Chapter 110: Understanding
Chapter 110: Understanding
Chen Rong looked up in surprise as she observed the quiet face under the starlight.
Ran Min ignored her look, choosing instead to stare straight ahead at the distant horizon.
Chen Rong withdrew her gaze. At length, her lips slowly curved into a faint smile that seemed ironic, triumphant, bitter, and resigned all at once…
“Aye,” she finally opened her mouth to answer him.
Ran Min gave a kick which spurred the horse on.
His dragon horse was one of the rarest in the world. When it dashed, it was as fast as a lightning bolt.
Nested in his arms, Chen Rong bit her lip at the abrasive contact with his armor.
A long while later, she softly asked, “Where are we going this time?”
Chen Rong lapsed into thought. Luo’yang? Would it not be a very long journey? Wouldn’t the people of Nan’yang have been gone by the time she came back, even if remnants of the city survived? And wouldn’t the white-robed idol who’d never needed her to interfere in his affairs have also met his end?
At long last, Chen Rong whispered back: “I see.”
“You needn’t worry, Ah Rong,” scoffed Ran Min. “By the time you return, Wang Qilang would’ve been killed by Murong Ke.”
He regretted these words almost as soon as he uttered them. So he clamped his thin lips and sulked on his own.
Chen Rong didn’t notice his strange behavior. She lowered her eyes, and softly yet staunchly replied, “Lang’ya Wang Qi isn’t an incompetent man. You aren’t the only one Murong Ke fears, general!”
This time, Ran Min broke into laughter as soon as she finished.
By the time he stopped, he furrowed his thick brows and ordered her: “Stop thinking about him hereafter!”
Chen Rong dropped her gaze and at length answered, “Aye.” Being familiar with his temper and knowing his disposition, Chen Rong understood she could not wade against the current. “Though I am a woman,” she quietly said, “I will be resolute in my action… I won’t think of him any longer.” The same way I don’t love you any longer. Even if I stay by your side, even if I’m with you day and night, I will not love you, never again!
Ran Min harrumphed to hear her answer.
The pair and their horse raced forward.
Gradually, the moon rose to the sky.
This translation belongs to hamster428.wordpress.com
At this time, the horse suddenly reared and neighed skyward.
“There’s an ambush!” barked Ran Min.
His handsome face iced up, his eyes murderous as he tightened his grip on the reins.
Chen Rong paled when she heard him. She glanced to the side only to see that his weapon was not with him.
Ran Min was the invincible Heavenly Prince with his stallion and weapon. But what if he didn’t have his weapon?
…If it weren’t for finding her, his weapon would never leave his hand!
While Chen Rong was dwelling on this, Ran Min turned around to look at her.
As he turned around, Chen Rong looked up and faced his icy eyes, whispering: “Your fine horse can certainly break out of here. General, let me down to lighten its load. You’ll be able to take them by surprise that way.” At Ran Min’s surprised look, she softly added: “Don’t worry about me.”
At this very moment, her eyes were wholly bright and kind…
Ran Min was obviously moved. “This girl,” he sighed, staring fixedly at her while gently stroking her face.
Swiftly, he turned around and slowly rode forth.
With her head bowed, a cold smile was gradually formed from Chen Rong’s lips.
She knew that, here and now, only such words would move him, would make him do all he could to protect her, would make his steely heart – whether he decided in the end to keep her or abandon her – remember her all the same… this remembrance would be one that lasts a lifetime!
Watery starlight, sickle-shaped moon. The pair and their horse slowly went on.
In less than 100 paces, Ran Min abruptly hollered: “Yah-” as he kicked the horse’s girth.
Years of companionship told the fiery horse to rear and race forward.
In a flash, they were carried away like the wind!
His abrupt action prompted urgent shouts from the roadside bushes: “Stop him, stop him!”
It was a Hu dialect, specifically the Xianbei clan’s.
In the midst of these shouts, more than a hundred shooters rose from the bushes with their longbows raised and their arrows loaded.
In the whistling wind, the shower of arrows rained down on Ran Min and Chen Rong.
Chen Rong suddenly remembered something and broke from Ran Min’s hold. She quickly removed her outer blue robe, threw it to him and called, “General, use this!”
