Chapter 55 Instigation
It was a dark and windy night; an atmosphere of conspiracy tainted the fragrance of the summer flowers and left people unconsciously nervous.
It was at the third of five night watch periods that Gu Shenwei quietly left his small living room, he avoided the paths and walked towards the small courtyard he saw during the day.
Servant Ling had reminded him of not running randomly and of not bothering Yu Gongzi. But, he decided to disobey these two suggestions on the first night he entered the inner chamber.
The stars and moon were dim. Gu Shenwei held his breath and moved forward carefully, he almost encountered the night watchman twice, but he finally made it through successfully and came to the outside wall of the small courtyard.
He climbed over the low wall and waited patiently for a while. After making sure nobody was hiding in the dark, he crept to the trunk of the cherry-apple tree in the middle of the yard. He picked up a small stone and threw it at the window of the middle room.
Although Golden Roc Castle’s architecture style was very different from that of the Central Plains, he could still easily determine which room belonged to the lord. The only thing Gu Shenwei was unsure about was: which one of the twins lived in that room.
Gu Shenwei picked up and threw another stone. This time he used more strength so its collision against the window was louder.
There was still no response from inside the room, as if it were abandoned: but outside the room someone reacted.
All of a sudden Gu Shenwei’s hair stood on end. He had the same feeling before when Shangguan Yushi tried to assassinate him. He threw himself forward and quickly turned his body, seeing that the teenager from the previous day was gripping a sabre and ready to attack again.
The teenager was serious, full of killing aura: This was not a game.
Gu Shenwei was at a disadvantage; there was little room for him to twist and dodge, and this teenager’s kung fu was much better than Shangguan Yushi’s.
The narrow sabre’s tip was pointing at the intruders’ chest, the teenager decided to end the fight with one cut. This was his responsibility and also his glory.
A window squeaked open. The teenager holding the sabre vanished like a ghost which had heard the sound of a talisman, disappearing into the dark, night air.
Gu Shenwei’s blood had froze, he didn’t know who this mysterious teenager was.
“Who is it?” Came a voice from the window.
“It’s me, uhh, the disciple follows the order to visit his master.” Gu Shenwei replied.
“Follows the order? Follows whose order?” said a puzzled Shangguan Ru.
“Didn’t you point three fingers at me during the day, suggesting that I visit you at the third of five night watch periods?”
“Nonsense, I didn’t point three fingers. You’re a traitor, I’ll punish you tomorrow.”
“Master, disciple realized his error, so he came for the punishment in advance.”
Gu Shenwei walked to the window and knelt down. Shangguan Ru only exposed her little head and yawned.
Someone lit the lamps on both sides of the room, but the lights were extinguished after Shangguan Ru shouted ‘all go to sleep, do not get up!’
“You came too early, I haven’t thought of how to punish you.” Shangguan Ru said, a bit annoyed.
“There’s an existing method. ‘Expel from the castle, hack the body with 100 sabres’, this is our old rule.” Shangguan Yushi’s head also stuck out.
Gu Shenwei really wanted to say Shangguan Yushi was a bigger traitor for not escaping with Ninth Gongzi two nights before, but the words that came out of his mouth were: “Master, we ‘Peng Yue sect‘ seemed to have a different rule.”
“Hmm, I haven’t decided our sect’s rule yet.”
“It must be different from all other sects.”
Shangguan Yushi interrupted again, “It’s easier to throw him directly off the cliff.”
“Aunt-master Yu, you want to kick me off again?”
Shangguan Yushi’s eyebrows twitched. The failure of the assassination made her very annoyed. Although she forbore it under Shangguan Ru’s pressure, she still wanted to strike out when hearing this servant mention it.
“Yes, disciple listens to his master.” Gu Shenwei immediately said.
Shangguan Yushi snorted and turned around, showing Servant Huan the back of her head.
“If you want to return to the sect, you have to find a way to take me out and wander in Jianghu.”
