Finally! The moment of truth. It took a while to get here and my eyes just keep rolling each time Feng Jin opens his mouth. How did he get the cheek to be so high-handed when he has lied and deceived Shang Guan Jing for so long? This is typical 恶人先告状 (the villain calling the police to arrest the good guys) but just so him. The balance of power has subtly changed and I love to see what else develops next week. Happy weekend dear reader!
Chapter 8 (‘cont)
Feng Jin snorts scornfully and looks down on Nineteen. “Shorty.”
Little Nineteen is indignant and hops from one plump foot to another. Granny is tickled by their antics and grabs Nineteen by the collar. “Since the star of the show has appeared, let us leave them alone and not cause further trouble.”
Before she drags Nineteen out of the door, the old woman leaves Feng Jin with a parting shot. “Sort out the mess and once everything is settled, do bring great-granddaughter-in-law to meet everyone officially at the ancestral home. And hold another wedding since everyone is present. We have been waiting for the day you get married for ages and ages. Surely, you will not disappoint us right?”
Feng Jin does not answer and waits for them to leave before settling down beside the bed. Shang Guan Jing struggles to sit up but pain from her chest makes this task difficult. She bites down hard on her lips to prevent a sound of pain from escaping and finally manages to prop herself up. Feng Jin wants her to lie down but she ignores his curt command and tries to find a position that is not too painful. Even if he would love to help, he wisely kept his hands by his side.
When she finally manages to sit upright and gets her breath back, she stares at him for a long time thinking on what to say. “So you have finally decided that I’m fit to see your servants? All this time, I have wondered why I only recall seeing vague shadows when the reality is that they are really mere shadows because they are made from paper. What about Zhu Yu and Niu Da? Are they made of paper too?”
Feng Jin grimaces inwardly at her accusing tone at the same time he is ticked off by her cool attitude. “None of the servants who work in this house are human.”
Although she is mentally prepared, Shang Guan Jing is still surprised by his admission. What kind of magical world has she stepped into? She smiles grimly. “No wonder Zhu Yu is forever worried that you will tear her up and burn her in the furnace if she doesn’t do her job well.”
The jiang hu is full of strange happenings and even though she thought she has seen a lot, it is only at this instant that Shang Guan Jing realized just how lacking her education is. And to be fooled around like a monkey…
“I heard Yan Ying calling you ‘Feng Zhu’. So are you the current leader of the Diao family? Teacher said that the token will lead me to you but I have not expected the token to lead me straight to you when I first arrived.”
Feng Jin listens intently and did not move a muscle. His air of command is unmistakable and Shang Guan Jing senses somehow that he is now revealing his true side to her. Surprisingly, this revelation help dispels some of her unease and fear of the stranger before her.
“Since Nineteen is your cousin and the old woman is your great grandmother, your name should really be ‘Feng Jin’ since that is what they call you. But your full name should be ‘Diao Feng Jin’ is it not? And your whole family already knows about our marriage and I have in fact, met all of them. My god, what a fool I am to be asking everyone about the Diao family when I’m right in their midst all the time…”
Her smile turns a litter bitter as things that have previously puzzled her finally fall in place. “The villagers fear you not because you look different but because they know who you really are. As for the young woman whom you treated, I had thought you are joking when you said that you can erase her memories so that she can start afresh.” Thinking of how hard he must have laughed at how gullible she is, her eyes filled with tears. “But it is not a joke isn’t it?”
The more she recounts the past, the angrier Feng Jin becomes. He does not feel remorseful for lying to her – sorry, that is just not in his make up – and just hear how cool she sounds! Her mild sarcasm, her tears…. #$&^%!!! He doesn’t care for the uncomfortable feeling when she cries. When she did not continue even after a long time, he barks. “Why have you stopped? Carry on! Speak what is on your mind! I am still listening.”
Seeing that he does not seem the least bit apologetic, Shang Guan Jing’s own anger mounts. “You are bluffing are you? The crap about bleeding on every 15th day of the lunar month; it is not any curse or illness at all right?!” Her body starts to quiver in anger. “I bet you are lying about that too, am I right?”
“Yes, I lied to you.” He admits openly, his eyes sharp. “I am the current head of the Diao family and am probably the most powerful person born into the family so far. My skin is discoloured at birth and according to the clan elders, it is probably because I have a higher mix of phoenix blood in my body than others. In any case, I am the only one in my family history who is born like that.”
He shrugs. “But power comes at a price and to bleed on each full moon is my bane to bear. Anyway, it is only bleeding from the facial orifices. it is no big deal. If I avoid using magic 24 hours before the rise of the full moon, I may not even bleed sometimes.”
“So your bleeding and discomfort were all an illusion that night?”
He did not answer which she took as acknowledgement until she recalls something. “The 2 oxens who suddenly charge at you…”
She starts coughing at her own naïveness. Her chest aches badly with each constriction and she starts slipping off the bed. Had not Feng Jin not reach out a hand to steady her, she would probably have fallen off the bed.
Face foul, he gathers her close and pats her back in hopes that she will breathe easier. Shang Guan Jing also tries hard to control her coughing but it is a while before she can speak again without each word burning a hole through her chest. “My teacher wanted me to give you the token and has said that you will know what to do next. Do you?”
Feng Jin did not answer. He can smell blood in her breath and in his mind, he replays the moment when she leap through the air to protect him, only to be hit from behind and knifed through the chest.
