Book 2: The Infinite Heart
Chapter 16 (Part B) – Your Heart, My Heart
In the snow the ultimate elegance of a generation, Zhangsun Wuji, strode gracefully without disturbing even the smallest bit of dust. Wherever he went not even a snowflake would be crushed.
After the night of snow, the steps of the ceremonial hall were very slippery. Guards came forward to support him, yet Zhangsun Wuji didn’t even pause, reaching the inside of the hall with a swirl of his sleeves.
The troop leader froze there, doubtfully turning his head to stare at the Crown Prince’s retreating figure. For some reason His Highness seemed out of sorts today; even though his posture and expression had no flaws, the old man who had followed him for many years felt that the Crown Prince seemed a little panicked. In the Prince’s typically impenetrable pupils, also seemed to contain a murky anxiousness, and even some … anger.
As the man pondered, Zhangsun Wuji had already passed straight into the open secret chamber door.
He stopped near the entrance, and his hand that was stroking the fur coat slowly lowered. As he swept the interior with his gaze, he deeply took in a breath.
The guards lowered their already lowered heads even further.
Inside the room furniture was strewn messily on the ground. The whole ground was covered in bloody streaks that splattered from this corner to the opposite, shocking anyone who saw the scene. There was also a small thing lying in the middle of a large pool of blood. When those whose eyes were sharp discovered what it was, they all raised their heads in dismay.
At the end of the room, Guo Pingrong gazed numbly at nothing, pressing against his lower half. He wasn’t so injured that he had lost all strength. However, the shock of having his treasures being destroyed was entirely too sudden, and for the time being he still wasn’t able to react.
When Zhangsun Wuji’s eyes swept past that thing, his pupils shrank, and he slowly took a sudden step forward.
The step was extremely light, but following the completion of the step all the objects in the room, including the curtains, chairs, and candles, were bizarrely and completely silently transformed into fine powder that drifted onto the ground.
All the guards looked at each other with astonishment in their eyes. These things had already long been destroyed, and were only tenuously maintaining their original form. It only took one outside disturbance to immediately turned them to ash! It could be imagined what kind of heaven-shaking, desperate battle had occurred just now in this hidden room. Almost everything had been used as a weapon, then broken down by the true qi!
Zhangsun Wuji’s eyes, though, only stared at the ground of blood. Glancing at Guo Pingrong’s body, he immediately confirmed that this volume of blood could not have flown out of only the general’s wounds. In that moment, Zhangsun Wuji’s pupils transformed, as if a tsunami had risen up in the blink of an eye; yet in the next blink, it vanished.
He lifted his hand, and the guards silently left at once.
The hidden chamber’s door was once again closed. Snow-reflected light brightly shot through the half-shut door crack, illuminating the shifting expressions in the Crown Prince’s eyes, as if turbulent clouds swirling in the heavens.
At this time Guo Pingrong had already recovered his awareness. Deeply prostrating himself on the ground he kowtowed and choked out, “Your Highness … Your Highness …”
Lying on the bloody floor surface, he could smell the fresh blood of both himself and Fuyao. He thought of that overbearingly arrogant girl who always had a hundred tricks up her sleeves, who had pierced that broken blade covered in her own blood into his lower body, forever ruining the rest of his life.
In this chilling, bloody atmosphere he couldn’t stop trembling. He felt that the previous shining, wonderful half of his life had ended in this instant, like a firework fading or a beautiful dream shattering, in but a moment turning into a helplessly powerless finale.
“Your Highness … I want to report …”
The blood ripples in front of his eyes shone with drifting shadows, reflecting a corner of the noble, light purple robe. The robe corner stopped in front of him. Guo Pingrong lifted his head with a heart full of hope, as he looked toward His Highness who he held in both respect and fear.
He stared at that pair of familiar eyes. Those eyes were usually placid like the spring wind, profound yet always holding a hint of a smile. However, at this time deep within those eyes was actually an emotion that he felt impossibly foreign; it was a flying dragon heartlessly gazing down from the Nine Heavens, gazing at a mortal who dared to trespass into an absolute forbidden zone.
