“That actually looks like a proper fencing posture, but that’s useless.” Ahn Suhyeong slashed at Xia Lei.
Xia Lei blocked it and the two foils clashed with a clang. Xia Lei’s wrist twisted sharply before Ahn Suhyeong could react and the straight blade bent backwards to land with a smack on Ahn Suhyeong’s face.
This smack stupefied Ahn Suhyeong and stunned everyone else.
The rule in fencing was that stabbing, slashing and whipping did not gain points, but the red mark which appeared on Ahn Suhyeong’s face was more convincing than gaining 100 points. Ahn Suhyeong would have lost half his face if they were using real swords!
“Sorry, I was too nervous and accidentally hit your face,” said Xia Lei with an apologetic face. “Are you all right?”
‘Sorry, I hit your face accidentally’.
These words were like a second hit to Ahn Suhyeong’s face. He had gone on an aggressive offence minutes earlier but had not managed to even graze a corner of Xia Lei’s clothing. Xia Lei had gone to change his trousers and slapped his face with just one attack after coming back!
Ahn Suhyeong’s face burned; half with pain, half with shame.
‘Fuck!’ Ahn Suhyeong cursed to himself and lunged at Xia Lei with a flurry of attacks.
Xia Lei went on the defence and blocked him.
The two foils clashed in the air and the two men went back and forth. The duel was intense, exciting.
“You can do it!” Shentu Tian-Yin clenched her fists nervously. She wanted to see Xia Lei defeat Ahn Suhyeong, and this seemed imminent. She watched Xia Lei so closely that she dared not blink.
Xia Lei could actually fell Ahn Suhyeong in one move if he wanted to end the duel but he wasn’t planning on doing that. He had appeared to be terribly pressured by Ahn Suhyeing earlier and rather worse for wear. If he defeated Ahn Suhyeong too quickly this time round the great difference in performance would surely draw the attention of some people. Ahn Geungan was going to discover the theft of the sword of Attila sooner or later and it would be rather unwise of him to be suspected because he had won too neatly. This was why he was patiently accompanying Ahn Suhyeong in playing with the fencing foils to give people the impression of an evenly matched duel.
To win, he had to just barely win.
And so their duel went on like an act in a play. Xia Lei was able to dodge attacks by Ahn Suhyeong at the last moment, just as he saw victory before him. At some other times, it looked like Xia Lei was about to hit Ahn Suhyeong but was blocked by him at the last second.
Fencing was a high-intensity sport which required the mind and body to be focused. Ahn Suhyeong’s forehead was beaded with sweat minutes into their duel. No beads of sweat were present on Xia Lei’s forehead but he put on a huffing, puffing show.
“Defeat that Chinese guy!” called a female guest in Korean.
Xia Lei leaned forward right after she spoke and the tip of his foil hit Ahn Suhyeong in the chest. The physically weaker Ahn Suhyeong was pushed to the ground by this attack.
Embarrassed and angry, Ahn Suhyeong made to stand but Xia Lei’s foil went to his neck - a few millimetres more and it would pierce his neck.
The venue was silent. No one could believe the result. A Chinese ‘comedian’ punk had defeated the amateur fencing champion of Korea. Ahn Suhyeong had not managed to even touch his opponent’s clothing in the entire duel too, and had been slapped red on top of that!
Xia Lei put the foil away and reached a hand out to pull Ahn Suhyeong to his feet. “You let me win, Mr Ahn.”
These polite words turned into a mockery Ahn Suhyeong could not take when it entered his ears, and his expression turned ice-cold. A graceful thing to do would be to take Xia Lei’s hand and get to his feet but there was no saving his grace any longer. He brushed Xia Lei’s hand aside and climbed to his feet himself.
Xia Lei shrugged and threw the foil to Ahn Suhyeong.
Ahn Geungan was ashamed too. The Koreans loved their pride more than the Chinese and Xia Lei sweeping the floor with his son in front of so many respected guests was like a muddy stomp on his face. He wanted very much to kick Xia Lei out, but Ahn Suhyeong had been the one to issue the challenge to a duel and he could not find any excuse to make things difficult for Xia Lei.
Xia Lei was like a bothersome fly to the Ahn father and son - a fly which could not be swatted and kept buzzing about their heads. It felt disgusting!
Shentu Tian-Yin went to Xia Lei with a smile which barely contained her joy. She leaned in to Xia Lei’s ear and said softly, “I knew you were stronger than him.”
Xia Lei laughed. Her speaking in his ear was ticklish.
Shentu Tian-Yin and Xia Lei looked intimate and the guests had a new topic to discuss.
“That Chinese guy is actually quite handsome. What does he do?”
“That woman is the chairperson of China’s Vientaine Group. This punk must be the boy-toy she’s keeping.”
“Really? If that’s true then poor Ahn Suhyeong. Why is he courting such a woman?”
“I also heard that…”
Their discussions were a twisted mess - rich people sometimes had really weird thought patterns, and arrogant too.
Xia Lei didn’t care. He had already obtained the sword of Attila and regained his pride. He was in a good mood and cared not what these people had to say.
“What are they talking about?” Shentu Tian-Yin was sharp and she easily guessed that those people were discussing her and Xia Lei.
Xia Lei smiled. “You really want to know?”
“Don’t be annoying and tell me,” urged Shentu Tian-Yin.
