Chapter 183 Rejuvenation
In this world, only the illusory was real, and the so-called truth was just one aspect of the illusory. Gu Shenwei deeply understood this point.
Shangguan Yushi had perhaps lied, or what Wild Horse said might also not be true. Similar to Servant Huan, he desperately hoped for Tenth Gongzi to be rehabilitated. Wild Horse was born to lead killers and he longed for a wide space to show his talent. He never wanted his lord to ‘sleep at the bottom of the valley’.
Although they lived in the safe Northern Jade City, the killers still stayed alert by habit. That night, it was Gu Shenwei’s turn to be on duty. He crouched on a tree in the middle of the yard, his body almost merging with the trunk with the help of the black cloak. From afar, he looked like a tree knot or a deserted bird’s nest on the tree.
From this position, one had a panoramic view of the whole courtyard, easily able to see the street and alley outside the yard on a dim night.
The night in Northern Jade City was much quieter than that in Southern Jade City. All the streets were empty of pedestrians before the second night watch period, not to mention the ensemble of traditional stringed and woodwind instruments and the noises of finger-guessing games. It was like an empty city.
Gu Shenwei emptied his mind from all thoughts and served his duty faithfully, dedicatedly monitoring everything around. He was a killer and he knew when to use his brain and when to use his eyes and sabre.
It was like this that he noticed Shangguan Ru leaving her room.
Shangguan Ru, dressed in a long white robe and with neatly tied up hair, drifted quietly across the yard like a ghost enjoying the moonlight.
Gu Shenwei immediately became alert. If Shangguan Ru wanted to go somewhere at night, he would have to sneak up behind her to keep her safe, and at the same time try to dissuade her from making wanton mischief in Northern Jade City again.
It turned out he was wrong. Shangguan Ru took off her white robe, revealing the black clothes inside. Then she drew her wooden sabre and waved at the tree in the middle of the courtyard.
The wind caused by the sabre moves rustled like the leaves falling from the trees.
This was set of sabresmanship that Gu Shenwei didn’t recognize. The scions of the Shangguan family learnt more than the killer disciples, but this set of sabresmanship seemed harmless and was more like an exercise designed to stretch one’s muscles.
Gu Shenwei observed for a while before realizing Shangguan Ru’s purpose of waving the sabre. This was a sabresmanship she used to practise with Shangguan Yushi.
Shangguan Ru finished performing the whole set of the sabresmanship, heaved a long sigh, and lowered her narrow sabre. As she leaned against the tree, she raised her head slightly as if she was looking at the starry sky. Then she suddenly said, “Do you know the constellations?”
“No.” Gu Shenwei kept silent for a while on the tree before answering, “I can recognize the Big Dipper.”
“The sabre technique I practised is exactly the Big Dipper sabresmanship. It has seven moves in total and my favourite is ‘Yu Heng’, because the name is beautiful. There’s another nice move called ‘Yao Guang’.” [1. Translator’s note: The Big Dipper includes: Alkaid (Yao Guang), Mizar (Kai Yang), Alioth (Yu Heng), Megrez (Tian Quan), Phad (Tian Ji), Merak (Tian Xuan), and Dubhe (Tian Shu).
The two chatted for a while and most of the time it was Shangguan Ru who was talking. There was no fixed topic and she said whatever she thought of. Gu Shenwei responded perfunctorily with ‘Mmm, Err, and Ahh’ and constantly pondered Tenth Gongzi’s true intentions, and if she wanted to reminisce about Yu Gongzi together with him or wanted the killer to pledge allegiance again.
None of it was what he guessed.
“What else do you know about the Lone Great Thieves?” Unknowingly, Shangguan Ru changed the subject again.
In order to instigate Shangguan Ru to steal at the Liu Sha Temple, Gu Shenwei had once exaggeratedly told a story about the Red Bat and hadn’t expected that she still remembered it.
