Chapter 163 Asking for Protection
The teenage killer did make the Commandant Lord an offer he couldn't refuse.
"Two thousand taels of silver a month. As long as I'm still alive, the money will never stop."
Upon hearing this, Zhong Heng, who was stretching his arms and legs, stopped. Twenty-four thousand taels of silver a year wasn't a huge amount of money, but nor was it little. It was enough to fairly compensate him for a humiliation that no one else had seen. Now, he really hoped that this kid would not die young. "Do you know that both the Patrol Commandant and the Governor Lord rotate every three years? My term will be over in a few months."
The Jade City had a nominal governor, who was not even as famous as a small shield of Southern Jade City. Gu Shenwei had heard about the governor before but he had never taken him seriously. "My lord, as long as you're in the Western Regions, the money will be delivered on time."
"I don't even know if I should believe you."
"Please believe me, my lord. I'm giving you this money not purely for your position, but also for your knowledge and experience. I'll consult with you again for sure, my lord."
It sounded a little conceited, but it was also a very clever form of flattery. Zhong Heng thought for a while and decided to accept the latter impression, so he said with a smile, "I can't believe someone would value a mediocre officer like me. Heh, I believe you now."
Gu Shenwei accompanied Zhong Heng downstairs at dawn. The Commandant Lord was anxious to leave this place, but he stopped and turned around at the door, "I haven't pursued the case since then, but if I wanted to find out, I would have tried to find the close servant of Duke Gao's."
The Xu family siblings walked out of the downstairs bedroom, shocked. Kidnapping the Patrol Commandant wasn't in the plan they had heard beforehand.
"Are you all right?" Xu Xiaoyi wanted to be fearless, but his voice revealed his true emotions."
"It was nothing." Gu Shenwei was undisturbed, but he also didn't have full confidence in obtaining Zhong Heng's understanding. He didn't yet understand how important the role money could play, and also didn't know the status of the Patrol Commandant in Jade City. This was a rash move.
"Lord Zhong is a good guy …" Xu Yanwei said timidly, as if all the whoremasters who had visited her were good people.
"Duke Gao brought a close servant with him when he entered Southern Jade City. Xiaoyi, go make some inquiries. Ask about him, but do not disturb him."
Zhong Heng's reminder was valuable. Gu Shenwei actually had overlooked this clue. Although he had been reduced to a servant for more than two years now, his thinking habits still bore the brand of the young lord of the Gu family. To him, servants were still part of the background. And like how the young lords of the castle treated him, he seldom payed attention to individual servants.
Xu Xiaoyi went out and asked around for a whole day. To his surprise, no one knew the whereabouts of that servant. Naturally, the servant couldn't afford to live in Northern Jade City after his lord's death and would certainly stay in Southern Jade City. But he had disappeared, as if he had no concern for the death of his lord, and he also didn't actively seek out a new lord.
"Perhaps he had his own means and went straight to a new lord in Northern Jade City," Xu Xiaoyi guessed.
Gu Shenwei thought it was possible, but he preferred to believe that the servant knew a secret and had deliberately hid himself. He asked Xu Xiaoyi to keep looking around while he himself went back to the base camp of the Kun Society to deal with the daily affairs with Tuo Nengya.
The war was still going on and the imposing aura of the Kun Society appeared to still be strong. Only a few people had discovered that it was actually showing signs of defeat, and Tuo Nengya was one of them. "It has been three days since the last merchant joined us. We've already used up the resources that we can. We can't go on for much longer this way."
The salary for over one hundred high-priced sabremen in total was more than twenty thousand taels of silver. On top of that, they had to pay almost thirty thousand taels of silver as well as other miscellaneous expenses, but the money the Kun Society received from various sources was only around twenty thousand taels of silver. Gu Shenwei was filling the deficit with the legacy of Tie Hanfeng for now, but it wasn't a long-term solution.
"We have to temporarily call for a truce," Tuo Nengya suggested, "It's the only way to run a normal business, and we can also decrease the number of sabremen."
"It's up to Tenth Gongzi to decide." Gu Shenwei didn't care about money, and in fact he wished that the fight would go on forever, the larger the better. If he could find out who the spy was, it would certainly stir up the spirit of Shangguan Ru.
After the sabremen's affair finished, Lotus brought an unexpected message that made Gu Shenwei both excited and puzzled.
"Servant Jing wants to see you. He has something to say."
Of the ten teenage killers selected by Tenth Gongzi, Wild Horse and another four had formed a small gang, Liuhua was alone, and the other four were members of the former Bi Nu Gang. Servant Yuan was dead, so there were three of them left now.
It was not until the second night watch period that Servant Jing finally secretly came to meet Servant Huan. There were only the two of them in the room. Servant Jing knelt down on one leg to salute Servant Huan as soon as they met, as if the one standing in front of him were a young lord surnamed Shangguan.
One must be very careful in dealing with a killer even if he was in one's own group by behaving in an undignified manner. So Gu Shenwei nodded and faintly replied 'Hmm' to accept the respect of the other side, but as he did so he took a step aside to get out of the way, showing that he was not qualified to accept this courtesy.
