Story Two | Lekranian – A New Friend, A New Ally (iii) | End
Looking at him again, she thought of herself lucky, maybe saving him was fate and if he was someone who’d bite their benefactor by the hand then she could just kill him.
A week passed and the wounds on his legs healed to an acceptable point. A-ro and Yue Mian, during this week the two of them taught each other words from both languages that meant the same. The sky, sun, moon, river, body parts, walking, talking and many more. And in the second week, the two of them travelled along the road with A-ro dressed in the same attire as the Naiadians, blending into the crowd.
By now, YuMi had authority of the mountain tiger, it listened to her but didn’t do what she told it to. She was slightly annoyed but at least it acknowledged her as its master now.
The border between Naiad and Lekra were to the North, the exact opposite direction of Jilei. From what she could understand while A-ro was explaining was that, Lekra was divided into many parts and shared terrine with Naiad in the mountains. He along with four others were training in the mountains but one of them caught sight of a black eagle from their legends and showed the others. They then tried going after it because bringing home an egg, feather or the eagle itself alive was a great honour, they would be bestowed a beauty or land from the emperor.
As they went searching for it again they walked into den wolves. The five of them split up and he doesn’t know if the others managed to survive. He ran towards the edge of a cliff and being surrounded by a pack of wolves he thought that he had a better chance of living if he jumped into the river below the cliff.
As he fell down he fell towards a boulder and hit it making him lose consciousness, when he came to he was in a small house being treated by a young woman who lived with her elderly grandparents. A-ro told her that he didn’t know how long he had been unconscious but it has been months now that he was wandering around in this empire.
He was supposed to return to the maiden who nursed him but couldn’t find his way because all of Naiad looks the same to him. He left three weeks ago and wanted to return to her because he had fallen in love with her and wanted to take her back with him to Lekra. He did ask her to return with him but she refused and they argued. He stormed off losing his way and has been trying to get back ever since.
Because it has been so long, he had actually lost hope in their love and asked YuMi to show him the way back to Lekra. Although she didn’t want to she did it anyway because of her curiosity.
A-ro continued to tell her that as he was trying to find his way home, he met the mountain tigers and then met her. He expressed his gratitude towards her for saving his life and told her that if they were to meet again, he would reward her but even though YuMi had her personality she was a selfless person and just smiled with the intentions not to accept his reward in the future, that’s if they meet again.
The journey was slow but enjoyable. YuMi learned so much about their culture and she was getting the knack of the language, although it took her many tries to pronounce some of the words she was surprisingly very good. A-ro too, he seemed to be bright and able to speak and understand her language but then again he was staying with someone from Naiad who spoke Chinese.
They would rest and converse while travelling on foot. A week already passed and they were about three days away from the border. They could have arrived already if A-ro wasn’t injured so a slow and steady pace was needed. (Sorry for repeating this)
On the road, many people looked at them strangely as they laughed, made fun of others and because they were speaking a foreign language.
Three days later, YuMi shoved the mountain tiger into the forest and told it to stay there while she and A-ro headed towards the border. Arriving there they were met with the Lekranians pointing spears at them. Holding their hands up, A-ro started speaking to them in their language. YuMi looked at him from the side catching what he was saying.
The men instantly put down their spears and changed how they looked at A-ro. Two of the men rushed away.
Turning to YuMi he smiled at her and said, that they went to get someone to verify who he is. They then set up camp on the border because he said it would take a few days. The others looked at the two of them probably wondering why and how they get along.
A-ro, “YuMI, when you leave here where will you go?”
YuMi, “Home to my empire.”
A-ro, “Where are you coming from?”
YuMi, “My mothers home in another empire.”
A-ro, “Your parents?”
YuMi, “My father is the emperor of Jilei and my mother comes from Xieye.”
A-ro, “So you are royalty?”
YuMi, “No, it’s more like they think I am dead.”
YuMi, “Mostly because my mother was working as a slave and my father fell in love with her, they made me and my mother had to marry him but my grandfather chased my mother and I away after I was born because I am female.”
Hearing this A-ro looked at her strangely. YuMi saw that he didn’t seem to be surprised that she’s female and not male.
A-ro, “Why would he have a problem with that?”
A-ro, “What kind of traditions allows such things?”
A-ro, “So what will you do since they think you are dead?”
YuMi, “Return and kill the ones who tried assassinating my mother and I and scare the royal family.”
ಠ_ಠ her words left him speechless.
A-ro, “How can you say that with a straight face?”
