My dear readers, how much I have missed onesecondspring! I fell sick (gosh probably the third or fourth time already this year) and was overwhelmed with life and work, so I couldn't even come online. It's nice to be back. I'm hoping to get my groove back soon, I really miss updating at least twice a week (as I'm sure my most loyal readers do too). Here's a really long update to make up for it (it's really two updates as one)!
When I get my rhythm back, I'm going to finally update The Princess Who Cannot Marry too. Ahhhh, how I have missed my characters and I can sense An Hun far in the horizon, wondering how long more it will take for him to appear.
Without further ado, let's return to Jin Mi chancing upon Night in suspicious circumstances......
Chapter 23: No Door For Redemption (Part 1 of 4)
So, it turns out that there is a kind of hurt in this world - that can eat your heart and decay your bones.
It's called no door for redemption.
I stood on the rainbow bridge, my hand on a cool wooden beam, and gazed far away into the deep forest.
The Four Stars Palace had an ink black tiled roof and pure pristine white walls. It was also a place of serenity and elegance. Naturally, it was never guarded by any heavenly soldiers. However, now there was a incompatible row of heavenly soldiers, including Master Tai Si, standing guard outside. Although none of them were wearing armour, all of them had alert and cautious eyes carefully observing the surroundings. There were several gods who had came on official business but were politely declined at the entrance. Seeing Master Tai Si's demeanour, it was as if he was not even willing to let a grasshopper in.
My heart was weighed down with suspicions, so I transformed into steam and hid myself in the clouds that were swept away by the wind into the inside of the Four Stars Palace. The windows to Night's study were closed tightly, so I leaned onto the windows while in my form as steam and moistened a corner of the paper window to enable myself to look in.
I saw Night sitting in the middle drinking a porcelain cup of tea. His expression was indecipherable. Sitting next to him in the guest seat was the leader of the Bird Tribe, Sui He. Both of them were silent, with an expression of 'if the enemy does not move, I will not move'.
After a long while, it seemed that Sui He could not bear it anymore and she spoke, "A person who is above board will speak straightly, I'm sure the Heavenly Emperor knows very clear why I have come today."
Night lightly smiled, "Princess Sui He is mistaken, I do not know why you have come today."
Sui He lightly snorted, "Did you sabotage the medicine from Lao Jun?"
My heart jumped but I only heard Night said slowly and leisurely, "So, you came for such a small matter. I only removed a herb that would caused heatiness."
"You!" Sui He was furious, "All the realms believe that the Heavenly Emperor is completely devoted to the Water God, but little do they know that the Heavenly Emperor will also cheat and make use of the person he loves! You knew that Phoenix is a bird that cannot die, and there was a possibility that his soul did not completely dissipate. Once the Water God received Lao Jun's golden pill, she would definitely rescue Phoenix...you knew that Phoenix's disposition is to fire and is most afraid of the cold, so you purposely removed the 'fire' element from the pill, thus Phoenix is in continuous pain by the pill that tries to eat him up internally instead, you..." Sui He mocked, "I'm afraid the Water God has not seen how smartly you have manipulated her like a chess piece? If someone enlightened her....."
I felt like I had been struck my lightning.
Night placed his tea cup on the table. He gave out a light sound and lifted up his brows, "Princess Sui He speaks so boldly - so have you honestly told your Great One that it was not you who revived him?" Sui He's expression completely changed.
"Besides, his strength increases every day, he won't mind that little side effect. Princess Sui He is much too worried," Night replied in his usual calm manner.
Sui He slowly regained her composure and replied, "So what if Phoenix knows that it was Jin Mi who saved him? If it was not for her sword, would Phoenix's soul even have broken? But there is one matter... if Jin Mi knows that Phoenix is not the one who killed the Water God, and that her fiance, the Heavenly Emperor, knew from the start that Phoenix was not the murderer but purposely hid this from her, and misled her, how would you say she would react?"
I was thunderstruck! The sky was falling and the ground was collapsing. In that moment, I felt the sky land on me... but I could not move, could not run, could not escape, could only watch myself being hit by the huge boulders, see myself being broken into dust......
"I would advise you not to act foolishly!" Night's face darkened and his index finger hit the table, "Your wish to marry him is going to come true. If this truth comes out, aren't you worried that your dream ends up empty?"
"If the Heavenly Emperor tells me what herb you removed, I will never reveal a single word! If the Heavenly Emperor insists, then I can also only insist!"
"Do you really think that I only know that it was not Phoenix who killed the Water God and not know who the original killer is? You have followed the Heavenly Empress for ten thousand plus years, you must have learned her Red Lotus Fire? You knew that the Water God was weak and had lost half of his divine essence, taking revenge for the Heavenly Empress was only an excuse, in truth you wanted to separate Jin Er and Phoenix, right? Too bad, you miscalculated, you never expected that Jin Mi would stab him and cause his soul to dissipate... you couldn't draw a tiger and end up being bitten by a dog!" Night coldly threw out his last card.
