Chapter 073 Killing at Night
Gu Shenwei didn't expect his Master would decide to kill that horse-faced man. He hadn't felt even the slightest killing intent during their conversation, and he definitely didn't think his Master would ask his disciple to make the move.
“Why?” Gu Shenwei blurted out. Tie Hanfeng stared at him sternly, he knew he’d said something foolish.
“I don’t have a sabre with me.” As soon as the words came out, he knew he'd made another mistake.
No one liked a loose-tongued killer, and no one would hire a killer who couldn’t kill without a sabre. Gu Shenwei felt ashamed of his stupid mistakes, so he quickly stood up, grabbed a chopstick off the table and hid it up his sleeve. He stepped over the besotted drunkard on the ground and started tracking after the departed horse-faced man.
There'd be no more guests coming tonight, the two fatties at the door were storing the confiscated weapons in a big wooden box. Over half of the guests were unconscious when they were carried home by friends, they had long forgotten the sabres and swords they'd relinquished, and wouldn't be coming back to claim them later.
Gu Shenwei wanted to ask for a sabre, but dropped this idea on second thought and decided to just use the chopstick to carry out the task.
Outside, Gu shenwei felt the chill, and the air was filled with a pungent mixture of wine and filth. He staggered and almost fell, he'd never drunk so much. The weird thing was he didn’t think he was drunk, he felt that his mind was still clear, although his arms and legs were out of control.
Standing at the door, he was just able to see the back of the horse-faced man.
The man passed into the south of Jade City through the gap in the wall and walked deeper into the meandering alleys of that urban jungle.
Gu Shenwei hurried to follow. When he reached the street corner, he leaned against the wall and vomited out all the wine he'd drunk; he felt much better and his arms and legs worked again.
Although the ‘assassinations’ he'd made with Shangguan Ru were just part of a game, Gu Shenwei had actually learnt a lot from them. For example: the tracking technique, when there was light or the street was straight, one should follow further away behind; if it was dark ahead or there were twisting paths, one could catch up closer.
About a quarter of an hour later, the lights from the houses and businesses were going out, Gu Shenwei thought it was time to act.
The horse-faced man was drunk and seemed unaware that he was being followed. He staggered further in the twisted maze-like alley and drunkenly yelled a few words now and then.
There was a turn ahead, Gu Shenwei sped up and at the same time broke the tip of the chopstick to make it sharper.
Gu Shenwei’s heart raced, a real assassination was different from the monthly test at Lian Huo Yuan, for the killers-in-training had accepted death from the beginning: to kill them seemed quite reasonable. But Gu Shenwei had seen that horse-faced man drink, and talk, and cry like a child over his long lost friends.That person was so real and complete, a strange force accompanied these thoughts and made his, a killer's disciple's, hands and feet waver.
After the turn, the alley was submerged in darkness. A murderer couldn't ask for a better stage, but the target had disappeared.
Dead silence. There were no people, no footsteps, the alley seemed abandoned.
He felt something that could never be learnt; nobody had ever taught Gu Shenwei how to develop and use intuition, but at this moment, his intuition told him his enemy was by his side.
A dagger, in silence, was thrusted, the horse-faced man hadn't forgotten his weapon at the door.
Gu Shenwei ducked and barely avoided the attack. The dagger swept past his right cheek, he even felt the chill from the cold metal.
One old, one young, two men entangled. No one retreated, no one asked for help. This was the south of Jade City, and death was the only resolution.
The horse-faced man’s kung fu was average, but his rich experience compensated and he used the dagger skillfully. Gu Shenwei was in danger on three occasions and also wasted two chances. He finally mastered the pace at the fifteenth move, and stabbed the chopstick deep into his opponent’s shoulder.
The two had moved quickly and their fight hadn't lasted long. Gu Shenwei immediately retreated three steps after he'd struck. He felt very tired, and he suddenly missed southwall tavern's wine; his mouth felt parched and his tongue scorched.
The horse-faced man had received a deadly wounded, but his will to live was still strong. He threw away the dagger, held his shoulder with one hand, and tried to stumble into the depths of the alley; his other hand groping in front of him, as if a life-saving pill was placed ahead.
Gu Shenwei silently counted the horse-faced man’s steps. He counted to the ninth step and finally couldn’t bear it anymore. He picked up the dagger and ran after him.
The man’s vitality was unexpectedly tenacious.
Gu Shenwei grasped the horse-faced man’s hair, dragged his head back, and then slashed his throat with the dagger.
He hadn't killed his opponent with one blow of the chopstick, if the overseer of Lian Huo Yuan was here, he would have marked Servant Huan's killing as a fail.
The corpse fell heavily, Gu Shenwei suddenly became flustered. He didn’t have sympathy for this man, but felt like he had when he was little and had feared his father’s reprimand after having done something wrong.
Then, he finally saw a pair of black eyes, shining like a cat’s eyes in the darkness.
A boy, holding a half-eaten muskmelon, was sitting on a low wall. He had watched the fight and execution, both nervous and excited, he seemed possessed and surprisingly didn’t run away.
He looked only about 11 or 12 years-old, but his eyes were as mature as an adults, making it hard for others to judge his real age.
Gu Shenwei had focused completely on the horse-faced man and, surprisingly, hadn't noticed this witness.
