Chapter 115 Throwing Away Gold
There was a three-storied earthen tower on the roadside of the slope top, which used to be stationed by soldiers guarding the mountain pass but was empty now.
Gu Shenwei hid the women and old people who didn’t know kung fu inside the tower. There were still thirty or so men left. They all took up their bows and arrows and prepared themselves for the enemy’s arrival.
The weapons sent to Big Head God were not little and were all magnificently decorated. Even the arrows were covered with a layer of gold. Those sabremen held them in their hands, reluctant to shoot them.
There were numerous swords and sabres, Gu Shenwei picked several swords but found none of them useful. He understood a bit about Zhang Ji’s words that there were no average swords. These metal pieces inlaid with jewels were worth hanging on the wall for appreciation but were useless for killing. They weren’t swords at all.
The crowd held long golden bows and nervously watched the enemy down the slope.
Surprisingly the enemy didn’t issue an attack even past midnight. Instead, they cleaned the battlefield, dismantled the antler-like fence, and moved the fortifications to the northern side of the mountain pass, and made way for a passage, apparently ‘inviting’ them to flee to the South.
In front of them, the fire at the exit had already been extinguished, exposing over two hundred bandits. guarding behind the fire.
Gu Shenwei decided to forcefully break through again before dawn, but Servant Qing, Meng Mingshi and several others strongly disagreed. They were totally frightened by the first charge. Now the power of the team had been impaired and they had no more courage to storm into the enemy. They just wanted to hide in the tower for the time being and temporarily enjoy the safety they had.
Gu Shenwei was very anxious now. Seeing that the number of enemies on both sides of the mountain pass kept increasing, he knew that the longer they stayed, the more dangerous it became. He even wanted to get rid of all those who had nothing to do with him and order the killers to only protect Shangguan Ru to escape.
Gu Shenwei didn’t have to make this hard choice now. Dao San’er volunteered to break through the enemy’s camp alone and rush to the Iron Mountain to ask for help. His only request was to drink some wine beforehand to encourage himself.
The surviving sabremen had brought wineskins with them. Dao San’er took over one and gulped down a mouthful of wine and shouted ‘watch me’, then he fell back. The crowd was startled and looked at each other. After a while, someone said, “He’s drunk.”
Gu Shenwei was furious and almost killed Dao San’er. He finally understood why Jiang Chenghai had the nickname Dao San’er, obviously it meant ‘fell after three cups of wine’.
But Dao San’er also woke up fast. In less time than it takes for a stick of incense to burn, he crawled up like nothing had happened. He dug out a set of silver armour from the wooden box and wore it. WIth a huge round shield in hand, he said farewell again to the crowd, “Give me three days, the evildoers will flee when the army of the Iron Mountain arrives.”
Over thirty people fired at the enemy at the downhill to disrupt the defence. Funnily enough, those gilded arrows seemed to also be very popular amongst the enemy. As the arrows landed on the ground, Dao San’er galloped downhill with a roar.
Dozens of pairs of eyes watched Dao San’er heroically rush into the enemy’s camp like how Zhao Zilong went in and out of Cao Cao’ camp, and then helplessly watched him fall into a siege. He roared a few more times and became quiet again. 1
It was a face to face fight. The killers couldn’t do anything.
It was completely bright now, dozens of bandits below the steep slope shouted in unison, “We just want the people of Golden Roc Castle. People who are irrelevant can leave right now.”
They shouted out a dozen times and all the people on the slope top heard it.
Meng Mingshi stuck his head out of the earthen tower and listened carefully. He leapt to the front of Servant Huan and caught him by the front piece of his robe. “You lied to me. You, a kid lied to me. It turns out the Golden Roc Castle was causing the trouble. It has nothing to do with my family.”
Gu Shenwei pushed Meng Fifth Gongzi away, indifferently saying, “This is a strategy of sowing discord, the people who go down will be killed.”
Meng Mingshi’s eyes flicked back and forth, hesitating.
