Now that I’ve decided Wallace Huo is my Meng Jiu, I’m going to make up for post-topping picture shafting him for chapters on end. My sister made fun of me for my Da Mo Yao drama casting freak out this week, since she mistakenly thought I had issues with Wallace being Huo Qu Bing. Er, no, that would’ve been fine by me. I explained the “new” Huo Qu Bing to her and she understood my grievances. That’s what sisters are for, right? The title for this chapter of DMY can also be translated as mourning or grieving. I think all three descriptions confer the same emotion really. I like how Yu Er described how love is impossible to control. Her heart fell in love with Jiu Ye despite her logically knowing he wasn’t reciprocating, and later her heart isn’t going to make it easy on her to get rid of him that easily.
One of the gripes in Bu Bu Jing Xin was how quickly it appeared that Ruo Xi got over 8th Prince and moved on to 4th Prince. In the novel many years had passed, but in the drama it felt like an episode at most. But time is an incorrect measure, because I always felt that Ruo Xi just wasn’t all that in love with 8th Prince at the time they broke up, so her moving cleanly on felt possible. Whereas in DMY, I felt like Yu Er genuinely was madly in love with Jiu Ye, and the rub was she probably was also in love with Huo Qu Bing but she refused to acknowledge it. So when one possibility ended, the other began, but it never really killed the first flame. To get over Jiu Ye, Yu Er is going to have to work really hard at it.
Chapter 29: Sorrow
My heart really hurts, so without considering the ramifications, I release a long howl to the moon. In a split second, all of Chang An breaks into a cacophony of dog barks and roosters crowing. In what was a dark house the lamplight is lit and people start talking.
I quickly tried to leave the scene of the crime without making any noise. As I took off running, I let out a small smile. A person ought to be able to find joy even during the sad moments. And if their lives are not filled with much happiness, people ought to learn to create their own joyful moments.
Sticking to the darkened corners of the streets, I clear my throat and let out another howl. The same reaction happens again. I howl to the East, I howl to the West, I turn the entire city of Chang An upside down with freaked out animals. The street starts to light up and even the guards at the government estates are nervous. Everyone comes out ready to capture a wolf. Some claim there are three or four, others say there are ten of them.
The beggars on the side of the streets become the most popular people in town. Crowds gather around them asking what they saw. Normally a beggar would never get so much attention, so they are all eager and excited to spout out and gesticulate as to what they saw. Their stories become more and more exaggerated and the crowds start to gasp in shock. Perhaps these days have been too quiet recently so people are not scared by their story and instead get more excited. They appear to be waiting for something exciting to happen.
My eyes shifted a few times and I thought that since I’ve already caused a commotion, might as well make it even bigger to make myself happier and make the crowds happier. I see a black-cloaked person walk past, and once I confirm the coast is clear, I jump down behind him and knock him out with a bat to the head. I take off his black cloak only to discover he’s a government official. Oooooops, this is not ideal. This is more serious that I intended. Oh well! I already knocked him out, it’s too late for regrets.
I put on the cloak and tie a handkerchief around my head. I hid on a rooftop and howl once more before starting to run along the roof tops. I’m chased by a crowd of government officials behind me, and lined all along the streets are people watching this show. When I almost kick a guard off the roof, some of the spectators actually clap in excitement. A lone hero can’t beat a hundred men, and the guards chasing me are increasing rapidly in numbers. It appears the entire guard retinue of Chang An is out to capture me.
Initially I wanted to taunt them a bit longer, but it turns out that some of them are actually not half bad at martial arts. In the beginning they were all randomly chasing me, but someone has taken charge and their pursuit has grown organized. I’m slowly getting chased into a dead end. Indeed I’m playing right under the nose of the Emperor! I’m impressed with their skill and hurry to find an exit. If I get captured, that ought to be interesting, but too bad I can’t afford to take that risk right now.
Because I don’t want to kill anyone, I withhold some of my strength and try to avoid them. I’m looking for a way out…..and I flip right into the backyard of the Huo Estate. The guards must know who owns this place so they don’t follow me inside. I secretly stick my tongue out at them. Likely a bunch of high level government officials will be knocking on the door in a few minutes, and Uncle Chen can kiss his sleep goodnight.
