Protecting someone on the road was a task that the shadow guards were quite good at. Other than Nineteen, the other four didn’t think of this as difficult.
“Then you will go.” Luo Wei looked at the moon window in his room. “It’s time for dinner, go get ready to eat. After you’ve eaten your fill, come back again to speak with me for a bit,” he said to the shadow guards.
The shadow guards stood up and all left, except for Nineteen who stayed behind.
“Is the official’s residence much better than the Qi Lin Villa?” Luo Wei asked Nineteen.
Nineteen deferentially replied, “The young master is the savior and benefactor of us shadow guards. Us subordinates naturally will repay the young master and render service.”
“A fine bird chooses a tree to nest in,” Luo Wei said. (T/N: A proverb figuratively meaning that a talented person chooses a patron of integrity.) “I can assure you that our Senior Official’s residence is a big tree that can shelter all of you for a lifetime.”
Nineteen stood in front of Luo Wei, his expression suffusing with even more respect.
Luo Wei did not ask Nineteen to sit again, and said, “You are already over thirty years old. Among the Qi Lin Shadow Guards, you seem to be the only one able to live so long. I think there are two reasons. The first is that your martial arts are truly good. The second is that compared to the rest of the shadow guards, you know how to invite your master’s favor.”
“Nineteen,” Luo Wei raised his hand and asked Nineteen to listen to him, “I will tell you the truth. I, Luo Wei, am not some upright gentleman. I didn’t save you because I’m a great philanthropist. I also want some return. Nineteen, as long as you don’t betray me in the future, I also won’t treat you unfairly. Do you understand my meaning?”
Nineteen knelt in front of Luo Wei on one knee and said, “Young master saved this subordinate’s life. The young master is Nineteen’s master, and Nineteen dares not betray his master’s heart.” (T/N: I use “young master” as that is Acid’s translation of “gongzi,” which means “son of nobility.” Nineteen calling Luo Wei his actual master has a different meaning. The word for “master” can also mean owner.)
“Okay,” Luo Wei leaned forward and helped Nineteen up. “If one of the shadow guards incites harm, this applies to the rest as well. If one receives glory, so too will the rest. You remember my words.”
“This subordinate remembers,” Nineteen said, looking at Luo Wei candidly, “Young master, other than the Senior Official’s residence we have no better place to go.”
Luo Wei heard Nineteen’s words and smiled, then whispered to him, “After going to Yue Zhou, you have to protect Young Master Xie well. At the right time, you secretly come back and report to me on his matters.”
“If he associates with His Second Highness,” Luo Wei’s voice lowered, “If he poses a threat to my official’s family, then you just,” Luo Wei’s hand straightened to imitate a blade, and he cut it down.
“Yes, this subordinate understands.” Nineteen just knew that the matters of the imperial court, imperial family, and noble houses were even more covert than those of the Qi Lin Villa.
“Young master Xie is a perceptive man. It’s best if you don’t speak in front of him,” Luo Wei paused then continued to instruct, “It suffices for you alone to know of this.”
“Ming Jian Villa’s Ning Shu Ying may also go to Yue Zhou,” Luo Wei walked to the back of the stand in his room, opened a drawer, and handed a token of authority to Nineteen. “I will assign more people to you from Xiao Yi Apothecary. People from Qi Lin Villa will also come. If Ning Shu Ying dares to come, you will act. I don’t want him to keep his life.”
Nineteen asked, “Then this token?”
“If Ning Shu Ying dies under your hands, throw this token not far from his body. Do you know what to do?”
Nineteen glanced at the token in his hand. It was engraved with a dragon that had four clawed feet. There were words written on it, but he did not recognize them.
Luo Wei also glanced at the token. The word “Xuan” on it wavered before Luo Wei’s eyes. “Don’t do it if it’s too difficult,” Luo Wei said to Nineteen, “Even if Ning Shu Ying doesn’t die, I won’t blame you. Remember not to expose your identity, and don’t let Young Master Xie know about this.”
