Editor: Costard, Nyxnox
Chapter 198 The Siege
Both of them thought that they had figured out the other's plot, and believed that they had planned one step ahead of the other and would not be seen through.
Shangguan Ru had returned to the Kun Society while Gu Shenwei was still wondering about whether the whole plan was flawed or not. As an onlooker, Lotus felt that it was necessary to remind Servant Huan of some of the most basic problems.
"I don't know the ninth young lord, but I just don't understand why he still wants to play with you when he already knows that you've set a trap. Why would he come to Southern Jade City? He's been very cautious recently."
Gu Shenwei shook his head. There were many assumptions he had taken for granted that seemed incomprehensible to outsiders, so he thought for a while before answering Lotus's questions. "The ninth young lord is a sly, but cowardly man. He claimed that he was not afraid of his mother and sister, but he was actually scared to death of them. He has been waiting for Tenth Gongzi make a move first, so he can make his counterattack reasonable and justified. Humph, he has probably already thought of an explanation for his little sister's death to his mother. 'Sister wanted to kill me first, I had no choice.' He wants to dress himself up as a victim."
Gu Shenwei's imitation of the ninth young lord's voice was likely and his appearance, half-shameless and half-complacent, was totally different from his usual manners. Lotus couldn't help but chuckle. Chu Nanping was perplexed, however, and even reached out to hold his sword hilt.
"The ninth young lord always feels like he's a victim and that his sister owes him a lot." Gu Shenwei continued talking so he could straighten out his thoughts. "Just like Yu Gongzi's death, he likes to use unexpected ways to solve a problem. He wants to kill Tenth Gongzi, Tuo Nengya, and me with this game, so …"
The more Gu Shenwei talked, the more he felt like he had seen through Shangguan Fei's idea.
The Qiu Society continued to recruit sabremen the following day. Money slowly showed its long-lasting and irresistible strength, as the voice of the troublemakers was weakening. Wild Horse's efforts to prevent the Qiu Society from becoming stronger seemed to have failed.
In the morning, Gu Shenwei sat in the tavern for a while before going to the Kun Society to assign tasks together with Shangguan Ru.
The Kun Society had seven killers, fifty cutters, and over twenty servants, which was pitifully weak compared to the Qiu Society. Wild Horse and the other three killers didn't show up, leaving only Servant Huan, Lotus, and Liuhua. Most of the cutters were old and weak, puzzled and upset upon hearing the rumours of a war between the two societies.
The whole plan went as follows: The meeting outside the peach grove was a 'trap' set by the Kun Society. Three servants would wear cloaks dressed up as Tenth Gongzi, the killer Yang Huan, and Lotus while another three sabremen would disguise as Tuo Nengya and his men. The ambush in the peach grove would be the ninth young lord's 'trap'. Ten cutters would take ten servants to 'step into the trap'. Technically, the two parties would be purely acting so these two places held no danger at all.
The real 'trap' lay in the house bought by the Qiu Society near the checkpoint. Tenth Gongzi would lead the team there to fight with her brother.
The cutters only accepted the task and didn't know the specific plan. But they all understood that a decisive battle was about to begin.
That afternoon, the long-lost Wild Horse returned with one hundred tough and strong sabremen. This lifted the spirits of the Kun Society, and even the people who were wavering became confident enough to stay and fight.
Everyone dressed in black, tied a red sash around their head, and masked their faces like the killers.
That night, on the third night watch period, the people of the Kun Society set out one after another, headed for the designated position to await their next order.
The fifth night watch period was the quietest time for Southern Jade City. It was still dark outside, as the noisy guests were exhausted and had fallen asleep wherever they could. In the dark corners of the streets and alleys, however, groups of black-robed masked men hid; they had merged with the dark night and were waiting for the call to act.
There were no night watchmen in Southern Jade City, yet a night watchman's bell rang out that night.
Near the checkpoint and close to the river, there was a secluded house surrounded by dilapidated brothels and small gambling houses.
As the bell rang out, many figures appeared on the roofs of the brothels and gambling houses. There were roughly fifty of them, each of whom held a sabre in hand. They moved forward with very soft footsteps and made very little sound. Even if those who slept in the houses occasionally heard the creaking of tiles, they would think it was caused by a rat.
The sabremen jumped into the yard in groups of ten, leaving some people outside to keep watch.
There was a slight noise from the courtyard, as if someone were cutting fabric with scissors.
Soon, the sabremen in the yard jumped out, and many of them carried heads in their hands.
The word 'no' soon spread across the whole team. The men-in-black quietly asked each other and appeared to be at a loss. As they prepared to leave the same way they came, they found that the road had been blocked, and the streets and roofs were filled with shadows who were dressed the same as them. The only difference was that the red sash was not tied around their head but instead their arm.
The ambushers had been hiding in brothels and gambling houses, waiting for the enemy to enter the snare. There were more than two hundred of them, four times that of their opponents.
All the ambushers were armed with bows and arrows. With just a single order, more than half of the surrounded fifty sabremen would be killed or injured, and those who survived couldn't even hope to escape the second volley.
"Wait." One of the black-robed sabremen being ambushed pull off his mask and opened his mouth. Someone recognized him as the killer Yang Huan of the Kun Society. "Tenth Gongzi of Golden Roc Castle is here, do not act rashly."
