Chapter 20: Lady Pothos in the tall tower (Part Two)
If not for the realm shield set up by the Yama King, Hyacinth would have flown up to Lady Pothos and drew her into his arms to comfort her. His gaze intertwined with hers with infinite tenderness which seemed to soften the chilly air around them. Ever since he met her, he had scrutinized his past as he gazed at her clear eyes and cleansed his heart and soul in her songs. She made him believe that his past sins could be forgiven, and he deserved to have this unrivalled happiness and pleasure of staying with her forever. Even though he could only gaze at her from afar, he felt they were as intimate as they were hugging each other; this pleasure made the onerous Yellow Spring Kingdom more desirable than even the paradise.
Despite some small obstacles, the three youths finally finished the Yama King’s first task with help from Hyacinth and Lady Pothos. The last doubt for Hyacinth evaporated from Ouyang Xiaoleng and Qianqi’s minds; instead, they treated him with silent understanding and trust. They even became fast friends with him despite the big gap between their ages.
After saying farewell to Lady Pothos, Hyacinth led the three youths toward the Forbidden Forest. “The first task is easy; still it’s nice that we got it done so soon! Now let’s head to the Forbidden Forest!”
In fact, Hyacinth felt heavier than he sounded. As its name indicated, the Forbidden Forest was the forbidden place in the Yellow Spring Kingdom. People not familiar with this world might stumble into the forest by mistake. It’s said there were many hidden tunnels leading to alternate worlds and the trespassers might be sucked into these black holes and could never come back. Even Hyacinth had never ventured into this place. Whenever he passed it, he’d feel awed by it since it looked like a huge black hole or swamp covered by thick mist.
Right now, he was showing them the way in his human form. It was his habit to guide people in the form of butterflies. As the Guide in the Yellow Spring Kingdom, his job was leading souls down a road of no return, so he didn’t want the souls to see his face. In his eyes, no matter how many crimes they had committed before they died, most of them were now as weak and helpless as he had once been.
As he walked, he explained, “The Forbidden Forest is situated outside the Lingque Palace. Before we enter the forest, I’ll keep us together with a rope. The mist is very thick in the forest and it’s easy to get lost! But after we find colorful crystal stones in the forest, they will help us go into the Lingque Palace and find the soul plates!”
“How will they help us?” Qianqi was an impatient guy and didn’t like Hyacinth’s habit of leaving them hanging while he explained things.
“To find your soul plates in the Lingque Palace, defeating the soul guarding soldiers is only the first step. After entering the Lingque Palace, you must find your own names, but without assistance from the one-eye wizard who manages the soul plates, it’s almost impossible to find a name. The one-eye wizard is not a bad guy but very eccentric. He stays in the palace all year round and has no chance to go out. He likes to collect a certain kind of colorful crystal stones which are spirit stones from an alternate world. They look like ordinary black stones at first glance, but they will change once they are touched by souls. The whole stone will become a five-colored crystal containing the pattern and colors unique to the soul of the person who has touched it. If you guys give him the colorful crystal stones with your own patterns, I think he’ll be happy to help you find your soul plates.”
“I’m curious what my colorful crystal stone looks like.” As she spoke, Xia Qiu looked at Ouyang Xiaoleng, wondering about the colors and pattern in his colorful crystal stone. She guessed his stone would be as clear and transparent as snow.
As they walked further, they saw only empty ground dotted sparsely with withered trees; strange-looking birds would fly across the sky occasionally. The birds looked like ravens but much larger in size with thick black feathers and six blood-red eyes. Whenever they flew over their heads, the birds would stare ahead with the front two eyes and stare at them with the other four eyes. Turning in the sockets, the bloody-colored eyeballs looked as if blood would drip from them. It was a horrible sight.
“They were transformed by the obsessions of the dead people. The Yama King ordered Black Impermanence and White Impermanence to remove all the longing for the human world, desires and greediness for money from the souls, and turn these obsessions into blood ravens. The ravens sustain their forms by feeding on the souls’ hatred.” Hyacinth saw Xia Qiu’s fear when she looked at the ravens and comforted her, “Don’t be afraid. They won’t hurt you!”
Despite his soothing words, Xia Qiu still didn’t want to look at the blood ravens. After walking for a long time, they finally saw the Forbidden Forest. It looked like a dark cloud extending endlessly to the horizon. It was indeed endless since it concealed countless black holes leading to alternate worlds in other parallel spaces. The blood ravens would return when they reached the edge of the Forbidden Forest. It was obvious that even they didn’t want to be touched by the presence oozing from the forest.
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