Chapter 246 Together
There were three killers in total, all of whom felt that the mission wouldn't work out. Servant Huan and Lotus had either committed suicide by jumping off the cliff or were hiding in a secret place in Jade City. They would definitely not stay in the castle, because there were people watching day and night and those two young killers had nowhere to hide.
They had searched all of East Castle for a whole night just for a killer named Liuhua. The Afterlife Cliff was the last area, and then they would go to be reprimanded because Liuhua had also probably committed suicide by jumping off the cliff, resulting in no results for the search.
They first checked the Afterlife Cliff and the Giant Boulder Cliff and searched all the places where people might hide. Even if it was a boring and tedious task, they would not perform it in a perfunctory way.
Finally, it was the arrow tower.
Everything went according to the rules. One killer guarded outside the door while the other two went inside the tower. The first floor was dust-free, so they went up the stairs to the second floor one after the other.
Servant Huan was sitting right under the window facing the road and smiling at them.
The killers were taken aback and immediately drew their narrow sabers. "Where's Lotus?" One of them asked.
"Right behind you."
One of the killers' expression already froze before Gu Shenwei finished his words. The other killer also turned stiff just when he was about to turn his head.
Lotus disappeared and was back at the top floor by the time the two killers had fallen and rolled down to the base of the tower.
Lotus had always hidden better than Gu Shenwei. In the eyes of the public, she was only an outstanding female killer; few people knew that her swordsmanship was superb and the killers had been assassinated by surprise.
"We have to go somewhere else."
Lotus carried Gu Shenwei on her back, but before they left she saw the single saber and two swords leaning against the wall. She took away the sword with the character 'Yun', which had been given to Servant Huan by her, and left the other weapons on the spot. Since the three killers died, they would be completely exposed soon, so there was no need to destroy their traces.
Gu Shenwei glanced at his saber and sword for the last time.
It was daytime, and it was impossible for them to escape from the guards of the castle no matter how good their lightness skills were. So Lotus chose a dangerous path. She walked south along the edge of the mountain peak and even climbed over the cliff for some parts of the path. Gu Shenwei thought about dragging her off the cliff to die together, but it was merely a thought, for he still had to rely on Lotus to avenge him.
The southeast area of the castle was relatively desolate, and most of the places were in ruins. Lotus turned to the west here. The southwest area was a crowded compound of servants. More people meant more eyes, so Lotus put Servant Huan down and the two walked side by side. As they were wearing the killers' black robes, no one dared to question them, and neither did anyone know them.
When they arrived at the western cliff, Lotus carried Gu Shenwei again and turned north. Gu Shenwei finally figured out her destination.
The two went around in a large semicircle, from the easternmost Afterlife Cliff to the westernmost Groaning Ghost Cliff.
This place had a deep symbolic meaning for the both of them. On the other side of the wall was the Adding Wood Yard, where Servant Yao had died of Qi deviation and his corpse had then subsequently been dropped off the Groaning Ghost Cliff.
Gu Shenwei had taken great pains to remove the Desolate Finger Energy in his body. He was afraid of death, but when death was finally within reach, he became indifferent instead and even felt relieved.
Lotus appeared a bit tired after moving incessantly fast for a while, and a thin layer of sweat oozed from her neck. Gu Shenwei saw it and suddenly had an impulse to prank her by gently kissing her on the neck just as she was setting foot on the Groaning Ghost Cliff.
Lotus acted as if she was the one who had the Qi deviation. As if she had been sneakily attacked by a lightning-quick poisonous snake, she directly threw the teenager off her back and reached out to draw her sword. "You …"
"I just couldn't help it. But you don't have to spare my life for it."
Lotus's face was icy cold, "It's useless even if I want to. I don't have the ability to resolve your Qi deviation."
Gu Shenwei walked to the edge of the cliff and smiled at the clouds both far away and nearby with his back towards Lotus. Lotus had been specially trained in the Carving Wood Yard and shouldn't have been sensitive to the touch of the opposite sex, but her response just now had revealed her true feelings.
Lotus kept silent behind him. When she spoke again, her voice was full of anger, which was quite different from her usual calm and cool manner. "I'm going to kill Luo Ningcha."
Gu Shenwei turned around with surprise, not understanding where Lotus's sudden anger had come from.
"She killed Tsui Nü. I can't just let her go."
Lotus added an unnecessary explanation, and without waiting for Gu Shenwei to speak again, she turned and ran away, leaping onto the roof of the Adding Wood Yard and heading towards the courtyard of the eighth young lord for the kill in broad daylight.