Ran Min laughed.
He kept rein with his left hand while swirling Chen Rong’s robe with his right.
Like an open tent, the cloth flapped in the wind and thwarted the assailing arrows.
How good was Ran Min? His strength could even turn leaves and petals into weaponry. Two mere twirls had succeeded in blocking them.
For this reason, no matter how many arrows there were or how sharp they were, at the flick of his wrist, they would be swatted away.
Meanwhile, his mount was still charging forth like wind and light.
In less than two quarters of an hour, they had reached the eye of the storm and were gradually riding out of the ambush encirclement.
The Hu assailants were beyond agitated. “A useless lot!” one of them yelled. “There are so many of you but you can’t apprehend one Shi Min holding a woman! Shoot! Shoot him!”
Even through the endless shouts and raining arrows, the flapping cloth firmly protected them forward.
In the blink of an eye, the fiery horse had broken out. At a whistle, a hundred Hu jumped out from the grass and rushed at Ran Min.
At the same time, Ran Min faced the sky and roared in laughter.
Then he turned around at the Hu and shouted: “It wouldn’t be polite of me to not return a favor. Murong Lu, go back and tell Murong Ke to wash his neck and wait outside of Nan’yang for me!”
He laughed to the sky again.
This translation belongs to hamster428.wordpress.com
Amid his laughter, they had broken out and disappeared into the night’s shadow behind the flying dust.
Mid chase, the Hu found they could not catch up. They stopped and looked at each other. Almost suddenly, Murong Lu screamed: “Idiots. You said too many people would raise his suspicions. But had we a thousand archers, how could Shi Min have escaped?” He slashed his whip down on a sickly Han scholar.
Some dozen miles later, Ran Min hollered at his horse to stop.
He alighted and reached out to Chen Rong. “Come down.”
Chen Rong knew he wanted to let his horse rest, so she swiftly did as told.
Just as she made a turn to jump down in an open space, Ran Min crinkled his eyes and also moved a step, causing her to land into a rugged embrace.
Wham, her nose rammed into his hard breast plate, so painfully she could cry.
Ran Min didn’t notice anything. He reached around her, stroke her long hair, and softly called, “Ah Rong of the Chen House.”
“Why did you tell me to escape by myself? Aren’t you afraid to die?”
Having not received Chen Rong’s answer after a long time, he couldn’t but gaze down and impatiently look at her.
Under the starlight, Chen Rong’s smile seemed both faint and strange.
Chen Rong startlingly thought: Everything was too familiar. This was how Ah Wei had made him fall for her last time. Now that I think about it, did he also ask her these same questions? Chen Rong broke from her trance.
She lowered her head.
Unconsciously, she pushed him away and quietly said, “You came back by yourself for me. I may be a woman, but I won’t let anything happen to you on account of me!”
After so much thought, she gave him the most honest, unsentimental answer.
Ran Min turned toward Chen Rong.
At length he asked, “Missy, are you upset with me again?”
Chen Rong quickly shook her head. “Nay.” Upset with him again? Of course not. The only one she was upset with was herself. When she was first reborn, she had thought of vengeance, of making him fall in love with her, and of letting him taste the same pain she had suffered.
But for whatever reason, she suddenly lost her interest.
She pushed Ran Min away and walked ahead.
Staring at the vast starry sky in front of her, Chen Rong for the first time found that everything had completely and utterly changed… She suddenly felt that there was no longer any meaning to her revenge; she suddenly realized that, all along, she hadn’t worried for Wang Hong because she knew she could not help him. Moreover, she only now decided that if anything were to happen to him, she should go with the other man. Life was hard enough. Just like that, she should follow him to where he and his clansmen were, to a corner where no one would see her or know her.
This thought came so naturally that it freed her…
Finally, after spending a lifetime loving this man in pain, after using her understanding of him to slowly make him fall for her, when her revenge was only a hair away, all the fog suddenly dissipated to reveal that she had really let it go, she had really fallen in love with the man named Wang Hong!
How funny it all was! She did all she could, used all tactics she knew, and even burned herself to death. Even while she was hesitant to really seek her revenge, she somehow got everything she had ever wanted. It turned out all obsession and even the deepest memories would fade with time… and there was no such thing as forever in this world.
