Chapter 81: Return to Nan’yang
Chapter 81: Return to Nan’yang
Wang Hong smiled to see that he was speechless.
At this time, Chen Rong saw Wang Hong waving to her and thus quickly came over. Seeing Sun Yan’s irritated expression, she turned and looked at him with concern before asking Wang Hong: “What’s the matter?”
“General Sun wants to go rescue General Ran. Do you want to go with him?”
“I’d like to go with you, Qilang.”
Wang Hong nodded. He turned to face Sun Yan, raised his clasped hands and said, “That being the case, we’ll not go there. I’ll see you again, General Sun. Let’s have a drink then.”
Despite giving a scoff, Sun Yan also returned his clasped hand gesture.
He went to Chen Rong and whispered to her: “Come with me.”
After he had led Chen Rong a hundred paces away, he tilted his head glancing at Wang Hong, then turned to Chen Rong and frowningly said, “Ah Rong, that Wang Qilang is a playboy; he knows how to win over the women. You mustn’t be fooled.”
At this moment, his jet black eyes, which resembled those of wolves, gave off a flash of tenderness. He gently held Chen Rong’s shoulders, regarded her and said, “We are the same, you and I… we cannot afford to fool around.”
Chen Rong returned his gaze with one of gratefulness. Slowly, she dropped into a curtsy, lowered her gaze and replied, “I’ll remember your words, my lord.”
After giving him this formal reply, she looked up, blinked her large eyes, and playfully asked, “Sun Yan, if one day you can be in control of your marriage, and you don’t have someone you love, will you marry me?” Her smile was one of innocence, but her eyes were those of earnestness.
The same earnestness with which a wolf longs for warmth and companionship after countless years of loneliness and disappointment.
Sun Yan could not understand this earnestness. He frowned and pondered, but in the end shook his head and whispered back, “I don’t want to promise what I don’t yet know if I can do.”
He lightly pressed on Chen Rong’s arms, rasping: “I do not know whether we will see each other again after this parting. Ah Rong, you must stay strong; and stay smart. You mustn’t let them deceive you or destroy you.”
Having said this, he turned to go.
Chen Rong’s gaze followed him. She looked at the young man who was striding away then was mounting his horse, and at the two thousand men sending smoke into the moonlit sky.
While she was lost in thought, a string of melodious music sounded. Different from what was played just now, it was full of melancholy and the sorrow of separation. It contained the sentiments of a gentleman who was sending his friends far away – a willow branch of sorts, a promise of next year’s reunion.
Chen Rong turned around. Under the moonlight, she saw Wang Hong attired in black and masked under a layer of fog, playing his zither. She slowly approached him.
When she reached him, a maid swiftly brought out a seat at Wang Hong’s right side.
Chen Rong sat down and startlingly stared at Wang Hong’s handsome profile.
His dancing fingers slowed down. He turned his head to look at Chen Rong, his eyes shining like the stars. They were real stars, as far as she was concerned – very bright, very clear, and so very far away…
Chen Rong looked up at him.
Wang Hong upturned his lips in a smile: “What are you looking at, Ah Rong?”
“You’re still alive.” Her gaze remained dazed.
She actually gave him such baffling words. She actually gave him those words with eyes that were empty and dazed.
Wang Hong raised his brow. He put the zither down, turned, and contemplated her.
At this point, Chen Rong gave a start, hesitantly smiled, and rose to leave.
Her footsteps paused.
He stood up and came up behind her. When she was only half an arm’s length away, he stopped, lowered his head, and softly asked, “Will you let me know why you came to Mo’yang?”
“I’ve already given you an answer,” she replied. Without waiting for him to ask again, she hastily went on.
Wang Hong faintly smiled watching her escape.
At this time, the middle-aged scholar came and said as he looked at Chen Rong’s back: “My lord, this Ah Rong of the Chen house is exceedingly strange. When she came with us to Mo’yang, she had led and planned our way in. She was very calm and confident, in fact. She was also very confident when we had plans to break out from the south gate. She was even crystal clear about the specific hour and the enemy’s number. But when she really faced the battlefield, she became so frightened that she was no different from other young girls. My lord, what do you make of Ah Rong of the Chen house?”
Wang Hong shook his head. He stared after Chen Rong’s departing figure, lightly smiled, and murmured: “Puzzling, isn’t she?”
Everyone fell asleep from exhaustion shortly after.
Early next morning, the team set off again.
Yesterday, they still had two thousand individuals; now they are left with a little over one hundred, thirty of which were wounded. With so few people, they had to be more vigilant on the trip. Wang Hong dispatched several pathfinders so that they could change their route if anything abnormal were to happen.
Finally, Nan’yang appeared to them on the third day.
They gave cries of joy at its familiar sight.
“Wang Hong,” a clear voice suddenly called.
Everyone turned around. From the carriage, Chen Rong was calling out to call Wang Hong, but she had put on men’s robe in order to not attract attention, her face was even painted with dirt.
While the crowd looked on in curiosity, Chen Rong urged her horse to Wang Hong and said to him in all seriousness: “Qilang, we’ll be in Nan’yang soon, I have something to ask of you.”
Wang Hong narrowed his eyes. He studied her, slowly smiled, and then very gently remarked, “Darling, have you dressed like this to tell the world that Ah Rong of the Chen house has never been to Mo’yang? And never mind the fact that you’ve followed my family’s retainers to accompany me?”
His smile had seemed cold, and it made Chen Rong shudder.
She was asking for something she thought was quite reasonable, but Chen Rong was suddenly made to feel guilty. She bowed her head, biting her lips to murmur: “I, I’m still unwed.”
And then she seemed to gain strength, looking up at Wang Hong and softly pleading to him: “We are separated by far more than what’s measured in miles. I will not be a concubine, sir.”
With these words, she snapped her whip, turned and ran back to her carriage.
Wang Hong looked after her and lazily said at length, “Did everyone hear what Ah Rong of the Chen house said?”
“Then do as she says.”
The middle-aged scholar gazed at Chen Rong’s pleased expression. He couldn’t help shaking his head as he said to Wang Hong: “But who is she trying to fool?”
Wang Hong merely smiled.