In all of Tong Hua‘s historical novels, she chooses to write about characters who often have epic identities, but in doing so each is bound by responsibilities and ties that cannot be easily forsaken. What makes Lost You Forever interesting is that we get to sneak a peek at how these awesome characters like Xiao Yao, Jing, Xiang Liu, and Zhuan Xu would be like if they didn’t have their burdens to shoulder. Their alter egos of Xiao Liu, Shi Qi, Fang Feng Bei, and Xuan tease us with how wonderful their lives could be if they could love and live with abandon. Xiao Yao desperately wants that but she comes up against her own true identity in a devastating way in the last chapter. Everyone’s beloved Xiao Yao died, she really did die, and the only hope for her resurrection lays in the hands of Xiang Liu. Even if he manages to bring her back to life, going forward there is no longer any certainty that being a Princess with all the major backing of two Emperors can keep her safe. When Xiang Liu and Xiao Yao planted that pair of bugs in them, neither expected it would actually be so critical down the road. I love this chapter because it feels like a stolen time for Xiang Liu and Xiao Yao, a time they may never have together again. I’m a sucker for the Xiang Liu-Xiang Yao unspoken romance even if I think Jing is by and large the more stable choice for her. But it’s nice to have a demon warrior who tucks you away in his own private safe haven to save your life, yes?
Chapter 22 – It Feels Like Such a Long Parting:
The prison on Sheng Nong Mountain.
The sconces were lit along all four walls casting the cell in a light as bright as day.
Mu Fei was covered in blood and strung up in the air.
The prison door opened and Zhuan Xu, Feng Long, and Xing Yue walked in. Xing Yue furrowed her brows and covered her nose with a handkerchief. Zhuan Xu said “If you’re not comfortable you can stay outside.”
Xing Yue shook her head.
Feng Ling said “We’re not going to do anything in front of her. Plus this concerns matters in the Middle Plains, she ought to hear it so she understands.”
A tall guard said to Zhuan Xu “We’ve only used three tortures on him and his body has already broken down and cannot endure more. He is begging for death but still will not confess his cohorts.”
Zhuan Xu said “Let him down.”
The guard let Mu Fei down and he opened his eyes and said to Zhuan Xu “I killed your sister. Do what you want with me.”
Feng Long asked “Just you alone? You give yourself too much credit.”
Mu Fei laughed coldly and closed his eyes, indicating he had nothing more to say and they could kill him.
Zhuan Xu kneeled down and said slowly “Before you guys took action, you must have been chosen to be sacrificed which is why anything that could be traced back was done by you. I think you were chosen not because you are all that smart or brave, but because even if the two Emperors fly into a rage, all they can kill is you alone since every one of your tribe members are all dead. You don’t have a tribe left to exterminate completely for this.”
Mu Fei opened his eyes and glared at Zhuan Xu with a look of superiority.
Zhuan Xu smiled “But if the Mu family really has only you left, and you died, then the Mu bloodline really is ended. Years ago to save you from Qi Yo’s wrath, countless people in your family must have died to protect you. I believe that even if you are all that reckless and want to do something big, you would not dare to do anything that would end the Mu family bloodline. So if I’m not wrong, you already have a son out there.”
Mu Fei’s expression changed and Zhuan Xu’s smile disappeared and all that was left was icy rage “You can choose to die but I will find your son and send him to reunite with the entire Mu family in the afterlife.”
Mu Fei clamped his teeth shut and said nothing.
Zhuan Xu called out “Xiao Xiao.”
Xiao Xiao walked in “We have already collected the names of all the women who have had any contact with Mu Fei in the last hundred years. Only two women are likely, one is the daughter of Mu Fei’s nurse, she loves him a lot but married another man fifteen years ago and has a son. The other is the Tan family maid, when Mu Fei lived with his Tan relatives in their home, the maid worked there. She was kicked out of the family twenty some years ago for being with a man and now is missing.”
Zhuan Xu said “Keep investigating and find that maid. If she was with a man, she could have bore him a son.”
Xiao Xiao turned and walked out.
Mu Fei’s body betrayed his spirit and he was trembling, but still he said nothing and only stared at Zhuan Xu with rage and desperation.
Zhuan Xu said “You hurt my sister and I will definitely kill you. But if you tell me one thing I won’t touch your son.”
Mu Fei closed his eyes indicating he wasn’t going to talk to Zhuan Xu, but his hands continued to shake.
Zhuan Xu said “You don’t want to betray your cohorts, I can understand that. I am not asking for their names, I just want to know why you want to kill Xiao Yao. If you tell me why, I won’t kill your son.”
Zhuan Xu stood up “Think about it. Don’t attempt suicide otherwise I will save all the torture for your son.”
Zhuan Xu said to Feng Long and Xing Yue “Let’s go!”
After they walked out, Xing Yue asked “Why don’t you use his son’s life to ask for the names of his cohorts?”
Feng Long answered “To give his cohorts up, that is a betrayal and requires a lot longer for him to work through it in his mind. But Zhuan Xu asked why he wanted to kill Xiao Yao, that is not really a betrayal and won’t require too much inner struggle. Tonight we’ll have the guards bring some babies in and let their cries sound all over the cell. By morning he’ll be ready to talk. Once we know why he wanted to kill Xiao Yao, it won’t be hard to find his cohorts.”
There is no measure of time in a prison cell so time appeared to pass extra slowly and was harder to endure. Mu Fei couldn’t endure through the first night and hollered loudly that he wanted to see Zhuan Xu and also wanted Feng Long present.
Both men walked into the cell and Mu Fei said “I can tell you why I killed your sister, but I want your word that you will not harm my son.”
Zhuan Xu said “If you tell me the truth, I won’t harm him.”
Mu Fei stared at Feng Long “He is from the Xuan Yuan tribe and I don’t trust him. I want your promise, and to say it to me directly, that no one will harm my son.”
Feng Long smiled at Mu Fei “If you tell Zhuan Xu the truth, I promise no one will use what you did to harm your son. But if your son grows up and gets into his own trouble, forget Zhuan Xu, I will deal with him myself!”
Mu Fei was taken aback “Grow up?” He appeared to imagine his son grown and then smiled “He’s not like me, he will be a good person, but I won’t be able to see it…..”
Because of what Feng Long said, Mu Fei’s intensity faded and he said “Perhaps you hate me for causing such a calamity for the Gods clans of the Middle Plains, but I had to kill her. If it was you, you would have done the same as me. Because she’s not the Gao Xing Princess, she is Qi Yo’s daughter.”
Feng Long shouted “Impossible!”
Mu Fei laughed bitterly “I remember that devil’s eyes, I can’t be mistaken. Since I saw the fake Princess, I’ve been enraged and furious but still went to investigate to confirm. The fake Princess’s own uncle confirmed that she was the daughter of Qi Yo. He said that years ago Xuan Yuan’s ninth prince was killed by the Xuan Yuan princess because he discovered her illicit love affair with Qi Yo.”
Zhuan Xu coldly huffed “A load of nonsense! My Auntie did kill my Ninth Uncle, but that wasn’t because of some affair coming to light. It was….” Zhuan Xu paused “It was because my Mom wanted to kill my Ninth Uncle and inadvertently killed my Ninth Uncle’s mom Consort Tong Yu who was my Grandfather’s third wife. My Mom knew my Ninth Uncle would kill me in vengeance so she begged my Auntie to protect me before she committed suicide. My Auntie agreed to protect me, and to do so she killed my Ninth Uncle.”
The word given to the outside world was that Zhuan Xu’s mom was injured in battle and died. But to know she committed suicide…..such was the secret annals of the royal family and it was the first time Feng Long and Mu Fei had ever even heard this. But Mu Fei knew Zhuan Xu was telling the truth.
Feng Long added to Mu Fei “You have never met the Grand Emperor so you don’t know how brilliant and ruthless he is. But you do know that when the Gao Xing Five Princes revolted, it was the Grand Emperor who personally cut down his five younger brothers, and even killed all their wives, sons, and daughters. Do you think such a ruler would not know what your investigation uncovered? If he had even a sliver of doubt about Xiao Yao’s parentage, why would he hold such a lavish ceremony for her? That was a proclamation to the entire vast wilderness that he loved Xiao Yao!”
Mu Fei was confused, did he really kill the wrong person? No, no! He could not have mistaken that set of eyes. Mu Fei said “I’m not mistaken, I’m not mistaken…..”
Zhuan Xu coldly said “Even if you know you are wrong it’s too late! You hurt Xiao Yao, you will pay with your life!”
Zhuan Xu turned and left the cell and Feng Long followed,
Zhuan Xu stood expressionless at the edge of the cliff. Despite telling Mu Fei it was impossible, but did he really not doubt either? This wasn’t the first time he heard that Xiao Yao was Qi Yo’s daughter. Zhuan Xu really understood now why Xiao Yao was frightened. The first few times it could be brushed off as a joke…..but the more and more it was repeated…..Zhuan Xu dug through his own memories for his Auntie and Qi Yo….
Feng Long stood silently behind Zhuan Xu and let him think for a long time. Zhuan Xu then said “Many families were exterminated by Qi Yo but there aren’t a lot of orphans left. Such persons will also need to be close to Mu Fei so they can trust each other to plan this matter. The other two must have powers in wood and water, plus I think a girl is involved. Only with a girl’s involvement can Xiao Yao be separated from Xing Yue at just the right time and also split her up from the guard I assigned. I think you probably have an idea already of who did it.”
