The God and Goddesses of the fantasy romance novel Lost You Forever live thousands of years to our human tens of years, and their loves and losses are beyond epic and earth shattering. But the relationships and connections Tong Hua wrote in this novel were so nuanced and subtle that years later I’m captivated by the first line. The novel is long (50 chapters over 3 volumes!) but doesn’t feel tiring to read, instead each detail worth savoring. I know I am beyond late posting the final chapter, like 5 years late and I have no excuses other than sometimes real life gets in the way of a final brick in the entire tirelessly built creation that was a labor of love.
This remains my favorite anything written on this blog, whether book translation or drama recap, and now it’s complete for readers to read and re-read to your hearts content. I’ll post the epilogue as well in a bit, I promise and it’s all about my Xiang Liu so I can’t welsh on spending more time with the Nine Headed Demon, yes? This chapter brings to a lovely conclusion for Goddess Xiao Yao and the man who will stay by herself for the rest of her life. Lost You Forever, thank you for an epic journey. Please enjoy for those who read the book using my translations and for those new to the Playground you can start from chapter 1. Don’t worry, a few sleepless nights won’t kill you. This wasn’t a hard chapter to translate as the epilogue is harder, but it is incredible to know I’m saying farewell to so many beloved characters – Xiao Yao, Jing, Xiang Liu, Zhuan Xu, the crotchety Emperors, and even bratty Ah Nian.
Chapter 51: Entrusting the Heart to Leave or Stay
It was dawn and Jing sat on the side of the pallet and called “Xiao Yao, Xiao Yao……”
Xiao Yao drowsily flopped over and murmured “Let me sleep a bit more.”
Jing said “Last time you promised Lie Yang and Ah Bi that today we would go to mother-in-law and father-in-law’s tombs to pay our respects.”
Xiao Yao rubbed her eyes and woke up.
Last night after sending off the Yellow Emperor and Zhuan Xu, they returned to the pavilion court and continued drinking,
After hundreds of years, Ah Bi and Lie Yang finally returned to Cao Yun Pavilion. They attended Ah Heng’s daughter’s wedding and reunited with a familiar person in the Grand Emperor. But so many more close people were no longer there and everyone had so many bittersweet feelings so drank wine like water.
Xiao Yao drank a lot with them but even with her high tolerance she got drunk by the end. She recalled talking about her mom and hugging Lie Yang as the two bawled their eyes out. Finally it was Jing who picked her up and carried her to bed…..
Xiao Yao suddenly bolted upright “We got married?”
Jing rubbed Xiao Yao’s forehead and pretended to be perplexed “I never heard that getting drunk led to memory loss.”
Xiao Yao stuttered “Last night…..last night I…..you……we…..”
Jing laughed “Last night you were passed out drunk so I let you sleep. Don’t worry, our days together are long and I’m not in a rush. What? Are you in a rush?”
Xiao Yao glared at Jing and rushed off red faced to wash up.
After getting dressed, Xiao Yao and Jing went to look for Lie Yang and Ah Bi. After breakfast the four of them went to pay their respects to Xiao Yao’s family members.
Even though Jing knew that Xiao Yao’s family were all buried in this place, it was still a shock to see six tombs side by side.
Ah Bi and Lie Yang went to clean and tidy each tomb while Xiao Yao introduced Jing to her grandmother and uncles.
Xiao Yao saw that Jing, Lie Yang, and Ah Bi were all very solemn and laughed “Hey, don’t be like this! Today is a good day for me! Smile more! Grandmother and my mom would have loved to see us smile.”
Lie Yang nodded and said to Ah Bi “Ah Heng’s daughter has truly grown up and become wise.”
Xiao Yao pouted “You talk like you’re so wise but that statement would sound more appropriate coming from Ah Bi.”
Ah Bi hurriedly interjected “You two bickering please don’t bring me in! I’m neutral and won’t take any side!”
Xiao Yao grabbed Jing’s arm and crowed “Who cares? I have someone who takes my side now!”
