Chapter 349: A Game Between Two Experts
"What do you mean an idling soul cultivator!? Zi, you dunderhead, I may be used to traveling now, but I've still a clan, you hear? How could you treat me like this in front of a youngling?" The other man cried out in agony because of Zi Jin's introduction.
"Your clan? Hasn't it been over a hundred years since you've seen them? Even if there's a saying that the young will do well on their own, you didn't do a thing when trouble happened to them fifty years ago. Can you still call them your clan?" Zi Jin lazily looked at him.
"How doesn't it? If a clan with the last name of Hai still exists, they're the offsprings of I, Hai Dongqing!" Hai Dongqing remarked indignantly, "Didn't they take care of the matter by themselves? Where would an old man like me fit in?"
"How callous you are," Zi Jin smiled, "to see your offspring in such danger from such a detached perspective."
"What do you know? I'm just teaching them to be independent! Aren't they doing fine without me? If they rely on an old codger like me like a crutch, how would the clan ever grow!? Haven't you ignored the Crafting School for twenty years yourself?"
"Yes yes, that's right. I won't say anything more about your clan..."
The verbal sparring between Zi Jin and Hai Dongqing left Bai Yunfei speechless. He was surprised, to say the very least, to find that Zi Jin had this side to him. Nowhere was his strict persona to be seen; only a friendly and relaxed aura could be felt around the elder.
If what Zi Jin had said was true, he and Hai Dongqing were good friends for well over a hundred years. By extension, this meant Hai Dongqing was at least a century old and Zi Jin was a contemporary of the same strength...
Bai Yunfei shivered at the thought.
Bowing so as to avoid looking impolite to the elder, Bai Yunfei said, "Junior Bai Yunfei pays his respects to senior Hai..."
"Ah, forget it, forget it. No need for all this politeness. You've talent if you've become a mid-stage Soul Ancestor at such a tender young age, young one. It's no wonder the old fogey has taken a liking to you. Not bad, not bad at all..." Hai Dongqing waved his hand dismissively while trying to hide the mild shock in his eyes.
"Well then, let's put this game away for next time, my friend. I've some things I'd like to speak to Yunfei about." Zi Jin glanced over at him, "Shouldn't you be..."
"Now don't be like that! Don't think I don't know what you're planning! I was going to win this game! I leave after this game ends!" Hai Dongqing glared as he 'pointed' out the plan of Zi Jin. With that, he placed another stone down onto the board, capturing yet another few stones.
"You..." Slightly embarrassed by the antics of his friend, Zi Jin tried his best to regain his calm.
"Yunfei, wait by the side for a moment." He motioned to Bai Yunfei.
"Yes, master." Came the reply. Standing behind Zi Jin, Bai Yunfei watched the game take place in front of him with some shock.
It looked as though the two people in front of him were playing a very intense game, but from what Bai Yunfei knew of his master, Zi Jin's skill at the game was a little...
When Bai Yunfei took a closer look at the board, he could see the path the game was on with each stone placed. In time, a relieved expression appeared on his face.
As it turned out, Hai Dongqing was of the same level of skill as his master.
His master had fallen in love with the 'way of Go' as soon as Bai Yunfei had introduced the game to him. Whenever Bai Yunfei went to his master for a question, he would him pouring over a self-imposed game of Go, studying which moves to make.
Even worse was the fact that Zi Jin would always ask Bai Yunfei to play a game with him whenever he visited.
The part that terrified Bai Yunfei the most was trying to figure out a way to not completely humiliate his master by winning.
Now, it seemed as though Hai Dongqing was just as fanatical about this board game as his master...
In other words, they loved Go, but they were terrible at it. This meant they were perfect to play with one another.
Excited to play, excited to win, that was how this game could be summed up.
Zi Jin had spent the past few days studying Go in earnest. Though, his skill at the game didn't seem like it improved.
That was when Hai Dongqing visited him.
Unexpectedly, Hai Dongqing took up Go with just as much enthusiasm as Zi Jin, and the two ended up playing Go with each other for three whole days and nights. By this point, Hai Dongqing had felt that he had 'graduated' from being the student to becoming the master. Thus he had challenged Zi Jin to a duel.
Stakes were then made to officiate the duel, but as things turned out, Zi Jin was just a bit better than Hai Dongqing at the game. There were some games that he lost, but he won the majority of them.
It still remained to be seen if he was going easy on Hai Dongqing...
Even experts of Go can slip up when careless. For example, Zi Jin was stuck in a losing situation this match. If nothing was done to rectify this situation, he'd most likely lose.
Clearly aware of his situation, Zi Jin sat in his seat with a grim expression. His hand hesitated over the board as his mind raced to find a solution.
If he was careless, then this game would be a repeat of his games with Bai Yunfei, where a single move completed thoughtlessly would lead to his imminent defeat...
"Hurry up already. You've been thinking for far too long. You're too slow." Since he was on the verge of victory, Hai Dongqing was extremely impatient.
"What are you going on about. Don't you know Go should be played in silence!?" Zi Jin glared, but the damage was done.
The hand holding the stone slowly inched toward onto the board after several seconds of observation. He was going to take back some of his previously lost territory.
"Cough, cough, cough, cough!"
Unable to stomach this match anymore, an exasperated Bai Yunfei gave four deliberate short coughs.
Did he forget where he was? The two elders in this room were ten times older than Bai Yunfei was, especially Zi Jin.
Just as Zi Jin was about to remark on Bai Yunfei's coughing, the hand holding the stone paused briefly when a moment of realization hit.
"Is this move wrong? Should I go elsewhere? Four coughs... four? Four... hm... oh, yes, that place!!"
In two seconds, the dots in Zi Jin's head started to connect together. Smiling, Zi Jin moved his hand to the left part of the board to place a stone on the fourth spot from the left.
A step away from the edge, an escape from disaster, a glimmer of hope from beyond the shade, an attack that doubled as a defense!!
This was the move to turn the tides!
The smug look on Hai Dongqing's face was completely wiped away when he observed the move. He desperately placed another stone on the board to protect his territory, but his momentum had been lost.
The last vestiges of his armor was completely removed by Zi Jin's master stroke, and now it was evident to all that Hai Dongqing had lost this match as well.
"Haha!! Hai, my friend, I win yet again. Now now, hurry up and offer up what you've wagered. That sixth class gold-winged tiger soulgem is mine." Zi Jin laughed without remorse at his victory over Hai Dongqing.
Stone-faced as he handed over the soulgem, Hai Dongqing snorted, "Pah! If not for that last move of yours, I would've won that match..."
His eye wandered over to Bai Yunfei who was standing behind Zi Jin.
Freezing in place when their eyes met, Bai Yunfei felt his back start to grow wet with sweat...
"A loss is a loss. What kind of a two-hundred year old man tries to make excuses? Have you no shame or honor in front of a youngling?" Zi Jin mocked. "Well then, you'd best be on your way, my friend."
"You!!" Furious at this sudden expulsion, Hai Dongqing stood up from his seat without even bothering to clean up his portion of the stones. Another stare was given to Bai Yunfei and a look of a suspicion seemed to creep into his eyes...
Eyes palpitating with fear, Bai Yunfei's entire forehead was slick with sweat now. Hai Dongqing's stare felt like a dagger poised to strike at his back, causing Bai Yunfei to regret his decision to warn his master during the game...