Editors: Costard (J3000), Nyxnox
Chapter 151 Bloody Sabre
Unlike the killers of the castle, the sabremen were hired mercenaries and didn’t have to be unconditionally loyal to their lords. Killers would commit suicide after their lord’s death, but a lord’s sabremen could be discharged and find a new employer.
Tuo Nengya was a barbarian. He was skilled at wielding twin curved sabres, which was quite different from the sabresmanship of the Central Plains. He arrived at Jade City when he was in his twenties and had become famous through his skills as a sabreman. It was said that Golden Roc Castle had wanted to recruit him as an official killer but they had been turned down. He preferred the greater freedom of being a hired sabreman.
In the past few years, he had been working for Shangguan Chui as the leader of his sabremen, and had become known as Boss Tuo.
Gu Shenwei didn’t immediately make a decision after learning this information from Liu Waizui. He walked around again and listened to the many rumours about the Qiu Society.
As soon as Gu Shenwei heard that the Qiu Society was founded by the rich kids of Northern Jade City, he had thought of the Meng’s family fifth gongzi, who would have definitely joined this kind of group according to his personality. But there was little talk about the founders of the Qiu Society. No one seemed to know the key figures of this new organization, and even the Sabre God Convention was directly organized by several big shields of Southern Jade City. The Qiu Society had only provided the money.
Gu Shenwei went to Tuo Nengya without listening to Liu Waizui’s advice in the end.
As soon as he stopped in front of Tuo Nengya, Gu Shenwei felt several nearby gazes focus in on him. The surrounding sabremen, although they stood scattered and leaned against the trees as if they were strangers, immediately moved their hands to their hilts when someone approached their circle.
“I know you.” Tuo Nengya spoke first, his voice slow but powerful as if his words had a magic power and would immediately become reality after leaving his mouth.
“Killer Yang Huan, I heard that you helped push the fatal sabre into the big young lord.”
“You want revenge?”
Tuo Nengya slowly shook his head, replying, “If I could see the big young lord, I would like him to give me my payment for the last several months, and also my brothers’.” He waved his hand and pointed at the sabremen nearby.
“The debt is eliminated once the debtor is dead, but I’m wondering if you’d be interested in a new source of payment.”
Tuo Nengya was obviously interested. He originally leaned against the tree but after hearing the teenager’s words he now stood straight with his hands holding the two conspicuous curved sabres, carefully measuring up the teenager before him. “You use a sword?” he asked.
“The sword is a souvenir. I use a sabre,” said Gu Shenwei. The swordsmanship he knew was a secret between him and Lotus, and the two didn’t intend to let others know about it.
Tuo Nengya seemed to suddenly lose his interest. He released his curved sabres, folded his arms and pointed at the vacant area not far away with his chin, “Go over there. You’ll find plenty of people who are interested in any type of payment you can offer.”
“I want some real sabremen,” said Gu Shenwei.
“Real sabremen choose the people they work for, not just based on the gold that’s offered. No one wants to die because of their lord’s reckless commands,” replied Tuo Nengya.
“The new lord will always fight on the front lines.”
“Well, that depends. What about the new lord’s sabresmanship?”
Gu Shenwei glanced back at the kung fu competition field. The crowd was cheering, perhaps someone had won a tough fight, “You wanna try?”
Tuo Nengya puffed his chest up, before it slowly shrank back like a deflating bellow, ”Tonight, come back again after the second night watch period. Young people play during the day, the old fellows only play at night.”
The cheers were louder in the kung fu competition arena nearby when Gu Shenwei left. The Sabre God drafted by the Qiu Society would be determined in two or three days. All the winners today still had the chance to get that well-paid job.
Gu Shenwei asked Liu Waizui to return to the city. He himself stayed and ate at a stall outside the Rouge Forest, waiting for nightfall.
Liu Waizui was dissatisfied with this young boss. Even though he knew more about Southern Jade City than the teenager, Yang Huan seldom asked him for advice, leaving him little chance to make any contributions. Fortunately, Tenth Gongzi would personally come down the mountain soon, it was better to try and please that tomboy than to please this so-called Hall Leader.
The Sabre God Convention concluded at sunset, and the crowds dispersed with that. Of the thousands of sabremen, over half left as well, with only a hundred or so still lingering in the woods.
It was almost the second night watch period and a campfire had been kindled in the vacant heart of the Rouge Forest; everyone approached and gathered around it to keep warm.
An old man in his fifties went into the field barehanded, and the people around softly applauded. “Is there anyone here who wants to be the Sabre God? “
The audience roared with laughter and disdained the so-called ‘Sabre God’. “I want to be the ‘Bloody Sabre God’, but I’m afraid I don’t have any chance to.” Someone in the crowd shouted and the laughter grew louder.
Tuo Nengya squeezed up to the teenager’s side and said, “The Bloody Sabre Convention is where the real fighting takes place. As long as there’s no wind or rain, it has taken place every night, for almost as long as Jade City has existed.”
“I’ve never heard of it before.” Gu Shenwei thought it sounded interesting. Tie Hanfeng had introduced him to the Rouge Forest before, but he had never mentioned this Bloody Sabre Convention. But this was because Tie Hanfeng had never come here to pick a sabreman. He’d only ever choose them from amongst his acquaintances.
“This is the sabremen’s game and so the employers rarely participate.”
Gu Shenwei got his message and gripped the hilt of his sabre and asked, “Why don’t you guys attend the Sabre God Convention?”
“As I said, real sabremen also choose their employer. We don’t know who the commander of the Qiu Society is, so we don’t want to die for 10,000 taels of silver.”
