Chapter 31: Sparring
Translator: Transn Editor: Transn
Early in the morning on the next day, Gu Shenwei ran to the gate of the school. Since he had an attendant-level waist token, he did not need Mama Xue to lead him. He thought Mama Xue would explain his absence when the slaves gave their regards to the Miss.
Gu Shenwei was the first to arrive. Slave Qing nodded to him, showing his satisfaction.
Slave Qing and the others were members of the outside attendants, who could not enter the Inner Residence. They were primarily responsible for holding various objects and only bringing them inside when the masters called for them. Otherwise, they stayed outside, as the twins had other personal servants to stay near them.
The twins came into the hall with Shangguan Yushi, accompanied by a retinue. Gu Shenwei could not see as he was pushed from behind.
Two children came much earlier than usual that day, which surprised Slave Qing. He soon heard the order come from the hall. "Send the guy from yesterday in here!"
Slave Qing shook his head. He grabbed Slave Huan from the crowd and pushed him into the school. "You asked for this."
There were already some pupils out there, circled up as they had been the previous day. They formed a gap to let "the guy from yesterday" in.
The twins stood shoulder to shoulder, ignoring each other. Shangguan Yushi, who was wearing clothing that was too short for her, spoke to Gu Shenwei. "Yield to Master Ru, or fight again. Make a decision."
Shangguan Fei's mouth was shut by his sister as soon as he opened it to speak.
More and more pupils began making their way toward the scene, many of whom could not even enter through the gate, so they stayed to watch from the yard.
"I will not yield," said Gu Shenwei.
The pupils were frozen, all of them staring in surprise at the new slave. "Doesn't he see the sparring boys out there? Doesn't he see their shivering, bruised bodies?"
"You, you won't yield? You want another fight? You..." Shangguan Yushi, astonished, seemed at a loss for words.
Shangguan Fei pushed away his sister's hand, shouting gladly, "What a good slave!"
Shangguan Ru raised her hand proudly, "So what? 10 moves again. And this time, you won't be able to get up afterward!"
Gu Shenwei decided not to employ his humble tactics this time. He would not use the methods of a slave. Rather, he would do exactly the opposite and win the respect and trust of the twins with his toughness.
He knew all too well the inner thoughts of those children. When he had been the master, his favorite game had been to compete with people. Which manor servant would win his heart? It had always been the ones who would put forth their full effort, never those who yielded immediately and kowtowed.
He used to have many attendants, but in the end, he had only kept Ming Xiang, who was the worst tempered of all of them and loved to quarrel with him. Actually, when a man already had plenty of slaves, what he needed most was a friend that he could call his equal.
Yet, even that equality had been fake.
This mindset, which once belonged to Gu Shenwei, was now the weakness of the twins.
Gu Shenwei posed and said, "Please enlighten me."
He had not attacked her at all the day before. Now, it was the time to show them what he was really capable of.
The pupils were excited about the show. A slave dared to speak to Shangguan Ru with a Jianghu tone? Slave Qing heard it clearly from outside and grew anxious, regretting that he could not pull him out and beat him at once. Shangguan Yushi was more confused and did not even react; Shangguan Fei was feeling proud of the new slave's behavior.
Shangguan Ru blushed at first, and then raised her head even higher and said, "Don't be so certain. We'll have to see what happens in the arena."
In this second battle, the two exchanged more than a hundred moves. The sound of support for each side could be heard in almost half the fort. There was no more mention of "10 moves". Now they only wanted to know who was better—the arrogant and domineering Shangguan Ru, or the recklessly bold slave.
Indeed, this fight was quite unlike the half-real pseudo-competition from before, Shangguan Ru was cruel, yet the slave was not timid, bravely using the Tiger-taming Fist. The pupils close to them had to dodge quickly to avoid becoming an unintentional victim of a foot or fist.
Slave Qing stood totally astonished, watching from the gate. "Does this slave know he will court disaster for himself and many others?" Finally, he concluded that anyone brought by a bandit's daughter was simply uncultivated.
Gu Shenwei did try his utmost in fists and feet, even in the Baguazhang Technique he had learned at home. But he still conserved his efforts, using half the Yin and Yang Strength, the "equality" was limited. He was still not supposed to hurt this false "master".
But Shangguan Ru was no ordinary competitor, even as a girl who was three or four years younger, she was a skilled fighter, and more practiced in Chinese boxing than him. After more than a hundred moves, she had shown no less than five kinds of Kung Fu, which made Gu Shenwei have to defend instead of attack. He could barely hold it up, even after bringing out all of his Yin and Yang Strength.
Once again, the fight was put to a stop by the majestic teacher, saving Gu Shenwei from the predicament.
Those two were fighting so intensely and the crowd was watching so intently that no one heard the teacher speak. He blushed deeply and waved his ruler, heavily smacking the necks of several students to drag them back to reality. Embarrassed, they ran to the school rapidly.
Gu Shenwei was completely exhausted. He had not been so tired even after carrying the corpses.
Shangguan Ru was the same, sweat running down her face, her hair a mess. She tried to utter some Jianghu jargon, but was only able to grunt heavily.
