Proofreaders: Gwen, Red, and LSL
Cold Sands ch16
And here's our second update due to popular demands. <u< NSFW warning
XVI Pains of Farewell
My first reaction is to shrink back as though I’ve been burned. He furrows his brows and holds me back by the waist, not letting me go.
“Xin,” he breathes near my face.
“Wait!” I tilt my head away to let the cool wind hit my face. My mind is a murky mess right now as if it’s been cluttered up. I can’t make sense of anything.
It’s not the first time I’ve seen this kind of thing.
I’ve been well acquainted with the queer preferences of the wealthy and the powerful, whether I was working in the Golden Guardian, or wandering through the red-light districts or after I became a deputy general in the army. Nowadays, no matter where you go, keeping young boys and playing with male whores no longer is something done under the table. I’ve gotten used to this fact growing up in a high-ranking official’s home.
But I’d never thought this kind of thing would happen to me.
Okay, I admit I haven’t amounted to much. I always keep a carefree attitude and never get serious but that’s all a facade. I’ve always looked down on those sons of the rich who put on an act and fool around with others’ love.
I look back at Murong Yu.
He’s still in the same position as previously. The fire in his eyes seems to have dimmed but it jumps back to life shortly after a spark.
I don’t know why he has made such a sudden utterance but now a lot of the questions I had has been answered.
I don’t know how much of it is true and how much of it is false either, but I can’t afford to get caught up in it either way. If it’s false and he just wants to put on a play with me to relieve himself of boredom, then naturally, I would have no interests in costarring. If it’s true—all that stuff about understanding and supporting each other—then I must try even harder to avoid it.
He moves his hand up, over my waist, across my chest and finally stops at my forehead, drawing back the stray strands of hair.
I crack a bitter smile. “We’re both men.”
“I know,” he replies simply and holds me a bit tighter. “But I just can’t help myself.”
His light breath hits my neck as he whispers by my ear. It’s so warm I almost can’t believe it.
What a familiar scent.
This comforting feeling is so wonderful. When I was wounded, when I had a nightmare and when I was in danger, it was this feeling that kept me company the whole time. I’ve hesitated but now I raise my arms and wrap them around him.
“I like you and I’ll protect you,” he says. “I won’t let another nightmare haunt you when you’re in my arms.”
A smile tugs at my lips. Is that a confession?
If I could, I really wish I could be a normal person and live without being tied down to anything in the world. Just go to some faraway place and spend the rest of my life as a free spirit.
But then I met this guy.
I press a finger to his lips. “Shh. Just listen.”
It’s an autumn evening with clear skies. A cool breeze glides by. The branches and vines in the forest sway in the wind, swishing in the tranquil night. The weeds and grasses out in the plains dance along the wind. Once in a while you can hear quiet neighs of horses.
He flashes a puzzled look at me and I chuckle.
“Do you hear it?”
“The wind.” He perks his ears to listen and then laughs. “But I’ve heard so much I’ve gotten used to it. What’s so special?”
I clear my throat and look off into the distance. “There’s nothing in the world that’s freer than the wind, in my opinion. I got bullied a lot as a kid, and I’d dreamt that I’d leave these mansions and their gates when I grow up and live life like the wind, free to do whatever I wish with nothing to hold me down. I can stop and enjoy the world when I want and when I wanna leave I won’t have anything to miss.”
“Murong,” I pause and look at him. “Don’t you understand? That’s the kinda life I want. You and I, we’re destined to have different paths. You’re the son of heaven. You should be reigning above all and hold the authority over life and death, enjoying glory beyond description. I just wanna be like the clouds or the wild cranes and indulge in the beauties of nature. I wanna be a free spirit with no worries.”
He shakes his head and draws closer, pulling me in tighter.
“In your dreams,” he says in my ear.
Without another word, he keeps hugging me, his heated breath brushing my ear.
I feel my face heating up again—stupid face.
