Sunday, 13 May 2018

Chapter 232 - Loved Ones


This sleep, not knowing how long this deep sleep had been, only that in the slumber, the surroundings was all familiar smells, not knowing how long it had been, without this kind of secure feeling.

Therefore, too deeply into the dreams, almost unwilling to be awoken, only deep within the dreams, there was a stabbing pain, kept lingering and refused to disperse, frequently stabbing the heart.

Heaving a long sign, Ghost Li slowly awakened. Looking at the room in front of him, like being in a dream, he quietly looked. It was when he was young, he stayed here and then grew up, the tables, chairs, bed, windows and doors, all were etched in his heart.

Looking at the wall above the bed, that huge ‘Tao’ character was still hung on the wall, only the color, strokes, looked faded but every stroke and brush, looked the same as what he had saw in his youth, vigorous and forceful.

The window wooden frame made a light sound, a gap opened, Xiao Hui jumped in, saw Ghost Li had awakened and was half-sitting on the bed, couldn’t help but was happy, grinning non-stopped, it jumped to the bed in a few leapts.

Ghost Li’s heart moved, this scene, was like many years ago, if it was not for his injuries and Xiao Hui’s spiritual eye, he really thought he was in a dream.

Just that, that eventually was impossible.

Xiao Hui facing Ghost Li, [zhi zhi zhi zhi] said. Ghost Li looked down, saw Xiao Hui carrying a number of wild fruits in both paws, most likely plucked from the outside and seemed wanted to share with him. Ghost Li shook his head, indicating no. Xiao Hui did not push, turned and jumped to the table, squatted down and then started to eat with huge mouthfuls.

Ghost Li quietly looked at everything in the room and finally on the window that Xiao Hui came in from. From that window some sunlight shone in, unable to see clearly the scenary outside. However Ghost Li did not have to look, he knew outside that window was a small yard, there was a pine tree, green lawn and also a small stone paved path, at the side of the yard, there was also a semi-circle arched door. Every grass and tree here, was long etched deeply in his memory, unable to be erased.

The fresh air seemed to have a sweet fragrance, even that small yard outside, seemed to emit the grass fragrance.

In his trance, he seemed to have a feeling of coming home, but the next moment, a sharp pain hit his heart, waking him up.

Outside the door, footsteps were heard.

Ghost Li’s gaze, turned towards the door. The footsteps soon reached the entrance but before that door, the person seemed to hesitate, did not immediately push the door open.

Ghost Li watched that door.

The next moment, the door was finally opened.

A tall and steady figure, stood at the entrance, almost at the same time, the person also saw Ghsot Li who was awakened. Both of the eyes met but did not speak. In their eyes, for a moment, there were too many emotions, not knowing if it was because of that, the intended thousand of words all transformed to silence.

Xiao Hui sat on the table, spit out a seed and then glanced at the door, [zhi zhi] called out and then continued to eat.

The man standing at the door sighed, a bitter smile seemed to emerge from his lips, shook his head, walked in, looked deeply at Ghost Li, said “So many years not seen, should I call you lao qi, or little junior brother?”

Ghost Li’s lips moved, finally, facing that man, he quietly called out,

“Big senior brother…”

Everything on Big Bamboo Valley, was still as peaceful as what he remembered, a tranquil scene, not knowing where the others were.

Song Daren looked in silence at this person, not so long ago, he was once his most favourite youngest disciple, also the most good-for-nothing seventh disciple under his teacher Tian Buyi. And now, things were different, people have changed.

Ten years, this was instead the first meeting.

“These past years, how have you been?” Song Daren sat opposite Ghost Li and asked.

Ghost Li did not reply, only kept quiet. Ten years already, time passed like water, unknowingly he had already walked so long, just that, how could he say “fine”!

Song Daren assessed him, that once a young man Zhang Xiaofan, he still looked like what he was but his face, looked to have experience the vicissitudes of life and not knowing since when, he who was much younger than himself but now was already much more highly-skilled, his hair, also indistinctly was greying.

Song Daren made a long sigh, said, “How are you feeling now?”

Ghost Li looked at his wounds, saw the torn bandages had been replaced with clean and fresh bandages, clearly it was his Big Bamboo Valley senior brothers who have done that. And his chest was still hurting but comparing to the time before he was unconscious, it was already much better. After a moment of silence, he said, “I am alright, thanks for senior brother’s concern.”

He suddenly seemed to thought of something, looked at Song Daren, said, “I...have already turned against Qing Yun, do you all still admit me this junior brother?”