Just at this moment, over thirty people walked onto the gentle slope and also started soliciting their surrender. They were not bandits, but prisoners who had fallen into the enemy’s hands during the charge last night. Amongst them there were several sabremen of the Meng family.
Meng Mingshi had made up his mind. With his arms raised, he yelled, “I surrender. People of the Meng family follow me to go downhill and surrender. We don’t have to die here with the people of Golden Roc Castle.”
Gu Shenwei didn’t understand why there were such stupid people in the world, “Don’t step into the trap, all of you will be killed.”
The people of the Meng family didn’t believe in Servant Huan now. The sabremen dropped the longbow, the supply servants went out of the earthen tower and surrounded their little lord. They babbled to show their support for the surrender.
Shangguan Ru and Shangguan Yushi drew out their narrow sabres and denounced that people of the Meng family as traitors.
Gu Shenwei knew he couldn’t persuade Meng Mingshi, so he asked the flag-carrying killer for help.
The flag-carrying killer pondered for a while, but didn’t take Servant Huan’s side, “I’m a man of Golden Roc Castle. I’ll stay, the others can decide for themselves.”
Gu Shenwei was very surprised. He originally thought that the killer of Golden Roc Castle was similar to Tie Hanfeng who could easily see through the enemy’s scheme. Now he understood that just like how there was powerful and weak sabresmanship, some of the killers had rich knowledge and worldly experience but some of them did not.
Gu Shenwei persuaded the two gongzis of the Shangguan family to put away their sabres. “Those who are willing to surrender can go down the hill. Please remember what I said. The enemy will kill you all. This is no ordinary robbery. The bandits will leave no prisoners alive.”
How many people would care about a sixteen year old teenage killer’s advice? The people of the Meng family all followed their young lord down the hill. Servant Qing looked at their backs with tears in his eyes, regretting that he hadn’t changed the family he vowed to be loyal to earlier.
Only one person who didn’t belong to Golden Roc Castle stayed. Fang Wenshi walked behind the surrenders of the Meng family for a few steps, and then turned back to his original position, shaking his head and sighing. Nobody knew what that meant.
There were only fifteen people left on the top of the slope, and there were many horses and camels, enough for one person to have two animals.
From the downhill enemy camp came a shout, “That’s her, the shorter one dressing in a man’s attire. She’s the tomboy of the Shangguan family. Those five young ones are disciples, they’re all what you want.”
It was Meng Mingshi who not only surrendered, but also took credit and shouted at the hilltop.
With a livid face, Shangguan Yushi shot out a gilded arrow, which flew to the front of Meng Fifth Gongzi but was caught in the hand by a black-robed woman.
“Dog traitor!”, shouted Shangguan Ru indignantly.
A black-robed woman opened her mouth. Her voice was as harsh as the sound of two metal pieces rubbing against each other, but everyone on the hilltop could still hear her clearly. “Go to the South, people of the Golden Roc Castle. Go to the South, or the ones who don’t will be killed at sunset!”
Servant Qing sat onto the ground, muttering, “Why go to the South? Why go to the South?”
The flag-carrying killer sighed, “It looks like we have no other choices but let it go and let it be.”
Gu Shenwei shook his head, “No, we can’t go to the South. Everyone get ready, we’ll rush downward before sunset.”
“Just us? There are hundreds of them down there.” The flag-carrying killer couldn’t believe what the teenage leader had said.
Gu Shenwei didn’t actually have any ideas in mind, but his instincts told him that moving forward was the only right choice.
“Throw away the treasure, the bandits love it, let them rob it. We will break through when the situation devolves into chaos.”
“What if we can’t break through?” Servant Qing asked with a quivering voice. Even he didn’t care about the gifts now.
“Then die in it.” Gu Shenwei said, not understanding why someone couldn’t comprehend such a simple truth.
He didn’t want to die, he wanted revenge. However, the killer’s training had unwittingly modified his mental habits. He could treat death as a normal thing that might come at any time, and practising the mysterious sword manual had pushed this idea to the extreme.
