Sikong Changfeng had on a solemn expression as he knelt down on one knee.
In contrast, Xiao Se’s face was the very picture of stone cold, with his brows knitted together and his eyes chilly.
Tang Lian and Sikong Qianluo looked at each other. Neither knew what a Spear Immortal like him, not to mention his other identity as Snow Moon City’s third citymaster, could possibly be thinking right now.
Lei Wujie was, at the very least, still a disciple of the Lei Clan and he was an outstanding talent of the younger generation as well. Ignoring the challenges on the top two floors, he climbed up the previous fourteen floors fair and square. However, what was Xiao Se compared to that? He was just the boss of an inn and he didn’t know any martial arts as well. The only thing he knew was to use his movement skill for escaping.
What qualifications did he possess to be the Spear Immortal’s disciple?
Not to mention that expression he had on his face -was that annoyance?
“You wish to take me as your disciple? On what basis?” Xiao Se coldly said.
The moment he said that, Tang Lian and Sikong Qianluo were stunned. Sikong Qianluo had to try her utmost to stop herself from smacking the insolent youngster with her spear.
However, Sikong Changfeng seemed to be completely unaffected as he laughed, “Even though this humble one isn’t too talented, my little bag of martial tricks is still worth something in the martial world.”
“I don’t practice the martial arts.” Xiao Se shook his head.
“Isn’t that the Wuji Staff hanging around your waist? Whether it’s the way of the staff or the way of the spear, they can all be traced to the same origin.” Sikong Changfeng stared at the long staff hanging around Xiao Se’s waist and said.
Xiao Se stroked the staff which he hadn’t taken out at all throughout this entire journey. Lei Wujie asked him about it several times but he only said that he used this staff as a walking stick when crossing mountainous roads. Who would have thought that Sikong Changfeng would recognize the staff the moment he laid eyes on it.
The Wuji Staff. Its previous owner once defended the imperial city with that single staff in hand. A single person, holding a single staff -just like that, eighteen top experts were stopped dead in their tracks as they tried to break into the city. It was said that with a single sweep of that staff, one invoked the infinity, limitless, boundless and endless.
“Just because I have this staff, it doesn’t mean I know martial arts. This is just something someone gave me as collateral for a debt.” Xiao Se lightly tapped the staff and carelessly said.
Sikong Changfeng didn’t press the matter either. “Of course, other than my martial arts, my chess skills are the best in the world as well. Do you like to play chess?”
“I can’t say that I like it… because I’ve never lost.” Xiao Se remained unmoved.
“Never lost… We have to play three rounds then. If you can win a single match, I won’t force my request on you any further. How about it?” Sikong Changfeng turned his head to look at Tang Lian. “Tang Lian, go fetch a chessboard.”
Even though Tang Lian was still clueless as what was going on here, he didn’t dare to neglect his third esteemed teacher’s orders when he was being serious. He could only run into a bar nearby and ask for a chessboard. Xiao Se wasn’t in the mood for refusing either; he leisurely followed the man to a nearby tea stall and sat down waiting.
“Was this how you tricked the Immortal Maiden Luoxia into staying behind?” Xiao Se coldly laughed.
Sikong Changfeng clicked his tongue and said, “If you agree to a bet, you have to accept the consequences. How can that be considered tricking? Tang Lian, hurry up and send Lei Wujie back into the city. I have no doubt he will be out cold for the next three days and three nights after exhausting himself like that.”
Tang Lian nodded his head and carried Lei Wujie on his back before addressing Xiao Se, “Lei Wujie and I will be waiting for you in the city.”
Xiao Se shook his head, “You don’t have to wait for me. After getting my eight hundred teals, I’ll be leaving right away. It can be considered fate that we spent such a harrowing trip together. Should you guys ever find the time to do so, come visit Fallen Snow Villa for a drink. Free drinks are clearly out of the question, but a little discount should be fine.”
Tang Lian laughed but didn’t reply Xiao Se. He simply walked towards the inner city. Even though he didn’t know why his third esteemed teacher looked so highly upon Xiao Se, he knew that Xiao Se lost the moment he accepted the challenge. After all, in the past four to five years, he had never once seen his third esteemed teacher practice the spear. Instead, all he did was stare silently at a chessboard within his courtyard.
(TL: Chess here is Go, not chinese chess.)
“Please.” Sikong Changfeng held a black piece in his hand, signalling for Xiao Se to go first.
