Li Ji clenched his fist once more. His face steels, but he was unable to find a word to say.
Ding Dang stared at him sorrowfully, her gaze slowly buried in the color of despair. With newly founded strength, she slowly climbed up from the ground.
The mountainous wind blew and her robe danced along with the caress of the wind. Her pink robe was reminiscent of the peach blossoms in spring, beautiful and delicate. Her hands brushed across her face lightly to wipe away her tears, but they were unable to wipe away all of it. Her white fingers adjusted the hair that had 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 trembled slightly in the midst of the wind, resembling the most beautiful and yet desolate sight of a blossom before its withering.
Gently, she spoke, “Li lang, do you despise me?”
Li Ji didn’t respond.
Ding Dang stared at him. After a moment, she slowly lowered her head and said, “I get it.”
Li Ji harrumphed and said, “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 cuckold these days!” At this, he became incomparably incensed and he glared intensely at Ding Dang.
Ding Dang shook her head, and with an ashen complexion, she said, “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 was aching deeply, she couldn’t courage to finish those words. However, after a moment, she gritted her teeth and said, “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 lashed 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 a year.”
Ding Dang massaged her chest as she smiled drearily, “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 gritted her teeth and said, “If that’s the case, then I will stake my everything on a journey to Nansong Mountain then.”
Li Ji was taken aback. His complexion immediately darkened as he roared, “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 glanced at Li Ji and her lip quivered. Eventually, it formed a disconsolate smile and she turned around to walk down the mountainous path.
Li Ji immediately rushed over and grabbed Ding Dang’s shoulders. He bellowed furiously, “What do you intend to do? Are you insane? Why must you coerce me like this?”
“I am not coercing you!” Ding Dang shook him off and continued walking forward. With a lump in her throat from all the crying, she whimpered, “I… I am but an ordinary woman. I am incapable of thinking that much, all I want…”
Before she could finish her words, Ding Dang’s body stiffened and she froze.
By the shore of the Dragon Lake, everything quietened down abruptly. Even the slight mountainous wind that was blowing disappeared.
Ding Dang slowly lowered her head to look at her body.
A bloodied blade had pierced through her abdomen. Crimson red blood dripped slowly from the blade onto the earth, mixing together with the filthy mud, turning it the color of black.
Excruciating pain gushed like waves from her abdomen, and it seemingly tore her slender body apart and crushed her heart. She slowly turned her head around and looked at the man behind her in despair, disbelief and desolation.
“You…” She pointed to Li Ji as a soft, pained mutter escaped her throat.
With a deep roar, Li Ji pulled out his blade, causing blood to splatter about. Ding Dang cried sorrowfully and her body shuddered. Just as it was about to collapse onto the floor, Li Ji grabbed her shoulder once more and as though an Asura, he stabbed the cold blade once again into Ding Dang, this time into her chest.
“Keng…” Ding Dang’s entire body shriveled together, resembling a child frightened of pain. With a pale face, she stared despairingly at the man beside her. Li Ji removed the blade from her once again and took a step back. Fresh blood spurted out from her like a fountain, dyeing Ding Dang’s lower half red.
Slowly, Ding Dang collapsed to the floor. Her face still carried traces of her disbelief, but at the very last moment, her face slowly calmed down. Gazing quietly at Li Ji, unwillingness, anxiety and frustration blinked into her eyes.
Suddenly, the wind blew. A furious howl echoed. Without warning, a figure appeared from the mountainous path and rushed forward. In an instant, Li Ji was knocked flying from Ding Dang’s side.
Suspended in midair, Li Ji was shocked. However, he quickly retaliated by directing the sword straight toward the charging figure.
The one who charged out was Lu Chen. Facing the blade, he tilted his body and sent a fist toward Li Ji’s face.
Li Ji had already cultivated under the Thousand Autumn Doors for some time. Even though he couldn’t be said to have reached Minor Achievement in his training, he had still achieved some progress in the lowest cultivation realm, Lianqi stage. No matter what, he surely was stronger than ordinary mortals. When he saw that it was a villager from Clear Stream Village at the bottom of the mountain, he sneered coldly. Stabilising his body, he raised 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 felt a sudden and intense pain on the thigh of his right leg. Instantaneously, as though his body had been severed apart, an excruciating pain pulsated through his entire body. Li Ji howled loudly as he retreated in horror. Only when he lowered his head to take a look did he realise that while Lu Chen was sending a fist toward him, his other hand was holding a black dagger treacherously, and mysteriously escaping his attention, Lu Chen had managed to stab it straight into his thigh. After which, he viciously pulled it to the sides, tearing open an appallingly gigantic wound.
Such means and such brutality, Lu Chen was truly a demon beyond any of his imaginations. Despite obviously not possessing any cultivation, as just an ordinary mortal, he was able to crush him instantaneously. Unstable, Li Ji crashed onto the ground. Catching sight of the demon-like black dagger in Lu Chen’s hand, fear manifested on his face.
Just as Lu Chen was about to advance forward toward him, he heard Ding Dang’s voice from behind, “Lu Chen…”
Lu Chen’s footsteps halted. Glancing at the frightened Li Ji, he kept his dagger. Then, he walked over to Ding Dang and hugged her.
Fresh blood gushed onto his body, dyeing the cloth covering his chest. Silently, Lu Chen stared at Ding Dang’s body with a lowered head. His gaze swept across the the blurred fusion of blood and flesh at her abdomen, as well as the wound through her chest.
Ding Dang’s body trembled for a moment.
Lu Chen quietly tightened his embrace on her.
With strenuous effort, Ding Dang looked at him and said weakly, “My wound… You… Can you save me?”
Hugging her, Lu Chen was silent for a moment before shaking his head slowly.
Ding Dang cried. She cried miserably and her teardrops fell like pearl drops onto her bloodied body. After a moment, she looked at Lu Chen through eyes blurred with tears, as though an innocent child grasping onto her final straw of hope. She raised her hands which were moist with fresh blood and feebly grasped onto Lu Chen’s shirt. Leaning her head on his chest, through choked sobs, even her voice was trembling:
“I… Am I going to die?”
Lu Chen held her even tighter. Meeting her gaze, after yet another moment of silence, he replied 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.