This is the chapter that cannot be missed if you’ve been reading Lost You Forever. It’s the most incredible one since the action-packed chapter where Xiao Yao was assassinated and her three men rushed one after another to contribute to saving her in their own way. This chapter 32 of LYF has been a long time coming as Xiao Yao dons her wedding dress and prepares to marry Feng Long with as much excitement as a girl heading to a nunnery. In the prequel Once Promised, Xiao Yao’s mother Ah Heng’s wedding day to Shao Hao, the future Grand Emperor, was brazenly interrupted by the arrival of her lover Qi Yo to take her away. Ah Heng steeled her heart and broke Qi Yo’s heart when she went through with the wedding for the sake of saving her beloved mother and brothers. This little tidbit of parental generation angst is necessary to mention in order to fully appreciate how history is about to repeat itself at Xiao Yao’s wedding and maybe see her make a different choice than her mother.
I hope no one thought she was actually going to go through with it that easily and marry a guy dull as beans (to her) and who is likely more into studying war maps than making love to his wife. I love the reader jokes about how Feng Long is secretly in love with Zhuan Xu, that’s not true but he’s definitely way more excited to hang out with Zhuan Xu than Xiao Yao, that’s for sure. I don’t want that kind of passionless marriage for Xiao Yao, and neither does the three men who love her. So which guy shows up to interrupt the exchange of vows? The whole thing goes down in the most dramatic way possible (perfect for a drama scene) but like everything there is more than meets the eye. If only the most romantic gesture of all time could be acknowledged but that would be too easy. Get ready to swoon and cry and swoon some more as this chapter unfurls in all its pent up glory. This is probably as close as its ever gotten between Xiao Yao and the guy but even the truth about their feelings for each other cannot set them free to be together.
Chapter 32 – A Shadow Headed in Which Direction:
The Autumn month arrived and the Gao Xing wedding party departed from Five Gods Mountain via the water route towards Chi Sui.
Under Ru So’s expert travel planning, the wedding party entered the Chi Sui waterways on the dawn of the 22nd and the Chi Sui welcoming ships were waiting with celebratory music playing that was so loud it shook the Earth.
Both sides of the Chi Sui shore were jam packed with spectators there to watch the festivities.
Chi Sui’s clan traditional attire was the classic flair of the Middle Plains with a preference for red. Xiao Yao took off her white robe with her maids assistance and put on her red wedding dress.
The ships entered the Chi Sui river and gradually slowed down. It was the season for the magnolias to bloom and there were magnolia trees on both sides of the shore and the fragrance carried for miles as the petals rained down. Xiao Yao sat by the ship’s window and silently stared at the yellow petals floating by in the water.
The ship hadn’t yet reached the Chi Sui clan residence when the sound of the chatter on the shore reached the ship. Because too many guests were in attendance and the residence could not hold so many, the Chi Sui clan used its ice powers to freeze the lake surface into ice and a banquet was set up there. It brought a cool breeze to the proceedings and a great view to enjoy the banquet.
The guests sighed, clearly the head of the Four Great Clans could do anything, it could find disciples with the necessary powers and it had money to spend on even the biggest of parties.
When everyone saw the Gao Xing ships arriving all the wedding guests stood up to watch.
Feng Long was wearing all red and was standing by the shore.
Xiao Yao gingerly walked to the edge of ship with the assistance of her maid. She was dressed regally in all red and wearing a crown of jewels but her face was very beautifully bare. She only had on a little bit of lip tint which paired with the red peach blossom brand on her forehead turned her into a vision of beauty.
Feng Long normally didn’t put much thought into women but seeing her and thinking that tonight she would lay in his arms made even his heart thunder.
The ship reached shore but Feng Long still didn’t move and only stared dumbstruck at Xiao Yao.
The crowds laughed at him and his face turned beet red and he quickly grabbed the red lotus flower branch bouquet and bowed to Xiao Yao “The lotus opens to bear unity, together our hearts as one.”
Xiao Yao reached out for it and repeated the same auspicious promise.
With the sound of music surrounding them, Feng Long assisted Xiao Yao off the ship and felt her small hand in his but it wasn’t soft like the other girls but instead had hard callouses which made him feel even more tender towards her and he held her hand even tighter.
Xiao Yao and Feng Long each held the bouquet branch and walked forward. The path was created using lotus flowers of every color because the Chi Sui clan was based next to water so revered the lotus flower as good luck. The red lotus was the most rare and required using spiritual powers to grow.