I sneak into Qu Bing’s room and peek inside. There are no maids keeping watch over him, he’s just sleeping alone on the pallet. I’m feeling upset and worried. How could Uncle Chen be so careless and not take better care of him?
I walk next to the pallet and lean over to check on him, when he suddenly opens his eyes. I yelp in shock and he immediately pulls me into his embrace. I’m enveloped snugly in his arms, leaving me laughing as I hit his chest “How dare you surprise me! No wonder there wasn’t a single maid around!”
He didn’t laugh and just said very seriously “I’ve been waiting for you this entire time. If you didn’t return by dawn, I was going to storm over there and grab you back.” I humphed at him “You’re a thief!” He laughed and kissed my forehead “That would make you the wife of a thief. Why are you dressed like this?”
I made a face at him and tried to struggle out of his arms. I took off the cloak and tossed it on the ground before removing the handkerchief tied around my head. “You’re in trouble now. Maybe tomorrow someone will tattle to the Emperor that you are secretly protecting a thief. Tonight I managed to cause a commotion to lure every government official out looking for me.”
He put his hands behind his head and laughingly asked “What did you steal?” I wrinkled my nose at him “Nothing, I just punked everyone for fun.” He furrowed his eyebrow and indicated for me to come over. I crawl under the blankets and snuggle in his arms “You don’t look like someone who was just ill. How are you this energetic? Are you uncomfortable anywhere right now?”
He frowned “Everything feels normal, but there is one area that’s uncomfortable.” I was immediately so nervous “Where? We’ll summon the royal physician at dawn tomorrow. No, let’s have Uncle Chen summon him right now.” I was about to jump off the pallet when he grabbed my hand and then slowly slid it down past his stomach “This area is quite uncomfortable.”
My hand could feel his arousal “You…..” I was so mortified and annoyed that my face was beet red. He laughed and lightly murmured in my ear “How long as it been since you willingly snuggled with me? So there is something good that comes out of getting sick. If I knew this, I would have gotten sick earlier. Since it’s such a rare occurrence for you to jump into my arms, if I didn’t have the appropriate reaction, I would be insulting the “icy cold beauty” that is you.”
I spit out “You’re a lech!” He kissed my cheek and sighed “Yu Er, are you willing to bear my child? I can’t marry you right now, but I’m going to be yours for this entire lifetime. It’s bound to happen sooner or later. If you don’t care about official titles, I don’t want to restrain myself anymore.” I turn sideways to avoid his kiss and didn’t have a chance to respond to his question when Uncle Chen was outside “Young master!”
Huo Qu Bing ignored him and continued to tease me and ask in a low voice “Yes or no?” I’m too afraid to breathe, worried that Uncle Chen will hear what is going on inside the room. But Qu Bing doesn’t care the least, and the more nervous I am, the more it gets him all into it. He decided to just kiss me on the cheek with a loud resounding smack.
“Young master! Young……” Uncle Chen’s voice trailed off into silence for some time before “Young master…..”
Huo Qu Bing said in an exasperated voice “Why do people keep interrupting at the most crucial moment?” He called out “What?” Uncle Chen explained “The Guard Master asks to see you, saying a thief appears to have snuck into our estate. He wants the young master to investigate and I came to ask you what to do?”
Huo Qu Bing replied “What so hard you need to ask me? Can’t you decide what to do?’ Uncle Chen stammered “Our estate is protected no less securely than the Palace, anyone entering would encounter dozens of dogs. Plus today there are rumors of a wolf commotion in the city. So I was thinking……thinking that…..” I can tell he’s having a hard time saying it so I help out “Uncle Chen, it’s me. I snuck into the estate tonight.”
Uncle Chen let out a sigh of relief “That was what I suspected, so I already sent the Guard Master home. But after that the an even higher official come by saying that a violent thief had knocked out the Crown Prince’s tutor with a bat to the head. The tutor is furious and has vowed that the thief must be captured, otherwise he’ll make sure the guard officials all get in trouble.”
Huo Qu Bing laid down and with a lazy expression turned to look at me. He flicked me on the forehead and said with a laugh “Fine! I’ll make a trip to the tutor’s estate in a little bit. There must be an even more dire situation involved, so tell me who else came by?”
