Chapter 166 Sword Wound
Servant Jing had been butchered to death with his flesh torn to shreds, but his head was miraculously well preserved.
He should have been following Servant Huan at his side, but somehow the two had gotten separated. There were fights everywhere, from the ground to the roof, and there were always people who unexpectedly rushed at them. It had already been dark when Gu Shenwen finally noticed that Servant Jing was missing, but by then it was too late to look for him.
In this manner, Servant Jing became the second killer under Tenth Gongzi to die.
Over a hundred sabremen of the Qiu Society had been wounded or were dead. On the surface, it looked like a great loss for the Qiu Society, but that was only a quarter of their total power. Although the Kun Society had only lost about fifty people by comparison, that was half of the sabremen they had in total.
Since the start of this brutal fight, it had been difficult for both sides to hire new sabremen. Even the existing employed sabremen had often left without saying goodbye, some of whom had even given up collecting their end of the month salaries.
Life was still more important than money.
Everyone could speculate about who would be the final winner now. Although it was hard to recruit new sabremen, the Qiu Society could always make up their losses with money from the Meng family, whereas the money of the Kun Society would come to an end soon. They were not a match for the other side even if they took out all of Tie Hanfeng’s legacy.
For the first time, Gu Shenwei felt the taste of utter isolation.
Although the result of this fight wasn’t something that could be changed by Servant Huan, he, as the Hall Leader, was nowhere in sight at the crucial moment, had joined the fight halfway, and had commanded a killer who died an unnatural death, all of which were failures that couldn’t be concealed.
The killers stayed far away from him, the sabremen no longer trusted him, and even the sister and brother of the Xu family became nervous upon hearing the news. Ostensibly, they still behaved respectfully, but they had already begun to accumulate money in secret. If the Kun Society was defeated miserably, they would find a new backer as soon as possible.
Lotus was the only one not affected by any external forces, and she concluded that there must be a conspiracy in Servant Jing’s death even before Servant Huan said anything, saying that “Servant Jing is not a reckless person. How could he rush into the crowd and be hacked to death?”
Gu Shenwei clearly knew that Servant Jing’s death was questionable, but he still blamed himself, as he knew that Servant Jing, who was also the key person to uncover the truth, was in danger. And despite knowing this, he actually did not closely guard him at all times.
The hardest part was going to Northern Jade City to meet Shangguan Ru.
As she stood by Tenth Gongzi’s side, Shangguan Yushi performed a rare action and did not add fuel to the fire about Servant Huan’s performance. She had taken part in the fight and knew what had happened. But she was a smart person, and knew what she should say and what would backfire.
“Why nothing was heard before? We got caught off guard.”
Gu Shenwei didn’t know how to answer Shanguan Ru’s question. Although there was never a clear division of labour, he was always in charge of collecting information. The fact that he had no prior knowledge of such a large-scale attack from the Qiu Society was his dereliction of duty anyway.
“It’s all my fault and I’ve realized it. Please punish me, Tenth Gongzi.”
Gu Shenwei was furious that he had no choice but to admit his fault, for he knew that there was a conspiracy behind these things. But, he could not present any evidence or even bring it up, because this would make Shangguan Ru think that he was framing Yu Gongzi.
Now, the situation seemed to have returned to the incident at the Giant Boulder Cliff where Shangguan Yushi had tried to assassinate Servant Huan unexpectedly. The only difference was that she was more mature in means with almost no traces, which gave Servant Huan fewer and fewer ways to fight back.
“It’s not your fault. It‘s just that I’m too simple-minded. Here I am, sitting in Northern Jade City and separated from the situation by a high wall and a river. How can I fully understand the scope of the matter?”
Shangguan Ru regarded this sentence as a lord’s responsible attitude, but to Gu Shenwei, it was an utter humiliation.
Gu Shenwei stayed in Northern Jade City, with the excuse of reflecting on his faults. Actually he had sneaked out that evening to visit Ye Silang. He had nowhere to go now and could only push open every door around him to have a look.
Ye Silang’s home was in a small alley in Northern Jade City. Compared to his neighbours, Ye Silang’s home was a little bit shabby. He had no other livelihood other than the sword, and his life all depended on his admirers’ aid. Sometimes he got more, sometimes less; it was all dependent on the patron’s will. Fortunately he didn’t desire a lavish lifestyle and also didn’t have any special interests, so he could afford to live in Northern Jade City.
Ye Silang was sitting on a soft bed, his upper body naked. He still had a bandage on his chest. His sword was at his side, as he was one of the few who were allowed to carry it in Northern Jade City.
Perhaps he had been unconsciously affected by the City View Alley, but Gu Shenwei couldn’t help but admire how perfect Ye Silang’s figure was, as even people who were not interested in men would be amazed. Although he had not yet recovered from his serious injury, he still looked powerful, as if the layers of bandages were just ornaments.
The sole old servant of the Ye family came to serve tea and quickly retreated before Ye Silang finally opened his mouth, “You saved me.” There was not much gratitude in the voice, and his statement sounded more like sarcasm and resentment.
“There’s no need to repay me. I have my own purpose. I just want to know who was trying to kill you.”
Ye Silang did not seem to have heard the killer’s words and looked straight at him, saying, “I am a swordsman, not a killer. No matter what you think, I owe you my life.”
Gu Shenwei had been in the castle for so long that he had almost forgotten there were still codes in the world that were different from the killer’s. “You don’t have to pay it back. I don’t need it. Tell me who wants to kill you and we’re done.”
