TL script: I thought to give you the context of the chapter’s name upfront.
The Magpie Bridge comes from the story of two star-crossed lovers whose love was forbidden by the gods, and they were thus banished to two sides of the silver river, also known as the milky way. But once a year, on the 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar, a flock of magpies would form a bridge for these lovers to reunite. Thus, it came to be known as the Magpie Bridge. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qixi_Festival
There is also a piece of poetry composed by Qin Guan, entitled Immortals at the Magpie Bridge. This is probably where the name of this chapter comes from.
纖雲弄巧， Clouds float like works of art,
飛星傳恨， Stars shoot with grief at heart.
銀漢迢迢暗渡。 Across the Milky Way the Cowherd meets the Maid.
金風玉露一相逢， When Autumn’s Golden Wind embraces Dew of Jade,
便勝却人間無數。 All the love scenes on earth, however many, fade.
柔情似水， Their tender love flows like a stream;
佳期如夢， Their happy date seems but a dream.
忍顧鶴橋歸路。 How can they bear a separate homeward way?
兩情若是久長時， If love between both sides can last for aye,
又豈在朝朝暮暮。 Why need they stay together night and day?
And now, for the chapter.
The pain was so immense that it felt almost as though it were tearing his soul apart.
“Aaaaarrrgghh…. Unnnggghhh!!” He covered his chest and screamed miserably. He gritted his teeth and mustered every last bit of strength within his body to rip open his clothes, only to realize that there was a jade-green runic symbol imprinted on his chest.
It was as if his chest had split open, and a raging sea of all-consuming netherflames were pouring out from within. Even his eyes were beginning to glow with a jade-green hue. His head felt like it was being burnt from the inside by molten lava. Just then, the door suddenly flung open.
“Instructor Qin, what happened to you?!” Ye Xingchen rushed in, and Qin Ye’s appearance of intense pain instantly startled him. This also happened to be the last thing that Qin Ye saw. Before he fainted, his ears were filled with the alarming cries of the students, “Doctor! Hurry up and get the doctor!” “Instructor Qin, hang in there!”
And then, his consciousness faded away.
After some time, he finally came to his senses. Everything appeared blurry, almost as though the entire world was constantly trembling. His eyes shifted about subconsciously, before someone beside him finally sighed. Several moments later, his appearances started to look clear once more.
He was no longer in the same ward as before.
His surroundings were white, and there were instruments everywhere. A middle-aged man stood in front of him, holding up a finger in front of his eyes. Qin Ye had finally regained his consciousness, and the man also wiped off the sweat from his forehead, “It’s a good thing that you’re fine.”
“I…” As soon as he spoke, Qin Ye discovered that his throat was immensely hoarse, while the pain in his body immediately flared up once more. It was almost like his entire body was burning in flames, drying up every measure of moisture within.
It was painful.
The kind of pain that seeped right into the marrows. The kind of pain that flared up from the deepest parts of his body.
“Don’t speak.” The middle-aged man bore the badge of the Special Investigations Department Medical Division, and he continued gruffly, “Your condition is terrible. You’re currently on the plane back to the City of Salvation. Do you know how long you’ve been unconscious? If you do, wink your left eye. If you don’t, wink your right eye.”
Qin Ye winked his right eye.
“Three days.” The middle-aged man sighed, “New Hale City wasn’t able to treat you, so we’ve had no choice but to send you right back to the City of Salvation. The academy already knows about your situation. Faculty Head Zhou will personally come to pick you up at the airport.
Qin Ye finally managed to muster some strength, “I--...”
“Don’t speak.” The middle-aged man reiterated, “Your condition is grim, but not irreversible. Your internal organs were struck by a powerful wave of Yin energy, which then materialized into a powerful netherflame. Fortunately, the flame didn’t last too long, because if it did… your life would have been in danger.”
“There’s no need to think about anything else right now. Rest well. If you need anything, just press the button that’s on your left fingertip.”
With that, the middle-aged man left. Qin Ye lifted his head with much difficulty, only to discover that there was a pacemaker placed right on his chest, and there were tubes running all over the place. Upon closer inspection, he could see that there was a burn mark that ran from his abdomen right up to his throat!
Talisman of Life and Death…
He suddenly shuddered in fear. This is the daolord’s handiwork… What destructive netherflame. To think that not even an Emissary of Hell is able to withstand it. And… are outsiders actually unable to detect its presence?
Three days… this is the first toll of the death knell. If I don’t resolve this issue by the day after tomorrow, then I’ll… most certainly meet with death!