Feng Long said “Tomorrow night you come to Little Zhu Rong’s residence and Xing Yue and I will have an answer for you.”
Zhuan Xu said “What Mu Fei just said, I hope only you and I know. Not just because this involves my Auntie and the Grand Emperor’s reputations, but because my two uncles actually tried to use the God tribes of the Middle Plains to kill Xiao Yao.”
Feng Long said “I understand.” What happened to Xiao Yao could be handled discreetly or blown up. If not handled well, the entire Middle Plains could erupt.
Zhuan Xu said “I was the only who placed Xiao Yao in a visible spot to attract the attention of all my enemies. My enemies see her as my greatest help, so when sending her to stay at Little Zhu Rong’s residence, they think I am trying to curry favor with you. If they think I am eager to win you over to my side, then they won’t even suspect you’re already on my side. This happened because I put Xiao Yao in a position of danger. Feng Long, Xiao Yao actually knew all along that I was using her.”
Feng Long patted Zhuan Xu’s shoulder “Xiao Yao will be fine.”
Zhuan Xu sighed “All my hope is on Xiang Liu now.”
In the middle of the night, Zhuan Xu snuck into Little Zhu Rong’s residence through the secret passageway. Feng Long and Xing Yue was waiting for him. Feng Long nodded and Xing Yue explained.
“After Gege’s investigation, we confirmed four people were involved in hurting Xiao Yao. Other than the Mu family’s Mu Fei, there are the Shen family, Tan family, and Zin family orphans – Shen Dong, Tan Xue Ling, and Zin Yue Jian.
Zhuan Xu said “That is good to know, thank you.”
Xing Yue added “Xue Ling is the fiancee of the Gong family eldest son, they grew up together and in three months will be getting married. Yue Jian and the Cheng family little daughter have been engaged since childhood. Both the Gong family and the Cheng family are part of the Middle Plains Six Major Families.”
Zhuan Xu stared at Xing Yue and casually asked “What do you mean by sharing this?”
Xing Yue’s heart skipped a beat and she murmured “I….I….just wanted to suggest you reconsider.”
Feng Long clapped his sister on the back and said to Zhuan Xu “I think the same way. You need people on your side and if you kill them, you will be feuding with two of the Middle Plains big families. It’s not worth it! To achieve big goals, you have to know what you can afford to do. Xiao Yao is already hurt, but if you kill them that can’t change things and is only to relieve your anger. It’s pointless! If you forgive them, you will get more help to build your empire.”
Zhuan Xu was silent for some time and then said “You’re right.”
Both Feng Long and Xing Yue smiled in relief.
Zhuan Xu smiled and said “I want to tell you guys a story about my childhood. I was very young then when my parents went to war, the war involving your grandfather. I stayed with my Grandmother and one day my Auntie brought my unconscious Mom back. Auntie kneeled before my Grandmother and kept bowing her head on the ground because she didn’t bring my Dad home. My Dad died in battle! My Grandmother asked my Auntie what happened and my Auntie wanted me to leave the room but my Grandmother had me stay. She said from now on, I was the only man in the family. My Auntie said things I only understood parts of, but I understood that my Dad didn’t need to die but my Ninth Uncle caused his death. But my Grandfather took my Ninth Uncle’s side. I watched my Grandmother, my Mom, and my Auntie hold each other and cry.”
Zhuan Xu stared directly at Feng Long and Xing Yue “You have never experienced the pain of losing a loved one, so you can’t imagine the pain of those three women at that moment. Those three women were the strongest bravest women I had ever known in this world, but in that moment they were three heartbroken desolate inconsolable people. In that moment I vowed that I will one day be strong, be powerful, be greater than even the Yellow Emperor, just so I could protect them. I never ever wanted them to experience and endure heartbreaking sobbing. But before I could grow up, my Mom killed herself, my Grandmother died of a broken heart, and my Auntie died in battle. I could not protect any of them. They still died all alone and without any protection.”
Zhuan Xu suddenly stopped talking though he still smiled and sat there without moving. Feng Long and Xing Yue didn’t dare say a single word.
After a moment Zhuan Xu continued “I wanted to grow up as quickly as possible solely to protect them. I wanted to stand in a position greater than my grandfather solely for them. I’m grown now but not yet powerful. But I will never ever allow anyone to harm my loved ones. Today if I give up punishing those who hurt Xiao Yao so that I can grab power, then I am betraying the me who stood on Cao Yun Peak that day. If I betray my own vow, then I will never be able to remember the happy and sad moments of my past with a clear conscience.”
Zhuan Xu said to Feng Long “You are right that there is a time and place for everything. But one should never betray one’s own self for any reason. I hope one day when I am standing at the top of the summit facing the entire world that I have united, I can remember the past with a clear heart. I don’t want to be like my grandfather, he rules the world but has locked himself up in Cao Yun Court.”
Feng Long stared at Zhuan Xu and Zhuan Xu turned to Xing Yue “You want me to give up now, but haven’t you thought that if today I can give up protecting Xiao Yao for a reason, then one day I can also give up protecting you for another reason.”
Xing Yue was dumbstruck and could say nothing.
Zhuan Xu said “I’m not a good person, and I’m not a good husband for any woman. But I will never ever not protect the women in my life! Whether it’s you, Xiao Xiao, Jin Xuan, if anyone hurts any of you, I will never let that person get away with it!”
Xing Yue smiled and there were tears in her eyes.
Zhuan Xu said “Under most circumstances I’m someone who aims for the greatest advantage and uses any tactic, but in the few instances like this, I would rather take the harder road and feud with the Gong and Cheng families then not punish these two. I am eschewing the wider easier path for the narrow thorny path, but what of it? The most is that I’ll have to work harder.”
Feng Long laughed “Fine! I’ll walk the thorny road with you!”
Zhuan Xu said “I believe that one day the Gong and Cheng families will decide that it’s still better to follow me.”
Feng Long smacked him “Your crazy self-confidence! But…..” He grabbed Zhuan Xu by the shoulders “You are definitely the guy I picked!”
Zhuan Xu’s face turned and he pushed Feng Long off “I don’t have those tastes, dude.”
Xing Yue laughed and then rushed outside while wiping her tears away “Who has time for you two crazy guys!”
Feng Long saw the door to the hidden room was securely closed before asking in a low voice “Do you like my sister’s identity more, or her person more?”
Zhuan Xu sighed “Then do you like Xiao Yao’s person more or her identity more?”
Feng Long chuckled.
Zhuan Xu said “Even though I’ve decided to kill them, but the method is critically important. If the method is correct, then even if the Gong and Cheng families are upset, at least it might lessen the degree of anger.”
Feng Long burst out laughing “You just said all that and upset my sister making her all worried, but you never intended to walk the thorny road.”
Zhuan Xu stared back “Don’t let me question my ability to pick a person.”
Feng Long laughed “How do you want to kill them?”
“If I hand them all to my grandfather, some people might make the connection and reach their own conclusion that will harm Xiao Yao. So I need you and Xing Yue to keep this news from spreading. Let your dad hand Mu Fei to my grandfather. The other three I will handle myself. This way it also won’t alert my uncles.”
“How do you plan to handle it?”
“There are countless ways to deal with Tan Xue Ling, but seeing that she’s a woman, I don’t want to be overly cruel so give her a quick and fast death! But Zin Yue Jian, I will destroy his reputation first so the Cheng family ends the engagement, and after he is left with nothing then I will kill him. Shen Dong I will hand him off to my subordinates and see how many vicious tortures he can endure.”
Feng Long actually admired Zhuan Xu’s method of handling this but still gave him some lip “No wonder all the women like you, you definitely let them off the hook easy.”
Zhuan Xu stood up “I need to hurry back now.” After he got to the door he paused “How is Jing?”
Feng Long sighed and shook his head “He’s being kept alive by the spiritual medicines, but in the long run this can’t last.” Feng Long hesitated and then asked “Do you know why he’s so despondent as to want to die?”
Zhuan Xu replied “Wait until he wakes up and you can ask him.”
Zhuan Xu opened the door to the hidden room and left with his guards.
Many days later, the world found out about the Gao Xing Princess being attacked and gravely injured.
Little Zhu Rong captured the culprit who was Mu Fei of the Mu family. Because he was the last of the bloodline, many of the prominent families in the Middle Plains gathered together to beg for leniency for him. Cut off an arm or a nose, anything was fine as long as the Yellow Emperor preserved the final bit of Mu family bloodline.
The Yellow Emperor ordered Mu Fei to be cut into thousands of pieces and his remains tossed into the wilderness. He then harshly rebuked all the families who pleaded for leniency for him and even ordered clan leaders changed.
The Grand Emperor sent an envoy to the Middle Plains to have a banquet for all the major clans and families. An announcement was publicly made that Gao Xing would no longer welcome the children and disciples of these families to enter Gao Xing. From ancient times until now, Gao Xing always controlled the most precise and powerful weapons forging techniques in the world. All the God families would send their children and disciples to Gao Xing to find the best weapons makers to forge their own weapon. By doing this, the Grand Emperor was publicly stripping these Middle Plains clans and families of their combat ability going forward
Everyone in the Middle Plains was frantic and feared an imminent crisis. Thankfully Little Zhu Rong was there to calm the masses and this matter slowly settled down leaving everyone praying the Gao Xing Princess would quickly recover so the Grand Emperor’s rage could be extinguished.
