For those who missed it, there was an extra release on Christmas Eve, so don’t jump right into this update if you haven’t read the last one.
Think Wen Han’s prayer from last update will come true? Also, you’ve met them all before, but secondary characters are officially introduced in this chapter. You will learn more about each throughout the remainder of the story, including that other girl who has been causing Wen Han’s heart to feel uncomfortable, for each has his/her own story.
Chapter 9.3 — On Whom Shall I Place My Heart’s Pining? (3)
Wen Han opened her eyes and rose rather happily to her feet. Right as she was about to say something to him, she saw a familiar figure appear from the crowd of people in the distance.
Pulling off his sunglasses, Meng Liangchuan grinned at them. “I’ve come.”
Wen Han unconsciously pulled her brows together.
Meng Liangchuan felt terribly glum with that. “Miss Wen Han, why are you not happy to see an old acquaintance? Don’t forget, those several times when you narrowly escaped death, Cheng Muyun was not the only one who helped you; I put in a lot of effort, too, eh.” Saying this, he even did not forget to shake his head. “Sure enough, to women, good looks are more important than anything else.”
Wen Han murmured lightly, “Regardless, any time I see you, nothing good ever happens.”
“… Miss, you need to get it straight. The one bringing you all the misfortune is the man behind you, not me.” As he said this, Meng Liangchuan pulled out a small bag from a pocket in front of him and handed it to Cheng Muyun.
Cheng Muyun took it from him and walked down the stone steps. Half squatting down, he opened that small bag and poured its contents into the river.
“What is that?” Wen Han asked with a soft voice, a bad feeling forming in her.
“Zhou Ke’s ashes.”<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
“Zhou Ke?” The words blurted from Wen Han’s lips, and wide-eyed, she stared at Meng Liangchuan.
Meng Liangchuan confirmed, “Yes, the ashes of that young, rather handsome man who brought you from the Russian embassy back to Cheng Muyun’s side. I had originally intended on leaving them in Nepal and having Cheng Muyun bring them back to Moscow for burial. I didn’t expect he would have me bring them here and he would scatter them in this place.”
This will certainly be yet another awesome story, Meng Liangchuan surmised.
He was even beginning to enthusiastically theorize, since he was always fraternizing with Cheng Muyun, what would his own death be like? Where would he die? He must be mad. This was so darn exciting!<>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.
Too sudden.<>Please support the original translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
Wen Han’s mind was in a whirl of confusion. That night in the temple, when she helped him carry out that tonsure-like process and shaved his head, could it be that Zhou Ke was already… She recalled the expression he had worn in the glow of the butter lamps, his eyes downcast as he remained quiet in his own thoughts. He had been using the tonsure process as a ceremony to release his friend’s soul from suffering?
Cheng Muyun threw the bag that had contained the ashes into the water as well, then walked back up the steps.
“There are just too many ashes in this river. And here they say it will let a soul rest in peace. If you ask me, they’re all crammed to death in there.” Meng Liangchuan was not a Buddhist, so he did not bother to filter his words.
“Zhou Ke was not a believer in Buddhism,” Cheng Muyun replied, with little expression on his face.
But the lad had once very seriously said, “Laoban, whatever you believe, I will believe.”
She had many questions she wanted to ask him, but remembering he had said that he would not answer anything, she could only allow these queries to amass in her heart—and heavier and heavier they became.
These jumbled emotions carried on until the sun sank into the west.
Noticing her low mood, those several young priests asked her, since she had seen the sunrise this morning, would she also like to go see the ritual worship that occurred daily on the Ganges River? Yesterday, she had only just arrived so these men had been too shy to invite her, but now they felt she could go have a look.<>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.
Varanasi.<>Please support the original translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
More than one month ago, she had been here in this city.
At that time, when she saw these evening rituals, it had merely been a quick, passing look. There were too many tourists and young artists gathered on this river shore—that had been her impression from last time. Back then, as she watched those priests, she had not thought that, less than two months later, she would be revisiting this place, and this time, she was sitting amongst the local people rather than observing everything from afar as a tourist.
She was watching the ritual that was taking place.
And that girl was softly conversing with Cheng Muyun about something. Wen Han could not refrain from stealing a few more glances at them, such that she did not hear much of the joke that Meng Liangchuan was telling.<>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 girl stood with her back to the bustling crowd. Her eyes were red, and with the back of her hand, she swiped at them. “I heard that a person whose ashes are scattered in this river will be able to rest in peace. But really, it makes no difference where he is buried, since I can’t go pay my respects to him anyway.”
