Chapter 078 Duel
It was on the fifth day after Aardwolf's death that the Snow Mountain gang experienced another huge setback. Their first leader had fallen at the hands of another rival gang. Gu Shenwei had made a detailed plan but was unable to conduct it in time.
Three days without a leader had allowed for chaos to prosper within the Snow Mountain gang as internal strife emerged. Almost one third of the Snow Mountain gang members died during this period, until Wild Horse showed up.
Gu Shenwei had once seen this teenager with a peculiar appearance. For a kung fu practitioner, his body shape was perfect, but what made him more conspicuous were his looks. His two eyes were far apart, and was separated by his wing of a nose which fell straight from the forehead to his lips without any ups and downs. This made him look like a person with a low intelligence from any perspective of view.
This impression was a deadly mistake.
Wild Horse’s kung fu was good. Although he might not be the most formidable one amongst the gang members, he had outstanding perseverance and a calm, ruthless personality which was enough to make up for the shortcomings of his sabresmanship.
Mouth Sealing Liuhua always kept to himself and had no contact with others; the Bi Nu gang performed assassinations with small teams up to 3 to 5 members. Wild Horse was different from all of them, he was more like a mature Golden Roc killer and was good at organizing large scale assassinations of up to dozens of people. Several small gangs were wiped out by him.
In addition, Wild Horse had the amazing ability to make his followers worship him like a god. This could be seen when the disciples under him would always leave him the honor of last kill after they successfully trapped their target, their persistence and fervent worship even made several young lords jealous of him.
The slaughter lasted for a month. Over 600 disciples of the current year and several hundreds more disciples from the previous years joined the slaughter, totalling more than a thousand teenagers of 10 to 18 years-old. In the end, only 200 exhausted survivors were left. Even the Shangguan family who had indulged and secretly sowed discord felt uneasy, and felt this slaughter had exceeded the acceptable bottom line.
The time was ripe for a truce to be established, Wild Horse spread the word that he would openly fight with Servant Huan. No matter who won, the assassinations would end afterwards and neither side would retaliate.
The Snow Mountain gang and the Bi Nu gang were the two biggest gangs now, which both had 30 to 40 core members left. The other members, except loners like Liuhua, all chose to join one of the two gangs. Some of them even decided join both gangs at the same time which made it convenient to pass words.
Gu Shenwei was presented with a very difficult choice.
If he refused the fight, he would be blamed for the slaughter. Everyone wanted to stop this killing game now, even the strongest supporters revealed an expression of hope at the prospect of their leader accepting the fight.
If he accepted the fight, he didn’t have full confidence in being able to win. Defeat meant death, which meant his great revenge would end before it even began and would only consist of the death of an inessential scion of the Shangguan family.
Lotus was the only one that openly objected to the duel, “We’re killers, this is not the way of solving a problem as a killer, and this is probably a trap.”
In the past month, Servant Huan and Lotus’s relationship gradually became close to the nature of ‘friends’. Servant Huan was the acknowledged leader of Bi Nu gang, Lotus was his most important, most helpful assistant and adviser.
Gu Shenwei was very surprised, the reticent Lotus turned out to be very popular. In fact, she was more like the core and backbone of the gang than Servant Huan ever was. Without her solving all the disagreements, a single reason like ‘serving for different lords’ would make this group of servants fall apart.
What she utilized was not her good looks, but her excellent insight and ability to hit the nail on the head. She could easily persuade someone to temporarily forget about one’s original lord and recognize the benefits and necessities of an alliance.
Therefore, her opinion had a very large impact on the gang.
This was the first time Gu Shenwei worked as a ‘leader’. Before he was 14 years-old, he used to play as a naughty innocent kid being protected by his father and brothers whose kung fu skills were high. Except the little disobedient bookkeeper, he didn’t have any experiences in managing others. But he knew, he had gained the honor and meanwhile bore an unshirkable responsibility.
Ironically, no matter the opponent, the Snow Mountain gang, or the Bi Nu gang under his command, all would be his enemy on the road to revenge in the future.
Gu Shenwei decided to fight.
Safe meant retreat. Since every step on the road of revenge towards Golden Roc Castle was a fight under the constant threat of death, why would he care about it this time?
The duel was scheduled to start three days later and the location was the ruins of wooden sabre alley.
After the declaration, assassinations greatly decreased at east castle. There were only a few that occurred during the three days, one of which, however, almost destroyed the duel that had been set.
No one understood why ‘Mouth Sealing Liuhua’ popped out at this time. He had already reduced his killing several days ago, but had suddenly tried to assassinate a key figure of the Bi Nu gang when the two big gangs had intended to cease fire.
The target of the assassination was Lotus.
The general guess was that Liuhua didn’t want this assassination frenzy to end. He was originally an inconspicuous nobody and had gained great fame from his sharp arrow and the corpses he left in his wake. He enjoyed the pleasure of hiding in the dark and shooting the enemy, so he wanted to break the peace negotiations between the two gangs.
Killing the gang leaders, Servant Huan and Wild Horse, would mostly cause war again, but the difficulty of the assassination was the highest. So he chose Lotus, the spiritual pillar of Bi Nu gang. As a female disciple, her power was weaker.
