How is it possible they will burn Changsha down just by an order?! How come I have not heard of such? De.Fi.Nite.Ly. Not. XJS is at it again, invited to join the lunch, the merchants he does ‘business’ with, under his protection (with a fee of gratitude) are asking him if the rumor is true. He never just says a simple denial and expect you to trust him, he can sieve through the facts to support anything he needs to keep under the cover: his family has not left, his SiL is to be betrothed tonight to the richest silk merchant in town, he, XJS has not ferried his most precious ‘belongings’ out of CS. His lie is not out of heartlessness, if he is tracked down as the source leaking out the confidential information, that is sure death before the fire is even set. This is a coverup that must be told to keep his head on his shoulder for the longest time, XJS’ MO.
XiaoDi is dragged along as part of the lie.
BigBro, you still mind being yelled at?
He is not evil, he is not leading these businessmen his friends ‘with benefits’ on to meet a sure death. There would be alarms, signal fire, if they do not run for their lives with such warning in the time they are living in, it really is not on a barely there conscience of XJS.
And no, of course he is not afraid of being spat at by every CSnite after the fire started, if found out they are behind it and lynching them in despise. It is the honor of his wife, his wife’s family that he can not bear. If XJS did not commit that deplorable act of forcing SJ in exchange of cousin MH’s life, he would have committed many more deplorable acts without wincing. It is because of his last truly despicable deed out of falling for a worthy woman so truly, madly, deeply, that he is no longer the unworthy man.
Today is just an engagement, not a wedding.
XX is buying time as she yanks off all her ornamentation in her hair. She does not know time and fate are luxuries she might not afford to disregard yet. Unlike her child of a twin brother, still not able to grasp how their lives are rewriting with ‘This is wartime!’ between every line when it is not hitting their daily lives hard yet, she knows with the practicality her BiL instilled in her this is a marriage that must happen to secure her family, that is why she has not allowed herself to dwell more on her feelings. Grandmama said she is already very lucky, and she is, asking for marital bliss marrying the one she love is too much to ask. She just knows in her gut, this is not it.
XM, today is Dr. Sun’s birthday memorial.
Come with me, XM!
Ignorance is bliss, XM is still the romantic, not compromising happiness over anything, he can not be a bystander witnessing his sister throwing away her heart for in part his ticket out of the city as well. Her partner in crime?! Sure. He can never refuse some mischief, excitement in his life especially when it is a gamble for the happiness of his deartwinnie.
Is XX’s engagement more important than Dr. Sun’s memorial?
XJS has the hottest BAMF! Smugface, all written on it how ignorant your question is, Dad. XJS had not crawl his way up to his clout in ChangSha to not live life at its fullest like his survival is based on it and have his way with everything, even if it is ordering his minion to drag his DiL back home by force in plain view where everyone has eyes can jeer at. All for the good of his family.
And a certain someone who would have a biggest lump of emotions he will not let out picking up the news Hu XiangXiang is getting engaged tonight happens to hear and witness the farce:
Huh. Who still have time for an engagement?
Should we invite ourselves for a drink?
Mookie enjoys the scene of a respected stuffy professor being dragged off the street by his thug of a SiL too much. He also must be enjoying rubbing it in a sulking commander Gu, (because we fandom knows WH is hotter when hurt). Mookie is clearly a very smart kid, as a shipper, spurring jealousy speeds up a lot of clarity of WANT!
Gu allows himself a brief second of emotions and practicality battling inside. Any girl should secure a marriage and leave the city about to be ravished like Nanking. But why is he not feeling a relief for Hu XiangXiang when he eases his mind a little, arranging for the evacuation of his soldiers’ families? Mookie is in a lighter mood to joke and poke fun at him. None of it must be escaping Gu’s mind, but he only allows himself a moment. They are here on the outlook for chairman Zhang, who should attend the memorial festivities like every year, if this is any other year.
Dad is not happy to part with his fine wine even for XX’s big day. Grandmama hollers at him being ignorant in decorum, BiL teases, no, Dad is very well versed in 2 things: Drinking wine and reading books. It is a very viable sneer, but bear in mind in peace, that has been what scholars indulged in gifting us classics in literature that lived on longer than most possessions in Changsha.
This is a happy occasion for XX.
They find out XX and XM are missing in the middle of the dinner. Of all of the magic XJS can do with his manipulations, making a HXX appears this instant is not one of them. He says it frankly, she is off somewhere. Dad Sheng puts down his chopsticks and orders his boy to leave after keeping propriety of putting it as his son is not good enough for Miss Hu.
Mookie: Oh isn’t that Miss XiangXiang? Keep saying the obvious, rubbing it in some more Mookie, good job, and that giggle on your face is totally a bystander watching a cute angsty fluff unfolding. Your commander is already trying to keep the brooding, staring at her with his deadpan face, nonchalant, or so he thought. Congratulations. I tried to fish for a relief on Gu ChingMing’s face when XM tells him they runaway from the engagement but his face is expressionless. Gu ChingMing has more urgent business at hand, but gone is that midge of moping. Math time, going from negative foul mood to zero takes some happy positive thoughts. Mookie said what is on Gu’s mind for him, telling the kids to scurry home.
