Chapter 16 Qi Deviation
When learning balanced power, yin and yang power should be practiced alternatively. The higher the level, the more powerful it became. For beginners, it was safe to start practising yin power; it just took longer to master the basics. One could improve faster if one started with the yang power, but one must have a good master who could offer suggestions and help.
Yang and yin power were both extremities. Everything had its two sides — positive and negative. Going beyond the limit was just as bad as falling short, so to practise yang power, one must use yin power to balance it and vice versa.
If a practitioner started at the first level of yang power and did not have yin power to balance it, he would have to use ‘external force’, and this external force had to be a person whose yin power was at least at the second level.
When Gu Shenwei had practiced the first level of yang power, it was his father Gu Lun who had instructed him. Although Gu Lun’s balanced power had reached the fifth level of yin power, he still taught his son carefully, frequently reminded him that focusing on safety and having a solid base was more important than anything else.
All these years, Gu Shenwei had used this as an excuse and had not practised hard, which had resulted in a slow speed when practising yin power after he had mastered the first level of yang power.
Gu Shenwei had not told these important words to Servant Yao. Instead, he motivated Servant Yao to train harder so that he could improve faster.
The faster Servant Yao practised yang power, the deeper his Qi deviated.
Only using this method could he get rid of Servant Yao secretly. Both Xue Niang and Servant Huan were Servant Yao’s ‘master’. If Servant Yao suddenly died when practising kung fu, the first suspect would be Xue Niang.
This plan seemed perfect, but the problem was that Qi deviation was not controllable.
Gu Shenwei had learnt very little about Qi deviation from his father. He had no clue about the extent one had to practise or how long it would take for it to happen.
It would be meaningless for Gu Shenwei if Servant Yao’s Qi deviated several months later, because once Servant Yao entered the east castle, there were plenty of masters who could identify the new disciple’s balanced power sooner or later.
Besides, the Han Shiqi who knew him would be back in half an month, and he had already ordered Gu Shenwei to stay with him during the night.
Gu Shenwei was in a dangerous situation, similar to having a sword hanging over his head.
Gu Shenwei had no choice but to be ruthless, but after all, he was not a cold-hearted killer so he often unconsciously felt remorse seeing a living teenager stepping toward death because of his plot.
Should Servant Yao die? Must he die?
Ever since Gu Shenwei started teaching him balanced power, Servant Yao seemed to have treated him like a friend. However, in Servant Yao’s mind, social classes even existed for ‘friends’. He constantly reminded Servant Huan that he had superior status, was stronger and provided wisdom and power. In return, Servant Huan had to show his loyalty and gratitude.
He also taught Servant Huan about his philosophy of life often.
“You may have already heard about Golden Roc Castle’s two commandments for a killer; the first one is to be as covert as possible; the second to restrain from being soft-hearted, make sure to cut off the weeds and dig up the roots.”
“Let me tell you, being a servant is the same as being a killer. The lords have a high status, the servants have a low status. If you want to climb up, you have to discard all of your principles and dignity. Do whatever you are ordered to do and do it happily. Just like what I say often, ‘wash your ass clean’. Is just washing it clean enough? No, you have to take the initiative and play some tricks to make him like you. Then one day, you will definitely have the opportunity to join a new lord and put your old lord underfoot. At that time, you should never hesitate.”
“Friend? How can it be possible for servants to become friends? We are each other’s ladder. Today you are under my foot, but tomorrow you may step on me.”
Gu Shenwei couldn’t do anything else except listen to these ‘heart to heart’ talks, then secretly tell himself, he was right, so you absolutely can have a guilt-free heart when you kill him.
Servant Yao’s internal power improved quickly and his internal Qi grew stronger. Xue Niang had taught him ‘Tiger Subduing Fist’, which was a fierce martial arts. Together with yang power, it became more and more powerful.