“Han Xin, your wish sounds nice and all, and you’re right. We do have different things in mind. But, men born into this world should follow their destinies and make a name for themselves. Being born into the house of the emperor, it’s inevitable for me. If I don’t fight, there’s no guarantee that they’ll let me be. There isn’t a moment that the power game stops, that is, until you either succeed or die trying. If that’s the case, then I’d rather put in my all. With brains and talents like yours, why don’t you come help me? I can promise you that I will treat the people of Rui as equals when I ascend the throne. Once the lands are united, there won’t be any more suffering from wars and the people can settle down and live a secure life. When that happens, Han Xin, I will grant you whatever you wish, whether it be peerage or the position of minister, or retirement to the countryside. What say you?”
I drop my gaze and say in a hollow voice, “I don’t have any interest in wealth. I only want to live freely away from civilization.”
“I know what you’re worried about. We’re two men from two different countries, not to mention all the other stuff-.”
“Murong Yu, I wanna leave.”
He freezes and stares wide-eyed at me. His words get stuck and stay stuck.
“I’m really tired of it all. I wasn’t made for the political world and neither was I made for the battlefield. I might have a fairly significant background but I still don’t like that kinda life. I’ve been here under an awkward title for long enough and I’ve just rubbed Yuwen Yuan the wrong way. I really don’t know how long I’d last.”
Then for some reason, I chuckle. “I wonder how cold it gets in winter in the Yan capital.”
He pauses before speaking. “I’m not gonna let you go. All this that happened between us...you think you can just put an end to it by saying you wanna leave? Plus, he doesn’t even know that you’re mine.”
“So I can’t let you go.”
I look into his eyes and put my hand on the back of his hand. “So you mean from now on, I’m gonna have to live under your protection for my whole life?”
He drops his head and stays quiet, his gaze wandering restlessly but never leaving my face. “We’re both lonely people. You should know how unbearable it is.”
Yes, we are the same kind of people—completely filled with loneliness on the inside.
We have many other similarities: our personalities may be completely different but inside, we’re the same. We might be careless with trivial matters but we are always calm and rational at critical times.
I drop my gaze so I don’t have to look at him.
I’m not that quick when it comes to relationships but I’m not stupid. I might have never noticed before but who knew that all those little things would seem so evident after he made the last move.
I have never forgotten about Murong Yu’s status and position just as I cannot see through my cloudy past.
“I just hate your mind wandering.”
I hear his unhappy voice. Surprised, I turn and his lips are already aiming for mine, bringing an intense scent. He is relentless and doesn’t give me a chance to run. It’s not a passionate kiss but a tender one. His breath is like fire and the heat of his lips makes me swoon.
I must admit this guy is really good at kissing.
His arms are still taut, trapping me within his embrace. My mind’s starting to blank out again as I feel his lips burn mine. Involuntarily, I even start to reciprocate. He shudders and stops for a moment before pulling me deeper into his embrace and caressing me even more tenderly.
This kiss and this tender caress hold an affection so rich…how could I possibly refuse?
I battle with myself for a second and decide to give up. I tilt my head back to welcome his lips.
I don’t know. All I know is that I’m not taking it passively, nor am I enduring anything.
Am I devoting myself?
I don’t know either. All I know is that this kiss is too wonderful. I’m not devoting my everything but I cannot turn away from it.
It seems to last an eternity.
When we let go of each other, we’re breathing raggedly. A mystifying feeling seems to unfurl, enshrouding us like fog or smoke.
“Xin.” He looks deep into my eyes.
I regard him and form a ghost of a smile. “Promise me you’ll let me leave after tonight.”
He frowns and his lips tighten into a line. I spot fury in his eyes.
“You know I can’t stay here long. Neither of us wants to see me getting taken back to the Yan capital as a prisoner. So I’m imploring you: let me go, let me leave this place.”
He cracks a tiny smile yet his eyes are ice cold. “You’re leaving me no choice.”
“You know I’m only going to be a burden if I stay here. The duchess, Yuwen Yuan, and all those eyes around you, you might be able to shut them up but you can’t stop their heart. Murong Yu, there are more important things for you than me. Your father might love you but he wouldn’t allow you to like a man, would he?”
“And the duchess’ father. You don’t have any support from your mother’s side so you’re gonna have to rely on your in-laws for support. Are you sure you wanna anger the powerful Left Prime Minister?”
“You’re just turning me down.”
“No, I’m merely pointing out the truth.”
