Normally the maybe death of a main character I love would make me sad but the end of the last chapter of Lost You Forever was a release for me much like it was for the leads. When Xiao Yao killed herself and took Zhuan Xu along with her, so it seems, it felt like a relief that they could stop trying so damn hard and living in order to fix the messes left behind by their passed too early parents. No kid should have to shoulder burdens that Zhuan Xu carried and Xiao Yao is basically without any reason to keep on living, so her murder-suicide scheme at the end of chapter 47 didn’t make me all that sad. The novel could end right there on a rocks fall down ending and the world of LYF descending into fictional chaos. But the story isn’t over yet even if a happy ending seems wholly unlikely, except Xiao Yao has endured many unlikely events and continues to claw her way out. Will it happen again? And if it does, who helps her out this time? The answer is in two characters to make one very sad lonely name.
Ch 48 – The Heart Has a Thousand Knots:
When Zhuan Xu opened his eyes, he saw the twilight from the open window framing the blooming trees and felt this view was once familiar yet foreign. He couldn’t remember where he was until he heard the falcon call and realized that he was in Cheng En Palace on Five Gods Mountain.
Before he knew it, he had seen the same view from the window for two hundred years, but every time he woke up he still felt that he ought to be seeing the fire red phoenix tree flower because he should be on Cao Yun Peak on Xuan Yuan Mountain.
Zhuan Xu softly sighed, he had been away from his homeland for two hundred years, and the road home was still so long. He didn’t know when he would be able to see the phoenix flower on Cao Yun Peak, and even more unknown was when he would be able to find the wandering girl who loved the same flowers as him. Xiao Yao – she must be all grown up now!
Perhaps his wish to go back to Xuan Yuan Mountain was so great, or he simply missed Xiao Yao too much, but last night he had a very long dream. In his dream, he found Xiao Yao and she accompanied him from Five Gods Mountain to Xuan Yuan Mountain, but he left it behind to go to Sheng Nong Mountain where Xiao Yao helped him win the throne. He even united all of the vast wilderness! But in the process, he seemed to have lost Xiao Yao somehow?????
Was it just a nightmare? No wonder he was so tired, and couldn’t remember it clearly.
Xiao Xiao came in and bowed “Your Majesty, the Empress has been waiting outside for three days and three nights. The maids finally coaxed her to rest.”
Zhuan Xu bolted upright in shock “What did you call me?”
Zhuan Xu furrowed his brows “I’m His Majesty? When did I become Emperor? And the Empress is?”
“Former Gao Xing Kingdom Princess Gao Xing Yi.”
Like a dam bursting, all his memories came flooding back in his mind.
On the peach lake, Xiao Yao dressed in green and smiled shyly at him; On Five Gods Mountain, Xiao Yao wore an exquisite robe and smiled at him; In Cao Yun Court, Xiao Yao sat on the swing and peeked at him; In Cui Liang’s residence, Xiao Yao used her body to shield and protect him; In Zhi Jin Palace, Xiao Yao took his hand and told him to stay alive no matter what; In Yi Province Castle, Xiao Yao pulled back her bow and the two of them were in sync and smiling at each other; On Xiao Yue Peak, Xiao Yao coldly shot the arrow at him; In the phoenix tree forest, Xiao Yao curled in his arms and gradually stopped breathing.
Zhuan Xu couldn’t figure out whether his head or heart was hurting, he felt this immense uncontrollable pain that he screamed and grabbed his head before falling back on the pallet.
Xiao Xiao rushed to assist Zhuan Xu and yelled out “Yin!”
Yin rushed inside and quickly checked on Zhuan Xu’s vitals. He shook his head and signed to Xiao Xiao who spoke it aloud for Zhuan Xu “His Majesty’s health is fine, it’s the after effects of the poison causing some memory confusion. After His Majesty is fully recovered the headache will disappear.”
Zhuan Xu tried to sit up “Xiao Yao? Xiao Yao???????”
Yin was about to sign but stopped at Xiao Xiao shooting him a look. She said “The Miss is not dead.”
Zhuan Xu curled over as his body began to shake and noises came from his throat like he was crying and laughing. Yin and Xiao Xiao had never seen him like this before so both kneeled down beside the pallet and kept their head down.
After some time Zhuan Xu asked in a hoarse voice “Why am I still alive?”
Yin signed “The poison dose was not enough to kill you. With Xiao Yao’s poison skills she would not have made a mistake, so she clearly never intended to kill you. Her poison mixture was unparallel deadly but she once taught me the antidote, plus the amount she gave you was low so if you were found within six hours then you could be saved. First I used the antidote to stop the poison, then the holy water from the Yang valley to flush it out of your body.”
