Chapter 24 - The Last Battle
In the past, on the nine rivers, I gazed at the peak of Mt. Jiuhua,
The Milky Way hung within black waters, with nine lovely lotuses appearing within.
I wish to wave my hand about, who is willing to follow me?
Sir, you are the host of this party, and thus now I lie relaxed amidst the clouds.
Mt. Jiuhua was forty li southwest of Anhui province’s Qingyang city. It was next to where the two cities of Jingxian and Lingyang were during the Han dynasty.
In the Three Kingdoms period, the Eastern Wu kingdom established the Lincheng county. After the Sui dynasty collapsed, the Tang dynasty created the Qingyang prefecture. The mountain had already become famous and was considered part of Chizhou prefecture. The mountain was five li north of the county, past the Plum Family Ridge and bordered by Guichi province.
Mt. Jiuhang was north of Linyang, east of Qiupu, was five small streams south of Datong, and bordered the Twin Dragon-Mouth Peaks to the west. In ancient days, it was named Mt. Jiuzi.
The Tang dynasty’s Li Bai toured Mt. Jiuzi. When he saw the mountain peak, which appeared like a blooming, nine-petaled lotus, he changed its name to Mt. Jiuhua.
It is recorded in books that “the old name was Mt. Jiuzi. The Tang dynasty poet saw that the nine peaks of the mountain appeared like they had been whittled into the shape of lotus petals, and thus changed the name to Mt. Jiuhua.”
It is also recorded in the annals of Qingyang province that “the mountain is forty li west of the county. There are forty eight famous peaks, fourteen crags, five caves, eleven ridges, eighteen springs, and two river sources. There are a number of other different, unique stone platforms, ponds, ravines, and brooks.”
‘Knowing and Doing Becoming One’, Wang Yangming, once studied within the reaches of this mountain. Throughout the ages, the place has held equal fame with Li Bai’s study.
The god of poetry, Li Bai, ‘changed Mt. Jiuzi to Mt. Jiuhua’ in an orderly fashion.
“…the Grand Historian’s tour of the south was described but not recorded. This matter definitely happened as the old men say, but no virtuous man of ability recorded it. Celestial spirits inspired and moved his pen, causing him to scratch out the old name and bestow the new one, Mt. Jiuhua. Next, he paid a visit to the men nearby, travelling with them to Xiahou Hui’s home. They sat down upon the snow from the pines, and left behind two or three lines for posterity.”
This was their poem.
“The amazing west is divided in two, Mt. Lingshan opens to Mt. Jiushan.” – Li Bai.
“The layered mountain holds back the tardy sun, half the cliffs are covered with bright, rosy clouds of dawn.” – Gao Ji.
“The accumulated snow gleams across the gully, and the joyful sun flies across the cliff.” –Wei Quanyu.
“The dazzling, jade-like trees, a vast mist floats about.” – Li Bai
But Mt. Jiuhua wasn’t just a place for poets. It was also chief amongst the places where Buddhists held their sacred rites to honor Bodhisatvva Ksitigarbha.
The Sutra of the Ten Wheels of Bodhisatvva Ksitigarbha: “Tranquil endurance as still as the earth. Quiet pondering as deep as a deep depository.” Thus, the name taken was ‘Ksitigarbha’, meaning ‘earth depository’.
This was recorded in the Mahayana sutras: “Upon a request by the World Honored One, Ksitigarbha pledged that until he had saved all the living things of the Six Paths, he would not become a Buddha. He often submerged his own body into hell, and had saved countless lives from torment. Thus, he is called the ‘Patriarch of the Nether World.’”
There were two rolls to the sutra of the Original Vows of the Bodhisatvva Ksitigarbha. It is very difficult to interpret this Tang scripture, but within it, this was recorded: “The Buddha ascended to Trayamatrimsa Heaven to expound on the dharma to his mother. Next, he called Bodhisatvva Ksitigarbha to him and made him the eternal ‘Patriarch of the Nether World’, so as to eventually bring all the people in the world to ascend to the highest joy.”
