Chapter 26: Exposure
Translator: Transn Editor: Transn
It was not easy for Gu Shenwei to find out who had returned the white handkerchief. He had less communication with the other five young slaves. Therefore, Gu Shenwei could not directly ask them, so he just warily observed and analyzed the entire matter.
To start with, he removed Slave Lei, Slave Zhao, and Slave San from the suspect list. They had once followed Slave Ji for a while, and later they had built a closer relationship with Slave Yao. It seemed impossible that Slave Yao would have let those three fence-sitters safekeep such an important handkerchief for him.
After his precise deduction, only Slave Xin and Slave Qian might have had the chance to do so. They were Slave Yao's devoted followers when he was alive. He carefully analyzed the situation. "Slave Xin is so timid. He once wet his pants when being tortured in Heart Cleansing Yard. If he was holding onto the white handkerchief, he would have told the truth to the others."
Hence, Slave Qian became the prime suspect.
Slave Qian and Gu Shenwei were the same age. He was an early-maturing and introverted young man. When flattering someone, not only did he please people, but he also did not grovel too much.
The more Gu Shenwei thought about it, the more firmly he believed that Slave Qian was the person who had given the white handkerchief back. However, he could not prove it, so he had to keep silent for the moment because there was no benefit in verifying it now. Moreover, Gu Shenwei would not like to and could not kill anyone. Knowing that Slave Qian had not exposed the secret to the others, he should wait and see what he would do next.
However, he was still very anxious. Slave Qian was illiterate, so he did not know what was written on the white handkerchief and perhaps Slave Yao did not tell him the details either. But how long this secret would be kept was unknown to everyone.
Gu Shenwei had continued to spy on Slave Qian until something unexpected interrupted his plan.
It had been almost a month since Firewood Yard had been reopened. Perhaps Miss Luo thought that the tumult had subsided, so she requested for the young slaves to greet her again every morning.
The six slaves were taken away by Mama Xu as usual. The newly inaugurated overseer was a well-polished person. He did not stop Mama Xue from taking all of them, and he also spoke humbly with her.
These young slaves brought by Miss Luo, as well as the other slaves, had suffered overwhelming curses, accusations, and tearful complaints in the Eighth Young Master's yard.
Bighead Kingpin's daughter was also affected by the murder scandal. She had brought Slave Qi and Slave Xie, so she had to take the responsibility of oversight. People mistakenly believed that Miss Luo had sacrificed her slaves to cater to the Eighth Young Mater's killers.
That was certainly not true, but it did not stop the rumors.
Miss Luo thought she had been totally wronged. Her husband, Shangguan Nu, particularly kept away from her because he thought that the bandit's daughter brought bad luck.
From behind the folding screen, the Eighth Young Mistress accused all the slaves of being ungrateful. She claimed that she was going to go back to Iron Mountain tomorrow, and by then, Bighead Kingpin would punish everyone here.
Mama Xue and her maidservants patiently persuaded Miss Luo for a while.
Gu Shenwei stared at the ground and thought disapprovingly, "It's been a month since the murder happened. She didn't leave this place at that moment, let alone now. This is Golden Roc Fort. Even though she is Bighead Kingpin's daughter, she can't come and go freely.
"Such a stupid and pretentious woman. She isn't a patch on my sister, Gu Cuilan." Gu Shenwei made this conclusion in his mind.
That day, after repeating the oath hundreds and thousands of times, all the slaves were allowed to leave, except for Gu Shenwei.
Mama Xue had asked him to stay behind.
Gu Shenwei had foreseen this situation. To be honest, he had been looking forward to it for a long time. Mama Xue had once lied about passing Internal Strength on to Slave Yao and had shouldered the responsibility of Slave Yao's Qigong Deviation for a reason.
After the other slaves had left, Gu Shenwei followed Mama Xue into the backyard. It was the first time that he had entered the room.
In a wing-room, Miss Luo was sitting behind a thick folding screen. All the maidservants had been asked to leave, except for a blind and mute young girl who could only hear people talking. She was the best keeper of secrets.
Miss Luo once cruelly punished this maidservant by having her eyes gouged out and her tongue cut out. Now, she took her as a trusted subordinate. Luo Ningcha did not think that it was a paradoxical thing.
Mama Xue ordered him to kneel down and said to Miss Luo behind the screen, "He's the slave that we want."
Miss Luo remained silent for a while, as if she was carefully sizing him up. And although they were separated by the thick screen, she could see a looming figure.
"Did he really kill the madman?" Miss Luo could no longer remember the boy who had practiced Kung Fu in the yard. She only had an impression of his mad laughter.
Although he was well-prepared, Gu Shenwei was surprised by Miss Luo's straight way of speaking. "It wasn't me, I..."
Mama Xue kicked him in his side. Her toes were as hard as her fingers. Gu Shenwei suddenly felt his Internal Breath stagnate and he could not say anything more.
"Shut up," Mama Xue commanded in an indifferent tone. Then she softened her voice and said to Miss Luo behind the screen, "Yes, he did it. It can't be wrong."
"Did he fake Slave Yao's death to look like an accident?" Miss Luo was not angry, but rather a little curious.
"He's kinda smart."
"Sinister and ruthless," the Eighth Young Master Mistress said verbatim without any emotion, as if the slave kneeling down outside was a dog that was fed and controlled by her.
"Right. He's sinister and ruthless. He's the slave that Miss wants."
For a while, no one spoke in the main hall. Gu Shenwei thought fast, "What kind of slave does Miss Luo want? Why does she need a 'treacherous' slave? What benefit could I gain?"
"All right, that's him," Miss said, "but make sure he's loyal to me."
Bighead Kingpin's daughter was not so foolish. The slaves' daily vows were only able to please her, but they were not enough to gain her trust.
