Chapter 143 Killing the Master
Tie Hanfeng had a good dream. In his dream, he lived in a big house in Northern Jade City and was surrounded by a lot of beautiful women. A little boy revolved around him while calling him ‘father’, who happened to look a bit like his disciple Servant Huan.
As he opened his eyes, he was still living in his nice dream and took awhile to recognize the place where he lived.
He really couldn’t recognize the house he was living in.
Tie Hanfeng rubbed his eyes and opened them wide. Right, this was still the stone house at the East Castle, and what under him was still his deck chair. It was just that everything was too clean.
Wine bottles, wine cups, papers, broken sabres, recumbent chairs, and the other items usually scattered around were all gone, and the ground was as clean as if it had been swept by a strong wind.
Even the bedding was neat and the cabinets were glistening.
Tie Hanfeng vaguely remembered in his dream that there seemed to be some servants cleaning his big house in Northern Jade City, but who would do it in reality? He only had one disciple, and although that disciple had been a supply servant for some time, he had never seen his disciple do anything besides fighting and killing, and especially not house cleaning.
He stood up and walked to the door.
The yard had also been completely cleaned, with not even a piece of paper scattered on it. The weapon rack was erected against the wall, with several sheathed sabres lying horizontally on it.
The yard appeared to be several times larger. Tie Hanfeng felt very uncomfortable, and he pinched his arm to make sure it wasn’t a dream before looking at his disciple standing in the middle of the courtyard. “What the fuck is this? You don’t have to drive me away so fast even if you want to, do you?”
“I want to duel with you.” The teenager’s voice was icy cold, his belt holding the ridiculous sword, and his hand holding a black cloth for covering his face.
“Hah! Are you drunk? Mad? Or do you want to die?”
Tie Hanfeng thought his disciple was joking, but his killer’s instinct soon told him that this teenager was serious.
Gu Shenwei wanted to duel with his Master. Actually, he had the opportunity to take action when his Master was sleeping and that would have been even more in line with the killer’s rules. Although Tie Hanfeng had the ability to defend himself even while he was dreaming, he would still be weaker than when he was completely awake. And Gu Shenwei was also not that disciple a few months ago.
It was a ritual and a symbol. He wanted to kill his Master face to face, and pay his gratitude and avenge his grievance once and for all. This was also a test of the Death Sutra Swordsmanship. If he wasn’t capable of killing Tie Hanfeng, it meant that he wasn’t able to avenge the extermination of his family and if that was the case he would rather die under his Master’s sabre.
“My name is not Yang Huan or Servant Huan. I’m surnamed Gu and my birth name is Gu Shenwei. If you still remember, the woman you raped was my older sister.”
Tie Hanfeng’s face twitched several times. He seemed to simultaneously want to frown and mock. “Gu Shenwei? You’re dead. I saw the head myself.”
“That was fake. The heads brought back by the eighth young lord were all fake. He deceived the Unique King, and all of you as well.”
The fog that had enveloped the truth finally disappeared. Tie Hanfeng saw the truth and his heart hardened immediately, “Hey, kid, you’ve got a lot of nerve. But you’re still too stupid since you gave up the best time to assassinate me. And you want to duel me, like those stupid sabremen.”
Gu Shenwei spread the black cloth. He didn’t wear it, but instead used it to cover his eyes and tied a knot at the back of his head, saying, “There’s always an exception.” He drew his sword and dropped the scabbard on the ground.
Tie Hanfeng limped back into the room and took a narrow sabre from under the deck chair and returned to the yard, ready to kill his disciple in a single attack. As he walked back, he was not thinking about the moves he was going to use, but rather about how to deal with the cleanup afterwards.
He didn’t intend to reveal his disciple’s identity. Because not only would that cause trouble for the eighth young lord Shangguan Nu, it would also get him involved in the Shangguan family’s maelstrom of right and wrong. He was going to retire and spend his remaining days comfortably. There was no need to talk about it.
Kill the disciple and be done with it.
He gripped his sabre and looked at the teenager who stood ten steps away. He was holding a sword while blindfolded. The disciple must have been blinded by the hatred to stupidly show off in this way. What use was it? A killer is like a craftsman, skilled and disciplined. Being careful was enough, and grandstanding play was all lying foolery.
But he wasn’t able to attack.
That teenager was not emitting even a trace of killing aura.
Killing aura wasn’t unchangeable. It would subtly change between being weak and strong as one’s breath, internal Qi, and killing will changed. An expert could sense that change and use it to discover the enemy’s flaws. This kind of kung fu could not be explained or taught. One could only enlighten himself on it.
But the teenager didn’t emit the slightest killing aura, so Tie Hanfeng couldn’t feel any openings.
Some experts could hide their killing aura and only release it at the last moment before they attacked, but was his disciple such an expert? Tie Hanfeng doubted it, but his doubts gradually turned into belief. In only a few days’ time, something had changed greatly in that teenager. He should have seen it earlier, but that successful robbery had blinded him.
Gu Shenwei stood in the darkness, like he was in the underground secret chamber of the desert.
This would be the first time he killed someone with a sword. He had learnt one truth from the abstract and mysterious characters of the Death Sutra: Killing could not be rehearsed, and the sabresmanship for killing couldn’t be practised. He had to abandon all of his doubts and completely trust in the swordsmanship.
The swordsmanship was not only martial arts, but also a faith. One could not comprehend it if one didn’t believe in it.
He was surer than ever that he was right in his dispute with Lotus. Only by ‘killing oneself’ could one give everything to the sword at hand and let it lead the way to find the ‘living Qi’.
