Chapter 3

If she was not mistaken, Madam Du would execute her plans once they were done burning incense, on the way back from Huguo Temple.

Hiding at a certain spot, would be the slave traders Madam Du had already contacted — altogether two people, a man and a woman, both of them incomparably ugly. At that time, Madam Du hadn’t received any money from them, only requested them to sell her as far as possible. It would be best if she wouldn’t be able to return to the capital her whole life.

Ah Luo was coming up with a plan step by step, while she followed behind Madam Du.

Didn’t she want to sell her? Good, then let her see whether she had the skill to.

Still, she hoped that when the time came, Nurse Ye wouldn’t get too scared. She wanted to forever remain an innocent little miss in her heart.

Wei Luo really liked her.

For as long as she could remember, Nurse Ye had taken care of her. Perhaps she treated her even better than her own children. Moreover, when the past Ah Luo had wanted to return home to the Duke’s residence to get acknowledged by her relatives, and after the mother and daughter pair had disfigured her face, only Nurse Ye had recognized her and taken her in to look after her. Unfortunately, Wei Luo’s body wasn’t strong enough and didn’t last long. Eventually, she drew her last breath, filled with hatred.

If Nurse Ye had known of Madam Du’s intentions, she’d have naturally gone all out to protect her, right?

Too bad she hadn’t known, and Wei Luo had died, very pitifully at that.

She wondered whether Madam Du had had any dreams about her when she’d slept at night. Had she been happy to conspire with Wei Zheng to ruin her (Wei Luo’s) face? The feeling of cutting someone’s skin open must have been pretty good? Wei Luo thought she was a little eager to try it out for herself.

The corners of her mouth lifted, she was obviously thinking of cruel things, yet her face showed a sweet smile.

Wei Luo repeatedly looked out of the window, her eyes sweeping over the surroundings.

There were many people on the streets, coming and going about their business, from the well-dressed rich people to the rags-wearing beggars. Because it was so crowded, the carriage moved slowly, letting Wei Luo look around very carefully.

Along the way, the carriage suddenly stopped. Madam Du’s maidservant, Ning Xue, raised the curtain to inquire about the reason. Apparently two carriages had collided, blocking the road ahead, so the driver had to stop near a mask booth.

Ning Xue said: “We were unlucky. Madam, should we take another road?”

Madam Du didn’t want to waste time, preparing to nod, “Just as well…”

Wei Luo, who hadn’t spoken until now, opened her mouth to say: “Madam, look, there are so many masks here! Ah Luo wants to buy a mask.”

Madam Du barely kept a smiling face. Every time Ah Luo called her ‘madam’, it made her heart feel uncomfortable. Though she wanted to get angry on the spot, she changed her mind as she had to keep deceiving that little girl. The girl was clever, if she discovered something was amiss, then she could make things difficult by running away. Thinking about that, she forced a smile, “Ah Luo, be good, we must go to Huguo Temple to burn incense. Let’s buy the mask after we come back.”

Ah Luo shook her head quickly, “No, I want to buy it now!”

She saw that Madam Du intended to refuse, her lips pursed and she changed tactics: “Just a moment ago at home, madam said she’d buy a mask for Ah Luo. A promise must be kept. Did madam deceive me? I must tell daddy!” She knew how to use both threats and persuasion. Seeing that Madam Du’s complexion wasn’t good, she blinked her bright and clever eyes, pointing at the mask booth nearby, “I’ll only buy one… Madam, buy me one. If you do, I’ll be obedient!”

Madam Du was overwhelmed by the pestering and considered for a moment. Anyway, the road was blocked for the time being. It would be better to yield to Wei Luo’s request, so she wouldn’t make trouble later. Furthermore, the servants in the carriage were her own people, while Jin Lu and Nurse Ye sat in another carriage behind them. There was nowhere for the girl to run, so she agreed in the end.

Madam Du said to Ning Xue: “Go and help the fourth miss buy a mask. Don’t walk around, come back immediately after.”

Ning Xue complied with the order, reluctantly holding out a hand for Wei Luo, “Miss, come with me.”

Wei Luo pretended not to see her and avoided the hand. She directly jumped down from the carriage, and bounded towards the mask booth. In a few steps she was there.

Ning Xue was Madam Du’s person, since she knew of the madam’s plans, she didn’t have a good opinion of Wei Luo. After getting ignored by Wei Luo, she humphed and flung her sleeves, following behind her with discontent.

*

Wei Luo’s legs were short, standing in front of the booth, she couldn’t see the vendor. She was not in a hurry. Looking and touching around the various masks, it seemed as if she was taking her time choosing.

In the end, she turned to the person standing nearby and tugged at his indigo coat. Using a sweet small voice, she called out to him softly: “Big brother, I like the mask you’re holding, can you let me take a look?”

The opposite party paused and glanced down, only to see a little kid standing there.

Her hair was in a bun, held up by a silk string and decorated with a pearl encrusted golden ornament. She wore a delicate green dress with persimmon patterns and gilt brocade. It appeared she was a wealthy family’s daughter, a pampered young miss.

He casually caressed the demon mask, and with a deep and gentle voice asked: “Do you want it?”

He was just a youth, yet there was an impossible to overlook noble air about him. His profile gave off a beautiful and gallant impression. Only around 15–16 years old, but he had the bearings of someone, who had weathered many storms. The kind of calm and aloof manner, that others couldn’t imitate. The reason Wei Luo had decided to buy a mask at this point… Of course, it was because of the two bodyguards looming behind the youth. They looked like they excelled at the martial arts.

Wei Luo nodded, “Yes!”

Zhao Jie, who had just returned from Wurong, wasn’t in a hurry to go back to the palace. He’d meant to take a walk around the streets, didn’t expect a small girl would start a conversation with him on her own. Unfortunately, he really didn’t have the patience to deal with children, even if the girl was very pretty. He handed her the mask and prepared to leave: “Here, for you.”

