Li Shuwen - Old
Perseverance Will Prevail
Narration: It is inherently difficult for humans to prevail against evil. The notion that they could defeat a god is similarly dubious.
Narration: But when a human is summoned as a Servant, such lamentations should no longer be given voice.
Narration: In China, there are two expressions that convey this idea well: “Shéng jù mù duàn,” and “Shuǐ dī shí chuān.”
Narration: Roughly translated, they mean “Little strokes fell great oaks” and “Dripping water penetrates stone.”
Narration: Therein lies the essence of human progress.
Inshun: Interesting. So that is how the older and wiser Lord Shuwen sees things.
Inshun: You are quite a change of pace from your Lancer counterpart.
Li Shuwen: Did he do something to upset you? ...Aha, I see. You challenged my younger self to a duel.
Inshun: I did try to control myself, but I am afraid my excitement got the better of me while I was training.
Inshun: It seems I still have a long way to go.
Li Shuwen: I suppose it would be uncouth of me to apologize for instigating it then.
Li Shuwen: That said, Houzouin...
Li Shuwen: Surely a man with your spirit and virtue could have resisted the temptation.
Li Shuwen: Is that not what being a Servant entails?
Inshun: I am afraid it is not as easy as you might think.
Inshun: Although I lived to the age of sixty, and still retain memories–or rather, records of that time, I do not have any of the more temperate sensibilities I gained with age.
Inshun: I have no fondness for fighting to the death, but I do get a bit hotheaded from time to time.
Fujimaru 1: I'll say! You guys came dangerously close to killing each other, you know!
Inshun: Haha, I am sorry about that, Master. I knew I should stop, but I simply couldn't help myself.
Fujimaru 2: I'm just glad I stopped you guys in time. It wasn't easy...
Li Shuwen: Knowing what I was like in my youth, I'm sure this younger me must have caused a lot of trouble for you.
Inshun: Come to think of it, Lord Shuwen, have you not met your younger self yet?
Li Shuwen: No, I haven't. If I did, there's no doubt in my mind that we would end up killing each other.
Li Shuwen: I'm sure my younger self knows that as well as I do. That's why we've made it a point to never be in the same place.
Inshun: Why would you end up killing each other?
Inshun: Is it because he would not want to see what he is like when he is older?
Li Shuwen: Hardly. If anything, it's the other way around.
Li Shuwen: I've devoted my life to perfecting my martial arts. If I'd come across an older version of me when I was young, I'd want to fight him too.
Li Shuwen: I'm sure he sees me as either the culmination or the conclusion of everything he's worked towards.
Li Shuwen: And as a young man, he would have no reason not to see how he measures up to that as he is now.
Inshun: Indeed. I could not agree more.
Inshun: After all, it would be impossible for anyone besides a Servant to truly fight against oneself.
Inshun: And if that other self is a more mature version...
Inshun: ...the urge to resist seeing whether your current self is stronger than your future self would be irresistible.
Li Shuwen: Yes, precisely.
Fujimaru 1: But you're not going to fight each other?
Li Shuwen: I will if you ask us to, Master...but I know you never would.
Inshun: Very true. It would be one thing if you were on opposing sides, but in any other circumstance...
Inshun: Nonetheless, I would also be very interested to learn which of you is stronger!
Li Shuwen: Hm?
Li Shuwen: Isn't it obvious? It would be my Lancer self.
Fujimaru 2: So, which of you IS stronger?
Li Shuwen: My younger, Lancer self would say he is.
Li Shuwen: And I would agree with him.
Li Shuwen: ...That said...
Li Shuwen: ...I would still win.
Li Shuwen: And as long as I know that for certain, I personally have no desire to fight my younger self.
Li Shuwen: ...But, if you'd still like us to fight even knowing that, Master, I'd be happy to oblige.
Inshun: ...Oho. Now I see.
Fujimaru 1: Huh? I don't understand.
Li Shuwen: I mean that strength alone is not the sole factor in deciding the victor.
Li Shuwen: For me, it is not the pinnacle of strength that I seek.
Li Shuwen: ...It may sound like I'm just an old wolf that's lost his fangs, but this is a domain the Lancer can never reach. Kaka!
Li Shuwen: Though of course, if he has, that's all well and good too.
Li Shuwen: It would just mean my victory is even more assured.
Fujimaru 1: ???
Fujimaru 2: I'm still totally lost...
Li Shuwen: Heh...
