The situation did not allow Xiao Yuan to think about others. In his memories, he could not control his words and deeds and nothing that happened could be changed. He could only say the same things and do the same things as he did in the past. It was like [All Have] that disappeared a long time ago came back again. This suffocating feeling of being forced was the most disgusting sensation in his life.
Fortunately, it was just a memory. Memories did not have any power. He was never afraid of memories, nor would he drown in memories.
Xiao Yuan felt like a spectator, looking at the other Xiao Yuan with no ripples in his heart – the other Xiao Yuan that still had expectations for Li Xianting and everything.
No matter what Xiao Yuan said, he did not get an answer from Li Xianting, not even a perfunctory sentence of “How can Shizun not want you”. He asked Xiao Yuan: “Why doesn’t Ah Yu want to recognize Xiao Du as his gege?”
Xiao Yuan pursed his lips and said, “He is the Venerable Lord of Xingtian Sect and he doesn’t sound like a good person. If he is mistaken and I am not his younger brother, then he’ll scatter my ashes.”
Li Xianting laughed: “He won’t.”
At that time, Xiao Yuan didn’t think much about it. Now that he listened to it again, he only felt that Li Xianting’s “He won’t” seemed to have a different profound meaning – was it that Xiao Du won’t make a mistake, or he won’t scatter his ashes?
Xiao Yuan lowered his head in silence. At that time, he was only seventeen years old and he had not been sent to Xiao Du by Li Xianting yet. When facing Li Xianting, he still had a faint sense of innocence about him. Although [All Have] told him that Li Xianting was not trustworthy, but… but Li Xianting was his Shizun, his Shizun who raised him since he was a child and taught him every technique he knew. When he was young, he was bullied by his shidi. It was Shizun who held him in his arms and wiped away his tears. How could he not care at all?
Xiao Yuan raised his head, looked at Li Xianting with burning eyes and said, “If Shizun says I must go, I will listen to Shizun.”
Li Xianting smiled softly, “Ah Yu is so good.”
“But I want a promise from Shizun,” Xiao Yuan said, “If Xiao Du treats me badly, will Shizun pick me up?”
Li Xianting stretched out his hand to tuck away Xiao Yuan’s scattered hair, his eyes gentle and moist, “Yes.”
Guqin sounded again, and the scene changed so rapidly that Xiao Yuan could only see a blurry shadow. When the surrounding scenery calmed down again, he found himself sitting on a rock by the stream with a hat on his back and a fishing rod in his hand. There was a straw basket at his feet and more than a dozen live shrimps were frisking in the straw basket.
Xiao Yuan remembered. This was the day he left his shimen to go to Xingtian Sect.
The fishing rod swayed; Xiao Yuan waited patiently for a while and was about to yank the rod when a stone slammed into the water, causing a burst of water droplets. The shrimps under the water were disturbed and swam away swiftly.
Xiao Yuan didn’t turn his head and said regretfully: “Shidi scared my shrimp away.”
Mu Yingyang’s handsome face was cold, “Are you really going to Xingtian Sect?”
Xiao Yuan slowly put away the fishing rod, “En.”
Mu Yingyang sneered and said coolly: “Yes, Xingtian Sect dominates the northern territory and is full of rich and powerful people, how can it be compared with a mere Xufu? If you have a brother like Xiao Du, why would you care about me and Shizun?”
Xiao Yuan just pretended not to hear Mu Yingyang’s gloomy voice, picked up the straw basket and said, “I’m going back.”
Mu Yingyang clenched his fists tightly, and when Xiao Yuan passed by him, he seemed to involuntarily grab Xiao Yuan’s arm. “Xiao Yuan, even a dog doesn’t think its family is poor. You’re just leaving like that for a brother that came out of nowhere. Isn’t that even worse than a dog?”
Xiao Yuan’s eyes suddenly darkened and his hand quietly reached for Wuguan Fengyue that was pinned to his waist. For a moment, Mu Yingyang thought that Xiao Yuan was going to do something to him and the strength of his hand increased.