The kids were told to pick up the lotus and toss it at her to bring more children. Feng Long leaned down to whisper “Don’t misunderstand. It’s not that they don’t like you, it’s custom to use lotus to throw at the bride……”
Xiao Yao’s face was red “I know, on the ship the maids explained to me.” Apparently right after the ceremony the couple would retreat to a lotus tent also as a sign to have more children.
Feng Long stared at Xiao Yao and he was so overcome that he couldn’t wait for the ceremony to be over as soon as possible, for night to fall as quickly as possible, to return to their honeymoon suite as soon as possible. Feng Long said “Xiao Yao, after the ceremony then you’re mine for the rest of our lives.” Xiao Yao lowered her head and Feng Long smiled.
There were people outside the residence cataloging all the wedding gifts sent from around the vast wilderness.
“Tu Shan clan, ninety nine East Sea pearls, ninety nine North Pole ice crystal wind chimes…..” Everyone stared at the Tu Shan clan leader, the ice crystals were rare and expensive and had many uses. Turning it into a wind chime was actually a waste so most ice crystals were gifted in original form, no one would ever give an ice crystal wind chime much less ninety nine of them.
Xiao Yao entered the residence and saw Jing sitting next to the Xi Ling clan leader. He was dressed in blue and looked thin and wan but still had a respectful smile on his face though he appeared exhausted.
Xiao Yao thought, is he sick? And it looks rather serious. Then why come to the wedding? Did he want to come or did he come because he didn’t want Feng Long to think there was any awkwardness? Did anyone know he is sick….Xiao Yao’s mind was jumbled in that moment.
Feng Long whispered urgently “Xiao Yao!”
Xiao Yao snapped out of it and realized this was her wedding to Feng Long. She felt this bittersweet sadness well up, from now on Jing would have nothing to do with her anymore.
Feng Long whispered “Two months ago Jing came to see me while sick and asked me to cancel the wedding. I left in a huff. I hope after the wedding he can finally let you go.” Xiao Yao said nothing and Feng Long asked “Are you happy?”
Xiao Yao smiled “What do you think?”
Feng Long saw her smile and felt relieved “Jing said he asked me to cancel the wedding not because he still had you in his heart but because he knew you weren’t happy and didn’t want to marry me. I felt conflicted and discussed it with my sister but she said no one forced you to marry me and you agreed yourself so how could you not be willing?”
A white-haired elder said “Shush, the auspicious hour is here!”
Feng Long and Xiao Yao readied themselves and stopped talking.
A voice rang out “Auspicious hour is here! First pray to the Heavens!”
Xiao Yao and Feng Long prayed to the Heavens.
“Second pray to the ancestors!”
Feng Long’s grandfather, his dad Little Zhu Rong, and his mother all smiled down at them.
Feng Long was about to lead Xiao Yao over to kneel before them when suddenly a clear loud voice sounded that interrupted the proceedings.
Everyone turned their heads and saw Fang Feng Bei dress all in white walking in from outside calling out in a strong voice “Xiao Yao, don’t marry him.”
Xiao Yao stared in a daze at Fang Feng Bei.
Everyone was stunned, no one could believe that a lowly born son of the Fang Feng family would dare interfere with the wedding of the Chi Sui clan leader. Chi Sui Zhen Tian thundered in rage “Guards! Drag this rude bastard away and hold him! Afterwards I’m going to ask Fang Feng Xiao Guai how he raised his son?”
A few Chi Sui clan guards rushed towards Fang Feng Bei to drag him out but they were held back by a powerful barrier and couldn’t even get close to Fang Feng Bei.
Fang Feng Bei acted like no one else was around and walked towards Xiao Yao. As he walked the guards trying to block him all were sent flying to the ground.
Feng Long controlled his rage and said in a threatening way “Fang Feng Bei, there are many honored guests present today and I don’t want to disturb them. I hope you don’t live to regret this!”
Fang Feng Bei ignored him and only stared at Xiao Yao “Xiao Yao, don’t get married.”
Xiao Yao furiously asked “What are you trying to do?”
“Don’t marry Chi Sui Feng Long!”
“You’re telling me NOW not to marry him?” Xiao Yao wanted to laugh her head off. “You leave immediately!”