Xiao Se didn’t stand on ceremony either, swiftly picking up a white piece and throwing it onto the table.
Sikong Changfeng thought about it for a moment then placed down his piece.
As before, Xiao Se threw his piece onto the chessboard without much thought.
As this scene repeated itself several times, the frown on Sikong Qianluo’s face deepened as she continued watching from the side. The two of them had completely different styles. Sikoong Changfeng had an imposing yet calm style and he would think for quite some time before placing his piece. As for Xiao Se, he seemed like a complete amateur. Every single move he made seemed to be made on impulse. Even so, he always mentioned to wriggle his way out of a checkmate despite how chaotic and messy his board seemed to be. Sikong Qianluo had been influenced by her father so she ended up playing chess for quite some time as well. But she had ever seen someone play like this. There were times when she couldn’t help but hold her breath as she watched the match, cold sweat flowing down her back all the while.
It was a draw for all three rounds and they weren’t able to decide a winner.
Sikong Changfeng laughed, “Seems like I met my match.”
Xiao Se coldly laughed, “Weiqi (Go) is nothing but b*stardised chess, not at all part of the orthodoxy. How could a citymaster like you fall so far down this unorthodox path?”
“How about if the four kingdoms were the pieces, and the heavens were the chessboard? Would that be proper enough then?”
Xiao Se stood up and cleared his throat. “Still worth less than taels! Pay up!”
Sikong Changfeng sank into thought for a moment before saying, “I’ve heard from Tang Lian that you’re the owner of an inn. How about this. If you take me up as your master, not only will I teach you the ways of the spear, I will let you handle the finances of Snow Moon City as well.”
Sikong Qianluo was shocked for a moment but recovered soon after to yell, “Dad! How can you let some outsider take on such responsibility?!”
Xiao Se remained unmoved and he simply stretched out his hand, “And the salary?”
“Eight hundred taels of silver a month.” Sikong Changfeng said gallantly.
Xiao Se stowed his hands into his sleeves and raised his head to look at the sky. After thinking for a long time, he replied, “Not enough.”
Sikong Changfeng didn’t get angry. Instead he continued to ask, “How much do you feel is enough?”
Xiao Se slowly walked towards the inner city as his voice filled the air, “Eight million taels. You may hand it all to me the day I leave the city.”
“Eight… Eight million?!” Sikong Qianluo yelled, “Why don’t you just take over the position of the citymaster!?”
Sikong Changfeng exclaimed with a boisterous laugh, “Alright, deal!”
Xiao Se folded his hands behind his back and, without looking back, continued to walk forward. He lightly sighed and muttered to himself, “The four kingdoms as chess pieces and the heavens as the chessboard? The moment the game started, everyone is a chess piece. Us included.”
His voice was extremely soft but it seemed like Sikong Changfeng heard him still. He looked at the spear in his hand and mumbled, “That’s right. No one is exempt from that fate. That’s why we have to try our best to win.”
Xiao Se didn’t say anything else as he continued to walk forward slowly. He suddenly reached out to grab a Camellia which fell when Sword Immortal, Li Hanyi, swept up all the Camellias in Snow Moon City. Now that the Sword Immortal had left, the Camellia which had all gathered in one place started to scatter with the winds. He stopped walking and peered down at the flower in his hand. After some consideration, he sighed softly, “A man living within the heavens and earth, hasten…”
A clarion ring suddenly resounded throughout the otherwise quiet street, shattering any semblance of solemnity in an instant. Xiao Se immediately felt a heavy pounding in his head as if someone had just smacked him on his head. He turned around with much difficulty and saw the heroic figure of Sikong Qianluo standing there proudly with spear in hand. Eyebrows knitted together in a glare, she declared spitefully, “Since you’ve agreed to become my dad’s disciple, you have to address me as Senior Sister from now on! If your Senior Sister hasn’t given you leave to leave, you had better d*mn well stay behind!”
“You…” Xiao Se spat out a single word as he endured the pain.
Sikong Qianluo raised her spear once more and smashed it down on Xiao Se’s head.
Xiao Se’s vision turned black and he promptly crumpled to the ground.
Sikong Qianluo then triumphantly gave her a spear a quick flourish before exclaiming, “That’s what you get for running your mouth like that.” Even though she didn’t understand why her father accepted another disciple out of nowhere, she couldn’t help but feel a little happy deep down in her heart.
End of Arc 2: The Winds, the Flower, the Snow and the Moon