DEATH SCRIPTURE - DEATH SCRIPTURE Chapter 903 - Saber Cuts
The Dragon King’s public levying of murder against the guard of the envoy of the Central Plains was more shocking, more surprising, and also more confusing than Han Fen’s nonsense.
Those present looked at each other in confusion. Eventually, Wei Song said, “I believe that the Dragon King is not a fraud. Surely you have some proof to back up your words, right?”
“I do,” Gu Shenwei said. The originally vague picture of how the assassination had happened suddenly became clear and distinct.
The deputy envoy, Sun Chengqi, appeared rather anxious. Apparently, he felt that all Western Regioners were somewhat unreasonable. “I have to remind you, Dragon King. Lord Ma’s guard is dead, and he died right beside Lord Ma. Did he commit suicide for fear of punishment? And what about that assassin that dropped from the top of the city wall?”
Gu Shenwei’s eyes swept through all the people in the room, “Please hear my speculation – yes, it’s only my speculation – and then I’ll prove that my speculation is true.” He paused briefly and then continued. “This guard – I don’t know his name yet – killed the envoy in the carriage for some kind of reason. His plan was probably like this: he pretended that an assassin had launched an sneak attack on the bridge, and that he pursued the assassin and then came back only to ‘discover’ that Lord Ma had been killed. The guards at the city gate would conveniently become his witnesses. What he didn’t expect was that an assassin really did show up and kill him ruthlessly. The assassin could have fled smoothly, but it turned out that he had also accidentally been killed by a hidden killer.”
“There are so many ‘accidents,’” Sun Chengqi said sarcastically. If this was all that the Dragon King was capable of, he no longer wanted to cooperate with him to bring down the Governor of the Western Regions.
“For those deceased ones, these were accidents, but in reality, they were all premeditated. Now, I’ll prove my speculation to you. Shangguan Hong.”
Shangguan Hong had been feeling an ominous premonition this entire meeting. Upon hearing the Dragon King call his name, he buckled at the knees and nearly fell. What scared him the most was not just the prospect of being questioned, but also his father, the Unique King, who was sitting not far away from him.
Although his identity of the Unique King’s son had been acknowledged six years ago, Shangguan Hong had never been close to his father. Like before, he had always been in the crowd, looking at the King Lord from a distance. Actually, this was the first time that the distance between him and his father was shorter than ten steps and this was his first opportunity to speak in front of the Unique King.
“I’m here.” Shangguan Hong’s voice was so hoarse that he sounded as if he had just walked out of a desert.
“Was it you who killed that assassin on the top of the city wall?”
Their conversation immediately caused a minor commotion. Shangguan Hong was both the Dragon King’s subordinate and the Unique King’s son. For the Central Plainsmen who didn’t know much inside information, the Dragon King had literally just admitted that the Dragon King and Golden Roc Castle were the masterminds behind the assassination.
Everybody had a lot of questions, and a couple of them had even opened their mouths, but eventually, they shut up, because the Dragon King appeared extremely composed, which indicated that he still had something to say.
The room went quiet. Gu Shenwei asked another question. “How long did you lie in ambush on the top of the wall?”
“About… four to six hours,” Shangguan Hong’s head was very low, he was sweating buckets, and he felt as if his entire body had been squeezed empty. He didn’t know why the Dragon King had suddenly asked him to step out. To frame him? Or to drag the Unique King into the mire?
“So you clearly saw what happened on that bridge?”
“Very clearly.” Before he could figure out the Dragon King’s true intentions, Shangguan Hong decided to speak as honestly as possible.
“Wait,” the deputy envoy Sun Chengqi interjected. “Back then, it was midnight. Could you see clearly?”
“There were lanterns on the bridge and the city gate. It was very bright.”
“Mm.” Sun Chengqi said no more.
“Did you see the assassin?” asked Gu Shenwei.
“Tell us what you saw.”
“Uh. Originally, the assassin was hiding under the bridge. When the carriage passed by the bridge, he leaped onto the bridge, entered the carriage, and then exited. It all took place very quickly, almost in the blink of an eye.”
