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204 Lousy Bladesmanship

 "Marriage for alliance?" Meng Qi frowned slightly and thought. "They're way too hasty. But if they want to arrange this marriage for Tang Mingyue, they have to be quick. Old Master Tang will pass away anytime, and as the granddaughter of the eldest branch, she has to be in mourning for him for three years according to etiquette. But now they can arrange this marriage under the name of counteracting bad luck".

"What's Miss Tang's opinion?" Meng Qi asked, thinking of Tang Mingyue's favor yesterday.

Since coming back last night, he had been hiding in the backyard. Except for Qi Zhengyan, no one knew, just in case the four aristocratic families Tang, Ye, Ling and Wan called out their Precious Weapons and masters to kill him regardless of face. However, when he had not seen any movement by dawn, he realized that the aristocratic families didn't have the courage to do it.

It wasn't the West Regions, but the Great Jin Dynasty, which was more prosperous, stable and orderly. It was in the charge of Six Fan School. Besides, aristocratic families and sects didn't want to see their Disciples in a precarious state on their way out.

Therefore, even if the four aristocratic families had planned the killing in Flower Moon Tower, they didn't dare to make it last for too long. Otherwise, the arresters of the Six Fan School would definitely come to stop them. If the arresters of Six Fan School were killed, it didn't matter for someone like Meng Qi who roamed Jianghu. However, with their roots here, the aristocratic families definitely couldn't escape an investigation and could even be ruined.

The waiter glanced at Meng Qi. It was said he had fought fiercely and only been forced back by the Precious Weapon last night. The waiter said, "Miss Tang the Ninth is definitely unwilling. Who in Yi City doesn't know about Master Ye's personality? It's said that she has kicked up a fuss about it for some time. However, with Old Master Tang in a coma and no other blood elders among the eldest branch, she failed to resist."

Master Ye was more foppish and debauched than second young master Tang used to be. What was more, he was so cruel and merciless that he had beaten his maids to death on more than one occasion. Who would want to marry him?

Meng Qi fell into silence. When the waiter left, he suddenly sighed.

"You want to impersonate second young master Tang?" Qi Zhengyan said with his brows knitted.

Meng Qi nodded gently and said, "Yes. Although second young master Tang was assassinated, the assassins must have run far away after succeeding. Besides, I'll just impersonate for three days to mess up the situation and disrupt the marriage. When they send someone here again, I'll have taken off the mask and turned back to Meng Qi. How could they realize that second young master Tang was actually me?"

"While I have a grudge against the masters of the Four Families, I'm indebted to Miss Tang the Ninth. As a true man in this world, if I can't repay this obligation and the hatred, how can I feel at ease?"

After Meng Qi's escape yesterday, it would be odd if the four families didn't heighten their vigilance against him.

He could hide and spend some time assassinating the assassins one by one, with the Immortal Pressing Art, which stemmed from them. But if he did this, he might not be able to prevent the engagement. If he killed Master Ye Xiaojie after the engagement, coupled with Tang Mingyue's reminding in Flower Moon, there would definitely be the rumor that he prevented the marriage due to his private mutual affection for her.

This rumor would not bother him. But reputation was very important for the daughter of an aristocratic family like Tang Mingyue. If they did have mutual affection and became a couple afterward, it would become a much-told story in Jianghu. Nonetheless, he didn't feel for her at all, and had never considered a "committed relationship". He would destroy Tang Mingyue's reputation if he did this. For a woman from an aristocratic family, this would be worse than death.

What was more, it wasn't the West Regions, but the Great Jin Dynasty. He couldn't assassinate recklessly. Once he succeeded several times and involved outsiders, the Six Fan School and the Wang family from Zhou County would certainly send their masters to arrest him. It wasn't as easy as it seemed. Otherwise, the aristocratic families, without Half-step Exterior Scenery, would have been exterminated by heterodox figures with their Precious Weapons taken long ago.

Taking a light breath, Qi Zhengyan didn't stop him. He just pointed out the problem, "What if you can't deceive his relatives with the mask? We don't know anything about second young master Tang's behavior, personality or habits. What's more, he's a bit taller than you."