Xiao Yao felt that the last thing she saw before she died was a thick wall of cherry blossoms flying towards her. It wasn’t scary and instead was so beautitful!
Such dazzling cherry blossoms wrapped around her body like a cloud and after the sudden sharp pain, as the blood from her body quickly seeped out, everything turned numb.
She could vividly sense her heart slowly weakening, but just as it was about to stop, she heard another heart beating. It was strong and powerful, leading her heart so that it wouldn’t completely stop. It was like a sole flame in the palms of the hand, seemingly about to be extinguished at any moment, but still flickering weakly with life.
Xiao Yao felt that she heard Xiang Liu snarking at her: Just this and you’re going to give up?
Xiao Yao retorted back at him: What do you mean just this? If you’ve been poked so many holes in like a sieve, air passing through both top and bottom, even if I don’t want to give up I have to give up.
She really had no strength left, so that even the weak sole flame that was keeping her heart beating was too much to sustain. Even with another heart guiding her heart, still the heartbeat grew weaker.
Suddenly power coursed through her, unending streams of power that allowed the weak heartbeat to continue beating.
She couldn’t hear it, couldn’t see it, couldn’t even feel it, but she felt sad because the spiritual power was so sad and devastated. Even the power was crying and Xiao Yao couldn’t even imagine how heartbroken the owner of the spiritual power was.
Xiao Yao wanted to see who was so sad but didn’t have the strength. She could only follow the guidance of the other heart and slowly locked herself up. Just like a flower blooming, the reverse process was to return to being a bud, into a seed, back into the soil, laying in the Winter to wait for the Spring to arrive.
Xiao Yao couldn’t hear, couldn’t see, couldn’t feel, but she still felt unbearable.
It was like sleeping, except in real sleep one couldn’t feel the passing of time, but when one’s body was sleeping but the conscious wasn’t, then it was like being locked up in a coffin and buried into the ground. Conscious sleeping was so unbearable!
In the pitch black darkness, time had no beginning and no end, and everything became forever.
Xiao Yao didn’t know how long she had been in the darkness, and she didn’t know how much longer she needed to be there. She was trapped in forever, and Xiao Yao realized for the first time how scary forever was. Just like eating duck neck was a really enjoyable thing to do, but if eating duck neck became something she did forever without an end, then it’s not enjoyable at all and would instead be a truly scary torture.
In the unending darkness, Xiao Yao felt like a hundred years had passed. If her conscious could commit suicide, she would have killed herself. But she could do nothing other than stay like this forever. She started to hate the person who saved her.
One day Xiao Yao suddenly felt something, like a little bit of warmth entered her body from the outside. It slowly took away the icy cold and Xiao Yao greedily clung onto that warmth.
Every so often the warmth would flow into her. Even though the waiting was long, but the warmth always came so even the long wait wasn’t scary anymore.
The warmth entered her time and time again. She didn’t know how much time passed but her heart gradually got stronger. It was like the flickering sole flame had a cover placed over it, so even if the light wasn’t as bright at least the flame was no longer in danger of being extinguished.
One time as the warmth entered her, Xiao Yao felt another heart beating. Her heart soared as if she was encountering an old friend.
Xiao Yao wanted to laugh: Xiang Liu, is it you? I’ve healed you that many times, now it’s finally your turn to repay me.
Time and time again, Xiao Yao didn’t know how much time passed but she felt time was so slow!
In the unending darkness, every time Xiang Liu came to heal her became the only time she felt like she was still alive, because she felt another heart beating.
Not sure how much time passed but one day when the warmth was entering her body, Xiao Yao suddenly felt a sensation, she felt someone was embracing her.
It was strange, she couldn’t hear or see, and couldn’t even feel her own body, but perhaps because of the voodoo bug within and their two hearts were as one, she could vaguely sense his movements.
He seemed to be tenderly caressing her cheek, and then he fell asleep and didn’t move beside her. Xiao Yao was sleepy and fell asleep too.
When Xiao Yao woke up, Xiang Liu was no longer there
Xiao Yao didn’t know how long she waited, perhaps just a few hours, but when she felt Xiang Liu again it was like he was coming home. He first touched her forehead and greeted her, and then later he laid down next to her.
He fell asleep again so Xiao Yao fell asleep again.
Because of Xiang Liu’s daily coming and going, Xiao Yao no longer felt frightened. Because it was no longer unending forever, she could sense time passing through him and could feel the changes.
Every twenty or thirty days Xiang Liu would heal her. When he was healing her, they ought to be very intimate because Xiao Yao could feel he was tightly embracing her. She could feel him from top to bottom. But during normal days Xiang Liu wouldn’t hold her, at most he could caress her forehead and cheeks.
More time passed and Xiao Yao guessed it was many years because Xiang Liu healed her so many times she lost count.
Gradually Xiao Yao felt more and more alert. When Xiang Liu was embracing her, she could feel his body heat, and could also clearly feel what the warmth was that was flowing into her body. It was Xiang Liu’s blood, and it was different than normal blood. It was scalding hot, and every drop felt like a little flame. Xiao Yao guessed it was Xiang Liu’s essential soul blood.
Xiang Liu fed her his essential soul blood, but because he was poisonous all over, even his blood was poisonous, so he needed to suck the poison out of Xiao Yao afterwards.
Xiao Yao heard of a voodoo spell where a person could use their life in exchange for another. If Xiang Liu used his life to save hers, she hoped that he really had nine-lives because then if he gave her one it wouldn’t be too detrimental for him.
One day Xiao Yao suddenly heard a noise. It was a dull soft thud. She anxiously wanted to confirm she could hear now but Xiang Liu was such a silent person that for the entire night he made no noise.
Xiao Yao was so furious she couldn’t even sleep, hollering inside but it was no use. The person next to her lay there quietly without even the sound of breathing.
In the morning he left and there was the sound of the dull soft thud as if something was closing slowly. Xiao Yao felt that she would really hear now, but also wondering if she was so desperate she imagined it.
Xiao Yao strained to stay awake so that she could hear more noise but Xiang Liu was gone so it was dead silence everywhere with no sound.
That night there was the same sound again and then Xiang Liu returned to her side. He stroked her forehead and then held her hand. Xiao Yao desperately felt that she really could hear and the sound must be a door opening. Yet Xiao Yao didn’t feel like she was laying in a room.
In the beginning when she couldn’t hear any sound it felt horrible, but later when she discovered that she could hear again, Xiao Yao desperately wanted to hear any sound, especially the sound of people talking. She wanted to hear someone saying her name to prove that she was still alive. But Xiang Liu didn’t say a single world.
The entire night he said not a word.
At dawn Xiang Liu left again.
This went on for many days and Xiang Liu didn’t say something. Xiao Yao was furious and angrily cursed! It couldn’t have been that so much happened during the years that Xiang Liu turned into a mute?
The monthly healing day arrived again.
Xiang Liu saved Xiao Yao by feeding her his essential soul blood and then used his powers to push life through all her vital organs. Then he bit down on Xiao Yao’s neck and sucked the poison out from his own blood that was now in her body.
When the healing was done, Xiang Liu didn’t immediately put Xiao Yao down and instead continued to cuddle her in his arms.
After some time, he gently placed her down and stroked Xiao Yao’s face “Xiao Yao, I hope that when you wake up, you won’t hate me.”
Xiao Yao yelled in her heart: I won’t hate you, I won’t hate you, I promise I won’t hate you as long as you talk more to me.
But Xiang Liu grew silent again.
Xiao Yao angrily raged inside: I hate you, I hate you! Even if you saved me, I’ll still hate you!
Xiao Yao wanted to hear sound but she heard nothing. She couldn’t sleep well at night and was moodily angry during, she was totally in a bad mood all the time.
When Xiang Liu came back, he went to check on Xiao Yao’s body and sensed that Xiao Yao was still not stirring and appeared the same as always, but there was this aura around her brows that was different.
Xiang Liu suddenly remembered how Xiao Yao used to be, so sneaky and clever but always so scared of being alone. He said to Xiao Yao “Are you bored from laying under the ocean for so long?”
Xiao Yao was stunned: I’m in the ocean? I’m actually in the bottom of the ocean? No wonder she always felt like she was floating in the middle of a cloud.
Xiang Liu said “I’ll take you to the surface to look at the moon!”
Xiao Yao’s heart soared: Yes, yes!
Xiang Liu held Xiao Yao in his arms and swam upward like two entwined fishes.
They reached the surface and Xiao Yao felt the waves undulating and the sea breeze flowing over her. She could hear the waves and hear the wind. Xiao Yao was so touched she wanted to cry.
Xiang Liu said “Tonight is a crescent moon like a bow. Every full moon I have to heal you so I can’t bring you to the surface. Actually, I haven’t seen a full moon in many years now.”
Xiao Yao thought that her assumption was right, he really was healing her once a month. The demon’s powers are the strongest during the full moon which is why Xiang Liu chose that time to heal her.
Xiang Liu stopped talking and silently held Xiao Yao in his arms. As the waves rose and fell, the crescent moon in the sky quietly shone on them.
Xiao Yao restfully fell asleep.
Xiang Liu lowered his eyes to look at her and smiled.