And it certainly is the truth.
Murong Yu’s power is still too weak. It’s still dubitable whether he’ll be able ascend the throne with only the Yan emperor’s love and his innumerable war merits. He needs his soldier’s support and even more so the protection of the powerful and wealthy.
He keeps his strangely shiny gaze on me. “I can’t let you go,” he repeats in a raspy but determined voice. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to see you again if I do.”
Silly…. I chuckle out loud and reach for his shoulders, pressing my lips on his.
In my own impression, I always use a smile to hide everything. I always keep my distance from others. I never believe. I never get intimate. I never depend. I never shed tears. There’s always only me facing the world on my own. I would doubt the meaning of my life whenever loneliness slowly ate away at me. All that’s left after the extravagance is fatigue and exhaustion.
He’s so gentle. He’s so caring. His words always tug on even the toughest of my heartstrings. Perhaps after I leave him, I’ll only be able to reminisce in my dreams on the darkest of nights about this warmth that I once had.
That’s right. We have no future.
Smiling, I open my eyes to see the stars twinkling against the midnight skies extra brightly tonight. Their sparkles seem to lament the immeasurable, yet unalterable fate of men.
In this world, there’s only him and there’s only me.
So please, let me be greedy for just now. Let me hang onto this transient warmth. Let me give free reins to my feelings just this once. Let me remember his warmth and his kiss, let this moment be the most longing one of my life, and let him be engraved in my heart, for this life and all the ones to come and never fade away.
Hot steam meanders in the air, floating idly.
Bathed in warm spring water, I feel all relaxed and even a bit sleepy. I’m resting on Murong Yu’s chest while he on the side of the spring, both of us with our lower halves still in the water. I don’t know when he had found this spring and had just followed him in without a thought. The spring has washed away the alcohol buzz and has brought forth lust.
On his tall nose bridge is a dab of moonlight. His nostrils are moving rapidly as he breathes hard. He pushes me down. Our clothes have long disappeared and our naked bodies are skin against skin, ear against ear. We gently caress and grind against each other. I pant as I look into his dark eyes that now seem to hold two balls of flame, and read the desires that lie within.
Any man would understand them.
I can’t help quivering from the lightest of his touches. He’s kissing my lips while his hands wander all over my body, expertly teasing me. His palms are scorching like the spring water, pushing me high into the clouds. Shakily, I try to keep my moans in.
I let my eyes close halfway as I pant quietly in between his passionate kisses. His tongue squeezes into my mouth, sweeping over every little place. He nibbles and sucks on the tip of my tongue and a violent shudder runs through me. I’m so hot and limp that I can’t do anything but let him hold me tighter.
He wraps me close in his arms and caresses me carefully, gently and longingly, as though I were a treasure.
Slowly, I return his kisses and intertwine our tongues, sweltering heat hitting my face. When he finally lets go of my lips, he skims past my neck and latches onto my earlobe, sucking and gnawing on it.
“Ahhh. Mhnn,” I moan quietly and hook my arms around his neck to get closer to him.
The hot, hazy fog hangs in the air. Lust flows through me along with the spring water.
Murong Yu’s eyes have gone misty with desire. Slowly, he releases my earlobe and plants light kisses down my neck. The hot puffs of air that hit me numb me and make me pant for air.
His hands trail down along my spine and massage my waist. The current is strong, making the water ripple along with his hands as they move down to my private part.
“Ah, don’t touch that.”
“Then what should I be touching?” He smirks and kisses me again. “Xin, I’ve missed that place of yours for so long.”
I feel my cheeks burning up right away and a strange feeling surrounding me like the water around me. With no choice, I hang onto his shoulders and move with him.
Just how shameless is this guy?
But then again, I can’t help but feel this sweetness in my heart even though I know what I’m doing now is shameful.
Do I like him?
All I do know is that I don’t have to hide myself as much when I’m with him. I can just be myself.
I look up at him and brush over his chest, neck and jaw, pressing and caressing. Murong Yu’s eyes close into a slit and he starts breathing even harder.
“Didn’t think my dear Xin could be such a tease.”
I smile without answering and plant a ghost of a kiss on his collarbone as a piece of white jade swings back and forth before my eyes.