Xiao Yao said to Feng Long “Let’s continue the wedding, I don’t want to miss the auspicious hour!”
Chi Sui Xian led some guards to block Fang Feng Bei’s way and even with Xiang Liu’s power he couldn’t break though immediately.
Feng Long nodded to the wedding coordinator to continue with the wedding “Second bow to the elders——–”
Xiao Yao and the Feng Long faced the three elders and prepared to bow.
Fang Feng Bei was battling Chi Sui Xian and he called out “Xiao Yao, do you remember the blood oath you swore? If you renege on the promise then everything you love will become pain, everything that brings you happiness will turn bitter.”
Xiao Yao stopped moving, she did make a blood oath with Xiang Liu to do one thing for him.
Feng Long noticed Xiao Yao wasn’t bowing and started to get nervous and called out “Xiao Yao!”
Xiao Yao slowly turned back around and stared at Fang Feng Bei “What do you want?”
Fang Feng Bei “I want you to leave with me right now!”
Xiao Yao’s entire body turned cold, with the entire vast wilderness gathered here, if she ran away from her wedding and especially left with another man, that would be such an insult to the Chi Sui clan and to Feng Long. How would the Chi Sui clan see her? How would the entire world view her?
Xiao Yao asked “Why?” Xiang Liu, you knew two months ago I was getting married, why do you have to do it this way? Do you want the entire world to spit on me? If you want to destroy me, why did you choose this most degrading method?
Fang Feng Bei coldly said “You don’t need to ask why, you just need to do as I say. I want you to leave with me. Right. Now!”
The blood oath rang in her ears “If I renege on this promise, whatever I love will turn into pain, whatever brings me happiness will turn bitter.” With today’s events, even if she kept the promise, did that mean there won’t be any pain and any bitterness? Xiao Yao bitterly smiled, whether or not she kept the promise, she was going to have not a day of peace in her life.
Feng Long nervously stared at Xiao Yao and he didn’t realize his voice was quivering “Xiao Yao, it’s time to bow!”
Fang Feng Bei stared intently at Xiao Yao and coldly pressed her “Xiao Yao, you owe me this.”
She did owe him! Not just the blood oath, she owed him her life.
Xiao Yao’s face was stark white as she stumbled towards Fang Feng Bei. Feng Long grabbed her hand and his eyes were wide with terror “Xiao Yao, Xiao Yao, don’t…..” No matter when, he was someone in control. But right now he didn’t know what was happening. Why was his life filled with utter joy a moment ago and in a split second all the joy vanished?
Xiao Yao’s voice shook “I’m sorry, I….I….today I can’t marry you! I’m sorry!”
Xiao Yao’s voice wasn’t loud but everyone present all had powers so everyone heard it clearly. It was as shocking as thunder and even the folks who thought they had seen it all couldn’t help but be shocked.
From birth until now, Feng Long was like the son of the Heavens. There was nothing he couldn’t have in the world, only things he didn’t want. As the entire gathered guests stared at him, Feng Long felt his entire world collapse.
Feng Long released his hand and stood straighter, a proud smile on his face. He said slowly “I don’t know what you promised Fang Feng Bei, but you promised to marry me today!”
Xiao Yao knew she and Feng Long had an understanding, and even if she didn’t want to marry him she would have chosen the right time to calmly tell him. He wouldn’t mind in that case, but to run out of the wedding like this publicly was was shaming him. No man could accept such shame, much less a son of the Heavens like Feng Long.
Xiao Yao’s face was stark white and she turned to plead with Fang Feng Bei who coldly said “Leave with me right now!”
Xiao Yao said to Feng Long “I….I….I wronged you!” Xiao Yao’s voice was shaking and even her body was shaking. “I’m sorry! I don’t dare ask for your forgiveness, and later you can do whatever you want to me and I’ll accept it!” Xiao Yao finished and didn’t dare look at Feng Long before she ran towards Fang Feng Bei.
Xiao Yao had weak powers and Feng Long could have easily forced her to go through with the wedding. This was the Chi Sui clan residence and he was the Chi Sui clan leader, no matter how powerful Fang Feng Bei was, he could stop him. But his pride, his arrogance, neither would allow him to forcefully keep her in front of a room full of guests.
Two guards stopped Xiao Yao and pushed her back towards Feng Long.
Feng Long called out “Let her go!”
The guards stared at Chi Sui Hai Tian and Little Zhu Rong.
