The weather has already turned chilly now, the night sky has also fallen, such season is unlike the heated summer days, but is faintly bleak. This night, I was just rinsing the damp cloth to wash my face, when I hear the sound of the doors opening. I originally thought it was Qing Ya, hence not giving it much attention, but in the next second, I was lightly embraced from behind, the hand embracing me, may be fairer than a woman’s, but it has the firm strength of a man.
“Ah-Lan.” He lowly calls out, seeming to carry slight lamentation.
My body stiffens, leaving him to stick closer and closer to me.
He clasps his hands, hugging me even tighter, thin lips barely touching my cheek, a seemingly romantic gesture, “About this morning’s matter……I’m sorry.”
I find it rather laughable, Meng Shao Jue saying sorry, this sure is like a lady entering the wedding sedan –– the first time ever.
He rubs the tip of his nose against me, “I and Hua Cai Jin……are indeed betrothed now.”
I look towards the bronze mirror, in the mirror, the me that’s directly facing it remains expressionless, just leaving the man behind to hold me, eyes looking cold.
En, yours and Hua Cai Jin’s betrothal……what’s it got to do with me?
“Ah-Lan……” He extends his hand to turn my face, phoenix eyes half lowered, “Why are you not saying anything?”
“Say anything?” I hear myself coldly open my mouth, “Say what?”
He raises his hand and delicately touches my face, his action gentle, “Are you not curious, why I’m marrying Hua Cai Jin?”
“Oh.” I satisfy his needs, “Why are you marrying her?”
“I have no choice but to marry her.” He lets out a few sounds of bitter laughter, “Only her father will be able to help me, and her father’s condition for helping me is to marry her.”
I laugh, to him, what is a wife? What is a lover?
“Not allowed to laugh.” He puts a finger at my lips, dark orbs deepening, “Not allowed to laugh like that.”
I push away his hand, “What, am I not even allowed to laugh or smile now?” I gather away my smile, “I shall not laugh or smile then.”
He suddenly pastes his lips onto mine, but just lightly kisses me, not going in deep, “What am I to do with you?”
What’s that supposed to mean?
“Meng Shao Jue, let me go.” I look up, “I will give you the treasure maps, so, let me go.” Let me go, and I can go save Yuwen Rui myself, this way, no one will be troubled, no?
“Let go?” He lightly raises his brows, ridicule flashing past his eyes, “Ah-Lan, why is it that you’re always able to say it so easily?” He raises my chin, eyes vaguely giving rise to tenderness, “I’m unable to let you go.”
I squirm in discomfort, such a Meng Shao Jue that’s overflowing with tenderness, eh, so strange……
“We have already met long before.” He lightly hooks up his thin lips, slowly saying: “At that time, I wasn’t surnamed Meng (孟), nor was I called Meng Shao Jue.” He suddenly tightens his embrace on me, leaning in towards my ear as he quietly says: “I’m surnamed Meng (蒙), my father is called Meng Peng Fei.”
I freeze, this name, is so familiar……
I abruptly squint both my eyes, Meng Peng Fei?! “You are Meng Peng Fei’s son? That green vegetable?”
He bursts out laughing, pamperingly pinching my noise, “Green vegetable? Only you would be capable of coming up with such a nickname!”
“A whole body of emerald green paired with fair white skin, if it isn’t a green vegetable like white powder and polished jade (white, smooth and delicate).”
“If I were a green vegetable back then, you too, were nothing more than a nasty fool!” Thick ripples of laughter spreads in his eyes, “I have never forgotten that one kick you gave me back then.”
My heart gives rise to a bitter feeling, although I had felt that the father and son pairing from that day was fun, after hearing the news that his entire household had been exterminated……I feel rather regretful, causing my tone to warm up a few points, “You had long recognised me?”
His slender finger traces the side of my face, that deep voice seeming to contain complaints, “Long but not exactly so, either way, I had recognised you first.”
I have nothing to say, how am I supposed to recognise him as that green vegetable from back then? So many years have passed, the impression I got was nothing more than encountering an interesting green vegetable back then, and that green vegetable is precisely the son of Yun Ze Kingdom’s General Meng Peng Fei. But, speaking of Meng Peng Fei……
I furrow my brows, knowing that this is definitely a sensitive topic.
Meng Shao Jue strokes my hair, “Are you thinking of my father?”
I raise my eyes, just quietly looking at him.
His smile is a little dejected, “My father and my mother……along with everyone else in the Meng Estate, have all died.”
I cannot help but to bite my lip, only because his eyes had suddenly filled up with deep, thick sorrow.
“Ah-Lan, do you know what kind of a scene that was?” His eyes start to flicker, “I was hidden amongst the crowd, seeing Father, Mother and all those aunties, kneeling there with their backs straight, and then……” His pupils shrink within a moment, numbly saying: “A scene of red.”
I seem to be able to imagine such a scene, a young and tender youth hidden amongst the huge crowd, he puts his all into biting his own lips to prevent the cry from escaping his lips, beyond those lips, it is filled with the taste of blood yet he feels no pain, he tightly clenches both fists, eyes deadly fixed on his family on the scaffolding, he wishes to charge forward onto the scaffolding to rescue his family, he wishes to cry out all of his anger and resentment without a care for anything else, but in the end, he could only watch them fall one by one, and yet he……was unable to do anything.
