Liu Shan Men’s female constables may have been fierce at work, but they switched personalities once they removed their swords and uniforms. They only speak when necessary on duty, but they’ll chatter endlessly once they’re off duty, especially when romance is the topic of discussion. Shen Yiren made them train for two hours when she caught them staying up after curfew to chat on more than a few occasions.
“Oi, what’s good on the female constable’s side? It’s as quiet as a ghost town over there,” one of the male constables asked.
“They’re possessed!” another claimed.
There were twenty-odd female constables in the dining hall, yet the usually clamouring of eating utensils and voices were nowhere to be heard. Instead, they were nibbling so slow that a single peanut would take them ages to finish. They had their heads in their bowls to hide their faces, but they were all cognizant that their gazes were fixed on the direction of Ming Suwen’s room.
Rumours of Ming Feizhen and Ming Suwen being in a relationship were rife at Liu Shan Men ever since she joined, though a number of members weren’t convinced due to Ming Feizhen being almost a decade older than her and the way he carried himself. Thing was, one letter from him – if a sheet with only two words on it could be classified as a letter – had her giddy for days as if oxygen was sweet. To add, the female constables were told Ming Feizhen hugged Ming Suwen right in front of Red Prince, while she was nothing more than an enraptured woman in his arms, angering Red Prince to sleep.
“It’s hot, huh, haha?” remarked a female constable, fanning her face as she imagined what was taking place in Ming Suwen’s room with Ming Feizhen in there.
“Y-yeah, it’s really warm today, hahaha.”
Meanwhile, Lan Kelan stabbed through a chicken thigh, all the way to the base of her bowl, with her chopsticks as though it owed her money, muttering, “How dare he hug her so tight… Wait, Sister shouldn’t have let him hug her, either. Damn it, damn it.” She then exclaimed, “What’s so good about him? Xiao Han is right. He’s only got a glib tongue and no sincerity, has peanuts for income, is old and freaking ugly! Ying’er, you listening?”
Chu Yinghua jolted and slowly raised her head, revealing her oily lips and face blemished with several grains of rice. Lan Kelan wiped Chu Yinghua’s face with her handkerchief as she questioned, “Did you hear what I said?”
Chu Yinghua shook her head.
“What are you occupied with?”
“I… Do you think we were too mean to His Highness? Yes, he did give us a headache, but his feelings for Sis are genuine. We hit him” – Chu Yinghua glanced out to the heavily-guarded room – “until his lights were out. Was it overkill?”
“It’s no big deal.” Lan Kelan looked askance and softened her voice. “He deserved it. What? He can send betrothal gifts just because he spots a girl he likes on the streets? Isn’t that just abusing his status? Who but Sister would dare to teach his kind a lesson?”
“Technically, it wasn’t Sister who taught him a lesson but Brother-in-Law.”
“What baloney is this about a brother-in-law?! I don’t approve. He doesn’t even have money for betrothal gifts.”
Chu Yinghua lifted her bowl up again to resume eating. “If you ask me, they’re a couple deeply in love. Amhitbha. As long as she’s happy, then that’s all that matters. If you don’t want your chicken thigh, pass it here!”
Slouching on her bed, Young Shiyi had her uncovered legs crossed over and bare feet on the bed without reserve despite me being right there. Taken in as she wriggled her toes, I stopped speaking to gulp, prompting her to look my way out of her peripherals. “Why’d you stop?”
“Ah, oh, umm, on the twentieth day, I went to search…” I managed to get out a few sentences before pleading, “Young Shiyi, I request!”
“Can I” – I raised my head – “speak without holding my ears at the bottom of a squat?”
“What do you think?” Young Shiyi pointed her now-done fingernail at me. “One letter since you’ve been gone and only two words, at that.”
“I heard you loved it…”
Young Shiyi hiked up her chin. “So? I like to be happy. You want me to be unhappy?”
My fault for forgetting you can’t reason with women.
“My joy is one matter, and what you do behind my back is another story. Repeat the reporting rules again.”
Folding my fingers one by one, I listed, “Report the time, people involved, where I went, what time I went, what I ate, what I wore, what I bought, how many times I visited the loo… Most importantly, who I met, whether there were women, whether or not they’re pretty, what I said when flirting, if I ever committed the great sin of behaving intimately, if I ever shamelessly sweet talk-”
“Enough. Continue from the twenty-second day.”
You expect me to withhold information when that’s Young Shiyi’s style? So, I told her everything, including my earth-shaking fight with the Abels imposter, Luo Ming’s plan, his kidnapping of His Majesty, my epic fight with Luo Ming’s Purple Forbidden Enclosure Dragon Slayer, the machinations in the capital, how Luo Sword Manor had been taken over long ago and about Mr. An, who engineered a string of events.
“Ah, I see, so you went behind my back to start an affair with Shen Yiren!”