He guessed right. Xiao Yuan did want to do something to him, but his behavior was once again restricted by [All Have]. The only thing he could do was to close his eyes and suppress his anger.
It was not that bad to go to Xingtian Sect; at least then he wouldn’t have to endure Mu Yingyang anymore.
Xiao Yuan endured it again. He carried the river shrimp to find Shizun, wanting to ask Shizun to make his favorite fried shrimp cake for him one last time before he went to Xingtian Sect.
He knocked on the door of Shizun’s room, and the door opened quickly. It was not his master who opened the door but a graceful woman he had never seen before.
“I am the guardian of Xingtian Sect,” the woman said, “by the order of the Venerable Lord, I will take the young master to Xingtian Sect to meet his brother.”
Xiao Yuan was taken aback for a moment, “Where is my Shizun?”
“You mean Li Xianting? He went down the mountain early in the morning.”
Xiao Yuan’s expression changed; he walked past the woman and into the house. In the past, Shizun would always take him and Mu Yingyang with him on his travels, and when he occasionally went down the mountain alone, he would tell them in advance. Shizun wouldn’t go anywhere without telling, especially knowing he would be leaving soon.
Shizun was not in the house and did not leave any letter. He went to look outside the house and then inside again, the study, the dining room… He searched the entire Xufu but still did not find Li Xianting.
The woman waited impatiently, urging him to pack his things and hit the road with her. He said, “But Shizun doesn’t know that I am leaving today?”
“How is it possible?” the woman sneered, “He asked the Venerable Lord to pick you up today.”
Xiao Yuan’s chest was stifled with panic, and he whispered softly, “Really.”
Xiao Yuan gave up. He emptied all the shrimp he had been fishing for half a day back into the stream, packed up two pieces of clothing he often wore and said to the woman, “Let’s go.”
When he was leaving, he suddenly heard someone call him: “–Shixiong!”
He paused but did not look back.
The scene changed again. He had already arrived at Xingtian Sect and sat with Xiao Du at a table of delicious dishes. A thin young man stood in front of them and tremblingly took out a jade pendant from his sleeve, saying, “I, I’m here to find my gege.”
Xiao Du asked him, “Do you have anything to say?”
“Can I go back to my shimen?”
“You can’t,” Xiao Du said, “you are still useful.”
He was still in Xingtian Sect and Xiao Du squeezed his chin fiercely. Xiao Du’s eyes were chilly. He held him firmly imprisoned in his arms and said coldly: “So no matter how much I try my best for you, it’s all in vain. I see, Ah Yu. But do you know that as long as it is what I want, I will always have it.”
“Because I like Ah Yu and want to pamper Ah Yu forever.”
The nine-tone snail was forcibly pushed into his body causing a riot in his golden core. He finally couldn’t bear it and did something he had planned for a long time.
Xiao Du vomited a mouthful of blood and fell in front of him. He looked at Xiao Du condescendingly, watching the light in his pupils fade little by little.
“Ah Yu, I can’t protect you from now on.”
“Gege is gone.”
He woke up on the bed in Biluozhai in Yunjian Pavilion and Gu Louyin was sitting by his bed, dressed in white, with deep shadows under his eyes.
Xiao Yuan was identified by Lu Yueyao as the killer who poisoned Lin Wulian the night before. He was able to sleep because he believed in Gu Louyin and because Gu Louyin believed him. He thought Gu Louyin would help him clear his name.
“Why are you here, why aren’t you looking after your Shixiong?” Xiao Yuan said. “Did you find the one who attacked your Shixiong? That fast?!”
Gu Louyin whispered, “I need your blood. Shixiong was severely poisoned, and only serpentine beauty can save him. And there is a lot of serpentine beauty in your blood.”
“One cup at a time, three times a day, for… one month.”
Xiao Yuan smiled, “Why don’t you just kill me and bleed me, won’t it be more convenient?”
“You can’t die.” Gu Louyin’s voice was hoarse as he repeated these three words, “You can’t die.”
Xiao Yuan looked into Gu Louyin’s eyes and a feeling of dissonance suddenly rose in his heart.
