What would your answer be if you were asked that question by Cheng Muyun?
Chapter 2.1 — The Person at the Foot of Mercy’s Seat (1)
An arm encaged her tightly. She was unable to push it away, utterly unable. Her entire body was breaking out in sweat from panic.
Suddenly, as if imparted with immense brute strength, she shoved the man fiercely away.
And then, she abruptly sat straight up in bed, her breathing heavy and only darkness before her eyes. Outside the window, no moonlight shone. There was hazy blackness, and it seemed even to be raining.<>If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.
September was indeed Nepal’s rainy season.
From morning to night, the rain had drizzled down without so much as pausing.
The sound of raindrops against the window caused the night to seem cold—especially cold. The hands of the bedside clock glowed, and they now showed a time of twelve o’clock.
She had slept for only two hours before awakening? Feeling somewhat edgy, Wen Han pushed open the window, but unexpectedly, her face was doused with rainwater, and she hastily shut it again. In this space of time of opening and closing the window, she spotted a man’s silhouette drawing closer, walking leisurely along the narrow, rundown road paved in stone. When she lowered her head for a look, that figure also happened to lift his face and seemed to be looking up at the third and fourth floors here.
It was him?<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
Wen Han retreated back a step.
No, wait. She should not be hiding. He could not see her.
It was obviously brighter outside the window than in the room, so how he could possibly even see into here? Wen Han comforted herself in this way before throwing a surreptitious glance out the window again. There was no longer anyone there. He should have returned to his room. Didn’t he just go to buy coffee? Why did it take two hours to come back? she puzzled to herself. But suddenly, she realized she was showing an out-of-the-ordinary amount of care and interest in this man.
Wen Han warned herself, You cannot pay such attention to him anymore.
However, there still remained an uncertainty that swirled at the bottom of her heart. She returned to the bed and lifted open the blanket, wanting to attempt to sleep once more. Then, she heard the distinct sound of a pair of men’s boots approaching her direction. Next was a knocking sound. It was someone knocking on the door of the neighbouring room? Sure enough, she soon heard Agnesa’s voice, a tone of delight in it, saying with a laugh, “What’s that? Have some drinks? Sure… Okay, no problem. I’ll tell a few more friends to come along. Oh, and… thanks for the coffee.”
The man’s footsteps moved away.<>If you are not reading this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.
Very shortly, Agnesa was knocking on Wen Han’s door, telling Wen Han to go downstairs with her to party the entire night away with all the other guests whom fate had brought together in this place.
“A rainy night in Nepal is just too suitable for events like this one,” Agnesa stated. Wen Han, however, could not find the connection between “a rainy night in Nepal” and “partying the night away.” She was unable to refuse, though. The female innkeeper, Little Fox, was too charismatic, and the dozen or so guests who were staying on the four floors of the little inn all came in response to the invitation.
Fortunately, what gave her some peace of mind was that Wang Wenhao and Roman had also come downstairs and would accompany her down.
Since she was, after all, travelling with male companions, her anxiousness was somewhat eased. At the very least, she felt that that man likely would not so readily come and harass her again. After changing into an ankle-length skirt, she deliberately selected a top with a proper-looking collar line and mid-length sleeves. Dragging out the process for a long time, she at last went downstairs with Wang Wenhao. A lively atmosphere had already filled the entire first floor, and someone was playing a Russian song on an accordion.
It was Roman, who had come down a little earlier than them.
He was sitting at the center of that small bar table, very merrily singing a little Russian love song to the innkeeper, whose eyes were glazed with drunkenness.
When the song came to an end, the female innkeeper gave a low laugh and clapped her hands, but her gaze was on Cheng Muyun, who was lying on a soft chaise longue, smoking hookah. “Yun, do you want to try?” The latter chuckled, not refusing her suggestion.
Seeing that his song performance had brought no admiration onto himself and rather, it was the man in the corner, half-leaning back into the chaise longue and blowing out faint clouds of smoke, who held all the attention of this beautiful innkeeper, Roman was a little irked.
Cheng Muyun glanced at the accordion in Roman’s hand. “Now that you mention it, it has been a long time since I last touched one.”
“You’ve learned before how to play?” a girl asked very inquisitively. It was evident she, too, was drawn to Cheng Muyun’s past experience of having been a monk. “So what did you do before?”
“Me?” In a low voice, Cheng Muyun stated a single word: “Trafficking.”
