Chapter 077 The Slaughter
Just as Lotus had stated, bloodshed between disciples was never interfered with. Golden Roc Castle was glad to see their future killers go through this cruel and real training, but there were several unwritten rules that accompanied it.
Firstly, the slaughter was only restricted to the east castle. To be specific, it was the eastern and southern area of Lian Huo Yuan, which reached as far as the Afterlife Cliff to the east and wooden sabre alley to the south. Any killer’s disciple who made an action out of this area would be killed by the hidden guards.
Secondly, the slaughter would only be between the disciples. Except on the first night, anyone who laid their hands on the servants would also be killed. Even so, the number of servants who would dare enter the east castle during this time drastically decreased. The black market was canceled, house-serfs who were responsible for delivering food and cleaning houses only dared come in groups and would leave immediately after putting down the stuff. In those days, east castle was a total mess, it was almost the same as the ruins of wooden sabre alley.
The Killer Masters followed the principles of not interfering. They each devised excuses to leave their living place one by one as soon as the slaughter began. Afterall, due to the lack of a black market, it was very inconvenient to live in the castle. Most of them went to the south of Jade City to enjoy fine wine and beauties, each taking this month as a rare vacation.
The last remaining Masters had all left after a successful assassination by the Bi Nu gang and handed over the entire territory to the bloodthirsty disciples.
This assassination would be Gu Shenwei’s revenge, the target was a disciple called ‘Aardwolf’.
Most of the members of the Snow Mountain gang had abandoned their original names and each adopted the moniker of a beast, Aardwolf was one of them. He, true to his name, was a strong and vigorous youth, whose sabresmanship was swift and fierce. In addition, he was experienced in fighting in close quarters.
“It was Aardwolf who tried to assassinate you at the black market.” One member of the Bi Nu gang sworn.
There was no evidence, but it got the approval of all the members. All the people had unanimously agreed to make him the first target of the attack. Seven people of the Bi Nu gang had died during the first two days of slaughter, which was the biggest loss amongst all the gangs. They desperately needed to regain their status and face.
Contrary to the oldest disciple’s statement, there were no other gangs who were willing to rally with them. It was true that many gangs hated the Snow Mountain gang, but they also hated the group of teenagers who had characters branded on their arms. Members of the Bi Nu gang used to be servants of the castle and had inextricable relations with various courtyards. Friends of the past often came to visit them; disciples like Lotus and the dead Servant Qian could not even live at east castle. All of these reasons and factors had expanded the rift between the Bi Nu gang and the other killer disciples.
This was the first time Gu Shenwei joined a group. Although his kung fu was universally accepted to to be the best, he didn’t gain the highest status immediately. Everyone was just waiting and seeing; to be able to gain everyone’s respect, he must show the disposition of a charismatic leader.
On that afternoon, gradually more members of the Bi Nu gang came together after they heard the news, totaling a number of 58 persons in the end. Since they served different lords, the internal conflict within the Shangguan family was naturally revealed. Leaving quite a few disciples desiring the illusory position of ‘gang leader’.
Therefore, the mission of assassinating Aardwolf was of utter importance because it held double meanings: first, revenge in order to make up the losses they suffered and lastly a chance in proving themselves fit for the position of gang leader. Gu Shenwei was determined to take the initiative in this game.
Despite the allure the mission brought, Aardwolf’s Master hadn’t yet left east castle, which was the biggest obstacle of the assassination.
Lotus had gotten her hands on tons of information, and through that Gu Shenwei made an audacious plan, in which consisted of three participants.
Aardwolf’s Master had six disciples in total, one of them would attend the monthly test on the third day after the black market assassination. This was the only daily activity that still existed at Lian Huo Yuan, the disciples who were still alive must take part in it.
The first person of the small assassination team happened to take the monthly test on the same day, so he would work as a monitor and signal Lotus who would be guarding at the door of Lian Huo Yuan as soon as Aardwolf’s junior fellow disciple entered the test room.
Gu Shenwei wore the standard outfit of killer’s disciple, black clothes and a maske. He had lurked near Aardwolf’s place since the second half of last night.
Lotus soon came to replace his position, her task was to pass the message and find a way to block or kill Aardwolf’s junior fellow disciple if he returned in advance.
Gu Shenwei carried the sabre, walked out of the hidden place, and openly entered the yard Aardwolf lived.
This place was much larger than the one of Tie Hanfeng’s, the killer Master was resting in one of the rooms, Aardwolf and his fellow disciples were practising sabresmanship. Gu Shenwei nodded to them and didn’t say anything. ‘Frustrated’, he directly walked into ‘his’ own room.
The slaughter had just started several days ago, people were not as vigilant as apprehending danger at every sound. Gu Shenwei’s figure was similar to the disciple who was attending the monthly test, though it was weird to be still masked after the monthly test, it didn’t arouse others’ doubts. Who would dare to commit an assassination under a Killer Master’s eyes?
Aardwolf’s relationship with his junior fellow disciple wasn't bad. He practised sabresmanship for a while outside, then entered the room, intending to ask his junior disciple the outcome of the monthly test. It seemed that he lost again, but it was lucky for him to have his life.
It was like hiding under the bed to wait for Han Shiqi’s arrival, Gu Shenwei hid behind the door and held his breath. He was uneasy and felt his plan was full of flaws. Aardwolf might not come in or even worse come in with others. Life was always unpredictable, Lotus’s information might be wrong.