Gu Louyin… black hair, Gu Louyin wearing Yunjian Pavilion attire…?
No, it was not Gu Louyin. It was not the present Gu Louyin. All this was an attempt to destroy him with the memories of his mind. He remembered that he and Gu Louyin came to Yunjian Pavilion to steal Qingyan. On the way, they encountered Xuanle Sect’s formation and they both fell into their memories. At the beginning, he was able to stay sane and clear-headed, but as the old things continued to repeat themselves, he seemed to keep walking through the events of the first half of his life again. If it weren’t for Gu Louyin’s sudden appearance, he would have likely been trapped in his memories. Xuanle Sect’s formation really couldn’t be underestimated; he was too careless.
Later, Xiao Yuan saw the image of himself giving his blood for ten days, saw that he was as thin as a stick and he couldn’t find a robe that would fit him. He stabilized his mind and kept reminding himself that he was not there anymore. He was comparing the present Gu Louyin and the Gu Louyin in his memories, so that his mind could not be enchanted by the guqin.
If the effect of the guqin was really to push your unbearable memories in front of your eyes, it should almost be over. He was open-minded by nature and there were only a few people or things that could make him sad and disappointed. He would like to see what else the guqin could make him see.
Xiao Yuan bled for the last time, his blood fell into the bowl and the dazzling brilliant red kept spreading before his eyes until all the surrounding objects seemed to be covered with a layer of red mist. When the fog dissipated, he left Dongguan Mountain and stood in an elegant courtyard.
Xiao Yuan frowned. He had no memory of this courtyard and the scenery seemed to be one of Yunjian Pavilion.
There was an osmanthus tree in the courtyard. It was autumn. The osmanthus bloomed brightly and the fragrance was overflowing, making one feel dreamy. A child dressed in white stepped into the courtyard, carrying a sword almost as tall as him on his back.
It was Gu Louyin when he was six years old. How could little Gu Louyin appear in his memory? Could it be that he had separated from his own memory and came to Gu Louyin’s memory?
Xiao Yuan followed the little boy and watched him knock on the door, “Mother, it’s me.”
There was no response for a long time. Little Gu Louyin waited and waited, seeming a little disappointed. He was going to leave but he couldn’t bear it. After hesitating again and again, he still stood on tiptoes and tried to push the door.
The door opened slowly, and when Xiao Yuan could see the scene inside clearly, he couldn’t help but run forward, trying to block little Gu Louyin’s eyes.
His hand passed through Gu Louyin’s face. The little boy stayed where he was, his eyes wide open, watching the embroidered shoes on his mother’s feet sway gently in front of his eyes.
Mrs. Gu hanged herself. The one who found her body was her only son.
In the next memory, the little boy had grown up into a young man.
There was a screen in the room, and on the bed behind the screen there was a dying Lin Wulian. Gu Hang sat on the side of the bed, his face extremely grim.
Han Mu next to him said, “I took the initiative to ask the Pavilion Master to leave the retreat. I hope the Pavilion Master will forgive me.”
“You did nothing wrong.” Gu Hang said solemnly, “Did you say earlier that if we want to save Wulian, we can use human blood for medicine?”
“Yes. Without serpentine beauty, we can only use that person’s blood for detoxifying.”
“Father,” Gu Louyin’s tone was slightly anxious, “Xiao Yuan was not the one who poisoned Shixiong. He is the benefactor of Yunjian Pavilion. How can Yunjian Pavilion repay his kindness in this way?”
Gu Hang turned a deaf ear and asked Han Mu, “How long will it take?”
“Is there a faster way?”
Han Mu hesitated for a moment and said, “Pavilion Master, apart from using blood for medicine, there is indeed… there is indeed another faster way.”
“Cut his heart open and take the Gu.”
Gu Hang glanced at Gu Louyin and said indifferently, “Then cut it.”
Gu Louyin’s jade face turned bloodless. He looked at his two elders in disbelief, as if he had met them for the first time in his life.
Han Mu seemed to be unable to bear it and said, “Pavilion Master, Xiao Yuan is the savior of the young pavilion master. We should use his blood first. If we really can’t find serpentine beauty, then… it wouldn’t be too late.”
