Book 1: Winds Begin to Blow in Tai Yuan
Chapter 14 – I Will Be In Hell
It seemed like only a long dream. In the dream, there was a scene of dawn breaking and waters surging – it was the clear blue waters of the Namtso Lake. Far above, the cloudless sky and silver snow peaks reflected a pure white brilliance onto the lake surface, which looked like crystallized waves of silver. Occasionally there would be fish leaping out from the waves, and the sunlight would flash off their scales in a myriad of vivid colors.
Mother still appeared the same as she was before falling ill, faintly standing by her side. When the wind blew her hair into disarray, her mother’s fingers stroked the sides of her ears, helping her tuck it back behind her ears with a familiar, warm touch.
Absentmindedly, she recalled that this was the one time she and her mother had traveled out together. Her father had left when she was only a child, and her mother could only raise her and struggle for survival in an earthly world that even poor people would consider particularly cramped and narrow. Fortunately, her mother was an open-minded and generous person – she was someone who could bitterly work overtime through the night for an extra ten yuan, yet was also someone who, because of her daughter’s wish to one day visit the high plateaus, could spend ten years’ worth of savings.
Standing before Namtso Lake, the vast winds of the high plateau swayed and swirled without rest like sharp swords passing between the ice peaks in the sky, and with air whistling, they shot towards the boundless earth. From far away beyond the horizon, there came a faint whisper like the chanting of Buddhist sutras, circling overhead along with the low-flying Himalayan vultures. In that moment, she seemed to hear in the depths of her heart, some sediments of haziness and obsession being shattered by the gusts of snowy wind.
After returning from Namtso Lake, she chose to study Ancient History and Archaeology.
She had chosen to accompany the endless earthen yellow wilderness, the thousand-year-old gigantic Buddha carvings, the long-untouched wild ruins, the deep and unknown valleys, the steep cliff sides where ancient coffins still hung in the air.
In a blink of an eye, she was walking down a dim, long passageway. Blue and white porcelain oil lamps flickered, while the wide blocks of massive stone that paved the ground were trod on by her army boots, sounding with the echoes of empty spaces underneath. Her feet moved under the golden light, and spaced every three steps on the stone surface would be carved a huge lotus blossom. Gradually, the “品” shaped underground chamber came into view, and inside the side chambers of the passageway, emerald sculptures of large beasts stared across at each other.
The distant noise of what sounded like Buddhist mantras could be faintly heard chanting by her ear once again, seemingly nowhere and everywhere at the same time. She restrained her heart that wanted to jump up, and, following her instinct, she continued forward towards the main tomb chamber.
Yes, it was there.
A towering, vast, pure white stone column, majestic and mystical beyond what the mind could imagine, had images of auspicious beasts that seemed to want to leap up into the skies. The pale gold domed ceiling had tens of night-luminescent pearls embedded in it, each one flashing with light, as if creating another Ninth Heaven.
Her eyes only stared at that golden coffin.
Who was silently in a deep sleep inside it?
On the huge gold coffin was carved a pattern, vaguely looking like a person’s face.
She went forward step by step.
The call from behind her was intimate yet mournful, a familiar voice, yet an unfamiliar tone.
She quickly turned back.
A pillar of white light beamed down from an unknown location. Inside the white glow, her mother’s body was frail and thin, the blue-striped white hospital gown so bright that it hurt her eyes.
“Fuyao, are you well?”
She froze in place, tears welling up in her eyes. With a twist of her body, she began to sprint towards where the white light had converged.
Over there was her mother, she was her caregiver, she was her only harbor to rest at after a long drift at sea, she was her … home.
In the instant she turned her body, that inexplicable low chanting sound behind her suddenly grew even louder. Sound after sound, the muttering pulsed louder, turning into a huge sonic wave that spread throughout the chamber until it surged like the tides, layer after layer coming towards her. As if it wanted to restrain her in place, the sound surrounded her completely.
“If you turn away, I will be in hell.”
A low elegant male voice was heard by her ear, sounding quite familiar. For a quick moment, Meng Fuyao thought that the sounds in her dream had appeared once again. She thought that she had crossed through time and space again, traveling to that place preordained by her fate.
Startled, she opened her eyes. Her still somewhat blurry vision turbulently shook like water ripples, reflecting an otherworldly handsome visage into her eyes. Meng Fuyao stared dumbly for a while, before remembering that she had actually, while fleeing in a life-or-death situation, fallen asleep in the arms of a man she had only met twice before! She had even dreamt such a bizarre and strange dream.
It truly was a new experience she had never felt before.
Getting up with a slight blush, Meng Fuyao sat up and looked around, discovering herself in a quiet, still room. Judging from the hangings and decorations, it was clearly one of Profound Origin sect village’s guest rooms. To put it another way, they were currently still inside the Profound Origin sect.
