Joy of Life - Chapter 242

[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:47:48]
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Chapter 242: Today’s Chapter is Untitled


Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio


Xiao En heard Fan Xian’s confident words and began coughing violently, unable to stop for a long time. It was the middle of the night, and they sat on a precipice, unsure whether the Brocade Guards searching below would hear. Fan Xian was rather worried. He took out a needle and thrust it into Xiao En’s neck, helping to ease the tension in his veins.


Fan Xian’s gently felt Xiao En’s neck, where there was a slight sticky dampness. He sniffed, picking up a faint scent of blood. He knew that Xiao En had begun coughing up blood, and though his face remained expressionless, he felt somewhat emotional.


“It was a fairy.” The dying man stubbornly confirmed the judgment he’d made 30 years before.


Fan Xian didn’t want to argue with him on that point. “How could a four-year-old girl carry a chest? Who carried it then?” he asked.


“What chest?” Xiao En’s was asked in a genuine tone of voice. He didn’t sound like he was lying.


Fan Xian was rather taken aback. He knew that the old man didn’t need to hide anything, and Wu Zhu was still yet to appear. Wu Zhu had once said that he and his mother had left home together. Where was that home? According to the letter his mother had left behind, Wu Zhu had once waged war against the powerful forces of the temple, and as a result he had lost a portion of his memories. Why had Wu Zhu wanted to fight against the people of the temple? Could it be that he was fighting for a woman’s affections?


“And then what?”


This is the work that every person who listens to a story must do. Old Xiao En, the storyteller, was nearing death, and there was no way Fan Xian would forget to ask those three words.


Inside the tent, Ku He lay down on a pelt, his breathing hurried. He didn’t know what that little girl had allowed him to do, making him capable of turning his back on his long-held beliefs and attack the people of the temple.


Xiao En looked out of the open tent at the little girl in the snow. The blizzard was still fierce outside, and the little girl’s skin was whiter than the snow. Her tiny hands tightly gripped the thick tent material, and she looked out at the vast outside world, her frame tiny against it. There was a feeling of loneliness about her that seemed completely at odds with her tender age.


He carefully moved up next to Ku He, placing a hand into a hole in his robe.


“I gave him that,” said the little girl, her head not even turning. “Don’t touch it.”


Xiao En looked at the little girl with a sudden ominous glint in his eye. Ku He was definitely hiding some kind of tome of divine knowledge from the temple in his breast pocket, and he couldn’t stop himself from feeling tempted. But when he thought about how the girl who had snuck out of the temple was a fairy, Xiao En immediately relinquished such thoughts.


He kneeled, completely deferential, kowtowing toward the fairy. “I am the leader of the Discipline Commission of the great Kingdom of Wei, and on His Majesty’s command, we have come to hear the will of Heaven, and beseech that the immortals bestow upon us the elixir of immortality.”


These were Xiao En’s orders. He had not forgotten them.


At the entrance to the cave, the young girl laughed merrily at his words. After a moment, she suddenly threw a pill to Xiao En. “You have aided me, and I will grant you aid in return. That monk has already received his reward, and you shall have yours.”


Xiao En caught the pill and looked at it carefully. There was nothing unusual-looking about it, but since it had been given to him by a fairy, he could only treat it with the utmost care. He took out a jade box and carefully placed the pill inside.


“Return home,” said the little girl, her voice sounding far older than her years. “This is no place to stay.”


Xiao En was somewhat disappointed. They had expended so much effort to find the temple, yet they had not been able to enter, and they had no idea what the immortals of the temple actually looked like.


“Thank you for your gift of this medicine, fairy.”


“Do not come here again,” said the young girl calmly. “And do not tell anyone where the temple is.


“If I ever learn that you have revealed the temple’s location, I will kill you both.” The young girl turned around, her young face utterly austere. “Do you hear me?”


Xiao En kowtowed over and over in affirmation. Although her words were cold, there was something almost amusing about this tiny little girl who seemed as if she had been sculpted from ice. But the fact that a four-year-old girl could say such things clearly showed that she was no mortal being.


Even though Xiao En was captain of the Red Riders, he still did not dare disobey her orders.


The old man had no choice but to obey.


“After Ku He awoke, the fairy forced us to swear a vow, and then we headed south,” said Xiao En, recounting his memories. “As the days passed, the smile on the fairy’s face grew. It seemed that she was very interested in travelling through the world of mortals. It sounds strange, I know. Every time Ku He and I looked at her tiny figure, we could get a sense of just how marvelous her powers were… immortals and mortals are different indeed, and we are but fools who understand nothing.


“Later on, there was one day when the fairy turned around to look at the snowy mountains behind us, and then she suddenly said something to herself – ‘he deserves our sympathy’. I remember it very clearly, because I had never seen such a look of compassion on the face of any mortal.”


