Editor: Xu Xian
Chapter 63 Snitch
Gu Shenwei left the courtyard. Taking advantage of the empty paths, he ran towards the stone hut he used to live in. He wanted to meet Elder Zhang to complete the ‘trick’ he had planned.
As usual, Elder Zhang was not in the hut but in the stables tending to the eighth young lord’s horses. He hadn’t said much in the past couple of months when he lived with Gu Shenwei, but now he chatted with those horses like old friends. He didn’t even notice Servant Huan’s arrival.
Gu Shenwei looked at this old man who was closer to animals than people, he felt that this man was more out of place with Golden Roc Castle.
Elder Zhang quickly turned around, his peaceful face immediately became dark, as if he had changed masks in a split second.
Elder Zhang didn’t speak, he didn’t even say hi, so Gu Shenwei spoke first.
“I want you to do me a favour.”
“I can’t help.” Elder Zhang’s rejection was simple and direct. He hastened to work to show the conversation was over.
Gu Shenwei didn’t leave, he couldn’t find another person to help. In this castle, he had no real friends. He waited and repeated what he said until Elder Zhang finished adding some fodder; cleaning the horses; putting away the horse dung; and couldn’t pretend he had more work to do. “I want to meet eighth young lord.”
“Lord is not here.”
“I want to report a conspiracy to eighth young lord, and this conspiracy took place right under his nose.”
Elder Zhang suddenly stood straight, he walked over to Servant Huan in two steps. “I don’t know what this conspiracy is and I’m not interested in it. If you want to see the lord, go and see him now, don’t nag me.”
Gu Shenwei stared into Elder Zhang’s eyes, he knew this old man appeared to be cold, but had a warm heart and great sympathy. “Without your help, I can’t live past tonight.”
Gu Shenwei exaggerated a bit, but it was not a complete lie. He guessed that Liu Sha Dian would soon find out the wooden sabre had been replaced, and he would be the biggest suspect.
“Everybody will die, it’s normal to die early in the castle,” Elder Zhang said angrily.
He turned his back to Gu Shenwei and grabbed some hay, but found that the manger was still full so could only put the hay back. He turned around again and saw Servant Huan was still standing there, he couldn’t help but become angrier. “Go away, go far away, I’m only responsible for feeding the horses, I don’t care about human business. If you want to see the lord, go to Wai Shu Yuan. Head South, it’s near the castle gate.” 1
“I can’t let others see me meeting eighth young lord.”
Hah, Elder Zhang sneered. He had talked enough with this teenager, which already surpassed the boundaries they should have. But he couldn’t help but mock him, “So you mean you want the lord to come and meet you?”
Gu Shenwei nodded.
He wanted to be stealthy, but not to conceal it from Xue Niang. Because of the perverse, wayward daughter of Big Head God, it would probably be very difficult for Xue Niang to curry favour in the castle. What he wanted to hide from was eighth young lord’s enemies, people like Mr. Guo.
This was very important.
Elder Zhang was surprised at first, then slowly became angry. This teenager was obviously making a fool of him. “Wait patiently, there’re so many servants in the castle, lord can’t ‘meet’ all of us, whenever he comes to ‘meet’ me, I’ll let you know.”
“The conspiracy I want to report is about eighth young lord himself.”
Gu Shenwei lied a bit more, but it was also very important that, no matter what, he made Xue Niang into Shangguan Nu’s enemy.
Servant Huan looked very serious; he didn’t seem to be possessed by evil spirits nor drunk. If there was one feeling that Elder Zhang showed, it was his incredible loyalty to his lord. So, he took the teenager a bit seriously, “Lord will come back by supper time. I’ll find a chance to tell lord when I lead the horses.”
“I can’t wait until tonight, it needs to be now, it may be too late even now.”
Gu Shenwei could imagine the chaotic scenes of killers looking for the daring servant who placed the fake wooden sabre once Liu Sha Dian found out the truth.
Elder Zhang was conflicted. He was loyal to the lord, but he didn’t want to be part of any conspiracies. Even if he could make a large contribution – he wasn’t willing to. Not to mention that he didn’t believe Servant Huan much.
Servant Huan was a weird teenager in his eyes. He was always preoccupied and his eyes were sometimes very scary, it made people feel both sympathy and revulsion towards him. In short, he was not a good servant.
Elder Zhang seemed to have made up his mind. He returned to the stable, picked up some fresh grass, and scattered them in a circle. He walked over to Servant Huan and snarled, “You’d better not be lying to me, or I’ll feed you to the horses. They’ll even eat your shit.”
There were in total six horses in the stable, all of which snorted loudly.
Gu Shenwei returned to the small hut to wait. Based on his observations, Elder Zhang’s relationship with eighth young lord was closer than the normal lord-servant relationship. Elder Zhang’s manner of walking away right after he had agreed confirmed that his observation was right. In these moments of solitude, he thought over his whole plan again.
With only his strength, he was no match for Xue Niang no matter what. To snitch on her was the only way, but who he should choose to report to was a very delicate matter.
Under normal circumstances, people who knew the secret would try to catch Xue Niang and question and torture her to force her to divulge who the mastermind was. But the first thing Xue Niang would confess was probably Servant Huan’s origins.
