Chapter 350: Sincerely Touching
Wang Hongyuan went on. “I didn’t have any choice in becoming a vampire – my only course was to follow the one who turned me. I was forced to learn a number of skills, and spent the years cultivating my abilities. They would only let me live if I could achieve third rank or above. I worked hard, because my life depended on it. I would later come to discover that it was the Dark Citadel that took me – but we called it the Black Congress. The strongest of the vampires, our Patriarch, was given the traditional moniker of Dracula.”
“A vampire’s life is tedious, lonely, and cold. Thankfully, I was only forced to drink a little blood from the living to promote Discipline growth. I never fed from a human, something I found to be different from my expectations. The years passed, and I grew both in body and Discipline. Eventually, they started to send me out on missions. I started to rise in the ranks.”
“But I didn’t like it. I hated the darkness – my hope was to live my life in the light like a normal person. They got to enjoy all the things the world of brightness had to offer. And it was a dream I could accomplish, since generations of evolution had caused vampires to no longer fear the sun. I decided to run, and I would do it while performing one of their missions. I chose the East, to get as far away from the Black Congress as possible. I hid for a time, concealing my identity, until I felt like it was safe. Then I made Skyfire my home.
“I chose Skyfire because of the Avenue’s presence. I figured that would be a sufficient deterrent to the West, that would hopefully stop them from rolling in here whenever they pleased. Meanwhile, I was finally able to live the life of my dreams; I joined the NEU, and became an electives teacher. About that time I met a girl. She was beautiful, kind, vibrant, with maybe a screw or two loose – but to me, that makes her that much cuter.”
“I was finally happy. Every day I got to see this girl, and in order to earn her respect I worked hard. If the students liked me, then so would she, I thought. The school would like me so I could stay near her. That way I could continue to see her every day.”
“Eventually it was all too much for me to bear. I came to know my feelings as affection, something I hadn’t really felt before. And as that feeling grew it became something greater – it became love.”
“This went on for three years. That whole time, I didn’t dare speak – I wasn’t worthy of speaking to her. You said you don’t like indecisive men, but that’s not me. It’s fear. Fear that I’m not good enough for you. I have no great ability, and my history as part of the Citadel makes it worse. I’ve never done anything brutal, like they wanted, but that’s my family background.”
“But seeing you every day makes me happy, and the more time we spend together the deeper I feel it. It makes it impossible to break away. When Professor Lan came, and I saw how you looked at him, it broke my heart. I was deathly afraid he’d steal you away. That’s why I wasn’t so nice to him when he first showed up. Eventually I came to know more about him, and those feelings went away.”
“Jin Yan. I really, really like you. Everything about you. I’m so sorry it’s taken me this long to say it, but I never felt like I had a chance. I still may not, not fifty or even one percent, but now is the time to speak my mind. If not now, then that unspoken love would have consumed me. But don’t worry – I won’t cause you any trouble. No one knows about my affection for you. When we get back from this trip I plan to give in my resignation to Director Wu. I went with those students on the training, and experienced life on An Lun. It affected me deeply. A solitary man like me would do well in the army. I lived in the West far long than I did the East, but this still feels like home to me. Skyfire Avenue protected me when I needed it, so now it’s time for me to give back to this Alliance. Maybe on day, when I’ve earned enough merit and risen in ranks, I’ll come back. If you still don’t have a husband, I can give it another shot.”
She stood in one place, unmoving. Her features were calm, but the light in her eyes revealed the turmoil in her head.
Wang Hongyuan dropped to a knee before her and, lifting the crystal rose in his hands, fixed her with his soft gaze. “Thank you for letting me get that out. I finally feel like the pressure has eased. I’m not an articulate man. I don’t know what I can say to make you happy, but there is something I need to tell you: I mean all of this. If you agree to be with me, I’ll love you with every fiber of myself. Every bit of me will belong to you. And I don’t care if you laugh, but I’ve never had a girlfriend. I’m a virgin, so –“
“Pfhfhfhtht!” Jin Yan couldn’t help it. She tried to stop the laugh, but it fought it’s way through her lips.
