Chapter 12: I’ll Fall into Hell
Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
Before Namtso lake they stood, admiring the inexhaustible and sharp wind that blew over the plateau and pierced through the ice peaks. It whizzed toward the boundless field and edgeless sky with a faint rumble, as if chanting a buddhist hymn, and joined the eagles that were spiraling above her head. At that moment, she felt as though she could hear some of her deepest thoughts and feelings being shattered by the ice-cold wind.
Returning from the trip, she had chosen to pursue archaeology and history.
She had chosen to be a part of the yellow sands and barren lands, the humongous thousand-year Buddha and unmanned villages, the deep, mysterious canyons and suspending cliffs.
In a blink, she had arrived in a remote and gloomy tunnel. The porcelain lamps glistened in the dark, and the wide, graveled path produced hollow echoes when stepped on by her army boots. Every three steps she took, she found a sizeable, engraved lotus flower on the rock beneath her feet. Gradually an underground palace revealed itself to her, greeting her with sparkling gold and jade beast statues that were locking silent gazes with each other.
A vague, chant-like voice rang once more; it was everywhere yet its source was unseekable. It was mumbling constantly and close to her ears. She tried to restrain her throbbing heart and let her instincts lead her deeper into the imperial tomb.
‘Yes, that’s the place.’
A tall and massive beast totem that was seated on a spotlessly white stela rose into view. It was unimaginably majestic, and there were tens of luminous pearls flickering on the golden ceiling. It was a sight resembling that of the nine heavens.
She eyed the golden coffin in front of her.
‘Who’s having a peaceful, deep sleep inside?’
On the golden coffin cover were carved drawings of what seemed to be human faces.
She inched closer, step by step.
The voice behind her sounded so close and dear, but melancholic. It had a familiar intonation but foreign tone to it.
She turned around abruptly.
A beam of white light shone down from somewhere, and in it was Mom’s frail, paper-like figure. She was dressed in an eye-catching white and blue striped hospital gown.
“How have you been, Fuyao?”
Completely rigid, Meng Fuyao stood rooted to the ground as tears welled up in her eyes. A second later, she turned her body, ready to sprint toward the light.
Her mother was there, as were her memories and the only harbor she could take a rest on in between her wandering journey… it was home.
When she turned, the soft yet ineffable chants became increasingly resounding and high-pitched. They eventually developed into a bellowing soundwave that spread throughout the whole palace and rolled toward her, one after another, and wrapping around her, as if pleading for her to stay.
“Turn, and I’ll fall into hell.”
A rather familiar, low and elegant voice sounded in her ear. For a brief second Meng Fuyao thought that the voice in her dream had resurfaced and that she had traveled through time once again to arrive in a place that she was destined to visit.
Her eyes jolted open to a slightly fuzzy and ripply view of a heaven-sent face. It took her some time to recall and process that she had escaped a deadly event just moments ago, that she had fallen asleep in the arms of a stranger whom she had met twice, and that she had just encountered an indescribably strange dream.
It really was an unprecedented experience.
Face flushed, Meng Fuyao rose into a sitting position and looked around. She found herself in a meditation room and judging by its decor, they were in a guest room inside the Mystic Essence Manor. In other words, they were still within the Mystic Essence Sword Sect.
Yuan Zhaoxu had on a different set of clothes, but it was similarly simple. Yet, no matter how unrefined his cloth robe was, it wasn’t able to conceal the man’s magnificent aura. Instead, the man had gratuitously blessed it with a noble charm.
He sat, relaxed on a chair, gently removing the tea dregs from a cup as Lord Yuan Bao squatted haughtily on his shoulder. When the tea was cooled, Yuan Bao turned his head and sneaked a sip.
Yuan Zhaoxu gave a subtle smile, as if unconcerned, and Sir Yuanbao was beyond pleased with his stealthy performance. The next moment, Yuan Zhaoxu quietly picked up the teacup cover and dropped it on Yuan Bao’s head.
The heavy porcelain lid completely covered Yuan Bao’s little snow-white head. Caught off guard and untrained in the metal-neck technique, he was instantly and significantly shortened. He turned three rounds on Yuan Zhaoxu’s shoulder like a drunk before slamming onto the ground.
Free from the lid, Lord Yuan Bao dared not seek revenge. Instead, he stuck his bum out and proceeded to a corner to sulk. As if nothing had happened, Yuan Zhaoxu turned toward their spectator. “Who did you dream of?”
His question evoked faint memories of her dream, and she fell into a short daze before forcing a smile out. “Nothing much, just old events.”
Yuan Zhaoxu took a sip from his teacup, and all Meng Fuyao could see were his long, thick eyelashes shielding his unfathomable, black eyes. “Oh? Old events? Why were you hugging me so tightly and refusing to let go then?”
“You were grabbing onto my sleeves and calling out for “Mom”.”
Meng Fuyao turned as red as a tomato.
Putting down his cup and leaning sideways on his chair, Yuan Zhaoxu asked with a semi-smile, “Mom? As in your birth mother? The way you address her seems different from how the rest in the Five Region Continent does it.”