I feel like my bones have already dissolved into the steamy, silky water. Limply, I hook my legs around his waist. Waves of lust and fire brew within me. I can’t stand it anymore so I moan and bite his earlobe. “Stop teasing me.”
“So impatient.” He gazes into my eyes. “Your body knows me, Xin. Mmm, look at this guy. He’s already this hard.” He says as he takes hold of my erect member, rubbing, pressing, teasing, and stroking in just the right way.
We’re so close to each other that I can easily feel his manhood rubbing in that tight crevice of mine, driving me crazy.
“Murong Yu,” I can’t stop myself from cursing. “Are you gonna fucking do it or not? Geez.”
I can’t clearly see his face through the swirling steam but I feel the proximity of his sweltering breath.
“Xin,” he chortles by my ear. “I was only holding back ‘cause I didn’t think you were ready. I’m gonna go in if you want, just don’t come crying for mercy later.”
I glare at him and counter. “Ain’t scared of you. C’mon, man up and gimme your best shot.”
“Don’t say I didn’t tell you so!” His breathing hitches and his expression becomes tense with desire. He thrusts forward and I feel his heat push into me along with the warm current. I shakily try to retreat but he has a firm grip on me. He pulls me down and starts ramming into me.
The water splashes echo accentuating our intense friction.
“You’re so tight, Xin.”
“Shut the fuck up, you bastard! Ah! Not so hard! Uhn…uhn…too deep.”
“Stop talking and lemme love you…uhn.”
“It’s here, isn’t it?”
I cling onto his neck. He pants as he speeds up. I can’t stop my moans and I shakily call out his name, fingers tangling with him.
His manhood is ravaging my insides and lights a spark somewhere along the way. Pleasure rushes through my body while I bounce up and down with his movements as though I’m riding a wave. My body seems to have melted in the water and drowned in ecstasy.
I don’t know what time it is when I wake up again from the intoxication. I’m sore and tender as if I’ve been washed out to sea. I unwrap his arm from around me and step into the spring. I cup some water and splash it on my face.
Last time, it had felt as though I was dreaming because of the drugs and I hadn’t felt much pain. This time, I clearly felt the striking pain. The pain was as evident as the all-consuming pleasure that proceeded. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so close to him. It was as if we became one. He drove into my body and filled me. I guess I had been waiting for that moment, too, the moment when we finally close all distance between us. Hesitantly, I look back at the shore.
He’s in deep slumber right over there. The moon is shining on one side of his sharp, handsome face, his arched eyebrows, his tall and straight nose and his tightly clipped lips. His cheeks are a bit pink from last night’s affairs.
A warm feeling start to exude in my heart but I force it back.
I smile bitterly and feel something get stuck in my throat, to the point that I can’t speak.
I turn my back towards him and clutch my chest. Something gently slices at my heart. It’s not sharp enough so all I feel is a dull, throbbing pain.
Let everything end when the morning sun rises.
And tomorrow, we shall be in separate corners of this world.
When I cup more water to wash myself, I notice the blue and purple marks on my chest and collarbone. They seem to speak of the passions that occurred last night.
I hear splashes and the next moment I see arms reaching around me from behind. Surprised, I whip around, only to see that it’s Murong Yu.
He breathes in my ear, “Showing me such a luring scene right when I wake up, Xin, you’re seducing me.
I watch him. I gaze at him, at his brows and eyes, at his lips—I must etch everything about him into my heart.
He tilts his head to nuzzle my ears. He makes a humming sound as though he’s suppressing a laugh. “Let’s do it again, Xin, right here in the water.”
He seals my lips with his without waiting for my reply and reaches down with his hands in one fluid motion. Instantly, I feel a fire being lit in my abdomen and leaping up to my chest. He sucks on my earlobe while his hands keep working hard. I can feel his member getting hard, too, and sticking right up against me.
I’m too relaxed after being in the hot water for so long I couldn’t possibly withstand this teasing.
“Shhh, no talking.”
I get whirled into a pool of desire by him once again before I could even get my words out.
Darkness is still looming by the west side of the sky while light has begun to shine through the east side.