His face reddened with embarrassment. “I made this rose with blood from my own heart. If you take it, it cast’s a spell. If ever I am untrue, my heart will wither, and I will die. Do…. Do you, accept?”
Jin Yan looked at him, on his knees, and gradually her eyes grew cold and hard. Every second was an icy dagger in Wang Hongyuan’s chest.
“I do not agree.” She said.
Wang Hongyuan knew it could happen. He’d guessed it might. Still, when the words left her lips he felt like he would collapse under his own weight. He even swayed ever so slightly, down on his knees.
“I’m sorry!” He staggered to his feet, then made for the door to let her out.
“Stop right there!” Jin Yan shouted. Wang Hongyuan froze.
“And not just me,” Jin Yan said, “no woman in her right mind would agree to accept some flower made of heart blood. A woman is looking for someone she can depend on. Not some death pact. This flower is a burden. A curse, and not just for you but the person who accepts it as well. Now put that thing away, because even if you do betray me someday, I won’t want you to die for it.”
“I, uh…” Wang Hongyuan stood, confused. He wasn’t sure he’d heard correctly.
They stood toe to toe in the darkness. Jin Yan’s eyes sparkled as she looked up at him. “There was another colleague before, who was interested in me. You picked him apart, even struck him once. Was this also because you like me?”
He earnestly nodded his head. “Yes.”
“You have courage to fight someone but not to speak up and say something?” Jin Yan complained.
Wang Hongyuan hung his head. “I didn’t dare. I’m actually pretty thin-skinned and sensitive. I know my short-comings, just like I know I don’t deserve you.”
Jin Yan stepped closer. Her warm breath crashed against his neck in waves. “How much do you like me?”
His eyes widened, and he backed away half a step. When he saw the light in her eyes, though, he had no trouble finding the words. “So, so much. More than I could ever love myself.”
She chuckled. “Put your damn flower away, I don’t want it.”
“Oh.” He chuckled sheepishly, then the crystal rose dissolved in to silk-thin strands of light. The penetrated through his wrist and disappeared.
“Go out and get some real roses. There aren’t any here, and we definitely need some red flowers. Hurry up, I’ll wait for you here.”
“What?” Wang Hongyuan blinked at her. “Flowers?”
She waved him off. “Stop your nonsense. There aren’t any flowers here, and how is a girl supposed to accept anything if there aren’t flowers involved?”
“S-so you’re.. you’re saying you’ll be my girlfriend?” Wang Hongyuan timidly inquired.
Jin Yan didn’t even look at him. “We’ll talk about all that when you get back with the flowers.”
“Ah!” Wang Hongyuan yelped, suddenly.
Jin Yan finally turned her head to look at him. “What is it?”
He answered with a grin. “I just remembered that I forgot something. We were supposed to come in, I’d have the talk, and then…” As he spoke, Wang Hongyuan lifted his right hand. Suddenly, light flooded the room.
The quick change in lighting caused Jin Yan to squint. Once her eyes adjusted, though, she gasped in astonishment.
They stood in a sea of flowers. The entire room was filled floor to ceiling in gorgeous red flowers. They varied in size, but all released a pale pink aura that bathed the room in a gentle glow. Wang Hongyuan clapped his hands, and petals began to slowly descend from the ceiling. The soft scent of fresh flowers hung in the air around them.
He plucked one of the flowers from nearby, and returned to his post on one knee before Jin Yan. “Give me a chance, Jin Yan. I will love you more than anything or anyone in the universe. I will protect you, I will be your knight. I will care for you no matter what we face. If you don’t like how I look, I’ll change. Whatever you want from me, I’ll be. Because I love you.”
As he spoke, he lifted a hand and rustled the carefully manicured hair on his head. He looked up at Jin Yan with eyes full of sincerity.
The rims of Jin Yan’s eyes had begun to redden. She stepped forward, and took the rose from his hand. “Stand up.”
Wang Hongyuan quickly shot back up to his feet. “So… are you my girlfriend?”
“Yeah.” Jin Yan blushed, and nodded her head.
He looked at her, unable to react. A moment later, tears began to poor from his eyes. He wrapped Jin Yan up in a big hug, and she screamed in delight as he swung her around in circles.