Song Daren laughed but his laughter had some bitterness, said, “Shiniang has already told us, teacher when he was still alive…” speaking until here, Song Daren’s eyes turned red, his voice obviously choked, Ghost Li heard it and his body also shook.

Song Daren composed himself, continued on, “Teacher when he was still alive, told Shiniang many times, he had never said to chase you out of Big Bamboo Valley and he had never thought you had committed any wrong ten years ago. Therefore Shiniang instructed us, this day and age, as long as you are still willing, you are still out Qing Yun Hill Big Bamboo Valley lao qi...little junior brother…”

Ghost Li slowly lowered his head, his body trembling, his left hand on the bedding, tightly curled into a ball, his right hand covering his face, quietly wiped the tears from his eyes.

In the room, for the moment it became quiet. After a long time, after seeing Ghost Li slowly became composed, Song Daren’s deep voice again spoke,

“If you are feeling fine then follow me to Observed Silence Hall, Shiniang is there keeping...vigil for teacher, she wants to see you.”

“...yes”

Walking out of the arched door, what he saw was that familiar circular winding corridor, Song Daren without a word walked ahead, his broad shoulder and back, was like a small mountain.

Ghost Li quietly followed behind, couldn’t help but recall, when he first came to Big Bamboo Valley, he also followed Song Daren and slowly entered into the world of Big Bamboo Valley.

Thinking back the past, it was like a dream.

His gaze, slowly came to Song Daren’s waist, then realized, there was an additional white cloth, obviously it was for his mentor Tian Buyi’s passing, as a mourning garb.

His face turned solemn, closed his eyes.   

Walking out of the corridor, he could see Observed Silence Hall from afar, what was different from the usual tranquility was, incense smoke was seen rising from it, at the same time sobbing and crying sounds were heard.

Song Daren quietly walked towards Observed Silence Hall, after two steps, he suddenly sensed something and turned back, Ghost Li was still standing where he was in daze, looking at Observed Silence Hall.

“What is it?”

Ghost Li looked extremely pale, for some reason, when he looked at the Observed Silence Hall with its incense smoke and sobbing cries, he felt fear, like a child who had committed a mistake and did not dare to face his parents who would be heartbroken.

Song Daren seemed to be able to tell something, sighed and said, “Let’s go.” speaking, he patted his shoulder. Ghost Li’s body moved, glanced at Song Daren, quietly nodded and strided up.

As they neared the hall, the incense smoke became thicker, and the sobbing cries clearer, but although there were familiar voices but there was no female cries, without Suru and also his senior sister Tian Linger who was already married.

Finally, led by Song Daren, he once again stood at the Observed Silence Hall’s entrance.

Eight pairs of eyes immediately turned over, stopped on him. Ghost Li’s body trembled, he looked over each and everyone.

Wu Dayi, Zheng Dali, He Dazhi, Lu Daxin, Du Bishu!

These familiar faces, now all before Ghost Li, many years ago, they were once his most loved ones, also his most trusted senior brothers.

Their waists also like Song Daren, tied with the white cloth mourning garb, their faces all had sorrow, some already had puffy red eyes. Inside the hall, there was an iron big pot, in it fire was burning, the senior brothers who was standing beside, slowly placed the paper money into it.

The fire burned, smoke lingered.

Ghost Li stared dazely, behind the smoke, Tian Buyi quietly lay on a bier, his dirtied clothes had already been changed into clean ones, tidily on his body, his face also looked much peaceful, Shiniang Suru right now sat beside Tian Buyi, her hand holding Tian Buyi’s hand, tightly.

Her face looked to be in anguish but there was no tears, in her hair, a small white flower was inserted, that was a wild flower which still had its morning dew, simple, elegant and beautiful, conveying few degrees of grief. She only held her husband’s hand tightly, watching Tian Buyi’s face. And his daughter, Tian Linger, was not in this hall.

And Da Huang who was raised since young by Tian Buyi, right now quietly lay beside the bier, its head listlessly on the ground, its usual bouncy spirit was totally gone.

Ghost Li’s gaze after coming to Tian Buyi, did not move away again. His footsteps heavy, slowly step by step walked over. Song Daren quietly walked beside, took a hemp rope and passed to Ghost Li. Ghost Li looked at him, a grateful expression in his eyes, nodded and took the rope, quietly said, “Many thanks.”   

Song Daren glanced over at Suru, said, “You go over to Shiniang.” After speaking, he quietly walked back to the disciples, facing Tian Buyi’s corpse and knelt, kowtowed three times, when he looked up, his eyes again red, turned over and took a pile of paper money from Wu Dayi who was beside him, and started to slowly burn them.