“How quick, specifically?”
Shangguan Hong became even more confused. He had told the Dragon King everything that had happened that night in detail, and back then, the Dragon King didn’t care about this issue very much. “Well… It seemed as if he didn’t pause in the carriage at all. He went in and out of it in an instant.”
It seemed that the Dragon King’s request was pointless and merely a waste of time. Wei Song said, “I think we all know what the Dragon King is trying to say. The assassin went in and out of the carriage so quickly that he didn’t have enough time to kill two people, right?”
“This is exactly what I want to prove.”
A suggestion of a sympathetic look appeared on Wei Song’s face. “I believe you, Dragon King. And I also believe that this… Young Master Shanguan is telling the truth. But in the end, he was hiding on the top of the wall, and he didn’t see what happened in the carriage. He thought that there was too little time, but maybe that was only his interpretation. After all, he was hiding there for four to six hours. It would be very normal for him to become a little anxious.”
A killer would never become anxious from waiting for four to six hours. Both Gu Shenwei and Shangguan Fa knew this, but neither of them intended to explain this to these Central Plainsmen.
Sun Chengqi said, “Governor Wei’s words are very reasonable. You can’t use somebody else’s speculations to prove your own speculations, Dragon King. You have to offer more concrete evidence. After all, it is Lord Ma’s personal guard that you’re accusing. I know this man well. He was devoted to his duty and protected Lord Ma the whole way here.”
Gu Shenwei briefly nodded. “I have evidence. And it’s the wound on the Lord Envoy. The assassin’s weapon was a Western-Region narrow saber. The guard was from the Central Plains. So, I assume his weapon was either a common saber, sword, or dagger. Wounds caused by these weapons are very different from those caused by a narrow saber.”
“Different how?” Sun Chengqi asked confusedly. He knew nothing about kung fu and couldn’t understand what “very different” meant.
Gu Shenwei’s eyes were not on the deputy envoy, but rather on Wei Song. “There’s a lot of Central-Plains kung fu experts around Lord Wei. They can attest that there are indeed distinctive differences.”
Wei Song failed to retain his composure. He involuntarily turned his head and glanced at Luo Qikang, who was standing beside him. The most famous swordsman of the Luo family blinked.
“Uh. Well… The remains of Lord Ma have already been placed into a coffin. I don’t think that it’s appropriate to disturb the dead.” Wei Song made an excuse.
Sun Chengqi had also brought a guard, so he directly asked, “Can you tell the difference?”
The guard appeared a little awkward. He could already sense the a hick smell of conspiracy, and he had no intention of getting involved, so he said, “There should be some differences, but I’m afraid that I’m not good enough to tell.”
Sun Chengqi snorted discontentedly. “There are plenty of kung fu practitioners at Governor Wei’s command here. I think that their discernment is decent enough. We may trust them. Though it’s not appropriate to disturb the deceased, this issue is special. You, me, and all the others present have a heavy responsibility. Now that the Dragon King has such speculations, we must verify them.”
Wei Song looked hesitant and reluctant, but he soon changed his mind. “Since the deputy envoy has such intentions, then let’s open the coffin and perform an autopsy. But there’s not enough time to do it today. At the earliest, we can do it tomorrow and get the results then.”
“Then let’s continue tomorrow.” Sun Chengqi’s position was even lower than that of Wei Song, but he was the deputy envoy. After Ma Lian’s death, he had become the representative of the Imperial Court of the Central Plains, so his words mattered greatly. “But before we get the results, I still want to ask you a couple of questions, Dragon King.”
Wei Song said nothing. Gu Shenwei said, “Please ask.”
“I consent to the autopsy. But if it’s indeed a wound caused by a narrow saber, then all of your speculations will be proven wrong. Can you accept the responsibility for that?”
