Chapter 187 Lonely Lamp
It was impossible for a Golden Roc killer to live a ‘secluded life’ in the Essence Pavilion. While Gu Shenwei was focused on breaking through his meridians for the second time, people and issues from outside City View Alley came to the front door.
The first group of intruders were a few uninvited acquaintances, but had no direct connection with the killer.
Like the others, Gu Shenwei had drawn many scars on his face to conceal his real face, so the group didn’t recognize him.
The leader of these people was Shangguan Fei’s ‘strategist’ Guan Houlin, who departed unhappily after a long talk with Tang Ji, the head of the teahouse.
Gu Shenwei now recalled that on the surface, his purpose here was to inquire about Guan Houlin. Since Immortal Peng’s disciples were no different from ordinary people when they were not being controlled, Gu Shenwei had become familiar with them, and thus soon got what he wanted.
Guan Houlin once wanted to worship Immortal Peng as his Master, but was refused because of his lack of talent. Now he was no longer a desperate sabreman who had nowhere to go, but the ninth young lord’s strategist, in charge of one of the most powerful forces in Southern Jade City. He had returned to the Essence Pavilion to collect protection fees from all of City View Alley.
In the intricate network of forces in Jade City, the City View Alley had always been a pure land, where its people had never accepted protection from the outside world and had rarely been blackmailed. So, Guan Houlin’s demands were flatly denied.
People of the Essence Pavilion feared nothing and thought of this as a small matter. Gu Shenwei felt a little sympathetic for Shangguan Fei, but trying to cause trouble in City View Alley was like smashing one’s head against a wall. The Essence Pavilion had many experts and City View Alley was full of crouching tigers and hidden dragons. There was a reason this place was not under the control of the outside world.
Shortly after Guan Houlin’s visit, a group of people came one evening in April when Gu Shenwei was practising in the peach grove. This time, their target was Gu Shenwei.
Gu Shenwei was alone at that time. Chu Nanping was Immortal Peng’s attendant and he had to wait for the immortal to rest before he could come out.
Seven or so killers in black jumped down from the peach trees one after another, taking up different locations and closing in on the killer Yang Huan.
Annoyed, Gu Shenwei looked at the acquaintances coldly with a sword in his hand. He was absorbed in the world of swordsmanship and didn’t like being interrupted.
Shangguan Ru circled 180 degrees around her killer and asked, “Are you practising sword techniques?”
“Yes, I’m practising sword techniques.”
As soon as he blurted out the harsh words, not only was Shangguan Ru stunned, but Gu Shenwei himself was also amazed. Then as if he had just woken up from a dream, he immediately knelt down on one leg, put down his sword, bowed his head, and asked for punishment, saying, “Tenth Gongzi, forgive me for being impetuous…”
How can I explain all this? Gu Shenwei couldn’t think of a reasonable explanation.
Shangguan Ru, however, wasn’t angry, but instead had a sympathetic look on her face. She responded, “I should have called you out earlier; you’ve been bewitched by the Celestial Rope.”
“What?” Gu Shenwei looked up in surprise.
“The Celestial Rope, Immortal Peng’s Sorcery. The ones bewitched will believe everything he says, voluntarily stay with him, and never leave. Fortunately you haven’t been affected for a long time, so you can still be saved. Come with me and leave now.”
“No, no. I haven’t been bewitched by the Celestial Rope. I can leave at any time, it’s just that I’m so close …”
Gu Shenwei tried to say something but stopped. Shangguan Ru waved her hands and ordered the killers to retreat before asking Servant Huan to get up to speak.
“Immortal Peng can remove the Desolate Finger Energy, and it will succeed soon.”
“You’re still not cured?” Now it was Shangguan Ru’s turn to be surprised. She thought that Servant Huan had recovered when they destroyed the Great Desolate Sect last time.
“I thought that I had at that time, but it relapsed later on.”
“You never told me.”
“Tenth Gongzi has so many things to consider, I didn’t want to cause any more trouble for you. I thought I could cure it in a few days, and didn’t expect for it to take so long.”
“I must warn you, Immortal Peng is very capable, and also very dangerous. Be careful.”
Gu Shenwei had ‘disappeared’ for nearly two months. He was a bit surprised that Tenth Gongzi wasn’t angry about it. “Yes, I’ll leave the Essence Pavilion soon, since no one restricts my freedom. Ye Silang walked out from this place before.”
Shangguan Ru nodded. She seemed to struggle for a while before she sighed at last, and said, “All right, you stay here for the time being. But remember what I said. As long as one is bewitched by the Celestial Rope, one will find an excuse to stay, I hope your reason is true.”
Gu Shenwei knelt down again. His reason was definitely true as the three-year deadline of Qi deviation was approaching, and he had to save his own life.
Shangguan Ru had left when he raised his head again.
The day’s training did not go smoothly. Gu Shenwei and Chu Nanping were practising the second level of ‘the sword is heavier than a mountain’. With a heavy chunk of iron on the sword, the two not only had to use their internal Qi to prevent the sword from breaking, but also had to make sure that the iron didn’t fly off when they stabbed out with the sword. Since he was absent-minded, Gu Shenwei’s sword moves were inconsistent and the iron chunk flew off the sword several times.
Although Chu Nanping was younger, he always spoke frankly about his dual cultivator’s mistakes without saving face. He put away his sword and turned to leave while dropping the words, “You’re emotional. This is a waste of time.”
Being scolded by an eleven-years-old kid made Gu Shenwei suddenly become furious. He picked up his sword and rushed towards Chu Nanping’s back to stab at his neck without thinking.
