The night was cold, the blanket was warm.
I was woken up by Lu Hai Kong’s kick. Seeing the one beside me struggling, I sighed: “Here we go again.”
After escaping the capital, every night Lu Hai Kong didn’t sleep well. While sleeping, he’ll begin kicking. I pressed his legs. Only after he no longer struggled, will I loosen my hand.
Moonlight shone through the window into the inn. In the moonlight, I saw Lu Hai Kong’s forehead full of cold sweat. This little kid; at daytime he’ll pretend to be strong. But the night will betray him. No matter how strong, he couldn’t fight his nightmares.
In order to sleep for the rest of the night, I took him into my arms. Stroking his head, while saying like a lullaby into his ears: “It’s alright now. It’s alright now.”
When I woke up the following morning, Lu Hai Kong in my arms, was already staring at me.
I yawned: “Why didn’t you wake me up?”
He answered: “You didn’t sleep well last night. During the day I want you to sleep a little longer.”
I opened my mouth. No matter what I did, the half yawn left wouldn’t come out. This child is more thorough than anyone.
Going on the street to buy breakfast, I stood by a stall and said: “Give me four big buns.”
“Alright, that’s two pennies.”
The vendor wrapped the buns and handed them to me. I took out the money. There’s only one tael left and 3 pennies.
My savings! My money! All the money flew away on this road to the north. My heart hurt so much that I want to give them a few kicks.
I actually abandoned the comfortable life at Xiangfu? I actually abandoned it like that! I really want to slap myself. Little Xiang, for what purpose did you do it, ah? Not being selfish? Sacrificing for love? Is that really you? Why learn to be noble? Why be a savior? Are those things that you should do? Are they? Are they? Are they?
I was in my own world, only stepping out of it when the vendor said: “Miss, two pennies, please.”
I sighed and took out two pennies, exchanging it for four buns. I looked down right into Lu Hai Kong’s gaze. Seeing his right eye, I felt regret. I helplessly smiled in front of him. I’m just too kind-hearted.
While walking and eating buns with Lu Hai Kong, I asked: “Brat, we’re almost at the north. How much more do we have to go northward?”
Hearing my question. Lu Hai Kong was shocked again.
“Yun Xiang… you don’t know anything and just came with me? I pinched the buns and answered: “En, yes ah. I’m so simple and doesn’t understand things. I don’t know anything, it must be hard for you. On the way here, the scenery wasn’t bad. After I deliver you, I’ll just leave.” (she’s being sarcastic here)
Lu Hai Kong is still young. Hearing me say those words, he panicked. He grabbed my hand. Tightly holding it, he stared at me. His lips trembled, but no word came out of his mouth. It looks the same as the night, when he was tightly stuck in the doghole.
I didn’t know what kind of role I played in Lu Hai Kong’s heart at the moment, but I know that this kid’s heart wasn’t as calm as it appeared all the way here. Just the right place, the right words will defeat his strong and calm appearance.
My angry words were too much for him.
I looked at him for a moment and touched his head with my other hand: “I was joking with you, the north is too far. I’ll be afraid to go back alone.”
His tight grip on my hand loosened a bit. Suppressing the panic in his heart, he said: “I don’t hold anything against Yun Xiang. I just think that Yun Xiang should know, I…”
He didn’t know how to explain further. His ears drooped. With a face of surrender, he nestled against my body. Sticking his hand out, holding me tightly like holding a driftwood1.
“In the future, l’ll surely go back home with Yun Xiang. Then Yun Xiang will not be afraid anymore.”
Silly kid. Going from Heaven going the Nether world, then coming to the human world, I’ve never been afraid. Will I be afraid of that little journey? He’s too easy to deceive.
I separated Lu Hai Kong from me: “After you’ve eaten the buns, don’t rub your body on me. With your mouth full of oil, you’ll make my clothes dirty. The north is cold. The clothes are expensive. Where will we get one to change, ah?”
The little hands that were holding me, slightly stiffened. He buried his face deeper in my clothes: “You will… Yun Xiang will lead a life without worries and don’t need to wander anymore. It’ll happen very soon.”
Hearing him said those words, I became sentimental….originally I was living such life!
Three days later, we arrived in the biggest city at the frontier, Lu Liang City. This is also one of the largest military base.
After entering the city, I was about to go look for an inn, when Lu Hai Kong grabbed my hand. All the way he was asking people directions. We arrived at the mansion of the protector of this city.
I hold him tightly: “Don’t tell me that you walked all the way here to surrender! Do you think you can enter one of the court’s institution? You don’t want to live anymore?!”
Lu Hai Kong answered me helplessly: “Yun Xiang, my uncle lives here.”
