Editors: Costard (J3000), Nyxnox
Chapter 150 Covenant
Gu Shenwei drew his sabre from his sheath and threw the sword and sabre scabbards onto the ground, his eyes frightfully cold as if the one lying on the bed was only a target with a human shape.
Xu Yanwei felt a chill run through her, but what kind of guest hadn’t she met? Her response was to curl herself up like a baby and say in a half-frightened and half-begging tone, “Please, do it softly.”
Gu Shenwei walked to the bed and used his sabre tip to pick up the quilt and cover Xu Yanwei. He could control the Tavernkeeper Lü by blood and buy over Xu Xiaoyi with silver, but he just didn’t know how to deal with this two-faced woman properly. Sometimes he even wanted to kill her.
What kept Gu Shenwei from killing her was Big Belly Buddha. He felt disgusted everytime he thought of what that ugly fat man had done to his daughter. In his eyes, this woman was sometimes even dirtier than the beggars who crawled in the gutter, but it was the dirt that stimulated the last bit of sympathy that remained in him.
Gu Shenwei couldn’t understand his own feelings and also didn’t want to dig into it. He only knew one thing, which was that if he couldn’t make her obey him loyally, he must kill her.
That was the extent of his sympathy.
Xu Yanwei finally understood the teenager’s eyes. It wasn’t the cruelty, trauma, or desire she had often seen in her guests, but the iron-like will of the murderers.
“You will have enough money to escape from Jade City in the future.”
Glancing at the sabre in the teenager’s hand, Xu Yanwei didn’t know why but she suddenly became shy, unconsciously pulled the quilt up and nodded.
“But you must pay back the ‘lives’ you owe me.”
Xu Yanwei knew that Gu Shenwei had saved her and her brother twice, but there was no such things as ‘owing someone’ in her world. There was only domination and obedience, so she nodded again.
“You will spend three years working for me, and then you and your brother will be free.”
This was a covenant from a killer. Xu Yanwei nodded again. As a woman who was good at acting, she sometimes couldn’t even tell which of her faces was real. She played a new role this time: a businesswoman who was unsure of the value of her goods.
She liked this role. She had always been passed around like a wine pot and never had a chance to make a deal.
“Speak,” Gu Shenwei ordered, a bit dissatisfied with the way she only nodded.
“For three years, Xiaoyi and I will work for you, any kind of work.” She emphasized the last few words.
Some food and wine remained on the table in the bedroom. Gu Shenwei poured out a glass of wine and refilled it. Then he drew blood from his left wrist with his sabre, dripped some into the cup, and turned to look at the woman on the bed.
Xu Yanwei dressed as quickly as she undressed. She had started putting on her clothes when she sat up and was fully dressed when she got out of bed. Even a killer who had suddenly met a strong enemy couldn’t do any better than her.
“Give me your hand.”
“I’ll do it myself.”
Xu Yanwei was full of excitement and fascinated by the strange, and purely masculine contract. Now fully engaged, she picked up the sword on the carpet and pulled it out with all her might, but was startled by the flashing bluish light. Then she walked to the table while holding it with her hands like a sacred item.
With a gentle stroke, the blood vein seemed to be pressed against and blood immediately sprouted from the slippery skin like a small flower that had suddenly blossomed and bloomed, and then began to drip down the slender wrist.
Xu Yanwei felt her head grow dizzy and seemed about to fall. She threw away the sword, grabbed onto the table, and stared as the two’s blood fused in the cup. With a happy smile, she held up the glass, took a swig, and even licked the bloodstain on her wrist.
Gu Shenwei in turn took the wine cup and drank the other half.
His judgement was right. The seemingly weak Xu Yanwei had a strong heart, one that was much stronger than most men.
Xu Yanwei called her brother up to listen to their new lord’s order.
Xu Xiaoyi locked the door and window before he reluctantly left the silver and went upstairs.
He was surprised by Lord Huan’s expression. He knew how those guests looked after they were satisfied, but there was never an expression of callous coldness. And his elder sister was also not behaving like usual. Her eyes shone as if she was keeping a great secret in her heart which she wanted to hide but also wanted to shout out.
Gu Shenwei again repeated the agreement of three years of work before making specific requests. He didn’t need to play blood oath with Xu Xiaoyi and it wasn’t a casual choice from him to buy over the siblings.
“Collect all the information about the castle for me, any information. I want to know all of it like who drinks what, whose little toes are half as short as others. Tell me all of it no matter how trivial or how bizarre it is.”
The siblings of the Xu family had grown up in Southern Jade City and knew this ‘muddy’ city so well that no one was better suited to spying for information than them.
Although the two were bewildered after listening to what Lord Huan had said, they soon thought of some reasons to explain his commands.
“Ahh, I got it. The castle wants to catch spies, so they want to find out what everyone says. Whoever speaks ill of the castle will be cut …Humph.” Xu Xiaoyi made a killing gesture.
“You want to improve your status, so you want to know the interests of the ones in charge so that you can flatter them.” Xu Yanwei’s guess was closer to the truth.
“Pretty much. But I don’t want you to ask about it. Just shut your mouth and just listen with your ears. You, let the guests speak more. And you, go to the streets, taverns, and gamble houses to listen to the others’ discussions. In return, you two don’t have to pay the monthly fee.”
The siblings nodded solemnly. Xu Yanwei could earn over a thousand taels of silver a month, and even more if she worked harder. Compared to this money, the task assigned by Lord Huan was very easy.
