Poison King conceitedly declared, “His real identity is M-”
Shen Yiren’s foot exploded up to Poison King’s face.
Wh-what the? Boss isn’t going to listen to him?
Even more surprising was that Poison King could get up again, albeit with a wobble and blood gurgling out of his mouth.
“Wh-wh-what are you doing?!”
Shen Yiren dusted her shoe’s instep. “I’ve made up my mind. I won’t listen unless it’s coming from him personally. I know he’s hiding secrets, but who doesn’t have secrets? I know him as a person. He must have his reasons for not telling me or it might not be time for me to know yet. I’m cognisant he’s not hiding to harm me. What should I do if not hit someone trying to sow discord? I’ll clobber anyone who tries to copy you.” She locked her eyes onto his and added, “I refuse to listen even in the event the sky falls.”
Poison King gasped blood one last time prior to passing out. I tore off some of his clothing to bind him straight away and sealed eight major accupoints to immobilise him for the next forty-eight hours. Then, I shoved him in a corner. I decided to keep his wine calabash for hydration when necessary.
Breaking the long silence permeating the room, Boss started with a helpless smile, “And we’re still stuck.”
I just bobbed my head. I assumed Poison King knew another way out since he could get in, only to learn he just happened to enter before us.
Once we had a short breather, we started searching for brittle spots – relatively speaking – in the spaces between the immovable door to no avail.
Boss inquired “You… okay? I don’t know what you did, but Poison King’s poison is…”
“I ate some anti-poison stuff when I was a kid, so poison doesn’t do much to me. I still feel fine.”
Fact of the matter was that my shifu did feed me an assortment of pills without telling me their effects beforehand, so I suppose I must’ve consumed stuff to build immunity to poison somewhere in there, right?
After chatting over random topics, including events during Boss Shen’s leave from the capital, she said, “I slept.”
Only then did it click for me that Boss was referring to her insomnia.
“I’ve had a nagging headache prior to losing my land. I think it was around twelve or thirteen, maybe later, that it started plaguing me. Ever since beginning work, I started turning in late, and that’s when the headache became routine. When sleepless nights eventually became the norm, the headaches beset me worse and worse, leading to me sleeping less and less.”
“I often notice your candles still on when I go drink in the storage at night.”
“Hoho, a brave soul, you are, even bringing it up with me.”
Your eyes and smile are telling different stories! Wait, why did I not keep my mouth in check again?
“I think you’re right. My insomnia is a psychological issue from long ago. You’re already aware that my parents have passed away, but are you privy of how they passed away?”
“… I heard someone associated with Demon Sect in the capital was responsible. That’s the extent of what I know.”
“It is one of the mystery cases, after all. The imperial court has never mentioned a word of it. My parents… were burnt to death.”
“A fire? What?”
Yan Shisan told me Shen Wuzheng had the whole package and qualified to lead Liu Shan Men. Therefore, he promoted Shen Wuzheng to Emperor Yuansheng. You can imagine the imperial court wouldn’t let an outsider lead Liu Shan Men, otherwise. How does it make sense for a man who could hold his own weight in combat and mind games die in a fire?
“The conflagration took the lives of all seventy-five people; it was as though everybody was unconscious and just waiting to burn. No ordinary fire could stop my father. That’s why I’m convinced somebody did something to him prior to the arson attack. Sadly, I have no guess as to who it could be or why they would target him.
“I feel a connection with Tang Ye when I watch him train as he reminds me of myself. I would even say we’re identical because we live for the past and revenge. We’re hunting down our enemy with everything we have even though we don’t have any clue on who we are supposed to hound. Owing to our repressed rage, we struggle to sleep and find food tasteless. Dawn is but an alarm for us to rise and train until we are spent. Every time we feel joy, it quickly degrades to guilt.
“After my parents passed away, Uncl-, His Majesty didn’t eat and wallowed in sorrow for three days, culminating in him being bed ridden. While it arguably was the trigger that galvanised him to proactively target Demon Sect, other reasons also contributed. When I saw him mope and cry, I decided to serve him with my life, believing he is worthy of my effort.”
“Have you found any hints yet?”
“Though I was young when it happened, I remember every detail. A group of people led my brother and me around the city; however, they didn’t seem to be experienced child kidnappers. I suspect their goal was to put us to sleep and then plant us back inside. Thankfully, Big Brother saved our lives, though it also made me witness my house turn into something reminiscent of a horror story, nothing to salvage.”
“… So… that’s when you started seeing your Big Brother in a positive light? Does that count as a first crush?”
“… He’s my idol. He’s strong, just and staunch. I want to become like him, fearless of whatever comes my way.”
I had the privilege of watching red roses bloom on two fields of snow.
“Okay, that’s all from me.” Boss extended her arms overhead to stretch, and my eyes stretched as I watched her two globes move. “That’s my secret that I’ve never shared. Keep a lid on it.”
“Why did you tell me?”
Boss looked at me as though it never occurred to her. “Hahaha, you took a slash for me. Shouldn’t I pry myself open to repay you? Else, somebody might complain I pick on him.” Noticing me blank out, Boss leaned in and asked, “What? Not enough?”
I shook my head profusely.
“Pffthaha. The point I’m trying to make is that I know how difficult it is to open up about your secrets. I wouldn’t have told you all of this if you didn’t cop the slash for me. Well, I probably wouldn’t have told anyone else, either. For that reason, I can fathom how hard it is for you to confide in someone else. Don’t force yourself. I have plenty of patience. When you’re ready to talk, come see me whenever that may be.”
“Long, long ago, there was a sect that existed on a dangerous, snow-laden peak, and they never left.”
“What are you bringing this up for?”
I took out Poison King’s wine calabash and guzzled mouthfuls then passed it to Boss.
“I thought you said you’d drink when I’m willing to talk.”
Boss flapped her eyelids.
“I am withholding things from you, and I can’t tell you everything about me. In saying that, I’m only withholding information for certain reasons.”
“I get it.”
“I can tell you everything about some things now, nevertheless.”
“…” Boss took the calabash for a drink. “My ears are yours.”
I lifted up the corners of my lips a tad: “I’ve never mentioned this to anyone outside of my sect, but I feel that you need to know. The grave consequences that could befall everyone due to Luo Sword Manor’s agenda has exceeded my expectations. Luo Ming is researching something troubling, to the say least.”
“You mean… Six Evil Beasts Chronicles?”
“While this may come as a shock, the legendary six do exist. Frankly, I’ve done all that I can. Without assistance, I can’t dig any deeper. I have to share my secret with someone at this point, and you know who I’ve chosen to trust with it.”
Boss’ eyes flew open instinctively until she brought them back down. “… Go on.”
“I’ll start from the end, then.” I exhaled as deliberately as I inhaled. “I am Mount Daluo’s successor for this generation, Ming Feizhen, and Hangzhou’s Night Fortress’ master.”