The two of them fought frequently. Gu Shenwei only knew Eight Trigrams Palms. Although he hadn’t fully mastered it, he was better than Servant Yao who had just started practising kung fu. Especially during the first few days, Gu Shenwei always had the upper hand. However, with the uncontrollable increase of yang power in Servant Yao’s body, Gu Shenwei gradually became the weaker party.
Servant Yao had only practised balanced power for little more than 10 days and was already more effective than Gu Shenwei who had practised the skill half-heartedly for more than 10 years.
Gu Shenwei was puzzled. Did father tell me wrong? There is no signs of Qi deviation at all. Servant Yao is still lively, there isn’t even the slightest sign of him being in danger?
It was on the fourteenth day after Servant Yao had felt the warmth in his dantian that something happened. 1 After practicing the Tiger Subduing Fist, he was drenched in sweat, as if he had just taken a hot bath. This had never happened before.
“You look a bit tired.”
“No worries, ever since I was small, I would sweat easily. Now I feel that my body is full of endless strength. Balanced power is so helpful. How did you learn it? It seems you are not any better than me.”
“I didn’t learn hard, or I would not have been caught and sold.”
Servant Yao didn’t ask more. These teenagers had an unwritten rule; no one asked the origin of others. Even the loquacious Servant Yao never mentioned his past.
Following the Xiantian 64 Trigrams locations, he moved his hands with both yin and yang power, and breathed in the Qi of the dragon and tiger. Servant Yao practised balanced power again. After he finished, he was sweating harder, and pressed his hand against his heart as if it was hurting.
“Are you uncomfortable?” Gu Shenwei asked. He tried not to let his voice show too much concern.
“No, I’m good. Uhm, it hurts a bit here, just a bit. Maybe I practised it too fiercely.”
Gu Shenwei suddenly understood. The first sign of Qi deviation had appeared. The area that Servant Yao had said was painful was the tianchi acupoint, which was exactly the same as how his father had warned before.2
The Tianchi acupoint belonged to the pericardium meridian. Following this, the acupoints on Servant Yao’s arms would become painful one after another, and would involuntarily tremble. His death would not be far away when the trembling of his acupoint developed into the trembling of his whole arm.
“Maybe you are practising too fast. You should slow down a bit.” Although he wanted Servant Yao to make more progress, Gu Shenwei still held some sincerity when saying these words.
Unexpectedly, Servant Yao frowned, and became angry with Servant Huan for the first time in the past few days.
“What do you know? Xue Ning is pushing me very hard. She said that I was far from satisfactory and would be killed the first day after entering east castle. Fuck, they are playing with real sabres and spears there, it will not help no matter how clean your ass is. I still want to live and enjoy life. Practice, I have to practice no matter how painful it is. After I master the first level of yang power, I will practice the first level of yin power. Then, I can get started with the shortcut manual.”
Originally, Servant Yao was not a hard-working person, so Gu Shenwei kind of admired him for his persistence.
“I will kill that bastard as soon as I become a killer.”
Was this bastard a man of the castle or a man Servant Yao knew before? Gu Shenwei didn’t ask and Servant Yao also didn’t say anything.
“As for me, it would be a waste to enter Golden Roc Castle if I can’t become a famous killer. Servant Huan, I’m not a person who will always pay the debt of gratitude, but I will remember that you have helped me. You have my word, I will not tell others your secret; I want you to be my right-hand man.”
Servant Yao blinked his eyes. Under the moonlight, his thin little face appeared to be red. His two eyes were shining, as if he had just drank a mouthful of mellow wine.
Gu Shenwei didn’t know how he himself felt about these remarks. Touched? Resentful? Or perhaps both. He was once the young lord of the Gu family and was not born to be a servant’s right-hand man, but in this cold and ruthless Golden Roc Castle, he fervently wished that he knew somebody who he could call ‘friend’.
Gu Shenwei squeezed out a smile. “I’m afraid I’m not qualified.”
Servant Yao patted him on the shoulder and held his own head high, saying, “Whether you are qualified or not, only I can decide.”
When lying on the brick bed at night, Gu Shenwei secretly prayed to the unknown God’s will and firmed his resolve for revenge.