At this time, she felt something pressing on her hand.
Ran Min had grabbed her wrist.
He pulled her closer to see her face. After regarding her for a while, he impatiently furrowed his brow. However, he did not yell at her, simply pulling her to the horse: “It’s getting late, let’s go.”
By the time the moon rose to the center of the sky, they had caught up to the troops.
After Ran Min tossed her to a soldier, he strode alone to his brightly lit tent.
Chen Rong cast him a glance before she turned and was led to her tent.
She was still some distance away when Nurse Ping hastened to her. She took hold of Chen Rong’s robe and tremulously whispered: “Miss, why are you only back now?”
Chen Rong shook her head and said nothing in reply.
Forthwith, the two of them entered inside.
Nurse Ping lit the candles and watched Chen Rong.
She quizzically asked, “Miss, has something good happened?” when she saw a smile on Chen Rong’s face. It was a lighthearted one that should not appear in this situation.
Chen Rong looked up at her and curved her lips. “No. I’ve figured out a few things, that’s all.”
Nurse Ping curiously followed her to the divan, continuing to ask: “What did you figure out?”
Chen Rong picked up her wine cup, unhurriedly took a sip, and casually replied, “That alive or dead, having one person worthy of remembering is more than enough.” She lifted her cup for a swig, saying ironically: “I can finally get along with him now.”
Nurse Ping was made even more confused.
Chen Rong did not have the patience to say more. She waved her hand and ordered, “Go see if you can get some water. I want to have a bath.”
That night, Chen Rong slept very well, much better than she ever had.
The next day, she could sense that Ran Min’s plan had changed. The troops slowed down, scouts were sent in all directions, and his advisors regularly visited his tent. Even his mien was nonchalant, as if he was waiting for something interesting to happen according to his plans.
Per chance, did he change his mind due to the ambush? Was he no longer going to Luo’yang, but instead staying to take a part in Murong Ke and Wang Hong’s contest?
In the afternoon, Nurse Ping entered the tent with a tray as she called out to Chen Rong: “Miss, miss.”
“What is it?”
The old nurse came before her, set the tray down, lifted the satin cover and uneasily smiled, “Isn’t it strange, the general gave you two male outfits for whatever reason.”
Chen Rong curiously got down from the divan and held the clothes up for a look. “Oh, it’s really a man’s outfit.” Then understanding dawned. “This being a military camp, it’d be more appropriate for me to walk around dressed as a lad.”
Hearing her, Nurse Ping nodded, “I suppose you’re right.”
Having understood Ran Min’s meaning, Chen Rong promptly changed into the light blue robe. She mulled a bit and then added a hat before going to Ran Min’s tent.
Before long, she had appeared at the tent. An advisor walked out and looked surprised to see her. He then seemed to have thought of something when he accorded her ceremony before leaving.
Chen Rong wasn’t quite sure what that was about.
She watched the advisor leave and another walking out. This man also accorded her ceremony when he saw her before going away.
Chen Rong lowered her head.
She reckoned Ran Min must have told them something. If they accorded her ceremony, then they must see her as his wife.
…Though she may never find happiness in this life, at least she had found a home to belong to.
Chen Rong strode into the tent.
Only Ran Min was inside. As she watched him kneel at his desk, writing away, her determined gait softened with each step.
Even so, she had only taken two steps by the time Ran Min spoke: “Ah Rong.”
Chen Rong dropped into a curtsy.
“From now on, you are to stay next to me and must not stray one step away,” he ordered.
He did not receive Chen Rong’s answer for a long time.
So he looked up.
Glancing at the wordless Chen Rong, he propped his hands on his knees, leaned forward and seriously said, “Army life can lead to death at any given moment. Why think so much? Don’t worry, I’ll surely give you a title.”
He knew, as did Chen Rong, that his work was endless from day to night. It was expected that Chen Rong would not leave his side or even spend the night with him.
As a noblewoman who hadn’t officially married him, however, Chen Rong of course couldn’t agree. Ran Min’s words were meant to give her reassurance.
After seeing her still in silence, he scowled: “What are you hesitant about?”
