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Chapter 231: Returning Home

 Chapter 231 - Returning Home

The rain dispersed and the clouds cleared, the dark night finally passed, the sky revealed its first ray of light, quietly spilling into the world.

At Qing Yun Hill Big Bamboo Valley, it was still in tranquility. The disciples although diligent but would not be awake so early. Outside Observed Silence Hall, in-between the eaves' tiles, there were still last night's remnant dews, forming water beads, continuously dripping down. In the distant bamboo forest it was still as exuberant, gazing over, at this time within the forest, there was also lingering mountain mist, like a thin veil, gently drifting.

The grand door of the Observed Silence Hall was as usual, wide opened, behind the threshold, above the grey bricks, yellow curtains curled beside the pillars, the long-burning lamp before the San Qing deities statues, was still burning quietly in the morning rays.

The morning breeze with a slight chill, blew over from afar, brushing past the buildings, lightly made a turn in this Silence Observed Hall, again heading to even further places. With the wind, clear pleasant cries of the birds were heard, this was the only sound in this dawn.

This was a very tranquil picture, Taoism celestial paradise, countless of dawn were passed by like this, without any taint of the mortal world unrefined atmosphere. But on this usual morning, it had became different from usual, an unharmonious difference.

A totally soaked figure, knelt before the entrance, head deeply buried in-between the arms, close on the ground. The surrounding earth where he had crouched, were all soaked by the water droplets dripping from his body, and from his body, clothes, water droplets were still dripping.

And six chi away from this person, on the Hall's grey bricks stone steps, Tian Buyi's body lay quietly. Although lifeless but he looked extremely peaceful, without any pain shown on his face, as if death to him, was nothing important.

Tian Buyi's both hands were folded and placed on his chest, his clothes had been tidied and arranged carefully on him. Other than that, his clothes also looked like they were soaked but definitely not as wet as the person kneeling below the stairs, and mud stains were seen everywhere on the clothes, although it looked like someone had gently rubbed and washed but due to the short time, unable to clean it, therefore the stains could still be seen.

However, guessed he would not mind this.

The morning breeze was still blowing, gently swept past the summit of Qing Yun Hill Big Bamboo Valley, blowing past the eaves of Observed Silence Hall, blowing before the Observed Silence Hall. As if feeling the chilly wind, Ghost Li's body shivered, his body looked to be still weak, just that, he was still kneeling unmoving, facing the grand entrance, head deeply buried.

These was all what he was familiar with, the building hall, the stone steps, deities statues, even the earth that he was kneeling on, the faint fragrance emitting from the mud, were all part of his deeply engraved memories. Not knowing how many times, he had dreamt of returning to the past, again returning to this valley ground, and now that he had returned, his heart was broken.

Behind Ghost Li's figure, passing a long stretch of empty ground, what one would see, would be the paradise that Zhang Xiaofan once had - the kitchen. Ten years had passed, the door created out of two wooden planks, did not look like it had changed, just that it had several more scratches, a few places chipped off, looking even more worn.

The door was left unlocked but soon was pushed opened by a furry hand, accompanied with light [zhi zhi] sounds, Xiao Hui came to the door and lightly jumped in.

Even the arrangements in the kitchen, was still the same, the dining table and chairs, pots and pans and stove, were all in their original positions. Xiao Hui's eyes peered around, familiarly jumped up the table and then looked right.

As expected, on the right hand side of the table, leaning against the wall, was a huge pile of dried straw, on it was a yellow figure, fast asleep, making [chi chi] sounds from its mouth, it was Xiao Hui's childhood companion, Da Huang.

Xiao Hui crouched on the table, its tail curled up but did not jump over immediately and hugged its dear friend. It only scratched its head, turned and glanced outside, and then at Da Huang, seemed undecided.

And at this time, Da Huang who was fast asleep with its ears drooped down, eyes still shut but its ears suddenly perked up, as if hearing something then its head moved and opened its eyes.

What it saw, was a familiar figure on the table, Da Huang was surprised but immediately awake, happily jumped up and [wang wang] barked at Xiao Hui, its front paws against the table, eyes full of excitement, tail wagging constantly.

Xiao Hui grinned, seemed to be infected by Da Huang's mood, hugged Da Huang's head and smoothed its shiny yellow fur. Da Huang rubbed its head against Xiao Hui and licked its face.