Distant, forceful, ruthless, with a slightest hint of killing intent.
His pledge to execute the criminal suddenly vanished in his throat. His body began to shudder on its own.
Zhangsun Wuji carefully kneeled down in front of him, in the ground painted entirely in blood red. As he examined the warm blood, his eyes shone like flames smoldering, and he quietly said, “Pingrong, you have committed a crime.”
Guo Pingrong raised his head in panic. He couldn’t understand, why did His Highness Crown Prince suddenly say these kinds of words, and why didn’t he call for a doctor to treat his wounds?
“Your crime is being arrogant and condescending, being too self-righteous. Born lower-class and suffering too much hardship before you became famous, you became unrestrained after reaching success, narrow-minded and seeking revenge for even the smallest grievances. Once traveling three hundred li in the night just to exterminate the entire household of someone who spit on you; once ordering the gang rape of your sister-in-law just because she ignored you when you were in need; once pulling out your sword in drunken anger to murder a man just because he collided with you in an alley, and even murdering his innocent friend who helped you up and tried to stop you from fighting!”
Hearing these secrets that he thought no one else would ever know, Guo Pingrong felt his whole body shaking. Looking at the unfathomable Crown Prince, Guo Pingrong didn’t understand why he only mentioned these past events now; and since the Prince knew of these things, why did he not mention a word at the time?
“I use generals, not saints.” Zhangsun Wuji seemed to see through his doubt as he calmly overlooked him. “Generals, don’t need morality or civilization, only a murderous aura so sharp it can cut men down. As long as you can excel at battle, can defend and kill foes, can stand guard over the eighteen clans of the southern border who I have always been cautious of, can contribute to the Infinite Empire – then what do your private flaws and personal shortcomings have to do with me? Have to do with the nation?”
The Crown Prince stood up, clasping his hands behind his back. As his robes fluttered even without wind, a strange light fragrance floated out.
“However, Pingrong, today you have done something I cannot ignore.”
Meeting Guo Pingrong’s even more bewildered eyes, Zhangsun Wuji suddenly gave a humorless laugh, then leaned down to quietly say a couple words by Guo Pingrong’s ears.
The general’s face instantly changed as if he had gulped down burning charcoal. His whole face distorted unnaturally from shock. Opening his mouth, he seemed to suddenly gulp down breaths as if suffocating, and at the same time seemed to be trying to express some words. However, no matter how much he tried, he was still unable to successfully say even one word.
As he gaped at Zhangsun Wuji, his whole body was teetering. The initial consternation gradually transformed into regret, disbelief, despair, and various other emotions. In the end he loudly cried out as he walked on his knees, crawling over to desperately clutch Zhangsun Wuji’s robe corner.
“Your Highness! Spare me!”
Zhangsun Wuji’s hands were clasped inside his robes. As he looked at the favored general whose personality had been warped by deviant morals, his eyes were completely emotionless.
“… another thing … those child prostitutes at Tuo Li’s qinglou ‘Deep Spring Pavilion’, are because of you, correct?” Zhangsun Wuji wore a faint smile. “You sure know how to play, truly acting recklessly with no regard. Did you really believe these girls were children from Zhongzhou’s poor rural families? They are the daughters of the eighteen southern border clans who were captured and brought here for you to enjoy. As the general in charge of the southern expedition, you actually took the initiative to provoke the ferocious and uncontrollable southern borderlands – Pingrong, you greatly disappoint me.”
Guo Pingrong numbly loosened his bloodstained hands, staring at Zhangsun Wuji in disbelief. He couldn’t understand how the Crown Prince who had thousands of other matters to attend to every day, could actually know of the hidden girls in the “Deep Spring Pavilion”! Furthermore, he didn’t understand why Tuo Li would lie to him. He looked at Zhangsun Wuji in despair, yet could not find any answers in the other’s eyes.
“NO …” Guo Pingrong suddenly jumped up like he had gone berserk. Rushing towards the door he bellowed, “You want me to tie my hands and go willingly to my death? I can’t! I am a Jianwu General! I’m the fourth-place master of the True Martial Meeting, I’m the disciple of the seventh of the Ten Emperors, Star Brilliance! I …”
His voice suddenly stuck in his throat.