So he came to seek help from his relatives. This relative of his didn’t seem simple. The sole protector of the north, guarding all this place. The whole north-west must be in his care.
I was pleased to see that our future days are taken care off. With my head straight in the air, I walked to the door. Lu Hai Kong couldn’t even pull me back. He began to dig for something in his chest. I stood in front of the door with the posture of Xiangfu Miss and called: “Hey, ask your protector to come out.”
The two guards swept their eyes over me. They stood there, ignoring me, like two statues.
I raised an eyebrow. Lu Hai Kong’s uncle had some skills. He trained the two guards very well.
I was about to say some more thing when Lu Hai Kong pulled at me. He took out a green cloth. He ripped the green cloth. An instant flash of gold, made my eyes hurt. I only heard Lu Hai Kong’s calm and steady voice: “The medal of general from the marshal military forces is here. Seeing the medal is seeing the person. I want to see your protector.”
I turned to look at Lu Hai Kong. Brat, every night you sleep with your hand clutching your chest. So this was the reason! He….he didn’t tell me that he was hiding something so important. Is it because he’s afraid that I’ve become crazy after being poor? Is he afraid that I’ll go pawn this gold medal?
I’ve to say that even at such a young age, he‘s good at looking through people.
The face of the guards changed colors when they saw the medal. The two exchanged a glance. One of them went inside the mansion, the other bowed: “Greetings general. Forgive me for the neglect.”
“Is the protector home?”
“We’ve already informed him.”
I was still pondering about how much longer do we need to stand here, when I heard quick footsteps coming.
Hearing his voice, he must’ve been practicing. The guard that went inside came out. Behind him was a man wearing armor. He looked handsome. Sort of looking like Lu Hai Kong’s father when he was young. This must be Lu Hai Kong’s uncle. In his hand he was still holding a sword and he was still wearing a helmet. His sweat was mixed with dust. He looked like he was practicing and rushed out here.
Lu Hai Kong stared at the man wearing armor. His eyes were heavy, full of emotions.
I didn’t understand. Coming to seek refuge at the relatives, seeing them, why didn’t they rush forward and give each other a big hug?”
It was silent for a very long time. Finally uncle broke the silence: “Lu Hai Kong.”
His deep voice that the men in the capital don’t have, not hoarse and mature, bring a manly feeling, making my eyes and ears bright.
Lu Hai Kong only said this word.
I felt my sleeves tightened. I looked down and saw Lu Hai Kong tightly grabbing my sleeves. He was so nervous that he didn’t dare to move.
I thought carefully. The news about us fleeing the capital must’ve already reached the north. The court didn’t search for us openly, but secretly they must be searching for us. Especially in this northern frontier. The court would’ve guessed that Lu Hai Kong would come here. Lu Hai Kong must’ve known his situation. But he couldn’t not come, because this is the only place where he could go.
And now he’s seeing his uncle, whom he’s never seen. He knew nothing about the other party, but he had to put his fate in this man’s hand. If uncle only sayd “catch them”, we could only wait patiently to be sent back to the capital.
Lu Hai Kong was taking a gamble between life and death. He bet his life in the hope that he’ll live. The inexplicable and uncomfortable was there in my heart again. The decision about life and death, seeking the hope of life, he put all of his chance and courage on the table to aim for a tomorrow. I held his clenched fists. Together we silently looked at the men in front of us.
“Heart in the sea, eyes in the sky2. Brother gave you a good name.”
Uncle laughed and stepped down the stairs. With one hand he pulled Lu Hai Kong in his embrace. Uncle patted twice fiercely on Lu Hai Kong’s back.
“Good boy, you must be tired from the long journey.”
Those two pats seemed like two slaps for my heart. I was afraid that Lu Hai Kong would vomit blood after those strong pats.
I looked at thin Lu Hai Kong. His eyes were red, full of tears. But he didn’t let them fall down. He gritted his teeth and said: “Not tired…It’s just that father…father and mother, they…”
Uncle touched his head: “I know.”
Lu Hai Kong closed his eyes. The tears in his eyes finally streamed down his cheeks.
This was the first time that he cried in front of someone since the incident.
At this time my heart felt a sense of loss. It’s not because he has found someone else to rely on, but it’s because I suddenly understood that after father Song set the general and his whole family on fire, Lu Hai Kong can never treat Song Yun Xiang the same again as when they were little. Never treating Song Yun Xiang as sincerely as before.
Even if there’s dependence, respect or even love, but there’s also a gap.
This child was strong, but he’s also fragile, intelligent and extremely sensitive.
- When a boat sink, people will hold onto the pieces of wood to not sink together with the boat. The woods are their life savers. Lu Hai Kong can’t go without Yun Xiang.
- 陆海空 ( lù hǎi kōng): 海=sea 空=sky