This wasn’t the emotionless swordsmanship, but the Death Sutra swordsmanship, the martial arts skill that Gu Shenwei was most familiar with, the swordsmanship that had never failed him and had always killed the target in a single blow.
However, it disappointed its practitioner this time.
Chu Nanping had already turned around when the sword tip was about one foot away from him. He counterattacked and forced Gu Shenwei to step back until he was finally leaning against a tree in few moves, the sword pressing against the killer’s chest.
There was only one move in the Death Sutra swordsmanship, and one would immediately fall into a passive position if they were not able to hit the target.
“Anger is also an emotion. Being emotionless means being free of anger. What’s wrong with you today?”
Gu Shenwei pushed Chu Nanping’s sword to the side and walked out of the peach grove without saying anything. He needed to think alone.
It had taken him so long to realize that something was wrong. The Essence of Perceiving Passion and the Death Sutra were two completely different martial arts. The former was grand and encompassing, while the latter was subtle and sought a single move. Practising the emotionless swordsmanship had unconsciously weakened his original kung fu.
Gu Shenwei walked aimlessly along the border wall of City View Alley and soon became agitated. As he looked back, the lonely lamp on the third floor of the Essence Pavilion was dimly visible. He suddenly had an impulse to meet with Immortal Peng and asked him directly about why the immortal was interested in Death Sutra since the two swordsmanships were totally different.
Gu Shenwei continued walking forward, his pace getting faster and faster. His swordsmanship had regressed, but his lightness skills had improved a lot. He soon left the territory of City View Alley. This was the first time he had gone to another part of Southern Jade City ever since he started studying the Essence of Perceiving Passion.
The streets and alleys were just as he remembered, except they were dirtier from all the snow melting.
In one of the rooms behind the Southwall Tavern, Lotus was waiting for the arrival of Servant Huan. She had followed Tenth Gongzi to look for him, but didn’t have a chance to talk to him.
“What’s the matter?”
Lotus’s voice was always calm, but today there was a slight trace of concern present. According to their original plan, Servant Huan should have met with her every three days, but this was the first time they met each other in the past two months. She had been constantly lurking in the shadows, watching Servant Huan from afar, but not showing up.
“I don’t know.”
The further he was from the Essence Pavilion, the more agitated Gu Shenwei became, as if a flock of birds living in his heart had sensed a natural disaster and were causing bedlam, desperately trying to return to a quiet and peaceful place.
Gu Shenwei sat down, feeling frustrated, surprised, and disgusted at his weakness.
Lotus came over, put one hand on his shoulder, and softly said, “I will help you.”
Gu Shenwei looked up at the teenage girl he was most familiar with, surprised that her voice could be so sweet. He didn’t drink, but he felt intoxicated by those four short words as if he had drunk mellow wine.
Before he realized what had happened, he had already put his arm around her waist and pressed his face against her small, flat belly without a word.
Lotus was very surprised. She raised her hand as if to push away the teenager’s embrace, but instead put her hands on his hair, gently stroking it for a long time before she spoke. “Tell me everything.”
Gu Shenwei felt much calmer and a bit ashamed when he left Lotus’s embrace and returned to the Essence Pavilion. He had never been so close to a woman, which made him wonder if he was still a killer.
He gave a detailed description of the training and recited the Essence of Perceiving Passion that he remembered. Lotus wrote it all down. What Gu Shenwei remembered wasn’t complete. Amongst the sixty-four training method, he had only read the emotionless swordsmanship and had not paid attention to the rest.
Gu Shenwei felt that he had regained his power, which would help him counter Immortal Peng’s sorcery, whether it was called hypnosis or Celestial Rope.
He usually lived in a room near the Essence Pavilion, but he didn’t go back to take a rest at the moment. Instead, he entered the empty Essence Pavilion and went upstairs.
The solitary lamp was always on. He pushed the screen to the right and carefully started reading every word.
There was nothing suspicious about it. The sixty-four training methods were equal to sixty-four martial arts, each of them different from another. If the different training methods of Death Sutra were just different understandings and levels, the Essence of Perceiving Passion’s was a hodgepodge, with all kinds of dishes in it.
Before he knew it, he was drawn again to the part of the emotionless swordsmanship.
Man is lighter than the sword, the sword is heavier than a mountain, the heart lies in the sword, the mind follows the sword, the heart unites with the mind, the emotions return to the heart, and the heart eradicates all emotion. These were the seven levels of the emotionless swordsmanship. Each level had its own training method, which corresponded to lightness skills, strength, speed, concentration, reaction, killing aura, and killing will. Once one mastered all seven levels, it would be the sword that was killing, not the practitioner.
Gu Shenwei never considered the outcome of practising this swordsmanship. He was an ‘emotionless person’, so he naturally believed that he should not think before and act cowardly.
“Do not repress the feelings in your heart, release them all. That’s the excess part of your heart. Expose it, then sever it. To be emotionless you must first have emotions, then eliminate all the emotions. This is what it truly means to become emotionless.”
Gu Shenwei muttered to himself, but he knew very well that this wasn’t something he had figured out himself. The words had poured out of his lips automatically, and had never passed through his mind at all.
Holding the tall crutch, the small Immortal Peng was standing ten steps away. Gu Shenwei hadn’t been aware of him at all before he spoke.
“Ye Silang, why did he leave the Essence Pavilion?” Gu Shenwei asked in a hoarse voice, as if his throat wasn’t his own and he had to use a great deal of effort to move it.
Then he opened his mouth and answered, his voice a little dull, but perfectly smooth. The story he told was one that he had never heard.