The light snowfall outside the door had yet to stop. Fragile snow blossoms drifted inside from the partially closed door and window. As they flew towards the heat-exuding human body, the snowflakes unexpectedly seemed to meet some kind of invisible obstacle around a chi away, paused for a moment, then fluttered to the ground.
The daylight was bright, revealing the still figures, one standing and one kneeling, inside the room. The light reflected off several snowflakes that had landed on a finger. The finger was slender like jade as it touched the forehead of the half-kneeling person.
With only a gentle gesture, the incredibly strong mad tiger Guo Pingrong was no longer able to charge forward even one chi in front of Zhangsun Wuji.
Guo Pingrong’s mind churned into chaos at once. In his brain there were horizontal and vertical and tilted lines, and strand by strand they tangled and met, joining into ropes. The ropes tightened and pulled, constricting then distorting his memories and consciousness, directly twisting them into formlessness.
He slowly swayed downward. Within his jumbled sea of awareness suddenly flashed his last clear thought.
“My own Master is ranked seventh among the Ten Emperors, yet Zhangsun Wuji …”
“I regret offending the wrong person …”
Before this thought could finish, he had already collapsed onto the floor.
Zhangsun Wuji calmly retracted his hand, once more putting it back inside his fox coat.
He raised his head imperceptibly to glance at the daylight outside the window. In that moment, the emotions in his eyes were hard to describe, as if he had seen a cherished flower suddenly wilt under the battering of wind and rain. Even when he reached out wanting to protect it, that flower pricked his hand instead.
After a long period of silence, he suddenly lifted his foot, disdainfully giving Guo Pingrong a kick.
“I won’t kill you … only from now on, you will truly become only a weapon. I originally didn’t want to use this technique on my imperial officials … for you to become the first, is your fortune.”
He turned around and left with a flick of his sleeves. Guards jogged over to receive him, while further in the distance, the general residence’s soldiers were all kneeling on the ground, not even daring to breath heavily.
Zhangsun Wuji got onto the royal carriage without looking back. In the instant the carriage drapes fell down, he softly ordered:
“Heed my order.”
“The eighteen clans of the southern borderlands have been making abnormal movements, most likely harboring thoughts of disloyalty, and should be culled. Change Prince De Qin’s title to King of Rong and confer upon him the three provinces Rong, Zhen, and Li, in order to forever suppress the southern clans. Have the Jianwu general be subordinate to the King of Rong. In order to charge forward to quell the rebellion, have this done within the next few days.”
“En?” Zhangsun Wuji’s eyes turned. Because the guard captain had been shocked into hesitation by the commands, he stood still for a period of time with a back filled with cold sweat. Then he hurriedly saluted with a clattering of his scale armor while loudly affirming. “Yes!”
As the guard captain watched the carriage roll off into the distance, his eyes gradually filled with haze of incomprehension. After some time, he raised his head to stare at the skies that were still yet to clear after the snow. Layers of clouds swirled and surged like the ever-repeating tides.
Later, he let out a low sigh that dissipated into the chilly winter air.
“Something terrible is coming …” ————
Meng Fuyao flopped down on a tree branch with a body full of cold sweat. On the tree trunk was immediately scattered her whole body’s blood and sweat. Freezing, howling gusts sliced over from behind her. Her back felt frigidly icy, yet her front was scorching as if by flames.
Forcibly flipping over, she opened her mouth to gasp for breath. She pressed down on her chest to try to sit up and regulate her internal qi. However, inside her seemed to exist countless flame snakes that twisted and tumbled; everywhere inside her body, her meridians seemed to have caught on fire, each one turning into a burning streak.
Just what kind of strange ingredients were in that absurd needle? It seemed like an aphrodisiac yet not quite. Something inside incited her desire, yet the moment it stirred she felt shooting pain in her organs. If it wasn’t for the crisp medicinal fragrance that wafted from her coat collar and focused her mind every so often, as well as her fully revolving the “Breaking Nine Heavens” true qi to suppress the effects, Fuyao would have long lost control. Unfortunately, after this desperate battle that used up almost all of her true qi, plus her heavy injuries, how could she still be able to suppress the poison?
