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 blows, ripples appear on the surface of the lake. The beautiful but fragile lady leans on his chest, awaiting the final farewell, as though the spring wind has departed, the peach blossoms are about to expire, that kind of sombre death.
She turns her head slightly to glance at the fallen Li Ji in the distance, and her eyes fill with profound emotions. Then, retracting her gaze from Li Ji, she directs it towards Lu Chen. Her face pales further by the moment, but her expression also gradually turns tranquil, as though she has accepted this final conclusion.
She even strenuously chuckles softly for a moment, though it is unclear what she is chuckling at. Lu Chen, Li Ji, or perhaps, herself?
“Hey!” With a voice so light that it is almost indistinct, she asks Lu Chen, “You. Have you ever liked me?”
Lu Chen looks at Ding Dang, contemplates for a moment, and replies, “I think so.”
Ding Dang chuckles, even though she coughs violently twice in the midst of it. With a feeble voice, she says, “Lying again! How can you reply with a ‘I think so’ if you liked me?”
Lu Chen doesn’t respond and simply listens quietly to her words.
Ding Dang sighs as she leans on his chest weakly. Then, she says, “I like that person over there, but it is a pity that I am wrong about him.”
Lu Chen says, “Don’t speak. Rest a bit.”
Ding Dang ignores him. Gasping lightly for breath for a moment, she continues, “Lu Chen, I am about to die. Can you promise me something?”
Lu Chen looks at her and says, “Speak.”
Ding Dang smiles in desolation. Then, she turns to look at Li Ji, and sees that the man whose face is painted with fear no longer carries the carefree and dashing look he once possessed. Even so, tenderness still floats within her eyes and she mutters weakly, “I beg of you, spare him.”
Lu Chen’s eyes are fixated on Ding Dang. After a moment, he says, “He is the one who reduced you to such a state. He despises you. He even…”
Ding Dang shakes her head, not refuting anything at all, only saying a few words, “But I still like him.”
Lu Chen’s words come to an abrupt stop. Silently, he gazes at the woman in his embrace and finally, he whispers, “Is it worth it?”
The hands Ding Dang is grabbing his shirt with slowly loosen, as though the final sliver of her strength is gradually draining away escaping from her. However, she seems much more relaxed, a gentle hint of a smile can be seen on her face, as though back then, at the age when she was the most beautiful, her most tender dream has 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 smiles to Lu Chen and says, “Who cares…”
Her head slowly declines downwards. Even so, her gaze remains firmly on Lu Chen, a pleading tone intent clear amidst her gentleness. Lu Chen takes a deep breath and replies, “I get it. I promise you.”
Ding Dang smiles, as though she has been relieved of her final burden. She no longer looks at the two men beside her. Instead, her eyes are on the Dragon Lake, at the green mountain and emerald water, as well as the scenery of the mountain reflected on the lake. A wind blows and her long hair flutters slightly along with it, and she looks exceptionally tender.
“What a beautiful lake.” Ding Dang whispers. Then, she closes her eyes.
At the peak of the tea mountain, by the shore of the Dragon Lake.
Everything is silent.
After an inestimable period of time, Lu Chen places Ding Dang’s coldening body down gently. Then, he stands up and walks over to Li Ji.
Li Ji’s hand is firmly pressing on the wound on his thigh. Seeing Lu Chen approach, he cowers backwards fearfully. Born in an esteemed family, he has never suffered hardship since young. Even when his family fell, his life was still significantly better than most of the 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 occurs among cultivators.
He kills others out of rage, but he still experiences 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 screams loudly.
Amidst his scream, Lu Chen is already standing before him. Taking a glance at him, he doesn’t say a word and abruptly strikes his nape with a palm.
Li Ji’s screams come to an abrupt stop. His eyes roll backwards and his body tumbles forward. In an instant, he falls unconscious.
When Li Ji finally regains consciousness, he realises that the surroundings has darkened. Taking a look at the sky again, it is already evening.
A fiery pain emanates from the back of his neck, causing Li Ji to moan through gritted teeth. When he finally sits upwards, he realises that the man who he fears the most at this moment has yet to leave.
Lu Chen is 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 are stained with mud and dirt as well. Before Lu Chen, on the ground by the Dragon Lake, there is a newly erected grave.
There are no tombstone, no pine tree, just a fresh layer of soil silently covering the lady in eternal slumber. The grave is faces the lake, gazing upon the mountains and water, as though a lady has deposited her feelings into this painting, smiling silently.
Lu Chen turns around and walks in large strides towards Li Ji. Li Ji immediately crawls backwards to avoid him. For some reason, fear grips his entire body. Despite looking down on this man for being a mere mortal before, at this moment, he is unable to well up the courage to retaliate against him. In his mouth, he keeps repeating the same few words, “Don’t kill me, don’t kill me!”
Lu Chen grabs the clothes at his chest, drags him to the newly erected grave and throws him onto the floor. Coldly, he says, “Kowtow three times.”
“I will do it! I will do it!” Li Ji hurriedly replies. At the time, he secretly heaves a sigh of relief. Since he was made to kowtow to her, that means that Lu Chen has decided to spare his life on Ding Dang’s account.
He kowtows forcefully. Dong dong dong, the three bows are solid, making it impossible for anyone to find any fault with it. Then, he straightens his body and says, “That should be enough, right? So, let me go…”
Halfway through his words, a black glint flashes across his peripheral vision and his remaining word chokes in his throat. At that instant, Li Ji’s heart suddenly contracts and his entire body trembles intensely. He stares at Lu Chen in disbelief.
That black dagger that seems to have came from the deepest depths of the darkness is held in Lu Chen’s hand, and he mercilessly stabbed it savagely into his body.
His flesh severs and blood splutters.
Li Ji howls loudly. He rolls his body away in agony, trying to escape to the side as Lu Chen stares at him impassively from behind. A bizarre glint flashes across his eyes. That is a flicker of black flame, as though the fire of the underworld that feeds on souls, staring arrogantly and savagely down upon the mortal world.
A hand of his grabs Li Ji’s neck while the other holds the black dagger. As though the way one picks up a livestock, a hand of his rises while the dagger falls. Time and a time again, he stabs into him ruthlessly.
Stab! Stab! Stab!
Stab! Stab! Stab!
As though a cruel and merciless demon incarnate from hell appearing in this world, carrying a sliver of insanity and the fearsome darkness with it, amidst the burning of the black flames, his black dagger stabs into Li Ji’s body ceaselessly, until all fresh blood and life has been sapped dry from him.
The fresh blood splatters into midair, dyeing Lu Chen’s entire body red. The black flames burn frenziedly amidst the fresh blood, as though feasting on this madness.
“You… promised… to let me… go…”
Completely dyed in blood, Li Ji, at the final moments of his life, gazes at Lu Chen as he says those words with a quavering voice.
At this instant, Lu Chen who is dyed red as though a demon, holds his dagger tightly as he retreats a single step. He stares at the dying man with both of his eyes and an expression as cold as ice, coldly looking on as he breaths his last in pain.
Then, he slowly walks to the newly erected grave by the lake.
He sits down and stares at the lake and mountains ahead of him, as though facing himself, as well as the the person who is lying in the mound beside him. Softly, he mutters, “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.