I get dressed and tie back my hair before standing up. I walk towards a horse tied down to a tree. It’s a very beautiful horse: sleek, powerful build and long, slender legs with a flowing mane like snow. He gives a joyous neigh as I untie him with a sigh.
I look back to see Murong Yu’s dark, gloomy expression. He remains silent, simply staring me down, a sharp glint flying across his eyes. We are wordless for now.
“You’ve made up your mind?”
“Yes, I have.”
He speaks in a suppressed voice, but I can hear the lurking anger. “Then what was last night supposed to be?”
I push away my wavering emotions and say with the flattest voice I can manage. “I’m not gonna deny anything that happened last night, but let’s just pretend it was a dream. Even the best of dreams comes to an end, and now…is the time we wake up.”
He shakes and takes a few steps back, his eyes screaming bewilderment, but he speaks again with his teeth clenched. “You…you’re still gonna stick with your decision—you’re still gonna leave?!”
Then his face contorts in pain and he continues lowly, “Why must you turn me down? Do you not feel anything for…. None at all?”
I take a deep breath and turn away. The sky to the east is turning clear.
“Don’t run away. We need to clear this up today!” He strides over and grabs my wrist. I meet his burning gaze without hiding and spot the pain within.
“I’ve tried to repress my feelings but it’s no use. Before I knew it, looking at you would make my heart burn. I couldn’t get it to go out no matter what I did. I just want to be with you. Believe me. This isn’t just a one-time thing. I’m serious. Together, we could be the happiest people in the world.”
Speechless, I smile at him while all my thoughts in my mind approach and get frozen behind my lips. This person and his embrace—that warm embrace—are the things I’m going to treasure for a lifetime.
Murong Yu, you don’t understand. I can’t give you anything and likewise, I can’t promise you anything.
Slowly, I place my hand on his shoulder, my heart seeming to tremble.
“Murong Yu, you know how I am. I can’t make any of the promises you want.”
He’s only a few inches away. After a silence, he reaches out towards me and snatches away the reins. “Don’t you even think about leaving!”
I regard his eyes and the rage rolling within and a few painful tremors run through me. I drop my gaze and smile, suppressing the discomfort and my downcast heart. “What am I supposed to do if you won’t let me go?”
“I said I’ll protect you!”
I snap back up and glare at him. “And I’ll live my life under your protection? Don’t forget, I’m a man too!”
He holds my gaze, the rage in his having died down slightly. “Then what am I supposed to do?
I stay quiet, not wanting to argue with him anymore. I pull my hand away and start stepping forward, but he tugs on me hard and pushes me down to the ground, pressing his body on mine shortly after.
“Get off! Let me up!”
“Take back what you said!”
I clench my teeth and start fighting with everything I’ve got—fists, knees, elbows—just so he can let go of me. The two of us tumble around on the grass like two beasts in battle. One of my attempts to knee him succeeds and hits him in the lower abdomen. He arches his back in pain but quickly chops at my waist with his right hand. I bear with the stinging pain, swallowing my moans, and slap him across the face.
He dodges and catches my wrist, ripping it aside before putting all his weight on me. I gulp for air and he moves a bit of weight away as he glares at me with icy eyes. His face is a myriad of expressions while the blood vessels on his forehead are bursting out. I just keep panting without speaking or making another move, and glare right back at him.
Our eyes lock and our lips are mere inches away. Our breaths entangle in the air, dangerously and suggestively.
“Take! Back! What! You! Said!” He roars.
“Let! Me! Go!” I yell back at him.
After keeping eye contact, I rip my gaze away so as to not see those pleading eyes anymore.
“If I don’t leave today, Murong Yu, I’ll still do it tomorrow. You can’t stop me!”
I feel his tense form loosening and his breathing becoming sporadic. I turn my head slightly and peer at him. He’s watching me without a word, chest moving up and down as he breathes. His lips are pursed and flames of anger seem to dance in his eyes.
Silent like the night. Silent like death.
He leans in and mutters in my ear. “Believe in me, Xin. Just believe in me.”
I look down and when I’ve finally gathered enough courage, I let these words slip out. “Just forget about me, Murong Yu.”
He stares at me, thoroughly taken back.