“It’s my business, what does it matter to you?”
“We’ll know if it matters when you say it.”
“Heh, I’ve heard a lot about you. You’re a busybody, not like a Golden Roc killer at all. I’ll repay you for saving my life, but it’s up to me about how to repay you. Take care.”
Since the host had given the order to leave, Gu Shenwei could only leave. He paced around outside and went back to the entrance of the alley. Before long, he saw the old servant of the Ye family leave the house with a lantern and make several turns before entering a corner door of a large house.
The large house was the Meng family’s mansion. Gu Shenwei had an impulse to sneak inside and have a check but he abandoned the idea after a second thought. He had no weapon with him, so it would be difficult for him to escape once he was trapped. Besides, it wasn’t a good idea to run around in Northern Jade City; Golden Roc Castle would not forgive him once he was discovered.
Gu Shenwei went back to the house of the Ye family. The door was unlatched, and he entered without any invitation.
Ye Silang was performing a sword dance in the courtyard. The cold moonlight shone on his flawless skin as if it were the essence of heaven and earth falling on a young god, who had conjured up three heads and six arms and held countless swords.
Gu Shenwei watched quietly. This wasn’t a swordsmanship for killing, but it was equally fascinating.
Ye Silang put away his long sword and tore off the bandage on his chest, stating, “This was my first injury.”
“You’ll get used to it sooner or later.”
Gu Shenwei had countless scars on his body and all of them were more shocking than the one on the swordsman’s body.
“I have so many things to get used to. The world has been turned upside down. My most loyal servant has gone to report everything I do to the rich, while a killer is obsessed with finding out who wants to kill me. Do you know? All these things are disgusting, including you and my servant.”
“I haven’t seen your purple cloak.” Gu Shenwei said casually, having no intention of arguing with the swordsman about what the world should be like.
“Hmm, cloak. I saw a man in Southern Jade City who liked purple as much as you, I suppose …”
Ye Silang showed another type of swordsmanship. He had barely shaken his body before he came up to the killer. The long sword went about one inch into the teenager’s chest. With a little bit more force, he could kill this pesky teenager. “Shut up!” The swordsman shouted with a tortured face, shattering that god-like radiance.
Gu Shenwei glanced down at the sword that pierced into his chest, “This isn’t my first injury.”
Ye Silang pulled back his sword with contempt and disgust all over his face, “You should be glad that I’m a swordsman, and that we’re in Northern Jade City. I’ll pay back a life to you sooner or later, and then kill you.”
“Like how you killed Duke Gao?”
As soon as he said it, Gu Shenwei knew that he had gotten it wrong this time. Ye Silang held his head high, which made his tall body appear even taller and the teenager in front of a schoolboy. “You’re a killer in your heart and soul, so you’ll never understand what a swordsman is. A swordsman will kill and will kill for money or fame, but he will never kill sneakily.”
How could Gu Shenwei understand the swordsman? He had seen very few swordsmen before, and most of them had popped up in recent days. “I have seen many people die by the sword recently, and all of the cases were assassinations.”
Ye Silang was more in control of his emotions as long as the killer didn’t mention the purple-robed man in Southern Jade City. He lowered down his long sword, his face even revealing a smile. “I haven’t seen the wounds of those dead ones, but I know that Duke Gao wasn’t killed by a swordsman.”
Gu Shenwei didn’t understand the words right away, so he continued with, “Many people are sure that the wound on Duke Gao’s body was a sword wound, as you yourself said before.”
“The wound was a sword wound, but the person making it wasn’t a swordsman.”
Gu Shenwei suddenly understood. Although his best martial arts skill was the swordsmanship, he knew very little about the swordsmanships of the world. Zhang Ji had once lent him many sword manuals, but they were all empty talk and he had not studied them carefully, so he was far less knowledgeable than this Ye Silang, who was a well-known swordsman.
Right, just because one kills with a sword doesn’t mean that he’s a swordsman. Gu Shenwei realized where he had been mistaken all along. So many things suddenly came out in front of him, though there were still several details that remained obscure.
“Is that why you thought it was me?”
“Not exactly. Duke Gao is a good friend of mine, and I have an obligation to avenge him. As for the duel with you, it was because someone wanted your head. I said that the swordsman might kill for money.”
Gu Shenwei knew very well who wanted his head. “How about the assassin in the Rouge Forest? Wasn’t he a real swordsman?”
“You still won’t leave this behind. That man is a swordsman, and a rare expert. But he’s not my match. I will avenge myself; it’s none of your business.”
The old servant pushed the door open to enter the yard. Seeing his lord standing in the yard with a sword holding in hand, his heart thumped and his body immediately lowered by half. “Lord Fourth, you’re still awake?”
Ye Silang nodded and watched the old servant walk into the room shivering with fear, his heart full of hatred for the whole Jade City.
Gu Shenwei returned to the house in Northern Jade City. Shangguan Ru was still not asleep, so she asked him about any progress he had made during the day.
“I’ve got some clues, and I think it will be clear in a few days.”
Gu Shenwei didn’t intend to tell Tenth Gongzi the whole truth. He went back to Southern Jade City the next day. First, he ordered the siblings of the Xu family to inquire about Chu Yangjun of the City View Alley. Then he found Lotus, who was his only trusted companion. He had to warn her of the danger under their nose.
“Beware of Wild Horse. Duke Gao, Zhou Huan, Servant Yuan, and Servant Jing were all killed by him. His next target will be either you or me.”