Chapter 121 Dreamlike
Gu Shenwei picked up a piece of grass to chew in his mouth, using the bitter taste to help him resist the relentless attacks of exhaustion.
The sun was up high, and the buzzing of the insects naturally lured people to sleep while the gurgling of the nearby stream was also annoying. Gu Shenwei felt a familiar sense of loss in his heart, as his cautious character often thought about each of his actions to the extreme, finding situations that made his plan seem like they were full of holes with no chance of success.
But the arrow was on the string now, and the sensation of imminent doom in Gu Shenwei’s abdomen from the tension was so intense that it even drove away the gnawing hunger that had plagued him for so long.
This was what he had to do. Without Shangguan Ru, he could not go back to Golden Roc Castle, and his revenge would become more and more hopeless. Not to mention that his most important ally, Lotus was amongst the captives.
In the late afternoon, the people the teenage killer was waiting for finally arrived.
There were still three kidnappers who were all women dressed in long robes, though the robes were not black, but red. Five prisoners were escorted, all of whom could be seen from afar. However, the red-robed women were all riding horses.
This was not what Gu Shenwei had anticipated. He had followed the footprints for four days and determined long ago that the kidnappers were on foot. He didn’t expect that the stronghold of the Great Desolate Sect would provide them with horses.
There was no time to change the trap, nor could the original plan be abandoned.
Two red-robed women rode in front, followed by five captives on foot, and the last red-robed woman guarded behind.
More than a hundred steps from the riverbank, the ground fell steeply and then rose again. The vegetation on both sides was so lush that the path was completely covered and pedestrians had to walk through the grass.
The first red-robed woman passed. The horse under her couldn’t be seen due to the lush grass, and only her upper body remained exposed. The second red-robed woman followed closely behind.
An arrow shot through the grass, right into the shank of the second red-robed woman. It passed through the muscles and pierced into the horse. The horse whinnied at the pain, leaping forward with a long miserable hiss, bumping and shoving the horse in front aside.
That arrow was supposed to hit the target in the heart.
The crossbow was hidden in the grass. A branch was attached to the crossbow, which was then connected with a straw stick at the end. Ten steps away, Gu Shenwei controlled the timing of the launch, for which he had practised for about two hours. But it only wounded the enemy’s shank.
Gu Shenwei had rehearsed the whole plan countless times. As soon as the crossbow was launched, he immediately stood up, aimed the short bow with the nearby arrow, and shot at the first red-robed woman.
The first red-robed woman already knew she was being plotted against. She leaped at the crossbow, but was shot when she was about to land on the ground. She screamed and fell, but didn’t die. Servant Huan’s shooting skill was still far from Liuhua’s.
The red-robed woman at the rear jumped several times, and was already only a few steps away from Gu Shenwei. She scratched at the ambusher with her bony fingers like a talon with hooked claws .
Gu Shenwei threw away the short bow. His narrow sabre was already unsheathed and inserted into the grassland at his feet.
The tip of the sabre was raised obliquely. Everything happened so fast it seemed to the outsider that it was not Servant Huan who stabbed at the enemy, but that the enemy had struck the tip of the sabre by herself.
It was the only perfect blow in the whole plan. The red-robed woman was stabbed in the neck and fell to the ground.
Gu Shenwei had five more bloodstains on his chest. The red-robed woman was not weak in martial arts. She had still made a move before dying.
The second red-robed woman’s shank was joined to the horse’s body. She surprisingly didn’t even look back as she sped up, crossed the river and ran away.
The incident had happened so suddenly that the five captured teenagers did not react until Gu Shenwei had killed one person with the narrow knife. Shangguan Yushi cried out first, her voice full of horror.
“You’re not dead?” Shangguan Ru followed, her voice filled with more joy than surprise.
“I’m not dead.” Gu Shenwei first went into the grass to check on the woman who had not been killed by the arrow. The arrow had hit her lower abdomen, and the red-robed woman was lying on her back and gasping for air. She had already lost her ability to resist.
Then he cut the ropes off the teenagers.
Compared with the five captives, Servant Huan seemed to have suffered more. His clothes was tattered, face was covered with dust and sand, and hair was covered with grass clippings. He was barefoot, his shoes long gone.
The captured teenagers’ clothes, on the contrary, were still complete, but they moved sluggishly, as if they had lost their internal energy.
After the surprise of being rescued, the teenagers showed their anger. Shangguan Yushi snatched the narrow sabre from Servant Huan and was about to kill the injured woman.
“Leave her alive.” cried Gu Shenwei.
“We have to find out where they come from.”
“Well, there’s no need. I know it very well.”
Shangguan Yushi killed the wounded and then cut off two heads. They were important trophies that she had to bring back.
In fact, Gu Shenwei had an unspoken reason.The woman of the Great Desolate Sect might know how to get rid of the Desolate Finger energy, but even if she was left alive, he had no chance to interrogate her alone.
It was purely accidental for the five teenagers to be captured.
The three earthen huts in the oasis was a place the Great Desolate Sect used to train their junior disciples. There were at total of eight disciples whose martial arts skills were average and had died under the sabre of the teenagers of Golden Roc Castle. There was also a Master but she was killed by Gu Shenwei in the secret chamber.
Three other red-robed women went there on a routine visit, and the teenagers would not have bumped into them if they went there a day earlier or a day later.