YuMi, “Because I am serious.”
A-ro, “But when you think about it, they wronged your mother, not you?”
YuMi, “Yes but they are living a lavish life whereas I ran away from home to get to them?”
A-ro, “You ran away on your own no one told you to, are you not ashamed, your mother raised you yet you were ungrateful and ran away.”
Sighing she looked up to the sky that was pink and no bluer. Biting down on the apple she fished out of her sack she said after two chews, “I have made up my mind, I will be the empress of Jilei and no one else, my son will be the future emperor and he will marry my daughter or if another woman gets my approval, I’ll let them marry but then again, will Xinxi want to be the emperor after he finds out that I am the future empress?”
Sighing again she said, “I don’t want to chain him to the throne so I will let him decide when the time comes.”
A-ro, “You have children?”
YuMi, “Yes, I adopted a little boy from Naiad and I gave birth to a daughter.”
A-ro, “Then how will you be empress, I’ve heard that you people are all virgins before then.”
YuMi, “What they don’t know won’t hurt them and who the fuck are they to tell me what I can and cannot do with my body?”
He smiled at her trying to imagine how she would be as a mother then suddenly remembered that she was here with him, confused he asked, “If you are here then where are your children?”
Chuckling she said, “My son is with the lady I used to live with at the orphanage and my daughter is with her father.”
A-ro nodded his head slowly processing the details. After a long pause, he asked, “How old are you?”
YuMi asked with a cheek, “How old do I look?”
Sizing her up he answered, “Around twenty years.”
Laughing she answered, “Close, I am twenty-three years this year.”
Nodding his head understand her he continued, “And your man, where is he?”
Shrugging she answered, “What I know? I never told him that I am leaving so I don’t know, he is probably worried sick and my daughter is probably missing me.”
A-ro, “Why did you leave?”
YuMi frowned, “Because, I must kill those people.”
A-ro, “Does your man know you are like this?”
Smiling she said, “Of cause, there are no secrets between us.”
A-ro’s mouth twitched, “I wouldn’t marry you.”
“Me too,” she said as she laughed her head off. Wiping her tears away she kept shaking her head. A-ro chuckled too seeing her smile, “YuMi, how old are your children?”
Calming down and laying back down on the ground she said, “My son is eight and my daughter is two.”
A-ro, “Don’t you miss them?”
YuMi, “I do but what can I do, no one told them to meet me.”
A-ro, “What made you decide to adopt your son?”
YuMi, “Boredom and anger.”
A-ro, “Boredom? Anger?”
YuMi, “Mn, I had nothing else to do so I decided to be his mother, anger because I heard his mother tell him that he was of no use to her anymore. I could have killed her but I did not and because I felt pity I took him as my own.”
A-ro, “There are no orphans where I come from.”
YuMi, “The rich fuck their slaves and the slaves throw away their children so of cause there will be orphans here, how nice it must be to be a Lekranian.”
Pausing she looked at him and asked, “How old are you?”
A-ro, “I have a few in line but not sure after meeting Jangmi.”
He looked down at YuMi with a perplexed gaze. “What is it?” she asked after seeing him look at her like that. “I need you to do me a favour.”
YuMi, “I’m listening?”
A-ro, “Will you find Jangmi and tell her that I am sorry I forced her to come with me and that I wish we could have spent more time together.”
Frowning she asked, “How will I find her?”
Grinning he said, “You are the princess of Jilei, I’m sure you will be able to find her.”
The two of them conversed more. A-ro described how Jangmi looked and told her how the house looked she lived in. He also told her what her grandparent’s names were and about the river, they stayed near.
Two days later they said goodbye and the entourage that came to fetch him was what she expected. He may not have told her that he was a prince himself but his exchange with the border guards told her so than not to mention the welcome party that came to fetch him - it really was fate.
She watched as they left her behind thinking, “I wasted a whole month (つ﹏⊂).” Turning around she walked through the forest when suddenly stopping in her tracks, turning around she cursed, “Fuck, I didn’t ask him how he knew about the empires!!” But then again thinking about it, since they knew about Lekrania how could the Lekranians not know about them?
After travelling back to where she met A-ro and the mountain tigers she and the now named mountain tiger Yinying, travelled along the road he ran through. Arriving at a fork, YuMi urged Yinying to take her home with no hopes but trying her luck. Reluctantly the tiger walked along the path it knew and they arrived at a mountain top.
