Chapter 44: Practice
Translator: Transn Editor: Transn
The relationship between Gu Shenwei and Shangguan Yushi became very subtle. As it appeared, one of them was a master, while another was a slave; one stood high, the other kept a low profile. But when no one was paying attention, they looked at each other with deep hatred.
They did not fight publicly anymore, as their battle was now fought through the Ninth Young Master, Shangguan Ru. After all, they had the same purpose: flattering Supreme King's favorite girl.
Gu Shenwen became the most welcomed sparring boy again. Every morning he followed the twins, playing everywhere and using every chance he could speak to try to imbue the idea to Shangguan Ru that one had to be a killer first so that she could learn the best Kung Fu of Gloden Roc Fort.
The idea was just what Shangguan Ru thought. She was only twelve after the festival, not qualified to take part in the family issues, so she was curious about the killer as well as others.
Gu Shenwei thought everything was going according to his plan, but he was too late, because it was Shangguan Yushi instead of him who completed the task of encouragement.
After the first lunar month, the atmosphere of the new year had been wiped out. In the next morning, as soon as they came to the learning hall, Shangguan Ru stood on the step and called on all the attendants who belonged to her, her brother and Shangguan Yushi. Altogether they were about twenty-five people, and then she declared,
"Follow me, boys and girls, let's play a game."
Gu Shenwei saw Shangguan Yushi smilingly pat her cousin on the shoulder to show her support and approvement. He knew then it must be her idea.
Though Gu Shenwei was surprised, he wanted to see the result. Yet Slave Qing, as the leader of these attendants, felt troublesome. Because the Ninth Master's "game" was always dangerous, and most of them were unavailable to him.
But this time, he thought it was out of the line for three masters to bring the attendants to the East Castle. "Was the last time's expedition not enough? And they were going to break through?" Slave Qing ran to the front of the team, trying to find Shangguan Yushi to ask her to persuade Shangguan Ru to stop this. Yet when he reached the front, he saw the Eastern Castle open its gate widely, seeming to welcome this team.
Slave Qing was frozen. He was only in his thirties and despite a few masters he had served, he had seen no one being spoiled like the twins. They could even get a ladder-holder when they wanted to grab the star.
If other Young Masters did this when they were young, the slaves would scold them and told them to focus on practicing Kung Fu. The teachers of the Moonhold Academy were absolutely stronger than the training tutors of the Eastern Castle. When his Kung Fu was superior to a normal killer, and qualified to be named as Young Master, then he could enter into the Eastern Castle. He could choose his own subordinates as a master there instead of being an apprentice.
The twins were terribly spoiled.
Slave Qing shook his head ceaselessly, like a wringing dog, without hearing the sneer of the pupils from behind.
Most of the young attendants went to the Eastern Castle for the first time. They were exciting and nervous, hoping to find something exotic, which they could boast of after they went back.
But they disappointed this time. The Eastern Castle was not different from any other place: the same crisscrossed alleys, countless yards. The only difference was that no one was here. A long time had passed, yet they saw no one. They seemed to be walking in a deserted town.
But this "town" was very clean. No snow could be found in the path, and the door was closed tightly. The high door head was carved with ancient characters, like pairs of cold eyes, surveilling the intruders.
When the excitement fell away, the horror spread among the attendants, especially as the two young masters were leading them to go farther and farther. Someone even started a rumor that the destination was Reincarnation Cliff.
In Golden Roc Fort, Reincarnation Cliff had much more of a reputation than the Ghost Cliff. The slaves who grew up in the fort never hearing of Firewood Yard knew Reincarnation Cliff, because they thought all of the killers would be thrown to the abyss in this cliff, and blessed Gloden Roc Fort with another life form in another world. It was said that even in the daytime, there were ghosts wandering around Reincarnation Cliff.
Seeing the cliff at the end of the alley, Slave Qing was frightened, his legs twitching and shivering. He could only move with the teenagers next to him. He quavered, "My masters, you should not go on, it's..."
"Reincarnation Cliff, why shall we stop?"
Shangguan Ru spoke peacefully as she turned around.
The ominous rumor had been proved true. This bunch of people acted the same as Slave Qing. They huddled together, not intending to go step further.
"This is an experiment." Shangguan Ru predicated their reaction, "Those who are brave enough, come with me. Other cowards, go out of the East Castle."
Most of them proved to be cowards. They exhaled with relief. But Shangguan Ru had not finished. "Go out of the Eastern Castle, and don't claim yourselves as our attendants. Find yourselves a new master."
Shangguan Fei, who was too timid to be close to Reincarnation Cliff before the festival, now was feeling bold, too. He stood on his sister's side, and spoke loudly,
"The people who were buried in Reincarnation Cliff were the elites of Golden Roc Fort. The killers, including my father and I, will be buried here. Does anyone loathe this place?"
After these words, those who had drawn back now went a step forward. Bearing a name of "deserter" in Golden Roc Fort? They could hardly get on with life, let alone find a new master. The two masters had the temper of children, and heavy hands, though, they were beloved by Lord, they would have a boundless future. Since serving them was leisure and sometimes could have some reward, it would be foolish to leave them.
