Editor: Xu Xian
Chapter 34 Fairness
Gu Shenwei crept out of bed at the crack of dawn. As he walked out of his room, the fresh, chill morning air lifted his spirits.
Golden Roc Castle was like a camouflaged grass-coloured beast, when it crouched and slept, its murderous aura totally disappeared. Gu Shenwei fell into a trance in which he felt like he was the lord of the stone castle.
Gu Shenwei shook his head to rid himself of his illusion. Although he couldn’t see nor hear them, he knew the ever-vigilant night watchmen were hidden nearby. If he dared to rush around aimlessly, he would attract the beast’s claw.
He ran towards the school, as Shangguan Ru’s footman, he had the right to walk this path. Although it was a bit early, the night watchman who saw him would probably think he was a servant that was eager to please his lord.
The school entrance was empty.
Gu Shenwei listened in all directions, if something big had happened outside the castle, perhaps it would trigger some sort of response.
Everything was normal, too normal that it made him worried. Then footsteps rang.
The ones who ran over were Shangguan Ru and Shangguan Yushi, only the two of them, Shangguan Fei and their close bookkeepers couldn’t be seen. It was still too early, those people were still curled under their warm blankets and didn’t want to get up.
Both of them looked serious, it seemed that, like Gu Shenwei, they hadn’t slept the whole night. When they ran past him, they didn’t acknowledge nor greet him.
Gu Shenwei ran behind Shangguan Ru, only by following the little lord could he freely move in the castle. Shangguan Yushi turned her head and stared at him angrily, but she did not stop him from following her.
Gu Shenwei saw the castle gate was closed from afar, but when the three of them ran closer, the gate slowly opened. This further proved Gu Shenwei’s theory that there were many hidden guards in the castle, no matter how the twins tossed about, there were always eyes watching them.
The castle gate opened bigger and bigger, gradually revealing the square outside.
Gu Shenwei saw the flag brought by Marshal Yang hanging coldly, as if it was frozen.
Then he saw another flagpole.
The sun was rising, but the world in front of him was blacked out. He seemed to return to the night of the slaughter, living in a dream, his legs couldn’t help but move, forcing him to run towards the monster that had swallowed almost half of his life.
Marshal Yang’s head was mounted on his own long spear, he died in the same way as his younger brother Yang Zheng.
There was no corpse on the ground, the two monks were also gone, whether they were dead or alive was unknown. Yesterday’s snowfall had frozen into hard blocks of snow, and not even the slightest signs a fierce fight were left. It was as if the long spear mounted with head had stood there since the foundation of Golden Roc Castle.
The three teenagers stopped at the stone steps of the gate, no one wanted to step any further, their heavy panting from running replaced all their words.
What was weird was how the two teenage girls were the same as Gu Shenwei, shocked and disappointed, as if the dead challenger had been fighting for them.
As a servant who was eager to please his master, Gu Shenwei should have said something to relieve Shangguan Ru’s current foul mood, but he couldn’t say anything. In fact, he even felt a strong hatred towards the two standing in front of him.
The Shangguan family was his enemy, there were no exceptions for anyone named Shangguan.
After some time, someone else ran over, it was Shangguan Fei who had brought along Servant Qing and the other footmen.
Servant Qing clapped his hands. “Well, no worries, this is the end. I expected this to happen, a mad old man dared to challenge Golden Roc Castle, what other fate could he have?”
Shangguan Fei ran in a hurry, he panted for a while before straightening his body. “Is this it? I thought I would see the green faced assassin.”
The green faced assassin was a legend of Golden Roc Castle, even Unique King’s own son could not verify the truth of the legend before gaining the title of young lord.
Aside from the three teenagers who arrived first, no one else felt disappointed about Marshal Yang’s death, the only thing they were unsatisfied about was not seeing the killing scene.