From that day on, every few days Xiang Liu would take Xiao Yao out to play. Sometimes it was on the ocean surface, sometimes it was under the sea. Xiang Liu continued to have very little to say but he would still talk here and there. Perhaps because Xiao Yao had no movement or expression or reaction, so he said whatever he felt like and chatted about whatever came to mind.”
It was almost a full moon again and the clouds swirling around the nearly round moon looked like the moon had a lace edge. Xiang Liu said “Tonight’s moon looks like your mystical gorilla mirror. The memories you secretly saved in that mirror……”
Xiao Yao was frozen in fear inside.
Xiang Liu was silent for some time and then coolly said “After you wake up, you have to erase it.”
Xiao Yao let out an inner sigh: As long as you don’t get mad, I’ll even destroy the mirror if you want!
One time they encountered a tornado in the middle of the ocean that looked just like the tornado on land but even scarier.
Xiang Liu said “When I escaped from the slave death match arena, I was gravely injured all over. I almost died in an ocean tornado but it was my adoptive father who saved me. Back then, the Flame Emperor was still alive and the Sheng Nong Kingdom hadn’t yet been toppled. My adoptive father, along with Qi Yo and Zhu Rong, were the three greatest generals of the Sheng Nong Kingdom. He saved a runaway slave like me and I injured him. He didn’t mind because he saw I was gravely injured and might not survive. He taught me a method for healing through training my powers. He even wanted to take me to the Flame Emperor for medical treatment. But I didn’t trust him so I ran away.”
Xiao Yao wanted to hear more about Xiang Liu’s past with General Gong Gong but Xiang Liu didn’t continue and instead took Xiao Yao safely away from the ocean tornado.
A long time later, one night Xiang Liu took her to the surface and Xiao Yao felt little bits of icy cold hit her face. Xiang Liu softly brushed away the snow on Xiao Yao’s face “It’s snowing. Where is the most beautiful snowfall you’ve ever seen?”
Xiao Yao thought and said inside: The North Pole where it’s millions of years of ice and cold gathered into the most dangerous yet most beautiful place!
Large snowflakes the size of goose feathers floated down and landed on Xiang Liu’s body.
Xiang Liu said “The snowfall in the North Pole is the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. To avoid my attackers, I escaped to the North Pole and hid there for over a hundred years. The snow there not only saved my life, it awakened an understanding in me and I transformed the healing technique my adoptive father taught me to learning a new powerful fighting style.”
Xiao Yao thought: No wonder each time seeing Xiang Liu fighting it was as beautiful as snowflakes dancing!
Xiang Liu smiled “People think it’s just a weird quirk that I wear white all the time. But it’s actually just a habit gleaned from survival. In the North Pole, white is the color that is best for concealment.”
Xiang Liu stopped talking and Xiao Yao was so anxious inside. She thought that he must’ve decided to leave the North Pole after meeting Fang Feng Bei there. But by then the Sheng Nong Kingdom had fallen and General Gong Gong was leading a paltry resistance army with all his family and friends abandoning him. Yet a certain Nine-headed demon actually willingly went to him, perhaps initially it was to repay a debt, but then Gong Gong truly bonded with him so adopted him as a son. One could repay a debt, but the bonds of love and affection are impossible to ever fully repay.
When she thought to here, Xiao Yao actually hated Gong Gong a little, but she felt her hatred really made no sense. So she just pouted and was angry at herself for being angry.
Xiang Liu caressed her brows “Are you unhappy? You don’t like the snow? Then I’ll take you to play in the ocean.”
Xiang Liu descended into the ocean depths with Xiao Yao.
Who knows how many more years passed and Xiao Yao gradually felt her own legs. She tried to wiggle her toes and it wasn’t clear if it moved. She couldn’t ask Xiang Liu to check for her. But regardless of whether it moved or not, she felt that her body was close to awakening.
One day Xiang Liu came back but instead of his usual touching her forehead and cheeks, he instead quietly stared at her. Xiao Yao couldn’t figure out what he was thinking, but she knew he was deciding something.
Xiang Liu picked up Xiao Yao “Tonight is a full moon. I’ll take you out to play!”
Xiao Yao was confused, wasn’t full moon a night for healing?”
Xiang Liu took her all over to stroll around, sometimes leisurely swimming in the ocean, other times heading up to the surface to rise and fall with the waves.
Tonight was different than usual in that he talked a lot. Every time they got to a place he would start talking.
“Here is a seaweed the size of your pallet in Qing Shui Town. If you like it, in the future you can use it to make a pallet.”
“A monster fish, and his fish inside is even better than the fish amethyst you wear. But from now on you won’t need this stuff anymore.”
A strange sound reached them from within the water, it wasn’t the sound of musical instruments or the sound of people singing. But it was even more alluring than musical instruments, and even more pure and soulful than people singing. It was so beautiful as to defy description, it was the most beautiful sound Xiao Yao had ever heard in her life.
Xiang Liu said “It’s mating season for the merpeople. This is the sound of their mating song and is purportedly the most beautiful sound in the world. The humans and the gods cannot ever heard it. Perhaps after you awaken you will be able to hear it.”
Xiang Liu took Xiao Yao out for a long time and they didn’t return until late into the night.
“Xiao Yao, do you remember Tu Shan Jing? Wen Xiao Liu’s Ye Shi Qi? Since you’ve been sleeping, he’s also been unconscious. His life has been maintained by spiritual medicines until now but it’s almost at the limit. He’s at the brink of death.”
Jing, Jing……Xiao Yao didn’t feel sad when she died, life has its beginning so it must have an end. It didn’t start happy and need not end sad. But right now she was very sad, she didn’t want Jing to die.
Xiao Yao tried to move.
Xiang Liu asked “If he died, will you be really sad and hated me to the core?”
Xiao Yao answered in her heart: I don’t want Jing to die, but I also won’t hate you.
Xiang Liu said “Tonight I’m waking you up.”
Xiang Liu fed his essential soul blood to Xiao Yao, and different than before where it felt like warm flames that chased away the coldness of death in Xiao Yao’s body, tonight his essential soul blood was a raging inferno that scorched Xiao Yao. It was colliding in her body and appeared to rip her insides to shreds before slowly bonding it back together.
Xiao Yao couldn’t cry out but her body violently shook. Gradually her hands could move, her legs could move, and then she painfully cried out as all the soul essence entered her body and she passed out in the midst of unbearable pain.
When Xiao Yao woke up, she felt the warm sun on her body and she subconsciously turned over to keep on sleeping. Suddenly she opened her eyes in disbelief. She laid there in a daze and then slowly raised her hand up.
Oh! She really could move!
“Xiang Liu!” Xiao Yao sat up but then her head bumped into something hard and she saw stars.
No one answered her and she saw a sliver of sunlight trickling in from outside. Xiao Yao felt that she was inside some sort of shell and she used her hands to feel the surface above her head and her sides. The sides slowly opened like flower petals until instantly Xiao Yao was bathed in sunlight.
Only someone trapped by darkness before would understand that sunlight was the world’s most ordinary yet precious treasure! The sunlight stung her eyes but she was reluctantly to close her eyes. She faced the sunlight and slowly stood up and let out a happy holler.
After she calmed down, Xiao Yao noticed that she was wearing a loose fitting white robe and was standing on a large open clam shell. She was surrounded by endless ocean and the waves crested against the clam shell and sprayed up white foam.
All these years, Xiang Liu placed her in the middle of a clam shell to sleep in the ocean. Xiao Yao couldn’t contain her smile, didn’t that make her like a pearl hidden inside a clam shell?
Xiao Yao put her hands around her mouth and yelled “Xiang Liu, Xiang Liu. Where are you? I’m awake.”
A white and gold condor descended but without Xiang Liu on his back.
Xiao Yao stroked its back “Furball, where is your master?”
Furbal flapped his wings and called towards the sky once, as if urging Xiao Yao to get on his back.
Xiao Yao happily asked “Xiang Liu asked you to bring me to see him?
Furball shook his head.
Xiao Yao quizzically asked “Xiang Liu asked you to take me home?”
Furball nodded his head.
Whether Xiang Liu had matters to attend to or he was purposely avoiding seeing her, Xiao Yao stood there in a dumbstruck daze, the initial happiness of regaining life and light disappearing like receding waves.
Furball pecked Xiao Yao’s hand to urge her to hurry up.
Xiao Yao climbed on Furball’s back and it rose into the air and flew towards the Middle Plains.
Xiao Yao stared at the passing ocean surface as it rushed past her like a shooting arrow, disappearing behind her. The feelings in her heart were so jumbled.
The next morning, Furball landed outside Zhi Yi Castle and Xiao Yao knew many people would recognize Xiang Liu’s winged ride and knew Furball could only take her as far as here.
For whatever reason, Xiao Yao’s heart was filled with an endless ache. She suddenly grabbed Furball’s neck tightly and Furball squirmed in annoyance but didn’t really put up a fuss. It cocked its head and endured with a sigh.
Xiao Yao buried her face in Furball’s neck as her tears came tumbling down, one after another, falling silently on Furball’s feathers and disappearing.
Furball finally got fed up and impatiently called out once.
Xiao Yao raised her head and the tears were gone from her eyes. She slid off Furball’s back and patted him “Go back to your master!”
Furball ran a few steps and then flew into the air. Xiao Yao raised her head to watch it fly away until it was completely gone from her sight.
