Chapter 207 The Center of the Lake
Memory was like a dog eager to please its master. As long as you made a throwing motion, it would always bring something back to you.
The more Gu Shenwei thought about it, the more he felt like he had seen the Wei family before, yet he couldn't recall the specific scene. So he doubted the truthfulness of his recollections. For him, the nearly three years of his life spent at the castle almost felt longer than the rest of his whole life, and to cross the three years to relive a past scene was even harder than crossing the widest river alone.
But there were still some simple facts that he believed were infallible.
He was only six or seven years old and had known nothing about marriage when his elder sister Tsuilan got engaged. He just kept saying 'brother-in-law' until he realized that it was not his brother-in-law who would come to live with the Gu family, but his elder sister who was marrying into another family. Since then, he no longer had a good impression of his 'brother-in-law', let alone being willing to learn more about him.
The name Wei Lingmiao didn't hold a special position in his memory, but he was sure that his sister's husband's family name was Wei.
Additionally, he had a vague sense of familiarity with the name Wei Song. Someone must have mentioned the name, and he even felt as if he had seen this name somewhere.
The reception of Wei Lingmiao was a gathering of the scions of upper classes, and Meng Fifth Gongzi had actually overestimated Servant Huan's status. The Kun Society would naturally attend the event, but they would certainly not let a servant-born killer sit together with a group of nobles. Shangguan Ru wasn't interested in such matters, so she had asked her elder brother Shangguan Fei to deal with it.
Shangguan Fei was glad to hold a lower position than his sister. He had a small wish that this would help him avoid the resentment of his elder brothers. If possible, he would even want to publicly swear that he would never strive to be the Unique King.
Therefore, in the middle of May, one day in early summer, in the Bodhi Garden of the Meng family, Gu Shenwei attended the welcoming feast as the ninth young lord's personal bodyguard and met Wei Lingmiao, the Wei Gongzi who was supposed to be the son-in-law of the Gu family, for the first time.
One advantage of being a guard was that one didn't have to engage in complex social activities, not to mention incessantly persuading others to drink or oneself to drink.
Shangguan Fei was the youngest of the twenty or so noble gongzis, but his sullen and watchful face as well as his fussy manner made many people think that he was old and odd.
Shangguan Fei did have a problem. Although his left leg, which had been crushed by a rock, had been saved by the Godly Doctor, he was still a bit handicapped. Actually, no one noticed when he strolled slowly, but as soon as his pace picked up, there was a noticeable imbalance. And that was discounting his habit of squinting at others.
Shangguan Fei stayed at the wine table and didn't go out with the others to greet the guest from far away. He wasn't interested and only cared about the so-called gongzi of the Governor or the leader of the pleasure-seekers. He only paid attention to his own safety and highly suspected that Servant Huan was sent here by his sister to spy on him rather than to protect him.
After hearing so many rumours, Gu Shenwei was a bit disappointed to see Wei Lingmiao.
Wei Gongzi was about twenty-four or twenty-five years old, tall, slender, and handsome. But except for this, there was nothing more special about him. He was not as unconventional and unrestrained as described. On the contrary, he was gentle and had a bit of a quiet disposition. He coolly greeted his excited old and new friends, specially pausing for a while at the ninth young lord's table to mutually show their admirations.
The feast began in the evening, and all was well except for a few gongzis getting too drunk to drink anymore. It seemed that this would be another typical boring and hypocritical party.
A few of the elder gongzis took leave at nearly the second night watch period. Wei Lingmiao dismissed his footmen and the real revelry finally began.
"Duke Gao had a merry life and died for love in the end, how sad and enviable. Everyone, on this beautiful night, we pay homage to him together with a cup of wine."
This was the first toast Wei Lingmiao had made that night. The crowd stood up and poured the wine. The atmosphere was solemn, worthy of the duke's early death. Then Wei Gongzi took the lead, and everyone threw their cup heavily onto the ground to smash it to pieces.
"Fourth bro, call out the bitches! I'm fucking bored."
Wei Gongzi's words immediately swept the miserable atmosphere away, the gongzis breaking into loud cheers. They had come to the party not simply to please the Governor, but also to see what new tricks this philanderer had brought from the Central Plains.
'Fourth bro' was the fourth gongzi of the Meng family, Meng Mingshi's elder brother, and Wei Lingmiao's old friend. He clapped the table and concurred, "Fuck, that's damn right. A bit longer and the bitches carried out will become old bitches."
In the blink of an eye, a group of well-dressed young gongzis had turned into foul-mouthed extravagant lechers.
The bitches were really carried out. Dozens of big men carried huge platters entered the banquet hall in pairs. On each plate was sprawled a naked woman. There were nineteen women in total, corresponding to the remaining nineteen guests.
The huge plates were placed in the middle of the banquet hall in circles. The burly men then bowed and left.
No only women but wine bottles and cups were also on the plate. The women made various postures and expressions to seduce the men around them, especially towards Wei Lingmiao who was sitting at the head of the table. In order to gain his favour, the women tried their best to compete with one another.
While the crowd was dazzled, another batch of dancers came inside and started dancing among the huge plates. They slowly took off their clothes and became entangled with the women on the plate.
Click. Someone's wine cup fell onto the ground. Followed it was a series of rattling sound. No one was interested in the food in front of them any more.
Even Shangguan Fei, who didn't like women very much, showed a greedy look and his throat kept purring.
Gu Shenwei suspected that the ninth young lord was actually disguising himself. There was nothing the killer could do here, so he quietly retreated from the banquet hall and went to the lakeside, holding the railing and standing in silence.
