Gu Qingyu looked up, the ribbons had faded away, completely and revealed a man in green that stood in front of her. His torso had been pierced by countless blades, but he was still standing in front of her with his back facing her.
His chest was her strongest shield. He was her most loyal knight.
She wiped away the tears streaming down her face, endured the pain as she slowly stood up and walked to him. In front, his chest was stained crimson and his eyes were closed. But there was a faint smile at the corner of his lips, he looked happy. As if he was happy to use his life to protect her, that he was glad that he had the chance to do that for her.
Gu Qingyu slowly stretched out her hand and placed her palm softly against his cheek. He still felt warm against her touch, perhaps the magma beneath them kept him from turning cold. Everywhere around them was covered in blades that were jammed into the ground, they were as numerous as grass. Only her spot, where she was behind Qi Wan, was empty.
She cradled Qi Wan and slowly sank to the floor.
I'm sorry, Qi Wan. I'm sorry. Even though it is the most useless phrase in the world. There are a lot of things that would never come back once you lose them. And there are a lot of people that once you lose them, you can only spend the remainder of your life to remember them.
You have given me the best time of my life. The time I spent with Ye Jin was great and filled with happiness. But the time I spent with you were some of the best moments of my existence. You would have fun with me, no matter what I wanted to do. And I never had to worry about a thing when I'm with you. What should I do now, Qi Wan? What should I do, now that you are not with me anymore?
She rested his head on her lap as she caressed his face, her thumb brushed over his cheekbones again and again. Suddenly, flecks of green light danced in her periphery. She followed the light and saw that his feet were slowly turning into light!
"Qi Wan...!" She tightened her arm and tried to grasp onto him, but he was still fading away. It had already reached his calves.
“Boss……” Qi Wan's voice was soft, but his lips did not move. He was speaking directly to her heart. She held her breath and listened closely.
"Sorry... I couldn't keep my word... I promised you that once we gathered all of the Spirit Gems, I will travel the world with you... I wanted to show this field of flowers... and many other pretty things..." He sounded faint, but at peace. She stared at his face, not even daring to blink, but his lips remained motionless, his eyes remained closed, as if he was having a long, peaceful dream.
"Actually... I knew that this day would come..." The light had reached his chest, flecks of green light sparkled and danced. "I'm sorry, Boss, for keeping it from you... I am the Azure Dragon, and the last Spirit Gem... Please, you have to live on happily, along with my part. Live on, on behalf of me..."
His voice was breaking up as the dreaded light crept up to his neck. She covered her face and sobbed, she never wanted such a great sacrifice. The green light slowly gathered into a small gem at where his heart would have been. It was tiny, but it lit up the entire cave. Delicately, Gu Qingyu held the gem in her hands as she placed it against her heart and finally let out a sorrowful howl. Her physical pain was nothing compared to her grief.
Suddenly, a loud boom came from the magma below her, the ground rattled and shook at the impact. Rocks fell from above her, the light from the spirit gem in her hands immediately turned into a barrier and protected her.
Gu Qingyu turned to look at the entrance of the cave. Xuan Wu was there.... and Ye Jin! They were both hovering in the air. The black Ghost Howl was clenched in Ye Jin's hand as he drove it into Xuan Wu's chest and pinned him into the wall. Blood spewed from Xuan Wu's mouth, then his head slumped down with glassy eyes. The magma receded.
She held the spirit gem tightly against her chest and stared at Ye Jin in a daze. Ye Jin turned around and their eyes met despite the tens of metres between them.
It was an interesting scene. A lady in a pink dress cradled a disembodied head on her lap as she looked into the distance. Tens of metres away, a man dressed in black looked at the lady in pink. Their eyes met, in that moment time had stood still, stretching that second to eternity.
Time returned to motion as Ye Jin pulled out Ghost Howl with a backhand. Xuan Wu plummeted down like a bird with clipped wings, falling straight into the magma while Ye Jin made a beeline to Gu Qingyu. Even the short flight felt too long to him.
He quickly landed at the entrance of the cave, his wings folded behind his back and he rushed over in large strides. "Xiao Yu'er!"
When she saw him, tears started to flow uncontrollably again. She called out to him with a shaky voice. "Xiao Zhezhe..."
