It was unfortunate that Zhong Li San’s expert sword skills and fighting spirit met a demise under the hand of Lin Mu Yu, but it was his arrogance and underestimation of Lin Mu Yu’s ability that led to his death by dragonfire.
Collapsing onto the bed and leaning against the wall, Lin Mu Yu retrieved a vial of healing potion, lightly sprinkling doses on wounds. Without even calling for someone, he began healing his injuries. Time was of the essence in healing his wounds… there would be trouble if any internal wounds remained.
By morning, the cat was out of the bag and the Temple exploded with gossip. An elite assassin had managed to infiltrate the Temple in an unsuccessful attempt to take a golden-star trainer’s life, and even more surprisingly, the assassin had been killed by the trainer. This was no small matter indeed. What sort of place was the Temple? It was the strongest, most heavily guarded place in the Empire… and someone actually attempted to assassinate someone inside… the audacity!
Lei Hong brought his hand down on the face of the sea-green desk, his face smouldering with fury as he faced an assembly of deacons, trainers, and instructors. “The Temple’s defense system is infallible. Who was it that let the assassin in?”
Zeng Fang stood there, his face an unreadable slate.
Ge Yang spoke up. “High Deacon, after much investigation, we found out that the assassin’s name is Zhong Li San. He is Lan Yan City’s deadliest bounty hunter who will do anything for the right price. He even went so far as to say that… with an exorbitant price, he would be willing to infiltrate the Luster of Heaven Palace to replace the current emperor… the Guang Ming Wang’s head…”
“The sheer insolence!” Lei Hong expression was ashen. How dare this Zhong Li San even consider killing someone within the Temple-- it was a direct assault and challenge to his position as master of the place. This could not be forgiven.
“I want a thorough investigation. The Temple’s walls are extremely high, and there are guards patrolling even at the dead of night. To scale the wall would be impossible. Zhong Li San was obviously brought in by someone from the inside… one of us… Find out who brought people in yesterday, I demand an answer.”
“Yes, sir!” Ge Yang cupped his fist.
Zhang Wei swivelled around to face Zeng Fang with a smile. “Oh, last night at around… dusk? I did spot the Young Master bringing in some servants from outside. Did my eyes deceive me?”
Zeng Fang pegged him with a steely gaze. “What’s the meaning of this, Zhang Wei? Are you suspecting me?”
“I don’t dare!” Zhang Wei cupped his fist. “I merely recalled this matter, but I have no intentions lying behind it. The Young Marquis is open and honest, with a righteousness and justice as vast as the open heavens above us! No one knows more than I, Zhang Wei, that the Young Master’s character is golden, even indubitably perfect! It is impossible, nay, blasphemous, to even suggest that the Young Marquis would want to kill Lin Zhi.”
Zeng Fang’s complexion assumed a deathlike pallor. Everyone in the Temple knew that Zeng Fang was out to get Lin Zhi. He was the most obvious suspect. Besides, Zhong Li San, as a renowned highly-paid assassin… who else but this kind of high-ranking official could afford to pay the piper?
Zhang Wei, having been born of common descent, was naturally more sympathetic to Lin Zhi and Little Beansprout. In a moment of rousing valor, he forewent even the safety of his own life. What is life, if you don’t use it to live fully!
Lei Hong interrupted the scene. “Cease your squabbles. I will personally investigate the case. Once I find the culprit responsible for this matter, he will not be let off so lightly. The Temple is the emblem of strength in the Empire, I will not allow vulgar people to profane it!”
The assembly present cupped their fists. “Yes, High Deacon Your Honor!”
Everyone trickled out of the room, but Lei Hong called out to Lin Mu Yu to retain him. “Lin Zhi, hold on.”
“Grandpa Lei Hong, is there something wrong?” He asked, stopping in his tracks.
“How is the progress of your Dragonforged Bone Tome coming along? Your injuries are not too serious, I hope?” Lei Hong asked.