Zhuan Xu murmured “Xiao Yao, you still didn’t have the heart to kill me?” He didn’t know if he was sad or happy and then suddenly asked “If Xiao Yao didn’t give me a kill dosage, then what about her?” For every phoenix flower he ate, she ate one too, and she started eating when she arrived at the forest earlier than he did.
Yin replied “The Miss dosed herself with poison enough to kill herself.”
Zhuan Xu rushed out of bed but paused at Yin’s frantic signing “What do you mean – she’s not dead but also not alive?”
Zhuan Xu turned to Xiao Xiao “Where is Xiao Yao, I want to see her.”
“I said I want to see her!”
The inland sea of the Yang Valley nestled a crystal cave, and inside the cave an all white sea shell floated on the surface. Blood streaked magic chants were written all over the white sea shell and Xiao Yao silently laid within the magical spell. A strong water power was collected to envelope her like a misty blue fog, making her seem ethereal. Zhuan Xu reached out to try and touch her but was afraid of interfering with the magic so reached his hand back but continued to stare at her.
Xiao Xiao said “The Miss gave herself a strong dosage so when we found you both, she was already dead and stopped breathing. But then Yin discovered there was a weak heartbeat in her so we brought both of you here to Yang Valley. Yin knew how to save Your Majesty but not how to revive the Miss, but then the Empress brought over this blood magic covered white sea shell and said to put the Miss inside and it will help. Yin tried it for a few days and discovered it really did help, it continues to maintain the Miss’s weak heartbeat. Yin wanted to find out who created this magic sea shell but the Empress said she found the sea shell in the Gao Xing Royal Depository and it had been stored there for a long time, she just randomly came across it.”
Zhuan Xu asked Yin “Can Xiao Yao wake up?”
Yin signed “The Miss poisoned herself with enough poison to kill herself. It’s not clear whether her body has built up tolerance to the poison or some other unknown factor, but she is technically dead as she’s stopped breathing. But for some weird reason her heart continues to beat. If this continues, she’ll likely sleep forever like this. I don’t have the skill to wake up her, but there is likely two people who can.”
“One is the Royal Mother, she supposedly knows all the magic in the world and can figure out the blood magic scribbled on the sea shell to wake Xiao Yao up. The other is the person who saved Xiao Yao the last time she was gravely injured, I determined Xiao Yao was dead that time but that person actually saved Xiao Yao’s life.”
Zhuan Xu said “Ready the cloud carriage, we’re going to Jade Mountain.”
Yin and Xiao Xiao looked at each other and knew it was pointless but still said it “Your Majesty just woke up and your body is still weak. Now is not suitable for traveling. Please rest a day before departing.”
Zhuan Xu stared at Xiao Yao “Depart in 30 minutes!”
Xiao Xiao bowed “Yes!”
After traveling all night, Zhuan Xu’s entourage arrived on Jade Mountain and he sent an envoy to ask to speak with the Royal Mother.
Moments later, a man wearing black rushed over, his eyes a beautiful fox like allure and when he spoke his voice was so melodic and soothing that it eased away all the exhaustion. Sir Bi said “I was just talking with Lie Yang about going to Sheng Nong Mountain to pick up Xiao Yao, who knew you would arrive now. Zhuan Xu, oh no, now you are His Majesty! Jade Mountain does not get involved with worldly affairs so I heard that you had united the vast wilderness but it doesn’t seem real yet to me. Did Xiao Yao come with you?”
Zhuan Xu wanted to smile but couldn’t fake it in front of Ah Bi so he wearily said “Xiao Yao is here but she’s…….sick. I came to Jade Mountain to have the Royal Mother see her.”
Sir Bi glanced at the servants carrying a white sea shell and his expression turned worried “Follow me.”
He spoke softly to Zhuan Xu as they walked “Last time when you came with Xiao Yao, the Royal Mother already said her life was nearing the end. These years she’s grown weak and her memory is failing. Sometimes she even forgets where she is living. Lie Yang and I do not leave her side one step. A few days ago, when the Royal Mother was lucid, she discussed succession plans with us so we knew her time is near. I discussed with Lie Yang about going to get Xiao Yao so she could say her final farewell.”
Zhuan Xu’s face fell, he knew life and death was the normal course of life but seeing the people he was familiar with leaving one after another still left him bereft.
Sir Bi added “Right now the Royal Mother is lucid so she can check on Xiao Yao first.”
The Royal Mother was gaunt but her energy was high, she listened to what Zhuan Xu had to say before ordering Lie Yang to open the sea shell.