"Servant Huan, you must save me." Servant Jing stood up, with more fear on his face than a killer should have.
"Tell me, what happened?" Gu Shenwei asked. Lotus only delivered the message, and Servant Jing didn't tell her the details.
"Someone killed Servant Yuan and also wants to kill me."
Gu Shenwei frowned slightly. Killers had a career in killing, so naturally the killer was always in danger of being killed. If one couldn't realize this, one was not qualified to be a killer. He wanted to be followed by the strong, not by the poor wretches scared of death.
"I'll protect you, as long as you tell the truth."
"It's Yu Gongzi."
Gu Shenwei's heart started beating faster, but he kept his composure, waiting for Servant Jing to finish.
"It was a year ago. I went out on a mission with Servant Yuan one night. When we returned, we saw … we heard someone talking in the alley outside. It was late so we were a little suspicious and overheard a few words. One of them was Yu Gongzi's; I could recognize her voice. There was also a man, but I didn't know who he was. At first the two talked in a low voice, then they started quarrelling. Yu Gongzi soon realized that someone was nearby, so she asked that man to shut up. Servant Yuan and I took the chance to quickly run away."
"What was Yu Gongzi arguing about with that man?" This was a matter of utmost concern to Gu Shenwei.
"I don't know. They talked very fast, and I couldn't hear it clearly. It seemed to be about money."
"Hmm, you two ran away, then?"
"I thought that Yu Gongzi hadn't seen us, but she came to us the next day and said many nice things, and asked us … to keep an eye on your whereabouts."
Gu Shenwei didn't comment on this, but he had been right not to trust anyone. Both Servant Jing and Servant Yuan used to be the core members of Bi Nu Gang and they remained loyal after the slaughter amongst the disciples, but they still betrayed him under the temptation of Yu Gongzi.
Servant Jing didn't say how they answered Yu Gongzi, and Gu Shenwei also didn't ask about it.
"Then it was the assassination mission the other day. We … told Yu Gongzi, but we didn't expect that she wanted to kill everyone. If you hadn't suddenly decided to call off the mission, the second dead person would have been me."
"You can't suspect Yu Gongzi without proof," Gu Shenwei said indifferently, knowing that he had caught a big fish this time.
"I'm not speculating. After Servant Yuan died, Yu Gongzi came to me and disingenuously made a comment about how much of a pity it was that Servant Yuan had died. And then she said it was all because of your lack of command and the haste and flaws in planning the mission. Servant Huan, we're killers, and we know what those false pretences are. As soon as she started speaking, I knew that she was trying to keep me steady, so that she could find another chance to make a move."
Gu Shenwei didn't remind Servant Jing that Yu Gongzi's first show of hypocrisy had won the two's trust.
"What do you want me to do? Help you pass a word to Tenth Gongzi? But you have no evidence."
"No no, I don't want Tenth Gongzi to know of this. They are like peas in a pod, of a single mind. I just wanted to ask for your protection."
"I don't have that ability."
"You do." Servant Jing knelt down again. He looked up at Servant Huan with an eager expression in his eyes, as if a prayer had been answered by God. "Servant Huan, others don't know what you've done, but we've seen it with our eyes. Only you, Yu Gongzi have been trying to kill but can not kill. Only you can gain a share of Tenth Gongzi's trust. I would like to pledge allegiance to you; I'd rather put my life in your hands than be secretly killed by Yu Gongzi."
A killer would not swear allegiance to another killer because it was against the rules of the castle. It would be a capital crime if the lords of the Shangguan family knew about it.
Gu Shenwei took another step to the side to avoid Servant Jing's salute. He hadn't decided whether to believe him or not.
"I can protect you."
Servant Jing was overjoyed and tried to kneel again before Gu Shenwei held him up in time, "But you have to know that this is almost like challenging Yu Gongzi openly. She'll be even more anxious to make a move, and you have passed the danger onto me and Lotus as well."
"Then there's only one way out, isn't there?"
There had been something in Servant Jing's expression which Gu Shenwei disliked. It was a desperate madness, a madness so strong that it could destroy himself and others.
"You don't have to do anything. All you have to do is follow me. From now on, you're a killer of my team, so don't trust anyone anymore except for Lotus and me. If someone says that Tenth Gongzi wants to meet you, let him come to me instead. If someone says that a young lord wants you to return to the castle, let him come to me. If you want me to protect you, you have to just listen to me and not think about anything else until I tell you to act, understood?"
"Got it." Servant Jing finally calmed down, his killer's nature at work again. Since someone was responsible for his life, he could kill without a worry again.
Servant Jing had brought a message of great importance, of which he himself had little understanding of. Gu Shenwei also didn't fully understand it for the time being, but he knew that he now finally had a clue which could solve all the riddles. The key was how to use this clue to let Yu Gongzi to reveal her true face.
Servant Jing's pledge was an open break with Yu Gongzi, but Servant Huan's acceptance was an even fiercer challenge. The balance which Gu Shenwei had carefully maintained was broken in the end.
Yu Gongzi had already shown her move, so now it was time for Servant Huan to fight back. He didn't have much opportunity to try, so he had to finish the target in a single blow.