Editors: Nyxnox, Cypress Venus Trap
Chapter 112 Strategist
Eight nomadic bandits had died in the wilderness without even knowing what had killed them. On each one of them, a thin cut extended from their throat to their abdomen, as the woman hadn't been able to disembowel them in time.
Three teenagers stood by the fire, and another was keeping watch in the distance. They were waiting for the arrival of the five sabreman.
The appointed time had passed, and perhaps those sabreman would never come back. They were either killed by the enemy or had already run away. Gu Shenwei lost his confidence again. That woman had a crazy temperament and what she said made him frustrated. This was not an average bandit; she had come for Golden Roc Castle, and it was very likely that her target was Shangguan Ru.
He once wished that he could come across some enemies of Golden Roc Castle, so that he could join them to avenge his parents, brothers and sister. Now, he had finally found someone standing against Golden Roc Castle, but he was standing on his enemy's side.
Why had such a temptation appeared now, only after he had already planned an alluring future for his revenge?
No, Gu Shenwei said to the group of Golden Roc Castle's enemies he couldn't see, in his heart. He refused the temptation because no one was trustworthy. He had already begun walking on his own road and would continue moving on it.
Gu Shenwei gripped the sabre hilt and restored his confidence. This woman's kung fu was very good, but he was still capable of killing her in one shot. The enemy didn't know the real power of the five brown-belted killers, which would be the key for their success.
Wild Horse and Liuhua stood by Gu Shenwei's side, one on the left and another on the right; one couldn't speak, and the other seldom spoke. For both of them, this appointed 'leader' was someone they barely accepted.
Gu Shenwei silently looked at the two and guessed what they were thinking. They ran so far, but only captured one enemy and she was killed by their leader without getting any valuable information. Wild Horse and Liuhua probably disapproved of him.
'Take a rest, the enemy is not far from here, and we have to take the initiative.' Gu Shenwei said.
He kicked away two corpses and sat on the rock that used to be under their butts. Then he suddenly stood up and drew his sabre.
Close to the stone lay a person, a living person.
This man was curled into a ball, the colour of his clothes close to the colour of the rock and he was covered by four legs. These were the lucky factors that surprisingly concealed him from the teenagers until now. They thought that those eight bandits were all dead and had naturally relaxed their vigilance so, even though they had stood there for a while, they surprisingly hadn't noticed the faint breathing.
This man wore a ragged long robe that was dirtier than the dead bandits, but he had a skinny body and his panicked face had a trace of gentleness and quietness. He seemed to be a scholar.
He was tightly tied with ropes, his eyes were wide open, and his body was as stiff as a rock. He was also really scared. First, it was a group of bandits, then a monster-like black bird, and now, finally, four sabre-wielding teenagers. He hadn’t closed his eyes for the whole night but nightmares kept appearing in front of him.
Gu Shenwei pointed his sabre tip at this grey-robed man, and the grey-robed man could no longer continue pretending to be non-existent, "Spare my life please, spare my life please. Don't kill me, I'm not a robber."
Gu Shenwei cut the rope on the grey-robed man, "Who are you? Why are you here?"
The grey-robed man shivered as he tried to stand up, but lost strength midway, so he sat back onto the rock, "I'm surnamed Fang, first name Wenshi. Buddhism always says 'Ru Shi Wo Wen,' which is where my first name comes from. I'm a scholar, and I was taking the shortcut but was blocked and robbed by these 'brothers'. They wouldn't let me go unless I paid the ransom. However, anyone can see that I'm a person living a miserable life. I'm penniless, well, I have several pennies, but they were all snatched away. How could I pay for the ransom? And I didn't expect a female monster to come at midnight. She was really ferocious; she killed whatever she saw. Luckily you, young heroes, arrived in time, and got rid of the female monster, saving my life."1
But this Fang Wenshi didn't even utter a sound when the 'young heroes' appeared. Gu Shenwei snorted and sheathed his sabre. This was a poor guy who knew nothing about martial arts. There was no need to be paranoid, "You can go now."
Fang Wenshi didn’t seem to believe his luck, and he looked at those three 'young heroes' one by one before suddenly bowing deeply. He then got up to run away, but he fell onto the ground after several steps, crawled up, and continued running. It seemed that he would collapse in exhaustion at any time and wouldn't be able to run too far away.
"You should kill him."
The silent Liuhua surprisingly opened his mouth. His voice was husky and quite inconsistent with his appearance.
"No, let him walk in front."
Gu Shenwei stared at Fang Wenshi who was still running, thinking, maybe this scholar can draw the snake out of its hole.
The four brown-belted killers waited a while before slowly following Fang Wenshi after he had run for a while.
After running about half a mile, Fang Wenshi came across several horses running from the opposite direction. He wanted to stop one of the horses but he only suffered another nasty fall for his efforts.
Those horses automatically stopped as they came closer. They were the teenagers' mounts for there were six in total. One of the horses was carrying a sabreman of the Meng family, who was lying limply in the saddle, obviously dead.
As soon as the horse stopped, that sabreman fell to the ground, revealing an arrow in his heart.
Liuhua kneeled down on one leg, touched the shaft, and carefully examined it. He looked serious, with an expression similar to a calligrapher finally seeing a legendary painting.
The enemy was indeed not far away.
The four got on their horses, held the reins, and continued moving slowly behind Fang Wenshi, who was several hundred steps away.
They were brown-belted killers and were not good at large scale face to face fights. Ideally, they wanted to find the enemy and solve the problem with their assassination skills.
