Editors: Nyxnox, Cypress Venus Trap
Chapter 160 Boring
If Tie Hanfeng were still alive, he definitely would have scolded his disciple for not following the rules, for he always tried to dig to the root of the matter, subsequently to find himself in a tangle.
Zhou Huan wasn't a big shot, but his death had caused large ripple effect in the Kun Society, even more than the assassination of Duke Gao. Duke Gao's death was more of a glory for the Kun Society. Zhou Huan, however, was a merchant of the rice and flour trade, who had paid protection fees to the Kun Society. Tenth Gongzi Shangguan Ru was therefore responsible for finding the real murderer and avenging Zhou Huan.
If they couldn't give a reasonable account for the murder, the reputation that the Kun Society had just built would plummet.
As he looked at the corpse, Gu Shenwei understood the intention of the patrol commandant Zhong Heng. Perhaps that old fox had already secretly inspected the rice shop and as he had been worrying over what to do with the corpse, Shangguan Ru and Yang Huan appeared at his doorstep, becoming the best candidates to take over the case.
Nearly one hundred merchants of the rice and flour trade were panicking. Shopkeeper Mi, who had lost one finger, had come to help alleviate the situation. He had patted his chest and bet his life, assuring the crowd that the Kun Society would properly handle the matter and would ensure the safety of the others.
Zhou Huan's death also attracted the attention of the castle. If he was killed by others, it meant that either the Kun or Qiu Society had violated the rules of not interfering with the local business.
This was the time to simply 'solve the problem'. Declaring that Zhou Huan had committed suicide was the simplest and most cost-effective choice. Moreover, from the scene's evidence, it was likely that he had cut his own throat. As for the reason, dying for Duke Gao was a ready-made explanation.
The pressure mounted as time went on. Gu Shenwei was just an ordinary killer, his opinions were unimportant and wouldn't be heard by the personnel from the castle who was in charge of the matter.
Shangguan Yushi showed up in the evening on behalf of Tenth Gongzi. She had invited the representatives of the rice and flour trade, asking them to check the scene where Zhou Huan had died. Few people dared to look at it carefully, and most of them just quickly glanced at the scene before running out.
Yu Gongzi didn't even have to say much. The whole street now believed that Zhou Huan had committed suicide because of a broken love.
Even Duke Gao's death had a new cause. Many people individually inferred and surprisingly, all came to a fairly consistent conclusion that it was a crime of passion committed by Zhou Huan. To them, the rice grains left on the prostitute's bed were all the proof they needed.
The emotional entanglement between the two men and one prostitute caused a flood of gossip in Jade City. Some scoffed and some lamented, but few believed discovering the real culprit made Ye Silang's duel with the killer Yang Huan unnecessary.
The Kun Society and Qiu Society had both reached a tacit understanding that neither would comment on the death of Duke Gao. Both sides still assumed that Yang Huan was the murderer, so the duel had to be carried out on time.
The duel had nothing to do with the truth now. It was just that the two emerging forces were competing to see which one was more powerful.
The matter seemed simple now. Gu Shenwei only needed to concentrate on preparing for his duel, but he just couldn't calm down.
He could accept the 'problem-solving' idea of Zhou Huan committing suicide, but he couldn't be reassured about it. Someone was taking advantage of the fight between the Kun and Qiu Society, and he wanted to know who it was and whether he or she was an enemy or a friend.
As a result, he secretly ordered Lotus and the Xu family siblings to continue investigating the death of Duke Gao and Zhou Huan. Additionally, he told them to do it secretly and to not let others know that the Kun Society was still searching for the real murderer.
Gu Shenwei had to start preparing for the duel now. Ye Silang was a real expert, and although neither of them had ever drawn their sword in front of the other, they had already competed in a contest of will and killing aura. The result left both of them deeply impressed with the other.
The person most excited about the duel was Shangguan Ru, who had assigned multiple meanings to this life-and-death fight, both to show the power of the Kun Society and to avenge her being knocked out and kidnapped.
But Servant Huan's behavior puzzled her and many others. He didn't focus on practising his sabresmanship and also didn't go to the Rouge Forrest to familiarize himself with the terrain. Instead, he spent a lot of time meditating everyday, as if he could kill a swordsman through sheer will alone.
Actually, Gu Shenwei himself valued this duel very much. The Death Sutra Swordsmanship couldn't be practised during ordinary times. He and Lotus had killed too many people, and their swordsmanship and sabresmanship had reached a bottleneck. Ordinary killings were meaningless to them now; only through killing experts like Ye Silang could they realize their potential.
Ye Silang was like a difficult problem in front of a genius. Although it was not easy to solve, doing so was a sublime feeling and could help improve oneself once it was solved.
Gu Shenwei couldn't help thinking that it would be much better if he could use a sword. This idea, however, was fatal, not to his enemy but to himself. The Death Sutra Swordsmanship required the practitioner to reach a pure state of mind, and the slightest suspicion and restlessness would greatly diminish the power of the swordsmanship.
Unlike trees which would keep slowly growing until they reached a certain height before withering, practising martial arts was like climbing a building. The practitioners might reach a higher level, but they could also suddenly fall. It was not only the sword and sabre that determined one's victory or defeat, survival or death, but also the circumstances, the will, and the murderous heart so on and so forth. A slight change might be the source of an expert's fatal mistake, not to mention a common kung fu practitioner.
Since it was difficult to improve his sabresmanship, what Gu Shenwei had to do was to empty his mind and cultivate his willpower.
I wish I could use the sword. He still couldn't banish this idea until the morning of the ninth day of the first lunar month.