Xiao Hui [zhi zhi] laughed, flipped over and jumped down, Da Huang also came over and after playing for a while, Xiao Hui suddenly recalled something, frowned, patted Da Huang's head and then pointed outside.

Da Huang looked at Xiao Hui, did not comprehend. Xiao Hui [zhi zhi zhi zhi] a few more times, jumped onto Da Huang's back, Da Huang started to stride and ran out of the kitchen, looked around and soon saw that figure kneeling outside the hall.

And that figure, clearly was also what it was familiar with.

Da Huang couldn't help but be excited, charged to that figure while barking [wang wang wang], its tail wagging furiously. Soon, it reached that empty ground, neared Ghost Li, and suddenly it stopped.

Its eyes brushed past that figure kneeling outside, saw Tian Buyi's body quietly lying on top of the steps.

Xiao Hui quietly slipped down, ran to where Ghost Li was, smoothed his head and peered around, then crouched on the ground, tightly against Ghost Li.

Da Huang slowly went over, went up the stairs and came to where Tian Buyi was. It watched his face for a long time, then gently sniffed the body and again at other areas of the body. Its tail, gently wagged, in the end, Da Huang turned its head over, seemed perplexed, came to Tian Buyi's head, gently pushed Tian Buyi's face with its head, making quiet [wu wu] sounds.

Tian Buyi did not have any reaction.

Da Huang stared for a long time, did not bark wildly or howl as expected. After the last push at Tian Buyi's face without any reaction, like giving up, it quietly lay in front of Tian Buyi, both eyes still on him, as if hoping he would suddenly wake up, it placed its head on its paws, ears drooped down, snuggled beside its cold, lifeless master's body.

The morning breeze, carrying last night's chill, quietly brushed past. Below the steps, Ghost Li's body again shivered but he soon again descended into stillness, motionlessly kneeling.

On this chilly morning, time was still quietly passing.


A light cry, Suru woke up startled, her body in cold sweat.

Her hair slightly in disarray, her face haggard, she slowly supported herself off the table, it was at this table that she fell asleep last night.

The shuttered windows was slightly ajar, spilling in the morning rays, Suru stared dazely at the the light for a long time, when her heart finally settled, she made a bitter laugh, turned over and took the small round mirror from the table.

In the mirror, showed her beautiful face, even though due to her pinnings and late nights, she looked haggard but graceful bearing still shown through, mesmerizing.

Her face was still youthful, how about the heart?

She watched herself for a long time, sighed and placed the mirror back, stood up to the window and pushed the windows opened.

The morning sunlight poured in, chasing all of the darkness away, refreshing one's mood. A faint smile appeared on Suru's face, leaning against the window, stretched lazily.

The feeling of the wind blowing against her face, with some chillness.

She opened the door and walked out.

As the day was still early, she assumed most of the disciples were still in bed, forget it, let them sleep a while more, she would be instructing them to go down the mountain to search for Buyi later, most likely they would be tire out too.

Suru while thinking of that, walked towards the Observed Silence Hall.

The winding corridor slowly stretched out below her feet, outside the corridor, the trimmed bamboos rustled in the wind. For some reason, on a morning like this, Suru discovered that on the usual days, she had mislooked over many things.

The paint on the pillars after many years, had wore off. The last time that they refurbished the hall, was when she and Tian Buyi were just married, unknowingly, this corridor had also accompanied her throughout the years, and she herself walking past here every single yet and yet actually did not realize it. When Tian Buyi returns, she must ask him to find a time to refurbish the place again.

And on the thickest bamboo outside the railings, two small swords could still be seen engraved on the bamboo, that was when she was still in just-married bliss, engraved it on the bamboo, wishing their two swords could form a wall, cultivating together. Recalling those times, Tian Buyi even teased her on the drawings, saying them ugly, she pretended to be mad and caused him to panic, after pacifying her for half a day she finally let him off.

The scene, was still clearly in her mind, Suru smiled, her mood lightened. She took in a deep breath of this air with a slightly sweet fragrance, continued to walk. Then, she suddenly thought of, Da Huang was raised by Buyi since young, missing for so many days, she wondered if the disciples took care of it well, if it grown thin, Buyi would start to grumble when he is back.