The entire room broke out in a roar of laughter.
Everyone knew he was a monk who had left the monastic life, and hence they treated these words as spoken in jest. In fact, there were some men who, in order to attract the attention of some girls, even took Cheng Muyun’s topic and continued along with it. “Guess what. I often will take gold and make it into clothes hangers, real clothes hangers, the type that you can use to hang your clothes dry. Then, I’ll bring them into India. If I’m caught, I just need to pay that extra bit in fines, but if I’m not caught, I rake in a lot of dough.”
The innkeeper clapped her hands together. “All right, the jokes are enough now.” The group carried on with their laughter, and they began to chitchat about the things they had all seen or heard in their journeys as well as the crummy weather Nepal had been experiencing this last half a month.
The girl who had asked the questions earlier drifted her gaze over and circled it about Cheng Muyun. He was the target of many of the girls here tonight. A fling in Nepal—this man was just too suitable for one.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.
Wen Han chose a rather inconspicuous corner and took a seat.
This female innkeeper certainly knew how to set the ambiance. The couches on the first floor had been removed for the night, and a large number of low chaise longues had been added instead. Many people were gathered around where Cheng Muyun and the innkeeper were, so it was actually quite quiet where Wen Han was sitting. Amidst the merry laughter, Cheng Muyun really did catch the accordion that Roman tossed over, and rising swayingly to his feet, he hung it from his shoulders and tried pulling the bellows a couple of times.
All the people had thought he was merely joking around, but to their surprise, a very smoothly-played tune that was brimming over with liveliness and passion was heard.
An accordion’s voice is always romantic and boldly unreserved, like the men of Russia.
Many people had not heard this song before, but as chance would have it, Moscow-born Wen Han had, and from a black vinyl record at that. Although its name was Unlucky, the tune itself was very languorous, and in particular, when sung by a man, it exuded the unique feeling of a person who, after becoming drunken, was lying on a windowsill while the night wind blew against him, half-reciting, half-singing about the person he loved.
Cheng Muyun’s voice was not very husky, so his ending tones when he sang sounded even more resplendent.
Playing the accordion, he crossed through the hookah smoke that people all around were blowing out, his eyes at times lowered and at other times teasing and provocative. When Cheng Muyun had sauntered up in front of Wen Han, he halted his steps. Crouching down slowly, he continued to play the accordion to her, and his singing even carried a sigh in it that was particularly sexy.
All the people present began to laugh quietly, applauding and whistling.
Everyone merely viewed this as a scene of a man expressing strong fancy toward a beautiful woman who had suddenly appeared before him. Wen Han shifted her gaze away to look at the bell at the doorway, trying as much as she could to avoid his eyes.
“He sings quite well.” Wang Wenhao slipped his hand up to rest it on Wen Han’s shoulder, saying quietly to her, “And he’s very skilled with the accordion, too.”
Wen Han gave an absentminded reply.<>You should be reading this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
After the song came to an end, Cheng Muyun suddenly spoke in Chinese, “You are exceptionally beautiful tonight.”
The expression on Wen Han’s face shifted slightly. Wang Wenhao, in contrast, was much more composed than her and answered Cheng Muyun on her behalf. “Thank you for your admiration toward my girlfriend.”
Cheng Muyun’s eyes, which seemed shrouded in a dense fog of mystery, remained fixed on Wen Han. “It is my pleasure.”
……<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
With her eyes cast downward, Wen Han stared at her own fingers while they randomly wrote on the table several mathematical formulas that she commonly used. Stay calm, stay calm.
Behind her, someone broke out into chortles, and a man’s voice was heard remarking, “I know why this monk returned to the secular life. He wasn’t able to let go of the earthly desires of men.”
“Yes, yes, that’s right, that’s right. He might even have been an amorous monk in the temple.”
Even the female innkeeper, who was in the midst of enjoying drinks, did not forget to join in on the jesting. “No, he abandoned monkhood because the women of the earthly world could not bear to let him go.”
Some people laughed, others broke out in noisy joking and banter, and even more women chased their gazes after Cheng Muyun.
There were also those who watched detachedly as a bystander—such as Wang Wenhao.
And still more who were filled with intense jealousy—such as Roman.
He was indeed rosemary, the persistent, bewitching fragrance that was intense and caused people to sink in and become immersed in it—he so easily caused people to immerse themselves in him.<>If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without the consent of the translator.
