I think I used this picture before, but it's too perfect not to use for this particular chapter, which is both swoony and perfect in so many ways. All of the men Jin Mi loves appear in this chapter and some appear in finer form than others. But most of all, it is clear that Jin Mi's heart can no longer remain unmoved...
Chapter 17: A Line Separates Good From Evil (Part 4 of 4)
As the ink brush dips into the water, the thick black blobs that could not dissolve, there was always one figure's silhouette that would not disappear away from my eyes - so many changes of expressions like the continuous passing on of the baron lamp. Sometimes cold and proud, sometimes between crying and laughter, sometimes biting one's teeth in hate, sometimes sad and distant. Although the tone of voice changed, the words never changed, from start to end there was only the calling of my name, Jin Mi. Everytime when I look clearly at this person's face, those shadowy images would quickly disappear without a trace...
"Jin Mi, Jin Mi." Someone lightly patted my cheeks and I slowly opened my eyes. I woke up in hot sweat, my back was sticky, and my chest rose up and down, my breathing was not stable.
"Another nightmare?" Water God Daddy's cool hand brushed my forehead and brought a light wind, the sticky hot feeling I felt earlier disappeared.
"Don't worry, Daddy is by your side," Daddy sat at the side of my bed and hugged my shoulders and back, as if cajoling a three year old child. He lightly patted my back, the actions were simple, but they comforted my unease.
Ever since the Heavenly Empress used her flames to hurt my internal organs and I faked my death, Daddy had been at my side to take care of me - personally boiling my medicine... whenever I woke up in the middle of my dreams, it was Daddy who comforted me and never felt tired or annoyed. When my energy became slightly better, Daddy allowed Night to accompany me. Whenever Night came, he would gently hold my hand and transfer his internal energy to me. He could not hide the pain in his eyes, and whenever he left, he would turn back longingly with every three steps. The Twenty Four Flower Leaders also visited me a few times, their expressions were very bad. There was even once when the immortal attendants announced that the Heavenly Emperor and the Moon God wanted to see me, but Daddy rejected saying I lacked energy.
All these were a completely different and foreign experience for me. In the Water Boundary, I would sometimes fall sick for a few days when I over cultivated my energy. The old Carrot Immortal would also only realised that I had fallen sick from my yellow pallor a few days after I recovered and then send some sleeping herbs to me. And when most recently when I over cultivated my energy, it was when I was staying at the Moon God's residence. When the Moon God saw my dark heavy eyebags, he had rejoiced, "Jin Mi, did not sleep well yesterday? Was your heart distracted by the Spring Palace pictures* I gave you?" The Moon God smiled widely and told me, "Having amorous dreams is good for lengthening one's life." At that point, I did not see his precious collections of pictures yet, but I did not want to stop his rejoicing so I did not correct him and silently concurred.
Thus, I had grew up alone in these four thousand plus years - alone to survive, alone to die. I was used to it already, but suddenly I had a Water God Daddy, I had a fiance, who so simply put me in the palm of their hands to protect. This fresh feeling caused me to think that to die is also not bad, I would not mind dying to experience this a few more times.
As my body became better by the day, my nightmare did not stop. Whenever I fell asleep, I would see that silhouette that I could not see clearly - I did not know the reason why.
Today, when Daddy fed me my medicine, he gave me a sharp weapon - it was shaped like the leaves of the willow tree, long, thin and sharp, it brimmed with icy energy, and when you looked at it closely it was as clear as a crystal.
"This was made with divine ice and I had forged it with half of my entire divine energy, if you carry this with you, you will have something to protect you when you meet bad people."
Half of his entire divine energy?!
Daddy said it so lightly, but I became speechless. In order to protect me, he sacrificed half of his divine energy! No wonder, Daddy's face these days was so ghastly white, the usual light blood warmth in his face had disappeared, to lose so much divine energy at one go would cause him to be internally injured, he might even have damaged his internal core...
"Daddy, in future, Jin Mi will be filial towards you," I said it awkwardly, as if I did not know what to say, I could only hope to repay Water God Daddy when I finally cultivate into a god.
"Silly child," Daddy stroke my forehead and gave an elegant and peaceful smile.
At night, I finally managed to convince Daddy to go and meditate to balance his energy. I tossed and turned on my bed, after I kept the willow ice blade in my robes, I took out the golden shiny object from under my pillow which was also said to be able to protect me, after gazing it for half a day, yes, this was Phoenix's golden precious Phoenix Treasure. I did not know how the bird was doing, the people that came to visit never once mentioned him, so I did not ask. Daddy's residence was also mostly full of male attendants and there were no gossipy female attendants, so till now I did not know if Phoenix had recovered from his injury.
