Editors: Moonclipse, Savage Bunny
Chapter 4 Crossroads
Gu Shenwei suddenly stood up. He impulsively wanted to go out and have a life-and-death fight with his enemies, but his reason quickly prevailed. Regardless of the origins of those killers, even his father Gu Lun, master Yang Zheng and his two elder brothers didn’t have the chance to fight back, hence he himself was even more vulnerable. His survival was already a big miracle.
New whistles joined in from all directions, either long or short, like a group of noisy raptors fighting for food. Cluttering with hoofbeats, it seemed that thousands of people had rushed into the ruins of the manor.
Gu Shenwei bent his body. Just when he hid behind a dilapidated wall, a torch was thrown into the air over his head.
Gu Shenwei hadn’t even realize what had happened, when the back part of his neck suddenly seized and he was firmly grasped by a big hand. The owner of the big hand drove the horse to jump, causing Gu Shenwei’s feet to uncontrollably leave the ground.
The hooves had not yet landed, when the big hand suddenly loosened. Gu Shenwei fell heavily to the ground and cried out pain, rolling over twice before standing up. He found himself surrounded by riding sabremen. With the reflections of many torches, all of them behaved like hungry wolves, greedily staring at the little prey.
This kind of situation happened often in the human world. After an earthquake there was always a rainstorm, and after the rainstorm there was always the wild wind. His bad luck was like an attacked animal; the dripping blood would always attract more carnivores, followed by the scavengers, then the night-walkers, the flies, and more tiny creatures, until that mass of flesh and blood completely disappeared.
The annihilation of the Gu family was a deadly wound; the first wave of killers had already been satiated and safely left. Behind the killers, a group of wolves and crows followed.
They were filthy robbers and thieves, but there were far less than Gu Shenwei thought. In fact, there were only five of them. The whistles, hooves, and torches had enlarged the scene.
Gu Shenwei had no way of knowing the identities of these people; he could only treat them as the enemy. He was like a cub being forced into the corner, growling a low sound in the back of his throat and showing claws that weren’t sharp.
A bullwhip quietly attacked from the darkness. Gu Shenwei fell onto the ground again, making the thieves burst out in laughter and excitement. One of them leaned over to seize the teenager and placed him on the horseback. He rashly started searching his body. He found the packet of silver hidden closely to the teenager’s chest. He held it high and cried,
“Hey, this kid is one of us. He is faster than us!”
Gu Shenwei now understood the identities of these people. A fierce wave of wrath overcame through him. “Let me go!” He shouted, struggling to grab the small bag.
The robber laughed even louder, not taking the teenager seriously. He put the silver close to his chest and hit the teenager with a heavy palm. He then took out the small oilskin bag.
Gu Shenwei’s back felt like it was broken, the pain penetrating through the marrow. What made him even more panicked, though, was that the internal Qi manual was also taken away. It was one of the most precious relics of the Gu family, even more important than his life.
The robber blew a whistle and ripped away the oilskin. He was stunned. Inside was a thin book. He looked through a few pages, but did not recognize any words.
“What the hell is this?” The bandit was very angry.
“Give it back!” Gu Shenwei tried to stand up.
The robber struck him in the face, almost stunning him. He threw away the book and pulled out ropes to bind him. Then, he jumped off the horse to follow the others and scavenge valuable items in the ruins.
Gu Shenwei’s hands and feet were tied. He could only creep like insects. He struggled until he finally fell from the horse onto the ground, then he forced his body to crawl to that book.
He was almost close to the manual when suddenly, a strong breeze blew the manual away. A nearby torch left by the robber started to blow, like a snake’s flicking tongue, long and short. The flames touched the pages of the flying book, immediately burning it up cheerfully.
Gu Shenwei’s heart seemed to be burnt by the torch too. What he regretted the most was not practising his family martial arts properly, and now he even couldn’t beat an ordinary bandit.
He rolled onto the book to suppress the flame, and then quickly rolled away to avoid the torch nearby. He bit the book and dragged it a little bit further, finally saving the family manual; but only a part of it, as the first few pages were almost burnt completely.
He lamented as he looked at the book, but when he read the text, he was stunned; although he could recognise every word, when it was put together, it was clearly an account book. not even a word was related with the internal Qi!
The hard found and saved ‘manual’ was unexpectedly not the quick way for practising the ‘balanced power’. Gu Shenwei felt like a bucket of cold water had been poured over his whole body. In his simple revenge plan, this secret manual held an extremely important status. Without the manual, just by relying on his own modest martial arts skills, it would probably take at least thirty years of hard training for him to be eligible for the revenge.
The shortcut of practising the ‘balanced power’ had great side effects. Every generation of lords from the Gu family would cautiously hide the manual, never allowing his descendants to see it easier. One ancestor was said to have trained according to this method and had his internal Qi develop fiercely and fast, his strength doubled. Combined with their own “two superbness of sabersmanship and spearsmanship”, he was famous for a while, but after three years, he died suddenly and inexplicably. The way he died was very miserable.
