Chapter 184 Strategist
Sabres, swords, and prostitutes were forbidden inside Northern Jade City, but there were exceptions. The guards at the barrier were more willing to turn a blind eye to the latter, who, after all, would not be involved in homicide cases.
Servant Qing accepted Servant Huan’s advice, and decided to be the ninth young lord’s guide to debauchery, but he soon found himself of little use. The ninth young lord didn’t have many hobbies, and because Tuo Nengya hadn’t been caught, anyone who dared to suggest entering Southern Jade City would be accused of having ulterior motives.
Servant Qing’s only solution was to bribe the guards at the barrier to bring Xu Yanwei into Northern Jade City.
Xu Yanwei was in Shangguan Fei’s room at the moment.
Upon hearing a woman’s rebuke, Shangguan Ru frowned. The two had only met once before, so they hadn’t recognized the other’s voice.
Shangguan Ru didn’t even understand what was going on in his brother’s room, so she leapt over and kicked the door open.
Dishevelled, Shangguan Fei stood in the door, frantically trying to clean up his clothes while shouting exasperatedly, “What are you doing here? Who let you in?”
Shangguan Fei still bore the domineering aura he had gained due to the great victory, his tone tough as nails.
But Shangguan Ru was no longer that little girl who had lost her soul due to unexpected news. She replied, “Who’s that in your room?”
“No one is in my room … Even if someone were, it’s none of your business.”
Shangguan Ru finally understood a bit. She took several steps back, looked away and waited for her brother to get dressed before saying, “The Kun Society is mine. You’re forbidden from using the name from now on.”
Shangguan Fei halted a bit to calm down before he shut the door behind him. Then he walked to his little sister and proudly said, “Come on, sister. This is like gambling. I won and you lost. How can you take back the thing you lost as you wish?”
Shangguan Ru had come to find her elder brother on a whim, so she didn’t actually have a fully formed plan. But, she had never been afraid of Shangguan Fei, so she would not argue with him. She suddenly reached out her hand to pull on her brother’s ear.
Shangguan Fei’s kung fu wasn’t poor, but it was still a bit inferior to his sister’s. He raised his hand to block her but missed. He then swung his head to dodge but failed and bumped right into Shangguan Ru’s hand.
“Who said I was gambling with you?” Shangguan Ru twisted his ear forcefully, and Shangguan Fei immediately bent his body and cried out in pain. “You took advantage of my lack of attention to attack me secretly, and I lost a round. But you better not think that it’s over. I haven’t even made a move yet.”
“Let go of me!” Shangguan Fei shouted indignantly, “Somebody, come and drag her away.”
Servant Qing circled around the two young lords but couldn’t do anything. “Let’s reason it out rather than resort to force, please let him go, Tenth Gongzi.”
Several teenage killers showed up and formed a circle. They wanted to help the ninth young lord, but were too afraid of hurting Tenth Gongzi.
Gu Shenwei shook his head and walked over with Lotus. Shangguan Ru let go of her elder brother and clapped her hands just as Gu Shenwei was about to open his mouth. “Good, I come to fight with you today. Say it, you or your minions.”
Shangguan Fei’s face flushed with shame before he rubbed his ear and shrieked, “Who wants to fight with you? I … I will fight a battle of wits, not of limbs. You lost, I won, don’t even dream of stealing anything from me again. Yu Gongzi is dead, so let’s see who can help you now.”
The words ‘Yu Gongzi’ touched Shangguan Ru’s sore spot. She immediately rushed up to grab Shangguan Fei’s ear again.
Shangguan Fei was prepared this time. He had already hidden himself behind Servant Qing before his sister moved. Then he started circling around the killers. It became a strange sight, a dozen or so men standing motionless in the yard like a pile of wood as the twins orbited around them.
Shangguan Ru couldn’t help but become angry after failing twice to capture Shangguan Fei. She had just pushed down two killers in a row and cornered Shangguan Fei when she suddenly bumped into a man.
