Chapter 1: Prologue: Two Rules for Killers
Translator: Transn Editor: Transn
Killing is all about neatness and efficiency. Rarely will you have the same opportunity twice. Seek every chance to catch your target off guard and remember to always strike first. Always try to kill your target with one move and kill everyone present. You can go ahead and forget about crap like having a moral code, dueling on a mountaintop, rules, or even becoming a Jianghu legend. Unlike actors, killers don't need such showy tricks or inflated reputations.
Living as long as you can is the only criteria to be considered a top killer.
Just as all his predecessors had done, Shangguan Fa, the "Supreme King" of his time, taught his sons the way of a killer.
Rule No. 1 for killers: Avoid being noticed. Be sure of what you want to do before you move! Take advantage of timing and the situation as much as you possibly can. Hiding in the shadows is your greatest advantage.
Even if your target is a half-paralyzed beggar, you have to treat him as a Peerless Ace; sneak up and kill him from behind without hesitation.
You feel that it is a bit shameful, don't you? Well, the beggar didn't, and he's already a dead man; and there was one percent chance that he really was a Peerless Ace who just dressed up as a beggar to lure you in.
All is fair in war. Winning means everything for a general—who cares what means he has taken? His soldiers, in particular, would appreciate the general's dirty moves and tricks, which have allowed them to survive and enjoy the fruits of victory.
A great general always attacks the enemy from the back or the side, only an arrogant idiot yells about fighting to death all the time.
A killer is not a general, so he must be more cunning, more insidious, and much more ruthless.
There was once a master who was born into a family of Kung Fu masters. With extraordinary martial arts skills, he had hardly been defeated since he was young. Those who came for a contest had to make an appointment in advance and all his opponents were completely convinced of his ability and accepted him as the "greatest master in the world". They even thought that he deserved a plaque on the gate.
So what happened to this master afterward? He was dead before he was 30. His body was found lying in a ditch after more than 10 days had passed and the corpse had rotted beyond imagination. Even the collector could not bear to let his parents see him like that.
Why did he die? Well, he made the mistake of leaving his home for Jianghu adventures.
Those who visited him for a contest had to follow the rules. The two competitors stood face to face, surrounded by the big names in martial arts. Once the order was given, the audience would judge the competitors according to their agility, stability, and accuracy. No one would like to use any degrading skill as they might get laughed at just because their moves were out-of-shape.
The master, who had been used to the "fair contests", became extremely vulnerable once he left home and entered the dangerous Jianghu world. No one knew who killed him, nor how he was killed. The only thing they knew was that the fatal injury was located on his back.
Everyone sympathized with the young master's untimely death. Although they disdained the unknown killer in public, they also discussed in private that the master was not really that great because a real master could certainly stop an attack from behind.
Even those people who were defeated by the master changed their tone and claimed that the only reasons for their own defeat were poor timing and wrong location, and they could have won if they had another encounter with the master.
What could the master do? He was dead. He had become a pile of bones and they could not give any explanation.
Finally, the mysterious killer became an idol whose story was spread by everyone. Everyone claimed that they once saw the killer make a move. Some even claimed that they themselves were the killer.
This is the truth about the Jianghu legends. No matter what means you have to adopt to get to the top, your admirers will make up an amazing, honest, and magnificent life for you. People only see that you stand on the top and no one cares what tricks you've played and how many people you've killed.
Rule No. 2 for killers: No mercy. Be ruthless and leave no future trouble. Death isn't the only purpose of killing, but more importantly, the killer must wipe out the family's "name".
Once there was a master who had trained very hard for 10 years to avenge his father. He defeated all upon his debut. With full confidence, he found his enemy and wiped out the entire family. However, his heart softened when he was planning on killing a woman and her son. He wanted to be chivalrous and leave himself a reputation of "killing no women or children". This small mercy could be considered the moment that led to his downfall.
Could the woman and her son take their revenge on the master themselves? Certainly not. Her son was so dumb that he could not even get close to the master even if he trained for a hundred years. And the woman? She knew nothing about Kung Fu and she was such an ordinary looking person that it would be hard for her to sell her body for a living, let alone convince somebody to avenge her family.
The master's enemy had been very rich and all his wealth was taken away by the master. The woman and her son, however, did not say so. The woman claimed that she would give half of the wealth to anyone who could help avenge her family.
This weak and vulnerable woman used the illusion of compensation to lure people in with money she did not have, but can you imagine how many people were attracted by the offer? Too many to count. Since the reward went public, so many people went to the master's home to kill him. This resulted in him having to sleep with one eye open and, eventually, he was killed by a nobody.
Did the woman and her son get their money back? Of course not. This nobody just symbolically gave them a small piece of land and no money. For his reward, he took all the remaining property, which was worth millions of dollars.
What was important was not the fate of the woman and her son, but the "name". No one had the right to take the wealth back from the master without the woman and her son, but with these two puppets alive, it would be perfectly justifiable for everyone in the world to kill the master.
This is the "name".
A "name" is the most misleading and detrimental thing in the world. A real killer neither seeks a "name" nor does he leave a chance for the enemy to get his "name" back.
