Chapter 102: Qilang, Drive a Sword Through Me!
She clutched her chest and took a deep breath.
Slowly, she looked up.
In the morning light, she was regarding him with eyes that were enchantingly lucent. Her gaze was especially somber and distant.
Her strange look caused Wang Hong to tilt his head, so that his hair was falling across his face. “What is it?”
Chen Rong’s mouth opened only to close again. She was looking at him with a luminous smile that was both childlike and earnest. “Heaven is teasing me, I’m sure. I don’t think I’ll ever find happiness in this life.”
Wang Hong lifted his head. His right hand involuntarily propped on the seat as he nimbly sat up.
He stared at Chen Rong with an unhurried smile. “What do you mean, Ah Rong?”
Chen Rong looked at him with a fervor in her eyes. The kind of fervor with which someone would engrave another in his heart. She derived contentment from merely looking at him; she was filled with love by merely being next to him.
She was besotted, but she merely smiled: “Nothing.”
Wang Hong continued to study her.
He should know what Chen Rong meant, smart as he was. She was obviously telling him that even if she loved him with all of her soul, even if she was madly in love with him, she was sober enough to know he was beyond her reach and that she would never have him… They were never to be, and so she would never find happiness.
How could there be a girl like her? So young and passionate, yet always possessing a sage’s composure, sophistication, and even jadedness.
How could she contemplate with such a terrifying sobriety when she was so very clearly stirred?
Wang Hong faintly smiled. Translated by the ham ster master.
He dropped his gaze and leaned against the carriage’s left shaft, his dark hair spilling against his pristine robe.
He was basking in the morning sun and mild breeze. Behind him was only a mountain that couldn’t be any more ordinary; he was only sitting in a horse carriage; and yet he remained as poised and refined as he would in a resplendent courtyard.
His thin and fair hand slowly stroked the wine vessel on the table while he unhurriedly said to her: “Are you trying to tell me that once we return to Nan’yang, you’ll go back to being you and I’ll go back to being me? That what happened here was no more than a dream?”
He spoke slowly, and his voice was soothing and pleasant as he looked at her.
For whatever reason, Chen Rong’s heart constricted to see Wang Hong this way.
She looked down, at which time Wang Hong placed his hand on hers.
His fingers gently grazed her palm. Translated by the ham ster master.
Instantly, a numbing sensation sent Chen Rong’s heart aflutter.
But Wang Hong only took a fruit from her hand.
He played with it in the palm of his hand. “You can be heartless sometimes,” he said, sounding rather insouciant.
Chen Rong bowed her head and quietly explained, “Life doesn’t come easily. If we keep asking for things that don’t belong to us, we will only fall to our demise.”
Wang Hong smiled, his voice light and cold: “That being the case, why are you leaning so close to me?” He picked up a wild fruit and played with it in his palm, faintly smiling all the while: “If people see us, wouldn’t they think that we are engaged in some dirty affair?”
He used “dirty” (1), a term that was generally used to described adulterers, it was vulgar and had always been meant as an insult.
- He really said 苟且 “careless” as in loose or improper, but it doesn’t have the same slighting connotation in English, so I opted for dirty.
The noble and untainted Wang Qilang had used such a word with her!
Chen Rong’s face blanched as she lowered her head and said, “It is a wondrous thing to be by your side… I know now what it feels like to ‘not be able to contain one’s feelings’.” This was a lie, of course. In her previous life, she had known what it feels like to not be able to contain her feelings, she had known she could not let go.
Wang Hong slowly looked up at her, staring at her beautiful face, the face that was stunningly exquisite even after yesterday’s shock and being washed in only water, glowing cheeks and shapely eyebrows.
“Come here,” he beckoned, extending his hand.
Chen Rong dazedly looked up and approached him.
She placed her small hand into his.
Wang Hong closed his hand.
With his right hand holding her trembling left hand, his left hand enveloped her waist.
She didn’t resist his affection. She even leaned against him, unable to keep herself from trembling in his arms.
Wang Hong held her.
He stroked her long dark hair and softly asked, “Was last night frightful?”
Only when he asked did Chen Rong remember she still had many unanswered questions. She closed her eyes, her face flushed from wine, and murmured, “Aye, extremely. I had thought that fate had come for me.”
“Fate?” Wang Hong whispered.
“It was really fate.”
They both understood what she meant.
Chen Rong lay still in his arms, facing his collarbone, her fragrant respiration breathing into him.
Inhaling the fresh scent and relishing the warmth that was radiating from him, Chen Rong suddenly called, “Qilang.”
“Did you bring anyone with you? Call someone here and tell him to kill me.”
Wang Hong looked down at her fixedly. Ham ster 428.
