Jin Zi and Mu Linger saw Tang Li and Ning Jing at the city gates before the two couples headed north together. Rui'er had already traveled for days ahead of time and reached its shores. There was no moon on the night of New Year's Eve. The Ice Sea shores were desolate and cold with no people in sight. It was akin to a world of darkness. No matter where one looked, it was an endless black that stretched to the skies and ground. The calm silence aside from the northern wind was devoid of sound.
Xuanyuan Rui stood by the sea with his back straight like a strong pine.
He was only twenty years old, but a head taller than his peers. Thanks to years of martial arts, his body was also much harder and more refined than those of the same age. He was dressed in white brocade robes with a jade pendant hanging from his waist. A luxurious violet fox fur cloak draped around his body, while the lonely brows on his face were identical to Long Feiye in his youth. One of his hands rested behind his back while the other held a lantern. Under this overwhelming darkness, it was the lone source of light.
Despite being small, it was a strong flame that didn't sputter with the high winds! It couldn't illuminate any corner of the Ice Sea, but shone into his dark eyes and let him clearly see the long road ahead.
One only year had passed.
Today's Xuanyuan Rui was no longer the Xuanyuan Rui of yesteryear.
What of the Xuanyuan Rui in two years, three years, or ten years more? He pondered over this before another ray of light appeared before his vision! Looking over, his icy brows finally thawed slightly. Perhaps he was much luckier than his father. Imperial father's frozen heart had never been warmed by anyone until his imperial mother's late arrival. But he had the Grand Tutor, his godfather, Uncle Li and Uncle Jin, and a group of strategists left to him by his father and loyal subjects left by his mother. His heart could always feel warmth, his path was never so lonely.
The ray of light drew closer and closer, shining brighter and brighter. Soon a tall and proud snow wolf carrying a man in red robes loped his way. The back of the snow wolf was pulling a wide chair covered in layers of fox fur and surrounded on three sides with ten red banners, the ends of which hung large red lanterns. Following the snow wolf, these banners fluttered against the wind with the swaying lanterns as if drunk. From a distance, one could mistake the snow wolf for some strange monster instead!
But Xuanyuan Rui recognized the pair at a glance. His face, which had been chilled for days, unconsciously blossomed into a long-lost smile.
"Godfather, Lil Thing!" he shouted.
Gu Qishao rode the snow wolf while looking handsome and awe-inspiring. As soon as he heard Rui'er's shout, he jumped down from the warm, comfortable fox fur chair and landed on Lil Thing's back, grabbing its ears to signal it to stop. Unfortunately, the usually obedient Lil Thing left Gu Qishao behind as soon as it heard its young master. Not only did it ignore the command, it even swayed violently and almost tossed Gu Qishao off its back. It galloped over and almost had trouble skidding to a stop as it pounced on the little master and sent him sprawling on the ground. The action sent Gu Qishao flying straight off his back.
Xuanyuan Rui hugged Lil Thing as man and beast rolled in the snow, ignoring Gu Qishao completely. Gu Qishao was surrounded by snow mastiffs as soon as he crashed onto the ground.
One year had passed!
During the entire year, this pack of snow mastiffs had never found a chance to surround Gu Qishao because he was riding powerfully on the back of the snow wolf every single time. The gold-eyed snow mastiffs were afraid to approach the snow wolf and could only stare as Gu Qishao traveled frequently between the two shores without doing a thing.
At last their chance had come.
Gu Qishao looked around him before climbing immediately to his feet and taking out a dagger. At the same time, all of the snow mastiffs leaped at him and swallowed his figure from sight. After a year's absence, the fight between man and mastiff was fierce. Although it took a while, in the end Gu Qishao emerged the victor. By the time he crawled out of the last heap of downed mastiffs, it was to see Rui'er and Lil Thing by the shore looking at him with amusement.
He slowly and methodically tidied up his clothes before walking over to squeeze in between the pair and sit down. Gu Qishao's martial arts skills had improved to the point where he could fight a pack of snow mastiffs unscathed.
He asked, "Rui'er, hungry?"
Xuanyuan Rui replied, "I don't eat dog meat."
Gu Qishao wrapped his arms around Lil Thing and asked, "What about wolf meat?"
Before Rui'er could answer, Gu Qishao hollered at Lil Thing, "If you throw this old man off again, I'll kill and feed you to the dogs!"
