Chapter 153 Swordsman
Gu Shenwei unconsciously touched his sword hilt. He had two weapons hung by his waist, one sabre and one sword. The sabre was used to conceal his swordsmanship, while the sword was actually the sharp weapon used to kill. The sudden appearance of a mighty enemy made him completely forget that he was a killer of Golden Roc Castle and that on the surface, he should have been better at using a sabre.
Most of the swordsmanship in the world was flashy but impractical, and so swordsmen were never common in the cruel and practical world of Jianghu. But swordsmen were usually not mediocre. There were always a few people who had superb swordsmanship and eclipsed all the other kung fu practitioners in Wulin, and Ye Silang was one of them.
Ye Silang didn't talk much. He had offered his life to the sword in his hand, which was where his nickname of 'Sword Offering' came from.
Like those who were obsessed with a certain skill, he was immersed in his own world and was only willing to spend a little bit of his energy dealing with the noise outside. Except for his sword and enemy, he didn't care about anyone or anything else.
Ye Silang's killing aura was different from any other Gu Shenwei had felt, and he could sense how nuanced it was. This swordsman was a person who easily tired of others' lives and didn't care about killing people. He would kill without fear or excitement; he just killed.
Gu Shenwei held his sword hilt tightly. He did not know if it was because of all the people around them, but he surprisingly couldn't feel the other side's 'living Qi', which was the core attack method of the Death Sutra swordsmanship.
Ye Silang wasn't as calm as he looked to be, but he also gripped his sword hilt tightly. When he first observed the teenager from the crowd, he felt that the teenager seemed to be no different from those ordinary sabremen, weak and clumsy. But when the teenager held his sword, his demeanor had suddenly changed.
Where's his killing aura? Ye Silang didn't understand. The teenager occasionally revealed his killing aura when he dealt with Meng Fifth Gongzi, but he didn't emit any killing aura now. His breath was long and continuous, and his internal Qi coursed through his meridians; his body and sword had become one. Everything indicated that he was ready to kill in a single blow, but he didn't show any killing aura!
The two were already wary of each other and were already treating this accidental kung fu competition as the toughest fight of their lives even before they drew their swords.
Should he kill? Would his swordsmanship be exposed? All of these thoughts were unimportant to Gu Shenwei now. His will was purely focused on the young swordsman now.
However, their standoff didn't last long before someone stopped them. Actually Meng Mingshi had just been pulled aside by Duke Gao to keep him out of danger's way, and the crowd of onlookers had just gotten into a comfortable position to watch a murder fight.
The one who interrupted them was again Tuo Nengya. He seemed to be deliberately interrupting Meng Fifth Gongzi's fun this evening. He stood out again and walked to the middle of the two swordsmen and shook his head, saying, "I haven't said yes yet. What's the point of you two fighting?"
This time the one who felt embarrassed was Duke Gao. He closed his paper fan with a flutter, saying, "Boss Tuo, you are a man with a long history in Jianghu. Don't you know the rules?"
Tuo Nengya sighed. Those twenty or so sabremen walked over in array and formed a blockade in front of the teenage killer.
"Boss Tuo is too old and only wants to find a lord to live a stable life. Meng Fifth Gongzi, Duke Gao, it's not that I don't like money. The Qiu Society was just founded and you guys are very ambitious and want to do something big, so why would you need a group of old sabremen who have half a foot in the grave? We can't afford to waste your time and money, so thank you for your kindness, but please let us old men off."
Most of the sabremen following Tuo Nengya were in their forties, and they were neither young nor old. He kept belittling himself, only intending to settle the present crisis peacefully.
Meng Mingshi and Duke Gao had brought more sabremen and also a famous swordsman Ye Silang, so they were not afraid of Tuo Nengya. But they had come for only Servant Huan and didn't want to start a riotous melee.
While the two were still hesitating, Ye Silang suddenly loosened his hilt, walked over to Duke Gao and whispered something into his ear. Duke Gao's face twisted a bit before he smiled and said, "Ai, the world has really changed, and piles of silver can no longer even buy over a group of old men. Since Boss Tuo has chosen to follow the lord, we can only quit after meeting with these difficulties."
Gu Shenwei and Tuo Nengya were surprised that the whole incident had simply ended like this. Meng Mingshi and his men were also bewildered, but since Duke Gao had opened his mouth, they didn't dare to object. They could only embarrassedly retreat from the Rouge Forest. Afterwards, Meng Fifth Gongzi ran up to Duke Gao and Ye Silang and exasperatedly asked why they had retreated in a low voice.
When the old sabremen and the teenage killer were the only people left in the forest, Tuo Nengya turned to his new lord and bowed along with those twenty or so sabremen.
Gu Shenwei calmly accepted it and led all of the sabremen back to Southern Jade City. They arrived at the house he had rented for Tenth Gongzi before dawn.
Liu Waizui had gotten up early. When he saw Tuo Nengya and the sabremen, he was startled and anxiously pulled the young boss aside to ask what was going on. These people used to be the big young lord's sabremen. How could they work for Tenth Gongzi?
Gu Shenwei insisted that it was his own idea and ordered Liu Waizui to call the bean counter and clerical staff to create a contract. Then all the sabremen signed it with their fingerprints it and completed all of the procedures.
Twenty-three sabremen in total were hired. They were called 'cutters' in Golden Roc Castle. Although killer Yang Huan was their leader, their real lord was Tenth Gongzi, who hadn't gone down the mountain yet.
When everything had settled down, Gu Shenwei asked Liu Waizui to summon all of the servants of the house.
When everyone arrived, Gu Shenwei ordered, "Get him."
The sabremen who had just signed the contract were eager to show themselves, and so as soon as they got the order, two sabremen immediately walked out and pressed down on the purple-faced Liu Waizui until he was kneeling.
