Editors: J3000, Xu Xian
Chapter 61 Hostage
Shangguan Yushi's father had been the second cousin of Unique King and a useful pillar of support – but he had died a long time ago. Now, she was the twins' cousin and closest friend. But none of this could save her life. By King Lord's order she would meet her end like a lowly servant: to be beheaded as a sacrifice.
She wasn't surprised. Although she was only 15 years-old, Shangguan Yushi understood the rules of the castle better than the majority of its inhabitants: A fallen lord couldn’t even be compared to a favoured servant. Shangguan Ru, whom she had been relying on, hadn’t grown into a towering tree yet. Unique King’s daughter had an enviable position, but she didn’t have any real power right now, this was the main difference between Ninth Gongzi and the young lord.
From this moment on, it was Shangguan Ru's will that would decide if Shangguan Yushi and Servant Huan would keep their lives.
Shangguan Ru snatched the narrow sabre from her cousin’s hand and stood in front of the two intruders. Facing her eldest brother, she spat out only one word, “No.”
Shangguan Chui – Unique King’s eldest son – shook his head slowly. He had always disagreed with how spoiled the twins were, perhaps if his father had listened to him a long time ago, then tonight's outrageous 'heist' might've never occurred. “Seventeenth sister, that's enough, don’t be childish.”
Unique King had nine sons and eight daughters in total. Shangguan Ru was the youngest and ranked seventeen, but she insisted that she was a boy and was a little bit older than Shangguan Fei. As such, she was very dissatisfied with the title ‘seventeenth sister’.
She stood tall and gripped the sabre. “I said, no.”
The two men stood at the door and looked at the stubborn little girl with disapproval. They were not the inexperienced shadow guard. In their eyes, that sabre was as ridiculous as a piece of straw in a baby’s hand.
Mr. Guo took a step forward.
Shangguan Ru held the narrow sabre to her neck. “Stop, one more move and I’ll kill myself.”
There were roughly 10 steps between them and Mr. Guo believed he could snatched the miss’s narrow sabre, but, not daring to take the risk without authority, he stopped and looked back at the young lord Shangguan Chui.
“It was a mistake to let you dress like a boy and learn kung fu. Since when did the women of Shangguan family start disobeying father’s orders and stop listening to brother’s teachings?”
Shangguan Chui’s words made his position clear. Mr. Guo inched another step forward and calculated the distance between him and the miss. Two more steps and he would have full confidence in snatching the narrow sabre without hurting her at all.
Shangguan Ru suddenly lowered the sabre, but didn’t surrender. She turned and dashed to the bed instead. Grabbing and hoisting Shangguan Fei up and in front of her by his right wrist, she pressed the sabre tip against her brother's neck.
She decided to fight even if it took everything she had. She still remembered her Master's teaching, to focus firmly on the sabre tip and only use her peripheral vision to observe the ‘enemy’. “If the women of the Shangguan family are worthless, then I’ll kill a man instead.”
This was so sudden and unexpected that even Shangguan Yushi didn’t see it coming. But she didn’t dare speak in front of Shangguan Chui. She could only stand quietly in the corner like Servant Huan, and let this family drama determine whether she lived or died.
Shangguan Fei was naturally the most astonished person. He had been standing by the bed since his big brother came in and hadn't even dared lift his head. In his heart, he was too anxious to admit his fault and end this matter. What he feared most was becoming the centre of attention, he never expected to become a hostage at the point of a sabre.
“Hey…” Shangguan Fei’s voice was trembling. The sabre had just taken a life and its victim's blood was staining his neck. Shangguan Ru and him were twins and played together everyday, and because he knew his sister, he believed the threat was real.
Shangguan Ru squeezed his wrist harder and whispered, "Shut up.".
Mr. Guo was forced to stop again. He had long been aware of the children’s scheme and waited until he could catch them red-handed with the goods. Everything went as planned, except for how stubborn the miss was being.
“Nonsense!” Shangguan Chui scolded and stepped forward, wanting to snatch the sabre himself.
Shangguan Ru steeled her heart and slightly stabbed the sabre in. Shangguan Fei felt the pain on his neck and immediately cried, “Forgive me, sister. Big brother, save me!”
Shangguan Chui also stopped, he'd just wanted to use this matter to suppress Madam Meng’s arrogance. That woman was even younger than him and was becoming more and more favoured by King Lord. The fact that her status was now much higher than all the previous wives infuriated him. Golden Roc Castle was a man's world and women never had the chance to speak, let alone gain power. But all this had changed with the marriage of Madam Meng.
He didn't care much for his younger brother Shangguan Fei, but he couldn’t afford the consequences of bloodshed.
Even though it was her brother’s, his blood had stimulated the killer’s instinct within Shangguan Ru’s bones, she finally didn't have to play games anymore but engaged in a real fight, “I don’t care about Shi Zi Long Sheng, I’ll kill one right now and only eight will be left, I want to see how you tell father.” 1
Shangguan Fei's kung fu was weaker than his sister's, he was powerless to resist and could only continue to cry.
Gu Shenwei didn’t understand what this Shi Zi Long Sheng was. There was an unwritten rule in the castle: the servants could gossip about anything except subjects related to King Lord and his scions. So, it was much later, from others, he learned its meaning. For now, he guessed this was some sort of prophecy that was related to Unique King’s ten sons.
