Chapter 4: Family Massacre
Translator: Transn Editor: Transn
Gu Shenwei pinched his leg very hard to expel the drowsiness that he felt. He had been riding his horse for almost a whole night. He was so tired and dizzy that he realized just how hard it was to ride a horse. In the days when they moved from the Central Plains to the Western Region, he scarcely felt how severe the Gobi Desert was because he was curled up in his family's arms.
He held the horse steady as he saw two roads in front of him, one leading north and the other leading south. Master Shifu Yang had just told him to go west, but he mentioned nothing about north or south...
Fortunately, there were pedestrians on the road. However, no one that he met could speak Central Plains Chinese.
Gu Shenwei was so concerned about the task that Master Shifu Yang handed to him that he could not bear to wait on the road. He just chose to go north. After a while, he finally met a group of herdsmen. One of them, who was fluent in Central Plains Chinese, told Gu Shenwei that he had been going the wrong way. When he heard that the boy wanted to find "Marshal Yang", he could not help laughing out loud.
"There is no Marshal Yang in the capital, nor in the entire Shu-lik."
"My Master Shifu Yang said there is, so there must be." Gu Shenwei was quite certain, thinking that a herdsman had probably never seen a dignitary.
"Haha, your Master Shifu must be a good joker. In Shu-lik, we don't have any marshals. We only have generals and commandants. Even if we needed a marshal, why should we choose someone by the name of Yang from the Central Plains?"
Those herdsmen laughed and left, leaving Gu Shenwei alone.
Gu Shenwei was not a fool. He was just a little innocent because he had never been cheated. The biggest setback in his life was being bullied by his two elder brothers, so it was easy for him to believe and accept everything told by his father and his Master Shifu. Once he began to think it over, he immediately found the whole thing strange from beginning to end.
A sense of foreboding was rising in the boy's heart.
Gu Shenwei turned the horse back toward the original road with his face stretching tightly. He realized that he had been left out of his family's affairs, which made him feel bad. He wondered how his father and Yang Zheng would explain all this to him when they met again.
Gu Shenwei did not meet his sister and the others until noon. A trade caravan group came from the east and everybody was flustered as if they had just been robbed. One of them kindly yelled to the boy, who was riding alone.
"Turn back! Turn back!"
Gu Shenwei ignored the kind shout, with a knot of tension in his stomach. His horse was already frothing at the mouth, but he continued to push it past its limits with his whip.
Half an hour later, he saw a lance erected on the side of the road, shaking slightly like a flagpole without a flag.
There was a head on the top of the lance, with white tousled hair fluttering in the wind.
As Gu Shenwei approached, he recognized that it was his Master Shifu, Yang Zheng, the old servant of the Gu family, with his eyes wide open, seemingly unconvinced of his own death.
He once stabbed three men with a lance, but only one night later, he was beheaded. It was highly possible that the man who had killed him wanted to show his strength to passersby by putting Yang Zheng's head on the top of the lance.
Gu Shenwei then noticed several dead bodies lying on the ground.
Yang Zheng's body was lying down by the lance without any injuries. The killer took his head off with only one move, which was very impressive. Gu Shenwei could not imagine what a powerful Kung Fu master the killer was.
There were three more bodies. One of them was the maid, Chrysan. Her breasts and face were full of cuts, and her clothes were dyed red from her blood. She did not have any fighting skill, but it seemed that the killer used a few more moves to torture her.
Another one of the bodies was Ming Xiang, who was dressed in the young Master's clothes. Gu Shenwei could only judge the identity of the body by his clothes because Ming Xiang's head was missing. It was neither on the top of the lance, nor in the vicinity.
Gu Shenwei fell off his horse and fell to his knees. He could not help throwing up until he had nothing to vomit from his stomach. He forced himself to look at the last body because that one was different.
What made Gu Shenwei slightly reassured was that the last body was not his sister's. It was a teenager who was as old as Gu Shenwei. He was as scarred and bruised as Chrysan, but looked strange because Gu Shenwei had never seen him before.
Gu Shenwei jumped on his horse and continued to ride eastward. He wanted to know where his sister was and went home to figure out what was going on.
To his knowledge, the Gu family had no enemies in neither the Central Plains nor the Western Region.
At dusk, Gu Shenwei returned to the village at the foot of the manor's hill, where more than a dozen villagers here were tenant farmers of the Gu family. At ordinary times, there should be a scene of smoke curling up from the kitchen, but today, all the doors were closed with no signs of smoke.
Looking up at the hill, the manor of the Gu family had been burned to ashes.
Gu Shenwei arrived at the gate and jumped off his horse, standing still. He was in a daze, looking at the dark ruins as if he were trapped in a strange dream and could not wake up no matter how much he struggled.
Was the home just gone? Were all these people just dead?
Gu Shenwei stepped onto the broken tiles and cracked logs, which were still warm, and looked through all the rooms as if the roofs and walls were still there.
It was a massacre. Every dead body was left in place, burnt beyond recognition. However, Gu Shenwei could still roughly recognize them according to their positions.
His father, Gu Lun, lay side by side with his mother, Mrs. Gu, and both of their heads were cut off. Gu Shenwei had to wade through the covered bricks and wooden blocks to see their small bones. How could Gu Lun, a Kung Fu master, a great hero in his son's eyes, never notice the enemy?
His two elder brothers also lay in the same place, with their heads off as well. They died quietly, without any chance to show their skills, which had been practiced for more than 10 years.
