The Emperor’s Strategy

Qing Yao

Chapter 4

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Scene 4: Borrowed Time


   Su Li Li turned around, and gazed at the top of the yard wall, she was a little dazed, as if asking herself and asking him, "Where should I move?" 


  Just now at the Ming Yue Brothel, she was still quite composed, but now although her expression was peaceful, deep in her eyes she was like a bird that had narrowly escaped an arrow, hiding a deep fear. 


  Mu Tou stopped his knife, he lifted his eyes to look at her, calmly he said, "The beef stall at the opposite end of the street is good, if you want to move, move there."


    The pine oil twigs exploded in a blaze of fire, its glow caused the shadows from four sides to flicker, in a moment, it exhausted itself on the ground and the flame extinguished. It was dark, the yard a sheet of black, even those who had sight was as good as blind*. As if she could not find the direction, Su Li Li hesitated for a moment, then moved towards the back of the small yard, as she walked two steps, she felt her arms tightened, Mu Tou grabbed her.


  She turned her head, in the darkness her eyes finally concentrated on Mu Tou's face. Mu Tou stood up, held one of her hand, "Where are you going?"


  Su Li Li lowered her head and thought for a moment, she said lightly and quickly, "I don't know, I must go, they have found me."


  "Who have found you?" Mu Tou asked gently.


  Mu Tou's question rolled around Su Li Li's head, who had found her? With this reflection, Su Li Li suddenly felt her head clear a bit, her eyes not so terrified, but she did not speak, just let him knead her hands, as if her heart needed that strength and warmth to support her. 


  Mu Tou was silent for a moment, then continued, "Was it the person you trifled with at the previous tomb incident?"


  Su Li Li nodded her head, "I.... I'm afraid I've been targeted by someone."


  "What did you do to offend him?"


  "I don't know, don't ask," Su Li Li sighed.


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  "I won't ask. But for many things, it's useless even if you are afraid. So why be afraid?" Mu Tou pulled her other hand and held it in his palm, "At the beginning when you saved me, did you think of being afraid? You said if I was found by my enemies, I cannot blame you. But did you ever think, if my enemies came here, it's not I cannot blame you, but you can't blame me for harming you." 


  Although the candle glow was weak, it was enough for Mu Tou to see Su Li Li's red face, he was dazed, in that moment a complicated feeling arose. 


  Su Li Li avoided the candle glow and replied, "I know, I'm going to sleep."


 The second time in the night she leaped away like a rat, and headed straight for her bedroom.


  Mu Tou stood and watched her closed her door, he turned around and saw Uncle Cheng's old face reflected in the candle light, he didn't know why but he felt his heart grow sheepish. He lowered his head, picked up the carving knife and waste material, turned around, threw away the material, in his hand holding the carving knife, he walked straight to his bedroom.


  Uncle Cheng, holding the candle light, he watched Mu Tou closed the door, his eyes confused and full of wronged innocence.


   Su Li Li leaned on the door, she didn't light the candle, comb her hair or wash her face, she closed her eyes and laughed, thinking that today she was really ridiculous. The youthful romantic thoughts of a fifteen year old girl, they don't belong to Yan Huan, but they also don't belong to Su Li Li. These peaceful moments were stolen from the fleeting years, even as her hidden worries were gradually dispelled they would suddenly return, as these went on repeatedly, she could not and would not dare to hope for more. 


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