Chen Rong knew that he took his promises seriously. If he gave his words then he would keep them. Even so, she really couldn’t make herself stay day and night with a man she hadn’t married.
Blushing, Chen Rong bit her lip. As she was wondering how to proceed, footsteps sounded outside.
Soon, an advisor appeared at the entrance.
Chen Rong quickly curtsied and retreated to a corner.
The advisor cast her a glance. Because he comprehended the situation but also because he couldn’t care less, he simply turned to Ran Min and reported: “General, Murong Ke has shown up.”
Ran Min placed his hands on his knees, leaned forward and asked, “What about Wang Hong?”
Chen Rong looked up at the mention of his name.
The advisor shook his head and frowningly said, “The strange thing is that the Wang House of Lang’ya hasn’t made the slightest movement.”
He quizzically added, “If I hadn’t known Wang Qilang was still in Nan’yang, I would’ve thought he had fled.”
Ran Min smirked. “Wang Hong may be young, but he’s not very easy to fathom.”
He leaned back and muttered, “I’m also looking forward to this contest. Pass my order down that our men must not, under any circumstances, appear in their sight. Don’t let them discover our presence.”
“How’s the situation in Nan’yang?”
The advisor sneered. “Still the same, panic and chaos. They say the Prince of Nan’yang has lost half his weight in only so many days. His head is also half-gray.” At this juncture, he smiled in glee.
Ran Min nodded.
He looked down at a silk scroll and asked, “What about the other clans? Are they doing anything?”
“The Hu are coming from the west and the north, they are sighted in the east, too.”
“Stop all those who want to come here! Hmph, the Murong family has no real man. Since he’s publicly sent a declaration of war to Wang Qilang, he ought to fight him one on one until a winner is determined!”
The advisor laughed out loud. He looked at Ran Min in admiration and said, “Did you not want others to come here and mess things up? Hahaha, very well, let me go, then.”
A straightforward man himself, he quickly turned and went outside.
Within a few steps, the advisor suddenly stopped and looked toward Chen Rong.
Seeing her in the blue male outfit and quietly standing in the corner, he noddingly said to Ran Min: “This young lady really doesn’t stand on decorum, you’re quite lucky, general. Haha.”
He then sped out, not waiting for Ran Min’s reply.
Ran Min kept his head buried in his books.
Chen Rong went to his side and slowly sat down, glancing at the words on the silk books as she reorganized them.
It was all about the impending battle in Nan’yang.
Ran Min wasn’t just famous for his bravery, he was also very astute – a self-taught genius in things such as strategic warfare. He couldn’t have become a world renowned general otherwise.
Chen Rong tidied his silk books and cast him glances from time to time. She was occupied enough that she did not notice the passage of time.
A while later, Ran Min’s voice suddenly sounded: “Ah Rong, do you want to return to Nan’yang?”
Return to Nan’yang?
Chen Rong paused and whipped her head looking up.
Ran Min didn’t see her; he was busy writing something.
At length, Chen Rong softly asked, “Can we still get through the city gates?”
Ran Min placed his brush down, looked up at Chen Rong, and mysteriously smiled.
He reached for Chen Rong and pulled her into his arms.
Hugging her, he chuckled: “Why do we have to use the city gates?”
Chen Rong stared at him in puzzlement.
Ran Min leaned back and, combing through her dark hair, explained, “Nan’yang has a secret passageway.”
Chen Rong let out a cry in surprise. She rounded her eyes, mouth agape and wordless for a long time.
Nan’yang has a passageway… Her heart drummed. Then that’s to say, even if the worst were to happen, he could still be saved?
While she was lost in her train of thought, Chen Rong saw Ran Min’s suspiciously narrowing eyes.
Quickly, she collected herself, dropped her gaze, and murmured, “Then that’s to say I can freely go in and out of Nan’yang?” She crinkled her eyes in anticipation: “I can also see what’s happening to Chen Yuan, his two wives, and his sons and daughters?”
Viciousness was evident in her eyes.
Ran Min withdrew his suspicion and burst into laughter. “Good for you, Ah Rong. One really mustn’t offend you. Very well, I’ll take you to see that family!”