Xiao Yao rested inside the sea shell like a precious pearl. After the Royal Mother checked on her, she noted that the blood magic written on the sea shell was a magic to extend Xiao Yao’s life. How did Zhuan Xu get a hold of such priceless treasure? The Royal Mother closed the sea shell and ordered “Have the sea shell tossed in the lake!”
Zhuan Xu was alarmed “Royal Mother!”
Royal Mother smiled “I may be losing my mind but I’m not gone yet. I won’t kill her in front of you, much less harm a child I raised for seventy years.”
Zhuan Xu was relieved but worried “A person living in the magical lake for long can’t handle it, much less Xiao Yao in her current weak state…….”
“I don’t know what special things happened to Xiao Yao these years but her body now……….” The Royal Mother stopped herself, sensing that Zhuan Xu did not know. Whether Xiao Yao didn’t want to tell him, or she didn’t know either, Royal Mother didn’t want to say any more. “I can’t say for certain but I know that Xiao Yao’s body is not afraid of water. Xiao Yao has stopped breathing, if it wasn’t for this special sea shell then her heart would have also stopped. Putting her in the lake will only do her good.”
Zhuan Xu picked up the sea shell himself and slowly walked into the lake carrying it in his arms. He did as the Royal Mother instructed and sank the sea shell deep into the lake.
Royal Mother saw his worry and said “Lie Yang has a fish ruby, if you’re worried then use it to go down and check.”
“Yes!” Zhuan Xu took the fish ruby and dived into the lake. He came up a long while later and kneeled before the Royal Mother “Will Royal Mother please save Xiao Yao and wake her up.”
Royal Mother said “I don’t have the power to take her up. All I know is that right now Xiao Yao won’t die, she might wake up in twenty or thirty years, or maybe two hundred or three hundred years.”
Lie Yang and Ah Bi were initially very worried about Xiao Yao, but hearing that she would wake up eventually was a relief. They lived on Jade Mountain, year in year out it was the same, and a few hundred years felt like the blink of an eye. But to Zhuan Xu that wasn’t the case, a few hundred years could be countless life changing moments, endless partings and gatherings, it could even be an entire lifetime. Zhuan Xu had been rushing since he regained consciousness so hearing Xiao Yao might not waken for hundreds of years left him reeling and his body wobbled and Xiao Xiao rushed over to assist.
The Royal Mother walked off without a word and Lie Yang transformed into a bird and few off after her.
Sir Bi said to Zhuan Xu “The Royal Mother’s memory is addled again, I’ll take you to rest but the rule of Jade Mountain since the dawn of time is that no man can stay more than three nights. Three days later Your Majesty needs to leave.”
Xiao Xiao countered “What about you and Lie Yang?”
Sir Bi blinked with humor at her “We’re not men, I’m a fox and Liu Yang is a bird.”
Xiao Xiao blushed and quickly looked away.
Zhuan Xu said to Sir Bi “Arrange rooms for my retainers, I want to rest by the lake.”
Sir Bi paused then said “Jade Mountain is spring during all four seasons so you can sleep outside. There is a gazebo close to the lake, I’ll have a pallet placed there with a net and you can rest.”
Late into the night, Zhuan Xu had dined but still couldn’t sleep so he used the fish ruby and dived into the lake to see Xiao Yao.
The all white sea shell was open with ridges along the edges like waves, under the pearl light it appeared Xiao Yao was sleeping on white waves, her expression peaceful with a small smile as if she was having a lovely dream.
Zhuan Xu stared at her, unable to decide whether he should go find Xiang Liu who likely could wake her up. He could afford any price Xiang Liu asked for such as tens more years to let Gong Gong’s army stay alive. But should he wake Xiao Yao up? Is that really best for her?
The road here, Xiao Yao was by his side each step of the way. No matter what happened she steadfastly stood beside him. He wanted to wake her because he selfishly wanted her to continue to be by his side. But if Xiao Yao woke up, would she be willing to stay beside him?
He killed Jing!
Before Zhuan Xu thought he was dying, he apologized for the first and only time in his entire time. “I was wrong!” He said it not just because of Xiao Yao, but because he owed it to Jing. Xiao Yao said “I forgive you!” but her forgiveness was built on their dying. She couldn’t get revenge for Jing so she chose death, using the most final method of leaving him.
Zhuan Xu knew that if Xiao Yao woke up, she would never stay with him. Rather than have her live in pain, he would rather her sleep in peace.
The long passage of time would turn a young woman’s beauty into an old woman’s wrinkles, but it would also soften the heartache and turn the longing into memory.
