Chapter 221 Dungeon
The candlelight dimly lit the room. Although it was midsummer, the windows were all drawn over with cotton quilts, the door was covered with a thick cotton curtain, and huge burning red copper furnaces were placed in each of the four corners. As soon as he entered the room, Gu Shenwei felt the heat wave billow towards his face, which almost suffocated him.
The killer knelt down on one leg, lowering his head to show respect. His inner thigh hid a dagger, with which he could fight to the death when necessary.
“Killer Yang Huan greets King Lord.”
The Unique King, dressed in a long white robe, stood ten steps away from the killer, breathing heavily like a lion that had just finished chasing its prey.
The wheezing went on for a while before the Unique King finally opened his mouth, his voice weak and feeble. This made him lose most of his former dignity, but add some indifference and boredom. “Tell me, what does the blood of the Shangguan family taste like? I’ve almost forgotten, but your memory is still fresh. For the sons of the Unique King who have fallen, you, the one struck the first blow, speak.”
Gu Shenwei, who was fearless and had come with the will to die, suddenly felt a chill run from his back to the top of his head. Although the room was so hot that the air inside was almost boiling, he couldn’t help but shiver.
“I …” The furnace fire was blazing and the Unique King’s breath seemed to directly blow onto the killer’s face. But Gu Shenwei felt relieved in all of a sudden, and his tone calmed. The coldness leapt off from the top of his head and never returned. “I didn’t taste anything.”
Shangguan Fa took one step back. He felt that he was getting old and couldn’t even shock a teenage killer anymore. His vigorous murderous heart and the whole world suddenly felt strange to him. It seemed that nothing had ever belonged to him and they were all illusory memories that others had forced into his mind. “Raise your head.”
Gu Shenwei looked up at the Unique King. Instead of thinking him as his enemy or the Lord of Golden Roc Castle, he saw a lonely old man huddling in a shell that was no longer in his power, trying to drive it as robustly and agilely as before.
Revenge! The fervent cry rose from the bottom from his heart like a crowd of people shouting from the bottom of a cliff.
“Unlikely, unlikely. You killed Immortal Peng?”
Shangguan Fa changed the topic. Gu Shenwei was stunned for a moment and suppressed that hot-blooded idea before saying, “Yes.”
“What weapon did you use?”
“How many moves?”
“Immortal Peng’s kung fu wasn’t as powerful as it used to be. I just seized the moment.”
Shangguan Fa stayed silent for a long time. He seemed to have believed the killer’s words or maybe he was not interested in talking anymore. He then plodded over to the killer and put a finger on the killer’s forehead. Although it wasn’t very powerful, it was as hard as iron, which reminded Gu Shenwei of Xue Niang.
The killer’s heart was pounding. He had seen the Unique King’s kung fu before. Although it had just been a quick glimpse, it felt unfathomable. But he couldn’t feel the same mountain-like pressure from this old man in front of him. They seemed to be two completely different people, one who held power over others’ lives while the other helplessly waited for death.
The Unique King had fallen ill; all the signs showed that he was sick. The killer’s ardent wish for revenge burned again in his heart. He guided his internal Qi to the fingertips of his right hand, and in the blink of an eye, he could tear his robe, grasp the dagger, and thrust it into the old man’s belly. There was no need for superior swordsmanship or overwhelming killing aura. All he needed was the courage.
Shangguan Fa didn’t sense any killing aura from the killer. All he saw was a pair of fearless eyes, frank and penetrating, which he only had seen decades before when he was just a commoner and longing for friendship.
A little kid had dared to wish to be on equal footing with the Unique King. Shangguan Fa’s wearied heart was stimulated and he finally pulled himself together. As he straightened up, he appeared much taller and seemed to fill the whole room.
“You learned how to kill, but didn’t learn how to use the sabre properly.”
This was a judgment, and probably also a signal. Gu Shenwei didn’t get it but he didn’t care. He just slightly moved his finger before he saw two stiff masks appear from the shadows.
It’s all over, Gu Shenwei thought. He had focused all his attention on Shangguan Fa and actually hadn’t noticed the enemy under his nose. Even the green-faced assassin had different levels of martial arts skills, and the ones around the Unique King were obviously the most powerful.
Someone outside the door spoke softly, breaking the silence and killing intent inside. “Father, I’ve come to see you.”
Shangguan Fa took a deep breath as if his mind had drifted away and just come back into his body. “Is that Ru’er? It’s too hot here, do not come in.”
The green-faced assassins who had just shown up disappeared again.
“Yes, father. How’s your training of the divine power going?”
“Don’t worry, it’s going to be all right soon.”
“Oh, I’ll just kowtow to you outside.”
“Is there anything I can do for you, father?”
Shangguan Ru, who was outside the room, stayed silent for a while before asking, “Father, is one of my killers here with you? Did he make a mistake? Let me punish him.”
“No, I’m just asking a few questions. Take him away.”
The baffling summoning by the Unique King ended. Gu Shenwei bowed while retreating out of the room. Outside the room, the cool summer night wind blew on his face, and he felt so comfortable if was almost as if he had been reborn.
With her face masked, Shangguan Ru wore the killer’s full set of black clothes. In the eyes of the people who didn’t know her, she was no different from an ordinary female killer. Lotus was not around, and no one knew where she had gone.
When the two of them came out of the courtyard and reached a quiet place, Shangguan Ru whispered, “Do not leave my sight from now on, and do not go no matter who summons you.”
