Notwithstanding being as laid back as Ming Feizhen, who refused to rise until noon, Ming Suwen was a proponent of routine. Before the sun came up, she’d wash her face, get changed and put on her makeup in that order, following specific specifications for how to wear her clothing and makeup. Before she knew it, it was in her blood. Since joining Liu Shan Men, Miss Juese routinely opened her window and leaned on the frame to wait for the sun to split the black dome. She’d mutter, “How many days has it been” as she spaced out until a draft impelled her to whinge about the uncomfortable chill.
Miss Juese was pampered more than a Princess or concubine in the palace on Mount Daluo. She always had five to ten Ming Feizhen’s uncles accompanying her where she went and waiting on her. Every time she shed a tear or laughed, it was newsworthy on Mount Daluo. At Liu Shan Men, she was still given the same treatment.
Sixteen-year-old Chu Yinghua, who was commonly called the clone of the younger Shen Yiren, in the room next door got to her feet when she heard the door open. Although a martial artist and upfront girl, she was always timid in Ming Suwen’s presence.
“Yinghua, you’re up?”
“Yes, Sister!” Despite not being a fan of the soft way Ming Suwen pronounced her name, there was nothing Yinghua could do about it. Like always, Yinghua would go red in the face at practically anything, and it was even tougher to fight at the sight of Ming Suwen’s bed hair. “I-I-I shall help you change.”
“Pffthaha. I-I-I’ll sit still.”
Yinghua’s embarrassment seared through her cheeks.
Lan Kelan and Chu Yinghua were arguably the toughest for Ming Suwen to get through to at the start among all of the female constables. Nonetheless, it took Ming Suwen less than seven days to tame them.
There were only three people who didn’t fear the number one troublemaker in the martial world – Ming Feizhen, her childhood friend, Hero Shenzhou, her cousin, and the one man you never trust, with your money or wife, Ming Huayu.
Ming Huayu was the one who taught Ming Suwen, “Use traps. Clobber them before the bell. Take hostages. Anyone you can irk isn’t that strong. Aim for the eyes. If you’re going to kick, aim between his legs. When they all decide to charge, back out. Being knowledgeable is the express ticket to death. If you’re caught red handed, deny it no matter what because someone will suffer in your place sooner or later.” He called it, “Survival tactics in the pugilistic world.” You could say he deserved to be credited with half of the credit for creating The Demoness’ unpredictable character. For Ming Feizhen to have grown (read: survived) around them until now is another miracle story for another day.
Miss Juese usually liked to go for a stroll in the capital after adorning her appearance, enjoying the morning tea as she searched for something fun (also known as patrolling the streets). Thanks to her hobby, Liu Shan Men’s female constables were on a roll for the last month, cracking case after case. While their methods tended to be destructive, aggressive and walk a thin line between protecting justice and being outlaws, they typically solved cases they received in less than two hours. Due to the hassle of running around to their place all the time, officials from the six ministries have been very reluctant to bother with Liu Shan Men as of late.
Miss Juese bought candied haws again after catching two thieves at the market, though she just stared at the candied haw and smiled to herself. For some reason, Liu Shan Men’s constables had gathered around in the main building when she returned.
“What’s going on? Why is there an assembly?” Miss Juese questioned.
“We received news from Huzhou!” someone inside answered.
Miss Juese dropped her candied haw. She hadn’t heard from Feizhen ever since he left. It wasn’t the first time he had disappeared without a trace. Every time he left Mount Daluo, he’d only contact them once per month, then remain elusive again until the next month.
Mount Daluo’s members refrained from contacting each other in the capital since it increased the risk of the imperial court eyeing them. At the end of the day, Mount Daluo and the imperial court didn’t mutually trust each other unconditionally. If they needed to contact each other for emergencies, Ming Feizhen would choose methods that would be hard to trace back to him, such as hiring the services of League of Assassins or walking banks.
Knowing Ming Feizhen’s personality, something big must’ve happened in Huzhou for him to contact me like this. Based on the fragmented information I have on hand, it’ll be another two to three months before he comes back.
Ming Suwen wasn’t worried Ming Feizhen encountered a problem he couldn’t stop – not because she had blind faith in him but because she knew nobody could kill him even if his opponent was a threat to him unless he wanted to die. Liu Shan Men was supposed to be where their future home was – at least that’s what he believed. Her body wanted to make haste for Huzhou; however, her rationality told her that she should be in Beiping for she couldn’t be of any help.
“Yinghua… let’s go see.”
Wang Tietui, seated at the table, fired bullets of tea as he reported, “Huzhou has been plunged into chaos. Luo Sword Manor ended up clashing with Beijiang’s Aboluo Bomb or something. Luckily, our vice-captain showed them who’s boss.” He extended a thumb up and continued, “Sir Ming and company also scared the daylights out of those Beijiangers. Bloody Qilin Guards had to get involved, though, thereby dividing the credit evenly between Liu Shan Men and them. I hear they’re still fighting for credit. Luckily, Captain says the turmoil has come to an end, but they’ll be away for another three months to contact all our other members across the lands.”