Zhuan Xu softly kissed Xiao Yao and vowed in his heart “I hope when you wake up, you will have let everything go. No matter how long you sleep, I will wait for you. I will wait for when you agree to begin anew with me! One hundred years, one thousand years, I will always wait!”
Three days later Zhuan Xu bid farewell to the Royal Mother and said to Sir Bi and Lie Yang “I leave Xiao Yao in your care. After I prepare a powerful magic lake in Sheng Nong Mountain, I will come pick Xiao Yao up.”
Zhuan Xu immediately went to see the Yellow Emperor when he arrived on Sheng Nong Mountain.
This was the first time the Yellow Emperor raged since Zhuan Xu took the throne “Do you know how important you are to the entire world! If you don’t care then why pick this path! I gave you a chance to pick years ago, you’re the one who picked this path!” He did everything in his power to prevent Xiao Yao from getting to Zhuan Xu for revenge, who knew Zhuan Xu would willingly deliver himself to Xiao Yao.
Zhuan Xu kneeled before the Yellow Emperor “I know what I mean to the entire world.”
The Yellow Emperor roared in rage “If you know, why go see Xiao Yao when you knew she wanted to kill you?”
Zhuan Xu’s face reflected his sorrow “Because I believed in my heart that Xiao Yao would not kill me to avenge Jing. Because I know that I am more important to her than Jing!”
The Yellow Emperor pointed his finger at Zhuan Xu, shaking from his rage “You…….you…..you bet on your own life! You used your own life to gamble on whether you or Jing is more important to Xiao Yao!”
Zhuan Xu smiled “And the truth confirmed that Xiao Yao won’t kill me.”
The Yellow Emperor added “But she also didn’t pick you! She would rather kill herself then stay with you.”
Zhuan Xu pursed his lips and said nothing to that.
The Yellow Emperor took big breaths to calm himself “This is the last time! Remember well, this is the last and final time!”
Zhuan Xu’s lip curled up in a bitter smile as he said softly to the Yellow Emperor “There is only one Xiao Yao in this world, Grandfather, even if you wanted me to do it a second time I can’t!”
People talk about love and the Yellow Emperor was finally seeing it before his eyes. All his rage dissipated seeing Zhuan Xu so despondent like this so he sighed “You get up!”
Zhuan Xu bowed three times before sitting down on a chair.
The Yellow Emperor said “Write a letter to the White Emperor. Xiao Yao sent Left Ear there with a request that the White Emperor teach him a trade so he can earn money and raise his family. The White Emperor worries that something happened to Xiao Yao and wrote to me. If it wasn’t for risking chaos if he left Xuan Yuan Mountain, he would be here right now. You write to him and explain everything!”
Zhuan Xu said “I will give him a satisfactory explanation.”
The Yellow Emperor continued “With the assistance of Chi Sui Hai Tian, the new Chi Sui clan leader has been named so the immediate danger has passed. But don’t forget what he wants from you.”
“Chi Sui Hai Tian wants the lives of Gong Gong and Xiang Liu, to avenge the death of his grandson Feng Long. Originally I wanted to slowly attrition attack Gong Gong’s forces, one to avoid conflict with the Middle Plains, and to limit the number of deaths. But with Feng Long’s death, this strategy will upset the Chi Sui clan and Sheng Nong tribe, they will perceive it as I don’t care about Feng Long’s death. I’ve already decided to use a kingdom’s worth of force to quickly destroy Gong Gong’s army and use their lives to avenge Feng Long.”
The Yellow Emperor nodded his head, as long as it didn’t involve Xiao Yao then Zhuan Xu’s decisions were always carefully thought through.
On Jade Mountain, the sun was setting and the peach blossoms blooming in exquisite glory in the sunset. In a sky, a white condor with golden fur crown was slowly descending through the clouds, with a white robed white hair Xiang Liu standing on its back, billowing in the wind like an ethereal being.
Sir Bi wearing all black was waiting for him in the forest. When Xiang Liu saw him, he vaulted down and landed softly before him.
Xiang Liu bowed respectfully “I came to see the Royal Mother. My adopted father asked me to thank the Royal Mother for her gift of the Saturn peach wine. After drinking it, his old injuries feel much better.”
Sir Bi said “The Royal Mother isn’t lucid right now and won’t recognize you. Why don’t you rest for a night and see her tomorrow.”
Xiang Liu clearly knew about the Royal Mother’s illness and didn’t look surprised. He respectfully said “As Sir Bi will arrange.”
“You want to stay in the same place?”