The teenagers were still pointing fingers, Shangguan Ru suddenly turned back, rudely pushed away the group blocking her, she strode towards the castle with Shangguan Yushi following closely behind. Gu Shenwei fell behind after some hesitation, so he had to mingle with the other footmen.
Shangguan Fei hadn’t finished his comment, but he was already used to following his little sister. Blankly glancing inside and outside the castle, Shangguan Fei turned to run after Shangguan Ru.
The group of footmen realized their lords were not in a good mood, so they all took the hint and kept silent, not even daring to stay close to the lords. Shangguan Fei was OK, but Shangguan Ru might have beaten the servants ruthlessly.
The group walked across almost half of the castle, they didn’t go to the school, instead they arrived at Peng Yue Yuan, where the descendants of Shangguan family practised kung fu. 1
Peng Yue Yuan was located in east castle, opposite Zhai Xing Yuan which was far away. But it was a separate yard and wasn’t connected to any other yards in east castle. Only people surnamed Shangguan could enter, and their training method was naturally different from the ones used by the selected killer disciples.
When they arrived there, most of the footmen could only stay outside.All of them were relieved, because once Shangguan Ru entered Peng Yue Yuan, she could only release her anger on somebody else.
Shangguan Ru laid her foot on the steps before she turned around unexpectedly, angrily looking at all the footmen. “Why couldn’t our Shangguan family compete openly for once? Why did we kill him when there was nobody around?”
No one dared to answer this question, and most of them thought it was unnecessary to answer it, as this was Golden Roc Castle which was never considered ‘fair’.
“No matter what, he was killed, it doesn’t matter how he was killed.” Shangguan Fei shrugged, puzzled with his sister’s anger.
Obviously Shangguan Ru was not satisfied with this answer, the experienced Servant Qing coughed and said, “In fact it’s very fair.”
“How?” Shangguan Ru’s tone was aggressive, it seemed like she would beat him if Servant Qing didn’t give a proper answer.
“This is Golden Roc Castle, and the killers trained here specialise in assassination. It is well known, so Marshal Yang naturally won’t be an exception. He must have prepared to deal with all kinds of assassination techniques before he came to challenge us, so I say it’s very fair. We, Golden Roc Castle, don’t pretend to be a noble or upright sect who actually plays dirty tricks behind others’ backs, we are ‘above board’ killers. He challenged us openly, we accepted it, if he attacked us sneakily, we would also accept it, it all depended on him. He died, that’s because his martial arts was poor and couldn’t counter our assassination methods. It’s all fair.”
For Servant Qing, these words had been a platitude of Golden Roc Castle for many years, he just tweaked it a bit. But for these teenagers who were still learning about life, it was undoubtedly a splendid and profound teaching, especially for those who had something weighing heavily on their minds.
Gu Shenwei had been in a poor mood, he mingled with the group and once again felt that he was helpless. Servant Qing’s words suddenly awoken and enlightened him.
He had heard similar words before, at the T-junction where he was robbed as a servant. The killer Ye Sheng had sneered at the Big Snow Mountain swordsman who was plotted against by him, “You swordsmen are always like this, ‘should have thought’, but never prepared.”
Servant Qing and Ye Sheng’s words were true, because of this, Gu Shenwei saw a new world around him. Although the Gu family’s kung fu was powerful, it could not deal with Golden Roc Castle’s assassination techniques. If he wanted revenge, it was far from enough to just learn some high level kung fu, he had to learn how to become a killer and learn everything about the killers.
Know your enemy and know yourself, then you will win every war. It was because they didn’t know their enemy that the Gu family was cruelly slaughtered.
Gu Shenwei’s idea was just to gain a higher status in Golden Roc Castle when Xue Niang tried to train him as a killer’s disciple, which was also why he made an effort in pleasing the twins.
All of a sudden, he saw another possibility, he could only kill one or two people and be exposed sooner or later no matter how close he was with the young lord. However, if he learnt the way Golden Roc Castle was run, and figured out all the methods the killers used, he could still take revenge tit for tat outside the castle even if his true identity was exposed.
