Editors: Cypress Venus Trap, Xu Xian
Chapter 31 Challenge
It was less than half a month until the new year, the ground was covered in a thick layer of snow. Snow was still falling from sky, neither too fast nor too slow, as if it would never end.
The sound of people's variously paced reading came from inside the school, Servant Qing and the others waited outside the gate, clutching their ears and stamping their feet to stay warm.
“The two gongzi will be absent on such a cold day,” Servant Qing guessed hopefully. Normally, if the twins missed the morning lessons, they wouldn't come to school at all, then the footmen could disperse and find a place to have some drinks.
But that day was destined to not be a ‘normal’ day, shortly after Servant Qing spoke, a group of kids dashed towards them. One didn’t have to look up, only the twins dared to be brash in Golden Roc Castle.
As expected, Shangguan Ru, who was dressed in a brocade coat, ran in front. Following her were Shangguan Yushi and Shangguan Fei, a few steps behind them were their breathless bookkeepers.
Shangguan Ru ordered loudly without stopping, she didn’t want to enter the school and get scolded by the old teacher right now. That old teacher was not polite to anyone.
Almost half of the 30 to 40 footmen outside the gate belonged to the twins, they were very bored and were almost frozen stiff from the cold. Once they heard the order, they all followed it. Only Servant Qing, who was experienced and prudent, walked with hesitant footsteps as he knew to ask 'what for'.
“Someone has come to issue a challenge, aren’t you going to have a look?”
Shangguan Ru had already run far away before she dropped her words, those who heard them shivered. Golden Roc Castle was not an ordinary wulin sect, hence it was very rare to have a challenger. As a result, all of those who were hesitant sped up, only by following the twins could they run around the castle and go to the gate to see what the challenge was.
Although Servant Qing didn’t believed it much, he had followed them too, he wondered whether this was another hoax created by the two female gongzi. He had never heard of anyone who dared to challenge Golden Roc Castle in the many decades since he had been born.
The rest of the servants at the school gate did not dare leave without their lord’s consent, but they were all itching to go see it; they all decided to try their best to persuade their lords to watch the rare fun later.
Gu Shenwei moved fast, following closely behind the twins and Shangguan Yushi. After several months of training, he was more mature than his peers and also thought more. It was very rare for someone to challenge Golden Roc Castle openly. The castle was located on the peaks, and there was the entire Jade City guarding its gate. It was already unimaginable for one to walk up without any difficulties, moreover, the person challenged the castle openly.
People stood sparsely outside Golden Roc Castle, the twins got the news early from the inner chambers, so they caught up on time, the fight had not begun yet.
There were three challengers, one was a tall, mighty old man and the other two were young monks. They stood a hundred steps away from everyone in the open area in front of the gate, behind them was the stone beam that one had to walk through to enter the castle.
The old man must have had an awe-inspiring presence when he was young. He was a head taller than the monks with him. With wide shoulders and dishevelled hair, he was like a silent lion. But he was old, and only a skeleton was left. Although this skeleton was larger than the average person, it didn’t possess boundless power anymore.
With their eyes closed and their palms folded together, the two monks looked respectful. They seemed to neither be the old man’s followers, nor his companions. It was as if they had nothing to do and just came to meditate.
The old man’s left hand held up a flag that was over 2 zhangs high straight, a row of large characters were written on the drooping white flag: Deep hatred is difficult to let go of. On the old man’s right was a simple weapon rack, only two weapons were on it: a long spear and a single sabre.
“Well well, such an old fellow and two monks, how come the servants let them walk up the mountain?”
Seeing such a challenger, the little gongzi Shangguan Fei was very disappointed. Those who had followed them had the same idea, they too thought that the challenger would have great vigour, but it turned out to be three ordinary people whom they believed would flee if the group of teenagers swarmed forward.
Shangguan Yushi looked carefully, she coldly sneered, “Such poor eyesight, what a shame that you’re the King Lord’s son. Look at the flagpole.”
After being snapped at by his cousin, Shangguan Fei’s face flushed with shame. He muttered to himself and looked at the flagpole again. The others did the same and gradually the sneers disappeared and gasps rang from everywhere.
The flagpole was made of common poplar and stood straight in the ground. Without anyone’s support, it stood firmly in the ground and didn't shake in the cold wind.
The ground of the open area outside Golden Roc Castle was paved with huge limestone and was not a loose earth. The flagpole was made of wood but, surprisingly, it had been inserted into the limestone. The man who accomplished it would either have astonishing arm strength or advanced internal energy.
“They are not powerful at all, even a randomly picked killer from the castle can kill those three.”
Shangguan Fei was still not convinced, but Shangguan Yushi didn’t bother with him, she took Shangguan Ru’s hand and looked back at the castle. The challenger was ready, Golden Roc Castle should have sent someone to deal with him by now.
Gu Shenwei, who was standing behind them, also turned around, but it was to prevent others from seeing the tears that suddenly poured out of his eyes.
These tears had nothing to do with the cold wind, nor did he know the old man or the monks who came to challenge the Unique King. But he recognized the sabre and the spear, they were clearly of the Gu family’s style. Undoubtedly, the old man had a deep connection with the Gu family.