Ghost Li looked at the hemp rope in his hands for a long time and then tied it around his waist, the grey-white rope twined around his waist, conveying a few degrees of grief, yet also seemed to cause his heart, to once again tie it here.

He quietly walked forward, to the bier and knelt down, kowtowed three times and then turned to Suru.

“Disciple…” his voice suddenly paused, after a long time, using a deep voice, he again spoke, “Disciple Zhang...Xiaofan, pay respect to shiniang.”

Behind him, Song Daren and the five Big Bamboo Valley disciples looked over, their expressions complicated, but what was more in those expressions were, that blood-thicker-than-water joy and intimacy.

Even on Suru’s face, also revealed a faint gratification, she looked at Ghost Li, nodded and then sorrow brushed past her face, looked at Tian Buyi, quietly said, “Buyi, did you hear that, this is lao qi, he has return to kowtow to you.”

Ghost Li knelt at Suru’s feet, unable to speak.

Behind, sobbing sounds were heard.

The incense smoke lingered, drifted, the hall looked somehow surreal, not knowing if it was because its owner was no longer around, even this hall looked empty, did not become bustling even with the number of people.

After a long time, Song Daren wiped his tears, walked forward, came to Suru and quietly said, “Shiniang, please instruct on teacher’s funeral affairs, to notify all of the branches’ elders and seniors, I also intend to rush to Longshou Valley to inform Linger junior sister, let her…”

“This is no urgent!” Suru suddenly cut off Song Daren’s words, indifferently said.

Song Daren was shocked, the group of disciples behind him, including Ghost Li, were also stunned, in the hall, for a moment there was only silence, not a single sound.

After a while, Song Daren then brought up his courage again, carefully said, “Shiniang, teacher’s demise, disciples all know Shiniang is grieving, just that these affairs...cannot be delayed.”

Suru’s expression did not change, not only that, she did not even glance at Song Daren, in her eyes, other than glancing at that lao qi who had just came back, there was only Tian Buyi.

Song Daren looked embarrassed, for a moment did not know what to do, turned and looked back at the other disciples kneeling and burning the joss papers but everyone looked at each other, not knowing what to do? And at this time, Suru suddenly spoke,

“Daren.”

Song Daren hurriedly replied, “Yes, shiniang, do you have any instructions?”

Suru said, “You and the rest leave the hall for now, without my approval, not allowed to come in.”

Song Daren was stunned, stepped back a few steps, the other disciples also glanced over, Song Daren frowned but did not speak, He Dazhi who was beside him, was the most quick-witted, looked at him and shook his head slightly, anxiety on his face, Song Daren saw it and frowned even tightly.

He had spent countless of time with these juniors, what He Dazhi was worrying, he naturally understood clearly. Compared with these disciples, he had spent the longest time with Tian Buyi and Suru, no one knew better than him the deep affection between his teacher and shiniang, if they were not around and Shiniang took things too hard, could it be…

Song Daren turned pale at that thought, no matter what he could not take another step. And at this moment, Suru glared at them, with a slight anger said, “What are all of you doing, could it be that your teacher is dead, all of you are disregarding me this shiniang’s words?”

[Pu tong! Pu tong!]

Sounds in succession, other than Ghost Li who was kneeling before Suru, Song Daren and the rest of the disciples all knelt down and prostrated, Song Daren hurriedly said, “Disciple do not dare, disciple do not dare!”

Suru sighed, deep exhaustion appeared on her face, as if she did not even have the strength to reprimand, only waved her hand slightly, said, “All of you leave.”

Song Daren and the rest did not dare to defy her words again, everyone with a bitter face retreated but their hearts were still heavy, not knowing what should be done. Ghost Li kowtowed to Suru and also slowly retreated, however Suru suddenly said,

Lao qi, you stay, I have something to ask you.”

Ghost Li was surprised, stopped, but those behind him were relieved instead, no matter what, as long as someone was with her, most likely there would not be any incidents, after a few footstep sounds, the rest had already left the hall.

In the hall, it turned silent, only the fire which was devouring the joss paper, made crackling sounds.

Ghost Li quietly stood where he was, looked down and did not speak, after some time, Suru was heard sighing and said, “Your teacher, had always been sharp tongued but soft hearted. Ten years ago that unforseen event, he had always brooded on it, although he did not say it but I could tell, he actually felt he had let you down.”

Ghost Li’s eyes turned red, shook his head with force, hurriedly said, “It’s not, it disciple who is unfilial, it’s disciple who have let teacher down…” his voice choked.