Cheng Muyun lowered his eyes, not saying anything.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
The girl spun the ring on her finger. A minute later, she decisively removed it. “In a little bit, I’ll throw it into the river, too. Only twenty-five years old, and now I’m already a widow. That’s just… That punk just left me with the short straw. Back then, when I said he was three years younger than me, he just had to argue and say how great it was that the girl was three years older. What’s so great about it?” the girl rambled. After some time, she asked him, “Can you make an exception and tell me how he died?”
Cheng Muyun was quiet for a moment. “Someone leaked his identity out.”
On that morning, in that little hall on the first floor, everyone had thought those people would attack Cheng Muyun first. No one had expected that they actually knew Zhou Ke’s identity. Zhou Ke had not even had the chance to dodge and was seriously injured. When he managed, barely, to run outside, Meng Liangchuan happened at that moment to be arriving with the local police. That lad… had then taken yet another fatal blow for Meng Liangchuan.
Although Zhou Ke’s lips had said he looked down on Meng Liangchuan, and perhaps in his heart he truly did look down on him, still, what could he do? They had both been acknowledged and accepted by Cheng Muyun. That meant he was his brother.
“Those who are my brothers must all die after me.”<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
This was the most simple of beliefs held by those who followed Cheng Muyun.
The two stood in silence. After a while, the girl suddenly smiled. “She has been watching us the whole time. Women are like that. As long as she likes you, then any woman who goes near you is her love rival. No matter how unselfish and bighearted a front she puts up, it’s no use, because here”—the girl touched a hand against her own heart—“will feel uncomfortable.”
Cheng Muyun answered, “If we cannot even fool a twenty-year-old girl, do you think we would be able to fool other people who have received special training?”
Wen Han could not know, of this group, which person had what identity, or who had what sort of relationship with another person. It was essential that she be kept in a fog, such that, in the end, she would not even be aware when she was extricated from everything. This would be the best for her and also the safest for all the people who followed 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.
The ritual had reached a climax, and all the tourists began to applaud.
Cheng Muyun walked back to her side, with the girl following behind him. Wen Han, who was sitting on a blanket, shifted over to make room for them. In front of everyone, she was still his younger sister. She straightened herself where she was sitting, trying as best as she could to overlook the girl sitting on his other side.
For the entire night, Cheng Muyun did not speak even one whole sentence to her.
But from time to time, he would converse quietly with the girl, a smile on his face.
All the while, she wanted to say something to him, but the pride in her heart did not allow her anymore to do so. Yesterday was already the extreme of what she could do, to request that he “must” be with her and to lay for an entire night on one bed with him.
But it seemed, as long as this girl appeared, all of her efforts would become nothing.<>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.
Here, the lively ritual worship was going on. Far away, although the sky was dark, people were still burning corpses. This place had a culture she had not seen before. A foreign country will cause a person’s heart to be unable to settle. Bowing her head, she stared at the corner of her skirt. It seemed Buddha still felt her wish was too small. It was only this morning that she had offered up her prayer, but now a real, concrete answer had already been given.
Cheng Muyun could perceive that Wen Han’s mood had fallen to a drastic low. After a brief silence, he continued chatting in a low voice with the girl to his right. As for the content of their conversation, no one could hear it.<>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 the grounds of a family manor estate.
When she first heard “coffee plantation,” she had thought Cheng Muyun would be bringing her to somewhere out in the countryside. Now, she discovered that her guess had been entirely off the mark.
Those young priests she had met in Varanasi were university students and also a part of this particular family. And according to the young Indian girl in front of Wen Han right now: “You did not know? You have never heard your older brother mention it before? Oh my god, he is such a low-key person. He is my eldest brother’s classmate, his university classmate. He once rescued my eldest brother when my brother was kidnapped. Our family is indebted to him.” The young girl’s eyes showed hints of admiring enamorment.
Of course, she kept it deeply hidden.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
She would even hope that she could win this man’s heart and he would take her away from this country. Though she had a rich dowry and three very powerful older brothers, she still did not like this patriarchal society in which the husband is placed in the absolute highest position.
Wen Han had not thought that he would have studied in university before.
Prior to experiencing all that had happened in Nepal, she had thought he was someone who had associated with some “improper” groups of society, and then later, unable to subsist there, or, perhaps, after suffering some sort of setback or blow, he had become a monk? And then, after she had experienced all those things, she still had thought he was involved with those improper groups of society…
He should be someone who appeared in any sort of dangerous place.
Drifting from place to place, with nowhere to call home. Not having enough food to eat or clothing to stay warm. In dilapidated temples. On the Tibetan Plateau. In any case, he did not seem like someone who could appear in normal places.<>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 young Indian girl was prohibited from being alone with strange, unfamiliar men, so after her chitchat with Wen Han, she instructed one of the manor’s servants to bring Wen Han to the coffee field.
