I can’t believe this is it. The final chapter of Da Mo Yao, plus the epilogue for volume 2 that ends this entire baby on a really poignant note. Translating DMY didn’t make me love it more or less, only validating that I like it just as much upon a closer read and constantly having to parse the details. I remain a Yu Er-Huo Qu Bing shipper, but I did grow to appreciate Jiu Ye’s character more the second time around. Ultimately DMY is a period romance novel, with politics, war, and ethnic intrigue used so superficially that no one should use it as a substitute for a Han dynasty history lesson. But I liked the limited scope narrative of Yu Er telling her story, and all of us going along for the ride. It was a blast translating this novel, and I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did.
Chapter 38: Carefree
Huo Qu Bing was full speed ahead when it comes to war, but when it comes to seeing Yi Er, he’s constantly worried. He’s always fretting about something going wrong. Every time I ask, he goes through a list of possible dangers lurking. I see he’s overly cautious and even unusually pessimistic, but seeing that he’s just as eager for any information about our son, I control myself from pressuring him so that he can prepare everything.
As we wait and wait, what arrived first was Wei Kang getting into an incident.
According to the scouts, around the Ah Ke Sai area near Xu Fang there are random pockets of lingering Xiong Nu forces. Huo Qu Bing doesn’t want to bother with them since these stragglers can’t even be considered a Xiong Nu army. They are people who escaped from the battlefield or those who have broken army protocol, afraid to return to the Xiong Nu for fear of punishment. He considers them no more than thieves and outlaws, and capturing them is the job of the local law enforcement in the Xi Yu kingdoms. He also doesn’t need or want to be dragged into capturing thieves and outlaws.
Wei Kang doesn’t agree and argues with Huo Qu Bing about it. Everyone in the army feels torn, one is the son of the Great General Wei Qing and is close to the Crown Prince and is even Huo Qu Bing’s cousin; the other is the Biao Qi General Huo Qu Bing who is currently prized by the Emperor. No one, not even Zhao Puo Nu, wants to get involved with this fight between two cousins who could easily make up tomorrow.
Huo Qu Bing endures until finally he loses patience and coldly says “I’m the commander so there is no place for you to second guess me. When you have the ability to lead your own army, then I will listen to your orders.” Wei Kang can’t say anything, he just gives Huo Qu Bing a hateful glare and mutters under his breath”The last name is not Wei, no wonder not aligned with us. My father raised a wolf in the midst.”
Huo Qu Bing glared at Wei Kang and says nothing. I sigh, Wei Kang would already be dead if his last name wasn’t Wei. Suddenly Wei Kang laughs and bows to Huo Qu Bing “General, please excuse me” and then he leaves. His last smile leaves me shaken, I have this really odd feeling.
I thought this matter was over when suddenly we find out Wei Kang disobeyed orders and attacked the Xiong Nu In Ah Ke Sai at night. When Huo Qu Bing finds out it’s already the next day. He’s furious “When Wei Kang returns, I will send his ass packing for Chang An immediately.”
I share a sad smile with Zhao Puo Nu “Only if he comes back alive. The area around Ah Ke Sai is a rocky sharp cliff region created by thousands of years of wind blowing through the deserts. It’s a veritable maze, and at night the winds are like demons howling. The locals call it the Demon Region, and smart thieves try to lure their prey into that area so they are easy targets.”
Huo Qu Bing may be raging but he still have to go save Wei Kang. I want to go but he won’t let me “I’ve been in and out of army bases with tens of thousands of Xiong Nu, you can’t be worried that a few hundred thieves can harm me? I’ll go with Zhao Puo No, there is no one I trust more beside me from this army base. You stay here for me to guard the base.”
He’s firm and has a valid reason so I agree “No matter if you rescue him, you have to get out of there before sundown.” He smiled and nodded. As he got on his horse to leave, he suddenly stared at me and then leaped off the horse and kissed me on the forehead in front of all the soldiers “We’ll see Yi Er very soon.”
“What?” I forget my embarrassment and ask. His horse had already flown forward like the wind and all I see is the trail of dust kicked up by hundreds of soldiers following him.
From morning until noon, from afternoon under dusk, I start to get more and more worried. I pace in circles in the room, until finally I can’t take it anymore and rush out and jump on a horse. Before I set off, I hear horses coming towards the base.