Suru smiled and shook her head, determined to go to the kitchen to check on Da Huang while there was still time. While going through the thoughts and walking, unknowingly, she had arrived at the Observed Silence Hall.


The first bell in the morning, reverberated from afar, that was Qing Yun sect morning call, also to call upon this new day. The bell chimed deeply, reverberated among the mountains, lingering for long.

Suru's heart, with this chime, abruptly jumped.

Before the hall, a figure either kneeling or lying, and Da Huang who loved to sleep, for some reason was up so early today, and quietly lying on the stairs, looking listless.

And as if hearing something, Da Huang's drooping ears moved, turned and glanced at the hall. In the shadows not reached completely by the morning sun, a lady stood there, staring dumbfoundedly over here.

Suru's heart, started to pound, even feeling like it was about to burst, a feeling of breathlessness. That figure lying on the stairs quietly, so familiar that it seemed to engrave deep within her soul, a figure that could never be erased.

But at that moment, praying thousand of times in her heart, she was wrong, that she was mistaken...

Her face as pale as paper, her feet leaded, step by step she walked over, her lips trembling. Da Huang lying beside, watched Suru approaching, its tail wagged gently at her but again placed its head on the ground, a pair of eyes quietly watching its master lying in front.

Finally, she came near where she could no longer avoid. Tian Buyi that familiar face reflecting in her eyes, he seemed to be sleeping, quietly sleeping.

Suru felt the earth spinning, her feet stumbled, collapsed on the ground. Fortunately for her cultivation, she managed to calm her body, even so, her eyes had flashes of darkness, both her legs weak, walked to where Tian Buyi was, fell sitting down.

Her trembling hands, slowly touched Tian Buyi's body, clothes and at his chest, her hands paused, shaking even more violently, then, tears rolled down her eyes, drop by drop, onto his face.

Beside her, Da Huang making [wu wu] mournful howls, rubbed his head beside her legs.

She slowly looked up, looked at that figure kneeling below the steps, and the grey-furred monkey, after a long time, she quietly, chokingly said, "You are...Xiaofan?"

Ghost Li shook, did not look up, on the contrary, his head buried even lower, already on the rough ground, the earth rubbed against his skin, after a while, his trembling voice was heard.

"Yes...disciple..., shi...niang."

[Translator note: Shiniang is referring to the wife of the teacher, it sounds weird if I put it as teacher's wife so I decided to use it directly instead]

Suru made a sad smile, said, "You don't have to be like this, you can get up and talk."

Ghost Li knelt lying on the ground, did not look up, as if he had lost all courage to look at Suru again, quietly said, "Disciple deserved to die, did...did not protect teacher..." his voice stumbling, as if every word, was a punishment to him.

Suru slowly half-raised Tian Buyi's body, into her embrace. Her body trembling, not knowing if it was because she felt the coldness from his body, or thinking, to chase this coldness from the body using her own warmth.

"You can get up." Her voice sounded hollow and dreary, in Ghost Li's memories, he never once recalled hearing her so weak and helpless, and he felt even more anguish, couldn't help but rubbed his face in the earth, hoping the pain would ease the pounding pain in his heart.

"If you don't get up, how are you going to tell me what had happened?" Suru faintly said, her eyes only watching the body in her embrace, as if at this moment, nothing else mattered to her.

Da Huang went up, gently rubbed its head against Tian Buyi, whining incessantly.

Ghost Li's body paused and slowly straightened, looked up and at Suru. That dignified and beautiful lady, even at this anguish moment, seemed not to lose her graceful charm. In the breeze, the sides of her hair gently drifted, against her pale face which was leaning against Tian Buyi's face.

"You came back, you finally came home..."

This was the last sentence that Ghost Li heard from Suru.

Then, a tightness in his chest, his meridians churning like angry waves, darkness before his eyes, as if his heart which was wound so tightly, like a bow, exploded.

With a [pu tong], like a wood plank crashing onto the floor, he fainted.

While he was about to lose his consciousness, in his disordered state, he felt his entire body was being burned but inside his body, it was cold like ice. And indistinctly he could hear a few shouts of anguish and panic, and then the next moment cries and wailings were heard.

Chaotic footsteps were heard everywhere but all towards one direction.

"Shiniang! Shiniang..."

The soundless cry, was the last and also the only thought in Ghost Li's mind, then, he blacked out.