Is this a true chance for rescue? Finally, we get to hear a bit more from Cheng Muyun, though it is still only just a tiny bit. Another change in your perspective of him? (Not like you should be surprised. It happens almost every chapter.)
Chapter 7.2 — A Dense, Impervious Light (2)
“Do you know what ‘fate’ is?” Sitting on the stone steps inside a dilapidated temple, the person beside him spoke as though to himself. “It is when ‘one gives a kowtow.’ When you finally realize you cannot fight it, you naturally will… willingly bow in submission to it and completely believe in it.”
“Oh? Is that so?” Cheng Muyun’s unique smile danced in his eyes, a smile of disdain. Actually, that description was not very accurate. It should be described as one where he was always assessing you from the stance of a bystander.
Meng Liangchuan raised his brow and gave a sigh. “I’m just sighing here for my country’s prime minister.”
Nepal’s king had once more dismissed the cabinet.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
This habit of his from these last few years had cropped up yet again.
Kathmandu’s telephone and internet lines had all been cut, let alone smaller locations. The United Nations, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States had once more begun to criticize the King of Nepal.
“In any case, our king believes that foreign governments will not put any true pressure on him.”
“Such a pettish, willful man.” Cheng Muyun did not have much interest in Nepali politics.
“Now it’s going to be even harder if you want to leave Nepal.” Finished with his rueful sighs, Meng Liangchuan tossed to Cheng Muyun a small plastic bag of anti-inflammatory drugs, which he had been carrying on him. “According to the original plan, you should have already arrived in India one week ago. But now, have you thought about how you’re going to get there? And especially under the circumstance where you’ll be bringing along someone who is nothing but a burden to you?”
As Meng Liangchuan thought about the fact that he had given up his opportunity to rejoin the police force and had once more gone undercover, only to be ordered to go buy something as ordinary as anti-inflammatory drugs, he felt a little irked. So, when he had the chance, he of course wanted to enjoy the satisfaction of a squabble.
Cheng Muyun gave a low laugh. “That is not something you should concern yourself with.”
Meng Liangchuan evidently knew that Cheng Muyun would not tell him what was on his mind, and he did not think, either, that he would be able to get any answers from his inquiring. So, instead, he switched over to ask a question that he had always been curious about. “That day, when I said I had abducted Wang Wenhao, why did you send Zhou Ke to the embassy to bring the girl away again?”
“That night outside the smuggling base in the mountains, no one knew she was with me. That is why I sent her to the embassy. But then you arranged for someone to go to the embassy to interrogate her. From that moment, she was already exposed. Wang Wenhao is not that stupid. He would surely hand her over. When faced with staying alive or not, I do not really trust that man to still hold on to his fanatical love,” he stated, rather calmly explaining this matter. “Even though she does not actually know any useful information.”
Other than knowing that his name was Cheng Muyun and that there was a young man with him named Zhou Ke.
He frowned. That night, those few had let down their guard too much that they would actually call out Zhou Ke’s name.
Meng Liangchuan understood now. “If I were you, I’d rather give her to one of my comrades to protect her, or confine her, or any other method. Any of those would save time and effort when compared with bringing her along with you.”
He did not reply.<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
Aside from having one-hundred-percent trust in a man named Cheng Muyun, everyone in that group was suspicious of each other and keeping a close watch and monitoring one another. This included Cheng Muyun himself, who had his own suspicions. Several years ago, his good friend, because of a mission, had died in that smuggling base in Nepal. Had it truly been only an unintended mishap?<>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.
All of a sudden, a gold light flashed in front of his eyes.
He and Meng Liangchuan cut off their discussion. This position where they were sitting was the safest corner in this temple.
The light had come from a few Westerner tourists. They were in the midst of enthusiastic dialogue and were running their hands over the prayer wheels, seemingly immersed in the atmosphere of this rundown temple and utterly unaware of the two men in the corner who were staring at them.
As he watched them, Cheng Muyun suddenly felt that this moment seemed very familiar.
Soon, he found the source of the memory—Wen Han.
It was like the reason Buddha had attained enlightenment beneath the Bodhi Tree and not any other tree; it could only be explained as something that was fated.
And so, Wen Han’s encounter with him could only be explained in this way as well.
Had it not been for that brief moment on the Tibetan Plateau, when she had pressed her palms together reverently in greeting to him, he would not have recognized her later in Nepal.
And then, he had been suspicious of her, probed and tested her, gotten close to her, and even, in the end, had no choice but to take her away with him.
“The goods have already crossed the border. I hope that ten days from now, you and your woman will also be there.”
With a laugh, Meng Liangchuan tossed out this final sentence.