Ye Jin took Gu Qingyu into his arms and ran his hand up and down her back, his eyes were closed tightly. "Xiao Yu'er...I'm sorry..."
Gu Qingyu's tears flowed silently, and she kept shaking her head. This has nothing to do with Ye Jin, she can only blame herself. Had she been more powerful, she could have done something to prevent Qi Wan's sacrifice. Perhaps she only regained a small amount of mobility because Ye Jin managed to injure Xuan Wu greatly and weaken him. Xuan Wu was a Divine Beast, it must not have been easy to fight against him, let alone slay him.
Qi Wan, who was lying on her lap, slowly disappeared. The light had crept up his face and he vanished without a trace. Gu Qingyu held onto Ye Jin as she bit her lower lip and stifled another wail.
Qi Wan, is this how you've chosen to give your blessing? You refused to leave until you knew I was absolutely safe, and now you're really gone.
Suddenly, the magma below began to roll and surge upwards again!
"This is Xuan Wu's final attack..." Ye Jin frowned.
"Qi Yichen and Xie Zang..." Gu Qingyu bit her lower lip and looked down.
Ye Jin did not answer her, he simply tightened his embrace. "Xiao Yu’er..."
The magma surged past the cave's entrance with a deafening roar. Gu Qingyu laid in Ye Jin's arms and together, they braced for impact. She was no longer afraid. To her, the safest place in the world was between his arms.
Rest in peace, Qi Wan. I will be happy, along with your blessing. I will live on, on behalf of you and along with your share. Thank you, Qi Wan.
Gu Qingyu closed her eyes. Ye Jin gently tucked her head under his chin. Unlike her, remorse and regret swirled in his blue eyes. He was too late. He did not protect her.
His failure allowed the man called Qi Wan to leave an unerasable mark in her memories. Had he arrived sooner, maybe Qi Wan would not have died. But it was useless to speculate on those possibilities. His death would remain in her heart and she would remember him for the rest of her life.
Finally, the roaring ceased. The worst was finally over. Gu Qingyu poked her head out of Ye Jin's arms and found that the magma had faded away.
"Let's... go down and take a look..." She said softly.
"Okay." Ye Jin picked her up, spread his wings, and flew down.
Her friends were scattered in different areas. The most noticeable one was Xuan Yi, in his black brocade. She tapped Ye Jin's shoulder then pointed at Xuan Yi. Ye Jin landed steadily as Gu Qingyu leapt off his arms.
"Xiao Yu'er, your injuries." Ye Jin frowned.
"It's okay." Gu Qingyu smiled at him and turned to Xuan Yi, "Are you okay?"
Xuan Yi nodded. "I'm fine."
"We don't have much time left." Ye Jin said suddenly with a slight growl.
"What?" Gu Qingyu whirled back to ask Ye Jin. He sighed softly. "We won't be able to stay in this time period for long."
"Can we even go back to our time?" She quizzed him.
Ye Jin nodded. "Yes, but we only have three hours left."
"Got it..." Gu Qingyu noticed something at the corner of her eyes. In the center of the pit, amidst the ash and hardened lava was a tiny orb. She walked over, bent down and picked it up. It was the Spirit Gem of Yan Yang City. It sat on the palm of her hand with a bright red glow. She removed a pouch affixed to her waist and emptied it. The six Spirit Gems that they have gathered in their time fell to the ground at her feet, with Yan Yang City's Spirit Gem, that would be seven gems. Finally, she added Qi Wan's Spirit Gem to the pile.
Heat burst from the Lifeblood Jewel of Destiny that she kept close to her heart. She took it out immediately, the jewel was gleaming with all colours of the rainbow. She held the jewel over the Spirit Gems. Iridescent rays shot out from its facets and danced in the air. It looked as though she had caught a rainbow in her hands.
"The prophecy has been broken..." Xie Li was lying in her brother's arms. She mumbled to herself as blood dribbled from the corner of her lips. "This is the most beautiful dawn I have ever seen..."
She was well aware of what would happen if her prophecies went wrong, but she still wished for it to fail. And now, she succeeded and she did not regret it at all, even though she would lose all power as the Priestess and forget everything she had seen. She would return to when she did not have any powers at all, to the very beginning.