This sutra talked a great deal about hell and how to pursue merit to avoid it. It was a mourning sutra of Buddhism.
The sutra also discussed how Bodhisatvva Ksitigarbha rescued countless souls and brought them to salvation. He did not make an empty vow when he promised to not become a Buddha until his great work was done. And thus, the name of this sutra was the ‘Original Vows of the Bodhisatvva Ksitigarbha.’
Thus, not only was the sword skill of the ‘Mt. Jiuhua Sword Sect’ exquisite, it also possessed the romanticism of poets and the mysterious secrets of Buddhism.
There were seven great sword sects in the martial world. Mt. Jiuhua wasn’t actually one of them, because they were always very few disciples of the Mt. Jiuhua sect, and even more rarely did they travel abroad in the martial world.
Long ago, the martial world conflated the Mt. Jiuhua Sect with the Netherworld Sect. Both of them worshipped the same two founders. The first was Bodhisatvva Ksitigarbha. The other the dissolute man of poetry and wine, the eternal, unmatchable Li Bai.
It was said that the lay Buddhist Qing Lian was not only a god of poetry, but that also a god of the sword. The Mt. Jiuhua Sword Technique was passed down from him. After hundreds on hundreds of years, another amazing hero appeared in the martial world, Li Mubai. He was also a direct descendant of the Mt. Jiuhua sect.
These legends made the Mt. Jiuhua sect even more mysterious and mystical in the hearts of the people of the martial world. The whereabouts of the disciples of the Mt. Jiuhua sect became even more secretive, and in recent years, they seemed to have vanished from the martial world.
But none of these things were the reason for Fu Hongxue’s shock. What shocked him was Master Ruyi.
Master Ruyi wore a white robe, and was barefoot in grass shoes. A bald head, a solemn expression, and light radiating from the pupils. Master Ruyi was, without a doubt, a Buddhist of extremely great learning. A female Buddhist.
She looked as though she were already in middle age. Her figure was moderately covered, her appearances was upright, her bearing was respectable and polite. There was nothing particularly attractive about the solemn expression on her face, and even less was there something which should surprise people. No matter who looked at her, they would only see a middle-aged nun who strictly followed Buddhist rules, who was not one bit different from the thousands on thousands of other nuns in the world.
But in Fu Hongxue’s eyes, the situation was totally different.
Although her appearance was ordinary and sedate, her jade-white hands were as beautiful as spring scallions, so soft as to appear boneless. She was barefoot in grass shoes, not wearing any socks, revealing a pair of feet which were as white as the snow, so beautiful they could dazzle. Her white Buddhist robe was spacious and soft, without a speck of dust on it, concealing a large part of her body.
No one would fantasize about what the body and figure of a middle-aged nun would be like, underneath her Buddhist robe.
But Fu Hongxue couldn’t help but think about it.
The spotlessly white Buddhist robe on the railing. The beautiful, lush body in the bathing pool. The groans and moans in the darkness. The warm, smooth embrace. And those two hands which brought him into the dream world.
In his mind, he actually couldn’t separate this outwardly-moral appearing nun with the ripe woman, filled with longing, from last night. Although he forbade himself from thinking about it, he still couldn’t help himself.
Although he had already become indifferent to all things, unmoved and untouched, but this extremely solemn, rule-abiding nun caused his heart to be thrown into chaos. He could already feel his lips go dry, his heart rate increase, as though there was no way for him to control it.
Master Ruyi only dully glanced at him. Her dignified, solemn face did not reveal a single trace of an expression.
Fu Hongxue almost couldn’t resist rushing over there, tearing open her Buddhist robe to see if she was that woman from last night. But he still managed to force himself to stay still.
He seemed to hear her ask, “So this would be the world famous benefactor, Fu Hongxue?” [Benefactor is a term which monks and nuns use to address secular people.]
He seemed to hear his own voice reply, “Yes. I am Fu Hongxue.”
Madame Zhuo looked at them. The expression in her eyes was crafty and sly.
Did she already know about them?
She suddenly laughed. “Master, you have been stationed long at Mt. Jiuhua. I didn’t imagine that even you would have heard of Hero Fu’s name.”