Feng Long called out “I said let her go! No one dare stop her!” His face was blue and a vein throbbed on his forehead and there was actually unshed tears in his eye but he still smiled proudly.
All of the guards moved aside.
Xiao Yao lowered her head and bowed to Feng Long before Fang Feng Bei grabbed her hand and pulled her out behind him.
One person in all white taking away one person in all red, right in front of an entire wedding full of guests.
It was dead silent in the wedding hall and not a single guest dared make a noise or move.
The sound of merry music floated in from outside.
Jing stared at Xiao Yao and Fang Feng Bei’s retreating forms and his face was tinted with an odd red hue.
Fang Feng Bei vaulted on a winged horse with Xiao Yao and it rose into the air and disappeared in the sky. Jing suddenly started coughing violently and that seemed to awaken the entire hall of guests. Little Zhu Rong stood up and calmly said “The banquet is prepared and everyone came from far away. Please enjoy the banquet before leaving.”
Everyone acted like nothing happened and accepted before quickly leaving the wedding hall.
Little Zhu Rong stared at his son standing ramrod straight and his elderly father-in-law and said “Dad, you and Feng Long go rest! Don’t worry, let Xiao Ye and I handle the rest.”
The Chi Sui Madam sighed and stood next to Little Zhu Rong. Yet another time when she and her Gege needed to once again shoulder the burden together and overcome this difficult event.
The winged horse flew out of Chi Sui Castle and once Xiang Liu confirmed no one was following, he switched to the back of the white condor.
Xiao Yao didn’t say a word or make a move. She was like a wooden puppet letting Xiang Liu do as he wanted with her.
The white condor flew East and in the middle of the night it actually flew to Qing Shui Town.
Xiang Liu led Xiao Yao into an ordinary human residence and said “We’ll stay here for a few days.”
Xiao Yao said nothing and curled up into a ball in the corner of the pallet.
Xiang Liu asked “Do you hate me for preventing you from marrying the Chi Sui clan leader?”
Xiao Yao curled her body, grabbed her legs, buried her head on her knees, and said nothing. Hate or no hate, she owed him this. He came to ask, she had to do it.
Xiang Liu saw that Xiao Yao was ignoring him so said “There is hot water in the kitchen. Want to bathe?”
Xiao Yao said nothing.
“Do what you want. I’m going to rest.” Xiang Liu turned and left.
His one foot was out the door when Xiao Yao suddenly asked “When did you find out I was getting married?” Due to her head being buried on her knees, her voice sounded muffled like it was coming from far away.
Xiang Liu didn’t turn around and his voice was cold “Two months ago.”
Xiao Yao’s voice was shaking “Why….why did you have to do it this way?”
Xiang Liu’s voice got colder “Do you have any right to ask me why? The terms of the deal was discussed in advance. Whatever I asked, you would do!”
Xiao Yao said nothing and Xiang Liu left without looking back. When the door slowly closed behind him, it let out a soft thud. Xiao Yao remembered that when she was asleep under the ocean, every time the clan shell closed it would make a similar sound. Xiao Yao’s tears silently fell.
She didn’t sleep all night and when the sun rose Xiao Yao felt her head throbbing in pain. She walked out of the room to go to the kitchen to get hot water to take a bath.
She took off her dress and saw the bright red wedding gown. Xiao Yao bitterly smiled wondering what her dad, grandfather, and Zhuan Xu were thinking after hearing she ran off with another man on her wedding day. Xiao Yao saw a chest on the pallet and rummaged through it and found a few sets of ladies clothes. She picked a simple outfit.
Xiao Yao bathed and changed into a the simple outfit and felt hungry. She remembered not eating much the day before the wedding and now it had been three days since she had eaten.
Xiao Yao walked outside and saw Xiang Liu standing in the courtyard.
His hair was back to being all white and fell behind him like a waterfall. The tree behind him had red leaves and the brightness contrasted so that he looked even more ethereal like untouched snow.
Xiao Yao sensed something but had to confirm it “Where is Fang Feng Bei?”
Xiang Liu coolly replied “He’s dead.”
Xiao Yao stared at Xiang Liu and her eyes were blinded in pain by his whiteness like a cloud and like the snow. Tears came to her eyes, Fang Feng Bei took her away and now Fang Feng Bei was dead and would never appear again. From now on it was only Xiang Liu. That irresponsible, do whatever he wanted, taught her archery, took her through the world seeking the simplest of pleasures, that man was now dead.