Gu Shenwei vaguely understood what Lotus was thinking in her mind, but he didn't have time to dwell on it. As soon as Lotus disappeared, he took out the Daoless Scroll from his robe. The seventh chapter sent by Shangguan Ru was still there. He carefully read it once and memorized most of it.
He had only practiced it for less than a month, so maybe there was still a chance to save himself. Gu Shenwei' heart became restless. He could calmly take it when he didn't have a choice, but now that he had a chance to escape, he did not want to sit idly by and wait for death.
Lotus knew that he dared not ask for help from the castle and he also couldn't run away because of his loss of internal energy, so she felt assured leaving him alone at the Groaning Ghost Cliff.
Gu Shenwei hesitated for a while between practicing kung fu and searching for an escape route, and finally decided to choose the former. If the Qi deviation couldn't be resolved, escape was meaningless. No one was trustworthy, and he still had to rely on himself.
Meanwhile, the Unique King Shangguan Fa was looking at the corpses of the three killers in anger and bewilderment.
Servant Huan and Lotus, two unfamiliar names, two trivial teenagers, had actually hidden in the castle. A large number of killers had turned Jade City at the mountain foot upside down. Golden Roc Castle was suddenly reduced to a laughingstock.
Shangguan Fa doubted whether there were still any capable subordinates in the castle. For such a simple manhunt, It was not until the seventh day that they found a little clue by accident. In the recent years, he had shared his power amongst many people. Now it seemed that that was a huge mistake. Instead of strengthening the power of Golden Roc Castle, the people he had trusted had used their share of power to struggle and contend with each other.
It's time to end it. No one is trustworthy, he thought. He clearly saw the tricks of Shen Liang and the Madam. It was not too late. His weak sons had all died, but so what? There was nothing to regret. The prophecy that he would become a king if he had ten sons would still come true sooner or later.
About the deadly wounds on the three corpses, Shangguan Fa carefully looked at them for quite a while and even touched them with his finger. The swordsmanship of the two escaped killers was not what he had expected and he felt that it was a bit like the legendary Grand Enlightenment Sword Sutra.
"I want to see the two of them in two hours, alive," the Unique King ordered.
A crowd of terrified killers and counselors bowed and retreated out of the hall, and passed the order along as quickly as possible. Many people had not yet broken free of the habit of internal strife and thought that this was just another contest, and tried to find the two defectors before their opponents.
This was the moment to cut the knot. The forces of Shen Liang and the Madam could be dealt with later. Shangguan Fa had to take care of the most direct culprit first.
The freshness of Luo Ningcha had disappeared. Her arrogance, brashness, and folly now bored the Unique King. Besides, the two killers had been brought into the castle by her, and Shangguan Fa had been targeted in an assassination attempt in her room. According to Shen Liang, the assassin must be one of the two killers.
It was just a woman. Without the Big Head God, Old Eighth would not care about his wife. The Unique King decided to solve this matter personally, as a special treatment for the beauty.
At the same time, to the north of Gu Shenwei and the south of the Unique King, Luo Ningcha was restlessly pacing back and forth in the eighth young lord's courtyard. Since Servant Huan and Lotus had fled three days ago, she had cursed the two for being 'ungrateful.' All the servants in the yard had been punished for this by being ordered to slap each other until they bled.
The anger finally subsided, and fear welled up within her.
The servants she had brought as dowry had betrayed her and escaped, and the Unique King hadn't 'favored' her for seven days now. These were all ominous signs. She had sent someone to the inner chamber for information, but couldn't even get through the door. Those women who had once fallen on her side would rather sit on the fence at this delicate moment than offer help to the eighth young mistress.
Luo Ningcha was terrified at the impending crisis. She feared death, she feared not being pampered, she feared being despised, and she feared the cold eyes of the lowliest. She had once had a powerful father and layers of veils, and she missed them like a baby longing for its mother's arms.
If only Servant Huan were here. He always gives me good ideas. Luo Ningcha's mind drifted a bit, and then she recalled that Servant Huan was the culprit behind all this.
She forced herself to calm down. No one was trustworthy, and she could only rely on herself. "What would Servant Huan do?" Luo Ningcha reminded herself to think like that servant.
Servant Huan would say, "Miss, you have not yet lost. The baby in your stomach is the son of the Unique King. It has come at the right time, King Lord has lost several sons, so what better gift or allegiance could there be than this?"
Even Luo Ningcha felt that she was stupid. It had taken her seven days to figure out such a simple matter, as the rest of the time had wasted in anger and terror.
