Happy Halloween to those on my side of the world. Enjoy the long update. 🙂
What a peaceful scene between Wen Han and Cheng Muyun here. Also, someone turns up again that stirs something in Wen Han.
Chapter 3.3 — The Shadows of Fate (3)
Late into the night, Wen Han’s high fever persisted.
A shadowy figure lifted up the tent flap, stepped inside, and, settling into a half-crouch beside her bed, touched her forehead and the pulse in her neck. Dazed and disoriented from the fever, Wen Han tried to grab on to that hand, but her attempt came up empty. Her voice was faint as she muddledly mumbled in Russian that she was uncomfortable.
His hand left her forehead. Unconsciously, she stretched out her arm, trying again in midair to catch that hand. This time, he was not so hardhearted as to evade her and allowed her to clutch his sleeve.
Wen Han, though, did not know whom her hand had grabbed.
Only yesterday morning, she had rejected this man and requested that he keep his distance from her.
Cheng Muyun gazed down at her from high above. This carried on for a long time until finally, he bent over and thrust his fingers into her long locks that were spread beneath her. “Darling, let go first. I am going to get you some water.”
This voice—<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
Several dozen hours ago, he had used this type of casual, flirting tone to talk to her on the bed of that henna shop.
He left, but very shortly returned to the tent holding a kettle of water. Taking the lid off, he took out the towel that was inside the copper kettle and wrung it out.
The warm water that was mixed with some liquor caused the faint scent of alcohol to pervade through the entire tent.<>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 male traveller on the other side of the cloth curtain was woken by the pleasant fragrance of alcohol. Surreptitiously lifting up a corner of the curtain, he saw that man who, in last night’s scene that had seemed from hell, had wrestled with Tibetan mastiffs and climbed out from the completely blood-tainted lake. Now, he held that wounded girl, and after removing her shirt, unfastening her bra, and lifting up her long skirt, he had the girl lie face down on his lap.
The male traveller was gawking as he watched this.
Without so much as lifting his eyelids, Cheng Muyun kicked up the kettle lid with the toe of his boot. A shadow went flying out.
There was a muffled “mmph.” The curtain dropped back down.
From the inside of her arm down to her fingertips, then from the inside of her thigh down along the areas where there was a concentration of blood flow in the veins, he wiped with the wet towel. During this entire process, Wen Han was still in a confused state, and hazily, she heard him say, “You should not have come to Nepal.” Or perhaps he had not said this at all; she had dreamt it.
Two entire hours.<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
He wiped her down several times. At last, she began to perspire, and gradually she felt better.
She opened her eyes, and in her first return to consciousness after this serious bout of illness, she peered at him in confusion.
Pulling off that heavy pair of military-style boots, he allowed his body to relax, and he lay down on his side beside her. As one of her shoulders was injured, she could only lie on her side, and so as chance would have it, this bit of space was left for him. She felt his arm reach over and encircle her. “At any time, I could be like that beast and die in some place without so much as a sound. If I had met you a few years later, or perhaps a few years earlier, things would have been much simpler.”
He did not carry on speaking, his lips instead pressing against the skin of her back that was exposed, feeling the temperature of her body. Like a snake entwining itself around a person, he enfolded her entire body into his embrace.
But he avoided the wound on Wen Han’s shoulder.
Fatigue was also overcoming her. Before she had a chance to consider what could be heard by the male vacationer who was separated from them by a single curtain, her head was already feeling thick and heavy, and she wanted to allow herself to fall into a deep sleep. In this state of both physical and mental exhaustion, she gave up on trying to fight with herself, and letting her instinct take over, she burrowed herself against him.
Once she came in contact with the warmth of his body, with his skin, she would feel very safe.<>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.
In the deep hours of the night, Cheng Muyun wakened naturally and wanted to slowly pull his arm away.
Wen Han’s sleep had not been sound in the first place, and when the hand on her waist was taken away, leaving an empty coldness in its place, she was startled awake.
In that moment when she initially awoke, she had a feeling like she was in a nightmare, as if everything was merely her dream and when she roused, she would find that she was sleeping beside a warm, little windowsill with the light of the newly-risen sun shining on her eyelids… Alas, when she woke, she was once again plunged into the intense pain from her shoulder. The topical anesthetic that Cheng Muyun had applied on her wound was already starting to lose its effect. This type of pain encompassed countless variations.
Right now, right this moment, it felt as if her wound was ablaze.
“All this time, I never asked you why you came to Nepal,” Cheng Muyun unexpectedly inquired.
“Because I am a Buddhist believer and felt that it would become my regret if I did not come here,” she murmured.