Suru’s lips quivered, hearing Ghost Li’s choked voice, it seemed to evoke the anguish in the bottom of her heart, but although her eyes showed her grief but she still forced herself to hold on and did not cry. She quietly looked at Tian Buyi, faintly said, “In your teacher’s heart, he had never thought of you as a disciple who was thrown out of the door, do you understand?”

Ghost Li dropped his head down and quietly said, “Yes.”

Suru continued, “And since you have also acknowledged him back as your teacher today, later you go over and burn some joss paper for him, for the time being treat it as you have also fulfil your filial duty, I guess Buyi he would also be happy…”

Ghost Li clenched his teeth tightly, knelt before Tian Buyi’s body, kowtowed three times, tears in his eyes, then he stood up and walked over to the big pot, knelt down. The fire in the pot had burned down much, most likely after the rest left, nobody fed it. Ghost Li looked beside, saw a few thick piles of joss paper nearby, all unopened.

Those on Big Bamboo Valley were all cultivated people, most probably joss papers were not even used once in a few hundred years, these must have been prepared at the last minute by Song Daren, bought from the foot of the mountain. Thinking of these, Ghost Li felt anguish again, quietly took over a pile, opened it and started to burn one by one.

Suru sat beside Tian Buyi, quietly watched that flickering, twisting flames, the fire reflected in Ghost Li’s face refracted sudden light and darkness.

She suddenly asked, “When your teacher passed away, were you beside him?”   

Ghost Li’s body trembled and then turned over, still kneeling beside the pot, at the same time facing Suru, said, “Yes.”

Suru looked deeply at Ghost Li, said, “Yesterday after you were unconscious, I cleaned your wound and applied medicine, discovered at your chest where your most severe injury was, in your body there was Scarlet Fire sword energy which was unique to your teacher, the most damage to your meridians, was also because of that, what had happened?”

Ghost Li’s heart pounded, his palms started to sweat, after a moment, he quietly said, “Disciple’s injury this time, was indeed caused by teacher’s harsh attack, but…”

Speaking till here, he was suddenly lost, did not know where to start, the night unfortunate events happened abruptly, even though he was already experienced with the fights and tussles of the world but he was still left in shock, moreover his most beloved teacher lost his life in it, it was even harder to describe.

Suru humpfed, her eyes stern, coldly said, “Tell me the whole truth.”     

Ghost Li did not dare to look at Suru, bowed and then started to speak, from the time where he returned to Grassvillage Temple and encountered the mysterious figure, pursued and came to the abandoned morgue outside HeYang City, until Tian Buyi’s demise.

Suru’s face turned more and more pale as she listened, especially until the end where Tian Buyi lost his life, her face turned white, a pair of hands clutched Tian Buyi’s hand tightly, as if afraid that her husband might leave her again.

At the end, Ghost Li quietly said, “These were the events, disciple do not dare to deceive shiniang.”

Suru looked away to Tian Buyi, looked deeply at this familiar yet peaceful face, or maybe, in her husband’s heart, he did not have much regrets, in his heart, all of these were what he should be doing!

She breathed in deeply, straightened her body, although she really wished to continue lying like this, together with her husband, never to care about anything again, but, she knew it was not the time yet.

“You have really see clearly…” Suru’s voice sounded uncertain.

Ghost Li for a moment did not understand, said, “Shiniang, you mean?

Suru’s face pale, quietly said, “That mysterious person, really is sect head Reverend...Daoxuan senior brother?”

Ghost Li inhaled deeply, determinedly said, “Disciple saw it with my own eyes, even if that person turned into ash, disciple will not be mistaken.”

Suru quietly nodded, then again asked slowly, “From what you have said, Buyi when he was mentally confused and attacked you, it was Small Bamboo Valley Lu Xueqi who killed him?”

Ghost Li’s body shook greatly, cold sweat immediately dripped down from his forehead but in the end, he clenched his teeth and said, “Yes!”

Suru did not speak, only stared in daze at Ghost Li, as if in a trance. Then under her stare, Ghost Li’s face expression changed greatly, as if in suffering, after a long time, he then quietly said, “That...Lu Xueqi she, she actually did it to save me, no, its disciple…” suddenly, his face turned solemn, prostrated and quietly said, “Shiniang, no matter what mistakes there are, it is all disciple’s fault, that Lu Xueqi she…”

Suru sighed, said, “I remember Qing Yun sect disciples, these past years, aren’t you the closest with her, even when you joined the Evil Sect, I heard that she is still thinking about you, even defying Shuiyue senior sister a few times because of you, and even rejected Fenxiang Valley Yun Yilan valley master’s marriage proposal, isn’t it?

