In the dark night when everyone was asleep, she was used to being awake.
Struggling to get up from her bed, she fumbled for the candle on the candlestick. The dimness of the candle illuminated the loom before the screen: the halfway finished damask.
She held her hand out and dozens of multicolored threads flew out in the dim candlelight.
One hand was sewing the flower while the other hand was handling the loom.
The loom grew in the night. On the screen, she was like a wood carving, but the hands moving in the air indicated life.
The figure of a pair of mandarin ducks gradually took shape on the loom face, with one leaning its neck and the other stretching out its orange-red beak to comb its partner’s gorgeous feathers.
The dry eyes stared at the loom. The appearance of the mandarin duck was sometimes clear, sometimes vague, gradually turning into a couple facing the wave.
The bubbles of a buried memory floated up from the bottom of a dark pool.
That day, he stepped on the waves, startling the mandarin ducks in the pool. She blamed him for his carelessness… He put his arm around her waist from behind, bent over her ears, and lowered his voice: “It’s my fault that I scared off that pair of mandarin ducks. How about I give you something in return?”
She looked back and saw his clear, black eyes, just like the shine of jewels. She was burned without warning at his gaze. She pushed him aside and said, “You pay for me.”
He looked at her with a half-smile, his eyes shining like the light of the world. “Aren’t we?” He asked in a low voice, “Will you marry me and be like the mandarin ducks?”
“The Chinese parasols turn old together and the mandarin ducks die together. If I am to die, would you follow me?” She asked with a smile as she chased the mandarin ducks through the pond.
“If one of us has to leave first, it must be me. With me, you won’t die before.”
At that time, she looked at the figure of the man standing tall and straight and suddenly felt that, even if there was a big storm, the wind wouldn’t blow her away as long as this man was standing by her.
But who could have predicted that it was him, not anyone else, who had brought the storm.
She thought that the good past was only a mirage in the air; it collapsed in the midst of a roll.
Outside the window, a night owl screamed from the tree. The sound was like a sharp needle, piercing the bubble of memory.
The candle flame in the room suddenly flickered, almost dying out.
She looked back with a sense of horror.
The door opened and closed, and two men were already standing in the shadow of the candle.
These were two army soldiers. They wore black waistcoats, dark red cloaks, and carried two long knives. The wind was pouring in through the door and blew their black clothes, leaving shadows on the screen, waving like an evil dance.
She recognized them quickly from their dress, and, patting her forked hair, she smiled coldly, “Why did he send you?”
They were silent as they coldly glanced at her. One of them took two steps forward, taking a piece of paper from his arms and throwing it at her feet.
She recognized at a glance from the style of the paper that it was an imperial edict which was posted at the gate to tell the world, and her heart sank.
The wind outside the window was moaning as if countless souls were crying out. It was terribly quiet inside, without even the sound of breathing.
She picked up the imperial edict and first looked at the lower right corner at the seal to confirm that it was real. Then, she started to look at the contents. She glanced through the familiar titles, and her body suddenly shook like the last leaf in the cold wind.
It was like a heavy hammer hitting her chest, and the sudden pain was overwhelming. It seemed as if there was a knife, starting from the inside of the bone, cutting and tearing her apart, little by little, from the inside out.
All of a sudden, she tore up the imperial edict using all her strength, “It’s fake! It’s all fake! Don’t think I don’t know the seal of the Emperor!”
“You know it’s real!” the soldier said coldly, a hint of sympathy in his cold eyes, “He wanted me to tell you that he had never liked you, that there is someone else in his heart. He was sorry for you, if there is a next life, he will pay you back.”
She stopped tearing and looked up at the sergeant with her pale face.
She laughed in the dead room, just like the wail of an owl.
It was a long time before she realized that the sound was coming from her mouth. How ridiculous!
It turned out that he was only using her: her obsession, her love.
To him, the beautiful past she thought it was was just dust he could lightly wipe away without a trace.
Pay her back in the next life!
All she felt was all her blood flowing up her body, pouring out like the tide from the opened floodgates.
“To hell in the next life! Tell him I want him to pay back with his blood this life!” she cried. It was the first time she cursed, and she cursed him!
“I’m afraid you won’t have a chance in this life!” The soldier’s sympathetic glance changed to a murderous one, “On the yellow spring road there will be many of your relatives to accompany you, so you won’t feel alone. Have a good walk!”
He also wanted her dead!
It was like a play by those scriptwriters: the infatuated young lady who had been taken advantage of by her lover was thrown out like a rag. He didn’t even bother to do it himself.
She struggled to get to the loom; the pain in her chest was hindering her movements.
She took down the brocade and went up to the soldier with her hands.
“This is what I promised him. Tell him that even though he betrayed me, I won’t owe him anything. Tell him that in the next life, I do not want to have any relation with him!” She said softly, without any love or hate, as if she were describing a very commonplace affair.
But two battle-hardened soldiers could not help but listen sadly. After she finished, she quietly turned to the table.
The dress was trailing along the ground, with a poignant magnificence.
The two soldiers filled the room with lamp oil and lit it on fire. Before the fire broke out, they got out of the door. She fell to the ground, her head bruised, her face red with blood. She looked terrible.
She watched the flames burn her clothes and her body.
It was a hell of a burn. A pain from deep within the soul made her scream.
The smoke came over, and her eyes, which were unable to shed tears before, teared up. They fell on the smooth ground–red like blood.
She was still trying to open her eyes, but she couldn’t see anything, and her eyes were still red. The whole world was burning! It was silent, as if all noise had been removed. However, a sound suddenly came through the fire: “She burned herself because she was guilty!”
The prologue is out! Cheers to the beginning of the story!