The peach blossoms that bloom beautifully in the season of spring have to wither eventually. Falling from the branches to the ground, they are reduced to soil and dust, never to be seen again.
The life of a human is the same as well. It is impossible to retain one’s youthful smile and beauty.
Eventually, we bid each other farewell.
When the mountainous wind blew, ripples appeared on the surface of the lake. The beautiful but fragile lady leaned on his chest, awaiting the final farewell, it was as though the spring wind had departed, and the peach blossoms were about to expire, that kind of melancholic death.
She turned her head slightly to glance at the fallen Li Ji in the distance, and her eyes filled with profound emotions. Then, retracting her gaze from Li Ji, she directed it toward Lu Chen. Her face paled further by the moment, but her expression also gradually turned tranquil, as though she had accepted this final conclusion.
She even chuckled, strenuously but softly, for a moment, though it was unclear what she was chuckling at. Lu Chen, Li Ji, or perhaps, herself?
“Hey!” With a voice so light that it was almost indistinct, she asked Lu Chen, “You. Have you ever liked me?”
Lu Chen looked at Ding Dang, contemplated for a moment, and replied, “I think so.”
Ding Dang laughed, even though she coughed violently twice in the midst of it. With a feeble voice, she said, “Lying again! How can you reply with a ‘I think so’ if you liked me?”
Lu Chen didn’t respond and simply listened quietly to her words.
Ding Dang sighed as she leaned on his chest weakly. Then, she said, “I like that person over there, but it is a pity that I am wrong about him.”
Lu Chen said, “Don’t speak. Rest a bit.”
Ding Dang ignored him. Gasping for breath lightly for a moment, she continued, “Lu Chen, I am about to die. Can you promise me something?”
Lu Chen looked at her and said, “Speak.”
Ding Dang smiled grimly. Then, she turned to look at Li Ji, and saw that the man whose face was painted with fear no longer carried the carefree and dashing look he once possessed. Even so, tenderness still floated within her eyes and she muttered weakly, “I beg of you, spare him.”
Lu Chen’s eyes were fixated on Ding Dang. After a moment, he said, “He is the one who reduced you to such a state. He despises you. He even…”
Ding Dang shook her head, not refuting anything at all, only saying a few words, “But I still like him.”
Lu Chen’s words came to an abrupt stop. Silently, he gazed at the woman in his embrace and finally, he whispered, “Is it worth it?”
The hand that grabbed Lu Chen’s shirt slowly loosened, as though the final bits of her strength were gradually draining, escaping from her. However, she seemed much more relaxed, and a gentle hint of a smile could be seen on her face, as though back then, at the age when she was the most beautiful, her most tender dream had been realised—— To spend an eternity with the one she loves as a pair of immortal couple, carefree and unrestrained.
Carrying the beauty of conspicuous fresh blood and soul-stirring despair between the boundaries of life and death, she smiled to Lu Chen and said, “Who cares…”
Her head slowly declined downwards. Even so, her gaze remained firmly on Lu Chen, her intent clear amidst her gentleness. Lu Chen took a deep breath and replied, “I get it. I promise you.”
Ding Dang smiled, as though she had been relieved of her final burden. She no longer looked at the two men beside her. Instead, her eyes were on Dragon Lake, at the green mountain and emerald water, as well as the scenery of the mountain reflected in the lake. A wind blew and her long hair fluttered slightly along, and she looked exceptionally tender.
“What a beautiful lake.” Ding Dang whispered. Then, she closed her eyes.
At the peak of the tea mountain, by the shore of the Dragon Lake.
Everything was silent.
After an inestimable period of time, Lu Chen placed Ding Dang’s body, which was becoming cold, down gently. Then, he stood up and walked over to Li Ji.
Li Ji’s hand pressed firmly on the wound on his thigh. Witnessing Lu Chen’s approach, he cowered backward fearfully. Born in an esteemed family, he had never suffered hardship since young. Even when his family fell, his life was remained significantly better than most other mortals. Eventually, when he was accepted into the Thousand Autumn Doors, due to his limited time in the sect, he didn’t really have the time to experience the fighting and slaughter that occurred among cultivators.
He killed others out of rage, but he still experienced fear when exposed to pain and blood.
“You… Don’t come here! Don’t forget that you promised Ding Dang not to kill me!” Li Ji screamed loudly.