Master Ruyi said, “Although this humble nun is located in distant lands, I am not totally unaware of the matters of the martial world.”
Madame Zhuo said, “Master, didn’t you meet him before?”
Master Ruyi mumbled to herself, then actually nodded. “It seems that I saw him once. Only, at that time, it was already very dark, and I did not see him clearly.”
Madame Zhuo laughed. “But although you did not see him clearly, master, he definitely saw you very clearly.”
Master Ruyi said, “Oh?”
Madame Zhuo’s laughter became even more mysterious. “Because this Hero Fu has perfect night vision. Even in the darkness, he can clearly perceive each hair on an animal’s body.”
It seemed as though a strange expression had appeared on Master Ruyi’s face.
Fu Hongxue’s heart was sinking as well. Last night, in the dark room, he hadn’t actually seen her clearly. He had only faintly seen the outlines of her body.
He hadn’t realized this up til now. Only now did he realize that his eyesight had unknowingly suffered damage. That must have happened after he saw the old man in the iron cabinet.
Could it be that within that old man’s eyes, there was a power which could make others slow and sluggish? Why wouldn’t he allow Fu Hongxue to see the woman in the darkness? Why was she waiting for him in the darkness?
The last two witnesses were also invited in by Gongzi Yu, but Fu Hongxue actually didn’t notice who they were.
His heart was thrown in turmoil again. He couldn’t forget the events of last night, nor could he turn a living woman into a tool.
Boss Chen’s grief and pain and Ni Baofeng’s hatred-filled gaze suddenly became intolerable to him as well.
And that scarlet red sword. How could this sword be in Gongzi Yu’s hands? If the sword was in his hands, where was Yan Nanfei?
What type of mysterious relationship was there, exactly, between these two? Why was it that Gongzi Yu, up to this very moment, was still refusing to reveal his true features?
The torch fires rose up high. The stone platform was as bright as daylight.
Fu Hongxue finally walked on to the stone platform. He tightly gripped his sabre, even more tightly than normal. When he was sorrowful, vexed, suffering, or helpless, only this sabre had the power to stabilize him.
To him, this sabre was far more important than a blind man’s walking stick. There was already a strange emotional bond between him and the sabre, one which no person in the world could ever understand. Not only did they understand each other, they also trusted each other.
Gongzi Yu stared at him. One word at a time, he slowly said, “You can draw your sabre at any time, now.”
Now, the sword was already in his hand. Anybody could tell that he had even more confidence than Fu Hongxue.
Fu Hongxue unexpectedly said, “You can’t just wait a bit longer?”
A cynical look appeared in Gongzi Yu’s eyes. “I can wait. Only, no matter how long I wait, victory and defeat will not be affected.”
Fu Hongxue did not listen to his words. He suddenly turned around, left the stone platform, and walked to Master Ruyi.
Master Ruyi lifted her head up to look at him, appearing surprised and uncertain.
Fu Hongxue said, “Master, from whence do you come?”
Master Ruyi said, “I come from Mt. Jiuhua.”
Fu Hongxue said, “Where did the Prince come from?”
Master Ruyi said, “He came from Silla.” [Part of modern Korea.]
Fu Hongxue said, “Why did he give up his riches and honor?”
Master Ruyi said, “To abandon all to study Buddhism.”
Fu Hongxue said, “Since he sacrificed everything to study Buddhism, why did he vow not to become a Buddha?”
Master Ruyi said, “Only to bring all life to salvation.”
Her expression had become peaceful, and her expression had become even more solemn. But others couldn’t understand at all what they were talking about.
As it was, when the emperor of the Tang dynasty sent out troops to help quell a rebellion in Silla, the prince of Silla, Jin Qiaojue, gave up his glories and came to China to study Buddhism. By himself, he scaled Mt. Jiuhua, where he cultivated himself and meditated. All the deeds he had done in his life were identical to those done by the Bodhisatvva Ksitigarbha. In the eleventh year of Emperor Tang Dezong’s reign, he ascended to Parinirvana. Before departing, his appearance was exactly the same as that of the original appearance of the Bodhisatvva Ksitigarbha. According to legends, he left behind his flesh to future generations, as his body became a pagoda at the peak of the mountain. The pagoda was exquisitely made in all aspects, resplendent in gold and jade, with copper vases in each corner, the colors of cinnabar and jadeite. Within them, there was holy oil which can grant people peace and and tranquility. The disciples of the Mt. Jiuhua sect carried this oil with them at all times.
