Chapter 232 Statement
Luo Ningcha had made a whimsical proposal to escape from Golden Roc Castle, but Gu Shenwei could only persuade her to give up the idea. He almost told her his plan, but in the end, he decided to wait some more. There would only be one try, and he had to make sure it was a good one.
That night, Gu Shenwei and Lotus were fully on guard, but no killers came by. After all, Luo Ningcha and Servant Huan were just two minor figures in the castle, and for Madam Meng, starting a war with them was not worth the risk it would bring as she had much stronger enemies to deal with.
The next day, the day before the Unique King would go out to settle all the disputes, a flurry of activities shook the castle.
The fifth, sixth, seventh young lords returned to the castle together, amongst whom the fifth and seventh young lords used to belong to the fraction of Shangguan Chui, and the sixth young lord Madam Meng. But now the situation had changed, and the three of them had somehow formed an alliance to fight against the second young lord Shangguan Tian.
To Madam Meng and Shangguan Tian's great surprise, the other three young lords hadn't stayed in their far away stations but had actually been hiding in Jade City. Instead of showing up right after the eighth young lord's betrayal, they waited for the situation to turn more and more chaotic and finally ascended the mountain to seize power together when the second young lord couldn't control the situation anymore.
It was this matter that had taken up most of Madam Meng's energy until that she had no choice but to let go of Old Eighth's wife and Servant Huan for the time being.
On the same day, news came from Jade City that said that the Governor Wei Song had disappeared.
Gu Shenwei had arranged for the people of the Kun Society to watch over the Governor's office, and the news that they reported was that Wei Song must have planned to escape long ago and that he had planned his route of retreat as soon as the Central Plains were ready to wipe out the Iron Mountain. It was highly possible that he had disguised himself as a servant leaving the city on official business and thus directly slipped out of the city. The Golden Roc killers guarding the Office and the cutters of the Kun Society watching in secret had all been fooled by him.
Gu Shenwei couldn't blame them because the Central Plains hadn't sent out any troops when Wei Song ran away. No one could have imagined that the Governor would flee. But their true dereliction of duty was that this information was only discovered five or six days later, by which time it was too late to pursue or intercept.
Wei Song and the killer Yang Huan had once agreed to leave Jade City together on the thirteenth day of the eighth lunar month, which now just seemed to be a stalling tactic. Gu Shenwei had actually suspected that the Governor had ulterior motives, but he was trapped in the castle and could only watch this important enemy slip away.
Another event that took place that day was an unexpected invitation Gu Shenwei received.
Zhang Ji, the teacher in the castle, asked Yang Huan for a talk in the afternoon.
Ever since Gu Shenwei had killed his Master Tie Hanfeng, Zhang Ji had been a little cold to him. But Gu Shenwei still paid people to deliver wine on time, though he hadn't visited him for a long time.
It wasn't easy to get rid of the Miss's entanglement, but Gu Shenwei still decided to go to the school once, hoping to get some advice from Zhang Ji, who was familiar with the history of the castle.
To Gu Shenwei's surprise, Zhang Ji, who had always been aloof from the affairs of the castle, had actually been 'bought over'.
Zhang Ji's invite was just a pretense, and the one who actually wanted to see Servant Huan was Shangguan Hong.
Shangguan Hong, previously known as Shangguan Hongye, was a nephew of the Unique King who had been unpopular a few months ago until all of a sudden, he became known as the illegitimate son of Shangguan Fa and his status rose sharply. But it was only a false appearance. Although Shangguan Hong's name had been shortened to three characters, he still couldn't enjoy the treatment the young lords of the castle should have. He was older than the twins, but no one had ever mentioned giving him the title of 'young lord'. He served as a stopgap and the sole purpose of his existence was to make Madam Meng feel relieved.
The backer Zhang Ji chose wasn't so good, and Gu Shenwei thought that the old teacher must have been wrong this time. He had dealt with Shangguan Hong several times and knew the true nature of this son of the Unique King, who always appeared fierce but was a coward at heart.
Shangguan Hong hadn't changed much. As usual, his demeanor swayed between dignity and inferiority. He greeted the killer with his head held high, but in order to show his generosity and affability, he reached out with his hand and patted Servant Huan on the shoulder, which turned abrupt and rigid.
Shangguan Hong wanted to win over Servant Huan because he felt that the other side had nowhere else to go now. "Let us be honest, there's no chance for either Tenth Gongzi or the eighth young lord to stand up again. Servant Huan, don't you want to find a way out for yourself?"
In the commoners' eyes, Luo Ningcha couldn't be considered as a force in the castle at all, so Shangguan Hong didn't even mention her.
"The eight young mistress is my lord now."
Hearing Servant Huan's reply, Shangguan Hong was a little bewildered and flustered. He turned to look at Zhang Ji, hoping to get a hint from him. Zhang Ji coughed and said, "Servant Huan is a wise man, and he'll decide which way to go himself. Let's have a drink first."
Shangguan Hong obviously didn't understand his teacher's meaning, and his face blushed. With his head lowered, he drank without speaking anymore.
Zhang Ji chatted with Servant Huan for a while before leading the topic to the situation in the castle. "In my opinion, the castle is in decline and the people are growing weaker and weaker. The King Lord is indeed worthy of the title of 'Unique King' and has expanded a lot of power, but the young lords are not worth mentioning. Even if the big young lord were still alive, I didn't think much of him. The second lacks talent and vision. The third is a bit capable, but unfortunately, he has been locked up in the dungeons. The fourth pays too much attention to trivial matters. The fifth is too reckless. The sixth only knows to act ruthlessly. The seventh is a fence-sitter. The eighth's name holds the character of 'anger', but he can't control it. The ninth is too cowardly. Ai, once the King Lord has an accident, Golden Roc Castle will be in danger."
