This chapter has been brought to you by me, and larkspur.Chapter Thirteen: Insect
The middle aged woman laughed. “This joke is not very funny.”
She laughed as she looked at the carriage driver. Her facial scars were sword scars. They looked shallow, but because of the sword energy tearing and the splash of energy around, a lot of the skin had been lifted off. The possibility of the skin growing back together with the blood and flesh was nil.
But there were many other faint scars on her face other than this sword scar. It looked as though someone had sliced randomly on her face with a sharp blade. She said that this was not funny, but she was smiling. When she smiled, the many scars on her face twisted together into an ugly flower, expressing many negative emotions, so she appeared especially violent and savage.
A wave of power had fallen onto the carriage driver’s body. This person formerly of Jiaodong Commandery and dressed in yellow robes who had followed Zheng Xiu all the way to Changling knew that he could be torn apart by this force into countless pieces. But his smile was very calm, and carried a faint gloom like sunlight in winter.
“This really is not a good joke.” He looked directly at the middle aged woman, and said slowly and seriously, “But this is the truth. While you and Zheng Xiu are as close as sisters, the other came to slash your face because of her instigation.”
The middle-aged woman’s smile disappeared. She looked down imperiously at the man like she was looking at an ant.
All the beings along the path seemed to have fled in terror, and it was extremely quiet.
Pan Ruoye’s face grew even paler. She looked at the shocking scars on her master’s face. If what the man said was true, then what would Master do?
The middle-aged woman seemed to spend some time to think back and then said coldly, “Before he came to me for a duel, he had not yet met Zheng Xiu.”
“You speak the truth.” The man nodded and said, “Even before you met, you were already a threat to her. You are a descendant of the Chen imperial family. While the state of Chen no longer existed, your status and the power behind you was not any less than the daughters of the old Changling nobility. Even more importantly, none of the misses of the Changling old nobility had your sword talent and beauty.”
The middle aged woman’s eyes flashed with a strange light of memory. She said strangely, “But I have a terrible temper.”
“For some people, a fiery temper can be seen as jealousy or straightforwardness,” the man on the carriage said, “especially to those geniuses who are rebellious to start with. This may actually become a point of attraction.” After a beat, he continued to speak, “Geniuses are usually not ordinary people, and will be very different.”
Dust surged off the ground. The middle-aged woman suddenly laughed coldly and violently. Her robes flapped. “You mean, when Zheng Xiu just arrived in Changling, or even before she arrived, before she even met me, she thought of me as her opponent?”
The man on the carriage said respectfully, “That is the case.” Before the middle-aged woman could continue, he added, “You all do not know her experiences of growing up in Jiaodong Commandery, so you cannot understand.”
The middle-aged woman’s eyes narrowed. She asked directly, “Why are you betraying her? In Changling, even if you are her servant, your real status likely is not below any of the bureau chiefs.”
“I say you have such questions because you do not understand Jiaodong, her experiences of growing up and her family members.” The man on the carriage took a deep breath, and slowly said, “You do not understand these things, so I cannot explain clearly.”
“It will be best if you speak faster,” the middle-aged woman said coldly, “I do not have much patience.”
“Jiaodong Commandery is also an old nobility, but because they started from a foreign king, they could never make it into Changling. While they had strength, they were always excluded, and in the eyes of the Changling old nobility, they were just country people. Jiaodong Commandery knows this very well.”
The man on the carriage nodded and said, “When status and strength are not proportional, twisted ambitions will form … Jiaodong Commandery did not just want to squeeze into the ranks of the Changling nobility, but to suppress these old nobility that once looked down at and laughed at Jiaodong. Just like how Ba Mountain Sword Field’s rise was really just dependent on several amazing people, the rise of Jiaodong Commandery needed people like Zheng Xiu.”
“Jiaodong Commandery was very lucky in this generation. You all know that the Zheng Family produced a talented cultivation genius like her, but do not know that there was more than one. In her generation, adding in what the concubines produced, there were four talented cultivation geniuses. Jiaodong Commandery spent fifteen years, like raising a venomous insect, produced a Zheng Xiu in the end.”
“Now, everyone in Changling, and in the world, say she is cold. But people who knew how she left Jiaodong Commandery alive naturally understand if she was not as cold … then she would not have been the one to leave Jiaodong Commandery for Changling.”
The middle-aged woman frowned slightly.
Pan Ruoye’s breathing unconsciously sped up. She could not help but look at the man on the carriage and said, “You mean, she had many similarly talented siblings. Then her family forced them to fight and kill each other. In the end, the others died, and she was the only one left alive?”
“Some died directly at her hands. Some did not, but it was pretty much the same.” The man on the carriage nodded at her and said, “Her family elders used all kinds of extreme methods to select a person to enter Changling, and also taught her how to choose her subordinates, and control their loyalty.”
“Control their loyalty?” Pan Ruoye could not help but repeat. She felt the phrase was awkward.
The man on the carriage said, “Because in her view, there is nothing that can be trusted and remain unchanging between her and her subordinates. So even loyalty, in her mind, can be controlled. To her, family is one of the most important means. To gain some capable and loyal subordinate, what she did was to kill my original family members and then tried to find a new family for me.”
Pan Ruoye’s breathing stopped. She suddenly thought of a possibility, and could not speak.
The man on the carriage slowly said, “Back before I was even a cultivator, just an ordinary scholar, when I traveled with my family, we encountered bandits. My entire family was killed. I was the only one her family saved. Many years later, I woke up from my nightmare. I had a new beloved, and a new family. But she did not expect, many years later, when I came to Changling, because of a minor matter, I finally discovered the bandits that killed my family back then, and my new family, were all her arrangements. My new family is nothing but her subordinates.”
At this time, the man smiled bleakly. He looked at Pan Ruoye, and his voice grew lower. “You may not believe me when I say, back then when she searched for a subordinate like me and sent people to kill my family to complete the mission the family gave her, she was just seven … just a child of seven and she could do something like this.”