Fu Hongxue asked again, “Where is the Prince now?”
Master Ruyi said, “He is still at Mt. Jiuhua.”
Fu Hongxue said, “The Prince will bring all life to salvation. How about you, Master?”
Master Ruy said, “This humble nun has that desire as well.”
Fu Hongxue said, “Since that is the case, I hope that you, master, will give me your blessing and allow my heart to become pure and tranquil.”
Master Ruyi’s hands folded together. “Yes.”
She really did remove a small wooden vase from her clothes, poured out a few drops of holy oil, gently rubbing it against Fu Hongxue’s face and hands. She also repeatedly murmured Buddhist prayers, then asked again, “What desires do you have?”
Fu Hongxue chanted, “To be as stable and unmoving as the earth, as peaceful and as deep as an earth depository.”
Master Ruyi lightly tapped him on the crown of his head with the palm of her hand. “Alright. Go.”
Fu Hongxue said, “Yes. I go.”
He lifted his head. His pallid face was already gleaming with light. It wasn’t the light of oil. It was a holy light of serenity and peace.
He once more ascended to the stone platform, then walked to stand in front of Madame Zhuo. He suddenly said, “Now, I already know.”
Madame Zhuo said, “Know what?”
Fu Hongxue said, “Know it was you.”
Madame Zhuo’s face suddenly changed. “What else do you know?”
Fu Hongxue said, “I know everything which I should know.”
Madame Zhu said, “You…how could you know?”
Fu Hongxue said, “Quietly pondering deep secrets, like an earthen repository.”
He walked onto the stone platform. Facing Gongzi Yu, not only did he seem as calm as a huge boulder, he really did seem as unshakable as the earth itself.
Veins had already appeared on the hand with which Gongzi Yu gripped his sword.
Fu Hongxue looked at him. He suddenly said, “You have already been defeated once. Why must you insist on being defeated again?”
Gongzi Yu’s pupils contracted. Suddenly, with a loud shout, his sword left the sheath. Scarlet sword light flashed like a rainbow lightning bolt.
Only people with extremely strong eyesight could see that there seemed to be a faint flash of sabre light within in the rainbow lightning bolt.
With a ‘ding’, all movement seemed to coalesce. All things and all creatures on the earth came to a halt in that moment.
Fu Hongxue’s sabre had already entered his sheath again.
Gongzi Yu’s sword was only an inch away from his throat, but he didn’t pierce him through. His entire body seemed to have suddenly stiffened. And then, the bronze mask on his face slowly split apart, revealing his own face.
A handsome, spirited, and attractive face, but one filled with shock and terror.
That ‘ding’ was heard again as the mask fell to the floor. The sword fell to the floor as well.
This person was actually Yan Nanfei.
The fire light was still flickering without pause, but the great audience hall was as deathly silent as a tomb.
Yan Nanfei finally spoke. “When did you find out?”
Fu Hongxue said, “Not long ago.”
Yan Nanfei said, “When you drew your sabre, you already knew it was me?”
Fu Hongxue said, “Yes.”
Yan Nanfei said, “So you were already certain of victory.”
Fu Hongxue said, “Because my heart was already orderly and unmovable.”
Yan Nanfei let out a long sigh. Dispiritedly, he said, “Of course you should have been certain, because I should have died to you already.”
He lifted up the long sword, then offered it forwards with both hands. “Please. Please finish it.”
Fu Hongxue stared at him. “Now, is your deepest desire ended?”
Yan Nanfei said, “Yes.”
Fu Hongxue dully said, “Then you are already a dead man. Why should I bother to kill you?”
He turned around, not sparing Yan Nanfei another glance.
