Li Ji clenches his fist once more. His face steels, but he is unable to find a word to say.
Ding Dang stares at him sorrowfully, her gaze slowly buried by the color of despair. With unfounded strength, she slowly climbs up from the ground.
The mountainous wind blows and her robe dances along with the caress of the wind. Her pink robe is reminiscent of the peach blossoms in spring, beautiful and delicate. Her hands lightly brushes across her face to wipe away her tears, but they are unable to wipe away all of it. Her white fingers adjusts the hair that has fallen to the front of her face to the back of her ear so as to make herself neater and prettier.
The peach blossom-like lady beneath the sun trembles slightly in the midst of the wind, as though the most beautiful and desolate sight of a blossom before its withering.
Gently, she speaks, “Li lang, do you despise me?”
Li Ji doesn’t respond.
Ding Dang stares at him. After a moment, she slowly lowers her head and says, “I get it.”
Li Ji harrumphs and says, “Don’t act so pitifully. Did you think that I was oblivious to what you were thinking of when you suddenly lit a torch at the peak of the mountain? Are you calling for your lover, who is waiting at the bottom of the mountain? How many times have you made me a cuckoo these days!” At this, he becomes incomparably incensed and he glares intensely at Ding Dang.
Ding Dang shakes her head, and with an ashen complexion, she says, “I have not done anything apologetic to you, but if you must think of it that way, there is nothing I can do. If you don’t want me… me… me…” As though her heart is aching deeply, she can’t find the courage to finish those words. However, after a moment, she grits her teeth together and says, “Even if it is without you, I still wish to cultivate. Return me my Spirit Stones. At most, we will just be strangers to one another from now on.”
Li Ji lashes out, “Didn’t I tell you just now that I don’t have it now? A thousand Spirit Stones isn’t a small sum. Give me some time. I will return the sum to you within at most a year.”
Ding Dang massages her chest as she smiles dreary, “Since you also know that it isn’t a small sum, how can I afford to wait a year for you? Who knows how you would be by then. Anyway, I beg of you to leave an open path for me. Either you bring me up the mountain, or return me my Spirit Stones, and I will visit the Immortal Discerning Mirror myself.”
“I don’t have it!”
Ding Dang grits her teeth and says, “If that’s the case, then I will stake my everything on a journey to Nansong Mountain then.”
Li Ji is taken aback. His complexion immediately darkens as he roars, “You bitch! What do you intend to do? Are you trying to intentionally turn me into a laughingstock of the entire sect? Are you trying to make unable to walk with my head held high in the future?”
Ding Dang glances at Li Ji and her lip quivers. Eventually, it forms a disconsolate smile and she turns around to walk down the mountainous path.
Li Ji immediately rushes over and grabs Ding Dang’s shoulders. He bellows furiously, “What do you intend to do? Are you insane? Why must you coerce me like this?”
“I am not coercing you!” Ding Dang shakes him off and continues walking forward. With a lump in her throat from all the crying, she whimpers, “I… I am but an ordinary woman. I am incapable of thinking that much, all I want…”
Before she can finish her words, Ding Dang’s body stiffens and she freezes.
By the shore of the Dragon Lake, everything quietens down abruptly. Even the slight mountainous wind that was blowing disappears.
Ding Dang slowly lowers her head to look at her body.
A bloodied blade pierced through her abdomen. Crimson red blood droplets fall slowly from the blade onto the earth, mixing together with the filthy mud, turning it the color of black.
Excruciating pain gushes like a wave from her abdomen, and seemingly tears her slender body apart and crushes her heart. She slowly turns her head around and looks at the man behind her in despair, disbelief and desolation.
“You…” She points to Li Ji as a silent pained shout escapes her throat.
With a deep roar, Li Ji pulls out his blade, causing blood to splatter about. Ding Dang cries sorrowfully and her body shudders. Just as it is about to collapse onto the floor, Li Ji grabs her shoulder once more and as though an asura, he stabs the cold blade once again into Ding Dang, this time into her chest.
