This is our little Dot’s first chapter as a translator since she joined. Hearty welcome once again, Dot!
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Translation and edits: Not-A-TL
The little boat was swaying with the wind, and the moon was hidden behind the clouds. There were only a few, scattered stars that could be seen in the dark sky. The lights near the river bank shone onto the surface of the water, and so He Yan could vaguely see her own reflection.
The guard rowed the little boat towards the ornately decorated ship in the center of the river.
He Yan hung her head and was silent. The guard couldn’t help but turn his head to look back at He Yan, and saw the girl sitting at the stern of the boat, upright, still, with both her hands tied with rope. She raised her head ever so slightly and stared at him, as if she was aware that he was looking at her. The guard shuddered, the oar clutched in his hand almost falling into the river.
Her cold stare stupefied him.
He couldn’t describe that eerie feeling. It was like a dead person was watching him. Combined with the sound of the wind-driven waves, she was like a ghost.
The whole ordeal was strange, and the guard was worried. She didn’t talk, and didn’t ask for anything. Any other woman would ask at least one or two questions, but He Yan didn’t. She was as quiet as a doll, as quiet as a dead person would be. It was completely silent.
The water seemed to glisten underneath the colors of the night sky. It acted like a whirlpool, bringing back the memories she had tried to forget, like the time Wan Ru had dragged her by the hair and drowned her in the pond.
She was once adept at swimming, but now, her entire body was tense and rigid, as if telling her she was terrified of water.
She was afraid of falling into the water below, afraid of being sucked into an endless whirlpool, and afraid that she wouldn’t be able to make it back to the surface. She was afraid that the light would move farther and farther away from her, until it was completely dark. She was afraid that her life would come to an abrupt end, and she couldn’t do anything about it.
She felt disgusted by her own cowardice and fear, but she couldn’t think of any other way. She could only sit silently in that small boat and allow herself to be rowed towards the ship.
The ship must have been owned by someone wealthy. It was slightly smaller than a cargo ship, but larger than a fisherman’s boat. The guard helped He Yan up into the boat, lifted the curtain, and escorted her in.
He then proceeded to leave in the small boat, as if he was ordered by others to not approach the ship.
He Yan stared at the person in front of him.
Fan Cheng was dressed well today, with clothing that was extravagant and expensive. Inside the cabin, an aromatic incense had been lit and there were softly-lit lanterns. Upon entering, the first thing He Yan noticed was the beautiful fragrance.
He Yan struggled to escape the whirlpool of memories that were spinning around in her brain as she faced Fan Cheng and said, “Fan Gong Zi.”
Fan Cheng walked towards, pulled a chair out from underneath a table, and made her sit on it.
“Ah He, you were wronged.”
He Yan was silent.
“I didn’t expect that woman to be so vicious towards you, going as far as to abduct you and tie you up. If I didn’t have somebody secretly protecting you, the consequences would have been unimaginable. Ah He, do you understand my pain now?” Fan Cheng lamented.
He Yan looked at the rope tied around her feet, shook her head, and replied, “I don’t understand.”
Fan Cheng’s guards had forced her into a carriage, rowed her in a boat, and then onto the ship where she was now. Not once did they untie the rope binding her hands.
Her wrists had ached as they chafed against the thick rope, but she hadn’t said a thing.
Fan Cheng stared into her eyes and tried to explain. “I was afraid you’d misunderstand me and refuse to board the ship, so I didn’t unbind the rope.”
However, even after saying this, he still didn’t do anything about the rope.
“I’m on a boat.” He Yan said whilst laughing. “Where could I possibly run to? It wouldn’t do any harm to untie me.”
Her smile was as radiant as the morning sun, unspeakably bright. Fan Cheng was stunned. He Yan wasn’t a very obedient child, so he didn’t think He Yan had grown up to be so bold and courageous.
The more he thought about it, the more he itched to reach out and stroke her face. He smiled slightly, kneeled in front of He Yan, looked her in the eyes and said, “Ah He, I’m not trying to keep you captive. You just need to understand your current situation.”
“My wife is known to be jealous. She will never let you go. Even If you decide to return today, she’ll try to find you tomorrow. Your father’s just a drill field officer, while my father-in-law is the right hand of the emperor. There are plenty of places where things could go terribly wrong if you decide to leave. In the end, nothing matters if you aren’t safe.”
“Your house is unprotected, with barely any maidservants and no guards. Once she catches you, she’ll torture you with her twisted ways. I-I won’t be able to bear it.”
Fan Cheng looked at her affectionately. “How could I stand to watch you suffer?”
“Oh?” He Yan exclaimed as she started to secretly unbind the rope. She quietly asked, “What are you planning to do?”
Fan Cheng was overjoyed at seeing her finally relax. “I’m going to hide you somewhere safe so my wife won’t be able to find you. There’ll be servants and guards waiting on you everyday. When the time comes, I’ll bring you back. Once you’re the mistress of the Fan family, nobody would dare to take advantage of you.”
“Mistress?” He Yan asked.
“Yes.” Fan Cheng said assertively as he placed a hand over his heart. “Ah He, you have been and will be the only one in my heart. I promise. If this marriage hadn’t been arranged long ago, I would’ve never married her! You need not worry, I’ll only love one person in this life – and that is you. You just need to wait…”
He Yan chuckled after hearing this.
Fan Cheng was taken aback.
“Aren’t you just trying to make me your outside mistress?” He Yan said softly.
It was true that if the He family’s eldest daughter was here, she would’ve been moved to tears by this oath. However, she wasn’t. It was clear. If a man wanted to cheat on a woman, he would be able to tell all sorts of lies. Why would Fan Cheng ever want to marry her?
If she hadn’t experienced the same thing with Xu Zhi Heng, she might’ve been tricked. Fan Cheng had looked at her the same way he did, as if she was pathetic and ridiculous.
“Ah He, you…” Fan Cheng frowned.
“Fan Gong Zi, I’ve already made it quite clear. Since you’re already married, I’m going to let go of our past and go separate ways. I have no intention in being entangled with you, and I’m hoping that you’ll stop bothering me.”
The knot on the rope had been loosened.
Fan Cheng didn’t see the rope fall to the ground, so he looked at her with a puzzled expression. After a moment of silence, he suddenly sneered. “He Yan, you must be joking. I’m coaxing you kindly, and yet you’re so rude! Entanglement? There are so many women in this world. Why would I continue pestering you? It’s just a pity that the time I spent with you was utterly wasted!”
“Does Fan gong-zi want me to repay the time I’ve wasted with silver or gold?”
He Yan found it ridiculous.
“I don’t lack money. Why don’t you give yourself to me instead?” He smirked. “If you serve me well, I may even pay you.”
Before He Yan could reply, a furious voice was suddenly heard. “What bullsh*t did you put in this?”
He Yan turned around to see the curtain lifted and a dripping-wet man walk in. It was He Yun Sheng.
An original fanart featuring He Yan by the very translator of this chapter, Not-A-TL aka Dot. (I was there to nag her all the time she drew *sweats*)
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