He once said – she and he were just temporarily companions in this unpredictable life seeking happiness. He never lied to her!
Xiang Liu quietly stared at Xiao Yao, his face was like a ten thousand year old snow mountain, cold and inscrutable.
Xiao Yao abruptly turned around and grabbed a pail of water from the well and splashed the cold water on her face. When she lifted her head her face was all wet. she didn’t know if her tears came down and mixed with the water or was forced back and never fell.
Xiao Yao went to the kitchen and found a biscuit and laid down on the grass pallet in the courtyard to munch on it and bask in the sun.
Xiang Liu asked “Has your sleepless problem not been cured yet?
Xiao Yao acted like she didn’t hear him. After what happened yesterday, who cared whether she slept well at night. A more prudish lady would have committed suicide by now.
Xiang Liu asked “You don’t want to go outside to walk around?”
What was there to see outside? It had been seventy years and even if the streets were the same, the people were all gone. If the people were all gone then why the walk down memory lane? If she didn’t go see then she could preserve the happy memories. If she went to look then she might find all the flaws in her memories.
Xiang Liu said nothing more and quietly read the sheep skin cloth in his hand.
Xiao Yao nibbled on the biscuit and gradually fell asleep. She felt like she was back in Hui Chun Clinic and napping in the courtyard with Shi Qi quietly working beside her. She would natter to Shi Qi that the Autumn afternoon was the highlight of the day and have him go lay on the pallet with her to bask in the sun.
A string of children’s laughter roused Xiao Yao from her sleep and she flipped over. She subconsciously glanced towards Shi Qi and instead saw only pure white. Xiao Yao covered her eyes with her hands but she didn’t know what she was trying to cover.
Xiang Liu and Xiao Yao lived in Qing Shui Town for over a month just like that.
In the morning when Xiao Yao was still sleeping, Xiang Liu would go out. Xiao Yao never went out and when she slept she would toss and turn like she was still awake. When she was awake it was like a daze and she was dreaming. To say she hated Xiang Liu, but she never resisted and never tried to run away. To say she didn’t hate Xiang Liu, she never spoke to him and acted like he didn’t exist.
It was now early Winter and the temperature was dropping. Xiang Liu still wore a simple all-white robe and often did work in the courtyard. Xiao Yao had weak powers and couldn’t stay in the courtyard anymore so she often wrapped herself in a blanket and sat by the window.
Xiang Liu would often stare at Xiao Yao for a long long time. Xiao Yao sometimes couldn’t sense it and when she did sense it she didn’t mind and let him continue to stare at her.
When the first snowflakes fell, it was the first snow of the Winter. Xiao Yao reached out her hand but the snowflakes were too wispy and melted the moment it touched her palm.
Xiang Liu walked into the room and closed the window for her.
Xiao Yao opened it. Xiang Liu closed it again.
Xiao Yao opened it again. Xiang Liu closed it again.
Xiao Yao went to open it again but Xiang Liu used his power and Xiao Yao couldn’t open it at all.
Even since she left Chi Sui Castle, Xiao Yao had been calm but now she couldn’t endure it any longer and punched the window violently before glaring at Xiang Liu.
Xiang Liu coolly said “What kind of person I am, you’ve known all along. Since you dared to make a deal with the devil, you ought to have the courage to accept the consequences.”
Xiao Yao was taken aback because Xiang Liu was absolutely correct. Their deal was completely fair. Even if she could do it over and knowing the consequences of today, to protect Zhuan Xu she would still choose to move the voodoo bug into Xiang Liu. It had simply been too long since Xiang Liu asked her to fulfill her end of the bargain. She had also seen Fang Feng Bei as real, so their relationship was covered by this tender sweet layer like a gauzy veil. Xiao Yao simply forgot that their relationship was always just a transaction, so no matter what he chose to ask of her, she had no right to be angry.
Xiang Liu sat down and started drinking wine and stared at Xiao Yao. There was a conflicted look in his eyes, unclear what he was thinking about.
Xiao Yao finally spoke “When can I leave? What is your plan?”
Xiang Liu didn’t answer her question and just tossed a jug of wine to Xiao Yao “This wine is specially made strong liquor, one sip and it’ll knock a person out.”
There was no brazier lit in the room so Xiao Yao was chilled “No matter how strong the wine, it won’t let me drink my woes away!”