Only one person might immediately kill Xue Niang without interrogating her: the eighth young lord, Shangguan Nu. He was at his lowest point in life and desperately hoped to pull together to start afresh in front of his father. He definitely didn’t want to have a fire in his backyard again. The killer Han Shiqi’s death already embarrassed him, it would only show his incompetence more if one of the people brought by his wife caused trouble again.
Gu Shenwei put himself in eighth young lord’s shoes and thought carefully from his point of view, he believed he would immediately kill Xue Niang without a trace.
But there were also big flaws in this plan. Shangguan Nu might be eager to contribute and ask Xue Niang what really happened; he might also get rid of the servants who knew after killing Xue Niang.
There’s no perfect plan, Gu Shenwei thought. This was the only way in his hopeless situation. Although it was foggy ahead, it was better than the other plan that led to a definite dead end.
To compete with Xue Niang, his only advantage was that he was not afraid of death nor Qi deviation, this was something Xue Niang could probably never understand.
The eighth young lord Shangguan Nu quietly stood at the door, as if he had been there for a long time, an indispensable quality a killer should have. He didn’t feel annoyed for having to come ‘meet’ a servant personally, neither did he show that he was anxious to listen to a plot targeting him.
Gu Shenwei kneeled on both knees, trying to suppress the rooted fear in his heart. This fear was the most authentic feeling he had when he met the enemy that had slaughtered his whole family. He told him everything, including Xue Niang’s conspiracy and the real location he had hidden the wooden sabre from Liu Sha Dian. He only hid the fact that Xue Niang had something on him.
Shangguan Nu still kept his composure, he seemed to be more interested in the servant himself and stared at him for a long time. “You didn’t snitch on her at the beginning, but betray her now.”
Gu Shenwei knew his answer would be critical, so he chose his words carefully, “Please forgive me, eighth young lord. Little servant was very afraid at the beginning. Xue Niang’s kung fu is excellent, she threatened she would kill little servant. Little servant thought it over again and again and finally understood. Although little servant was brought here by young mistress, after entering Golden Roc Castle, my real lord could only be you, eighth young lord. So obviously I should think for the lord’s benefit. So, little servant doesn’t think he betrayed Xue Niang because she wants to cause trouble for eighth young lord. She is the real traitor.”
Shangguan Nu sneered slightly, this servant was really poor at flattering his lord, but there were a few words that caught his attention, “My benefit?”
“Xue Niang is eighth young lord’s servant, but she never cares about the effect of what she does on eighth young lord…”
Gu Shenwei finally knew he had to stop speaking otherwise it would arouse Shangguan Nu’s doubts and dissatisfaction.
Shangguan Nu’s remaining left hand habitually touched the hilt of his sabre. He valued his remaining left hand more since his father cut off his right hand. He felt strange every time he saw this mediocre teenager, he was always tense and hostile. This feeling was not obvious, but it could arouse his lust for killing.
Making good use of reason and getting rid of emotions were also indispensable qualities of a killer. Shangguan Nu suppressed his budding desire, he had once chopped off several hands of his subordinates. Afterwards when he thought about it, he felt how foolish that was. It was even more foolish than killing the wrong person, it was like cutting off his other hand.
Gu Shenwei stayed in the hut and waited for a long time, during which Elder Zhang didn’t show up even once. He decided to stay far away from the ‘conspiracy’.
Gu Shenwei even suspected his plan had failed. He originally thought his plan to use a borrowed sabre to kill Xue Niang would have a high chance of success, but now it seemed so naive and ridiculous. Shangguan Nu might just as well interrogate Xue Niang secretly and kill him after finding out the whole truth.
Shangguan Nu returned at dusk. Gu Shenwei’s heart had been hanging on for too long and almost couldn’t beat. His chest and stomach felt like they were plummeting so that he didn’t feel hungry at all even after a long day without eating anything.
Shangguan Nu brought back the wooden sabre, threw it to the servant, and only said one sentence, “Bring it to meet Xue Niang at the second of the five night watch periods (9:00-11:00 PM).”
Gu Shenwei was left alone again in the stone hut, he held the wooden sabre with both hands and was very sure this was the wooden sabre he had replaced and brought from Liu Sha Dian.
He walked to the door and looked outside through the door gap, making sure there was nobody watching nearby. He also pressed his ear against the wall and listened carefully: there was no suspicious sound. Then he lit the small oil lamp and looked carefully at the wooden sabre in his hand.
There was nothing special about the wooden sabre. It looked the same as the narrow sabres of Golden Roc Castle except that it had no blade. It was about 2 feet and 9 inches long, a little bit shorter than the Gu family’s single sabre. It was very narrow, about 1.3 inches wide. The sabre’s main body was flat and straight, it looked like an extended dagger or a shortened sword.
The sabre hilt was wrapped in red silk that looked rather new. This might have been the only thing different about it.
Usually the silk would be stained black with sweat if it was gripped by someone a lot, but this wooden sabre with a secret seemed to have never been used.
Shangguan Nu wanted to use it as bait. This was not part of Gu Shenwei’s plan, it did, however, offer him a chance to find the secret.
Xue Niang’s glance had already exposed the location of the secret when she had the fake sabre. It was in the hilt.
Gu Shenwei carefully untied the knot, slowly removed the silk and thought, the secret inside had better be worth all the risks.
- Translator’s note: Wai (outside) Shu (book) Yuan (yard) is probably a place for handling external affairs. ↩