Gu Shenwei already had the state of mind of a Golden Roc killer and didn’t quite understand the intentions of these sabremen. In his view, working for 10,000 taels of silver was more valuable than a group of people competing secretly at night.
At that moment, two sabremen walked onto the field.
“Each of them puts down a hundred taels of silver. The loser gets nothing back, the winner takes one hundred and eighty taels of silver away, and the organizing Sabre Head takes the remaining ten percent of the pot.” Tuo Nengya explained.
Gu Shenwei produced a small ingot of gold and gave it to Tuo Nengya. Tuo Nengya passed it on to a sabreman nearby, and that sabreman then passed it on to another person. Gu Shenwei didn’t know who took the money and who was the Sabre Head till the end.
One person died and two people were injured after three rounds. Gu Shenwei thought that one of the sabremen was quite good. Although the others were all better than the sabremen that had competed during the day, they were also mediocre. The point was that Gu Shenwei didn’t think they could prove anything through a kung fu competition. The sabremen he wanted were those who could kill for him, not someone who liked to show off.
“Next pair!” The old man on the field shouted. “It’s your turn,” Tuo Nengya said to the teenager in a low voice.
Gu Shenwei walked onto the field. He was one of the few young men and since he was surrounded by mostly middle-aged people, it caused a burst of laughter. “Who’s the lucky guy?” Someone jeered.
The ‘lucky guy’ was a tall, strong sabreman. With a thick beard, he looked like a small-scale Big Head God. He carried an oversized, custom-made machete with both hands. The machete had a thick, heavy spine, which drove a deep groove as it was dragged on the ground.
Someone was shouting the sabreman’s name, but Gu Shenwei didn’t hear it clearly and didn’t care. He just drew his sabre and waited for the other side to approach.
The big man with a thick curly beard roared and swung his sabre at his puny opponent, who he only viewed as a pot of silver fallen from the sky.
Gu Shenwei had learnt several sets of sabresmanship, but he always followed the Golden Roc killer’s commandment of attacking with all his might and an intent to kill no matter how weak the enemy appeared to be.
The large machete cut down close to the teenager’s shoulder. For a moment it looked as if it had struck the enemy, but then it fell heavily to the ground. The large man with the curly beard lost his balance and stumbled forward a few steps before falling directly into the fire and almost putting it out. His hair and beard soon started to burn.
Several people rushed up and pulled the big man out. But it was useless, the big guy hadn’t even uttered a sound as his body had burned. He was dead long before he fell.
Very few people had clearly seen the teenager’s sabresmanship. It was like a monster had come out at night and killed with witchcraft instead of a sabre.
The bonfire was rekindled, but no one made a sound until the old man piled the hundred and eighty taels of silver up in the teenager’s arms and proclaimed ‘next pair’.
Gu Shenwei suddenly became the focus of attention, and everyone was asking where this mysterious teenager had come from.
The following fights became a true show of sabresmanship. The competitors did everything they could to impress the young employer and in almost every round a sabreman would fall and never get up.
The Bloody Sabre Convention ended at the third night watch period. Afterwards, Tuo Nengya asked the teenager to stay. Now it was Gu Shenwei’s turn to make a request, “I didn’t see you on the field.”
“We can go out and kill, but that’s not our strong suit, and it’s also not the reason why you want to hire us,” Tuo Nengya said, speaking for the over-twenty people behind him.
“Mmm, I’m not hired alone. There are twenty-three of us, hire us all or none of us.”
Gu Shenwei didn’t know whether the other sabremen were the same. How could they make such a strong offer to a prospective employer before reaching an agreement?
“What’s your strength?”
Tuo Nengya drew out one of his curved sabres and ordered loudly like a general, his voice not slow at all now, “Fall in, move forward, turn left, defend, attack …”
Gu Shenwei didn’t know much about battle formations since his father was a palace guard who wasn’t familiar with it and didn’t teach it to him. But he had been very curious about it when he was little, and he once entered the military drill ground with his good friends to watch the drill, so he could differentiate between a good and bad drill. Tuo Nengya’s men looked to be in good order and also had some momentum, but there were too few of them and it seemed like they wouldn’t be able to help much.
“I don’t understand …” He said.
“We’re not good at fighting alone, but ten of us can fight twenty people together, and twenty of us can fight against fifty men. Let me pick up some more sabremen to make fifty men, and then we will be invincible in Southern Jade City. No one will be our match except for Golden Roc Castle.”
This was a completely different style from the normal killer, so Gu Shenwei still had some doubts about it. “The big young lord hired you because of the sabre formation?” he asked.
Tuo Nengya’s expression changed as if the teenager had asked a very rude question, but it returned to normal in a moment. “No, he was not interested in a sabre formation. I owed him a favour.”
This was actually what Gu Shenwei was worried about, but also what he wanted to take advantage of. A group of sabremen who were dissatisfied with Golden Roc Castle were exactly the type of people he was looking for. The key was to control them without telling them the truth.
“How much do you want me to pay for you to forget this favour?” asked Gu Shenwei.
“He’s dead now, so the favour is gone. We’re sabremen, not righteous or chivalrous men.”
“Good.” Gu Shenwei extended his hand, deciding to hire these sabremen. They still had a lot of details to discuss, including the all important price.
Suddenly a voice interrupted their dealmaking, “Hey, does anybody want to make a fortune? Come to me, and you’ll get the money in advance before you work!”
The troublemakers had come. It was as if they had made an appointment, Meng Fifth Gongzi walked over with a group of footmen and sabremen while servants carried several heavy boxes over. When the lids of the boxes were lifted, silver ingots overflowed. It was as if spring had returned to the forest as the warm glow of the bonfire shimmered off of the silver piled high.