Right, I have the King Lord's son. Luo Ningcha suddenly became relaxed. It will be a boy, definitely a boy. She would tell King Lord the good news, protect the baby with her life, and never let the women of the inner chamber touch her. Every meal had to be tested, and the killers guarding the yard had to be doubled. Except for the close maidservants and King Lord, no one would be allowed to enter the backyard. Even the doctor had to sign a life-and-death agreement.
Her son would be the future Unique King.
Luo Ningcha was high-spirited, but another person, however, was anxiously praying to the Heavens.
Shangguan Ru had been counting the days. Seven days were enough for Servant Huan and Lotus to run away from the territory of Golden Roc Castle, but she didn't expect that the two of them were still in the castle. It was a risky plan but also a smart one. It must have been Servant Huan's idea.
She tightened her clothes and grabbed the narrow saber. Instead of praying to the Heavens for the two killers to escape safely, she prayed that she could have the strength to protect them.
Turning around, she saw her mother standing at the door, whose mournful expression made her heart quiver.
"Don't you care about your own life?"
"Mother," Shangguan Ru cried out with pain. She walked over, hoping that her words could influence her. "This is what I have to do."
"We all have something we have to do."
Madam Meng's pain was no less than that of her daughter. Years of painstaking effort and expectation had ended up with nothing. The twins, who were supposed to be her assistants and shield, had now become a burden and a threat. No one was trustworthy after all.
Shangguan Ru had already been poked at the flank before she could understand her mother's meaning. The image of her mother gradually merged with the darkness, and the Heavens responded to the prayer in an unexpected way.
Shangguan Ru fell into the arms of a black-robed killer. Her narrow saber was removed and handed over to Madam Meng.
It was the first time that Madam Meng had held the standard weapon of the castle, heavy and icy cold like her heart.
This had been her 'Tenth Gongzi', but not anymore.
Chapter 247 Up and Down
On the edge of Groaning Ghost Cliff, Gu Shenwei finally managed to calm down and start practicing the seventh chapter of the Daoless Divine Power.
Not only did the chillness in his body not abate with the practice, but it also caused huge pains as if he were being stung by icy thorns due to the quick circulation of internal Qi in his meridians. Gu Shenwei gritted his teeth to bear the pain, but was unable to hold on, and fell headlong to the ground.
When he woke up, he saw Lotus kneeling beside him, wiping his sweat with a silk handkerchief, her hair somewhat disarranged and her expression full of concern. It seemed that she was in as much pain as he was.
"Beg me, and I will let you die now," Lotus softly persuaded, her other hand gripping her sword hilt.
Gu Shenwei felt that his nose was finally unblocked. Breathing the cold air on the mountain peak, his chest heaved violently, but his mind was still numb. As he stared at the girl in front of him, he felt that she was so strange, not knowing why she was so sad, and what she meant.
His memory gradually became clear, but the girl's face became indifferent again as if the scene he had just seen was an illusion in his mind. He would not beg, and he would rather die than beg her.
"You killed her?"
Lotus took out Luo Ningcha's ring and flicked it towards the abyss. "She was shot by my flying dagger, let's see how lucky she is."
This was why the killers didn't value weapons like hidden weapons, or the bow and crossbow much. Users usually stayed away from the target and therefore couldn't confirm whether the target had really died. Accidents happened all the time, but Luo Ningcha was surrounded by guards, so Lotus didn't want to risk breaking in.
Gu Shenwei didn't care about that woman's life or death. The chill grew heavier, and he felt like a big iceberg was hanging in his stomach. He wanted to conceal it, but his body shivered uncontrollably now. He had suffered from Qi deviation because of practicing the fake chapter seven, and now he tried to correct it by practicing the right one, but it had backfired.
Lotus hesitated for a moment before holding him in her arms. She had mastered few martial arts skills and didn't know how to instill her internal Qi to help alleviate his pain, so she could only help him reduce the chillness a little bit with her body temperature.
The sound of horns blew over, bleak and low. The Golden Roc killers usually contacted each other with whistles. It was the first time Gu Shenwei had heard such a sound in the castle.
"They are coming." Lotus turned to look at the direction of the castle.
The two teenage killers didn't know that the horn sound was the highest state of alert in the castle, and it was the first time it had been blown since Shangguan Fa had become the Unique King. Even those green-faced assassins hiding in the deepest part of the castle were summoned to await orders at a designed spot.