I was already wondering why a high court official was all wrapped up tightly and wandering around Chang An late at night by himself. So this was what happened? I whisper in Huo Qu Bing’s ear and he laughed and gave me a strange look, shaking his head indicating he didn’t agree with me.
Uncle Chen piped up “Li Gan is here waiting for you, claiming he’s here on orders of General Li as the Palace Commander to ensure the safety of Chang An. He asks for your cooperation to make sure the assassin is caught.” Huo Qu Bing’s expression turned cold “Li Gan is calling the person an assassin?” Uncle Chen softly answered “Yes.”
The Palace Commander is in charge of the safety of the Palace, so if they are calling me an assassin, aren’t they asserting that I was planning to assassinate the…..Emperor? I pitifully say “I think I’m in big trouble now. With such a huge mountain falling down on me, is Li Yan intending to crush me to death?” Huo Qu Bing immediately said “Li Yan? What do you mean by that?”
I cover my mouth and just stare at him, my eyes shifting but I don’t answer his question. He shook his head “I’m not sure what is making you so worried.” He turned to Uncle Chen “Since third brother Li has already guessed it’s Yu Er, then don’t lie to him. Tell him the truth – it was Huo Qu Bing and my woman who got bored tonight and decided to play a prank. I’m sorry we disturbed them. Right now we’re resting on the pallet so if he wants to arrest someone tell him to barge right in. Since I’ve never seen the inside of a prison cell in Chang An, tell them I’m thanking them in advance for showing me around there.”
I pull his robe “You can’t say this, you can’t…..” Uncle Chen was outside and quiet for some time, and he finally said “Yes” and quickly left. From the sound of his, his footsteps are unsteady like he’s drunk.
I lay down on the pillow and make a face “Huo Qu Bing, are you purposely messing with Li Gan or with me? Why do I feel like you’re upset with me?” He laughed “Half and half, but my annoyance isn’t just regular annoyance, it’s unsatisfied bedroom annoyance.” He brushed my hand aside and kissed me on the nose “Li Gan is very thoughtful and this is a chess match he orchestrated. If I play the match with him, I might not win, so why not just play stupid and mess up his entire chess match. Let’s see what he does about that? If he gets upset and makes one wrong move, we can use that to taunt him.”
This man doesn’t follow the rules of military tactics and he does things without following normal protocol. If I’m comparing shamelessness with him, I will clearly lose. I turn around and lay down to sleep, deciding to ignore him. He laughed “So you’re just going to sleep?” I huff “It’s almost sunrise and I’ve been getting exhausted on the rooftops of Chang An all night. If you don’t let me sleep, I’m going back to my place.”
He embraced me from behind and softly said “Go to sleep!” I smile and then ask “In the morning, are you really going to pay a visit to the estate of the Crown Prince tutor?” He laughed “You call me shameless, but your behavior was pretty low as well. He’s the Crown Prince’s tutor and not a random stranger. I ought to pay him a personal visit.” Word is that the tutor has a shrew for a wife so he’s found a beautiful and elegant mistress on the side. He tried to keep this a secret, but when I ran the dancing houses I learned about all the juicy scandalous details about the court officials.
When I heard from Uncle Chen that the guy I knocked out was the tutor to the Crown Prince, I immediately realized that he was sneaking home from his mistress’s place. I gave Qu Bing an idea to send word to the tutor asking if his temper is more important, or his wife’s temper? The tutor will obviously let this issue go rather than escalate it. Who cares about some thief if he’s dealing with an irate wife. Too bad Qu Bing has decided to be a gentlemen on this matter.
My sleepiness hits and I yawn. He quickly says again “Go to sleep!” and I murmur a yes before falling into peaceful slumber.
When I wake up it’s already time for dinner, but Qu Bing is not home. Uncle Chen said he’s in the Palace and sent word that he’ll be late coming home so I should eat dinner first. I suddenly remembered that I left the house so quickly I didn’t say anything to Hong Gu, so I decide to go back to Luo Yu House.
The moment I enter the house, Hong Gu walked up “The Shi Enterprises…….:” She hit herself on the forehead “It’s not the Shi Enterprises anymore….Tian Cao sent word asking you to please visit the Shi Estate.” I hesitated so Hong Gu urged me “They are insisting you please go, apparently Jiu Ye is very sick.”