She picked up the jug and took a big large gulp. The strong wine hit her throat and burned its way down to her belly, instantly warming her body and relaxing her mood.
Xiao Yao continued to drink and Xiang Liu kept her company and also silently drank.
Xiang Liu suddenly asked “Do you want to marry Feng Long?”
Xiao Yao’s expression changed, she appeared to try and snap herself alert. Xiang Liu’s eyes were piercing bright and his voice tender and soft as he asked “Do you want to marry Ye Shi Qi?”
Xiao Yao murmured “I do.”
Another question was right at the tip of Xiang Liu’s lips but he was actually torn until a moment later he asked “Who do you most want to spend your entire life with?”
Xiao Yao opened her mouth to answer but her expression showed her internal struggle as her mind refused to let her say what her heart felt.
After multiple struggles she became more and more pained and her body began to shake as she clutched her head “Hurt…..hurt…..” Xiang Liu had used his power to try and see into Xiao Yao’s heart but Xiao Yao’s mind was too strong willed. If she encountered something that even she refused to think about, then she would unexpectedly oppose answering it and the headache was the result of her refusal to answer the question.
Xiang Liu was afraid that she would injure her soul essence so he didn’t dare push her and quickly pulled back his probe and said “If your head hurts, rest!”
Xiao Yao wearily rested on the pillow with her forehead furrowed in pain.
Xiang Liu covered her with a blanket and Xiao Yao suddenly opened her eyes “Why?”
Xiang Liu stared at Xiao Yao and didn’t know exactly what she was asking why about. Was it why he forced her to become a runaway bride? Or was it why he used his powers to probe the true feelings inside her heart?
Xiao Yao gave up asking and closed her eyes to murmur “I’m so hurting……Xiang Liu, I hurt………”
Xiang Liu’s hand pressed on Xiao Yao’s forehead and he said in a low voice “You’ll forget what just happened and after a good night’s sleep it’ll all be fine!”
Xiao Yao fell asleep but there was a sardonic smile on her lips as if mocking “Even after a good sleep it won’t all be fine!”
When Xiao Yao woke up, her head felt like splitting and she sensed something strange happened last night but no matter how much she tried to remember she couldn’t figure it out so she gave up.
Perhaps it was due to waking up early today Xiang Liu had already left.
Xiao Yao washed up and had breakfast before going to sit in a daze in the courtyard under the sun. The sound of children playing reached her.
She opened the courtyard door and saw seven or eight kids playing house. They were currently having a pretend wedding and Xiao Yao couldn’t help but lean against the door and watch them. She suddenly remembered Ma Zi and Chuan Zi, when she found them and brought them back they were about the same age. But they weren’t as noisy back then, they were quiet and fearful, working hard and eating little, afraid she would toss them back out. It wasn’t until after a long time did they believe she and Lao Mu wouldn’t kick them out just to have one less mouth to feed.
That was all nearly ninety years ago now! The grass on Ma Zi and Chuan Zi’s graves had grown multiple times but her memories of them were still so vivid like yesterday.
An old woman with a face full of wrinkles and hair all white sat near the wall and watched the kids. She appeared ancient but was full of life still and her clothing was neat and clean. She beamed with happiness as she watched the kids play.
The old woman beckoned to Xiao Yao “Little lady, come here to sit under the sun.”
Xiao Yao walked over and sat beside the old woman, it was warm with the sensation of the Spring afternoon.
The old woman said “I haven’t seen you before? Are you Bao Zhu’s…..”
Xiao Yao didn’t know who Bao Zhu was but likely Xiang Liu transformed into a human or his subordinate did so and Bao Zhu must be who the old woman thought was her neighbor. Xiao Yao said “Relative. I recently arrived here.”
The old woman said “Are the kids bothering you? You haven’t had kids yet?”
Xiao Yao sighed “Who knows if I’ll have the good fortune to have kids in this lifetime.” She broke off her wedding to the Chi Sui clan leader and ran off with another guy. Likely no man would dare marry her in this lifetime.
The old woman said “You decide if you will have good fortune in your life.”
Her words didn’t sound like an uneducated country woman and Xiao Yao glanced at the old woman and then looked around her surroundings. It seemed familiar – if some arrangements were changed around and the residence smaller and older…..Xiao Yao suddenly asked “Is this Hui Chun Clinic?”
