Chapter 108 Team
Gu Shenwei might have been the leader of the guards, however above him there was the main leader of the whole escorting team, even the brown-belted killers had to follow his order.He would present the gifts to Big Head God on behalf of the Unique King and the Shangguan Nu couple.
The main leader was Servant Qing, former footman to the twins of the Shangguan family. After serving five to six children of the King Lord at school, his career had finally gone through a meteoric rise as one of the stewards of the inner chamber.
Previously, Servant Qing used to be very unsatisfied with Servant Huan, however, his attitude only targeted one's status, not the person himself. So, when he saw Servant Huan had become a brown-belted killer, he tactfully adopted a polite attitude, even patting his shoulder and praising him in the tone of an 'old boss'. "Not bad, you did well. Servant Huan, we should contact each other more, I'll invite you to have a drink after we come back, ha ha."
The gifts being sent to Big Head God filled up twenty boxes and were carried by ten camels. It took two hours to move them from the mountain peak to the gate of northern Jade City, but costed a whole day to move them from the north gate to the east gate of Jade City.
The brown-belted killers were all armed with weapons and hidden amongst the gifts were a large number of sabres and swords. The guardsmen at the north gate respectively took over the goods and assigned someone to send them to the outside of the east gate.
The rest of the group stationed themselves in an inn outside the east gate and waited, while Servant Qing sent people to the southern Jade City to recruit some factotums like cameleers, porters, and cooks. Then he went to one of the gambling houses and contacted the people placed inside Jade City by the Iron Mountain group.
The Iron Mountain was a group of robbers that overran the Western Regions whose camp moved a lot. This made finding them difficult, thus an insider was a must in order to lead the way.
The person Servant Qing brought back was called Jiang Chenghai, an impressive name. With a weather-beaten face, he seemed to be reliable, but those who knew him in the inn called him 'Brother Dao San' or 'Dao San'er', which soon became popular.1
After a long day's worth of preparation, everything was finally ready. In addition, the brown-belted killers had also intactly received their weapons. Bows, arrows, narrow sabres, and daggers, were present, none of them missing or altered. Liuhua was armed with three types of bows and arrows, the long bow, short bow, and crossbow.
Gu Shenwei discussed with Lotus in private, asking her to pay more attention to Liuhua's actions. Although Golden Roc Castle prohibited the killers from plotting against one another and the Masters had stressed the importance of cooperation, he still couldn't trust that maverick sharpshooter.
The gift-giving team left the inn and formally moved out the next early morning.
Dao San'er led the way, while at the forefront the brown-belted killer, White Camel rode his horse carrying two flags on his back. The bigger one of the two represented the golden roc flag with a red outline and black bottom, the smaller one illustrated the small battalion flag with a yellow outline and brown bottom. Both of the flags were embroidered with a golden roc in the middle. The boxes carried by the camels were labelled with the flag of Iron Mountain.
Following behind the group, ten camels were connected into a team by ropes and controlled by five cameleers, one of whom was appointed by the castle. The other four hired labourers spent the whole night with these obstinate beasts, and had already become familiar with their temper.
Twenty factotums took care of another several camels and horses while walking, this group was responsible for carrying necessary items like food, water, and tents for the trip. Riding alongside the group, Servant Qing accompanied them. Maidservant Little Sui, sat on a camel grief-stricken. Thinking of the future that laid in front of her, having to serve that giant monster for the rest of her life, she couldn't help but tremble with fear.
Servant Huan, Lotus and Liuha rode their horses in the front, protecting the team behind them as well as guarding the goods. While, Wild Horse was positioned at the back guarding the rear end.
Leaving the depressing atmosphere of Golden Roc Castle, Gu Shenwei was finally able to feel at ease a bit. Everyone told him that this was an easy task, even Liuhua seemed to be more well-behaved than usual. But it turned out that an incident had occurred at noon.
One factotum came up to report that two riders, whose intentions were unknown, guarded the roadside in the front.
This was still the territory of Golden Roc Castle and Gu Shenwei didn't believe anyone dared to make malicious moves, but not daring to take the chance he still drove his horse to the front of the team to check.
Sure enough, from afar he saw two riders dressed in black. They seemed to be killers of Golden Roc Castle but were slender and female.
Trouble has come, big trouble. Gu Shenwei spoke in his heart as the distance between him and the riders shortened.
The two riders were obviously Shangguan Ru and Shangguan Yushi.
It had been many days since they last met face to face, Shangguan Ru had grown to be a lot taller now. But she was still half a head shorter in comparison to Shangguan Yushi nearby. The only constant feature that remained the same were her pair of big and black eyes.
Shangguan Yushi looked to the distance, her face grim. Shangguan Ru, with her eyes smiling asked, "Hey, want to hire the best sabremen in the Western Regions?"
Gu Shenwei blankly looked at the two, "The decision isn't up to me."
"Then call out the one who is in charge." Shangguan Ru said proudly, like how she ordered her fighting partner before, her smile dissolving.
Servant Qing slapped his horse and rode over. Seeing his former little lord, he rolled off the horse and bewilderedly asked, "Aiya, Tenth Gongzi, how did you run out? Aiya, does King Lord know of this? Does Madam know of this? Where are your followers? How come there is no one following you? Quick, come down, I'll hold you. Aiya, what should I do? Aiya, Servant Huan, how about we turn around and go back to the castle?"
Servant Qing's endless 'Aiya's annoyed Shangguan Ru. She swung her whip to drive away Servant Qing's hand which was already lent out to hold her, "No turning around, I'm coming with you. If you dare turn around, I'll not be a sabreman but a robber and kill all of you. I'll take all the goods away and visit Big Head God myself."
