Hello! Happy weekend again. “I am just your plaything” is a cutting but accurate a reflection of the early interactions between Shang Guan Jing and Feng Jin, and the latter should really reflect on his deceit. True to character, he can still remain haughty when he should be begging for forgiveness but I thought his man-child struggle rather amusing; especially when it does not help Shang Guan Jing to forgive him. Ha! There are 2-4 more post before the story ends so lets see how the last arch wraps up….
Chapter 9 (1)
Five days later.
In the dusky wilderness, 3 horses speed past a stone forest when suddenly, the first horse veers off track as its rider sways haphazardly on its back. The horse jerks to a stop and its rider collapses on its mane. As she jerks back from the rebound, she would have fallen off the horse if not for the second rider who has rode up and catches her. The second man is dressed in all white, which is a complete contrast to his current mood. As he plucks her unceremoniously off the horse, he barks at the third rider. “We will camp here for tonight!”
Yan Ying nods and starts tending to the horses. Five days ago, he has forsaken the shadows for the light (literally) so that he can protect his master and poor mistress more effectively as they journey to the Western Seas. The journey is long and silent but only an idiot can miss the stormy undercurrents between the other 2 travelers. Whenever possible, he would steer as far as possible from the couple as he can.
Shang Guan Jing was severely injured during the fight in the forest and has not recovered from her injury. By right, she should be bedridden had it not been for her insistence to return to Yu Ling Peak with upmost haste. As she is ‘escorted’ forcefully to sit on a grass patch in front of some boulders, she can feel a pool of blood building up in her throat. Physically, she is very frail but she knows that it is her mind that is more at risk of breaking down. Her mind has been in constant turmoil since five days ago, and she dares not think too deeply to what will happen next, nor analyze what has passed least she finds more evidence to show that she is even more stupid than she already is.
She swallows hard to keep the blood down and when she has controlled the urge to vomit, she opens her eyes and sees a pill resting on an outstretched hand in front of her. Wordlessly, she takes the pill and swallows the ‘Dragon’s blood’ before crossing her legs to meditate and direct the qi in her body. She would have given a lot to turn down the pill but she is in a hurry and can ill-afford to cause further delay when she is in no shape to travel.
Despite her misgivings, ‘Dragon blood’ is admittedly good stuff and is what that has kept her going. After half an hour of meditation, her breathing is back to normal and she opens her eyes. He is still kneeling in front of her and for a fleeting second when she looks into his eyes, she thought she saw something real in its depths. But she dares not linger on his eyes for long and turns her face away.
In the distance, peals of thunder rumbles through the sky and she sighs. “Why are you doing this?”
Feng Jin lights up at the first words she has spoken to him in days. “Why am I doing what?”
Why had he let her leave Nan Man, only to follow closely behind?
Why was he angry at her insistence to leave, only to be so concerned about her health?
Or why did he trample on her feelings, only to stick to her side like glue when she wanted an out?
Shang Guan Jing does not dare think too much and shakes her head. Her distant attitude irks our dear Master Feng and the sound of thunder grows closer and louder. He knows that she is referring to his concern – which she still dare question when she has been equally dishonest with him? In his opinion, it is the infuriating woman who has shortchanged him!
“Hmph! Why am I what? Following you? Since you are so set on leaving, does it makes any difference what I say? Or are you expecting me to beg you to stay?” His tone is light and sarcastic but his hands under his sleeves are clenched tightly which hinted that he is not as cool as he sounds. “If you want to leave, leave by all means! I am only doing I what I need to do when you passed me the token.”
When this finally got her to look at him, he smirks. “The token was a gift from our former Feng Zhu to your teacher’s ancestor and given the circumstances that it has been returned, can I ignore the unmistakable plea for help? As the current Feng Zhu, it is my responsibility to take care of the matter. Can I wash my hands off the matter even if I wanted to? Do I have a choice?”
When she gapes as if shocked, he panics and shots off his head. “I have sent someone to check out the situation on Yu Ling peak and she should be back within the next 2 days. You need not push yourself so hard if your body cannot keep up. Afterall, this is no longer your business and unlike me, someone can choose to wash her hands off this matter once she has thrust the token to me. Isn’t it so, Ms I-have-accomplished-my-mission?”
Shang Guan Jing is not feeling well and cannot really absorb all that he is saying. But the words ‘responsibility’ and ‘choice’ ring heavily in her mind. As she looks at his face covered with pink patches, it occurs to her that the patches will soon deepen into a dark red and make him look ‘freakish’ again. He will continue to bleed on every full moon night and at that time, where would she be? Who will be there with him?
She mutters the first words that come to mind. “Once this is over, you should write a divorce letter for me…”
A crack of lightening blasts through the heavens and lands in a sport not far from where she is. It hit a boulder which splintered into sand and dust. Feng Jin is so angry that he is visibly shaking. His eyes gleam with a vicious light and he stares so hard at her that he might just to laser a hole through her. Finally, he laughs. “There is no need to be so troublesome to settle our score. The solution is really easy.”
