Chapter 102 Flight of the Roc
The night is deep, but the murderers are undaunted.
Gu Shenwei and Lotus had just dropped the corpse off of the cliff and were about to leave when they both suddenly felt a hair-raising sense of danger in the air. Killers are naturally sensitive to traps, and to confirm their instinct, the nearby rocks and trees not too far away all suddenly seemed to have become hostile creatures.
Fortunately for Gu Shenwei and Lotus, they were not the target of the trap and this place wasn't the most valued place to capture the bird. But the two's behaviour of discarding the corpse at midnight still alerted someone.
A killer in black rose up from the rocks like smoke, "Say your name."
This was a moment of life and death; those two teenagers had become more and more cold-hearted in the days of practising the mysterious swords manual and gained a strange tacit understanding of each other throughout the past assassinations. When disaster fell, they reacted at the same time as if it were rehearsed and decided to deliberately break into the traps.
Lotus killed the killer who had questioned them with one stab, moving swiftly like a bat looking for food on a summer night.
Gu Shenwei dashed towards the trees not far away and stabbed another killer to death. He was just a little bit later than Lotus.
The intensity and viciousness of the two disciples' attacks startled the killers lurking nearby. All of them immediately stood up, drew their sabres, and joined the fight.
The killers had a habit of not fighting alone when killing and also didn't like shouting, so every one of their actions were quiet as they brandished their sabres.
A dark night, a prominent cliff, and ghost-like shadows. There was no sound of clanking weapons, no light pattering of feet. There was only the sound of bodies heavily falling onto the ground.
The fight ended in blink of an eye.
Six killers-in-black fell as another ten stood there in a row, blocking the exit of the wooden sabre alley.
The two teenagers were trapped by the edge of the cliff.
Lotus's narrow sabre was broken, with only half of it left. She hadn't expected for one of the killers to wear an iron chest-protecting mirror that the sabre was unable to pierce.
Gu Shenwei was barehanded now. He was injured in the wrist and had to give up his narrow sabre when he stabbed one of the enemy's neck.
The situation was now clear. The remaining ten killers were full of shock and anger. Since when did Golden Roc Castle have two more teenage disciples with weird 'sabresmanship'? They had showed mercy at the last moment due to their doubts and were afraid of accidentally killing two scions of the Shangguan family painstakingly nurtured by the Unique King.
After a long while, one of the killers asked, "Who the hell are you?"
The two kept silent. Not far from them were two corpses, and their sabres dropped nearby. If they could snatch the sabres, they still had a chance to win the fight.
"Capture them alive."
The attacking killers had conflicting opinions on what to do, but they quickly resolved their dispute as the two teenagers they were surrounding suddenly made a move and leapt forward at the narrow sabres on the ground.
The killers moved in unison, each teenager being attacked by two killers. The other six killers worked as back-up; they would only follow up if the killers in the front couldn't kill in one shot.
Gu Shenwei grabbed the sabre hilt, but he didn't have time to make a move. He could only roll and avoid the incoming attacks. The edge of the cliff was ten steps away.
Lotus's lightness skills were much better than him, so she was able to grab the sabre. But facing the storm-like sabre cut, she could barely block it. She retreated step by step and was also getting closer to the edge of the cliff.
Gu Shenwei decided to risk his life to receive a cut so he could get up and counterattack. At that moment, the 'heaven's will' which had been forgotten by him for a long time flipped its finger and decided to interfere in this small killing matter in the mortals' world.
A black cloud darker than the night covered the sky.
A giant-like body landed in front of the mortals, its scythe-like long beak sweeping away heads to harvest its favourite food.
Miserable screams rang out from the wooden sabre alley to the inner chamber, and the Unique King who was lying by his loved concubine's side was roused from sleep.
The red-crowned roc appeared. It had already killed the two killers trapping Gu Shenwei before it landed on the ground..
All the other killers were stunned. They had been waiting for this beast's appearance, but when it really showed up, the tools they were depending on, like net and rope were not nearby.