That man was tall and strong, and he stood before Shangguan Ru like a stone wall. Shangguan Ru retreated four or five steps before she finally saw the man’s appearance and shouted, “Go away!”
The giant was a young, vigorous man with sword-like eyebrows and long eyes. Although he appeared to be a bit naive, he naturally projected dignity and power. He cupped his fists and said, “I’m Guan Houlin, hou for deep, qilin …” 1
“I don’t care whether you’re a kirin (qilin) or a reptile. Get out of my way.” Shangguan Ru wasn’t accustomed to people standing in her way.
Shangguan Fei had finally found a place to hide, so he wouldn’t let go of it easily. As he hid behind Guan Houlin, Shangguan Fei grabbed his belt, stuck out his head, and said, “This is my strategist. He only listens to my orders.”
The word ‘strategist’, was exactly the role Yu Gongzi had played in the Kun Society, which only provoked Shangguan Ru more, so she rushed forward with a cold face. Guan Houlin was bold and even dared to raise his arm to block her, but his martial arts skills did not match up to his courage. He didn’t realize that the opponent’s moves were feints. In the blink of an eye, his right wrist was held by Shangguan Ru.
Shangguan Ru wasn’t soft-hearted, and she bent Guan Houlin’s right arm up high, forcing him to lower his body.
Shangguan Fei ran fast and went to the front of Guan Houlin. Half-squatting, he pressed against the giant’s body to protect himself.
“What strategist. You’re merely a stupid guy with poor martial arts skills.”
Upon hearing the taunts of Shangguan Ru, Guan Houlin flushed. He clenched his teeth and suddenly stood up straight. With a clicking sound, his right shoulder was actually dislocated.
Shangguan Ru didn’t expect this strategist to be so tough and was so startled that she reflexively let go of him and asked, “Why are you doing this?”
“The lord is in danger. I dare not retreat.”
Shangguan Fei was deeply moved, and became bold and pointed at the killers around him, shouting, “Are you all dead? Just standing there watching me get bullied!”
After being reprimanded, the killers immediately ran to the two gongzis and stood in a row between the two, determined to protect their lord with their bodies.
Shangguan Ru, however, had already lost her interest. She originally had no specific purpose, and was now even more bored. She walked to the front yard but stopped, turned around and said at the corner gate: “Shangguan Fei, I will take the Kun Society back for sure. You think that you’ve won, but the game isn’t over yet.”
Shangguan Fei had long become accustomed to giving in to his sister. Although his success in murdering Yu Gongzi and controlling the Kun and Qiu Society had made him become more confident, he was still a little afraid at the sight of his sister’s anger. He almost let out that he would give back the Kun Society. After all, the Kun Society was merely a shell and wasn’t very useful anymore.
Although Guan Houlin’s arm was still dislocated, he was actually more determined than his lord. As he bore the terrible pain, he rushed to say, “Please go slowly, Tenth Gongzi. As for your game, the ninth young lord will accompany you to the end.”
Shangguan Ru stared at Guan Houlin for a while before walking away without saying anything. Gu Shenwei and Lotus followed closely behind.
Shangguan Ru still seemed preoccupied when they came to the street. She walked for a while before she said, “That Guan Houlin, how come I’ve never heard of him? Did he come up with all the ideas?”
Gu Shenwei understood what she meant. Assassinating Shangguan Yushi and sweeping the Kun and Qiu Society didn’t seem like a scheme Shangguan Fei could come up with. Since that Guan Houlin was a strategist, he might have been the mastermind behind the scenes.
Shangguan Ru couldn’t kill her brother to avenge Yu Gongzi, but if Guan Houlin initiated Yu Gongzi’s death, she could release the hatred as much as she liked.
“His kung fu is mediocre and seems unknown. I’ll ask around,” Gu Shenwei said, thinking that Guan Houlin really didn’t look like a counsellor.
