Chapter 35: Fairness
Translator: Transn Editor: Transn
At dawn, Gu Shenwei woke up and quietly walked out of the room. The rough and fresh air outside was refreshing.
Golden Roc Fort was like a camouflaged beast hidden in the grass. Its killing intent disappeared while it slumbered, which made Gu Shenwei feel like he owned Stone Castle.
Gu Shenwei shook his head to remove the illusion. Although he could not see or hear anything, he knew that a vigilant night watchman would be hidden somewhere in the vicinity, and if he went off the deep end, he might be exposed to the beast's claws.
He ran to the school. As an attendant of Shangguan Ru, he had access to this path. Although it was somewhat early, the night watchman who would see him might consider him a servitor who was eager to please his master.
There was no one at the entrance.
Gu Shenwei listened in all directions, thinking that there might be some reaction in the fort if something important had happened outside the fort.
Everything was so normal that he felt uneasy. Then, footsteps were heard.
It was Shangguan Ru and Shangguan Yushi, no Shangguan Fei or other young personal attendants. It was still too early for them to get up from their warm beds.
Shangguan Ru and Shangguan Yushi looked very serious and seemed to have been sleepless all night, just as Gu Shenwei was. They ran by Gu Shenwei without taking notice of or greeting him.
Gu Shenwei ran after Shangguan Ru, following whom allowed him to move freely in the fort. Shangguan Yushi turned her head and glared at him, but she did not forbid the attendant to follow them.
Gu Shenwei saw the gate closed in the distance, but when the three came closer, the gate slowly opened. This further confirmed Gu Shenwei's conjecture that there were many invisible guards in the fort, so the twins could not escape from their watching eyes whatever they tried.
The gate of the fort opened wider and wider, gradually revealing the square outside.
Gu Shenwei saw the banner carried by Marshal Yang, drooping coldly and hanging as if frozen.
Then he saw a second flagpole.
The sun was rising, but the world was dark in front of him. He seemed to be returning to the night of his family's massacre. As in a dream, his legs swung involuntarily and he had to run toward the monster that had swallowed most of his life.
Marshal Yang's head was on the tip of his own lance, the same way that his younger brother, Yang Zheng, had died.
There were no corpses on the ground. The two monks had disappeared and no one knew whether they were dead or alive. The snowfall yesterday has frozen into hard snowballs, and there was no trace of fighting, as if the lance with a head on its tip had been there ever since the founding of Golden Roc Fort.
The three teenagers stopped on the stone steps in front of the gate, not daring to go any further. The heavy breath that followed running had replaced all words.
It was strange that the two young girls were as shocked and lost as Gu Shenwei, as if the dead had fought to the death for them.
As an attendant who was eager to please the masters, Gu Shenwei thought he should say something to comfort Shangguan Ru. However, he could not say a word and even felt a fierce hatred for the two standing in front of him.
The Shangguans were his enemies, and no Shangguan was an exception.
After a while, Shangguan Fei followed with Slave Qing and other attendants.
"Well, there is nothing to worry about now. This is the end which I expected. What can a mad old man expect if he dares to challenge Golden Roc Fort?" said Slave Qing, clapping his hands.
Shangguan Fei had been in such a hurry that he was now gasping with his hand on his knees before getting up. "That's all? I thought I could see the black-masked assassin."
The black-masked assassin was a legend of Golden Roc Fort. Even the Supreme King's own sons could not verify its authenticity before being entitled to be called Young Masters.
No one, except for the first three teenagers, was disappointed with the death of Marshal Yang. The only thing they were not satisfied with was that they had missed the killing.
While the teenagers were making comments, Shangguan Ru suddenly turned around, rudely pushed away the crowd behind her, and strode toward the fort. Shangguan Yushi followed her and Gu Shenwei hesitated for a moment and was left far behind. He could only join the other attendants.
Although Shangguan Fei had not commented enough, he absentmindedly glimpsed at the inside and outside of the fort and turned around to chase Shangguan Ru, as following this younger sister had become a habit of his.
The attendants, feeling that their masters were in a bad mood, became silent and even feared getting too close to the masters. Shangguan Fei was relatively kind, but Shangguan Ru might do anything to the attendants.
The teenagers walked past nearly half of Stone Castle and stopped at Moonhold Academy, where the children of the Shangguan Family learned Kung Fu, instead of the school.
Moonhold Academy was located in East Castle, which was opposite Star Picking Academy, the school, but it was a standalone academy unconnected with any other academy in East Castle. Only the Shangguans had access to it, so their training mode was naturally different from that of the selected killer-apprentices.
At this point, most of the attendants could only stay outside. Everyone was relieved because Shangguan Ru could only find someone else to vent her anger on.
But Shangguan Ru turned around with one foot already stepping on the stage. Looking angrily at the attendants, she said, "Can our family compete with people on fair ground? Is a raid the only way we can kill him?"
No one dared to answer this question, and most people felt it unnecessary to answer it. This was Golden Roc Fort, where there had never been "fairness".
"Anyway, he was killed. Is there anything different about the process?" said Shangguan Fei, shrugging his shoulders and feeling puzzled by her sister's anger.
Shangguan Ru was obviously dissatisfied with the answer. Then the veteran Slave Qing coughed and said, "It was fair, in fact."
