Chapter 144 Eavesdropping
Gu Shenwei scolded himself severely.
He lost his family over two years ago. With the goal of killing the entire family of the Unique King, he had sneaked inside Golden Roc Castle, but he hadn’t killed any real lords yet.
Forgetfulness had quietly and inexorably taken effect. Gu Shenwei found that he had unconsciously gotten used to the killer’s lifestyle, kneeling down to his lord, thinking for his lord and naturally putting the castle’s interests first. Just as Tie Hanfeng had once said, “It is not a burden once you get used to it.” But the teenager needed this burden, as it was the reason why he had persisted so far.
He couldn’t wait any longer. Both the Desolate Finger Energy and the Death Sutra were like talismans hastening his death, leaving him less and less time.
The extermination of the Gu family was suspicious from a killer’s point of view.
First, there was Golden Roc Castle. Gu Shenwei had stayed in the castle for over two years now, but the number of assassinations he had witnessed was minimal. Most of them took place in Jade City and were carried out to maintain the castle’s safety and stability. Golden Roc Castle was just too famous and its killers’ habits were too well known. Assassination was just a means and could almost never be used to conceal its real purpose.
Golden Roc Castle was transforming from a killer’s organization to the local tyrant. In the battle when Waning Moon Hall was encircled, the group Shangguan Nu had led was more like an army than a squad of killers.
Gu Shenwei couldn’t find any reasons for Golden Roc Castle to slaughter the Gu family. To the outsiders, this was a trivial matter, but Gu Shenwei had read many manuscripts and was very clear that although it might have been an average assassination for Golden Roc Castle if it happened decades ago, it was absolutely unusual for the Golden Roc Castle of today.
Second, it was the Gu family itself. The more he thought about it, the more Gu Shenwei felt that it was unreasonable for his father Gu Lun to move thousands of miles away from the Central Plains to the Western Regions. It was equivalent to cutting off the Gu family’s many connections and putting the whole family into a dangerous situation.
And yet the facts also showed that after the slaughter of the Gu family, there was only the one Marshal Yang who stood out to defend them against injustice.
There was only one way to answer all these questions. It was to check the relevant documents of two years ago, which would have the records the killers involved in that mission and also might indicate the reasons for it.
The past years of materials of the current Unique King were all kept in the documentation chamber at the White Clothes Yard. The current Suzerain of the documentation chamber was Guo Xiansheng, who would never help Gu Shenwei.
Gu Shenwei thought of several plans, which were all about bribing the house-serfs of the documentation chamber to secretly bring him a copy of the material. In the end, he abandoned all of these plans because the desired document was so specific that anyone would be suspicious. He could also specify the documents of a particular month, but a theft without any specific motives would also arouse suspicion.
He decided to take a risk and do it himself.
Gu Shenwei once worked as a house-serf in the library chamber of the White Clothes Yard so he knew the internal layout of the White Clothes Yard and also knew the location of the documentation chamber.
On the same evening he killed his Master, Gu Shenwei visited the White Clothes Yard. His passion for revenge rose again, and he couldn’t wait even a single day longer.
Even long before his internal energy improved, he was able to avoid the nightwatchers of the castle, not to mention now. The guardsmen of the White Clothes Yard were stricter than other places, so Gu Shenwei spent the first half of the night pressing his ear against the wall and listening, roughly learning the night watchers’ routines before he climbed over the wall.
Of the row of rooms in the east wing that was the White Clothes Yard, the documentation chamber was easily the most important. But its own defenses were not that tight. The door was locked, and the windows only had a simple bar of wood keeping it closed, which Gu Shenwei was able to pry open with his dagger.
Prying a window open was simple but dangerous, so Gu Shenwei waited for the cover of the third night watch period’s bell ringing. It only took him a blink of an eye for him to produce a dagger, break the window and jump into the room. No one would discover the thief unless he had been staring at the window all the time.
What Gu Shenwei had entered was the warehouse of the documentation chamber, and the materials he wanted to find were the documents recorded in June of the Gui Mao Year.1
The organization of the manuscripts was similar to that of the library chamber, which saved Gu Shenwei a lot of trouble. He held a small candle in one hand and three layers of black clothes in the other to prevent any light from spilling out. He soon found some documents with the characters Gui Mao on the fourth shelf.
All the documents were sorted by date. Gu Shenwei put the candle on the shelf and turned the pages quickly. He had just turned the pages to the May of that year when he heard some footsteps coming from outside the door.
He blew out the candle at once and squatted on the ground.
Two house-serfs came into the room with a lantern, yawning and moaning as they entered.
“He’s pushing us too hard.”
“This is the fifth day.”
“It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.”
“Who said it wasn’t?”
“Shh, come on. If we can’t find it tonight, Guo Xiansheng will scold us again.”
The characters ‘Guo Xiansheng’ aroused Gu Shenwei’s interests. He was the Suzerain of the documentation chamber. Anything he was looking for must be very important.
One house-serf sniffed, “Can you smell wax?”
“Your nose must be stuffed, get back to work.”
The two put out their lantern and lit the lamp on the table near the door. They then took out a large box from the corner together, pulled out piles of pamphlets and papers, carefully reading through them one by one.
It was quiet in the chamber except for the rustling of the pages.
Gu Shenwei squatted between the bookshelves and didn’t dare to breathe heavily. He wasn’t afraid of being discovered by these two house-serfs, but he was worried that if they stayed too long he wouldn’t be able to escape until after daybreak.
His worries were justified. The two house-serfs were not finished even at the bell ringing of the fourth night watch period. Gu Shenwei started to consider hiding in the room for a whole day, and somehow explaining his ‘disappearance’ to the others after he got out.
