Chapter 1 There was No Snow on Huoyi Island 1-1
Chapter 1 There was No Snow on Huoyi Island 1-1 Sitting on the seashore of deep purple, watching the sprays kiss my toes, a feeling of desolation suddenly came over me. I climbed to the highest rock to take a better look at the endless water reflecting the bloody rays of the sunset, wondering how the world outside looked. This question had bothered me a thousand times. Were there the same shiny little blue flowers at night? Was there also a big chilly wood? And how about the forbidden areas? Were the people living on the opposite side good and happy? Would they celebrate special days until midnight, too? In fact, was there really a world outside? I sighed slightly because I had no clues as to the answer. I’d grown up on Huoyi Island from birth, and had never left it since. The southwestern winds blew relentlessly every day, and thus the pine trees reached out their branches in only one direction. I never saw a flower wither and fall in the warm place. The little flowers had blue petals and slim white leaves, shedding a ghostly blue light in the air as dusk fell. Of course there were mountains, trees, and rivers. The elders never mentioned the island’s history, nor our ancestors, to us. Our master enjoyed his power over the whole land, and his word was the final decision for all citizens. The six legendary elders backed him secretly, but nobody except for the master himself had seen the six elders. Somehow, their orders spread to the whole island from time to time. People had faith in the master and the elders and nobody dared to raise any questions about their authority, which only brought punishments instead of answers. What we could do, was live a peaceful life here, generation after generation. No doubt, this kind of life was boring. But we had no choice. Without the master’s permission, nobody could leave—including me, Snow Jin, his daughter. So I always went to the seashore alone, and tasted the bitter water by myself. The sun disappeared behind the mountains, and the sky went dark. It was very cold and I chilled. An overcoat knitted with bird feathers embraced me from behind. I turned back; Kuayu stood there. For sure it should be him—who else could there be? He was one of the most capable subordinate of my father, a soldier called “Man of Righteousness,” and the youngest leader of the guards. I said thanks to him. He sat beside me, looking at the peaceful sea without saying a word. The wind blew away the long dark hair on his forehead and his gleaming, cunning eyes, and then he changed his focus to look at me. “How did you know I was here?” “It’s easy to find you ‘cause your brain is quite simple.” He always had a casual air about him after work. “Are you waiting for the Big Fool?” he asked. Big Fool was my older brother, Huanzhe. He left the island to take some mission from my father three days ago. Big Fool liked to bring back some funny things for me every time he had a mission to the outside, so I’d come here to wait. But he seldom mentioned what the outside world looked like. “It’s cold here; you’d better go back.” Kuayu stood up. I shook my head. I was not waiting for Big Fool to come back tonight. I was just bored of the house. The endless nightmares would also visit me if I slept. I’d rather stay here for a little while, even if it meant getting a bad cold later. Kuayu did not insist, because he found something else on the beach. “What’s that?” I followed his voice to find a body. “It’s a person!” I screamed, and ran toward the black shape. Yes, it was a man in rotting clothes. He must have been bitten by some beast. After a long time of being knocked by the water, the wounds were festering now. “He’s still alive,” Kuayu said. We decided to save him, and brought him to the secret hole nearby. We didn’t dare bring him back to the city because saving an outsider would have required the master’s order for permission. My father loved this island and the people living here, but he was not as merciful to strangers. I remembered when I was young, some survivors from a crashed cruise liner begged us to take them in. But he refused them and ordered that nobody should go into the sea to save them or give them any water or food. Finally, all those people died of hunger. Though I thought he was too cruel, I hadn’t had the courage to disobey him. After that, I’d found this hole and made a habit to leave enough water and food for strangers. If any outsider happened to come here, I would hide them in the hole and take care of them, who were usually wounded due to sea accidents. When they became well again I would send them away with a raft. This was a secret between Kuayu and me. Even my brother didn’t know about it. The candle in the hole shone a weak light, but the flowers did help to illuminate the area. The wounded man was wearing strange clothing we had never seen before. His hair was a brownish yellow, and though his face was covered by sea grasses and bloodstains, he was handsome, with pronounced features. His eyes were closed tightly and drops of water dripped down his long, wet eyelashes. The eyes must be beautiful, I guessed. “Hey, now’s not the time to be boy crazy!” Kuayu pushed me lightly, scolding me with a teasing voice. “I look way better than him.” I took a disdainful look at him and continued to handle the wounds of the young man. When I put the medicine on the cleansed wounds, the man suddenly awoke and yelled loudly. He opened his eyes and tried hard to lift his body; I kept the medicine on his wounds and stopped him. “Don’t move; I am nursing your wounds.” He looked at me with doubt, but finally relaxed and allowed me to continue my work on him. “Where is here?” “Huoyi Island. You are safe here. Don’t worry. . .” He suddenly jumped up and pushed me away. Kuayu, who went to bring some water, saw this scene and angrily yelled at him, “Hey, how can you do that to your savior?” Then he murmured to himself, “Looks awful and acts even worse.” The man fell to his bitterness and showed us a fearful look. “My wounds, my wounds were contaminated by poison.” He was trembling when he spoke to me. I guess the medicine was healing, thus he felt some pain. “I get it,” I said with a smile,“but we Huoyi people are immune to any kind of poison.” “Really?” He could not believe it. I nodded. We all freely ate the fruit of the island and nobody had had any ill side effects. But we’d discovered that outsiders died due to eating some of these fruits. “Trust us! We will save you,” I said. Kuayu sighed and left to bring some more medicine for me. “What happened to you? You look like you were attacked by some animal.” I asked him questions to distract him from the pain of his wounds. But he did not answer me. He looked at my skilled workmanship; I caught a deep sorrow in his eyes, though it was hard to understand. He must have suffered through some very bad torture before he came to this island.