He was like a doctor with ulterior motives. Seeing the patient gradually becoming terminally ill, not only did he not treat the patient, he even provided him with a sweet poison.
However, Gu Shenwei would not have made up his mind if later on, this one thing hadn’t happened.
Gu Shenwei had been inquiring carefully about where the prison of Golden Roc Castle was. He believed his elder sister was suffering in such a place.
But it was not easy. As a new servant who was still undergoing training, he had very little chances to walk out of the little yard. Furthermore, every time they had been led out, they were not allowed to freely glance around, let alone chat with others.
Apart from Servant Ji and the other teenagers, there were no permanent courtyard residents. The ones that came to yard were usually dying, and were not talkative at all.
He finally received a very important piece of information after a dying man was carried in. The man’s body was full of scars, unrecognizable from his original appearance. The wounds on his body were different from the disciples of the killers, which exuded an unpleasant stench. He died immediately after he was carried into the room. The ones who carried him immediately turned and went straight to west door.
Servant Ji, who was monitoring the teenagers as they washing clothes, clutched his nose and said,
“People from the Ghost Yard are all so smelly, I can’t imagine how the guards can bear it.”
One teenager who had just learnt how to please his boss showed a puzzled and interested expression. “Boss, what is Ghost Yard?”
“Do you even need to ask? Human on the outside, you will become a ghost when you go inside. You whelps, whoever isn’t obedient, sooner or later will be sent to the Ghost Yard. Your body will be half rotten before you die. Hum, I think Servant Yao will enter the Ghost Yard soon……”
Servant Yao was still learning fist techniques at Xue Niang’s place and couldn’t hear Servant Ji’s threat, but he would know by nighttime. In addition to the brothers Servant Qi and Servant Xie, all the other teenagers would eagerly report everything to him.
Servant Ji kept talking. From his conversation, Gu Shenwei not only learnt the existence of Ghost Yard, but he also learnt that the courtyard was not far from here. It was only dozens of steps away, and its real name was Xi Xin Yuan.3
Ghost Yard and Groaning Ghost Cliff, they were supposed to be neighbors.
On that night, after he had finished practising balanced power, Gu Shenwei couldn’t fall asleep at all. The others were already snoring, but he quietly got off of the brick bed and sneaked out of the room for the second time. He had kept his eyes open throughout the night, and had already adjusted to the dim moonlight outside.
He first went outside of Servant Ji’s room. Servant Ji seldom locked his door while sleeping, as if he was always waiting for somebody; of course, it was not Servant Huan.
Gu Shenwei softly opened the door. He cleaned the room regularly so he knew every inch of it.
Servant Ji was sleeping soundly, the red stick positioned near his hand.
Three keys were hanging behind the door. One of them opened the door to the east yard. Usually the door was opened in the morning and closed at night, which was one of Servant Ji’s duties.
Gu Shenwei stole the key and retreated from the room. Closing the door behind him, he walked to the east yard door.
Last time, he had attracted the night watchman’s attention just by pushing the door. He thought it may have been a coincidence, the night watchman just happened to be patrolling nearby at that time. This time, it would not arouse anybody’s attention if he had a little bit luck.
He would take any risks needed to find his elder sister.
After listening at the door for a while, Gu Shenwei unlocked it, squatted down and listened carefully. After making sure that no one was hiding in the vicinity, he stood up and walked through the narrow alleys with his back close to the wall.
Everyday in the morning, he would walk through this alley and bow to the eighth mistress. He had walked by this simple, tall, wooden door many times, but he had never thought that there would be a prison inside.
Translator’s note: Dantian is the region in the body where a person’s Qi is concentrated. It is located three finger widths below the navel. Translator’s note: Tianchi acupoint is located underneath the fourth ribs of human body which is in one’s outer chest and about one finger away from the nipple. Translator’s note: Literally Xi Xin Yuan means heart washing yard; it’s a place for inquiring and punishing the prisoners.