But would Ah Luo let him go so easily? She had come out of the carriage because of him!

He was holding the mask in front of her, hadn’t withdrawn his hand yet. Ah Luo grasped his wrist, her small petal-like mouth revealed sharp teeth, and bit down.

Her bite was really heavy, her teeth fully sank into his skin. Soon enough, blood filled her mouth.

Zhao Jie was caught off-guard. He raised his hand to shake her off, but the small girl’s bite was too strong, clinging to his wrist stubbornly. His two attempts to shake her off were unsuccessful. The guards drew their swords and rushed forward, not minding that they were in the middle of the bustling street. The blades gleamed with an eerie light under the sun, advancing towards Ah Luo’s body. Ah Luo avoided them quickly and hid behind Ning Xue, showing a pair of laughing eyes.

It was an obviously challenging look, as if saying “Come and get me.”

Cold light flashed in Zhao Jie’s eyes. He looked down at his wrist and saw the deep, blood-stained wound. Thinking he was dealing with a simple pampered young miss, he got careless. He never expected that this small girl had a pair of fangs, viciously gnawing on people.

The bodyguards waited for instructions: “Master?”

Zhao Jie lifted his eyes, staring at Wei Luo, who was hiding behind Ning Xue, “Bring her to me, I want to see what kind of sharp teeth she has grown.”

The bodyguards received the order and prepared to act. As for Ah Luo, she ran fast. Even though she was small, her speed wasn’t to be underestimated. Stepping on the pedal, she climbed inside the carriage, dropped the dark curtain, and refused to come out.

Ning Xue, who was left behind to face the two bodyguards, mentally complained about Ah Luo. Not wanting to complicate the matters, she had to appease them with a smile: “Esteemed young master, our family’s miss is only six years old. Do not lower yourself to the same level with her…”

A bodyguard wearing black clothes scowled: “Six years old? A six year old can be this vicious? She almost took a bite out of our master!”

Ning Xue knew her side was in the wrong, repeatedly apologized.

Finally, Madam Du got impatient in the carriage and called her to come up. Ning Xue was relieved.

The black-roofed carriage slowly carried on, Wei Luo poked her small head from the window and looked behind.

Zhao Jie was also looking at her, and saw her open her mouth, slowly uttering several words.

“Not, tasty, at all!”

Zhao Jie’s complexion changed.

The bodyguard Zhu Geng, who had spoken a moment ago, asked: “Your Highness, do you want your subordinate to bring back that girl, to let you deal with her?”

Zhao Jie was silent, didn’t approve, but also didn’t refuse.

*

The carriage arrived at Huguo Temple. Madam Du led Wei Luo into the magnificent main hall, burned incense, prayed, and kowtowed in worship.

Her acting was always thorough. Madam Du, even when anxious, would keep up appearances and follow the custom. After completing all these, they prepared for the trip back. Wei Luo suddenly ran up to Nurse Ye’s side, and raised her head saying: “Nurse, I don’t feel well…”

Scared, Nurse Ye squatted down to examine her condition, “Miss, where do you feel bad? Didn’t your sickness get better? Did you catch a chill because of the wind?”

Nurse Ye was over 30 years old, properly maintained, with regular facial features, better natured than most women.

Ah Luo’s mother, Jiang Miaolan, had brought Nurse Ye along after her marriage. Since Madam Jiang had disappeared, Nurse Ye had raised Ah Luo, so she treated her like her own daughter. Now that she heard the child wasn’t feeling well, her heart hurt.

Wei Luo wasn’t really unwell, only didn’t want to ride in the carriage with Madam Du, so she was acting like a spoiled brat to Nurse Ye. In the end, Nurse Ye and Du Yueying gave up, and let her take the same carriage as Nurse Ye, then took the road down the mountain.

Sitting in the carriage, Wei Luo calmed down at once, and hugged Nurse Ye’s waist, saying: “Nurse, don’t leave me, don’t leave Ah Luo alone.”

After being together since morning, Nurse Ye figured out Wei Luo didn’t like Madam Du. She found it a little strange. Before, although Ah Luo and Madam Du weren’t too intimate, there were no feelings of disgust. So what happened today?

She couldn’t help remembering the words Ah Luo had spoken this morning: “Fourth aunt said that I have a mother, madam is not my mother.”

She sighed. The little girl was probably missing her mother.

With such thoughts, she touched Wei Luo’s head lovingly: “I won’t leave you. Where would I go if I leave you? When Miss has grown up and gotten sick of me, I’ll leave then.”

Wei Luo mumbled: “I’ll never get sick of Nurse.”

Nurse Ye’s face showed a warm smile.

The Duke’s family carriage rode down the mountain, woods on both sides of the road, the swaying trees rustling and throwing thick shade. As they went in further, it didn’t seem like the path they had taken previously. Jin Lu raised the curtain to ask the carriage driver vigilantly: “This is not the way home, why are you taking this path?”

The driver was already bought over by Madam Du. Lowering his head, he said ambiguously: “It was the madam’s orders. The madam is here to see someone.”

Jin Lu knit her brows and lowered the curtain with some discontent: “What kind of person does she have to meet… In a such a wild and remote place.”

The carriages finally stopped in front of a wooden cabin. Soon after, a maidservant helped Madam Du to get down. Wei Luo peeked through the binds. Not far from the cabin door, stood a man and a woman — the people Madam Du had contacted.


Extra from the author’s notes:

Zhao Jie: The first time we met, wifey left her mark on me.
Ah Luo: →_→ What are you thinking? Such a strong distress signal, weren’t you able to sense it??


mask.jpg
Zhao Jie’s mask, probably…

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