Amidst his scream, Lu Chen was already standing before him. Taking a glance at him, Lu Chen did not say a word and abruptly strikes Li Ji’s nape with a palm.
Li Ji’s screams came to an abrupt stop. His eyes rolled backward and his body tumbled forward. In an instant, he fell unconscious.
When Li Ji finally regained consciousness, he realised that the surroundings had darkened. Taking a look at the sky again, it was already in the evening.
A fiery pain emanated from the back of his neck, causing Li Ji to moan through gritted teeth. When he finally sat upwards, he realised that the man whom he feared the most at the moment had yet to leave.
Lu Chen was still standing by the shore of the Dragon Lake, just that at this moment, other than the blood from Ding Dang’s body, his clothes were stained with mud and dirt as well. Before Lu Chen, on the ground by the Dragon Lake, there was a newly erected grave.
There was no tombstone, no pine tree, just a fresh layer of soil silently covering the lady in eternal slumber. The grave faced the lake, gazing upon the mountains and water, as though a lady had deposited her feelings into this painting, smiling silently.
Lu Chen turned around and walked in large strides towards Li Ji. Li Ji immediately crawled backward to avoid him. For some reason, fear gripped his entire body. Despite having looked down on this man for being a mere mortal before, at this moment, he was unable to well up the courage to retaliate against him. In his mouth, he kept repeating the same few words, “Don’t kill me, don’t kill me!”
Lu Chen grabbed the clothes at his chest, dragged him to the newly erected grave and threw him onto the floor. Coldly, he spoke, “Kowtow three times.”
“I will do it! I will do it!” Li Ji hurriedly replied. At the time, he secretly heaved a sigh of relief. Since he was made to kowtow to her, that meant that Lu Chen had decided to spare his life on Ding Dang’s account.
He kowtowed forcefully. Dong dong dong, the three bows were solid, making it impossible for anyone to find any fault with it. Then, he straightened his body and said, “That should be enough, right? So, let me go…”
Halfway through his words, a black glint flashed across his peripheral vision and his remaining words were choked in his throat. At that instant, Li Ji’s heart suddenly contracted and his entire body trembled intensely. He stared at Lu Chen in disbelief.
The black dagger that seemed to have came from the deepest depths of the darkness was in Lu Chen’s hand, and he plunged it mercilessly and savagely into his body.
His flesh severed and blood spluttered.
Li Ji howled loudly. He rolled his body away in agony, trying to escape to the side as Lu Chen stared at him impassively from behind. A bizarre glint flashed across his eyes. That was a flicker of black flame that seemed to be the fire of the underworld, the one that feeds on souls, staring arrogantly and viciously down upon the mortal world.
A hand of his grabbed Li Ji’s neck while the other held the black dagger. Just like the way one picks up a livestock, a hand of his rose while the dagger fell. Time and again, he stabbed his body ruthlessly.
Stab! Stab! Stab!
Stab! Stab! Stab!
Resembling a cruel and merciless demon incarnate from hell appearing in this world, carrying insanity and the fearsome darkness with it, amidst the burning of the black flames, his black dagger stabbed into Li Ji’s body ceaselessly, until all fresh blood and life had been sapped dry from him.
The fresh blood splattered into midair, dyeing Lu Chen’s entire body red. The black flames burned frenziedly amidst the fresh blood, as though feasting on the madness.
“You… promised… to let me… go…”
Completely dyed in blood, Li Ji, in the final moments of his life, gazed at Lu Chen as he said those words with a quavering voice.
At this instant, Lu Chen who was dyed red like a demon, held his dagger tightly as he retreated a single step. He stared at the dying man with both his eyes and an expression as cold as ice, coldly looking on as he breathed his last in pain.
Then, he slowly walked to the newly erected grave by the lake.
He sat down and stared at the lake and mountains ahead of him, as though facing himself, as well as the the person who was lying in the mound beside him. Softly, he muttered, “Who cares…”
(End of 1st arc）
Pine trees are planted on top of graves as they represent the everlasting and undying spirit of the dead. Also, due to the longevity of the tree, it is also a good omen for the children of the deceased to have long lifespans.
They are also easy to sustain, and is tolerant to the heat and the cold.
Phew, finally the end of the first arc. Too much descriptive phrases for my expertise. I tried to keep as close to the races while making them eloquent, but one or two portion still stumped me totally, so I tried to interpret it as closely as I can to the words and context.