“Wandering in Jianghu doesn’t have to mean leaving the castle, we have countless masters here, we may not encounter so many even if we wandered for more than 10 years on the outside.” Gu Shenwei replied.
“Boot-licker.” Shangguan Yushi grunted.
“How can it be the same. People in the castle will not take it seriously, they all play along with me like I’m a child.” Shangguan Ru continued.
“Hey hey, disciple has an idea how we can play it like real.” Gu Shenwei said.
“Say it.” Shangguan Ru’s eyes lightened up.
“Liar.” Shangguan Yushi said without turning her head back.
“I have to tell a story before I say it.”
“It better be interesting, I’m feeling sleepy.” Shangguan Ru rested her jaw on her elbow. She liked stories, especially ones told at midnight.
It was pitch-dark, and only the sounds of insects and frogs were heard. There was no more sabre-wielding teenager jumping out to disturb them, Gu Shenwei directly sat on the ground and slowly told the story that he had suddenly recalled.
“Remember how I told you many jianghu rules that night, but, actually there are also people who don’t follow those rules. One of them even deliberately broke them.” He began.
“Killers, killers also have rules: we have our own rules, they are just different from those of outsiders.” Shangguan Yushi said disdainfully, and still didn’t turn her head back.
“No, I’m not talking about the killers, I’m talking about the jianghu of the Central Plains. There are no sects like Golden Roc Castle out there.” Gu Shenwei said.
“Who are they?” Shangguan Ru became a bit curious.
“Ahh ha, like Big Head God, you probably heard this story from your mistress.” Shangguan Yushi interrupted again, she just didn’t want the story to continue.
“Not so, Big Head God is a famous bandit and robs openly. What I’m talking about is a great thief; he leaps onto roofs and vaults over walls, he comes and goes alone at night. Everyone knows of him, but nobody sees him. Hmm, this is similar to the top-leveled killers, but what he’s interested in is not a person’s head, but their priceless treasure.” Explained Gu Shenwei.
Shangguan Yushi couldn’t think of any famous great thieves in the Western Regions so she just snorted.
“The person I’m talking about is the No.1 great thief of the Central Plains. He was well-known and called ‘Miracle Hand Dragon‘. This man had a special hobby; He liked to show off after he stole the items, which greatly embarrassed the owner. He was very bold, his targets were not only those famous sects of the Central Plains, but also the nobles: He even stole from heaven in the end.”
“You’re boasting.” Shangguan Yushi couldn’t help but criticize.
“I’m not boasting. ‘Miracle Hand Dragon’ had done more than a dozen heists that had shocked the world. But he still felt it was not fun enough, so he even stole from the palace later. Since the emperor of the Central Plains is known as Tian Zi, and ‘Miracle Hand Dragon’ dared to steal the emperor’s possessions, doesn’t it mean that he stole from heaven?” 1
“There’s nothing special about the palace, it can not be comparable to Golden Roc Castle no matter how heavily it’s guarded.” Shangguan Yushi said.
“Hush, let him continue, what had ‘Miracle Hand Dragon’ stolen?”
Shangguan Ru’s interest was aroused. Although she was born in the Western Regions, she knew the Tian Zi of Central Plains was different from the kings of the Western Regions. And that Golden Roc Castle could not be compared to the palace.
“Miracle Hand Dragon had stolen several millions of liang of gold and silver from Da Cang Fu. Think about it, even using carts it would take several days to move away that gold and silver, but it was not discovered for several days after the crime. The guards finally realized when the gold and silver was spread among the common folk and rumors were widespread. Many people lost their job and lives because of this.” 2
“This great thief likes money.” Shangguan Ru said.
“Hmm, Miracle Hand Dragon liked stealing money, but he also spent it quickly, he spent those several millions of liang of gold and silver in less than a month. In fact it would be nothing much if he only stole money, but what shocked the imperial court was that the imperial jade seal was gone.” Said Gu Shenwei.
“Imperial jade seal? Why did he need that?” Shangguan Ru smiled.