Candle flames burned fiercely.
The light wisps of smoke from hookahs, as well as the growing number of provocative and amorous actions between men and women, filled this foreign land’s night with an atmosphere that dazed and enchanted the senses. Wang Wenhao seemed to perceive that more and more she did not want to remain sitting here, so at three in the morning, after making up an excuse, he accompanied her back to the third floor. Ardent music and laughter still echoed downstairs, but here, it was especially quiet.
“I feel as if you’re not feeling very well today?” Wang Wenhao took her key from her hand and helped her open her door.
Somewhat distractedly, Wen Han answered, “A little bit. Maybe… I’m just not used to the food and climate and stuff here.”
Wang Wenhao smiled.<>You should be reading this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
She wanted to turn on the lights, but his hand had already covered hers.<>If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator
Wang Wenhao’s palm was exceptionally hot. As she pulled her hand back, she sensed him drawing nearer to her. His warm breath on her was very suggestive, as if he wanted to kiss her but was still maintaining a slight and very gentlemanly distance. Not daring to move, Wen Han hesitated for several seconds, then hurriedly took half a step backwards. However, Wang Wenhao had already detected that she had not been focused, and as if given encouragement, he slipped his around her from behind her back.
“I’m sleepy,” Wen Han spoke up uncomfortably.
“All right.” In a soft voice, Wang Wenhao told her, “Good night.”
A figure suddenly appeared.
Cheng Muyun walked up the stairs. He was wearing black military boots that had hard soles, and the sound he emitted as he stepped on the wooden floor was loud and heavy. Wen Han and Wang Wenhao simultaneously turned their heads toward him.
“My apologies.” Cheng Muyun brought his chin in slightly, his eyes sweeping a half-circle over the two. “I have disturbed the both of you.”
Wen Han awkwardly pulled her gaze back.<>You should be reading this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
Deliberately ignoring him, she said quietly to Wang Wenhao, “Good night.”
Then, she heard the sound of his footsteps continuing upstairs.
Stepping into her room, she closed the wooden door and leaned her back against it, while listening as Wang Wenhao’s footsteps moved off into the distance. Gently, she blew out a breath.<>If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator
The entire night was imbued with the music and laughter of the first floor.
The rain, however, fell from the deep of night until the early morning hours, never ceasing and, in fact, showing the trend that it was coming down with increasing strength.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator
When the sky was showing the first faint tinges of dawn, Wen Han woke.
Due to the incessant rain, the room had grown stuffy and humid. Wen Han remembered the innkeeper had mentioned that, since the innkeeper herself hated Nepal’s monsoon season, she had purposely added a clothes dryer in the fifth-floor laundry room. This could also be considered one of the distinguishing features of this inn.
Here, dryers were a luxury item.<>You should be reading this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
Despite sleeping for less than three hours and having a splitting headache, she was unable to fall back asleep, so carrying out of the room her long workout pants, her hiking jacket, and a few other articles of clothing that were machine washable, she walked up to the laundry room on the fifth floor.
It was five o’clock in the morning. The merry noise and commotion had concluded.
This was the perfect time, while the other inn guests were still sleeping, for her to wash her clothing first and then dry them in the dryer.
There were two washing machines, both of them very dated. Not only were their capacities small, there was also no piping that allowed water to fill the drums automatically. The faucet needed to be turned on first until the washer was completely filled with water, and then the machine could be switched on. After Wen Han had stuffed all the clothes that were in her arms into the washing machine, the drum was already packed full.
Twisting on the faucet, she watched as the water continuously flowed out from the chute inside the washer.
“It should be able to turn, right?” She murmured this question to herself.
“It would be safer if you took out one piece of clothing,” a voice answered from behind her. “That is my personal experience.”
A shudder racked through Wen Han’s entire body.
The morning breeze that was intermingled with rain drifted in through a window.
She took a half-step backwards to dodge the rain, trying to find some better opening words that could be used to pay an impassive, neutral greeting to this uninvited person who had shown up. But before she had a chance to formulate the words in her mind, something suddenly tightened around her waist, and she was pulled against a firm chest.
As her eyes widened, a hand covered her mouth.
Both her arms were captured and twisted behind her back, easily held captive by his one hand. He pressed her entire body into a corner of the laundry room.
The water continued to rush out, its sound flooding her ears.