Xiao Yao entered Zhi Yi Castle and saw it bustling with people on the street even more than before and felt relieved. She called for a carriage and hearing people speak made it feel warm and personable.
The carriage arrived at Little Zhu Rong’s residence and Xiao Yao got off. The two servants at the front door were new faces and didn’t recognize her. But the housekeeper did and stared incredulously at Xiao Yao while she smiled “Don’t recognize me anymore? Pay my carriage fee and then hurry to tell Xing Yue that I’m here.”
The housekeeper stuttered “Princess?”
The housekeeper immediately paid the carriage and then vanished in a puff of power and then moments later Xing Yue came bursting out of the residence “Xiao Yao, is it really you?”
Xiao Yao twirled before her “Do I look like someone transformed into me?”
Xing Yue ecstatically grabbed her “Thank god!”
“How’s my Gege?”
Xing Yue said “Everything is fine other than he worries about you.”
Xiao Yao said “I ought to go to Sheng Nong Mountain to see Gege first but I heard Jing is very sick. I want to go to Qing Qiu to see him, can you come with me?”
Xing Yue pulled her inside “You came to the right place. Jing gege is not at Qing Qiu, he’s here.”
Xiao Yao said “Take me to see him now.”
Xing Yue led her to the Evergreen Residence “What happened years ago? How did Jing gege end up in the cherry blossom canyon?”
Xiao Yao replied “I don’t know either. All I know is that the man turned all the cherry blossoms into daggers and sent it flying into me. Then I couldn’t see or hear anything anymore.”
Xiao Yao remembered the extent of Xiao Yao’s injuries and still felt shocked. She patted Xiao Yao’s hand warmly “Those people who hurt you have all been dealt with by your Gege. They won’t harm you again.”
Xiao Yao was silent.
They arrived at the Evergreen Residence and Xing Yue knocked. Jing Ye opened the door and when she saw Xiao Yao she was startled “Princess?”
Jing Ye grabbed her and pulled her inside the residence and she was already crying. Xing Yue was shocked “Jing Ye, how can you be so rude to the Princess?”
Xiao Yao was being pulled behind but called back to Xing Yue “I’ll handle things here, you send word to Zhuan Xu that I’m back.”
Xing Yue realized she had things to take care of now that Xiao Yao was back “Fine, you stay here with Jing for now. If you need anything have someone summon me.”
“Fine! I won’t be polite with you!”
Xing Yue smiled and turned to leave. Because the Gods lived for so long, it was common for relatives to see each other every tens of years, and even seeing family once every hundred years wasn’t uncommon or strange. So not seeing Xiao Yao for tens of years didn’t make Xing Yue feel distant from her.
Jing Ye appeared scared Xiao Yao would disappear so held her hand tightly.
She led Xiao Yao into the middle of the forest where a wooden hut was built using wood from Jade Mountain’s peach blossom trees. Walking into the room, it was filled with all sorts of exotic flowers and plants to create a maze that kept all the spiritual power centered over a crystal pallet where Jing quietly laid.
Xiao Yao sat down next to the pallet and carefully took in Jing, his body was atrophied and his face pale white.
Jing Ye said “Countless doctors came to check on Master and they all said he was broken hearted so all his spiritual essence was shattered and he is seeking death.”
Xiao Yao picked up Jing’s wrist to take his pulse.
Jing Ye continued “To keep him alive, the Grand Madam used every method and even got the Grand Emperor to allow him to be brought into the holy Yang Valley to use the holy water there to heal him. But whenever he leaves the Evergreen Residence his condition gets worse and even the most powerful spiritual essence is of no use. Princess, please save Master!”
Jing Ye kneeled before Xiao Yao and bowed her head.
Xiao Yao asked “Why would Jing choose to die, why is he so sad he doesn’t want to live anymore?”
Jing Ye glared at Xiao Yao “How could Princess not know?”
“Why should I know?”
“When Prince Zhuan Xu arrived to save Princess, they saw Master holding Princess and you had already died. The entire maze was engulfed in flames and Master could break mazes and ought to be able to leave any maze but instead he was holding Princess and sitting inside waiting for death.” Jing Ye cried “Master would rather be burned to death then leave the already dead you. Princess, how can you now know Master’s heart? He wants to be with you whether in life or in death!”
Xiao Yao turned to look at Jing and murmured “You really are so broken over me that you are seeking death?”
Xiao Yao felt the shell around her heart shatter completely, all those threads that she tried to cut all those times finally weaved together into a web at last.
Hu Zhen brought medicine in “Time for medicine.”
Jing Ye helped Jing up and put a cloth around his neck before feeding him the medicine. But it all dribbled out onto the cloth and nothing was taken in.
Jing Ye was worried Xiao Yao would find it distasteful and quickly wiped the medicine from his lips and explained “In the past he could take in three spoons out of ten but this year he won’t even take a single drop. Hu Zhen says that if it continues, then Master…..” Jing Ye’s tears started falling again.
Xiao Yao took over the bowl “You guys go outside, I’ll feed him the medicine.”
Jing Ye stared at Xiao Yao and she said “If I can’t do it, then I’ll call you back in, okay?”
Hu Zhen tugged Jing Ye’s sleeve and they walked out.
Xiao Yao spooned medicine and fed Jing but it all dribbled out like when Jing Ye did it.
Xiao Yao touched his cheek and sighed “What to do? Last time you were gravely injured but you had the will to live. No matter how hard to swallow you would work with me, but this time you are rejecting the medicine.”
Xiao Yao put down the bowl and held Jing by the neck and lightly kissed his eyes, then lightly kissed his nose, then lightly kissed his lips. She bit down on his lip and murmured “Do you remember? In this residence I learned the zither from you, and each time you shyly wanted to kiss me but restrained yourself and even purposely stayed a distance from me. I could sense all that but I loved to tease you so I pretended not to know. I wanted to see you battle with your own self-control. But once you kissed me, you turned from a little rabbit into a big bad wolf, no matter how I avoided I couldn’t run from you, and then I turned from the big bad wolf into the little rabbit.”
Xiao Yao laughed “But now you’re really the little rabbit and I get to do whatever with you.”
Xiao Yao picked up the medicine bowl and drank a sip before kissing Jing and dribbling the medicine into his mouth. Jing’s consciousness was still asleep but it was like a tree that wrapped its roots around soil so his subconscious started to swallow the medicine and wanted more of the sweetness. The entire spoonful of medicine went down his throat.
Just like that, with a kiss and a swallow, Xiao Yao fed him the entire bowl of medicine.
Jing’s face was still pale white but Xiao Yao’s face was reddenend and she nestled against Jing’s shoulder and said softly “Can you wake up now? I like you being the big bad wolf.”
Jing Ye waited outside for a long time but continued to worry so she knocked “Princess?”
Xiao Yao said “Come in.”
Jing Ye and Hu Zhen entered and saw Jing laying on the pallet but the bowl of medicine empty.
Jing Ye saw the cloth next to the bowl only having a few drops of medicine on it and she asked “Princess, did you dump the medicine?”
“No, I fed Jing the whole bowl.”
Jing Ye was incredulous “And only a little dribbled?”
Xiao Yao nodded “You dribbled a spoonful, I dribbled a spoonful, the rest he drank.”
Jing Ye stared while Hu Zhen nudged her “As long as Master drinks the medicine then he can be saved.”
Jing Ye was like waking from a daze and excitedly said “Go make another bowl and have Master drink another.”
Xiao Yao and Hu Zhen both laughed and Jing Ye realized she was being silly. Xiao Yao said to Hu Zhen “This medicine is good, send another bowl in four hours.”
Jing Ye asked “Princess, how did you get Master to drink the medicine? Teach me!” If Xiao Yao was just anyone, Jing Ye would keep her here to take care of Jing, but she was a Princess so no matter how much Jing Ye wanted she couldn’t dare ask Xiao Yao to help feed her Master medicine.
Xiao Yao blushed slightly and said “My method is secret and can’t be taught.”
Jing Ye was disappointed until Xiao Yao said “I’ll stay here to take care of Jing, after he wakes up I’ll leave. You don’t need to learn it.”
Jing Ye was so ecstatic she kneeled down and Xiao Yao helped her up “Give me some meat and vegetable porridge, I’m hungry.”
“Yes.” Jing Ye rushed out but then stopped and looked back. Xiao Yao said “From now on, I’ll take care of your Master and you don’t need to worry about him.”
Jing Ye happily answered “Yes!”
After Jing Ye brought the porridge, Xiao Yao ate half and fed a few spoonfuls to Jing. Xiao Yao’s constitution was also just healed from a long illness, plus she didn’t sleep for an entire day and night, so she felt exhausted.
Jing Ye came to clean up and afterwards Xiao Yao said “I want to rest for a bit, don’t bother me unless it’s urgent.”
Jing Ye wanted to say something but Xiao Yao already closed the door. Jing Ye stood there for a moment before walking away with a smile.
Xiao Yao pushed Jing to the side of the pallet and then climbed on and laid down next to him. In a few moments, she was fast asleep.
When she woke up, Xiao Yao felt the light in the room was dim which meant it was dusk already. In the light floral fragrance, Xiao Yao stretched and then Zhuan Xu’s voice reached her “You’re awake?”
Xiao Yao sat up and saw Zhuan Xu standing in the trees looking at her.
Xiao Yao leaped off the pallet and rushed into his arms “Gege!”