Finally, Shangguan Yushi managed to say, "We'll see." Then she took a hold of Shangguan Ru, and they walked into the school.
Shangguan Fei was much timider than her. He had run immediately after seeing the teacher lose his temper, giving no regard to the slave who had made him proud.
Gu Shenwei held his knees and grunted heavily. His sweat dropped to the ground and formed many tiny craters in the snow, and then his neck was abruptly smacked without warning.
The teacher wore his anger on his face. This was his domain, the very last territory where gentility was kept, yet it had been destroyed by an unknown slave.
The furious Slave Qing was waiting for him as well. He took two full hours to explain to Gu Shenwei just how outrageous his actions had been, and how he had kicked up a breeze not only for himself but also for those pupils who would be punished.
"Tearing you into pieces is not enough payment for a single hair dropped from the tiny Miss's body."
In his hurried disposition, Slave Qing had called Shangguan Ru "the tiny Miss", which was her true identity in people's eyes.
Gu Shenwei said nothing except, "Yes." Shangguan Ru had surely dropped countless hairs in this fight, but he knew that she was not injured at all. On the contrary, she had shown no mercy. His face was covered with bruises, and even more, spotted his body.
Slave Qing made the decision to send Slave Huan back, even though he might offend the Eighth Young Master.
But he wavered in his resolution after the pupils were dismissed at noon, suddenly seeing something shocking.
Just as usual, the twins and Shangguan Yushi walked out of the gate at the head. Shangguan Ru stood in the middle with her hair fixed and breathing calmed. She stopped and pointed to Slave Huan and said, "He will attend me from now on."
Slave Qing was too shocked to say anything. Shangguan Fei said in an astonished tone, "Well, Eighth Brother gave him to me."
"Yes. But now I want him, so he is mine."
And then Shangguan Ru left proudly with her confidant, with Shangguan Fei following, nagging about his ownership of Slave Huan. But everyone knew that he would lose the argument to his sister in the end.
Though he had no idea what to say, Slave Qing had to make something up. He reminded Slave Huan that this was unexpected, and that this kind of situation could end even more badly. He told Slave Huan that he should find an opportunity to admit defeat, or he would face a terrible fate.
Once Gu Shenwei got rid of him, the twins had already gone far away.
The plan did not go as he wished. Gu Shenwei had wanted to impress Young Master Shangguan Fei, yet Shangguan Ru had incorporated him.
To add to his uneasiness, when Mama Xue heard his reports, she only sneered, nothing more.
Gu Shenwei soon found out how tough it was to goof around with the ninth child. She treated him like an equivalent opponent and fought with him at least once a day—in the hall, on the road, outside the yard, whenever she wanted. Shangguan Yushi and Shangguan Fei sometimes fought with him as well.
Shangguan Ru was the daughter of the Supreme King and had been trained by many famous teachers, not to mention that she was a smart and ambitious girl. After only a few days, Gu Shenwei found that he had to pull out all of his strength to keep up with her.
Shangguan Yushi was a shrewd girl, and she appeared to be of about equal skill as Shangguan Ru, but after some fights with Gu Shenwei, her hidden power revealed itself, and Gu Shenwei was certain that she was the stronger fighter.
Though Shangguan Fei was a boy, his Kung Fu skills were middling and he had a bad temper. Gu Shenwei could only deal with him patiently, trying not to fight with him.
But Gu Shenwei did not have an opportunity to flatter them further. In their eyes, Gu Shenwei was nobody but a slave who could hold his own in a fight. There was no "equality".
Gu Shenwei knew only two fist skills, so he was limited even if he trained hard. He wanted to progress but he did not want to beg. Of course, he could beg nothing from Mama Xue. So he reported to her every day about how rapid Shangguan Ru progressed and how she loved fighting, and after a month, Mama Xue was finally convinced to teach him "Ruyi Palm".
Mama Xue said that fists and feet were the foundation, while blades and swords were the marks of a killer. But Slave Huan's opponent was the daughter of the Supreme King, and therefore Mama Xue would only strengthen his foundation instead of teaching him skills of the blade or improving his Internal Strength by external force.
The Ruyi Palm combined both attack and defense. It was more complex and profound than the Tiger-taming Fist. Gu Shenwei took 10 days to learn it, and then learned another Grappling Technique and leg skill. He had actually become the apprentice of Mama Xue now, yet they kept a cold relationship like before. Mama Xue told nothing about her real motivation.
As Gu Shenwei's Kung Fu was growing stronger, Shangguan Ru kept it up. Those two chasing each other, from the autumn to the winter. It was not until the Spring Festival was about to arrive that Gu Shenwei was finally able to get some time to rest, for the twins seldom went to the school.
Gu Shenwei thought he could go on in this way. He was gradually getting ahold of the twins and using them to go deeper into the fort. But what happened in December caused him to reflect on being a killer.
In recent days, Golden Roc Fort, where people made a job of killing, was decorated with lanterns and streamers, and those killers were ready to celebrate the New Year like ordinary people. No one suspected that someone would be so arrogant as to cross Jade City openly, walk uphill, go through the stone bridge connecting the natural moat, erect his flag, arrange his blades and swords, and challenge the Supreme King.