The only thing Gu Shenwei wanted to do was revenge, so naturally he didn’t care about what would happen after three years. Now however, even the hope of dying with the enemies was gone.
The robbers were good at finding treasures within the ruins. In less than a stick incense of time, they had harvested large bags and small bags of treasures and went back to the courtyard, their mouths blowing whistles, ready to evacuate.
The robber who had captured Gu Shenwei had also came back, and put two bags on the horse. His gains were not as many as others, so his mood was not very good. He went over to the teenager and kicked him mercilessly.
Gu Shenwei curled up his body from the pain. The robber grabbed the rope that bound him, wanting to carry him back to the horse.
At this moment, Gu Shenwei suddenly realized something. The oilskin that held the book was right in front of him, revealing a corner of thin white silk. Before he was carried back to the horse, he opened his mouth and bit the corner of the white silk. By the time he laid on horseback, the white silk had been swallowed in his mouth.
All the robbers left, leaving the manor and going down the mountain.
There was another robber near the small village which was at the mountain foot, guarding a dozen prisoners and more than thirty cattle and sheep. These captives had been tightly tied around the arms and strung with a rope. Gu Shenwei was also thrown to the ground, and retied to the last person of the captive group.
The six robbers drove the prisoners and animals east. Gu Shenwei struggled to follow. He had no time to spit out the white silk from his mouth.
It was early morning when the robbers stopped at a t-junction. Gu Shenwei felt that this place was not very far from his home, but he rarely left the manor and had no impression of this road.
The dirt road stretched from the north to the south, through a narrow mountain pass. A few miles down the road, it merged with the main east-west road. Hundreds of people were already gathered at the crossroads.
Most of the people were wearing old, broken leather, which seemed to have never been cleaned. Oil-billed, shining under the sunshine. Everyone had weapons, with eyes that were vicious like a crowd of beasts that were forced to gather into one group.
Obviously, these were different gangs among the bandits, and they had divided into several groups, each full of alertness. The palm of the hand was always in a position not far from the weapon, with a gesture that suggested they were ready to fight at anytime.
Strangely, the vicious robbers only crowded the west side of the crossroad. Although the other side a very wide open area, no one went there, as if that empty area hid some ghosts.
Even more surprising was that all the robbers were looking towards the north. They all had anxious looks on their faces, as if they were waiting for someone.
Four hours ago, Gu Shenwei thought that he had been guided by ‘heaven’s will’, never expecting that he had become a prisoner of the bandits, and mixed with a group of dirty, panic men and women.
Among all the prisoners, Gu Shenwei was actually the dirtiest. With sweat, dust, and ashes covering his whole body, he was like a humanoid clay sculpture.
While the robbers were not paying attention, Gu Shenwei spat out the white silk he had held in his mouth. He did not dare to look at it and just secretly stuffed it close to his chest. He had already been searched once, hopefully there wouldn’t be a second.
The people they were waiting for was late; the robbers became more restless and upset, cursing. They were not accustomed to be so close to their peers. Two groups had already fought with several people injured, but fortunately no one died for it.
Gu Shenwei was still confused about why he was captured. So many robbers that were said to be demolished years ago were gathered near the Gu family’s manor. He raised his head and glanced at the robber who captured him, wanting to seek some information from him.
The robber, like everyone else, was dressed in leather even in summer time. He had a strong body, and his dirty face had a thick beard and a scar on his cheek.
The scar-faced robber sensed the look below. He lowered his head and stared at the teenager captive with ruthless eyes. “Go escape.”
Gu Shenwei was not that stupid of course, he was standing in a crowd of robbers. They were also surrounded by the endless Gobi desert, to escape was to court death, not to mention that his hands were tied with a group of prisoners together.
“You already took the money, why aren’t you letting me go?”
Though his tone was tough, Gu Shenwei already faintly understood that along with himself, the other men and women, and those animals, they were all money in the eyes of the robbers.
The scar-faced bandit spat on the ground, the thick phlegm flying over Gu Shenwei’s head. He simply disdained to answer this ignorant kid’s question.
An old-looking bandit gazed gloomily at the new bandits and prisoners. He suddenly said, “The harvest is not that good, Soaring Eagle.”
The scar-faced man who was called Soaring Eagle spat again, saying, “The tiger’s mouth takes all.”
Gu Shenwei‘s heart jumped a bit. The ‘Tigers’ were definitely the ones who killed the Gu family. The robbers clearly knew what had happened. He had always thought that the killers who murdered the Gu family had already hidden somewhere unknown, and were difficult to find.
Perhaps his eyes showed a special mood, because the old robber glanced at him once more but didn’t mention anything. He continued to look towards the north of the mountain pass.
Gu Shenwei waited for a long time, but no one mentioned the ‘Tiger’ topic again, forcing to ask, “The tiger you followed is not small.”
The robber Soaring Eagle’s lips were tight, as if he had not heard those words. After a while, he said coldly,
“No more nonsense, is there a tiger bigger than the Unique King?”
The Unique King.
Everybody in the Western Regions knew the Unique King.
Gu Shenwei’s heart suddenly sank. Unexpectedly, his enemies were strong.