Sir Bi gestured a welcome and Xiang Liu followed him until reaching a residence. Sir Bi didn’t leave and instead took out a bottle of Saturn peach wine and the two men began to drink.
The Royal Mother was sworn blood siblings with one of the former Flame Emperors, so she took extra care of Gong Gong. But Jade Mountain remained uninvolved in world affairs so she would just send medicines to Gong Gong without ever asking about his matters.
Xiang Liu visited Jade Mountain many times and was casual acquaintances with Sir Bi, the two would always drink together when Xiang Liu visited. They would discuss good food and places visited, and would even play instruments and sing if the mood arouse. They never discussed world affairs either.
Sir Bi’s voice was magically powerful and could enchant and corrupt men’s souls. Even Lie Yang didn’t dare listen to Ah Bi sing. After gaining human form, Sir Bi only sang once by accident and it caused mass chaos on Jade Mountain so he never sang again. Xiang Liu wasn’t afraid of Sir Bi’s voice and asked him to sing.
Sir Bi said “I am a winged fox demon, my voice will enchant the soul.”
Xiang Liu smiled “I’m a nine-headed demon, it’ll be hard to enchant all nine of my heads! And if I am enchanted, it wouldn’t matter because I’ve done nothing worth fearing.”
Because of this bold attitude, that’s why Sir Bi got along so well with him.
After many cups of the wine, Sir Bi finally passed out.
Xiang Liu opened his eyes and looked around. His eyes were clear with no sign of being drunk. He vaulted out of the residence and rushed towards the lake as quiet as the wind.
Under the full moon, the lake rippled silver waves as Xiang Liu silently entered the water and disappeared underneath.
In seconds Xiang Liu reached the white seashell and saw that outside the shell was a powerful maze constructed by Ah Bi and Lie Yang. He investigated the maze and sighed, no wonder Jade Mountain was so powerful and no one dared to go against it. He couldn’t break such a powerful maze in a short period of time, so he would have to attack it directly to get close to Xiao Yao, but doing so would immediately alarm Ah Bi and Lie Yang. Xiang Liu thought about it and created a quick maze outside of the first one. It couldn’t stop Ah Bi and Lie Yang but could at least delay them a bit.
After creating the maze barrier, Xiang Liu directly barged into the protective maze around Xiao Yao, doing so forcefully to save time. After he opened the seashell and pulled Xiao Yao into his arms, Si Bi and Lie Yang arrived on scene and were kept outside by Xiang Liu’s maze.
Sir Bi pleaded “Xiang Liu, please don’t hurt her. If you do then Lie Yang and I will be forced to kill you.”
Xiang Liu had no time to spare to explain, he summoned all the colorful fishes in the lake to lock tails and surround him and Xiao Yao like a rainbow colored ball. The noise was thundering outside as Lie Yang and Sir Bi attacked the maze, but inside was a silent little oasis of just him and Xiao Yao.
Xiang Liu tightly embraced Xiao Yao in his arms and sat down cross legged on the seashell. He bit down on his own tongue to draw blood and then kissed Xiao Yao, feeding her his essential blood. The Lover’s Bug connected the heart of lovers, as long as one breath remained then life could be extended if essential blood is transfused.
Xiang Liu’s maze was broken and Lie Yang and Sir Bi rushed inside. Lie Yang was furious and his one attacked caused all the fishes to scatter, like a rainbow of light vanishing around Xiao Yao and Xiang Liu.
Lie Yang knew Xiao Yao’s body composition was strange, and seeing Xiang Liu kissing her, he thought Xiang Liu was using some voodoo spell to suck the life force out of Xiao Yao. He furiously struck Xiang Liu with a resounding blow, and Xiang Liu was in the middle of reviving Xiao Yao so he couldn’t move to protect himself and could only endure the harsh attack. Sir Bi sensed it was not what it looked like so interjected to stop Lie Yang.
Sir Bi grabbed Lie Yang’s hand from striking again “He doesn’t appear to be harming Xiao Yao, her life force is getting stronger and stronger.”
Lie Yang stopped to sense and just like Sir Bi said, Xiao Yao’s life force was growing stronger. Lie Yang grumbled “It’s not normal, what’s going on here!” But he didn’t try to attack again and instead formed a protective shield around Xiang Liu.
After some time, Xiang Liu emerged from the water carrying Xiao Yao in his arms. He said “Thank you both for the assistance.”
Lie Yang reached out his arms and barked “Give Xiao Yao back to us!”
Xiang Liu lowered his head to stare intently at Xiao Yao, saying nothing and allowing Lie Yang to take her from his arms.
