The Nature of Men
The uncanny curve on Ming Suwen’s lips that she was applying red rouge to was the level two alert at Mount Daluo – the equivalent of “enemy invasion” and “Patriarch’s wives have caught him at Mingyue Brothel”. Regrettably, the usual ultimate weapon (read: shield) used to dismantle the crisis – Ming Feizhen – wasn’t present.
Ming Suwen swept her gaze over her three nephews and chortled softly. With one hand holding up her chin, she examined her other hand’s fingernails: “Do I need to tell you what to do? Kiddos, take turns report what you’ve been doing.”
The three looked at each other to see relief in each other’s eyes.
Sima Huai aerated his chest: “I have cleaned a hundred and fifty-nine toilets, sent thirty-eight letters, eaten ninety-five meals as w-”
“That wasn’t what I was after.” The only person Ming Suwen demanded those kinds of highly-detailed reports from was Ming Feizhen. Everyone else? She wasn’t so keen to hear their voices. “Done anything you feel guilty about?”
“Yes. I embezzled five hundred silver taels to buy tea and fabricated parts of the ledger to cover my tracks. I am a sinner.”
“Tsk, tsk, what sort of tea costs five hundred?”
“Mingqian longjing before the rain tea. I cannot stand b-grade tea.”
“So, you erred?”
“I forgot to save a serve for you.”
“Hehe, that’s what I like to hear. Fourth?”
Rather than call it a report, it was more akin to a family chat. If one was just listening in without knowing Ming Suwen, they’d likely presume she was just casually checking in on them. In reality, she learnt how they were doing.
The three assumed Ming Suwen was going to vent on them for Emperor Yuansheng giving her a dodgy entity, so they were glad to hear she wasn’t mad.
Ming Suwen went to sit on the bed with Xia’er after she was done applying rouge to quietly talk.
“By the way, what was His Majesty talking about when he mentioned giving you profiles and identities? Why are you calling Miss Shen ‘Ma’am Ming’? When did she become the owner of a company? If she’s Ma’am Ming, who’s the owner?”
Sima Huai: Oh crud. She didn’t just let it go but didn’t understand? I suppose His Majesty’s thinking can’t be understood unless you explain everything. Where do I even start, though?
Xia’er raised her hand: “I shall explain. His Majesty assigned everyone an identity to use whilst in Nanjiang. Sister-in-l-, Sister Shen is the wife of Yizhen Company’s chairman – Chairman Ming, which is Brother Feizhen. Don’t worry about it, Sister Suwen. Although girls fall for him everyone he goes – like my dad – I think Sister-in-law is also having a hard time.”
A simple “Hmm…” had all three of them on edge.
“No wonder why you all call her Sister-in-law… Tsk, tsk, it’s so easy to be main when your father is an Emperor, huh?”
Finally yielding to his conscience, Sima Huai confessed, “Grandaunt, First Brother was the one who ordered all of this before he left. I swear on my life I had nothing to do with it.”
“Nobody is blaming you or him. He’s become the owner of the company without even knowing about it. Thing is, the profiles…” Ming Suwen half smiled. “By the way, what was the identity His Majesty gave me?”
“He says you are Ma’am Ming’s elder sister and reside at Lin City. The story goes that you came to visit since they were coming back.”
“I’m Ming Feizhen’s sister-in-law? Hmm… Let’s see if he can withstand his sister-in-law’s seduction, then.” Ming Suwen licked her lips.
Answering to Emperor Yuanshen’s call for everyone “important” to attend a meeting the next day, Ming Suwen led Mount Daluo’s group, while Abels led Evil Spirit’s remnants.
Ming Suwen regarded Abels with a smile and nod that A-Lan didn’t miss. Post-recon, A-Lan whispered to Abels, “She’s Mount Daluo’s The Demoness. She’s born with the appearance of a vixen. I say Shen Yiren has met her match. Ming Feizhen is going to be in for it.”
Abels quietly replied, “Don’t worry, Miss Abels. I will never be in that position.”
“Hmph, glad you understand.”
“Hey, you… are Ming Feizhen’s sister?” a young girl with an incredibly white skin tone questioned.
“Uhm, biological sister. Who are you?”
Mountain Monster ran her gaze up and down Xia’er. “Heh, never expected someone so ugly to have such a hot sister.”
