I love whitewater rafting. Never done it in Nepal, though, and this rafting trip that Wen Han and the others are on is much more adventurous, it seems, than what I’ve been on. 🙂 (Although I have fallen into the water while rafting, too… That’s a funny story in itself. Don’t worry, we were at a calm part of the river.)
Chapter 3.1 — The Shadows of Fate (1)
After returning to her room in the inn, Wen Han opened up her notebook and quickly jotted down notes from the trip.<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
D1 (9.9): Entered Kathmandu, Nepal via India (arrived 16:06 local time). Stayed in Thamel.
D2 (9.10): Nepal’s Teej Festival. Went to Boudhanath and Durbar Square in the morning. Exchanged some currency. Got henna tattoo done at night.
D3 (9.11):<>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.
The tip of her pen halted.
What should she do today?<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
This question did not linger around for long before Roman was excitedly informing her and Agnesa that their plans had changed, and today, they would be going whitewater rafting on the Trishuli River. Everyone was now in a rush due to this unexpected arrangement. She did not have much stuff and very soon was packed and organized. When she arrived downstairs, she came upon Wang Wenhao rather displeasedly disputing with the innkeeper over why the rafting trip had suddenly been moved up to take place earlier than planned.
“Dear, you do know that the weather here in Nepal has been terrible of late.” The innkeeper wore a smile on her face. She was long accustomed to dealing with all different sorts of bad-tempered guests. “Rainy season is not a good time for whitewater rafting. I contacted several river guides, but none of them were very willing to take you. I had to do a whole lot of persuading before two were finally willing to do it, but they only agreed to a one-day excursion.”
Wang Wenhao pulled off his glasses, very crossly wiping the lenses. “I do not appreciate it when people disrupt my plans. This way that you are all doing things is very disrespectful to people.”
Very rarely did Wen Han see him like this. Walking with Agnesa over to him, the two girls tried in low voices to soothe him. “This time of year is rainy season in Nepal and is indeed unsuitable for rafting.”
Wang Wenhao flicked a glance at Wen Han and did not carry on expressing his dissent. “I’m going out for a walk to change some more money. You guys wait here in the lobby.”
After saying this, he left straightaway, the expression on his face inexplicably seeming somewhat strained.
As Wen Han set her backpack down on the couch in the lobby, she saw Cheng Muyun leaning against the green glass cabinet at the front reception, his head tilted to the side, listening to the questions of two female Korean travellers. Right at this moment, he lifted his eyes and glanced at the lobby area, his gaze very indifferently passing over her, seeming as if they had had no interaction whatsoever before.
Wen Han forced herself to shift her eyes away and look out the window.
Out on the street, a few armed soldiers walked by. In every corner of every street of this place, people carrying arms could be seen, and it left people feeling very tense.
This place was Nepal, separated from Russia by the country of China. He had said before, in this lifetime, he would never return to Moscow. And she could not stay here. Even her visa did not allow her to stay.
Wen Han pressed her lips together, realizing that she was actually imagining the possibility of being in a long-term relationship with him.
Wake up, Wen Han. You’re going to be going back to Moscow really soon. He’s already clearly said that he cannot give you a future with him. Do not have any contact with him anymore.
Her hands gripped the couch beneath her tightly until deep creases formed in it.
……<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
When Cheng Muyun, taking advantage of the time when Agnesa ran outside to buy some little souvenirs, walked toward her with a cup of milk tea in hand, she had finally resolved herself to her decision. In a low voice, she told him, “We should maintain an appropriate distance between us.”
Cheng Muyun ceased his steps. The smile in his eyes faded, but yet, strangely, the corner of his lips curled upwards. “As you wish.”
Draining in a single breath the cup of milk tea that he was holding, he set the white porcelain cup on the windowsill and walked away.<>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.
Even when they were heading out, he did not make another appearance in front of them again.
As there were not many vacationers, there were only two rubber rafts and fifteen participants at the starting point of the rafting journey. Having spent their time, day in and day out, making their way and mingling with those on the streets of Nepal, Cheng Muyun and his friend with the short build were very well acquainted with the guides here, and hence they became half-guides themselves, controlling the backs of the rafts and shouting out commands.