“Is that so?” Cheng Muyun all of a sudden fell into a brief silence before switching the topic and remarking, “I heard that your travel plans are to cross the border into Mongolia and then from there return to Moscow.”
Wen Han was a little surprised, but after thinking about it, she surmised, perhaps it was Agnesa, or maybe it was Wang Wenhao, who had mentioned it when chatting casually with him. Over these last days, he seemed to have become quite acquainted with her friends, so it would not have been hard for him to learn this.
Besides, it was not as if their route of travel was a military secret.<>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.
There were some daily necessities piled inside the tent, delivered here beforehand by the guides in preparation for the previous night’s camping portion of the itinerary. There were also a few boxes that contained contents unknown and happened to be placed in the centre of the tent.
Moreover, with the cloth curtain that had been pulled across the middle, they were separated from the other wounded, male traveller.
However, they were only visually separated; she believed that sound was not blocked at all.
She therefore tried as much as possible to keep her voice low. This man beside her, though, suddenly was in the mood to chat. Never had she thought that she would lie on the same bed with him and talk simply about ordinary things of life. From Wen Han’s major in university to her adoptive parents, he seemed interested in hearing them all, and after a topic came to an end, he was always able to bring up a new question.
“A major in mathematics. What would someone with a major in mathematics do?” Cheng Muyun was particularly interested in her field of study. “The only job I can think of that is light and not dangerous would be a teacher. It sounds like it would be quite a good career—”
It seemed that a man like this was naturally not supposed to speak about such topics.
As Wen Han conversed about these things with him, there was a strong sense in her that she was doing something discordant. It was as if he could talk to you about firearms, about the many religions and beliefs in Nepal, and even about hookah or henna tattoos. All of these things were fine… But the exception was, when he talked about studies, work, etc.—things from ordinary life—there would be a sense that he actually did not really understand and was not really familiar with these things.
“Are you deliberately trying to find topics to talk to me about?” She at last could not help it and ended the conversation herself.
“Me?” Cheng Muyun’s arm was propped on the bed, supporting the side of his face as he looked at her. “I find this all very entertaining and interesting.”
“Entertaining and interesting? Don’t tell me you have never needed to go to school or needed to have a job?”
“A job?” He savoured those two words. Tucking his chin in slightly, he brought his head down and answered her, “I believe I likely do have the need for one, but it is simply that mine is a little more dangerous than the career that you will select in the future.”
If it had been before yesterday night, she would have assumed this man was purposely making his words sound mysterious.
Now, though…<>You should read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
She tilted her head back to look into his eyes. He lowered his eyelashes to return her gaze.
“You—”<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
“In the future, when you are in a classroom in front of some kids, will you tell them about these few days you have had here in Nepal?” Cheng Muyun jumped in to speak first. Leaning his forehead against hers, he softly used his own questions to disrupt her continued queries. “Or tell them how you fooled around with a man in a laundry room? Tell them that a man stripped you naked in an austere, little inn and applied henna on you? Tell them that on the banks of the Trishuli, you experienced an attack by poachers?”
Very gently, his fingers touched her eyelashes, then glided down along her nose and all the way to her lips. Cheng Muyun kissed her with a tenderness that he had never shown before since they met. This man… Perhaps it was when he wanted to be gentle and tender that you were doomed.
“Good night, dearest.”<>You should read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
The sound of his voice slowly permeated from the tip of his tongue and seeped into her heart.<>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.
Getting off the bed, Cheng Muyun pulled on his boots. Wen Han, however, suddenly tugged on him. Right as he turned around, she released her hold again. She had all of a sudden remembered that she was covered in blood and was wondering whether she could change her clothes. Normally this would not be a difficult thing to do, but now she needed another person’s assistance.
Yet, when her hand grabbed ahold of him, she realized that she actually had not even thought of asking for Agnesa and, rather, had thought of him first.
“What would you like to say?” Cheng Muyun straightened himself and stood beside the bed.
“There is a clean top in my backpack.” Wen Han requested in a whisper, “Could I trouble you to help me change my clothes?”
For once, Cheng Muyun spoke no unnecessary, extra words.
Bringing over the backpack that had been set at the end of the bed against the tent, he pulled out a black shirt from it and helped her change into this clean garment that was free of bloodstains.
From undressing her, to examining the wound once more, to finally helping her put on her clothing, he personally did all of it.<>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 following morning, Wen Han was woken by Agnesa.
The pain from her wound still bore into her heart in bursts. She used dry shampoo to try, as much as possible, to make her sweat-soaked hair more bearable to look at.
