Chapter 8. A Nail In The Pocket Can Only Stick Out
The Five Great Clans.
They are the 5 strongest, most influential clans under the heavens.
The five clans started off with the clan known to be the strongest clan under the heavens, the Nangong Clan. It was followed by the kings of the Sichuan region, the Sichuan Dang Clan. Then, the rulers of the Hebei, the Hebei Peng Clan. That was followed by the clan at the Liaoning, which was at the corner of the martial world. They were known as the Murong Clan.
There was the clan that was regarded as the weakest of the five; Famous for their strategic minds instead of their martial skills, was the Zhuge clan, located in Honam.
“I’m sure most of you already know, but starting today, we’ll stop working externally for a while due to having to repair the main house’s formation.”
The scholarly, middle-aged man.
He was the current head of the Zhuge clan, and was known as the “Scholarly sword”, Zhuge Sang Lin. Zhuge Sang Lin was leading the meeting with all the active Zhuge clan members in the room.
The table laid in front of him.
About 10 people were sitting on each side of the table. On the table, there was a giant golden box, which was about big enough to fit a grown man inside.
Zhuge Sang Lin pushed the box into the center and opened his mouth.
“All foreign matters will be dealt by Zhuge Gi (諸葛器), and all internal matters that needs to be hidden from privy eyes will be dealt with by Zhuge Mu Hui (諸葛武輝).”
All the members nodded in agreement. It seemed they expected this to some extent.
Zhuge Sang Lin looked at two young men seated across from each other on the far side of the table, and spoke up.
“As you know, this event will determine the fate of our clan for the next 10 years. Because of that, everyone here will monitor your every move. Don’t make a single mistake in your work.”
“I will keep that in mind.”
After Zhuge Gi and Zhuge Mu Hui answered, Zhuge Sang Lin looked at everyone room, and spoke.
“I trust the children’s ability, but since we don’t know what might happen, could a elder help them out?”
“This one will take care of Gi with the foreign matters, head.”
Zhuge Yong Mok (諸葛龍目). (TL: Zhuge Dragon Eyes. Neat.)
Originially, he wasn’t from the Zhuge family. But a long time a go, he married into the family and became one of the Zhuge family. In the martial world, he was known as the “Dual Wielding Flying Sword” (雙手飛劍). Looking at him with reassured eyes, Zhuge Sang Lin nodded.
“I’m confident that elder Yong Mok will be able to take care of Gi easily. Now then, is there anyone willing to help out Mu Hui?”
“I will help him, head.”
Zhuge Yu Sung (諸葛流星).
He was known as the strongest in the Zhuge family, and was the uncle of the current head of the Zhuge clan. Hearing his words, Zhuge Sang Lin made a troubled face.
“Would uncle be alright with taking care of this sort of task?”
“This is the biggest event in the Zhuge clan right now. Who would I be to back out from this?”
Zhuge Sang Lin made a complicated face.
It was the same for all the other Five Clans. They clung to people of the same blood more so than others. Because of that, the rankings within the clan was rather murky at the moment. There were even times when the elders were able to overrule the head’s decision for the family.
For example, Zhuge Yu Sung, who was known as an extremely strong expert, even stronger than Zhuge Sang Lin, recieved a lot of support from the stronger experts in the family. That was what confused Zhuge Sang Lin. Unlike other clans, the Zhuge clan forbid anyone weak from becoming the clan head. That meant if the firstborn didn’t have enough power, the 2nd child was always welcome to become the head.
‘He hasn’t even made a move once till now…….’
Zhuge Yu Sung’s move signaled an immense movement within the clan. That was because the man never took sides with anyone till now. Until today, the man stayed neutral.
“This one has high regards for the second child. That’s why I just want to help him out.”
Zhuge Sang Lin couldn’t hide his surprised face at Zhuge Yu Sung’s words. Zhuge Yu Sung was known to be very sharp-witted in the clan. Then doesn’t saying those kind of words clearly mean that he was supporting the second child to become the clan head?
‘Is there some that something about the second child that I failed to see?’
Zhuge Sang Lin scanned through his memories, and found nothing. The second was a quiet child that simply liked to read. Except for the fact that the child was able to keep a cool head, there wasn’t any other redeeming qualities. Because of that, the firstborn, who was active, headstrong, and was skilled in martial arts, seemed more likely to become the head of the family.
But thanks to what happened here, that didn’t seem too likely anymore.
Zhuge Yu Sung’s statement had this much on an impact upon the family.
Because of the sudden statement from the elder, there was now a higher chance of a family feud happening in the family about the next head.
‘This is troublesome.’
When he was thinking about asking the man about what exactly he was thinking, he noticed that everyone else in the room were also confused. They were glancing at Zhuge Yu Sung constantly.
“Is there anything else we must talk about?”
