Chapter 175 The Negotiation
The house that had burned down last night was still warm and the messy corpses on the streets hadn’t been cleared yet, but the Kun and Qiu Society were still going to hold their armistice talks. For the people in Northern Jade City, this was a logical move, but residents at Southern Jade City were heavy with anxiety and didn’t understand what these groups of sabremen were playing at.
The negotiation place was a small and fairly unknown gambling house. The owner was surnamed Sa, so it was called the Sa Family Guesthouse.Sabremen started to gather there since early morning, most of whom were vagrants with different purposes. Some of them had come to watch the fun, some wanted to seek opportunity in the chaos and find a job, and others didn’t believe that peace could be achieved easily and decided to fish in troubled waters.
People of the Kun and Qiu Society came at almost the same time, about an hour before noon, with one side elated while the other side was gloomy. The Qiu Society had suffered heavy casualties, and the surviving sabremen still simmered with rage. It seemed that they were not here to negotiate but instead put up a desperate fight.
A total of fifty sabremen which were all the sabremen Shangguan Fei had, were sent out and commanded by seven killers to separate the two rivals. Everyone, either the merchants or residents, were expelled from their home early in the morning. The cutters guarded on both ends of the one quarter mile long alley to prohibit entry of idlers.
The opposing parties sent several unarmed sabremen to check the security situation inside and outside the Sa Family Guesthouse. The representatives finally entered after both sides had no objections.
Gu Shenwei didn’t take any weapons with him. He walked into the alley alone from the side of the Kun Society and entered the gambling house in the eyes of the public. The representative of the Qiu Society arrived at the same time.
Gu Shenwei didn’t know this sabreman and the other side also didn’t introduce himself. As they sat across a long table, the two’s task was very simple. They would sign an agreement about the temporary peace truce and decide the time and place of the next negotiation. Three killers guarded at the door and two clerical staffs organized the negotiation.
Gu Shenwei thought that the negotiation would be very short, but it turned out the other negotiator was a serious person, who fought him on every detail of the place, time and title. Gu Shenwei was really a bit worried that he would be caught in a trap.
After more than two hours’ of negotiation, the two sides finally agreed that the temporary armistice would begin this afternoon at 3:00 PM and would last seventy-two hours. The second negotiation would be hosted by Golden Roc Castle’s ninth young lord Shangguan Fei the day after tomorrow. The two Society Leaders of both sides would attend and the place was still at the Sa Family Guesthouse.
The negotiation was finally over and the truce would take effect within less than a quarter of an hour. The representative of the Qiu Society heaved a deep breath and, with the scroll of the agreement, rushed out first without even saying a word of farewell.
The two clerical staffs also ran away quickly, with only the three killers left to keep watch on Servant Huan. Then they also left the room and closed the door of the gambling house from the outside.
Gu Shenwei went back to the corner of the table and pulled out the sword that had been hidden underneath long ago. Then he turned around to face Ye Silang, who had come out of the inner room.
The two had been waiting for this moment. The standoff, detection, and restraining from attacking in the past several times had already made the two feel weary. Neither of them spoke because what they wanted to say had already been said. For a man who was about to be killed by another, words were not only superfluous, but also an insult.
They drew their swords at the same time and took a step forward. There was no trace of hatred in this duel; both sides had the same sole purpose of killing the opponent.
Ye Silang’s eyes glanced over the beam of the room, where Lotus was lying in wait.
The ninth young lord Shangguan Fei had satisfied both Meng Fifth Gongzi and Servant Huan’s requests and let in the two. The sabremen couldn’t find them, while the three killers were ordered to ignore them.
Two killers dealt with one swordsman.
The swordsman took one more step forward and calculated every move that followed. The enemy would regret it if they thought they could repeat the sneak attack in the Rouge Forrest.
Gu Shenwei stood in place while he lowered his head and even closed his eyes as if he were a coward helplessly waiting for his death.
Ye Silang suddenly stabbed out. One moment the swordsman was still a dozen steps away from the killer, and the next he was within seven steps. His body was bent like a crescent moon, and the sword in his hand piercing out like the shining moonlight
The swordsman’s entire body spun to the right the moment his sword thrust out. With a single light blow like a splash of water, he would kill the first killer, and then he would take the chance to point his sword upwards to block the sneak attack from the ceiling. That was, if everything went as he expected.
Gu Shenwei leaned forward with the sword held inversely in his hand and his arm pressed against his side. The sword tip was only one or two inches above his head, and it looked as if he was trying to fend off the swordsman’s deadly attack with his head.
The sword tips met one another and immediately departed. Gu Shenwei behaved like he been punched in the head. He changed from leaning forward to backward and retreated several steps before he stabilized again.
Gu Shenwei didn’t die, but the sword in his hand had been broken into several pieces.
Ye Silang’s sword was good, but he himself had died. He died from the sword that had fallen from the sky, which he had already thought of a way to deal with and believed that he would.
It turned out that his sword hadn’t pierced into the flesh, but hit another sword.
An expert had to know how to advance and retreat when making a move. Usually, one would retreat immediately after hitting the target to avoid an enemy’s desperate struggle at the last moment. Ye Silang’s sword should have stabbed in the enemy’s throat and then pointed up, but the rebounding force due to the collision of the two swords had exceeded the swordsman’s expectation.
Ye Silang had calculated everything and was well prepared for how much strength he needed to use in his attack, how much strength he needed to change his move, and how much to commit to defense, but it was all muddled because of the parry.
The long sword had broken the killer’s sword and affected its path to meet that of the assassin above. The move was the same, but the speed was a bit slower.
What Lotus needed was just this bit of time. She stroked lightly at the swordsman’s head and leaped over ten steps away with the rebounding force.