The old woman said “Yes!”
Xiao Yao was startled and then asked “Tian Er?”
The old woman was taken aback and sadness flitted across her eyes “Since my Chuan Zi died, it’s been a long time since I heard someone call me that name. How do you know I’m Xan Tian Er?”
Xiao Yao said “I….I heard the old folks in town mention it once.”
Xan Tian Er laughed “Likely they were gossiping about how I was once a prostitute and doesn’t deserve to live such a good life. But I did live an entire lifetime with Chuan Zi, we had four sons and one daughter, and now I have ten grandson, eight granddaughters, and three great-grandchildren.”
“Lao Mu, Ma Zi, Chun Tao, how are they……..”
“They are all gone, I’m the only one left.”
Xiao Yao was silent for a long time before asking “Lao Mu…..how was he when he passed?”
“Lao Mu had no children of his own but Ma Zi and Chuan Zi treated him like their own father. They took care of him until he was old no worse than a real son would have done. Chun Tao and I were also good daughter-in-laws and we took care of Lao Mu until he passed with a smile on his face.”
Xiao Yao smiled, she didn’t make an effort to find out not because she didn’t care, but because she cared too much. Now she knew they lived a good life it was like a dam had broken. Xiao Yao asked Tian Er “Did Chuan Zi ever find fault with you? Did you ever feel unhappy? Did you regret anything in this lifetime?”
Xan Tian Er felt this girl’s questions were odd but from the first moment she saw her, she felt this strange kinship so she answered “It’s not like a prostitute with a client, only sweet without the bitter. How could our days together not be stumbling and fumbling at times? After I had two sons, Chuan Zi and I almost broke up but I couldn’t withstand his pleading for forgiveness so we stayed together. But looking back I’m so relieved I didn’t just leave in anger at that time.”
To push a woman who gave birth to two sons to leave, Chuan Zi really must have committed a huge infraction. But mistakes and wrongs can be seen in an instance or viewed in a lifetime. After her life was almost at its end, Xan Tian Er looked back and decided her forgiveness was the right decision. Xiao Yao asked “A person can only see what is right before her, not what is ahead for the lifetime. How does one know that a decision in that moment, even if it’s painful, is the right decision that one won’t regret down the road?”
Xan Tian Er answered “Not only am I unable to answer your question, even a god or goddess living hundreds more years can’t answer it. Isn’t a person’s lifetime like walking a desolate road? No one has walked it before you so each step is stepping on unknown ground. Some walk a road with a good view, others have a poor view. But no matter what the view is, there will always be jagged cliffs, broken paths, dangerous beasts, perhaps one wrong step and one will tumble or maybe one wrong turn and one will head the wrong way. Because it’s a desolate road that is unknown and dangerous, everyone wants to find a companion to walk it with. Another set of eyes, another pair of hands, each taking care of the other. I warn you of a fork in the road, you warn me of a cliff ahead, we hold hands to cross together, joining forces to beat back a dangerous beast…….two people stumbling and fumbling an entire lifetime together and that’s how it happens.”
Xiao Yao said nothing.
Xan Tian Er appeared to remember something and she squinted her eyes and also said nothing. The sound of children laughing startled Xan Tian Er and she stared at her great-grandchildren with Chuan Zi and smiled “I smiled and I cried in my life, it’s been worth it!”
Xiao Yao never could have imagined the Xan Tian Er standing at the end of her life would be so content.
Xan Tian Er counseled Xiao Yao “Little lady, you have to remember that whatever you want, you have to believe it exists. If you refuse to believe it, then how can you give your true heart? If you don’t plant the seeds, you can’t have a happy harvest.”
The kids had moved on from the wedding to having kids, the little girl was anxious about not being able to have a “baby” and the little boy was anxious about going to see the “doctor” and the “doctor” gave them medicine wrapped in leaves to go home and “brew.” The “doctor” solemnly told the “couple” that their nightly activities would need to be decreased to every three days and not to rush it in the eagerness to get pregnant.
Xiao Yao burst out laughing and Xan Tian Er awkwardly explained “They play all day in the clinic and eavesdrop on a lot of the adult conversations with patients.”
Xiao Yao said “It’s been a long time since I’ve been happy. Today, I’m really happy.”
Xiang Liu came back and stood beside the tree to watch Xiao Yao and Xan Tian Er.