Cheng Muyun offhandedly slipped that bag of medicine into his pocket. Pulling on the hood of his hiking jacket, as if he wanted to shield out the sun, he left this place. And behind him, there was no longer anyone.<>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 sun’s rays passed through the dust floating in the air and shone on the side of her face.
Her face, which had been soaked with tears for an entire night, was a little sore. Waking, she moved her fingers, then saw the already-cool breakfast that was set on the floor by the door, just as it had been every day for these past six days.
How long would they need to keep staying in this place?
Only this one question remained in Wen Han’s mind.
He had given her only simple undergarments to wear. Each day, he would personally bring her her three meals, or, when he was away, the mistress of the home would bring them to the door. It was to the point that she even felt she was his personal property that could only wait until he grew bored of her and returned her freedom to her.
“Shit!”<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
From somewhere on the other side of the door, this curse rang out.
Wen Han’s shoulders gave a quiver, and incredulously, forcing her mind to clear, she pricked up her ears and continued listening.
It was English.<>Please support the original translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
She got off the bed. There was still a dull ache in her chest. Treading over to the doorway, she pressed her ear against the door and listened carefully. Yes, it really was English. It was a conversation between several men and women. Their speech was extremely fast and she could not understand all of it, but it really was a language she could communicate in!
In that instant, countless thoughts crossed her mind.
This opportunity that had arisen so suddenly caused her to tremble slightly with excitement.
If she could seek help from these travellers and escape from this place in those few hours every day when he was away from the room, then as long as she could return to Kathmandu and get to the Russian embassy, she would be saved.
As she thought about this, she closed her eyes and tried to make herself find some of the courage needed to escape.
Wearing only undergarments, the only clothing she possessed, she shifted herself over beside the window and gave it a little push. It was not locked!<>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 the opening of the window, the morning breeze assailed her face.
She squinted her eyes, somewhat unable to bear this sudden rush of light. After remaining frozen in a long moment of panic, she hugged her arms against herself, leaned her body out the window, and cried out in English at the window of the adjacent room, “Help!”
There was no response.<>Please support the original translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
She was absolutely terrified that Cheng Muyun would suddenly return.
Therefore, she could only steel herself and shout again with all her strength, “Help! Anybody here?! Help!”
Fortunately, the people next door very quickly heard her cries. A brown-haired woman pushed open the window, looking all about, and when she saw Wen Han, she was taken aback slightly.
After all, this appearance of hers of being garbed only in undergarments was simply too audacious in this religious country.
Wen Han restrained the wild joy surging up from the bottom of her heart. In English that was not too fluent, she told the woman she was locked in the room and her companion was not here at the moment, so she was hoping the woman could go to the mistress to explain the situation and get the key.
She was uncertain whether that man had any accomplices nearby, and hence, she dared not boldly announce her predicament and could only make up a shoddy excuse in an attempt to get help.
The brown-haired woman did not suspect anything at all and, after telling her to wait, shut the window of the adjacent room.
Very shortly, footsteps outside the door could be heard. Wen Han also hurriedly closed her window. In a sudden fluster, she yanked the sheet off the bed and hastily wrapped it around her body. Her heart was hammering so violently it was as if it wanted to burst through her chest.
Could that mistress be one of his accomplices as well?<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
Otherwise, why would she allow him to treat her like this?
She was terribly frightened now, after she had already acted, but still she held on to a thread of hope, hoping that none of the people were connected to that man in any way, hoping that Buddha would watch over her and bless her with a kindhearted person who would lend her some clothing to allow her to leave this horrible place. As long as she could find a telephone and contact her family, she would be able to then hide away in a safe place and wait for the staff at the consulate to rescue her…
Desperately, she tried to remain optimistic, to force herself to think according to the best-case scenario.
The wait seemed especially long.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
Standing in front of that locked wooden door, she listened intently to every shift, every movement outside, until she heard footsteps. Furthermore, they were the footsteps of more than one person. Her eyes at last lit up.
More than one person—the mistress of the home must have come.<>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.
Before long, there was the sound of a key turning in the lock. The door was opened.
“I am terribly sorry to have disturbed all of you.”
Wen Han nearly leaped away from the door, trying to flee, but the person who spoke grabbed her by the wrist.
Holding a blue bag in his other hand, Cheng Muyun was expressing his thanks to the woman outside the door, even telling her with a very pained look that his “wife’s” mind was disordered after being attacked by a wild animal last week. That was the reason he had no choice but to lock her inside this room, to prevent her from disturbing the homeowners and the other temporary residents.
“Oh my God, it really is so dangerous here,” the brown-haired woman agreed with him in a lowered voice. “I’ve heard that every family here will experience injuries, and even death, because of wild animals and crocodiles.”