Lotus finally had a chance to counterattack, and she used it to stab one killer to death and immediately jumped to Gu Shenwei's position. She stood side by side with Gu Shenwei, as she knew the giant roc was Servant Huan's friend.
Gu Shenwei stood up and looked at the chick he missed with a surprised expression.
This was not that naked, greedy, ugly thing when it was little, it was also not that atrocious monster whose head shrunk into its shoulders and had very few feathers half a year ago. This was a giant roc whose feathers were as thick as a black iron wall, and a body two heads higher than Gu Shenwei. It held its head high with scarlet feathers towering on its head.
The red-crowned roc had its back to the two teenagers and took a single step forward those killers.
Those killers were startled, but they were Golden Roc killers and would rather die than retreat.
Nor did the giant roc give them any chance to step back. It spread its huge wings and flew two zhangs high (about 21 feet), and swept back and forth over the killers' heads as screams rang out incessantly. The killers who lost their eyes dropped the sabre and covered their faces with hands. They were like weary travellers dragging their heavy feet to slowly move forward; they were also like the drunk staggering around as if their bodies were weightless. All of them seemed to have been attracted by their fate as they walked towards the black abyss.
Those two teenagers thought that they had ground their hearts as hard as stone in the assassinations, but after seeing this, they were still shocked to the core and couldn't even think of moving forward to help.
The red-crowned roc finished killing in a moment. It put away its wings and turned to face the teenager who had saved its life.
It grew to be even taller and stronger than its parents, the golden-crowned roc. Its neck was long but nimble, the corpses Gu Shenwei dropped it seemed to have provided excellent nutrition for it.
But there were still some differences. The feathers on its head were red as well as its eyeballs, which flickered even in the dark night. The golden-crowned roc had a proud demeanour like a king, but the red-crowned roc was filled with the killing aura of a demon.
It would only reduce a bit when it was around this teenager with familiar smell. It wore an expression of a chick and tilted its head to stare, as if it was going to peck Gu Shenwei's foot again.
"We'd better leave right away."
Lotus whispered to remind him. Gu Shenwei seemed to not have heard it, and he looked up at the red-crowned roc, his heart filled with a strange excitement that he hadn't felt for a long time and couldn't believe this was the child he raised.
The red-crowned roc jumped to the teenager's side with one step, and it lowered its head to greedily smell and rub its long iron beak against Gu Shenwei now and then.
Lotus consciously stepped back several times more and reminded him again, "We have to go now, or this bird will be in danger too."
Gu Shenwei finally regained his reason from the excitement of reunion, and he hastily hugged the red-crowned roc and pushed it to the cliff, "Go now, stay far away from here. Never come back."
The red-crowned roc seemed to also know that it was in danger, and its two claw forcefully pushed and jumped off the cliff. Not long after, it flew into the clouds again with its wide-spread wings which caused a gust of wind.
Those two teenagers hastily threw all of the corpses off the cliff because some of the wounds on the corpses were made by sabres and swords, which couldn't have been left by the roc. They then ran back the wooden sabre alley and hid themselves in the ruins.
The wooden sabre alley was located in a remote area of the castle, so it usually took some time for the backup killers who heard the screams to arrive. At almost the same time that they hid themselves, countless figures dashed towards the cliff from all directions. The two immediately left when they felt that the situation was a bit safer, and so didn't see the scene that occurred later
They heard many rumours the next day. One was that the Unique King felt incredulous about the failure of capturing the bird because all the traps were untouched. Another was that the sixteen dead killers had surprisingly and stupidly jumped out to fight with the divine bird. But no matter the rumors, one truth was that Shangguan Fa was furious. So furious that he imprisoned several strategists who had implemented the plan into Xi Xin Yuan and only released them after a long interrogation.
One of the strategists that was implicated was Mr. Guo, which made Gu Shenwei felt better a bit. He hadn't exacted his revenge against this hidden enemy yet.
