I Swear To Lead A Quiet Life of Peace. I Wish You Well, My Beloved. (Part 2)
Every reason imaginable was attributed to the concubine's suicide. Some claimed she was heartbroken due to falling out of favour, and therefore suicided. Some claimed that the concubine must've accidentally slipped in, as the well had been abandoned long ago and the edges were falling apart. Some claimed that there were evil spirits in the palace and that Wudang's Priest Shenfa should be called in to the palace to conduct a ritual. Rumours continued to bounce from one person to the next, but nobody knew why the young concubine would give up on life when she was in her prime. Only the young eldest Princess knew the reason.
To lure a greedy woman to an abandoned well, all she needed to do was scatter her jewellery, forming a trail leading to the well. Setting traps to hunt prey was a concept that Jingan grasped at six years of age.
None of the strong women, who tormented her, were let off the hook. Some were crushed under a wall that fell; others were incinerated in the locked firewood room; some fell from the second floor while wiping windows and happened to land head first on the stone paths.
Jingan murdered one after the other, but never once did she feel proud of herself. Killing them was the same concept as a wild beast eating merely to satiate hunger, as not killing would mean their survival was in peril. It was an act void of personal emotion.
It was just that she couldn't comprehend why the concubine had to torture her, why people feared her just because she didn't cry or smile and if she was somehow wrong, for she neither wanted to smile nor cry.
After she was done murdering all of the culprits involved in her abuse, she continued to read books regardless of time of the day. Sadly, she couldn't find the answers to her questions in those books.
Princess Jingan never showed a smile, cried and remained reticent until she was ten. The Emperor thought his eldest daughter had contracted some sort of strange disease, and therefore had Imperial Doctor Dai, head of the Imperial Medical Department, move in to a place nearby hers to allow him to always be ready to take a look at her.
Doctor Dai had prescribed countless medicines for the Princess, who was difficult to deal with, and checked her pulse countless times to no avail until one particular time. That visit, young Jingan seemed curious about herself, so she finally asked, "Doctor Dai, what is the condition I am diagnosed with?"
"You have none," responded the most skilled doctor in the capital, who was busy experimenting with herbs and didn't look up when he responded. He gave the impression that he didn't think anything of the charming young girl, "You have never been ill, Your Highness."
"Oh?" responded ten-year old Jingan, who glanced out of the corner of her eye. She seemed to be interested somewhat, "I have never smiled, though."
"If one does not smile, besides being incapable, it could also be attributed to the fact that they do not like to smile. Why must it be complicated with contrived reasons?" remarked the old doctor, with a big beard. He narrowed his eyes that were losing their visual acuity, "You do not like to smile, cry, those around you and yourself. That is all there is to it. What illness is there to speak of? Please forgive this old one, but this old one must resume experimenting with medicines."
The doctor actually ignored the Princess and concentrated back on his medicines.
Jingan felt as though she finally found someone who understood her, yet was still puzzled.
Years later on a particular day, Jingan suddenly discovered that she was different to others. Perhaps it started with her facial expression. Subsequently, she began to learn her first distinct frown, thinking expression and indifferent expression. Admittedly, she did an impressive job of learning the expressions.
She learnt to smile; to be precise, she learnt how to imitate smiles. The first time she imitated a smile, the Emperor was almost brought to tears of joy. It was his first time seeing his daughter smile. The reactions Jingan received for her smiles were an incredibly new experience for her. She smiled, displayed big smiles, charmingly smiled, bashfully smiled, hopelessly and so forth.
Jingan felt that smiling was very fascinating for the first time. When she had spare time, she liked to imitate other's expressions. Eventually, she learnt to cry, show anger and show sorrow. Despite her learning all of the expressions from others, she realised that her repertoire of expressions gradually expanded and emotions that she never felt had surfaced.
With the passage of time, Jingan, who never wore any expressions, became hailed as the most beautiful woman in the capital today. In the palace, they also lauded her as the Emperor's most sensible, kind, erudite, refined and graceful eldest Princess.
Until now, she lived using expressions she learnt from others and combined them with her hidden thoughts to try and realise her grand ambition.
Princess Jingan sat in front of her make-up table and applied a rosy colour to her incomparably enchanting cheeks. For a split moment, she forgot her smile, but a frost flower quickly appeared on her face and instantly captured the hearts of all of the maids. Her dangerous beauty figuratively hung the maids' hearts up. Perhaps that was what people meant by breathtaking beauty. There was no doubt that the maids wished to possess that same degree of beauty.
Princess Jingan had no time to spare for their reactions. She intently waited for news to come from next door. However, the response from her fuma's end was surprisingly still. She and her assassins had agreed on a time to strike, yet still no one sprang into action.
Jingan wasn't proficient with martial arts, but was gifted with photographic memory. She could discern if a fight took place or not on the opposite side just from subtle changes in the air. Nevertheless, the fight was unbelievably fast. She knew that Ming Feizhen was Ming Huayu's substitute, and hence, could not have been weak. She surmised that Ming Feizhen must've been Ming Huayu's disciple or something similar. Consequently, she called in the cavalry for the ambush, which consisted of skilled fighters of a calibre that wasn't easy to come by from the pugilistic world. From the looks of things, she presumed they had finished off Ming Feizhen.
JIngan was a tad disappointed. She had wanted to make a bigger deal out of it when the assassins struck so that she could take advantage of the disturbance to let the people, who came to their rescue, hear cries and pleas for help, thereby escalating the severity of the disturbance. Unfortunately, it was dead silent. A long time passed before footsteps were finally heard approaching her.
Jingan remained unperturbed as usual, but she subconsciously copied those around her with a frown. Her frown was her way of expressing her dissatisfaction with her men. But, to her surprise, it wasn't her people who came in, but her husband.
Fuma Jingan, Ming Feizhen, pushed the door open and entered while laughing, "Haha, where's my little Princess? Wife, my, my, let me have a look. Your make-up is more enthralling than flowers."
Without waiting for the Princess to respond, the head maid at the time cut in, "Fuma, look at the time. You have still not gotten dressed. Moreover, meeting your wife before your wedding is inauspicious. Hurry up and get out!"
Ming Feizhen scratched his head, "I just saw five dogs bite someone opposite this room. They were rewarded with one chopstick each, and then they were out cold. I thought, 'this is bad.' I did not know who the owner of the dogs was, and since it would bring trouble after knocking them out, I came to ask what to do."
"What dogs? We do not raise any dogs at the manor. Get out, get out."
Ming Feizhen was forced out of the room. Jingan snuck a glance at Ming Feizhen through her mirror. She noticed his gaze sweep over everyone in the room, and then, left, seemingly without anyone noticing.
As she thought, he came to test them.
'He is a tricky one to deal with.'
Jingan wasn't exposed, but she struggled to recollect herself for a long time.
Jingan sent a total of five assassins on par with the Seventeen Hidden Dragons to be on the safe side. It was incredibly unlikely Ming Huayu, himself, could dispatch five of the Seventeen Hidden Dragons without a single person noticing.