Chapter 111 – 《World Ode of the Phoenix · Fragments》 (6)
The cabin’s bamboo door was pushed open cautiously, and a lady of fragile stature walked in carrying a bamboo pot of washed laundry. She looked to be around twenty-three to twenty-four, yet she had the delicate and charming air of a fifteen or sixteen year old teenage girl. She was as quiet and charming as a hibiscus under the glowing moon. She was garbed in rough grey garments, but they were unable to tamp down her star-like and eye-catching beautiful disposition; it was as if they were rain on a mountain side. Her eyes were especially so. They were clearer than the purest of crystals, beautiful enough to make the rest of the world lose their color in comparison.
Clearly seeing where he was, Yun Che had already anticipated her appearance. However, in the split second that she’d opened the door and entered, his heart began to violently beat. Both his eyes and expression were transfixed and he could only blankly stare. It was as if the entire world had been drained of all its color in that one moment, and only her figure remained. All his emotions, all his thoughts, all his beliefs, they all began to completely and violently surge … That year, she had passed away in his embrace. After crying his eyes out, he believed he’d never shed another tear in his entire lifetime. But at this moment, he felt uncontrollable tears rushing down unauthorized below the orbit of his eyes…
His heart throbbed as if the emotions that no longer belonged to him intertwined in chaos. He forgot where he was; forgot that he was still within the trial. At this point, all his emotions came together and transformed into a tearful cry that came straight from his soul…
The bamboo basket in the girl’s hands fell to the ground. Seeing the Yun Che that was sitting up on the bed, her beautiful eyes revealed heartfelt happiness and surprise. Rushing to the front of his bed, her expression was frantic, yet she forced her voice to become so soft and gentle: “Big Brother Yun Che, you’re awake… Does your body still hurt? Are you uncomfortable anywhere?”
With the girl’s face mere inches from his, the girlish air that belonged solely to her heavy impacted Yun Che’s soul. Her eyes were brimmed happiness, worry, anxiety, a deeply hidden sorrow and longing… It was the same as from his memories, as well as the countless times she’d appeared in his dreams. Only, he never dared to think that it was possible for him to one day, look into this beautiful pair of eyes again.
He gradually grew dazed from staring. His lip wouldn’t stop trembling, yet he couldn’t utter a single word. At this moment, all of his thoughts had completely disintegrated. The only thing that remained was this figure before his eyes who was imprinted so deep into his soul, that not even death was able to make him forget. Without caring for anything else, he threw open his still bandaged arms and, with a surprised “Ah!” from Ling’er, embraced her tightly; so tightly that it was as if he was afraid she’d leave him if he relaxed even a little bit.
“Big Brother Yun Che…” Ling’er’s body froze for quite a while before she hugged him back, leaned her entire body into his chest and whispered softly.
“Ling’er… Ling’er… Ling’er…”
Yun Che knew how unseemly he was at the moment. His heart was in a complete state of chaos. Over his own cries, he could clearly hear the sound of weeping and feel the tears that could not stop sliding down his face.
After that painful loss back then, this was a situation that could only appear in his dreams. The warmth in his heart was almost enough to make it stop beating; it made him feel like even if he were to die right now, he would still be completely content. If possible, he wanted to embrace her forever and never let go ever again; no matter how enormous of a price he had to pay for it.
All those years, he had gotten accustomed to her presence, used to treating her as his own safe harbor. Every time he was bloodied and dying, he would desperately climb to the front of this small house that she had built with her own two hands… Every time he needed warmth, he wouldn’t be able to help but to come here… Every time he frenzied and went mad, he would also always come here to find peace. And, she would always heal the wounds on his body and soul, time and time again. She would go to the creek to catch fish for him, pat his back as if to coax a baby to sleep… He was too vigilant and would wake up every half a quarter of an hour each and every time he slept. Only with her here, would he finally be able to sleep until noontime of the second day.
She was his only source of warmth then.
However, his eyes had been blinded by hatred. He had placed revenge as the only objective in his life and it had become a habit… Only until the day he had lost her, did he truly understand that this girl had long become more important than his life; than his revenge.
Time and time again, she would ask of him not to seek revenge any longer with tears in her eyes. It was her only request in the midst of all her selfless sacrificing and giving, but he had never listened… Even until the last moments of her life, she still asked him not to avenge his master nor her… It wasn’t because the ones who killed her were her own family, but because she wished so much for him to stop living a life of endless revenge and hatred.
No matter how much pain he suffered or how much he regretted, what had been lost would never return again. If he could, he was willing to give everything he had in exchange; even if it were his own life and soul.
“Ling’er… Ling’er… Ling’er…”
He held Ling’er tight in his embrace. Again and again, with every cry, he wished he would never have to wake from this dream. The blessed feeling of regaining what he had once lost was so warm that it was unable to described with any spoken words.
“Big Brother Yun Che…” Ling’er’s whisper came from beside his ear, with a light and haziness that seemed almost like a dream, “Don’t think about revenge anymore, okay? Your master’s soul in heaven also definitely wouldn’t wish to see you like this… No matter what it is, I can promise you that as long as you promise you won’t pursue revenge any longer… The two of us can stay in this bamboo forest. You’ll accompany me, and I, you, forever… A lifetime… I’ll be your most gentle wife… and never leave you… okay?”
Her fragrance, her voice and her words; they were all so familiar. These were exact the smell and voice that belonged to her. And even more so, these were the words she’d said to him many times before… In the past, whenever she said these words, he would feel the inside of his heart palpitate, but right after it would be quashed dead under his hatred…
After losing her, he had dreamt many times. If he could turn back time, if the heavens could give him another chance, he never would have rejected it again; absolutely would not.