“Keng…” Ding Dang’s entire body shrivels together, as though a child frightened of pain. With a pale face, she stares despairingly at the man beside her. Li Ji removes the blade from her once again and takes a step back. Fresh blood spurts out as though a fountain, dyeing Ding Dang’s lower half red.
Slowly, Ding Dang collapses to the floor. Her face still carries traces of her disbelief, but at the last moment, her face slowly calms down. Gazing quietly at Li Ji, unwillingness, anxiety and frustration blinks into her eyes.
Suddenly, the wind blows. Suddenly, a furious howl echoes. Suddenly, a figure appears from the mountainous path and rushes forward. In an instant, Li Ji is knocked flying from Ding Dang’s side.
In midair, Li Ji is shocked. However, he quickly retaliates by directing the sword straight towards the charging figure.
The one who charged out is Lu Chen. Facing the blade, he tilts his body and sends a fist towards Li Ji’s face.
Li Ji has already cultivated under the Thousand Autumn Doors for a period of time. Even though he can’t be said to have reached Minor Achievement in his training, he has still achieved some progress in the lowest cultivation realm, Lianqi stage. No matter what, he is surely stronger than ordinary mortals. When he sees that it is a villager from Clear Stream Village at the bottom of the mountain, he sneers coldly. Stabilising his body, he raises his hand upwards. As long as he manages to block this punch, killing this mortal devoid of any cultivation easy should be an easy task.
Yet, at this moment, he suddenly feels intense pain on the thigh of his right leg. Instantaneously, a pain as though severing one’s body apart pulsates through his physique. Li Ji howls loudly as he retreats in horror. Only when he lowers his head to take a look does he realise that while Lu Chen was sending a fist towards him, his other hand was holding a black dagger treacherously and mysteriously escaping from all of his senses, he manages to stab it into his thigh. After which, he viciously pulls it to the sides, tearing open an appalling gigantic wound.
Such means and such brutality, Lu Chen is truly a demon beyond any of his imaginations. Despite obviously not possessing any cultivation, being just a ordinary mortal, he is able to crush him instantaneously. Unstable, Li Ji crashes onto the ground. Catching sight of the demon-like black dagger in Lu Chen’s hand, fear manifests on his face.
Just as Lu Chen is about to advance forward towards him, he hears Ding Dang’s voice from behind, “Lu Chen…”
Lu Chen’s footsteps halt. Glancing at the frightened Li Ji, he keeps his dagger. Then, he walks over to Ding Dang and hugs her figure.
Fresh blood gushes onto his body, dyeing the cloth covering his chest. Silently, Lu Chen stares at Ding Dang’s body with a lowered head. He gaze sweeps across the the blurred fusion of blood and flesh at her abdomen, as well as the wound through her chest.
Ding Dang’s body trembles for a moment.
Lu Chen quietly tightens his embrace on her.
With strenuous effort, Ding Dang looks at him and says weakly, “My wound… You… Can you save me?”
Hugging her, Lu Chen is silent for a moment before shaking his head slowly.
Ding Dang cries. She cries miserably and her teardrops fall like pearl drops onto her bloodied body. After a moment, she looks at Lu Chen through eyes blurred with tears, as though an innocent child grasping onto her final straw of hope. She raises her hands which are filled with fresh blood and feebly grasps onto Lu Chen’s shirt. Leaning her head on his chest, through choked sobs, even her voice is trembling:
“I… Am I going to die?”
Lu Chen holds her even tighter. Meeting her gaze, after yet another moment of silence, he replies softly, “Yes.”
Lianqi has appeared once in the novel before.
Lianqi literally translates as ‘Forging Breath’, and it is the fundamentals to cultivating.
Gazing quietly at Li Ji, unwillingness, anxiety and frustration blinks into her eyes.
It is clearly stated that she is feeling these emotions out of pity/sympathy for Li Ji (if I didn’t interpret it wrongly). However, I am unable to find a way to phrase it in so… Compromising.