Wang Tietui didn’t leave after delivering the letters as some of the letters on the table needed him to deliver to specific individuals. The other people sitting around in high spirits were friends of the other constables joining Ming Feizhen on the escort mission.
“Does writing some more cost this block of wood his lifespan or something? Who cares what new style you learn or lost to who… Yi Wangyou is Kunlun’s patriarch. Did you get hurt…? Who writes letters and leaves people hanging like this? Is this supposed to inform me or worry me?” Si Fu grumbled as she stamped her feet.
“Miss Si, what brings you here?” queried Ming Suwen, pursing her lips into a teasing smile.
“You’re here first thing in the morning. You haven’t been visiting frequently this month, so this is a surprise. Did someone have a letter for you?”
Si Fu hid her hands and confidence behind her back. “Whatever do you mean, Miss Ming? Who would’ve written me a letter?”
“How should I know? All I know is that it couldn’t be Mr. Yan, Mr. You, Mr. Cu…” And Ming Suwen proceeded to list all the daily necessities for surnames.
Si Fu, aware she was not Ming Suwen’s match in verbal duels, called it quits and instructed Wang Tietui to drop by the Qilin Guards’ office later to pick up her letter.
Truthfully, Ming Suwen envied Si Fu because the former knew she didn’t have a letter among those delivered. Letters delivered from outside the capital to offices with the nature of Liu Shan Men would be subject to secret agents’ inspections upon arrival, and they’d make sure to read every letter twice. If Ming Feizhen was to send a letter back to Ming Suwen, he would have to make the secrets in the letter even more secretive. Even though she was privy to that obstacle, she still found herself forlorn.
Upon spotting Ming Suwen, Wang Tietui ended up pouring his tea into his nostrils and choking for a while. “M-Miss, this is a secret letter from Huzhou for you.”
Ming Suwen opened the letter as quick as she could, only to then smile bitterly to herself. The letter was a letter of gratitude from Shen Yiren. In spite of Ming Suwen not having an official place at Liu Shan Men, Shen Yiren knew who the authority was in her absence. Consequently, Shen Yiren expressed she had full trust in Ming Suwen and would back the latter’s decisions. Though Shen Yiren didn’t go into detail about Huzhou’s events, Ming Suwen had a general idea of what took place based on the available information.
Wang Tietui waited for Ming Suwen to set the letter down then inquired, “Do you have anything you would like me to relay?”
“I’ll go pen a letter now, and you can take it back to Huzhou. Be sure to pass it on to Vice-Captain.”
“Understood.” Wang Tietui finally beamed after his nerves settled down. “That is business done. I have another letter for you from Sir Ming.”
“Feizhen?” Ming Suwen’s eyes looked as though a flipped switched on.
“Yes, he said it was for you. It must be a personal letter.”
Huh? Now I’m confused… Considering the risks of a secret code, the only topic he could write about is…
Ming Suwen accidentally bewitched the crowd when she brushed her hair and took the letter. “Did he say anything to you? Did he tell you to tell me anything or the sort?”
“Mm… He only wrote the letter… Oh, he did stress not to lose the letter, or he would frame me to imprison me if it came down to it. Ruthless, huh?”
Ming Suwen froze up upon glancing at the contents of the letter, giving Chu Yinghua the itch to ask, “Sister, what does it say? Is Vice-Captain all right? Sister… why is your face red?”
Ming Suwen placed the letter down and glared playfully at Chu Yinghua. “It’s just red, okay?”
Ming Suwen briskly headed to the study, humming a cheerful melody as she walked. Following behind, Chu Yinghua wondered, “How did she finish reading it in one glance?” It didn’t seem as though Ming Suwen didn’t care to read the contents when she tucked it away with more care than Shen Yiren’s letter.
In truth, there was no secret in the letter. The inspectors slipped it back in the envelope when they saw it, unable to make any sense of it. The letter didn’t convey anything, yet it also conveyed everything. The composer and recipient were the only ones who understood what was communicated. There was no introduction or conclusion. From beginning to end, there were only two words: “Miss you.”
The title of the chapter derives from a poem by an unknown author. Alone, the phrase doesn’t mean “to yearn/yearning”. On its own, it’s like saying “sway, sway”, but you can’t actually say it means “sway”, so it doesn’t mean anything. You need to understand the writer/character’s emotions to figure out what it means as a standalone, or nobody would understand you. The poem uses it four times, depicting different phases of the story each time and, therefore, takes four different meanings. Take the poem as a whole, however, and you find a fifth meaning, understanding that it is meant to mean “to yearn/yearning” in this chapter.