I rush to meet them “Is Wei Kang fine?” Zhao Puo Nu’s face was all white, and behind him was Wei Kang and Ren An, both of whom looked somber and withdrawn. But with Ren An, I can see beneath his somber facade is the same look he had the day Li Gan was killed, Ren An looked secretly pleased.
I take two steps back “Where is Qu Bing?” Zhao Puo Nu lowered his head and soldiers carried a pallet over. Huo Qu Bing laid on the pallet, unconscious and his face completely white. My legs buckle and I almost collapse but Zhao Puo Nu supports me “The General is still alive.”
I hold Zhao Puo Nu arms and take a deep breath. I force myself to stand “What happened? What danger is he in?”
Zhao Puo Nu gave me two arrows wrapped in cloth “To save Wei Kang, the General went into the Demon Region and we had a hard time finding the enemy because they knew the area so well. The area was narrow and rocky so we couldn’t form attack formations and had to split up. The General was hit by two arrows during the battle, none are in vital places. But…..the arrows are coated with poison.”
I’m so enraged and scared that the two arrows snap in my hands. I toss the ends arrow but save the tips in the cloth. I saw Wei Kang and Ren An flash expressions of joy quickly masked with disappointment. I tell Zhao Puo Nu “Tell everyone to disperse.” Wei Kang asked if I needed anything, and whether we should set off for Chang An to find better doctors. I glare at him and spit out “I just want you to immediately disappear from my sight. Otherwise I might just destroy you first.”
Wei Kang immediately got mad and rushed me, but Zhao Puo Nu pulled me aside while Ren An restrained Wei Kang and dragged him away. Zhao Puo Nu was normally very calm, but his eyes staring at them was also filled with rage.
“Did Ren An and Wei Kang drag out the battle with the outlaws?” Zhao Puo Nu lowered his head “The area was so dangerous and difficult to navigate, I couldn’t tell, so I dare not say anything.”
As the army doctor examined Qu Bing, I knelt down and held his hand, which was fisted tightly and cold. When I pry open his hand, I see written in his palm with blood is the character for “one” (pronounced Yi). It was blurry, like he used every ounce of his strength to write it. Because I was extra sensitive to the pronunciation of this word, I immediately starting thinking elsewhere.
“Bring some water, the General has blood on his hand.” I wash away the bloody word and think. The army doctor sighs and kneels before me “Miss, you must return to Chang An! The two arrows are two different types of poison. I am useless and can do nothing. I can’t even differentiate the two poisons.”
I tearfully ask “Can you guarantee he’ll survive the few days trip to Chang An? That he won’t die of the poison before we arrive?” His lowered his head even more, and my emotions plummeted along with his head. I held on to an icy cold hand and it became my only source of strength to face this. I must be strong. “You can go now!”
I call out “General Zhao!” “I am here!” “Order the most trustworthy person to go to Chang An and find the best doctor and bring him here. Seal the entire city of Xu Fang, letting no one in or out. Do not let any news of this leak out. You do know what the undefeatable warrior god that is the Biao Qi General Huo Qu Bing is in the hearts and minds of the Xiong Nu and the various Xi Yu kingdoms, right?”
I take Qu Bing’s general’s seal and hand it to him “If anyone tries to enter or leave Xu Fang, execute the person!”
Zhao Puo Nu considered it and then kneeled to accept the general’s seal. He was worried and I tell him “If Wei Kang and Ren An want to cause problems, if you execute Ren An, then Wei Kang won’t try anything else. I won’t use this as an excuse to get rid of Wei Kang.” Zhao Puo Nu was relieved “I understand now.”
“Use the name of the Biao Qi General to ask around all the Xi Yu kingdoms for their best doctors. Just say…………say a woman following the General got food poisoning. But secretly leak news that this woman is the mother of Huo Tan.” “I will!”
‘When the Xi Yu doctors arrive, only allow them to enter, do not allow any of them to leave. Split all the army doctors into two groups, always have one group waiting outside for immediate assistance. This is all I can think of for now.”
Zhao Puo Nu got up to leave when I got down on my knees. He was so startled he wanted to help me up, but when he touched my elbow he was shaking and red-faced. “General Zhao, twice you have helped me. This debt of gratitude Jin Yu will forever remember in my heart.”
He rushed outside and said “You needn’t be this way, I will do my best.”
