Chapter 29: Changing Masters
Translator: Transn Editor: Transn
Shangguan Nu felt strong hostility from the young man's eyes. Intuitively, he held the hilt tightly. But the slave's hostility had gone fleetingly and now he looked dull and fearful like most slaves.
An unmatured thought came into Shangguan Nu's mind so quickly that he could not catch up.
Shangguan Nu returned to his senses. He realized the young man in front him was the slave brought by his wife's bandit family, who became panicked because of meeting the master in Golden Roc Fort. He decided to forgive the innocent young man this time. Shangguan Nu also felt a little pity. This slave, who would make a good enough killer-apprentice, was well-studied in swordsmanship and was also full of courage, but East Castle had rejected him.
"You're Slave Huan, the one rejected by East Castle?"
"Yes, I am."
Gu Shenwei completely lost his strength due to the involuntary muscle relaxation that could occur after experiencing fear. He kneeled down on one knee and said reverently, "I didn't know that Master had arrived. Please forgive me."
Shangguan Nu still had no expression. He was thinking over the young slave's value. For a while, he nodded at him and then said, "I see..." Shangguan Nu then left, leaving the confused slave alone.
Over the next few days, Gu Shenwei was afraid because he did not know what Shangguan Nu would do next. Obviously, this meeting with Shangguan Nu had not been by chance.
Finally, Mama Xue explained everything to him and took him to meet Miss Luo.
"Master Nu has sent you away. Tomorrow, you shall go to Star Picking Academy and serve the young master."
Gu Shenwei's beating heart was finally calm. Shangguan Nu had not recognized him. He did not say anything, but Miss Luo behind the screen unleashed her anger. "Crash!" She threw something on the ground.
"Ridiculous. The Meng family has so many servants. Why should my servants serve them?"
Gu Shenwei had a sudden realization. The Supreme King's wife was Lady Meng, from the richest family in Jade City. From the first day that Luo Ningcha had married into Golden Roc Fort, she did not get along with her mother-in-law, Lady Meng. This fact was well-known to all in Golden Roc Fort. Even people living at the foot of the mountain had heard about their feud.
Lady Meng had given birth to fraternal twins for the Supreme King. The elder son was Shangguan Fei and the little girl was Shangguan Ru. That was the reason that Miss Luo's maidservant, Little Ru, had to be renamed. It was disrespectful for a maidservant to have the same name as the masters. People said that the Supreme King showed partiality to them and everyone in Golden Roc Fort loved the two young masters. Even Shangguan Nu also wanted to please his younger brother and sister.
They ordered Gu Shenwei to be an attendant for a young master. He guessed that the master he would serve might be Master Fei and, suddenly, he became a little sad. Master Fei's position in Golden Roc Fort perhaps was like the Young Master in the Gu family. A few months ago, Gu Shenwei was an innocent young Master, but now he had become a servant. Fate was too hard to predict.
Gu Shenwei kneeled on the ground in silence. Mama Xue went to Miss Luo and comforted her.
She said, "Master must have his own reason. If he stays here, Slave Huan will be idle. Miss, you're a wife now, better be patient."
"But... I can't stand it. These ladies will feign carelessness and talk about it just to embarrass me."
"What goes around comes around. We're isolated and helpless here at present. When Bighead Kingpin comes, all the problems will be solved."
"When will my father visit me? It has been such a long time since I married the Eight Young Master. He doesn't remember me."
Miss Luo continued to release her grievances into the room, and then she broke something again. The blind maid squatted and swept up the fragments on the floor. For no reason, Miss Luo kicked her as she cleaned. "Ow!" She made a sound, but quickly swallowed it down.
This was strange. It seemed the more Miss Luo abused Maid Cui, the more she gained the Miss's trust. Now, she had now served Miss Luo for more time than the four maidservants "Chen, Xin, Sui, and Yi".
Mama Xue continued to comfort the Miss in a soft voice. But she could not shake the shame that she had suffered, so she commanded Slave Huan, who was kneeling down outside, "You must swear to me that I alone will be your master, no matter who you serve."
Gu Shenwei said firmly, "Slave Huan swears to God. Today, I'm the slave serving Miss Luo and Mama Xue. I'll never betray them. If Miss needs me, I'll appear immediately. If someday I break my vow, I shall be punished by heaven and go to hell in the afterlife."
If Miss Luo wanted to hear more vows, he could swear to them in thousands of ways without any hesitation. She always demanded that slaves pledge their allegiance to her every four or five days. He had become accustomed to it.
Miss Luo snorted, seemingly dissatisfied with his vow. She added, "If I hear that you are supporting the masters from the Meng family, you will be punished by my husband. You know that he's willing to kill the son of Yang-whoever from the Gu family."
Miss Luo still remembered Slave Huan's secret. She was not so stupid.
Then, Gu Shenwei put forth three different versions of his vow to show his "loyalty". Finally, Miss Luo was a little satisfied, but she made another unexpected request.
"Slave Huan, as you enter in Star Picking Academy, I ask you to take the opportunity to kill Shangguan Fei. I'll make Lady Meng suffer for the rest of her lifetime."
Gu Shenwei was suddenly stunned. Of course, it was not because of his kindness. People surnamed Shangguan in Golden Roc Fort were all on his revenge list. However, if he murdered the Supreme King's son, he would certainly head to his doom.
"Miss!" Mama Xue shouted. Apparently, she did not approve of her plan.
