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The Dragon

The Dragon By Nov 06, 2023 8 Comments
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Previous: Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Father and Daughter’s Torn Hearts

Gu Shuangqing said, “Father, Ah Man has prepared a birthday gift for you. She even cooked it herself. Today is your birthday, a day of reunion. No matter how pressing other matters might be, let’s deal with them after today. Don’t let any troubling matters spoil this special day.”

Gu Shuangqing called out, “Ah Man,” hinting with his eyes towards the table.

Gu Fuyou served a bowl of hibiscus soup and brought it to Gu Wanpeng, “Father, this is what I made for you. Have a taste.” She hadn’t expected to see him today. His sudden return caught her off guard, and she wasn’t ready to play the gentle and compliant daughter. Her nervousness made her a bit uneasy. Gu Shuangqing gave a soft cough, reminding her of the birthday gift. Hurriedly, she placed the soup back on the table, opened her storage pouch, and took out a sandalwood box. Inside, on a piece of soft red satin, lay a bracelet made of rich green jade beads, “Father, this is my birthday gift for you.”

Gu Wanpeng glanced at the box, a soft look in his eyes. But as he looked back at Gu Fuyou, he closed them and sighed deeply, “The Zuo family has approached me, seeking to negotiate.”

Gu Shuangqing’s expression shifted, “Father, was your delay due to the Zuo family? What did they say?”

Gu Wanpeng looked up at Gu Fuyou, “The Zuo family wants an exchange. They lost a descendant to Xiaoyao City, and they want compensation in the form of a person. They want your sister to marry Zuo Tianlang, saying the Gu family can’t discipline their daughter, but the Zuo family will. If we refuse, they will make the entire Ning City pay for their loss.”

The three were shocked and appalled. The Zuo family seeking a marriage was not surprising. It’s a common tactic they use, taking hostages to control their enemies and torturing them in the name of discipline. Once inside their ranks, they become their property, either dead or alive, and no one else can intervene. Whether a man joins them or a woman marries into the family, they essentially become servants. It’s all just a facade to appease public sentiment.

Gu Shuangqing frowned, “Father, we mustn’t agree. They clearly want revenge on Ah man. If she enters the Zuo family, she’ll be at their mercy. Moreover, Zuo Tianlang being the direct grandson of the sect leader, it’s strange they’d use his name in this proposition.”

Hearing this, Gu Wanpeng coldly huffed, “Your dear sister here can answer that. The Zuo family claims that Zuo Tianlang was smitten by her grace during the canyon race, witnessed by many. They say he genuinely wants to marry her, having received the sect leader’s approval. If not for this connection, the Zuo family’s demands would be far more severe.”

Gu Huaiyou commented, “This is clearly nonsense.”

Gu Shuangqing urged, “Ah Man,” hoping she would clarify.

With a sarcastic laugh, Gu Fuyou replied, “I did encounter him during the canyon race, but he looked like he wanted to devour me whole. Smitten? They must be delusional to think so.”

Gu Wanpeng, hand resting on the table, massaged his temple and said wearily, “So you did encounter Zuo Tianlang. I told you to avoid the Zuo family and to keep your distance. Why won’t you listen?”

Gu Fuyou, feeling stifled, retorted, “I didn’t provoke him. He was the one pestering me. Are you blaming me?”

Gu Wanpeng replied, “Didn’t I tell you to return home earlier and not to cause any trouble when alone outside? Didn’t I tell you not to venture into chaotic places without your brother? I would have handled Ning City’s issues upon my return. But no, you had to show off and follow them into that cave. You don’t even know what’s inside, yet you blindly rush in. Do you think you’re invincible or believe you have extraordinary skills to protect yourself? If only you had listened, none of this would have happened!”

Gu Fuyou sat on the chair with her hands resting on her closed legs. She bowed her head, bit her lip, and remained silent. Gu Huaiyou tried to explain, “Father, Si Miao and I decided to explore underground. The conditions there are complex, especially with the presence of the ancient formation. Ah Man is knowledgeable about these matters, so we asked her to accompany us for assistance. She wasn’t being reckless.”