“Found it!” One house-serf cried out excitedly. Gu Shenwei was almost as happy as he was.
“Let me see.”
“Yes, yes. The date and the content are all right.”
“Great, I’ll read, and you copy.”
A house-serf began to read intermittently, “April of Wu Zi Year … rest at Transforming Kun Yard … Guo Chun, done.”
Gu Shenwei was very puzzled that they spent several days just to find such a piece of paper with a few words. He only knew that Guo Chun was Guo Xiansheng and knew nothing about the other words.
The two house-serfs cleaned up everything on the table in a hurry, put the box back where it was, and left with the lantern.
It was almost dawn now, and Gu Shenwei didn’t have time to dwell on it. He quickly produced his ignitor and lit his candle to continue reading the document of June, Gui Mao Year.
Nothing. There was nothing in any of the documents about the mission to slaughter the Gu family.
Gu Shenwei went over it again. He even looked through the documents of May and July, but still didn’t find any clues.
He was running out of time, so he had no choice but to blow out the candle and retreat from the White Clothes Yard the same way he came.
Gu Shenwei suffered from setbacks soon after his desire for revenge was just rekindled.
There should have been a document to record the slaughtering of the Gu family no matter how big or small the mission was. And there should also be several copies of it, because the ones responsible for it should have submitted a report to the Unique King seven or eight times starting from their preparation for the mission all the way to its completion. Gu Shenwei didn’t know why there was no record of the Gu family in the old files.
He decided to visit teacher Zhang Ji and ask him about it in a roundabout way. But before he could leave the house, Miss Luo Ningcha sent someone to call him.
Gu Shenwei almost couldn’t bear how annoying the Miss was now. Because Big Head God wasn’t easily taken advantage of, he had lost his interest in the Miss. Luo Ningcha, however, still took him as her confidant and sought his advice on almost everything.
What Gu Shenwei needed to guard against was that if he was too close to the eighth young mistress, it might make Madam Meng’s loathe him, which would directly affect his relationship with Shangguan Ru and further affect his status at the castle.
He had to try his best to approach his enemy, the closer the better.
The first thing Luo Ningcha said when she met her ‘loyal servant’ was, “I heard you killed your Master. You’re really ruthless, but when will you kill someone for me?”
“As long as Miss gives the word,” said Gu Shenwei even all the while thinking, ‘I wouldn’t kill for this woman. She would mess everything up and make everything public without being asked.’
“Hey, you lied pretty comfortably. There aren’t many people willing to lie to me these days.”
The Miss’s words were full of bitterness. Gu Shenwei knew that the best way to deal with this was to not open his mouth.
Sure enough, as soon as Luo Ningcha started talking, she became happy again, “The trick you taught me was not bad.”
“Hmm.” Gu Shenwei couldn’t remember what he had taught the Miss.
“Madam Meng scolded the Yang in front of everyone, saying that they didn’t know the rules, talked nonsense, and dressed badly. She also said that they had lost face for the Shangguan family and that they couldn’t do anything and that even the son was a loser. Haha, Madam Meng thought that this would make me embarrassed, but I’m actually dying of laughing.”
Gu Shenwei then remembered that he had advised the Miss to sow discord between Shangguan Hongye’s mother Mrs. Yang and Madam Meng. He didn’t expect for the Miss to faithfully carry out the plan, and responded, “Mrs. Yang must have committed herself desperately to Miss now.”
“Perhaps. She secretly came to wail to me, and I tried to talk her out of it. Who knows if the two women are using the Battered-Body Trick or not.”
Gu Shenwei’s heart flipped a bit. Unexpectedly the Miss was not too stupid and could think of this.
“Well, the Yang has joined my side. Tell me, who should I buy over next?”
How could Gu Shenwei know? He knew nothing about the people around Madam Meng. He chose the Yang solely because of the son Shangguan Hongye. “Uhh, there are always several people competing for favour around the high-ranking person, and there may be someone amongst them who deserves to be bought over.”
The Miss gave a long, thoughtful sound Mmm, and then burst out laughing again after a while. She was still thinking about the little victory she had just won, exclaiming, “The Yang is really a stupid woman. You know what she said to me? She said that she would avenge herself sooner or later and she said that she could make Madam Meng grieve to the extent of wishing to die. She wanted me to speak ill of Madam Meng, so that she can take credit for it. I won’t be fooled.”
Gu Shenwei felt that he was almost about to heartily praise Miss, but he changed his mind when he left the eighth young lord’s courtyard.
There were many people around Madam Meng fighting for favour, and Luo Ningcha could decide who was the next target in a short amount of time. So she let Servant Huan leave and asked him to come the next day.
Gu Shenwei didn’t remind the Miss that tomorrow would be the twins’ birthday and the sabre-awarding ceremony, and that he couldn’t leave to see her.
On his way to the school, Gu Shenwei recalled his meeting with Shangguan Hongye and his mother and somehow couldn’t imagine the furious Yang and sly Yang as the same person. The Miss was a bit cold in her meeting with the Yang, and if it was him, he would tempt the Yang to tell him everything before deciding whether she was bluffing or really holding some evidence in her hand.
At the school gate, his thoughts turned to those few words he had overheard last night. He calculated the year secretly and found that the Wu Zi year was about sixteen or seventeen years ago. Why would Guo Xiansheng investigate something that happened so many years ago? Gu Shenwei was determined to find out.
- Translator’s note: Similar to the Jia Chen or Yi Si disciples mentioned previously, Gui Mao is also a stem/branch of the 60-year cycle based on the Chinese lunar calendar. It represents years like 1903, 1963, and 2023, etc. ↩