Lie Yang looked at Xiao Yao and Jing and smiled broadly. Xiao Yao leaned on Jing and laughed back and the sound of laughter swirled around the hillside and forests as the leaves and flowers around the tombs all swayed as if dancing to the sound of merriment.
Lie Yang and Ah Bi stayed for a few more days before departing.
Xiao Yao and Jing sent them off and went to Xuan Yuan Castle to look for the Grand Emperor and Ah Nian.
Since there was nothing important to do on Five Gods Mountain, Ah Nian decided to stay for a period to keep her dad company. These days she would accompany the Grand Emperor to the blacksmith shop and help out, even learning to cook from the maids.
When Xiao Yao and Jing arrived at the blacksmith shop, neither the Grand Emperor nor Ah Nian was there. Miao Pu said the Grand Emperor took Ah Nian to that thousand year old rundown bar to drink. Xiao Yao chuckled “Looks like Dad is planning to tell Ah Nian all about his past exploits. Let’s not go interrupt them.”
The two strolled around the streets before Xiao Yao took Jing to a restaurant and ordered a few Xuan Yuan classic cuisine dishes.
Xiao Yao was quietly eating when seven or eight soldiers walked in and the leader gleefully yelled out “Shopkeeper, bring the best dishes and wine! Today I’m treating, anyone here is invited! Waiter, give every table wine to celebrate the Xuan Yuan Army’s great victory today!”
Everyone in the restaurant got excited and started asking questions, learning that it was Great General Ru So who won the battle and a few diners laughed “Isn’t the Great General Ru So constantly winning battles recently already?”
The lead soldier said “This is not like any regular great victory! Nine Lives Xiang Liu is dead! You business people likely don’t know how powerful and vicious that Xiang Liu is…..”
Coming so out of the blue that she could not brace for it, Xiao Yao felt a piercing dagger stab her chest and her ears were ringing. The pain in her heart exploded and the wine cup in her hand dropped.
Jing worried cried out “Xiao Yao!”
Xiao Yao murmured “It can’t be! It’s impossible! He can’t be dead just like this! I didn’t feel anything, I can’t feel anything anymore……” She suddenly remembered that the Lover’s Bug was removed by the Royal Mother so she obviously can’t feel the connection anymore. Xiao Yao’s eyes rolled back into her head and she collapsed backward.
Jing grabbed Xiao Yao “Let’s go back to Xuan Yuan Mountain first, let Miao Pu take the Grand Emperor’s badge to gather information.”
Xiao Yao was lightheaded and leadfooted, all she kept saying over and over was “It can’t be.”
Jing ordered Miao Pu and appeared to say something to Xiao Yao but she couldn’t hear anything clearly.
Miao Pu rushed off, and it seemed like it was a short time, but perhaps also a very long time, when she returned.
Xiao Yao immediately asked “That was fake news, right?”
Miao Pu replied “General Ying Long said that Xiang Liu died in battle.”
Xiao Yao screamed wildly “That’s impossible, I don’t believe it!”
Miao Pu was so frightened she didn’t dare say anything word.
Jing brought in a bowl of the strongest alcohol and forced Xiao Yao to drink it all. He gently asked “Do you still want to hear more? If you don’t want to hear any more I can drink with you.”
Xiao Yao held her head and said to Miao Pu “Keep talking.”
“After the death of the Chi Sui Clan Leader, His Majesty ordered that the Army was to completely exterminate Gong Gong’s army at all costs. Great General Ru So commanded an army of 200,000 soldiers to surround and attack Gong Gong’s army. Under the unrelenting attack of the Xuan Yuan army, Gong Gong’s army retreated deep into the forest and refused to engage. General Ru So started to burn the entire mountain to force Gong Gong’s army to come out and battle and found themselves facing General Ru So’s army and also General Li Yuan’s army of 20,000 soldiers. Gong Gong led his soldiers into the ocean but General Ru So already anticipated Gong Gong would escape towards the ocean. He stationed General Yu Jiang and his water trained soldiers to lay in wait. He was ready to cut down Gong Gong when Xiang Liu somehow energized his nearly dead soldiers to battle open a route for Gong Gong to escape. But General Ru So and Yu Jiang followed the entire way for days and nights until he caught up to Gong Gong on a remote ocean island. General Ru So had the island surrounded and used many ancient spells and weapons so that even if Gong Gong turned into a tiny fish he couldn’t escape. Yu Jiang insisted on landing on the island with his soldiers to attack and started a fierce battle with Gong Gong….”