She does not understand and feels another chocked feeling of blood rising up her throat. As she fights the urge to cough out blood again, she hears him continuing coldly. “Just imagine. If I erase your memories and make you marry more one more time, won’t that solve everything?”
It became her turn to glare a hole through him and in her distraction, she fails to control her cough… and cough, and cough. Her face turns a dull red from and pretty soon, her lips and chin are covered in wisps of blood. As she closes her eyes at the discomfort, she missed seeing the thundering face of the man before her, nor the worry and regret in his eyes.
Alas, even if he is powerful, his magic cannot let him eat his words, damn….
Scum, Scum, Scum!
He does not know if he is scolding her or himself but who cares? Scum!
The night of camping outside the stone forest is destined to be a sleepless one. His wife is giving him the cold shoulder and as much as he would rather she hit him, scold him, quarter him, reality is always worse than imagination. He hates her indifference the most – and of all things, that seems to be her choice of method in dealing with him.
And she dare mention a letter of divorce! Double scum!
If a person’s soul is made up of 10 parts, 7 parts of his has already vaporized from anger. To prevent him from doing something stupid that he may regret later – like erasing her memories for real – he cast a protective spell around her and storms off.
He should not have walked far but he seems to have entered a lush forest. When he recognized the familiar green grass beneath his feet and the surrounding trees and shrubs, he realized he must have fallen asleep and in his dreams, he has retuned to Nan Man.
He is back in the forest that he knows like the back of his hand. Fog envelopes the trees and visibility is limited, but he strides confidently forward. As he follows a path that will lead to a clearing, he suddenly sees Shang Guan Jing front of him. Her outline is a little vague but he can see the faint smile on her face. “Jing!”
She did not turn around as if she did not hear him and disappears behind a curve.
Even though it is a dream, he can feel his heart constricting dully in his chest. His runs after her but cannot reach her even as he ran till he pants. “Jing!”
“Are you looking for me?” He swings around and sees her standing behind him. Her face is still a little fuzzy and her faint smile is still in place. “Yes, I am looking for you.”
“Looking for me? Why?”
“Because you are my wife.”
She shakes her head. “I am just your plaything.”
He glares at her and reaches for her hand. Unfortunately, he only grasps air.
She turns her back to him once more. “I’m leaving.”
“No!” He quickly grabs her from behind even as sweat breaks out on his back. He buries his face in the crook between her ear and neck and tightens his grip on her waist. “I am not letting go.”
It is both a command and plea but she is unconvinced. “I am no longer fun to play with; you should be looking for another toy.”
“No! I only want you. Only you. I love…. love….” What or who does he love? His words trail off and he listens intently to the voice in his heart.
He loves her. The truth is so bare and obvious that it is as naked as a newborn babe.
He can see it now – what he loves, what he wants, what he cannot afford to lose – but he is going to lose her anyway.
He is going to lose her.
Ten days later.
The sword wound on Shang Guan Jing’s shoulder has mostly healed although her internal injury is another matter. ‘Dragon’s blood’ may indeed be excellent but it is not a miracle drug nor can it heal heart ailments as her emotions continue to be in an upheaval.
She knows she is pushing herself but despite the difficulty, she believes she can pull through. Feng Jin’s mood has darkened to perpetual thunder-cloud status and she dares not think too deeply of what this means. Luckily, she has finally reached to foot of Yu Ling peak and at this moment, she listens intently to the report by Zi Ying, another of Feng Jin’s guard, who has just returned from Yu Ling Peak. True to his words, he has indeed sent people ahead to find out what is going on at Yu Ling Sect.
The bad news is: under the leadership of her seniors, there is a large number of “house-guests” at Yu Ling Sect. Many of them are swordsmen with unsavory reputation in the jiang hu who seems to have gathered under the lure of treasure.
The good news is: her fourth brother-in-law has arrived with his men yesterday. They have stormed up the mountain and rescued Fourth Shi Mei from the dungeons.
Shang Guan Jing is relieved to hear that Fourth Shi Mei has no major injuries and half her burden disappeared. As she races up the mountains and through the halls of Yu Ling Sect, she is saddened to see destruction in the once familiar surroundings. From the broken furniture and overturned plants and décor starting from the main gate to the hall, the recent turmoil suffered by the sect has left its mark.
With the appearance of fourth brother-in-lay, many ‘house-guests’ have fled the mountain and some who have chosen to remain is fighting with the burly men from the Western Desert. She wants to help the men from the Western Seas but a hand reaches out to grab her firmly by her uninjured shoulder. “What do you think you are doing?”
“Let go of me.”
She did not even look at him and Feng Jin nearly blows his top again at the dumb woman who seems to want to join a fight when she has barely recovered. He tightens his grip but Shang Guan Jing is no pushover. Twisting to one side, she skips clear of his restraining hand and rushes forward. “Jing!”
Behind them, Zi Ying widens her eyes in shock. She has never seen anyone disobeying Feng Zhu before and looks at Yan Ying in confusion. The latter merely shrugs since he has seen enough along the journey here and Zi Ying has to bite her lips hard or risk her employer hearing her amusement at his meekness.