Only to hear a sigh coming from behind him. A drop of blood splashed towards him, falling near his feet.
He still didn’t turn around, but an indescribable, unescapable sorrow appeared on his face.
He knew this result. Some results, nobody could ever change. Some people’s destinies were the same.
What about his own destiny?
The first to welcome him was Master Ruyi. Smiling, she said, “Benefactor, you won.”
Fu Hongxue said, “Master, do you truly act freely and as you wish?” [Ruyi means ‘as one wishes’.]
Master Ruyi was silent.
Fu Hongxue said, “Since you, master, aren’t truly free and act as you wish, how can you know that I have truly won?”
Master Ruyi let out a light sigh. “Well said. Victory or defeat, acting as one wishes or being restrained, who can truly tell?”
She folded her hands together, quietly murmured a Buddhist prayer, then slowly walked out.
When Fu Hongxue lifted his head up, the only person left in the great hall was Madame Zhuo.
She was looking at him. When he turned his head over, she slowly said, “I know.”
Fu Hongxue said, “Know?”
Madame Zhuo said, “Victory is victory. The victor gains everything, the defeated perishes. This can’t be faked in the slightest.”
She let out a sigh. “Now, Yan Nanfei is already dead. You, naturally, are already…”
Fu Hongxue interrupted her words. “Yan Nanfei is already dead. How about Gongzi Yu?”
Madame Zhuo said, “Yan Nanfei is Gongzi Yu.”
Fu Hongxue said, “He truly is?”
Madame Zhuo said, “Can it be that he is not?”
Fu Hongxue said, “He definitely is not.”
Madame Zhuo laughed. She suddenly stretched her hand out and pointed behind her. “Take another look. What is that?”
The smooth, flat stone platform behind her suddenly split open. An enormous bronze mirror was slowly rising from beneath the platform.
Fu Hongxue said, “A bronze mirror.”
Madame Zhuo said, “What else is in the mirror?”
There was a person in the mirror. Fu Hongxue was standing in front of the mirror. His reflection was in it.
Madame Zhuo said, “What do you now see?”
Fu Hongxue said, “I see myself.”
Madame Zhuo said, “Then you have seen Gongzi Yu, because now, you are Gongzi Yu.”
Fu Hongxue was silent. She said he was Gongzi Yu, but he was silent.
Although sometimes silence is a form of soundless protest, most of the time, it was not.
Madame Zhuo said, “You are extremely intelligent. From the hand which Master Ruyi used to anoint you with oil, you could guess that the woman from last night was not her, and was me.”
Fu Hongxue was still silent.
Madame Zhuo said, “Thus, by now, you definitely understand why you are Gongzi Yu.”
Fu Hongxue suddenly said, “Now, I really am Gongzi Yu?”
Madame Zhuo said, “At least, you are for now.”
Fu Hongxue said, “When will I no longer be?”
Madame Zhuo said, “When an even stronger person in the martial world appears. At that time…”
Fu Hongxue said, “At that time, I will be like today’s Yan Nanfei.”
Madame Zhuo said, “Right. At that time, not only will you not be Gongzi Yu, you will also no longer be Fu Hongxue. At that time, you will be a dead man.”
She laughed. Her laughter was tender and sweet. “But I believe that within the next ten years, there definitely will not be anybody in the martial world stronger than you. Thus, for now, everything is yours. You can enjoy all your wealth and fame, and you can enjoy me.”
Fu Hongxue tightly gripped his sabre. “You will always be Gongzi Yu’s woman?”
Madame Zhuo said, “Always.”
Fu Hongxue stared at her. His hand tightened even further, drawing out his sabre.
He suddenly drew his sabre. A flash of sabre light. The bronze mirror split in half, just like how the bronze mask on Yan Nanfei’s face split in half. When the bronze mirror fell apart, it revealed a man within it. An old man.
There was a small, exquisite room behind the mirror, with a small but magnificent couch in it.
This old man was reclining on the couch. He was already a very, very old man, but his eyes must have long ago received all the blessings and benedictions of all the spirits of heaven and ghosts of hell, because they had retained their youth. These two eyes were the eyes which Fu Hongxue had seen in the iron cabinet.
