To make up for the delay, I've combined two chapter updates into one. I will also combine the last part of Chapter 24 with the final ending chapter. To be honest, translating the last few chapters were so emotionally heavy that I am spent and have nothing much to add --- let Dian Xian tell you everything!
Chapter 23: No Door For Redemption (Part 4 of 4)
"Indeed!" With one hand, Phoenix grabbed me tight, his white lips at my ears, I felt the thinness of his lips lightly swept pass my ear lobes, "So it turns out, your goal for today... ah, the Water Goddess is held hostage by the Great One, the Heavenly Emperor breaks out in fury, to save the Water Goddess, he has no choice but to attack the Demon Realms, to be the hero of justice and right all wrongs!"
"Look at how perfect an excuse it is! Everyone's heart will follow this wave of justice. I can only say that I cannot reach such a level, I am far beneath......" He held my earlobe in his mouth, the tip of his tongue continuously grazing it, finally, he bit it and a drop of warm blood slid down my neck.
"Pity, I have to disappoint you. I have long prepared for this, there are one hundred thousand demon generals ready for battle, only waiting for this moment!" He lifted his head, a smile stained with blood broke open on his perfect face. His fresh red lips cleanly spurted out, "Fight!"
The River of Forgetfulness has no boundaries, the water no traces, the souls no end. The black clouds were so heavy that they could destroy cities, the armours overwhelmingly shining from the sun rays.
At one side of the River of Forgetfulness, the Heavenly Emperor stood tall in his robe of white, his arms behind his back, behind him were the thirty six heavenly generals from the Heavenly Realms and innumerable heavenly soldiers. The sharp blades of their weapons reflecting the heavy rays of the afternoon sun such that one could not look directly at them.
At this end of the River of Forgetfulness, Phoenix stood on the ferry, his fiery red robes flying wildly, the dark clouds falling behind him, even the afternoon sun appeared dull next to him. The ten kings of hell personally came forward, commanding their own battalion of ghouls and demons.
Besides the passing clouds and the wailing wind, there was not a single trace of sound, not a single movement. In the silence, there was a heavy ferocious energy slowly spreading, slowly brewing.
I was placed on a wide ebony chair. The surrounding decorations were elaborate and grand, a very long threaded tassel slid down the back of the chair, very much like a lady's elegant long mane, rising and falling gently with the wind. I reached out my hand to grab it, staring blankly as the threads fell through my fingers, the touch was smooth, but the tightly gathered threads pierced through my almost numbed heart.
I was only two steps away from Phoenix, but it felt like the distance between us was further than even the entire River of Forgetfulness. I watched Phoenix, Phoenix watched Ren Yu (Night), Ren Yu watched me. How hilarious, what a strange round of glances.
"Ren Yu came today not for battle but only to bring back the Water Goddess," the Heavenly Emperor finally spoke first. His pair of clean untainted eyes were fixed on me. What was actually hidden in those eyes? There seemed to be a trace of anxiousness and loss, but how was this possible? Forever, he is impossible to read.
Phoenix gave out a light air of disdain, his long narrow eyes lifted slightly, his voice like a qiang di (musical instrument) that resounded between the flags, "What if I don't release?"
The mythical beast Zi Tie next to the Heavenly Emperor stamped his hoof, angrily lifting up his head and releasing out an infuriated spurt of air. He tightened his grip on the rein and said lightly, "If so, then I can only offend you with my soldiers!"
Phoenix laughed, his head arching towards the sky, "Why waste so much words? It would be as you wish!"
The heavenly drums started to beat - in a wink of an eye, the massacre begun in the silence like a vat of wine that was kicked over, the smell of blood and killings immediately spread wide.
The River of Forgetfulness was no longer peaceful, in one moment, there was only slaughter, flesh and blood.
There were heavenly soldiers who fell into the River of Forgetfulness and never to rise again. There were also demons who lost their essence in mid-flight and their souls dispersed. In the battle between the two armies, only the two leaders remained unmoving, emotionlessly looking down into the field, as if the outcome of everything was already predicted.
Only me, I could not be a soldier fighting in the field, could not be a general strategising, at the most I could only be a raft that was crossing the river, the origin of this battle, helplessly watching from afar. In future, I would also most likely have to bear centuries of cursing and scolding as the misfortune that created the war between the two realms.
I suddenly remembered how the Buddha compared me to a fierce tiger in a mountain, at that time I thought the comparison was ridiculous, but today I realised that there was absolutely no mistake.
I looked at the side profile of Phoenix, as if he felt my glance,he turned around - his eyes so dark that I could not see the ends, he lightly smiled, like the beautiful jade from Kunlun falling into a corner of the Southwest of China, but one can no longer see that dimple which would reverse the flow of night and day, there was only hate and no more love. Slowly, the heavenly soldiers fell into a weaker position and the demon army was gaining advantage. The gleam of revenge shone in Phoenix's face, my blood on his lips had long dried, but under the light it made his face looked especially white and translucent...... a thin layer of smoke seeped from his fingertips, slowly entwining his body, only seeing his brows lightly raised and his lips pressed together.