“We’re planning on cancelling the trip and returning to Kathmandu.” With a smile, Agnesa handed a comb to her, but switching to a frown, she reminded her, “When we get back, take a nice shower before we talk about anything else. Right now, don’t let any man come near you. The smell on you seems a little… There’s a really strong alcohol smell.”
Wen Han’s throat was dry, and turning around, she felt for the kettle, trying to cover up the slight blush that tinged her cheeks from not being able to tell the truth about what had occurred the previous night.
When the two left the tent, there was excitement going on outside.
A girl wearing a red sun hat and white pants sat, one leg crossed over the other, on a bamboo chair. Her back was towards them as she gave injections to those who had suffered bite wounds and also urged the people to continue with follow-up vaccinations when they returned to Kathmandu or their own countries. She asked Meng Liangchuan to help her check the number of people. At that same moment, Meng Liangchuan happened to spot Wen Han, who had just stepped outside. “Oh, right, there is one more.”
Meng Liangchuan snapped his fingers at Wen Han.
Holding down her hat, the girl turned her head to look. When she saw Wen Han, something flashed across her eyes. She gave a warm “Hi!” before asking, “It’s you?”
It’s her? Wen Han was taken aback slightly, and a strange feeling also seemed to press down on her chest. Just earlier, she had still very anxiously been trying to make her complexion look somewhat better and had hurried out so she could express her thanks to him. Now, though, that mood had utterly evaporated. What remained before her eyes was the image of the very first time she saw this girl: the scene of how, with her clothes torn to tatters by Cheng Muyun, she, in a wretched state, had wrapped a shawl around her upper body; and how, against the sound of his fingers lightly thrumming the doorframe and also the chime of the girl’s cheery laughter, she had fled in panic.
This girl…<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
In just a few short days, Wen Han had nearly forgotten about her.
This was the girl whom Cheng Muyun had said the innkeeper had recommended to him to provide “special services” and bring him pleasure for an entire night. And now, she had shown up here.
Wen Han’s face was ashen, and she gave a vague reply in acknowledgement. Amongst Agnesa’s curious inquiries, she gave a brush-over explanation that she and this girl had run into each other once in that little inn in Kathmandu. Walking over, she tried as much as possible to seem natural as she sat down beside the girl and let the girl give her the vaccination.
The situation could not get any more awkward.
And as it would turn out, Cheng Muyun was not in the camp right now.<>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.
For the entire afternoon, Wen Han watched as this girl, like an angel, helped the wounded re-treat their injuries and showed a pleasant and kind manner to everyone. The emotions that roiled within her were very strange and unfamiliar and made her very uncomfortable. She even wanted to go back into the tent again, throw the covers over her head, and sleep.
“It’s way too expensive,” Roman muttered beside Wen Han, grumbling about how pricey the porters hired by the guides were. “We’re vacationers who fought in resistance against poachers. We should be treated as guests, but instead, this price is practically like they’re treating us like enemies.”
Wang Wenhao did not attend to what was going on here. The entire time, he was watching over everyone’s bags and luggage.
“Wang Wenhao is such a very patient person,” Agnesa quietly praised. “Look, he’s not just looking after our stuff. He’s also checking the other travellers’ bags to see if everything is packed well and properly.”
Those lake-stationed soldiers, with rifles on their backs, were in the jungle picking up the bodies of the hounds that had been bitten to death two nights ago. Wen Han saw one of the soldiers gnash his teeth and say something, and there was a vicious look in his eyes that sent chills down a person’s back.
Perhaps because, day in and day out throughout the year, these soldiers were constantly fighting against those poachers, this ferocity from always being in battle mode had long since leached into their very bones and seeped into their marrow.
For some reason, she remembered that two nights ago, after Cheng Muyun had nearly severed a Tibetan mastiff in two, the look in his eyes as he turned his gaze on her had seemed like it belonged to a devil—one that had soaked in black blood year upon year and had just climbed out from the pit of hell.
Her eyes made a sweep around.
He still had not returned yet. The sky was already dark.<>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.
No one had expected Cheng Muyun to make an appearance late into the night, and he brought back more than ten elephants with him.
Many of the elephants here were used for sightseeing purposes and were not allowed to be taken from this place and used as a mode of transport. Nobody knew how he had managed to resolve that issue. It seemed there was nothing this man could not do.
The vacationers, who had been sitting in their own tents to stay out of the rain, all cheered, and grinningly, they conversed about how glad they were that they would not have to be walking in the rain tomorrow.
It was not that Wen Han had not heard the cheers.
