Editors: Cypress Venus Trap, Lygnaw, Moonclipse
Chapter 20 Sharp Knife
Servant Qi’s plan was like this:
‘That man’, Han Shiqi, had excellent kung fu skills, and also particularly cautious. The two of them had already resisted and learnt this when they had been ‘favored’ for the first time. Even if the eight teenagers fought together, they would not be able to match his might, so they could only assassinate him.
This was Golden Roc Castle, so Servant Qi naturally thought of assassination. The key problem was how they were going to do it; after all, they were trying to assassinate an experienced killer.
First of all, they should not fight bare-handedly and had to arm themselves with a sharp weapon. Servant Xie solved this problem. He had picked up food from the kitchen several times, so one day he seized the opportunity to steal a small, unused sharp knife designed to cut meat. The cutting edge of the knife was about four cun long. Although it was tiny, it was very sharp.
Second, someone needed to distract Han Shiqi’s attention. Servant Ji had already selected the brothers, so they had to sacrifice themselves once again.
“I want to personally see him die,” Servant Xie said bitterly. He seldom opened his mouth, but at this moment he behaved like an angry little lion and ground his teeth.
Lastly, but also most importantly, someone had to deal the blow. This was the main reason why the brothers went to Servant Huan.
“Your kung fu is the best, you can kill him without a sound.”
Gu Shenwei’s face flushed with Servant Qi’s praise.
When he was still a young lord of the Gu family, though he didn’t think of himself as a master, he had still believed that he could fight and win against the average kung fu practitioners. However, his experience these days had pitilessly revealed a truth; the guardsmen he had defeated had all been pretending. He was not even an average robber’s match.
But Gu Shenwei was willing to take on this task. Not only was Han Shiqi a bastard who hankered after him, but he was also the Gu family’s ‘hidden traitor’ and culprit. Having lost his family for more than a month and becoming a humble servant after sneaking into Golden Roc Castle, he badly needed to stab his enemy with a sharp knife by himself to slightly ease the restless vengeful beast hidden in his heart.
What would they do next after killing him?
The three of them didn’t mention it, and when Gu Shenwei thought about it afterwards, he thought it was incredible. They were so eager to kill him that they would sacrifice everything and had no more energy to consider about the consequences.
Gu Shenwei had just watched a man die in front of him and he felt that his heart had hardened. So he simply agreed, and took the sharp knife which was smaller than even a dagger from Servant Xie’s hand.
Han Shiqi would probably come to where he had ‘favoured’ the brothers last time, Servant Ji’s room. This was the most comfortable room in Ji Xin Yuan, and Servant Ji would be well-advised to sleep in another room.
Gu Shenwei had to sneaked into the room in advance. It was hard to tell if it would be easy or difficult; it all depended on when Servant Ji would finish the roll call and leave the bedroom. If Gu Shenwei couldn’t find a chance to sneak inside, they had to temporarily give up the assassination, while the brothers would be humiliated in vain.
Gu Shenwei cleaned Servant Ji’s room often so he was very familiar with it. There was a plank bed instead of a brick bed, which was a good thing. He could hide under the bed and patiently wait for the moment Han Shiqi forgot himself and stab the target from underneath the bed.
The sharp knife was too short, so the three of them disassembled the wooden handle to reveal three more cuns of metal. They then re-tied the two wooden handles so that it held only held onto one cun at the end of the tang.1 The sharp knife was now six cuns long, long enough to go through Servant Ji’s plank bed and stab the body above.
The timing of the assassination was very important. The three of them made an agreement that Servant Qi and Servant Xie would coerce that man into a certain position, and the code signal was ‘elder brother’. Upon hearing the signal, Servant Huan, who would be hiding under the bed, would immediately stab the sharp knife upwards.
There was one other problem. The person under the bed could not be found in advance, so he had to be very quiet. Even a slightly heavier breath could cause Han Shiqi to be wary; after all, he was a killer and had keen hearing and senses.
If it was several days ago, Gu Shenwei might not have had the confidence to be quiet, but now he had mastered the first level of yin energy, which would help him control his internal Qi. With that, he could also naturally control his breath to some extent.
They had practiced several times. Gu Shenwei would lay under the brick bed and try to breathe smoothly and for as long as possible; the brothers would approach gradually from the doorway, listened carefully and giving their judgement.
They were unsuccessful the first few times, as Gu Shenwei could only hold his breath for a short time. Gradually, he was able to adjust how long he could hold his breath and it grew longer and longer. In the end, he could hold his breath for about 15 minutes.
When the three of them were practising, a teenager walked in and glanced at the Servant Huan lying stiffly on the brick bed. His facial expression changed and he immediately ran away, nearly tripping over in the process.
Although this scene was funny, it reminded the three of an important question: How were they going to avoid the other five teenagers?
Servants San, Xin, Lei, Qian, and Zhao were all timid and deeply influenced by Servant Yao. They had been dead set on accepting the fate of being servants, and would be more than willing to sell their companions in exchange for wealth.
The three of them discussed for a while. Servant Xie thought of an idea, but he didn’t explain it. He just said that he would handle it, then left alone. After a long time, he came back and said that he had already solved the problem. He had brought back lunch as well.
Servant Xie had wandered around the yard and secretly whispered to every teenager. In the end, the five teenagers had all gone to see Servant Ji and claimed that they would rather live in the poorest room than stay in the same room with Servant Huan.