“Yes, Tenth Gongzi.” Gu Shenwei didn’t ask why, but both of them knew that the Unique King had the intention to kill. What confused him was why he didn’t die, because the few words of Tenth Gongzi didn’t seem to be able to change the mind of the King Lord. It was really difficult to fathom Shangguan Fa’s intentions.
Shangguan Ru silently led the way. Whenever someone checked, she would show her name tag but she never spoke. Soon, Gu Shenwei found out that they were not heading for the inner chamber, but he simply followed without asking anything.
The two went further and further, until at last, they came to what looked like a deserted garden, where a dozen huge torches stood irregularly in different places, near the edge of the mountain peak, where towering walls of the city could be seen.
Four killers appeared from the shadows. Shangguan Ru was well prepared and produced another name tag. One killer took a look at it in the firelight before he turned and nodded at his partners.
The four stooped, grabbed two chains from the bare ground, and together pulled up an iron door that was perfectly integrated with the surrounding environment.
The evening was becoming more and more bizarre, as if some event had suddenly caused all the people of the Shangguan family to start behaving strangely without explanation.
Shangguan Ru took the lead and Gu Shenwei followed, the two walking into the deep underground step by step.
At the end of the stairs was a long passage, which was dark except a faint light at the innermost area. Shangguan Ru, who seemed to be a bit timid, paused for a while before walking towards the light.
It was a dungeon with only one cell. A small torch was inserted into the outer wall, illuminating a very small area. An eagle-nosed, vigilant prison guard took the name tag from Shangguan Ru and carefully checked for a long time before he reluctantly took out the key and opened the door.
As soon as the two visitors entered, the cell door was locked from the outside. “Knock on the door when you want to come out, and knock hard.” The prison guard left after dropping the words, apparently unwilling to hear the content of the conversation inside.
The cell, not big, was about a dozen steps long and wide, and was carved out directly from the stone wall. It was unfurnished, with only a stone bed, a chamber pot, and a stinkpot, which, however, were very clean and tidy, and had no unpleasant smell.
At about a man’s height on the wall, there was a small open window with several iron bars as thick as one’s wrist, through which the night wind and moonlight slipped inside. The prisoner was intoxicated with it and almost didn’t notice the visitors behind.
“Third brother.” Shangguan Ru called in a low voice.
The prisoner turned around, and Gu Shenwei was slightly surprised. Of all the scions of the Unique King he had seen, this third young lord looked the most like his father. With the same long, thin face and sunken eye socket, he was almost the spitting image of a younger Shangguan Fa. But with such striking similarities, the two’s expressions were totally different. Shangguan Yun slightly tilted up his mouth corner and revealed a mischievous smile like a big kid in his thirties.
The smile didn’t seem to be a smile that was specially prepared for greeting the guests. Shangguan Yun looked very satisfied with everything around him. He was in ecstasy about the moonlight. Gu Shenwei had never seen a similar expression before in Golden Roc Castle, or even all of Jade City. He was right; the people of the Shangguan family were all abnormal tonight. The smile appeared very unreal to him, especially when he had just escaped from the Unique King’s killing intent.
“Sister Ru, I haven’t seen you for ages. You grew much taller, but still like wearing boys’ clothes. Where’s Yu Gongzi? Is she not with you? Who is he? Your new friend?”
Shangguan Yun threw out a series of questions, but Shangguan Ru answered none of them. She tore off her mask and sat down on the stone bed. “Third brother, I have a disease, and mother told me to ask you for help.”
Gu Shenwei suspected that Madam Meng would never allow her daughter to make such a direct request, but Shangguan Ru didn’t like to beat around the bush.
Shangguan Yun took a step forward, which dragged the chain on his ankle and caused a clashing sound. “But I’m not a doctor.” He said softly as if his sister was still a seven or eight years old little girl.
“The people of Waning Moon Hall poked me, and mother said that only the hereditary book could save me.”
Gu Shenwei’s heart moved a little and became aware of one thing. The reason that Madam Meng asked Shangguan Ru to return to the castle as soon as she heard that her daughter had been ‘possessed’ was not only because that she knew of the seriousness of the illness, but also because she knew how to cure it. The ‘hereditary book’ was probably the Daoless Scroll that both Waning Moon Hall and Great Desolate Sect were trying to steal at any cost.
He didn’t expect that he and Shangguan Ru needed the same kind of ‘antidote’, which made him relieved. With Tenth Gongzi’s help, it would be much easier to steal the Daoless Scroll.
Shangguan Yun’s smile was unchanged, but his head shook firmly. “No, Madam is mistaken. That book won’t save you. It will only hurt you. Never learn it.”
Shangguan Ru let out a breath of relief. “I guess so. Anyway, I won’t die in a short time, so there’s no need to worry about it.”
She was not in a hurry, but Gu Shenwei, who was nearby, became anxious. “Tenth Gongzi has gone through Qi deviation twice, I’m afraid she can’t wait any longer.”
Looking at the killer, Shangguan Yun didn’t get angry at the other side’s rudeness, but patiently explained, “The Daoless Divine Power was an inauspicious martial art, as the ones who practise it will lose all their internal energy at regular intervals and will become as weak as a baby. One can hardly keep themselves alive if that happens.”
Gu Shenwei’s heart jolted, finally understanding what disease the Unique King had.