Now that he had money and spies, Gu Shenwei also needed to have his ‘hideouts’. The next morning, he led Xu Xiaoyi to Northern Jade City and visited the patrol commandant Zhong Heng. The two had already met several times before.
Zhong Heng had a deep impression of this teenager. He behaved courteously by coming out to greet him personally and regarded him as an important figure.
The patrol commandant had naturally heard that Servant Huan had killed his Master, but he didn’t mention it. He just congratulated the teenager on his promotion to an official killer.
Zhong Heng sent someone to relevant government offices to inquire about the house Tie Hanfeng had bought in Northern Jade City and soon got the confirmation. He enthusiastically arranged everything for Yang Huan. That afternoon, Gu Shenwei received the deed and went to stand in the house his Master had ‘left’.
The name on the deed was Xu Yi, which was Xu Xiaoyi’s formal name. But he could only lick his tongue. He knew very well who the real owner of the house was.
The house wasn’t big, as it only had one row of rooms. But the location was very good. It was close to the checkpoint to Southern Jade City. Tie Hanfeng had planned to visit the southwall tavern frequently after his retirement.
Gu Shenwei invited Zhong Heng to Southern Jade City to have a drink. On that night, Zhong Heng and his two subordinates went to Xu Yanwei’s house to drink till they were all blue. Zhong Heng stayed overnight and left early the next morning with a banknote worth five thousand taels. The banknote was drawn from Tavernkeeper Lü by Gu Shenwei and was redeemable at any bank or underground bank in the whole Jade City.
Gu Shenwei had worked for himself for over two days now. He was not in a hurry, but Liu Waizui on the other side, was feeling very anxious. Liu Waizui stammered to remind the young boss that although everything else was ready, the most important aspect of recruiting sabremen hadn’t started yet.
Gu Shenwei wasn’t anxious at all. He took another day off to rest before he finally led Liu Waizui to Rouge Forest on the seventh day.
The Rouge Forest was fire red in autumn, which was how it had received its name. Although it looked quite bleak in winter now, it was still a very popular place to visit.
The Rouge Forest was located in a valley on the east side of the city close to a great river. From here, one could see the towering pinnacle of the mountain but couldn’t see the castle at the peak.
This was the gathering place of the jobless sabremen. To hire someone, one just needed to bring enough silver and raise one’s arm while calling out loudly. Of course, if one wanted a good sabreman, one also had to ‘bring’ sharp eyes.
It was in the Rouge Forest that Gu Shenwei had heard the title of Qiu Society for the first time. 1
There was a ‘Sabre God Convention’ going on in the forest and the organizer was exactly the Qiu Society which had shot to fame recently.
The Qiu Society was an organization found by a group of scions of the rich and nobles in Northern Jade City. The name, Qiu Society, also implied that most of the members of the organization were royal descendants.
The most important feature of the Qiu Society was that it had lots of money. Soon after it was founded, it announced that a Sabre God Convention would be held to draft sabremen at Jade City. The one ranked in first place would be awarded 10,000 taels of silver and hired as the Qiu Society’s guardian with a well-paid salary. Others who were also excellent in sabresmanship would also be awarded and had chances to join the Qiu Society.
Ten thousands taels of silver. Many sabremen might not be able to earn so much money even in their prime for over a decade. So although the red leaves of the Rouge Forest were almost all gone, it was more popular than ever.
There were many vacant lots in the woodland, which were connected by footpaths that had now become battlegrounds. They were surrounded by layers of people, some of whom didn’t even know kung fu and had come just for fun.
Gu Shenwei surprisedly hadn’t heard about such a big event in advance, he couldn’t help but become very disappointed with Liu Waizui.
Liu Waizui didn’t notice the young boss’s displeasure, and he instead gushed,”Heh, they’re really rich. The sabremen of the whole city are going crazy. That’s good. When the Qiu Society has finished selecting, we can pick some of the good ones they’ve missed.”
“Tenth Gongzi only needs the best sabremen.”
“Don’t be joking. They’re paying 10,000 taels as a reward for the best sabreman. The 20,000 taels we have in total could only afford two people if you do it that way.”
“Heh.” Gu Shenwei sneered but didn’t argue with Liu Waizui. This person knew nothing about sabresmanship and neither did the gongzis of the Qiu Society. The ones who won the kung fu competition might not always be the best sabremen.
Gu Shenwei also would not understand it if it were two years ago, but his experience at East Castle had taught him many truths. There were over six hundred disciples at the beginning, but the ones who learnt the best at Carving Wood Yard (Diao Mu Yuan) could seldom survive the slaughter. A kung fu competition and killing were totally different.
When Liu Waizui craned his neck to watch the fight in the competition field, while Gu Shenwei paid more attention to the sabremen scattered in the woods. They were not interested in the fighting, and the real good ones might hide amongst them.
Gu Shenwei went around and finally saw a sabreman. That man was over forty years old, his eyes small but bright. He looked a bit tired and seemed to be at the end of his prime. But Gu Shenwei noticed that several young sabremen had whispered to him before starting the kung fu competition.
Gu Shenwei pulled Liu Waizui out of the crowd and asked if he knew that sabreman.
“He’s Boss Tuo. He’s good, but you can’t hire him.”
“He used to be … a sabreman under … you know who, so he just lost his job.”
Gu Shenwei immediately knew that ‘you know who’ meant the big young lord Shangguan Chui.
- Translator’s note: Qiu is a kind of small dragon with antlers. ↩