Chapter 231 Defending the Servant
The stableman Elder Zhang was an ideal servant, loyal, honest, and discreet. His only lord was Shangguan Nu and his only love was tending to the horses. He never made friends.
Such a man had actually been attracted to the young mistress and blushed like a silly teenager upon mentioning her, willing to do things for her.
Elder Zhang was a lonely man, so Gu Shenwei could understand his mood after a careful analysis, but he still didn't understand why Luo Ningcha didn't punish Elder Zhang. It was as if an experienced killer suddenly showed mercy and spared a desperate target.
Gu Shenwei brought the board back and gave it to Lotus. The tacit understanding between the two no longer required verbal communication. Lotus asked for leave ostensibly to return the board but in fact, she would make a copy of the board and hide it away. She would not hand it over to Madam Meng or Shangguan Ru at all.
Golden Roc Castle was in turmoil now, which made the board an important bargaining chip. It may even be used to save their lives, so they had to hold it firmly in their hands
Luo Ningcha's mood was still very unstable, and Gu Shenwei didn't talk much that night. But when Lotus returned and claimed that the Madam was pleased and that Miss didn't have to worry about her safety, Luo Ningcha finally relaxed a little. But then she issued a strange order for Lotus to stand guard outside and Servant Huan inside.
Gu Shenwei was very embarrassed. He was seventeen years old and not a little kid anymore. Staying in the mistress's room all night would generate a lot of criticism, and also be detrimental to Luo Ningcha's current situation.
Luo Ningcha didn't care. In her eyes, men, women, old people, and children were all the same. As long as they were servants, they had to follow her orders. She treated Servant Huan as a substitute for Xue Niang and relied solely on his protection at the most dangerous moment.
Gu Shenwei stayed that night. The Miss and Tsui Nü slept in the bed, in front of which the screen was placed. The killer left first to avoid other people's attention, then sneaked back and stood in the corner all night to fulfill his guard duty.
He was fully aware of how painful it was to be the Miss's close maid. Luo Ningcha woke up more than ten times a night, so Tsui Nü rarely actually slept. She had to help the lord tuck the quilt in, massage the waist, and serve tea when needed. The room was completely dark, but the blind girl was able to move freely, completely unaffected.
Gu Shenwei also couldn't rest well. Every time Luo Ningcha woke with a start, the first words out of her mouth were 'Are you there'. She would only ask Tsui Nü to wait on her till sleep after Servant Huan replied 'Yes'.
The next day, Gu Shenwei still didn't mention his plan. Luo Ningcha had already lost her presence of mind, so she would agree with whatever Servant Huan said. But Gu Shenwei would rather wait until the situation was slightly more stable, and not find a way to convince her until Luo Ningcha had a deeper understanding of her own situation.
What he wanted was not a sudden rash decision, but rather a desperate fight to win or die. Besides, the eighth young lord's courtyard had only been temporarily forgotten, and he had to deal with attacks that might come at any time.
At noon that day, Madam Meng sent someone to summon Servant Huan.
According to Luo Ningcha, Servant Huan had to stay around her and not go anywhere, but she was scared to death of Madam Meng now and could only let him go. Before he left, she repeatedly exhorted, "Go tell Madam that I was too sad and emotional about losing my father and got sick. As soon as I am better, I'll go visit my mother-in-law to show my respect. Servant Huan, you are good at reading people's mood. You must find out what the Madam is thinking and whether she will retaliate against me. I have already returned the board …"
After listening to the Miss's nagging, Gu Shenwei went to see Madam Meng. As soon as he entered the inner chamber, Shangguan Ru greeted him with a smile and said in a low voice, "Stay close to me, and do not go off on your own."
Shangguan Ru had said the same thing when the Unique King summoned him last time, so Gu Shenwei immediately understood that Madam Meng's summonings this time were similarly not simple.
Madam Meng took off her affable mask and laid all the cards on the table. She knew everything. Shangguan Fei had written to her mother and told her everything, including how Servant Huan had played a double game between him and her sister. Besides, the news of Big Head God's death had reached the castle for several days, but Servant Huan still hadn't taken advantage of the chance to get rid of the eighth young mistress. These things all made Madam Meng angry.
'I thought you were a wise man' were Madam Meng's first words. Instead of driving her daughter away, she decided to keep her around to show her the true face of Servant Huan. "So I trusted you, gave you the opportunity, entrusted my most precious pair of children to you, but you still let me down."
Kneeling on the floor with one leg, Gu Shenwei quietly listened. He knew that there was no point in arguing with Madam Meng. This woman was not Luo Ningcha who could be easily persuaded. If he wished, he could easily kill everyone in the room, but he chose to seek protection from Shangguan Ru.
Before meeting Madam Meng, Gu Shenwei had briefly confessed to Shangguan Ru that he had betrayed her before. He had pledged allegiance to Shangguan Fei in exchange for his help in killing Ye Silang at the negotiation site.