Looking down YuMi could see a river. Grinning at Yinying she patted him on the head and started climbing down the mountain. The two of them reached the river and rested for a while trying to figure out which way to take. Not being able to figure out which way and how long it would take them she looked down at Yinying and said, “Listen, you go up and I’ll go this way, if you see people come find me, if I find people you still have to come find me because I don’t have four legs that can carry me at a fast speed like you, understand?” she gave it a thumbs up.
She patted him on the head and turned to walk down the river. Yinying, on the other hand, looked at her thinking that this was the perfect time to run away when she suddenly yelled, “Don’t think of running away, I will find you and eat you!”
He walked away then started running because it grew impatient. Fifteen minutes later it saw a smoke trail up ahead and sped up. Arriving there he saw a small hut near the river and it was the only one there. On the side of the house was someone hanging up washing. Turning around it rushed back to YuMi who was still leisurely strolling along the river singing.
She heard him running and turned around. Smiling from ear to ear she asked, “Did you find her?” Growling softly it laid down on the ground.
She walked up to him and hit him on the head saying, “You are messing up your beautiful fur with this mud, get up!”
It growled complaining about how she was mistreating it and how he hated being controlled by her. “If you have a problem, go complain to someone who understands you because I don’t.”
Rolling its eyes it followed her and the two of them slowly made their way to the other side. The woman who was hanging washing was now sitting on a stool peeling vegetables.
Walking up to the house YuMi saw her and frowned. The woman was slightly startled when she saw the mountain tiger and YuMi walk her way. As she was about to make her way to the house YuMi called out to her, “Excuse me, we don’t mean any harm, it has been a few days now that we have been travelling, would you mind helping us out by hosting the two of us for the night?”
The woman looked at her confused and reluctant but out of good will she decided to, “A-alright but keep that thing away from me and stay here outside.”
Smiling at her, YuMi settled down on the platform-like chair while Yinying sat down in front of her with his eyes closed. The woman walked into the house and YuMi frowned again.
A few minutes later she came out of the house with a large bowl and a cloth handing it to YuMi, “Here, I’ll bring the water.” Nodding slowly she smiled. The bowl and cloth were meant for her to wash her hands, face and feet.
The woman was wearing robes that colour had faded a long time ago made the pink and blue look too dull. What’s more, was that this woman had her own distinct beauty about herself and seemed proper. If she was dressed in the finest silk she would be one of the most beautiful ladies in Naiad.
Looking at her more clearly under her robes she seemed to have something growing there. She was petite and the bump was clear as day... Sipping on the tea prepared by the woman YuMi looked into the teacup and asked her, “Is your name Jangmi?”
Startled she accidentally spilt the tea she was preparing for her grandparents. With a frightened look on her face, she asked YuMi, “H-how do you know my name?”
Looking at her with a profound gaze she said, “I met A-ro a month ago and we parted a week ago, he told me about you and asked me to deliver a message to you. He says, he is sorry that he tried to force you to go back with him he wishes that the two of you could have spent more time together.”
Jangmi covered her mouth with her left hand and placed her right on her stomach, she sat down on the platform chair with her eye wide as she thought of A-ro. Loosening the sash of her outer robe she placed her hand firmly on her stomach while two trails of tears trailed down her cheeks. Swallowing hard she asked, “W-where is h-he?”
YuMi, “Returned home.”
Jangmi, “Did he make it back safely?”
YuMi, “Mn, I made sure of it.”
“Ah, that’s good then...” she trailed. YuMi looked at her who’s back was facing her. Biting down on her lip she asked, “Is the child his?”
Sniffles came from her as she nodded her head slowly. Closing her eyes YuMi took in a deep breath thinking, “Fate is really fucking with me right now.”
Drinking the last of the tea in her cup she said, “I see, you must have really liked him to have slept with him.” Wiping her tears away she closed her robed and sat up straight. Turning around she said, “Don’t judge me.”
YuMi, “I’m not.”
Jangmi, “When you are done, leave tomorrow.”
She looked at her and said, “In five days I will send you silver, bring your grandparents with you to Jilei. I will also be sending you an escort to make sure you arrive in Jilei safely. When you do, a house will be prepared for you, you will give birth to a healthy baby and live in peace.”
Jangmi frowned, “Why should I take hand-me-downs from you?”
YuMi, “You have no choice, the two of us need to protect that child.”
Picking up the robe she took off YuMi put it back on and said, “I’m leaving, when the soldiers of Jilei come for you don’t be alarmed.” Waving her hands YuMi didn’t look back, she and Yinying travelled upstream and into the mountains.