He immediately reached into his pocket and activated the shard of King Yanluo’s Seal and his soul promptly entered Hell. The students might be greatly startled if he lost consciousness once more, but given the gravity of the situation, he couldn’t be bothered anymore.
When Qin Ye next opened his eyes, he was already in Hell. The Talisman of Life and Death was invisible in the mortal realm, but it glowed bright as a star in Hell. Fortunately, he wasn’t stricken with any measure of pain right now. That said, he could sense that he had lost weight from the initial round of ordeal he had been through.
Arthis soon arrived after receiving Qin Ye’s summons. When she saw him, she immediately gasped, “Immortals at the Magpie Bridge?”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Qin Ye grunted in dismay, “Hurry up and get this damn thing off me!”
Arthis didn’t respond immediately. Instead, she flicked her hair and cut open Qin Ye’s robes in an instant, before running her icy cold fingers up and down his bare skin for some time. Several moments later, she finally looked up once more with some measure of sobriety, “You’ve encountered the daolord of the asura.”
She meant it as an affirmative statement.
“That’s right, and he planted this Talisman of Life and Death on me, saying that only Infernal Judges can undo its effects. Hurry up! I’ve already been burnt once by this damn thing! I’m dead if I can’t get it off me within the next three days!” Qin Ye cried out in exasperation.
“That’s not something I’ll be able to do.” Arthis gently pursed her lips, “This isn’t called the Talisman of Life and Death. It’s called Immortals at the Magpie Bridge. It’s a curse that can only be used by an Abyssal Prefect. The only way to remove it is to meet your destined partner and share a night of passion with her.”
Qin Ye froze.
It was a bolt out of the blue.
“You can’t remove it?!” His voice grew shrill, and he immediately grabbed Arthis by her collars, “Then why did he--... I understand now…”
He released Arthis’ collars, “That damn bastard… He didn’t want to make it easy for me! He wanted to see if what I said was true. If the new Hell is strong, then it would naturally have a way of unravelling his curse. And even if it wasn’t, he could test out the strength of the new Hell with this move of his. In other words, he was prepared to let me perish from the onset!”
“That’s right.” Arthis drew a deep breath, “There are a total of three ways of unravelling this curse that is known as the Immortals at the Magpie Bridge. Firstly, it would be to consummate your union with the person of your destiny. To this end, you have to bear in mind that it has to be the one you are fated to be with, not just any other marriage partner. In other words, it has to be the one most suitable for you. Some have only one, while others have more than one.”
“Then, wouldn’t I have to… you know…” Qin Ye responded bashfully.
“Are you really in the position to be shy right now…” Arthis chuckled coldly, “The second way is to suppress it with an artifact.”
“A complete, divine artifact. Lower grade artifacts won’t do. After all, an Abyssal Prefect is already considered one of the strongest entities in the world. Most smaller underworlds are even ruled by Abyssal Prefects. In a sense, you can say that superpowers are exceptions rather than the norm, in that they are ruled by Yama-Kings as opposed to Abyssal Prefects. Naturally, Abyssal Prefects are already powerful enough to draw out the full strength of these divine artifacts. Only divine artifacts have the power to suppress and break this curse.”
Qin Ye’s mind suddenly lit up, “The Book of Life and Death? Don’t we have the Book of Life and Death in our possession?”
Arthis shook her head and chuckled bitterly, “The Book of Life and Death is so powerful that even an Abyssal Prefect can only barely use it. Naturally, I’m unable to tap on its full strength, and I can only access some of its simpler functions. I can use it to suppress the curse temporarily, but I won’t be able to remove it altogether.”
Qin Ye’s lips trembled, “What do you mean by… suppress…?”
Arthis glanced back at Qin Ye, “For instance, I can reduce the frequency of its effects from once per day to once per month. And even with its reduced strength, I can at best buy you five years of time. In other words, within five years’ time, you’ll have to… complete your harem, or I’ll have to attain my next breakthrough to the ranks of an Abyssal Prefect. But you can forget about the latter, because I can sense that I’ll still need at least thirty to forty years for that.”
“Bloody hell… can’t you work harder at it?!”
“Do you think this is a matter of working harder or softer?! Do you think there’s anything I can do about it if Cathay doesn’t go to war?!”
Qin Ye sighed. Fortunately… fortunately we can still suppress its effects for another five years. Otherwise, Qin Ye would seriously contemplate ending it all with seppuku, because the pain was simply unbearable.
