Book 12: Chapter 92
Twenty years ago, when Huang Yuzao had been at Daren Academy for ten years, a tragic event unfolded at the old Confucianism headquarters. The previous head of Confucianism, Yu Sihe, was murdered in Principle of Six Hall, and the Nine Dragons Fire Jade he was entrusted with went missing. Huang Yuzao rushed back to East China Sea upon receiving word of the tragedy, which was why he didnt participate in the extermination of Fiends Genesis.
Even though Huang Yuzao knew he wasnt welcomed back home, he still rushed back to send off the man who trained him and Martial Paragon no matter what it took. He arrived on the day of Yu Sihes funeral in an unkempt appearance, but nobody glared at him. His juniors, as a matter of fact, grabbed onto his arms and still addressed him as their senior brother. That was when Canghai Sect changed their stance and installed Huang Yuzao as their new leader. As well, it was the first time the separated survivors of Canghai came together again.
The priority after burying his teacher was to avenge him. Huang Yuzaos first suspect was League of Assassins. There werent many groups out there that didnt fear Confucians, and there werent many unorthodox sects thatd dare to kill one. Therefore, the suspicion fell upon the four biggest unorthodox groups. The Western Regions Divine Moon Cult never did that sort of stuff. Sky Palace never left traces of their involvement when they acted, so, though they were a suspect, they werent the prime suspect. Valley of Villains was highly suspicious as there was no evil they wouldnt commit and relish. Howbeit, they were without a leader at the time, while the ten villains were fighting to rule the group. Itd be suspending reality to say they travelled so far to assassinate the head of Confucianism; they simply werent that skilled. Thus, the only suspect group were the assassins whod kill anyone as long as the price was right. The fall of a kingdom would just be a money-making opportunity for League of Assassins. The only thing between them and Yu Sihes head was the right price tag.
The reason Huang Yuzao traced this particular line of thought was due to the letter he found on his late mentors body. Several bamboos were painted onto it with heavy strokes, leaving quite the impression. In the letter, Yu Sihe was instructed to wait in Principle of Six Hall with Nine Dragons Fire Jade for an undisclosed reason.
Although Yu Sihes students shone more than him during his time, Huang Yuzao didnt succeed him at thirty years of age because Yu Sihe was incompetent. The reason Yu Sihe didnt stand out was because he dedicated his life to educating the next generation. Rather than make a name for himself out in the world, he found it more meaningful to stay at his school and read or teach students. He didnt have a desire to compete against other people to prove himself. The accomplishments to Huang Yuzao and Feng Jies names spoke volumes about Yu Sihes competence.
In Yu Sihes generation, elders of Confucianism were eyeing the groups leadership. As such, they were constantly poking each other, and confrontations often escalated into violent fights. Owing to the frequency of fights increasing, the faction leaders decided to hold a tournament to decide who had the final say. As a result, elders sent out their best disciples to fight, and the competition only grew fiercer with each successive bout. That was until a student ambled into the ring as though he was free of woe.
Yu Sihe did his best to dissuade the bloodshed from continuing. Sadly, his pleas fell on deaf ears for he was nobody at the time. Consequently, a group that couldnt stand his rambling decided to put him in his place. Armed with only a single iron sword, Yu Sihe disarmed, immobilised and soundly defeated the toughest challengers all on his own until they conceded. And that, was how he came to be the leader of Confucianism.
As a student of Confucianism, Yu Sihe never slacked off on his daily swordplay and martial arts training. Outside of hours reserved for self-improvement, he taught other students. For him, that was the most fulfilling life he could ask for. Perhaps it was him, or maybe it was the elders, who never understood a vital element of Confucianism martial arts: the cornerstone of mastering Confucianism martial arts was to focus on ones character first and foremost, not relying purely on ones natural talent, comprehension and analytical abilities.
Yu Sihe possessed tolerance, empathy, gallantry, wisdom and honour, and what you saw was what you got. What Confucianism wisdom others couldnt comprehend for ages would take him but only one glance. Despite this ability, he was different to the smart people who pushed with a sense of urgency. Though they managed to shine a spotlight on themselves, they never achieved a level where a spotlight would shine on them without them shining it themselves. One might argue that they had no fruits to show for their labour.