Zhuan Xu refused to hug her and instead wanted to push her away “I’ve been missing you and thinking of you every single day, but you come running to see another man the moment you get back.”
Xiao Yao grabbed his arm and wouldn’t let go and tenderly called out “Gege, Gege, Gege…………”
“Don’t call me Gege, I don’t have a little sister like you.”
Xiao Yao pitifully stared at Zhuan Xu “You really don’t want me anymore?”
Zhuan Xu pouted “It’s not that I don’t want you, it’s that you don’t want me!”
Xiao Yao tried to explain “I heard Jing was near death so came to see him first.”
“Then you’re not worried about me?”
“How can I not worry? When I was unconscious I often thought of you. When I entered Zhi Yi Castle was when I lessened my worry, and the first person I asked Xing Yue about was you.”
Zhuan Xu remembered the way Xiao Yao was when she was gravely injured and immediately his annoyance vanished. He sighed and pulled Xiao Yao into his arms “You scared me to death!”
Xiao Yao knew how he must’ve felt and patted his back “I’m fine now.”
Zhuan Xu asked “Want to go back to Sheng Nong Mountain with me?”
Xiao Yao bit her lip “I want to wait for Jing to wake up first.”
Zhuan Xu looked at Jing sleeping on the pallet and wearily said “Fine, but……:” Zhuan Xu rapped her hard on the head “No more sleeping with him on the same pallet. If people see it they’ll think no man wants my little sister and she’s throwing herself at a man.”
Xiao Yao stuck out her tongue but obediently said “Yes, Gege!”
Zhuan Xu asked Xiao Yao how Xiang Liu saved her.
Xiao Yao answered “I was unconscious the entire time so I don’t know the specifics. Likely due to the voodoo bug connecting us, so his life was the thread that kept me alive, and then he used a certain type of voodoo blood spell and exchanged his life to continue mine.”
Zhuan Xu thought “Voodoo bugs, voodoo blood spells, those are all unorthodox methods. Does your body feel strange?”
Xiao Yao smiled “Gege, when did you get so narrow-minded? The traditional medicine used to save people can also be used to kill. The unorthodox voodoo can also be used to save people. How do you differentiate traditional good versus unorthodox bad?”
Zhuan Xu said “I’m not narrow-minded, I’m just worried that you’ll get taken advantage of. I will keep my promise so I don’t want Xiang Liu to play tricks.”
Xiao Yao asked “Xiang Liu saving me was in exchange for something?”
Zhuan Xu said “He said he could save you and asked to take you away. I had no other choice so I agreed. A few days ago he came to see and said that if I agreed to one thing then you can return safely.”
Xiang Liu really was clear and precise on each and every thing, he never gets taken advantage of! Xiao Yao felt all sorts of conflicted feelings, unsure if it was disappointment or relief “What was the deal?”
“He wanted one of Sheng Nong Mountain’s peaks.”
“What do you mean?”
“I asked Xiang Liu the same thing and he said that all the resistance soldiers following General Gong Gong are unable to forget their homeland but are willing to fight for their cause. If they died they would still not be able to be buried in their homeland. Xiang Liu asked that if one day I were to become the Xuan Yuan Emperor, then I was to carve out one of Sheng Nong Mountain’s peaks as a sacred land and then all the dead resistance army soldiers who were cremated could have their ashes brought back and buried in the Sheng Nong Mountain they long for.”
“Did you agree?”
Zhuan Xu sighed “Even a little peak in Sheng Nong Mountain is still a peak in Sheng Nong Mountain! I know this is a big deal so I can’t readily agree. But I also couldn’t say no, and it wasn’t just because of you. It was because I too want to give those men a place to rest peacefully. They are my enemies on the battlefield and we do our best to kill each other, but I respect their fight!”
Xiao Yao said nothing.
Zhuan Xu smiled “But I also told Xiang Liu that he might get shafted in this deal. What if I can’t become the Xuan Yuan Emperor? He can’t come find you then and cause trouble. Xiang Liu agreed but I still worry that he might have tricks up his sleeve.”
Xiao Yao laughed “Don’t worry, if Xiang Liu wanted to kill me using voodoo and such spells it’s not that easy to harm me.”
“Every time you mention voodoo you just glance over it, but how exactly did you learn to raise and plant a voodoo bug? And who taught you all the poison tricks you know?”
Xiao Yao asked “Can we talk secretly here?”
Zhaun Xu nodded and cast a protective spell barrier around them. Xiao Yao asked “So you know the Sheng Nong Herb Manual?”
“Of course, legend has it the Flame Emperor used his entire life to write that manual after testing every living herb in existence. The entire world wants that manual but after the Flame Emperor died it disappeared.”
“It was actually with my Mom. Do you remember when Grandmother and Grandfather were both ill and it was my Mom who was healing them.”
“Of course, but I always thought Auntie learned medicine from the court doctors.”
“I did as well and it was only later that I realized my Mom learned medicine from the Flame Emperor.”
“But….how could that be? Grandfather long wanted to exterminate the Sheng Nong Kingdom.”
“Who knows? Perhaps my Mom stole it.”
“Nonsense!” Many times Zhuan Xu’s respect for Xiao Yao’s mom greatly eclipsed her own.
“When Mom left me in Jade Mountain, around my neck was a jade container that held the Sheng Nong Herb Manual which taught my Mom all about medicines, but it also contained the Jiu Li Poison Voodoo Manual which contained all the spells about using poison and bugs. When the Royal Mother discovered it, she said both books were future catastrophes if people discovered it. She forced me to memorize both and then she destroyed it afterwards.” Xiao Yao remembered how she cried and sobbed and refused to talk with the Royal Mother afterwards for destroying what her mom left for her.
Xiao Yao said “Initially I tucked all that knowledge away in the back of my mind, but when I was captured by the Nine-tailed fox, I remembered the poison learnings. I knew I only had one chance to poison him so I was very careful, and even worried that the Voodoo King’s voodoo manual poisons were not deadly and discreet enough, and even used the Flame Emperor’s medical research to create more poisons.”
Xiao Yao waved her hands “My Mom left me those things likely wanting me to become a healer to ease the people’s suffering, but I think I’m going to become the poison master of my generation.”
Zhuan Xu smiled and touched her head “You do whatever you like.”
Xing Yue called outside “Zhuan Xu, Xiao Yao, my Gege is back.”
Zhuan Xu pulled Xiao Yao out “Have dinner with me, and after I leave you can take care of that guy however you want. If I don’t see it then it won’t annoy me as much!”
Xiao Yao smiled “Fine.”
As she walked out she said to Jing Ye “Since Jing is staying here, then clean up Jing’s old room and I’ll stay there for now.”
Jing Ye saw Zhuan Xu said nothing so relaxed and said with a smile “Yes.”
Xiao Yao, Zhuan Xu, Xing Yue, and Feng Long enjoyed dinner that night and Xiao Yao discovered that she was actually asleep for thirty seven years.
Xiao Yao just got back and no one wanted to discuss too somber matters so merely condensed all the interesting things that happened in the last thirty seven years and regaled her with it. Feng Long thought the most interesting development was how Yu Jiang, who had been trying to kill Zhuan Xu, ended up working for Zhuan Xu willingly. After the Grand Emperor’s consent, he left Gao Xing and became a Xuan Yuan citizen and now followed Zhuan Xu.
Xiao Yao was shocked “Wasn’t he all about avenging his brother’s death? How could he follow Gege now?”
Zhuan Xu smiled “He is a practical rational man with great ambitions, it’s not what I did to him, it’s what he wants to do himself.”
Xing Yue said “It’s not as easy as Zhuan Xu said! Yu Jiang tried five more times to assassinate Zhuan Xu, and Zhuan Xu had five times to kill him, but each time he let him go. The sixth time he tried to kill Zhuan Xu and was captured in a trap, guess what Zhuan Xu said to him?”
Xiao Yao asked “What?”
Xing Yue said “Zhuan Xu took Yu Jiang to view all sorts of cruel tortures, some so vicious Yu Jiang turned white and his legs buckled to see it. It was all devised by his brother, and tested on innocents to perfect it. In the beginning he didn’t believe it until Zhuan Xu handed him a book where his brother wrote down all the names of the people the torture was tested on. After Yu Jiang read half of it he collapsed and vomited. Yu Jiang learned that the brother he was trying to avenge was completely different than the brother of his memory. Zhuan Xu said that he didn’t regret killing the brother because he used his power to hurt tens of thousands of innocents so he got what was coming to him. Zhuan Xu told him to keep trying to assassinate him, but days later Yu Jiang came to him and was willing to follow him to atone for his brother’s crimes. Everyone was against it except Zhuan Xu who not only accepted Yu Jiang but gave him an important task. In discussing matters he never kept Yu Jiang at a distance, and one time there was another assassinate attempt but Yu Jiang was so close to Zhuan Xu he was able to block the arrow for him.”
Xiao Yao smiled at Zhuan Xu, so happy for him to have gotten yet another loyal follower. She raised her cup and everyone toasted.
The four chatted and conversation turned to Jing.
Zhuan Xu said to Feng Long and Xing Yue “I told Xiao Yao that if it wasn’t for Jing getting to her first that day, even if I got there it would have been too late. Xiao Yao is very grateful for Jing saving her and she knows some local medical knowledge so wants to take care of Jing personally.”