Meng Fuyao was first embarrassed, and then apprehensive. After some thought she explained, “You, Sir, sound as though you understand the traditions of every clan in each region, but what you don’t know is that in Yanhuang clan, that’s exactly how we call our mothers.”
“Yanhuang clan?” Yuan Zhaoxu repeated calmly, not the least bit surprised.
“Yes,” Fuyao reaffirmed. “A small clan on the far end of Heng Region. Generations have been living deep in the mountains and have stayed away from outside contact. I was brought out of the mountains by a distant relative. I don’t remember anything else, save for the way we address our mothers.”
She blinked, extending her hand out and smiling graciously, “I’m Meng Fuyao. Thanks for saving me twice in a row.”
Yuan Zhaoxu’s gaze fell upon her fair palm. Smiling, he asked, “Is this also clan etiquette?”
Meng Fuyao looked straight into his eyes and answered, “In our culture, it’s extremely rude if you fail to reciprocate when a girl extends her hand.”
“Oh yeah..?” Yuan Zhaoxu dragged his word with a voice so deep and graceful that it seemed almost dreamy. He reached his hand out, seemingly in an attempt to shake her hand, but before his fingers touched hers, he pulled her right into his arms.
He let out a low laugh that rang over Meng Fuyao’s head while emitting his usual scent, successfully stunning her.
“It is extremely silly of us, in Wuji Nation, not to keep a girl when she initiates body contact.”
‘Does this person not understand boundaries or that modesty is a virtue?’
Meng Fuyao made a fist and placed it on her chest, determined to resist that warm and charming fragrance radiating from his body and not to look up at his smiley eyes. That fellow’s eyes looked as though they had been glossed over by the light rays of springtime, and he possessed an overwhelming aura that was as powerful as his skills. All intention to withstand his attack disintegrated in a flash.
Like a Mandara flower, this man was obviously a dangerous character – beautiful and harmless on the outside but deadly on the inside. Every cell within Meng Fuyao’s body was warning her not to lust for his warmth. Having lived for so many years, it would be an utter disgrace for her to fall into such a trifling yet fatal trap.
Meng Fuyao raised her long, shapely brows and threw her fist forward in hope of creating a safe distance between them. However, Yuan Zhaoxu tightened his grip around the middle of her back and spun her around, causing her to fall back onto the bed.
The next second, his light-colored robe came loose, and he appeared on the bed as well. On the way down he had reached out to undo the bishop sleeve veil, causing the string of pearls holding it together to drop onto the bed and floor. Enhancing the soft thuds of the pearls were alluring silhouettes, visible through the curtain, of a man and a woman.
Shocked by what she had seen, Meng Fuyao was all ready to hop out of bed, only to be hushed by Yuan Zhaoxu. Resting against a pillow, he turned his head to her and smiled. “Shh–––”
He then looked out of the window just as a black shadow flashed by.
Meng Fuyao cast a quick glance at him before getting into an attacking posture.
Smile not leaving his face, Yuan Zhaoxu made a flip out of bed and stuck his back against the window. “Girls shouldn’t be so aggressive, no poise…” he advised in a warm tone. As his gentle voice reached her ears, she felt as though a musical string had been strummed; it was low, misty, and absolutely hypnotizing.
Her face flushed with good reason.
The man flicked his fingers all of a sudden before she could snap out of her tipsiness.
On the white, translucent window paper blossomed a few red plum flowers that slowly spread and intertwine with shadows of other flowers.
A stifled groan sounded outside, at the foot of the wall, before fading out.
Hearing that, Meng Fuyao shook her head. “Demanding poise from me and then casually piercing someone else’s eardrum.”
“If he weren’t standing so close to the window, would my ice needle have gotten there?” Yuan Zhaoxu replied with light flickering in his eyes. “There’s a cause and effect in everything. Defy it and die.”
She laughed with a frown on her face. “These are the morals people in Wuji live by?”
Yuan Zhaoxu smiled in response. Wanting to get up, Meng Fuyao shifted her body only to realize that she was unable to move. She turned around and was shocked to find Yuan Zhaoxu back on the bed, even closer to her this time. He smirked, holding up a small lock of her hair and playing with it. Seeing her face, his smirk turned into a glowing smile. With his eyes closed, he lifted her hair close to his nose and took a strong whiff of it.
“How sweet,” he uttered with a shallow laugh.
Meng Fuyao immediately snatched her hair back and shot him a deathly glare.
Pretending not to notice, Yuan Zhaoxu picked up yet another lock of hair to fiddle with and even conveniently placed another scattered lock under his body. Unable to struggle free, Meng Fuyao hissed, “I’ve already rolled on mud, fallen off a cliff and been soaked in the rain for a whole night.”
“It’s alright, though. Not too smelly.”
“I have head lice.”
“Even better. I’ll get them out for you.”
After a long pause, Meng Fuyao smiled. Yuan Zhaoxu raised his head to look at her. His face was breathtakingly stunning from that angle, which led Meng Fuyao to pull the quilt over to cover his face. What followed after were vigorous creaking and grating of the bed.