All of the Confucian disciplines shared a common factor. A journey of a thousand miles began with one step. How could talent blossom if the tall mountains, long rivers, fields of dust, paths of thorns, challenges of nature and hard steps had not been crossed If the journey of a thousand steps had not been taken, if the obstacles had not been overcome, what had been forged
Yu Sihes true personality was visible through his reading habits. His aptitude for Confucianism martial arts disciplined was phenomenal. His patience was one in tens of thousands; every training session was joyous regardless of whether he progressed or failed. When he plateaued, hed take it in stride; if he couldnt get it today, there was always tomorrow. By the same account, he was willing to start anew if it were ever necessary.
In time, Yu Sihe developed potent internal energy and swordplay internal energy many could only dream of achieving. None of it was luck; it was the accumulation of repeated, thoughtful efforts. Among his combat skills, his specialty was Principle of Six Swordplay.
Principle of Six Swordplay revolved around the concept of changes in yin and yang. According to the Chinese calendar, months were either yin or yang. Over the course of twelve months, that would equal to six months of yin and six months of yang in a year. In music, there was yin and yang in the six pitches. For human beings, there was yin and yang in filial piety, friendship, marriage, humaneness, sympathy and harmony. Heaven, Earth and people all existed as yin and yang entities. That was what made the swordplay distinctly Confucian in nature. The swordplay was complex because the user had to perennially measure everything using the Principle of Six. As such, even students of Confucianism themselves often thought that the swordplay had been passed down in an incomplete form. The same people who couldnt grasp it were the same people who found the output from the techniques wasnt proportional to the sophistication of the techniques. Only the studious, such as Yu Sihe, were able to perfect it. Specifically, it was their willingness to comb through it from beginning to end over and over until there was no defect that saw them master the swordplay.
In the ten years Huang Yuzao spent at Daren Academy, Yu Sihe continued living in peace at home. Thus, he shouldve polished his skillset even further. Yet, on the night he died, nobody was even aware of his assassination, and his body wasnt found until dawn. It was hard to believe League of Assassins could assassinate him without alerting a single soul. Accordingly, the only plausible theory was that the assassin was somebody Yu Sihe trusted enough to even bring out Nine Dragons Fire Jade.
Yu Sihes cause of death was a heavy palm attack at his back – at the same level as his heart – obliterating his viscera. Yu Sihe was unable to conjure his true qi armour in time, resulting in instant death. Nobody would ever know if he regretted letting down his guard. Or, maybe he assumed the culprit was suddenly having a spell of craziness or something else. Whatever the case, the assassin had to be a close friend.
Yu Sihe never reached a “successful” state, where successful was defined as many would. Confucianism didnt thrive under his leadership, either. In spite of his martial prowess, he was far too kind to excel in a leadership capacity. Huang Yuzao was the one who pushed Confucianism into new territory. Unlike his mentor, Huang Yuzao was approachable, but he was steadfast – evident from the intimidation that students of Daren Academy felt. Even so, Yu Sihe would be remembered. Someone would remember him strolling into the arena with his sword. Someone would remember his sonorous voice echoing across the East China Sea. Someone would remember receiving a cake from the happy elder whenever he was hungry.
Huang Yuzao often pondered how much better off Yu Sihe wouldve been if he wasnt so nice, if he could be more cautious of people, if he could be less gullible and if he could learn to be wiser about the world. If he was just slightly, just fractionally, more cautious that night, mayhap he would still be alive and teaching at the East China Sea. Ironically, Huang Yuzao didnt notice he followed in his mentors footsteps. As he gained more students, he enjoyed spending more time at the academy whilst gradually losing interest in the pugilistic worlds affairs. Instead of the gossip, he cared more about who was late and who needed to be put in line. Without realising it, Daren Academy had become a copy of the school he came from. Without realising it, Huang Yuzao had become Yu Sihe. Actually, there was one distinct difference: Yu Sihe wouldnt detest someone to the point that he would bear a grudge forever. Huang Yuzao, on the other hand, would.
