Chapter 076 Alliance
Gu Shenwei was very surprised, he was still in danger of Qi deviation. He'd been tortured twice more by it in the past few months, but he soon understood why Lotus had this question.
He had once practised kung fu with Lotus, at that time the level of his internal energy had been average. But, now he'd killed his opponents with one cut successively in the past three monthly tests. Obviously his internal energy had improved a lot, it looked to others as if he had already removed the hidden danger at his xuanji aucpoint.
“No, you misunderstand, I … have other reasons.”
“I thought we have an agreement, and we’re friends of the same side.”
Lotus obviously didn’t believe much about what he said. Gu Shenwei wasn’t surprised about this, he was weighing up this matter at heart.
Gu Shenwei used to be a naive young lord, but he had become more suspicious than a cunning old man since he lost his family. Instinctively, he didn’t believe in anyone. It was because of this, he couldn’t make any friends at the castle.
But the word ‘friends’ was a great temptation, he needed friends. He had no chance of revenge successfully all by himself. Even if he mastered an invincible kung fu skill, he still couldn’t defeat the deep rooted Golden Roc Castle which had more than 10 thousand followers.
“I’ll show you one thing.” Gu Shenwei made the decision. He retrieved the mysterious sword manual from under the giant boulder, and handed it to Lotus solemnly, “Read the last few pages.”
Lotus accepted the tattered book, simply made a glance, then folded it.
“What is this?”
“I don’t know, I got it accidentally. Recite the words on the last few pages, read silently at heart when Qi deviation occurs. This will not remove the finger energy instilled by Xue Niang, but it can improve your internal energy. Try it, you’ll find out.”
Lotus was as suspicious as Servant Huan. Those creepy drawings in the book made it difficult for anyone to treat it as an internal energy manual. She opened the book again and focused on the last few pages.
“You can take it with you, there’s no harm to recite it.”
“I’ll return it.”
“Hmm, but I have to remind you, do not learn those sword moves. I used them once, and my wrist was almost severed by my opponent.”
Lotus nodded, “Then, see you.”
“See you, that bird …”
“I’ll not tell anyone.”
Lotus left with the mysterious sword manual. Gu Shenwei waited for a while before he walked away, he didn’t know if his decision was the right one or not.
The death of Shangguan Yuxing and Clouded Leopard, and the clothes left at the cliff edge, naturally caused a lot of gossip, but Golden Roc Castle didn’t investigate this matter seriously, and quickly accepted the apparent conclusion deduced from the ambiguous scene. The attention aroused by the death of a good-for-nothing scion of Shangguan family and an ungraduated disciple, was much less than the death of a killer.
But, this matter didn't develop as simply as Lotus had predicted, and was also totally different from what Gu Shenwei had anticipated: no one avenged Shangguan Yuxing, even his sister Shangguan Yushi. It was Clouded Leopard's death that aroused a series of revenge attacks.
The fourth monthly test was very smooth. Gu Shenwei’s original opponent had already died, and the hastily prepared substitute had average kung fu skills. His waist was cut in less than 10 moves, and his body almost fell into two pieces.
At dusk, Gu Shenwei had gone out to buy wine for his Master, and, for the first time at the ruins of the wooden sabre alley, came across his first assassination.
The wine stall always had the most customers. Over 10 killers and disciples were forced to crowd together, it was like shutting a lion, tiger, and bear into one cage, it was a miracle that nothing had happened in so many years.
Until this day. It was mid-autumn now and already chill at night in the castle.
When the dagger stabbed, Gu Shenwei was stuck in the middle of the crowd. There were people everywhere, and he almost didn’t have any free room to dodge. At the critical moment, his family-inherited balanced power saved his life.
The yang energy surged, the yin energy condensed, Gu Shenwei’s waist muscles slid two inches forward and avoided the deadly blow. Then he desperately pushed through the crowd, rushed into the wine stall, and knocked over the small lamp there that was used for lighting. The site immediately went into chaos.
Right up to the end Gu Shenwei wasn’t able to confirm who the assassin was, and was more confused about how the chaos broke out. It seemed that someone was hiding in the crowd, planning to fish in troubled waters, and made their move immediately after the assassination attempt.
The chaos in the black market lasted about a quarter of an hour, until the nightwatchers came and quickly dispersed the crowd.
10 people died in total, only three of them were killer’s disciples. The rest were all servants from different courtyards who had come to sell stuff.
Afterwards, Gu Shenwei felt really lucky that he followed his reason and escaped in the dark, rather than stayed at the scene to capture the murderer. He wouldn't have found any clues in the chaos, and he had a chance of being mistakenly killed instead.
The dagger hadn't damaged his vitals, but it still pierced into Gu Shenwei’s waist and left a bleeding hole. Although, he already had many scars created by his Master Tie Hanfeng, this was the first memorial left on his body by an assassin.
Gu Shenwei ran back to his living place breathlessly, blood was flowing continuously. Tie Hanfeng, who was waiting for the wine, didn’t say anything, he helped his disciple bandage the wound right away, and then listened to him explain what had happened. In the end, he smiled, “It’s not a big deal, every year is the same, it’s abnormal if no fight breaks out amongst the disciples. It will become all quiet again when 20 or 30 people have died, take it easy.”
Tie Hanfeng said with confidence, and the next morning went, again, down the mountain to do his own ‘business'.