Miao Pu’s voice got softer and softer “One thousand Sheng Nong soldiers against 100,000 thousand Xuan Yuan soldiers, not a single person surrendered and every Sheng Nong soldier died. Yu Jiang is a top fighter among the Gods but he could not defeated the heavily injured Gong Gong. Later General Ru So ordered every single soldier to shoot their arrow at Gong Gong and with over ten thousand arrows shot at him Gong Gong finally died. It was after his death that his true form appeared, it was the Nine Lives demon….General Ru So realized then that he was tricked.”
Xiao Yao bent over and her arms wrapped around her head as her shoulders shook uncontrollably. Miao Pu didn’t dare to say more but Jing gentled stroked Xiao Yao’s back and said “You keep talking!”
Miao Pu glanced at Left Ear and saw his emotionless face so she continued “General Ru So, once he discovered he was tricked, did not fall into a rage. Instead he said happily “With Xiang Liu’s death, the hardest part of the war is over.” Because Xiang Liu really killed so many of our men, I heard a lot of soldiers wanted to harm and desecrate his body to assuage their anger. But General Ru So whipped the men who rushed forward and ordered everyone to step back. Once everyone left the island, Xiang Liu’s body dissolved into black blood that destroyed every living thing on the island include blades of grass. Even the ground turned black. All the soldiers were frightened and even General Ru So was scared afterwards, if it wasn’t for his respect for this enemy likely everyone would have died alongside on the island.”
Xiao Yao’s body collapsed on the pallet, if she didn’t believe it earlier now she believed it. Only Xiang Liu could do something like that.
Jing gestured to Miao Pu and Left Ear and both left the room.
Jing pulled Xiao Yao into his arms and tenderly said “If you’re heart is hurting, just cry it out!”
Xiao Yao’s face was ashen white but she kept muttering the same lie over and over “I’m fine! I was already prepared…..when I first met him I knew this day would come! I always knew!
Jing picked up the wine jug “Then let’s drink!”
Jing poured the wine for Xiao Yao and she picked it up and gulped it down, the strong wine giving her cheeks a red flush.
The sky gradually darkened.
Jing said “If you don’t want to rest, I can accompany you for a stroll outside.”
Xiao Yao staggered to the pallet “I can fall asleep.”
Jing could tell she was trying to battle herself so he didn’t say more and released the curtains for her to rest.
Xiao Yao breathed evenly in and didn’t move, appearing to fall into a slumber.
In the middle of the night, Xiao Yao’s eyes opened wide and she stared at the beams on the ceiling.
She quietly got up and looked at Jing sleeping calmly and felt relieved. She put on her outer robe and walked out of the room to sit on the jade steps.
Outside of the palace walls was a crescent moon, cold and lonely.
Xiao Yao remembered the moon in Qing Shui Town. When Xiang Liu died, was the moon in the sky shining down on him like this. Did he think about the moon they looked at together.
Even though the East Sea and Xuan Yuan was separated by tens of thousands of miles, but if Xiang Liu wanted he could always let her know. But even in death he didn’t care to say goodbye to her. In his eyes, she wasn’t even someone to be deemed a friend. It was always a transaction between them, each and every time it was a deal that was calculated clearly and fairly.
Xiao Yao suddenly remembered something and hurriedly searched herself before taking out the mystical Gorilla Mirror she always kept by her side. Inside the mirror were two memories she saved, and now it was the only thing she had left of him.
One memory was in Qing Shui Town when he couldn’t move because he was injured. Wen Xiao Liu captured him and used the chance to get revenge on all the times he was mean to her. Xiao Liu used the coal in the warmer to draw 7 eyes on his face, plus his 2 eyes, that gave him 9 eyes so she could make fun of him as nine headed demon.
