“There’s no good ending coming from an elopement!”
This was the first sentence I said to Zihui, after I woke up. I grabbed his clothes tightly and said with a serious face: “Shengling sect’s butcher once told me that there was a widow in the village, who eloped with a man. Later they were caught and they were drowned in a pig’s cage.”
I was also afraid that shifu will drown me in a pig’s cage. Even my bones won’t be found.
Zihui stared stunningly at me for a moment. He laughed and said: “If that’s the case, then we should not elope.”
“Alright,”I immediately nodded. Even though I still have some complains against shifu, but I’ve never thought about leaving his side.
“Let’s go back and ask shifu for forgiveness.”
I wanted to leave, but Zihui grabbed me.
“If you want to go back to Shengling sect from here, it’ll take half a month.”
I was shocked: “I actually slept for half a month?!”
“No, a Xiang lady only slept for a night,”Zihui said.
“You must also already know that I’m not an ordinary person. I’m a stone turned into essent. Traveling thousands of miles in a blink of eye is just one of those spells I practiced.”
I nodded in understanding: “This is better; we can go back to Fengxueshan manor in a blink of eye.”
“A Xiang, seeing your shifu like that yesterday, do you think your shifu will let us marry, even if we admit our faults?”
I thought for a moment and dejectedly shook my head.
“But we still shouldn’t elope.”
“Of course, “Zihui said laughingly.
“We eloped because we didn’t get the consent of the elders. If we can obtain your parents’ consent, even if shifu isn’t willing, he won’t be able to say anything.”
I blinked and thought for a moment. Those words of Zihui did have some truth in them. But my childhood memories are vague and unclear. I can’t remember where my home is. I can’t remember the appearance of my father and mother.
Zihui said in a strange way: “Over the years, hasn’t a Xiang lady thought about going home and visit your parents?”
I scratched my head.
“I have thought about it, but shifu said that my parents entrusted me to him. If I didn’t master the arts, I couldn’t go home. In so many years, my skills didn’t improve much, so I didn’t dare to go home. Then I thought that accompanying shifu is also pretty good, so I buried it in my heart.”
Zihui stared at me thoughtfully for a while and then he hung his head and quietly whispered: “So, that was the case…Darn, your shifu is really shameful…”
Zihui smiled and said: “Nothing. Along the way here I heard some news. I probably know how to get to a Xiang’s home. Stopping here isn’t the answer. Let’s go and see.”
I nodded and didn’t think much. I just followed him from behind.
It didn’t take long, before the scenery slowly made me feel familiar. I happily tugged at Zihui’s sleeve.
“Right, right, this seems to be the road!”
I picked up my pace and began to run excitingly.
“It shouldn’t be far from here. Turning around a corner, there should be a river. Across the river, is the front door of my house. In front of the front door there are stone lions….”
When we turned, across the river there’s a dilapidated front door. I froze for a moment and then foolishly walked a few steps.
“This isn’t it,” I whispered as I walked.
“The bridge wasn’t this small; the stone lions were more imposing.”
After crossing the bridge, I stood in front of the manor. There’s a broken plaque hanging on the front door, with the words “Yang Fu” on it. The closed doors were sealed with the yellow note of the officials with the words “forbidden”on it.
I stood there, my mind was completely blank.
“A Xiang,”Zihui called me and touched my head.
“Maybe I found the wrong place…”
He hasn’t finished speaking, when a man hastily walked by. Seeing me and Zihui, the man said strangely: “Aiyou, you two, how can you stop here? Let’s go quickly. Here is famous for being haunted. If it isn’t because I need to pass this road to get to the herbs on the mountain, I wouldn’t come here even if they killed me.”
I haven’t even reacted, when he turned around and walked away fast. I grabbed the man’s hand tightly. The man was scared to death and repeatedly exclaimed: “Lady, what are you doing?! What are you doing?! Could it be that a ghost went into your body?!”
“You…you know where here is?”
“Yang…Yang manor, ah.”
I was grabbing on him like a straw and kept asking: “Do you know who used to live here?”
“A business family with the surname Yang. Ten years ago the whole family has been slaughtered by their enemies.”
I loosened my hand. My head felt dizzy. Behind me a hand was supported my back, because I was barely able to keep standing. I foolishly asked: “What is…slaughtering?”
The man looked at me for a moment and sighed: “You must be a distant relative of this family. Ten years ago, I don’t know who the Yang family has offended; thirty people of Yang manor has been silenced. I heard their enemy hired the famous Shengling sect’s killers to kill them. Those killers came and went without a trace. They didn’t even leave the slightest trace of evidence. The officials had no way of finding the truth and it turned into an unsolved case. Pity those resenting ghosts of Yang family, ah!”
I thought there was a problem with my ears, so I dug in my ears and asked: “Can you say it again?”
The man looked at me strangely for moment and then said: “Shengling sect ah. Ai, little girl, those mysterious things of the jianghu is not something that we can understand. You, a distant relative must not waste your efforts.”
I dug really hard into my ear and slapped myself twice on the cheeks. Zihui grabbed my hand.
I dug in my ear, till it was ringing. But I didn’t feel the slightest pain and foolishly asked again: “You said Shengling sect?”
The man was so scared that he took a step back and talked to himself: “Really a ghost entered her body…”
“Did you say it was Shengling sect,”I yelled. I was about to go after him, when Zihui embraced me. I could only see the man flee in panic.