All of the countries in the world had standardized their styles of sabres and spears which were used to equip the army. Weapons of the wulin people weren't standardized, almost every martial arts family had their own unique weapon style, this actually became one of the ways sects or martial arts families were identified. The Gu family’s long spear had a full length of 1 zhang and six chis, which was one of the longest spear styles. The Gu family’s single-handed sabre was 2 chis and 7 cuns long, but it was a bit shorter than the average sabre.
Although Gu Shenwei only glanced at it once from far away, he could still recognize how the sabre and spear that the old man held were the same as the ones used by his family. Although he had not practised kung fu hard previously, he was very familiar with the sabre and spear. He was sure about it.
The wall around his heart he had painstakingly built over the past few months suddenly almost broke down. He had always believed that he was the only survivor of the Gu family, so took the heavy burden of revenge upon his shoulders. His emotions were turbulent and he couldn’t control himself after suddenly seeing someone else try to avenge his family.
It was lucky nobody noticed him. Everyone was looking around, they were looking at either the challenger or the road to the castle, wondering who would come out to destroy the challenger’s arrogance.
Golden Roc Castle has not been broken in the past 100 years, the Golden Roc killer is invincible. Although most of them were teenagers just over 10 years old, they truly believed this. No matter how deep the old man and the monks inserted the flagpole, they were here to court death.
People walked out of the castle in a continuous stream, but none of them came to fight, instead, they were there to watch the fun. Unique King seemed to be unperturbed by the challenger, he neither prepared for the fight nor did he forbid anyone from going in or out.
“Who is it to be so bold?” The first thing the people asked was this.
“Aren’t the two monks the Buddhist masters from the Four Noble Truths Temple? We usually donate more than anyone else, how come the monks are unsatisfied, are they coming to rob us?
Gu Shenwei didn't hear anything, nor did he care about the Four Noble Truths Temple, he just wanted to know the origin of the old man.
Half an hour later, the castle finally sent out their defenders. Accompanied by excited coming coming noises, the old man’s identity was also passed out.
“Marshal Yang, the old man's name is Marshal Yang.”
“What Marshal? Daring to call himself a Marshal with only two monks, if so, I can call myself a Grand Marshal.”
The teenagers were laughing at his weird name, but Gu Shenwei’s heart thumped. So there really was a Marshal Yang.
The day before the extermination occurred, Lord Gu Lun ordered his old, loyal servant Yang Zheng to take away his son and daughter. After Yang Zheng defeated a wave of pursuers, he realized that the danger was not over, so he asked the young lord to exchange his clothes with his bookkeeper's and asked him to head for Shu Le City to find Marshal Yang for help that very night.
Gu Shennwei thought Marshal Yang was a lie that Yang Zheng created to cheat him, so he came back half way. Then, a series of accidents happened which coincidentally allowed him to enter Golden Roc Castle.
If he had urged his horse all the way forward at that time, perhaps he would be standing in front of everyone issuing a challenge with Marshal Yang.
Gu Shenwei was full of remorse, he had suffered thousands of hardships and had endured humiliation he never imagined, as a result, he had stepped on a wrong path.
“What’s wrong with you?”
Shangguan Ru asked curiously, she had noticed Servant Huan’s strange expression.
“Nothing, it's the wind.” Gu Shenwei quickly wiped away his tears. He couldn’t expose himself, even if Marshal Yang defeated Unique King, he could still find another chance to meet him. He didn’t want others to know that the Gu family’s descendant was surviving as a servant in Golden Roc Castle.
“He’s afraid.” Shangguan Yushi concluded after she glanced at Servant Huan too. She didn’t like Servant Huan, so it was no wonder she said this. In fact, except Shangguan Ru, she didn’t like anyone.
A team of killers with black clothes and red belts walked out of Golden Roc Castle, all of them wearing calm, intense looks. They passed right by the teenagers and didn’t bow to the two gongzi as usual.
“So many!” Someone cried out in a low voice. These killers were the essence and backbone of Golden Roc Castle, it was rare to see a group of even 3 or 5 people. This team had more than 20 killers, which would be enough even for the hardest tasks.
“The old man and the monks are dead.”
Everybody thought the 20 killers would surround and annihilate the challenger together. They grew up in Golden Roc Castle, and took it for granted that they would use their large numbers to get the better of their few enemies.
But this time they were wrong, the killers walked towards Marshal Yang and stopped about 20 steps away from him, forming a loose half circle. Then, one killer came forward and drew his sabre: he wanted to fight by himself.
This was not in accordance with the ‘rules’ of Golden Roc Castle, but it did make the teenagers who were watching for fun more excited. No matter what they were taught since they were little, or what kind of principles they would believe in after they grew up, at this age, they still worshipped those who used their power righteously.
“Ye Sheng, Ye Sheng from the fifth young lord’s yard.”
Someone recognized the first killer who stepped forward to fight.
Surprisingly, Gu Shenwei also knew this killer, he was the one who had killed Long Feidu from Big Snow Mountain at the T-junction, at that time, he refused to reveal his name.
Gu Shenwei really wanted to warn Marshal Yang that this Ye Sheng was good at plotting. Long Feidu died under his sabre because of some knockout drugs.
But he couldn’t and dared not to. He could only hope that Marshal Yang was more powerful and smarter than Long Feidu; and not only knew the hidden tricks of Golden Roc Castle, but also arrived fully prepared for the challenge.