The other memory was from deep in the ocean. Wen Xiao Liu and Xiang Liu’s reached a deal and Xiang Liu took her to Five Gods Mountain to remove the voodoo bug from Zhuan Xu. After removing the bug, they were chased by the Five Gods Mountain soldiers so they went deeper into the ocean to escape. That was the first time Xiao Yao experienced the beauty of the ocean depths and when Xiang Liu wasn’t paying attention she secretly recorded Xiang Liu as he was carefree and with his guard down.
Xiao Yao took a deep breath and used her power to turn on the mirror. But after swiping repeatedly nothing appeared.
Xiao Yao grew frantic “It can’t be! It can’t be!…..” She anxiously used her power to look into the mirror. But no matter how many times she looked there were no memories of Xiang Liu.
Even the only thing he left to her was gone!
Xiao Yao could not believe it and she angrily kept trying the mirror “How could this be? How could this be?……”
Suddenly she remembered, when she was unconscious Xiang Liu discovered the secret of the mirror and ordered her to erase it. When she woke up he never mentioned it again and she thought he forgot, but it turned out that when she wasn’t aware he had completely erased it all!
Xiao Yao stroked the mirrored and said through tears “Xiang Liu, in your eyes, am I really that meaningless? So you won’t even leave me a small memory!”
“Nine Headed Demon, I hate you!” Xiao Yao violently threw the mirror as her tears tumbled down her cheek.
In Qing Shui Town, she was Wen Xiao Liu, he was Xiang Liu. They were always at odds, but when he got injured he would hide in her room to heal. She didn’t know when she started telling him her painful past that she had never told anymore before.
In Xuan Yuan Castle, he was the dissolute playboy Fang Feng Bei, he was gentle and considerate, fun loving yet diligently and patiently taught her ten plus years of archery.
When she was asleep under the ocean for 37 years, they spent every night together. That was probably when Xiang Liu was the most tender and caring towards her. She was of no use to him to exploit and they have no reason to be on opposite sides of each other, so during that time it was just one person taking the other person through life together in the ocean. One person sometimes saying a few words here and there, the other laying forever in silence.
At her wedding ceremony in Chi Sui, he came to steal the bride from the wedding and made her go with him as payment for the promise she made. He also asked for 37 years of army provisions from Jing. All he gave up was his alter ego identity, but her reputation was thoroughly destroyed.
After that he was the General to Gong Gong’s army and she was Zhuan Xu’s little sister, every time saw each other even their words were like swords slashing at one another.
The last time they saw each other, because of Feng Long’s death, on the very Hu Lu Lake where they once played together she now wanted to kill him and he used Jing’s death to rile her up to get revenge for Jing. That night he nearly drank all her blood all to make a pill for healing. She hated him for being so cold blooded and vowed never to see him again!
If she knew that it would be the last time they would ever see each other again in this life time, she would have said something else. No matter how cold and harsh he was to her, she would never ever have wanted to say what she said to him.
Xiao Yao’s entire face was awash with tears and she lifted her head to stare at the sky.
Xiang Liu, why? Why? Why do you treat me this way? Why won’t you even let me keep one memory of you…..so our hundreds of years together, it was always just a transaction to you?
Xiang Liu died so boldly and left nothing behind, no parting words and even his body dissolved into poison. No one was there to answer Xiao Yao’s plaintive question.
When Jing embraced Xiao Yao from behind was when she realized it was gradually sunrise.
Xiao Yao realized she was cold from being in the cold all night and Jing used his body to warm her “When did you get up?”
Xiao Yao hurriedly wiped her tears and said with a twinge “Not long ago.”
Jing softly kissed her on the curve of her neck.
Xiao Yao weakly leaned into Jing’s embrace and after some time she said in a low voice “I just told you a lie, I’ve actually been up for a long time. I couldn’t sleep last night.”