“Our beginning itself was because of an accident. Let’s just let go now that we’re at the end. I’ve said so many times, we’re not the same kinda people. There’s no future for us. What’s happened is the past so let’s forget about it now. From now on, you go on being a prince and I a freeman. Our paths will diverge, never to cross again.”
“Shut up!” He yells.
He pinches my chin and forces me to look. His eyes are too bright. In them lie the morning rays and my reflection. I’m afraid he’s also the only thing reflecting in my eyes right now.
“Do you really not care? Do you really think my feelings for you are all some crazy mistake?” His eyes are no longer full of determination as they usually are, instead they are filled with melancholy.
Everything in the world goes quiet. Quietly, quietly, no one makes a sound.
I’m looking at him while he’s looking at me. Our eyes seem to connect but the words and feelings aren’t able to make it across.
He suddenly lets go of my chin and gets up, taking a few steps back. I can’t decipher his expression right now. “I’ve known. You’ve wanted to leave for a long, long time.”
The morning light hits his face, making it ghastly pale. The light that reaches his dark eyes reveals sorrow and pain.
I crawl back up and brush off the dirt on my clothes.
“Go.” He passes me the reins and closes my palm. I look up at his bitter expression. “You wanna live like the wind and I know you’re not that obedient. You’d never just stay by my side like that. And I’m your enemy no matter how you look at it. We might’ve reached intimacy…and I could make you stay but your heart would be gone.”
I whip around. I can’t bear to look at him anymore.
The next moment I feel his embrace and warmth. He gently touches my forehead, my nose, my cheeks and my neck, lightly and slowly. Time seems to have stopped and stay still in this moment.
“This is the jade my mother left me. It’s been consecrated and it’ll keep you safe. I’m giving it to you now…so you don’t forget. It might’ve been a fleeting affinity but it still counts for something.”
He takes the jade off and puts it on for me, tucking it under my collar. He then places his lips on mine very lightly. I feel something wet linger by my lips, not entering very far, and it brings an overwhelming coldness mixed with slivers and shreds of despair. The intense passion seems to be able to disintegrate all rational thought. I’m not sure who bit whose lip. I only taste sweet iron across the tip of my tongue and in my mouth.
“Tell me…where are you going?”
I’m definitely uncertain about my future as well, but I do know one thing and that is to get away from society and escape. I’ll leave this place, leave him, never going back to Great Rui to let those people look down on me, and I won’t have to stay here under an awkward title. I’m going to roam this world and live life how I want to live it and truly be myself.
He grabs my hand tightly. “This is my pass. Head southwest from here. You’ll have an easier time.”
“You know what? I’ll have my ways of finding you no matter where you go.”
He places his hand on my face and lingers at my lips before slowly kissing me. “People say that people with thin lips are thin on love too. I guess they were right after all.”
“I’m not. I just can’t promise you anything.”
On his face is a gentle smile, but in his eyes are tiny, little tears. I smile as I give a big nod. I can’t speak. I’m enduring and restraining myself all so that I don’t falter even for a bit during this farewell.
He lets go of me. I step back, leap on the horse and spur it forward without a second of hesitation, leaving a cloud of sand swirling behind me.
Each beat of the horse’s hooves seems to hit me on my heart. The scenery to the two sides slips backwards. I catch a glimpse of his figure getting smaller and smaller from the corner of my eye until it disappears into the background.
Only then do I turn around and take a brief look.
That day, I couldn’t help meeting him; today, I couldn’t help leaving him.
I was teetering on the fate of death when we first met; I’m still trying to find my way now after our farewell.
The wheels of destiny keep turning. Things appear for the shortest of moments only to go down another path in the end.
He has stopped in place while I have chosen to proceed. Affinity—a fleeting affinity. Who knows? Maybe we’ll meet again, or maybe we’ll be forever estranged in this life.
Dairytea's comment: I hope you guys enjoyed the double surprise. See you next week~
ayszhang says: T_T Don't look at me: I'm just the translator. *sniffles* In all seriousness, I have decided from the results of the poll to only work on Cold Sands and occasionally short one-shots to change up the tempo. There will be a chapter every week after Drip-Drop ends. Thank you all for voting <3
Cold Sands - English Translation by ayszhang is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.