Chapter 9: The Bandit Camp
Translator: Transn Editor: Transn
The 10 pairs of boys and girls, who were held by about 50 bandits, rode at full speed and arrived at the camp of the bandits that same night.
Iron Mountain Gang's camp, instead of being hidden deep in the forest, was built just outside of a major city. It was populous and noisy, with weapons and flags placed everywhere. Seen from afar, the bandit camp looked like an army that was ready to attack a city.
"We must be outside Jade City now."
The pointy-faced teenager nervously was speculating after dismounting the horse, with one hand grasping Gu Shenwei's clothes.
He was right. The members of the Iron Mountain Gang, who came from various regions and could speak several different dialects, kept cheerfully mentioning "Jade City" in all of them. They tapped each others' shoulders as a way of sharing their joy.
Gu Shenwei was confused. He remembered that in the legends, Bighead Kingpin of Iron Mountain always dwelled in the Gobi Desert. Unexpectedly, he now made his appearance around Jade City, and did not seem inclined to sack it.
The teenagers were driven forward. There were almost no female bandits in the camp. The men in the camp were very curious about those children. They pointed at the children and laughed rudely, making those little slaves even more scared.
The tents were crowded in the camp. The tallest one in the middle was obviously Bighead Kingpin's main tent.
Bighead Kingpin went directly into his tent and the 10 pairs of boys and girls were also brought inside.
It was spacious inside his camp and it could accommodate around 100 people. The ground was covered with thick blankets. Frightened, the newly purchased little slaves stood near the door, waiting for their unknown fate.
Dozens of sub-chiefs followed their ringleader. Before taking his seat, Bighead Kingpin waved his big hand and shouted his order.
"Bring the meat."
The little slaves were frightened by his gesture. Two girls fainted and two boys were scared to tears. The pointy-faced teenager was so scared that his body became soft, leaning on Gu Shenwei's back and whispering fearfully,
"I was just kidding. They won't eat people, right?"
A bunch of underlings filed into the tent, bringing large amounts of meat and wine. The little slaves in the corner were also served with food.
The meat and wine were casually piled on the carpet. Sitting on the floor, the bandits ate and drank without ceremony.
The smallest piece of meat must have been five or six pounds. Half cooked, the meat oozed a trickle of blood after a bite.
"What, what meat is this?"
The pointy-faced teenager whispered. Hearing his words, several teenagers who wanted to eat put down the meat.
Gu Shenwei had not eaten anything for quite a few days and was very hungry. Without paying any attention to the pointy-faced teenager's words, he grabbed a large piece of meat and took a bite. It did kill his hunger despite being hard and smelly. Furthermore, it did not taste like human flesh.
Gu Shenwei was taking the lead, and the other teenagers began to eat the meat, but they were wondering what Bighead Kingpin had bought them for. It was definitely not to invite them to eat meat.
In the tent, even the sub-chiefs showed their ferocity, not to mention Bighead Kingpin. The normally dressed one showed his one arm, covered in scars and tattoos, while some of the drunken ones even stripped stark-naked.
They were energetic men, and the food and wine made them even more energetic. Without any other outlet to consume their energy, they chose to fight with each other. There had already been several fights in the 15 minutes since the banquet had started. Instead of stopping those fights, the bystanders cheered them on. Wine goblets were thrown everywhere.
After eating half a piece of meat, Gu Shenwei was full. Looking at those bandits, especially the strong and valiant Bighead Kingpin, Gu Shenwei suddenly thought of how nice it would be to get the help from Iron Mountain.
However, the Supreme King was Bighead Kingpin's friend. Gu Shenwei could only entertain this idea in his mind.
When the banquet was halfway finished, the passion of the bandits was running high. They took turns to toast Bighead Kingpin. He took all those toasts without discrimination. A big bowl full of liquor in the hands of an ordinary man was just a small cup in his hand.
One sub-chief was so drunk that he stood up unsteadily and began shouting loudly.
"In a few days, our Miss of Iron Mountain will get married. With the 10 pairs of girls and boys being bought, her dowry is complete. I thereby wish our lady to have a son early, and wish Bighead Kingpin to have a grandson!"