Gu Shuangqing hurriedly changed the subject, saying, “Father, I find Zuo Tianlang’s intention to marry Ah Man suspicious. Their reasons are unconvincing. The Zuo family’s behavior is quite unusual. I fear they have ulterior motives, and we shouldn’t let Ah Man fall into their hands.”

Gu Wanpeng said, “I know that. I have already refused the Zuo family, but they won’t give up easily and will likely make a move soon, possibly targeting Ning City. Ren, pick a group of cultivators and head to Ning City immediately to strengthen its defenses, and stay in touch with me.”

Gu Huaiyou quickly stepped forward, saying earnestly, “Father, let me go.” He was deeply concerned about Si Miao and wanted to ensure her safety personally.

After looking at him for a moment, Gu Wanpeng sighed softly and agreed, “Alright, if you wish to go, I won’t stop you. It’s time for you to gain some experience. Remember, don’t act rashly.”

Relieved, Gu Huaiyou responded, “Understood.” Without wasting any time, he took his leave from Gu Wanpeng to make the necessary preparations.

After Gu Huaiyou left, Gu Wanpeng tapped his fingers on the table. His mood had calmed somewhat. Turning to Gu Fuyou, he said, “Now, tell me what happened.”

Holding back her frustration, Gu Fuyou spoke in a subdued tone, “I killed him. I obtained the Yan’er Bell, which helped me conceal myself, giving me the chance to stab him from behind.”

The tapping of Gu Wanpeng’s fingers on the table quickened. The room filled with a dull thudding sound, “So, you could have subdued him. He was defenseless from behind. If you had aimed slightly lower, you could have damaged his core or crippled him. Instead, you chose the most reckless method.”

Gu Shuangqing interjected, “Father, Ah Man was up against a cultivator in the Golden Core stage. Her opponent was fast, and in a life-and-death situation, Ah Man couldn’t think it through.”

Gu Wanpeng sternly said to Gu Fuyou, “And you involved Zhong Michu. Did you not think you caused enough trouble?” He then responded to Shuangqing’s words, “It’s not that she didn’t think it through; she always acts without considering the consequences!”

Gu Fuyou opened her mouth, wanting to deny it, but the words failed to come out. After all, it was she who had dragged Zhong Michu into this. Her father’s words always managed to sting her deeply, igniting her frustration and leaving her feeling wronged. She was already on the verge of angry embarrassment, and his next words were the last straw. Her father always had a way of effortlessly getting under her skin, making her frustrated, leaving her speechless, and getting her all riled up.

Overwhelmed with emotion, she shouted, “So what if I killed Zuo Tianyi? If I had just subdued him and handed him over to the Xu Ling Sect, what would they have done? Merely put on a show, perhaps beat him lightly, put him in confinement? Nothing serious. After the storm passes, he’d still be their precious son. How is that fair? What about those who died at his hands? Did Ah Meng and the others deserve to die? Just because they can’t cultivate, does it mean their lives are worthless and they should be treated as less than?”

Deep down, Gu Fuyou understood the survival of the fittest principle in this world. However, in that moment, she refused to acknowledge it. Due to her low cultivation level, she felt a strong empathy for ordinary people, especially when they met unjust deaths.

Gu Wanpeng’s voice deepened as he said, “Yes, that’s the reality. The Zuo family dominates Nanzhou. To them, they are supreme, capable of stepping on everyone. Have you ever thought that, originally, only three people died? But after you killed Zuo Tianyi, the conflict with the Zuo family escalated, and far more than three lives will be lost.”

Gu Fuyou abruptly stood up, her voice icy, “Then let’s fight them. Everyone knows about the ambitions of the Xu Ling Sect. They’ve always aimed to conquer Xiaoyao City. If a war is inevitable, why not strike first and fight to the death?”