“The third method…” Arthis slowly continued, “Is something that you’re most likely able to achieve.”
A nethergale swept across, gently tousling her hair as she gazed deeply into Qin Ye’s eyes, “And that’s by locating something that contains the soulfire of someone stronger than an Abyssal Prefect. This object could either be a living person or an inanimate object. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter how long the object has been in existence.”
Qin Ye sighed and gritted his teeth as he leaned back heavily on the pillar behind him, “Are you messing with me?”
“Abyssal Prefects are for all intents and purposes the strongest fighting forces in this tension between the Yin and the Yang! Where am I supposed to find something--... Hang on…”
He suddenly shot to his feet, “The old Hell?!”
“The Ten Abyssal Courts of the old Hell! I’ll be able to find something like that over there, right?!”
Arthis shook her head, sending his dreams crashing straight into the ground, “Impossible… The Yama-Kings of the Ten Palaces have already ascended into paradise, leaving behind divine molts in their place. Those locations must all be densely crawling with blight vermin now. There’s simply no way of clearing out those areas given your military might right now. Besides, divine molts are the best form of nutrients to monarch vermins. Not even I could do a single thing against that monarch vermin back then, much less you and the Yin soldiers of Hell right now.”
Qin Ye’s eyes were now glazed over with despondence, and he gazed into the sky in despair, “The heavens want me dead… I knew that I should’ve just remained in Hell and not leave its borders until we muster an indomitable force! To think that everything would crumble in an instant like that…”
“Calm down!” Arthis rebuked him, “How could the future King Yanluo of Hell be so easily unsettled like that?!”
“I’m damn near death! Can’t you even give me a break and let me wallow in self pity for a moment?!”
Calm down… calm down… Otherwise, I might very well push him over the verge and into the point of no return… Arthis placed her hand together and began to chant a calming sutra as she responded coldly, “Are you aware that the seals of all feudal officials are conferred by the highest authorities in Hell?”
Qin Ye’s sorrow instantly dissipated, and his strong desire to live was once again reignited. His eyes gleamed brightly, “In other words… all I need to do is to obtain a seal from the feudal officials--...”
Arthis interrupted him mercilessly, “Unfortunately, these seals are carried by the feudal officials’ sides. Losing the seals means losing their conferment of title as a feudal official of Hell. They would also have to face the wrath of the Heavenly Dao.”
Qin Ye’s gaze quickly faded away into a glazed look.
Sorrow once again washed through his heart.
Qin Ye once again raised his head as Arthis continued, “They are no longer feudal officials to begin with. These seals have already lost their effects as soon as the old Hell has collapsed. They’re no different from evil ghosts right now, and evil ghosts have no use for such seals.”
“Haa…” Qin Ye heaved a sigh of relief. But before he could even respond properly, Arthis continued slowly, “Unfortunately, most of the seals belonging to the feudal officials only contain the soulfire of Abyssal Prefects. Something like that isn’t handled by the Yama-Kings after all.”
The ocean of sorrow began to flow once more…
Qin Ye’s heart sank into the mires of despondence again. I’ve done so much, and even planned meticulously at every step of the way in order to ensure my survival, and yet everything has just fallen through. I’ve still got five years left in the mortal realm, right? I’m doomed… I must be… Life is bleak…
“Can’t you just finish it all at once?!!!!” Qin Ye nearly couldn’t resist the urge to jump up and give Arthis a tight slap across the face. Unfortunately, he knew that he was no match for her, so he simply hunched his back like a growling dog.
He was steaming mad.
Arthis rolled her eyes, “Don’t you think it’s far more dramatic and artistic to tell the story in such a fashion?”
“Art is an explosion, so what do you know?!” Qin Ye barked back, fervently suppressing the desire to tear Arthis to shreds.
Finally, Arthis retracted her smile and continued in earnest, “Anyhow, there just so happens that there exists a person whose identity is so special that discussions of conferring him the title of a feudal official was actually escalated to the old Hell’s council of elders. It was only approved after several rounds of meeting, and his seal… happened to have passed through the hands of the Yama-King of the Ninth Palace, who personally lit the seal with a shred of his own soulfire. This had been done primarily in order to warn him not to act out of line.”
Qin Ye listened intently, and then gulped as he probed further, “This man… could he be…”
“That’s right.” Arthis smiled faintly, “It so happens that this is none other than Emperor Wu of Song, Liu Yu, otherwise known as Liu Jinu. The only man in Cathay ever known to be invincible.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter