Chapter 173 Big Fire
The two gongzis of the Shangguan family had just grown up. One had even received the title of young lord, but the two’s situations were totally different. When the war between the Kun and Qiu Society was in full swing, the ninth young lord Shangguan Fei had almost been forgotten.
He had seized the least territory and recruited the fewest sabremen. The best aspect about him was that all eleven of his killers were still alive, whereas three killers of his little sister Shangguan Ru’s had died.
Thus, all parties agreed to have the negotiation on Shangguan Fei’s territory. Shangguan Ru believed in her brother, while Meng Mingshi also had a good opinion of the ninth young lord.
Each party would send one unarmed person to attend the negotiation, and the rest of the sabremen could only stand guard at either end of the alley. Shangguan Fei would send three killers to guarantee the safety of the negotiator.
Gu Shenwei should have thought of it earlier, but he had focused all of his attention on Ye Silang, only thinking about how to kill the swordsman and neglecting the most obvious fact. It was not until the reminder of the patrol commandant that he finally understood.
To guarantee a perfect assassination, Meng Mingshi had not only sent out his most powerful swordsman, but had also requested for Shangguan Fei’s three killers to look on with folded arms.
Shangguan Ru believed that the assassination would take place while Gu Shenwei was travelling to the negotiation because she trusted her brother, not thinking that he would dare to ‘betray’ her.
For the first time ever, Gu Shenwei carefully examined the relationship between the twins and found that they seemed to be in harmony but were actually clashing more and more recently. Their dissonance started a year ago, after the conclusion of the ‘stealing’ the Black Jade Palm game.
At that time, the four ‘great thieves’ had been trapped in a room by Guo Xiansheng, and in order to save Servant Huan and Yu Gongzi, Shangguan Ru had to pretend to put a sabre on her brother’s neck. Although she didn’t attack in the end, Shangguan Fei was still thoroughly frightened.
From then on, Shangguan Fei no longer followed his little sister and Yu Gongzi. Shangguan Ru wasn’t even aware of his new feelings and even felt happy about his disappearance.
No one could have imagined that since then, Shangguan Fei’s resentment had secretly grown to the point that now he was standing on the side of his sister’s enemy.
This was an intricate network and pulling at one thread could unravel the whole situation. Gu Shenwei was just a small bug glued to it, whose position happened to be in the way of several lords. And so his life and death had suddenly become the key to turning the whole situation around.
No matter how many people died, it was just a game for the Shangguan family. The Unique King used this game to train his own son and daughter, just like how he had used the slaughter amongst the disciples. But this time the frightened players would not be in danger, as the ones whose lives were being bet were all insignificant minions.
Gu Shenwei isolated himself for a while to ponder the rules of the game. The four names of Shangguan Fei, Shangguan Ru, Meng Mingshi and Shangguan Yushi and their relationships kept floating around in his mind.
Gu Shenwei heard some noises outside so he pushed open the door and walked out. He saw Tenth Gongzi standing in the middle of the yard and four servants standing nearby with lanterns. People kept running into the yard to report to her.
“It has started!” Shangguan Ru said excitedly to Servant Huan with her head held high. “Come, watch some fun with me.”
The servants with lanterns walked in the front, while Gu Shenwei walked beside Shangguan Ru with ten footmen surrounding them. Tenth Gongzi purposely didn’t ask for more servants, but unconsciously, people from the castle had come to Northern Jade City one by one. She would see them whenever she opened her eyes and had already got used to it.
The group stopped at a tall pavilion at the border of Northern Jade City. The servants were stationed downstairs while Shangguan Ru went upstairs with Servant Huan.
Many people had gathered upstairs. All the south-facing windows were open now, and someone kept complaining that it was too cold and asked the servants downstairs to bring thicker coats and hand warmers.
Shangguan Ru’s arrival had caused a small commotion. Her acquaintances went over to greet her, and the strangers begged others to introduce them. Gu Shenwei saw Shangguan Fei, who came over and whispered a few words to his sister. The two smiled at the same time and they seemed to be no different from an ordinary brother and sister. Meng Fifth Gongzi was also there, but he didn’t go over to greet Tenth Gongzi. With a cold face, he pretended to not have noticed her arrival.
This place was filled with nobles and scions of the rich while the rest were their close servants who carried lanterns and were intently watching their lords’ every move, ready to be called upon.
“There’s a movement, look!” someone called out. Everyone crowded to the window and looked at Southern Jade City on the other side of the river.
On the opposite side of the river was the base camp of the Qiu Society. A faint flash of fire could be seen from the surrounding streets and alleys. Suddenly, people started shouting louder and louder, and the noises became more and more complex, as the screaming was accompanied by the sounds of weapons collisions, curses, command, and strange screams.
The great counterattack of the Kun Society at the last moment took place under the nose of numerous esteemed gongzis.
“It sounds intense, but we can’t see anything,” someone complained.
“Wait till you see it,” Shangguan Ru replied coldly.
The first stage of the battle didn’t look good for the Kun Society. The base camp of the Qiu Society was quiet and all the fighting took place on the periphery, indicating that the attack was not as favourable as expected. No wonder Tenth Gongzi was unhappy.
Meng Fifth Gongzi gathered with several members of the Qiu Society, talking and laughing about romantic affairs. He deliberately talked in a loud voice as if he was indifferent to the life and death fight currently taking place in Southern Jade City.
A small group of people ran to the frozen river from the other side and shouted together with their heads raised, “The enemy has been defeated, we took advantage of the victory to chase them and have chopped off fourteen heads.”
The servant near Meng Fifth Gongzi stuck his head out of the window and waved the lantern to the people below, and the ones who had shouted quickly retreated.