Gu Shenwei knew that Zhang Ji's purpose was to recommend Shangguan Hong, so he cooperated and asked, "There's still Hong Gongzi."
"Hong Gongzi is useless. He has all the faults of the other nine young lords."
Shangguan Hong, who was waiting for his teacher's compliment, was completely unprepared to hear such merciless disparagement. He bounced up, wanting to break out but didn't dare to, wanting to cover up his embarrassment but unable to even think of a word. Red-faced, he was at a loss at what to do.
"Sit down, I haven't finished yet," Zhang Ji said as he coldly stared at him.
Like a newly trained dog, Shangguan Hong unwillingly sat down after an awkward pause.
"He has one merit, obedience." Zhang Ji continued to talk to Servant Huan. "He's able to listen to others. Well, he has to in his current position. So, if you want to be an average killer all your life, you can join the other young lords and work your way up slowly. But if you want to accomplish something big, Hong Gongzi is the best choice.
Zhang Ji's words were simple and direct, but very meaningful. If there were still some strong figures among the other young lords, Shangguan Hong naturally didn't stand a chance. But since everyone was weak, his easy-to-control character became a virtue. As long as the people assisting him were strong enough, he would also become powerful.
If he didn't have other purposes, Gu Shenwei probably would have accepted Zhang Ji's suggestion. What he valued was not Shangguan Hong, but the teacher who had deeply hidden his ability.
"I'll consider it." Gu Shenwei didn't refuse flat out. "The situation is too chaotic, and I want to observe for a while."
Zhang Ji raised his cup and said nothing. He knew what was going on very well in his heart, but Shangguan Hong was a little anxious. For no reason, he blurted out, "You won't tell on me, will you?"
Zhang Ji snorted and scolded his worthless disciple, "Don't ask useless questions. If he wants to tell, he won't say so. Even if he tells on you, you can't stop him."
Observing the situation was just a perfunctory remark of Gu Shenwei, but what he hadn't expected was that the situation would soon stabilize and nearly undermine his overall plan.
The day after Shangguan Hong tried to buy over Servant Huan, while the young lords were still entangled in endless quarrels, the Unique King finally made a statement.
"Old Eighth has made a big contribution." The first thing Shangguan Fa did was to eliminate the charge of 'betrayal' for Shangguan Nu. "He has gotten rid of a mortal malady for the castle. Big Head God was too ambitious and would become a trouble sooner or later. Old Eighth knew what I wanted and has done a great thing for me."
The young lords were all dumbfounded for a while before they could react. They then all rushed to praise the eighth young lord for his foresight. The ones who were more clever directly ascribed all the credit to their father, saying that Old Eighth was actually carrying out the secret order of the Unique King and that everyone else was only temporarily kept in the dark.
"The Central Plains is a friend, not an enemy." Shangguan Fa's words immediately changed the dangerous situation of Golden Roc Castle and Jade City. There was no such thing that the city would be slaughtered by the army; it was impossible. "Old Second, go treat the army of the Central Plains as if they were in my name. Tell Old Eighth, he is my good son, and the Waning Moon Hall hasn't been eradicated yet. Let him keep up the good work."
Shangguan Fa also personally sent his second son down the mountain, breaking the rumors that he was seriously ill. Only a handful of people knew that the servants around him were the best green-faced assassins and that no one could make it within ten steps of the Unique King unless they had an army.
Of course, the Unique King didn't just use his mouth to solve problems. At the time when the second young lord Shangguan Tian was at a loss, Shangguan Fa had already sent secret envoys to lobby the countries of the Western Regions. Some were already successful and others were still on their way.
So, the Allied Forces of Sixteen Countries suddenly disbanded, and the reasons were very simple. "Now that the Iron Mountain bandits have been eliminated, why do we have to stay here?"
The Central Plains only had five thousand soldiers, and their supplies relied solely on the support of the allies. The commander in chief realized that the time was not ripe. They had thought that the Unique King was seriously ill and that Golden Roc Castle would be destroyed by internal strife. Now that Shangguan Fa appeared normal, it would be unwise to challenge the castle.
The Central Plains accepted Golden Roc Castle's reward, which was an acknowledgment of the relationship between the two parties. The collapse of the Iron Mountain, therefore, was no longer a loss of the castle, but a victory. The residents of Jade City were all relieved, and very few people saw the flaw: the Army of the Central Plains didn't withdraw, but instead remained stationed in the former Iron Mountain Camp. And the eighth young lord Shangguan Nu, who had been praised by his father, also didn't take advantage of the situation to return to the castle and take credit.
Everything was settled except for one person on the mountain peak whose identity and status were still in suspense.
The Big Head God had been declared as an enemy by the Unique King, and Luo Ningcha had naturally become the daughter of the enemy. But Shangguan Nu had made a big 'contribution', so it seemed that the eighth young mistress should be honored due to her husband.
Unlike what Luo Ningcha had imagined, she was only a minor figure in the castle. So for several days, she was simply ignored. Since the Unique King didn't mention her, everyone pretended that the problem didn't exist.
Neglect and oblivion were even sharper than hatred. Luo Ningcha was hurt, from head to toe, from inside out. She almost wanted to run to the inner chamber and make a scene just to be noticed.
Gu Shenwei could only give up his plan if Shangguan Nu was very concerned about his wife. But the eighth young lord's 'being favored' didn't bring any benefits to the eighth young mistress, and it seemed that this state would never change. Gu Shenwei felt that the time had finally come.