"You..." Sui He was so alarmed that she stood up, "You... when have you known this..."
"When I know this is not important, your stuttering today is your confession. I advise you to just marry him and let him protect you, you might still be able to live... but if you ever land in my hands one day... the whole world knows that I promised Jin Er to revenge her father's death..."
Sui He's face was a sheet of white, she was completely frightened, "You... so you always knew, you used me to completely split up the two of them... you...there is no one you don't use!"
"It's good that you know," Night calmly waved his hand and the door opened, "I will not send you out."
Sui He clumsily rushed out of the undulating white walls of the Four Stars Palace, and disappeared hurriedly to the end of the rainbow bridge......
I slid down from the window sill. The pain from falling down caused me to be unable to maintain my disguise and I regained my original appearance. I bore with the pain and quickly got up to run off.
Cannot stop! Cannot turn back! I ran off.
"Jin Er!" He hugged my waist from behind and I was so shocked that I shivered and tried my best to kick and struggle out. But, even after I used up my last ounce of strength, I could not break this tight chain. Using my fingers, I pinched the iron arms until there was blood... until I could not expend any more energy, I saw that there were traces of blood everywhere, but it was not clear from who......
I was always only a very small ant. No matter how much I struggled, it was in vain.
"Jin Er... listen to me..." It was so hilarious, his voice sounded shocked and stuttered, how could he act so realistically?
"Fine, I will listen to you... just let me go, what else can I do, you can tell it all to me... I will listen to you, just let me go... ok?" I already knew that I had no chance of winning against him. I can only humbly beg, beg him to let me off.
But, he stood there without speaking, only his arms entwined me tighter, his trembling lips brushed the back of my neck, like needles piercing into me, I was so scared.....
"Jin Er, don't speak to me this way... don't leave me... I beg you, don't leave me... I'm so scared..."
"But, I am already a corpse with no bones... every bit, every inch of me have been used up cleanly, there is nothing left. Why? Why can't you let me off?" I bit my lips as my whole body shook, "I'm so afraid, can you let me go?" I weakly begged, my trembling voice became softer and softer.
"Jin Er, Jin Er," He turned my weak but stiff shoulder and we saw each other, face to face, I wished so desperately to be shrunk into a ball, "Jin Er... can you look at me? I love you... I really love you... don't be scared of me... don't leave me behind..."
"No, you remember wrongly. You don't love me. You only lied to me that you loved me, lied to my father that you loved me, lied to the Flower Leaders that you loved me, lied to Old Carrot Immortal that you loved me, lied to everyone in all the realms, you have lied for so long that even you have started to believe that it's real."
"No, Jin Er... believe me, listen to my heart, I love you..." He palely explained and desperately hugged me close into his chest. The beat of his heart was so chaotic that it almost seemed real.
I slowly shook my head, "I may be stupid, but no matter how stupid I am, I have seen through everything clearly... from the start, you tried to get close to me because I was one of the people around Phoenix, you wanted to learn more about your enemy, then you started to suspect that I was the Water God's daughter. At the Heavenly Empress' birthday banquet, your water boundary was broken by me and thus you confirmed my identity."
"That day, Daddy brought me to the Heavenly Realms. From outside the South Sky Gate, you clearly saw Daddy standing behind the pillar, but you pretended you did not, pretended you did not know I was the Water God's daughter, coaxed me into saying that I like you, thus Daddy thought that our feelings were mutual. You even swore to the heavens that you would break the marital engagement for me, because you knew my Daddy already learnt that my mother's death was caused by the Heavenly Emperor and Heavenly Empress. You were worried that Daddy will break this marital engagement, and you would lose a strong support in Daddy. Daddy is kind, if he saw that my heart was with you, he would not bear to break the engagement and will even fully support you. Thus, even if you fought with Phoenix, you would have increased your chances of winning."
"You let me freely enter Qi Wu palace, you let Phoenix frequently see me, only for me to hold onto him. You gave me a Nightmare beast, only so you would always know my movements."
"That day, when all the gods went to hear Grandfather Buddha's sermon and the Heavenly Empress did not go, you must have guessed what would happen. You calmly brought the Heavenly Emperor and Daddy to 'save' me, saw that I was pretending to be dead but did not reveal anything, you watched Daddy heartbreakingly mistakenly think that I was dead, tried to use Daddy to kill the Heavenly Empress, but could never guess that Phoenix would block it. However, even if the Heavenly Empress did not die, Phoenix was heavily injured, the Heavenly Empress was imprisoned, your aim was achieved."
"When Daddy was killed by Sui He, you clearly knew who was the real murderer, clearly knew that I suspected Phoenix, you clearly knew....."