However, inside the tent, as she faced that kettle that had not yet boiled, she forced herself to remain unmoving. While she sat here, that girl who had had a passing fling with him was also in this campsite. Maybe… she had specifically come here just to see him again.
Outside the tent, the guides were busy settling the elephants and the mahouts, the elephant handlers.
There was a bustling atmosphere of excitement. Laughter rang out ceaselessly.
Wen Han could not restrain her mind from continuing with these thoughts. For the whole day, she had had to watch that girl, and the other party from time to time had studied her with a probing gaze as well. It was as if she knew clearly that Wen Han was also one of his women.
His black boots appeared on her right side.
“If you can forget about staring at that kettle and use those beautiful eyes of yours to give me one glance…” His voice appeared next. Bending into a half-crouch, he said in a low tone, “I will stay here tonight.”
Wen Han evaded him.<>You should read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
“What is the matter?” His chuckle was light and sexy.
Reaching one arm behind her head, he gently pushed her face toward him. But he could feel that she was resisting and trying to dodge his action.
He gave another laugh and bit down on her earlobe.
Wen Han drew in a sharp breath. Afraid that someone might hear, she could only whisper as she writhed against him. “I don’t want to. I told you already not to come near me—” I don’t want, in this quick, hurried journey, to have a passing relationship with you that’s just going to evaporate away quickly. Nor do I want to see you with another woman…
But she was unable to make herself say these words.
Cheng Muyun’s eyes were fixed on her.
Slowly, the arm confining her loosened its hold.
Gasping, Wen Han got off her small stool in a panic and backed away several steps.
She was jealous because of that girl, but she dared not admit it. After all, she and this man before her had not even known each other for more than a hundred hours.<>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.
With one hand on the floor supporting himself, Cheng Muyun straightened back up. In that instant that he lifted his gaze, he had already returned to his usual state. His silence was such a sharp contrast to the clamour outside the tent that it felt incongruous with the surroundings.
Due to two days and two nights without rest and also all the wounds that covered him, his body had all along been running a high fever and had become a little ungainly. Furthermore, this afternoon, he had walked for such a long period.
In short, he was not very responsive to his brain’s commands.
However, this did not prevent him from using the last of his patience to speak to her.
“Tomorrow, I will be leaving this group.” The first sentence that came from his mouth was one of leave-taking.
“Tomorrow?” she blurted.<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
“Yes, tomorrow. I shall be ending this fine journey prematurely.” The corner of his lips curved up slightly. “I wish you and your friends a pleasant time for the remainder of your stay in Nepal.”
Wen Han did not know how she should reply to that.
She had not expected that it would be such words from him.
Although she had known that their time together would be very short, she had not imagined that their parting would be tomorrow. Just a moment ago, she had even prepared herself that he would behave as he had a few days ago and had already thought through how she would handle it.
Bending at the waist, Cheng Muyun picked up his drenched jacket from the small medicine rack where he had tossed it earlier, moved his right shoulder about slightly, and then, without a word, left this large tent.
The downpour outside the tent was growing more intense, and the rain had come together to form gullies of water on the muddy ground. His black boots treaded slowly through the streams, circled away from the cluster of tents, and headed toward the canopy that served as shelter from the rain.
Those elephants were all gathered under the trees, taking cover from the rain. Meng Liangchuan and the guides were under the makeshift canopy shelter, discussing how the people and the goods, in such heavy downpour, could smoothly leave this place, steer clear of the collapsed sections of the paths and roads along the way, and arrive at the next location.
Wang Wenhao was also under the canopy and was very agitated as, in a loud voice, he quarrelled incessantly in Chinese with Meng Liangchuan about something. Wang Wenhao detected that someone had stepped into the canopy shelter from behind him, and when he turned around and saw it was Cheng Muyun, his anger shot up another few levels. Just earlier, he saw with his own eyes Cheng Muyun walk into that large tent that Wen Han was in. This man actually dared to take his money and then, even after being given a warning, still try to get close to his woman—
“Let me tell you now! Tomorrow, I’m firing you! When we get to the next place, I’m going to need another—”
Before Wang Wenhao could finish, his shirt collar had already fallen into Cheng Muyun’s grip, which was slowly closing. Cheng Muyun leaned in close, and through the lenses of the glasses that rested on the bridge of Wang Wenhao’s nose, he stared straight into the depths of Wang Wenhao’s soul. “You keep a good eye on those goods of yours. I cannot guarantee whether or not, in the next second, I will give up my payment and throw you and them into the river together to feed those starving little beasts. You should know, Nepal’s government is very protective of its wild animals, and there would not be any resulting troubles if they ate you.”