Those two eyes were staring at him right now.
Fu Hongxue’s sabre entered the sheath. Staring at him with blade-sharp eyes, he said, “Only one person knows who the real Gongzi Yu is.”
The old man said, “Who?”
Fu Hongxue said, “You.”
The old man said, “Why would I know?”
Fu Hongxue said, “Because you are the real Gongzi Yu.”
The old man laughed. Laughter wasn’t necessarily a denial. At least, his type of laughter definitely was not.
Fu Hongxue said, “The fame and wealth which Gongzi Yu has, definitely was not easily acquired.”
There was no such thing as reaping without sowing in the world. Especially when it comes to fame, wealth, and power.
Fu Hongxue said, “A man will find it very difficult to part with things which he already owns.”
All people were like that.
Fu Hongxue said, “Unfortunately, you are already old, and your physical strength is failing you. If you want to preserve everything you have, you must find someone to take your place.”
Gongzi Yu was silent.
Fu Hongxue said, “Naturally, you must find the strongest person, and so you found Yan Nanfei!”
Gongzi Yu smiled. “He definitely was very strong, and also very young.”
Fu Hongxue said, “Thus, he couldn’t resist your lures and became your substitute.”
Gongzi Yu said, “Originally, he was a very good one.”
Fu Hongxue said, “Unfortunately, at the Phoenix Market, he was defeated by my sabre.”
Gongzi Yu said, “To him, that truly was a great pity.”
Fu Hongxue said, “And to you?’
Gongzi Yu said, “The same.”
Fu Hongxue said, “The same?”
Gongzi Yu said, “Since there was already a stronger person to replace him, why should I use him?”
Fu Hongxue sneered.
Gongzi Yu said, “But I promised him that if he could defeat you within this year, he could still have everything!”
He once more reiterated, “I wanted him to defeat you, not to kill you.”
Fu Hongxue said, “Because you want the strongest person.”
Gongzi Yu said, “Right.”
Fu Hongxue said, “He believed that the most fearful part of my sabreplay is my drawing of the sabre.”
Gongzi Yu said, “So he bitterly trained in drawing his sword. Unfortunately, after a year, he still wasn’t certain of beating you.”
Fu Hongxue said, “So that made him want the Sorrowful Book and the Peacock Plume all the more.”
Gongzi Yu said, “So he was wrong.”
Fu Hongxue said, “This was his mistake as well?”
Gongzi Yu said, “Yes!”
Fu Hongxue said, “Why?”
Gongzi Yu said, “Because he didn’t know that these two things had long ago fallen into my hands.”
Fu Hongxue shut his mouth.
Gongzi Yu said, “He also didn’t know that these two things simply weren’t as terrifying as the legends made them out to be. Even if he had obtained them, he still wouldn’t be assured of victory against you.”
Legends made everything in them better than they actually were. Fu Hongxue understood this.
Gongzi Yu said, “I could tell long ago that you were stronger than him, because you have a strangely tough and resilient sabre.”
He explained, “You can resist pain which others cannot endure, and can withstand attacks which others cannot handle.”
Fu Hongxue said, “So you hoped that I would win this battle from the start.”
Gongzi Yu said, “So I had Zhuo Zi keep you company. I didn’t want you to be too tense before the final battle.”
Fu Hongxue shut his mouth again. Now, he finally understood everything. All of the unexplicable mysteries suddenly became very simple in the blink of an eye.
Staring at him, Gongzi Yu said, “And so, you are now Gongzi Yu.”
Fu Hongxue said, “I am only Gongzi Yu’s body double.”
Gongzi Yu said, “But you already have everything!”
Fu Hongxue said, “No one can truly have this ‘everything’. This ‘everything’ will forever be yours.”
Gongzi Yu said, “Therefore…”
Fu Hongxue said, “Therefore, right now I am still Fu Hongxue.”
Gongzi Yu’s pupils suddenly contracted. “You aren’t willing to accept everything?”
Fu Hongxue said, “Right.”