Li Shuwen: Don't you worry about it, [♂ son /♀️ sport}. As a Master, you have your own path to focus on.
Li Shuwen: Hmm. But if that alone doesn't convince you, there's an old story I know that might change your mind.
Narration: ...A long, long time ago...
Narration: ...there was a man with fearsome good looks and two viciously powerful fists.
Narration: The man desired strength above all else, and fought anyone who would accept his challenge.
Narration: The man won each and every fight, as if that were the only natural outcome.
Narration: Whether it was through innate talent, or countless hours of diligent training...
Narration: ...the man kept winning so much that he came to be regarded as an invincible legend...
Narration: ...even as he left a trail of corpses in his wake.
Narration: Not even stray dogs liked him. And why would they?
Narration: The intense bloodlust he gave off frightened all living creatures who encountered him.
Narration: Although the man had a teacher, and peers he once studied alongside...
Narration: ...he always preferred solitude.
Man: The way I'm going, I'll surely end up dead in a gutter.
The man figured this is what fate had in store for him, and accepted it.
The life of violence he led could only ever result in his own destruction.
One day, he would fall. But that day would not be today...
Narration: ...Another day, another pile of corpses.
That said, the man did not always finish his battles unharmed.
Bruised, bloodied, a ferocious crimson tiger... Even the moon seemed to try to avoid shining its light upon him.
Narration: Naturally, there was no one around who would ever try to talk to hi–
Hey, what're you doing?
Child: Hey, what're you doing?
Child: Yikes, so many dead bodies. Did you kill them, mister?
Man: I would be lying if I said I didn't.
Man: I've resolved to kill no more than one person per day in duels, but this was nothing so honorable as that.
Child: Gotcha. Are you gonna kill me too?
Man: Of course not. You're hardly worth raising my fists over.
Child: Aww, you're no fun.
The man frowned. He had no intention of preaching about morality...
...but he still felt that was not something a child should say.
Man: Go away. This is no sight for children.
Child: What's the big deal? Besides, they killed my brother.
Man: ...I see. So they were bandits.
Man: Then you should be satisfied now. Go home.
Child: But, there's still more of them.
Narration: According to the child...
...these bandits had built a hideout nearby, and struck out from there, raiding nearby villages.
And since this area was too remote for the authorities to help, there was nothing the villagers could do.
He also told the man how his brother was killed for daring to fight back...
...keeping his voice calm and measured all the while.
Man: I see.
The man had no interest in fighting injustice.
But he knew that if he did nothing, the child would soon end up following in his brother's footsteps.
He could see the determination in the child's eyes, could see that he was willing to fight the bandits no matter what.
The man had no obligation to help the child, and no quarrel with the bandits.
Man: ...Do you mean to go kill them yourself?
The man then noticed the child was holding a small dagger close to his chest.
Child: Yeah, that's right. I've gotta avenge my brother.
Man: You won't survive.
Child: Fine by me.
Man: ...You're too young to decide the manner of your death.
Child: But if I don't do it, who will!?
Child: Somebody's gotta make them pay!
Man: Somebody, hm. So you don't care who that someone may be.
Man: If a perfect stranger can go in your place–if it is not necessary that they be desirous of revenge–then there is no reason that someone cannot be me.
Man: Give me that dagger. I'll bury it in their hearts myself.
The man continued, falteringly.
Man: The truth is that I have no reason to seek vengeance myself. That's why I go around searching for opportunities.
Man: It makes no difference to me if these bandits end up rich, or if a kid ends up throwing his life away.
Man: But, as luck would have it, our fates have intertwined today.
Man: I will honor that entangling and serve as a weapon in your stead. I'll be your spear, your fists.
Man: If you can swear to yourself that your anger and hatred are justified...
Man: ...then I will use these fists of mine to crush those bandits.
Child: ...You mean it?
Crouching down, the man looked the child straight in the eye.
The child then handed the man his dagger, tears spilling down his face.
Child: Please...avenge my brother.
Man: Very well. Your life is now in my hands.
As the man walked towards the bandits' hideout, he let his fighting spirit grow hotter and hotter.
Not even a starving tiger would dare attack him now.
His bloodlust and delight in battle surged to their boiling points, and he made no effort to hide either.
Even the sleeping birds were startled awake by his murderous aura.
C：Bandit: Hah? Why're the birds makin' so much noise this late at night?