Each word was spoken in a low voice, so low that chills came over even Meng Liangchuan as he listened in.
Wang Wenhao raised both his hands, his face dark as he sought a truce. “Fine, fine, we’ll just say I don’t dare provoke you two. I’ll give you your full payment tomorrow. We can part ways amicably.”
Thud! The sound of a fist smashing into tissue and bone was accompanied by an agonized cry. Wang Wenhao stumblingly took a few panicked steps backwards before tumbling into muddy water. In his wretched state, he cursed and swore, and it took two tries before he was able to crawl back to his feet.
Step by step, Cheng Muyun sauntered out of the canopy shelter. He pulled out a dagger from his waist and stood in the rain with legs apart.
In the tents not far away, the vacationers all gathered by the entrances, tensely watching this fight that had suddenly arisen. Everyone saw the dagger that he was gripping there in the rain, and their minds were all replaying the scene from two nights ago of how this very dagger had nearly split a vicious Tibetan mastiff completely in two.
He walked up beside Wang Wenhao. In the instant that Wang Wenhao threw himself at him, his knee slammed heavily into Wang Wenhao’s body.
Wang Wenhao once again dropped into the mud.
The knee of the man before him pressed down into his right leg. With a thunk, the dagger stabbed into the muddy ground, leaving only its black handle protruding.
Amid the noisiness of the falling rain, Cheng Muyun used a voice that was so light it could not possibly get any lighter to ask the person beneath his knee, “Did you get a kick out of that?”<>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.
I got more than one inquiry about this, so I wanted to just lay out the text that describes the current “relationship” between Wang Wenhao and Cheng Muyun. If you already understand what’s going on between them, feel free to skip.
Chapter 1.3: Scene in that secret gambling hall where Cheng Muyun first met and hired Meng Liangchuan. In that scene, the middleman and Cheng Muyun’s primary source of information, Ke Laoban gave some information to Cheng Muyun. The conversation between Ke Laoban, Meng Liangchuan, and Cheng Muyun”
“His [Wang Wenhao’s] goods were sent here to Nepal half a year ago. These last couple of days, Wang Wenhao has been searching for a middleman and is planning on hiring a few bodyguards. Once the deal is done, he’s going to immediately leave the country and return as fast as possible to Moscow… I have already arranged it so that you and another person will go meet him tomorrow. You will be recommended to be his ‘bodyguards.’ That way, you will have the greatest chance of coming in contact with the goods.”
Meng Liangchuan comprehended his meaning. “I have no problems with that. I just want to know who the other person is. I don’t really like working with strangers.”
“I am the other person.”
The voice came from Cheng Muyun.
Chapter 2.2: At the Teej festivities in the temple, Wen Han and Agnesa discover that they cannot find Wang Wenhao. They leave the temple. On the way back to the inn, they see him again, with Cheng Muyun.
When they stepped back onto the stone pathway leading to the inn, they unexpectedly saw Wang Wenhao and Cheng Muyun sitting by the entrance of a small, Western restaurant by the roadside. There was also a smiling man with them. Wen Han halted her footsteps, whereas Agnesa suddenly became enthusiastically friendly. Pulling Wen Han by the arm, she strode over to them and took a seat.
Chapter 3.2: Cheng Muyun just rescued Wen Han from the mouth of a Tibetan mastiff. She is resting in the tent and everyone is gathered around the campfire. Cheng Muyun is sitting further away when Wang Wenhao approaches him.
Someone drew near from behind him. “I think I should personally remind you that I am paying you to guarantee the safe delivery of the goods, as well as my personal safety.”
Chapter 3.3: The final scene in this chapter.
Just earlier, he saw with his own eyes Cheng Muyun walk into that large tent that Wen Han was in. This man actually dared to take his money and then, even after being given a warning, still try to get close to his woman—
“Let me tell you now! Tomorrow, I’m firing you! When we get to the next place, I’m going to need another—”
Therefore, the conclusions we can draw are:
- Wang Wenhao is trafficking illegal goods and wants to hire a couple bodyguards in Nepal to make sure he and his goods get to their destination safely.
- Cheng Muyun wants to get close to Wang Wenhao’s goods. As a cover, he and Meng Liangchuan pose as bodyguards for hire. The scene in chapter 2.2 at the Western restaurant is when Wang Wenhao “hired” them, and unbeknownst to Agnesa and Wen Han, they walked right in on the deal.
- Wang Wenhao is not happy about the interest Cheng Muyun is showing in Wen Han and chooses to fire this “bodyguard.”
1 of 1 Prologue
9 of 50 Chapter segments
0 of 1 Epilogue