Feng Long and Xing Yue were a little perplexed but the important matter was Jing getting better so even they would both be willing to take care of Jing personally if that was what was needed for him to heal.
Feng Long anxiously asked “Do you have confidence Jing will wake up?”
“Pretty certain he’ll wake up.”
Feng Long was so happy he slapped the table “Xiao Yao is our lucky star, the moment she comes back it’s all good news.”
Zhuan Xu stared at Xiao Yao and then smiled.
The four finished dinner and Zhuan Xu went back to Sheng Nong Mountain.
Xiao Yao sent him off and returned to the Evergreen Residence.
Jing Ye brewed the medicine already and was waiting for Xiao Yao to return. She secretly fed Jing a spoonful but he didn’t drink it so she cleaned up and waited for Xiao Yao to come back.
Xiao Yao had Jing Ye leaved and then picked Jing up “Not sure if you can hear sounds, when I was sleeping I couldn’t wake but I could hear sounds from outside.”
Xiao Yao fed Jing his medicine and then put his down to rest.
Xiao Yao sat in the pallet and took out a pad and wrote a spiritual power inked letter to her dad. She told him she was fine, he needn’t worry, and then all sorts of random matters. Her powers were low so she couldn’t write too much before getting tired. She rested a bit and then continued and decided to get to the point. She told her dad she had things to do so couldn’t go back to Gao Xing right now, but when she was done she would go back to see him.
Xiao Yao put the letter away and said to Jing “I told my dad I wanted to go back to see him. Do you want to come with me?”
Xiao Yao got off the pallet “I’m going back to sleep.” She looked at the wasted away Jing and said “I want to spend time with you too but my Gege won’t let me. I’ll be back tomorrow.”
Xiao Yao went back to Jing’s old residence and tried to sleep on his old pallet but after tossing and turning she couldn’t sleep.
Xiao Yao remembered when she was unconscious, the happiest time was when Xiang Liu was spending time with her. Even if he said nothing, she didn’t feel lonely anymore. Even the unending darkness was not so unbearable.
Xiao Yao got up and sneaked out of the room and back into Jing’s peach blossom wood hut. She didn’t know a protective shield was placed over it so when she got close and triggered the silent alarm, both Jing Ye and Hu Ya spotted her tip toeing back inside and neither said a wor.d
Xiao Yao sneaked back on the pallet with Jing and said “If I don’t tell, you don’t tell, no one will know and my Gege won’t know so it’s like this didn’t happen.”
Xiao Yao slept an entire afternoon so she wasn’t sleepy right now. She blew into Jing’s ear “Can you hear me talking?”
She touched Jing’s hair “It’s not as nice as before, tomorrow I’ll wash it for you.”
She grabbed his arm “It’s so thin, it’ll jab into me.”
She took his hand and intertwined their fingers “They all say that you want to die because you thought I died. Is that true? Do you care about me that much?”
Xiao Yao burrowed her head into his shoulder “If you see me just as important as your life, then no matter what happens you won’t leave me?”
It was silent in the room.
Xiao Yao smiled “You’re so smart, this question can’t be answered. An answer will only seem fake, only by doing can it be proved.”
Xiao Yao closed her eyes “Jing, wake up quickly!”
The next morning, Jing Ye, Hu Ya, and Hu Zhen got up long ago but all stayed in the kitchen eating breakfast at snail’s pace.
Xiao Yao snuck out of the room and back to hers, which was when the three of them resumed eating at normal speed. Xiao Yao stayed in her room a bit and then acted like she just got up and went back to Jing’s place.
Jing Ye knew Xiao Yao was just recovered so made her easy to eat porridge. Xiao Yao ate and asked “When did you start serving Jing?”
Jing Ye said “Based on human years, around eight years old. Master was seven at that time.”
Xiao Yao’s eyes widened “Then you grew up together, you must know a lot of stories about him. Good sister, tell me! What naughty things did Jing do when he was young?”
Jing Ye was taken aback, Fang Feng Yi Yang lived in Qing Qiu for tens of years and never once asked her such things. She only called her and Lan Xiang over once to ask about Jing’s private accounts.
Jing Ye told Xiao Yao about Jing’s childhood and it was all inconsequential tidbits but Xiao Yao listened very raptly. She laughed and Jing Ye remembered the happy times of childhood and her worries were lifted as laughter rang out.
Hu Zhen listened outside for a long time before knocking “The medicine is ready.”
Xiao Yao ran out to grab it and said to Jing Ye “After lunch I want to wash Jing’s hair. Find a pallet under the tree shade and prepare lots of hot water.”
Xiao Yao quickly ran towards the wooden hut.
After lunch, Xiao Yao really carried Jing out of the wooden hut and placed him on the wooden pallet.
Jing Ye was afraid Xiao Yao didn’t know how to do such things so stood beside her waiting but who knew Xiao Yao was totally a pro at it and her every movement was gentle and coddling, clearly evident to anyone watching that she wasn’t reluctant to do this at all.
Jing said nothing and had no expression, but anyone could sense that he only wanted to be taken care of by Xiao Yao, to be beside Xiao Yao, he was like a fish in water, a cloud in the sky, he was completely free.
Jing Ye watched a bit and then quietly left.
Xiao Yao sat on a stool and her hands were in Jing’s hair as she massaged all his nerves in his head while chattering “Later after the hair is washed, you lay here under the sun. I’ll bask under the sun as well. Actually I like a bamboo pallet where I can roll around and get out all the lazy kinks in my body and leave me all content……In a month the evergreen will flower, you ought to wake up by then….”
Xiao Yao didn’t need to wait one month.
Four days later, in the evergreen forest, on an evergreen wood pallet, Jing laid there.
The sunlight filtered down through the trees and landed on him, it was warm but not hot, just perfect.
Xiao Yao had just washed her hair and was sitting next to the pallet doing her hair and humming a song. Jing slowly opened his eyes and stared at this person before him, her hair flowing past her beautiful face and his eyes teared up.
Xiao Yao was focused on doing her hair and that didn’t notice Jing watching her.
Jing Ye brought over a bowl of sour plum soup to chase away the Summer heat and when she saw Jing staring at Xiao Yao, everything in her hand fell on the ground. Xiao Yao stared at her “Are you okay?” Jing Ye pointed at Jing “Master, Master….”
Xiao Yao immediately turned and her eyes locked with Jing’s gaze.
Xiao Yao shifted right next to the pallet “Why didn’t you let me know you woke up?”
Jing said “I was scared it was a dream and the slightest noise would scare you away.”
Xiao Yao grabbed his hand and pressed it on her face “Is this a dream?”
Jing struggled against the pallet trying to get up so Xiao Yao hurriedly helped him. He immediately embraced her and she was embarrassed and said “Jing Ye is watching!”
Jing didn’t care and said “Xiao Yao, I hoped to be your husband, to openly be able to have you. But you are a Princess and only the identity of Tu Shan Jing can match up to you. So that is why I was reluctant to throw away the only chance I could openly marry you. But I was wrong! I don’t want to be Tu Shan Jing anymore, if I can’t openly have you it doesn’t matter. Even if I have no position in your life, if all I am is your slave, then that is fine with me. I just want to be by your side and look after you.”
Xiao Yao forgot Jing Ye and asked “Jing, do you really see me as important as your life?”
Jing said “No, I see you as more important than my life. Xiao Yao, you resented me for saying I wasn’t good enough for you yet I refused to let go. Actually, I know that you can go on just fine without me. I know that Fang Fang Bei is more suitable for you. But I can’t let you go, as long as I am alive then I can’t! I’m sorry, I’m sorry…..”
Xiao Yao clamped her hands over his mouth “You idiot! All I want is someone who would hold me tightly and never abandon me no matter what!” Xiao Yao’s forehead was pressed against Jing’s forehead “You can’t let me go, I really like that!”
Jing Ye stood outside the forest and called “Master, Miss Xing Yue is here to see the Princess.”
Xiao Yao smiled “Invite her in.”
Xiao Yao fixed Jing’s clothes and helped him sit up, then quickly explained to Jing everything that happened while he was unconscious.
Xing Yue walked in and was shocked to see Jing. He stood under the evergreen tree and was still much too thin and wan, but his spirit was high and there was a hint of a smile in his eyes. He said to Xing Yue “Long time no see.”
Xing Yue was dazed for a moment before rushing forward and grabbing his arm “Jing gege, you’re finally awake.”
Jing said “It’s been a burden on you and Feng Long during this time.”
Xing Yue yelped “Yes, oh yes, I need to tell my Gege immediately! And Zhuan Xu.”
She rushed out and said something to her maid before rushing back in,
Xing Yue said to Xiao Yao and Jing “I think either tonight or tomorrow morning they will come see Jing gege.”
Jing Ye asked “Master, shall the Grand Madam be told that you are awake?”
Jing said “You can handle it!”
Xing Yue sat across from Jing on the pallet drinking tea and chatting.
Xing Yue explained everything that happened in the last thirty seven years and focused on the Tu Shan clan. Since Jing was unconscious, Hou wanted to become clan leader but the Grand Madam refused and the clan elders all opposed it vehemently. Plus two of the Four Great Clans the Chi Sui clan and the Xi Ling clan also expressed disapproval of Hou, so Hou could never become the clan leader. But Hou’s power base grew fast so to control him the Grand Madam could only rely on Yi Yang. Right now all clan matters is decided by the Grand Madam but all the daily matters is split between Hou and Yi Yang.