“Hmm.” Shangguan Ru lowered her head without a word. It was not until they reached the house that she raised her head and said, “I took a quick glance at Shangguan Fei when he opened the door. The woman inside seems to be that Xu …”
Shangguan Ru’s eyes was a bit reproachful. Gu Shenwei didn’t evade eyes, as he continued with, “That’s her business. I have no right to interfere with it.”
Shangguan Ru didn’t seem fully convinced, but when she returned to the house, she was relieved and said with a smile, “Don’t blame me. You’re right, business is business. I thought too much about it. After all, he’s my brother. It’s better if it’s that girl surnamed Xu.”
The matter was somehow over for the time being. Shangguan Ru was eager to go back to Southern Jade City to recruit more sabremen and challenge Shangguan Fei openly. But this time, she would do it in person.
Gu Shenwei and Lotus persuaded her together and finally made Shangguan Ru agree to wait for a period of time.
They had to learn from their mistakes and stop fighting with the enemy with only money and the sabre. They had to find the opponent’s weakness and strike a fatal blow. Sometimes the principles of assassination were the same as those of contesting hegemony.
Gu Shenwei took the order to inquire about Guan Houlin. No one had heard of this name in Northern Jade City, and not too many people of Southern Jade City knew this person. Xu Yanwei had visited Shangguan Fei several times, but she had never seen this giant-like young man.
In the end, it was still Xu Xiaoyi who made the contribution and found some information about this Guan Houlin.
As a sabreman, Guan Houlin had come to Southern Jade City a few years ago. With his strong figure, he had attracted many employers in the first year, but people soon found that he was outwardly attractive but inwardly worthless, as his sabresmanship was third or fourth class. So he lost his job.
There was a period of time when Guan Houlin was idle and he had nothing to do, which quickly burned through the money he had earned. Then he surprised everyone who knew him by moving to City View Alley to make a living.
But there was also nothing he could do in City View Alley. He would not do that dirty thing, and even if he would, very few people liked his type. Since his kung fu was mediocre, he also had no chance of doing work that needed a sabre or sword.
He spent a year or so in City View Alley and came out again. Even Xu Xiaoyi couldn’t find out the details of his life during that period of time. Then he suddenly became one of the contacts that connected City View Alley to the other streets and alleys, drawing a small sum of money by providing service to those who never wanted to leave or enter the City View Alley.
Guan Houlin joined the ninth young lord Shangguan Fei’s sabreman team last winter, not because of his muscle or sabresmanship, but because of the cheap price. He only asked for fifty taels of silver a month and didn’t demand an increase in his salary even when the salary of the sabreman had been pushed beyond reasonable limits during the great fight between the Kun and Qiu Society.
This wasn’t an experience a counsellor should have had. In fact, Guan Houlin was also unknown to the ninth young lord before Shangguan Ru broke into the house. His title, the ‘strategist’, was something casually given by his lord.
Guan Houlin actually wasn’t worthy of too much attention, but it was enough of a reason for Gu Shenwei to visit City View Alley again.
He fainted again. This time, only Lotus was there. When he woke up, Lotus told him that not only had her Qi deviation not been eliminated but she actually also fainted more often than Servant Huan. It was just that she concealed it well and had never been discovered by anyone else.
What startled Gu Shenwei was that the interval of his collapse this time was very close to the last time, less than twenty days.
The date of death set by Xue Niang was getting closer and closer.
Gu Shenwei only had two choices. He could either go assassinate Shangguan Nu and other lords of the Shangguan family at an immature time, or turn to Immortal Peng, who lived in the Essence Pavilion for help.
“I can.” Although Immortal Peng was bizarre and harboured evil intentions, his answer at that time was decisive.
- Wikipedia: The qilin (kirin) is a mythical hooved chimerical creature known in Chinese and other East Asian cultures, said to appear with the imminent arrival or passing of a sage or illustrious ruler. ↩