Man: Hmm. Which of you will be the first to die? It makes no difference to me.
D：Bandit: Huh? Who the hell do you think you–
Man: There is nothing to discuss. No need for words. Bring all your comrades here. Quickly.
C：Bandit: S-somebody help! Hurry!
E：Bandit: What's goin' on? The village hire some martial artist or something?
C：Bandit: What're you so afraid of? He's just one man!
Man: Now, now, go easy on him. He did well, at least for a bandit.
Man: I'm glad you're all here now. It would be much more trouble to track you all down myself.
Man: I've counted all of you. If the number of corpses fails to match that count when this is over, I'll know how many of you turned tail and ran.
The man's words stoked the bandits' murderous rage further.
But it was too late. The man knew that if they truly meant to kill him...
...they should have attacked before surrounding him.
Man: None of you will leave here alive. Now fight me.
The man smiled like a wolf baring its fangs.
G：Bandit: He's...a monster...!
The bandits' lifeless bodies were strewn across the ground, just as the man's own body was now bruised and battered.
But that made little difference to either his feet or his fists.
Bandit Leader: A-aaaaaah! Please! Spare me!
Bandit Leader: I promise I'll do anything you want! I'll never kill again as long as I live!
Man: Too bad you didn't have your change of heart sooner. This is payback for all the villagers you and your men killed.
Blood stained the blade a vivid red. The man continued on his spree, mercilessly felling bandits left and right.
Man: ...Guess I should go give the dagger back.
Man: But I'd better wash the blood off somewhere first...
The man made his way down the gloomy mountain, back to the boy's village.
Man: What the...
Narration: There was no one there to be found. Not even a sign that anyone had lived there recently.
Narration: It was clear to see that the area had been abandoned for years.
Man: ...I see. I knew retribution should be carried out swiftly...
Man: ...but I never considered that I'd missed the chance entirely. I truly am useless.
Taking the dagger out from his shirt pocket, he found it had already half-crumbled to dust.
Man: ...I wonder whose vengeance I carried out.
Man: Whoever you are, I bet you would have liked to do it yourself.
Narration: ...And so, the man left the deserted village behind, with only the wind howling in his wake.
Li Shuwen: ...Strong as I was back then, I still couldn't make a difference.
Li Shuwen: It doesn't matter how strong you are, you still can't change the past.
Inshun: Hmm. Still, it sounds like there was nothing you could have done about that. Sometimes, people just die for no reason.
Inshun: In fact, neither life nor death carries any special meaning.
Inshun: Those villagers do deserve to be mourned, but to try to save all of them...
Li Shuwen: Kaka. I am well aware.
Li Shuwen: I am far from the Buddha. I've never thought to even try to save all lives in this world.
Li Shuwen: That said...
Li Shuwen: There are things I can teach, and lessons I can convey.
Li Shuwen: What I lacked back then was the composure to realize that.
Li Shuwen: I am neither a hero, nor a villain.
Li Shuwen: So I thought, at the very least, I should leave what I've learned behind for others to study.
Li Shuwen: Even I have something I want to protect. These fists can be quite useful at getting to the crux of certain matters.
Inshun: ...Still, Lord Shuwen, what you describe is nothing less than a break with your past self.
Inshun: Is there nothing about that you regret?
Li Shuwen: Regret? Of course.
Li Shuwen: Seeing myself grow weaker by the day... Seeing my fists grow dull and ineffective...
Li Shuwen: It would be stranger if I had no regrets at all.
Li Shuwen: But, all those regrets are gone, now that I'm here.
Inshun: ...Aha, I see. You make an excellent point!
Inshun: Late though it may be for me, perhaps that is what I should strive for too.
Li Shuwen: All right, I think that's enough idle talk for now. Shall we get going, Master?
Fujimaru 1: Sounds good!
Li Shuwen: Very well.
Inshun: Indeed! I'm glad we had this talk.
Inshun: Now I am more eager to wield my spear than ever!
Fujimaru 2: So you're all set then?
Li Shuwen: Of course. These fists are yours to command as you see fit.
Narration: ...His body grows weaker by the day, and with it, his fists grow duller.
Narration: One can easily imagine his younger self mocking him, saying something like...
Narration: “What were you doing with your life up till now, old man?”
Narration: But the old man would just laugh it off.
Narration: He knows now that his fists are no longer a weapon he wields solely for his own sake...
Narration: ...but one that cuts a path forward for those who follow behind...