Servant Qing stomped his feet in nervousness. Gu Shenwei waved at him, leaned over on the horse, and discussed with him in a low voice for awhile. Then he rode to the two teenage girls, and spread his left hand, "Two sabremen, ten liangs of silver a day for each of you, the payment will be cleared after returning to the city. Free food and accommodation, no warranty for life and death."
Shangguan Ru solemnly nodded, "Good, we agree, the price is fair."
"Ten liangs of silver? Are you treating us like beggars?" Shangguan Yushi waved her whip and said discontentedly.
"This is already a high price for young and inexperienced sabremen." Gu Shenwei knew that the more he took it seriously, the happier Shangguan Ru would be, "And I'm the leader of the guards, no matter how good your sabresmanship is, what earth-shattering event you've done, you must follow my orders in this team."
Shangguan Yushi became more and more indignant as she listened. Last winter she was still the killing lord and commanded Servant Huan to run here and there, but now she had to obey his orders. In comparison, Shangguan Ru was instead very happy, she couldn't help but reveal a smile, "Of course, I'll follow your orders."
Servant Qing climbed back onto the horse and kept shaking his head as he watched Servant Huan's show. It seemed that they had gone back to the former times, the disobedient servant was using his own way to please his lord.
Gu Shenwei arranged the two newly-joined 'sabremen' to form a team with Lotus and Liuhua, he then asked Servant Qing to accompany and chatter with the two lords, to prevent them from finding out that the speed of the whole team had greatly decreased.
Since it was Gu Shenwei's idea, Servant Qing had no choice but to agree.
Even if Golden Roc Castle hadn't known about Shangguan Ru escape at the time, they should have found out by now and would definitely send someone to catch up to them. By then, it would be the other party's turn to offend Tenth Gongzi.
It wasn't a bad idea, but no one caught up with their group even after nightfall.
Servant Qing issued an order to pitch the tents and take an early rest, then he pulled Servant Huan to the end of the team to look at Jade City from afar. Seeing the sunset, he couldn't help but become anxious, "This was your idea, Servant Huan, you'd better have something on mind."
"No need to wait anymore, the castle will not send anyone."
"What? What?" Servant Qing became exasperated.
"We have to take the two gongzis with us and safely send them back. This must also be King Lord and Madam's idea."
Gu Shenwei thought his conjecture was right. This must have been one of the steps the Unique King couple had implemented to transform their daughter into a man. In theory, it would've been better for the castle to inform Servant Qing in advance so he wouldn't be so anxious, but if he was informed it would only have made Shangguan Ru unhappy.
"Are you sure?" Servant Qing asked, the fear evident in his tone.
Gu Shenwei nodded, there was no need for him to worry about this matter anymore. The cooks had already prepared the dishes, so he turned around and went back to the team.
The cooks had sharp eyes. They knew that the newly-joined 'sabremen' were out of the ordinary, so they specially prepared some delicate dishes for them. But those two were busy chattering excitedly and didn't take notice of the taste at all.
Gu Shenwei carefully kept a distance from them. Currently he didn't need to make use of Shangguan Ru so it was unnecessary for him to annoy Shangguan Yushi. No one knew what kind of outrageous things she would do if that little devil got furious.
Neither of them would forget that Shangguan Yushi's elder brother had died because of Servant Huan.
It was dark now, the crowd were cleaning up items and about to take a rest when Servant Qing stumbled over and held Servant Huan's arm, whispering, "Some people have come from the back."
Gu Shenwei was surprised. It would be a below-par performance for Golden Roc Castle if they were only able to catch up to them now and try to bring back Tenth Gongzi.
Gu Shenwei jumped onto his horse and saw fire moving closer from afar. It was not a cavalry with galloping horses, but a caravan similar to them.
Not long after, all the guardsmen had gathered together. Shangguan Ru tightly gripped her sabre hilt, "Bandits? Chief, shall we go up against them?"
"They are not bandits."
They had yet to walk out of the territory of Golden Roc Castle, it was impossible for them to meet any bandits.
The team behind gradually approached, several horses had sped and ran up, one person shouted: "Friends ahead, where're you going?"
Seeing that the people weren't here to take the "hot potatoes" away, Servant Qing was very disappointed. Knowing they would still be left in the team he was very unhappy, "No matter where we're going, it's none of your business. Go over quickly and go your own way."
Another voice rang out from the opposite, "You must come from the castle, you look a bit familiar."
One teenager rode over, a footman accompanying him nearby holding a torch to light up his face.
Servant Qing rolled off the horse again and ran over to nod and bow, "Aiya, isn't this lord Meng fifth? It's rare you still remember me. I'm Servant Qing, I had followed Madam to attend the flower viewing party."
Shangguan Ru and Shangguan Yushi immediately changed their face and drew out the sabre, "what is he going to do?"
"Put away your sabre, we're guardsmen, do not intervene in matters that do not concern the goods on the camels."
Those two teenage girls exchanged a glance, Shangguan Ru sheathed the sabre unhappily. Shangguan Yushi followed putting away her sabre, while quietly running back to her tent.
Gu Shenwei called the other brown-belted killers to leave and arranged them to watch the night in turn. Although they were safe within the Castle's territory, they couldn't be lax.
With Meng Fifth Gongzi following the team has become quite interesting, Gu Shenwei pondered. He believed Meng Mingshi's appearance wasn't a coincidence. It can't be a coincidence.Translator's note: Literally Jiang Chenghai means a river connects or holds the ocean. This guy Dao (topple or fall) San (three) means he would get drunk after three cups of wine. ↩