Even though he could sense Xiao Yao was fine now, Sir Bi still took her pulse and did a thorough check. Like he thought, she was all recovered, and actually ought to have woken up by now. But Xiang Liu appeared to want to keep her asleep so cast a spell on her that temporarily kept her slumbering.
Sir Bi said to Lie Yang “Take Xiao Yao back to the room to rest, she should wake up tomorrow morning.”
Xiang Liu called out “Please wait!”
Lie Yang glared at Xiang Liu “Your fight with the Black Emperor doesn’t involve Xiao Yao. If you dare get any ideas about her, Ah Bi and I will go kill Gong Gong first, and then kill you!”
Xiang Liu knew Lie Yang’s ornery temper so didn’t get upset, instead he calmly looked at Ah Bi and quietly asked “Please keep Xiao Yao here, and I need to speak to you alone.”
Ah Bi thought about it before taking Xiao Yao from Lie Yang, who huffed and transformed into a bird and flew away.
Ah Bi snapped a peach blossom branch and turned it into a raft before placing Xiao Yao inside. Xiang Liu quietly watched, and under the moonlight with his white hair and white robe he appeared to be etched from snow and ice.
Sir Bi finished placing Xiao Yao in the raft before turning back to Xiang Liu and warmly gesturing to the all white seashell “Seeing the seashell, even the Royal Mother marveled at the careful thought that went into preparing it to keep Xiao Yao alive. I asked Zhuan Xu’s servant and heard it was a treasure from the Gao Xing Palace repository. Tonight I realized that you made it, otherwise you could not have revived Xiao Yao this quickly. But………I don’t understand how the Empress on Five Gods Mountain would have kept this a secret for you.”
Xiang Liu explained “Many years ago, Ah Nian promised that she would do one thing for me. I called the favor and asked her to use this seashell to keep Xiao Yao alive, but not to let the Black Emperor or Xiao Yao know. She’s a smart girl, she not only kept her promise, she also knows that there are some things in this world that she ought to forget right afterwards!”
Sir Bi sighed “The White Emperor not only raised good disciples and students, he raised a good daughter.”
Xiang Liu said “Xiao Yao told me that she lived on Jade Mountain for seventy years when she was small. It’s clear how much you guys care about her, so taking care of her is not because the Black Emperor asked it of you.”
Sir Bi ruefully said “The world is filled with happiness and sadness, and time washes away everything. Lie Yang and I have let all worldly connections go, but the only thing of the world we care about is Xiao Yao.”
Si Bi said “My mom died when I was born, and Qi Yo came across and rescued me. He sent me to Jade Mountain to Xiao Yao’s mom, who raised me since I was a baby. When Lie Yang was still a phoenix bird, he was captured by Qi Yo to use as the carrier bird to send messages back and forth to Xiao Yao’s mom. She was a mother and family to both of us.”
Sir Bi stared at Xiang Liu “I heard your reputation isn’t so good out in the world?”
Xiang Liu chuckled “My reputation is just a hairsbreadth better than Qi Yo.”
Sir Bir grew silent before asking “You and Xiao Yao……….you two really are just friends?”
Xiang Liu smiled before turning to look at Xiao Yao “The person Xiao Yao is missing is Tu Shan Jing.”
Sir Bi sighed in relief “That’s good.”
Xiang Liu said mockingly “Can’t believe my reputation is so bad even a demon raised by Qi Yo would disdain me.”
Sir Bi shook his head “No, I don’t disdain you at all. It’s the opposite, I truly respect you! Your heart is as clear as crystal, even my voice cannot enchant you or lead you astray. Power, wealth, and glory hold no sway or temptation for you.”
Sir Bi stared at Xiang Liu and looked truly conflicted, like he was looking at Xiang Liu but seeing another great man from long ago “It’s not that you’re not good……..it’s just that…….for Xiao Yao……” Sir Bi sighed loudly “Even if Tu Shan Jing is dead, I’m still relieved that the guy Xiao Yao picked was him.”
Xiang Liu smiled and appeared not to take offense to what Sir Bi said and asked “I have one favor to ask of you.”
Sir Bi said “If I can do it, I will.” A gentleman’s friendship may be light as water, but a gentleman’s promise was a heavy as gold.
“I want to sever the remaining connections between me and Xiao Yao. In a bit, no matter what is happening, please do not interfere and just watch.”
Sir Bi replied swiftly “I will!”
Xiang Liu waved his hand and Xiao Yao’s precious gorilla beast mirror flew from her arms into his hand. He stared at it for a long time and didn’t make any move.
