Chapter 135 Friendship
When it was completely bright outside, the first thing Gu Shenwei did was to go pay his respects to Miss Luo Ningcha. The information he received for his efforts was to wait at the Transforming Kun Yard (Kun Hua Yuan), though Shangguan Ru could not come out to meet him until the second of the five night watch period started. 1
The Transforming Kun Yard was another home for Shangguan Ru outside of the inner chamber, where she would move in after she became a young lord. Gu Shenwei had been there before and knew where it was, but he was a bit too late to meet her. By the time he arrived, there would be only two hours left before the start of the third night watch period. He had no choice but to accept this and move on.
Next, Gu Shenwei went to the West Castle to visit Shangguan Hongye and his mother.
This meeting was a result of Luo Ningcha’s whimsical thinking, so both sides were a little bit embarrassed at the beginning. Nominally, Shangguan Hongye was the lord and also the Unique King’s nephew, so it was a joke for him to invite a servant to lunch. In fact, the mother and son couldn’t refuse the silver bullet attack of Luo Ningcha. The eighth young mistress was perhaps cruel and unkind, but she had lots of money and was very generous, and so could make ghosts and god push the millstone for her.
Shangguan Hongye’s mother was surnamed Yang and was in her thirties. Her beauty and elegance had long worn away, and now all that was left was the slickness and slyness of a poor woman struggling to survive. The house was shabbily decorated, and only had two attendants, a manservant and a maidservant assigned by the castle who had no extra money to earn. They were both full of resentment and barely behaved themselves in front of the guest.
This situation was a reminder of how the Unique King Shangguan Fa’s heart was even colder than the most ruthless killer. He was even this callous to his own brother’s wife and son.
But in this family, the Unique King was a taboo topic and here it was obeyed even more stringently than in the rest of the castle. Gu Shenwei could faintly feel the hidden resentment.
After the initial awkwardness, Shangguan Hongye and his mother became more enthusiastic, or perhaps even too enthusiastic to the point that it made Gu Shenwei feel a bit uncomfortable.
The son said little while the mother jabbered constantly. She first chatted about the household, envying Servant Huan’s promising future and sighing about her son’s little achievements, which made Shangguan Hongye very unhappy. Then the topic naturally shifted to the eighth young mistress and her mother-in-law, Madam Meng.
Gu Shenwei had been distracted and his mind was absent for most of the conversation. It was not until Mrs. Yang started talking with an inquisitive expression that he suddenly awoke from his reverie.
Mrs. Yang behaved as the eighth young mistress’s confidant and talked to Servant Huan in a critical tone. She asked Servan Huan why he always worked for Tenth Gongzi and if it would make the eighth young mistress unhappy.
Gu Shenwei still pretended to be absent-minded, saying that he was first a subordinate of the eighth young lord and that serving the Tenth Gongzi was also the eighth young lord’s wish. The mother-in-law and daughter-in-law were families and a servant should do his best to bring about a reconciliation between the two, so on and so forth.
It was not easy to deal with them, and Gu Shenwei immediately took his leave when he got the chance.
After leaving, he first went to the school to visit teacher Zhang Ji, but didn’t get any useful information. Although Zhang Ji knew the history of tactics and power change of the castle, he knew very little about the martial arts and the origin of the Death Sutra.
Gu Shenwei immediately rushed directly to eighth young lord’s courtyard after he left the school.
Luo Ningcha was very proud of her success in winning over Mrs. Yang. This was the first time that someone had openly stood on her side in the women’s circle, not to mention that woman was nominally Madam Meng’s sister-in-law and her aunt-in-law.
“How’s it? Is she worthy of trust?” The Miss anxiously asked.
The Miss only had the blind and tougueless maidservant Tsui Nü nearby. Luo Ningcha’s suspicion had become more and more serious, and now she didn’t trust the other maidservants.
Separated by the wooden wall with lattices, Gu Shenwei could only hear the Miss’s voice. He hesitated for a while and said, “She’s untrustworthy.”
Miss said with disappointment, “How come? She has helped me a lot in the inner chamber.”
“That’s exactly the problem. Madam Meng was completely in charge of the inner chamber. Even if someone has sympathy for Miss, they would dare not to show it publicly. Mrs. Yang is going too far, indicating that she had followed Madam Meng’s order to investigate you.”
Luo Ningcha sighed with disappointment, and then her old temper flared up and she started throwing tea cups, beating Tsui Nü and scolding Servant Huan. “You’re the only one who’s said anything. You were the one who said the Yang was easy to buy over, and now you say that she was a spy for the old woman all along. Big Head God was really blind to ask you to help me. How could I ever trust you, kid? Xue Niang always said to guard against you …”
As he knelt on the ground with his head held low, Gu Shenwei waited for the Miss to release all her anger before saying, “Now that the enemy is strong and we’re weak, it’s naturally difficult to buy someone over.”
“So what do you suggest? Give away piles of silver for nothing? That Mrs. Yang, I’ll punish her sooner or later.”
Luo Ningcha wasn’t a good student at controlling people’s hearts and learning how to plot. Gu Shenwei had no choice but to patiently teach her and was determined to gradually distance himself from this woman, lest he be betrayed by her.
“There’s one trick, which can not only punish the Yang, but also make her completely swing to Miss’s side.”
“Why didn’t you say so earlier?” Luo Ningcha forgot that she was the one who had been nagging.
“Since Mrs. Yang snoops on Miss for Madam Meng, Miss could say something in front of her to show a little repentance, but without going too far …”
“Why?” Luo Ningcha smashed another teacup, “You want me to humbly ask for a reconciliation?”