Servant Qing was not a killer, so he was too frightened to say even one more word.
The maidservant Little Sui was not very talkative along the way, but suddenly one idea flashed into her mind at the critical moment, “I’m going to be sent to Big Head God, does it mean that I’m not one of Golden Roc Castle anymore?”
The crowd turned to look at her. For the first time, Little Sui had displayed her brave and resolute temperament, she stared back at a dozen pairs of eyes without fear. The more she thought the more she felt she was right. Although she hadn’t been delivered to Big Head God yet, she had belonged to the Iron Mountain as soon as she had walked out of Golden Roc Castle. And these killers only had Tenth Gongzi in their eyes; who would spare no efforts to protect a concubine?
Gu Shenwei didn’t want to keep Little Sui, and there would be one less burden if she left. He had only one purpose now: to save Shangguan Ru’s little life, so that he had a chance to kill the Tenth Gongzi in the future.
However, those bandits downhill made a reply before Gu Shenwei opened his mouth.
One by one, heads were tossed up the slope and rolled everywhere. They were all the people of the Meng family.
The enemy was demonstrating to the people on the hilltop in the style of Golden Roc Castle.
Little Sui’s face changed color, turning from pale white to blood red, then back to pale white. Finally, she gasped and fell into Fang Wenshi arms.
“What young hero said is absolutely right. It’s a good plan to break through the siege with silver and gold.” Fang Wenshi looked up to the steep slope and held Little Sui tightly, without looking at the heads on the ground.
Gu Shenwei checked the heads one by one, “There’s no Meng Fifth Gongzi.”
“What a pity.” Shangguan Ru echoed, her voice appearing to be calm. Perhaps it was too calm as it slightly revealed the fear in her heart.
Gu Shenwei thought that the scions of the Shangguan family would receive better and more rigorous killer’s training, but now it seemed that he had overestimated them.
The day passed very slowly, as more and more bandits gathered on both sides of the mountain pass. The black-robed women either killed the bandits in this area or forced them to surround the people of Golden Roc Castle.
On the top of the hill, the crowd was quietly getting prepared. Servant Qing and three supply servants had put on the armours and were begging Buddha’s blessing. Little Sui did not mention her ‘status’ any more. But she could not wear any heavy iron armour. Fang Wenshi stood up, put an armour on himself and climbed onto his horse. Little Sui carried a shield on her back and sat behind him..
The killers didn’t arm themselves. They only carried round shields with them, which had to be thrown away once they reached the bottom of the slope.
At noon, the hottest time of the day, the charge began.
Gu Shenwei had made countless choices in his lifetime, and this was by no means the best one, but it indeed worked.
Numerous silver, gold, and jewels rolled down from the steep slopes, and coins poured down from the sky like rain. The bandits beneath looked up upon the dreamlike scene, and suddenly threw away their bows and arrows, and began to grab at the falling treasures madly.
Over twenty black-robed women were hoarsely shouting, but they could not stop the red-eyed men.
There was always another side to the matter. The bandits had given up the defence, but they had also jammed into the narrow mountain path, blocking it.
The charging team crashed into a human wall, and the killers jumped off their horses and started fleeing by stepping on the bandits’ backs. Several people with armours, however, fell into the crowd, and their golden and silver armour became the target of looting.
The women in black flashed their shiny steel thorns as they tried to surround the escapees.
Gu Shenwei had already privately explained to the five brown-belted killers that their lives depended not only on the sabre at hands, but also on the safety of Tenth Gongzi. However, the scene quickly got out of control and it was hard for the teenagers who were devoted to killing to give their hands to the protection of others.
Even Gu Shenwei himself soon lost sight of the person he was trying to protect. The last time he saw Shangguan Ru was when he saw that killer disguised as a cameleer jump over her head and deftly behead a woman in black.
- Translator’s note: Both Zhao Zilong (a.k.a Zhao Yun) and Cao Cao are famous figures of the Three Kingdoms. You can look up the Battle of Changban for more information. ↩