With him gone, it was just Huo Qu Bing and me in the room. My surface courage shatters and I grab Qu Bing’s hand and bite it, but I don’t have the heart to bite down hard. “Qu Bing, if this is some scheme you cooked up with Jiu Ye, I will not speak to you for an entire year…………how can you scare me like this…………” Before I finish talking my tears are falling “No, I just want you to be safe, I won’t hold this against you………….I won’t be mad, as long as you are safe…………..”
My tears fall on his palm and soon it forms a small puddle that reflects my own white face, which is filled with anguish and pain.
The current influence of the Han dynasty over the Xi Yu kingdoms is unprecedented. Ten years ago a Han merchant will get picked on when passing through Xi Yu. Even Han ambassadors have been detained before. But now, with one word from Huo Qu Bing, all the Xi Yu kingdoms urgently send their best palace physicians and find the best commoner doctors.
With Jiu Ye’s influence in Xi Yu, news will surely reach him immediately. But the first to arrive isn’t Jiu Ye, which confirms even more that the two of them have been plotting this. Because Jiu Ye knows the cover story about me being poisoned is fake, then he doesn’t worry and therefore isn’t in a rush to arrive. This makes their plot even more bulletproof.
At noon on the second day, a wrinkled and bearded old man who is hunched over arrives, using a crutch to help him move. Behind him are his two disciples carrying boxes. Everyone is wearing wide black robes, so it’s impossible to tell their size. The servant bringing them in announce “This is the palace doctor sent from the Yi Nai Kingdom.”
I meet the old man’s eyes and quickly turn around. I tell the servant “Same rules, when the doctor is treating the patient no one is to enter the room.” When the servant leaves, I check to make sure security is tight outside and we are alone before turning around and sitting down next to Qu Bing on the pallet.
Jiu Ye sighed softly and followed me without saying anything.
“What were you two planning? Was that group of outlaws your people in disguise?”
Jiu Ye felt Qu Bing’s pulse and his face lost all color and he started to sweat. The longer he felt the pulse, his expression grew more and more alarmed, until in the end his hand was shaking “Yu Er, what happened? How did Huo Qu Bing have two different kinds of poison in his body.”
When I saw him, I was starting to feel relieved, but now my heart plummets again. I’ve been so wracked with worry for a day and a night that right now I’m feeling dizzy “Didn’t your people shoot him with the poison arrow? Didn’t you two plan all this?”
Jiu Ye removed the bandage on Qu Bing’s arm “The poison on the left arm is mine, but the one on the right is from someone else.”
“I don’t care who shot him with that other poison arrow, I beg you to please cure him.” I take out the two arrow tips and show it to Jiu Ye, who puts it to his nose to sniff. He takes out instruments from his servant and tests the poison. After some time he’s still investigating the poison, but as time passed I grew more and more afraid. I can’t control myself and rudely ask “Aren’t you exceptionally talented with medicine? You must be able to cure this poison, right?”
His servant glared at me and indicated for me to be quiet. I realize what I’m doing and quickly say “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…………..”
Jiu Ye shook his head “Yu Er, you don’t need to say that. The poison on this arrow is called “Seven Day Suffering”, because it will take seven days to die once afflicted. The manner of death afterwards is like a person contracting an infectious disease. The poison is created by mixing seven different deadly herbs together. And the antidote requires the exact same seven deadly herbs. But when making it, the seven herbs are added in specific order, and the antidote must be cooked in reverse of that order with the same seven herbs.”
Jiu Ye’s voice was somber and my heart was chilled “Can you be sure of the order?”
Jiu Ye’s eyes were filled with sadness and regret “I can’t right now. Most poisons can be cured by finding out the ingredients. The cure for the “Seven Day Suffering” requires that and more, understanding the order it was made, making it very difficult to make an antidote. Because this poison is so vile and deadly, pretty much guaranteeing death, it is against moral law and the formula has been destroyed. I thought this poison had become extinct, who knew it would reappear.”
“What will happen if an antidote with the wrong order is consumed?” Jiu Ye was silent and then said “It will speed up the poison and lessen the days left.”
I put my face in my hands, fill of rage and bitterness. Why? Why did this happen?
‘What was the original plan?” Jiu Ye was curing Huo Qu Bing of the poison Jiu Ye prepared and explained “Huo Qu Bing wanted me to help him leave the Palace. He thought long and hard and the only way out was to pretend he died to the entire world. Otherwise the Emperor will never release him. The Emperor values him so much he’s willing to flout Han law and taint his own legacy to let him get away with killing Li Gan. How could the Emperor agree to let him quit his post and leave? Plus those who oppose him in court also won’t let him off that easily. The ties between him and the Wei family will always remain. But the Wei family is now completely dead to him. He didn’t tell you in advance because he knew you would never allow him to take such a risk, even if he believed it was foul proof.”
