Volume 1 – Chapter 3 Extermination
Gu Shenwei pinched his thighs hard, driving away his sleepiness. He had been riding a horse almost all night, and was tired, drowsy, and dizzy. Only like this could he have a profound understanding of how hard it is to ride a horse. When they had moved from the far away Central Plains to the Western Regions, he had been curled up in the arms of his family, and hadn’t felt the harshness of the Gobi Desert.
He stopped the horse. Two roads lay ahead, one towards the north and the other towards the south. Master Yang had said to always head for the west, but he hadn’t mentioned how to choose between the south and north.
Fortunately, pedestrians had started showing up on the road. Unfortunately, the first few people didn’t know the language of the Central Plains.
Gu Shenwei was very serious about the task Master Yang Zheng assigned him. He couldn’t wait patiently on the road, so he simply chose the northern road. After riding for a period of time, he finally met a group of herders, of which one even spoke the language of Central Plains fluently. He told Gu Shenwei that he had been travelling the wrong way. After hearing that the teenager was looking for ‘Marshal Yang’, he couldn’t help but laugh.
“There is no Marshal Yang, within the whole Shu Le Country there is no Marshal Yang.”
“Master Yang said there was one, so there must be one.” Gu Shenwei said firmly. a herder probably had never seen any dignitaries.
“Haha, your master is really good at making jokes. In Shu Le country, we don’t have the title of a marshal, we only have a general and commander. Even if there are marshals, why would we use a man from the Central Plains with the surname Yang?”
The shepherds laughed while walking away, leaving only Gu Shenwei to stay at the place.
Gu Shenwei was not a fool, he was only naive since he had never been deceived before. His biggest setback in life was nothing but being bullied by his two elder brothers, so he easily believed and accepted his father and master’s words. Once he started thinking over it carefully, he immediately realised that the whole thing was unusual from beginning to end.
The teenager’s heart was filled with a foreboding omen.
Gu Shenwei turned around the horse and rode back to the original road, his face stretched tightly. He felt very bad after finding out that he was excluded from the plan. He would like to know how his father and Yang Zheng would explain once they met again.
However, even though it was already noon, Gu Shenwei still had not found his elder sister and other three. A group of travelling merchants came from the east. Everyone looked panicked, as though they had just been robbed. One of them, probably out of good intentions, shouted to the teenager who was rushing and riding alone.
“Go back! Go back!”
Gu Shenwei didn’t bother with the kind reminder. His heart clenched tighter. The horse under his legs had already been foaming at the mouth, But he still used his whip to blatantly urge it to run faster.
Half an hour later, he saw a spear standing straight on the roadside from far away. It was shaking slightly, like a flagless flagpole.
mounted on top of the spear was a head, its white hair floating gently in the wind.
When he urged the horse closer, Gu Shenwei recognized that it really was his master, the old servant Yang Zheng of the Gu family. His were eyes wide open, seemingly unconvinced of his death.
He had once killed three people with the long spear, and yet just over one night, he had ended up being beheaded. The ones that killed him must have wanted to show their strength by stabbing his head with the long spear, showing to the passers-by.
Then, Gu Shenwei saw the corpses lying on the ground. There was more than one.
Within the vicinity of the spear was Yang Zheng’s body, which was free from scars. The one who killed him had only used one move to neatly remove the head. Gu Shenwei could not imagine the level that the killer’s kung fu skill was at.
Three more bodies lay nearby. One was the maidservant Ju Xiang. Her chest and face were covered in wounds, and the clothes were stained with blood. She knew nothing about martial arts, but the killer had used more moves. It seemed that the killer just wanted to torture her.
Another one was the small bookkeeper Ming Xiang. He was still wearing the young lord’s clothes. Gu Shenwei could only identify the body through the clothes, as Ming Xiang’s head was gone. It hadn’t been mounted on a spear, nor thrown nearby.
Gu Shenwei fell from the horse and onto his knees. He could not help but vomit everything until his stomach had nothing more than spit. He forced himself to see the last corpse. This body looked very strange.
What comforted Gu Shenwei was that this last corpse was not his elder sister, but a teenager who was of a similar age to him. Like Ju Xiang, the body was covered with lots of scars, but the body itself looked unfamiliar. Gu Shenwei had never seen him before.
Gu Shenwei jumped back onto the horse and continued to head east; he wanted to know the whereabouts of his elder sister, to go home and find out what this was all about.
In his impression, the Gu family had no enemies, not in the Central Plains, nor in the Western Regions.
At dawn, Gu Shenwei arrived back at the small village at the feet of the mountain, where more than a dozen households were the Gu family’s tenant farmers. Usually, at this time, it was a scene of curling smoke, but today every family had closed their doors. Not a wisp of smoke rose.
Looking up the mountain, the Gu family’s manor had already been turned into ashes.
Gu Shenwei rode to their own front door and jumped off the horse. He blankly stood there, his heart at a loss. Looking at the pitch-black ruins, he felt that he was trapped in a strange dream. No matter how hard he tried, he just couldn’t wake up.
How did his home become like this? How did the people die like this?
Gu Shenwei stepped over cooling pieces of broken tile and wood. He entered each room, as if the roof and walls still existed.
This was a massacre without rebellion. Each body was left in its original place, already burnt beyond recognition. But according to its location, Gu Shenwei could still roughly determine who it was.
His father Gu Lun and mother Xu lay side by side, both heads cut off. Gu Shenwei had to push aside blocks of bricks from their body to see the two small skeletons. In his son’s eyes, Gu Lun knew martial arts and was a great hero, and yet even he was unaware when faced with the foreign enemies.