This was another prejudice at east castle. Like how everyone felt that the bows were inadequate against the sabre, the popular view held that women were not suitable for being a killer.
The female disciples at east castle numbered less than 100, and after a month’s bloody draft, only about a dozen of them survived. Their death rate was much higher than the male disciples.
Liuhua laid sprawled on the courtyard wall. He wore a grey cloak, which was covered with a layer of dust. From afar, it seemed as if he was almost merged with the wall. No one knew how long he had waited, he bore the hunger, only drunk a bit when necessary and finally got the chance of his target appearing alone.
The yard Lotus lived was closely guarded at both inside and outside. On that night, she walked out of her room, intending to meet someone from the Snow Mountain gang and discuss the detailed arrangement of the duel. Within only a dozen steps, she would meet the gang members waiting outside the yard.
Liuhua strictly adhered to his assassination principles, when Lotus entered within 20 steps of his shooting range, he successively shot twice. All of the shots hit the target, but he was unable to fire an arrow inside Lotus’s mouth in time. About 7 or 8 disciples who worked as guards rushed out to protect her, while Liuhua followed his predestined retreat route in which he had selected a long time ago and disappeared quickly.
This was the only time Liuhua wasn’t able to leave the mark in his target’s mouth.
Members of the Bi Nu gang burnt with rage, Gu Shenwei openly swore that he would avenge for her, and assassinated one of the core members of Snow Mountain gang on the second half of the night.
Although everyone knew it was Liuhua’s deeds, they all treated this matter as a symbol of the lonely killer’s loyalty to the Snow Mountain gang.
At this critical moment, it was almost impossible to keep calm, but Wild Horse showed a rare manipulative ability. He not only suppressed the noisy revenge sound of his fellow gang members, but he also sent out all the members to capture Liuhua, proving that he was not the one behind the scenes.
For the treatment of this matter, Gu Shenwei felt very ashamed of himself. The duel hadn’t begun yet, but he had already lost two moves in both leadership and decisiveness.
Before the situation spiralled out of control Lotus finally awakened. Liuhua shot Lotus twice, one arrow was close to her heart, another pierced her left arm. But her reaction was still faster than the assassin had expected, allowing her to avoid getting hit in the vitals at the crucial moment.
There were only the most ordinary vulnerary at east castle, not to mention find a doctor. Lotus was in coma for a day and a night, and finally awakened miracally. The first sentence she said after opening her eyes was, “Do not be fooled, this has nothing to do with the Snow Mountain gang and it should be stopped.”
It was because of this matter that Gu Shenwei started completely trusting Lotus. He had been hiding feelings of antipiracy and suspicion towards the teenage girl, and finally it had all disappeared.
Lotus’s cold attitude at their first meeting had unknowingly affected Gu Shenwei. He had suffered from intimidation, contempt and other expressions before, but never encountered such ignorance without any reasons, especially when they were all servants of the same class. Due to this, Gu Shenwei’s only remaining self-esteem was greatly blowed for a long time.
Now, it all disappeared.
Servant Huan and Wild Horse’s duel held as scheduled. Lotus insisted on attending with her injury. She was the most important assistant of the ‘gang leader’ and had the responsibility to guard him, in case of the possibility the other party might set a trap.
Everything had worked out well. The members of the two gangs all moved out. No one was allowed to be absent with the excuse of injury. All the people were masked and dressed in black. The two sides counted the numbers, making sure that there were no hidden killers. The Snow Mountain gang had 103 people, the Bi Nu gang had 89 members, totally 193 disciples survived if they counted Liuhua.
Liuhua still hadn’t been found. The two gangs searched east castle twice but had no clue at all. In the end, everyone could only believe that he had jumped off the Afterlife Cliff by himself. This was not strange. In the past month, more than a dozen disciples couldn’t bear the bloody pressure and chose to end their own life.
The disciples gathered at the wooden sabre alley. Tension, vigilance, and happiness filled in the air. No matter who won, the nightmare for about a month finally came to an end.
The duel between killers would naturally not be a face-to-face competition of sabresmanship. Servant Huan and Wild Horse would enter the ruins consisting of 17 courtyards from two different directions. With the cover of broken walls, weeds, and deadwood, they would kill the other with assassination techniques. There was no time limit until one of them were killed. It might be a moment of time or several days.
Gu Shenwei had already thought of a plan. After Lotus was awake, the two discussed and all felt it was workable.
Wild Horse was a hunter, he’d like to encircle and wipe out his enemy when there was a lot of people. When he worked alone, he would like to track patiently and use the traps he had created in advance to kill his enemy. Lotus remembered Wild Horse’s every assassination activity and drew a conclusion from them, which happened to meet with Gu Shenwei’s plan.
After entering the ruins, Gu Shenwei would carefully move forward and search the traps created by Wild Horse. There was no way to use skills at this stage, he could only rely on his experience and intuition. After this stage, he would place his own trap: left some inconspicuous marks on his way to attract Wild Horse, then moved back a bit along his original track and ambushed Wild Horse at a specific location.
He and Lotus both believed that victory lied on a matter of several cuts. To die or to live depended solely on who bit the bait.