Nian Hong Fang’s hands trembled. He gulped and rubbed at his eyes to wipe away the tears that threatened to spill over. Zhi Wu … After such a long time, there was finally a sign of life from him.
Nian Hong Fang took a deep breath and raised the letter. He held it a little further away to make sure that his tears wouldn’t smudge the ink. He didn’t want to lose out on even a single character. He wanted to appreciate every single stroke of it. He finally wanted to feel just a little closer to Zhi Wu.
Merely looking at the first few words tugged at his heartstrings, ripping open the wound that Zhi Wu’s disappearance had torn back then.
‘Xiao Fang, I’m sorry for only writing to you now. I wish I was able to explain myself to you, to tell you about everything that has happened in this time, and show you just how much I love you. Unfortunately, my circumstances aren’t too well and my wishes can’t be fulfilled at this moment. I can only hope to one day have the chance to return to your side and tell you to your face.’
Nian Hong Fang’s brows furrowed slightly. What did he mean? Which circumstances was he in? What had happened to him? And why couldn’t he return right now?
He glanced at the messenger that was still standing to the side, waiting for his answer. The man was looking straight at him as if he was observing his every reaction. Nian Hong Fang shuddered but tried to keep the reaction hidden. He didn’t have a good feeling about this.
He forced a smile and cleared his throat to make sure it wouldn’t sound hoarse because of his unshed tears. “You wouldn’t happen to know where this letter came from, would you?”
“Have you finished reading it?”
“No … not yet.”
“Then you should do that.” The man didn’t even blink. He just continued to stare at Nian Hong Fang.
Nian Hong Fang looked back at the letter with a complicated expression. The man hadn’t said that he didn’t know, he had just told him to get back to reading. This probably meant that he knew very well but didn’t want to tell. Could it be … was Zhi Wu in trouble? In even deeper trouble than he had thought?
Nian Hong Fang shook his head and continued to read. If there were any hints, he would only be able to find them in these lines.
‘I hope you are doing well and haven’t missed me too much. Well, actually, I sometimes selfishly hoped that maybe you missed me a lot after all. That way, things might be able to return to how they had been if I am able to return. I would like that very much.’
Able to return … He had once again phrased it so strangely. Something definitely had to be wrong.
‘Xiao Fang, I’m afraid there isn’t much else I can write right now. The things I’ve experienced, in fact, there isn’t a lot. Every day seems the same: Seeing the same things, hearing the same things, feeling the same things.
It’s so monotonous I sometimes feel like it would be better to just end it altogether. The only thing making me hold on is the thought of you. Being able to write to you now is like taking a burden off my shoulders. At least now I don’t have to fear that you’ll think I might have forgotten all about you. Please never question this. You are on my mind every day.’
Nian Hong Fang smiled lightly and brushed the words with his fingertips. On his mind every day … He could only return those words. For him, not a single day had gone by when he didn’t think of Zhi Wu either. He really would have liked to be able to see him in person today but, well, for the time being, this letter would have to be enough.
‘What I have to write next might seem strange to you. Please don’t think too much. My life isn’t in jeopardy right now.’
Nian Hong Fang shook. Not in jeopardy right now? Did that mean … he had been in that situation before? Or maybe he didn’t know if it wouldn’t happen in the near future?
His hands tensed and he almost crinkled the paper. He had to take a deep breath to calm himself before he could continue to read.
‘It’s just that there are some difficulties. Because of that, I am afraid they will exchange the letter I wrote for something else. To make sure that the words I wrote will really reach you, I ask you to write your reply on the backside of the scroll. That way, I will be able to check if they have changed anything. Naturally, I can’t be sure they won’t change your response either but I can only hope they will be honorable enough to not deprive me of this small happiness.’
Nian Hong Fang’s brows drew together. They? Could it be that somebody was holding him captive? But who?
He blankly stared at the letter and then glanced at the dark-clad messenger. This man knew something but wasn’t willing to say it. He was probably part of the people that were doing this. Now, what? This man certainly wasn’t here just to get his reply and deliver it back. No, if that was the case, he would have left the room and waited outside for him to read and reply so as to give him a bit of privacy. But he hadn’t so that could only mean that he was here to keep an eye on him.
Just what had Zhi Wu gotten himself into?