Is he being eaten internally?
My heart rose a thread of fear, fear of the missing medicine in the Jin Zhuan pill.
I anxiously looked at the Heavenly Emperor and only saw him lightly raising his head. His gaze afar towards the passing clouds. In this chaotic field of killing, he was so silent that he fell into his own daze, a lonely seeping into a place that I could not see. When I looked at him again, he turned his head towards me, in that moment, his gaze were full of stars, blazing and spinning.
He opened his mouth, there was no voice but there were words. I could understand the shape of his mouth, "Mi Er, come home."
I steadily looked at him and also lightly moved my mouth, "Medicine!"
In a flash, his body stiffened and he turned away his face. I became anxious, and a burst of fire burned my heart, so fierce that I became dizzy and actually fell off the chair.
The chair was on a light floating cloud. Under it was a thistle of thorns stained with blood, full of the wailing of malicious ghosts. Just as I was about to fall into the middle of the thistles, someone pulled me back to the chair. A corner of red robes flashed before my eyes, it was Phoenix. When I regained consciousness, he was already standing at his original position. His gaze even darker, the end of his lips upturned, a face full of disdain.
On top of his head, there was a phoenix feather like a sword in the sky, in contrast to his red battle robes, it gleamed golden......
Gold? Gold! I suddenly felt a burst of clarity and agitatedly held onto the arms of the chair, in the midst of the blade flashes, I cried out, "Xu Feng......" my voice broke, "I know, it's Chou Ji, Chou Ji Grass!"
Opposite, the Heavenly Emperor's face darkened.
An ominous feeling burst into my heart, I ignored the bursting pain in my throat and hurriedly cried, "There was an additional layer of Chou Ji added in the pill, just eat Peng Yu to counteract the effects of Chou Ji!"
Ren Yu never removed any herb from the golden pill, he only added a layer of Chou Ji. When I was following Sui He, in my anxiousness to follow her into the tree stump, I forgot that the golden pill in my hand cannot touch wood. But, the golden pill did not dissolve when it touched wood, meaning that it was never afraid of wood! I only just remembered this and suddenly understood - there must have been a herb added to counter the gold (metal) elements of the pill. And, a herb that could counter gold and was cooling could only be the Chou Ji that grew in the bottom of the heavenly Yao lake. However, there was one herb that could counteract it - that was the wild grass growing by the River of Forgetfulness called Peng Yu.
Phoenix turned his head in shock.
Before I could see the expression on his face, a strange glow passed my eyes - it came from the opposite shore of the River of Forgetfulness, like a fierce lightning arrow.
Before I could even think, and I did not know with strength that came from where, my body plunged towards Phoenix's chest. I did not realise that Phoenix had long discovered that hidden glow and raised his hand to give a counteracting force. In that moment, his palm was covered with the red lotus flame......
In that very short, very short moment.
That hidden glow did not enter the Great One's chest, and that red lotus flame did not burn the Heavenly Emperor at the opposing shore.
I gave out a suppressed burst of air, and slowly fell, the mark from Buddha on my palm began to glow......
I thought I heard someone calling me. Who was it? Was it you, Phoenix? If it's you, that will be wonderful.
It turned out I could also be so light, as light as a feather that lost its way and did not know where to go.
Will there be a next life?
If so, I wished I could be a butterfly, a parchment full of ink, a speck of sand that flew with the wind......
Chapter 24: The Tears of the Deep Blue Sea (Part 1 of 2)
What is happiness? Happiness is seeing alcohol and food waiting for you to enjoy once you awoke from sleep.
I was woken from a very long dream by the tantalizing scent of meat. Facing the feast of food, I counted the various dishes and realised there was a total of eighty one courses!
How luxurious! Actually eighty courses were enough. Rich people these days don't know how to be thrifty and maintain a household!
Besides the table was an attractive young maiden, she placed a bowl and pair of chopsticks before me, and then also placed another bowl and a pair of chopsticks by the side, she lowered her head and respectfully greeted, "Great One, the dishes have all been served."
Great One? Is she calling me? As I was deciding if I should answer, I heard a voice below me say, "You can leave."
It truly gave me a shock! I hurriedly stretched my hand to pat my chest but I realised I could not stretch my hand. When I lowered my head, I could not see my body. In that moment, I was truly frightened and was about to cry, but no matter what, I could not release any sound.
Thus, I fainted in terror.
How could I not faint? To be able to see but not able to eat was truly life's worst tragedy. Since I did not have a physical body, it meant I could not eat. Truly terrifying! Terrifying me to death!
When I woke up again, there was another table of food. It seemed like it was breakfast since the dishes were lighter and there were no meat. There was a bowl and a pair of chopsticks, it seemed like it was never moved. Although there was rice and food in the bowl, but there was no one sitting at the bowl.