“There aren’t many real Lone Great Thieves. Take the Red Bat as an example, she was said to be alone but there must be an organization behind her. They just didn’t show themselves easily.”
Gu Shenwei was much more mature than before, and he no longer believed the story of stealing at the Palace single-handedly.
“Not many, but there are still some, aren’t there?”
“Yes.” Gu Shenwei thought hard for a while before he picked one out of the many anecdotes of jianghu he had heard as a child, “In the early years, there was a ‘Hairless Ghost’, who was a Lone Great Thief.”
“Hairless Ghost? That’s a terrible nickname.”
“Yeah, but he was amazing. He has never been caught, and people don’t even know if he was male or female, old or young.”
“Was he even more amazing than the Red Bat?”
“That’s not necessarily true. The Hairless Ghost stole something special and his lightness skills were not bad, and the local authorities also didn’t catch him on purpose.”
“What was so worthless, that even the local authorities didn’t bother?”
“Hmm, Hairless Ghost often sneaked into people’s home to cut one’s hair. Many people, regardless of men or women, were tricked …”
“Ha ha, your story must be fake.”
“It’s a true story, a man I knew had his hair cut off and he was afraid to take his hat off for days.”
It was not until the third night watch period that Shangguan Ru finally returned to her bedroom, but she appeared much happier.
As he crouched in the tree, Gu Shenwei looked at the spot of light in the distance, feeling lost. He had already forgotten most of the life he had held in the Central Plains.
Lotus came out on shift and swiftly leapt onto a branch. Gu Shenwei said to her in a low voice, “Get ready, we’re going back to Southern Jade City.”
The next morning, Shangguan Ru summoned all the people in the courtyard. Her first order was to demand that all the servants return to the castle, and for them to never come down again.
Several servants tried to stay, but Shangguan Ru signalled for the killers to come forward.
Seven teenagers in black clothes. Although they didn’t wear real narrow sabres by their waist, their cruel expression was enough to frighten the over a dozen servants.
The crowded house quickly became quiet again. Shangguan Ru glanced at her remaining forces, and uttered a thoughtful remark, “We are going to take back the Kun Society and avenge Yu Gongzi.”
The killers pulled out their wooden sabres and made a false cut on the ground before they knelt down on one leg. They had been waiting for this day. The killer always yearned for sabre and blood, not to guard the yard.
According to Shangguan Ru, the first thing for their rejuvenation was to go straight to Shangguan Fei’s living place at Northern Jade City and force him to hand over the Kun Society.
Some of Gu Shenwei’s secrets were grasped by Shangguan Fei, and he had also received a secret order from Madam Meng to keep the twins far away from each other. So, he first implied to Shangguan Ru that if they didn’t have any money, the Kun Society would be a shell even if they took it back. Then he revealed the information he had collected these days.
“How much silver do we have left?”
“About 130,000 tales.”
The 130,000 tales of silver were Tie Hanfeng’s remaining legacy. Shangguan Fei had killed nearly all of the sabremen of Tuo Nengya’s, which had indirectly saved a sum of money for Tenth Gongzi.
“It seems that we need more silver. I have no choice but to ask my elder brothers.”
The seven killers got busy in the next few days. They started renting houses, recruiting people in Southern Jade City, and contacting various forces to detect their intentions and views.
Things went surprisingly well. Contrary to Gu Shenwei’s expectations, an internal fight between the two Shangguan twins actually did not break out.
On the third day Shangguan Ru decided it was time for them to rise once more. The eighth young lord sent someone to divide his organization at Southern Jade City into two and gave one each to his younger brother and sister.
Within three days, several other young lords also followed Shangguan Nu’s example and handed out their territories and forces. Without a single blow, the twins gained more benefits than all they had obtained through bloody fights the past few months, as if all of their elder brothers had been waiting for this day to volunteer their selfless help.
All of Jade City was taken by surprise. Such a harmonious and friendly scene wasn’t the usual tradition of the castle.