Fuyao grinned dazedly, vaguely thinking, she had still underestimated Guo Pingrong. As the disciple of one of the top ten masters, even if his personality were worse, his abilities definitely couldn’t be that bad. Despite coming prepared and carefully executing every step, she had still almost failed.
All her many preparations were focused on the expert, while her vigilance against the “victim” was lacking due to her instinctive sympathy. In reality she truly did prepare though – from the start she had pressed Qiao Ling’s acupoint, but she didn’t think that the paralyzed Qiao Ling had actually been hiding the poisoned needle in between her teeth the whole time. Once Fuyao had ran to the ceremonial hall, the girl then heartlessly made her move against her.
On the other hand, this could also be considered a blessing in disguise. From her all-out struggle with Guo Pingrong, her “Breaking Nine Heavens” had expectedly made a breakthrough. One thing she didn’t account for, though, was the ineffectiveness of the detoxifying smell from her light coat. This was a wonder medicine personally prepared by the medical saint Zong Yue, that could cure hundreds of poisons, even the effects of aphrodisiacs! Yet, it was actually not able to completely block the poison inside that wretched needle!
“Damn!” Fuyao cursed quietly. “Crackpot! Witchdoctor! Quack!”
A dark shadow suddenly flashed in front of her eyes. Someone was closing in. Meng Fuyao immediately struggled to get up, grasping the dagger in front of her.
The new arrival stopped in front of her, his appearance haggard and ordinary. Surprisingly, it was that dark-clothed man who sometimes appeared by Yuan Zhaoxu’s side.
He hesitatingly looked at Fuyao with some regret in his eyes. His master had closed up to recover and ordered him to protect her, yet because of an outside matter his attention had been distracted, causing her to fall into trouble. Now that the person in trouble was in front of him, he still couldn’t get close; her two cheeks were peach red and she was clearly in an unusual state. How would he dare to get any closer?
Standing in place he hesitated for a while, before suddenly hearing a person shoot over like the wind behind him. The dark-clothed man instantly turned back, only to see a white-dressed man standing behind him, calmly looking at him.
Exhaling a held breath, the dark-clothed man bowed. “Sir has arrived at just the right time.”
“Leave it to me.” Zong Yue sent the dark-clothed man away tersely, while he walked up to inspect Fuyao. She muddleheadedly lifted her gaze. In her confused vision she managed to make out a familiar face, causing her to split a smile, then reach out to push him away. “You … get away from me …”
Zong Yue didn’t speak, instead crouching down in front of her, extending a hand to try to measure her pulse. Meng Fuyao waved her hand to prevent him from touching, muttering, “Quack doctor, I think I somehow … despicably … am suffering from an aphrodisiac …”
Zong Yue smiled and said, “Those who were fed aphrodisiacs in the past were all beauties. How could you have the honor?”
Fuyao weakly smiled. She already had no energy left to exchange volleys with this poison-tongued man. She lazily said, “Can you cure it or not? … if you can’t why don’t you … just get out of my face already … don’t give me some ying yang exchange will naturally cure it crap … if curing needs to rely on this … I’ll … despise you for the rest of my life.”
Zong Yue suddenly laughed. Even though he usually looked amiable, he very rarely laughed. This laugh, however, was like sunlight softly scattering from behind the clouds, pitying and gentle.
He softly said, “To be honest, I wouldn’t mind you despising me for the rest of your life …” He reached out an arm to carry Fuyao up. Her whole body jolted and thrashed as if shocked by lightning, but Zong Yue lightly said, “This is the back door of Prince De’s residence. Since you have already managed to charge back here, do you really not have the ability to endure until inside the residence?”
