Oh no! (All cliffhangers were planned by the author… I’m just the translator. *hides in a corner*) 😇
Edit: Formatting has been fixed now. Sorry about that!
Chapter 13.3 – Mysteries that Could Not Be Unraveled (3)
The lotus ponds of late summer seemed always to carry a sense of defeat, of ending.
But, as Shi Yi walked on the meandering stone bridge over the water, she did not feel that this was a scene of deterioration. The wilting away that occurred entering into the autumn season and the thick icy surfaces of winter would eventually, in the coming year when the rivers started to break-up again, burst forth and spread out into vast stretches of lush green.
Summer would fade and fall would come, year after year.
She turned around and walked backwards, looking back at Zhousheng Chen, who was following two or three steps behind her. Regardless of whether it was the “he,” who with a single wave of his hand, could cause one hundred thousand soldiers to drop to their knee in a resounding boom, or the “he” before her eyes now, hands in the pockets of his trousers as he strolled leisurely over the white-stoned bridge, both were irreplaceable to her.
Shi Yi was grinning, and he was also smiling lightly.
“I… really don’t fit in with your family.”
He was not very concerned. “I do not fit in either.”
“Have you always been like this, since you were a child?”
With a laugh, he answered, “As a child, I was much like you, not really fitting in with people.”
She remembered that he knew everything about her, like the back of his hand, and felt slightly uneasy. “What you have… the information on me, how detailed is it, really?”
“How detailed?” Zhousheng Chen recollected briefly. “Detailed down to points like, you like to drink coffee with milk but no sugar.”
Shortly after they had first met, before they had even seen each other for the second time, he had already known all these things.
During those brief times they had connected in Xi’an, she had already been wholly transparent before him and he had been completely knowledgeable about her. But to her, he had always been a mystery. Each period of time that passed, or even each day, would cause her to be aware that everything she had once known about him was a guise.
Gradually, she halted her steps, and Zhousheng Chen naturally stopped as well.
“In the past, you’ve lived in this type of environment, too? Were you comfortable in that?”
Politics, mineral resources, land, gems and jewelry, drugs, and arms trade.
She felt, all these things seemed to go against his values.
“Me?” He seemed to be contemplating how he should word his reply. After a short silence, he answered, “I am not comfortable in it, nor do I like it, but I cannot extricate myself from it. Ties of blood are the only type of relationship that you cannot extricate yourself from. I like… a simple lifestyle.”
She gave an “mm,” and then teased softly, “And you like Venus more than the Earth that you live on.”
He chuckled amusedly at her words. Lowering his voice, he said seriously, “But first, one needs to protect the land beneath one’s own feet. If we are not even able to guard the land under our feet, there will be nothing that our brethren can depend upon, that they can fall back on for survival, right?”
Shi Yi followed the train of thought of his words and thought of many things.
Some time passed before she nodded and said, “Yes, just like… In the past, the reason why the Jews were massacred was because they did not have a homeland to call their own.” She mused, she understood what Zhousheng Chen meant.
Even if it had been several generations since your family emigrated out of the country, you were still Chinese.
No matter which corner of the world you may live in, if you did not have a powerful ancestral homeland, your security could be lost very easily.
Shi Yi gazed up at him for a moment, then stretched out her hand and gently patted the area of his chest over his heart. “Your heart holds too many things in it. I only need to occupy a small corner of it and that will be enough.”
Dinner was in their own courtyard wing, with just her and him.
This was also a rare moment within this last month where they could sit down, only the two of them, and have dinner together. Shi Yi had deliberately used a traditional herbal recipe to personally prepare soup with medicinal qualities for him. Zhousheng Chen seemed to be repelled by the taste of traditional Chinese medicines. In that instant when he ate it, the expression on his face was like that of a teenage boy. Astonished, she guessed, “Did you consume too much of stuff like this when you were a kid, so now, psychologically, you’re resistant to it?”
He, though, had already lowered his head and was continuing to drink that soup that was hot to hold and scalding to the mouth.