How do I deal with a witness? Ignore him or kill him? Gu Shenwei became a bit indecisive. Such knowledge must have been taught at Diao Mu Yuan, amongst the several hundred disciples, only he was hesitant over this.
The boy swallowed the melon pulp he'd held in his mouth for a long time, "I came out to the melon," he said carefully.1
It was bizarre. The night was already well into its second half, even the drunkards had crawled home to sleep, but here was a little kid who'd come out to eat a melon.
With one step Gu Shenwei could leap onto the wall and pull the boy down, but, right now, he lacked the desire and will to kill, so he retreated a step and was ready to leave.
The boy obviously misunderstood this move, "I can help get rid of that body, do you know where to throw it?" He said immediately.
Gu Shenwei didn’t know, he hadn’t thought about dealing with the corpse at all. Now that the boy had reminded him, he felt that it had to be done.
“Come down and carry the body.”
Gu Shenwei ordered, trying to make his voice cold and tough.
The boy acted quickly. He threw away his melon, jumped to the ground, ran to the corpse, and carried it with difficulty. He staggered two steps forward and fell heavily.
“I’m not lying: it's too heavy.”
The boy struggled to stick his head out from under the corpse, his face looked innocent and fearless.
Gu Shenwei suspected this boy was pretending, but he still hoisted the body over his shoulder, he was skilled at this work.
“I’ll lead the way.” The boy said while running forward.
Gu Shenwei followed close behind and could tell the boy didn't know kung fu.
The boy took a shortcut and the duo quickly arrived at the city's periphery. Houses were scarce here, and far away stretched an endless darkness. It felt like Jade City was stashed inside a thick bag impervious to light.
“It's wild ahead, that's where everyone throws the bodies.”
The boy spoke with an expert's tone. Then he dashed into an alley to escape while the naive killer was raising his head to look afar. The boy didn't want to be silenced when they arrived there, if he was the killer wouldn't even need to lift a finger to get rid of his corpse.
Gu Shenwei didn’t pursue him, it was enough to kill one man this night. He walked a bit further, threw the corpse into the bushes and stood up. He stared at the thick, stagnant darkness and heard an ethereal wolf howl, he thought the boy was right, this place had certainly absorbed many corpses.
He spent a long time finding the way back, and almost got lost in the small alleys with their countless twists and turns. It was almost daybreak when he finally entered the southwall tavern.
Only several people remained in the tavern now, they were either lying on the floor or on the tables, and they all snored loudly. The tavern keeper, waiters, and fat doorkeepers, were all gone.
Tie Hanfeng was sitting on his chair, his head was raised and his mouth hung open. He was sleeping soundly like usual.
Gu Shenwei sat across from his Master. There was some remaining wine on the table, but he had no desire to drink it at all now.
Tie Hanfeng suddenly awoke with a shiver. He smacked his lips and stared coldly at his disciple, indicating that he had already sobered up.
“Master, I did it.”
“… I threw the corpse in the wilds.”
“It’s hard to change your nature, there’re plenty of corpses waiting for you to carry in the city, maybe you can make a fortune based on this. Idiot, bring the head back next time, leave the rest of it to feed the dogs.”
This was how the murder ended. Besides being some real experience for a killer’s disciple, It didn’t arouse anyone’s attention at Jade City.
This downhill trip had affected Tie Hanfeng a lot. It was the first time he'd returned in three months since he'd abandoned this pleasant life, for the 'cold and lonely' existence as the Master of a disciple who couldn't even attack from behind . He'd realized what was important in life after this round of drinks at southwall, and from then on left his disciple alone.
“It’s enough as long as you don’t have a match at Lian Huo Yuan in one year. Later? Who knows what will happen?”
As he finished, Tie Hanjing left his disciple alone and went out to do his own ‘business’. Since then he would spend the night 'downhill' now and then.
As for the plot against Servant Huan, Tie Hanfeng thought the problem had been solved. The horse-faced man had been his ‘business’ partner. In order to force Tie Hanfeng to accept harsh conditions on a deal, The man had bribed someone at the castle to kill Tie Hangfeng's disciple and strip him of his Master's title.
This title was very important for Tie Hanfeng, without it he was just a semi-retired old killer of Golden Roc Castle, it was difficult for them to even find a low-paying escort job in the city.
Now that the horse-faced man was dead, Tie Hangefen thought his disciple was naturally safe. But Gu Shenwei still had his suspicions.
He first suspected Miss Luo Ningcha, but she was soon dismissed since she was an unpopular and stupid woman, it would be rather difficult for her to buy over the killer’s disciples.
The second suspect was Shangguan Yushi. That teenage girl had never lowered her guard towards Servant Huan, if Servant Huan died at Lian Huo Yuan it would be beneficial for her.
It was about 10 days before the fourth monthly test, Gu Shenwei noticed someone was tracking him everytime he threw the corpses. He didn’t dare go to the Giant Boulder Cliff, so he worked honestly and threw the corpses off Afterlife Cliff.
He didn’t report this matter to his Master, but decided to investigate by himself.Translator's note: 'People who eats melon' is a popular Chinese slang, which is used to describe onlookers who are unaware of the facts or don't care about the facts. ↩