At his concern, Lin Mu Yu felt a warm twinge in his chest. He laughed good-naturedly, a bit embarrassed. “I’m not sure about the exact progress of the training, but I would say there has been some progress? Otherwise, I’m afraid I wouldn’t have been able to take on that Zhong Li San.”
“Hm. I inspected Zhong Li San’s wound. Killed after one hit. I reckon you used your own body as a bait? For highly trained and professional assassins like this person, it’s extremely difficult for them to even be touched.”
“Yes, Grandpa Lei Hong.”
“It’s my own fault. I was negligent. I was doing pure training last night… so I wasn’t able to check up on you.”
“It’s no problem, I can protect myself,” Lin Mu Yu gave him a reassuring, confident smile.
“All right then. You may go.”
Due to his injuries, Ge Yang granted a three-day intermission. Lin Mu Yu was finally able to take a breather, like a fish returning to a pond after having borne the excruciating experience on land.
He left immediately, heading straight for the Infinite Victory Weaponry Shop. Time to ask for the Sword Master’s help!
However, before he could travel further, a speeding horse hurried towards his direction. It was easy to spot the nymph perched on top of the horse even from afar. She looked to be around eighteen from her stature and build, and was draped in a beautiful green gown. Her natural beauty did not go unnoticed. From a distance, she called out, “Excuse me, could you be the Great Master Lin Zhi?”
Lin Zhi stopped in his tracks. “Who are you?”
The young lady leapt off the horse in an elegant motion, her hands lightly clasped to her abdomen. She beamed and bowed the standard bow all Empire ladies adhered to. “My name is Jin Xiao Tang, I’m the Empire Capital Pharmacy’s Jin San Pang--ah-pei! I am the daughter of Jin Zai Zhu. At the same time, I am the Empire Capital Trading Company’s Assistant League Master.”
(TLN: ah-pei - “spitting” to signify a mistake just said / taking back what has just been said)
“Oh, it’s Miss Jin!”
Lin Mu Yu flashed a dazzling beam at Jin Xiao Tang. In his eyes, she had already become a shining, golden goddess-- here to deliver money to him!
Jin Xiao Tang remained courteous, still smiling as she took another bow. “Great Master Lin, the five vials of Peak of Dreams you entrusted us to sell sold for, respectively, 4,500, 5,200, 5,400, 5,500, and 5,700 golden yin. After deducting the 20% seller’s fee, you have earned 21,040 golden yin coins. My dad says that since it’s our first time working together, he’ll give you a whole figure-- 22,000 golden yin. Here are 22 diamond coins, please count them over, Great Master.”
She raised a golden pouch, practically sagging from the weight of 22 diamond coins. Lin Mu Yu’s heart skipped a beat in excitement, feeling like a member of the nouveau riche.
This feeling was magnificent!
After tucking away the pouch, Lin Mu Yu grinned at her. “Thank you, Miss Jin!”
Jin Xiao Tang merely smiled, retrieving and displaying a lucently transparent card. “Due to our transaction exceeding the amount of twenty thousand golden yin, according to the regulations of our trading company, you are entitled to this diamond card. Those who have diamond cards are able to enjoy 30% off on all future purchases in any trading company within the Empire Capital. An additional benefit is that trading companies will only charge you a 10% seller’s fee. Moreover, this diamond card currently contains a balance of 10,000 golden yin and an overdraft line of credit of 50,000 golden yin. These amounts are monitored by special spirits and this card is acknowledged and may be used in any major trading center. Kindly receive it, Great Master.”
Lin Mu Yu received the card, but with a smile, said, “I’m afraid a measly amount of twenty thousand isn’t enough for me to have received this card... am I mistaken?”
Jin Xiao Tang gave a startled chortle. She looked at him and acquiesced, “Indeed nothing can get past the wisdom of the Great Master. Truthfully, the diamond card is only for those who have completed transactions of 500,000 or above, but yours is a special case, Great Master.”
“Why am I special?”
“It is because you are the only one who has successfully refined the Peak of Dreams. Currently, in the entire Alchemy world, you are the only one who possesses the capability to do so. Should you consider refining another batch of the Peak of Dreams in the future, kindly consider taking your business to our trading company. I, Xiao Tang, assure you that you will not regret your decision.”
