Editors: Cypress Venus Trap, Xu Xian
Chapter 27 Hostility
A little, just a little bit more, Gu Shenwei was almost able to take the perfect step forward onto his path of revenge. He was fully prepared, but was hit and staggered at the last moment, falling from a bright road into an unfathomable sewer.
Someone in the yard recognized Xue Niang and knew that she was brought in by the eighth mistress, so they pointed their fingers and let out a sneer just loud enough to be heard, but too short to be identified so that, when Xue Niang turned to look back, she was unable to find the culprit.
Xue Niang’s sallow face flushed a bit, but she didn’t say anything. She left Lotus and took Servant Huan back to the eighth young lord's courtyard quickly.
Gu Shenwei was left at the front yard while Xue Niang hurried in to see the Miss. After a short while, the sound of the Miss’s angry reprimand came from the backyard.
Several servants who had passed by had been surprised at Servant Huan’s return, but once they had heard the Miss's voice, they left hurriedly without daring to inquire about what had happened.
About a quarter of an hour later, Xue Niang briskly left the yard without even glancing at Gu Shenwei when she passed by him, as if he was non-existent.
Gu Shenwei stood alone in the empty yard – panicked and worried. Now he had not only been unable to enter the east castle, but he had also lost his value as a tool. Since it had come to this, how would the Miss and Xue Niang treat him? Directly hand him to the eighth young lord, or leave him alone and allow him to take revenge on the killer?
If it was the former, he had to find a way to kill the eighth young lord Shangguan Nu. This was the bottom line of his revenge. Shangguan Nu was the one who had personally killed his parents and brothers, so he was the No.1 enemy on Gu Shenwei’s mind.
After two hours, Xue Niang came back before Gu Shenwei had figured out a plan. From her expression, one could not guess what she was thinking. She stared at the perplexed Servant Huan for a while, as if she was doing a trade-off, and finally said, “Go back and pack your luggage, you’ll stay and work in the yard.”
This was better than the worst case scenario, Gu Shenwei bowed to agree and found his way back to Ji Xin Yuan alone. His footsteps were heavy, as if he was saddled with a thousand jins’ weight.[ Translator’s note: Jin is a Chinese measurement unit, 1 jin equals 0.5 Kg.] But halfway along the road, he became optimistic again. Although he had not entered the east castle as he wished, he was able to stay at the eighth young lord’s yard, which meant that he had more chance of meeting Shangguan Nu and taking revenge.
Gu Shenwei had not seen the lord of the yard when he had been following Xue Niang to practise kung fu in the daytime. Shangguan Nu seemed to leave early, return late, and never liked staying home.
Rumors had already spread wide and far and Ji XIn Yuan was almost as chaotic as a pot of porridge. Seeing Servant Huan come back alone, the teenagers flocked to him to ask about the news.
Gu Shenwei told them the truth and the teenagers’ facial expressions changed with what he said. After hearing that he would stay and work at the eighth young lord’s yard, they all still admired him because, no matter how hard it was to work there, it was at least much better than treating the dying in Ji Xin Yuan.
One of the five teenagers was not present. After Gu Shenwei finished talking about his bad luck, Servant Lei told him another bad thing: Xue Niang took Servant Qian away, and it was said that she was going to recommend him to enter the east castle.
Xue Niang and the Miss made a simple mistake, they were outsiders and knew very little about Golden Roc Castle killer’s regulations. They thought a candidate would be welcomed if his or her kung fu was good. Furthermore, the person the Miss seeked information from was her husband, which was also a problem. Shangguan Nu was Unique King’s son and was registered as a killer as soon as he was born, he never experienced being selected and knew very little about this trivial matter.
The result was that Xue Niang trained the candidates arduously, but remained ignorant of the important rule for east castle to recruit a new disciple: One could not practice any kind of internal energy before entering east castle.
It was said Golden Roc Castle had its own set of internal Qi manuals which was totally different from any other set of internal Qi manuals in Wulin.
No matter what the reason was, the balanced power Gu Shenwei worked day and night on became the rock that stumbled him on his way to enter east castle.
After Xue Niang realized her mistake, she immediately discussed it with the Miss, called the killer guarding the yard to ask about all the rules, and found that there was still a chance to correct it.
It turned out that east castle didn’t care about the disciples’ martial arts base when they were trained to be a killer; it didn’t matter even if one didn’t know any moves, after all, one had to start all over again once they entered east castle.
So, Xue Niang went to Ji Xin Yuan and selected a candidate once again from amongst the five teenagers. In this way, the baffled Servant Qian tasted the flavor of a pie falling from sky, he dropped what he was doing and turned into a killer’s disciple.
Before Gu Shenwei had returned, the remaining four teenagers had already found out most of the information. Xue Niang’s embarrassment in east castle had long been spread throughout it, even the remote Ji Xin Yuan had been reached, it was Gu Shenwei who still didn’t know anything about it.
One could learn of the eighth young mistress’s isolated status and see the degree of regard she held in Golden Roc Castle from this.
This was the so-called God’s will. No doubt Gu Shenwei felt it hard to accept, the other four teenagers were also resentful. They would accept it if the clever Servant Yao was chosen to be a killer; they would also understand it if Servant Huan, who knew kung fu, was able to enter east castle; but they felt it was so unfair that Servant Qian, who had no distinct difference from them, could have such a good luck.
“He can’t go through it, he’ll be carried back in less than a month.” Servant Lei swore. Although there was no requirement to have a martial arts foundations, according to tradition, it was always good to know a bit of kung fu.
There was nothing more to say. When Servant Qi returned exultantly, the teenagers including Servant Lei would suck up to him.