Jiu Ye pointed to one of his servants “That is Teng Yin. He was a death row convict facing execution in the prison of the Yi Nai Kingdom. I paid his family a lot of money and he has agreed to let me do as I request of him.” Jiu Ye spoke to him and he took off his black robe “Yu Er, look at his body shape and size.”
“It’s quite similar to Qu Bing, and if he was wearing Qu Bing’s clothes and his face isn’t clear, it’s a good match.”
“My poison will cause a person’s skin to turn completely black after he dies and his facial features will rot. The “Seven Day Suffering” also has the same effect.”
“So you two planned this from the very beginning. From when Qu Bing asked to come to Xu Fang, he has been goading and baiting Wei Kang to use Wei Kang’s impetuous personality to push your scheme forward unwittingly. And he will become the best witness to Qu Bing’s “death”.”
I flash back to all the conflicts with Wei Kang recently and I realize what happened “You two were too smart for your own good. A rabbit pushed to the limit will try to leap on an eagle, much less an arrogant Wei Kang. He unconsciously piggybacked on your plan and created his own assassination attempt.”
I stand up and head out “I’ll get the antidote from Wei Kang.”
“Yu Er!” Jiu Ye stopped me “He will not give it to you. If he did, then he is admitting insubordination and it’s a capital offense. The Emperor is just looking for any opportunity to take out the Wei family and this would be perfect. It can also deepen the rift between Wei Qing and Huo Qu Bing. The Emperor would kill Wei Kang. Since Wei Kang is dead either way, he would rather die than admit the truth. Plus this is a Xi Yu secret poison, he probably doesn’t have any antidote.”
“I don’t believe I can’t torture him enough to get the information.”
“Yu Er, this is an army base, and Wei Kang is still the eldest son of Wei Qing. Half of the soldiers are on his side anyways. If you torture him without any concrete proof, you might cause an insurrection. At which point we don’t have any antidote and we’ll have lost time. We only have six days left as of now.”
My fear, anger, frustration, all boil together and I scream at him “I can’t do this, I can’t do that! So what am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to do?…………….” My tears are falling and in his eyes I see his sadness for me “Huo Qu Bing, in your heart…………..is he…………is he more important than anyone else. Even more important than your own life?”
I turn around to wipe my tears and don’t answer his question.
Jiu Ye says “Yu Er, don’t cry. I promise I’ll return Huo Qu Bing to you. Give me five days to mix the antidote. If after five days I can’t produce the antidote, then whatever you want to do, I will help you.” His voice was unusually calm, so calm it was like a death row inmate calmly walking to his own execution having accepted his fate.
I want to say something but no words come out. He lowered his head and walked outside on his crutch “Inform General Zhao Puo Nu to allow me to enter and exit the army base. Then find me a remote and quiet place where I can mix the antidote. I need absolute concentration to do it. You can’t come bother me. I will come to you when I have the results.”
He was disguised as an old man and was hunched over, but right now I felt like his hunched back was not faking it, but he was genuinely weighed down by what he needed to do.
My heart hurt and right when I’m about to call out “Jiu Ye”, behind me Huo Qu Bing weakly coughed. I quickly turn back around and see that Huo Qu Bing has his brows tightly furrowed as if he’s in great pain. I tenderly rub his forehead, and when I turn back, Jiu Ye has left already.
In my life I have never experienced a more painful five days. Every day when the sun set, I felt like the most precious thing in my life was seeping away little by little. When the sun sets on the seventh day, will my life descend into darkness just like the sun?
When I watch a new sun rise, I feel like there is still some hope. I repeat to myself that Qu Bing promised to protect me and the baby for his entire life. Jiu Ye promised me he will cure Qu Bing. Neither of them will not follow through with their promise.
Every time I walk to Jiu Ye’s room, I don’t dare enter. One time I heard a painful cry from inside the room and right when I’m about to rush in, Jiu Ye’s servant Za Za Er stops me. He says nothing, only using silent and dark eyes to warn me to leave.
I cry out “Jiu Ye, what’s wrong?” Some time later, a weary voice responds “I am using Teng Yin to test the poison and cannot be distracted. When I have news, I will call for you.” I can only turn and leave.
