And So, It Begins
Thunder clapped. A droplet of water splattered on the ground. A second and third dropped followed… Pit, pat, countless droplets rained down. Mist gradually built up. Jiangnan’s rain was always gentle, but the drizzle would go on for a long time. It was safe to assume the rain would last all night. How much filth did the winter rain that night wash away?
A family servant suspiciously climbed over the wall connected to Shen Yiren’s group’s courtyard. Suddenly, he dropped to the ground with a thud. Shen Yiren choked him by the neck with a vice-like grip and interrogated him: “How many members of Evil Spirits have come? Where are they?”
Shen Yiren wore on the black robe and watched him from the darkness when she noticed him behaving suspiciously. When she deemed it appropriate, she decided to subdue him.
The servant could smell the fragrance of plum blossoms tickling his nose. Though Shen Yiren was attired in a black robe to prevent the reflection from the water revealing her identity, there was no denying her curves. Seeing the beauty, he felt as if the pain at his neck reduced to a degree.
“Speak and I shall reduce the pain.”
Shen Yiren tightened her hold. As a decently high-ranking member of Evil Spirits, the servant wasn’t the type to easily surrender. Still, the smooth touch of her white hands was arresting. When she squeezed tighter, restricting blood flow to his brain and oxygen from entering his lungs, the pain turned into an arousing sensation. In the end, he ratted out his team. After that, he said, “I-I-I want m(ore)-.”
“Have this!” Shen Yiren used a finger to slit the servant’s throat.
The servant died with a desire for more abuse on his face. If the masochists were to learn of his death, they’d praise him for being cultured.
Shen Yiren was exhausted. When Yan Shisan taught her that particular interrogation method, he did tell her it’d hard for her to be an expert interrogator, because she was already a stunner, yet also tried to keep her feminine charms, namely smooth and radiant skin. As he predicted, when she used the tactic for the first time she discovered she lacked the strength to strangle someone to death. Despite her efforts to hurt him, her first victim wasn’t hurt. Instead, he was so happy that he cried tears of joy.
“What are you so happy about?! Cry miserably or I’ll strangle you to death!” Shen Yiren yelled to her first victim.
Shen Yiren didn’t realise she loosened her hold, since her hand gradually went numb from squeezing his neck for so long, but she tightened it again. With blood flowing to his brain and oxygen flowing again, she unknowingly turned his experience into an arousing one. In the end, the suspect spilt the beans and was so happy after that he wanted to turn a new leaf. That almost left her, however, with a traumatic memory.
Whenever Shen Yiren used the interrogation method, she’d always acquire accurate information. Howbeit, the suspect would become a slave to the interrogation method. It was essentially addiction to a drug. Not even Yan Shisan possessed the innate potential she did with the method. Every time, Yan Shisan would just remark, “Natural Queen…” and stop there.
Shen Yiren rarely interrogated suspects in recent years. Maybe she found it excessively inhumane or troublesome. She merely had no choice this time. She was strangely frustrated when she found the power of hers had improved since she last used it. It didn’t help that the information she obtained was immensely important: Evil Spirits were targeting them, and they were coming.
Evil Spirits, a group of bandits in Beijiang, were a force to be reckoned with at what they did. They claimed to be capable of stealing anything and everything. True to their claim, they never failed before.
Evil Spirits outnumbered and possessed more combat might than Shen Yiren’s group of three hundred. If Shen Yiren’s group was still travelling in the rain, then they might’ve had a fighting chance. Since Evil Spirits had looked into the group, however, Shen Yiren’s group was going to have to fend off ambushes from behind going forward. On a positive note, she was confident their main forces were hiding over two and a half kilometres away because her scouts conducted a search within two and a half kilometres from the estate but didn’t find anything. The servant was supposed to be their messenger, which meant Shen Yiren still had time…
Shen Yiren suddenly felt a splitting migraine that even she succumbed to, clutching her head. It wasn’t the first time she experienced it; she suffered from the issue a long time ago. Unfortunately, not even the imperial doctors could find a solution for her headache.
“Damn it, why now of all times…?”
The pain was tolerable during mild onsets; nevertheless, it was still enough to keep her up at night. That was the reason she seldom slept at night and would, instead, opt to work or train during the night. It wasn’t uncommon for her to not sleep fifteen to sixteen nights a month. She would sleep two to four hours seven or eight days a month. She only managed to get in six to eight hours of sleep five to six days each month. The less she slept, the more frequent the headaches would hit her, unfortunately. Worst of all, it just had to plague her then, when they were in a perilous spot.
“If we didn’t decide to rest here…” Shen Yiren bit down on her lip viciously to fight the pain and forced herself to get up and leave: “I need to take care of things over here first… I’ll have to… entrust the rest to him.”