Yuan Zhaoxu had already changed his clothing into some ordinary cloth outfit. Unfortunately, this person’s temperament was far too extraordinary – the cloth fabric on his body couldn’t cover his aura at all. Instead, the common clothes had illogically become more noble and charming thanks to their unadorned simplicity.
He idly sat on a chair, using the tea cover to lightly stir the tea stems in the cup. Master Yuanbao’s attitude was arrogant as he crouched on Zhaoxu’s shoulder. After waiting for the tea to cool to an appropriate temperature, his little head dipped forwards and drank a mouthful.
Yuan Zhaoxu was faintly smiling, as if he did not mind at all, while Master Yuanbao smugly celebrated his successful sneak attack. Zhaoxu silently finished stirring his tea, then suddenly plopped the teacup cover onto Yuanbao’s head.
With a “pa” sound, the large and heavy porcelain cup cover landed on top of Master Yuanbao’s snowy white head, immediately covering his whole body underneath. Master Yuanbao was caught off-guard by the huge object landing on top of him, and plus he had never practiced iron neck martial arts before, so he was instantly pressed down low. Wearing that cup cover, he stumbled in three circles on Yuan Zhaoxu’s shoulder like he was drunk, then with a “peng” he planted into the ground.
Crawling back up, Master Yuanbao didn’t dare to go seek revenge against his master. He could only stick his butt in the air, then go to the wall corner and start drawing circles. Yuan Zhaoxu acted like nothing had happened, smiling towards the Meng Fuyao who had been watching their antics. “Who did you dream about?”
Starting, Fuyao vaguely thought of the dream she just had, her head feeling a bit absentminded, but also a little suffocated. Yet her face forcibly smiled, and she said, “Not much, just dreamt of some things from the past.”
Yuan Zhaoxu sipped some tea, lifting up his eyebrows from the rim of the cup. His eyelashes were dense and long, covering over his deep black pupils. “Oh? Past things? Then why were you holding me so tightly and refusing to let go?”
“You were hugging my sleeve, crying Mama.”
Meng Fuyao’s face immediately turned scarlet.
Putting down the tea and leaning slanted on the chair, Yuan Zhaoxu’s eyes held faint laughter in them. “Mama? Is that referring to mother? Your way of addressing your elders, seems to be a bit different from the people of the Five Regions Continent.”
Fuyao first turned awkward, then her heart arbitrarily became a little frantic. After thinking, she shot a smile. “From your Honor’s words, you seem to understand a lot about the races of the Five Regions Continent. Yet you don’t know that when us Yan Huang people address our mothers, we always call out Mama.”
“Yan Huang people?” Yuan Zhaoxu’s voice was calm, with not the slightest trace of surprise.
“Yes.” Meng Fuyao’s face was straight. “A remote small tribe of the Heng region, for generations living within the deep mountains and not interacting with the outside world. I was brought out of the mountains by distant relatives when I was little. Other things I don’t remember much of, but this way of calling our mothers, I still have some memory of.”
She blinked her eyes, then stretched out her hand, slightly smiling with a natural and generous expression. “I am Meng Fuyao, thank you for saving me twice in a row.”
Yuan Zhaoxu slowly turned his eyes to look at her snowy white palm. With a faint laugh he said, “Is this also one of your Yan Huang people’s ceremonies?”
Fuyao directly met his eyes. “In the customs of our people, when a woman extends her hand towards you, ignoring it is a very rude thing to do.”
“Is that so …” Zhaoxu dragged out the last syllable, his voice deep and graceful like a sigh immersed in a dream. He slowly stretched out his hand, as if going to shake Meng Fuyao’s hand. However, right before their fingers touched, he suddenly flipped his hand and tugged, in one motion pulling Fuyao into his lap.
Softly laughing above her head, his light strange aroma completely surrounded the slightly shocked Meng Fuyao in an instant.
“In the customs of our Infinite Empire, when a woman expresses intention to get intimate on her own accord, if I don’t accept her, it would be a very silly thing to do.”
1. Tibetan lake famed for its beauty. Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Namtso
2. Burial practice of certain Chinese ethnic groups: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanging_coffins
3. Tea stems:
Teacup he uses:
4. Yan Huang, “炎黄”, is a phrase that Chinese people commonly use to refer to their ancestry. This phrase comes from the two legendary emperors, Yan (Flame) and Huang (Yellow) Emperors, who are said to be the ancestors of all modern Chinese people. Meng Fuyao uses it as a name for her obscure clan since no one in this world should know about these figures of history in her previous world. For more info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yan_Huang_Zisun