Xia Lei lowered his voice. “They’re saying that I’m your boy-toy.”
Shentu Tian-Yin paused, then blushed. “These rascals have no manners.”
Ahn Suhyeong grit his teeth at the sight of Xia Lei and Shentu Tian-Yin whispering to each other and looking all close. He felt his face burn, and not just the part that Xia Lei had hit but his entire face. He, like his father Ahn Geungan, wanted to kick Xia Lei out but he did not dare to do so because of the possible reaction Shentu Tian-Yin might have to that action.
“Let’s start the banquet.” Seo Soojin broke the heavy and awkward tension.
The spread was plentiful and Ahn Geungan had invited Shentu Tian-Yin to the main table. This table was for the bigwigs in both political and business. Ahn Suhyeong continued to act as translator for Shentu Tian-Yin and introduced her to the guests with high statuses. Father-and-son gave Xia Lei the cold shoulder, but Xia Lei did not care. He found a table to sit at and enjoyed the delicacies being served while waiting for the banquet to end.
At the end of the banquet, which was when Xia Lei expected Ahn Geungan and Ahn Suhyeong to send guests off, Ahn Geungan said, “Everyone here is my friend and I see you all as my own family. I would like to invite you all to view my collection. Hehe, I want to show you the armour and weapons my ancestors had left me.”
Some male guests called out their approval and looked rather enthused.
Xia Lei, on the other hand, felt a headache coming on. For him, the best outcome would be for him to get back to China before Ahn Geungan discovered his missing items. The Ahns would not be able to do anything even if he were suspected then. However, he was still in Korea and this was not a good thing for him to have Ahn Geungan discover that the sword of Attila and some other artifacts were missing.
Shentu Tian-Yin left the table and went to Xia Lei. “Lei, we’ve seen it already. How about we go back. I’d like to have a chat with you.”
“Why don’t we go take a look too? I saw several cultural artifacts belonging to China; how do you think those came to be here?” said Xia Lei.
“All right, I’ll go with you if you want to go,” said Shentu Tian-Yin.
Ahn Suhyeong had been about to approach Shentu Tian-Yin to invite her for the viewing but the sight of her smiling and chatting with Xia Lei made him hold that thought. He did not want to speak with Xia Lei; not one word.
A large group of guests was led to the study by Ahn Geungan.
Ahn Geungan entered first - he did not want to let anyone see the passcodes he entered and the fingerprint-scanning.
The guests stood in the doorway, waiting. Xia Lei’s expression was calm but he was not calm inside. He could not help imagining how Ahn Geungan would react when he discovered that the sword of Attila had been stolen, and what actions he would take - how was he going to counter that?
This was also why he’d wanted to come. He had to keep an eye on how things developed.
“This Ahn Geungan must want to show off his taste and power.” Shentu Tian-Yin spoke softly, “I don’t know how he obtained those cultural artifacts but we are the actual owners, aren’t we? Those things should be our nation’s antiques and cultural artifacts. This feels really strange.”
Xia Lei gave a laugh and said, “You didn’t say all these before.”
“Could I have said this in front of Ahn Suhyeong? Our companies are still working together,” said Shentu Tian-Yin.
She was referring to Vientaine Group and Shinyeok Group building an electrical products base in Korea. The main things they were going to manufacture were mobile phone parts and automotive electronics and so on. Vientaine Group had gained power in the real estate industry and had started expanding to overseas markets after accumulating enough funds.
She was a highly-ambitious woman and would never be satisfied with her current situation.
Xia Lei knew her ambitiousness and capabilities well but he was a tad worried for her too. “I’m not very familiar with Ahn Suhyeong but I can see that he is not a sincere man. And Ahn Geungan - he’s simply an old fox. You have to very cautious when working with Koreans like these. Don’t get exploited by them.”
A faint smile appeared in the corners of Shentu Tian-Yin’s lips. Xia Lei still cared about her. A warmth spread in her heart like before. However, she did not believe that Ahn Suhyeong and Ahn Geungan would con her, and she also had the capabilities to stop something like this from happening so she did not take Xia Lei’s warning to heart.
Xia Lei sighed to himself, ‘She’s not listening to me as usual. She’s really too strong-willed.’
In the study, Ahn Geungan opened the metal door. He did not look around properly inside and turned back to open the study door and invite the guests in to view his collection.
The large group of guests followed Ahn Geungan and Ahn Suhyeong into the collection room and some could not help gasping in admiration when they walked in. Some exclaimed at the origins of this cultural artifact or that antique item excitedly, like a decree issued by a certain emperor to a certain official, or calligraphy which had sprung from the brush of a certain famed calligrapher, the value of a certain piece of blue and white porcelain and so on.
Hearing all this sounds of admiration made Ahn Geungan smile, but this smile froze on his face seconds later. He’d suddenly discovered that the piece he was most proud of in his collection, the sword of Attila, was not on its familiar weapons rack anymore!Previous Chapter Next Chapter
The goal for November is to get to chapter 337 (352 for the folk in the highest tier) by the end of the month. It's going to be a busy busy time and I may not be able to release a chapter every day in December =( so I'm going to set a goal to release all the chapters for the month within the month.
Happy holidays, and stay warm. Autumn hit me with a cough which has been going on for three weeks now... Health is wealth indeed.