“This subordinate understands.” Nineteen held the token in his arms.
“You go to eat, too,” Luo Wei said with a smile on his face again. “Everyone can’t continue to have numbers for names, right? After eating, let’s all discuss together and think of names. Right, Nineteen, what were you called before?”
Nineteen replied, “This subordinate’s parents were domestic slave servants of the Qi Lin Villa. Because my father committed a mistake, this subordinate entered the shadow guard battalion the moment he was born. I have never had a name.”
“So it was like this,” Luo Wei sighed softly. “I’m sorry, I mentioned something painful for you. Then are your parents still here?”
“This subordinate hasn’t seen them before,” Nineteen replied. “Perhaps they’ve long left the world of the living.”
“The next time I see Luo Ting Chao, I will ask him,” Luo Wei said sincerely.
“Many thanks to the young master.” Asking once was better than not asking at all. This way at least he could know the exact circumstances of his parents. To Nineteen, who had never seen his mother or father before, the chance that his parents were still alive was small and he had always believed they were long dead. However, these were the two people who brought him into this world, and their existence would always hold special meaning.
“Go.” Luo Wei gave Nineteen a comforting smile and continued, “I will ask after this for you as soon as possible.”
Nineteen retreated and left.
Luo Wei took a sip of water from a cup. The water was cold. When it entered his mouth, Luo Wei spit it out again. Luo Wei threw the teacup onto its tray. Xie Yu, it’s best if you don’t consort with Long Xuan again. In this life I did not bully you and my father regards you as a son, so if you wish to betray us then don’t blame me for being ruthless. I would rather send you on the road than see you used by Long Xuan, Luo Wei thought.
In the outer room, Imperial Physician Wei saw Nineteen exit and truly wanted to rush in and scold Luo Wei. Being this person’s doctor was too difficult. It wasn’t that this Third Young Master Luo was more difficult to wait upon than the royals in the palace. It was that he would not listen to his doctor’s advice! He had just circled back from the doorway between life and death, and then immediately began handling matters. Imperial Physician Wei didn’t believe that Luo Wei found these shadow guards to have an idle chat. After interacting with Luo Wei for so many days, Imperial Physician Wei discovered that the only person Luo Wei would carry casual conversation with was Wei Lan.
“Relax,” the colleague next to him looked at Imperial Physician Wei’s fretting expression and couldn’t help but console, “You can’t stop the third young master from speaking with his subordinates. Staying in his room by himself must be unbearably stuffy.”
What do you know? Imperial Physician Wei replied in his heart. This Luo Yun Qi and the Second Highness in the palace were of the same breed! They would show a bit of a smile and make themselves seem more gentle and easy to get along with, but they were actually both cold people. Thinking that these two were at odds with each other, Imperial Physician Wei’s entire body shuddered. He didn’t know what would happen in the future.
Nineteen left Luo Wei’s bedroom and saw Wei Lan standing in the corridor, looking at a furnace that had just had its charcoal replaced.
“Why didn’t you go in?” Nineteen approached Wei Lan and asked.
Wei Lan whispered, “The young master was discussing matters with all of you, it wouldn’t be good for me to enter.”
Nineteen said, “When the young master usually talks things over, he doesn’t let you stay at his side?”
“No.” As if afraid that Nineteen would misunderstand Luo Wei, Wei Lan hurriedly continued, “Young master never said this, I myself didn’t want to go listen. I just think that it wouldn’t be good.”
“It’s good to know one’s duty,” Nineteen sighed.
“Big brother Nineteen, the young master has always been good to his subordinates,” Wei Lan said. “You’ll know when you stay with him for a longer time.”
“Is the young master very good to you?” Nineteen asked.
“Very good,” Wei Lan nodded his head with full certainty.
Nineteen did not say anything more, but began to worry about Wei Lan. Luo Wei’s killing like this made him a changeable person. Would he truly treat a person well with all his heart and soul?