Chapter 16 Book 1: 15: Old Demon Gu
Book 1: Chapter 15: Old Demon Gu
At a small courtyard in the Clear River Sect:
The young, female hall master and Venerable Liu Nian played Go against each other.
The Clear River Sect Master, the First Song Sect Master, Chen Tianshan, and others stood before them.
“Gu Hai has not shown himself yet?” the young, female hall master asked as she played a black Go stone.
Chen Tianshan smiled bitterly as he replied, “Yes. Gu Hai did that as a precaution, not leaking any of his plans. Since he promised Sect Master to defeat the Song Nation, he intends to do it in the fastest time possible.”
The First Song Sect Master smiled coldly and scoffed, “Defeat? Humph! Although Gu Hai used sinister schemes to cause chaos in the Song Nation’s army and make them flee in defeat, hundreds of thousands of soldiers managed to flee. What about the Chen Nation? Gao Xianzhi killed six hundred thousand of their soldiers. Furthermore, he purged every place he went. He weakened the Chen Nation long ago. Where is the Chen Nation going to find the troops to invade the Song Nation? The Song Nation remains united. Now that word of Gu Hai’s sinister schemes has spread throughout the nation, who will fall for them? This is already Gu Hai’s limit.”
However, the Clear River Sect Master guffawed. “You still do not know what he will do, and you are already declaring his defeat? Isn’t this too early?”
“Humph!” the First Song Sect Master snorted unhappily.
At this moment, the Clear River Sect Master felt a sense of exhilaration. Indeed, his choice back then was right.
“Venerable, what do you think?” the young, female hall master asked Venerable Liu Nian with a smile.
Venerable Liu Nian showed both a frown and a bitter smile as he replied, “This Gu Hai surpassed my expectations. With what he has shown so far, he has the ability to manage an even larger situation. He is truly a great talent. However, to think that he still has not stopped. Haha! Everyone plays Go differently. I can no longer predict what will happen.”
[TL Note: In ancient China, Go is often compared to military campaigns.]
“Since you can no longer predict it, let’s continue watching. I want to see how shocking his play will be!” A bright gleam flashed in the young, female hall master’s eyes.
In accordance with Gu Hai’s command, his men released the soldiers’ families that had been quietly kidnapped.
Word of the sinister Gu Hai was already everywhere in Song City. The sudden reappearance of the soldiers’ families set the entire city abuzz.
“Second Sister-in-law, you…you weren’t harmed by the crown heir? Damn that Gu Hai! So, it was all his doing. It really was him! He caused me to send false information to my nephew! It’s all his fault!”
“Third Auntie! You are still alive! I thought you died. Damn that Gu Hai! It’s all his fault! It’s all his fault! My poor cousin! Even until now, there is no word of him. We do not know where he is or if he is still alive!”
“What a hateful Gu Hai!”
“If not for Gu Hai, Commander Gao would have won long ago. My son would not have gone missing!”
“It’s all Gu Hai’s fault!”
“Old Demon Gu!”
The citizens of Song City erupted in rage.
As Crown Prince Song sat within his residence, he read the endless reports coming from his scouts in the city.
“To think that Gu Hai released the soldiers’ families! Humph! Now, no one will listen to him anymore. Gu Hai, I want to see how you will continue implementing your schemes!” Crown Prince Song said with a ferocious expression.
The death of his son still pained Crown Prince Song, like a bone stuck in his throat. He swore not to rest until he utterly defeated Gu Hai.
“Your Highness, right now, all the kidnapped soldiers’ families are speaking ill of Gu Hai. They wish that they could flay Gu Hai’s skin and eat his flesh!” one of the scouts said with a smile.
“Flay his skin and eat his flesh? This prince wants to do that too! How goes the search in Song City?” Crown Prince Song asked coldly.
“We have searched everywhere, but we did not discover any foreign old men around the ages of sixty to seventy,” the scout reported bitterly.
“Gu Hai already left Song City? Humph! In that case, extend the search to the nearby cities. Search all of them. We have to find him. This prince wants to rip him to ten thousand pieces!” Crown Prince Song ordered coldly.
“Be it through official means or word of mouth, continue to spread Gu Hai’s evil deeds. I want everyone to hate Gu Hai. Make all the storytellers in the teahouses start smearing Gu Hai’s name. Make him out to be as evil as possible!” Crown Prince Song added coldly.
