W00t~ I managed to squeeze in a December post.
Chapter 113: Jealous
Chen Rong softened her voice to reassure him: “What can happen to me with the general here?”
Old Shang sounded an affirmation, but when he did, he still glanced at Ran Min dubiously.
Chen Rong knew that he must have many questions – many things he wanted to ask, but now wasn’t the time to say anything to him.
The carriage clickety-clacked along the street.
“Here’s fine,” Ran Min’s voice was shortly heard.
Old Shang gave a jolt, replying: “Aye.”
When the carriage came to a stop, Ran Min took Chen Rong’s hand and jumped down, then turned and walked toward the small lane ahead. Old Shang had wanted to follow, but Chen Rong looked back at him with a shake of her head.
He watched Ran Min’s clasp on Chen Rong’s hand and their linking shadows. Countless questions were lodged in his throat with no opportunity of ever being asked aloud.
The two of them eventually disappeared from his field of vision.
Before long, they had returned to the alley and entered the dilapidated couryard.
Ran Min made the jump, pushed the boulder aside and waved to Chen Rong. Without waiting for her, he stooped down and went on.
Chen Rong jumped down.
Soon after, the boulder slowly closed and silence was once again restored to the ancient well.
Chen Rong followed behind Ran Min and, just like that, quietly left Nan’yang.
Outside the tunnel, Ran Min raised his head looking at the city. His thin lips drew into a line. A while later, he somberly smiled. “It’s but a surname.”
Thus spoken, he turned his head and strode away.
Chen Rong quickly followed him.
They hadn’t gone 300 paces by the time they saw hundreds of soldiers with bright torches encircling his fiery steed. Ran Min mounted his ride and, paying no attention to Chen Rong, gave a holler before bolting away.
Chen Rong stared after his figure amid the flying dust. “Can you ride, miss?” a soldier asked.
She quickly turned around and replied, “Aye, I can.” She climbed onto horseback and pursued Ran Min into the wilds yonder.
By the time the new moon rose, the troops had caught up to Ran Min.
The man and his horse were standing among the vast wilderness, fine and tall. In the night, they appeared both hazy and distant. Chen Rong softly sighed.
She rode up behind him.
Her soft and light voice sounded in the midst of clopping hooves: “How many aristocrats can boast of your heroic feats? Your valory and intelligence are unparalleled. On paintings and in annals, there your name will remain for thousands of years. All the nobles and literati will have to look up to you. Why is it, then, that you are unhappy, my general?”
She had recited these words thousands of times in her previous life with the hope of saying them to him at an opportune time. At the time, she was convinced that if she could tell him at the right occasion, she would be able to win his high opinion.
For that reason, her speech had been articulate and tender; there was even her own sense of loss mixed in that tenderness…
Under the new moon, Ran Min turned around.
His eyes loomed like wolves in the night. After staring at her for a while, he broke into a smile. “Clever girl, what nice words you say.”
He rode toward her.
When he got to her side, he outstretched his right hand and ordered: “Come.”
Chen Rong’s hands trembled under her wide sleeves.
Then she reached out and took his hand.
Ran Min pulled her onto his horse, gave a kick, and galloped to the depths of the wilderness. Amid the howling night wind and his clouded breathing, he suddenly said, “I’d like to see how Lang’ya Wang Qi will face off with Murong Ke. I’d like to see how he will live up to his name!”
Chen Rong knew that he was jealous.
She didn’t reply. An answer wasn’t needed at this moment.
The night wind was still howling. The horse galloped full speed ahead, so fast that even the mild wind started to lash painfully.
Chen Rong endured her discomfort with nary a word.
A while later, Ran Min hollered and pulled the horse to a rear.
He turned Chen Rong’s face so that she was looking at him.
He looked straight at her with his inky eyes – eyes like wolves’ – and suddenly asked, “You still couldn’t let go of Wang Qilang when you saw him just now?”
In his eyes was a concealed hostility.
Chen Rong did not dare to anger him at this time. She quickly lowered her eyes and softly answered, “Nay.”
“Look at me and say it!” Ran Min suddenly snarled.
Chen Rong looked up at him in fluster. In the dark, she blinked her bright eyes while her face reddened uneasily.
Ran Min toned down and gently prodded again: “Well?”
Knowing his temper, she suppressed her impulse to look down and returned his gaze. “Nay.”
Ran Min faintly smiled.