“Do you see war as such a simple matter? You say ‘let’s fight’, but how many people just want a peaceful life, a roof over their heads, and happiness for their families? Just because you are willing to risk your life, doesn’t mean everyone else is.”

Gu Fuyou responded, “What kind of peace and happiness is it to live under the Zuo family’s oppressive grip? Today, they kill one of yours, and you let it slide. Tomorrow they kill two more, and you still tolerate it. Will you keep swallowing your anger until they’ve killed everyone in Xiaoyao City?”

With a bang, Gu Wanpeng slammed his hand on the table, overturning the bowl of soup in front of him. He glared at Gu Fuyou and said, “When to endure, when to attack, when to advance, when to retreat, do you think these decisions don’t require deep consideration? Do we just charge at the Zuo family every time they make a move? Do you know the strength of Xiaoyao City? Do you know the effort our ancestors put into growing Xiaoyao City under the oppression of the Zuo family? Do you know how many genuine allies Xiaoyao City has? Do you understand the vast power of the Xu Ling Sect? If war breaks out, do you know how many will suffer, how many in Xiaoyao City will support the war, and what chances we have of winning? Do you realize that every peaceful year for Xiaoyao City allows it to grow stronger, and the longer we can delay confronting the Xu Ling Sect, the better our position will be? You don’t know! All you do is make assumptions and act on your impulses!”

Gu Fuyou stared blankly at the bowl of lotus soup. The air seemed sour, piercing her throat, as if corroding her insides: “Yes. I’m useless, a waste. I can’t cultivate, neither skilled in literature nor martial arts. I can’t help manage the city, I only cause trouble, embarrassing you. I implicated my senior sister; I provoked Zuo Tianlang; I recklessly headed into a dangerous cave; I acted rashly, wanting to kill Zuo Tianyi just because I didn’t like him. I’m useless; I can’t do anything to please you.”

“Don’t speak with such sarcasm,” Gu Wanpeng said. “Always causing trouble since you were a child…”

A sharp pang of pain struck Gu Fuyou’s heart, and tears streamed down her face. “Yes, I’ve always been a troublemaker. That’s why you never liked me, you’ve always disliked me. No, you hate me, you hate that I caused my mother’s death!”

Gu Shuangqing shouted, “Ah Man!”

Gu Wanpeng’s anger flared, his face reddening as he slapped her: “How dare you!” He panted heavily.

Gu Fuyou’s face turned to the side from the force of the slap, a red mark immediately appearing. She touched it; her cheek felt numb. She started to leave but then stopped, taking a bracelet from a sandalwood box and furiously throwing it to the ground.

Gu Shuangqing cried out in alarm, “Ah Man, no!” But it was too late. The high-quality jade bracelet shattered. Gu Fuyou walked past Gu Shuangqing and headed to her courtyard.

With a touch of resentment, Gu Shuangqing said, “Father, you were too harsh on Ah Man!” But then seeing Gu Wanpeng slowly bending down to pick up the shattered jade, he was at a loss for words.

Stepping outside, Gu Shuangqing saw Lu Shiqing, who had come over upon hearing the commotion. Gu Shuangqing sighed, “Take care of my father. I’ll go and console Ah Man.”

Lu Shiqing replied softly, “Be patient.”

Gu Shuangqing smiled, “I know.” He headed to Gu Fuyou’s courtyard and found her door shut tight. He knocked and called out, “Ah Man.”

From within, a muffled voice shouted, “Go away!”

With a sigh, Gu Shuangqing broke the door latch and entered. The room was dark, but by the faint moonlight, he could see a bundle of blankets on the bed. He sat beside the bed and gently called, “Ah Man.”

Gu Fuyou spoke from under the covers, “Leave!”

Gu Shuangqing said, “Father shouldn’t have been so angry at you. You just went out to play, and it was my fault for not accompanying you.”

After a long silence, Gu Fuyou mumbled, “It has nothing to do with you, big brother.”