The Iron Mountain Gang did not care about etiquette. Even though they called their ringleader by his nickname, Bighead Kingpin did not take offense at that. He smiled and drank his bowl of liquor in a single draught. Obviously, he was happy with this toast.
The little slaves were relieved. They were to be used as the dowry of the Miss, and no longer needed to stay with Bighead Kingpin.
The pointy-faced teenager breathed a sigh of relief, and nervously whispered,
"Our Miss's father-in-law will not be a bandit, right?"
No one answered his question, and no one was concerned about it, because the sub-chief, after gaining the favor of Bighead Kingpin, spoke one more sentence.
"Bighead Kingpin, our Miss is reputed for her great beauty. Now she's getting married. I guess that it's time for us to take a look at her."
The proposal was cheered by many bandits, but the voices of approval died down as everyone saw that Bighead Kingpin's face had changed.
"You want to see my daughter?"
"No, no." The sub-chief knew he had made a mistake, and was scared, with his face turning green and his bowl falling to the ground. He murmured, "I don't want to, I, I..."
Bighead Kingpin suddenly stood up, picking up an iron spear laying beside him.
The iron spear was long and thick. Compared to it, the old servant Yang Zheng's lance was just like a toy for children.
The sub-chief knew that he had made a serious mistake and stepped back in fear. He forced a smile, but his expression became more twisted and rigid.
Bighead Kingpin angrily shouted, like a thunderbolt. Despite his bulky body, he nimbly jumped over the heads of more than 10 people. Before he had landed on the ground, his spear had pierced through the chest of the sub-chief.
Bighead Kingpin raised his spear, with the dying sub-chief hanging from it. The sub-chief held the spear, fearfully looking at Bighead Kingpin. He said with his remaining strength, "Please... please forgive me."
"With exception of my worthy son-in-law, no second man can see Bighead Kingpin's daughter. No man in the world. My worthy son-in-law is the son of the Supreme King, not you, bastard."
"Bighead Kingpin and the Supreme King are in-laws!"
Gu Shenwei was disappointed. There was no possibility of using Bighead Kingpin to kill the Supreme King's family.
There still was a silver lining. He could follow Bighead Kingpin's daughter into Golden Roc Fort. The Will of the Divine had made its appearance after abandoning him for a few days.
At once, Gu Shenwei settled his mind, as a clear path appeared ahead of him. He would make his way into Golden Roc Fort, search for the whereabouts of his sister, and assassinate at least one of his enemies.
The death of the sub-chief did not ruin the atmosphere of the banquet. His body was quickly removed, and the crowd continued eating and drinking.
After the banquet, the 10 girls were sent to the Miss's tent to wait on her, and the boys were taken to the smaller tent next to hers. Their daily work was to scrub the utensils and prepare her dowry.
When his sister, Gu Cuilan, was ready to marry, Gu Shenwei was just a young master who lived a carefree life. He only needed to command and his servants would carry out his orders. But now, he was carrying out the orders of a bandit's daughter, who he had never seen before. It was no easy feat for him to accept this.
The skinny woman, who had selected slaves for Bighead Kingpin, was the Miss's close servant. Naturally, the teenage slaves were under her charge.
The skinny woman ordered them to call her "Mama Xue". They were the first two words of Central Plains Chinese that the barbarian teenagers learned how to say.
Mama Xue's appearance was a far cry from snow. Her face was yellow, her cheeks were hollow, and her whole body looked like a stick. Knowing that most of those youths could not speak Central Plains Chinese, she spoke little to them. When there was an order, she commanded them by pointing her finger.
Her fingers were slender and hard, like 10, thin iron rods. If someone could not understand her orders at once, he would be poked by those fingers, which often left his body with bruises lasting two or three days.
The 10 teenagers all suffered her finger-poking, and even the pointy-faced teenager, who claimed to be the best at pleasing his master, was no exception. Each time he saw Mama Xue come in, the pointy-faced teenager immediately snatched his own share of the job and did it enthusiastically.
