The journey continues. Observe his actions. Think they all come out of necessity to keep her alive? Or can you read care into them?
Chapter 7.1 — A Dense, Impervious Light (1)
On the seventh day, after she was bitten by an unknown bug, she began running a low-grade fever.
There was nothing even Cheng Muyun could do. In regards to this fragile physique of hers that was suitable only for living in a city, there were times when even he was powerless to do anything.
That night, he once again left her alone in this forest where wild beasts could appear at any moment. “Hide here. Do not move at all. Even if you feel worse and unbearably uncomfortable, you still must not go anywhere.”
These were the words he spoke before he left.<>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.
In the murky night, this forest was even more impervious to light.
Wen Han clutched a sharp, pointed stone, continually scratching marks into the boulder beneath her with it. Her breathing was heavy, and even when she coughed, it was done quietly and cautiously.
All around, there were noises, sometimes soft, sometimes piercing to the ear.
They came from all different types of animals.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
Curling herself into a ball, she shrunk into a corner on that boulder, where vines cascaded down. In comparison to the dangerous animals that roamed in the dark, those unknown insects dwelling in the vines were too trivial.
The mentality of hatred from being used that had existed in her less than twenty days ago was now so superficial she could not even remember it. When weighed against the hopeless forward trudging, the unimaginable perils of this dense forest, and also the fear of not knowing what the future would hold, all feelings became especially insignificant and were not even worth mentioning.
Every time he left her, what she actually most hoped for was his swift return.
Every place here was just too frightening.<>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.
Gradually, footsteps could be heard.
Wen Han opened her eyes wide, searching for the source of that sound, her breathing growing heavier and heavier.
Cheng Muyun saw a small, grimy figure crawl out from the darkness. Wiping his blood-covered hands clean on his pants, he extended an arm and lifted her up into his embrace. “Feeling unwell?”
She shrunk against him, her mind disoriented.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
Time seemed to have been swallowed into hell.
In this endless night, she awakened several times, and each time, she could feel that she was in his arms as they trekked through this forest for which there was no end in sight.
Yes, he was on foot.<>Please support the original translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
She could not endure any more violent rocking and jolting. He had no choice but to abandon that horse and use the safest method—walking their way out of this deep forest while he carried her.
The original plan had been to leave Nepal tomorrow, but now he had to change his plan and make the choice to remain within Nepali borders. With Wen Han’s current condition, they needed to first find a safe place.
His shadow was stretched into a long, black outline as he passed amongst the trees. Encountering a gigantic tree root, he tightened his hold slightly on the woman in his arms, sprung up onto the root in only a few steps, and then once more melted into an even deeper blackness…
She awoke twice in the early morning hours. In his arms, she watched as he conversed with a local who was propelling a boat with a pole along the river’s edge. She squirmed, trying to get down to walk herself. Cheng Muyun pointed at the corner of the boat for her to see—there lay a corpse covered with a white cloth.
“There are crocodiles in this river. That young person is a local. His body was just salvaged from the water.” With a low voice, Cheng Muyun told her in Russian, the language only he and she could understand, “A few days ago, there were also some local people who went into the mountains to collect grass for hay and were attacked by a wild tiger. Two men and one woman died. For the mere fact that I carried you and walked out of that forest, you should be thanking Buddha for his blessing and protection and not… always trying to get away from me. At least, here in this place, only I will truly protect you.”
Wen Han moved her lips, feeling somewhat thirsty.
He asked to borrow a canteen of water from the boatman. Without care for whether or not the canteen was so dirty people would not even want bring their lips to it, he stuffed it into her mouth and, after pouring a couple of mouthfuls down her throat, also took a couple of drinks from it himself.
In this early morning, ripples undulated across the water’s surface. So placid and beautiful.
Wen Han lay in his arms. She could tell Cheng Muyun was in a very good mood right now.
After so many days of being with him and interacting with him, she even realized that, though she did not know about his background or past, she was already beginning to grasp his temperament. For example, when he was in a good mood, like now, he liked to squint his eyes slightly and let the focus of his gaze fall on something in the distance.
“Just where are you taking me?” Wen Han asked him.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
“India.” Cheng Muyun told her in a neutral voice, “We were actually already close to Nepal’s border, but because your wound needs anti-inflammatory drugs and a few days of rest to recover, we must find a place to stay for several days.” This was the first time he told her his plans.
She had originally simply wanted to probe and ask a few questions while he was in a good mood. She had not expected he would be so open.
Hope came into her eyes. Maybe this man wanted only to punish her for disobeying him, and when he grew bored of it, he would let her go in India.
Cheng Muyun lowered his head to glance at her. “There is no way I will let you go. If you want to curse someone, curse the person who has been fanatically trying to woo you. He is the one who caused you to be caught up in this present situation and to have to live this type of lifestyle.”
While he spoke, he fed her several sleeping pills. His hand even gently stroked her hair, so that on the outside, they appeared to be a loving, young married couple.
By noon, they finally entered a derelict place. Cheng Muyun knocked on the door of an ordinary dwelling that had a sign saying, “Lodging available.” The middle-aged woman who opened the door was terribly shocked when she caught sight of the several scratches on his face, which had obviously been put there by sharp vegetation, and also his extremely dirty pants that were wholly saturated with mud.
When the woman saw the person, whose gender was no longer distinguishable, in his arms, she soon comprehended and welcomed the two in. Cheng Muyun very proficiently communicated with her in the local language, explaining that they were self-guided travellers and they had encountered ferocious animals in the nearby forest…
He spoke concisely as well as sincerely.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
The mistress of this household did not doubt him and very quickly led them inside.<>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.
This place was not big. Even the best room did not have any furniture, aside from its stark layout of a bed and a table, and there were not even any electrical appliances.