He released his grip from Chen Rong’s chin, looked to the distance and hoarsely said, “Ah Rong.”
“You are the one I’ve searched for long and far. I won’t have you think about him for the rest of our lives.” He really meant it.
Chen Rong docilely replied, “Aye.” Seeing his brow beginning to furrow, she quickly added, “I won’t think of him.”
Ran Min softly harrumphed, kicked the horse’s girth and slowly rode forth.
With his left hand clasping her waist, a wry smile appeared on his face. ” I’m jealous.” He sounded self-deprecating.
Chen Rong dropped her gaze to lightly reply: “You are the Heavenly Prince Shi Min who makes the Hu flee at the sound of your wind. Why should you be jealous of any other man?”
Dissatisfaction was heard in her voice.
She knew he would like this dissatisfaction.
Sure enough, Ran Min laughed as soon as she finished.
He raised his head, gave a kick and sent his horse racing faster. As he faced the whirling wind, his laughter was resonating, cheerful, and pleased.
Listening to his laughter, Chen Rong slowly smiled.
At this moment, his hand tightened around her waist to pull her closer within his arms.
As a result, Chen Rong took shelter in his embrace as he rode away while laughing aloud.
Watching Ran Min shooting away like an arrow, his soldiers hollered and took chase. At the same time, one suddenly remarked, “The general’s found his companion.”
Another who was weak in health and had a temperament like that of a scholar gazed after the distant figures and said with a smile of relief: “He used to always say that spending his life with his mount was enough. He certainly did not expect that one day, like the King of Western Chu, he would also hold a beauty in his arms. Listen, how pleased is his laughter?”
The guards broke out laughing at these words.
The riotous laughter and clopping hooves added consolation to the quiet wilderness.
This translation belongs to hamster428.wordpress.com
A few days passed in the blink of an eye.
Sitting behind the curtain, Chen Rong had placed down her brush by this time and had shifted to unblinkingly stare in front of her.
In front of her, Ran Min rose from his desk and asked the scout: “Has Murong Ke arrived?”
“How far away from here?”
“Less than fifty miles. At this rate, he should lay siege to Nan’yang by tomorrow.” A pause. “Nan’yang is now surrounded by Hu scouts from all sides. General, Murong Ke is being very cautious.”
An advisor sneered from the side: “He is taking caution against our general. Hmph, as long as our general intervenes, he has no chance of winning this battle.”
Ran Min laughed upon hearing this. He shot to his feet and shouted, “Get me my robe!”
Three soldiers rushed in and encircled Ran Min.
“Who told you to come in?” Ran Min waved his arm to swat them away, confusing them in the process.
Chen Rong wryly smiled, quickly lifted the curtain and walked up behind him. She picked up his dark blue robe and while helping him wear it, gently asked like a young wife, “Where is it that you wish to go, sir?”
Sure enough, Ran Min closed his eyes to relish her voice. When he felt her soft smooth hands tying a knot on his chin, his voice unconsciously softened. “I’m heading to Nan’yang.”
Chen Rong froze in surprise.
At her exclamation, Ran Min reached out to lift her chin.
Narrowing his eyes, he stared at her and growled: “What’s running through your mind?” He sounded unhappy.
Chen Rong threw him a supercilious look and quizzically asked, “The Hu are coming, sir. Your going to Nan’yang at this time merits some shock, surely?”
Ran Min was still staring at her suspiciously.
His handsome face slowly darkened.
He clasped Chen Rong’s chin and slightly tightened his grip. When Chen Rong made a yelp, he growled, “You still haven’t forgotten him?!” He was certain of it.
Chen Rong was still wincing. All she felt was that his clasp was hurting her. Without looking in the mirror, she knew there must be bruising.
Along with her pain, surprise also took over her mind. He hadn’t liked her previously and he was always contemptuous toward those he didn’t like.
She was finding out for the first time that this man could be so anxious and petty when it came to the one he loved.
Chen Rong’s face grew pale, her long lashes blinking, as she inwardly countered: How can I forget the person I love so fast? Besides, why do I have to forget him?
She grimaced and pulled his hands away, crying: “That hurts!”
Her eyes were red and misty.
Ran Min wouldn’t let go.
He was still staring at her as he barked: “Are you still thinking about him?” He sounded as if he could murder.