Cheng Muyun led one raft while Meng Liangchuan was in charge of the other.
The guides happily took this opportunity to kick back and relax, paddling together with the vacationers.
Cheng Muyun did not even put on a lifejacket and wore only a protective helmet. Standing at the river’s edge, he was explaining to some of the male tourists some matters that would need particular attention, since, after all, they could not place their reliance on the female vacationers. In this type of high-risk, adventure activity, men were the main force and strength.
When all was ready, he held down the rubber raft with one foot and instructed that eight tourist participants should climb into it.
The female vacationers practically all swarmed forward at once, and he had no choice but to stop them. “Ladies, you must think this through carefully. In a little while, there are going to be dangerous rapids and currents. My advice is that it is best if every woman is paired with a man. That way, there will be men to take care of all of you.” His eyes shot a glance over the river’s surface. “You should know, I cannot handle so many women falling into the water all at once.”
Everyone laughed, and then they reassigned the groupings.
In reality, once the raft was truly in the water, who could bother to care whether the guide was a hot-looking guy or not? When the raft was still in gentle waters, everybody could still find this fun and amusing, working together to paddle along and race against the other raft. However, once they entered the rapids and experienced the terrifying excitement of plummeting from the crest of a wave to its bottom, the paddling vacationers were so busy their hands and feet were in a flurry, and cries of fright and shrieks started to intermix with the other sounds.
In the midst of this atmosphere of adventure and peril, Wen Han also temporarily forgot about the awkwardness between her and him.
“Hurry! Help save him!” This bellow suddenly burst forth from Meng Liangchuan. Someone had fallen overboard. The entire time, Cheng Muyun had seemed rather apathetic, and only now did he show some seriousness. “Head back upstream!”
He immediately switched positions with the river guide, personally taking up a paddle and turning the raft around.
Working against the current, this raft of vacationers also paddled with all their might.
“Wen Han, Wen Han! I can’t anymore!” Agnesa cried in Russian as she watched her paddle fly away from her.
“Hold on to my waist!” Wen Han shouted. Her palms, too, were sapped of all strength from paddling against the rapids, but still, she held her paddle in a vice grip.
He cast a quick glance in their direction. Upon confirming that the two of them had not yet fallen into the water, he turned his eyes back onto the river.
The furious, roaring waves were such a fearsome sight.
Cheng Muyun tossed a rope to the river guide, who quickly wound it around his body before handing it behind him to—
He halted in surprise.<>You should be reading this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
The person behind the guide was Wen Han. In the eyes of other people, she was the slightest and frailest of girls.
Wen Han, on the other hand, did not hesitate at all, and taking the rope, she copied the guide and wrapped it around her own waist before forcefully knotting it tight. Although her hands were trembling slightly, she still completed these actions very swiftly.
Looping the rope around his right hand, Cheng Muyun jumped into the rapidly flowing river. With a single hand, he grabbed the vacationer who had fallen in, lifting him up by the lifejacket. Because of the forceful pull on them by the rope, Wen Han and the river guide were suddenly jerked forward.
Luckily, this lasted for less than twenty seconds before Cheng Muyun tossed the fallen male vacationer back up into the raft.
Cheng Muyun then hopped back in as well. As he lowered himself into a half-crouch and saw that the man’s complexion was ashen, he simply gave a firm smack to that man’s face. The man, who had been so terrified his soul had practically left him, finally pulled in a gasp of air and let out several fierce coughs. Then, covering his cheek, he stared with fright at Cheng Muyun…<>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.
With this interlude, when they arrived at the white-sand beach, he was even more so the focal point of all the women’s eyes.
His entire body was sodden from the rescue, but it was unsuitable for him to take off his pants, so he removed only his shirt and shoes to allow them to dry. He was not carrying many things with him. There was a dry bag that contained his knife and gun for self-protection, and now it was tossed off to one side.
With feet and upper body bare, he sat on a boulder in the sun, his back toward where she was.
The afternoon sun cloaked his body in a faint halo of light.
Wen Han took the dry, white towel that the river guide had readied ahead of time, undid the hair tie that held her hair, and gently rubbed her hair. Unwittingly, she observed him from the corner of her eye. A large area of his back was covered by a tattoo. She had seen this type of tattoo before. Some monks believed that enduring pain of the skin was also a type of practice that would lead to enlightenment, and with not a single part of their bodies drugged against pain, designs would be tattooed onto their bodies.