Xiao Yao stood up and stroked Tian Er’s head “Tian Er, you did well. I know Chuan Zi must have understood and appreciated that he got a great wife. Lao Mu and I are both very happy.”
Xiao Yao walked towards Xiang Liu and Xan Tian Er’s voice broke as she called out “You….who are you?”
Xiao Yao turned back and smiled at Xan Tian Er but didn’t answer her question. She and Xiang Liu walked through the copse of trees and disappeared.
The tears in Xan Tian Er’s eyes fell and she struggled to stand up so she could kneel and bow in Xiao Yao’s direction.
Xiao Yao said to Xiang Liu “Why didn’t you tell me that the kids disturbing me everyday with their loud playing are Ma Zi and Chuan Zi’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren?” Life was so hard to predict, the two quiet little kids she took in years ago now left her a gaggle of loud boisterous offspring to give her a headache.
Xiang Liu coolly said “I told you to go out and walk around the first day when we got here, you’re the one who wasn’t interested.”
Xiao Yao said “I’ve been gone for so long now, it must be a mess back there?”
Xiang Liu said nothing.
Xiao Yao asked “You did what you wanted but you let the Fang Feng family bear the brunt of the consequences. Fang Feng Yi Yang must have to help her family weather the storm, and since she’s now the Tu Shan clan leader’s wife, even the Tu Shan clan has been dragged into it.”
Xiang Liu coldly laughed “Did you think I kept you from getting married so that Zhuan Xu would get into a tiff with the Four Great Clans? I’ll tell you the truth, that was but half the reason!”
“The other half!”
“Tu Shan Jing hired me to go stop your wedding. He promised that if I could keep you from getting married, he would give me thirty-seven years worth of army provisions for the soldiers.”
“What?” Xiao Yao couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Jing hired Xiang Liu to ruin her wedding?
“If you don’t believe me you can go ask Tu Shan Jing yourself.”
Xiao Yao asked “When are you going to let me leave?”
Xiang Liu casually said “I already got what I wanted, you can leave anytime!”
Xiao Yao turned to leave and Xiang Liu said “A word of reminder, the voodoo bug still connects us so if you tell the world I’m Fang Feng Bei, don’t blame me if I hurt your heart and you die from the pain.”
Xiao Yao stopped and looked back at Xiang Liu.
“Don’t believe me?”
Xiao Yao’s heart was suddenly cut with so much pain like a sword pierced it, the pain so excruciating she fell on the ground in a slump.
Xiang Liu appeared to hold her life in his hands and he coldly said “If you don’t want to die, then don’t say a word!”
Xiao Yao was in such pain her face was ashen and cold sweat dotted her face. She sat up and smiled “Is this the reason you never had time to go to Jiu Li to break the voodoo bug? You want to control my life and death so that one day you can hold me hostage to your will? General Xiang Liu, you really are something!”
Xiang Liu smiled and turned to leave. With a whistle his white condor descended and he vaulted on its back and disappeared in the clouds.
The pain in Xiao Yao’s heart vanished but it was so painful that her body was still weak and needed some time to recover her strength. After some time, she slowly got up and walked towards town.
Qing Shui Town had to have a place where Zhuan Xu collected information. Xiao Yao didn’t know where it was and it was even harder for her to know where the Grand Emperor had his secret spies. It was easiest for her to find a Tu Shan clan business and she went into the nearest jewelry store and asked to see Yu Shin.
The clerk saw Xiao Yao was very forceful so summoned Yu Shin out.
Xiao Yao said to Yu Shin “Take me to Qing Qiu, I want to see Tu Shan Jing.”
Yu Shin noted that Xiao Yao called the clan leader by his full name and wasn’t happy about it. He just smiled and wasn’t going to do anything but Xiao Yao impatiently said “Tu Shan Jing will see me! If I’m lying, you will only make a useless trip and I’m in your hands and you can punish me however you want. But if what I say is true and you turn me down, you’ll upset Tu Shan Jing.”
Yu Shin lived in the world of jewelry and saw many customers and was good at discerning those with power. He made a decision and summoned a cloud carriage to take him and Xiao Yao to Qing Qiu.
On the cloud carriage, Yu Shin asked Xiao Yao “Why do you want to see the clan leader?”
Xiao Yao furrowed her brows and said nothing. Why? She had so many whys to ask Jing! Why stop her wedding? Why hire Xiang Liu? Why? Why?