in a volcano. It had the power to absorb heat without sustaining damage. Once it had been refined for long enough, the outer black layer would peel off, leaving a dazzling scarlet gem. Only pieces that were approximately the size of a chicken egg would earn the title of “flame jade”.
Because flame jades possessed heat energy from the core of the earth, they complemented Yang Realm internal disciplines and equally valuable as a tool for controlling coldness. Accordingly, they were a favourite of the orthodox martial arts community.
Dragonmark flame jade was the most special type among flame jades. They weren’t more special just because they were multiple folds larger than flame jades; they came with an inherent flame mark on the surface that resembled a dragon – a sign that proved it had existed for millenniums. To put its power into perspective, it could compare to the glazed relic Hua Gezi got his hands on back then.
I had never seen a dragonmark flame jade in my life. I only heard someone in Divine Moon Cult once tried to search for one in order to master “Agni Twelve Heavens”, only to never return.
Given its value, I wasn’t surprised one piece could clear my debt. That being said, I couldn’t understand why the academy would have a piece and why they would give it to a student as a prize. Carrying one was the same as drawing a bull’s eye on yourself… Seventeen didn’t explain anything, leaving me with, “We will be awaiting your good news” and bolted. I would’ve chased him if I could catch up.
I gave up thinking and returned to Liu Shan Men to find Su Xiao as well as Tang Ye with long faces at the briefing hall. Boss Shen, face ghastly white, looked ready to tear someone’s head off.
“Yongheng Bank’s seal had only been retrieved yesterday, and it’s already been stolen again. We also just received word that someone has withdrawn five hundred thousand taels. Not even a tyre trail was left behind when they tried to investigate. Heh, they’re good!”
“They’ve withdrawn money?” Something sounded off to me. “Why didn’t they notify us as soon as they lost their seal? Why wait until they lost money to cry?”
Tang Ye explained, “Because they don’t trust us given Liu Shan Men stole the seal in the first place.”
So it was because of me…
“Which branch was robbed?”
Boss expressed with her eyes that she liked my quick wits. “Jiujiang. The money was withdrawn just four hours prior to the messenger’s arrival.”
I crossed my arms. “The pier and city doors’ patrols were only loosened yesterday; isn’t striking now reckless? Wouldn’t the risk of leaving clues be riskily high, particularly in this scenario where we practically know who the culprit is?”
Based off Boss’ visage, I knew she was fairly sure Li Muye’s group was culpable. Could you blame her for being inflamed when they pinched the seal barely a day after the court hearing? If she had proof of their wrongdoings, she’d have already kicked their doors down and smashed their faces in. To my surprise, she cracked a smile and declared, “I’ll personally tackle this case.”
“Personally? You’re showing him a lot of respect.”
“It’s been years since I’ve competed against Li Muye. I’d like to see how much he’s grown.”
“Need my help?”
“No. In busy times, take care of yourself first.”
“Me? I’m free.”
Besides the shackle of a seven hundred thousand debt, I’m a free man.
Boss delayed for an inordinate time. Puzzled, I turned to Su Xiao and Tang Ye, only to be met with two equally lost individuals.
“Your assault on Song Ou in the courtroom won’t be settled so easily.”
“Huh? It’s still not settled? Call him over. I’ll bludgeon him again.”
“Watch yourself. Anything… could happen in the capital anytime now. Song Clan has entered the palace.”
Zhenwu’s Seven Spheres Formation – If you’ve consumed “Heaven Sword Dragon Sabre” media in some format, you probably recognise it as one of the Wudang formations.