Chen Rong recovered upon hearing the bloodlust in his voice. She immediately paled and sobbed: “I’m a human, not an unfeeling plant. I can’t just say I’ll forget something and then forget it. I hadn’t thought of him once, but because you mentioned Nan’yang I couldn’t help but be reminded.”
Tears streamed down her cheeks and wet her scarlet lips.
Watching Chen Rong cry so wretchedly, like a timid begonia, Ran Min softened up and slowly released his hand.
Once free, Chen Rong hid behind her sleeves and sobbed as she complained, “You’re hurting me…”
Ran Min barked: “Silence!”
She shuddered and quickly hushed. She did not dare to speak anymore, but her shoulders were shaking, her slight figure cowering into a ball.
Staring at her, Ran Min’s face unknowingly lost its hostility.
“You’re not to think about him anymore!” he ordered. And then he thundered, “Is that clear?”
Trembling, Chen Rong stammered: “Aye, aye.”
With that, Ran Min flapped his sleeve and went outside.
Listening to his stalking footsteps, Chen Rong slowly lowered her sleeve to reveal a smile on her tear-stained face. But soon she became upset. Why did I anger him? Haven’t I thought through things and told myself that as long as I can be unfeeling, then there will be no hatred? Why can’t I help myself from angering him, from wanting to let him taste the suffering of not having what he wishes?
An hour later, a pounding series of footsteps again approached.
Quietly lying on the divan, Chen Rong could tell from the footsteps that it was Ran Min returning. She hastily looked up at the doorway.
A tall figure appeared.
A pair of dark and cold eyes swept toward her.
Ran Min frowned. Almost as soon as he displayed this expression, two streams of tears shed down Chen Rong’s porcelain cheeks.
Ran Min froze.
He strode toward her. When he got in front of her, his right hand caught her arm and pulled her into an embrace. He clumsily brushed her tears away while he coldly snapped, “What rights have you to cry?”
Chen Rong trembled at his reproach and looked to the ground, but her tears only worsened.
Ran Min frowned, wanting to scream.
As soon as he saw Chen Rong soundlessly crying, however, his scream had no way of coming out.
He held her waist and lowered his voice. “Alright, stop crying. It’s not a pleasant sight.” There was an unconscious tenderness in his voice and, despite his seemingly impatient tone, his tear wiping action was gentle.
Chen Rong clutched her mouth and gradually stopped sobbing.
After hugging her for a while, Ran Min said, “Let’s go.” He picked up his weapon and turned to leave.
Chen Rong hurried after him.
Outside, his soldiers were waiting on horseback. Chen Rong was afraid to raise her tear-stained face and could only follow him.
Ran Min mounted his horse, gave his guard his weapon, and then pulled Chen Rong up to sit in front of him. “Get another horse ready!”
This horse, of course, was for Chen Rong. If anything were to happen, he would be free to slay the enemies.
“Aye,” a soldier replied and rode away. He soon led a fine horse back.
Ran Min glanced at him and then decidedly cried, “Forward!”
Horseshoes sent dust flying high as they headed to Nan’yang in the night.
Chen Rong quietly sat in Ran Min’s arms as she wondered: What is Ran Min going to Nan’yang for? Didn’t he say he wanted to watch the show? He also said he wanted to see Wang Hong and Murong Ke battling it out. That being the case, why is he going to Nan’yang now? (1)
- Here, I think Chen Rong means Ran Min wants to watch as an observer away from the actual conflict. So it would make more sense that he stays elsewhere and watch from afar instead of going to the battleground.
She thought and thought, but she could not determine what it was Ran Min wanted to do.
This translation belongs to hamster428.wordpress.com
Tonight, the moon was round.
The horses had not gone very far by the time Ran Min dismounted. While Chen Rong was still puzzled, she saw him ordering his soldiers to wrap the horseshoes with cloths.
After they finished, they once again got back on horseback.
This time, the clopping hooves were muted.
In the silence, the crowd continued on.
Ran Min eventually dismounted again. Staring at his guards, he ordered, “Guards!”
“Form a group and come with me.”
Ran Min left his weapon and horse to the soldiers, took the torch, stooped down and went into the tunnel.
It was a very narrow path where the tall and strapping Ran Min had difficulty moving. Even the soldiers were stumbling around. In the torch light, only Chen Rong had an easy time with her slight frame.
In just a short while, they had reached the end.
A soldier stepped up and pushed the boulder aside.
Immediately, the starry sky came into view.