Fang Wenshi ran onto a slope before looking back at the followers behind him. He suddenly sat on the ground and wasn't willing to get up again.
Those four teenagers rode over to Fang Wenshi's side.
Fang Wenshi raised his head. He had only run a few miles but was already sweating and his face was as red as blood, "You're from Golden Roc Castle?"
"How did you know it?" Gu Shenwei was a bit surprised. He didn't expect that a weak, poor man could recognize their identities.
"An embroidered bird on the shoulder, black clothes, a unique sabre, and a special belt that I haven't seen before. All of these facts point to you being from Golden Roc Castle. You also seem to still be disciples?"
"Why don't you run?" Gu Shenwei didn't answer Fang Wenshi's question.
"I can't run any more. My stomach is empty and my legs are soft. Could you lend me a horse?"
The brown-belted killers had two extra horses that were being led by White Camel.
"No, Golden Roc Castle never lends out anything." Gu Shenwei said without knowing if there was really a rule like this or not in the castle.
"I know, how about this, you can take me with you. I'll follow you to see the Unique King. I can assure you that the Unique King will be delighted after I exchange several words with him, and then the King Lord will greatly reward you. If I'm rich and powerful one day, I will definitely not forget about you four heroes."
If it wasn't for the fact that they had accepted cruel trainings as killers at Golden Roc Castle, the four teenagers would definitely laugh breathlessly at what they heard. But they were still dumbfounded after hearing Fang Wenshi's words. No one uttered a sound for a long time.
This poor scholar was neither mad nor could he be too shameless. He dared to boast that he could delight the Unique King when he couldn’t even convince those eight wandering bandits.
"Tell me those 'several words' you want to say. If you can amuse me, I'll send you a horse."
"You wouldn’t understand. No no, four young heroes of course know everything, but … You're killers and only care about how to kill, right? You don't want to listen to those matters about conquering the world, do you?"
It turned out this poor scholar was a 'lobbyist', and the only usage for a 'lobbyist' was to walk in the front as bait. It would be useless if he continued to stick around. Gu Shenwei drew his sabre.
Seeing the shining narrow sabre, Fang Wenshi was perplexed; he seemed to have not noticed the killing aura that was now coming off of the teenager at all. Then he said one sentence, which not only kept his life, but also started a friendship between the 'lobbyist' and the killer.
Several years later, when Gu Shenwei mentioned this scene again, Fang Wenshi didn't remember it at all. He stubbornly believed that it was his confidence and composure that had touched this teenage killer.
"Do you know? A sabre can kill people, but strategy can also kill people and most of the times it kills even more."
It was as if a flash of lightning had struck his head. Gu Shenwei suddenly recalled what teacher Zhang Ji of Golden Roc Castle had said to him, "In the past, the sharpest sabre was gold and silver, the most formidable killer was the strategist."
If there was anything in this world that Gu Shenwei truly believed, it was the truth Zhang Ji had taught him. That was his main foundation to revenge and overturning Golden Roc Castle in the future, and was more important than any martial arts skills he had learnt.
A sorry person like Fang Wenshi could surprisingly say something similar to Zhang Ji. After this one sentence, Gu Shenwei couldn't help but look at him with new eyes.
Not far away was the mysterious enemy, but what was on his mind was the distant future.
Fang Wenshi was still very young in his twenties. He looked to be poverty-stricken. His face was covered with dust and only by carefully observing could one find a trace of fearlessness that a lobbyist should have. In a commoners' eyes, that trace was no different from the expression of a shameless person.
'Give him a horse.'
White Camel who was holding the horse was stunned for a bit, but he still followed the leader's order and threw one rein at Fang Wenshi.
Fang Wenshi was even more surprised than White Camel. He couldn't believe his words had some effect, this was something that had never happened to him in the past several years as a lobbyist.
'You'll take me to see the Unique King?'
'No, I want you to get on the horse and move right away.'
The future was too far away, and the present was more important. Gu Shenwei had this learnt this lesson before so he still would take Fang Wenshi to use as bait.
Hesitating, Fang Wenshi climbed onto the horse. He turned back and wanted to say something but Gu Shenwei slapped the horse with his sabre, sending it into a fast gallop. Soon, the scholar couldn't be seen even after climbing over several gentle slopes.
The four teenagers guided their horses to trot forwards as they observed the surroundings nearby carefully.
It became more and more difficult to walk on the road, and not long in the distance appeared a mountain. According to what Dao San'er said, they might come across the Iron Mountain's outpost with one extra day's journey after they climbed over that mountain. On the south side was a large landscape of rolling hills with very little grass and woods. It could be vaguely seen that beyond the rolling hills was a boundless desert.
Fang Wenshi rode back, his face pale as if he had seen a ghost during the daytime. He came to Gu Shenwei, 'They said turn around immediately and walk to the South together with others.'
'Mmm, three people who looked ferocious, like those bandits.' Fang Wenshi leaned over, seemingly still shocked.
If the lobbyist's courage was like this, then Gu Shenwei was a bit disappointed.
Four brown-belted killers drove the horses to move forward. Fang Wenshi reined his horse in, turned around, and slowly followed behind.
Those teenagers moved several miles more and stopped at the peak of a slope. Looking from afar, three riders wearing felt clothing blocked the road. With half of their arms bared, all of them held longbows and carried long sabres on their back.
Gu Shenwei glanced at the South, and didn't understand why these people wanted them to go to the desert.
Translator's note: Ru Shi (is like this) Wo (I) Wen (hear) literally means 'This is what I heard.' ↩