“There are only four hours of electricity a day here, and there is no electricity at night. I imagine you will need a few days to adjust to this. I will go now to heat some water for you both. Hurry and have a bath—”
The middle-aged woman swiftly made the bed, which previously had been without any bedding.
Bending forward, Cheng Muyun laid down this girl whom he had carried in his arms for a dozen or so hours. As he took away the garment that had been used to cover Wen Han, the middle-aged woman’s voice cut off. She discovered that Wen Han was running a high fever and also gasping heavily.
“She needs a doctor. Could it be pneumonia? She looks very tired.” The woman frowned. Now that she finally had a chance to carefully scrutinize Wen Han’s face, she was able to determine, barely, that this was a young girl. “But we don’t have that kind of doctor here…”
“It is all right. I will be able to handle it. Could I trouble you to ready some hot water for us for a bath?” In order to prevent this kindly mistress of the place from being too suspicious, after Cheng Muyun said this, he brought out the first-aid kit that he carried on him.
Seeing those professional-looking needles and anti-inflammatory medications, the woman believed his words.
Soon, hot water was delivered to their room.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
Although this place was an ad hoc little lodging house, its bathroom was very crude, and the only things available for bathing were a small wooden tub and a ladle to scoop water. Cheng Muyun removed all of Wen Han’s clothing and then changed into a clean pair of pants himself that the local people wore. Sitting on the floor, he encircled her in his embrace and carefully rinsed her body for her.
Warm water flowed along her body and onto the floor, soaking his pants.
Wen Han stirred and slowly woke.<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy of the translation
Unconsciously, she writhed her legs slightly.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
She was fevering and unable to clearly discern whether she was in a dream or the cruel reality. In her ears was the indistinct sound of conversation coming through the plank wall. It was in a language she did not understand…
“Do not move,” he instructed quietly. Picking up the half-filled bottle of shampoo from the wooden floor, he poured some shampoo into her hair and then also scooped a ladle full of hot water before slowly massaging her long locks with his fingers. “Let me help you wash your body clean.”
When she heard this voice, she roused entirely from her half-conscious state.
The sleep medication had sapped her of all her strength. With difficulty, she swallowed. “Where are we? …”
“In the place where we will be staying.” Cheng Muyun’s palms were covered in the white, soapy bubbles produced from his rubbing.
He was in a seldom-seen placid mood, and in fact, it could even be said that he was intentionally speaking to her in a gentle tone.
Wen Han could feel warm water beginning to slowly rinse out her hair. Then, a towel wiped her dry, from her hair to her face and, finally, her body. At last, he tossed aside the towel, rose from the floor, and, in bare feet, carried her over to the bed. No clothing garbed her, and there were several noticeable bruises on her body.
He tucked the blanket tight around her and locked the door and window. Lowering his voice, he told her, “Do not attempt to escape. This place is very remote, and they do not understand English. There is no way you will be able to communicate with anyone. And plus, you have tried many times to escape, but none were successful, yes?”
She could sense that his words were not lies. As he turned away, without thinking, she reached out her hand and grasped his clothing. “Where are you going? When will you come back?”
She received no answer. He left without any reluctance at all.
And he had not even left her any garments to cover her body.<>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.
That night, the mistress of this place brought an oil lamp over, causing the whole room to be infused with a thick, greasy smell. Wen Han made attempts to communicate in English but found that, sure enough, no one understood her.
She did not even know what Cheng Muyun had instructed before he left, but the mistress appeared to be avoiding her somewhat and left only a cup of water for her to take her medicine.
In that instant when Wen Han heard the door’s lock slide in place once more, disappointment and fear enveloped her heart again. With a sweep of her arm, she threw the medicine bottle, which had been on the table, to the floor, and then, flinging herself facedown onto the bed, she was unable to restrain herself and began sobbing.
There was clearly no soundproofing whatsoever here, but no matter how hysterical her sobs were, the owners of this place showed no reaction to her at all.
When she had exhausted herself from crying, she began to feel unwell again. She had no choice, therefore, but to crawl down from the bed and, in a posture similar to a little animal, search helplessly on the floor for the pills she had tossed away.
After swallowing the medication with some water, she returned once more to the bed and lay on her back, staring up at the black stains on the wooden ceiling.
Only twenty-odd days ago, she had still been a tourist.
Now, though, she was like an imprisoned woman, not knowing what the man with her wanted to do or where he wanted to take her. She was not even clear, either, on when she would die. Would he be like what was described in those news stories? Or maybe he really was as he had said in the very beginning in that little inn, that he was a trafficker?
Maybe he would sell her like she was a prostitute?
Or maybe it would be for human organ trade? …<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
As the painkillers took effect, these random, wild speculations sent her into a deep slumber.
In the middle of the night, Cheng Muyun brought back a new, different drug with him. Pushing open the door, he saw the shadow cast on the wall by the small flame of the oil lamp. It was motionless, just like her on the bed. He walked up to her, leaned over, and took her pulse—very steady. She was asleep. Her eyes, though, were swollen—she had cried.
He saw her body that was half-hidden beneath the thin blanket. Bending down even further, he touched the tip of his nose against her cheek—warm, soft. Right now, her slightly rough skin from these many days of constantly being on the move actually made it difficult for him to maintain his self-control.
This poor, delicate woman.<>Please support the original translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
He was actually feeling guilty. The mental activity of such a feeling was so strange and unfamiliar.
He pulled out a small plastic bag. Swabbing the inside of her arm with alcohol, he injected the anti-inflammatory drug he had just bought into her body.
Then, noiselessly removing his filthy, tattered jacket, he slipped onto the bed on his side and pulled her into his arms.<>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.
1 of 1 Prologue
18 of 50 Chapter segments
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