Gu Shuangqing spoke softly, “There’s a lot about the cave you haven’t told father. He doesn’t know the difficulties you faced, and it’s not entirely your fault for killing Zuo Tianyi. But you should’ve explained everything to father. How would he know if you don’t tell him? He thinks you can handle everything.”

Gu Fuyou burst out, “I can’t handle everything.”

Seeing he had successfully drawn her out, Gu Shuangqing smiled lightly. “See? You’re so impulsive. You can’t even have a calm conversation with father.  Ah Man, tell me everything that happened inside the cave.”

After a long silence, Gu Fuyou started recounting everything – from solving the Nine Palaces Eight Trigrams formation, to getting trapped in an illusion, and finally finding the Yan’er Bell.

Gu Shuangqing, puzzled, asked, “Ah Man, can you control the Yan’er Bell? Does it recognize you as its master?” The Yan’er Bell, such a divine artifact, wouldn’t easily recognize someone as its master, especially someone of Gu Fuyou’s cultivation level.

“No. It listens to me when it feels like it, and ignores me when it doesn’t,” she replied.

“How did you manage to catch it?”

“I just suddenly caught it.” Gu Fuyou hesitated, suspecting that it was due to Zhong Michu. Perhaps her Dragon lineage naturally attracted treasures. The Yan’er Bell might be staying by her side because of Zhong Michu, but she had promised not to reveal Zhong’s Michu’s Dragon identity, so she was vague in her response.

Gu Shuangqing pondered for a moment, encouraging Gu Fuyou to continue. She spoke about how everyone was stopped by Zuo Tianyi’s men. She was the only one who entered the Ruizhu Palace to search for the common people, where she encountered Zuo Tianyi, who came to snatch the Yan’er Bell.

Recalling the events, Gu Fuyou felt a chill and struggled to breathe. “Ah Meng died in my arms, lifeless. I don’t know if I failed to protect her or if Zuo Tianyi took her life. Big Brother, I get scared too. I couldn’t defeat him, and I was so filled with anger. By the time I came to my senses, I had already killed him.”

Gu Fuyou’s voice trembled. Gu Shuangqing’s warm hand grasped hers, and with his other hand, he gently caressed her bruised cheek. “It’s okay, Ah Man. You did well. Does it still hurt?”

Gu Fuyou shook her head. Gu Shuangqing said, “See, isn’t it better to talk things out like this? Father has a temper, and when he pulls in one direction, you pull in another. The conversation drifts further from its course, and what he wanted to ask isn’t properly addressed. In the end, it turns into an argument, and no one feels good.”

Sulking, Gu Fuyou said, “Even if I talk, he’s still not satisfied. He doesn’t like me.”

“Nonsense.” Gu Shuangqing lightly tapped her head. “How could he not like you? He’s the closest person to you in this world. So, Ah Man, what you said to him last really hurt his heart.”

“He hurt mine too,” she retorted.

“That’s why I say you two are just like father and daughter.” Gu Shuangqing said, “Why do you think Elder Liuhe knew about your proficiency in formations?”

Looking puzzled, Gu Fuyou stared at him. It was something she had wondered about as well. A sudden realization flashed in her eyes, and she gazed intently at Gu Shuangqing. He smiled, “The ‘New Interpretation of Formations’ that you annotated was given to Elder Liuhe by Father. That’s how he came to know of your talents and selected you as his disciple. All these years, father has been working hard to develop Xiaoyao City, not only for its people and to gain more strength but also to give you a broader sky. Ah Man, the world isn’t always free; there are walls everywhere. The size of your sky depends on your strength. But even if your cultivation is weak, your family will always be there to create a vast world for you to explore.”

Tears streamed down Gu Fuyou’s face as she choked, “I don’t want any of that. I can give up everything. I just want him to spend more time with me.”