Without any hesitation, he nodded his head in extreme vigor; nodded five or six times in a row and insisted in a hoarse voice: “Yes! Yes! Ling’er, I’ll listen to you. I promise you, I’ll no longer seek revenge anymore. In the future, you’ll be my life; your life, will be my life. Wherever you are, I’ll be there by your side forever, watching over you and we’ll never part through life and death!!”
Every sentence, every word, and every slightest bit of emotion came from the depths of his soul. How he’d yearned to shout these words at her all those years ago.
Ling’er cried in happiness, her jade-white hands tightly hugged him, “Big Brother Yun Che, do you mean it? Is what you’re saying for real?”
“I’m serious. Every word I said was real. If anything I’ve said was false, may I be destroyed by the heavens.” Yun Che said every word with determination.
After saying these words, he closed his eyes; his expression was so peaceful and content. He felt a sharp cold object pierced deeply into his back. Blood franticly spurted out as his consciousness quickly dispersed amidst the heaviness…
The scene before his eyes distorted and disappeared as the world once again returned to darkness. Yun Che opened his eyes. To the front of his view, there were those two giant, golden eyes.
“I’ve failed.” Yun Che laughed self-deprecatingly, but steadily. “Originally, I’d thought that, with my state of mind, I’d be able to pass through the third stage easily. But I had thought too highly of myself. Heh heh, I must have disappointed you. My pursuit of strength isn’t that resolute after all.”
The phoenix spirit’s voice floated over, “Your soul’s response tells me that you already knew it was only an illusion from the very start, and that you had obviously seen the dagger beside the bed. You also clearly knew that if you were to hold up this dagger and stab the girl, you’d be able to escape the illusion and easily pass this test. Why would you rather stay in the illusion and even tricked yourself into believing that it was real? Unless, within your heart, the great strength that you can immediately obtain can’t even compare to that temporary illusion?”
“I could not do it.” Yun Che shook his head slowly, “This illusion came from the most precious memories in my soul. Even though it was merely an illusion, it’s deeply imprinted in my soul as what true happiness is. You won’t be able to understand how dear that girl is to me, nor will you understand how much I owe her. Even if that was only a dream, even if I have to lose my greatest strength as the price, I would never be willing to harm her.”
“Even if that is so, why did you not dodge, or even push her away when you obviously sensed her pick up the dagger to stab at you?” The phoenix’s spirit asked in a puzzled tone of voice.
Yun Che laughed; but it was a laugh of sadness, “I knew that it was an illusion you’d forcefully created based on my memories… My Ling’er, even if she had to die herself, she wouldn’t be willing to cause me any harm. However, I’m willing to die by her hands because what is a life compared to what I owe her? To be able to die in her hands, even though it was merely an illusion, it has allowed the guilt in my heart to ease just a little.”
The phoenix’s spirit was silent for a long time.
“I thirst for power, but in this world, there are many things that are much more important to me than strength. Me needing strength was also because I need to protect the things that are important to me. It seems I am neither fated, nor qualified to obtain the power of the phoenix… However, even though I have failed the trial, I’m already satisfied. Because this training has allowed me to see and hold her again. It has even allowed me to voice the promise that I’ve wanted to make to her even in my dreams…”
Yun Che laughed; he laughed very warmly, without any trace of unwillingness or regret.
“It seems that the girl whom you call Ling’er must have really been very important to you. And also because of her, your inner self holds heavy regret. However, you don’t have to suppress this regret in the depths of your soul. You have passed through the reincarnation cycle due to the Heavenly Profound Treasure and it has tampered with this world’s karma. Under the butterfly effect, time, dimension, and planes will also change as well. Your regret and debt, you may have not yet lost your chance to make up for them.”
“You have passed through the reincarnation cycle due to the Heavenly Profound Treasure.” This sentence caused Yun Che’s heart to immensely lurch. He stared directly at the golden eye in front of him and was unable to say anything for a long time.
Heavenly Profound Treasure…Pass through reincarnations… Could it be, it had actually seen through that he had lived through two lives? And the reason why he had lived for two lives… Was due to the Heavenly Profound Treasure’s ability to pass through the reincarnation cycle?
Heavenly Profound Treasure… Jasmine had mentioned that the Sky Poison Pearl within his body had been one of these Heavenly Profound Treasures. But the abilities of the Sky Poison Pearl was centered around poison, medicine, purification and space. Above this discovery, where would the ability to pass through reincarnation come from?
As for the latter half of the words spoken after that sentence, he was completely unable to comprehend them. He probingly asked: “What do you mean by these words you’ve said?”
“Heh heh…” The phoenix’s spirit laughed mysteriously, “It’s fine for you to only understand half of it, but not the rest are heavenly secrets that aren’t to be disclosed. As you progress and as your strength continues to rise in this world, you will one day understand all of it.”
Yun Che fell into deep thought and then nodded his head, “Spirit of the Phoenix, although you have tampered with the illusions of my memories and made Ling’er stab me to death, which was rather unpleasant, I still have to thank you. But since I couldn’t pass through this stage of the training in the end, I should leave now.”
“No, it is not time for you to leave yet. Because you, have already successfully passed the third stage of the trial.”
“Congratulations, human who bears the Evil God’s strength. Within these countless years, you are the eighth practitioner who has chosen to give up your strength rather than hurt the illusion of your loved one. You have earned the right to inherit the Phoenix’s gift.”