Gu Shenwei also went to see the new overseer, telling him that he was coming back to pick up his luggage. However, he encountered some trouble as Xue Niang could not decide whether a servant stayed or left just by saying a word. Especially since the servants working in Ji Xin Yuan had become less and less and it was very hard to find someone else to replace their positions.
The problem was quickly resolved though, Xue Niang meticulously filled in the procedures and formally took Servant Huan away under the eighth young lord’s name.
So, in the afternoon, Gu Shenwei held his bedroll and began living in a stone hut that was closely attached to the eighth young lord’s backyard. The person living with him was a horsekeeper named Elder Zhang who was more than 50 years old, their responsibility was to take care of the stables.
The manservants in Golden Roc Castle were all called ‘Servant Somebody’, and Elder Zhang was no exception. However, everyone called him Elder Zhang, amongst all the possible names of ‘Servant Somebody’, this ordinary name was unexpectedly recognizable.
Elder Zhang could be considered as a model servant: he was loyal and hardworking. He would go to the bed immediately after returning to his room and was never talkative. Gu Shenwei had already moved in for a couple of days, but he had spoken less than 10 sentences to him.
Gu Shenwei was very familiar with horses, but other people helped him take care of them. He only ever needed to see if his pony ate well or not, if its fur was bright or not, but now he had to feed the horses of his enemy.
He tried to force himself not to recall his past life, he was afraid of losing control of his mood and revealing his secrets. Crises were everywhere, so he had to be more and more careful with each step. Han Shiqi was dead but nobody could be sure that there were not others under the eighth young lord who knew the young lord of the Gu family.
Also, Servant Qian had already entered east castle and was out of Servant Huan's reach, would he accidentally tell others about the white silk?
Xue Niang was also a hidden threat, Gu Shenwei understood why she made him stay and kept him in the yard. It was nothing more than monitoring, after all, she and the Miss had revealed too much information in front of Servant Huan.
Although it was said so, Xue Niang scarcely appeared and he almost never saw her except during the routine of bowing to the Miss in the morning.
Elder Zhang was a servant of Golden Roc Castle and he didn’t have to show his loyalty to the Miss. Gu Shenwei guessed that maybe this was the reason why he never chatted with him. They were from different groups and had their own lords to serve.
Gu Shenwei had seen the conflicts between the lords of Golden Roc Castle, he had also heard a lot about it, but he could not make use of it; his status was too low, his strength too insignificant. He could not pry the mountain open even if he could see the cracks in it.
The only thing he could do was train himself harder.
It was not a secret anymore that he knew internal energy. Everyone thought it was taught by Xue Niang, so he didn’t have to hide it anymore. He would find a place to practise kung fu after he finished taking care of the eighth young lord's 10 or more strong horses. Balanced power, Tiger Subduing Fist, Iron Mountain Sabresmanship would all be practised at least once a day.
Elder Zhang looked coldly from the sidelines, neither objecting nor supporting. He only dominated one ‘privilege’: pulling the horses to the front yard door to wait for the young lord early in the morning, and waiting at the front yard to take the horses back at dusk.
Gu Shenwei had no chance of meeting Shangguan Nu at all, but he did get more familiar with his living habits.
The eighth young lord’s timetable never changed; he always left early and returned late no matter what the weather was like. Every five to ten days, he would leave with many horses, and return after three to five days. During this time, the horses all changed in appearance and became dirty and thin. Sometimes one of them even went missing.
During this time, the cold Elder Zhang would reveal a trace of feelings. No matter how late the horses returned, he would call Servant Huan to help wash the horses and give them feed; he would hug the overworked horses in turn and murmur to them, like a loving mother who expected the return of her children.
Gu Shenwei found himself once again being trapped halfway; he couldn't move forward, nor did he have any room for retreat; he was killing time with an old man who loved horses more than human beings, and his enemy next door was living his life as usual, killing as usual.
14-year-old Gu Shenwei had already cultivated the patience he never had before; he knew he had to wait, he could only wait, he must wait, because he had God’s will.
It was two months later, after he had become the horse keeper’s assistant, that Gu Shenwei finally got a chance. At that time, Golden Roc Castle’s ground was covered with a thin layer of snow.
That afternoon, he held a stick and was practising the Iron Mountain Sabresmanship taught by Xue Niang. In order to conceal his true identity, he had to forget the familiar Gu family sabresmanship, so he didn’t practise it well.
The Iron Mountain Sabresmanship was a set of sabresmanship moves which focused on the effectiveness of the knife in actual fights. The 18 moves were simple and easy to practise, but combinations of the moves were volatile. Gu Shenwei didn’t have an opponent, like a shooter who didn’t have a target, so couldn't grasp the essential points no matter how hard he trained.
Inadvertently, he always inserted one or two moves of his family's sabresmanship that he was too familiar with to forget.
Gu Shenwei was totally immersed in his practise, it was only after a long time that he suddenly realized someone was observing him a dozen steps away. That person seemed to have been standing near the wall for a while; he did not hide himself intentionally, but somehow he was unnoticeable, a quality a top killer should have.
Gu Shenwei froze suddenly. He had been yearning to approach his enemy, but didn’t expect his enemy to proactively approach him.
The one who came was Shangguan Nu.
Hatred and anger were like a cloud of flammable catkins, they instantly burned, leaving behind a pile of hard seeds of fear.
The eighth young lord finally found out my true identity? Gu Shenwei felt his legs tremble, this was not the meeting he had anticipated, and he was not ready yet.
Shangguan Nu glared at the teenager in front of him whose complicated gaze was slightly depressed; his heart was moved a little, his remaining left hand could not help but hold the handle of his sabre.