His two elder brothers also lay in their original places, also beheaded and dead quiet. Their decade-long hard training of kung fu skills didn’t even have a slightest chance to display itself.
All the servants and guardsmen who died had been left with their whole body; it seemed like the killer was only interested in the owners’ heads.
But elder sister was still missing. There were only three maidservants’ bodies left in her room. Although the bodies were burnt out of shape, Gu Shenwei could still recognize that none of them were his elder sister.
This teenager had been worry-free since his childhood, and he was very much beloved. All of a sudden, he had been dropped into being an orphan. His initial feeling was fear Now that he had no home, who would protect and guide him in the future?
He had been thinking of formally entering the adult world after his elder sister got married, But with the twinkling of an eye, he found himself alone in a strange world, the future was uncertain, and the view in front of him enshrouded with fog.
Slowly, anger occupied the heart of this teenager. He wanted to retrieve his elder sister, he wanted revenge, to kill all enemies, no matter how many enemies there were and where they were from.
Once he thought of revenge, Gu Shenwei suddenly restored the reason. He couldn’t go find his enemies with empty hands, he needed some capital.
Although the Manor had been looted by the killers and most of the property had been swept away, something would always slip through the net.
Gu Shenwei had never cared about the financial situation of his family, but at this moment, much of the small details in life flashed through his mind, and he deduced some small secrets.
Under his second brother’s bed, he dug up a small bag of silver. He had almost burst into tears when he pushed aside his second brother’s corpse, but he held back. What was the use of tears now? When he had been a child, this trick might have been able to bring comfort and help, but now it just meant weakness and shame.
The road to revenge would be very long, he didn’t even know who the enemy was. Right now, the most important thing was how to deal with the remains of his family.
The owners of the Gu family didn’t even have a whole body left. The bodies were burnt till only charred skeletons were left. Just a single, feather-light touch would break them. Gu Shenwei carefully carried his two brothers’ remains to his parents’ room, putting them side the side his parents’ remains.
It was called a ‘room’, but in fact, there were no rooms left anymore. The roof had collapsed, the walls fallen. This was a place of ashes, tiles, charred wood and copper iron. It wouldn’t take long before this place becomes a wasteland, ruined with grass.
Gu Shenwei had seen such a village before, dense bones in the grass. It became a reptile’s nest, trampled freely by the birds and animals passing by.
He could not allow his loved ones to suffer this torture after they died with incomplete bodies.
Gu Shenwei suddenly steeled his heart. He went to find a brick, and kneeled on the ground. He smashed the four remains, smashing them very hard, as if they were the enemies. He didn’t know from when he had started crying.
“God is not fair!”
Gu Shenwei said bitterly as he scooped the bone ashes and spread them to the air. The Gu family should not suffer such a fate. Although his father Gu Lun practiced martial arts, he had never set foot in the Jianghu grievances. He had been even more cautious in the Palace, had always refused to offend people, and adhered to the tao of tolerance, sometimes even to the point of weakness.
Perhaps his father had some secret enemies, but the Gu family had already moved thousands of miles to the Western Regions; there was no untied knot, so why would the killers even chase to here?
Gu Shenwei could not figure out. He blamed this all onto God. He grabbed the block of brick and mercilessly throws it into the air.
After God’s brutal treatment of the Gu family, it seemed to want to sneer at the Gu family’s young lord. The brick only flew a few feet high, then fell outside the door with an ironic arc and dropped on the flower pots with a dang sound.
The pomegranate tree in the pot had already become a length of dark wood, the flower pot burnt till brittle. With that sound, it cracked into pieces, falling on the ground.
Gu Shenwei had used up all his strength long time ago. After throwing the brick, he could not help but fall on his knees. His hands supporting on the ground, he panted. He didn’t even have the strength to curse.
A moment later, the mockery of God became a show of miracle. Gu Shenwei raised his head and saw that mass of soil still maintained its shape of the flowerpot. He suddenly recalled something.
Then he ran outside like crazy. He forcefully pushed aside the scorched earth with his hands and threw the flower root aside. He dug up a small oilskin bag. With a little pinch, he determined that a book was inside, and finally felt relieved. He hid it safely by carefully putting it close to his chest, behind the small package of silver.
He had suddenly remembered the scene he had accidentally saw after their move to the Western Regions one night; his father had stuffed something into the flowerpot. At that time, he was sleepy, only confused about his father’s actions and didn’t analyze it seriously. At this moment of losing all his family members, his mind came across this memory, and he guessed what his father had hidden.
Inside the small oilskin bag hid the shortcut for practicing ‘balanced power’.
Balanced power’ had nine levels of yang power and nine levels of yin power. Even Gu Lun, who had trained in it for the longest time, had only reached the fifth level of both yin and yang power. However, there was a faster way to significantly increase the internal Qi for a very short period of time. The only concern was that it had a great hidden danger, and therefore very few people practiced it in the Gu family’s history.
The highest level of ‘balanced power’ would be invincible, and Gu Shenwei had no doubts about it. Suddenly, God was no longer the culprit of the Gu family catastrophe; on the contrary, it had pointed out the road to revenge for Gu Shenwei.
Gu Shenwei had just cursed God, so he was more than willing to call this miracle as God’s will. He was only fourteen years-old and had always been under the wings of his father and brothers. Never had he thought that one day he would bear the heavy burden of revenge. He had even faintly wished that the one who died was himself. Any one of his two elder brothers were more suitable than him to revenge for his family.
He needed God’s will to support his belief in revenge.
But now, the most pressing matter was to find his last family member, his elder sister Tsuilan who cared for him the most. She may still be alive, suffering somewhere.
God’s will played a joke again at this time; a sharp whistle suddenly rang outside the manor, which was particularly terrifying in the silent night.