“Of course.” Gu Shenwei believed that there was a seventy to eighty-percent chance that his speculations were correct, but he appeared to be absolutely certain of it. “If my speculations are wrong, then I’m willing to accept the responsibility for lodging a false accusation. I will apologize to all of you, as well as all the guards of the Central Plains, and take the blame for the crime committed against the envoy.”
“Alas. Take the blame for the crime? That’s a little dramatic, Dragon King.” There seemed to be a tacit consensus among all participants that Sun Chengqi was the moderator of this meeting. Fa Feng, who was sitting on the head of the table, and Wei Song, who was sitting on the left-hand seat, both stayed silent out of prudence. “Since the Dragon King has already made a speculation, then please make a further one – why would Lord Ma’s guard kill his master?”
“It might have been because of a personal grudge, or maybe he was bribed. I believe that we can find the truth with just a little investigation.”
“If the wound on Lord Ma’s body is really not a narrow saber wound, then Governor Wei and I will surely conduct an investigation into it. Here’s another question of mine: why was this Young Master Shangguan beside Dragon King so coincidentally on top of the wall that night? How did he happened to see the assassin and even manage to kill him?”
“Let he himself answer.”
Stunned again, Shangguan Hong couldn’t help but ask, “Should I tell the truth?”
“You’re only allowed to tell the truth.”
Shangguan Hong steeled himself and ventured to look at the Central Plainsmen on the opposite side. “I’ve been practicing a new swordsmanship, and I needed to… kill a couple of people.”
“So you’re the assassin in Jade City!” Sun Chengqi yelled in amazement.
“No, no.” Shangguan Hong hurriedly denied it. “Only a couple of those victims were killed by me. Most of the deaths have nothing to do with me. There’re many assassins prowling around in Jade City. I’m only one of them.”
Sun Chengqi shook his head, and his feeling that Western Regioners were eccentric increased. “Keep talking.”
“I felt like I had made some progress in my swordsmanship, and I wanted to confirm it by killing another assassin, so I went to Retention Alley and lay there in wait. For two consecutive nights, I saw someone staking out that area. Back then, I didn’t know that the envoy of the Central Plains was the one being spied on. I speculated that this assassin would choose to take action on the bridge, so I went to the top of the wall and continued to wait there… He arrived as expected. Then he entered the carriage and soon exited. After that, he leaped onto the wall. Then we exchanged a few moves and I killed him. That’s it. It was not until the next day that I realized the identity of the passenger.”
For Sun Chengqi, this was an incredible story, and the only thing that it had proved was that Jade City was completely chaotic and that this city was in urgent need of the Central Plains’ lawful governance. He stayed silent for quite a while. Suddenly, ignoring Shangguan Hong and the Dragon King, he asked Shangguan Fa, “You just said that you had other proof. Isn’t it high time that you took them out?”
“Um. The Dragon King’s speculation is very interesting. I don’t want to judge whether it’s correct or not. We should wait until we get the results of the autopsy tomorrow. With regards to that assassin killed by Shangguan Hong… ”
Upon Hearing his father say his name, Shangguan Hong was so scared that he started trembling. The only thing that he could do was remind himself again and again, ‘I’ve mastered advanced swordsmanship. I don’t have to be afraid.’
Shangguan Fa paused for a while and then continued speaking. “I know him. His name was Yang Hao. He used to be an apprentice of Golden Roc Castle. A year ago, he left of his own account and his whereabouts were unknown since then. It was not until yesterday that I confirmed the identity of his new master.”
“Who?” Sun Chengqi asked urgently.
“Madam Luo of the Iron Mountain.”
Gu Shenwei had deliberately avoided disclosing the assassin’s identity in order to avoid the trap set by Wei Song and the others. But unexpectedly, the Unique King had brought it up of his own accord. In the beginning, he had planned to shift all responsibility to the Waning Moon Hall and Lotus. But now, he had to sacrifice Luo Ningcha.
Madam Meng, who was absent, had won. She had succeeded in making her husband abandon a former lover.
Luo Ningcha, who was also absent, had no idea she was already in grave danger.