As if he realized that he was being watched by others, Zhuge Yu Sung asked the head this with a scolding tone. The head, brought back to his senses, panicked a little and spoke up.
“The next matter we’ll talk about is…….”
The conference continued, but no one was really listening anymore.
Their mind was thinking about something else at this point.
* * *
“Please tell me uncle’s motives for doing this.”
“My motives? Whatever do you mean?”
“Do you seriously not know what I’m talking about?”
“Are you asking me this because you actually don’t know? I didn’t really see the head as a stupid individual.”
Zhuge Sang Lin’s face wrinkled in displeasure.
He was able to feel Zhuge Yu Sung’s resolution in his voice.
“That child isn’t fit to become the next head.”
“Is that what the head thinks?”
“The others are probably thinking the same, too.”
“Don’t worry about that. Their minds probably changed today. I’m sure of it.”
He didn’t want to cause a pointless feud.
How much blood has been spilt over brothers fighting to become the head till now? This kind of an event happened far too many times in the history of the Zhuge clan. Did Zhuge Sang Lin’s thoughts appear unto his face? The elder spoke these words to him in a calm voice.
“I know what the head is worried about. But this is for the sake of the whole clan.”
“Will the clan only prosper if brothers have to fight each other for the throne?”
His words were starting to get thorny.
Zhuge Sang Lin furiously glared at his uncle.
The most respected adult in the clan, the man who was nearing the harmonious stage. Zhuge Sang Lin couldn’t understand why a man like this caused such an event.
“I too, have endured for a long time. I wanted to avoid this if possible. But it’s not possible. If I delayed it any longer, there would’ve been even more bloodshed within the clan. If I do it here and now, we will be able to have a relatively good ending.”
“Why did you make such a decision?”
“How much do you know about that child?”
“I know that the boy has a smart head on his shoulders. But…….”
“Is that all?”
Was there something more to it?
Zhuge Sang Lin wrinkled his head and fell into deep thought.
It seemed that Zhuge Yu Sung knew something else about the child that he didn’t know.
What was it?
Was it something big enough to settle the position of the head?
“The head does not know Zhuge Mu Hui. That’s probably why you do not like my decision. But you’ll also come to realize soon that I was right.”
Zhuge Sang Lin couldn’t say anything.
Even though he didn’t reach the Harmonious stage, Zhuge Yu Sung was extremely good at making decisions, at least when it came to anything that he knew about. If he saw something in that boy, Mu Hui probably had an unimaginable talent within him.
“…….I will take time to monitor the second child.”
Even though he didn’t like the situation, this was probably the best way to handle the situation for now.
As if he knew what Zhuge Sang Lin was thinking, Zhuge Yu Sung’s voice became a lot more gentle.
“There is a saying known as Nan Zhong Zhi Zhui (囊中之錐: A nail in the pocket can only stick out). The boy’s talent would be revealed anyways in this event. I’ll make it happen. So throw away your first impression of him, and look at his real self.”
Zhuge Sang Lin closed his mouth. He was a little pressured by the elder’s confident words. He felt that he did indeed need to watch Mu Hui a bit more.
* * *
Zhuge Mu Hui felt hectic today.
Starting from Zhuge Gi, his elder brother, all the elders of the clan came to visit him. The source of all this came late at night.
But since he already expected this visit to happen, he couldn’t give the biggest figure in the clan poor treatment.
“This is…. Longjin tea.”
“Were you unable to sleep? No, you were waiting for me, weren’t you.”
Mu Hui made a bitter smile while looking at the elder. He came without warning, and he didn’t even say why. But the elder wasn’t the only won who had to explain some things. He had to, too.
“I don’t why why you’re doing this.”
Zhuge Yu Sung.
He smirked, and asked him:
“Do you really not know?”
“Yes. I believe my brother is more suited to become the clan head.”
“That’s what you think, yes?”
“Everyone’s going to think differently later. You will become the head. I will make it that way.”
Mu Hui made a troubled face, and scratched the back of his head.
He really wasn’t interested in becoming the clan head.
That was because he thought his personality didn’t match that sort of a thing at all.
And couldn’t you see the talent overflowing from his older brother already?
He just wanted to pass on the troublesome job to his older brother, and read some books in the library in a relaxed fashion.
“Don’t try to dodge the job you’ve been given as the member of the clan. I know what you’re like. You’re slothful, and lazy.”
Zhuge Yu Sung opened his mouth again when Mu Hui made a difficult expression.
“But that’s not your real self. I don’t want to become a head. I don’t want to fight big brother. I don’t want to cause a feud. That’s probably what you’re thinking inside your head.”
Zhuge Mu Hui’s relaxed face trembled a bit. Noticing the change, Zhuge Yu Sung drank a bit more of his tea, and spoke.
“When it came to martial arts, we were always being pushed around by other clans. They rated us highly for our intelligence, but in martial arts, we were always one step behind.”
