Shen Yiren wrote in silence, blocking out the past, present and future, after Ming Feizhen left until she noticed she wrote a line wrong. She circled the mistake and wrote again, but the more she wrote, the more irate she grew until she snapped her brush. She stared at her brush for a while before hurling it at the ground. In contrast, she meekly pressed a hand to her forehead and let out a long sigh.
If one judged Shen Yiren from her behaviours alone, they might perceive her as a violent individual who’d erupt at any given moment or challenge authority whenever it inconvenienced her. In truth, she was a lot more collected than they imagined. Labelling her unbridled was thoughtless because there was no way she wasn’t cognisant of her position relative to everyone else in the imperial court if one was to remember she began her career at twelve years of age. When Ming Feizhen made her snap, it almost drained her to bite back.
Shen Yiren was conscious of her body’s state, especially her long-term insomnia and headaches that started in puberty and worsened correspondingly with her workload, since imperial doctors examined her at fixed intervals annually. Naturally, then, she was aware of how proficient Ming Feizhen was in the medical field.
Although Shen Yiren was right-handed, she couldn’t be indifferent to her left hand’s condition for balance is integral for martial artists. She didn’t seek to excel in the world of swordsmen, so she didn’t endeavour to be as proficient as she possibly could with her right hand, accepting the reality that she would never be among the greatest swordsmen.
On the more human side, nobody could lose a hand and casually brush it off as, “Meh, just one hand less.” Shen Yiren was equally vulnerable to the trauma of losing a hand, but she was Shen Yiren. Plus, there was no time for her to mope about it. Alas, the stress that came as part of the fronting parcel compounded her insomnia condition.
Shen Yiren minded Ming Feizhen’s background; she wasn’t as tolerant and hearty as she might appear. Despite tacitly acknowledging Ming Feizhen’s exceptional competence, it never crossed her mind that he was a direct disciple of Mount Daluo or their head disciple.
The successor of Mount Daluo for this generation had been under the radar for a long time. On one end of the spectrum, there were people who claimed the successor was so pitifully bad at fighting that they couldn’t be bothered talking about them. On the other end of the spectrum, the successor was so mysterious and dominating that mentioning them would send chills down spines.
The claims depicted Mount Daluo’s successor as either someone who was indifferent to glory and fame or was hiding themselves via nefarious means. If their successor was easy to get along with, why would the second senior disciple, Seventeen Wyrms’ first rank, be resigned to his status as “Hidden Hero”?
Who would’ve thought Mount Daluo’s senior disciple and successor would be working under them as a low-ranking constable, exposing himself to their censures and beatings? Who would’ve expected him to be the workplace clown?
Shen Yiren strode off upon learning Ming Feizhen’s status because she felt he signed up as a constable just to entertain himself; she already met her fair share of peculiar adepts who misbehaved all the time. She couldn’t banish the suspicion that he would up and leave without a word once he was done hiding, but she couldn’t describe the precise emotional reaction she had as there were contradicting feelings.
Shen Yiren thought she finally met somebody who could understand her, only to discover she could no longer trust him. She thought she finally found a comrade who would march alongside her, only to realise she didn’t know who was marching next to her. She couldn’t find it in her to continue treating him the same way she always had, implore him to stay or reveal her timid side to him.
Evaluating Ming Feizhen from his deeds wasn’t enough to convince Shen Yiren he harboured ulterior motives just because he hid his identity. Even if she didn’t want to admit it, she couldn’t deny he never committed anything despicable. To speak more explicitly, she didn’t dislike him.
All Shen Yiren could do was throw Ming Feizhen some harmless praise and pretend she indifferently threw the information into a fire. When he kept harping about her condition and reading into her secrets, though, it felt as though he was flaunting his medical knowledge and his ability to remain undetected; it rubbed her the wrong way enough for her to erupt.
Shen Yiren was informed about the misunderstanding between Ming Feizhen and Yu Feiyuan but couldn’t stop herself from lashing out. She knew he wouldn’t be happy if misfortune befell Tang Ye, yet she still used it to shut him up. Whether it was for a transient moment of vengeance or not, she found success – at least, until emptiness and regret took over.
Shen Yiren vividly remembered the darkness in Ming Feizhen’s eyes that distinctly contrasted the brightness during the day when he walked out.
“Is being my subordinate something for you to be so happy about?” Shen Yiren muttered. “Will you stay… if I acknowledge you…?”