On the night of the fifth night, Za Za Er moves Huo Qu Bing into Jiu Ye’s residence but doesn’t allow me to enter. I call out from outside “Jiu Ye, Jiu Ye, why don’t you let me in? Is the antidote process very painful? No matter what, I want to stay by Qu Bing’s side.”
After some time, I heard from inside Jiu Ye’s voice “Come in!”
Za Za Er moved out of the way and I rushed inside. The moment I walk in I realize the room is pitch black. As I was wondering, suddenly I smell a faint fragrance on my nose. My body collapses on the floor. I never would have expected Jiu Ye to trick me, and when I’m passing out I feel a pair of hands holding me “Jiu Ye, why…….”
I don’t know how long I’ve been unconscious, the moment I wake up I keep thinking “why” and I don’t even know why I’m asking that question. When I suddenly realize the reason, I sit straight up and shout “why”, and I shock Za Za Er with my yelp. He gives me a hate filled baleful glare. I look around and see only a stranger laying next to me. We’re laying side-by-side on the pallet, and our hands are placed on top of each other.
I startle and recognize that it’s Qu Bing! I lightly hold his hand and I can feel the dark energy has left him. His breathing is calm, indicating the poison has been cured. I’m so happy that I don’t even know what to do, I can only stare at Qu Bing.
“Yu Er?” Qu Bing slowly opened his eyes. He looked confused for a moment before reacting “Meng Jiu saved me?” I rush into his arms and my tears start falling. He wipes my tears “The plan got waylaid, I’m sorry.” I continue to cry, unable to say anything.
Za Za Er kept coughing and we’re reminded that someone else is in the room. I get up “Where is Jiu Ye?”
Za Za Er didn’t understand me but got my gist. He had a poker face as he handed Qu Bing a handkerchief. He pointed to Teng Yin laying in the corner. Teng Yin was dressed in the same clothes Qu Bing wore that day, and his face had already turned black and he was giving off the smell of bodily decay.
Qu Bing opened the letter:
Huo Qu Bing
The fate is done, your wish is complete.
The moving clouds are no more than people aging
The yellow sandy desert, each seeking our own carefree
This parting today, no meeting again in sight
After Qu Bing read it, he silently handed it to me. The last words on the handkerchief indicate the brush was pressed down heavily and the ink soaked through. Jiu Ye left without saying goodbye? No meeting again in sight?
He placed Qu Bing and I side-by-side on the pallet, putting our hands together. Was that his final wish for us?
In my daze, I feel like I can still smell him, but I know that is just my sadness conjuring up these sensations. This time, he really has left, he really has completely given up and left! He will never again appear in my life!
Jin Yu, you should be happy. Only by letting go today can he reach out and capture tomorrow’s happiness. Perhaps tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, or the day after the day after tomorrow….he will find happiness. Without giving up today, how can one get to tomorrow? JIn Yu, you should be happy……………
The doctors from Chang An can do nothing. Initially they don’t believe it’s poison, calling it an infectious disease. I angrily kick out all the doctors from the various Xi Yu kingdoms, and Za Za Er and the shrouded Teng Yin leave along with them.
I just stay in a daze beside Huo Qu Bing, whose body is starting to rot. In the army base, the mood is sorrowful and anxious. With the doctors leaving, news will soon travel through Xi Yu, and then onto Xiong Nu, that Biao Qi General Huo Qu Bing is dying. When the news reaches Chang An, how will it affect the world?
“General Zhao, let’s return to Chang An! Qu Bing would want to see Chang An, that was where he grew up.” No one objected and even Wei Kang was accommodating, everyone rushing back towards Chang An.
At the edge of the world, a red round sun is slowly setting in the West. Before the sun set completely, Huo Qu Bing went to sleep forever, never to awaken. A legendary undefeatable warrior god, he chased the Xiong Nu out of the Desert South region. But right at the peak of his youth, he died at the age of twenty-four, though his name and legend will live on. People will write about his military exploits, and thousands of years later, vestiges of him will still percolate in the He Xi region.
The raging waters from the melted Snow Mountain was rushing through the river like the Milky Way has fallen from the sky and is blanketing the earth. The sound was like millions of horse galloping.
Over a thousand soldiers are kneeled on the ground. Even Ren An and Wei Kang looked genuinely sad. Ren An looked torn and he sighed “The son of the Heavens, a rare talent of an entire generation. A loss for our nation!” He got off his horse and bowed his head on the ground heavily three times, leaving his forehead all bloody.