“Last night, when you were kissing someone else,” Cheng Muyun asked softly, “did you think of me at all? In your mind, did you compare whom you like kissing more?”
Last night, she didn’t even—<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, tarn from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
… And even if there had been a goodnight kiss, what did that have to do with him?
“If right now there were a couch in here, or a thicket of grass, I would push you onto it without the slightest hesitation.” Cheng Muyun’s voice was like the tender whispers that were spoken on a bed. “From the first time I laid eyes on you, I have not been able to control this thought.”
She wanted to evade his gaze.<>You should be reading this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
It was completely in vain.<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
It was apparent that his eyes could see into the deepest reaches of her consciousness.
Softly, he stated, “In these last two hours and more, I have been constantly thinking of you.”
She lowered her eyes, sensing his sleek, long legs against hers.
That hand that covered her mouth and nose slowly shifted away.
By her ear, Cheng Muyun whispered in Russian, “Do not cry out.”
It was only in that instant earlier, when she had been surprised and received quite a fright, that she had thought about calling out loudly for people to come. But right now, right this moment, she actually… was not even considering yelling for help.
When Wen Han became aware of this point, even she herself did not dare believe it.
Gasping slightly, she tried as best as she could to not look at him. “What excuse are you going to use this time? …”
“No excuse.” His breath blew against her face. “I want you.”
She had encountered very forthright and enthusiastic suitors in Moscow before.
Even if she were forced into a corner, she would still resolutely stay away from them.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator
But this man…<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
Just now, in that moment when he—this man whom she had tried all along, with all her might, to detest and to avoid—had forced his kiss on her, she had suddenly discovered that, in fact, she subconsciously was not at all repulsed by the feeling of kissing him…
Love at first sight?<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
She would not admit to that.
But there was obviously a peculiar vortex between the two of them that was drawing each person to the other.
While she was telling herself in her mind, which was roiling with turbulence, to calm down, it was plain that his eyes had already seen into the depths of her awareness with a single glance.
He spoke no more. Forcefully, he sealed her lips with his own and began, one by one, to unfasten the buttons of her top…
A tremor shook Wen Han’s body…
“Your body is responding and obliging me. In comparison to that gentlemanly friend of yours, you actually desire me more.” In the corner of this laundry room, Cheng Muyun’s voice was forming a swirling vortex for her that she could not resist. “Just as I desire you.”
As a result of this undue intimacy between them, her body softened and became restless, her head felt light, and her legs grew limp.
She should not be like this.<>You should be reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
She could not be like this.
She closed her eyes.<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
Cheng Muyun’s kisses became rather soft. Gently, he shifted out from beneath her tongue and wandered over to the most sensitive upper part of her mouth, sliding the tip of his tongue back and forth over it, again and again. Her body slowly began to tremble. Unable to control its response, she pushed her chest up slightly…<>If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.
At some point in time, the water sounds began to change.
The washing machine’s drum was already totally filled. There was too much water, such that water was even beginning to stream out from the pipe on the side of the machine.
He suddenly loosened his hold on her.
Wen Han’s legs were a little weak. Slowly, she leaned back against the wall, unable to believe the response to him that she had shown, as she flusteredly fastened up her blouse again.
Shutting off the faucet, Cheng Muyun took a plastic tube that was used to drain water and set it into the cement sink. Then, wiping his hands clean on his own pants, he walked back up in front of Wen Han, lowered himself into a half-crouch, and fastened her buttons, one at a time, for her. “I vowed that I would never return to Russia, and you should very shortly be going back to Moscow. We will not have any further contact whatsoever after that. Therefore, anything that happens between you and me in these next few days will only be a romantic fling in Nepal.” His fingers tilted her head upward so that that face that was still flushed from the passion of a moment ago was facing him. “Are you willing?”<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.
 The song’s name in Russian is Невезучий, and it was originally sung by Vitas.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.
If you search for the song in Youtube, you’ll find lots of different versions. Sorry for the relatively poorer quality of the one I linked, but I really wanted a video with an accordion for you to help with the visualization of the scene. Now, can you imagine Cheng Muyun “making eyes” like Vitas? 😉
I do not know any Russian, so I’ll just link you to a translation of the lyrics. Hopefully they’re pretty accurate, but I can’t personally vet them.
1 of 1 Prologue
4 of 50 Chapter segments
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