However, against his expectations the operation turned out to be smoother than he expected, Gu Shenwei finally murdered his enemy from the back. He stabbed into Aardwolf's back and immediately grabbed his hair. Following his Master’s lesson, he cut the head off.
After finally beheading his opponent, Gu Shenwei’s tension disappeared right away and he systematically dealt with what was needed of him afterwards. He wiped the blood on the sabre, found a black cloth cover the head, walked out of the room and left the yard with easy steps and eyes looking steadily forward.
The rest of the four disciples revealed a surprised look, but weren't able to react. It wasn't until the masked man had long disappeared that they finally thought of Aardwolf.
The Killer Master roared and thundered, almost killing the remaining 5 disciples. However, after calming down, he soon came to appreciate the assassin’s courage. Unable to reduce himself to get revenge on a mere disciple, he left the castle that very day and left the following words to his disciples: “either live and get rid of the assassin, or die to meet their Master.”
In order to avoid losing face because of there being a possibility of such an event happening again, the last few Killer Masters also left. After they left a larger wave of assassination frenzy followed.
News of the successful assassination soon spread out and everyone knew it was Servant Huan’s handiwork. He quickly gained the loyalty of the Bi Nu gang members’ and aroused a succession of assassinations.
Gu Shenwei was ‘homeless’ in the month before the come of winter, as he tried living in every member’s yard. He even hid for a while at the ruins of the wooden sabre alley.
The safest hidden place never existed, to live, the only method was to strike first and kill the enemies.
Gu Shenwei divided the 58 persons into small teams of 3 to 5 person. Then he divided the district and set the target. He himself, Lotus and a teenager called Servant Liu were in the same team.
Lotus soon showed her talent as a future killer, Servant Liu, however, was a weak point. But his lord was the third young lord, who had close relationship with the eighth young lord, so Gu Shenwei could only carry him, after all servants from other courtyards were more untrustworthy.
The assassination activity was like tidal waves, which came and went. At its worst conditions about 30 or 40 disciples would die everyday, and there were also times that all of the gangs ceased fire in unison, in order to procure food, weapons, clothes and various other needed supplies.
Attending the monthly test had become a real journey of death. The unlucky disciples died before reaching the gate of Lian Huo Yuan; the lucky ones, instead, found no opponents on the other side after walking in the fighting room.
No one dared to throw corpses down Afterlife Cliff, because that would mean one would throw oneself off the cliff.
The disciples had to form a group of 3 to 5 people if they wanted to act openly and there would also be a need for several protectors hidden nearby.
It became more and more difficult to assassinate someone. At the same time, a group of disciples who had advanced techniques and a good record of kills became famous. Each disciples had mastered a skill that allowed them to recognize who was the assassin based on the killing method. They calculated the results, and even created a rank based on this.
Although Gu Shenwei plotted many assassinations and he himself even participated in most of them, he was not ranked number one. Amongst the statistics of different gangs, he always lingered at the third or the fourth position.
Many people found that the living ones were not destined to be those who had the highest kung fu skills. Several disciples who had gained their fame at Diao Mu Yuan and successively killed their opponents with one cut in the monthly test were usually murdered on the first several days of the assassination wave. On the contrary, they discovered that it were those who were unknown that boasted higher survival rates and also showed an impressive improvement in their killing numbers.
A teenager called ‘Liuhua‘ was one of the best. According to all the statistics of the gangs, he ranked higher than Servant Huan.
Liuhua was surnamed Zhi, he was born at the West of the quicksand land. Skinny, short with average looks, the only eye-catching thing of him was his weird surname and first name.1 He didn’t have any records of killing with one move at Lian Huo Yuan and was even cut once.
It was this teenager, who looked to be weak, didn’t join any gangs and had no helpers, appeared and disappeared mysteriously, acted alone and assassinated 11 disciples on the first three days. At first, everyone attributed the ones he killed to be under another’s name, until someone found Liuhua’s unique killing method.
Liuhua was a marksman, he made himself a short bow. Although the firing range was greatly shortened, it was very convenient to hide. He only made moves within 20 steps. Based on the outcome of first shot and his enemy’s reaction speed, he had chances of shooting 1 to 3 times.
He only killed people with his arrow and would take it back after the killing. And no matter how many arrows he shot out, there would definitely be one that shot in the mouth and pierced into the head.
Due to this, he got a nickname called ‘Mouth Sealing’. ‘Mouth Sealing Liuhua’ had once become the disciples’ nightmare, especially those who had insulted him before. They all firmly shut their mouth from now on.
Liuhua's accomplishments greatly improved the status of archers. At Golden Roc Castle, the disciples who focused on learning bows and hidden weapons were always at a weak position. A long-range shot was poor than a close attack, because the more one was near one’s enemy, the better one could judge the death or living of one’s enemies, this was a famous saying amongst the killers.
But Liuhua was fighting alone after all, and his killing purpose was for personal grudges, which didn’t have a big effect. At east castle, the one who undoubtedly ranked first with the largest killing numbers was someone else. Everyone said that he was the only one that Liuhua dared not challenge.
That was a teenager called ‘Wild Horse‘. He kept the record of at least killing one person a day and had killed 69 people in a month, which was enough for terminating a middle-sized gang. In the end, he claimed on his whim that he wanted to compete openly with Servant Huan, the leader of Bi Nu gang, to end this ridiculous slaughter.Translator’s note: Zhi (Branch as a noun or prop up as a verb) is an uncommon surname in China. According to the statistics, it ranked 163 amongst all the surnames of China at year 2014. Liu (flow or fluid) Hua (flower or sea waves). ↩