“Ah? Crown Prince, the entire city is already enraged. No, the entire nation. We are still going to push it further?!”
“Humph! This prince is just taking precautions. That way, no matter what action Gu Hai takes, no matter how minute, even if it is disadvantageous to us, we can blame it all on Gu Hai!” Crown Prince Song replied coldly.
“Yes! I’ll go and inform everyone now!” the scout answered and immediately left.
On the upper floor of a restaurant in Song City:
A table filled with food and wine stood next to the window of a private room.
Gu Hai and Gu Han sat by the window, looking at the street below. The Gu Residence’s trusted men stood at the sides, keeping watch.
Since Gu Hai had dyed his hair and put on some makeup, he did not look sixty or seventy but about forty or fifty.
Sitting next to the window, Gu Han picked up his wine cup and looked at the street below. He gestured to a huge silversmith across the street and said with a faint smile, “Adoptive Father, that is the largest silversmith shop of my Gu Clan in Song City, the Gu Song Silversmith!”
Gu Hai took a sip of rice wine and smiled faintly. “The Gu Song Silversmith? I recall cutting the ribbon for its opening back then. The old manager of the Gu Song Silversmith passed away three years ago, right?”
“Yes. After the old manager passed away, his son took over as manager. I have followed Adoptive Father’s request and already instructed him, so he will be prepared when the time comes!” Gu Han said gravely.
Gu Hai nodded and studied the entire street with narrowed eyes.
Although the Gu Song Silversmith was a huge store, there were so many people entering it at the moment. Many ordinary citizens crowded the street outside the Gu Song Silversmith, pointing and cursing at it.
“Humph! This Gu Song Silversmith belongs to that Old Demon Gu!”
“That’s Old Demon Gu’s shop?! I won’t go there to buy silverware and silver ornaments anymore!”
“Black-hearted Old Demon Gu, die!”
“Why does the emperor permit Old Demon Gu’s shop to continue operating in my Song Nation? He must have earned a lot of money from my Song Nation over these years!”
“Ptooey! If not for the law, I would have robbed Old Demon Gu’s shops long ago! That Old Demon Gu vermin!”
“Oh! My son! That old demon captured me back then and lied to my son. Now, my son is missing! I’ll fight you to the death!”
“Madam Zhang, don’t be rash! Everyone, help me hold back Madam Zhang. If you break anything, you will have to pay. You won’t be able to escape easily!”
“Indeed! Madam Zhang, before the emperor issues any decrees, you will be breaking the law if you injure someone.”
“Sob! Sob! Sob! Sob! Old Demon Gu! I curse you! I wish you a horrible death!”
“My son died on the battlefield. I’m already so old; what am I to do?! Old Demon Gu, compensate me! Compensate me with a retirement fund! Compensate me!”
More people gathered on the street over time, criticizing and endlessly cursing at the Gu Song Silversmith. Some of the soldiers’ families came to the entrance of the Gu Song Silversmith and mourned loudly.
Those people who had missing soldiers in their families even demanded compensation from the Gu Song Silversmith for killing their families.
Influenced by official notices and word of mouth, they blamed Gu Hai for everything. Countless people who had suffered or had greedy hearts now targeted the Gu Residence’s businesses in the Song Nation.
Among them, the Gu Song Silversmith had the most people around it, causing a huge commotion.
Up in the restaurant, Gu Hai quietly drank his wine.
However, Gu Han started speaking again, “Adoptive Father, this group of people have been agitating for three days already, doing so every day. At first, it was just the people who suffered. Now, it’s no longer just them. There are city guards, competitors, local ruffians, even our old business associates!”
Gu Hai smiled faintly and said, “Do you see it? As these people stare at the Gu Song Silversmith, their eyes have already turned red with envy!”
“Right now, Adoptive Father’s reputation in the Song Nation is completely ruined. Naturally, malicious people have started targeting my Gu Clan’s shops!” Gu Han smiled.
A gleam flashed in Gu Hai’s eyes as he watched the soldiers’ families cause a commotion. When he saw the envious people cursing him, he showed a cold smile.
“The level of influence is about there. Their rage is also sufficiently high already. If we drag this out, the Song Nation’s officials will make their move and seize my businesses ‘according to the citizens’ will. If they do that, it will be too late. Let’s start now, then!” Gu Hai said coldly.
