Chapter 222 The Prisoner
Shangguan Ru was changing, bit by bit, day by day. The death of Yu Gongzi was just the start. When she found out that the culprit was her own brother Shangguan Fei, a wall in her heart collapsed.
Inside the wall, killing was just a game. The ones being killed were nothing more than tools, targets, flowers, trees, etc. They all felt no pain in death.
Outside the wall, however, everything had feelings. The pain she brought to others would turn back on her.
Shangguan Ru had lost her murderous heart. She could no longer kill, not even the enemies she hated. Piercing into flesh could no longer bring her any joy.
But she was as competitive and indomitable as before and took the act of being soft-hearted as a sickness, hoping it could be cured one day. As for the threat of Qi deviation, she actually cared much less about it.
She knew from her childhood that her third brother was a rebel of the Shangguan family. According to the rumours, Shangguan Yun had declared that he would never unsheath his sabre at his thirteen years old sabre awarding ceremony. His father, therefore, became furious and almost killed the unworthy son himself.
When he started the trial to gain experience, Shangguan Yun didn’t follow the tradition of staying in Southern Jade City to build his own power. Instead, he led those ten killers assigned to him to wander in Jianghu and didn’t return to the castle after one year. He reached as far as the Central Plains and by the time he finally returned home, seven years had already passed. As promised, his narrow sabre had never been drawn, and the ten killers following him all lived well.
The third young lord was still not engaged in the family business. He neither recruited sabremen to form his own organization nor competed with his other brothers. He stayed away from the whole family and kept fooling around in Jade City. The strange thing was that those ten killers were still extremely loyal to him. They actually had a chance to return to their original lord, but none of them left Shangguan Yun.
Even the killers like Tie Hanfeng who were much older than Shangguan Yun, and who used to follow the Unique King in grappling with the enemy had been influenced by their new lord and became more and more secular, and less and less like a killer.
Six years ago, when Shangguan Ru was just eight years old, she met her third brother for the first time. It was the day he was put in the dungeon. She didn’t know the reason and didn’t care much at that time, thinking that her third brother must have offended their father.
Out of curiosity, she had come here a few times with Yu Gongzi, but was soon attracted by her easy-going elder brother. Madam Meng originally wanted her daughter to see this negative example of Golden Roc Castle, so when she learned that the two had a good relationship, she forbid her from ever coming again.
Thinking carefully, the last time she had visited her third brother was two years ago. Shangguan Ru sighed. She was only fourteen years old and hadn’t even finished the one year trial yet, but was already feeling the vicissitudes of life. She had been thinking about her third brother recently, and planning a way to visit him even without her mother’s permission.
Gu Shenwei hoped that the brother and sister could talk more about the Daoless Scroll, but it turned out that they ended the topic in a few words and began randomly chatting instead.
“Big brother and fourth brother are all dead.” Shangguan Ru said.
Shangguan Yun’s smile dimmed a little, but was not completely gone. “So it’s started now? Who killed them?”
“Big brother died in the hands of Shangguan Fei and him, fourth brother was killed by him under my command.”
For the first time Shangguan Yun showed a surprised expression. Looking at this ‘him’, he clicked his tongue twice before asking, “What’s your name? How old are you? Who’s your Master? Does the castle think highly of you?”
It was another series of questions. Shangguan Yun hadn’t talked with anyone for too long, so he was a bit impatient when he spoke. Living deep in the dungeon, he knew almost nothing about what was going on in the castle.
“I am Yang Huan, seventeen years old. My Master is Tie Hanfeng, and Tenth Gongzi values me a lot.” Gu Shenwei answered all the questions, but then he felt it necessary to add one more sentence. “Tie Hanfeng was also killed by me.”
“A standard killer,” commented Shangguan Yun.
Although his tone was unchanged, Gu Shenwei could feel the satire and stopped speaking. The brother and sister pair were the exceptions of the castle. One of whom, however, ended up living in a dungeon for the rest of his life, while another wound up being used by everyone around her and might lose her life at anytime. Gu Shenwei wasn’t envious of them at all.
“He saved me many times,” Shangguan Ru stressed, but her words didn’t change her elder brother’s impression of the killer.
Shangguan Yun looked at his younger sister, his expression slightly regretful. “You’re also beginning to compete for the position of the false king?”
The Unique King wasn’t a real king, he hadn’t been acknowledged by the big countries. But no one dared to say so in the castle, not even by implication.
“I don’t know.” Shangguan Ru shook her head. “I want to compete for it, but … I can’t kill.”
“Didn’t you kill fourth brother?”
“There’s something I did in the beginning, but I can’t do it anymore. I can’t even kill a cat or a dog now. Third brother, do you have any way to cure this sickness?”
Shangguan Yun smiled again, and smiled more merrily than before. “Sister Ru, you are not sick. On the contrary, you’ve cured your own sickness. Killing is the sickness, and only you and I are normal in this family.”
Because Shangguan Yun was easygoing and living in the dungeon, Gu Shenwei didn’t hold him in awe or veneration, so he couldn’t help himself from humming lightly.
“Promising killer, you can despise me but I still have to say. You are mortally ill.”
A real killer should still their mind like water and not argue, let alone refute others. But Gu Shenwei had become a killer late in life, so sometimes he couldn’t help trying to justify the killer’s life. “If someone you like is killed, do you just watch and not take revenge? If a sabre is cutting at you, will you let it kill you and not strike back?”
“That’s different. Being forced to kill is not the same thing as being paid to kill.”