Gu Shenwei was poked several times in the chest and thought that Mama Xue had to be good at Kung Fu, as his little Internal Strength provided him with no protection.
Bighead Kingpin often led his bandits out of the camp. Sometimes they came back empty-handed. Sometimes they brought back many items. It was hard to say what kind of business he was in.
The exact date of his daughter's marriage had not been fixed. They kept saying "soon". But there was a rumor the marriage might be ill-fated.
Gu Shenwei had a hard time in this camp.
The pointy-faced teenager brought back rumors and reminded his company. "If our Miss cannot be married off, we're out of luck. This is a bandit gang. Today they stay here, but nobody knows where they'll go. Will Bighead Kingpin bring a bunch of kids with him? Are there any kids in this camp except us? I don't think Bighead Kingpin will sell us. Instead, he'll pierce us all together with his spear like a kabob."
The pointy-faced teenager imitated Bighead Kingpin's posture of piercing a person with a spear. Three children were so scared that they dropped the bronze wares to the ground.
On the fifth day after they entered the camp, Bighead Kingpin led his men out of the camp and did not come back at night.
After a tiring day, Gu Shenwei lay on a straw mat, but could not fall to sleep.
He was used to sleeping in a soft bed. For him, the straw mat was no different from naked ground. He also felt uncomfortable sharing a tent with others, as he used to sleep in his room accompanied only by the young attendant, Ming Xiang. Ming Xiang never snored, nor did he grind his teeth or twist and turn.
Gu Shenwei had accepted the fact that his entire family had been killed. His will to seek revenge became firmer day by day, but he could not easily adapt to such a life.
Someone was walking in the tent. A ray of moonlight found its way in through a hole in the roof. Gu Shenwei saw two teenagers sneaking toward the door.
It was the two teenagers who had been chased by the Snowmountain swordsman.
Gu Shenwei had once spoken for them on impulse. However, they did not seem to appreciate it at all. Of course, they could not speak Central Plains Chinese, but they had never expressed their gratitude.
Gu Shenwei did not care, for he had too many other things to deal with.
The two teenagers looked alike. Apparently, they were brothers. They looked around as they walked. In no time, the elder brother's eyes met Gu Shenwei's.
At that moment, Gu Shenwei suddenly realized that the two brothers wanted to run away.
The elder brother was stunned for a moment. He pointed outside and made a few simple gestures. His eyes were darker than the night and glimmering, like the vigilant eyes of a cat.
The other children were fast asleep. Gu Shenwei rose up, staring at the pair of eyes close at hand. He understood their meaning. The brothers were inviting him to escape together.
It seemed to be a good time to run away. Bighead Kingpin had taken away a lot of his underlings, and most of the servants that were left did not know any Kung Fu. The bandits never arranged for any guards to look after the 10 boys. Jade City was miles away from the camp and was a good place to evade the bandits' hunt.
Gu Shenwei slowly shook his head, but gently waved at them to wish them good luck.
He could not waste this good opportunity to enter Golden Roc Fort. Unless he followed Bighead Kingpin's daughter, who would marry into Golden Roc Fort, he could not enter Golden Roc Fort by any other means with his ordinary Kung Fu skills.
His sister might be in the fort, but his enemies were also there.
The brothers were a bit surprised, but did not persuade Gu Shenwei any longer. Waving at him, the elder brother turned around, took his brother's hand, and carefully walked outside of the tent.
Gu Shenwei lay down again and thought that the brothers must have had the same unusual experience as him, but they could not communicate.
"Someone is running away! Come and catch them!"
Just as the two brothers had lifted a corner of the tent, the pointy-faced teenager suddenly raised the alarm. No one knew when he had woken up.
The brothers were taken aback. Hesitating for a moment, they turned around and rushed at the pointy-faced teenager, who had been sleeping inside the tent.
However, as the two of them were taking their first steps, they were picked up by someone, holding one in each hand.
It was Mama Xue. Dressed in daytime clothes, her response was incredibly quick, as if she had been waiting just outside the tent.