On Cheng Muyun’s body, there was a lotus flower.
A large stretch of intertwining vines and layer upon layer of lotus that all came together until, in the end, they formed an even more complete picture of a single lotus flower.
This man in different surroundings and circumstances gave people different feelings and impressions.
For instance, right now on this beach on the riverbank, as he sat and basked in the sun, he looked very harmless. It was just that he was a little too quiet, such that even his friend, Meng Liangchuan, was bored when trying to talk to him and would rather avoid him and chitchat with the two river guides instead.
A female traveller walked over to him, asking him about the tattoo on his back. It was one of the two Korean girls who had had a pleasant chat with him at the inn. That girl’s English was not very fluent, but her voice was very soft and gentle and was mixed with some curiosity about him. Cheng Muyun did not speak much, but his word choices and speed at which he spoke were both controlled just right so that the other party could understand him.
Wen Han wrung the towel that was in her hands. Actually, no water came out. It was only a little damp.
He so very easily attracted the attention of women who did not know him well. Before long, Agnesa also seized this opportunity to get closer and began chatting with them. Wen Han could hear the giggles of the Korean girl.<>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.
Wang Wenhao sat down next to Wen Han. “Since we came to Nepal, you’ve been avoiding me.”
“Have I?” She pulled her gaze back.<>You should be reading this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
“Are you still feeling unwell?”<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
She shook her head. “I’m almost entirely better.”
Wang Wenhao gazed at her eyes that were beneath the radiance of the sunshine. Though her adoptive parents were both ethnic Chinese, she possessed a unique pair of eyes that left people enthralled and feeling intoxicated. Only when looking carefully from a close distance would a person discover that the depths of her eyes carried a deep blue colour that was very different from black.
When this beautiful girl looked wide-eyed at him with her large eyes, it always caused a burning heat to form in his abdomen as well as the most primal of urges in him, where he wanted to press her into his embrace and bite down on her lips or even her body. While her response and actions on the raft earlier had astounded him and left him pleasantly surprised, he still preferred the girl who was before him right now, who caused him to want to take care of her, take her into his arms, and kiss her.
Wang Wenhao wanted to move to the next step with her.
Evading him, Wen Han told him quietly, “Don’t be like this.”
“Wen Han?”<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
“We’ve known each other for more than two years already.” She tried her best to word what she wanted to say in a way that would not hurt his pride. “If I could fall in love with you, I would have fallen in love a long time ago. Don’t waste time on me.”
“Wen Han,” Wang Wenhao interrupted her, “don’t be so direct to tell me that. Think seriously about it again. The altitude changes much too quickly here and that can affect a person’s emotions and judgment. Let’s talk about it again when we’re back in Moscow. Right now, do not be in a hurry to give me an answer.”
Wen Han did not want to talk anymore, and picking up her backpack, she went and joined the main group.<>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
The guides informed them, “The rest of the trip is going to be amazing. We are going to camp out in the wild jungle. Nepal has prohibited the hunting of animals, so that place is a paradise for wild beasts—the Bengal tiger, leopards, rhinos, elephants, as well as freshwater dolphins and crocodiles.
Crocodiles. She had never seen one before.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
She thought, the upcoming stunning scenes of nature would allow the things that had occurred between him and her these last two days to fade from her memory. Those had been so short-lived they could utterly be viewed as a splendidly beautiful and, also, dangerous dream in a foreign land.
The vacationers plus the two river guides, Cheng Muyun, and Meng Liangchuan made a total of nineteen people, and they all began walking in the direction of Chitwan National Park.
After several hours had passed, all those girls who had tried to strike up a conversation with Cheng Muyun had now already temporarily forgotten about this man’s charm. They merely walked and walked wearily, complaining about why they still had not arrived at the campsite yet.
And so this continued from afternoon to dusk, until, when the sky was about to turn dark, they at last saw a very large lake.