"I'm really sorry, I'm afraid I can't hold on to die of Qi deviation." Gu Shenwei also looked at the direction of the castle, his thoughts flying. For no reason, he thought of the day about three years ago, when he was patrolling around the manor on his pony, chasing after rabbits and birds. He was so excited that he had lost track of time until the sun went down. When he looked at the manor at dusk, he felt that his home was remote and unreal, but his heart was full of strange intimacy.
"Except for me, no one can kill you." Lotus seemed to have made up her mind and her voice became indifferent and flat. She untied her narrow saber and threw it off the cliff, and pulled out the sword with the character 'Yun' and stuck it on the ground. "This is for killing you." Holding the sword with the character 'Huan', she said, "This is for killing them and me."
Hordes of killers would come at any time now, and they had nowhere to go.
"You've finally gotten the Daoless Scroll. It's not worth it to die like this."
"I've already given it out. Waning Moon Hall will break into the castle, to avenge me, and your vengeance as well."
Gu Shenwei's enemy was not only Golden Roc Castle, but he didn't say anything. It was a delicate moment, and there was no more hatred between the killer and the one to be killed, only a vague sympathy and tacit understanding.
The Golden Roc killers didn't appear at once. Lotus moved Gu Shenwei under a tree while she guarded nearby. Out of nowhere, she suddenly asked, "Why were you named Gu Shenwei? That's a weird name."
Gu Shenwei was stunned and thought for a while before saying, "It's from an ancient book. 'People do good deeds not for fame, but fame comes with it; People gain fame not for profit, but profit comes with it. People obtain profit not to fight others, but fights come with it. So a gentleman must be careful about doing good deeds." 1
"Be careful (Shen) about doing (Wei) good deeds? It turns out your father didn't want you to do good when he named you."
Gu Shenwei smiled and didn't explain that this wasn't its original meaning. In fact, he also felt the name wasn't good, but his father Gu Lun had thought that the name was suitable.
"And you? Is there any special meaning about your name Huo Yun?"
"Nothing, it's a very common name."
The two were chatting randomly when the door of the Adding Wood Yard was pushed open from inside. Someone ran out of the yard and looked around to find the killer. She didn't see the two killers behind the tree, so she could only call out loudly, "Yang Huan! Are you here?"
It was surprisingly Xu Yanwei. Gu Shenwei had thought about secretly sending her out of the castle to meet with Xu Xiaoyi but forgotten about it later on.
Gu Shenwei rose to his feet and waved behind the tree while Lotus jumped onto the tree to hide. Just as before, when Servant Huan showed up, she would be in charge of protecting him in the dark.
Xu Yanwei anxiously ran over and fell once along the way. When she got up, she didn't even flick off the dust. Instead, she hurriedly came to the tree in a few steps and stuffed a bundle into Gu Shenwei's hands, cheeks red and panting. "Tenth Gongzi gives it to you and Lotus."
Gu Shenwei opened the bundle in surprise. Inside it were two sets of black clothes, the highest level of name tags with the character 'Du', and some tools for disguise. "She … How did you know I was here?"
Xu Yanwei shook her head and took a deep breath before saying, "Tenth Gongzi gave me these items last night and told me that you might still be in the castle. She said that she was being watched too closely and asked me to transfer the bundle to you if I had a chance. Miss has been assassinated and everyone is talking about you two. I heard that the killers said that they were going to surround Adding Wood Yard, so I came with Miss's name tag, hoping that there's still time."
Xu Yanwei's words were in disorder. Although it was meaningless now because it couldn't fool the Golden Roc killers and save his life, Gu Shenwei was still a bit moved. There was no doubt that she had taken a considerable risk to run here at this critical moment, which was an extremely unusual behavior for her.
As death approached, his feelings were richer than usual.
"Your brother …" Gu Shenwei wanted to tell her the whereabouts of Xu Xiaoyi so that the two could have a chance to meet again. But it was too late. The black-robed killers were coming out of Adding Wood Yard one after another.
They were not in a hurry to catch their prey, but formed in a fan shape and surrounded the teenager in it.
"Is Miss dead?"
"Not yet, but she was badly injured." Xu Yanwei's voice began to tremble. She had used up all of her courage. Faced with dozens of serious and silent killers, she was like a mouse accidentally caught in a pack of cats and scared to death.
"Go to her and beg for her help as long as she's not dead. Remember this, she needs you."
Xu Yanwei didn't know if she could still live to see the Miss, and she didn't even know why she had come here to cause herself trouble. Walking in the direction of the men in black, her body seemed to have fallen apart, and for each step she took, she had to reassemble her limbs with all her strength.