Rui'er's lips twitched as he suddenly ran out of ideas to reply…
Lil Thing's temper had changed after shapeshifting into the snow wolf. It was no longer the cute and dumb squirrel, but a serious and cold wolf! It disdained Gu Qishao from above while ignoring him. If not for its duty, it would never allow Gu Qishao to stick so many flags on its body and cross the Ice Sea.
"Godfather, I'm here to spend New Year's with my father and mother," Xuanyuan Rui said earnestly.
At this, Gu Qishao turned serious. His eyes drooped as he replied, "Rui'er, sorry. Godfather still hasn't found Yan'er yet."
"No news is good news," Xuanyuan Rui replied simply. He'd rather his little sister be missing in action than dead from unknown causes.
"There must be a reason why Jinyang City appeared in the vortex. After New Year's, godfather will head to Jinyang City and go search door-to-door. Even if I have to dig into the ground, I'll find her!" Gu Qishao declared.
Rui'er would rather search in person, but he couldn't. He had too many things to do. Although the Great Qin court was in no mess, he couldn't very well leave everything to the Grand Tutor and had him be cursed for a conspiracy to usurp the throne!
Xuanyuan Rui flew on top of the snow wolf to get moving, but Gu Qishao stopped him and took out a cloak from a chest on the animal's back to wrap him up.
"It's extremely cold on the Ice Sea during winter," he said.
"I have true qi to protect my body, so I'm not afraid of the cold," Xuanyuan Rui even took off his own cloak. "Godfather, you wear it, quick!"
"What's with all the talking? I've gotten used to after traveling back and forth. It's only halfway across, so I won't freeze to death," Gu Qishao said impatiently. "If your father and mother were here, they'd probably wrap you in four to five cloaks!"
Rui'er was about to resist when he saw his godfather's gloomy expression. In the end, he gave up. How could he not know godfather's personality since his childhood? Over the past year, the Grand Tutor had taught him to grow up and shoulder many burdens alone. But next to godfather, he suddenly felt like he'd traveled back to one year past when he was still a child. Rui'er's eyes were a little damp as he put on both cloaks without a word before sitting on Lil Thing's back. Only then was Gu Qishao satisfied. He also flew up and sat behind him before pulling the boy into his arms.
They entered the Ice Sea.
Rui'er discovered that his godfather really had stopped being afraid of the cold. Over the last year, he must have gotten used to the temperatures here after multiple crossings. In many instances, getting used to things like this wasn't a source of fear, but heartbreak.
"Godfather," Rui'er murmured.
"What is it?" Gu Qishao asked curiously.
"It's good to have you, really." Rui'er's voice was still very small, but Gu Qishao heard it clearly.
He laughed. "Silly child!"
It was almost daybreak before the two reached the ice cavern. The xuan ice could freeze everything including time. Nothing had changed here. Han Yunxi was still trapped in the frozen pool with Long Feiye lying by her side, their hands intertwined as they gazed at each other. Ning Cheng had long arrived and was currently sitting on one side. When he saw Rui'er approach, he immediately rose and bowed. "Your Highness Crown Prince."
Although Rui'er was already the young emperor in Great Qin, he was still the crown prince in everyone's hearts. Long Feiye remained the master of the empire.
"No need for formalities, Uncle Cheng," Rui'er replied. He sat down next to his parents and gently stroked the xuan ice covering their bodies. Before he could speak, Lil Thing suddenly vanished from his side. Without a doubt, Han Yunxi had taken it into the poison storage space. She and Long Feiye could hear everyone speaking and knew Rui'er had arrived! Rui'er was so happy he almost shed tears, but remained strong. He didn't bother with anyone else but simply sat to chat with his parents.
He spoke of many things: Great Qin, events around Cloud Realm Continent, his thoughts, everyone else's thoughts, his sadness, his happiness, and basically everything his parents might or might not have already known. Actually, it wasn't necessary to go into details. He could feel the changes in his parents' true qi as he talked, which was their way of responding to him. He ever discovered that his parents' true qi was denser than last year and seemed to show signs of advancement. It had to be said that this was not only a source of comfort, but encouragement.
The usually taciturn Rui'er turned into a huge chatterbox while Gu Qishao had long brought Ning Cheng aside to sit down. Gu Qishao had taken Ning Cheng here first before picking up Rui'er since he knew the boy was bound to come tonight.