Elatedly, Roman exclaimed that tomorrow they could come here to see crocodiles. But what Wen Han noticed was that there were several soldiers holding guns and standing sentinel by the lake. When Cheng Muyun walked over, he gave them a nod in greeting, pulled out two packs of cigarettes from his pocket, and tossed the packages to them.
Catching them, the other party then smilingly pointed at a spot somewhere not too far up ahead.
That was their campsite.<>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.
Late that night.<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
Inside her tent, she stared fixedly at the only lamp within that small space, and as she lay on her belly in her sleeping bag, she allowed her mind to go blank. After a long time, she finally turned off the lamp to go to sleep, but her slumber was fitful. All of a sudden, a shadowy figure slipped into her tent and pounced on her. “Hey, baby, they’re all having fun outside. Why are you staying in here all by yourself?” Agnesa grinningly asked her. “I’ve found that the people here are all really interesting. Those soldiers we saw guarding the lake during the day are out there, too.”
While Agnesa spoke, she was dragging Wen Han out of the tent.
Who said there were a lot of people outside? …
Beside the campfire, the only people remaining were the two guides, Cheng Muyun, his friend, and those several gun-carrying soldiers they had seen standing guard by the lake during the daytime. When the two girls slipped out of the tent, the men by the campfire all simultaneously looked over at them.
“Why did you two suddenly come out?” a guide asked puzzledly.
Cheng Muyun sat on the other side of the fire. His face was not visible, and only the outline of his body could be seen.
“I’m not really used to sleeping in a tent.” Agnesa strolled over to them. “Why aren’t all of you sleeping?”
“It has not been very peaceful around here of late.” Meng Liangchuan had not caught on to anything, and very kindly, he gave her an answer. “We need to leave a few men here to stand guard.” One of the guides in passing poured a cup of liquor for each of the two ladies. This particular guide had participated in the peacekeeping activities of the United Nations before. Those several soldiers, as well, were stationed here year round to guard against poachers and to protect the greater one-horned rhinoceros. This was what the men had been chatting about just a moment ago.
After listening to them talk for a little while, Wen Han more and more felt that she could not stay sitting here. Moreover, she was very easily affected by alcohol, and after consuming only half a cup, her face had already started to turn red.
“After my father passed on, his ashes were scattered in India’s Ganges River.” The guide took pride in this. This was a privilege that only the rich here could have. “The Brahmin caste occupies the highest status in Nepal.”
The guide was already somewhat drunk.
Glancing at his watch, Cheng Muyun told Agnesa, “You can both still sleep for a while. There is still some time until daybreak.”
The reflection of the blazing flames danced in his eyes, more intense than even the liquor.
Despite the fact that he had not consumed any alcohol.<>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 caste system is a social hierarchy in Hinduism. In ancient society, there were four social classes, called varna, of which Brahmin was the highest ranking and the varna from which priests were selected. These social classes are still deep-rooted in the societies of, for example, India and Nepal, and Brahmins still occupy this high social standing. (My knowledge of this system is very superficial, so please take this with a grain of salt.)<>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.
A few random comments…
If the scene of Cheng Muyun’s bare back facing you (can’t dwell too much on this—it can be nosebleed-inducing!) seems familiar, I shall link you over here, to My Darling. Poor Jian Bianlin had to film this in cold weather, completely unlike the jungles of Nepal.
Also, notice how the description of Cheng Muyun’s tattoo is quite similar to the henna design he drew on Wen Han. 😉 Just noting this and maybe making you ponder… Coincidence?
Also, I’ve mentioned before that I like Wen Han. She’s one of my favourite MBFB female leads. (Tong Yan is another.) In this chapter, I like how she keeps her head on to do what she needs to do in the rafting rescue, and also how she turns Wang Wenhao down, kindly and respectfully and as much as possible “in a way that would not hurt his pride,” but is still absolutely clear on what her stance is.
Lastly, just wanted to reiterate that I am not at all familiar with the Hindu caste system and hierarchy. The brief description is only to help give you a general understanding of what the river guide was trying to refer to, in case you had never been exposed to it before, and to know that such social standings still exist. It will come up again later in the story. If you want to know more, I’m sure quite a few of my readers are much more learned than myself on it.
Thanks for reading, all. 🙂
1 of 1 Prologue
7 of 50 Chapter segments
0 of 1 Epilogue