"But you told me, 'The Water God wanted to kill the Heavenly Empress for his daughter, and the Fire God took three palms for his mother instead. But, his mother was imprisoned, the Fire God's heart was full of vengeance and worried that the Water God would harm his mother again, so he decided to exterminate the Water God and remove all future worries!'"
"Three years, for three years, you knew that Phoenix already realised that you were preparing an army, that you wanted to grab the throne, and you predicted that Phoenix will reveal this at the critical moment."
"However, you are not only a smart chess player, you are a gambler, aren't you?"
"On the day of our wedding, you made a grand bet. You bet that Phoenix would barge into the wedding hall, you bet that I would revenge my father! The ten thousand soldiers outside was a front, the real bet was on one person, someone nobody would have thought of..."
"It was me, I was that chip. One move that will determine victory or defeat. You won completely. You gained everything."
"But, why can't you let me off? I asked Lao Jun for the pill, Lao Jun promised to consider for a night. On the second day, you pretended to ask Lao Jun on my behalf but you were actually obstructing me. You knew that I once prized divine essence the most, I even saw it greater than my own life, thus you asked Lao Jun to ask for sixty precent of my divine essence for the golden pill. You thought I would not be able to sacrifice, and Lao Jun would be able to keep the pill but I will still be grateful to you for helping me ask, and Lao Jun will be grateful for your advice. You never guessed that I would unhesitatingly give my divine essence for the golden pill."
"But, you never missed a step. You already prepared for the worst situation and sabotaged the pill. Even if I gave my divine essence, what I would receive was only an imperfect pill."
"How can you know so clearly what you want? How can you plan every step so well, calculate everything so perfectly? How can you make everyone your chess piece to use and still let them think that you are the cleanest and kindest person?"
"Now, you steadily sit on the throne, and everyone in the Heavenly Realms except the Moon God, will support you. Even the Moon God cannot threaten your throne. Since your wish has been fulfilled, why can't you let me go?"
The truth was completely exposed under the hot sun. So clearly, that there was nowhere to hide.
He lowered his eyes and did not say anything. His deathly white face was undeniable.
"You almost missed one step. You never predicted that even when the golden pill missed one herb, it would still work. You never guessed that Phoenix would so quickly revive, would ascend to the top of the Demon Realms in such a short time and be able to compete with you."
An icy cold feeling drenched me from head to toe, I trembled, "You can't... unless you still want to use me against him?"
In my extremely emotional state, I forcefully pushed him away and he fell to the floor. I hoarsely said, "It's no use. He has no more feelings for me! He hates me to the bone and can't wait to tear me apart. He has fallen for someone else, fallen for the person who killed my father...." Sobbingly, I stepped back, "Let me go! I will not hurt him anymore!"
"No, Jin Er, No!" Kneeling halfway, he pushed me into his embrace and no matter how I punched or kicked, he won't let go, "I was wrong. Everything in the past was wrong. But, I really love you, love you so much that my life is an agony, and I cannot pull myself out... I saw your dream and saw both of you embracing in that dream, did you know how I felt? I hated myself so much that I wanted to pull a sword and destroy my soul. If I never existed, how could I met you, and if I never met you, then I would never have experienced such pain... but, I clearly knew that I needed to tolerate, tolerate until I became the true strong one, so strong that everyone must lower their head to me, then I can protect my loved ones, let the one I love follow me wholeheartedly......"
"When you secretly went to visit him, I pretended I did not know. I treated it as an addiction for you, just like how you used to eat sweets, how you slowly stopped bit by bit."
"Later, when you started to visit him less, you didn't know how happy I was. And even later, when you agreed to marry me, did you know how shocked I was? I was so happy my heart wanted to fly. I thought then, if you could only marry me, if you would live the rest of your life with me, even if I had to give up the throne, I would......"
I looked at his panicked face, so fearful that it seemed real, and heard him say the biggest joke in the world. I could only shake my head in response.
"Jin Er, you can choose not to believe me, you can choose not to love me, you can even hate me, but you can never leave me!" I suddenly felt like my heart was torn out, alone without support, and I could only look at him in despair. Looking at his pale face with a line of tears that landed on my forehead, "Jin Er, I was wrong, but I do not regret!"
Wrong, I was also wrong, so terribly wrong, so ridiculously wrong... but, Phoenix, how would he hear this?
So, it turns out that there is a kind of hurt in this world - that can eat your heart and decay your bones.
It's called no door for redemption.
Comments: This is the chapter that tells it all! It's so good, so powerful, and so unbelievably heart-wrenching. I know it's terrible but I actually really love seeing Night in all his true dark colours. But, just as Jin Mi despairs that there is no door for redemption, Night says that he has no regrets.
I definitely believe that Night loves Jin Mi, because why did he bet on Jin Mi being the ultimate piece? Because, he knew that Phoenix loved Jin Mi as much as he loved Jin Mi, and both of them would give up the world for her.