Chapter 32: The Challenge
Translator: Transn Editor: Transn
The New Year holiday was less than a month away and the ground was completely covered with a thick layer of snow, while the snowflakes were flying in the sky slowly and gently. It seemed as if it might never end.
Irregular sounds of reading out loud came from school. Slave Qing and others waited outside the doors, covered their ears, and stamped about to keep warm.
"The two masters won't come here today, it's too cold," Slave Qing said hopefully. Normally, if they missed the early class, they would not come, so they could go out and found a place to drink wine.
But today was not a normal day. A bunch of kids ran over rapidly, no doubt they had to be led by the twins, for there would be no one else so bold in Golden Roc Fort.
As expected, Shangguan Ru was in the lead, followed by Shangguan Yushi and Shangguan Fei, and then the young personal attendants.
Shangguan Ru ordered loudly and did not stop. She did not want to be scolded by the teacher who was ruthless toward anyone.
More than half of the attendants belonged to the twins, who were bored and freezing, so they followed her immediately under her order. Only the steady-going Slave Qing hesitated, and asked, "Why?"
"There are people coming to challenge. You don't want to see?"
Shangguan Ru said and ran away. The listeners were all shocked and picked up their pace without hesitation. Golden Roc Fort was not an ordinary place and challenges did not come often. And they could run to the gate to see what happened if they were with the twins.
Slave Qing also followed even though he did not believe it. "It might be another trick by the two girls." He was born in the fort, yet he had not heard of a challenge from the outside in all his years.
The other slaves did not dare to leave without their masters' permission, so they decided to convince their masters after the class to watch the fun afterward.
Gu Shenwei was fast, and he followed them very closely. After several months of experience, he was now much more mature than his peers and much more thoughtful. "People challenging the fort is very unusual as it is extremely difficult for an outsider to even cross the entire Jade City and climb to the supreme peak, not to mention challenge Golden Roc Fort."
There were already several men outside the gate. The twins learned of the news from the Inner Residence, so they arrived on time, just before the fight.
Three challengers, a tall, robust old man and two young monks, stood on the opposite of the gate. They were less than a hundred strides from the crowd, with the stone bridge right behind them.
The old man must have been very commanding and majestic when he was young. He was a head taller than the monks, with broad shoulders and scraggly hair. He looked like a silent lion. But he was old now, leaving only a skeleton of the man he once was. No matter how giant the skeleton was, it could not offer endless strength as it once did.
The two monks were humble. They kept their fingers interlocked and lowered their eyebrows. They looked more like a couple of irresponsible practitioners coming here to meditate, instead of the old man's servants or friends.
The old man held a nearly-20-foot-high flag lengthwise, where a line was written: "The blade won't be laid down unless the hatred is paid off." In his right hand, there was a weapon rack, with a lance and a blade on it.
"What? An old man and two monks? How did the slaves let them get up here?"
Shangguan Fei and the attendants were disappointed upon seeing these challengers. They thought the challenger had to be coming with great momentum, yet they were only three common people, who would be beaten down if they rushed forward together.
Shangguan Ru observed them thoroughly. She sneered and said, "Are you a fool? Are you the real son of the Lord? Look at the flag."
Shangguan Fei flushed with shame for being mocked and satirized by his cousin. He mumbled and observed the flag, as well as others, and the laughter died away. "Whoa..."
The flagpole was made of common wood and could stand upright in the ground without anyone holding it. As the cold wind blew, it stood still as the pole's end was deeply inserted into the ground.
The empty ground was paved with giant stones. It was to the point that no dirt or earth existed. The flag holder had to be not only robust but also have a strong Internal Strength to insert it over a foot in the stone.
"So what? A common killer in our fort could finish them."
Shangguan Fei was still being stubborn. Shangguan Yushi ignored him as she held Shangguan Ru's hand and looked around the fort. As the challengers had already prepared, Golden Roc Fort should now send someone to clear the place.
Meanwhile, Gu Shenwei was standing behind them. He turned around at this moment, so no one could see the tears shed from his eyes.
The tears were both unrelated to the wind and the challengers. They were toward the lance and the blade as they were clearly the style of the Gu family. No doubt the old man was closely connected to the Gu family.
Almost every country's army was equipped with standardized blades and lances. However, things were different in Wulin. Every family or school had their own unique arms, so it was a way to identify the family or school. The Gu family's lance was 16 feet in length and this might be the longest lance. Its blade was three feet long, shorter than most of the blades.