After thinking over it for a while, I decided that it was justified on emotions and logic for me to visit him.
After standing outside of the Qi Wu's Palace for a while, I decided not to announce my arrival to the immortal attendants guarding the door. My throat was injured and speaking was painful, instead of announcing my arrival, it was easier to just jump over the wall. Since I was a book boy for a hundred years in the Qi Wu's Palace, I was most familiar with its structure and quickly found a spot where the boundary was weak to go over. I quickly took the short cut to Phoenix's resting residence.
I looked through the window and through the little glimpse of light, I saw Phoenix resting on the bed with his eyes closed, both hands on his stomach. His fingertips were very white and the tips of his fingers were lightly raised up as if wanting to grab something. His whole face had shrunk one circle, he had lost quite a bit of weight - in fact, he now gave the impression of a weak defenceless scholar and it made one had the misimpression of wanting to protect him.
Just as I was about to enter the room, I saw that there was someone else sitting next to the bed, and I stopped my pace.
The person's back was facing me, her figure was voluptuous, she held a silk handkerchief and lightly wiped Phoenix's forehead, as if to dab up the tiny beads of sweat from his forehead.
This was no other than Princess Sui He from the Bird Tribe.
As if worried that Phoenix will catch a cold, she carefully placed Phoenix's exposed hands into the blanket, after that, she dabbed the side of his face, she could not be more understanding and thoughtful.
Suddenly, Phoenix who was deep in a dream stretched out his hands, he grabbed Sui He's right hand, the force was startling and I heard Sui He gave out a painful murmur. Phoenix's lips lightly moved and it was not clear what he said but Sui He's back stiffened, as if surprised. But after a short while, she recovered and let Phoenix hold her hand, she even used her other hand to lightly stroke the back of Phoenix's hand, with the gentle stroking, Phoenix's furrowed brows relaxed.
After a moment, Sui He said something and then leaned forward...
Both lips pressed together.
For a long time...
I rubbed my eyes, I saw it so clearly that it became unclear, Phoenix moved a little, as if he woke up.
I heard clearly what Sui He said before she leaned down. She said, "I like you too, Phoenix."
I followed the route that I had came in to go out - outside the front door of Qi Wu Palace at the meandering never-ending steps, I sat for a long time, looking at the moon, I thought that tonight was too dark such that the moon glow was a little too glaring.
I was still not sleepy, I did not know who else will still be awake at this moment, but I definitely knew of someone who would not be asleep.
In the dark of the night, in the Four Stars Palace, Night was half lying down on a bamboo bed, his right hand held the side of his forehead and his left hand held a parchment, there were only the fireflies for light, and they lightly danced in the surroundings.
"Jin Mi?" Night rose, "Why are you here? The night is cold, how can you come out barefooted when you have not fully recovered?" He tossed the parchment aside and came towards me, his tone was stern.
I lowered my head and saw that my toes were red, only now did I realised that I was not wearing shoes. I did not know if I forgot to wear them or dropped them along the way. Before I could figure that out, I felt my body lightened as Night carried me up. I was surprised as he placed me on the bamboo bed.
I sat there, blinking blearily for a moment, letting Night massage my toes. Finally, he placed my toes on his chest, not disdaining the dirt that it had touched along the way.
"What's wrong?" Night gazed at me.
My feet had warmed a lot, I cleared my throat slightly painfully, and answered, "How many female goddesses has Night had physical relations?"
*It refers to amorous pictures - the word "Spring" in chinese both symbolises spring but also the more sexual context of birth.
** This is Phoenix's palace.
Comments: It is clear that Phoenix probably mixed Sui He up with Jin Mi, but Jin Mi does not know that and the words "I like you too, Phoenix" pierced into her heart until she got dazed - she even rubbed her eyes, was it to wipe away tears that she does not reveal to us or to silently convince herself that this was not true? I think it's something good for Jin Mi to experience, afterall, it's not really fair if Phoenix is the only jealous one. It also provides a good comparison to how Jin Mi reacted to the other girls at the start of the novel and her feelings now.
Despite Night being one of the shadiest second male leads ever, I really like how Dian Xian presents him. His coldness makes him gentle, his gentleness makes him cold - there is something about him that has been isolated in a cold dark place, and yet he never fails to be a comforting presence, to reveal the little bits of sweetness that must have once so naturally been his younger self.
But, it's clear that out of all three guys, it's Water God Daddy that rules them all. Thank you, Water God Daddy, for your perfection was truly what moved Jin Mi's ice cold heart. You don't need flames to melt a heart, as Water God Daddy shows - only a simple declaration that you are more important than myself.