It seemed he was not too willing to admit those feelings.
The corner of her lips twitched, like they wanted to laugh. “Just admit that you’re scared of taking medicines.”
When he lifted his head again, a normal expression had returned to his face. “Mm-hmm. I don’t really like it.”
Spoken in all seriousness with no hint of a smile.
She could not conceal the good mood she was in and teased him with a couple more sentences.
Watching them, Uncle Lin could not restrain a smile. It was not often that Eldest Young Master was forced to admit a weakness.
Zhousheng Chen gave a light cough and then stated in a low voice, “Alright, if you continue to be so unruly, I will implement some domestic discipline.”
“Domestic discipline?” she blurted first before instantly understanding what he meant.
Such vaguely suggestive, yet clearly affectionate words. It was a seldom chance that she could hear him say words like that, and yet, the moment he did say them, he made her cheeks and ears burn red.
She did not dare tease him anymore and started to eat her own dinner.
Perhaps because of their joking at dinnertime or possibly because of his special behavior this afternoon, during the hour of the day that was normally reserved for reading, she could not settle her heart. She sat at the desk beside the window and stole glances at Zhousheng Chen from the corner of her eye. His back rested against the back of the couch as he sat there rather relaxedly in a simple shirt and trousers. His arm was slung casually on one side, and his fingers unconsciously toyed with the tassels on a throw pillow. He was very quiet and appeared to be absorbed in his reading.
She shifted and tried to engage herself in her book.
“Huh?” She turned around.
He looked at her. “Is there something on your mind?”
“No,” she answered offhandedly, trying to avoid the question. “Haven’t I been reading the whole time?”
“Every two minutes, you will move,” he exposed her with a slight smile. “It doesn’t seem like you are reading.”
“I…” She cast around in her mind, trying to find an excuse but then, she came around and realized with a laugh, “Hey, you weren’t focused on reading either if you knew I was restless.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Let me see what you are reading tonight.”
With an “mm,” she picked up her book, walked over to him, and set the book down on his lap.
But unexpectedly, his arm encircled her waist and pulled her down as he pressed her onto the couch with his body. This sudden action caught her off guard. Her surprise had just faded before she could already feel the obvious change in his body, which was snug against her own.
His heated breath slowly nestled up against her neck and chest, and she hurriedly shut her eyes, her heart and mind racing.
He lifted her up and carried her to the bed.
Soon, he had unfastened all the buttons of her pajamas.
Her hands instinctively clutched his shirt while her body squirmed slightly. For some reason, however, she felt a faint feeling of discomfort in her abdomen. Yet, it did not quite seem like her abdomen, either, and was like a dull pain radiating out from her chest.
She wanted to tell him that she suddenly felt unwell.
Without warning, someone called lightly from outside the door. “Eldest Young Master.”
Usually, if it was not an urgent matter, no one would come up to the second level during this hour of the day.
An expression of surprise flashed briefly across his face before he stopped, pulled the front of her pajamas closed for her, straightened his own garments slightly, and rose to open the door.
Standing on the other side was the young girl, and when she saw him open the door, she quietly informed him of her reason for coming.
Because they had deliberately lowered their voices, Shi Yi could not hear what the matter was and could only see Zhousheng Chen’s backside. Very quickly, he turned around and told her, “Something has arisen in the family. I need to leave at once.”
She nodded. “Go then.”
It was apparent that it was a very urgent matter. Shi Yi lightly exhaled a breath. The pain in her abdomen was still faintly there, so she pulled the embroidered covers over herself and lay down on the bed to rest. Gradually, she fell into sleep. Nightmares came, one after another.
She could not escape from them.
All she could feel was pain coursing through her entire body’s muscles, bones, and even blood and veins.
The pressure of the pain in her chest had long since caused her breathing to become difficult. She wanted to break free from her state of sleep, and she struggled against it.
Extremely painful. Tearing, ripping anguish.
She could not wake up. She was trapped within the dreams and the pain.