Recently, Ji Xin Yuan hadn’t received new dying people, so there were plenty of vacant rooms. Besides, the five teenagers kept fawning on Servant Ji, so he happily did them a favor and asked others to pass his order: Servant Huan was not allowed to get out of the room.
“I told them that you have signs of being infected by evil Qi. My brother and I had learnt magic when we were little and we are helping you to drive away the evil Qi.” Servant Xie smilingly said. After the secret ruse, he became closer to Servant Huan and was willing to talk more.
“Hehe, I have lots of evil Qi that needs to be driven away.”
“Did you really kill Servant Yao with magic?” Servant Xie asked curiously. He had obviously kept this question in his mind for a long time.
“Don’t ask, this is none of your business.” Servant Qi pulled his little brother behind to prevent him from intruding Servant Huan’s privacy.
“Unlike you, I don’t know magic.” Gu Shenwei said with a smile, not wanting to talk about Servant Yao.
Servant Xie didn’t get the underlying meaning and thought that Servant Huan was denying his speculation. His face displayed a puzzled expression, but was also a bit disappointed.
Servant Qi’s eyes showed a little curiosity but he didn’t ask more because they all had their own secrets.
That afternoon, Servant Qi and Servant Xie went to Servant Ji’s place to learn the ‘skills’ while Gu Shenwei continued to practice holding his breath alone. He held the small, modified sharp knife and pretended to stab strongly upwards against an imaginary bed.
In his imagination, the aftermath consisted of lots of blood spraying out, and that he had to roll aside quickly to avoid the blood.
That was the enemy, Gu Shenwei said to himself. Han Shiqi is the first cornerstone of the great cause of revenge. It is enough to kill him; each enemy kill in the future would be a bonus.
When will be the end of my revenge? Gu Shenwei asked himself softly.
The enmity of extermination must be returned with another extermination.
He didn’t think this idea was ridiculous at all. Though he was only a servant lying on a brick bed and practising with a small knife, he was ambitious.
It was difficult to plot an assassination, and the most difficult part was waiting.
Occasionally, he could hear the voices of other teenagers outside the room. They represented another world, true, simple and forgotten.
Gu Shenwei even felt a bit of admiration and jealousy, but he quickly reminded himself that even without the burden of revenge, his world shouldn’t be the same as the servants outside. His loss, compared with all the other servants in Golden Roc Castle, was much more and more precious.
It was only a simple move of stabbing upward, but Gu Shenwei practised it hundreds of times. By the time he felt that he was fully prepared, the sun was beginning to set. He got off the brick bed to walk around and stretch his body.
He would end the life of one person if he stabbed his body precisely. Missing the body or stabbing in the wrong position would cause the death of three lives. However, he didn’t have even the slightest fear or doubt in his mind, as if all he was doing was a simple thing in which he already had rich experience in.
He remembered that his father Gu Lun had always shaken his head when talking about him, worried that he was not knowledgeable, didn’t know martial arts, farming or business and would end up with nothing.
Perhaps I am a born killer, Gu Shenwei thought. His lips tilted up, revealing a smile even he himself hadn’t realized.
Not to mention checking if he was in the room, Servant Ji didn’t even call Servant Huan’s name at the evening roll call, which was a good sign for a successful implementation of the plan.
Supper was brought by Servant Xie, who also brought the news that everything was fine at present. Nobody thought that an assassination was undergoing. He and his elder brother would find a way to attract Servant Ji and other teenagers’ attention later; all Servant Huan had to do was sneak into Servant Ji’s room quietly as soon as possible.
Servant Ji always ate with the other teenagers in the same room. Of course, they were not around the same table, but he really enjoyed being surrounded and flattered. For him, flattery was the most delicious dish.
Although Gu Shenwei was not hungry, he still forced himself to eat something. He didn’t want his stomach to suddenly growl when he was hiding underneath the bed.
After supper, he stood behind the door and listened. Laughter came from the east room. He waited and crawled out of the room when the laughter was at its peak. He quickly ran across the yard and sneaked into Servant Ji’s bedroom. He was very familiar with this room, so without a further check he directly jumped under the bed.
The plank was about three chi high above Gu Shenwei’s head. Lying on the cold, hard floor, Gu Shenwei extended his arms. The sharp knife in his hands was positioned in an area approximately 3 chis from the end of the bed and 1.5 chis from the edge of the bed. He was lucky, the position was exactly located in the gap of two planks which saved lots of trouble for him.
When they had discussed the plan, they had agreed on this position, if the plan was successful, the middle of Han Shiqi’s back would be just above.
One stab, only one stab was necessary, and he would only have a chance for one stab.
They had already learnt of the Golden Roc Castle killer’s power. Even if his body was badly injured, Han Shiqi could still kill the three teenagers easily, not to mention that there was Servant Ji and the alert night watchman outside. Any abnormal cries would result in all of them dying.
The sky grew dimmer, and it was already dark under the bed. Gu Shenwei had been keeping his finger pointing at the specific position to ensure that he would not stab the wrong place.
Finally, the sound of footsteps outside sounded through the house. There was the sound of a cough, a few steps, lighting the candle, kicking off shoes, then a man jumped on the bed. The heavy pressure on the plank bed shook off a layer of dust. Gu Shenwei was unprepared and sneezed.
- Translator’s note: The tang is the part of the blade that extends into the handle of the knife. It is the surface to which the handle attaches to the blade. ↩