The killers watched the frightened woman totter closer with indifference as if she was invisible. But when she came to the door of Adding Wood Yard, one killer held her by the shoulder. Xu Yanwei's body softened and fell onto the other side.
Gu Shenwei retreated step by step until he reached the edge of the cliff. More killers joined the circle. He had never seen so many men in black appear at the same time, all of whom were silent as if they had come here to simply build a wall of men.
The sabrelord Shen Liang walked out of the crowd with a smile on his face. This was his moment of victory. Servant Huan's effect had been far greater than he had ever imagined, and the wrath of the Unique King would deal a heavy blow to Madam Meng. That greedy woman wanted to keep all the power in her own hands, and never thought that she would lose favor because of a lowly killer.
Gu Shenwei was a bit disappointed that Shangguan Fa hadn't come in person. He thought that Shen Liang would say something, either blaming or humiliating him, but an experienced sabrelord would never waste his breath on a common killer.
Gu Shenwei himself, however, had a lot to say. His true identity, his bitter hatred, and the most vicious curses. This was human nature, but years of killer's training prevailed, and he spread his arms and decided to not say anything.
Words could make people feel pleasant, but that contentment was illusory. Even if he indignantly berated Golden Roc Castle and talked the Shangguan family's head off, it couldn't blow a speck of dust off the stone wall.
Some succeeded in revenge, and some failed. There was nothing special about it.
'Endless killing along the six paths of reincarnation', so was hatred. The enmity of extermination of his family, which to him was like the sky falling and destroying his life, was just a routine action to Golden Roc Castle and was merely a trivial matter to the Unique King who didn't even remember it.
He raised his head and looked at Lotus hiding in the tree. This strange girl had gone through great pains to make him die of Qi deviation, but decided to make a last desperate effort to protect his little remaining life with the sword carved with the character 'Huan'. This showed that hate was only one type of emotion. No matter how strong it was, it couldn't occupy the whole heart. There were always some other feelings hidden deep in the heart, which could surface and make waves at some point.
He looked down the cliff and saw two men in black clinging to the cliff. The Unique King said that he wanted the two alive, so the killers had to cast an escape-proof net.
The exposed killers immediately took action and jumped onto the ground together, reaching out to catch the defenseless teenager.
Lotus, who looked back and saw the scene, immediately flew down without hesitation.
With two clean shots, Lotus killed for the first time in public and it was also the first time the Death Sutra swordsmanship was revealed in the presence of unwitting living beings. And from then on, her name would be remembered by every Golden Roc killer.
The smile on Shen Liang's face was gone. The King Lord wanted them alive, so he had to capture them alive. It should have been certain with those two experienced killers lurking on the cliff, but the teenage girl, her swordsmanship …
Lotus pulled out the sword with the character 'Yun' on the ground with her left hand and looked at the teenager on the cliff edge. This wasn't her ideal ending, but a better ending.
Gu Shenwei smiled, which was the last smile in his life. From then on, there was no person or thing that could touch him.
In addition to the Daoless Scroll in his robe and the Death Sutra in his heart, he had nothing left in the castle, so he had nothing to lose. And he wanted nothing more from the people in the world, so he owed others nothing.
The teenager leaned over and fell into the abyss.
The sword with the character 'Huan' in Lotus's hand was only about a foot away from him, but she didn't stab out in the end. She only paused a moment before also jumping down.
"No!" Shen Liang roared with anger.
The groups of killers no longer looked on expressionlessly; they had failed to carry out the King Lord's order to capture the two alive and felt as anxious as the Sabrelord.
The killers ran towards the edge of the cliff. All of a sudden, a gust of wind swept over the ground, blowing sand and rolling pebbles. Everyone couldn't help but stop and look at the incredible scene with their hands protecting their eyes: A black giant bird soared and rocketed into the sky, and on its back was exactly the expressionless teenager who knelt down on one leg.
Years later, people still remembered the scene and regarded it as a harbinger of the turmoil and carnage to come. But at the moment, it was only a fleeting scene, and those who stood behind didn't even have a chance to see it.
"Look, there's a rope!" A killer shouted out.
Sure enough, a thin rope had been tied to the tree on the edge of the cliff, with its other end hanging down to the foot of the cliff.
One up and one down, two teenage killers escaped from the castle.
Translator's note: The original text comes from the Liezi, known as one of the three most important texts in Daoism, together with the Dao De Jing (Tao Te Ching) and Zhuangzi (Zhuang Zhou).