Fuyao quietly complained, “… you clearly could have hit my pressure points, but instead you want me to endure through it …”
Zong Yue lowered his eyes to look at her face surging with the rosy color of sunset, and her fluid glance that could enthrall one’s senses. It was like a spring tamarisk in March, a peach blossom in April, clear azure water in May, a lotus-filled pond in June; it was the most ripe and beautiful collection of things in the world.
Seeing this kind of appearance, even his previously steady hand couldn’t help but shake. Then, Fuyao suddenly opened her eyes. Inside them was a faint yet clear rosy glow, as if seeing clean white sands on the river bed of a translucent, tumbling creek, forever cloudless and crystalline.
Zong Yue looked away. Without saying anything more he carried her back to his courtyard. First, he personally hit several of her acupoints, fed her a pill, then massaged her meridian nodes to promote blood flow and wrapped up her wounds. After treating her, he stood in front of the room’s window for a long time, deeply sighing without speaking.
When Meng Fuyao awoke, her first reaction was to inspect her clothes, and check if she had done something bad with someone when she was enflamed by desire. At the same time as she made her inspection, she felt the body-scorching fire snakes seemed to have already shrunk back to their hollows, curling themselves up and no longer wrecking havoc. However, in the deepest parts of her dantian, she found that there suddenly was a new dry burning sensation that lingered without dissipating. When Fuyao circulated her qi to test it, she was struck with sudden insight. Sitting up cross-legged she said, “Even you can’t completely eradicate this medicinal power?”
Zong Yue turned around to look at her, frowning a little. “What you were affected by can’t be considered an aphrodisiac, or to put it another way, it is much stronger than an aphrodisiac. The drug is called “Love Lock” and is made using the essence blood of a thousand-year bustard hen. Those under its effects will have their libido skyrocket, and desire to mate day and night, yet every time they intercourse their bodies will be harmed. After a crazed, roiling three months, they will die without a doubt.”
“Using longevity to fuel desire?” Fuyao murmured. “Who could be so depraved to make something like this?”
“Guo Pingrong’s teacher, Divine Star Hand Fang Yimo.” Zong Yue’s expression was a little strange. “Rumors say when Fang Yimo was still young he had loved a girl. That girl, however, had an affair when he was out journeying through the world. When Fang Yimo returned, he created this thing to make the woman and her illicit lover passionately entangle every day from dusk until dawn, causing the man to exhaust his essence and perish, and the woman to wither and die as well.”
Meng Fuyao sucked in a cold breath, then shook her head sighing, “No wonder Guo Pingrong was such a deviant, turns out his master isn’t anything good either.”
Zong Yue calmly said, “Guo Pingrong’s body has been ruined by these years of indulgence, and his cultivation cannot match up to even thirty percent of his master’s. Furthermore … Sir Fang is very shielding of his faults.”
He looked at her face, which didn’t contain any hints of dread or fear at all, then sighed. “Actually the ‘antidote fragrance’ mixed from seven-leaved grass and stained on the coat truly makes one impervious to hundreds of poisons. You originally should have been completely safe, but just now I discovered a secret poison, long hidden within your body, that synergizes with and amplifies the effects of ‘Love Lock’. This poison is traceless, and usually you would have had no symptoms either, but upon encountering certain harmful poisons it would send you to your death. Fortunately, in your previous seventeen years, you actually did not meet any of those poisons. Today, if it wasn’t for the antidote fragrance, just the outburst from the combination of ‘Love Lock’ and your hidden poison would have caused you to die in only a moment …”
“After spouting all these words, in the end you’re still afraid of me calling you a charlatan, even taking the time to explain that my poisoning wasn’t because of your medicines, but instead because of my own hidden maladies! Yet from your tone, it seems like you’re still helpless with regards to this poison?” Fuyao raised an eyebrow as she looked at him. “That can’t be, right, medicine saint?”
“If I have no solution, others naturally will be even more helpless.” Within Zong Yue’s collected words held a hint of pride. “However, I do have ways to alleviate the symptoms.”
“What is it?”
“The first method is to use drugs to transform the poison into a true aphrodisiac, as long as you and a man are willing to …” Before he could finish his words, Meng Fuyao had already put on her shoes and started walking out.