“How come it took several days to find that the imperial jade seal was missing? The emperor of the Central Plains must be very lazy.” Shangguan Yushi also got a bit interested.
“They found out what had happened the next morning, but everyone believed it was done by an inside thief, they didn’t expect it was stolen by the great thief. After Miracle Hand Dragon stole the imperial jade seal, he used it to publish more than a hundred imperial edicts, and released a group of serious criminals. He even published an imperial edict as the emperor himself, saying ‘Zhen’s virtues are still low and Zhen is not qualified for being an emperor.” 3
Shangguan Ru laughed loudly, she started loving the career of a great thief.
“So you can imagine how confused the officers of the imperial court were. They didn’t know which imperial edict was trustworthy, they dared not to accept it and also dared not to reject it. Because of this, Miracle Hand Dragon had another nickname – ‘Disciple of Tian Zi‘, he was even called ‘Overlord’ among the folks.4
“He really knew how to play and break the rules. What happened later? What else did he steal?” Shangguan Ru’s eyes were shining, full of envy.
“Miracle Hand Dragon died later.”
“Ehh?” The two teenage girls puzzledly cried out. Shangguan Yushi finally turned her head, nobody told a story like this, the story had just became interesting but the MC was dead.
“The palace guards worked tirelessly after the theft. They formed a tight encirclement, spent five months, arrested more than ten thousand people, and finally found the whereabouts of Miracle Hand Dragon. More than three hundred high-leveled masters went out, and ten thousand soldiers were waiting for the order.”
Gu Shenwei paused for a while after he said this.
“He was killed?” Shangguan Ru asked.
“No, Miracle Hand Dragon killed himself and left no confession behind. So, many people thought that the real great thief didn’t die: but hid himself. And they created another nickname – ‘Hong Fu Nü’.” 5
“Hah, you’re lying. Everyone knows ‘Hong Fu Nü‘ is a character of ‘Romance of Red Dust’, she is not a great thief at all.” Shangguan Yushi seized the loophole and argued immediately.6
“They’re not the same person. The Fu I’m talking about is the bat (Fu), when Miracle Hand Dragon committed suicide she wore red clothes. Like a bat, she also liked hiding by day and coming out by night, so she was called Red Bat.” Explained Gu Shenwei
“Miracle Hand Dragon is a woman?” Shangguan Ru asked surprised.
“Hmm, woman.” He said.
“You made it up, it’s a poor story.” Shangguan Yushi curled her lips. She disbelieved anything Servant Huan said.
“I’m not lying, you can ask anyone who had been to the Central Plains before. They all know it, I was told by someone who had witnessed the Red Bat’s corpse.”
The theft at the imperial court was the biggest and the last case that his father, Gu Lun, dealt with before he retired, the imperial jade seal was even returned personally by him. So Gu Shenwei had a deep impression of this tale, but in order to attract the listener’s interest, he added more details.
This story didn’t have too many twists and turns and the outcome was not perfect. But the two girls had listened to it, and all while perched on the windowsill with longing hearts.
“You meant this when you said you could play it for real in the castle at the beginning?” Shangguan Ru suddenly recalled Servant Huan’s promise.
“We can’t really kill someone but we can seriously steal something.” Shangguan Yushi also realized.
“And steal something special, surprise everyone.” Gu Shenwei instigated, and thought it was best if they decided to steal from Liu Sha Dian.
- Translator’s note: Literally Tian Zi means heaven’s son. ↩
- Translator’s note: Literally Da Cang Fu means big hidden mansion, it is a place for storing the empire’s annual revenue. ↩
- Translator’s note: Zhen is a call that can only be used by the emperor, it means ‘I’. ↩
- Translator’s note: Overlord is a title for retired emperor who is the current emperor’s father. ↩
- Translator’s note: Literally Hong Fu Nü means red bat woman. I will simply use Red Bat from now on. ↩
- Translator’s note: Romance of Red Dust is a wuxia story. One can search in google for more information. ↩