When I left last night he was not doing so well, so my heart remains concerned about him. I quickly say “I’m off to the Shi Estate. Please keep some dinner for me, and if nothing is terribly wrong, I’ll be home shortly.” Hong Gu smiled and said yes.
I arrive at the Shi Estate only to find Tian Cao sitting outside on a carriage waiting for me “I’ve been waiting for you! Jiu Ye is outside the city in the Qing Estate, I’ll take you there right now.” I quickly ask “What happened? If he’s not well, how come he left the city?” Tian Cao sighed “Jiu Ye was always prone to colds and this time he’s especially hit hard. He wanted to not worry you so he tried to pretend he was fine, but he lost consciousness shortly after you left. The royal physician was by and ordered us to move Jiu Ye to the Qing Estate.”
My heart was aching. I can’t pretend I don’t know why he got to be so ill. To cut off an emotion is already such a painful process, why can’t he stop trying to be considerate of me and start taking better care of himself? If something were to really happen to him, how could I bear it? How I could seek my own happiness if that happened?
It’s a blanket of chilly white frost in Chang An, but the Qing Estate benefits from the hot springs nearby and already the first signs of Spring are appearing. Some flowers and greenery are sprouting but neither Tian Cao nor I are in any mood to appreciate it. I run straight for Jiu Ye’s room. He was still unconscious and his forehead was burning hot. Sweat beaded down his face and I took the handkerchief from the maid “Let me do it!”
I’ve switched many handkerchiefs but his body temperature still doesn’t go down. His lips are starting to crack and I moisten a towel and gently wipe his lips. He’s so feverish but he keeps calling out “Yu Er” and each time he called me I reply “I’m here.” The pain in his face seems to lesson and he appears to smile. Tian Cao spoke up “Now you know why I insisted you come. Your presence makes a huge difference to Jiu Ye’s illness.”
Xiao Feng arrived and appeared to say something to Tian Cao, hopping around urgently. Tian Cao called me over but Xiao Feng wanted to object but Tian Cao ignored him. “Xiao Yu, I don’t want to keep anything from you. General Huo has sent someone to the Shi Estate multiple times to look for you. And he’s already been by personally even though it’s the middle of the night. If you want to leave, I’ll send someone to take you home.”
After keeping vigil all night, I can see that it’s almost sunrise. I’m so anxious with worry and exhausted that I simply sigh and walk back to the water basin to pour some cold water on my face. I look at the still unconscious Jiu Ye “No need. I’ll stay here until Jiu Ye wakes up.” It was until noon that Jiu Ye’s fever finally went down and my tightly wound heart finally relaxed slightly.
Jiu Ye opened his eyes and when he saw me, he smiled “They finally found you. Where did you run to in Xi Yu? I’ve turned that place inside out and still I couldn’t find a trace of you. Yu Er, please don’t be mad at me. It’s my fault. After I read all the handkerchiefs in your box, that was when I knew what a horrible mistake I made…..”
I was so shocked I wanted to say something but the doctor next to me shook his head. I walked over and gently said to Jiu Ye “I’m going to get a drink of water and will be right back.” Jiu Ye looked at me with worry and I smiled “I’ll be back after getting a drink. I won’t go anywhere.” His nervousness eased and he nodded his head.
I walked outside and Tian Cao spoke up first “Didn’t his fever break? What’s going on? Why is Jiu Ye not coherent?” The doctor explained “Don’t worry. After a prolonged fever, the fever has broken but he’s not fully conscious yet. His mental energy is weak and he’s thinking based on what he wants to remember and not based on rational thought. He will naturally try to forget the bad memories and just remember what makes him happy. After a good sleep he’ll regain coherence. But right now Jiu Ye musn’t be stimulated with anything negative. His body and mental state are in a relaxed and safe place right now, but it’s also highly vulnerable to shock. If you aren’t careful, he can get worse. You guys just let him talk and follow along. Try to get him to sleep, and after he wakes up, he’ll be all fine.”
Tian Cao looked at me and I nodded back. I walked inside and saw that Jiu Ye was staring at the doorway the entire time. He saw me come in and his face showed his unfettered joy. It’s a happiness that isn’t hidden with any other emotion and seeing it so suddenly makes my heart jolt. I assist Jiu Ye to rest on a comfortable cushion and take the food from the maid to feed him. He indicated for me to open the window.