“It has all passed.” I reach up to cover his eyes, not willing to see such a him anymore. Such a Meng Shao Jue that is overflowing with intense sorrows is a sight I have never seen before, such a Meng Shao Jue that is so weak and fragile like a little animal is something I have never expected, such a Meng Shao Jue that is like a pitiful child……is one that I cannot bear to face emotionlessly.
There is a child in every one of our hearts, no matter how evil, how menacing that person is.
And children, are the most innocent ones.
“Ah-Lan.” His voice is slightly shaky, gentle yet it carries resentment, “Everyone died, other than Ying Lu and I.” He reaches out to place his hand on mine, the palm of his hand is warm, “I and Ying Lu were saved by a soldier Father had once saved, which is my little uncle. Ying Lu lost her memory due to the overwhelming horror, and I can only deceive her, saying we are only an ordinary merchant family, Father and Mother have long passed away from an accident……Little Uncle told me my father had fallen under someone’s scheming, the reason being Father’s prestige and power is far too great, and had already been severely blocking the path of that person’s clan.”
“That person is……” I furrow my brows, “The empress?” Yun Ze’s empress has always been filled with greedy ambitions, have been engaging in both open strife and veiled struggles with the Yun Ze emperor, and Meng Shao Jue has been the Yun Ze emperor’s confidant on one hand, whilst helping Su Qi confront the Yun Ze empress on the other hand……which also means that he holds no resentment towards the emperor, the one he hates is the empress.
He speaks through gritted teeth, “Back then, the empress wanted to recruit my father, it cannot be helped that my father is greatly loyal to the former emperor, under a moment of rage, the empress thus decided to exterminate my father, the former emperor naturally wasn’t willing, but it cannot be helped that the venomous woman had actually taken advantage of the moment the former emperor had fallen ill, producing a forged imperial decree, arresting my entire Meng household to be executed……”
I take a deep breath, I have long heard of the diabolical methods of the Yun Ze Empress, but hearing this today……indeed, a woman’s heart is the most venomous.
My hand……is wet. Sweat? Or is it his tears?
I wanted to draw back my hand, but it was tightly held in place by him, his pair of phoenix eyes that have always been filled with charm is now overflowing with vengeance, the wet substance making those black eyes appear increasingly sparkling black, “Should this vengeance not be resolved, then I shall not be considered human.”
I say: “The empress has already died.” The Yun Ze Empress had hung herself in her palace hall the day Su Qi ascended the throne, due to ‘overwhelming grief’, this matter has been known as the ‘hot topic’ of that period.
“Died?” He coldly laughs, “How could I possibly let her die so easily?” He stares at me, saying word by word: “I must have her watch her entire foundation get uprooted by me, I must have her watch me personally destroy all of her efforts, I must have her watch our Meng family restore our past glory again, I must have her give us the most painful payback for the sin she had committed back then.”
“So?” I overturn my hand to hold his, “You marrying Hua Cai Jin is also for this?” To uproot the empress’ foundation? Or is it to restore the Meng family’s glory?
“Hua Cai Jin’s father is the only one that can prove the Meng family is innocent.” He reaches out to clasp my hand, ten fingers interlocked, “Everyone else has already died.”
“Oh.” I nod in response, then lightly say: “Then what do you get from this?”
He looks down at me, silent without a word.
I speak again: “Have you thought about what your father and mother wishes for you to have?”
Complications flashes past his eyes, but very quickly disappears without a trace.
I look at him as I slowly speak, “Perhaps your father and mother wishes for you to take revenge on the empress, perhaps they wish for you to restore the Meng family’s glory, but I believe they definitely do not wish for you to lose the things you should have for all this.”
For example, a wife that truly loves him, one that he sincerely likes himself, for example, a carefree life after everything has come to an end, for example, hate and vengeance aside, he still has memories that is worth smiling back at.
The power of hate and vengeance is so strong, so strong that it can make someone disregard and sacrifice everything.
“Meng Shao Jue.” I retrieve my hand, lightly saying: “Leave yourself the opportunity to be happy.”
“Ah-Lan.” He sighs, intimately pasting himself against my face, “You are my only opportunity.”
“No.” I calmly say: “I am not your opportunity.”
No one is anyone’s opportunity for happiness, because happiness is never reliant on someone giving it, but is something that two people mutually work hard on obtaining.
“You are.” He lightly says, tone filled with certainty, “Ah-Lan, do not doubt my feelings for you, I only want for you to accompany me, to accompany me to the end.”
I slowly shake my head, “But you are not what I want.”
“I will become what you want.” Gentle warmth shines in his long and narrow phoenix eyes, “Hua Cai Jin is nothing more than a pawn to me, wait until everything is over and I will come clean to you.” He pulls me into his embrace, firmly saying: “You will be my one and only wife.”
He says: “Wait for me.”
But Meng Shao Jue, I don’t like waiting for people, never have liked it.
Coming up, we have a 2-part side chapter of Meng Shao Jue’s (孟少珏) past, or shall I say, the story of Meng Han Yu (蒙瀚宇).
Remember, the two surnames sound similar, but they are in fact different characters, different clans 🙂