The manor servants were all dead with full bodies. It seemed that the killers were only interested in the heads of the masters.
But the elder sister was still missing. There were only the bodies of the three maids in her room. Although they were burnt, Gu Shenwei was still able to recognize that none of them was his sister.
This young boy, who had a carefree childhood and had been very loved, suddenly faced the destruction of his family. His first feeling was fear. Now that his home was gone, who would protect and guide him in the future?
He had thought of entering the world of adults after his sister's marriage, but in an instant, he found himself left alone in a strange world with an uncertain future.
Gradually, the young man's heart was overtaken by anger. He wanted to get his sister back, avenge his family, and kill all of his family's enemies, no matter how many there were and where they came from.
Once he got the idea of revenge, Gu Shenwei suddenly came to his senses. He could not go at the enemies empty-handed. He needed some money and equipment.
The manor was pillaged by the killers and most of the property had been swept away, but there was always a catch.
Gu Shenwei had never cared about the financial situation of his family, but at this moment, many details of his life flashed in his mind, which helped him deduce some small secrets.
He dug out a small bag of silver coins under his second brother's bed. When he pushed the body away, he nearly shed tears, but he choked them back. What could tears do? When he was a child, it might have been comforting and helpful, but now it just meant weakness and humiliation.
The road of vengeance was so long that he did not even have an idea who his enemies were. The most important thing, currently, was to deal with his family members' bodies.
No full bodies of the masters were left. There were only blackened skeletons that would break at the slightest touch. Gu Shenwei carefully cradled the remains of his two brothers to his parents' room and placed them side by side with the bodies of his parents.
In fact, it could not be called a "room" with collapsed walls, ashes, bricks, burnt wood, copperware, and a ruined roof. They were everywhere on the ground and it would soon become a grave, with dilapidated walls covered by grass.
Gu Shenwei had seen a village where the white bones became a den for the reptiles in the grass and were trampled upon by birds and beasts passing by.
He could not let his family suffer such torment after being without their full bodies.
Gu Shenwei suddenly steeled himself. He found a wall brick, kneeled on the ground and smashed the skeletons with the brick. He hit them so hard, as if he were hitting his enemies. He did not even notice when his face became covered with tears.
"God is not fair!"
Gu Shenwei shouted bitterly and scattered the ashes into the air. It was not fair for the Gu family to suffer such a fate. Although his father, Gu Lun, practiced Kung Fu, he had never been involved in any conflict of Jianghu, nor had he offended anyone in the imperial court. He was always tolerant and even weak sometimes.
"Perhaps my father had some enemies in the dark. But the Gu family had moved thousands of miles to the Western Region. Was there any unresolved hate that made them chase us all the way here?"
Gu Shenwei could not figure it out. He blamed it all on God. He grabbed a brick and threw it into the air.
It seemed that God still wanted to ridicule the young Master after treating the Gu family cruelly. The brick only flew a few feet, falling outside of the "door" at a mocking angle, and hit a flowerpot outside the "door".
The pomegranate tree in the flowerpot had turned into black wood, and the flowerpot had been burned so badly that it cracked into many pieces with a noise.
Gu Shenwei was already exhausted. After throwing the brick, he involuntarily fell to the ground on his hands and knees, panting, unable to even curse.
A moment later, the cruelty of God became a manifestation of wonder. Looking up, Gu Shenwei suddenly remembered something after he saw the soil, which was still in the shape of a flowerpot.
Then he ran out like a madman, with his hands pushing the scorched earth away and throwing the flower's roots aside. He dug out a small oilskin packet from the bottom of the flowerpot and pinched it slightly to make sure there was a book inside. He breathed a sigh of relief, tucked it carefully into his arms, and hid it behind the small silver parcel.
He remembered the scene that he had accidentally witnessed one night after they moved to the Western Region. His father put something in a flowerpot. At the time, he was so sleepy that he just felt puzzled about his father's behavior but he had made no careful analysis. At this moment, an idea appeared in his mind because he guessed what his father had hidden.
There was the shortcut manual to master the "Yin and Yang Strength" hidden in the book.
The "Yin and Yang Strength" included Nine Levels of Yin Strength and Nine Levels of Yang Strength. Although Gu Lun had been practicing it for the longest time, he could only merely reach the fifth level of Yin Strength and Yang Strength. However, there was a shortcut manual, which could greatly improve a person's power in a very short time. There was a latent danger about it, however, so few of the Gu family's descendants had practiced it.
The top level of the "Yin and Yang Strength" would supposedly be invincibility and Gu Shenwei deeply believed that. Suddenly, God was no longer the archcriminal for the disaster of the Gu family, for it showed Gu Shenwei a way to get revenge.
Seeing as how Gu Shenwei had just cursed God, he would like to call this miracle the "Will of the Divine". He was only 14 years old and had been living under the wing of his father and elder brothers. He had never thought that he would one day shoulder the burden of avenging his family. He even vaguely wished that the dead one was himself because he thought either of his brothers would be more suitable to avenge their family.
He needed the "Will of the Divine" to support the idea of revenge.
But now, the most important thing was to find his last remaining family member, his elder sister Cuilan, who had been doting on him. She might still be alive and be suffering somewhere.
The "Will of the Divine" played another joke at this moment. Suddenly, a sharp whistle sounded outside the manor, which was heart-stopping in the silence of the night.