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Chapter 3 Three Suns 1-3

Chapter Three Suns 1-3 Hiu, hiu . . . The chirps of birds rose up outside the window. Laying on the wood bed, Zong Shuoqi swept his half-open eyes and enjoyed the sunshine of morning. A bird with a red bill, yellow feathers, and a tail with circle patterns stopped on his shoulder. “Is Duan'er back?” He smiled at the bird. The bird answered him with a ju, and then flew away. The boy put on his coat and pushed the wooden doors open, looking out. Though it was August, the weather in the Yaoyang Mountains was cool like spring. The mountains outside were connected, layer upon layers, with a thick wood of big trees like pines and cypresses covering them. The boy enjoyed the scenery here a lot.  Shuoqi remembered the first time he came here; he was stunned by the beautiful quiet world. Though he had broken his arms, he had not felt the pain immediately. If he hadn’t seen it for himself, he wouldn’t have believed the place his kingdom wanted to conquer was such an amazing land. The fog had just dispersed, and some clouds in the shape of cotton fiber came to play with the shining morning sunlight. The boy opened his arms to embrace this magnificent view, and he took a deep breath a moment later. His long, dark hair was not tied up yet; he allowed it to spread out on his back with only a white ribbon tied near the bottom. The wind blew away some of his hair and his previously obscured eyes became visible. In Changjing, the capital city of Rui Kingdom, people who saw the color of his irises would comment on them in various fashions. His were a deep blue, unlike the ordinary citizens in Rui Kingdom who had black eyes. As Shu Helun described, his eyes were like frozen ice on the sea. If it wasn’t for his love of laughter, the coldness in his eyes could frighten an enemy. But as for him, from the day he was born until eighteen, he did not have a real enemy. The only person who would be regarded as an opposite to him was his father. He had always been planning to escape from him, escape to the end of the world and never came back. Now he’d found a good hiding place in Yaoyang Mountains. The life here was as beautiful as a dream. But he knew that he could not live here very long. A fist suddenly appeared before his eyes, clenched in dissatisfaction, and stopped at a distance of about ten centimeters.  “Helun?! You entered the mountains alive?” He bounced up with excitement.  “If not, am I a corpse? Or did you hope me to be like that?” “If it wasn’t for Duan'er, I bet that’d be the case. Hha . . .”  “If I had known you don’t care about my death at all, I wouldn’t have ran a thousand miles here to find you. I don’t want to get all banged up. Without a girl’s admiring eyes, what would be the point?” Helun wiped off the blood on his face as he stared at Shuoqi, his friend.  “Wasn’t it you who said a man could be more attractive with wounds and blood? Are you angry only because the girls here don’t like you?”  “Hey, Shuoqi, don’t think that you are my master and you can trample on my dignity. Did you hear the old saying that ‘a furious rabbit bites’?”  “Okay, let’s get to some serious talk. Did my father fly into a rage of fury?” Shuoqi lowered his voice and smiled as he asked.  “Guess what? If I don’t bring you back this time, none of the officers will dare go to the palace and face him.” “But we sons of the royal families always conceal our identities and pretend to normal people as we hang around to observe their everyday lives. This is one of my tasks. He shouldn’t be that nervous. Besides, I got some secret intelligence about the Yaoyang people when I stayed here. My father should award me a prize.”  “If your father has another son, I don’t think he will care about you that much. You are the only hope for him now. And the girl, Duan'er, said something to me on the road; I guess the Yaoyang people already know you are the prince of our kingdom. It will not be easy for me to take you out now.”  “As long as Duan'er is here, we will find a way out. But, where is she?” Seeing Shuoqi’s surprised face, Helun turned back and found no track of the girl who’d accompanied him.  “One spoonful. . . ?  No. . .  Two. . . ? No good, either. The fragrance of the flowers might cover the tea’s original smell. . .  So, half a spoon is the best.” Duan'er was holding a tea spoon to add some fragrance into the tea bowl. She was sitting with her legs crossed before a tea table on stilts, wearing a yellow waistcoat. She poured some hot water in the bowl and put the cover on to keep the tea warm.  “The smell is not bad.” She smiled once the aroma of the tea spread in the air; her eyebrows became curved like the moon. Opening wide her eyes, she stood up and saluted the mountains. Her eyes were as shiny as the stars in the sky last night. It was her daily lesson to make a tea of fragrance every morning. The eldest tea tree in the Yaoyang Mountains was more than a thousand years old. Her people regarded this tree as a godly one. Before her dad’s term of office, the trees older than a hundred years were forbidden to be picked by the ordinary people. Only the master’s tribe could enjoy the flavor. But her father allowed all their people to collect the tea leaves and taste them as a part of their daily lives.  “You’d better go to the army if you are finished with your tea lesson or I will be blamed by our mom that I have indulged you again.” A man of about thirty stepped up on the wood steps around the stilts. He had a light brown ribbon tied on his head and wore dark blue clothes and black bloomers.  “Mom would not blame you; you are her loved one,” the girl said as she smiled at him. “Besides, the world is peaceful. The army already has you, General Yun Ao. It doesn’t need me, a commander. And what you ordered me to do, Shuoqi happened to pressure me to accomplish. So, why can’t I take a break and enjoy some tea? I still want to play chess, and have fun with the cats and dogs. I disappeared for a whole night yesterday; they might be bored in the house.” Yun Ao shook his head. “You are a teenage girl, so why you have hobbies like that of an old man?”  “It is none of your business. Let’s talk about Shuoqi.”  “Why him?”  “His background is not simple, and he is bad at lying.”  “You feel that way, too?”  “Though I have never been to Changjing, I heard of many stories of the Rui Kingdom. The emperor has many princesses but only one son survived; the other sons all passed away of disease. So he became the prince. And the prince happened to have a pair of deep blue eyes. I saw that pair of blue eyes.” Yun Ao thought about it, and replied, “But if the boy named Shuoqi is really the prince of Rui Kingdom, why did he leave the palace and enter our Yaoyang Mountains?” “He just doesn’t like the palace life.” Duan'er propped her elbow on the table. “Only people like me can understand him. He never wanted to be born into the royal family, but he had no choice.”  “Don’t compare yourself to him. Mom and I did not treat you badly.” “Oh, yes, I am luckier than him. I still have the right to make a cup of tea and play with my cats and dogs.” Duan'er smiled. “But his fortune has come to an end. The person who chased after him all the way from the palace already arrived. How I wish they will both leave us as soon as possible, before they make any trouble here.”  “We will certainly send them away, but for how to negotiate with Changjing, I’d have to think about. . . ” Before Yun Ao drew his conclusion, Duan'er passed him a small cup of tea. “Have a try, before my sister-in-law comes here to find you. This is from the godly tree.” Yun Ao turned unhappy upon hearing her mention his wife. He took a sip and felt the wonderful taste. “General, come quickly! Something urgent happened in the camp!” a soldier came in and yelled. Yun Ao put down the cup and stepped down.

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