"Second young master Tang has been gone for years. He has obtained great achievements in Kung Fu through hardships. Thus, it's normal that he should change. Besides, given that he has a throat injury, I can use it as an excuse to talk as little as possible. As for the height..." Meng Qi said with a sudden smile. With a burst of clear sounds, his body abruptly grew an inch. His facial muscles moved slightly. At first glance, he seemed to have turned into someone else.

Qi Zhengyan stood with his mouth half open. "What's this?"

"This is the marvel of Eight Nine Mysteries. It provides detailed and powerful control over the body." Meng Qi said with a chuckle, "In addition, I can adjust my appearance to be similar to that of second young master Tang with the mask."

Once he entered the Tang family, it would be much more convenient for him to act under the status of second young master Tang. He would be compensated for his loss of Ice Portal sooner or later!

Even if the Tang family suspected the veracity of his status, he was willing to argue. Anyway, he just needed to mess up the situation for three days. He didn't need to impersonate second young master Tang permanently.

Qi Zhengyan restrained his astonishment and said in a deep voice, "When we get out of the city, I'll give you the materials of all members of Tang family collected by my sect. Afterward, you should be careful with everything."

...

The Tang Family Manor was located where Shangshui River streamed out of the city. There were courtyards going deep into it and mosses sprawling over it. It was exactly what you would expect from a century-old aristocratic family.

Lord Tang the Fifth had died from "assassinating" the Manager of Huanhua Swords Sect. The members of the Tang family hadn't conducted a funeral for him, because it amounted to declaring war on Huanhua Swords Sect. Therefore, except for the cry coming from Lord Tang the Fifth's branch, other places of the Tang Family Manor remained the same. Nonetheless, the entire Manor appeared to be gloomy with turbulence.

At the door, several guards peeped through the door and looked at each other from time to time. They all sighed in despair.

"What's Second Master thinking? Marrying the Ninth Miss Tang to that bastard Master Ye!" A guard said with his teeth clenched.

Master Ye was notorious in Yi City. Even an ordinary family was reluctant to marry their daughter to him, not to mention an aristocratic family!

Another guard said with a sigh, "Now that they're less powerful, the Tang family can't gain a foothold in Yi City. They have to bond with the Ye family through marriage and get close to the Wang family."

"Bah! If it weren't for Second Master, Fifth Master and Seventh Master being foolish and giving up the strong support from Huanhua Swords Sect... How could they get into such a plight? Humph, what's more, why do they have to arrange the marriage for the Ninth Miss Tang? The Thirteenth Miss Tang from the Seventh Master's branch is too young, yet the Sixth Miss Tang from the Second Master's branch is already old enough to get married!" The guard next to him cursed in a low voice, "In my view, the Second Master wants to seize the chance to kick the Ninth Miss Tang out of the Tang Family. There used to be a female Master!"

For an aristocratic family, it was rare to have a female Master. Generally, there were only two possibilities. First, among the Master's branch, if there was only a daughter left with talents which were more brilliant than those of the men from other branches. Along with the strong support from the Master and Elders, she could be the new Master and marry a man who would join their family. Second, if she had external support which was strong enough to suppress the entire Family.

Tang Mingyue met none of the requirements, unless Old Master Tang suddenly woke up and made this overwhelming decision with support from the Elders and Foreign Officials who were only loyal to him. But if he died, Tang Mingyue would fail to secure the position of Master. Nevertheless, it was inevitably confusing that second master Tang and the others were arranging this marriage for her in a hurry. And they had made the worst possible choice.

The guard who was the first to talk nodded and said, "It's said that the Master of the Ye family personally requested the Ninth Miss Tang's marriage with Master Ye. He said that he wanted her to take control of Master Ye. Well, if Master Ye could be controlled, why can't the Master do it himself?"

The reason Master Ye could be so domineering was undoubtedly the fact that he was the Master's legitimate son.

At the thought of Tang Mingyue, who was beautiful, kind and had never put on airs, going to marry the detestable Master Ye, even guards like them were rather morose. They stared at each other and sighed again. They had no right to speak on this matter.

All of a sudden, a thin man came slowly over. Carrying a Long Knife wrapped up with a black scabbard in his left hand, he showed a cool temperament with aggressive eyes.

"Visitors should stop here." A guard hastened to walk towards him.