After he gave a listen, he poked his head out to probe. Then he turned back to signal the rest of the group and took the lead to jump out.
The others followed suit.
Ran Min lifted Chen Rong’s arm and jumped up with her.
The courtyard was just as desolate as it had been, surrounded by silence. Only the distant light accompanied by reed music sang of debauchery in the night sky.
After a few paces and when he saw his guards motionlessly looking at him, Ran Min barked: “Let’s go, to the west side.”
He turned and walked out.
The streets were quiet in the night blanketed city, but the nobles’ estates were bustling in merriment just the same.
Ran Min led Chen Rong by the hand and lightly laughed, “Don’t the people of Jin always say they are undaunted even if Mount Tai were to collapse? I’m learning from the literati.”
His guards snickered, causing the passersby to look at them.
They quickly withdrew their gaze however, and paid no more attention.
Only now did Chen Rong notice that both Ran Min and his guardss were very casually dressed, like a wealthy man bringing along his bodyguards for a night stroll. Especially with her by his side, his leisure was obvious to all.
At this time, a guard chuckled. “General, you don’t need to learn from those scholars. At this very moment, I reckon none of them are as free as you.”
A series of laughter ensued. Chen Rong also laughed. But while she was laughing, she secretly thought: Wang Hong has no way to get out, but I must take Old Shang and the others out of Nan’yang at all costs. Let’s wait and see, when we return I will mention it to Ran Min.
Chen Rong knew someone who had killed as many people as Ran Min would see no worth in a human life. Even though her servants were important to her, they may not be as valuable as a horse in his eyes. He wouldn’t compromise his own plans for a few servants. If she wanted him to promise to take her servants away, it must be when he was in a good mood and when things were going smoothly. Only then would her prompting be effective.
While she was lost in her thoughts, they stopped and laughed.
Chen Rong looked up.
A courtyard appeared in front of her. It was a typical hamlet just like any other hamlets, having no high walls and situated in an alley. All in all, it couldn’t be any more ordinary.
Where they stood was a side door that could only let one man through.
Ran Min let go of her and then lightly commanded, “Jump over and open the door.”
One of his personal guards took a few steps backward, then dashed and jumped onto a stone, easily propelling himself over the wall.
The side door opened at a creak. “General,” the guard called from the other side.
Ran Min nodded and slowly went in.
Chen Rong took two quick steps and also followed him into the courtyard.
Once inside, she discovered that though the compound’s outer appearance was rather drab, its inner landscape was well designed. In the moonlight, the sparkling stream water and perfectly placed trees showcased its meticulous beauty.
This was a fastidiously constructed hamlet.
While Chen Rong was busy appraising the settlement, Ran Min had gone on ahead.
Along the way, she found that the dwellings here were all made from bamboo. There were streams and rockeries, pavilions and houses, and they were all quite charming.
However, Chen Rong wasn’t a person of elegance. Though she had lived twice, she spent her past life following Ran Min who wasn’t a person of elegance either. Try as she might, she could only tell that a lot of effort had been put into this place, that it was impeccable, and that creativity was seen all around. But if she was asked to describe what they were exactly, then she could not say.
Chen Rong’s head whipped up.
Is this where Wang Hong is staying?
On their journey, she had been speculating that Ran Min may have come to see Wang Hong. But she couldn’t be certain unless he said so himself.
Didn’t this man say he wanted to watch the show? Wasn’t he jealous of Wang Hong?
Why did he come here now?
While Chen Rong was toiling away at her thoughts, Ran Min chuckled: “The lights are scattered, the drums cannot be heard. It seems the Hu are giving our world-famous Wang Qilang a headache, after all.”
Almost as soon as his laughter ended, a clear and bright voice could be heard ordering in front of them: “Light the lanterns!”
A dozen torches and lanterns were lit up at the same time to rustling sound all around them. In the blink of an eye, the previous darkness was awash in light.
A handsome young scholar stepped forward. He bowed deeply toward Ran Min and then raised his voice to say: “My master said a special guest will visit tonight, and told me to wait with the light on. Sure enough, our special guest has arrived.”
The young scholar’s laughter was very hearty. He seemed to have not noticed that Ran Min’s men had stopped in surprise. “His lordship is right. I don’t think there’s any guest in Nan’yang more distinguished than you. The moon has risen. I am deeply moved that you have come in the middle of the night to assist the people of Nan’yang!” His laughter was full of delight.