Chapter 19: Paramita Flower (Part One)
They came again to the river full of black and sticky liquid. The Paramita Flowers blooming on the other side of the river looked especially bright like red blood in this world full of black, grey and white colors. Xia Qiu remembered that Ouyang Xiaoleng once told her that Manzhu Shahua was the other name of the Paramita Flower.
“This is Nai River! You can’t use spirit power above it, so you can’t fly across. Besides, the river looks quiet but contains countless baleful souls that are suffering from endless torture. If you swim in the river, they’ll attack you,” flying around them as butterflies, Hyacinth warned them.
“Even if we could swim in it, I’d…” Qianqi looked disgusted.
Ouyang Xiaoleng also had goosebumps all over his skin; he couldn’t imagine himself touching the black liquid, not to mention swimming in it.
“What do we do then?” Xia Qiu asked Hyacinth.
He thought for a moment and said, “The skeletons wearing black or white cloaks are called Black Impermanence and White Impermanence. They execute punishments night and day on the monsters before they become baleful souls in the Nai River, so the souls are terrified of them. We can disguise ourselves as Black Impermanence and White Impermanence and the baleful souls will be scared by the sight of us. But remember, remain silent and hold your breaths no matter what you see or hear when you cross the river, otherwise the baleful souls will recognize your scents.”
Xia Qiu remembered the Yama King’s unpredictable temper and was worried for Hyacinth. “Aren’t you afraid the Yama King will punish you for helping us?”
Ouyang Xiaoleng didn’t understand why Hyacinth wanted to help them and asked coldly, “Why should we trust you? You work for the Yama King. Why are you helping us?”
Instead of answering, Hyacinth asked, “Do you have a better option if you don’t do as I say?”
If he told the teenagers why he was helping them, he’d have to tell them about his past and what he had experienced after he came to the Yellow Spring Kingdom, and it would be a long story. He decided to tell them after they finished the Yama King’s tasks. Again, he transformed into a handsome man wearing a peacock-blue robe; his voice and deportment were gentle and elegant with a touch of despondency.
Xia Qiu saw his despondency and understood it. After all, his beauty was so out of place in this gloomy and dark world, as was his behavior. She remembered the Yama King’s words and knew Hyacinth had led them to the Yama Palace so they wouldn’t be lost in the Forbidden Forest or stumble into the territory of the soul guarding soldiers; now he offered to help them finish the three difficult task at the risk of being severely punished by the Yama King. Considering the things that Hyacinth had done for them, Xia Qiu knew intuitively that they could trust him; his concern for them looked out of place in this world, but it was in sync with his nature.
At this thought, she felt even more touched and said to him with a smile, “Thank you!”
She wondered what the man had gone through and why he ended up working for the Yama King in the Yellow Spring Kingdom. Other than gratitude, she was full of questions about him.
Hyacinth waved his hand at her and took out four cloaks, two black and two white. He kept a black cloak and handed the other three cloaks to them. “Put it on and pull up the hood. I’ll summon a boat.”
He pulled on his cloak and concealed his head and most of his face with the hood. Then he reached out a hand over the Nai River and chanted a mantra passage that they didn’t understand. Soon, a boat appeared above the river shakily without touching the black liquid in the river.
By now, the three teenagers had bundled themselves in the cloaks. Hyacinth reminded them, “Remember, no matter what happens, keep silent and hold your breaths. Get into the boat after me when you’re ready.”
He leapt into the boat before them. Ouyang Xiaoleng inhaled deeply and did the same; Xia Qiu and Qianqi followed them. The moment they were all in the boat, Hyacinth maneuvered the boat toward the other side of the river with a long pole. When it began to move, the river covered in mist was no longer quiet. Baleful souls as grey as iron stuck out their heads and arms from the black river and tried to crawl out of the sticky liquid; some of them still wore the tortured expressions before they became baleful souls; those expressions were so evil and ferocious that they didn’t look like humans.
The baleful souls gathered around the boat slowly and blocked its way. They reached out their arms and tried to get into the boat. Hyacinth put down the pole and an iron whip materialized in his hand; they had seen Black Impermanence use such whips. He lashed the whip at the baleful souls that were trying to crawl into the boat. They screamed and groaned under the whipping and slid back into the liquid slowly. Ouyang Xiaoleng picked up the pole immediately and maneuvered the boat forward.
Xia Qiu couldn’t hold her breath as long as Ouyang Xiaoleng and Qianqi did. Seeing this horrible sight, she felt she couldn’t hold her breath any longer; tortured by the feeling of suffocation, her brain began to have all kinds of hallucinations due to the lack of oxygen, feeling as if she’d be pulled into the river by the baleful souls any moment. She kept telling herself that she could do it. Qianqi noticed her discomfort and took her hand, giving her strength.
When the boat finally reached the opposite bank, they jumped to the land immediately and began inhaling deeply. When they first entered the Yellow Spring Kingdom, they had been disgusted with the air which had a rusty smell in it, but now they had totally forgotten it. Before them, large stretches of blood-red Paramita Flowers extended to the distance. Xia Qiu and Qianqi cheered at the sight of it. Ouyang Xiaoleng didn’t cheer but his lips curved up slightly in joy.
Xia Qiu pointed at the flowers and said to him, “They’re Manzhu Shahua!”
Ouyang Xiaoleng nodded. “Yeah. I’m surprised to see them in the Yellow Spring Kingdom.”
“The Yama King planted them!”
Hyacinth’s words dumbfounded the youths; they’d never put the Yama King and these flowers in one picture.
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