Ghost Li lying on the floor, his heart in chaos, he had thousands of words to say but unable to speak even one word. That night, although he clearly knew Lu Xueqi had to make the move in order to save him but because Tian Buyi was after all his mentor who raised him up, and moreover one of the most respected and loved person in his life, and before his eyes, that Tianya sword pierced through his mentor’s chest...after which, he subconsciously, at his most anguish moment, pushed Lu Xueqi thousands of miles away.

After southern border’s chaos, there was once a brief hug, yet in this sleight of fate, the chasm was even deeper and broad, could not understand why heavens must be so cruel!

And before Suru, although Ghost Li had such conflicting thoughts before but he could not sit by and let Suru misunderstood Lu Xueqi. Although he clearly understood, shiniang had deep affections for teacher, more than himself, this fact that he himself found it hard to accept, how could he expect shiniang to be magnanimous?

Ghost Li was lost for words.

The truth was like a sharp sword and heartless, everyone who came near it, all almost would be hurt by it!

However Suru’s face, was not that resolute as what Ghost Li’s expected, on the contrary, after the initial grief, her expression slowly turned to contemplation. After a moment, she spoke to Ghost Li, “I remember just now you said, before Buyi passed away, his mind briefly came back, recognized you, is it?”

Ghost Li nodded and said, “Yes.”

Suru said, “Then did he say anything to you?”

Ghost Li thought hard for a moment, quietly said, “After teacher was conscious, he said to me two sentences.”

Suru asked, “What did he say?”

Ghost Li said, “The first sentence that teacher said was rather strange, he only repeitively said three words, ‘Don’t blame her, don’t blame her. The second sentence was to instruct disciple, after teacher passed away, to bring his body back to Big Bamboo Valley and hand over to shinniang, and to tell shiniang…”
Suru’s countenance changed, said, “What did he want you to tell me?”

Ghost Li’s quietly said, “Teacher’s final words were for disciple to tell shiniang, shiniang please don’t take it too hard, don’t...don’t do silly things.”

Suru was stunned for words, the tears in her eyes shimmered, her body wavered, looking like her body had lost all strength and about to collapse. Ghost Li felt anguish and was worried but did not dare to approach, only knelt and kowtowed, “Shiniang please don’t take it too hard!”

After a long time, Suru’s slightly calm voice was heard, “I am fine, you can get up.”

Ghost Li then stood up, looked up and saw her face was much calmer but the pain in her eyes, was still evident.

In the hall, silence again, Ghost Li quietly put in a few more joss paper into the fire, at this moment, Suru suddenly said, “Are you too full of hatred and dissatisfaction towards Lu Xueqi for killing your teacher?”

Ghost Li was surprised, not knowing what shiniang meant by that, he was unable to answer. But Suru was an intelligent person, in addition she had already looked past the mortal affairs, looking at Ghost Li’s expression, she already roughly knew.

She faintly said, “Do you know, Buyi before he left he still said to you ‘Don’t blame her’ the three words, what it meant?”

Ghost Li was stunned, said, “What?”

Suru slightly smiled bitterly, said, “If it’s what I assumed, most probably Buyi he was willing to be killed by that Miss Lu Xueqi.”

Ghost Li was shocked, said, “Shiniang, your words…”

Suru let out a long sigh, said, “Forget it. Should not looked back at the past but in the end could not be dismissed away, our past generation’s secret, should not involve you all the junior generations. “ She quietly looked back, at Tian Buyi, looked at his peaceful face, as if he was sleeping, quietly said, “Buyi, you must also want me to tell him this secret right…”    

9 comments:

  1. Sorry, only the first draft, lots of mistakes, will edit again when I can.

    And that eight pair of eyes, don't ask me why, I can't tally the numbers too haha

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  2. Thank you so much. So curious now with the cliffhanger at the end of this chapter.

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  3. I choked at Buyi's last wish:v

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  4. Thanks a lot!
    How come Zhang Xiao Fan couldnt understand Buyi's message? (That is to forgive Xue Qi) . Sigh..he's really dense. He's really lucky to have teacher and Shinniang that really care for him, like their own son

    *still feeling bad for the death of Buyi :(( .

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    Replies
    1. it was chaotic situation that make him confused, (meet his teacher again, also meet dao xuan and ZXF deep hatred toward that man, ) saw his teacher get injured then killed by his umm friend, shock and guility. All of that can be take as consideration.

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  5. Thanks for the great translation :) - I‘m really looking forward to her explanation :) :)

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