“Considering who you are, you can gain my teachers trust. Considering your skill, perhaps it would be a challenge to kill him. If your leader were to make an attempt on his life, though, then its possible for him to succeed. Just like today, you threatened the lives of the students to force my teacher to show up with the Nine Dragons Fire Jade. In the midst of conversation, you assassinated him just as you are planning to do tonight.”
The wind suddenly picked up, sending the flames on wicks into frenzies, but none of them surrendered.
“May I ask, did you visit Principle of Six Hall at East China Sea twenty years ago”
Speaking over the flapping of his robe, Jiang Chen replied, “Hey, hey, its quite unlike a scholar to incriminate someone based on theory alone, isnt it Or have even cultured men learnt to incriminate people without evidence”
Huang Yuzao had created a field around them, almost comparable to a new void with just them.
“You accused me of stealing Yu Sihes Nine Dragons Fire Jade, but its with you.”
“I was able to retrieve it through sheer luck. I found it on one of my students following a series of coincidental events. You lost it twenty years ago, and it has returned to its rightful owner.”
Still smiling, Jiang Chen bobbed his head. “Where did it go missing in the first place Perhaps it was when we were defeated. Enlighten me: why would I need it Why is it so important to me that I would assassinate the erstwhile leader of Confucianism Is it not tantamount to offending every scholar in the world”
“You need it.” Huang Yuzao had complete control over his emotions despite Jiang Chens provocations. “According to legends, our treasure has the ability to multiply energy and erase special skills of unorthodox styles. Nobody, including my teacher, knew how to utilise it, however. Fiends Genesis members learn unorthodox disciplines, so they have very little use for it. You are the only exception. Not only do you know how to use it, but you also dont have to fear the heat energy within thanks to your “Drought Demons” discipline. In addition, you are the only person to have trained orthodox and unorthodox disciplines, so you are the only person who can maximise its benefits.
“Twenty years ago coincides with when Fiends Genesis was the target of the orthodox sects alliance, a time when you were in the most danger. Nine Dragons Fire Jade can raise your strength, which wouldve given Fiends Genesis a needed boost. You had thought it out well in advance. While we were busy scouring to find our teachers assassin, we wouldnt join the expedition. You got two birds with one stone. You, however, didnt expect Bai Sanlang to escape. Neither did you expect Brilliant Broadsworder and Sword Deity to come after you.
“For twenty years, I was unsure of my own conjectures because I lost all leads to continue investigating once Fiends Genesis vanished off the map. When I retrieved this recently, I realised it couldve been used as bait. As I suspected, this letter showed up in the mortal realm again, though I never expected so much chaos to accompany your return.”
Jiang Chen raised his supinated hands. “You keep accusing me. Who am I”
“I dont know. Ive never known who you truly are. My teacher addressed you as an elder and shared your name. I surmise not even he knew very much. Regardless, that no longer matters. All I need to know is that you have explaining to do.” Huang Yuzao slowly opened his hands, levitating the two letters in his hands up and over to Jiang Chen.
Leaning on the arm rest, Jiang Chen just stared at the sheets. He could sense an emotion from the two sheets – hatred, direct and intense hatred. It didnt bother him. To the contrary, he relished the hatred. The violent hatred of Confucianisms leader was amusing and worthy of a laugh from his perspective.
Jiang Chen grabbed the two sheets, folded them into paper cranes whilst innocently smiling, looked up and declared, “I killed him.”
The flames on the candles burst, flying away as if golden dragons rose from their slumber.
“I appreciate the arrogance and provocations. Had it not been for them, I would never have had the chance to find the answers to the questions weighing on my mind all these years. And thank you for the opportunity to avenge my teacher.” Huang Yuzao drew his sword, illuminating the room in a golden hue due to the flames reflections. “You never had the chance to test my teachers swordplay, so how about you give it a try now, scum!”-