Shangguan Ru could understand the choice Servant Huan made at that time, and she only cared about one thing. "Yu Gongzi …"
"I didn't know it beforehand," Gu Shenwei immediately denied. He was telling the truth, and Shangguan Fei's move had actually surprised everyone. "Yu Gongzi and I were mortal enemies, but I remembered the promise and never thought about killing her." This was a lie, as the only reason he didn't do it was because he didn't have the right chance.
After Shangguan Yushi's first attempt to assassinate Servant Huan, Shangguan Ru had forced the two to swear never to fight again. This was the 'promise' Gu Shenwei meant.
"But she broke her promise and made use of Wild Horse and Meng Mingshi again and again to kill you," said Shangguan Ru, pensively. She unconsciously tried to exculpate Servant Huan from the trouble, but thinking about Yu Gongzi still made her heart ache.
"So I could only turn to ninth young lord for help, as I couldn't let Yu Gongzi know what I was planning."
Shangguan Ru forgave Servant Huan and trusted him even more than before. She had lost Yu Gongzi, so she naturally doubly cherished the remaining Servant Huan. And once she believed in someone, she would find reasons and excuses for the other's behavior. Gu Shenwei's conduct and explanation were far from impeccable, but Shangguan Ru couldn't see the flaws at all.
So when Madam Meng denounced the disloyalty and abominations of Servant Huan on the spot, the one who justified his actions was her daughter.
Gu Shenwei listened with his head lowered, feeling a bit ashamed. He had deceived Shangguan Ru and used a little girl as a shield. But he soon severed the shame in his heart. Compared to the humiliation and suffering he had endured in the past few years, the small 'reward' of Shangguan Ru was not worth mentioning.
Madam Meng exploded with anger. She couldn't understand why her daughter would stand on Servant Huan's side, which to her, was also a betrayal. "Shangguan Ru, do you still take me as your mother?"
"Mother," Shangguan Ru's tone was soft but firm. "Let go of Servant Huan. We have plenty of enemies to deal with, so why kill our own people?"
"Our own people? If he is one of us, he would not have sown discord between you and Fei'er, would not have pledged allegiance to two lords and would have brought Old Eighth's wife's head to me several days ago."
Shangguan Ru stood by Servant Huan's side. Although her murderous heart was nearly gone, she was as stubborn as ever. "Mother, brother hates me and it has nothing to do with others. I know what Servant Huan has done; he was just following my orders and didn't have a choice. And eighth sister-in-law has lost her backer and has nothing more to lose, so why we must kill her? Besides, she still has the thing we want. We'd better not kill her."
"Presumptuous." Madam Meng wasn't the kind of person who did whatever she wanted on a whim. She was fully prepared to get rid of Servant Huan. The only thing she hadn't expected was that her daughter would speak out for an outsider, completely inconsiderate to her mother's care.
Five masked black-robed killers got the hint and showed up. Three of them surrounded Servant Huan and Shangguan Ru while the other two stood in front of Madam Meng to prevent her from being injured.
Shangguan Ru's inner fortitude was aroused. Just like how they had been blocked in the room by Guo Xiansheng, she would rather die than the ones she protected be hurt, so she drew her narrow saber before the killers approached. "Who dares to come over?"
The killers didn't dare to hurt Tenth Gongzi, but also didn't want to be cut by her, so they all stayed put, waiting for Madam Meng's order. As long as she nodded, there was nothing they couldn't kill.
Madam Meng made her one and only concession since she was favored by the Unique King. "Ru'er, you really break my heart, how did you become like this? Is Shangguan Yushi that important to you?"
Shangguan Ru would have preferred for her mother not to have mentioned this name. To her, what mattered was not the person Shangguan Yushi anymore, but the mist that hung over her. Her love affair with Meng Mingshi and her feelings towards Tenth Gongzi were truth mingled with falsehood. Everyone told a different story, but she had left her with the truth.
Shangguan Ru personally escorted Servant Huan out of the inner chamber and reminded him to be careful. "Let eighth sister-in-law hide the last board, your lives all depend on it."
As soon as Gu Shenwei escaped Sabrelord Shen Liang's pursuit, he was faced with a more formidable enemy. The more he stayed in the castle, the harder it was to keep his secrets. He began to consider running away, but before that, he had to carry out his plan to assassinate the Unique King.
There's only one chance, he thought. As long as there was a chance of survival, he would continue hiding.
Luo Ningcha anxiously waited as if she were on fire and asked Servant Huan as soon as he came back, "How'd it go? Will Madam spare me?"
"No, she even wants to kill me."
"But … but I have already returned the board."
"The Madam is cruel and vindictive, so do not mention the board from now on, Miss. Lotus and I will protect you."
"Can you really protect me? The Madam can mobilize all the killers."
"Don't worry, Miss. Not everyone will listen to Madam Meng, as the castle belongs to the King Lord, not her. We still have a chance."
"A chance? Big Head God is dead, how do I still have a chance?" Luo Ningcha cried. Facing the double attack of grief and fear, she was like a little mouse being forced into a corner, having no strength to resist and no way out. "Take me away, Servant Huan, escape from this cold castle with me. I've never liked it. I have countless treasures, so let's run away together."
Gu Shenwei also had a plan to escape, but not now.