“When I was young, whenever I wrote essays and compositions, I frequently concluded such essays and compositions by declaring that ‘It is my aspiration to become a useful member of society who contributes greatly to society.’. As such, by the end of each semester, I would have made such declarations approximately twenty to thirty times for that semester; clearly, it was more of a generic, throwaway line than an actual aspiration.”
“And, when I matured into an adult, I gradually discovered that being a normal individual who refrains from being a public nuisance, would be my greatest contribution to society.”
The Leader of the Wulin  Alliance had stayed up all night in order to work overtime, causing his liver to suffer greatly. Being in a horrible mood, the Leader staunchly refused to organize the annual great banquet for heroes. The descendant of the leader of the Beggar Sect is a compulsive shopaholic, and the descendant of the renowned “Sparrow In The Hall” (who had been famed for leaving no traces whenever he went) had severe social anxiety and possessed an intense fear of leaving his house……
As the martial arts world steadily deteriorated, only the followers of the demonic sects continued their pursuit of their original aspirations – every single day, the followers of the demonic sect insisted on hollering their slogan, on tirelessly promoting and selling their counterfeit health products, and on meticulously and methodically disrupting the law and order of society.
And yet, all the aforementioned pugilists, regardless of whether they belonged to the righteous or the demonic sects – none of them possessed fighting capabilities.
Repaying one’s debt of gratitude and exacting one’s revenge at rapid speed? Riding a white horse that was galloping in the wind? All these were non-existent. In the modern world, the pugilists even had to rely on their credit cards to pay their monthly mortgage payments.
Ah, the aging pugilists were out-of-date, pedantic fogeys, and grief has five stages.
 Wulin – Fictional society populated by various pugilists skilled in martial arts.
This is my first time reading a Wuxia novel in a modern setting, and, boy – I’ve got to say, the premise itself is so interesting, and so full of contradictions and hijinks, that it made for an extremely hilarious read. One of the most memorable scenes in the novel, I recall, relates to the passing of the male lead’s grandfather. After the male lead’s grandfather (the sect leader of the Han Jiang Sword Sect) passes, his role as the sect leader, along with a small notebook containing various secrets / rules about the Han Jiang Sword Sect, are inherited by his grandson (our male lead).
Flipping through the small notebook, the male lead soon realises that the small notebook can be divided into three Sections – the rules of the Han Jiang Sword Sect, a detailed guide to the various martial art moves of the Han Jiang Sword Sect, and several classified and unique medication recipes created by the previous sect leaders of the Han Jiang Sword Sect. The hilarity, though, lies in the annotations made by our male lead’s grandfather.
To the twenty rules of the Han Jiang Sword Sect (which was written in Classical / Literary Chinese), our male lead’s grandfather, bearing in mind our male lead’s background (having obtained a degree in Economics in an overseas university), simply wrote in simplified Chinese at the bottom of the list of rules, “Twenty rules – those who are able to comply with all twenty rules during their entire lifetime are saints, or wise sages. There’s no need to take a detailed look at the rules; as mere mortals, all we need to do is to follow the laws laid down by our country, and comply with the rules of society.”
To the guide detailing various martial art moves of the Han Jiang Sword Sect (which generally consists of the various reflections and/or words of enlightenment of the previous sect leaders in the learning of the martial art moves), our male lead’s grandfather adopted an extremely laid back attitude, and simply scribbled at the front of the Section, “My guess is, that you will be unable to understand, or comprehend, what’s written in this Section, so please feel free to take as much time as you’d like to look at this Section. If, in the end, you’re still unable to understand what’s written in this Section, then forget it.”
To the classified and unique medication recipes invented by the previous sect leaders of the Han Jiang Sword Sect (which includes recipes for various pills, such as antidote pills, and pills to regulate the inner workings of one’s body), our male lead’s grandfather had simply redacted the entire Section (by painting over it in black ink), and writing in bold, bright red font, “These do not have any scientific basis. At all. If you’re sick, go to the hospital!!!”
So, back to our male lead and female lead – our male and female leads are, of course, members of the modern pugilist world, with our male lead being the unwilling, grumpy leader of the Wulin Alliance (mainly because, there’s nobody else to inherit the role) whose priority in life is on the servicing of his mortgage and climbing the corporate ladder, whilst our female lead serves as the aloof, reticent, and yet, somewhat warm-hearted disciple of the Wan Mu Chun Sect (an ancient assassin sect) who, at the start of the novel, has (mostly) washed her hands of pugilist affairs and now works as a crackpot fortune teller. Due to financial pressures, our male and female leads are forced to live (as neighbors) in Apartment 101 on Rong Xian Alley, a building consisting of a mix of old, retired pugilists and modern families with young children (due to the proximity of a renowned primary school located near Rong Xian Alley). As they cross paths, they begin to embark on a journey to resolve various feuds / issues in the pugilist world, whilst gradually resolving the mystery surrounding the death of the teacher of our female lead. The interesting bit about Preist’s writing, really, is how her novels often reflect very present, societal issues (and therefore triggering the reader to devote more thought to such issues), whilst never detracting from the storyline. For instance, one of the “issues” that our male lead, as leader of the Wulin Alliance, was forced to resolve, was the disappearance of elderly from their homes (which was masterminded by the demonic sects) – only to find, that such elderly had simply been “exploited” by the demonic sects who charged them exorbitant rates for a “short retreat”. The main reason, however, that such elderly had so readily agreed to go for such an expensive short retreat, was because the salespersons (i.e. the members of the demonic sect) had established “good” relationships with such elderly, and often displayed a willingness to listen and/or empathize, or communicate with such elderly, who were often neglected at home by their children (who were preoccupied with trying to make ends meet, taking care of their own children, and just life in general).