His pupils contracted, and his hand tightened again. The hand with which he drew his sabre.
After a long time, Gongzi Yu suddenly laughed. “You can already tell that I am an old man.”
Fu Hongxue admitted to it.
Gongzi Yu said, “You are thirty-five or thirty-six years old this year, yes?”
Fu Hongxue said, “Thirty seven.”
Gongzi Yu said, “Do you know how old I am?”
Fu Hongxue said, “Sixty?”
Gongzi Yu laughed again.
A very strange laugh, one filled with an indescribable cynicism and sorrow.
Fu Hongxue said, “You aren’t sixty yet?”
Gongzi Yu said, “This year, I am thirty seven.”
Fu Hongxue stared at him in shock, looking at the wrinkles on his face and his snow-white hair.
He couldn’t believe it. But he knew that a decrepit-looking person wasn’t necessarily decrepit because of the passage of years. Many things could make someone old.
Longing could make one old. Sadness and pain could as well.
Gongzi Yu said, “Do you know what aged me?”
Fu Hongxue knew. If a person lusted after too much, he would age very soon. Desire is the greatest pain which man can know.
He knew, but he did not say it. Since he already knew, why say it?
Gongzi Yu did not explain either. He knew that Fu Hongxue definitely understood his meaning.
“It was precisely because I desired too much that I aged. It is precisely because I am old, that I am stronger than you.”
He spoke very tactfully. “If you will not be Gongzi Yu, then you will no longer be Fu Hongxue.”
Fu Hongxue said, “I will be a dead man?”
Gongzi Yu said, “Yes.”
Fu Hongxue sat down, on top of a low table in front of the short couch.
He was very tired. After going through that earlier battle, anybody would feel tired.
But his heart was very energetic. He knew that there must be another battle, and that this battle must be more dangerous than the earlier one.
Gongzi Yu said, “You can consider it a bit longer.”
Fu Hongxue said, “I don’t need to.”
Gongzi Yu was sighing. “You certainly know that I am very unwilling for you to die.”
Fu Hongxue knew. To find another body double such as he, definitely would not be very easy.
Gongzi Yu said, “Unfortunately, I already no longer have any room to do otherwise.”
Fu Hongxue said, “Neither do I.”
Gongzi Yu said, “You have nothing.”
Fu Hongxue couldn’t deny it.
Gongzi Yu said, “You don’t have wealth, you don’t have power, you don’t have friends, and you don’t have loved ones.”
Fu Hongxue said, “I only have my life.”
Gongzi Yu said, “You have one more thing.”
Fu Hongxue said, “What?”
Gongzi Yu said, “Your reputation.”
He laughed again. “If you refuse me, not only will I take your life, I will destroy your reputation. I have many ways!”
Fu Hongxue said, “You seem to have everything.”
Gongzi Yu did not deny it either.
Fu Hongxue said, “You have wealth, you have power, and the experts under your banner are innumerable like the clouds.”
Gongzi Yu said, “To kill you, I might not need them.”
Fu Hongxue said, “You have everything, save for one thing.”
Gongzi Yu said, “Oh?”
Fu Hongxue said, “You no longer have joy in life.”
Gongzi Yu was laughing.
Fu Hongxue said, “Even if Gongzi Yu’s fame shall last into perpetuity, you yourself are already a dead man.”
Gongzi Yu’s hands tightened.
Fu Hongxue said, “Without joy in life, one does not have a fighting spirit. So if you were to fight with me, you would be defeated without question.”
Gongzi Yu was still laughing, but his laughter had become very stiff.
Fu Hongxue said, “If you dare to stand up and fight me, and if you can defeat me, I will give my life to you without any complaints.”
He smirked, then continued, “But you don’t dare.”
He fixed his gaze upon Gongzi Yu. There was a sabre in his hands. There was a sabre in his eyes. And there was a sabre in his words as well.
Gongzi Yu truly did not stand up. Was it because he truly could not stand? Or was it because of Madame Zhuo’s hand? Her hand had already pressed down on his shoulder.
Fu Hongxue had already turned around. He slowly walked out.
Gongzi Yu watched him walk away.