However, Miss Luo was very excited about her plan. She paced behind the screen and ignored Mama Xue's words. She continued, "To start with, you need to win his trust. Later, murder him stealthily. I believe you can succeed due to your good Kung Fu and intelligence. Most of all, you must do it secretly. Once you succeed, my father will give bountiful rewards to you. Additionally, I'll help you find out who murdered your father, and let you carry out your sentence on him."
The more he heard, the more surprised he was. This woman was totally insane. Her decision would kill him and also risked her own life. Once Gu Shenwei murdered Shangguan Yu and Shangguan Fei, even though she was Bighead Kingpin's daughter, she could not survive.
Gu Shenwei did not dare to say anything. Miss Luo suddenly stopped her pacing and said harshly, "Why don't you speak? How dare you violate my order!"
Gu Shenwei said, "I'll do as you've ordered."
"Go and do it within three days."
"I'll try my best."
Mama Xue persuaded Miss Luo in a low voice. After a while, the Miss raised her tone and spoke loudly, "I have made up my mind. I'm not worried about it and I won't regret my decision."
Mama Xue came out from behind the screen and said, "Follow me." Usually, her face did not betray her true feelings, but now Mama Xue seemed a little angry. After taking Slave Huan out of the room, she stopped in the front yard and turned to look at him.
"You know what you should do, right?"
"Of course, I'm loyal to Miss Luo. But I'll also listen to Mama Xue's instruction because all the things that Mama Xue planned are good for Miss Luo."
Mama Xue said, "Humph. You've learned the skills necessary to deal with people from Slave Yao. Very good. I don't know what your plan is. But you should spare no effort in pleasing Shangguan Fei from tomorrow on, and let him like you and trust you. It's more important than becoming a killer in East Castle. I'll explain to Miss. Don't worry. Even though you're Shangguan Fei's servant now, you still should live here, understand?"
"Yes. I will try my best to cater to Shangguan Fei."
"You must succeed. If Shangguan Fei likes you, your status in Golden Roc Fort will be improved. If not, I'll personally deliver you to your dead father."
Mama Xue seemed serious, she was not the sort of person to tell jokes. Then Gu Shenwei returned to his room, wondering about what benefits Mama Xue could gain by pleasing Master Fei. She seemed to have a plan that could make him become a killer and also help him gain Master Fei's trust.
No matter what her purpose was, her plan coincided with Gu Shenwei's revenge. He should please Shangguan Fei, which was like catching a sheep in a flock. Perhaps he could take advantage of him. At least, once they painted him into a corner, Gu Shenwei could kill Master Fei, adding an important character to his list of completed revenge.
After he made up his mind, Gu Shenwei slept very tight. Even Elderly Zhang's snoring did not bother him this night.
The next morning, before the greeting ceremony to Miss Luo started, Mama Xue brought Gu Shenwei to Star Picking Academy.
Situated in West Castle, Star Picking Academy was the learning hall in Gold Roc Fort, close to the Inner Residence and far from Heart Cleansing Yard and Firewood Yard. All the Shangguan family's children studied here. On the way to Star Picking Academy, there were three gates guarded by people to check the passersby's waist tokens. If not introduced by Mama Xue, Gu Shenwei could not even enter the first gate.
Outside of the learning hall, slaves were waiting for their masters, who had already gone in to study. They stamped their feet and blew on their fingers to keep warm in the cold wind while chatting with each other.
Shangguan Fei's leader-servant was a middle-aged man in his 30s who was the eldest servant among them, called Slave Qing. He looked kind and smart. Once meeting Mama Xue, he recognized her and politely accepted Slave Huan. Also, he gave Slave Huan a waist token. But after Mama Xue left, his smile disappeared immediately.
He said coldly, "Come here early tomorrow. Don't let your master wait for you. Go and stand there."
Slave Qing pointed to the end of the slaves' line. Some young slaves had already waited there, huddled up with swollen, bruised faces. They were likely beaten recently.
No one talked to Slave Huan, the newcomer, so he just stood and heard them gossiping about their masters.
There were a dozen masters studying in the learning hall. Except for the Supreme King's children, the descendants of their relatives also were educated here. People could tell the master's status from their servant's behavior. Slave Qing did not have a high position, but he stood closest to the door and raised topics of conversation. The other servants also tried to please him.
The topics were always about the rumors of their masters. The most frequent master mentioned by them was the Ninth Young Master. It was said that the master was very naughty and always screwed things up. But from their gossip, people showed their preference for this young master. They were even proud of meeting or talking to the ninth child of the Supreme King.
An hour later, a loud noise came from the school. It seemed that people were fighting in the room, while Slave Qing and other slaves did not care at all. They exchanged a knowing look with each other.
"The masters are taking a break. But the Ninth Young Master is playing games again," someone said.
Gu Shenwei suspected the word "playing" here might have a different meaning because he heard someone was screaming in the hall.
He was trying to accustom himself to the new environment. Just then, the gate opened and someone was pushed outside as a voice bellowed out, "Next one."
The young slave was probably 14 or 15 years old. He staggered and fell directly into Slave Qing's arms. Slave Qing frowned and pushed him away, waved to the other slaves standing farthest away, and said, "Come here!"
Gu Shenwei did not understand what was going on. The other servants around him pushed him into the room together.
The slaves' numerous arms were like the feet of a giant centipede, sending Gu Shenwei into the room as if they were sending prey to their hungry masters. Slave Qing looked at him hesitantly, but the masters inside the room urged him again. He had to seize the newcomer's shoulders and cram him through the crack of the door, saying quickly, "Be cautious..."