The man was actually Meng Qi wearing the mask. After looking at the guard and the horizontal board which was hung on the door and read TANG FAMILY MANOR, he said in a hoarse voice, "Since when have I become a visitor?"

"You..." The guard stared at Meng Qi in astonishment. He came to realize that he looked similar to Old Master Tang.

With his eyelids twitching a bit, a guard who had been working in the Tang Family Manor for years said with mixed feelings of surprise and joy, "Second Young Master?"

Meng Qi nodded gently and in a way of pretending to be aristocratically arrogant, he said, "It's kind of you to remember me."

Who knew who he was!

"You, you are still alive? Great! You've come back just in time!" Through careful observation of his height and appearance, the guard confirmed that he was the Second Young Master of the Tang Family.

Meng Qi said in a hoarse voice, "What happened?"

The guards gave a rough account of the matter one after another. Meng Qi patiently listened to the news about which he had inquired. In the end, he said in a deep voice, "The eldest brother is like a father. Those who want to take advantage of my ninth sister should ask the knife in my hand first!"

"Bring me up to second uncle and the others."

One of the guards led Meng Qi into the manor, while the rest looked at him curiously and expectantly. They found that each step of his covered an identical distance as if he had measured it!

"Second Young Master, his strength..." they said, dumbstruck. Although they were just general guards, they still had such insight!

...

In the Tang family hall, there were two armchairs on the left front without anyone sitting on them, which indicated that the Master was still alive. There was a row of square chairs on both sides lined up to the door and separated by square tables on which teacups were placed.

Masters were on the left side, while guests were on the right side. On the left side, there was the head, an old man in his fifties who wore a loose robe with large sleeves and a ceremonial hat. On his right, there was an elegant man who was nearly forty years old with his hand waving a folding fan and a smile on his face. He was followed by several Elders, the head of Foreign Officials and several young masters of the generation of second young master Tang. As the only disciple of the eldest branch, Tang Mingyue also sat by the door.

On the right front, sat a young childe. He had a square face, a wide nose, and a big mouth. His dignified behavior and Long Sword at his waist, gave an impression of resolution and equanimity. He was successively followed by the Masters of the Ye Family, the Ling Family and the Wan family as well as several nine acupores Elders, then by Master Ye and the legitimate sons of other two families -- Master Ling and the third son of the Wan family.

"Mingyue, since the Ye family has shown their sincerity, you'll be engaged with Xiaojie tomorrow. It can be viewed as counteracting the bad luck for Master." Second master Tang said with authority.

Tang Mingyue looked pale. She gave a resentful look to Master Ye who was winking at her, and struggled to say, "Second uncle, I'm the legitimate daughter of the eldest branch. My marriage should be agreed upon by the Master. Although you're filling in for the Master, you're not the real Master yet."

Master Ye said with a smile, "Mingyue, you're wrong. If the Master passes away, the new Master will be either your second uncle or your seventh uncle. Since both of them agree on our engagement, does it matter which Master makes the decision?"

That made sense... All the others nodded gently.

Taking a deep breath, Tang Mingyue said, "My second elder brother is the legitimate son of the eldest branch, so he's the Master stipulated by the ritual law. If he's still alive, why should my marriage be decided by second uncle and seventh uncle?"

Master Ye unfolded the fan and waved it. He said, "It's impossible that the position of Master should wait for second young master Tang, not to mention that whether he's alive or not still uncertain. Even if he returns safe and sound, how can he be convincing enough to be the new Master with his lousy bladesmanship?"

"Yeah, second young master Tang used to get badly defeated by Master Ye and kneel down to beg for mercy. If he were to become the Master, he'd be the shame of Tang family!" Master Ling and the third son of the Wan Family chimed in with Master Ye with a giggle.

Suddenly, a hoarse voice reverberated,

"Master Ye, you can have a shot at my lousy bladesmanship."

Meng Qi drew the Evil Ordeal with a precise movement as if he had measured it.

With the momentum of a drawn Long Knife, he appeared in the hall as if the ground had shrunk. Knife Energy tended to be fierce and domineering as if it could destroy anything!

Wang Zai on the right was shocked. He held the sword hilt with his right hand subconsciously.