The killer who died at the black market naturally became a trivial matter compared to the major happenings of such a big case. The investigators even put all of the blame of failing to capture the bird onto him, thinking that he had drunk too much, ran to the edge of the cliff, and disturbed the giant roc.
The Unique King felt very embarrassed and forbid anyone to mention the roc in front of him. However, he still ordered people to build towers around the castle equipped with many strong bows which needed the strength of several people to draw. The huge arrow was tied with a long thin rope and would be immediately shot once the giant roc was found.
Shangguan Fa had changed his mind. He wanted the bird, dead or alive.
Because of this, the guarding force at the periphery of the castle had been greatly strengthened. Gu Shenwei and Lotus dropped the plan to assassinate in the castle. Miraculously the red-crowned roc also seemed to have travelled far away and disappeared from then on. Having thrown the castle into pandemonium for three months and injured countless people, it seemed that it really just wanted to have a look at the only human it was familiar with.
The fight with the killers somehow proved the effectiveness of the swordsmanship, but it also revealed another important problem. When Lotus stabbed at the opponent with an iron chest-protecting mirror, her strength couldn't penetrate it which caused her sabre to break, and almost in the enemy killing her.
So, it came down to the flaw that Gu Shenwei had originally thought of. What if the enemy was fully armed and was immune to sabres and spears? According to the saying of the swords manual, once one's internal energy reached a certain level and used the unique way of guiding the Qi, it would be unstoppable. But internal energy was exactly the two's shortcomings.
In the end, both of them thought that a treasured sword that could slash steel like mud was necessary to practise this kind of swordsmanship.
But it was almost impossible for a killer who used sabre to acquire a treasured sword.
Several days later, when the season was approaching early summer, Gu Shenwei suddenly discovered that he was already 16 years old now, which left him less than two years to solve his issue of Qi deviation. The death was so close that his heart constantly thumped. He thought that he did not care about his life and even pursued the idea of 'killing oneself' as he practised the swordsmanship, but he still daydreamed now and then about how good it would be if he had a normal life or had a life that he could squander.
At one time, he even felt that he had mastered the swordsmanship. Since he believed that his life was going to end soon and that there was no more time left for him, he plotted many assassination plans. The targets of which included Shangguan Nu, Shangguan Fa, Shangguan Chui, Shangguan Yushi, Shangguan Fei, Mr. Guo, and even included Shangguan Ru.
There were several plans that he thought would work, but then the green-faced assassin who floated in the air like ghosts would appear in his eyes.
He didn't have the confidence to defeat the green-faced assassin, which made him frustrated.
But because he had used swordsmanship in the sabresmanship, his career as a disciple became much easier. His success in the monthly test was remarkable, and once again became one of the top-ranked disciples. He had long expected to meet Wild Horse again, but it was hard to actually fight because the monthly test seldom arranged for two disciples to fight twice.
Servant Huan used to be not good at attacking from the flank and back, and Tie Hanfeng had accepted it after working through his bad temper. Similarly, he accepted his disciple's change this time and no longer forced his disciple to strengthen the killing aura, but he was always dissatisfied with his disciple’s drifting sabresmanship.
After several serious competition, Tie Hanfeng had to admit that the sabresmanship his disciple had 'enlightened' himself with indeed had some value; Gu Shenwei also had to secretly admit that there was still a discrepancy between his kung fu and his Master's. Even if he used the real swordsmanship, it would still be hard for him to win.
The Master and disciple pair worried most about Gu Shenwei's internal energy. No matter how good one's sabresmanship was, there was always a limit if one's internal energy couldn't catch up.
Gu Shenwei and Lotus anxiously wanted to practise the newly learnt swordsmanship to make up for their shortcomings. Luckily, after the giant roc disappeared for a month, another wave of disciples arrived at Lian Huo Yuan. Several hundreds of teenagers with vigorous killing aura showed up right in the line of fire.