The rest of the week flew by in a blur. Manchu continued to ignore and snap at Meifen any chance he got and the rest of the men were rather silent around her, save for Kong. The youngest of the group had shown her a tad bit of kindness and given her his sympathies when the others made crude comments, but that was it. The closer they arrived to their destination, the more fidgety the men became. Even Kong was restless, his carefree smile lost.
Village Lao wasn’t as small as Meifen thought it was going to be but it wasn’t large enough that their entrance would go unnoticed. Since the prison was located on the outskirts of the village and was somewhat isolated, it was easy to round about until they reached it without anyone noticing them or being suspicious.
They had hidden themselves in the woods that were behind the prison and kept a watchful eye out for it. It wasn’t a large fortress or dungeon like Meifen had thought it to be. It looked to be about three times as big as Spring Lotus. There were two bleary-faced guards at the entrance and there were only two floors. It was made of bricks, but the building itself looked rather old. Scaling the wall wouldn’t be terribly difficult if it came down to it.
“Is the plan clear for everyone?” Manchu asked quietly as night fell. He gazed at all the men slowly, searching their faces for any confusion. They had been discussing how they were going to carry out the plan, who was going to do what, and where they were going to go. They excluded Meifen in their discussions.
She crossed her arms over her chest. “And me? What about what I do?”
He waved his hand. “You’re going to go and find the warden and—”
“Distract him, yes, I know,” she snapped. “But how will I escape?”
He paused, as if he hadn’t even thought about it. He shrugged. “Just slip out like normal.”
“You know that won’t work!” she hissed. “They’ll be in chaos after your escape. They’ll know I was connected.”
Kong gave her a worried glance before turning to his Lieutenant General. He swallowed and fiddled his fingers together. “She’s right, Lieutenant.”
Manchu scowled, suddenly realizing that this was going to be a wrench in his path. He paused and thought for a moment. He licked his lips and stroked his beard. “Slip out when you can and if it comes down to it, kill him if you can. He’ll eventually realize what you’re up to and he’ll try to kill you. There’s nothing more I can tell you. Lord Hongqi assured me you were capable. If you can’t escape in time, we’ll have to leave you behind.”
She stilled. Of course it was going to come down to this! In the end, they didn’t think much of her. She pressed her lips together and gave her a curt nod. She would escape by her own means, essentially, and whether or not she made it in time, she would escape with them or be left behind to die at the hands of Ki.
Manchu clapped his hands together and pointed at her. “Get ready. You’ll be the first to enter the prison. Use your charms and wits to enter and go to the warden directly. We’ll handle the rest.”
She sighed. “Yes.”
She crossed over to where her bag lay and rummaged through it before she found her cosmetics and pretty hanfu she had packed. It was luxurious and expensive—something she had bought with her own money, rather than Lord Hongqi’s. It was a deep red and black color, making her appear even more like a beautiful prostitute. She pulled back from the men and when she was far away enough, changed her clothes. She quickly powdered her face, applied black liner to enhance her eyes, and added rouge to her lips and cheeks. She slipped pins into her hair as she swept it up into a fashionable style. When she came back to them, she was more stunning than before.
Kong’s mouth dropped to the floor and even Manchu appraised her silently, though there was satisfaction in his gaze. “Good,” he grumbled. “That’ll keep the warden busy.”