“No.” Gu Louyin’s voice trembled slightly, “Whether it is his blood or his life, they are his own. You can’t…”
Gu Hang interrupted him coldly: “I can.”
Gu Louyin was stunned.
“Tomorrow I will see his blood or his heart.“ Gu Hang didn’t want to comment, “You can choose for yourself.”
Xiao Yuan couldn’t help but smile softly. So that’s it, it was merely that. He learned a little bit about the events of that year from the words of others, but he didn’t expect that he would be able to witness it with his own eyes.
Gu Hang asked Gu Louyin to choose, and Gu Louyin chose, so he didn’t need to look at the rest.
The scene changed. Xiao Yuan also remembered this memory of Gu Louyin. Not only remembered, but would remember for his whole life.
It was a spring day two years ago. Wearing the wedding dress that Gu Louyin personally chose for him, he jumped down from the cliff on Dongguan Mountain. It could be said that that day was the happiest day of the first half of his life. He got rid of [All Have] and got rid of Yunjian Pavilion, Li Xianting, Xiao Du and Mu Yingyang. He was ecstatic with his hard-won freedom. He couldn’t wait to rush to his new life and he didn’t even look back once. He didn’t know the reaction of the other people who saw him “jump to his death”, nor did he know that his happiest memory had become a nightmare that Gu Louyin would never get out of in his life.
He saw Gu Louyin stay motionless just as he did when he saw his mother’s hanging body and get pierced in the chest by the sword of a Yunjian Pavilion disciple. He saw Gu Louyin’s wedding clothes soaked with blood and saw him push away Lin Wulian and Lu Yueyao, desperate to run towards the cliff. But he was pulled away by more of his fellow disciples. He struggled for two steps and finally knelt down slowly, supporting himself with Shuang Leng.
Xiao Yuan stopped looking; he didn’t want to see the completely devastated Gu Louyin – he didn’t like it.
The noise gradually dissipated and the figures began to blur. Xiao Yuan thought they were going to the next memory, but what appeared in front of him was the scene just now – he was running through the forest in his wedding dress, and Gu Louyin watched him jump off the cliff and then was injured and captured.……
Time and time again, this memory kept repeating, as if there would never be an end, trapping Gu Louyin in it for the rest of his life, causing him to endure the searing pain forever, without a moment of respite.
He didn’t know how many repetitions he had experienced. Xiao Yuan’s heart was already burning. Could it be that Gu Louyin really wanted to be trapped in this memory for the rest of his life? Was this what Gu Hang especially prepared for Gu Louyin, Gu Louyin’s real… heart demon?
Xiao Yuan couldn’t bear it anymore; knowing that this was a memory, knowing that Gu Louyin couldn’t hear anything, he still shouted his name: “Gu Louyin!”
A ray of clarity flashed in the eyes of Gu Louyin who was besieged by the disciples of Yunjian Pavilion, and he suddenly pulled up Shuang Leng. The powerful aura of the sword shook away all the fellow disciples around him.
Xiao Yuan felt a little relieved. It seemed that Gu Louyin was about to break through and they should be able to leave here soon.
After dealing with the disciples of Yunjian Pavilion, Gu Louyin flew towards the cliff without hesitation and firmly hugged “Xiao Yuan” that was about to fall off the cliff.
They were wearing the same red wedding clothes, black silk hair dancing in the wind; they were both in a wretched state, but still a stunningly beautiful couple.
“I caught you. “Gu Louyin said in a trembling voice, holding ”Xiao Yuan”.
The sound of the guqin stopped abruptly, and the memory receded like a tide. Xiao Yuan opened his eyes again. He was still in the secret passage of Yunjian Pavilion. Gu Louyin knelt on one knee only a few steps away from him, panting and looking down at his hands. Xiao Yuan couldn’t see his expression clearly.
Xiao Yuan walked behind Gu Louyin and put his hand on his shoulder.
“It’s okay,” Xiao Yuan said softly, “Gu Louyin, it’s okay.”