“As you know, this is a very shameful thing to happen. In this world, strength is key, but our main house is always known as the weakest out of all the clans. I never did like the main house because of that.”
Zhuge Mu Hui was a little confused. What did this have anything to do with the matter at hand? He couldn’t figure out the motive of the elder.
“Because of that, I believed that only strength could give power to the clan, so I started training in martial arts since a young age. That’s why I gave up on being the head. Thanks to that, I did gain some rewards. That that’s it. The realm of harmonization is still far, and I’ll probably never reach it in my lifetime.”
“…….You’re underestimating yourself too much.”
The elder shook his head.
“No, I will not reach the realm of harmonization. I studied the martial techniques of the main house all my life, but didn’t reach it. No, I can’t do it. You know what that represents?”
“The martial arts the main house possesses is weak. Compared to the martial arts of the other clans, our clan’s martial art itself got weak. It makes sense, seeing that none of our ancestors entered the harmonious stage.”
It did make sense.
While all the other clans took their traditional martial arts styles and expanded upon it for centuries, the Zhuge clan basically compiled all the good points of those martial arts into one.
Because of that, while they call their martial arts the “most perfect” style, it is actually just a random compilation of techniques. Zhuge Mu Hui carefully opened his mouth.
“Isn’t it just based on talent?”
“Indeed. It could be because of my talent that I am unable to reach the harmonious state. I am admitting that.”
Looking at the elder, who coolly admitted that fact, Zhuge Mu Hui smiled. Then, Zhuge Yu Sung erased his smile instantly, and spoke up.
“Do not fold your own wings. I understand you not wanting to cause a family feud. But if you do that, your talent will just be wasted.”
Zhuge Mu Hui put on a face of innocence, as if he didn’t know what the other party was talking about.
But he couldn’t prevent his eyes from trembling.
“Do not hide your claws. No, it’s useless even if you hide it.”
“With our current arts, we cannot even think about becoming the best under the heavens. You know that already, yes?”
Zhuge Mu Hui thought that it wasn’t necessarily impossible, but he didn’t dare say it out loud. That was because he agreed with the elder somewhat. The Zhuge clan’s martial art was flawed. There was something unusual about their martial art, something so small that only an expert on the harmonious stage would be able to detect it.
“I know your talents are about as same as mine. But that is it. You probably know that now.”
Zhuge Mu Hui had a really troubled look. Since the elder knew this much already, he couldn’t hide it anyways.
“When did you……. learn about it? I never realized grandfather was such a sly person.”
Zhuge Yu Sung grinned.
“I wasn’t sure about it even till now, actually. I don’t know how you did it, but you hid your talent well. But while you can hide your talent, you can’t hide your body, that reached peak condition already. The others probably couldn’t see it, but I could. That’s why I was paying attention to you.”
Zhuge Mu Hui learnt that he had been tricked, but he couldn’t do anything. The elder was sly, yet wise. Under his gaze, Mu Hui would’ve been discovered sooner or later.
While he had a regretful expression on his face, Zhuge Yu Sung grabbed onto Zhuge Mu Hui’s hands. Mu Hui could somehow feel the immense amount of passion from those hands, and therefore made an unpleasant face.
“There is no depth in the main house’s martial art. Because of that, the limits we can reach with this power is not high, either.”
“…….It would certainly be hard.”
But Zhuge Mu Hui thought if one did put his whole life into it, it might be possible. That was why he was thinking about dedicating his life to martial arts after giving up on the head position.
And then after somehow reaching the harmonious stage, he would fix the mistakes that appear in their martial arts. As if Zhuge Yu Sung read his thoughts, the elder shook his head violently.
“Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to show strength without using martial arts? The clan never used martial arts to become famous, anyways.”
Zhuge Mu Hui put on a complicated face.
Use something other than martial arts to show power in the martial world?
Did that something even exist?
Zhuge Yu Sung pulled out something from his pocket.
“Mystical Door Formation. Our house’s roots come from here, and therefor we can use this to grow stronger. And when it comes to formations, no one has a better advantage than us.”
Zhuge Mu Hui looked at the old book in Zhuge Yu Sung’s hands.
“What is that?”
“The greatest of our ancestors created this book. I found it not long ago.”
『Moon Edge Flower Algorithm Magic (月刃森羅算法術解) (下)』 (TL: Volume 2. Obviously.)
Looking at the title of the book, Zhuge Mu Hui’s eyelashes were faintly trembling.
“…….Could it be?”
“Yes. You probably heard of this a few times in the clan. This is the greatest formations book given to us by the chancellor of the Shu Han, Zhuge Kongming. With this, our powers will increase indefinitely.”
It was something known to have disappeared a long time ago.
Since Zhuge Mu Hui didn’t know it would end up in his hands like this, his face started to twist into a complex expression.