Chapter 77 – Prophecy
September 2000, France, Place de la Concorde by one of the fountains.
“Mister, would you like to buy a flower?” Skidding to a stop, an energetic young flower-seller girl stopped in front of Jiaming. Even though she was somewhat androgynous looking, her smile was captivating. He originally did not have any interest towards flowers, but found himself saying in English, “A rose please.”
“Sure… Mister, are you Chinese?” Speaking fluent English, the girl curiously asked as she retrieved the reddest rose she could find.
“Yes, that's correct.”
“See, I guessed right!” He had not expected an ordinary flower-seller to be able to speak multiple languages, but she responded to him in fluent Chinese. He did not react in any way, but made a mental note of her as she continued asking, “Mister, do you understand French?”
“Uh, I don't…”
“Such a pity, Chinese and French are the two most beautiful languages in the world. Knowing both would make your life more wonderful… Goodbye, hope you have a good journey in France.”
In that other lifetime, it had been a purely coincidental meeting. Over the years, Jiaming learned French, unsure if this had been a hint from the girl or not. 'Chinese and French are the two most beautiful languages in the world’ was something he had rarely heard anyone say. As it had been so peculiar, he ended up remembering it until he ended up in a giant dark hall in Venice a few years later. He got quite a large shock when he saw that girl again.
She was Natalie Annis — Empress of Lyra Tenebris.
As the hidden underworld’s third most powerful ability user, there was a rumor that the Empress of Lyra Tenebris was immortal. Everytime her outer body died, it was said that her spirit would be reincarnated. Even though there was no actual reliable evidence to prove this, when he confronted her again two years later in her collapsing dark hall and stabbed her in the chest with his dagger, she just lay in his embrace and unhurriedly continued talking to him until her heart stopped. Unfortunately he had already completely forgotten what she had said to him. As he reached up to close her unseeing eyes, he remembered muttering, “Don't look at me like that, I'm only an assassin…”
Thinking about these unrelated foolish matters while on this spacious and luxurious cruise ship, he started wondering why she came to China personally. It was hard for him to determine why she did this, because based on his knowledge of her from his past life, this woman had always been hard to fathom. Sometimes she would spend a large amount of effort on destroying a country, but she would also spend the same amount of effort on eating ice cream as a pastime.
But who cared about her! Putting away a few small improvised items in the corner in his room, Yahan could be heard from outside the door, “Jiaming, hurry up! It’s time for food, we’ll leave you behind if you don’t hurry.” Her voice was followed by the laughter of Lingjing and Shasha.
As they had just boarded the boat, the four did not think that they would be joining a formal banquet, so there was no need to dress too formally. Of course, there were formal events prepared on this cruise, but they were organized at specific venues within the various families. Even though there were no restrictions on who could join, Jiaming and the others did not want to get in on the action as they had other plans. First, they would try the super-luxurious buffet; then go up to the deck to watch the fireworks display; afterwards, they wanted to check out the entertainment room and watch a movie. After that, if they still wanted to do something, they could find a room to settle in and play poker. This ultra uncreative plan was actually Yahan’s, who claimed that she had an IQ of 180. Both Lingjing and Shasha agreed to the plan, so naturally Jiaming’s unspoken criticism was ignored.
However, not long after this plan started, something hindered it.
There were many different restaurants and banquet halls aboard the ‘Dream Star’.They decided on the restaurant with the largest buffet, selected an isolated corner to sit, and went to pick some food choices. However, on their way back to their seats, the girls kept getting hit on by an endless wave of people.
“Hey miss, my name is XXX, do you need some assistance?” She was obviously a lady that did not need assistance, but this guy came to hit on her, trying to act like a gentlemen.
“Miss, I think this dish tastes better. Would you like to try some? My name is XXX, what about you?” This was a pick up line regarding which dish would taste better, while conveniently introducing himself at the same time.
“Ah, if it isn’t Miss Yahan? I’m XXX, we’ve met before at XXXX’s place. It must be destiny that we meet again, let’s sit together.” This was a pretending-to-be-familiar routine that was often tried with Yahan.
“Hi miss, I’m XXX family’s XXX. If you don’t mind, I would like to ask you to dance…” That was from the men that had a high opinion of themselves.
Since there were three women in their group of four, Yahan, Lingjing and Shasha were all subjected to varying degrees of harassment on their way back to their table. Even after they sat down, the harassment continued as many wealthy young masters approached them non-stop. Unfortunately, it was not just Yahan and the two girls; any single lady that was not accompanied by any male companions would end up in a similar situation. This was a typical sight at such gatherings as it was considered a good hunting ground for young people wanting to find a potential match for themselves. This type of large-scale, luxurious gathering banquet was not commonly hosted, so it was a unique opportunity.
Even though Jiaming had been sitting with the three girls, because he usually did not have much of a presence, he was naturally ignored by everyone. The three of them hurried to finish eating as they endured the harassment and then fled to the deck of the ship. By that time, night had fallen and land had long disappeared from sight. The waves could barely be felt on Dream Star as it smoothly continued its journey under the starry night sky. The four of them headed towards the prow of the ship as there was not a lot of people there. When they looked back to the cruise ship from there, its lights twinkled brightly like a dazzling palace sailing on the ocean. Lingjing sighed sincerely, “So beautiful.”
Enjoying the cool sea breeze, the four of them started laughing about what had happened in the dining room earlier. Then Jiaming suddenly thought of something and smirked, “Oh right, I should teach you something that we can do to make tonight unforgettable.”
“What’s that?” Lingjing curiously asked.
“Mmm, Lingjing, you need to stand right at the bow of the ship there, then spread your arms out and close your eyes. I’ll be holding you from behind…”
“Don’t wanna—” Since there were still people on the deck and Yahan was right there, Lingjing blushed embarrassedly and shook her head. Jiaming sighed in disappointment, then turned to look at Shasha, “Since Lingjing doesn’t want to, you should do it.”
“I… I’m not going to do that…” Shasha started protesting, but when she saw Jiaming’s smile, she glanced briefly at Yahan before stiffly following his instructions and walked towards the bow of the ship. She spread her arms in a cross shape and closed her eyes, before saying, “Why would doing this make it unforgettable?”
“I don’t know either.” Jiaming shrugged, the movie ‘Titanic’ would be released at the end of 1997, so people naturally did not yet know the iconic scene where the main couple stood at the bow of the ship. Since Jiaming did not have a single romantic cell in his body, he gestured at her, “Just shout after me, ‘I’m the king of the world’, then… ah, the ship is going to sink…”
“Liar!” Yahan and Lingjing burst out laughing as Jiaming said that. He held onto Shasha’s waist, “Get ready, one, two, three…”
“I am… the king of the world—”
The two people’s voice spread across the night wind and echoed, people that had been walking around the deck stared at them in surprise; however, before they could get embarrassed, in the next moment, the whole ship was plunged into darkness.
All the lights had cut out and everything went silent. Under the vast sky, they could clearly hear the sound of the waves hitting the ship, and it seemed like they were all alone in the whole universe. Shasha suddenly turned around and clung onto Jiaming. He was shocked as well as he thought, No way, was that curse actually real?
That so-called omen earlier could have been referring to the current situation…
Next chap is June 11.
I'm taking a short break these two weeks as I can only sporadically post. Will aim for 15 ch/month as usual, but we'll see.