‘Qi’ flowed like whirling clouds. It was invisible and one could only feel it, but it would form an ever-changing picture in the end.
Gu Shenwei ‘saw’ it.
He saw a cloud of Qi rushing toward him and also saw the weakest part of that cloud of Qi. The sword in his hand automatically stabbed out and pulled back. It was so natural, so simple.
Gu Shenwei tore off the black cloth and saw Tie Hanfeng’s narrow sabre pressing against his neck. It had cut less than half an inch into the skin.
With his eyes wide open, Tie Hanfeng couldn’t believe what had happened. One of his greatest wishes was not to die under the sabre, but now he was going to die under the sword.
He let go of his sabre and turned to walk back into the room, heavy-footed. His limping posture appeared even odder and funnier than usual.
The narrow sabre fell from Gu Shenwei’s neck. He wiped the blood on his neck off with the black cloth. His swordsmanship wasn’t perfect and hadn’t killed the enemy in a single blow.
Gu Shenwei put away his sword and picked up the sabre on the ground. He entered the room and saw his Master lying on the deck chair, his mouth feebly open and his dimly staring at the roof. “Fuck, it’s all gone to waste.”
These were Tie Hanfeng’s last words.
Gu Shenwei knelt before the chair on one leg and looked closely at the face changing from red to white. Tie Hanfeng seemed to have become another person, a person that he didn’t know, a person he didn’t have any sympathy for, or perhaps a person that a prostitute called Zi Ling Long remembered.
Tie Hanfeng’s mortal wound was in the neck. It hardly bled. Except for the attacker, it would be hard for others to find it if they did not check it carefully.
Gu Shenwei pressed his narrow sabre against his Master’s neck and cut down at the sword wound. No one would ever know that Tie Hanfeng had died under the sword.
The red blood stained the deck and dripped onto the ground. Gu Shenwei untied his Master’s red belt and walked out of the room with the belt in one hand and head in the other.
The belt was tacked on the door frame with a dagger, showing that one disciple had graduated. Three days before the twins’ birthday, Servant Huan became the first official killer amongst the Jia Chen disciples.
Servant Huan’s action of killing his Master puzzled everyone.
When he saw the head brought in by the teenager, the overseer of the Furnace Yard (Lian Huo Yuan) was so surprised he became speechless. He was stupefied for a long while before he followed the rules and led the new killer to re-register at the White Clothes Yard. The teenager received a brand new red belt and a name tag with the character ‘jue’ (unique). From now on he would be called Yang Huan instead of Servant Huan, but the brand on his arm was impossible to remove.
The most puzzled ones were the brown-belted killers. Yang Huan would definitely become an official killer in three days, so why did he kill his Master in advance? Compared to the other Masters, Tie Hanfeng could be considered as a good guy. Killing him would not only not be unbeneficial, but he would also lose an important backer.
The action of killing the Master happened almost every year at Golden Roc Castle, but nothing like this had ever happened before. There seemed to be no purpose for Yang Huan to do so.
Yang Huan didn’t open his mouth, as people would find a purpose for him. New rumors spread that evening, saying that Tie Hanfeng had just had a windfall and his disciple got envious. But once he became an official killer, killing the Master would be infighting between killers, which was strictly prohibited. So Yang Huan’s behavior came to have a reasonable explanation.
Tie Hanfeng’s death didn’t arouse any more repercussions. In order to settle down safely and comfortably at Northern Jade City, he had cut off almost all of his ‘connections’ and didn’t owe or have anyone owe him. So, there was no one to avenge his death.
The only person Gu Shenwei explained his behavior to was Lotus, saying that it was “for practising the swordsmanship. The stronger the enemy, the harder to kill, the better the training effect.”
Lotus discovered the strange change in her partner, “Your swordsmanship is becoming more and more powerful. Will you kill me one day? I’m not strong enough, maybe …I am ‘hard enough for you to kill’.”
Gu Shenwei couldn’t reveal his most important secret, but he could tell Lotus some of the truths he had learnt. “Don’t you get it? By practising this set of swordsmanship, we’ll kill ourselves sooner or later.”
The was the truth of the Death Sutra, and might also be the reason why the disciples of Great Desolate Sect had never heard of it and the people of Golden Roc Castle only knew the first few words of it. This swordsmanship might not have been valued at the beginning, as who would be willing to practise a set of swordsmanship that would kill them sooner or later?
Only the ones who had a blood feud and didn’t care about their own lives or death would.
Besides, the Desolate Finger Energy in Gu Shenwei’s body hadn’t actually disappeared. He had used the Balanced Power to fuse the internal energy and thought that all the hidden danger was removed, but he soon found that the hot Qi at his Xuanji and Baihui acupoints had been just temporarily suppressed, and had restored to its original state a few days later.
The ones who had instilled the finger energy in his body had all died. No one in this world could remove the Desolate Finger Energy from his body, and nor could he expect the remaining disciples of the Great Desolate Sect to teach him the unique internal energy.
Lotus was a bit surprised, but she understood soon and revealed a smile. This was the first time Gu Shenwei had seen her smile, and it was as innocent as a child’s. “It’s better than being killed by others.”
Gu Shenwei told Lotus all the truths he had learnt from the Death Sutra. Lotus couldn’t accept all of them because the two had disputed from the beginning, but it did help remove some of her doubts.
What she needed now was a perfect killing. She had to recover her murderous heart through killing and feel the subtleties of the Death Sutra Swordsmanship once again.
This chance would come soon. In fact, much sooner than either of them expected.