Her eyes were still closed, and the corners of her mouth were tugging into a smile, but her voice was stoic as she murmured: “Just like that, stab me from behind. Make sure to drive the sword through my heart so my death would be quick. But don’t pull the blade out too fast, else my blood would stain your white robe; that wouldn’t be very good.”
She slowly looked up and gazed at him, tremulously saying: “Truly, I beg you, Qilang. I’m afraid I’m going to regret it in a moment.”
Wang Hong smiled back. He gently looked at her and asked, “Why are you uttering these delirious words?”
Chen Rong smiled. She lowered her eyes and again fell into his embrace. She even extended her arms to wrap around his waist, quietly saying as she hugged him tight: “You’re so smart, how can you not know whether it’s delirium or not? Qilang, I don’t think there’ll be a happier moment in my life or a moment more fulfilled. If I can die at my happiest moment, then I reckon I’m still luckier than most.”
Wang Hong didn’t answer.
He let her hug him and snuggle up to him.
After a long time, he smilingly asked, “And now? Do you still want to die?”
Chen Rong shook her head, sounding pained when she next replied, “Nay, dying is the hardest thing to do.”
She didn’t let go of him. Ham ster 428.
She was still hugging him tight.
Leaning against his embrace and inhaling his scent, she softly said to him, “I really don’t want to go back to Nan’yang.” She encircled her arms around his neck and impishly asked, “Qilang, can we not return today? If you get hungry, I’ll pick wild fruits for you. If you get thirsty, we can drink from the stream. Can’t we go back tomorrow?”
Wang Hong softly smiled and returned her gaze. “If you have such a hard time letting go, then why must you push me away, Ah Rong?”
This time, he made it clear: “If you love me, you and I can be together.”
Chen Rong likewise smiled. She got up from his arms, combed her long hair and smoothed out her dress.
Afterwards, she took a step outside before turning around to give him a smile as vibrant as the nightblooming cereus. “Because I know myself,” she began. “My greed is insatiable and I’ll always want more. Once I got to be your concubine, I’d do everything I could to be an honored concubine. Who knows, I might even scheme to kill your wife. If I couldn’t kill her the first time, I’d try a second time, if I couldn’t kill her the second time, I’d try a third time. As long as I wasn’t dead, I’d harm them all, your wife, your concubines. I’ll harm as many as you bring into your household. How ever many there would be is how ever many that would die.”
She smiled brilliantly like the season in autumn, but why was it that her words were cruel and cold, and so matter-of-fact: “So if you’re going to start anything, you should think about marrying and loving only me. Otherwise, your life and mine will never be in peace.”
She turned her head and walked to the front, her back as straight as a bamboo stem.
Her figure was exceptionally radiant under the sunlight.
Wang Hong tilted his head and let his hair shade his eyes as he watched her going farther and farther away from him.
Chen Rong soon got to the exit. She looked outside and asked, “Qilang, where are your people? Why haven’t they come to look for you?”
Wang Hong jumped off the carriage to walk up from behind her. He also looked outside and then smiled and said, “I’ll drive, get in. We’ll go back to Nan’yang on our own.” He didn’t explain to Chen Rong about the servants.
Chen Rong didn’t think that far. Once she heard that he would be driving, and furthermore for her, her eyes abruptly rounded.
She whipped around, lighting up as she buoyantly cried, “You will drive?” Her eyes curved up, and she broke into a fit of giggles.
She was inside the carriage within a few steps. “Hah, Wang Qilang is driving me! Wang Qilang is going to be my driver!”
Her voice crisply rang, sounding to be very happy.
When he heard her joyous exclamation, Wang Hong wryly smiled and headed to the carriage.
At the crack of his whip, the horse kicked off its hooves and trotted out.
The carriage left the mountain cleft and drove out to the open road.
Wang Hong turned around when he didn’t hear Chen Rong’s voice.
This time, her bewildered eyes were also arched with gratification and curiosity.
She dazedly looked at him as she repeatedly murmured, “Lang’ya Wang Qi will be driving me?”
She was still in utter disbelief.
No one would believe her if they heard of it. In this era, the aristocrats valued their faces far more than their lives. There’s a saying: “There are no poor scholars at the highest ranks and no aristocrats at the lowest ranks.” (2) The disparity between the upper and lower classes was like the great galaxy that nobody had managed to cross for thousands of years.
Yet the golden child of the Wang House in Lang’ya was volunteering himself as a driver for a lowly concubine’s daughter. Even if the situation required it, such would be a shocking matter to tell. Do not steal from ham ster 428. Because karma is a bitch.
- This line is derived from the Nine-rank System (九品中正制) which selected and assigned officials to their positions based on family status instead of merits. This system was eventually replaced by the Imperial Examination (科举). Note that Chen Rong’s father and brother are thought to still be 8th ranked, which is at the bottom rung in a system with 9 ranks.