Chapter 30: Ten Movements
Translator: Transn Editor: Transn
Dozens of people were huddled in the school, including slaves and masters. They formed a circle, which seemed crowded in this small yard.
As he came in, Guo Shenwei was pushed into the circle. The pupils said excitedly, "Here he comes!" and, "How many rounds can he hold on?"
As they let go of him, he was finally freed. He stood alone and gazed in confusion at the boy on the other side. His heart was beating heavily.
When he had seen Bighead Kingpin's face, he was shocked that someone could look so frightening. Now a similar idea crossed his mind, "How can someone look so delicate and beautiful?"
He seemed to be around 10 years old. His skin was bright white, as if he had been carved out of a piece of precious jade. His face was pink because of too much exercise, resembling two drops of blood in clear water. His jet-black eyes were large like an infant's, curious, and desired to control everything. He appeared to disdain the crowd and the new opponent with his nose up.
Gu Shenwei was sensible. He had met many children of the nobles in the Central Plains before, but now he was transfixed there, acting like a rustic boy who happened to get an opportunity to enter into the palace. He did not come to his senses until the crowd burst into laughter, and then he immediately knelt down and drooped his head with a flushed face.
"Slave Huan wishes you peace, young master."
They stopped laughing abruptly. "I'm not young." The voice spoke clearly and furiously and stressed the word "young".
Gu Shenwei looked up in surprise. He had assumed that the youth in men's wear surrounded by people had to be the ninth child of the Shangguan family, Shangguan Fei. Now he realized that such a gorgeous creature could not be a boy.
His mind was racing. If this was not Shangguan Fei, then it must be Shangguan Ru. "How should I address her? My lady? She may not like that title as she is in men's wear."
Gu Shenwei was in a daze again. Apparently, there were some subtle rules in the school, but he had been here less than half a day, so nobody had told him yet.
Shangguan Ru raised her eyebrows and the laughter came again. The audience was glad to watch the fun.
Gu Shenwei looked around for help. Then he got the sign from a girl behind Shangguan Ru, who was also in men's wear. She was the same age as him with a skinny figure, but very tall, almost the tallest one in the hall. She mouthed the words incessantly: "Ninth Young Master!"
"Ninth Young Master! Slave Huan wishes you peace, my Ninth Young Master."
Shangguan Ru grinned, yet another boy standing beside the tall girl said angrily, "Look what a slave my eighth brother brought me! He can't even recognize his own master."
This child looked very similar to Shangguan Ru, but more heroic. There was no doubt that he was Shangguan Fei, Slave Huan's real master.
"Shangguan Fei is the elder brother of the twins, so Shangguan Ru must be the younger one, who is the Tenth Young Master. Why did the girl tell me to address her as Ninth Young Master?"
Gu Shenwei could not make sense of it. He had received orders to flatter the ninth child, but unfortunately, he had offended both of them at the very first meeting.
The tall girl probably also came from the fort, because Shangguan Ru and she were the only two girls in this group of boys. Actually, she held the highest position. She opened her arms, keeping Shangguan Fei behind her, shouting, "Come on! This is a new round. 10 moves. I bet this boy will definitely fall down within 10 moves."
The pupils placed their bets one after another. Some placed their bets on Shangguan Ru, some on the new slave.
Gu Shenwei understood now that he was going to compete with Shangguan Ru. Needless to say, he had to lose. Furthermore, he should lose the game clumsily, because she was a cute little girl.
However, it was not quite as simple as that. Shangguan Fei did not bet on his sister. Instead, he ran over to Gu Shenwei's side and said, "You can't fall in 10 moves, or I will call my eighth brother to teach you a lesson."
Gu Shenwei was in a bind. Slave Qing surely knew how to deal with this dilemma, but he could not help Slave Huan from outside the door.
Shangguan Ru was becoming impatient. She squared up and roared, "Get out of the way!"
The crowd stepped aside. While Gu Shenwei was not even ready, Shangguan Ru sprang from the opposite side, flying at him with a kick toward his face.
This was not a move one would expect from a 10-year-old girl. The power and the action were both threatening. It appeared that the girl was on a level that even an experienced adult could not easily reach.
Gu Shenwei was thinking of hiding his strength before this move. Now he knew he had to employ all his skills to evade her foot.
Shangguan Ru kept her moves coming continuously, each one just as decisive and brave, in contrast to what her appearance would suggest.
Gu Shenwei had no time to think, as he was busy protecting himself by twisting and turning. Hand and foot combat was not his strong point; the Tiger-taming Fist he had learned was hard-edged, which was not well-suited to block the girl's attacks. He dared not use the hard moves, so he continued to appear weak and vulnerable.
After five or six moves, the sounds of chanting became louder, coming from all sides. The tall girl and Shangguan Fei shouted themselves hoarse.