Why do you keep biting at that when I just told you all those epic, dangerous battles?! Also, what affair are you talking about?! I spoke Mandarin, didn’t I?! I only said I divulged some things!
“Oh.” I held my shaky hands up to my face, lest she hurt her hand, and then shifted toward the bed.
“This is as close as I can get to the bed.”
Wearing the smile of a devil, Young Shiyi answered, “Onto the bed.”
Young Shiyi dragged me up unto the bed by my arm and pressed me down. As her black waterfall tickled my face, she smugly queried, “Am I… pretty?”
“If you aren’t, nobody qualifies to use the adjective,” I answered with a blank face.
“Compared to your big-bust, beautiful vice-captain? Compared to your invincible fiancée, Interim Matriarch Yu?”
“You are without equal.”
“… I demand main.”
“Huh? What does that mean?”
“I don’t know.” Young Shiyi triumphantly let me go and told me, “Let’s talk business now. Shiba told me you’re going to Nanjiang. I’m going with you.”
I nodded sternly. “Not taking you.”
“Say that again.”
“… I don’t think you can’t go. I can’t stop you if you insist on joining the hunt; however, you must obey my commands. I’m not certain if one of them is in Nanjiang. If it is… you know I’m ready to abandon anyone and anything to protect you, but we’ll compromise everyone else. Follow my instructions, okay?”
“Don’t jinx it.” Young Shiyi poked my forehead. “Am I that insensible? I will heed instructions. That said, you are not to force yourself if you can’t succeed. As members of Mount Daluo, my cousin and nephew also share a responsibility in their extermination. It’s just that only one of them can leave the mountain to aid you. Then again, if just one of them is helping you, impossible should just be a word for you.”
“It would take a few years for them to arrange a trip off the mountain. According to my research, there’s more than a seventy percent chance that the reports at Nieyao City are true.”
“Yeah, but aren’t you His Majesty’s strategist? Why did you come back here?”
“I told them I had something to do and would regroup before entering Nanjiang.”
“What would that be?”
I cracked a grin and picked up Young Shiyi, draining her strength out of her as I lifted her up to my chest.
“Yah! What do you think people will think if people saw us, with me dressed, like this?” Young Shiyi always did the teasing, so occasionally teasing her always made her bright red.
“That would be the most important task: picking up my young shiyi from the capital.”
“You have no regards for seniority. Where’s the respect for your aunt?”
“So? Your fault for teasing me.”
“Are you saying that you plan to tease me?” Young Shiyi finger jabbed at my chest as she studied my eyes. “How are you going to tease me?”
I was dead sure it wasn’t my body that was burning but Young Shiyi’s.
“Answer the question. How… are you going to tease me?”
“I… I… I’ll tickle you.”
“Pfft you have a perverted mind, but you don’t have a pervert’s audacity.” Young Shiyi pressed her hand up against my chest. “Don’t go… You hold back because… you care about me. While you do have a perverted mind, you don’t have a pervert’s audacity… I like that about you…” Young Shiyi started fanning herself with her hand. “Feizhen, do you know who you knocked out?”
“Yeah, a rich jerk who kept clinging to you, no? He’s not a bad fighter.”
“Y-you knocked him out without knowing who he is? He’s… Red Prince… His Majesty’s eldest son, Li Tingzhu.”
“What a strange name, His Majesty. I’ve never heard that surname before. Li Dingzhu, don’t know him, either.”
“Feizhen… stop trying to escape reality, okay?”
“No, it’s not okay! Why did the guy I clock have to be a Prince?! Why didn’t you give me a heads up?!”
“Would you have left him alone if I did?”
“… Still would’ve belted him. I don’t care what Prince he is. Pointing a blade at my young shiyi is unforgivable.”
“You are excused… We have a bit of a problem, though. His people followed him here and instructed us to treat him. He’s skilled and got a discerning eye, so he might remember you. I haven’t told you until now because I’ve been trying to think of a solution.”
“I had no idea… We need to give him a scare, you know, shut him up. How shall we scare him?”
Young Shiyi tugged up a corner of her lips.
When he opened his eyes, Li Tingzhu smelt alcohol, and he felt as cold as if he was lying on solid ice in the nude. The single lit candle and dozens of wine jugs on the table vaguely visible in the darkness evoked a sense of danger deep inside him. He squinted in hopes of identifying the man in his late twenties with long hair by the table.
“Congratulations,” I announced from the head physician’s chair. “Your castration procedure is a success.”
There’s a joke I removed from the chapter and replaced with Ming Feizhen going on about the weird surname because it was impossible for me to replicate in any capacity. When Ming Suwen tells Ming Feizhen he knocked out Red Prince, Ming Feizhen mistook “Red” for “wing” because they share the same pronunciation. Ming Feizhen goes off on a tangent, wondering if Emperor Yuansheng conferred his son the title of “Wing Prince” because his son likes chicken wings. I’m not sure what sort of misunderstanding you can create out of “Red Prince” in English.