Finally, she rolled and fell to the floor. In that instant she made contact with the ground, the intense pain caused her to lose consciousness.
On the other side of the old manor, there, too, was another person who was suffering.
All the family physicians that were present were very familiar with Wenxing’s physical condition, and they were quietly discussing what would be the most effective medical treatment. In fact, even prior to her return this time, Wenxing was supposed to undergo surgery, but she had insisted on returning back to China.
Unable to persuade her otherwise, Zhousheng Chen’s mother could only as quickly as possible arrange for all the treatments.
That night, when she rescued Shi Yi, she had frightened everyone. Fortunately, the complications that came about had not been too serious.
But now, this was the delayed consequence.
Earlier, when her mind was still clear, she could blurrily make out the helpless expressions that surrounded her. Her eyes paused for several seconds on Mei Xing, who was standing further back behind everyone and only slowly moved away after Mei Xing had smiled faintly at her.
There were actually not many people there with her.
Zhousheng Chen was standing behind his mother, his eyes on her.
Her fingers moved slightly and were quickly enveloped gently into Mother’s hand, but she weakly broke free of the hold. Her finger was all along pointing in the direction of her big brother. Zhousheng Chen understood. He drew near and crouched down beside her.
When he took Wenxing’s hand into his own, her pointer finger started to move.
Very feebly, very slowly, she wrote two English letters: GO.
She stared unblinkingly into Zhousheng Chen’s eyes, her own eyes filled with a longing, hoping that Zhousheng Chen would understand what she meant.
Leave this place. Leave this old manor in Zhenjiang.
The seas and sky are boundless. Let yourself live the life you desire.
Zhousheng Chen returned her gaze. Those deep black eyes did not show any emotional turmoil. Perhaps it could be said, he had always been very clear what his little sister’s thoughts were. Like Shi Yi, she had once asked him if he did not like the lifestyle of this family. He had not denied it.
Very slowly, she drew again on his palm, this time, two vertical lines: 11.
And then stubbornly, she once again wrote the word, “go.”
With great effort, she blinked her eyes and strained to breathe the oxygen.
Besides Zhousheng Chen and Wenxing themselves, no one had seen this brief, secret exchange between them. She soon sank back into a state of sleep. Zhousheng Chen’s mother calmly rose to her feet and began, in a low voice, to talk to the four doctors behind her. The main points of the discussion were that surgery needed to be arranged as soon as possible and that the situation was not very optimistic.
Zhousheng Chen stood off to the side and listened. When everyone had left the room and only he and his mother remained, there was still no interaction between the two of them. “Your sister’s situation this time,” his mother spoke up first in the end, “should not have been this serious.”
“Shi Yi did nothing wrong in this whole matter,” he stated.
His mother looked levelly at him and in a very low, flat tone, she said, “I believe that girl is ill-omened.”
“She is very ordinary. There are merely menacing things that have been trying to entangle themselves around her.” Zhousheng Chen’s words were blunt and left no consideration for her face.
“Do you think, if our family wanted a girl to disappear, we would need to use such gentle means to do so?”
Mother’s eyes were cold and distant.
Zhousheng Chen also did not speak anymore.
To allow Wenxing to rest and recuperate her health, it was very quiet in this place. Even the sound of cicadas could not be heard.
There he stood, beside the window, staying with her the entire night.
It was nearly daybreak, approximately the hour of the morning meal, when Xiao Ren was at last informed about Wenxing’s condition and rushed over. When he pushed open the door, he could sense the heavy atmosphere in the room, as if the air had nearly congealed around them.
Xiao Ren walked over to Zhousheng Chen’s mother and then suddenly said, “Uncle has returned.”
“Your uncle has returned?” Zhousheng Chen’s mother was rather surprised by this.
“He just arrived.” There were many words in his eyes, words that he could not speak out right then, and he only looked straight at Zhousheng Chen. “Big Brother, should you go to give your greetings?”
1 of 1 Prologue
42 of 56 Main story segments
0 of 3 Epilogues