"That's easy," Mama Xue said confidently. She turned to Gu Shenwei and started to question him.
"Slave Huan, tell me your real name."
"Humph! Your name is Yang Huan. After entering Golden Roc Fort, your nickname is Slave Huan. What a coincidence!"
"I know that it sounds ridiculous, but it's indeed my real name."
"Where did you live before working in Golden Roc Fort?"
"I once lived in Shu-lik City. My former master was surnamed Lin."
Mama Xue kicked him in his side again. "You're lying. How dare you? What's the relationship between you and the Gu family from the Central Plains?"
Gu Shenwei was shocked that Mama Xue had realized that he was lying.
It had to be the Yin and Yang Strength. What he had taught to Slave Yao revealed his identity. Although Mama Xue was aware that he was related to the Gu family, she did not inform on him to Shangguan Nu...
Many things sprang to his mind, just like the ever-changing clouds covering this world. Gu Shenwei had to make up his mind quickly and bravely.
"Forgive me, my Miss. Forgive me, Mama Xue. I'm sorry to..."
"Enough meaningless talk. Tell me your whole life story."
"I'm indeed Yang Huan. My father's Yang Zheng, a martial arts manager of the Gu family."
"A martial arts manager's son? How could you learn Kung Fu that was exclusive to the Gu family members?"
"My..." Although Gu Shenwei had been aware that his speech and acting should be like a slave's son and had quickly changed his persona, he almost blurted out: "My father, Gu Lun". Then he cautiously continued, "My father, Yang Zheng, had a close relationship with Master Gu Lun, so I had the chance to learn the family-inherited Kung Fu. Nominally, they were master and slave, but in fact, they were sworn brothers. Therefore, the master broke the traditional rules and allowed me to practice the Gu family's Kung Fu—Internal Strength and Blademanship. Father also had passed it on to me in private, just a little. But I didn't learn it very well."
"It sounds convincing. Let me check out how much you've learned."
The moment Mama Xue pushed her hard palms on Gu Shenwei's neck, he felt a strong and fierce Internal Breath come into him, ripping and tearing him and rushing into the Dantian acupoint in his belly.
Gu Shenwei's Internal Strength was very frail. He had just reached the first level of Yin Strength and Yang Strength. He was a very long way away from mastering Yin and Yang Strength. Abruptly being pressed by external power, Gu Shenwei did not have much time to raise his Qigong and it spontaneously resisted Mama Xue's Qigong. This action exposed his weak Kung Fu foundation.
Gu Shenwei's Qigong power was very weak in contrast to Mama Xue's, like using a cup of water to put out a big fire.
Gu Shenwei only felt that his body was completely shaken. His Dantian acupoint seemed to burst in an instant. Being not ready for any of that, he fainted.
When he woke up, Gu Shenwei heard Miss Luo curiously ask,
"Is he alive?"
"Yes. He didn't deceive us this time. Slave Huan only learned some superficial Kung Fu. Slave Yao, you moron! He found such an incompetent teacher to learn Internal Strength from."
Gu Shenwei relaxed a bit and blushed.
"What's your purpose of coming to Golden Roc Fort?"
"I made up my mind to avenge my father," Gu Shenwei said and straightened his back in order to make his voice sound more sorrowful. They thought that he was talking about Yang Zheng. But in fact, he mourned his father, Gu Lun.
"The Eighth Young Master is who killed your father,"
Mama Xue said to Gu Shenwei frigidly. On hearing her words, Miss Luo giggled behind the screen, as if she had heard a joke just now but was too shy to laugh.
"Not exactly. My father was killed outside the village. A professional killer murdered him. Well... The murderer is the Eighth Young Master's subordinate."
"It's better for you to take revenge on my husband, so that I can return to Iron Mountain," the Miss said slowly.
"Miss! Take back your words. Now you belong to the Shangguan family. Nothing can change that. Never mention it again."
Mama Xue warned Miss Luo in a severe tone, as if she were lecturing a naive little girl. She did not look like the humble and prudent maidservant that she usually acted like. There were not many outsiders, so Mama Xue did not care about the discrepancy of the master-slave identity too much.
Miss Luo also did not treat Mama Xue as an ordinary maidservant, either. Therefore, she just snorted discontentedly, rather than scold Mama Xue. Miss Luo said in a low voice,
"Of course, I know."
Mama Xue turned to Slave Huan and said, "If you dare to spread this gossip, I'll throw you off the cliff."
"I won't tell anyone because I didn't hear anything. Heaven and earth can prove my loyalty to Miss and Mama Xue."
Gu Shenwei had totally destroyed his self-esteem with those begging words. From now on, he would never ever have any connection with the title "Young Master of the Gu Family".
He had no choice. If Gu Shenwei still had the identity of a young Master, he could not find his sister, let alone take revenge for his family.
"Humph. You? Even if you practiced for 100 years, you couldn't even hurt one of the Eighth Young Master's little fingers. Who killed your father? Killer Han Shiqi?"
"No. I still don't know who the murderer is."
Mama Xue walked around Gu Shenwei twice, observing him carefully, just like a calculating merchant who was about to buy some goods.
"You want to take revenge, right? It's possible. But you should stop taking any actions without my permission and end your secret investigation. Miss will reward you if you perform very well. Do you understand?"
"Yes, I do. I won't hesitate to lay down my life if Miss and Mama Xue need it."
"Let's start from today. You'll replace Slave Yao now and learn Kung Fu from me. In one month, I'll send you to East Castle as a killer apprentice candidate, so you'll have the chance to be a killer in Golden Roc Fort. If you don't achieve it, then just end your life. You know what I mean, right? If you betray me, you'll die just like your father. Remember, young man, I'll kill anyone without playing tricks or informing on him if he's supposed to die."