Jing replied “Don’t worry, even the most loving spouses need time to themselves. I know you are very sad and pained right now, so you need to be alone even more.”
Xiao Yao said “I…..I…..”
Jing covered her lips “Don’t think your husband is a very jealous and small minded person. Xiang Liu saved your life many times, I am eternally grateful to him.”
Xiao Yao’s tears began to fall again and the drops landed on Jing’s hand. Jing said nothing and continued to hold Xiao Yao in his arms.
Xiao Yao murmured “Even though I always reminded myself that he was Zhuan Xu’s enemy, but I…..I was not prepared for this! I really wish it was all a lie…..he’s so sneaky, he must’ve found a way to stay alive!”
Jing said nothing because he knew Xiao Yao didn’t need his response.
“It’s because he’s so sneaky that he doesn’t want to stay alive! One time he told me “Actually, to a General, the best ending is dying on the battlefield.” So he chose for himself the best ending!”
“But what bullshit best ending! He’s the stupidest idiot in this world! He stayed loyal and true to Gong Gong and all his soldier comrades but did he do himself right?”
“I’m the idiot actually! He never cared so why do I have to be so hurt. I don’t want to be feeling so much hurt………”
Xiao Yao kept talking and crying until gradually her words trailed off and she curled tightly in Jing’s arms and stared at the tall Phoenix Flower Tree. Blooms of red fell to the ground carried by the wind as if frames of each memory passing by, no matter how beautiful it would all pass with the wind.
Xiao Yao wearily closed her eyes “Jing, I want to leave!”
“Where shall we go?”
“To the ocean! The millions of miles of ocean and unending horizon, Xiang Liu said there were endless uninhabited and uncharted islands, perhaps we can find a beautiful island to call home.”
Xiao Yao wanted Miao Pu and Left Ear to follow the Grand Emperor to learn metal work so that he could earn a living one day. But Miao Pu cried and pleaded “Whenever my lady goes, I go!”
Left Ear said nothing and stared at Xiao Yao, actually even harder to shake than Miao Pu. Xiao Yao gave up “As long as you guys don’t mind a hard life then follow Jing and me!”
Xiao Yao packed her bags and it was mainly the wedding presents. Her grandfather gave her two boxes of jewelry, likely her grandmother’s items. Her father’s present was a small dagger he hand forged and a short sword. Zhaun Xu’s present was very useful, an estate in Xuan Yuan Castle and hundreds of acres of land outside. Ah Nian’s present was a bundle of Fu Xang God Wood. Lie Yang’s present was magical elixir pills likely collected by him over hundreds of years that even Xiao Yao was impressed. And Ah Bi’s present was a pair of jade pendants made using Jade Mountain’s ancient jade vault and a big bellied laughing doll carved out of Fu Sang God Wood. Both he handmade.
Xiao Yao pick three of her favorite jewels from her Grandfather, she kept both dagger and sword from her dad to use for protection and also to cut fruit, she thought a bit about Zhuan Xu’s present and accepted it, she carefully packed Ah Nian’s present, of course she was taking all of Lie Yang’s present, and Ah Bi’s jade pendants could be worn to protect and also ground down as magical healing medicine so she fashioned one for herself and put the other around Jing’s waist.
Lastly there was the big bellied laughing doll……Xiao Yao was curious from the beginning. Why didn’t Ah Bi use peach wood from Jade Mountain and instead used Fu Sang God Wood? Fu Sang God Wood can ignite without a flame and was not suitable to be used as carving wood. And it wasn’t clear what Ah Bi did to this piece of God Wood so that it could be touched and not burn.
Xiao Yao cradled the doll and said to Jing “Ah Bi is so funny, other such dolls have big heads but his doll has a big head and a big belly. Does it mean this chubby doll got fat because it loves to eat?”
Jing looked at the doll “This is Fu Sang God Wood over tens of thousands year old, it cannot be penetrated by water or flame, no weapon can mar it, it would be exceedingly difficult to use it to carve this so Ah Bi must’ve spent a lot of time on it.”