In Xie Li's hands was a crystal ball split in two, half of which shows their current scene, and the other half showed a single person, clad in armour and surrounded by mounts of bodies. He stood under the blue sky, held up by his sword. In front of him was empty plains, with no one else in sight.
Everything was over.
The spirit gems spun around the jewel and one by one, disappeared into its facets with a bright light. As the last spirit gem was absorbed into the jewel, a red silhouette slowly formed above the jewel.
"Master!" Gu Qingyu called out softly.
Yan Zun walked over and hugged her tightly. "Stupid apprentice..."
She returned his hug. She could actually touch him and hold him. He even feels warm against her hands.
"Master, you..." Gu Qingyu choked up and couldn't speak. They had gone through so much, and before she even had the time to process, all of those memories flooded her mind like a broken dam.
"Enough, stupid apprentice..." Yan Zun gently stroked her hair. "Thank you."
Gu Qingyu didn't know what to say, "So what about you now?"
Yan Zun chuckled at her odd question.
"I will remain in this time period and live." Yan Zun patted her head. "I've decided to let go of the hatred, and live. Just like you."
"Just like me?" Gu Qingyu was a little confused.
"It would be difficult, but... I will try my best." He had never said anything about trying to come to terms with his emotions before, was this an indication that something was changing?
"Uh-huh!" Gu Qingyu also nodded.
Yan Zun smiled. "I'll send you back then."
"Wait. There's still something that I have to do." She turned around. Qi Yichen stood in the distance, he seemed fine. Xie Zang and Xie Li were around as well. So she nodded towards Ye Jin.
The rancid, metallic stench of blood hit them when they got to the city gates. The gates were open, someone stood beyond those gates. Gu Qingyu stared at that person in a daze. His back faced her as he stood there. The sun was slowly rising into the sky, turning his armour from silver to gold as his white hair drifted loosely in the wind.
"Brother Murong..." The name that had been stuck in her throat was finally released. But he did not move. Ye Jin lowered his eyes to the ground as he walked to her side without a word.
Gu Qingyu immediately ran up and stopped in front of Murong Zuoyu. His head hung low as his glassy eyes stared at the ground.
"Brother Murong..." She gently stroked Murong Zuoyu's blood-stained face. His face was as cold as ice and his hair had completely turned into strands of silver, but he still looked really handsome. The last she saw him, they were still as dark as ink, now they were as white as snow.
"Didn't you promise to wait for me? You said we would go back together..." She sobbed as tears slid down her cheeks. Alas, he would never hear her voice again.
"Xiqian has over thousands of years of history. According to their records, a great battle broke out here. I’ve been wondering, but I didn’t expect it to be here."
"What battle?" Gu Qingyu asked curiously.
Yan Zun's fingers rubbed the cup carefully. "It was between tens of thousands of soldiers and one man.”
"That's amazing!" Gu Qingyu exclaimed. "Who won in the end?"
"No one. The man died, and the army was annihilated." Yan Zun picked up the cup and finished the tea in one gulp.
A gust of wind blew in the distance, and an unnamed flower bloomed quietly on its branches. Spring was really here. Gu Qingyu closed her eyes.
Qi Yichen looked at the person in his arms with conflicted eyes. "Hong..."
Blood trickled from the corners of her lips. She had used up all of her powers to make a last stand against Xuan Wu's attack. "Chen, I do not regret saving you..." She gave him a faint smile. "I'm just sorry, I only have a hundred years' worth of training left. I can't protect you like this, not anymore..."
"Don't be silly." Qi Yichen frowned.
"But still... even though I'm reduced to such a sorry state, I will want to protect you... Don't frown..." She reached up and tried to rub away the tension between his brows. But before she could reach him, her hand stiffened in mid-air, then dropped to her side.
"Hong..." Qi Yichen held her hand tightly and closed his eyes. Her body gradually faded away, turning into a ray of white light, and disappeared into his fan.
"Do you have his fan?" Yan Zun gave her a cunning smile. "Oh, there is a person in his fan~"
"Person?" Gu Qingyu looked at Yan Zun in doubt. "You mean a soul? Like you?"
"Don't lump us together." Yan Zun huffed disdainfully. "I am actually capable of protecting you in danger."