Gu Shenwei felt like he had almost run out of patience. “Of course not, let Mrs. Yang pass Miss’s words to Madam Meng. Madam Meng naturally will not believe it. Then Miss could give Mrs. Yang more incentives. Not only gold and silver, it could be clothes, so that she can wear them and let everyone in the inner chamber see it …”
Luo Ningcha finally understood, “Oh, you mean the Strategy of Sowing Discord?”
Gu Shenwei let out a long breath, “Yes. Mrs. Yang and Madam Meng are not that close, it’s highly possible that this trick will work. Only when Mrs. Yang is humiliated by Madam Meng will the bribe be considered as successful.”
Madam Meng and Mrs. Yang might collude to use the Battered-body Trick, Gu Shenwei thought. But the brawl in the inner chamber didn’t seem to be so complicated, and Luo Ningcha probably wouldn’t understand it. So he buried the idea in his mind and didn’t speak out.
When Gu Shenwei was finally done with Luo Ningcha, he ran to the Transforming Kun Yard early. The door was locked, so he jumped straight inside and sat on the steps in front of the veranda, waiting for Shangguan Ru.
He thought over the whole plan again and modified a few details. There were still several major loopholes which he couldn’t fix at all. He was just a pawn and couldn’t control the whole situation. Any big shot’s whimsical ideas could kill him.
He had no choice but to push himself forward.
Shangguan Ru came a bit earlier than the promised time in a mask and black robe, thinking that Servant Huan had come up with some new strange games.
This conversation was crucial to Gu Shenwei’s lifetime. Not only because he could solve several troubles through Shangguan Ru, but also because he would gain her full trust after this.
Gu Shenwei once almost became one of the closest people to Shangguan Ru, but it was interrupted for various reasons. When the two met again and went together to the Iron Mountain camp, they couldn’t find the feeling they had when they used to play games together. Even though they had gone through thick and thin together and Servant Huan had even saved several teenagers’ lives later on, it didn’t bring them any closer.
Friendship was a wonderful thing, and sometimes it was even more complicated than love. The one who was the best to you and helped you the most might not be the person you liked most; it could be some bad guy who suddenly confided in you and completely forgot about it afterward that became your best friend.
With Shangguan Ru, Gu Shenwei told her everything about the Great Desolate Sect. He and Lotus had been instilled with the Desolate Finger Energy by Xue Niang and only had one more year to live. Then they happened to be captured by two women of the Great Desolate Sect. Lotus had become a hostage, and he was subjected to much more powerful finger energy, and must finish the task assigned to him tonight.
The string, which was connected with the black iron, was in his robe, was also taken out by him and laid before Shangguan Ru.
Shangguan Ru tore off the black cloth masking her face, and became more and more surprised as she listened. “You’ll die because of Qi deviation by noon tomorrow?”
Gu Shenwei nodded.
“The Great Desolate Sect will climb the cliff and sneakily attack the castle tonight?”
Gu Shenwei nodded again, “I’m guessing that they don’t want to attack, but that they want something else.”
“Humph, no matter what purposes they have, I’ll go tell my father right now, and ask him to send someone to kill all those women.”
“If you do that, I’ll die. The Desolate Finger Energy can only be removed by people of the Great Desolate Sect.”
Shangguan Ru felt very anxious for Servant Huan. She played with the hair on her temple while saying, “So what should we do then? Capture them alive to heal you?”
“Cruel torture is useless. No one can break those women.”
Shangguan Ru paced back and forth in front of Servant Huan. She was only thirteen years old and couldn’t think of any good methods in a short amount of time. “This … Have you told anyone else about this?”
“Guo Xiansheng, but he didn’t believe that the Great Desolate Sect could climb onto the castle, and he didn’t believe me.”
“Guo Xiansheng? How can you count on him? Did you forget he tried to kill you? He’s a honey-mouthed and dagger-hearted hypocrite, I hate him the most.”
“I dislike him too, but he’s the Commanding Lord in Southern Jade City, I have to tell him what I know.”
“How about Yu Gongzi? You should be directly under her command.”
“I didn’t tell her. This matter is very important. Once leaked, I can’t live, Lotus can’t live, and the snake will be alerted.”
They were caught in a dilemma that exceeded Shangguan Ru’s capability. She looked at the teenager before her, thinking that although he had grown taller, and his expression gloomier, his worried looks had not changed at all. What was strange was that she hadn’t realized this on their way to the Iron Mountain. “You already have an idea, don’t you? You deliberately made me anxious.”
Shangguan Ru’s eyes were darker than even the night, shimmering like the furthest star. Gu Shenwei couldn’t help but smile, as if all this was all a game and there was nothing dangerous.
Shangugan Ru was unhappy. “What are you smiling at? Did you make up a story to make me laugh? I’m a grown-up now, and I’ll have my own killer team in several days.”
Gu Shenwei put away his smile, “No, this is all real. Tonight, people of the Great Desolate Sect will climb into the castle. I can roughly guess their purpose and also come up with a solution, but I need your help. Except for you, no one can help me and save my life.”
Shangguan Ru liked hearing this, and she raised her head with her mouth corner tilted. She reached out her hand and said, “Just leave it to me, I won’t let you die.”
Gu Shenwei held Shangguan Ru’s hand and told her the plan. Shangguan Ru frowned as she listened, replying, “But in this case, you’re still in great danger.”
“Danger is everywhere. I just want one promise from you.”
Shangguan Ru sealed her lips, her nostrils moving slightly. Then she clapped her hands and said, “Ok.”
- Translator’s note: Kun is an enormous legendary fish, which could change into a roc. Hua means ‘Change’ and Yuan is ‘Yard’. ↩