Shangguan Chui's face immediately changed when he heard these words, it was clear that in this castle they carried a special significance. Reluctantly he stopped in his tracks; his eyebrows were scrunched in agitation and his face showed a deep anger.
Shangguan Ru had grasped King Lord's heart, and so gripped the young lord's too.
“What do you want?” Shangguan Chui asked angrily.
“I want to meet with father, I don’t believe you at all, I don’t believe father will punish me.”
Shangguan Ru did actually believe her eldest brother was following orders. But only by meeting her father in person could she soften his attitude and save those two persons she most liked.
Shangguan Chui hesitated and glanced at Mr. Guo. Mr. Guo shook his head. They'd wanted to humiliate Madam Meng with this scandal and shouldn't let this little girl have the chance to act cute and persuade her father to brush the matter off. He also didn’t believe she would really kill her brother.
The room was silent. Everyone’s thoughts were like the invisible tongue of a snake: tools delicately attuned to fulfill the role of a predator, measuring their environment and the slightest movements of their prey, before flickering to their next move of attack.
The calm did not last long and it’s hard to say who moved first. In a word, the situation suddenly changed from static to chaotic, everyone enacted their own solution to the problem.
Shangguan Chui and Mr. Guo’s bodies shook and rushed over like ghosts. One went to snatch the sabre in Shangguan Ru’s hand, the other went to save the crying Shangguan Fei.
Shangguan Ru had steeled her heart, but she couldn’t kill her family so she could only pull the sabre away and stab herself.
At the same time, or even a little bit earlier, Shangguan Yushi dashed towards the twins and held them together. She didn't have the speed of the two grown-ups but she was closer, so the three of them almost arrived at the same time.
Then, the light went out and the room was plunged into darkness.
Gu Shenwei had knocked over the small oil lamp.
He didn’t know how long Shangguan Ru could protect him, nor how likely it was she'd succeed, so he decided to cause chaos. He would die with open eyes if he couldn't kill one or two people surnamed Shangguan before his life ended.
A medley of sounds and images erupted, furniture was sent flying, fists and palms were swinging, and two sabres – one of wood and the other metal – ripped through the air. Someone shouted, someone screamed, and finally someone snapped: “Stop, everyone stop, I’ll go ask King Lord. “
Shangguan Chui gave in. Unique King had assigned him to handle this matter, it'd be embarrassing if any harm befell the twins
Everyone had paused, Gu Shenwei hadn't hit anybody and had tripped on the shadow guard's corpse staining himself in blood.
This was Shangguan Ru’s voice, and her mistake.
Shangguan Chui had received very strict training as a killer. To identify a target by sound when sight was lost was a fundamental skill for any Golden Roc killer. In the beginning, as everyone moved, it had been too confusing for him. His advantage had been recovered now that nobody was moving.
Shangguan Ru screamed and before her voice had faded she was disarmed and lifted up by her big brother.
Mr. Guo’s hearing was good as well. He had located Shangguan Fei and leapt over to support him.
“Light the lamp.” Shangguan Chui ordered.
Mr. Guo found Shangguan Fei was fine and released him. He produced a paper roll from his robe and ignited it, and with this small light he found and lit the now nearly empty oil lamp.
The room had become a mess in just a short while.
Shangguan Chui wrinkled his brow, he would lose face if people knew Unique King’s eldest son was forced by his little sister to make such a scene.
“Cut off their heads, and bring these two disasters to Liu Sha Dian.”
Shangguan Chui wanted to be done with everything now.
“I said I would bring you to see father after you confessed at Liu Sha Dian.”
Shangguan Chui threw the sabre away, and turned to Shangguan Fei: “How about you, do you also want to see father?”
“No no, I … listen to big brother.”
Shangguan Fei was still frightened and not dared to see his father at all. He ran to the bed and picked up the black jade palm and wooden sabre, “Take these back.”
Shangguan Chui nodded, if Madam Meng and seventeenth sister followed Shangguan Fei's example then the castle would be a more peaceful place.
Shangguan Yushi sat on the ground; her hair scattered and her face pale. The surname Shangguan couldn’t protect her, the unusual friendship with Shangguan Ru couldn’t protect her.
On the other side, Gu Shenwei was still sitting in the blood, and the narrow sabre dropped by Shangguan Chui was near his feet.
To wait for a miracle or to pick up the blade and fight to the death?
As long as I can kill one, he thought, the humiliation and sorrow I have endured this year will not have to be in vain. The target he chose was Shangguan Fei.
The ‘miracle’ came just before his finger moved, but it was not coming for him. A woman’s voice was heard shouting outside: “King Lord has an order, King Lord has an order!”
Aunt Dong, panting, ran inside. She didn’t know any martial arts; it was a burden for her to run back and forth.
“Young lord, King Lord has an order, he’ll come to deal with this matter personally.”
Shangguan Chui wore a grave expression, “This wasn't the order I received.”
Aunt Dong noticed the messy room and seemed slightly surprised, but she immediately turned her eyes back to the young lord, “I have the token.”
Then, she produced a small white jade sabre from her sleeve and held it high.Translator’s note: Shi (ten) Zi (sons) Long (dragon) Sheng (fly) was a prophecy related with Unique King. It was said that if Unique King had 10 sons, he would reach the pinnacle of his life. ↩