“Really? I thought we were just a special case.” Cheng Muyun raised his brows slightly.
“Oh yes! I was thinking, if your wife needs someone to counsel her or keep her company, I could help.” The woman carried on ardently offering suggestions.
He was taken aback and even expressed his happy surprise at her offer. “Maybe that is a pretty good idea. Let me first go spend some time with her and help her to calm down.”
He waited until that overly loquacious woman had left.
Then, he finally stepped slowly into the room. The force of his hand on her, though, was as if he wanted to crush her bones.
“Did you think you would be safe once you escaped from here?” The door was locked from the inside. He said, “Are you being too naive?”
She could feel the pulse on his wrist and could even distinctly smell on him the rich scent of incense burned in temples. And she could sense his anger, which sent shudders through a person.
Fear arising from the disquiet in her caused her to babble somewhat disjointedly. “Let me go. I swear, I absolutely will not tell your whereabouts to anyone, nor will I tell them what people you have with you. I—”
“Shhh. Do not be afraid.” He lifted up that wrist of hers. “Let me guess. You would like to go to Kathmandu? To seek help from the Russian consulate? Have them send you back to your home country? And guarantee your safety?”
She was struck speechless by his questioning.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
Everything she could think of, he had already anticipated.
The light in her eyes gradually dimmed. There was no hope, no pleading in those eyes. They were only growing increasingly red.
Tears slowly blurred her vision.<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
Apart from crying, it seemed there was nothing she could do.
Cheng Muyun stared down at her with a towering posture. The fury he had felt earlier as he came upstairs was slowly being extinguished by her tears. Heaven knew just how much he had wanted to teach her a lesson when he heard the dialogue between that woman and this place’s mistress. Danger was lurking everywhere. The fact that so many Westerners had shown up here in just one day was already sufficient proof that they were about to be exposed or, perhaps, their whereabouts were already exposed.
And yet, she actually was ignorant enough to go seek help from a stranger.
To escape from him and flee to the Russian consulate?
She actually wanted to escape from him? And here he did not even dare trust any one of his own people, including core members of his team who had followed him for many years, and was not afraid she would be a burden on him, wanting to personally escort her to the safest place of refuge.<>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.
Cheng Muyun gazed at her.<>Please support the original translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
In all these years, he had never faced such a bothersome and weak woman.
And what was unfortunate was, this was his woman.
The person who had once been with him, with absolutely nothing separating them, as they each used their own bodies to sense the other person.
“Do not look at me like that.” His voice grew softer. In Russian, he told her a cruel truth. “Other than saying that we will be going to India, I cannot tell you anything. If you should even learn of any trivial information—the name of a person, place, or even food—there is a possibility that that could implicate some people who are connected to this. If you and I were to be caught, I am able to hold my silence, even to the death, but you will not be able to. That is why, except for knowing my name, you will not get any answer for anything you ask.”
Each word he spoke seemed to slam into her ear.
“And because that person who woos you is also searching for you, you cannot go back either. If you go back to Moscow, they will not even consider whether you are innocent and were forced. Because you are associated with me, you are the lead that they will use to find me.”
She tried hard to digest these words. Her chest was mimicking the emotional ups and downs she was feeling, rising and falling heavily as well.
“Put on these clothes.” Cheng Muyun threw the blue bag onto the bed and yanked off from her the bed sheet she had been using to cover her body. As she unconsciously gave a shiver, Wen Han heard him say beside her ear, “Let us put on a nice show.”<>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 had mentioned very early that this story is set approximately fifteen years ago from present time and had said I would provide textual evidence for anyone who is interested. (I have a bit of an obsession with, if possible, figuring out where things fit chronologically in a story.)
There are two hints.
Here in this chapter, Meng Liangchuan talks about the King of Nepal dissolving cabinet. The reign of the last King of Nepal ended in 2008. With computers and the use of the internet, even in the little inn in Kathmandu, the setting should not be earlier than the early 2000s, which puts us right in the reign of the last King of Nepal, King Gyanendra, from 2001 to 2008. In October 2002, he dismissed the prime minister and his cabinet at the time. (Here is one article describing it.) He also did the same in February 2005, and early May 2002, hence the sighs from Meng Liangchuan for the poor prime minister.
However, what definitely pegs us in approximately October 2002 and not any other year is the entry that Wen Han wrote in her travel journal in chapter 3.1.
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.
In 2002, the Teej Festival (according to my friend, Mr. Google) took place between September 9 to 11. The Teej dates in all the other years between 2001 and 2005 do not correspond with Wen Han’s journal.
So here we are in the story, in October 2002. 🙂
1 of 1 Prologue
19 of 50 Chapter segments
0 of 1 Epilogue