Though Gu Shenwei gave only a glance at the weapons, he could still identify that the old man was using his family's arms. He had not learned the martial arts very well, but he was all too familiar with those two weapons to make any mistake.
It nearly destroyed his mind, which had struggled and suffered for several months. He used to think he was the only survivor of the Gu family, with all the burden of revenge on his shoulders. Now he saw a man coming to avenge his relatives, how could he calm down with such excitement happening before him? He almost lost control.
What was lucky was that no one noticed him. They were all looking around, watching either the challengers or the road that led to the fort. They wanted to know who would come out and kill these three.
Gloden Roc Fort had not been intruded upon for a hundred years, as the killers of the fort had not been challenged by anyone all over the world. Though the masters and the slaves were only teenagers, they never doubted that, mysterious or not, this old man was dead.
People walked out of the fort endlessly. But they were merely the audience, instead of the killers. It appeared that the Supreme King did not care about the challengers, and he neither treated them seriously nor did he close the entrances or exits.
"Who dares to challenge?" Everyone questioned that in the first place.
"Aren't those two monks the mages of the Four Truths Temple? We usually donated more than any other families. Why can't they be satisfied, and go on stealing?"
Gu Shenwei never heard of the "Four Truths Temple" so he could not care less. The only thing he wanted to know was the identity of the old man.
The fort did not send its killer until 15 minutes later. Even through the noise and excitement of the crowd, the identity of the old man was revealed.
"Marshal Yang. He's Marshal Yang."
"A marshal of what? An army of two monks? Then I must be the grand marshal."
The teenagers were laughing at the strange name while Gu Shenwei was once again shocked. "So there actually is a 'Marshal Yang'."
On the day his whole family was murdered, Gu Lun asked the loyal old servant, Yang Zheng, to take his son and daughter away. And after Yang Zheng defeated the chasing enemies on the road, he knew it would not end well, so he let the little master wear the young personal attendant's clothes, and told him to find "Marshal Yang" in Shu-lik City to ask for reinforcement.
Gu Shenwei thought "Marshal Yang" was someone Yang Zheng made up, so he returned when he was only halfway. However, a series of accidents happened that led him to Gloden Roc Fort.
If he had ridden his horse into Shu-lik City, maybe he would now be standing together with Marshal Yang facing Golden Roc Fort.
Gu Shenwei could not be more remorseful. He had suffered so much humiliation that he never thought he would have, and in the end, he had chosen the wrong path.
Shangguan Ru asked curiously, as she noticed the strange expression on Slave Huan's face.
"It's nothing. It's just the wind." Gu Shenwei wiped his tears hastily. He could not reveal his identity now. Even if Marshal Yang could defeat the Supreme King, he should use another identity and find another opportunity to meet him, instead of a slave's.
"He's frightened," Shangguan Yushi glanced at Slave Huan and said. She did not like Slave Huan at all. It could be said that she did not like anyone except for Shangguan Ru.
A team of killers with black clothes and red belts finally came from Golden Roc Fort. They walked along the noisy teenagers, serious and cold, not bowing to the masters as usual.
"So many killers!" someone cried out. The killers were the elite and backbone of Golden Roc Fort. People could barely see a group of three to five killers, however, this group combined more than 20 killers. Even the toughest task could be finished by this amount of strength.
"The old man and the monks are dead."
"So it seems."
The crowd thought these killers would attack the challengers altogether, as they were accustomed to the fact that the majority was greater than the minority. After all, they lived in Golden Roc Fort.
Unfortunately, they were wrong this time. The killers stopped 20 strides away from Marshal Yang and half-circled around him. After that, a killer went forward, pulled out his narrow saber and asked for a solo fight.
This was surely not from the "rules" of Golden Roc Fort and yet it made the crowd even more excited. No matter what they learned when they were young, or what belief they would hold in the future, at this moment, they worshipped the strongest force.
"That's Ye Sheng. He belongs to the Fifth Young Master."
Someone recognized the first killer.
Gu Shenwei actually knew the killer. He was the one who finished the swordsman from the Great Snowmountain, Long Feidu, in the T-junction, but the killer had refused to reveal his name.
Gu Shenwei wanted to warn Martial Yang that Ye Sheng was good with hidden weapons. Long Feidu died because of his use of knockout powder or a similar weapon.
But he could not and did not dare to speak. He could only expect that Martial Yang was better and smarter than Long Feidu and knew such brazen methods and had already prepared for them.