A burly figure appeared on the roof and said with a condescending, deep voice, "Put down your sabre and surrender. As long as there's a man with a sabre in his hand, we'll release the arrows."
"You really are a liar."
"Heh heh, you too. If you'd believed me, you should have gone to the peach grove, so what are you doing here?" Guan Houlin was complacent, but he didn't forget that this was his lord's idea. "The ninth young lord has remarkable foresight and even better strategies. How could you be comparable to the lord, Servant Huan? Lower your sabre, now!"
There was nothing in the streets that could help block the rain of arrows, so surrender was the only option. Without Gu Shenwei's order, the sabremen had already put down their sabres. The ones who carried a head were especially nervous, and they put down the heads and kicked them away.
"Where's Boss Tuo? Where's Tenth Gongzi? Come out to meet me."
"Be careful with what you say. You're not qualified to talk to Tenth Gongzi."
"Ha ha." Guan Houlin laughed. Instead of ordering the sabremen to put away the bow and arrow, he pricked up his ears and listened. Screams, clear and distant, rang out intermittently in the quiet night and soon disappeared.
"Heh, you know that the ninth young lord may not have hidden here, so you've launched attacks in several places. Unfortunately, none of the places you chose is right. The ninth young lord is hiding in a place you can't imagine, admit your defeat. Ready — "
Guan Houlin dragged his voice, the sabremen below immediately fell into chaos.
"How dare you touch Tenth Gongzi?"
"There's nothing I don't dare. Tenth Gongzi wants to kill the ninth young lord, so the ninth young lord will naturally fight back."
"I suggest you wait a little bit longer."
Guan Houlin paused. The killer Yang Huan didn't look as fearful as he had imagined. And he hadn't seen Tenth Gongzi yet, "Let Tenth Gongzi come out!"
Someone thin walked out of the sabremen team and tore off her mask. It turned out to be a middle-aged female sabreman.
"It's not her." Guan Houlin was a bit angry now. He was in charge of the current situation and Yang Huan actually dared to play tricks in front of him.
The female sabreman went back to the team and pulled out another person who was shorter. The mask was pulled down and again it was not Shangguan Ru, but a trembling maidservant.
Guan Houlin had sent out someone to spy on the attackers and had seen two women mingling among them. He thought that one of them must be Tenth Gongzi and didn't expect that he'd been fooled. He couldn't help but become furious, "Slick kid, without Tenth Gongzi, you'll die quicker, release the — "
A shrill whistle suddenly rang out in the distance before he could blurt out the word 'arrow', and it rose into the quiet, night sky and could be heard throughout Southern Jade City.
The whistle seemed to come from City View Alley. Guan Houlin's face turned white right away, because this wasn't the signal he had expected.
"I told you to wait a bit longer."
"You, you …"
"I know where the ninth young lord is, and he's in the hand of Tenth Gongzi, so you'd better shoot the arrows. If we are dead, Tenth Gongzi will surely kill you to avenge us."
Guan Houlin's body shook twice before he said again, "You don't know anything, you're bluffing me."
"The ninth young lord is hiding in the peach grove, am I right?"
As soon as he heard the whistle, Gu Shenwei knew his guess was right.
Shangguan Fei wanted to play an unexpected game. Since both sides thought the arrangement in the peach grove was a trivial show, he simply avoided the important and focused on the trivial by hiding in the peach grove. So, later on, he could announce his bravery.
When Shangguan Ru was assigning tasks, she deliberately let the spy believe that she had been fooled and was ready to lead her major force to kill the ninth young lord near the checkpoint. But she actually changed the team before departure and she and Lotus still went to the peach grove.
Guan Houlin slipped and nearly fell. A tile came loose and broke on the ground with a crisp sound.
"Lower your bows and arrow," Gu Shenwei said slowly. Although the ninth young lord should have been captured, he and dozens of sabremen were still in danger. "You should consider your own future now."
The archers, bewildered by the two's conversation, looked at the strategist, waiting for his order.
Guan Houlin was not good at dealing with such a complicated and urgent situation. He needed the ninth young lord's advice, but the ninth young lord had been caught and his life was hanging in the hands of others.
"I … I don't want to die."
The archers felt ashamed of the strategist's words. They loosened their bowstrings without his order. Some of them who understood the situation even started slipping away.
Gu Shenwei stooped slowly to pick up his sabre. The other sabremen followed him to rearm themselves.
"Come with me to see the ninth young lord."
"You will kill me."
"No, Tenth Gongzi promised that she would not kill you, because you are still useful."
"I'm still useful?"
"Hmm, you can prove that the ninth young lord deserves his death."
Only Guan Houlin could understand Gu Shenwei's words. He looked around and found that the archers were retreating in great numbers even under his gaze. Those hired men were never that loyal, none of them wanted to die in vain when they heard the game was as good as lost.
"I'll go with you, but I don't want to see the ninth young lord."
His last vestiges of self-respect made him unwilling to face his old lord.
Gu Shenwei nodded and led the sabremen to the peach grove after Guan Houlin jumped down.
At this moment, a group of people could be vaguely seen standing and forming a circle at the edge of the peach grove. In the middle, a sabre was placed on the ninth young lord's neck and beside him was a coffin.
"Apologize to Yu Gongzi," the one wielding the sabre ordered.