Zong Yue forced a wry smile. He waited until she had walked to the door before saying, “There is another way. This medicine is the mixing of an aphrodisiac and a poison, and given that it can be transformed into aphrodisiac, naturally there are ways to turn it into purely a poison as well. You can change the remaining efficacy into poison – but for every day before the poison is dissolved, is a day that you cannot fall in love. Otherwise, you will immediately hemorrhage blood from the seven orifices and perish … make your own choice.”
Fuyao walked back, nonchalantly crossing her legs and sitting down, saying, “Do you even need to ask which one I’ll choose?”
Zong Yue stood by the window and watched her. His features were bathed in the shallow daylight. The pupils and lips that were paler than those of normal people seemed even whiter in the light; he seemed a little indecisive, his thoughts deep. After a pause he said, “You … are certain?”
Meng Fuyao waved her hand in a very direct manner. “You’re too fussy.”
“Do you really think your heart will not move for anyone, for the rest of your life?” Zong Yue observed her. “You are in the spring of your life, blooming with youth. What reason do you have to reject the coming of love?”
“The direction of my affections does not belong here in the first place.” She pursed her lips, and in her expression suddenly appeared some despondency. “Now that I have been afflicted with this thing, it can act as an extra shield, and may as well remind me to refocus and harden my resolve … ay, it isn’t a bad thing.”
She raised her head and laughed. In her smile contained the slightest trace of regret and sorrow, a consoling and helpless acceptance of life’s unfairness. In the end, she quietly but resolutely said:
“Let it be so.” ———–
During the winter of Infinite Empire’s Zhengning 15th year, the southern border clans of the Infinite Empire erupted into revolt. With a written decree from the Infinite Crown Prince, the royal Prince De Zhangsun Jia received orders and was bestowed the title King of Rong, leading 200,000 troops to suppress the southern rebellion. Jianwu General Guo Pingrong was to be the vanguard.
Because Prince De had old ailments that he had yet to fully recover from, he used heavy rewards to ask the medicine saint Zong Yue to accompany him. Hearing that the southern border had many uncommonly seen flora that could be used for medicine, he gladly agreed.
Fuyao and Yao Xun, being the “pages” of Sir Zong, naturally followed the great army in their charge. On the road out of the city, Fuyao passed by the “Deep Spring Pavilion”, discovering that the previously packed money-squandering den had now been shut down. Despite the thriving of days past the clouds had now scattered. As Fuyao stood in front of the empty courtesan quarters, it was unknown what was passing through her mind. Her mouth corner slightly lifted up in a small smile, but it then slowly disappeared.
Only after standing there silently for a long time did she finally turn away. Suddenly, she heard a faint breathing sound that came around a wall corner behind her. Reaching out her hand to grab, she unexpectedly pulled out a little child.
The kid was only around six or seven years old, yet on her little face was applied a heavy layer of makeup that was so dirty it lost its original appearance. Being pulled out from behind the wall corner, the girl only widened her eyes in trepidation, but didn’t cry.
Fuyao felt that this child seemed familiar. Only after inspecting for a while did she realize the child was actually one of the child prostitutes she saw that day when she came here with Yuan Zhaoxu. She couldn’t help but frown and ask, “Didn’t the ‘Deep Spring Pavilion’ get shut down precisely because it illegally kidnapped young girls from the southern clans, while you girls were all took in by the government? How come you were left here alone?”
The child used a pair of brown-tinged wide eyes to stare at her, after a while saying, “Little Dagger, wants to go home.”
The girl’s words were short, her voice containing a rare metal-quality to it that sounded like an unconcealable sharpness. Fuyao raised her eyebrows. She was a bit concerned if the kid had undergone too many hardships and had been shocked into an abnormal state of mind. However, the girl called Little Dagger only tightly gripped the corner of her clothes, repeating again and again, “Little Dagger, wants to go home.”
Fuyao wanted to leave several times, yet still had no way to completely pull off the child’s skinny hands. She also didn’t want to use her martial skill to forcefully yank her away. In the end Fuyao could only drag and drag the little girl back along with her. When Yao Xun saw she had dragged a kid over with the back of her clothes, he questioningly lifted his eyebrows, but before he could even ask Fuyao had already grumpily replied: “Little Dagger wants to go home.”