"How was it fair?" Shangguan Ru said in an aggressive voice as if she would hit Slave Qing once his answer inevitably disappointed her.
"This is Golden Roc Fort, where we train killers skilled at assassination. Everyone knows this well, including this Marshal Yang. He had come to challenge, so he must have been ready to deal with various means of assassination. That's why I said it was fair. Golden Roc Fort doesn't pretend to be decent while playing tricks in the background. Instead, we're straightforward killers. If he comes for an open challenge, we accept, and if he comes secretly, we also accept. It's all about his own choice. Now that he is dead, he is proven inferior to our assassination skills. So everything was fair."
For Slave Qing, this was nothing but a cliché of Golden Roc Fort. He just modified it a little. However, for those unsophisticated teenagers, it was just like a wonderful and profound lesson of life, especially for some of them whose minds were heavily burdened.
Gu Shenwei had been in a low mood, feeling desperate again when walking in the crowd. But these words of Slave Qing suddenly enlightened and awakened him.
He had heard similar words when he was captured as a slave at the T-junction. He remembered that the killer, Ye Sheng, scoffed at the swordsman from the Great Snowmountain who was trapped by him, saying, "You're always like this, saying you 'should have thought of this', but fail to prepare yourself."
The words of Slave Qing and Ye Sheng did make sense. A new world emerged before Gu Shenwei's eyes. Although the Gu family's Kung Fu was powerful, it had failed to thwart the assassination from Golden Roc Fort. To avenge his family, he needed to learn everything about killers in addition to high skills of Kung Fu.
"Know the enemy and know yourself well, and you can fight a hundred battles without defeat." The Gu family had suffered a massacre simply because they had failed to know their enemy.
When Mama Xue trained him to be a killer-apprentice, Gu Shenwei was thinking of accessing the upper level of Golden Roc Fort. Now he was trying to please the twins for the same reason.
Suddenly, he found another possibility—he could only kill a couple of people even if he could get closer to the owner of the fort and sooner or later he would give himself away. But if he could get an insight into the operation of Golden Roc Fort as well as all tricks of the killers, he would not be afraid even if his true identity was exposed, and he could still avenge his family from the outside.
It was not only Gu Shenwei who was persuaded by Slave Qing. Shangguan Ru slightly raised her head and was also thinking. Even though she was the daughter of the Supreme King, she still had to accept the truth that "assassination is fair". She turned to her cousin, Shangguan Yushi.
Shangguan Yushi also looked at her younger cousin. The cousins had a consonance and understood each other from their eyes.
Shangguan Yushi suddenly smiled slyly. "I want to be that."
"Let's go now."
Shangguan Ru nodded firmly and held her cousin's hand, and then the cousins ran toward East Castle.
Slave Qing was confused by their words. After they had run away for a while, he suddenly understood that the two Misses were planning to break into East Castle and learn to be killers.
East Castle, as a place of strategic importance, had the strictest of guards, second only to the Inner Residence. Only killers and killer-apprentices had access to it, so Slave Qing called out in a hurry, "Stop, masters."
Before his voice had died away, three or four people jumped out to chase after Shangguan Ru and Shangguan Yushi.
The death of Marshal Yang and the words of Slave Qing rekindled the teenagers' illusions about killers. Only the targets had changed from killers like Ye Sheng, who could often be seen in the fort and were easily killed by challengers, to those legendary killers who never revealed their identities.
Slave Qing was flustered and exasperated. Although he was only about 30 years old, he did not know Kung Fu, so he could not catch those energetic teenagers. Even worse, he could not scold them because Shangguan Fei was among them.
And Gu Shenwei was also among them. Once Shangguan Ru and Shangguan Yushi started to talk, he had guessed their idea because it was exactly the same as his. In order to find out the true colors of the killers, he was willing to pay all costs.
The portal to East Castle was always closed, but it could not stop Shangguan Ru. She started to knock on the door heavily before she stopped running. The knocks were so heavy and urgent as if someone had come to challenge again.
The gate was still closed, but a small door on the gate opened a crack, and a deep voice was heard. "What is it?"
"The Lord has orders."
Shangguan Ru told an off-hand lie immediately as her frustration had been swept away.
"Lord" was the honorific for the Supreme King, so the man inside was obviously taken aback when hearing it. He seemed to be in doubt and hesitated for a moment.
Using such a moment, Shangguan Ru and Shangguan Yushi had already pushed the door together, trying to force an entry, and then Shangguan Fei, Gu Shenwei, and two young personal attendants followed.
Slave Qing was still anxiously trying to persuade them behind them. He never expected that his explanation for Golden Roc killers could lead to such a consequence.
Finding it unusual, the man inside immediately closed the door by force. The two girls outside were not as powerful as him, so Shangguan Yushi cried out, "This is Master Ru. You don't dare hurt her!"
The watchman certainly knew who Master Ru was, so he reduced his force to avoid hurting the cherished daughter of the Lord.
While he was worrying, the people outside were making concerted efforts. Four teenagers joined the two girls in time to push the door by force together.
The crack became bigger. Shangguan Ru snuck in and the watchman yelled. He was a bit distracted and the other five teenagers also managed to go inside just a moment after.
When Slave Qing arrived with other attendants, the small door had been closed again. Slave Qing could do nothing but sigh and pray that the two masters would not stir up further trouble or get hurt inside.