Editors: Cypress Venus Trap, Xu Xian
Chapter 28 Changing the Lord
Shangguan Nu felt deep hostility from the teenager's eyes, his instincts urged him to hold the hilt of his sabre, however the teenager’s hostility quickly faded and was replaced by the fearful and dull expression a servant should have.
An unformed idea flashed through Shangguan Nu’s mind, but it was fleeting and he did not have enough time to seize it.
This was a servant brought by his wife, the bandit’s daughter. It would be normal for him to be panic-stricken from seeing the young lord of Golden Roc Castle, so Shangguan Nu decided to forgive the ignorant teenager this once. He even felt some regret that east castle didn’t accept him as a killer – his sabresmanship was good, his eyes were full of fighting spirit, and he would make a good candidate for a killer disciple.
“You’re Servant Huan, the one rejected by east castle?”
Letting go of his fear made Gu Shenwei completely lose his strength afterwards. He then remembered his status, he kneeled on one leg and remarked, “Little servant didn’t know that the young lord had come, please forgive me young lord.”
Shangguan Nu's face showed little expression, he was measuring the teenager’s value; after a while he nodded, merely said Mm and then turned away, leaving Gu Shenwei puzzled.
In the days that followed, Gu Shenwei became worried. He couldn’t figure out Shangguan Nu’s purpose in visiting him, but apparently it was not an accidental meeting.
In the end it was Xue Niang who explained everything, she led him to see the Miss.
“The young lord has ordered for you to be sent to somebody else, from tomorrow onwards you’ll go to Zhai Xing Yuan and follow the little gongzi. 1 2
Gu Shenwei’s anxious heart finally settled down, so Shangguan Nu hadn’t recognized him. Gu Shenwei did not say anything else as the Miss, who was seated behind the screen, became extremely angry. Peng, it was the sound of something being broken.
“That’s going too far! That’s going too far! Didn't her Meng family claim to have a flock of servants? Then why she is taking mine?”
Gu Shenwei suddenly became enlightened, Unique King’s official wife was surnamed Meng, she was from the richest family in Jade City. From the first day Luo Ningcha entered Golden Roc Castle, the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law's relationship was bumpy. This was a well-known rumour not only inside the castle, but also in the city situated at the foot of the mountain.
Madam Meng gave birth to twins for Unique King, the elder brother was called Shangguan Fei, and the littler sister was called Shangguan Ru. The maidservant Little Ru, had to change her name because of this girl. It was said that the two of them were highly favored upon and were treated as treasures by the whole of Golden Roc Castle, even Shangguan Nu had to try and find ways to please his younger brother and sister.
To be a footman of the little gongzi, Gu Shenwei guessed that he would probably serve the twin Shangguan Fei from now on. He suddenly felt slightly sad, this little gongzi held a position similar to his previous status as ‘young lord of Gu family’. Within several months, he had fallen from a lord to a servant. Life was so unpredictable.
Gu Shenwei kneeled on the ground with his head bowed low and remained silent while Xue Niang moved to go behind the screen to comfort the Miss:
“Young lord must have a reason for doing this, besides, Servant Huan has nothing to do here. Miss, you’re a wife now, you have to walk away sometimes.”
“But – but I can’t swallow my anger, those bitches will deliberately embarrass me by pretending to accidentally mention this matter.”
“The good will be rewarded, the evil will be punished in the end. We’re too weak in the castle, we have to step back a bit, temporarily, let Big Head God make the decision when he comes.”
“When will my father come? I have been married for several months, he still hasn’t said when he will see me.”
The Miss appeared to be full of resentment as she broke another object. The blind, tongueless maidservant Cui Nü squatted on the ground to feel for and clean up the debris. No one knew how she annoyed the Miss, but she suffered a kick for no reason. Ouch! She cried, but she quickly swallowed the sound back.
It was weird, it seemed that the more she was abused, the more Cui Nü could gain favour from the Miss, she now served the Miss for longer than even her four closest maidservants Chen, Xin, Sui, and Yi.
Xue Niang continued comforting her in a low voice, after a while the Miss finally felt better, but she still couldn’t forget how she was humiliated, so she spoke to the teenager who waited on the other side of the screen:
“Swear, no matter who you’re going to serve, you will be loyal to me, I am your only true lord.”
“Servant Huan swears to the heavens that, once surnamed Luo, forever surnamed Luo, I will be loyal to the Miss and never betray her, once Miss gives her order, little servant will march forward courageously. If I commit even the slightest violation of this oath, I shall be punished by heaven and earth, and trapped in hell forever after death.
Gu Shenwei could easily blurt out many similar oaths as the Miss would ask the servants to pledge oaths over and over again every four or five days and Gu Shenwei was already used to it.
The Miss merely said Mm, she seemed to be unsatisfied, “If I hear that you stand on the little devil’s side, I’ll hand you to my husband, aren’t you that Yang somebody’s son? My husband will be glad to cut any weeds and dig up their roots.”
The Miss still remembered Servant Huan’s confession, which showed she was not completely brainless.
Gu Shenwei then made three different versions of the oath before the Miss let him go, but she suddenly made an unexpected request:
“Servant Huan, once you entered Zhai Xing Yuan, I want you to find a chance and kill the little devil, I want the woman surnamed Meng to live in pain for the rest of her lifetime.”
Gu Shenwei was stunned, not of course because he was soft-hearted. All the people surnamed Shangguan in Golden Roc Castle were on his revenge list, but to assassinate Unique King’s son so impudently was no less than courting death.
“Miss!” Xue Niang cried shrilly, obviously and strongly disagreeing with this plan.