His walking posture was still as clumsy, as stupid as ever, but when others watched him, their eyes would still be filled with reverence.
No matter who watched him, it would be the same.
His hand tightly clenched the sabre the entire time, but he did not draw it.
I am not going to kill you, because you are already a dead man.
If a person’s heart died, even if his body was still fine, it would be of no use. He knew why she pressed down on Gongzi Yu’s shoulder. Because she, too, didn’t want to keep on living this sort of life.
She would always be Gongzi Yu’s woman. In her heart, there was only one, real, Gongzi Yu. No one could ever replace him. Regardless of if he became old, or if he died, no one could ever replace him. So she was willing to do anything for him.
Could he understand this? When would he understand this? Why was it that the silkworms of spring were only able to release their silk after dying?
The sun set in the west. Fu Hongxue stood before the setting sun, in front of the ruins of the Peacock Manor. The twilight was cold and mesmerizing, revealing wounds and trauma everywhere around him.
He pulled out a white letter and placed it in front of the graves of his friends.
A snow-white letter. Deathly black words.
This was Gongzi Yu’s obituary notice. It was an obituary notice which had spread around the entire world, and without question, stunned the entire world.
Dust to dust, earth to earth. People will always die.
He let out a long sigh, then raised his head to look at the sky. Dusk had began to darken, and night was about to arrive.
He suddenly felt an inexpressible peacefulness in his heart, because he knew that just before the darkness arrived, the bright moon would rise.
The wine was within his cup. The cup was within his hands.
Gongzi Yu placed the cup facing the window. Outside the window, there were green hills, emerald gorges, and water flowing underneath a small bridge.
A pair of hands pressed down on his shoulder. So beautiful. So gentle and soft.
She lightly asked, “When did you make up your mind to do this?”
“When I really understood everything.”
“What did you understand?”
“What is the purpose of life?” His hand lightly pressed on top of hers. “The purpose of a person’s life is to be happy and content. If he doesn’t even have joy in life, even if his fame, wealth, and power shall forever endure, what’s the use?”
She laughed. Such sweet, warm, gentle laughter.
She knew that he really had understood.
Although others believed him to be dead, he was still alive. Truly alive. Because he had learned how to enjoy life.
If a person truly understood how to enjoy life, even if he could be alive for but a day, it would be enough.
“I know that Gongsun Tu and the others shall not be alive long.”
“Because I have already sown poisonous seeds in their heart.”
“My wealth and my power.”
“You believe that they will die due to fighting for these things?”
She laughed again. Her laughter was even gentler, softer, and sweeter than before.
She knew why he was doing this. It was because he was atoning for his crimes for her. He whole-heartedly hoped for their joy and peace.
Now, everything had succeeded.
He raised the cup to the wine sky, but no longer asked where the bright moon was.
He already knew where his bright moon was.
A lonely little room. A lonely woman.
Her life was lonely and arduous, but she didn’t blame heaven, because her heart was at peace. She already was able to use her strength to make a living for herself, and no longer needed to sell herself. Perhaps she wasn’t happy, but she had learned how to endure.
There are many things in life which are not as one wishes. Everyone should learn how to endure.
Another day had passed, a very dull day.
Carrying a basket of clothes, she walked to the head of a small stream. She definitely had to wash these clothes before she could rest.
She wore two small jasmine flowers on her own clothes. They were her one and only luxury items. The creek’s water was clear and clean. She lowered her head down and gazed into it. Suddenly, she saw that someone had appeared in the clear, clean water.
A lonely man. A lonely sabre.
Her heart began to jump. She lifted up her head and saw a pallid face.
Her heart immediately seemed to stop moving. She had long since no longer hoped for any more happiness in her life, but now, happiness had suddenly appeared in front of her eyes.
They silently stared at each other for a long, long time without opening their mouths. Happiness came to life between their mingled gazes, like a flower coming to bloom.
At this moment in time, what words could possibly suffice to express their happiness and contentment?
At this time, the bright moon rose up in the sky.
Where is the bright moon?
So long as your heart is alive, the bright moon is within your heart!