What… what is this fiery scalding feeling?
Hui Lei’s nose was full of a burning smell and his throat was dry. He painstakingly opened his eyes and saw a beautiful woman in a gorgeous dress lying in front of him, breathless.
On top of her was a huge pillar. He saw the woman’s bloody face and his mind went blank for a moment.
Lady Tian? Why is she here?
Wait! No! Why am I here?
Wasn't I supposed to be dead?
Slowly, the urgent situation dawned on him. He was in the middle of a fire where nothing but red and black could be seen from the four directions.
His back was facing up, where on top of him was an almost completely burnt roof.
Below him was a person he seemed to have been trying to cover and protect with his body, a beautiful boy that looked like Lady Tian. Hui Lai was embracing that child tightly. The child was beautiful even though there were ash and char marks all over his body. The boy was wearing blue clothing. He opened his phoenix eyes slowly and whispered weakly to Hui Lei.
“Mother… Did mother, did she…” The boy tried to suppress his tears when he saw the woman lying down below that huge and massive wooden pillar. He tried to normalize his rough breath by gritting his teeth. The boy tried to slide to Lady Tian’s body, but his legs could not move. “Ugh… if not for this poison…”
Hui Lei looked at his leg. The beautiful boy’s legs were paralyzed. Hui Lei frowned.
Hui Lei was not sure of anything. He didn’t know what was happening, how did he get into this alarming situation. What he knew was that, first of all, Lady Tian is surely no longer in this world, and second of all, they needed to get out of here!
However, somehow Hui Lei’s body was weighty… it felt like he was wearing a heavy armor. Moving his feet was so hard that he sweated from moving an inch. It felt like he had been poisoned too.
While Hui Lei was trying to move to a sitting position, the blazing flames grazed the skin on his hands and he felt an unimaginable pain. It was not like the pain Hui Lei got from being stabbed in the heart by his best friend.
However, it hurts!
Hui Lei finally managed to stand up from his sitting position, with the boy was still in his embrace. The child lightly touched the hem of his robe. “Sorry, I am a burden…” The boy thought his lightweight was the reason for Hui Lei’s sloppy movements.
Hui Lei tried to adjust his mouth and was able to say.
“I won't die here. Definitely! And I won't let you die here either,” Hui Lei said firmly. The boy raised his head toward him, he smiled sweetly and grabbed Hui Lei’s hanfu tightly.
Hui Lei heard some cracking noise and ran toward a less burned place without looking back because he knew the cracking was coming from the roof that was about to fall.
Hui Lei ran and ran.
Not caring a bit about his blistered feet and his burnt clothes. Hui Lei ran toward a thin wall that was yet being burned and kicked it. He arrived at a smaller room where there was less fire but more smoke. The smoke got to his eyes and it was hard for Hui Lei to see.
“Tch!” Hui Lei rubbed his eyes, trying to clear his views. Hui Lei stumbled and was almost brought to his knees.
All of a sudden, Hui Lei felt the boy in his embrace fidget, the boy cried. “Sister! That way!” the boy saw an opening. It was a window that was away from the fire. Hui Lei sprinted to it and jumped.
Luck was on their side, directly below the window was a shallow koi pond.
“Huft… Huft…” Hui Lei sat there, wet. Trying to adjust his uncontrollable breathing and fast beating heart. Both his vision and muddled mind were finally cleared. Then, the clear image of his body which he thought had been weird came to him. Hui Lei looked at his breasts that were slightly visible through the wet clothes.
“...” with wide eyes, Hui Lei stared at the beautifully shaped, tempting breasts.
Hui Lei made a very bewildered face.
“Sister?” the boy that was right beside Hui Lei seemed like he was worried sick, he touched Hui Lei’s face weakly and looked at him directly in the eyes. “You are not hurt, are you?” Hui Lei’s already widened eyes blinked twice.
Did I just see a reflection of a girl on that boy’s deep, dark, and unfathomable dark brown eyes?
Hui Lei hurriedly looked away from the boy and checked his own reflection on the clear, shallow koi pond water, he was looking at a girl with hooded phoenix black eyes, long, black, messy straight hair, thin, pale lips, dainty nose and ghost-like colorless skin which still had some traces of black ash and smoke on it.
A girl? Me?
“...” Hui Lei had no words… none at all.
Hui Lei put his hand on his head, all of this sequence of events got him uncomfortable and dizzy. They hit him harder than a trunk.
My best friend killed me; somebody I looked up to, Lady Tian, died, and I, a nineteen years old man, got turned into a woman?
He tried not to think about that face and the reflection of him on the clear water that stays unperturbed even though the house was burnt to crisp.
That's right, the house! Lady Tian’s body was still inside. For what she gave to me, at the very least, her body… Her body needs to be saved!
Hui Lei on Lian Ai’s body moved and got the half-paralyzed-boy started. He who had turned to a she turned her head right and left to see whether there was someone to help her get Lady Tian’s body. The new Lian Ai wanted to scream, but her throat felt awful because of the smoke earlier.
Lian Ai noticed someone's shadow on her left side, under the thick-unburnt tree. Her face brightened up, Lian Ai was about to signal to him or her but stopped when she saw the eyes of the shadow that were full of displeasure, distress, and disgust. Those ugly and hateful eyes glared at Lian Ai and the boy before they suddenly disappeared.
Wait! Lian Ai wanted to chase that shadow. But, the blisters on her feet hurt so much, she ended up falling when she tried to get up.
“Sister!” The boy panickedly shouted.
“Lian Ai! Wu Xia!”
From behind, a voice full of warmth and relief could be heard heading their way with fast and firm footsteps. Lian Ai was hugged from behind. Her clothes were wet but the man didn't care.
Lian Ai felt a bit thrown back. “You two are safe” Lian Ai could feel that the man wanted to say something more than that. But many eyes were watching and, as a King, he should not look like he is biased. “Thank God…”
That was the last thing Lian Ai heard before she fainted.