I pushed Zihui.
“Why are you grabbing me? I haven’t finished asking. He said that it was Shengling sect, who slaught…slaughtered this family, but, but Hujia uncle, Tangzhu sister and the butcher, and shifu, they….” were obviously so good.
My throat was choking. I couldn’t continue. In my mind a scene flashed. It’s the day, I climbed out of the barrel. The day I saw blood everywhere and people in black holding swords. The coldness of the shining blade and the warm blood that fell on my face. I was in a trance. These burning feeling felt like I passed through a fog in these ten years. The images are clear and lucid as if they only occurred yesterday, burning me through my bone with pain.
I covered my face. My thoughts were a mess.
“A Xiang, let’s leave for today.”
Zihui patted my back and said: “You need to rest.”
I pushed Zihui. My hands were trembling.
“No, I’m going home.”
Leaving Zihui’s embrace, my legs were slightly trembling. Slowly, step by step, I walked toward the front door. I tore the seal away and pushed hard on the door. But the dusty door was motionless. I knocked on the door and shouted: “Mother…”
After those words left my mouth, my voice turned hoarse: “I’m back.”
Childhood memories broke the fog like the sunlight.
Dim light shone on the ruined door, wiping away the dust on the door, making it become bright as ever. I firmly knocked on the door.
“Open the door! Open the door….”
A gray shadow fell on my face. Zihui grabbed my hand. I heard a barely audible sigh: “Let me do it.”
He put his hand on the door. Gently he pushed the door. The old door made a “zhiya”sound and slowly opened. Looking pass the door, I can directly see the hall. The furniture inside are just like those in my memory. I walked in with my head down and looked at the red spots on the ground. I lifted my head and looked at the highest place in the hall. That day shifu was standing there, high above others and took me to Shenling sect. Shifu is always high above others, making me not dare to be disrespectful. However, the shifu I respected…
I shook my head, wanting to throw all the confusing voices from my mind. But shooking, my face became wet. I wiped my face. Not long after, my tears were streaming down again. I stood in the center of the hall, silently, wiping my tears over and over, until Zihui patted me on my shoulder.
“A Xiang, don’t cry.”
“I did not cry,” I said. “It’s just…I can’t stop them from falling.”
Zihui sighed. I didn’t have the time to speak, he turned and moved two steps away from me. A “pa” sound rang in my ear. I was shocked. Shifu, dressed in full white, landed outside the hall. In his hands was a crimson whip. With a cold expression and with really dark eyes he glared at Zihui.
“In consideration that cultivating for ten thousand years was not easy, I wanted to let you off the hook. But you didn’t take it and keep challenging xiaoye’s limits.”
Shifu coldly bit his lip.
“If you’re deliberately seeking death, I will make your wish come true, alright?”
Zihui didn’t speak. I knew that Zihui wouldn’t be able to beat shifu. In a hurry, I jumped in front of Zihui and stretched my hand out to protect him. I stared at shifu. I saw his face turned pale as if he has been slapped.
“Xiao Xiang Zi,” shifu’s eyes squinted slightly. “You, putting this stance, is it to protect your ‘husband’ and to fight me?”
His tone was frivolous, but I know that shifu was really angry. At this point my mind was cluttered. I just shook my head and didn’t know what to say. Shifu’s expression was slightly angry. He held out his hand and yelled gently like how he used to do when he was taking me home: “Come here.”
But here and now, my legs wouldn’t move. Shifu was also not urging me. He hand was still there, waiting for me to grab it. I stared at shifu for a moment. My throat hurt and I blurted out: “Shifu…my parents…”
Shifu frowned: “The matters that that happened here, I’ll explain them to you when we go back.”
Looking at shifu’s eyes, I couldn’t help but get chills. The Zihui behind me gently hold my shoulder and said softly: “A Xiang, don’t be afraid, I’m here.”
Shifu’s hand tightened around the whip.
“What identity do you have?” (What rights do you have to be speaking?)
It’s the first time I interrupted him. I asked: “My father and mother, did shifu kill them…”
I stared at shifu and didn’t dare to blink. He was silent and didn’t say anything to refute.
“Was it shifu?”
After saying those words, I choked.
“Was it shifu?”
Knowing that his silence meant that he’s admitting, my world collapsed.
“Xiao Xiang Zi,” shifu’s voice was a little numb. “There are a lot of things that you don’t understand. After we go back, I’ll explain them to you. But today, you should not rely on this demon’s embrace. He’s not a good thing. Come here, we’ll go back.”
I shook my head. I just want to grab something and hit him. I didn’t care, pulled the hairpin out of my hair and run to him.
“Shifu liar! Big liar! You go away!”
My hair was loosened and turned into a mess. It pasted on my wet face. I didn’t know how this embarrassed look looked like. The tears blurred my sight. I couldn’t see shifu’s face clearly anymore. Only knew that he stood there transfixed and didn’t move.
The hand on my shoulder tightened. Zihui pulled me into his arms. He patted my back and said: “Shifu doesn’t want to go away. Then we should go first. Nowadays, it’s better if you don’t meet.”
I kept nodding. His chest turned wet from my tears and snot. This time I didn’t know if shifu has come to stop me or not. However, I didn’t hear him grit his teeth form anger.