In the main hall, the owner’s family of sixteen people fervently welcomed their guests. Song Ou was free of Shen Yiren’s restraints and was able to display his exceptional socialisation skills he learnt as a young master of a reputable clan.
Brother Bastard shared drinks and flapped his gums masterfully. The owner’s family laughed and drank to their heart’s desire. Only the deputy general, an uncultured individual, chomped away on chicken drumsticks without any intent of sparing one for anybody else after two weeks on a vegetarian diet.
“Amazing, Lord Song, I never knew there were so many magnificent places to visit in Yangzhou. This old one recently heard lots of fine gold silk and Phoebe Zhennan had been imported in Yangzhou. Your artisans are splendid artisans, too, apparently, which has led to the creation of works comparable to jewellery. Would you happen to have seen them?”
Song Ou let out a long sigh: “This one grew up in Yangzhou, true. Ever since moving to the capital, though, he rarely had the chance to leave. This time… Ou means, Ou has a chance to visit his parents thanks to work this time. Ou did not have the chance to stay for long, sadly. It has been a long time since Ou has had the opportunity to hear about these things.”
The deputy general was native of the North. He joined the military out of nowhere; nobody knew his background. There were unverified claims he was Lie Jingchan’s student. Whether it was his speech or behaviour, he was never considerate of anyone. The deputy general pulled all sorts of facial reactions as he listened to the conversation because it rendered him befuddled. He kept thinking, “What’s Captain Son’s problem? What the hell does he keep Ou Ou-ing for? I haven’t stopped eating for a second. I thought he was choking.”
They suddenly heard the thunderclap outside. The rain poured down loudly. The winds blew violently, rattling the windows. Song Ou peered outside and smiled proudly as if he won a bet: “It has finally rained. How can we travel in that weather? The soldiers would all fall seriously ill if we listened to Yiren.”
Like a master, yet like a bandit, the deputy general, drumstick in one hand, slapped his thigh and laughed: “Boy, am I glad it rained. Let it all out, son! I’ve been holding it in for days!”
Song Ou didn’t want to stoop down to the deputy general’s uncultured level, so he looked away.
Noticing the discontent seeping into Song Ou’s tone, the owner said, “Lord Song, you and Miss Shen… seem to have a special relationship.”
Song Ou smiled proudly: “She is my wife.”
“Oh?!” The owner raised a thumb: “A match made in heaven! A match made in heaven, you are! This old one also thinks you two look perfect together. Miss Shen is as beauty as a deity and straightforward. She is definitely a valiant woman. It’s easy to see why she would like a man as suave as you, Lord Song.”
Song Ou didn’t voice his discontent with Shen Yiren skipping the banquet. The owner’s brown flattery, therefore, was timed perfectly. If Song Ou had a tail, it’d be wagging around. He turned his head as if he was reciting poetry and responded, “Hahaha, we are only engaged, only engaged. My fiancée is competent, but she’s still too young and inexperienced, so she doesn’t know where to draw the line. She still needs Ou to stay by her side and remind her.”
The owner glanced over to his sixth concubine he just married, who was a girl fifteen years old. She was red in the face. Whilst keeping his hands busy under the table, the owner gave Song Ou a, “You know what I mean as a man” smile before bursting out in laughter: “There are some things only the young understand, right? Hahaha.”
Song Ou went along: “Oh? Oh? Oh? Ohahahaha, you have my admiration!”
Sure, Song Ou’s laugh was fake, and he was afraid Shen Yiren would hear him; however, he would never let someone step on his pride even if he lost a fight. He forced down three drinks to calm himself down. Then, he resumed his conversation with the owner. He enjoyed himself so much one would think that he would’ve loved to have been born thirty years earlier to befriend the owner sooner.
While the deputy general enjoyed the sight of the heavy downpour, he’d occasionally glance back at Song Ou and mutter under his breath, “Shameless jerk” but didn’t ruin the ambience.
Rumble! Thunder clapped again. The wind blew a closed window open. Rain drops invaded the room, whilst the window banged against the wall. It wasn’t as cold as it was in the North, but it was cold enough for Southerners Song Ou and the owner to feel a chill down their spins.
“Blow wind, blow!” cheered the deputy general, clapping his hands. “Now this is more like winter.”
Once the wind blew into the room, the deputy general’s smile froze. Concern crept up onto his face.
“This is…” The deputy general suddenly thundered, “Everyone take cover where the owner is!”
Song Ou, in his drunken stupor, asked, “Wh-What? We dancing now?”
The deputy general grabbed Song Ou and shook him: “Dancing your dumb ass! I can smell blood in the wind!”
*The title translated literally would be “The Wind Rises.” That’s one way of saying, “Here comes trouble,” and anything else you can think of along those lines.