Gu Shenwei was both shocked and bewildered. He had expected to be able to use this opportunity and create an even larger wall, but the result was that he didn’t even see a drop of blood. Soon he understood why the young lords had lowered their head.
Among the twins, Shangguan Fei had already shown his traits of being ruthless and insidious, while Shangguan Ru, however, had exposed a serious weakness. Madam Meng had hoped that her daughter could better meet the standards of being the Unique King’s son, so she wanted to lay her hands on one of the young lords.
After the killing of the big young lord, the other young lords had already learnt Madam Meng’s disposition, so no one was willing to accept her challenge in the heat of the moment.
For those young lords, handing out their territories of Southern Jade City was not as large a sacrifice as it seemed. The twins were caught unprepared by their elder brothers’ kindness and enthusiasm, so the two of them were too bashful to replace the people in charge. Besides, the two didn’t have enough reliable men to replace them. So the young lords’ organizations only had a change in name but not in content.
Gu Shenwei soon discovered that the nominal change of the various forces only affected the money, as the internal affairs were still controlled by those young lords’ own people. Not to mention a killer, even the twins themselves couldn’t intervene in the internal affairs of those forces.
Shangguan Ru’s revival plan was tactfully rebuked.
The good thing was that the problem of money was solved. The first batch of money transferred was nearly 100,000 taels of silver and every month thereafter, 70,000 to 80,000 taels of silver came in.
During those several days, Gu Shenwei kept an eye on Shangguan Ru, for fear that she might still remember to avenge Yu Gongzi.
In the middle of March, the wind was warm. The snow in Southern Jade City had turned to mud while Northern Jade City was still clean and tidy. And the matter Gu Shenwei had been worried about still happened.
The matter was simple. Shangguan Ru went shopping with Servant Huan and Lotus that day. Everything was normal in the morning, and Shangguan Ru talked and laughed as if she had completely recovered. At lunchtime, she was a bit distracted. Gu Shenwei immediately felt that something wasn’t right, so he suggested that they should not hang out again in the afternoon.
Shangguan Ru didn’t object, but when they left the tavern, she went to her elder brother Shangguan Fei’s house without hesitation.
Gu Shenwei and Lotus exchanged a glance, but none of them could think of any dissuasive words. After all, it was Shangguan Ru’s hurdle to pass.
There were many servants in Shangguan Fei’s courtyard, most of whom were from the inner chamber of the castle. So when they saw Tenth Gongzi coming, they immediately went forward to greet her, while one of them secretly ran inside to report it.
“Ai yaya, welcome Tenth Gongzi. Unfortunately the ninth young lord went out. Are you going to wait for a while or do you want to leave a message? We can pass your words along if you’d like.”
Servant Qing was now the chief steward in Shangguan Fei’s house. He intercepted Shangguan Ru at the door, his hands constantly writhing and his face sweating and smiling.
Shangguan Ru looked at her brother’s house, which was much larger than the place Servant Huan had provided. The courtyard was wide, clean, and tidy.
“I’ll wait for him here.”
Servant Qing’s face started sweating even more. He kept winking at Servant Huan, in the hopes of getting help from him.
Shangguan Ru wandered around like she was at home. Servant Qing dared not to stop her, but when Tenth Gongzi wanted to have a look at the backyard, he refused without caring for his life or death, saying, “Tenth Gongzi, you can’t go there.”
“Well … The ones live there are sabremen. They’re vulgar, dirty, and smelly …”
Shangguan Ru seemed to have been dissuaded and said ‘all right’ before she turning around and pretending to leave. Servant Qing let out a long breath of relief when Shangguan Ru suddenly turned around again and rushed back into the backyard before Servant Qing could react.
“Shangguan Fei, get out!” Shangguan Ru cried out at the backyard.
A woman’s voice rang out from one of the side rooms on the east side, “Ehh, you have another woman here?”
Gu Shenwei wished that he hadn’t come here with her, because he recognized that woman’s voice.