Zhao Puo Nu saw me holding Huo Qu Bing as if I was a statue. I sat there the entire night and he made sure no one bothered me and he stayed beside me. A sliver of white was creeping up over the East when he finally decided “Ms. Jin, the General is gone. The weather is hot now and we need to hurry back to Chang An. You….you please……….”
I raise my head and my eyes are swimming with tears. One by one it falls, faster and faster. He’s gone. Yes, he’s gone! No meeting again in sight!
I put down Huo Qu Bing and rush to the river. No one has reacted since they are all kneeled on the ground. When Zhao Puo Nu realizes and reaches for me, I take out a dagger and point it at my chest. I back up while shaking my head, indicating for him not to get close.
Zhao Puo Nu was sobbing and crying “Ms, Jin, please don’t do anything foolish.”
“When you get back to Chang An, bow three times to the Emperor for me and say “Since the child has the Emperor to raise him, then Jin Yu doesn’t need to suffer alone on this earth for ten more years.”
As I finished, I stab the dagger in my chest, and with the blood spurting out, by body falls into the rushing river and in moments I’m gone in the currents. I hear from the shore loud screams “Jin……Yu…………..” reverberating in the sky.
Huo Qu Bing carried a completely soaked me and climbed in the carriage. He took a cloth to dry my hair “Your eyes are red and swollen, clearly you cried your guts out. Thank heavens for the heavy currents, things could not have gone more perfectly. Wei Kang and them will not suspect at all. You needed to cry a bit was enough, what’s with the dramatic acting?”
I lightly touch the intricate dagger, a gift from Yu Dan all those years ago. By chance it returned to me, almost as if it was meant to help me find my happiness. Yu Dan, I thank you!
“Qu Bing, where are we going?”
“First to Ha Mi to pick up our son, and then we’ll fly as free as the birds. We’ll live as we want. But before that, we need to go find Brother Wolf. He’s getting older, and in a few years some wolves will challenge him. Rather than wait for then, have him resign his position and we can go to Bang Lian Mountains together. The only promise I made in my life was made there. At the Bang Lian Mountains, in front of your Papa’s grave, with Brother Wolf as our witness, I want to marry you and fulfill the promise I made many years ago. Despite being late, but…………”
I laugh and push his hands away “Did you even ask me if I’m willing? Since proposing is a big deal, you’re not even being serious.”
He quickly bowed and asked solemnly “Yu Er, will you marry me?”
I turn my head and smile, refusing to answer him. “Only wishing for one person’s heart, never being apart until our hair is white.” Because of this person beside me, I know I am blessed.
He waited for some time and then asked urgently again. I lightly nod my head and he grabs my hand, his face lighting up into a brilliant smile like the sun.
Outside of the carriage, the land is vast and the sky is unlimited. A red sun is beginning to rise once again.
Epilogue: Shadow of Sorrow
The different orders of mixing the ingredients for the “Seven Day Suffering” is all very hard to differentiate since the results are so similar. Despite it being hard, if there was enough time and he could study Huo Qu Bing’s poison strain and use someone to test the antidote, then he would definitely find the cure,
With seven ingredients, the number of order combinations make five thousand forty different concoctions. Plus if the amounts are varied, then it shoots up to over ten thousand different mixtures. Even if enough test subjects are found to test the poison, but everyone’s body is different and the reaction is different.
With five days, is impossible to find an antidote. Meng Jie bitterly laughed. If it was possible, the “Seven Day Suffering” wouldn’t be deemed a truly hellish poison that was banned in all the Xi Yu kingdoms. His mind flashed the visage of Yu Er crying. He smiled and decided. This will do, this is the only way.
He used his own body to test the poison. Only by feeling it himself could he sense the minute differences and find the antidote. Even if he had to rely on luck as well, it was his only way. Za Za Er and Teng Yin kneeled before him bowing non stop “Shi Nan Tian, if you need to test the poison, please use us instead. Please you cannot test the “Seven Day Suffering” on yourself.”
Meng Jiu calmly said “I have decided. Teng Yin, please prepare and Za Za Er please guard the outside. Don’t let anyone in, especially that girl you saw today.”