"Yes, thank you, Master!" Gu Qingyu nodded with minimal appreciation. "What about that person?"
"Their soul dissipated, maybe from overusing its power." Yan Zun sounded indifferent, as if he had been talking about the weather, "After all, it is still too weak. They only had about a hundred years of training."
Xie Zang held Xie Li tightly, her breathing was weak. Suddenly, her body began to glow with a red light. The light dissipated, and suddenly in Xie Zang's arms was a little girl who looked no older than seven years old.
"Li..." Xie Zang stood up and gently picked her up. "Let's go. I'll take you to a beautiful place, and I build a city that's covered in flowers, just like what you saw in your dreams. I'll take care of you this time, as your older brother. You've already done more than enough."
He left with Xie Li in his arms, leaving behind a crystal ball that had been split into halves.
Xuan Yi looked at all of this and lowered his eyes. Since none of them would record this, he shall commit this to his memory and wait indefinitely, until millions of years later when it was time for him to intervene. Xian Di. That might be a good name. Just view this as giving that Yan Zun a hand. Although... would any of this happen if the Lifeblood Jewel of Destiny was destroyed?
When Gu Qingyu opened her eyes again, she found herself lying next to a quiet stream. It was the same stream when they met with Xian Di to travel back in time. Everyone was around her, Ye Jin, Mo Bai, Qi Yichen, Xie Zang and Xiao Qi. Everyone except for Murong Zuoyu and Qi Wan. One by one, they woke up as well, with hushed groans and moans. Traveling through time was quite disorienting.
"Yu'er..." Mo Bai said softly.
Gu Qingyu shook her head, knelt down, and started digging. Ye Jin walked over and helped her in silence. They dug a small pit in the soil and Gu Qingyu took out the hair ribbon that Qi Wan had given her, gently placed it in the pit, then covered it up. She pulled out a wooden board, slid her finger over its surface and it was engraved with the following: Grave of Qi Wan.
That's it, goodbye, Qi Wan. Thank you.
At their side, Xiao Qi watched with red puffy eyes.
Gu Qingyu also held a sword in her hand. It was Murong Zuoyu's weapon. It kept him standing till his last breath. The sword did not disappear, because it followed his wishes and remained.
"I will bring this back to Dongxuan and bury it. That place was his home after all..." She said quietly. Every time she thought of him, she would see his last moment, standing in front of the city gates, with his white hair drifting in the wind.
Three months later.
Firecrackers burst and crackled as a sedan stopped at the entrance to Ye's headquarters. Ye Jin stood by the entrance in a red robe that took on a devilish charm. Gu Qingyu stepped out from the sedan in a red dress and a veil over her face. Today was the happiest day of her life.
"My dear..." Ye Jin walked to her side and took her hand with a wide, cheerful smile.
Qi Yichen stood at the side with a glint in his eyes. Bei Cheng sat in a chair beside him, his head propped up with one hand and a faint smile tugged at his lips. Mo Bai stood next to Qi Yichen and the three of them watched as the happy couple walked in.
Yu'er, you have found true love, the one who can truly bring you happiness.
Xie Zang was leaning against the wall to the side while Xie Li sat on his shoulders. The little girl stared at the bride with wide, awe-filled eyes. Murong Ranyue sent his blessings in the form of a large jar of prized wine, though he would have attended the ceremony in person if he could. Filling in his older brother's shoes was more time-consuming than he thought. Crow ushered in the guests while Lightning and Thunder were busy preparing for the upcoming banquet.
"First bow to the heavens and earth... Second bow to the parents... Third bow, between husband and wife... You may now head into the bridal chamber." Qi Yichen waved his fan as he officiated the wedding. Since there were no parents from either side, the couple bowed to the heavens once more.
"My husband." Gu Qingyu said softly.
"My wife." Ye Jin's smile spread across his face as he grabbed her by the waist and picked her up into his arms and walked into the room.
In the woods
Dandelions bloomed around the wooden plaque next to the stream. With a soft breeze, the white blossoms scattered and flew away. A young lady stood in front of the plaque. She stood there, on the day of her best friend's wedding. Her hand gently caressed the wood with a wistful look in her eyes. Tears slipped down the curve of her cheeks and dripped onto the grass below.Previous Chapter Next Chapter