Liu Waizui was shocked and puzzled, "What are you — what are you doing? Servant Huan, Yang Huan, you're not in charge here."
"Tenth Gongzi is not here, so I am in charge." Gu Shenwei said coldly.
"Even so, you shouldn't run wild and do whatever you want. Why did you capture me?"
"Because you've conspired with the enemy, passed messages to them, and betrayed Tenth Gongzi."
"I didn't. That's a bloody lie!" Liu Waizui was still being hard-mouthed.
Gu Shenwei motioned for the cutters to let go of Liu Waizui. Then he said with a soft tone, "I know that from your point of view, the Meng family and the castle are closely related. How could they be enemies? And it was an honest mistake with no ill will on your part to reveal my whereabouts to the outsiders."
Liu Waizui's face became red as he countered, "It wasn't me. Many people saw you walking in the forest, so how can you say that it was me?"
Gu Shenwei looked at the housekeeper and didn't say anything. Liu Waizui suddenly realized that he had spilled the beans. The other side didn't say anything about Rouge Forest but he himself had just said 'in the forest'. His face turned white again. He hung his head and continued, "Maybe I casually said something and someone passed it to the Meng family. Anyway, I didn't see Fifth Gongzi and I didn't betray you."
The words 'Fifth Gongzi' proved everything. Gu Shenwei drew out his sabre, "You're so loose-tongued, how can you be qualified to be a killer's housekeeper?"
Liu Waizui's face turned green, but he still didn't believe that Servant Huan would dare to kill him. The castle had designated him as a housekeeper, not some house-serf randomly hired by this servant from the street, so he replied, "Only Tenth Gongzi can punish me."
Gu Shenwei pushed the sabre hilt and thrust the narrow sabre into Liu Waizui's chest, "This is Tenth Gongzi's punishment." He stared at Liu Waizui until he stopped spitting blood, pulled out his sabre and wiped it before putting it back. Then he said to a dozen or so house-serfs, "Throw it out of the city."
Those house-serfs rushed up and carried the corpse away. From now on, they knew that if they wanted to continue working in this house one must keep one's mouth shut like a mute.
Gu Shenwei called Tuo Nengya to a room alone and asked him about the background of Duke Gao and Ye Silang.
Duke Gao's name was Gao Zhen and he was a real duke. He had been exiled from his home country to Jade City for many years. It was said that he had brought numerous treasures with him that couldn't be spent even after decades. Moreover, he was very sociable and was one of the most famous and esteemed gongzis of Northern Jade City. Tuo Nengya believed that this Duke Gao was probably one of the leaders in the Qiu Society or at least one of them. As for Meng Fifth Gongzi, he was young and incompetent, and was probably someone the duke had bought.
Ye Silang's background was more complex. He seemed to come from a royal family but it had never been verified. He had visited many famous Masters in his early years and at one point even entered Golden Roc Castle to learn its sabresmanship. About seven years ago, he learnt the swordsmanship from nowhere. When he returned to Jade City three years ago, he had suddenly become a top expert. Although countless people came to challenge him, they were all defeated by his sword.
"No one can defeat him in the ring." Tuo Nengya said while glancing at his leader's sword. Ye Silang had actually recoiled because of this sword, which was a strange thing that he had never heard of. And this teenager had lied that he didn't know swordsmanship.
Gu Shenwei didn't want to explain the matter, and actually he wanted more of an explanation from his opponent.
"You want to avenge the big young lord." Gu Shenwei suddenly changed topics and went straight to the point. He clearly knew that there was only one type of person who would give up the offer of one thousand taels of silver a month and choose five hundred taels of silver a month: The one who wanted revenge at any cost.
"The killers wouldn't avenge their lord, so why would the sabreman meddle in it?" Tuo Nengya nevertheless kept his composure.
"The killer is impersonal, but some sabremen will always want to repay kindness for kindness and take an eye for an eye."
Tuo Nengya once said that he had served the big young lord because he owed him a favor. He thought for a while and said, "Over a dozen years ago, when I just arrived at Jade City, a killer from the castle raped my wife and killed her. I found him after a year and killed him to avenge my wife. That killer belonged to the big young lord, but the big young lord didn't kill me. Instead, he asked me to replace that killer's position. I refused, but the big young lord still didn't get angry. About ten years later, the big young lord said he needed sabremen, so I took all my brothers to accept the offer. So, I owe the big young lord a favour, but at the same time, I hate his guts. Because of him, I could no longer satisfy my hatred towards the castle."
The teenager looked at the sabreman. They harbored the same hatred but they were two different types of people and had taken very different paths of revenge. The teenager had no gratitude now, and he would not stop killing for anyone.
"Anyway, without my presence, I forbid you and your brothers to approach Tenth Gongzi. I usually make a move in advance and will not wait to get revenge."
"Heh." Tuo Nengya laughed, "You seem to be a difficult leader to deal with."
That afternoon, Gu Shenwei and Tuo Nengya went back to the Rouge Forest and hired another twenty-eight sabremen for a price of two hundred taels of silver per month each. This increased the number of sabremen to fifty-one people, which was enough to form the so-called 'Invincible Sabre Formation' mentioned by Tuo Nengya.
To avoid letting the old sabreman stand on his own, Gu Shenwei deliberately chose someone whom Tuo Nengya wasn't familiar with. Tuo Nengya saw through Gu Shenwei's intentions, but didn't object.
The next morning, Gu Shenwei returned to the Castle to invite Tenth Gongzi to go down the mountain.
This small killer organization has to make money as quickly as possible. Those twenty thousand taels of silver are barely able to pay the first month's fee. Gu Shenwei didn't want to spend the money left by his Master so early.