Within five days, he tested countless antidotes, so many Teng Yin had lost count. Perhaps Huo Qu Bing’s life wasn’t meant to end now, or perhaps Jiu Ye’s heartfelt wish touched the Heavens, so Meng Jiu hit upon the right antidote. When it happened, he smiled, and Teng Yin felt tears come to his eyes.
All medicine has some poisonous properties, much less poison. The poison plus the antidote, how many did Shi Nan Tian take during the five days? Teng Yin only took a few dozen and still he was in excruciating pain and felt like his insides were being ripped apart. It was worse that the torture he endured in the death row prison. But Shi Nan Tian, this crippled seemingly weak young man, how did he endure it? What kind of soul was hidden in his body?
After taking the antidote, Meng Jiu stood up and took his crutch. He was about to order Za Za Er to get Jin Yu, but then he collapsed on the ground. Teng Yin rushed to help him but Jiu Ye said “I’ll do it.”
Teng Yin was worried but Za Za Er knew Meng Jiu’s personality so pulled Teng Yin aside. Meng Jiu tried many times but he couldn’t stand up. His two legs wouldn’t listen to him. He lifted his robe and looked at his legs. His one healthy leg was completely black from the knee on down. The other shriveled leg, because the blood circulation was bad, was less black. Meng Jiu lightly pressed on his nerves and investigated. All the color in his face disappeared.
Za Za Er has followed by Meng Jiu’s side since he was young, learning medicine from him. He looked at Meng Jiu’s leg, and realized what had happened. Shi Nan Tian’s nerves in his legs have been completely destroyed by him testing the antidote. The healthy leg was now starting to die and shrivel. Despite Shi Nan Tian being able to control the amount tested perfectly, but in the past five days he simply tested too many poison and antidotes.
The residual poison in his body was pushed into his lower body by the new poison being injected. Now there is likely nothing that can be done to save his legs. He wanted to say something to comfort Shi Nan Tian, but when he opened his mouth, he could only cry.
Meng Jiu was originally crestfallen, but when he heard Za Za Er crying, he gave a small smile. He pointed to a chair, indicating for it to be brought over “In five days, the Heavens let me find the antidote. This is probably the price the Heavens wants in exchange. Have Yu Er bring General Huo here! But keep her outside, don’t let her in.”
Za Za Er was enraged. Who was that woman? How much did Shi Nan Tian do for her? How much did he sacrifice for her? Even now, he doesn’t want her to know. But he dare not oppose Jiu Ye’s orders so he suppressed his rage and sadness and went to get that woman.
Meng Jiu heard Yu Er calling from outside asking to be let in. He knew that he couldn’t prevent her much longer. He decided to let her in. But when he’s treating Huo Qu Bing, she’ll see his sad state and ask what happened to his legs.
He ordered Teng Yin to extinguish the lamps, and when Yu Er walked in, he released a fainting smoke bomb.
It was the dead of night by the time all the poison was cleared from Huo Qu Bing’s body. An exhausted Meng Jiu silently stared at Yu Er and Huo Qu Bing sleeping side-by-side on the pallet.
A wind drifted in the window and extinguished the lamp. But it wasn’t dark out, the moonlight shone in through the window and happened to land on Yu Er’s face, turning her skin as translucent as jade.
So close, so close that he can reach out and touch her.
But so far. So far that she will never know how close they once were, and how far they will be for the rest of this lifetime.
Their first meeting, the girl in the raggedy clothing, the girl who laughed out loud.
Their reunion in Chang An, the thoughtful and cheerful girl who always tried to take care of him.
She admired the moon on the roof, he played the flute in the courtyard.
She visited in the night, but stood outside his window and didn’t dare come in.
She learned the flute for him, she placed her entire heart in “The Song of the Yue Person”.
From Fall until Spring, from Spring until Winter, she planted the Lover’s Vines. She planted her heart, she planted her love for him.
That day, the drops of blood on the flute, her heartbreak, he thought it would be one moment of pain in his life. Who knew it would become a lifetime’s pain for him……………
Everything seems like it was just yesterday. When she broke the flute and turned and walked out of his life, it was still stepping on the pain in his heart……………….
In front of the Lover’s Vine, he cruelly pulled his sleeve out of her hands little by little. Meng Xi Mo, how could you have been so cruel to her back then? How could you have been so cruel to yourself? Why couldn’t you let yourself live freely for once?
If the first time he heard her play a song for him, he said “It was lovely.”
If he didn’t avert his eyes every time she looked at him.
