Chapter 109: Perfectly Frank
Chapter 109: Perfectly Frank
Well, she got to see it now.
She got to see his fury and she got to see his hatred!
Chen Rong lifted her head to look straight at him… both the joy and ironic pain of this moment brought tears to her eyes.
The angry Ran Min hadn’t expected Chen Rong to shed tears due to his questioning.
He loosened his grip on her chin, anger receding from his eyes, as he quizzically asked, “Why are you crying?”
Chen Rong dropped her gaze, blinked, and then hoarsely laughed. “I just didn’t expect you to be this furious.”
She glanced sideways at him. “Can you let me know why you are so angry, general?”
Her eyes were welling with tears, but when they moved, their inherent allure bewitched him so.
Caught off guard, Ran Min unconsciously moved his hand away and gently used his thumb to stroke her rosy lips. “Answer me, why are you crying?”
He spoke with a finality though his voice was gentle. It was clearly a command.
Chen Rong blinked her wet long lashes and slowly looked down.
She didn’t give him an answer.
Her subconsciousness wanted to continue riling him, but her rationality was telling her not to do so. And thus she decided to keep quiet.
Ran Min’s lips drew tighter, his brow furrowed angrily.
Just then, a loud holler called out: “General? Why aren’t you going?”
Ran Min whipped around and violently shouted, “Shut up! Go on ahead!”
He was so irritable that his soldiers all shrank away. “Aye, aye, sir,” replied the man as he trotted off.
Ran Min turned back to Chen Rong.
Coldly, he issued a low bark: “Ah Rong of the Chen House, you should know that I’m never one to be patient!”
This was his warning.
Chen Rong pursed her lips. She looked at him and said in her crystalline voice, “Yes, I am now in love with Wang Qilang. And yes, the one I used to love was you – very much so.”
After articulating each word to him, she slowly smiled a smile that was both ironic and liberating. “Even now, I’m not entirely indifferent to you, but the one I love the most is already him.”
She quietly watched Ran Min, but also past him to where the vast mountains stood as she murmured: “A human life is no different from a blade of grass. We never know when the wind will carry us to a rain puddle where we have no way to preserve our lives. You know, for some reason, it makes me happy to discover that I don’t like you as much as I had thought I did. Even now, I am happy to be saying these words.”
Even if this happiness was as ephemeral as a night-blooming cereus, even if she would have to bear all the terrible consequences only seconds from now, she was fine with it… after all, it was a joy she had waited too long for.
Ran Min unblinkingly stared at her.
“How have I offended you?” he suddenly asked her again. “When did you fall in love with me?” he added after a brief pause.
Chen Rong shook her head and withdrew her gaze, offering him a wooden smile and an obscure answer: “I can’t say.”
Ran Min hollowly laughed.
After laughing twice, he turned and strode away.
As he walked, his fiery horse automatically followed him.
Chen Rong, too, hurried after them.
“Since you are so strong willed, why do you still want to come with me?” scoffed Ran Min.
Clad in a golden armor, his tall and great stature appeared all at once unworldly, majestic and grave.
Chen Rong glanced at his side profile and softly replied, “Besides following you, I have nowhere to go.”
Ran Min seemed to have been provoked. Almost abruptly, he throated an audible growl.
It sounded like thunder, like drums, like a tiger’s roaring, like a dreadful furor lashing at the world.
After he ceased to roar, he jumped onto his horse and dashed away.
What kind of horse did he have? How extraordinary was his riding? In a flash the arrogant golden figure and his horse had pulled into the distance, leaving only dust swirling in the air.
Chen Rong hung her head.
She dragged her feet and went on. A constant stream of soldiers continuously passed her, sending smoke skyward. Their hooves were still rumbling by her ears after they had disappeared from her sight…
At length, she suddenly found that there was no one left around her.
No men, no horses, no dust, no sound.
She was the only one walking in the vast expanse.
Chen Rong slowed to a stop.
She titled her head to gaze at the sunset in the west where she saw their dense shadows. They were definitely gone, alright.