As expected by Gu Shenwei, they used knockout drugs, which was exactly the ‘mercy powder’ Golden Roc Castle had promised to never use again. Compared to the unknown knockout drugs of Golden Roc Castle, the mercy powder’s effect lasted much longer. The red-robed women had mixed it with meal and forced the captives to take it with their food. If not for Gu Shenwei saving them in time, the teenagers’ internal energy would have begun to regress in a dozen days until it was completely gone.
The Great Desolate Sect and Golden Roc Castle had feuds that went back for decades. Shangguan Ru knew a bit about the origins of this sect. It was said that the Great Desolate Sect used to be a subordinate of Golden Roc Castle, but had betrayed it and established its own sect during the period of the fifth generation of Unique King, and was subsequently almost completely annihilated by the sixth generation of Unique King.
But a few years later, the Great Desolate Sect came back to life again, and several experts showed up. The vendettas of the two killer gangs affected the stability of the whole Western Regions before several powerful kings finally stood out and demanded a truce between the two sides.
At the Four Noble Truths Temple outside the Jade City, Golden Roc Castle and Great Desolate Sect made an unbreakable agreement. Golden Roc Castle promised not to resort to assassination tactics such as ‘mercy powder’ to stay in Jade City, and the Great Desolate Sect voluntarily retreated into the desert.
Few people remembered the details at that time. In short, the Great Desolate Sect had been extinct for decades and had not been seen again in jianghu.
As for why they left the desert and reappeared in jianghu recently, and why they forced the people of Golden Roc Castle to go south into the desert, none of the teenagers could understand.
The three red – robed women were overjoyed to find the daughter of Unique King among their prisoners, and immediately escorted the five teenagers to leave. As for the teenager who fell into the trap, they took it for granted that the Master was capable of killing him, so they left without checking on him.
“The Great Desolate Sect is treacherous, my father will definitely kill them all.” Shangguan Ru resentfully said. She hadn’t linked the black-robed women to the sect that had disappeared for many years until she was interrogated.
Only Gu Shenwei and Lotus knew that this was not the first time the disciples of the Great Desolate Sect had left the desert; Xue Niang had even slipped into Golden Roc Castle.
Several teenagers naturally could not avenge themselves, and the escape of a red-robed woman made it even more dangerous for them.
Both horses had ran away, so the teenagers had to walk. They drank lots of water by the river, which was one of the most effective means of defusing the mercy powder. They then crossed the river, went west along the riverbank and turned southwest, hoping to make it all the way to the Jade City border.
No one knew how far this road went on for.
Among the six of them, only Gu Shenwei was equipped with a narrow sabre. Liuhua took back his favorite short bow without a word of thanks, and the crossbow was handed to Shangguan Ru while the longbow was given to Shangguan Yushi. But there was only a total of less than twenty arrows left now.
Gu Shenwei gave his dagger to Lotus, and Wild Horse was left with nothing but his bare hands.
They did not dare to stay still; they travelled through the night and used the dark mountains of the South to determine their course. They finally took a rest until noon the next day. Gu Shenwei felt like he had just closed his eyes before he was woken up. Liuhua had hunted several birds and the team partook of them raw. The flesh and blood of the birds temporarily suppressed the sensation of hunger in their stomachs.
Their internal energy had been restored, but it didn’t help much with the walking.
On the third night, the first person who could not bear it anymore was Shangguan Ru. She was too young and had not suffered any hardships before to be able to endure such an intense march. She had been holding out for half a day and finally didn’t have any more strength to move on. The other five took turns carrying as they continued walking. When Shangguan Ru finally decided to unconditionally take a rest, everyone heaved a sigh of relief.
Starting with Wild Horse, the four brown-belted killers took turns on sentry duty.
Gu Shenwei did the last shift. As he sat in a bush on the high ground, enduring the lingering sleepiness and the gnats’ bites, he looked at the waning moon, his mind seemingly frozen, with even the simplest thoughts unable to surface.
He felt himself fall asleep, but there was no change in the scene in front of him except for the fact that he did not feel sleepy anymore. He was calm and joyful, as if he was floating in the clouds. Even the insect’s harsh noise had disappeared and was replaced by the whispering of the wind and the faint sound of a flute.
He wondered why he heard these sound in his dream when he actually did not like instruments such as flutes.
He raised his hand, trying to drive away the false night scene before him. After several unsuccessful attempts, he opened his eyelids with his fingers.
It was still the same scene, but the moon had faded and the morning light was shining.
A tall woman came over, stooped over him, and smiled.
Gu Shenwei didn’t know her, but her smile was like the spring breeze when the snow was still in the midst of melting. It warmed the heart and unconsciously relaxed his vigilance, so he smiled back with a weak smile and allowed her to poke at his chest.
Gu Shenwei closed his eyes and slept again, without worries and even dreaming.
When he woke up, the morning sun was already one man high. Shangguan Yushi complained that he was not serious about his sentry duty, but everyone also slept like the dead, and no one had awakened in time.
“There was a woman here last night…” said Gu Shenwei, but he felt that it was a dream and might be ridiculed as soon as his words were out.
Sure enough, Shangguan Yushi snorted scornfully. Three days was enough for her to forget that Servant Huan had saved her life. “Where’s the woman? You must be afraid of the Great Desolate Sect, and had nightmares.”
The others also shook their heads, expressing that nothing had happened last night. Shangguan Ru regained her energy a little, smiling and asking, “Who were you dreaming about? Spit it out.”
Gu Shenwei squeezed out a smile, “I don’t remember.”
In fact, he remembered her. He remembered the woman’s face, her beauty stunning and her features clear, but she was very strange to him. It couldn’t be an image that could be thought of in a dream.