Gu Shuangqing wiped away her tears with his thumb, speaking softly, “You know that’s not possible. It’s our duty as members of the Gu family. You’re not a child anymore, Ah Man. You need to understand that life often presents us with difficult choices. Even if they’re unavoidable, father is doing his best. He might not be the perfect father, but he has never wronged you.”

“Ah Man, those you can hurt without worry are always the ones who love you. Although father has made mistakes, as his daughter, you should be the one to make the first move. He will admit his wrongs too.”

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Previous: Chapter 42

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Mzeti
Mzeti
8 months ago

Disagree the father should make the first move not her. Because it’s telling us the readers that even as a child her being stubborn was her fault and not in the grown adult. He is a shitty father

Otaku046
Otaku046
8 months ago
Reply to  Mzeti

Plus he hit her. He should apologize first. Based on the info told to us readers, I don’t like him. His daughter literally went through a life and death situation and the first thing he does is scold her? Not even a “how are you?” or anything else to prove that he actually cares. He gave the annotated book to the Elder, sure he cares, but not enough in my opinion. I’m not even sure if he regrets hitting her or is just sad at their argument. Idk what him picking up the broken gift is supposed to mean

Mzeti
Mzeti
8 months ago
Reply to  Otaku046

Also he gets angry when Gu Fuyou says that he hates her and the reason because she assumes bc of her mom death but instead of the father saying you are wrong. He gets angry. I just hate the mentality that the daughter is in the wrong and needs to make the first move when clearly she been doing that her whole life. I going to hate how they trying to make us sympathies with the father when clearly he a shifty parent being a good person for the greater people doesn’t mean anything to family lol

Otaku046
Otaku046
8 months ago
Reply to  Mzeti

Indeed one can be good to the people and at the same time their families. I’ve seen many leaders loved by both the people and their families in cultivation stories alone.

Alex POTUS
Alex POTUS
8 months ago

So, the Gu familiy does not know about the power of Fuyou’s blood while the enemy does. That’s a dangerous situation for Fuyou. I miss Michu though.
Thank you for the comeback, admin. Hope you are well.

Shakthivel
Shakthivel
8 months ago

Thanks for the chapter

Khriss
Khriss
6 months ago

The father raises many important points, especially about war and responsibility. While I agree he’s a shitty father, to me he’s sympathetic. Making those kinds of decisions about life and death, of all the people who entrusted their lives to you as a leader, is enormously draining. Managing politics, as the only stronghold surrounded by a tyrannical empire that treats it’s people like the ground beneath its feet, is as harrowing as living with an axe above your head suspended by a thread. Even if he’s a shitty father, he has my respect as a good city lord. We only see things from the main character’s perspective and are most sympathetic to her, but who’s there to ask the father how his day went and comfort him? His wife is dead, his son is helping manage his burden but also cultivating his own destiny, and his other children have now left to the sect. The MC is such a troublemaker that he just assumed, wrongly, that it was just like another one of her other incidents. As readers we can see that the MC has a strong sense of justice and will act as oil to a fire. While it doesn’t excuse his accusatory words towards Fuyou, it does give more context. Him being concerned about the lives of all these people that are at risk because of the threats by the Zuo family probably influenced his short temper. The choices she makes aren’t inherently bad, but sometimes meddling makes it far worse than it would have been otherwise, and in this case it’s really caused quite a disaster. Wanpeng’s anger isn’t unwarranted, and deep down he’s probably just frustrated that everything he’s trying to protect, including his family and the MC, is being threatened by the tyrannical Zuo family. How could one not be upset after devoting their entire life to building up their city and now having everything suddenly in danger just because of one mistake, that wasn’t even directly their own mistake? The Fuyou isn’t in a position to take responsibility for her own words and actions, and she’s too brazen to realize that sometimes it’s better to bend. Now her actions and anger has cost them. I just know that if I were the father, I’d be incredibly weary of carrying such burdens.

Hatimo
Hatimo
28 days ago

My snot coming reading this chapter 😭😭😭