Thus, from then on, the troop had gained a new page called Little Dagger. The page was very silent and her gaze was always riveted in the southern direction.
When the army left the city, Fuyao looked back to stare towards the Canglan xinggong, and a trace of a smile shone out – over there, were a certain inscrutable beauty and a certain plump, narcissistic and master-loving rodent enjoying the rare warmth of sunlight during in this winter season? Was the fat rat sleeping in its master’s palm and revealing its cute pink belly? Meanwhile, was the newly melted snow on the rooftops flowing drop by drop into the sparkling and crystal-clear lake center?
She hadn’t bid her farewells to Yuan Zhaoxu.
She chose to follow Prince De and leave, the first reason being that Prince De would be managing the southern border as well as all the official affairs of the nearby provinces. This included the distribution of command seals for the states that neighbored the Infinite Empire’s southern border, so Fuyao hoped to maybe obtain something there. The second reason was that she still wanted to find a chance to get an antidote from Guo Pingrong who was rumored to have suddenly changed his ways. The third reason, was to leave Yuan Zhaoxu.
Because they were close, she had to leave.
She shouldn’t be fettered by affection or secular affairs on this alien continent in the first place – that would be a form of cutting her past into pieces. After transmigrating, from the burning anxiety at the start to the acceptance of reality at the end, she had experienced raging waves and turbulent tides that served to transform her mentality and will. Once the heart-shaking sea of emotions had recovered their calm, it definitely didn’t represent giving up; instead it represented willingness to accept, the willingness to accept a never-ending battle against time and opportunity.
She believed that as long as she continued forward, there would always be a day when she would finally reach her goal.
On the other hand, there would always be unknown variables that would appear in life. These variables would arrive with the inevitableness of fate. She had already seen, and nearly experienced, the final results of these variables – her seventeen years’ worth of struggle and hope, all disappearing unfulfilled.
She sincerely hoped that, before Yuan Zhaoxu could truly become the variable that would subvert and burn away all her dreams, she could personally extinguish this bit of smoldering flame. In the future, she would not have to falter at the most critical moment due to some debt or worry.
She hoped that she herself would be able to pass through this unscarred. She hoped that she wouldn’t leave any traces behind that would change her own or another’s fate, in this world that didn’t belong to her in the first place.
During her battle with Guo Pingrong, her “Breaking Nine Heavens” found fortune within misfortune, breaking through to nearly the fifth layer, yet at the same time awakening a life-threatening poison. Fuyao felt that this was almost like the invisible will of the heavens – increasing her power to push through obstacles and advance forward, while using fate’s sword of wisdom to sever certain entangling ties that had unknowingly crept around her.
She lingered around the city gates for a long time. In the end, when Zong Yue looked back with a possibly intentional, possibly unintentional glance, Fuyao finally urged her horse on determinedly, hurriedly chasing up to the army.
Her dark hair drifted in the wind. Her slender back silhouette was highlighted by the large, scarlet setting sun. Far away, the sunset’s glow covered the sky, the layers upon layers of colored sky radiant and beautiful. The girl spurring the horse traveled into the distance, her back gradually fading into the gold-tinged red.
However, she did not know.
In the direction she had been staring, at the highest point of the Canglan xinggong, the top of the “Changing Spring Tower”, was a noble man whose sleeves drifted in the wind as he stood there for a long time. On top of the high tower, the gusts blew his long clothes fluttering, while jet-black hair scattered like ink. The floating strands of hair covered his gaze; only a trace of a profound smile could be seen, dancing on the corner of his lips.
He looked towards the city gates. A while later he tilted his head to talk to a certain animal on his shoulder. “She just left like that, without even a farewell. A lady’s heart is most cruel …”
The animal happily stretched out its claws, taking the chance to confess its love: I will never treat you like that …
Before it could finish its confession, it heard its master murmur with a faint smile, “No matter. If you don’t come, then I will. I will come to you.”