The Rouge Forest was ready. Countless people had gathered outside the forest. The rich people came in carriages, while the poor walked on their legs. The bustling scene wasn't something one could come across every year, so no one wanted to miss the show.
Very few onlookers carried sabres with them, and even those sabremen had left their sabres at home or safely hid it. No one wanted to be suspected of having an ulterior motive. Golden Roc Castle and the Meng family in Northern Jade City had let out the words that anyone with a sabre couldn't complain if they were attacked without a cause.
The people of the Kun Society arrived first. The cutter team had been expanded several times and there were over a hundred people now. All of them were armed with sabres which were deliberately shown off, and they were arranged neatly under the command of Tuo Nengya to protect Tenth Gongzi behind them.
The Qiu Society's people came later with about three hundred sabremen, but the procession was in disarray. They surrounded several esteemed gongzis, and walked in a cacophonous manner while making grand gestures. One of the young men in his twenties who was said to be the Sabre God had been drafted into their group not long ago and his presence placed him at the centre of attention as the crowd swarmed to him and almost neglected the lords.
The leader of the Qiu Society was no longer a secret. There used to be five of them, but there were only four left after Duke Gao had died. Meng Fifth Gongzi, who had spent the most, became the well-deserved Society Leader. The other three gongzis were all of royal lineage. The twenty or so members who had joined later were all prominent figures in Northern Jade City.
Far from the crowd, the 'Sword Offering' Ye Silang was guarded by a band of sabremen. His face was hidden deen in the hood of his purple cloak, preventing anyone from seeing his expression.
The sabremen cleared the way before Meng Fifth Gongzi came to the Kun Society's side to smilingly greet Tenth Gongzi. But the two started quarreling after a few words. Shangguan Yushi pulled Shangguan Ru back and loudly announced, "It's useless to talk anymore. Let's decide the truth with sabre and sword."
The duel didn't immediately begin. Each side first sent a group of sabremen to search through the woods to make sure there was no ambush.
The audience outside the forest, however, became upset. Many people stomped on the ground to keep themselves warm against the freezing cold and caused a racket, urging for the fight to start. The sabremen punished several people who kept causing pandemonium by shedding blood on the snowy ground, satisfying the audience's bloodlust.
Amidst the clamour, the two duelists entered the forest and soon disappeared causing the audience to regret bickering and start asking for more information.
"Did the killer of the Kun Society bring a sword with him?"
"No, I saw it with my own eyes. It was a sabre. It seems that Ye Silang was wrong. A killer is a killer. How could he be a swordsman?"
"The name 'Yang Huan' is still unfamiliar to most of the residents of Jade City, so they generally called him 'the Kun Society's killer''.
The gambling houses of Southern Jade City naturally did not miss such a great opportunity, all coming together to organize the gambling. From their point of view, Ye Silang was more preferred by the gamblers as he was a well-known swordsman. As for the 'Kun Society's killer', who knew what he had done?
Afterwards, many self-claimed foresighted people claimed that the duel had shown signs of boredom from the beginning. But no one could have imagined that it would last so long, and to end in such a dramatic way, making the organizers of the gambling houses furious and clash with many gamblers.
Gu Shenwei quickly ran away from Ye Silang after he had entered the forest. Of the two duelists, Ye Silang was the one who wanted to end the fight as fast as possible.
There were lots of scattered footprints in the forest, which was a good thing for the killer as it hid his tracks. Gu Shenwei's strategy was to delay the time as much as possible till Ye Silang lost his patience and recklessly attacked.
The killer was good at waiting, and the swordsman might not be as patient.
The Rouge Forest wasn't that big, and even the widest part was less than one mile wide. Gu Shenwei was dressed in white clothes as he crouched under a tree. He held his breath, bore the biting cold, and tried hard to not think about whether he was gripping a sword or a sabre.
One time Ye Silang passed by in a flash, though a dozen steps away from Gu Shenwei with his purple cloak fluttering in the cold wind, like a flower blooming in the wrong season. The swordsman's lightness skill was very good and Gu Shenwei had to admit that he was far inferior to him.
The swordsman's momentum was still mighty, and Gu Shenwei knew he had to wait for a long time.
The crowd outside the forest grew more and more impatient. The duel, which had been trumpeted for days, shouldn't be so boring. It had been two hours but they hadn't heard any screams nor seen any blood. The only scene they had seen was a flash of a purple cloak,. 'The Kun Society's killer' didn't show up at all.
If the duel had been one of popularity, then the Kun Society would have lost long ago.
Shangguan Ru despised the ignorance of the crowd and sent out several sabremen to explain the difference between killers and swordsmen, "What the killer pursues is a surprise kill with single blow. Although Ye Silang is very active right now, he will definitely be the loser in the end. He may not even be able to keep his life, and the killer will walk out with his head."
The scene of 'walking out with a head' aroused the crowd's interests again, but they were still more concerned about how long it was until 'the end'. "It's so cold outside, and we haven't eaten anything yet. Can't the killer make a move sooner?"
The dramatic end came after six hours, once the sky had become dim. By then many onlookers had left, but even then some of them came back once they heard the screams behind them.
Thousands of people craned their necks, only to see that 'the killer of the Kun Society' was carrying Ye Silang out of the forest instead of holding his head. What made everyone even more perplexed and disappointed was that Ye Silang was still alive.
"There was an ambush."
Gu Shenwei told Shangguan Ru in a low voice. Thus his second competition with the 'Sword Offering' Ye Silang was interrupted once again.