The duel that had been brewing for nearly a month had finally ended. No audience, just two killers and a swordsman.
As he gripped the broken sword in his hand, Gu Shenwei still kept an irregular horse-riding stance, his posture funny but his expression serious.
Fully dressed in black, Lotus stood on the other side with her sharp sword pointing at the ground, which was as smooth as white silk and wasn’t even stained with a drop of blood.
Ye Silang raised his long sword high like a statue holding up to the sky. It felt like he could pierce a hole in the roof with just a bit more effort.
The swordsman moved slightly and fell straight forward, his eyes empty without any trace of anything he had ever loved or hated.
Gu Shenwei rushed forward, grabbed the swordsman’s hair, and cut off his head with the remaining half of his sword before letting the corpse fall to the ground, his moves skilful and smooth. If Tie Hanfeng had lived to see this, his eyes would not have been able to find any fault.
Swordsman, peach blossoms, passion, emotionlessness, the killer abandoned them all, never to be touched again.
Gu Shenwei threw the broken sword to Lotus and took out a piece of black cloth from his robe and wrapped up the head. Then he produced a narrow sabre from under the table and nodded to Lotus.
Lotus gathered up the pieces of the sword on the ground and leaped back to the beam.
Gu Shenwei carried the bundled head and the truce agreement under his arm, walked to the exit of the gambling house, and knocked on the door.
The three killers opened the door, bowed and moved out of the way. They didn’t show any surprise as if they knew that the one who would come out would surely be Servant Huan. They were also Jia Chen disciples and knew Servant Huan very well. No matter their lord’s original plan was, the three all believed that the one who survived could only be the teenage killer.
It was after 3:00 PM now, and the armistice had come into effect.
At the corner of the street, the representative of the Qiu Society was watching the door from afar. As soon as he saw the killer walk out, he jumped onto the horse and galloped away. He didn’t care about the result because his only task was to deliver the message on time.
There was something wrong with the situation outside. The original crowd of sabremen had reduced by more than half, and the rest were whispering excitedly, as if something big had happened.
The sabremen of the Kun Society led by Tuo Nengya had also left, leaving only four or five of them, one of whom went over to Gu Shenwei and reported some bad news, “The Kun Society was under siege and Yu Gongzi was severely injured.
Shangguan Ru had counterattacked the night before the negotiation, and the Qiu Society paid her back in kind and launched a sneaky attack at the last quarter of an hour before the truce. Their target was Shangguan Yushi, whom no one had ever expected.
Over fifty sabremen wearing red headbands and childish masks suddenly appeared in the Kun Society stronghold, equipped with longbows and arrows. They stood on the roof and wall and shot at Yu Gongzi and the several remaining killers.
The timing was exactly the time when the representative of the Qiu Society walked out of the gambling house.
The sabremen retreated right away after three rounds of arrows. No one got entangled in a fight and none of them was wounded.
Wild Horse and several others tried their best to protect Yu Gongzi, but she was still hit in the chest by one arrow.
The alley outside the courtyard had been occupied with people when Gu Shenwei rushed back to the Kun Society. Someone recognized the killer Yang Huan and shouted at him: “Want revenge? Count me in! Five hundred taels for a head!”
The man’s words caused a commotion in the crowd, as many sabremen actually had the same idea. They had smelled the blood and gathered in this place like moths flying to fire, not caring whether they would live or die.
Gu Shenwei squeezed his way through the crowd and saw dozens of sabremen lining the courtyard. Tuo Nengya was standing at the door of the hall, and bowed slightly to Gu Shenwei as he passed by and whispered, “I’ve sent someone to inform Tenth Gongzi, and also fifty people to protect her.”
Tuo Nengya’s arrangement was well thought out as Shangguan Ru would definitely rush to Southern Jade City at all costs. Gu Shenwei nodded, walked into the hall, and put the head and agreement on one chair.
Wild Horse and the other three killers were kneeling in front of a short, soft bed with their narrow sabre nearby. When they heard the sound, they turned their heads together. Wild Horse grabbed his narrow sabre, his wide apart eyes filled with anger.
The two teenage leaders stared at each other for a while, but no one made a move. Wild Horse seemed to have gotten a hint, so he put down his narrow sabre and moved aside to make some room.
Gu Shenwei knelt before the soft bed with one leg and looked at the teenage girl lying on the bed.
With the arrow still in her body, her chest was heaving feebly, and her face was pale. Shangguan Yushi, who was wearing a man’s attire, was miraculously giving off the characteristic charm of a teenage girl and was not showing the slightest trace of recalcitrance or arrogance.
She stared at Servant Huan for a long time as if she didn’t know this person, then her eyes gradually changed. The forgotten memory returned, and with them came many emotions like as anger, grief, joy, and sadness.
The time left was so short that she didn’t know what she should do with her last breath of energy, whether to leave the wonderful friendship or to vent the hatred accumulated in her heart.
Shangguan Yushi raised her hand and held Servant Huan’s hand tightly. This was all the strength she had left. The two didn’t say a word, but they suddenly understood each others’ thoughts.
They were like people who had fallen into water and were holding onto the same plank to keep themselves afloat. Both of them wanted to have the life-saving plank to themselves and thus schemed to kick the other off.
Gu Shenwei was finally sure that it was Yu Gongzi who had plotted everything. In order to let Servant Huan die, she was even willing to join the Qiu Society’s side.
Shangguan Yushi’s doubts were also explained. The Qiu Society’s attack wasn’t accidental, as it was this servant, this hateful servant, that had controlled the arrow that was buried in her chest.
“She’s yours now.”
Shangguan Yushi said in an inaudible voice, one that only Gu Shenwei himself could understand.