The big bellied doll wasn’t of any practical use but Xiao Yao just thought it was so cute and holding it in her hands she liked it more and more. A big head, a big belly, it was wearing a round belly cover and had a pout on its lips, its smile so impish that Xiao Yao couldn’t help but burst out laughing in joy at it.
This was the first time Xiao Yao laughed in days and Jing let out a sigh of relief and said softly to Miao Pu “Please pack this smiling doll safely to bring.”
On departure day the sun was bright and the winds mild, a very suitable day for travel.
The Grand Emperor and Ah Nian accompanied them to the start of the highway where many people who bid travelers farewell. Often they would hear cries and sniffles from other groups.
Left Ear and Miao Pu sat on the cart waiting for Xiao Yao to bid the Grand Emperor farewell.
Xiao Yao said to Ah Nian “When you’re bored on Five Gods Mountain come to Xuan Yuan Mountain to see Dad. But remember, never ever step foot in the Middle Plains! Never ever ask anything involving Zhuan Xu!”
Ah Nian replied “Don’t worry! I still love Zhuan Xu as much as I did back then, but all the tears shed since I am no longer the same Ah Nian. Don’t forget, I’ve even been on the battlefield. Even though Ju Mang was fighting the actual battles but the blood and death I experienced firsthand.”
Xiao Yao was fully relieved.
The Grand Emperor asked Xiao Yao and Jing “Decided where you’re going?”
Jing replied “No, just wander for a bit and if we can find a place both of us like then perhaps we will settle there.”
The Grand Emperor joked “When you decide on where to settle, send word to us, don’t go and disappear without a trace.”
Jing smiled and said nothing while Xiao Yao kneeled down with him and both bowed three times to the Grand Emperor. Xiao Yao said “Dad, please take care of yourself, we are off now.”
The Grand Emperor sighed in resignation and said with a smile “Off you go!”
Jing and Xiao Yao got on the card and with the clamor of horse hooves and wheels soon they disappeared into the people and carts on the road.
The cart they were riding was ordinary and could not be distinguished from the other carts on the road.
The Grand Emperor had sharp eyes but soon he couldn’t not tell which was her cart. He saw countless carts on the road and everyone was the most ordinary human out there, and now Xiao Yao was one of them.
The Grand Emperor’s heart was sorrowful but also a sense of letting go.
Xiao Yao had the most noble and royal lineage in the entire world. Her mom tried to break free from it with all her might but she didn’t succeed. But now Xiao Yao succeeded.
Xiao Yao had the Face Forming Flower inside her and Jing was the descendant of the Nine Tailed Fox. Once they departed, they could disappear forever.
The Grand Emperor already could sense Jing and Xiao Yao’s intentions but did not openly acknowledge it. He acted like it was as normal trip and would also let Zhuan Xu and the Yellow Emperor think that Xiao Yao was still living in Xuan Yuan Castle.
A few hundred years ago when Xiao Yao escaped Jade Mountain and wandered the world, it likely set in motion today’s ending. She returned briefly to the world of the Gods, from Five Gods Mountain to Xuan Yuan Mountain to Sheng Nong Mountain, she witnessed firsthand the unification of the entire Wilderness. Perhaps it was to complete her mother’s final wish to let Zhuan Xu safely ascend the throne, and today Xiao Yao had fulfilled her mother’s dying wish. Xiao Yao chose the path going forward of the water returning to the sea, the bird returning to the tree, once again returning to where she really belonged.
The Grand Emperor walked with Ah Nian slowly back to the blacksmith shop.
It was the busiest time in Xuan Yuan Castle, people walking on the streets and alleys, carts and horses jamming up the space. The sounds of vendors calling out mixed together, and Xiao Yao could be the lady selling wine in the shop, or the doctor napping in his clinic, or that lady chasing after her son with a fan…….
The Grand Emperor could not help but smile, when Zhuan Xu discovered and then could not find Xiao Yao, he would undoubtedly be furious. But he would soon realize that Xiao Yao was the world of people and the world of people was Xiao Yao. As long as the entire world was at peace, then their Xiao Yao would be living happily.