A gust of wind blew the sand away. The square was filled with rotten heads. There were dozens of people tied down on a platform in the center of the square, including men and women of different ages, while Meng Huo sat in a throne on another platform. He was stern with them and said: “You dare violate tribal rules and smuggled the ecstatic poppies. Executioner! Kill them all!”
The executioner executed all of them at Meng Huo’s command. In the blink of an eye, they were all beheaded, which made the onlookers throw up. Meng Huo, however, remained calm and heavily struck the ground with his weapon, making a loud noise.
“Pay attention, everyone! This is how you end up in if you violate the tribal rules. I’ll show you no mercy!” Meng Huo glared at them and then galloped back to the residence.
“I...killed people again...I killed my people…” Meng Huo felt uncomfortable, as if he was bitten by countless insects. He headed back to his room to find Zhurong bathing.
“Um? I’m sorry...I better get out——”
“No worries. We are couple. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. So, is it done?”
“Yes, they’re executed.” Meng Huo said as he tilted his head to one side, but Zhurong noticed his painful expression.
“It’s too much for him.” She came out of the bath barrel, put on an underwear and let Meng Huo rest his head on her lap as they sat on the bed.
“You must have had a hard day.” She gently said.
“...This is how we save our country?” Meng Huo could finally be himself in front of Zhurong—— a childlike person just as he was. After a while, since he received no answer from Zhurong, he urged: “My dear?”
She shook her head and responded in a serious tone: “Although poppies have been banned, farmlands can no longer plant anything else. We'll soon run out of food.”
Meng Huo sat up, held Zhurong's hands, and anxiously asked: “Then what should we do?”
Zhurong grinned. She picked up a dagger on a desk and stabbed the bottom of a map that hung on a wall——a location belonging to the Wu's.
“What if we snatch food from others?”
“...Snatch?” Meng Huo felt sad to hear that suggestion. He hated doing harmful things, but Zhurong felt indifferent. Her eyes sparkled and she looked excited as if she saw a prey. Zhurong whispered as she gently touched his cheek: “Would you kill for me?”
“...I love you. I’ll do anything for you.” Meng Huo knew he could never resist her.
Under Zhurong’s arrangements, Meng Huo went to attack the emperor of Wu a month later. Initially, they had the upper hand with their war elephants. However, they never expected Wu to bring reinforcements. The battle was at deadlock.
Zhurong stayed up late to study the battle layout, sometimes even studying overnight. One night, she was served hot soup while she was reading material lists.
“You haven’t eaten all day. You’ll be exhausted before we win this battle. Meng Huo delivered Zhurong the soup and she immediately felt hungry as soon as she smelled the soup.
“Thank you.” Zhurong sipped the soup slowly; while Meng Huo hesitantly asked: “Is...the battle tough?”
“It’s more complicated. I'll immediately order a retreat if I know we're going to lose, but right now it’s fifty-fifty.”
“If Sun Ce, the leader of our enemy, died, would we win the battle?”
“Yes. In view of our comparable strength, losing the leader means losing the battle.” Zhurong smiled and said: “But Sun Ce won’t die so easily.”
“Yeah, you’re right.”
Zhurong was too tired. It was not until the following night did she notice Meng Huo was missing.
“Does the fool intend to assassinate Sun Ce by himself?”
While she was pondered, a soldier came into the tent and reported: “Madam, we have a visitor.”
“I’m busy! Send him away!”
“But the man insists on meeting you. He said you’ll understand once you see this.” The soldier handed her a white cloth. Zhurong opened it and saw a tuft of hair inside. She immediately recognized Meng Huo's hair and shouted: “Bring him in!”
A moment later, a man with a cloak came in with a heavy bag. Zhurong asked all the soldiers to back off and left the two of them alone. She summoned a fire beast, pointed a long blade at the man and shouted: “Tell me! What had happened to my husband?”
“Oh, calm down. Your husband is fine. Look!” The man opened the bag behind himself, inside which laid Meng Huo who was tied up. Zhurong carefully checked on his condition. Although she was relieved to only find a flesh wound, she still blamed him: “You are so reckless!”
“Dear, I’m sorry…” Meng Huo said as he felt guilty and dejected.
“Let’s talk about this later.” Zhurong then questioned the man: “Who are you? What do you want?”
“Don’t be hostile. I’m just here for a settlement.” The man took off his cloak and showed his face, which astonished Zhurong .
“You’re Sun Ce!...Why didn’t you kill my husband? He is the key to winning this battle.”
“I’m afraid killing him would only unleash an even more terrible beast.” Sun Ce glanced at the fire beast, which startled Zhurong.
“How much does this man know?”
“Plus, I don’t want to see more people die.” Sun Ce did not notice her wavering and continued: “You have been set up by Cao Cao. I know you’re in desperate need for food due to the planting of the ecstatic poppies. That's why you had no choice but to invade my country. If you promise to withdraw your army, I’ll lend you grain to help you through this crisis.”
“We don’t need this short-term support, we need something more fundamental.”
“...What do you want?”
“We need you to share your farming techniques and storage methods. Even if you betray us, we can still be self-sufficient.”
“Such a terrible woman.” Sun Ce cut Meng Huo loose, “Deal! I’ll compile a written agreement tomorrow. I better leave then——”
“What’s the matter?”
“Take it.” Zhurong gave Sun Ce a red bamboo tube, which was in palm size. He asked in puzzlement as he received it: “What is this?”
“Nice people are vulnerable. Open it when you’re in danger, and I’ll help you.” Zhurong briefly explained.
“Because you’re useful to me right now. I can’t let you die.”
“...Sigh! I can’t believe you’re in love with this woman.” Sun Ce mocked Meng Huo, who hugged Zhurong and responded: “I love her for who she is.”
“...You’re such a fool.” Zhurong thought as she hugged him back ...