This was Wen Han’s first time seeing a vast stretch of coffee trees at a close distance.
Right then, the workers were picking the fruit, the coffee cherries.
Sitting cross-legged beneath a tree, Cheng Muyun scooped up a handful of coffee beans. “The time required for a coffee cherry to develop is very long. This smaller type here takes eight to twelve months and then can be picked that same year. Some medium or large-sized ones will need to wait until the following year. It requires patience.”
Beside him, the girl gave an “oh” and muttered, “You need to plant them a year ahead and then harvest the next year? Then I am definitely not suited for growing coffee. Zhou Ke always said that what I lack most is patience.”
The corner of Cheng Muyun’s lips turned upward ever so slightly.
Only now, as the girl tilted her head back, did she notice Wen Han, and smilingly, she greeted, “I always have this feeling that we’ve seen each other many times. It is really inconvenient that you don’t know my name.”
Wen Han shook her head. Staring at the coffee beans inside the basket, she replied softly, “Don’t tell me. He has said before that I can’t know anything.”
The girl continued smiling at her. “It’s not that serious. You can call me Zhou Zhou.”
Another person with the surname, Zhou? Wen Han nodded.
After saying this, Zhou Zhou pointed at the three men who were strolling toward them from afar. “You’ve seen them before, right?”
Just now, when she was walking over, Wen Han’s eyes had immediately landed on the two of them sitting here side by side. Only now did she notice there were other people far off amongst the coffee trees. That man with the fair complexion and slightly effeminate appearance who was wearing a hat, wasn’t he the fake lama at the train station? The youth beside him she, of course, knew as well. And the man wearing the blue, metal-framed glasses, Wen Han remembered he was the one who had called out Zhou Ke’s name that night in the mountain valley.
With a smile, Zhou Zhou looked at the three men. “Hello, my name is Zhou Zhou.”
“Fu Ming,” the fake lama stated.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
“Xiao Zhuang [Little Zhuang],” the youth said.
“Chen Yuan,” the bespectacled man said.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
“Those all sound so awful. You know just from hearing them that they must be aliases.” Zhou Zhou laughed. Then she carried on asking Cheng Muyun curiously, “You said just now that each coffee cherry has two coffee beans inside it?”
“Yes.” Cheng Muyun split open a coffee cherry. “See? Each fruit has two coffee beans facing each other inside.
Without at all trying to avoid others reading more into their relationship, Zhou Zhou took the fruit from between Cheng Muyun’s fingers and laughed lightly. “So every coffee bean is actually part of a pair of sweetheart beans.”
Wen Han stood awkwardly, feeling as if her presence here was redundant. “It’s a little sunny here. Would you be able to bring me back to rest?” she quietly requested the servant. The servant immediately bowed and led her away.
That man and woman beneath the tree carried on as if in their own little world, discussing whether it was coffee beans or “sweetheart beans.”
Chen Yuan could not help glancing Zhou Zhou over another time.
In fact, Chen Yuan had seen Zhou Zhou twice before: once in the little inn in Kathmandu and once at the campsite, when Zhou Zhou gave all the vacationers the rabies vaccination. It was just that, during those two encounters, he and Zhou Ke had been hiding in the shadows, protecting everyone, so they had not truly met. However, Chen Yuan remembered, the look in Zhou Ke’s eyes when he stared at this Zhou Zhou had been very out of the ordinary. He had even thought that Zhou Ke secretly liked her.
But now, from the look of things, it would seem he had been wrong. It was evident this Zhou Zhou had a thing with Cheng Muyun. Why had Cheng Muyun chosen to be with one of his own people?
At the same time, Xiao Zhuang also furtively threw a suggestive look at Fu Ming:
Holy crap! You mean, once the monk decided to violate his precepts, he found himself TWO women? And one of them is even one of his own people?<>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.
Prior to this chapter, you could still view Zhou Ke as “just another” one of Cheng Muyun’s brothers, an unfortunate loss in this battle that is taking place behind the scenes. But this chapter always makes my heart twinge for him.
In the utility room, when he told Meng Liangchuan, “I quite look down on you,” you can envision a confident young man, even a little cocky. But here, when you see that he died because of his belief that “Those who are my brothers must all die after me,” you realize that behind that young, cocky exterior was a man of loyalty, principles, and strong beliefs. Then, when Zhou Zhou describes what he once said, that “he had to argue and say how great it was that the girl was three years older,” you can imagine a boy, full of life and grinning confidently as he declares to the girl he loves that he doesn’t care about the age difference, he just loves her. But now he is gone, ashes to ashes, and never again will they get to hear his cocky declarations.
1 of 1 Prologue
26 of 50 Chapter segments
0 of 1 Epilogue