“So that’s why.” Lin Mu Yu smiled. “All right, I will. Thank you, Miss Xiao Tang!”
“You’re welcome, I shall take my leave now.”
As Jin Xiao Tang raced away, Lin Mu Yu weighed the pouch containing 22 diamond coins. He was filled with extreme satisfaction and gratuity towards the intersectional trading system-- ah! the feeling of becoming rich! But then poor Little Beansprout popped up in his mind. As a copper-star trainer, his life was only worth 500 golden yin? In his hand he had 22 diamond coins, did this mean he could buy the 44 lives of Little Beansprout?
He was suddenly plagued with an intense melancholy. He stashed the pouch for safety and headed straight to the Infinite Victory Weaponry Shop.
When he entered the weaponry shop, it came as a surprise when the shop assistant greeted him in a familiar fashion. “Oh, young hero, you’re here… our shopkeeper was right in his prediction… the young hero was bound to return.”
“Oh? How does the Sword Master know that I’d come back?”
“First of, the young hero is someone who loves swords… second of, the young hero is someone who uses swords. Kindly follow me, young hero, the shopkeeper is in the rear courtyard.”
The Sword Master was as robust as ever. He was standing alone in the center of the rear courtyard, his arms spread out like an eagle, wave after wave of incorporeal spirit undulating around him. It was precisely that spirit that allowed him to master swordsmanship.
Lin Mu Yu showed respect by bowing as a military man would, almost debasing his status as a member of the Temple.
The Sword Master turned around with twinkling eyes. “Young hero, we meet again. The last time we saw each other was because you wanted to gain knowledge and experience. I wonder about the purpose for your visit now?”
“I wish to learn the Master’s swordmanship,” Lin Mu Yu said.
The Sword Master chortled. “This old man has no longer been accepting disciples for decades now. Young hero, I advise you to return.”
Lin Mu Yu remained determined. “There must be a reason the Master is no longer accepting disciples. If I have the privilege of saying so, I would like to know more about it.”
The Sword Master’s feeling of novelty was piqued. He laughed and acquiesced. “All right, then.”
Saying so, he clasped his hands behind his back, the sword spirit essences glowing around his body as an aura, his long green gown slightly quivering. “This old man has declined to train disciples for three reasons. Firstly, I do not take on mediocre students. Secondly, I do not take on competitively aggressive students. Lastly, I do not take on students who are not skilled in the art of the sword. Young hero, first see to it that you do not fall under these three restrictions, then shall I consider taking you on as my disciple.
Lin Mu Yu was momentarily taken aback. What an odd old codger. His standards on accepting discipleship were actually quite high!
After some thought, he slowly said, “For the first point… I don’t think it would be presumptuous for me to say that I’m not mediocre in any way.”
“How is that?”
“As they say, what nature has given, must be good for something, and by the end of a life, it must have accomplished something. What with my innate talent, I will definitely be able to accomplish some deeds. Were I to be an ordinary person, I would not be asking the Sword Master to teach me the art of the sword.”
“Well said!” The old man crowed with laughter, pleased at the response. “What a well said phrase: what nature has given, must be good for something. All right, you have passed the first obstacle. How will you prove that you are not competitive?”
Lin Mu Yu took a deep breath. “The reason I want to become strong is because I’m no longer willing to sit idly by as the world continues to wreak injustice. I want to become strong so that I can change this world.”
“Changing the world…?” The Sword Master burst out laughing. “Do you have the ability, boy?”
“I will try. I will try with every last drop of stamina and strength in my body.” Lin Mu Yu balled his fist, his gaze remaining steady and limpid.
The Sword Master laughed again. “Let’s say you passed the second point as well. And what about the final point? Are you one who is deeply skilled in the art of the sword?”
Lin Mu Yu hesitated, looking at the Sword Master uneasily. “Truth be told, my sword skills are shallow and unrefined.”
“Let’s see it!”
Translated by: korezmi
Edited by: patrick_father_of_dragons