If he didn’t pull his sleeve out of her hands.
If he opened his mouth to explain the moment she leaped on the roof.
If every word she said when he was sick and she was holding him was true…….
If……if……sadly life has no ifs.
He didn’t know how long he stared at her, and only when the room got darker did he snap out of it.
The moon was falling and it was the final bit of darkness before dawn.
A new day is starting, but he will be leaving her life forever.
Huo Qu Bing and she are suited for each other. He can accompany her as she travels the world, ride over thousands of miles, climb the highest mountain, swim the fastest rivers……..
Meng Jiu looked down at his own legs. From now on, he will have to rely on a wheelchair forever.
One handkerchief contains all his longing. He raised the pen and put it down repeatedly. In the end he could not write the characters “Yu Er.”
He could not say goodbye to her forever. He can only use “Huo Qu Bing” to start the letter.
The moment Yu Er enters the city of Ha Mi, she will see a doctor’s clinic sign with the gold sandy desert as the backdrop and the blue verdant shape of the Yue Ya Spring. She will know immediately where to go to pick up Yi Er.
That day when he chanced to encounter then at the Yue Ya Spring, he was peeved that Huo Qu Bing chose to refer to them as “a married couple”, so he wanted to see Huo Qu Bing’s expression when Yu Er saw the sign. But now he regretted it. Now he would rather Yu Er never once think about him.
When he wrote “No meeting again in sight”, he had a strange smile on his face. But underneath the smile was a heart that shattererd.
Yu Er, this is the last thing I can do for you. With your personality, if you knew my legs were destroyed forever trying to save Huo Qu Bing, you would never be at ease going with Huo Qu Bing to live your carefee existence. I want to see the you who is flying, and not the you who is tied to me because of guilt.
The first rays of the morning light hit the room and shine its golden light on the two people laying on the pallet. Meng Jue smiled, their world belongs in the sunlight.
Meng Jiu picked up Yu Er’s hand, and after hesitating for a moment, he bent down and kissed her firmly on the lips.
Yu Er, forgive me, forgive my overstepping my bounds this once………..
Her lips was just like he imagined, sweet, warm, fragrant. But he couldn’t have imagined the degree of pain he was feeling, it was pain that seeped into his bones. The tenderness between their lips, the touch of their lips, it was branded on him based on hopelessness……
After some time, he raised his head. He put her hand on Huo Qu Bing’s hand and turned to leave. He wheeled himself out.
No meeting again in sight!
…………and then Jiu Ye began to hum the love song of the plains telling of the love story between Ba Ya Er and Yi Zhu.
The person on the pallet is not yet awake. This time she did not see his figure leaving, and he also did not look back.
He slowly rode alone on his Snow Mountain Camel. Such a camel can fly like the wind, but because of his legs, the camel would have to endure the slow pace from now on.
But right now, he wanted the camel to go slower, even slower, as slow as possible, but the camel still took him further and further away from her.
The blue sky went on for miles, the green grass appeared to connect to the sky, the bright sun was shining down. The white sheep herd, the black horse pack, it was like fallen pearls littering the grassing plains.
A healthy herder was tending to his flock, a beautiful girl was singing a herding song. Her voice rang out in joy, the song of Ba Ya Er and Yi Zhu.
Jiu Ye couldn’t help but stop his camel and listen. In this lifetime, happiness was once so close to him, but he missed it.
His heart was like knives cutting it, the pain caused him to start coughing violently. It was some time before he could straighten himself. He tasted an acrid sweetness in his mouth, and when he looked down he saw the snow white camel had a few drops of dark blood on it. It normally should be red blood, but it was tinged with blackness. He glanced at it and then reached out his hand to wipe it off the camel.
The wind of the plains breezed past him, carrying fallen petals in its midst. After it passed, there was only a lonely shadow on the ground that kept him company.
The stunning red beauty of the sunrise had passed and now the sky was blue tinged with white clouds. His heart came to a realization, and he patted the camel for it to move faster. He took out his flute and played the tune to accompany the herding girl’s song.
The rainbow after the rain, the sunrise on the edge of the ocean, the first Spring flowers, most of the beauty in this world can never be owned. It is enough to have experienced beauty.
The clear tune of the flute mixed with the herding girl’s song and the sound drifted to the sky. The pain in Meng Jiu’s eyes remained, but he had a slight smile.
The emotion was deep, but their fate was shallow. But………no regrets…….only longing.