Gu Shenwei was not the only one that was persuaded by Servant Qing, Shangguan Ru tilted her head slightly, pondering. Although she was Unique King’s daughter, she still had to accept the truth that ‘assassination was fair’, then she turned to look at her older cousin Shangguan Yushi.
Shangguan Yushi was also looking at her younger cousin, their two hearts beat as one and they understood each other’s thoughts through eye contact.
Shangguan Yushi revealed a sly smile. “I want to be it.”
“Let’s go now.”
Shangguan Ru nodded seriously, holding her cousin’s hand and running towards the gate of east castle that was not far away.
Servant Qing was baffled by their conversation, the two of them had run several steps before coming to an understanding that the two misses wanted to enter east castle to become killers.
East castle was one of the most heavily guarded places in Golden Roc Castle, its protection force was just slightly less than the inner chamber and only killers or killers’ disciples could enter, Servant Qing hastily cried, “Gongzi, you shouldn’t go there,”
Another three or four figures around him leaped to run after Shangguan Ru and Shangguan Yushi before his voice died away.
Marshal Yang’s death and Servant Qing’s words created an illusion of the killers for the teenagers, but their target had changed. It was not those ordinary killers like Ye Sheng in the castle who were easily killed by the challenger, instead, it was those real killers who never revealed their identities and only lived in legend.
Servant Qing was exasperated, although he was just over 30 years old, he didn’t know kung fu and couldn’t catch up with the vigorous teenagers. He also couldn’t scold them loudly as the teenagers he was running after included the little gongzi Shangguan Fei.
There was also Gu Shenwei. He immediately understood their idea when Shangguan Ru and Shangguan Yushi spoke, because their idea was exactly the same as his, in order to know the killer’s true face, he would sacrifice everything now.
Usually the gate of east castle was closed, but it couldn’t stop the Ninth Gongzi. Shangguan Ru already started knocking heavily before her feet came to a stop. Pengpeng, the knocking sound was so loud, it was as if someone came to issue a challenge again.
The gate was not open, but a small door embedded in the gate opened a slight crack, a gloomy voice came from inside, “What is it?”
“King Lord has an order.”
Shangguan Ru’s frustration had already been swept away, her lie was readily available.
King Lord was the honorific title Unique King was called by the people in the castle. The man inside was startled after hearing these two words, but he still couldn’t believe it and was stunned for a second.
A moment later, Shangguan Ru and Shangguan Yushi started pushing the door to break in. Shangguan Fei, Gu Shenwei, and another two bookkeepers also came to help from behind.
Servant Qing was anxiously tried to persuade them otherwise, he hadn’t expected his argument about Golden Roc killers to result in such an outcome.
The man inside found it was not right and tried to close the door right away, the two girls outside didn’t have as much strength as him, Shangguan Yushi shouted, “This is the Ninth Gongzi, don’t hurt her.”
The gatekeeper of course knew who the ‘Ninth Gongzi‘ was, he immediately lessened his strength, afraid of squeezing the apple of King Lord’s eye.
He hesitated, but the people outside were shoulder to shoulder, four more people came and pushed against the door without a word.
The door crack became bigger, Shangguan Ru dodged and jumped inside, the gatekeeper cried aiyo and couldn’t attend to one thing without neglecting another. In a moment of time, the other five teenagers also broke inside.
Once Servant Qing had led the other footmen to the small door, it was already closed. Servant Qing could only sigh and pray that the two lords were not making a lot of trouble inside, not to mention getting hurt.
- Translator’s note: Literally Peng means hold, Yue means moon, and Yuan means yard. The Chinese idiom Zhong Xing Peng Yue means a myriad of stars surround the moon. It also means many people cluster around the one whom they respect. So one can see that Peng Yue Yuan is a place for training Elites. ↩