Outside the window is a flowing hot spring. and the hot steam makes it feel like we’re in a fairyland. “……I heard that one time grandmother was playing the zither in this room and grandfather had to go discuss a business deal and had to leave. But he was reluctant to leave so he kept looking backward at grandmother as he walked out. So the servants call this corridor the “Turning Neck Corridor”, and when grandfather found out, he was happy rather than upset………” I don’t know when the room emptied out until it’s just Jiu Ye and me left. Jiu Ye’s voice is the only sound in this otherwise silent room.
He held my hand “Grandmother wasn’t in the best of health and she died before I was born. I often think of my grandparents walking along this corridor holding hands. If my life was half of what my grandfather experienced, then it will be worth it. Yu Er, am I too late with these words? Will you still let me view the flowers with you?”
My hands were trembling but he held on tightly. I didn’t answer for the longest time and his eyes started to show despair so deep and thick it could drown a person in it. It was so painful to see that I could feel my heart breaking into pieces. I nod my head with certainty “I’m willing. Once you are all better, we can go visit Tian Shan (the Sky Mountains) to see the snow lilies.”
My words are like a magic elixir and it calms the tempest in his eyes. His grip on my hands loosened and he started laughing with joy “The Heavens are indeed fair to me. Thank you for giving me Yu Er.” My eyes filled with tears. The Heavens, you are surely not fair. He lost his loved ones when he was young, he’s crippled, and even if he has all the riches in the world, it has turned into the world’s most vicious chain locking his freedom in a vise.
“Yu Er, are you crying? Did I make you cry again……” I forced a smile “No, I’m happy. The doctor says you need to keep calm and get plenty of rest. Do you want to sleep now?” He reached out and wiped the tears from my eyes and pulled me into his tight embrace. He’s so forceful it feels like he wants to lock me in his embrace forever “Yu Er, Yu Er, Yu Er….let’s never be apart ever again. Since you left, I’ve hurried to do everything so I can disappear from Chang An. Once I arrange everything, we can go to Xi Yu. Buy two of the fastest horses and we can quickly and thoroughly disappear.”
“Yes” and my tears continue to fall on his shoulder. He continued “I’ve always wanted to be a real doctor. Once I settle everything in Xi Yu, why don’t we open a small clinic. I can treat patients and you can gather medicine for me. I’m sure business will be swell.” I reply “With your talent at healing, business will be so good we will barely have time to even have tea.” He countered “That won’t work. Patients are important but I want to spend time with you. Why don’t we hang a sign that we’ll only see twenty patients a day.”
“Okay. And if anyone forces you to see them, I’ll kick them out.” “We can build a cabin in the Sky Mountains where we can spend the Summers.” Everything sounded so real I laughed “In the Winter we can go see the volcanoes.” “Yu Er, the fish in the Gu Nai Shi Lake are supposedly quite delicious. I can grill some for you. You’ve never sampled my grilled fish, right? It’s a recipe I perfected from the classic texts. Rumor has it that Huang Di (the first Emperor) himself ate it. I don’t know if it’s real or legend, but I’m sure the flavor is out of this world.”
“Um hmm, I heard the herders say that the Gu Nai Shi Lake waters change color with the seasons. It changes from blue to green to almost white, almost twenty different colors. I visited twice with the wolf pack so I’ve only seen two colors.” “Why don’t we live on the lake for a year then, so we can see all twenty colors. Yu Er, where else do you want to go?”
Jiu Ye fell asleep on my shoulder, his face relaxed and with a smile on his lips.
I gently place him on the pillow and turn around to look out the window. The sun is setting outside and the dusk is bathed in a blood red light. I turn back to look at Jiu Ye’s happy visage and suddenly all the strength in my body disappears. I sink down to the ground and stare at Jiu Ye and start bawling. But I don’t dare make any sound, so I bite down on my hands to keep myself from crying out. But my tears rush forward like an unending flood.
Dear Heavens, I pray of you, please be kind to him just this once. When he wakes up tomorrow, let him forget everything that happened today. Forget everything, forget everything……….