A mob, spreading the news jap has already broken the new city wall, at the other bank of the river, about to march in, immediately puts the crowd in a frantic. First order of business for commander Gu after yelling at the rumormonger not to spread fear, is to command, with the emphasis of pointing his gloved finger at each of the twins back and forth, to hurry back home with all the concern he tried to hide the moment before, ChangSha is very dangerous this very moment!
Did you mention the name of my Father?
Gu is at chairman Zhang’s mansion pleading in futile for a meeting. The chairman won’t see anyone, he has a very urgent matter at 4am and it is not difficult to guess it is bad news.
Strange winds are gusting out of nowhere, XiangJun keeps Grandmama company, put in a soothing word for XX’s running away. She is still a child, it is better to take care of her keeping her by their side.
So you claimed to have studied abroad…
Imo, what a waste of the good shallow package
You are smug, you are condescending!
‘Aren’t you getting engaged tonight?’
As Gu stands in the cold outside of chairman Zhang’s gate in a silent protest for a meeting, the very first time our prince pulling even his Daddy card, is begging with all his pride gone with the wind, every word XX jabbed at him replaying in his head, as he uses his action to prove her wrong, doing as she regards an honorable guy with his dandy package should. She is not getting engaged to another guy tonight, he has her in every thought, even when he is conducting his rebellious mission of a one man’s useless protest against a city’s devastation by a Chairman’s executive order. Night is cold, Mookie is pouring him warmth of worry and concern, but it is her words that fuels his spirits alive and his determination burning fierce. Gu ChingMing’s eyes always sparkle brighter with a stubborn cold righteousness, it has a new sparkle for Hu XiangXiang in them tonight. This was a girl who would jump off a building over an arranged marriage with him, with the war at arm’s reach, she has earned his respect in her every deed, running from another arranged marraige she almost compromised into. She should not have to lower herself anymore because of a war he is fighting. He must have taken it up as another reason why he has to
Moonface, open the door!
Like any other night, when XM is restless in bed, he creeps for the old comfort fighting for one blanket with his twin. It was just a few months ago when we first met the carefree little feisty brat XX darting all over ChangSha like this picture, hands on her waist, larger than life in her tiny neat package, ready to conquer the world without a fear except maybe BiL’s spanking. XX still looks like that 16 year old girl, but her brows are frowning more, she will lean on her Grandmama saying out loud she is scared, the horror happening to her own friend is too close to not affect her. We have not seen XX smiles like the picture on her dresser since that fateful day, autumn of 1938.
Will ChangSha…really be burned down?!
With BiL here, no one dares to touch our house.
They are hungry at the same time, sharing a giggle, XM goes grab a snack, must be like any other cold night.
And they see the unbelievable sight.
They see too:
O M G
They are given no warning, they know of no signal fire, who wouldn’t run for their lives when they saw the warning?! XJS must’ve remembered himself saying. People are running for their lives in the mayhem nonetheless. They said japs are marching in, TianXin building is on fire. There really is no order he received this time, unlike his lie at the lunch…and they really are burning the city down.
XJS calls his Boss right away, word is at 4am chairman Zhang would personally issue the order, before then, there should be no action.
Not only chairman Zhang’s phone is disconnected, the phone line to the police is also dead. Something suspicious is going on. I am sure XJS knew something sketchy before his Boss’ confirmation, he lost all his slick, hastily grabbing money from his two younglings, rushed XiaoDi to escort his family to catch a boat to XiangTan asap.
*We now know it was an accidental fire at a hospital very close to the TianXin building starting the devastating domino effect. A lot of folks must’ve heard of the rumor of the army employing the arson tactics, burning ChangSha to the ground. It was panic and human error and a lot of cowards in people of power, in position to protect the city fleeing for their lives first thing as fire broke, the fire that burnt down the city that night and for 5 whole days in total, killing 30000+ Changshanites, annihilating 90% of its building some stood witness of all the changes of occupation since Spring and Autumn Period several centuries BC, when the IJA was still 300+ miles outside of ChangSha, not yet advancing.
XiaoDi comes to their rescue just in time as the police are here to set their house on fire. Grandmama refuses to budge learning the japs have not yet entered CS. She is staying, Dad and Mom are also staying with Grandmama. Dad looks on the taillights as he forces his children and grandchild leaving in XiaoDi’s ride, saying his farewell.
Gu and Mookie rush to the fire department, the higher ranks are nowhere to be found, already fled for their lives, only lowly office workers are scrambling all the damning paperwork and fleeing even when Gu is ordering them at gunpoint to stay and help put out the fire. They rather take a bullet from him than risking their lives for the city in inferno.
ChangSha is dead.
I have told you, I didn’t goddamn start the fire!!!
Hauling a water tank, XJS heads towards the fire as Gu ChingMing heads in the opposite direction….into the blaze.