In the bright moonlight, the famous four-coloured lotus flower of the Bodhi Garden folded at night like an unlighted lamp, swaying slightly on the smooth surface of the lake in stark contrast to the noise from the hall.
It would be best that sister didn't marry this man, otherwise I would have to kill him, Gu Shenwei thought, his mood as calm as the lake.
The show in the hall went on, and as a batch of women came out, another batch of women went in. It looked as though many of the gongzis had prepared a show and this would be a night of revelry.
A group of women walked by, chirping excitedly about whose attention they had caught. Gu Shenwei had no other place to hide, so he simply stood still and looked at the little boats in the center of the lake, pretending to be an ordinary guard of the Meng family.
"Hey, Yang Huan, why are you here?"
Someone recognized him. Gu Shenwei turned his head and said, "Nothing. It's too messy inside and I'm not a guest."
Draped in a thin dress, Xu Yanwei's face was much redder than usual, unclear if it was because she had put on too much rouge on her face or performed too hard. "True. You must feel bad seeing others choosing women. Actually, I can play here alone with you."
Xu Yanwei winked and chuckled. She was in a good mood and didn't care about the killer's sombre and heartless manner. "So you didn't notice me just now?"
Gu Shenwei shook his head because he really didn't notice her. Those women had almost the same appearance and were difficult to distinguish from their faces. And, he had to admit that as a man, he could hardly concentrate on the women's faces as much as anyone else.
"Wei Gongzi has taken a fancy to me, and I'm sure he'll call me to serve him tonight. Yang Huan, the next time we meet will be in the Central Plains."
Xu Yanwei twirled without caring about whether her body was naked in the moonlight or not, giggled and left. She had taken the first successful step of another plan, and even dared to directly call her lord's name instead of greeting him as 'Lord Huan'.
This miserable prostitute is really optimistic. As he looked at her from the back, Gu Shenwei couldn't help but smile. But he didn't believe that Wei Lingmiao would take her to leave Jade City. That gongzi was a veteran of debauchery and sensuality, and would not be infatuated with a prostitute for sure.
The merriment in the banquet hall grew louder and louder. It seemed that someone impatient couldn't hold back. Gu Shenwei heard the sound that often appeared in Retention Alley.
Unrestrained cries, running servants, cold moonlight, and a holy water lily. As he stood there between the two worlds, Gu Shenwei especially missed his sword and sabre. Weapons were not allowed in the Bodhi Garden, and Gu Shenwei touched his crotch as if he could suddenly conjure something out of it.
"A bunch of idiots," Someone said languidly. The man leaned against the railing, looking at the teenage killer.
Gu Shenwei was caught unprepared and didn't know how to deal with Wei Gongzi. He hesitated for a while before slightly lowering his head and saying, "Wei Gongzi, why did you come out here alone?"
"It's boring," Wei Lingmiao replied as he whistled through his curved lips to summon the small boat at the center of the lake. "It's been several years since I last came here. I thought that Jade City would have some new people, but it turns out that nothing has changed. Although the people are different, their style and tricks are the same. Ai, even the bitches are not working as hard as they used to."
"Wei Gongzi is experienced and naturally doesn't like these commonplace women." Gu Shenwei thought that Xu Yanwei probably would be disappointed.
"Even the commonplace women have a beautiful side if they know when to stop wearing too much makeup. Very few women know how to play it just right, not to mention men. They were just rolling around like pigs and dogs."
It was like a farmer talking with a chess master. Gu Shenwei couldn't see eye to eye with this Wei Gongzi. Fortunately, the boat pulled in and he didn't need to answer him anymore.
The boat was poled by a young woman in sackcloth. Although her dress was coarse, her skilful smile still revealed her true identity. She was also from Southern Jade City.
Wei Lingmiao walked to the dock and got on the boat with the young woman's help. Then he turned back and offered an invitation. "Come, let's enjoy the moonlight at the center of the lake, and avoid them."
"Me?" Gu Shenwei felt that he was just a guard who had accidentally met Wei Gongzi and exchanged a few words, who seemed unqualified to accompany him to sail for pleasure.
"Hmm, why not? Killers are also human beings. Aren't they touched by this beautiful scenery?"
Gu Shenwei's heart missed a beat. There were countless guards in Bodhi Garden, but only one killer. What Wei Lingmiao said showed that he obviously knew his identity.
Probably for the sake of the 1,150,000 tales of silver, Gu Shenwei thought. So he got on the boat, ready to bargain with Wei Gongzi.
The young woman poled the boat off the shore. Wei Lingmiao went into the cabin, took out a jar of wine and two celadon bowls, and lay halfway on the bow with his eyes closed, humming a tune softly.
Gu Shenwei obediently held the wine jar and filled the two bowls. Then he sat on his knees nearby, waiting for Wei Gongzi to ask for money.
An ethereal sound of bamboo flute suddenly floated out from the stern to echo with Wei Gongzi. It turned out that there was a singing-girl on the boat.
The small boat made a circle around the bright moon in the center of the lake. The water lilies were disturbed and shook their heads in protest. The flute sound stopped.
Wei Lingmiao opened his eyes and smiled at the killer. "How is your lord?"
Gu Shenwei almost wanted to punch that self-righteous handsome face. This Wei Gongzi from the Central Plains, who had almost become his brother-in-law, was tired of playing the whores of Jade City, and became interested in Tenth Gongzi of Golden Roc Castle. The name Gu Tsuilan had probably never existed in his heart.