Of course, Fan Xian knew that his mother was not a fairy. He presumed she probably was not particularly powerful at that time, but to be able to scare two of the world’s most powerful men, she definitely had brains. But he didn’t understand – exactly who was she referring to when she said “he deserves our sympathy”?


And he didn’t believe in this feeling of compassion either. He couldn’t help but laugh.


“You and I are but rats living in the gutter,” sneered Xiao En. “How can we comprehend the beauty of the red-crowned crane that takes flight in the clouds of the highest peaks of heaven? I could not describe the look on that little fairy’s face, but it is something that Ku He and I will never forget.”


Fan Xian was silent.


“The next day, the fairy disappeared without a trace. I didn’t know where she had gone. Her sudden disappearance in that endless snow scared Ku He and me half to death.” Xiao En gasped for breath as he continued to narrate his memories. “This was the most secret expedition I had ever undertaken, and to catch sight of an immortal who was not of this world, I figured our luck was pretty good.”


“Then you and Ku He returned to the Kingdom of Wei?” asked Fan Xian.


“Correct. The way back was even more perilous than the way there, but we made it back safely,” said Xiao En. “I gave the fairy’s pill to His Majesty. The whole business ended rather favorably.”


“Don’t try to trick me,” said Fan Xian. “Surely you swallowed the pill yourself.”


Xiao En let out a hissing laugh. “I knew I couldn’t trick you.”


“Does the elixir of immortality really exist?” asked Fan Xian.


“It’s a temptation that no normal person can resist,” sighed Xiao En. “Of course I swallowed the pill. Though my health improved, immortality was absolutely impossible. That’s when I realized the fairy had tricked me.”


“I believe that tricking people is that fairy’s favorite thing to do,” said Fan Xian, seemingly in another world, “perhaps even in her death.”


“Death?” asked Xiao En. “How can a fairy die?”


Fan Xian paid no attention to him. He closed his eyes, trying to look back in his own memories, then he stood up and picked up his dagger. Now darkness surrounded them, and black clouds covered up the light of the stars and the moon. It was pitch-dark, and Xiao En could not see what he was doing.


“Why does Ku He want you dead?” Fan Xian had finally voiced his suspicions. “I don’t believe that your knowledge of the temple’s location could cause such trouble.”


Xiao En felt that Fan Xian’s question was rather odd. “Everyone knows what the temple means to the world of mortals. If such important information were to get out, there would be chaos across the land. Whether it was the young son of the Zhan family of Qi, or the sinister Emperor of Qing, they would all send their men north on pilgrimage. The world’s most powerful men would not cease in their efforts to find the temple.”


Fan Xian rubbed his nose. “The temple? You went, and you said that it’s just a big temple. What’s there to worship?”


Xiao En laughed coldly. “Ku He merely kneeled before the temple, and he became the greatest of the grandmasters. Such a temptation, for practitioners of the martial arts, is stronger than you could imagine… and you think Ku He is truly a sage? He kneeled so piously before the temple, but the moment that fairy gave him that book, he overturned everything he ever believed in and attacked. When faced with his own benefit, he is simply an evil man who is skilled at hiding his true nature.


“If you had killed me, then he would be the only person in the world who knew of the temple’s location,” continued Xiao En. “What does the temple really hold? Perhaps Ku He will never be able to find out, but he has already benefited from it, so why would he take the risk of letting the world’s strongest people have that same chance?”


Fan Xian thought for a moment. He was right. He could understand, to some extent, why Ku He had thought of nothing else but murdering Xiao En. Perhaps he had wanted to preserve his own glory as the grandmaster of the nation, and didn’t want the repulsive things that had happened on their journey north exposed. Perhaps Ku He knew that the things the temple held could bring untold danger to the world.


“So what is really inside the temple?”


Fan Xian was deep in thought. Without thinking, he traced the “do not” runes on the temple’s doors in the air with his finger, gradually tracing faster and faster.


“For a thousand years, mortals have all known that the temple was not of our world. Ku He and I took great risks in searching for it. We had proof of its existence, and as long as we left the temple, the people of the temple would not come to trouble the world of mortals… Ku He now protects the Kingdom of Qi. How could he dare take the risk of offending Heaven in all its might?”


Xiao En’s energy had gradually faded away. His voice became weaker and weaker, but the terror in his words would not subside. “Besides, the fairy had sworn us to secrecy. Given that Ku He claims to be the closest to Heaven that one can get, how could he dare go back on his word?”


“Do not put too much weight in the things people promise,” said Fan Xian. “Did you not just tell me the location of the temple?”


“That is because I am about to die.” With some difficulty, Xiao En turned his head to one side. “And you will die in this cave too.”


Fan Xian let out a laugh tinged with slight regret. “I don’t think so.”


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