Xiao Yao said on the pallet and listened to Xing Yue talking nonstop and she smiled lazily. Earlier it felt like just her and Jing in the entire world, but soon everyone and everything will come rushing towards them.
Xing Yue was talking when suddenly Jing stood up “I’m going to get a blanket” and walked towards the hut.
Xing Yue remembered Xiao Yao and glanced over and saw that she was actually asleep.
Jing lightly covered Xiao Yao with a blanket and then sat back facing Xing Yue “Continue.”
Xing Yue pointed to Xiao Yao “Shall we talk elsewhere?”
Jing glanced at Xiao Yao and then smiled “No need, she hates being lonely and likes hearing voices.”
Xing Yue thought it strange and stared at Xiao Yao and Jing, but then figured she was over thinking it and continued talking about the current state of the Tu Shan clan.
By the time Xiao Yao woke up, it was dinner time already.
Xing Yue had the maids set up dinner in the evergreen forest and in the middle of dining, the maids announced that Feng Long and Zhuan Xu had both arrived. Xing Yue had the maids prepare two more table settings.
Feng Long saw Jing and grabbed him for a bear hug “I thought you old fogey had seen through life and wanted to sleep your way to death. Who knew you still missed the glittering world!”
Jing bowed “Sorry for the hassle.”
Feng Long sat down “It was a hassle so please can you hurry up and get all better so you can help me!”
Xing Yue said “Gege, don’t scare Jing gege so much that he will lose his appetite.”
Xiao Yao was hungry so didn’t even wait until they all sat down before starting to eat. Jing said “Okay, stop the useless chatter. Let’s eat first and after dinner I can hear all about the important matters.”
The five of them started eating.
Because Jing just woke up, his dinner was different than the rest and was just porridge. He ate a bit and then put down his spoon to chat with Feng Long. Xiao Yao stared and suddenly said “Jing, eat another bowl.”
Jing immediately put his tea cup down and scooped another bowl and lowered his head to eat.
Feng Long laughed “Jing, when did you become so obedient?”
Neither Xing Yue nor Zhuan Xu joined his laughter.
After dinner, Xiao Yao knew they wanted to talk so excused herself for a walk. Zhuan Xu said “Go pack, you’re coming back with me to Sheng Nong Mountain in a bit.” Xiao Yao smiled “Nothing to pack so just call me when you want to leave.” She headed down the walkway leisurely.
Xing Yue sighed in envy “Xiao Yao sometimes seems like a wild chick, coming and going as she pleases.”
Zhuan Xu sighed and turned to Feng Long “Why don’t you explain!”
Feng Long started to tell Jing what was going on with him and Zhuan Xu. He concealed the part about Zhuan Xu secretly building an army, but told him about his involvement “A lot of people are following me and money is needed. The Chi Sui clan has extra money but I can’t touch it. Zhuan Xu had some money gleaned from the palace renovation but these past few years the accounts books are suddenly being scrutinized. Thankfully your people told us early so nothing was discovered. But there is no room anymore to cook the books. We need a lot of money now so both of us are waiting for you to pitch in.”
Jing smiled “I understand.”
Feng Long said “Understand what? Are you helping or not?”
Jing replied “Am I even allowed to say I won’t help?”
“Of course not!”
Jing said “Then why are you asking a pointless question?”
Feng Long retorted “I know we don’t need to beat around the bush, but you need to assure Zhuan Xu!”
Jing smiled at Zhuan Xu “I can’t help on much but I know how to manage businesses so anything involving money there is no need to worry.”
Feng Long smiled and said to Zhuan Xu “See, I said that once Jing woke up then we’ll quench that fire on our ass. We spend money like water and we need a sly fox like him who can make money to help us. Too bad he’s not on the same ambitions as us and is doing this simply out of friendship.”
Zhuan Xu was relieved and asked “No matter who you are doing this for, I still thank you.”
After that matter was discussed, Zhuan Xu had someone summon Xiao Yao.
Jing said to Zhuan Xu and Feng Long “I have something to say to you both.”
Xing Yue got up silently and left.
Jing said to Zhuan Xu “To solve your matter I need to hurry back to Qing Qiu. Once I get back, I plan to tell my grandmother that no matter what happens, I will return to Xiao Yao’s side and protect her forever.”
Zhuan Xu’s face changed and he coldly asked “Are you talking terms with me?”
Jing said “How could I use Xiao Yao to bargain? I am just asking for your permission.”
Feng Long cluelessly asked “You want to protect Xiao Yao? Is she in danger again?”
Jing looked at Feng Long and his expression was filled with apology and regret.
Feng Long was a brilliant guy except when it came to romance, so it took him a few seconds to react and connect the dots. He jumped up “You! You were despondent and wanted to die because of Xiao Yao?” Feng Long still couldn’t believe it, in his mind a man could die for grand ambitions and lofty goals, but for a woman? That was too spineless! That was too ridiculous!
Jing bowed to Feng Long “I’m sorry, I know you wanted to marry Xiao Yao, but I cannot lose her.”
Feng Long’s anger burst forth and he upended the table “You know I wanted to marry Xiao Yao and yet you dared to make a move on my woman? I was wondering why you lived at my house for a good six months, thinking you were avoiding going home to deal with home matters. Who knew you were here seducing my woman in my home! I treat you like a brother, yet this is how you treat me? Tu Shan Jing, you get the fuck out of my house! Take your stinking money and leave! I don’t fucking believe that without your help I can’t accomplish my goals!”
Feng Long said that and sent a gushing water burst towards Jing who didn’t even duck or shield himself. Zhuan Xu grabbed him and called “Help!”
Xing Yue and the guards heard the noise and rushed back and Zhuan Xu said “Take Feng Long away now.”
Feng Long was wrapped in Zhuan Xu’s arms and couldn’t move his arms but was so angry he kept trying to use his feet to kick Jing. He sent some water bursts from his feet that struck Jing in the arm who didn’t try to avoid it. Xing Yue screamed and the guards grabbed Feng Long and carried him out of there.
Zhuan Xu sat down looking like a mess and coldly said to Jing “I believe you are sincere about Xiao Yao but Tu Shan Jing is engaged. The Grand Madam is very wanting of Fang Feng Yi Yang, she will never agree to cancel the engagement.”
Jing said “I once wanted to stand before the Grand Emperor and openly propose to Xiao Yao. So I endured and endured, but after this time almost losing her, I know that nothing else is more important that just being with her. I am willing to give everything up. If my grandmother won’t let Tu Shan Jing end the engagement, then I will give up being Tu Shan Jing.”
What the name Tu Shan Jing represented, Zhuan Xu was fully aware of that. It wasn’t just wealth that rivaled a kingdom, it was also power that could influence the world. Zhuan Xu met all sorts of men but he had never met a man who was willing to give everything up for a woman. Zhuan Xu was touched and said “Actually, I can’t decide for Xiao Yao, she decides for herself.”
Xiao Yao walked out from behind a tree and over to Jing, examining the water stab on his arms and crushed two pills which instantly stopped the bleeding.
Zhuan Xu and Jing both stared nervously at Xiao Yao, waiting for her answer. She smiled at Jing and said to Zhuan Xu “When I saved him he had nothing, I don’t mind if he goes back to having nothing.”
Jing was like a heavy burden was lifted and he smiled.
Zhuan Xu said nothing and kept his head lowered, picking up the cup on the table and downing it. Then he raised his head with a smile “No matter what you want, that’s fine!”
Xiao Yao had a slight smile.
Zhuan Xu said to Jing “Where are you staying tonight? Feng Long won’t want you here now.”
“Your matters are urgent so I need to hurry back to Qing Qiu to handle it as soon as possible.”
Zhuan Xu smiled “That works! Xiao Yao and I will send you off and then head back to Sheng Nong Mountain.”
Jing chatted with Zhuan Xu for a bit and Hu Zhen and Jing Ye packed out their belongings while Hu Yao went to get the cloud carriage.
Xiao Yao and Jing stood before the cloud carriage saying their farewells. Jing said “When I come back, I’ll go to Sheng Nong Mountain to find you.”
Xiao Yao smiled and nodded “Take care of yourself, don’t let Hou have any opportunity.”
“I know, you also be careful.”
Xiao Yao watched the cloud carriage depart before turning to Zhuan Xu. He helped her on their cloud carriage. She was tired and closed her eyes to nap and the carriage was silent until Zhuan Xu suddenly asked “Are you certain? Jing may not be the best man, or the man most suited for you.”
Xioa Yao opened her eyes “You and I are both abandoned children, you know more than anyone what I want.”
Zhuan Xu said “Even if he gives up being Tu Shan Jing, but you and I know that the blood ties are too thick to ever just give up and cut off that easily. The Grand Madam is infamous for being stubborn and difficult. Have you thought about the future?”
“The future is not up to me, it’s up to him. I am merely willing to wait for him to give me an outcome.”
Zhuan Xu murmured “You’re not the type to wait for people, clearly he’s special in your heart.”
Xiao Yao said “Don’t worry about me! I’ve experienced too many disappointments and have long learned to keep expectations low and always think of the worst case scenario. You and I both know, to not be disappointed, one must never have hope.”
Zhuan Xu sighed “No matter what the outcome, I’ll always be here for you.”
Xiao Yao rested her head on his shoulder and smiled “I know.”