Sir Bi stood to the side and silently and patiently looked on.
Xiang Liu smiled and explained to Sir Bi “This is a gorilla mirror that’s saved some ancient stuff from the past. Not even sure if Xiao Yao already deleted it.” He waved his hand and the mirror clouded before clearly showing Xiang Liu’s face.
In a dingy room in Qing Shui Town, Xiang Liu was injured and couldn’t move. Xiao Yao snatched the opportunity to get revenge on Xiang Liu for being mean to her for so long. She used coal briquettes and drew seven eyes on Xiang Liu’s face, and together with his two eyes, it formed nine eyes so she could mock him for being a nine headed demon.
At that time, Xiao Yao was holding the mirror with one hand so only her other hand was visible. Her voice was totally mocking as she said “Take a good look, but don’t get mad otherwise you’ll interrupt the healing.”
Xiang Liu opened his eyes looking like he was going to kill her, but Xiao Yao wasn’t scared and instead rubbed the seven eyes while counting until she used her grubby charcoal hands to draw nine heads on Xiang Liu’s face. She cackled “I still can’t imagine what nine heads look like, when are you going to show me your true form?”
Xiang Liu glared at Xiao Yao and silently mouthed “I. Am. Going. To. Eat. You.”
Nine Lives Xiang Liu was reknowned for being deadly but with his face all blackened the scariness of his threat lessened immensely.
Xiang Liu watched to this part and then started laughing. From the moment he was born he didn’t have parents, and had to start surviving from that moment forward. He had no childhood or playmates or fun, and after he was an adult his reputation was so bad that no one dared to joke around with him. Xiao Yao was the first time person who dared to play tricks on him, but do so without any real ill will or harmful intention.
Xiang Liu stared at his blackened face in the mirror for quite some time in a daze. Then he waved his hand and called forth the next memory – to remove the bug from Zhuan Xu, he struck a deal with Xiao Yao and took her to Five Gods Mountain where he successfully planted the bug in himself. Afterwards the guards chased them so he took Xiao Yao deep into the ocean where they explored for a long time.
Xiang Liu stared at the mirror recording of the colorful seashells, various fishes, the underwater fields……Xiang Liu in all white walking while Xiao Yao was right next to him curiously taking all the sights in.
Whether it was Xiao Yao being so amazed at being under the sea or there were too many things to take in, she secretly recorded the memory without Xiang Liu knowing. She likely did so from behind him so his profile was always in view. Only at the last scene when he turned around to look at her did the mirror record his face directly.
Xiao Yao quickly put the mirror away so the memory ended on that ephemeral image of Xiang Liu turning to look at her.
Xiang Liu still clearly remembered the moment he discovered these saved memories in the gorilla mirror. He was shocked and amazed, that Xiao Yao secretly recorded him, and that he wasn’t even aware of it. That proved he was completely relaxed at that time, and Xiao Yao could have had the chance to kill him.
Xiang Liu stared at the mirror for a long time before sighing, taking Xiao Yao to Five Gods Mountain felt like yesterday to him, but was really so long ago! His hand lifted to erase the memories but Sir Bi stopped him looking alarmed “These are Xiao Yao’s most precious memories, you can’t!!!!”
Xiang Liu silently looked at Sir Bi until he remembered the promise he just made and slowly released his hand.
Xiang Liu used his power to rewind the saved memory in the mirror like turning back time. It was like things were going back to the way it was from the very beginning, but there was no way to do so with feelings and memories!
After the memories were erased, Xiang Liu smiled and returned the mirror to Xiao Yao’s arms like he never touched it before.
Xiang Liu sat down next to the raft and stared at the sleeping Xiao Yao before softly saying “The tree grows old on land together, the mandarin ducks die together in the water – the Lover’s Bug connects heart to heart and our lives, and it truly has no way to break the bug. Years ago I was only able to remove the bug from Zhuan Xu because he didn’t know it was you so he didn’t willingly accept the bug. So you never successfully planted the bug on him in the first place. But I….I was heart and soul willing, so the bug successfully planted in me. You asked me to remove the bug and I kept telling you I can’t do it, but you didn’t believe me. But I truly didn’t lie to you, I cannot remove the bug.”
Xiang Liu picked up Xiao Yao’s hand and used his finger as a knife to slice into the flesh of her palm and his palm back and forth until he drew a blood spell “I cannot remove the bug, but I can kill the bug!”
Xiang Liu smiled before joining his bloody palm to Xiao Yao’s bloody palm, so tightly that the blood flowing wasn’t clear whether it was his or hers. “Don’t blame me for not telling you this before, blame yourself for being useless!”