“Every field has its own masters. People who forge occasionally are no match for a blacksmith, and a crowd of street thugs can’t compete with an equal number of soldiers. Without practice, how can you beat a man who is ‘paid to kill’ when you’re ‘forced to kill’? ”
Shangguan Yun sized the killer up seriously for the first time. “I just said that you are a standard killer, but it seems that I was wrong. For a killer, you are quite wordy.”
“Third brother, you should answer the question instead of evading the topic and talking about him,” Shangguan Ru said with her eyes brightened. She hadn’t made up her mind yet, so she felt that Servant Huan’s words were very reasonable.
“I am normal, so I don’t assume extreme conditions. For example, if you don’t like water, must you learn how to swim simply because you are afraid of drowning?”
“There’s a man named Wu Shengqing who said that he would not live for long. He would like to ask you, is Yingwu still alive?” Gu Shenwei really despised this third young lord now. If it were another person, even if it were someone that Gu Shenwei trusted the most, he would not make such impulsive remarks. But Shangguan Yun seemed to have a quality of making the people around him unconsciously relax their vigilance.
Shangguan Yun’s face drastically changed. He took several steps back and leaned against the stone wall, as if he could no longer stand.
When Gu Shenwei and Shangguan Ru were in danger at the peach grove of the Gui Garden, they encountered a man called Madman Wu who said something inexplicable at that time. Gu Shenwei, therefore, suspected that the two must have an inextricable relationship.
Shangguan Ru stood up and beckoned for Servant Huan to not speak again with a quick glimpse. Then she went to Shangguan Yun and asked, “Who is Yingwu? Madman Wu … Wu Shengqing saved me once, who is he?”
Shangguan Yun turned and retreated once again until he could see the lonely crescent moon hanging outside. He kept muttering the name ‘Yingwu’ before he said, “I learned the Myriad of Wind and Cloud together with Wu Shengqing. Yingwu was the woman we both loved.”
Yingwu’s surname was Chen, and her father was a big shield of the silk trade. One spring when Chen Yingwu went to the Gui Garden to enjoy peach blossoms, she met Shangguan Yun and Wu Shengqing and from then on, the fate of the three was entangled.
Shangguan Yun and Wu Shengqing, if one went to send flowers at night, the other would play the flute outside her window; if one pretended to run into her on the street, the other would beg the maidservant to pass letters to her. When Chen Yingwu finally picked one of them, the other vowed to be her protector with all his heart and soul and never get married in his lifetime.
“Who did she choose? It was you, wasn’t it?” Shangguan Ru eagerly asked.
“I wish she hadn’t chosen me,” Shangguan Yun murmured, his smile gone and his eyes narrow, strangely similar to his father. Gu Shenwei’s heart skipped a beat, and he regretted his blabbing just now.
“And then what?” Shangguan Ru had a feeling that her third brother’s reply would break her heart, so her voice couldn’t help but tremble slightly.
“When I took her back to the castle, that old dog raped her. I wanted to kill him, but was locked up here.”
Shangguan Ru’s face went ashy pale. She was eight years old when it happened. The vague memory suddenly became clear, and she could even remember the appearance of that Chen Yingwu now. But at the time she didn’t know the relationship between the woman and her third brother at that time, not to mention the role her father had played.
Gu Shenwei wanted to tell the third young lord that this was the sadness that resulted from being powerless to kill. But instead of speaking, he retreated into the shadows and stayed out of the conversation between the brother and sister, inconspicuous like a real killer.
Shangguan Yun’s look gradually softened. He glanced at the killer and said, “Maybe you’re right. Maybe I’m not completely detached from the castle. It’s a pain to be unable to take revenge, but it’s a pain to kill too. When you have this fate, you’re wrong no matter what you do.”
Gu Shenwei kept his mouth shut, his heart growing cold and hard. He had not yet felt the pain of killing; what tortured him had always been his inability to achieve revenge.
“Is that why Wu Shengqing went mad?” Shangguan Ru was unwilling to ask anymore, but she still wanted to know the outcome.
“Half and half. He was just furious and a little unconscious, not mad. It was Immortal Peng who controlled his mind and made him think that he could use the opportunity to master the Myriad of Wind and Cloud, but instead it made him go crazy.”
Gu Shenwei guessed that Immortal Peng must have played those old tricks of being ‘passionate’ or ‘emotionless’.
“Immortal Peng died, and he was also … killed by him.”
Shangguan Yun was stunned, then laughed out loud. “Good job, he should have died earlier.” Then he became confused. “I didn’t expect that your kung fu was so good that you could kill Immortal Peng. Why didn’t the Unique King kill you? That’s really weird.”
“Does father know Immortal Peng? How come I’ve never heard of this?”
“They were far more than just knowing each other. Unique King used to practise the Essence of Perceiving Passion together with Immortal Peng. That dwarf taught him many things, and what he gave to the dwarf was not interfering with City View Alley and let those weirdos run their own course.”
Gu Shenwei finally understood that Shangguan Fa wanted to kill him not for his two sons, but for Immortal Peng. But these were not issues of concern to him, as the only thing he bore in mind constantly was the Daoless Scroll. He had retreated into the shadows, but now stood out again. “Is that Yingwu still alive?”
“Yes,” said the brother and sister together.
“You should let her leave the castle; Wu Shengqing would like to meet her.”
Shangguan Ru looked at Servant Huan with delight, because his remark hit her right in the heart.
“You can make this happen?” Shangguan Yun corrected himself as soon as he finished his words. “You’ve killed so many people, you should be able to do it.”
“I will not know until I’ve tried, but you have to impart to Tenth Gongzi the Daoless Divine Power.”
It’s easier to get the Daoless Scroll from Shangguan Yun than to force the guardian of the temple to open his mouth, Gu Shenwei thought. This was his new plan.