Late again, sorry. Constant traveling lately for work.

“What is love?
Baby don’t hurt me,
Don’t hurt me,
No more…”
--Haddaway, ‘What is Love’

Chapter 224 – Brainwash

Huang Ming and Sunli were literally wrapped around each other, a tranquil bubble of bliss as they lay underneath a tree. They were, as Huang Ming had said, enjoying the moment.

Little did they realize that someone was spying on them.

It was Qiong Ying who discovered the spy. She had just given some comforting but ultimately useless words to encourage Prince Chu Feng after suffering yet another beatdown from Bian Qing. After soothing the battered prince and encouraging him to try again soon; she went around to look for Huang Ming.

Along the way, she saw the distinctive figure of Bian Qing striding triumphantly out of the courtyard, presumably to brag about her latest win to the guest instructor Sunli.

Thinking that Huang Ming could very well be with Sunli, Qiong Ying decided to follow the bigger woman. Then Bian Qing suddenly halted and humorously tried to hide her huge frame behind a tree.

Curious, Qiong Ying approached her from behind. Bian Qing was so engrossed at trying to hide that she did not hear her.

“What are you looking at?” Qiong Ying asked softly.

Bian Qing very nearly jumped out of her skin. The sight of such a powerfully built woman being startled so amused Qiong Ying.

“Nothing!” Bian Qing exclaimed.

Qiong Ying peered around her hunched shoulders. There, in the distance were two figures lying under the shade of a great tree.

“Hmm hmm hmmm,” Qiong Ying hummed in recognition. “Is that who I think it is?”

“Shh!” Bian Qing hushed fiercely, but turned back to spy on the blissfully unaware couple.

Qiong Ying studied the big woman: her face was flushed and her eyes were shaking. It was obvious that despite her stature, Bian Qing had never encountered such an intimate scene before.

In some ways, Bian Qing reminded her of Sunli. And yet Sunli was now lying in Huang Ming’s arms, something that was not easily imagined previously.

“So romantic,” Qiong Ying sighed audibly so that it would reach Bian Qing’s ears.

The big woman stiffened. “How can they do such a thing?” Bian Qing whispered.

Qiong Ying thought it was hilarious to see the powerful woman who had so easily given Prince Chu Feng so much grief was blushing and scandalized like some innocent maiden.

“It is obvious that they enjoyed each other’s company, what is wrong with that?” Qiong Ying replied with a smile.

“But they aren’t married!” Bian Qing insisted.

Qiong Ying raised an eyebrow in surprise. “You are more conservative than I thought,” she murmured.

“What does that mean? Do you think I’m some sort loose woman?” Bian Qing groused. Yet her actions did not suit her words as she still kept her eyes on Huang Ming and Sunli.

“I just did not take you to be someone old-fashioned,” Qiong Ying said.

“I am not!” Bian Qing denied. “But aren’t they afraid?”

“Afraid of what?” Qiong Ying asked, genuinely puzzled.

Bian Qing hunched and squirmed with embarrassment.

“Babies, of course!” she whispered. “What if they kiss and made a baby?”

Qiong Ying stared at her incredulously. Then she smiled as an idea popped in her mind.

“Well, if that happens, I’m sure Sir Huang will take responsibility.”

“Why would the guest instructor fall for such a scrawny guy?” Bian Qing complained.

“Who knows? Love can be mysterious,” Qiong Ying remarked softly.

“Love, pfeh! What is love, can one eat it?” Bian Qing said disdainfully. But still, her eyes were riveted on them.

“Love is when someone is persistent towards another. Day after day, unable to bear being apart from each other,” Qiong Ying said.

“The guest instructor must have found it annoying to be pestered by such a bookish bug of a man,” Bian Qing grumbled.

“Hard to say. She does look happy, doesn’t she?” Qiong Ying chuckled.

“I don’t understand,” Bian Qing admitted.

“You will. Isn’t there already a dashing young man seeking you out every day?” Qiong Ying asked mischievously.

“What!” Bian Qing sputtered.

“Shh!” It was Qiong Ying’s turn to hush urgently at her.

Bian Qing comically clapped a hand over her own mouth. She worriedly turned to check that neither Huang Ming nor Sunli had discovered them. They still lay there unmoving under the tree, much to her relif.

“Whatever do you mean!” Bian Qing hissed.

“Prince Chu Feng, of course,” Qiong Ying said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

It was so unexpected to Bian Qing that her mouth fell open in astonishment, her eyes blinking rapidly.

“You must be joking,” she finally said.

“Am I? He looks for you everyday even though you lay him out on the floor each time. How else would you interpret that?”

“He just doesn’t want to admit defeat,” Bian Qing scoffed.

“Of course. And it could be something else as well,” Qiong Ying insisted gently.

“Nonsense,” Bian Qing said, but she became nervous. She twiddled her thumbs, unsure of what she was feeling. “He’s the prince! Why would he be interested in someone like… like me?”

“Because he has never seen anyone like you before,” Qiong Ying supplied. “Men covet what they cannot get. Think about it: he is a sheltered prince, used to throwing his weight around. You are someone completely new to him, an impossible existence. You are bigger than him, stronger and more skillful. Now you’re like a mountain for him to climb, a challenge to conquer.”

Qiong Ying dropped her voice and added, “A woman to subdue.”

Bian Qing bristled. “He seeks to tame me like some pet?!”

“Of course It is just my guess. But it is not too far-fetched,” Qiong Ying shrugged. “I have seen your sparring sessions. The way his eyes look at you, the glee when he manages to land a touch, the joy he feels when he is with you is evident to all.”

Bian Qing collapsed. She gasped, recalling all the looks the prince had given her. She had thought it was full of fury and fierceness… but Qiong Ying’s persuasive words made her mind put a veneer of hot blooded, feverish obsession over the prince’s face.

“Oh, surely it can’t be that bad,” Qiong Ying consoled. “He is a prince after all. Young and handsome and not one of those bookish men. I’d say he’s quite the catch.”

“Wha… what should I do?” Bian Qing asked frantically.

“Is it really that bad?” Qiong Ying asked.

“I don’t want to wear frilly dresses and stay cooped up! That is why-” Bian Qing stopped herself. “I mean, I don’t want to be some meek wife!”

Qiong Ying frowned. “Who said you have to be a meek wife?”

All women become meek once they marry and become a wife,” Bian Qing said with all seriousness.

“But you’re no ordinary woman,” Qiong Ying pointed out. “He is a prince. There is no reason for you to change once you are together.”

“You mean, I can still be me?” Bian Qing asked, subconsciously already accepting the premise of the discussion.

“Of course. He likes you for who you are now, after all. Let me tell you a secret: a woman should constantly remind her man why he fell for her in the first place,” Qiong Ying whispered conspiratorially.

Bian Qing sighed with relief. But then her brows furrowed.

“You said that the prince wishes to subdue me. But I don’t want to be tamed,” she grumbled.

“Well, you can always tame him instead,” Qiong Ying suggested.

“Really?” Bian Qing brightened.

“Of course. There are many ways. What do you prefer, the slow way or the easy way?”

Bian Qing scratched the back of her head. “The easier, the better. I don’t like drawn out, complicated stuff,” she grunted.

Qiong Ying smiled broadly as she fiddled with the bottle of perfume in her sleeves.

“Oh, believe me, this isn’t too complicated at all.”

Despite her objection,
She fell for the misdirection.​