She turned around at the cleft where abandoned pots and pans were strewn all over. Not long ago, this place was still bustling with the troops and their horses.
She didn’t even know where Nurse Ping had gone in this emptiness.
Chen Rong looked around, wrapped her arms around herself, and continued to drag herself toward the sunlight in the west, which was also toward the direction the army had gone to.
Eventually, the setting sun went down.
Eventually, the last ray of light also faded from the horizon where heaven and earth met.
Eventually, stars filled the sky and out came the crescent moon.
The earth was wide and heaven was vast.
Chen Rong trekked on.
Time did not stop.
Gradually, there remained only the stars and the moon.
Neighing and voices sounded from the far distance, but they were so far away that Chen Rong didn’t know whether they were real or whether they were her hallucinations.
At this time, she felt a sharp pain under her soles. She knelt down to take her shoes off. After taking a look at her blistered feet, she put her shoes on again and faintly smiled. Unknowingly, she had walked for an entire day…
A night wind blew past and brought along a bone-deep chill though it had been sunny during the day.
Chen Rong wrapped her arms tighter around herself and shrank her neck into her collar.
She slowly looked up but did not otherwise make a move.
In her purview, at the end of the road, a tall horse was carrying a stalwart man galloping toward her.
In the watery starlight, the rider and his horse appeared as though they were coming from the far end of the earth, and from another time.
Chen Rong rubbed her eyes.
He eventually reached her.
His electrifying eyes fixed upon her under the stars. At last, he slightly bent down, offered his hand and ordered: “Up!”
Seeing Chen Rong still rubbing her eyes, her beautiful face now besmirched with dirt and tears, his voice softened despite himself: “Do I have to repeat myself? Up!”
Chen Rong finally broke from her trance. She hurriedly took his hand.
He pulled her up and deposited her onto the saddle.
He stretched his right hand around her waist, kicked the horse’s girth, and dashed forward.
In the midst of clopping hooves, the chorus made by his hard armor and her fluttering dress as well as the heavy breathing of the man behind her all occupied Chen Rong’s ears.
All of a sudden, she burst into tears.
The flood gate broke too frantically and too fast. Chen Rong wanted to wipe her tears as soon as she understood what was happening but they came out even more violently.
All she could do was hide behind her sleeves and cry.
Her sobs minglef with the clopping hooves and whistling wind, unceasingly it seemed…
“Enough!” Ran Min impatiently snapped. He suceeded in startling Chen Rong who quickly stopped.
From behind, he brusquely said to her, “If you miss Wang Qilang so much, then why don’t you ask to be his concubine and go to him?”
He thought she was crying her heart out because she was missing Wang Hong.
Chen Rong bit her lips. She did not turn around, merely crying indignantly: “I’m just a girl. You left me for an entire day, a-and didn’t come back until now… You treated me so awfully but you won’t even let me cry?”
Ran Min didn’t expect her to cry so disconsolately for such a reason. He stopped in his tracks and felt like laughing out loud.
After having blurted out her grievances, Chen Rong thought of her previous life when she had died in the flames. This man had unhesitatingly walked away at the time… Why, then, did she feel aggrieved when he left her for just half a day now? Why would she even cry over a heartless man’s heartlessness?
At this thought, Chen Rong felt a pang in her heart. It wrung her and pricked her. She hastened to hide her face behind her sleeves and sat still.
Behind her, Ran Min harrumphed to see her so. “You can be quite daft, missy. When you said what you said, you should’ve expected it to end our relationship.” Whatever he may be thinking, he gave a sigh, his arms also tightening around Chen Rong.
Under the starlight, all was quiet.
She wasn’t sure how much time had passed before Ran Min murmured, “Ah Rong of the Chen House.”
“Forget Wang Qilang.”
Chen Rong froze at his words.
He told her to forget Wang Qilang! He actually told her to forget Wang Qilang!
Did he still want her even though she plainly said she didn’t care a whit for him?