Shangguang Fa, the master of Golden Roc Fort and the seventh Supreme King, was not actually a king. He owned no land, but he could go anywhere in the 36 kingdoms of the Western Region. He had no subjects, but no one, from the nobles to the civilians, could speak his name without trembling.
He was the king of killers in the Western Region.
No one knew for certain how powerful he really was as he never participated in any public contest, but those who came both before and after him were all dead.
The Supreme King almost had no enemies because once he killed someone, even a dog would be beheaded if it witnessed the killing.
Shanggaun Fa strictly adhered to the two rules of killers. For him, the two rules were more valuable than his life, so we can imagine his anger when he found out that his eighth son had missed a target.
In over a century, the seven generations of the Supreme King had killed countless people and exterminated even more families. There were enough dead to populate a small kingdom in the Western Region. They never made such a ridiculous mistake like killing the wrong person.
Several heads were lined up on a long table and the strangers who came to identify the bodies could feel the anger coming off of the master of Golden Roc Fort. They quickly hid themselves in the shadows on one side of the room.
Shanggaun Fa picked one head up and threw it to his Eighth Son, whose face was pale. This head humiliated him and destroyed his honor in front of these strangers—this honor could not be restored.
"Are you really my son? Really?"
Shangguan Fa had a long, thin, dark face with sunken eyes. The Shangguan's had lived in the Western Region for quite some time and so, inevitably, their blood somehow got mixed in with the barbarians. When he was angry, his eyes would become as cold and ruthless as the Gobi Desert and a snow mountain.
His question needed no answer. The Eighth Son looked just like his father, with the only difference being his blushed younger face that looked like two hot iron plates.
The only way to ease the Supreme King's anger was killing. He would show no mercy, even to his own son. Killings between fathers and sons and even between brothers were quite common for the Shangguans because there was only one throne.
But Shangguan Fa hesitated because he thought of the Eighth Son's mother. That woman once brought so much happiness to him; her cunning smile and perfect body had been imprinted in Shangguan Fa's mind for many years. She died of some unknown, incurable disease. She was like all other women in the world, no matter how much energy they spent on men, their last hope would always be related to their children.
The disease developed so rapidly that she was still very beautiful on her deathbed. Her beautiful and grieved face made it impossible for her to be refused or forgotten.
"Let Nu be a man like you."
Shangguan Fa believed that he had kept his promise and offered the Eighth Son, who had lost his mother early in his childhood, the best life, the most rigorous training, and the greatest trust.
"Women are nothing but trouble," Shanggaun Fa thought. His anger was eased a little, but he still looked like a restless beast in a cage looking for an exit. He then drew out the sword around Shangguan Nu's waist.
Shanggaun Fa had to do something because his rules had to be obeyed. There could never be compromised for anyone or anything. He resisted his urge of killing him outright and instead cut off his Eighth Son's right hand, the hand that held the sword.
That beautiful and grieved face gradually faded away in Shangguan Fa's mind.
"I'm giving you seven days. Bring back the right head."
"Who's the poor guy that was missed? What's his name?" Shangguan Fa only had a vague impression that the target would certainly die under a Golden Roc Fort saber. His death was already worthy, for he had made the Supreme King cut off his own son's hand.
Shangguan Nu pushed away his subordinates that came to support him and stumbled out of the lobby. He was as angry as his father. The bleeding from the wound was stopped by a large bag of medicine. However, no medicine could stop the anger and hatred in his heart.
He hated his father. He had not even given him the chance to explain and determined that he messed up by nothing more than a denial from a stranger. This was the first time he led a team on his own, which was a sign that he could establish his own name like his brothers. But now that he had lost his right hand, he also lost half of his Kung Fu, not to mention his honor.
He hated his men. They were a bunch of idiots whose negligence caused this mistake and destroyed his future.
But who he hated most was the young man that he missed. He was a person who should already be dead but remained alive for a few more days. Even if he could kill the young man a hundred times over, he would not get his right hand back.
Shangguan Nu's wrath had to be released. He could only bury the hatred toward his father deep in his heart and did not dare say anything. That young man was not here, so the only subjects on whom he could vent his anger on would be the dozens of killers and machetemen of his.
The killers, elites of Golden Roc Fort, and the machetemen, mercenaries of Golden Roc Fort, had all made vows in public never to betray the Young Master.
Shangguan Nu drew his sword with his left hand and this clumsy action intensified his anger even more.
The killers and machetemen, having heard about what happened in the lobby, were like lambs waiting to be slaughtered. They looked on as their young master rushed in with a pale face.
Shangguan Nu lifted up his sword again and again, and no one dared to hide. Several hands of his men fell down like leaves in the fall and no one dared to make a sound. These men were destined to sacrifice everything for their master, including their lives, when they were assigned to Shangguan Nu.
After cutting off several hands, Shangguan Nu finally calmed down. These were all his men and taking away their Kung Fu would only weaken his own strength.
"Go kill that guy! Get the f**k out of here and kill him! Leave no complete body, bring the head back!"