Especially Slave Qing, Shangguan Ru and Shangguan Fei might be the last two masters he could serve. He would have to work doubly as hard to earn a prestigious occupation after the masters grew up.
No one turned back. They ventured to walk into Reincarnation Cliff, wearing the formidable faces.
The outcome they were all most frightened of did not happen. Shangguan Ru did not aim at Reincarnation Cliff.
At the end of the alley, there was a giant stone on the southern part, which was about a 34 centimeter distance from the wall, allowing only one person to pass through once at a time. But when entered, the place revealed itself as an extensive semicircular space.
The west of this area was a high wall of a yard, with the stone in the north and the cambered cliff in the west, which straighten suddenly in the south.
Though this cliff was close to Reincarnation Cliff, they were separated by the giant stone. Alongside the cliff, there was an iron chain around the border, which made it much safer. The attendants were less frightened. They were amazed and wondered how their two masters found this place.
Gu Shenwei was puzzled, too. Last time they had come here, no one found this place. After observing it carefully, he found the iron chains and the stone pillars were still new. Apparently, they were installed in recent days, and the floor was cleaned, with no macadam here, as if were polished.
It must have been the Supreme King who gave the order to clear this place and give it to the twins.
Gu Shenwei used to be spoiled in his own home, but not like this. The twins were free to do anything, and got whatever they wanted.
Gu Shenwei felt somehow jealous. The spoilt twins reminded him how great his life could have been. Meanwhile, it strengthened his conviction, making him indulge in his thoughts. He contemplated on the emense pain the Supreme King would feel be when he killed the twins.
But he restrained himself quickly, acted like the others, and sighed with admiration.
The twins and Shangguan Yushi looked at their slaves proudly. As they settled down, Shangguan Ru told them the content of their new game.
"Look, I want to choose some potential candidates among you, and raise one as killer."
Shangguan Fei interrupted, "And me, I will raise a killer, too."
"Yes, and so will master Yu. We three will be the blademasters, and the best of you will be our killers"
The public was relieved. It was just a game of "fake killer". As they were protected by the twins, they could do whatever they wanted in the fort, and there would be no danger. Besides, if these masters were so excited, maybe some of them could be rewarded a real killer's name, which was a fantastic bargain. So the attendants rushed up to enroll. Even Slave Qing, who pushed and shoved in the throng, claimed he was keeping order while in fact he was standing in the front of the line.
But some of them tittered in private, "The twins will become the 'Young Master', yet they lower themselves to be a so-called ' blademaster ', how childish!"
Actually, the three "blademasters" were happy, and began to vie for their own "killers".
Gu Shenwei set his heart at rest. It was just a game, but, if he guessed it right, the twins must have learned many killing skills in the Moonhold Academy, which could help him anyhow. In addition, Shangguan Ru would be fond of him in the game. No one could be compared with him among these teenagers.
He began to think it could play out quite nicely. The only thing he neglected was that Shangguan Yushi could never let him contact Shangguan Ru very frequently.
At the beginning of picking up "killers", Shangguan Yushi asked for Slave Huan, saying, "We've agreed, whoever asks for someone first gets him. No shameless tricks!"
The twins professed their vexation effusively. Slave Huan, it was clear, was the best of the attendants. Once he was snatched up, Shangguan Fei reacted quickly and asked for another teenager who skilled in Kung Fu. Shangguan Ru was left no choice. She gazed around and chose her "killers" at last.
Gu Shenwei had to hide his vexation deeply. He was still fighting with Shangguan Yushi, and he lost another round.
They finished very quickly. Three "blademasters" chose three "killers" for their own, and let Slave Qing take away the others.
Slave Qing brought the others back, sighing and groaning, for he was not chosen. However, he knew no Kung Fu at all. He even dared not to see someone be killed.
The three teams of "killers" each selected a place to train. Shangguan Yushi occupied the north area near the giant stone, while Shangguan Ru was in the middle area, and Shangguan Fei in the south.
Shangguan Yushi stared coldly at her three men. She gave her order as the training: carrying the wooden weapon back.
Gu Shenwei understood it.
Shangguan Ru was not even thinking about raising a "killer". She just asked them to do countless tasks: carrying the wooden swords or sabers, taking the Kung Fu books, bringing back the tea and towels, anything that could keep them away from her for a while.
In this way, Gu Shenwei could learn nothing, but worse, he lost the opportunity to get close to Shangguan Ru.
The other boys were glad to do it. They were meant to play with their masters, and their jobs were doing these chores, while practicing and enduring hardship would be too tough for them. So they dallied over these things deliberately. If possible, they would avoid being there the whole day.
The twins treated this game seriously, having learned many killers' stunts recently, so they forced the subordinate teenagers to practice them hard. The complaints could be heard everywhere. They envied Shangguan Yushi's subordinates.
After several days, things were getting worse.
When there was no chore to be arranged, Shangguan Yushi asked them to guard outside, calling it "secret post", which was the requisite skill of a killer.
Gu Shenwei had met with the inevitable obstacles. This jealous girl was much more stubborn than the giant stone.