Right at the 10th move, Shangguan Ru was at her most ruthless. She played a trick, pretending to turn back to keep her distance and then suddenly bending backward to land a kick.
This was unexpected. Though Gu Shenwei could have avoided it, he hesitated for a second whether he should or not. His task was to win Shangguan Fei's favor, yet this girl seemed more like the winner of all the favor.
At this very second, Shangguan Ru's feet kicked him solidly. Gu Shenwei's body flew backward, bumping into a pupil who was cheering aloud.
The pupil was unprepared, but luckily, he was strong. Yelling and retreating several steps, he was held up by others. Gu Shenwei took the chance to bounce up and then staggered in another direction, but he was pushed yet again.
"It was still in 10 moves and he did not fall. We win!"
Shangguan Fei shouted aloud, stepping out from behind Gu Shenwei.
"Don't be so shameless. He almost fell down. You pushed him up."
The tall girl stepped forward, hands on her hips, and clamored. She had to be the Supreme King's daughter because she would not yield an inch.
The two groups began to quarrel. Shangguan Ru pointed at Gu Shenwei, who had said nothing up to this point. "Admit that you were pushed up by others."
Shangguan Fei gave his order loudly near Gu Shenwei's ear, "You managed to stand firm on your own, didn't you?"
Going around in a circle, Gu Shenwei was once again in a bind. All he could do was equivocate.
Shangguan Ru pushed the people aside and faced Gu Shenwei directly. "What, you're not giving up?" Her face was red with anger.
They were so close that Gu Shenwei could feel her breathing. He thought it was best not to contradict her. "I..."
At that moment, someone finally spoke, saving him from his dilemma.
"Everyone go back to the school."
It was a majestic teacher, hands held at his back, gazing coldly at the pupils.
It worked. Dozens of pupils, including Shangguang Fei, along with their study companions were so frightened that they immediately shut up and turned back, trotting back to the school.
Shangguan Ru stayed, staring angrily at the insensitive Slave Huan and thinking, "How dare you? You lost!"
"Go back!" the teacher repeated. A man could not be a teacher in Golden Roc Fort if he had no influence.
Shangguan Ru's face was getting more and more red, like a jade cup filled with wine. But she could not disobey the order. So she went back, but suddenly she turned around and grabbed the ear of Slave Huan, twisting it brutally.
In this way, the Supreme King's most beloved daughter left a mark on Gu Shenwei's body. The shadow in his mind stayed as the pain receded.
The moment Slave Huan walked out of the hall, he was immediately rebuked by Slave Qing, who had been listening outside the entire time. He found Slave Huan to be utterly incapable, having offended both of the children. "You could have just called them master, why did you call her young master? The 'young master' we mentioned in private was the young lady, Shangguan Ru. When in the Ninth Young Master's presence, it means Shangguan Fei. The young master would surely take offense hearing you call the lady 'Ninth Young Master'."
Slave Qing went on talking about a series of things, which no one could understand except himself. "It's just a name, why bother so much?" Gu Shenwei despised him.
As Slave Qing explained, Shangguan Ru was raised up as if she were a son, and became more ambitious and more like a boy than her elder brother, Shangguan Fei. She always wanted to rank higher than him, so she denied that she was a younger sister, making their titles confusing.
The tall girl was not the Supreme King's own daughter, either. She was the twins' cousin, and she was named Shangguan Yushi. She was Shangguan Ru's best friend and also had a boy's temperament.
"You should call her 'Master Yu' instead of 'Miss', or you may lose your life, instead of just a single ear."
"The truth that she's a Miss cannot be changed, even if I call her 'Master'. She's cruel enough to kill someone because of this tiny mistake." Gu Shenwei felt contempt for the discipline again.
The children of the Shangguan family read in the morning and learned martial arts in the afternoon. At noon, they dispersed. The Misses' companions were numerous, so Slave Qing stayed with some of them and let the others leave.
Gu Shenwei was not chosen, so he went back to Mama Xue's alone.
After hearing about the first day's experience, Mama Xue rebuked him again that he had failed to flatter the master. But she avoided the most important question, just as Slave Qing had—If the twins had conflicting opinions, who should Slave Huan side with?
Gu Shenwei had to figure that out on his own.
He lay down in the stone house to think about the problem when Elderly Zhang went to feed the horses. It had always been a difficult task for him, for he was unlike Slave Yao, who was a born slave and had the instinct to flatter. Though he was not the master of the Gu family, he could not accept that he was "Slave Huan".
He had known nothing about flattery since he was born, except for being flattered.
Gu Shenwei suddenly sat up. It was true that he did not know the rules of slaves, but he knew the master's thoughts. He knew what kind of slaves could make the master happy. He was experienced in this part.
He made a bold decision.