But the Miss was very excited about this, she strolled back and forth behind the screen and paid no attention to Xue Niang’s objections and said, “First you will gain the little devil’s trust, then kill him sneakily. Your martial arts is good, and you are smart, you will probably not get caught. In short, be unnoticed. Once you finish this, I will let my father reward you. Uh, I’ll also ask my husband to find the murderer that killed your father and leave him at your disposal."
Gu Shenwei became more and more stunned as he listened. This woman must be mad, not only she will kill one of her servants, she will also drag herself into the abyss. Even if she is Big Head God’s daughter, she will not survive if she kills those twins.
Gu Shenwei didn’t dare to utter a sound, the Miss suddenly stopped and harshly said, “Why are you not speaking, you dare disobey my will?”
“Little servant does not dare.”
“Go find a way, I want it done in three days.”
“Yes, little servant will try his best.”
Xue Niang whispered persuasively , the Miss listened for a while but suddenly raised her voice, and firmly said, “This is it, I’m not afraid, and I won't regret it.”
Xue Niang walked out from behind the screen, although she used to have a poker face, she looked annoyed now; she only said the word Go and led Servant Huan out of the room. When they reached a quiet place in the front yard, she stopped and turned back to look at him.
“Do you know what you're going to do?”
“Little servant is loyal to the Miss, but little servant will also follow Xue Niang’s orders because little servant knows that the things Xue Niang do are all good for the Miss.”
Xue Niang snorted coldly, “You have learnt a lot from Servant Yao, you have a good future. I don’t care how you think, from tomorrow on, you have to use all your ways on the little gongzi, let him like you and trust you, this is more important than entering east castle to be a killer. I will explain to Miss by myself, you will become a footman of the little gongzi, but you’ll still live here, understood?”
“Yes, understood, I will try my best.”
“Trying your best is not enough, you must succeed, if the little gongzi comes to like you, you’ll become somebody in the castle, if he doesn’t like you, I’ll send you to see your father.”
Xue Niang’s tone was not kidding, and she was not the kind of person who liked playing jokes. After he returned to his hut, Gu Shenwei became more and more confused as he thought about it. How on earth will Xue Niang benefit if the little gongzi is pleased? Xue Niang seems to have a goal which can only be realized if I either become a killer or if I get the little gongzi's trust.
No matter what Xue Niang'’s goal was, it did not conflict with Gu Shenwei’s revenge plan at the moment. He had to please that little gongzi. It was like catching a sheep in the sheepfold, he could either make use of the little gongzi to get his revenge or kill him when he was driven into a corner, adding an important person to his revenge list.
With this thought, Elder Zhang’s snoring didn't affect him at all and Gu Shenwei slept soundly.
The next day morning, Xue Niang led him to register in Zhai Xing Yuan before bowing to the Miss.
Zhai Xing Yuan was a school in the castle, the Shangguan family’s descendents were all studying there. It was located near the inner chambers for womenfolks in west castle, which was far away from Xi Xin Yuan and Ji Xin Yuan. They had to pass through three doors before reaching there, each door was guarded, and the passer-by's yao pai would be checked. If Gu Shenwei wasn't led by Xue Niang, he wouldn't be even able to pass through the first door.
Outside the school stood a group of servants, their lords had entered but they were left outside, stamping their feet and warming their hands using their breath while chatting.
The little gongzi’s head footman was a middle-aged man called Servant Qing who was over 30 years old, he was also the oldest amongst the servants and looked kind and clever. He recognized Xue Niang as soon as he saw her, accepted Servant Huan very politely, and gave him the appropriate yao pai. After Xue Niang turned away, his smile disappeared without a trace, and said coldly:
“Come early tomorrow morning, don’t let the lord wait for a servant. Go stand there.”
The position Servant Qing pointed out to Servant Huan was the farthest, and there were already several teenage servants standing there. All of them hunched their heads between their shoulders, traces of bruises on their faces – it seemed that they were beaten.
No one talked with the new servant, so Gu Shenwei listened quietly to the others’ conversation.
There were more than a dozen of the Shangguan family's younger generation studying at the school. Other than Unique King’s son, there were also descendants from the family branches. One would know a lord’s status by judging his servants’ appearance. Although Servant Qing didn’t have a title, he stayed nearest to the door and controlled the conversation content and topic, and the others were trying their best to suck up to him.
The topics were nothing more than various rumors about different lords, and the one mentioned most about was the ‘Ninth Gongzi‘. It seemed that this kid was very naughty and mischievous and had caused lots of trouble. But all the people talking about him liked him very much, they even felt proud from talking with or just seeing him once.
After two hours, a clamouring sound came from inside the school, as if someone was fighting. But Servant Qing and the other servants seemed to be unconcerned and exchanged a sly, knowing look.
“The lords are taking a rest, Ninth Gongzi is playing again.”
Gu Shenwei guessed that the meaning of the word ‘play’ might be different from what it normally meant as the clamouring sound that came from the school was mixed with some screams.
He was still trying to understand the situation before the door of school was opened and a person was pushed out. A voice came from inside. “Change for another one.”
The person pushed out was a teenager who was about 14 or 15 years old, he waddled and fell directly into Servant Qing’s arms. Frowning his eyebrows, Servant Qing pushed him aside, and waved towards the crowd standing farthest away, “Come!”
Gu Shenwei was pushed out by the surrounding teenagers before he even realized what was happening.
The multiple arms of the crowd were like the feet of a large centipede, sending Gu Shenwei to the center like he was prey. Servant Qing glanced at him and hesitated, but someone inside the school urged him again, so he had to grab the newcomers’ shoulders and stuff him through the door gap. He was only able to say one sentence, “be smart …“Translator’s note: Zhai Xing Yuan literally means Picking Star Yard. ↩ Translator’s note: gongzi literally means son of a feudal prince or high official. It is a respectful form of addressing somebody, usually a man in ancient China. ↩