It was a little strange.
Then, I saw a pair of long slim hands pick up the chopsticks before my eyes and placed a hibiscus pastry onto the plate opposite. The hibiscus pastry looked truly fitting to my taste, but that hand was actually more eye-catching than the hibiscus pastry. I hesitated for a moment and finally placed my attention on that hand.
It should be a pair of male hands, fair and long, clear bone structure, I suddenly arose a feeling that it would be pretty good to give it a bite.
"Jin Mi, don't you love to eat hibiscus pastry the most? I know you must still be alive, at my side!" I was frustrated that I could not bite the hand when I heard the same voice speak coldly from below me, "Jin Mi, come out, come out and eat the hibiscus pastry.... if you don't want to see me, I will close my eyes... just as long as you come out......"
I was dazed, judging from his tone - this Jin Mi must be a prized pet he owns! He is trying to coax him out to eat. To be able to eat at the same table as the owner, this prized pet truly had a good life.
But... Jin Mi? This name seemed to be a little familiar. I fell into deep thought and finally concluded that I had never seen a small cat, small dog or even a small rabbit called Jin Mi.
Suddenly, my gaze became dark and I could not see anything. I was stunned at what happened when I heard the male said, "I've closed my eyes, can you come out?"
I was thunderstruck! I suddenly realised something -- it turned out I was a formless soul residing in the male's eyes!
Thus, I fainted again.
My host, the owner of these eyes, was truly a strange person. This was my conclusion after observing him for a few days.
He liked to stare at grapes - real grapes, drawing of grapes, as long as it was grapes, or purple round objects like a grape - all these would attract his attention. Actually, it was fine to like to look at grapes, everyone had their own likes and I could not force him to like to look at pig leg or hibiscus pastry like me. But, since I lived in his eyes, whatever he looked, I was forced to look at as well - this caused me great pain. Everyday facing a sea of purple, I was afraid that one day I would become colour blind or become a grape that popped out of his eyes.
He liked to look at grapes so much that I thought he loved to eat grapes. But he would only watch it, never eating, never seeing him reach out for even a jade grape.
I think he must be like the Ye Gentleman that people talked about who claimed to be fond of dragons but was actually afraid of them.
I did not know who he was but the demons around would respectfully call him "Great One". He must be a high ranking person. I did not know how he looked like because he never looked at a mirror. If he did not look at a mirror, how would I be able to see his face? So, I could only imagine - seeing how the demons would immediately lower their heads towards him, appearing so scared and frightened, I guessed that this person must be extremely ugly! So ugly that even the demons did not dare to look at him - I wondered that must be to what level of ugliness?
Thus, he never looked at a mirror so as not to scare himself.
Luckily, he never looked at a mirror as I was afraid he would scare me.
As I was a residing soul, I could only live as he lived - when he closed his eyes, I could not see anything. Thus, the first important thing was to adjust my breath with his, trying my best to sleep and awake with him. If he was sleeping when I was awake, then I would never be able to see the light of day. But, slowly I realised that no matter what time, just as long as I was awake, his eyes were wide open. Later, I tried not to sleep for one day and one night, and realised that he never once closed his eyes.
This person also had a weird habit. Every mealtime, he would command for a table full of food and wine, and there would be a set of bowl and chopsticks next to him, but the seat would always be empty. I never saw anyone sit in it. During mealtime, my host would always pick food for the neighbouring bowl, everything he picked was what I loved to eat. It caused me to be so hungry and wished that I was the person sitting there!
At first, I suspected that the person was someone that people could not see. For example, a formless soul like me, but someone that could move around freely outside. But after a while, I saw that there was not even a trace of energy there. No matter how full the bowl was, there was no one to eat it. It was truly a waste. But, my host only liked to fill that bowl with wood but would hardly eat for himself. Occasionally, he would pick one or two food then placed down his chopsticks. The cook must be good at making good-looking food but the taste must not be good and to his liking since he ate it so unwillingly.
Thus, I concluded that my host was an ugly, non-eating, non-sleeping, but could still live, big monster. Oh, and he also liked to look at grapes but did not dare to eat grapes. Also, he reared a prized pet that could never be seen called Jin Mi.
His feelings for the prized pet... hmm, how should I describe it? It must be special. Of course, this prized pet seemed to also be special, even till now, I did not know what it was.
Sometimes, he would gaze at a falling rainbow and murmur, "Jin Mi." Sometimes, he would look at a half blossomed flower and say, "Jin Mi." Sometimes, he would face a round fresh grape and mutter, "Jin Mi." And, at times, he would face a drop of ordinary dew and call, "Jin Mi."
More strangely, when he called, I would feel like my heart was hiding an unripened grape, sour and rough.
I thought with some fear, perhaps one day, I would truly drop out as a grape.