Xiang Liu started to chant the spell and with it countless glowing blue dots appeared and flew around both of them. The blue dots lit up the night sky until it was an ethereal beauty of lights in the air and reflected in the lake surface.
Xiang Liu’s hand suddenly grabbed a real dagger made from ice and he stabbed it directly into his own heart. Sir Bi gasped out loud and had to force himself to not do anything.
Xiang Liu pulled out the dagger and blood gushed from the wound in his chest. All the blue dots rushed into the wound on his chest until it all vanished inside.
After all the blue dots were gone, Xiang Liu’s face was stark while and he pressed down with one hand on his chest wound, and the other grabbed medicine but he didn’t apply it to himself and instead applied it on Xiao Yao’s hand. The cuts on her hand quickly healed until there was no sign it was ever injured.
Xiang Liu smiled sadly and said to Xiao Yao “I broke the bug between us! From now on, you and I will have no connection with each other!”
Xiang Liu gently pushed the raft towards Sir Bi “She will wake up tomorrow morning.”
Sir Bi understood what happened – the heart and life connected Lover’s Bug was planted between Xiang Liu and Xiao Yao, which is why Xiang Liu could have saved Xiao Yao’s life earlier. Xiang Liu managed to now break the bug by using his own life as the lure to kill the bugs. It was a suicidal method, but a method that only Nine Lives Xiang Liu could use by taking one of his lives.
Sir Bi took out his precious medicine “Do you want me to heal you?”
Xiang Liu smiled “Such medicines are no use on me.”
Sir Bi anxiously asked “But you…..your injuries….what can I do for you?”
Xiang Liu casually said “Don’t be like this, you know that facing down the Xuan Yuan army, one more or one less lives of mine doesn’t make a difference!”
Sir Bi’s face fell and he grew silent.
Xiang Liu added “You can do one thing for me.”
Sir Bi immediately agreed.
“If later people ask about the bug in Xiao Yao, just make up a believable lie!” Xiang Liu smiled like it didn’t bother him one whit “Xiao Yao once said that she never ever wanted to see me again in this life and this lifetime. After tonight, she and I truly have no further ties. I also never want to see her again!”
Sir Bi stared forlornly at Xiang Liu before saying “I will ask the Royal Mother to help lie that she removed the bug. Don’t worry, what happened here tonight, only you and I know outside of the Heavens. I will never ever let Xiao Yao know the truth! I will not ruin all that you’ve done for her and carefully arranged.”
Xiang Liu’s face was ashen and he continued to clutch his chest wound, but he smiled and tried to bow. Sir Bi had nothing he could say further so he bowed back low as a promise that he would forever keep this secret and not fail all that Xiang Liu had done.
Xiang Liu looked at the horizon and saw a sliver of light coming as dawn was arriving. He stood up wobbily “It’s time for me to go.”
Sir Bi thought he was past all the feelings of the ordinary world, but in this moment he actually felt a genuine deep sadness “I heard the war is getting more and more intense, and yet you took time away to come all the way to Jade Mountain just for Xiao Yao?” Even Sir Bi knew that the battle was raging and Gong Gong’s army was on the verge of defeat.
Xiang Liu smiled “It’s not taking time away from official business, I came here for a stroll is all!” He bid farewell and vaulted onto the back of his white condor. Just as he was about to leave, he seemed to remember something and rained snowflakes down from the sky. The snowflakes landed on the white seashell and quickly melted it until it disappeared into the lake like it was never there.
This time, everything having to do with him was well and truly erased, no sign left whatsoever. Just like the most beautiful of snow, after it falls it melts once the sun rises, vanishing without a trace.
Xiang Liu looked over at Xiao Yao one last time before flying East towards the rising sun.
As the light rose over the horizon, he left like the wind with his white robe billowing, as magical as an otherworldly being. Sir Bi wanted to tell him farewell, but such a simple parting phrase felt as heavy as the weight of a mountain and he couldn’t bring himself to say it. This parting, it was likely going to be blood spilled, bones buried, ashes scattered, a parting without a gathering to come.
After a moment, Sir Bi suddenly remembered a very ancient ballad, and he glanced at Xiao Yao in the raft before looking up at Xiang Liu with tears in his eyes.
Sir Bi started to sing in the most melodic sorrowful voice.
Oh hey oh hey
Please cut my eyes out
So my blood splashes on your robe
Like the blossoms of peaches
Just so I am in your eyes
Oh hey oh hey
Please take my heart out
So my blood spills on the plains
Like the peach blossom on the mountains
Just so I am in your heart