"Hey, you're not going back to warm your wife's bed? Why are you sitting here like an idiot?" Gu Qishao asked doubtfully.
By virtue of the fact that those who dared to offend Long Feiye were like brothers, Gu Qishao and Ning Cheng got along uncommonly well.
"Why are you running over here instead of finding some woman to warm your bed?" Ning Cheng retorted.
Gu Qishao laughed. "This old man won't take anyone except Poison lass!"
Ning Cheng knitted his brows. "What did you say?"
Gu Qishao didn't speak up, but lowered his voice even further. "This old man won't take anyone, except Poison lass!"
Ning Cheng gave him a meaningful look and didn't comment, but threw a handful of fireworks to Rui'er and said loudly, "Your Highness Crown Prince, let your parents' ears rest. Your godfather's nearly driving them mad with annoyance."
Rui'er had just about finished his piece. He didn't want to repeat things over and over against like his godfather did. He picked up the firecrackers, took some flames from his godfather's special lanterns, and lit them all up. The explosions followed as they flew into the air and out of the ice cavern to explode into colorful hues above Ice Sea, breaking its dead, dark silence.
Ning Cheng and Gu Qishao all stood up as they realized the fireworks looked especially pretty. Long Feiye and Han Yunxi couldn't see them, but they were satisfied enough hearing Rui'er's voice. Currently, both of them had sunken into deep sleep after using too much true qi to communicate with their son. Although they were sealed in ice, they hadn't been idle. Nobody in the world wanted to break through the ice more than them. They used true qi to resist the cold and shield their bodies while also taking into account cultivation. It was a very laborious task that frequently sent them into comas. When they were unconscious, Han Yunxi would always have the same dream: a world 3,000 years later that included Long Feiye. Long Feiye would also dream the same thing, but neither of them were aware of this fact. Even if they knew, perhaps they'd have trouble figuring out just whose dream it was. What was the point of that? Between them, there was no division between you and me.
In the dream, Han Yunxi was back at the hospital and standing in front of Mr. Li. Unlike her anxiety, fear, or sorrow in the first dream, she only felt heartache looking at him this time.
She said, "Long Feiye, I'll allow you to cut in line. No matter which lifetime or how late you are, I'll always let you cut."
Long Feiye smiled and said, "No, no matter which lifetime it is, I always want you to save a spot for me. I don't want to be an exception, but exclusive."
Their hands entwined, their dreams mixed. Some people were fated to be together for a lifetime. Even in dreams, they dreamed as one…
1. Since the duel, which made me realize I was mistaken—Rui'er and Yan'er must have been in their teens…? How the heck did GQS manage to carry them?? Ah whatever, it's too late in the series for me to bother with math.
annnnd we're done! with that i can also cap off the hansum men twitter thread i've been making to help me get through these last few chapters of PGC lololol
6 long years of translating on and off...300+ after-chapter skit gifs used...100+ chapters in stockpile during my height...i can now finally say that i am done with Poison Genius Consort!! like the story itself, it was a bittersweet ending, but you know what? the power of love triumphs over all. frustrating character arcs, plotlines, and behaviors aside, i'm glad i slogged through all that and know enough now to...never touch something so long ever again if i can help it, hahhh.
thank you to all the readers, commenters, lurkers, reviewers for joining me and volare on this long, 5 million+ word novel journey. it's had its share of laughs, tears, and anger, but at last i can put it all behind me. naturally, not everything is perfect (please don't talk to me about typos i know they're everywhere ahhhh) but at this point i am burnt out on the series and its characters and ready to move on.
if you're ever curious about where i am and what i'm up to, the following links should help:
- shugui translations - personal translation site (currently inactive, but if any of my work disappears and you want to find it again, message me here)
- ruyi writes - my carrd with links to all my online writing adventures + accounts are here
- twitter - (sometimes i change usernames so don't keep this as a permalink lol)
- tumblr - mostly for personal reblogs, but hey if you wanna keep in touch ;)
my other recent translation projects:
- too bad master died early (completed, BL, ancient transmigration, hosted at Chrysanthemum Garden)
- pretty state preceptor saves the planet (in-progress, BL, ancient transmigration, hosted at Chrysanthemum Garden)
- also planning to translate a kingdom building danmei (BL) in 2023 after i finish other writing commitments