How has he bear to see that happening at that time, he does not know. At that moment, his chest has felt as if the sword has pierced through him from the pain he felt. Why was he able to stand idly by while she gets hurt? Perhaps in his subconscious, he wanted to her to be in pain, to suffer the same anguish he is feeling. But he no longer feels that way now. Just how had he been able to stand by and watch her get hurt?
Parting her hair, he drawls slowly. “Several generations ago, someone in the family left Nan Man to settle down elsewhere. We do not know his exact whereabouts but we heard that he finally settled around the Western Seas where he discovered a valuable ore mine. But I prefer the other version for the story….”
After her coughing and wheezing stops, he places her gently on the mattress and pulls the blanket over her. Throughout it all, Shang Guan Jing can barely keep her eyes open. She can feel his hand playing with her fingers that are exposed outside the blanket but she is too weak to protest at his touch. “So what is the other story?”
“The other version goes that that the Feng Zhu at that time was gay and he has fallen in love with his cousin. To keep things from being too complicated, the cousin who is my uncle of don’t-know-how-many-generations-removed, decided to leave home and have a clean break. Before he left, the Feng Zhu gave his personal token to his cousin for remembrance. The carvings on the token is actually a safety spell so the intent of the Feng Zhu is to protect his beloved cousin from harm.”
“So my teacher’s token…?”
“Your teacher is probably a descendant of the Diao family member who left Nan Man at that time. When I first saw the token, I noticed that there is a new spell written over the safety charm,. I believe your teacher knew how to cast spells and have added a new spell before giving it to you. I have told you before that your appearance in the cave is like a key that will unlock the presence of the token.” The concept of a new charm built on top of an old charm is very interesting, so naturally he has taken a second look when he had the chance.
“Unlock? Yes, I remember now. Er Shi Ge mentioned that the token is the key to enter the stone cave at the top of Yu Lin Peak. He believed that there are treasures inside and he has wanted me to hand over the toke. But I cannot do that. I cannot give him the token at all cost….”
Her voice breaks as she remembers the fights they had over the token. There has been confusion, fear, bitterness, but now there is something she must find out. “My Da Shi Jie and Er Shi Ge, are they…. are they still… alive?”
“What do you think?!”
He is as prickery as a porcupine right now, out to draw blood from whoever who dare touch him. But despite his visible anger, she needs to know. “Did you bury them?”
“Do I look like the type who need to clean up after rubbish?”
Even if she has fallen out with her seniors, Shang Guan Jing is grief-stricken by the fate of her Da Shi Jie and Er Shi Ge whom she has grew up with. Finally, when she can get around the lump around her throat, she mutters. “Finally, I have found the Diao family and accomplished what my teacher wanted me to do.” Trying to avoid her injured area, she takes out her leader’s token with some difficulty and hands it to him. “Since this belongs to the Diao family in the first place and since you can understand my teacher’s instructions, please take this back. As for me, I have finally accomplished what I need to do.”
Feng Jin has been putting up with her resentment but patience has never been his strong suit. “What do you think you are doing?!”
She smiles weakly. “I need to return back to Yu Ling peak and I need to leave as soon as possible. My Fourth Shi Mei is trapped there and I need to rush back for her.”
He glares at her. “So you are angry with me, upset with me. But you have also said that you will remain in Nan Man! Why have you changed your stance?!”
Shang Guan Jiing is unfazed. “I need to rush back.”
Feng Jin is right that she is angry over his deception and hates being played for a fool. But there is no rule stating that a person cannot go back to from she came from, especially now that she has accomplished her mission. Why can she not return home?
Feng Jin is incensed. Outside the room, peals of thunder boomed over the land. As he lifts his face to glare at her, the curtain of wooden beads hang over the door explode and the threads snapped and beads spew all over the room. “You are angry because I tricked you? You dare to get angry when you have tricked me in equal measure?”
Shang Guan Jing meets his eyes without flinching. “No, I did not.”
“Did not?! You dare say ‘did not?’!” He laughs coldly. “When I asked you if there is anyone waiting for you back at Yu Ling Peak, how did you answer me? You said no, there is no one waiting for you. You lied! I saw you with that cursed Bo Lan Zhou when he came to you in the forest! You two were obviously an item! The moment he appeared and talked to you, you started crying….”
He is so angry that could not see through the black haze that has fallen over his eyes. He struggles to control his anger and bites out hatefully. “You let him come close to you; touch you. Have you forgotten that you are married? You are my wife! If I do not agree to let you go, you can forget about going anywhere!”
She has never thought that she is the crying sort but her eyes blurred with tears and they trickle down her face at his unreasonableness.
“Why are you crying?!” Angry and frustrated, it is hard to imagine that he has ever been gentle and considerate.
“I want to go back.” She is blacking out and need to put all her strength into her words. “And I am going back come what may.”
His answer to her is a sharp crack of thunder that exploded outside the room.
But Feng Jin has not known that there is always a higher peak beyond the highest mountain. When his wife starts coughing and coughing, until she curls up in pain like a cooked prawn, shaking like a leaf in the wind, even the most powerful Feng Zhu ever born can only let the thunder rumble while he hugs her close, at lost at how he can help her.
Finally, at his wits end, he cast a spell under his breathe and curses his wife to a sound sleep….