“Yes!” Gu Han nodded.
While he spoke, he tossed a wine cup out of the window.
At this moment, some hemp-clad men stood guard under the restaurant.
When the wine cup landed, it immediately shattered. The hemp-clad men changed their expressions and looked at each other. The wine cup shattering seemed to be a signal of sorts, prompting them to squeeze their way into the crowd.
The crowd continued crying out. As the hemp-clad men infiltrated the crowd, one of them suddenly shouted, “That Old Demon Gu wants to destroy my Song Nation. Why should we care about the law? This is the invader’s shop! Destroying the shop is a service to my nation! This old man cannot go to the frontlines and kill Old Demon Gu’s men. However, this is my territory. Why can’t I kill the enemy in service to my nation here?!”
“Exactly! I don’t believe that the law will protect a shop belonging to that demon!”
“Smash it! Old Demon Gu is earning my Song Nation’s money! Everything in there belongs to my Song Nation!”
“Yes! Those belong to my Song Nation! We absolutely cannot let Old Demon Gu keep them! They belong to anyone who takes them! Snatch them away!”
The hemp-clad men’s shouts made the crowd restless. The people who already felt envious immediately felt excited.
Someone is taking the lead?
“Right! They belong to my Song Nation. We cannot let Old Demon Gu keep any of them!”
“They belong to anyone who can snatch them away!”
The envy and anger in this group of people had been building for a few days. They had been waiting for this day for a long time. Now that this started, no one could stop it. Everyone feared being too slow.
This was the invader’s shop. Robbing the invader’s shop was a service to the nation. Snatch it all!
“Don’t! Don’t steal them! Stop!”
“Mine! Mine! Don’t snatch it from me!”
“Mine! This is Old Demon Gu’s compensation to me!”
“Look at all that gold! Mine! I’m rich! I’m rich! Hahahaha!”
“This old man is eradicating evil in service to the nation!”
“It’s all mine! Ah! Don’t snatch from me! It’s all mine!”
Chaos erupted in the Gu Song Silversmith. After the first person charged in, everyone else followed, afraid of being too slow. Sounds of crying, fighting, and snatching rang out endlessly.
The bitter citizens earlier now looked like hungry wolves, showing ferocious expressions. They would fight with anyone who snatched from them. A mob fight ensued.
Snatch! Snatch! Snatch! Snatch it all!
The Gu Song Silversmith turned utterly chaotic. Not far away, other citizens came over, attracted by the commotion. However, when they learned of the situation, no one tried to put a stop to it. Instead, they also rushed in lest they be too late and tried to snatch something in the Gu Song Silversmith.
“Stop pushing! Stop pushing! I’m getting squeezed to death!”
“Ah! Let me in! You bastards, leave some for me!”
The entire street turned tumultuous as everyone rushed into the Gu Song Silversmith. The clamor never stopped, and miserable cries rang out endlessly. Everyone acted like bandits, like ruffians, no longer caring about their image.
Up in the restaurant, Gu Hai sipped his wine, watching the silversmith with narrowed eyes.
“Adoptive Father, this…isn’t this too crazy?!” Although Gu Han had anticipated what would happen, the riot before him still shocked him.
“As long as one lives, there will be some degree of herd mentality. As long as the benefits are sufficient, one’s bottom line can crumble, no matter how firm one is. My Gu Song Silversmith has tens of thousands of silver or gold items. Just obtaining one would be a huge profit. Those who are fast will benefit, and those who are slow will get nothing. Once everyone goes, who can resist the temptation? Furthermore, when many people are doing it, one will be bolder. The law? The law only works when it is useful. When it is useless, it is just nonsense. Right now, the law seems useless; at least it seems that way in their hearts. With so many people breaking the law at the same time, who will care? Furthermore, they hold the moral high ground. They are robbing in service to the nation. Robbing my—Gu Hai’s—shops is a service to the nation. Who would not do it? This is an open and righteous robbery!” Gu Hai said with a faint smile.
“Adoptive Father, are you planting a seed in the citizens’ hearts? Turning them into bandits?” Gu Han asked with a sharp intake of breath.
“Turning the citizens into bandits? Ha! It’s still early. This is just the beginning!” Gu Hai replied, revealing a cold smile.
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