The bystanders’ spirit lifted a bit. There was always someone who didn’t care about Tenth Gongzi’s feeling and loudly discussed with disappointment, “It shouldn’t be over just like this? It’s really not worth it to wait for so long.”
“You shouldn’t blame on the Qiu Society because we’ve been very cooperative. We still have half of the sabremen who haven’t even come out yet,” Meng Mingshi said with a tone of surprise and chagrin and many people laughed ‘cooperatively’.
Gu Shenwei was standing behind Shangguan Ru with a lantern. Seeing that she was not annoyed, Gu Shenwei guessed that the sabremen of the Qiu Society was about to fall into a trap.
And sure enough, in less than a quarter of an hour later, as the shouting below faded and people upstairs turned to social intercourse, someone suddenly pointed out the window, “Ehh, it’s on fire, look. Where is that?”
It was the headquarters of the Qiu Society. The fire had been premeditated and it was lit at over a dozen places at the same time. It was so fierce that the fires soon joined together into a whole and lit up the whole street as if it were day.
“Now everyone can see it clearly this time,” Shangguan Ru said languidly, in a tone that Gu Shenwei had never heard before.
The crowd was dumbfounded. As they watched, it became apparent that the fire had been cleverly designed. The Qiu Society was trapped on three sides and was left with only a narrow exit to escape. The cutters of the Kun Society had regrouped and arranged themselves in a tight battle formation, ready to slaughter the panic-stricken escaping sabremen of the Qiu Society.
The flash of light reflected off of rows of sabres and could clearly be seen from upstairs, not to mention the sight of the stiffly standing corpses, gushing blood, and flying heads.
Everyone was shocked out of their mind by this hellish scene, but was simultaneously too fascinated to look away. Someone even tried to pull out the window lattice, in fear of missing out on any details. More people could only mutter meaningless sounds, speechless to express their shock and excitement.
Shangguan Ru smilingly glimpsed at Meng Mingshi in the distance whose face had become pale. She was a scion of the Shangguan family and had gotten used to bloody scenes of death ever since she was little and thoroughly despised these fussy esteemed gongzis.
She turned to Servant Huan and whispered, “The old sabreman you hired is really worth it. This was his plan. By the way, Wild Horse is fine.”
Gu Shenwei bowed to show his admiration and didn’t reveal his doubts about Wild Horse. This was not a surprise to him, but the only thing that puzzled him was why Shangguan Yushi, as the organizer of the counterattack, hadn’t divulged the information to the Qiu Society. Judging from Meng Fifth Gongzi’s appearance, he seemed to have no idea about the attack tonight and was completely thrown off by the fire attack of the Kun Society.
Gu Shenwei didn’t watch the slaughter across the river, which had long become uninteresting for him. He had been observing the ninth young lord Shangguan Fei.
Shangguan Fei stood at a very subtle position between Meng Fifth Gongzi and Shangguan Ru. He stood a little bit closer to his younger sister and appeared to be very calm. He smiled at his little sister from time to time and also nodded to Meng Mingshi now and then.
Gu Shenwei could only see his sides from the back but could still feel that this ninth young lord was very different from a few months ago. At that time, he still needed Servant Huan’s help to thrust the narrow sabre into his big brother, but now he even appeared to be a bit bored in the face of a flamelitcarnage.
Gu Shenwei, therefore, became more sure that the ninth young lord had already joined the Qiu Society and that Ye Silang would definitely show up at the negotiation site.
The slaughter went on for a long time, until even the most curious person became bored. The fiasco of the Qiu Society was destined, and the base camp at Southern Jade City would become ruins before dawn and there would be not too many high-paying sabremen left.
Shangguan Ru waved goodbye to her elder brother before she went downstairs and left first. Her purpose had been achieved and there was no need to watch the doomed end.
As she walked on the wide and clean street of Northern Jade City, Shangguan Ru began to consider other matters. “Maybe there are no hidden traitors and the information of assassinating the Sabre God wasn’t revealed. The Qiu Society just viewed the Sabre God as bait and had been waiting for us to make a move.”
“Tenth Gongzi is right.” Gu Shenwei didn’t try to persuade Shangguan Ru. He didn’t have any evidence in his hand, and presumptuous speculation would only make him appear suspicious and jealous.
Shangguan Ru thought some more and seemed to think that there was still something that couldn’t be explained, but she wiped away all her worries and smiled in the end. “Whatever, it’s all over. I will teach the kid of the Meng family a lesson at the second negotiation. Humph, Qiu Society, let them go ‘beg’ around.” 1
“Please tell me what Tenth Gongzi wants for the second negotiation, so I can make the appropriate requests tomorrow.”
“Well, actually it’s simple. I want the negotiation place to be unchanged. You can decide the time, but don’t delay for too long. I will personally go to Southern Jade City and my elder brother will also be there by then. These are all that old sabreman’s idea. He said that I should also ask my elder brother to favour the Kun Society’s side so we can pressure the Qiu Society together and then divide the gains privately. I think it’s a good idea. The old sabreman has his own advantages of being experienced. Although he used to be my big brother’s man, he’s loyal to me.”
Shangguan Ru was in high spirits and talked a lot. She even began to look forward to the future of the Kun Society, saying, “Mother will not worry about my safety by the time eighth brother wipes out the bad women in the desert. By then, we can expand our power outwards. The world is so big, how many places have I already been to?”
Gu Shenwei occasionally commented to make Shangguan Ru even happier, but in his mind he was actually dwelling on the matter tomorrow and decided to not ask Shangguan Ru for help.
He found another way to rescue himself, just as he had climbed down the rope to the Liu Sha Temple. A little carelessness or a slight wind would make him fall into the bottomless abyss.
- Translator’s note: The character ‘Qiu’ of the Qiu Society has the same pronunciation as the character ‘beg’ in Chinese. ↩