But this was not the typical 'every year' fight, but a wanton slaughter not seen in several decades.
The next day, things seemed peaceful and calm. No one at the castle had investigated last night's disturbance. Towards evening, assassinations occurred one after another. The dark night seemed to have awakened in the hearts of the killer disciples a vigorous killing instinct, after midnight, when the wave of killings temporarily ceased, there were 34 corpses left in the Southeast area of Golden Roc Castle.
Gu Shenwei encountered his second assassination that night. Two masked men seemed to know that Tie Hanfeng went downhill and hadn't returned, they climbed directly over the yard wall, one watched outside, the other went inside to make a move.
Gu Shenwei didn’t fully accept his Master’s saying and stayed vigilant. He wore his clothes when he went to bed, his hand gripped the narrow sabre. He waited for the assassin to walk near his bed and stabbed at their heart before his opponent could make his own attack.
The assassin in the room died quietly, and the one guarding outside felt something was wrong and immediately fled.
Gu Shenwei removed the dead assassin's mask and saw an unfamiliar face. After, he carried the corpse, placed it under the yard wall and went back to sleep again.
Tie Hanfeng still hadn't returned the next day. Lotus stopped by in the early morning, she not only returned the mysterious sword manual, but also brought 10 disciples with her. They wanted to form a life or death alliance with Servant Huan.
Lotus came in alone first, she returned the sword manual but didn’t say anything about it. Gu Shenwei immediately understood that Lotus had just come experienced Qi deviation and verified the amazing effect of those words.
“People like us should unite.”
“Hmm, us, many people, only by joining together could we avoid the Snow Mountain gang’s assassination.”
“It seems we must do so.”
Lotus went out and called the 10 disciples inside, these people’s confidence immediately rose as they saw the corpse in the corner when they entered the yard.
The one who was responsible for explaining the whole matter was not Lotus, but a disciple who was about 17 or 18 years-old. He was the eldest of the group.
The backgrounds of Golden Roc Castle’s killer disciples varied greatly. There were servants recommended from various courtyards, whom, however, were the minority. Most of the kids were bought or kidnapped from everywhere in the Western Regions. These kids were all less than 10 years old, at first they would be trained outside, then, after their former lives were forgotten, they would be sent to east castle to begin training as disciples.
During this period, these kids would forget their surnames, parents, and hometowns. Their brains were filled with ideas of killing and loyalty, the strongest killer always came from them.
But, because these kids had been together so long, belonging to and forming cliques was extremely serious. Murders occurred wantonly because of the hatreds between these gangs, this was why Tie Hanfeng said ‘every year is the same’.
It was the same this year. There was a group of teenagers, about dozens of people, who had high kung fu skills. Heartless and cruel, they stood out conspicuously as soon as they entered Lian Huo Yuan. They had one trait in common, in order to adhere to the killer’s rule of reticence, they had cut their tongues out on their own accord.
It was common in the Western Regions, to refer to people with quick tempers and silent personalities as a member of Big Snow Mountain, hence, this gang got the name 'Snow Mountain'. Some of them were actually kidnapped by Golden Roc Castle from the Big Snow Mountain, but they had long forgotten their origins and had chosen Golden Roc Castle as their future instead. To prove their loyalty, they would be more ruthless towards the swordsman of Big Snow Mountain after becoming killers.
The Snow Mountain gang had run rampant amongst the disciples, which created a lot of resentment.
Clouded Leopard was a very important member of the Snow Mountain gang. He had died for nothing at Giant Boulder Cliff and became the subject of dirty rumours, the gang members swore to avenge him. The first suspect was naturally Servant Huan who was at the murder scene to discard a corpse at that time, the second was Lotus, who had followed to throw a corpse after. But once the assassination started, the targets were expanded exponentially, people from other gangs even took this opportunity to remove their enemies.
“We’re all servants from the castle who were recommended to enter east castle. Although we have our own lords to serve, we’re also a gang, all the others call us the Bi Nu gang.” 1
In Golden Roc Castle, all the servants’ arms had a brand which became their name. Gu Shenwei had never thought this was also counted as a gang, and, surprisingly, he was already one of them.
Not being trained at Diao Mu Yuan had made him miss many things.
“And the other gangs, they’re all dissatisfied with the Snow Mountain gang, they’re all willing to ally with us, we can deal with the group of mutes together.”
Ten teenage disciples looked at Servant Huan with full of expectations. Amongst the Bi Nu gang, Gu Shenwei’s kung fu was the best; killing with one cut four times in a row, not too many people could make such an achievement, even in the Snow Mountain gang.
“Well, let’s fight.”
Twelve hands used for carrying sabres piled atop one another, one by one, the one at the bottom was Servant Huan’s, the one at the top was Lotus’s, the only female killer’s disciple in the room.
“How about those killer Masters? The overseers in the yard? What are their attitudes?”
“No one will interfere.” The one who answered was Lotus, “This is also a good way to test disciples, we have to do everything on our own, the one who lives, and kills the most, will not be punished and may even graduate and have the killer’s title in advance.”
Gu Shenwei’s heart jumped a bit, he didn’t know that east castle had such a rule. If this was true, then there was nothing else he should worry about.
He was ready for the slaughter.Translator’s note: Literally Bi Nu gang means Arm Servant gang. ↩