“Hey! Him being ugly doesn’t stop me being pretty.”
“Tr-true… Uh, where is he now?”
“Don’t tell me… You’re also looking for him? Just how many girls did he hit on? Look, I don’t want you to get your hopes up, so I’d like to kindly inform you that you definitely can’t be main or second. Since you registered early, I can save the spot of personal maid for you. You want?”
Mountain Monster spat to the side. “Daddy got business with him. His second brother owes me a hundred thousand silver taels and said he’d repay me. Where is he? Has he run off?”
“That’s it? In that case, join us. Sister Suwen will have to tell us where he is when the meeting commences. If you have anything else to ask, I’ll ask for you.”
Mountain Monster found the suggestion sound enough, so she joined Mount Daluo. While she was standing there, she couldn’t resist the urge to sneak glances at Ming Suwen. Owing to her extensive background in disguise, she was an expert on skin out of necessity. At the end of the day, no matter ugly or beautiful, flesh was just flesh, but Ming Suwen’s beauty made her admit that Ming Suwen was a special specimen.
Mountain Monster: Her looks may not necessarily be a blessing.
Emperor Yuansheng and his vassals arrived together at long last. “Hoho, I apologise for making you all wait. We just received some information from Baimu that I want to share with you all right away, which is why I am late.”
Ming Suwen got up to salute: “Long live, Your Majesty.”
“You need not trouble yourself with the pleasantries. We are family. Since you are Yiren’s elder sister, you can just call me ‘Uncle’, as well.”
“Thank you, Uncle.” Ming Suwen dimpled winsomely whether deliberately or not.
Once everyone was seated, Emperor Yuansheng jubilantly laughed: “Today, we are talking about Chairman Ming. He really has kept us waiting. He said he was going to seek help from Baimu state. At long last, we have received word from our agents.”
“Already? Hero Li, if you ask me, he is using it as an excuse to help himself to a vacation. Please think about it,” Long Zaitian commented.
Hero Li: “Shut up. Have you done anything besides being jealous of him? Stop kissing dragon butt and telling jokes nobody laughs at. Go train if you have so much time on your hands.”
Notwithstanding her purported indifference, Shen Yiren was interested when she heard Ming Feizhen’s name. Likewise, Su Xiao would’ve pestered Emperor Yuansheng to get on with it if the latter wasn’t an Emperor.
Xia’er whispered, “Third Brother, Sister Suwen reacted out of character when she learned she’s Brother’s sister-in-law yesterday, and now she keeps giggling. What’s she thinking?”
“Allow me to edify you,” replied Sima Huai.
“I heard you’ve been single all your life. You understand when you haven’t even touched a girl’s hand?”
“Now, that is false. Go ask the girls at Yihong Brothel. I touch all their hands when I pay them their monthly wage.”
Mountain Monster: “That counts? Might as well say you’ve touched hens’ hindquarters, so you’ve touched women’s backsides.”
“Enough. Let me enlighten you. Right now, Sister-in-law is hanging onto her ego. As her sister, Grandaunt can seduce First Brother as she pleases. Grandaunt couldn’t ask for anything more than an easy victory despite the change of places. Moreover, adultery is always more thrilling than an ordinary romance.”
Sima Huai pushed up his glasses.
“You don’t know the bad habit of men?” Sima Huai pointed to Shen Yiren. “The concubine is better than the wife.”
Sima Huai then shifted his finger to Su Xiao. “The mistress you have an affair with is better than the concubine.”
Sima Huai subsequently pointed to Ming Suwen.
Xia’er and Mountain Monster nodded. “Oh, enlightening.”
Emperor Yuansheng opened the letter and then flapped his eyelids after reading it.
Discerning the subtle facial gestures Emperor Yuansheng went through, Shen Yiren inquired, “Is something wrong, Uncle?”
“Well… The letter states that a group of Baimu troops imprisoned Ming Feizhen.”
Everyone took turns expressing concern.
Emperor Yuansheng elaborated, “Because he touched Baimu’s King’s chest.”
“Beussent, may I ask: is Baimu’s monarch… a man or woman?”
Everyone went silent, unsure how to react.
Sima Huai: “Could it be that… what you can’t have is even better than a mistress?”
Everyone flicked their thumbs up: “Your wisdom is unrivalled!”