Chapter 22: Faces in thick mist (Part Two)

His memory brought him back to 1,000 years ago when he was only a newly born hyacinth spirit in the human world. As a flower spirit, he couldn’t live far away from his root, so he only watched the world from afar, feeling touched, disappointed or angry at the scenes he had seen in the world. He craved desperately for freedom and had thought he’d never have it. He wanted to walk freely in the world and pursue the spring with his loved one. But as a flower spirit, he could never leave his root and his dream could never come true.

One day, a person stood before him; he was Green Cloud. He said, “Come with me. I can make you walk freely away from the root buried deep in the soil. In return, you must take my orders.” Hyacinth agreed without thinking; his craving for freedom had obscured his sense of right and wrong. In the following hundreds of years, he traveled all over the human world and the spirit world and killed countless lives for Green Cloud. Even with blood all over his hands, he could still transform into the most beautiful flowers and butterflies. He was free and could walk in any place; but meanwhile, he felt he was tightly restrained; like a warhorse pulling Green Cloud’s war chariot, he was driven, whipped, and ravaged by Green Cloud. He was depressed and felt cold inside as his heart was lost in a fathomless darkness.

He couldn’t find the way out of the darkness and began to miss the time when he couldn’t walk freely. At that time, he had at least a pure heart and was full of hope and longing and could be touched by things he saw. But now, he had become numb to beauty and kindness; he just took orders and did Green Cloud’s bidding like a machine. Before he killed people, he never made certain if they deserved to die, which gave him an excuse to dodge the scrutiny of his conscience. But deep inside, he knew the people he killed didn’t deserve to die.

He happened to hear that there was a place that wasn’t controlled by any of the three worlds, the time or space. He thought it was where he, a man who had committed great sins, should go. He got severely wounded when he broke out from Green Cloud’s supervision and finally came to the Yellow Spring Kingdom after going through lots of hardships. He began to work for the Yama King as a guide for the newly dead souls. He had thought he’d have a peaceful life in this world as he consumed the last of the energy in his body. However, he changed his mind after he heard Lady Pothos’s song by accident. At first, he had thought it was his illusion; after all, how could such beautiful singing exist in this void world? Later he found it truly existed and the singer was the Yama King’s daughter, Lady Pothos, who had been imprisoned by her father.

Lady Pothos was beautiful and innocent and her pure eyes conveyed endless sorrow. She had lost her freedom ever since she was born, but her songs were full of hope and longing for the future and even contained her forgiveness to her father for locking her up.

She had a noble soul that he could never match; even in the darkest place, her soul could give out radiant lights. Before he knew it, he had fallen in love with her, a love he had never felt before. She knew his love and returned it with her songs. The two lonely people could only gaze at each other from afar, but they gained courage from each other’s eyes. The ice in his heart melted gradually and shadows were driven out. He knew he must find ways to redeem himself even though he had committed unforgivable crimes. Before he died, he wanted to make his soul kind and clear, so he’d deserve her love. He decided to put his resolve into action.

Suddenly Hyacinth woke up from his reminiscence, knowing he had been hypnotized by some force from these translucent faces. The youths who had been gazing at him in concern relaxed in relief when he regained his senses. The faces hovering in the air retreated into the thick mist and vanished. He smiled apologetically at the youths and relaxed after this narrow escape.

The following journey was unexpectedly uneventful, and those monsters didn’t appear again. They found a place full of colorful crystal stones; the black pebble-like stones dotted the ground before them.

Hyacinth picked up two colorful crystal stones. At the touch of his fingers, the black stones changed instantly. The black color receded, and the stones became as clear as crystals. When the entire stones were transparent and silvery, small blue dots appeared in the air between the two stones. Instantly, the small spinning dots grew bigger and turned into a group of blue butterflies flying between and through his stones freely.

Eagerly, Qianqi picked up a colorful crystal stone, too. The black stone turned transparent in the color of the blue ocean. Then a small spark appeared in the center; it jumped and became a sun rising from the ocean. It was a miraculous sight that even a poet couldn’t imagine.

Xia Qiu chose a round stone. It turned white and transparent; in the center of it appeared flying snowflakes and a spray of red plum blossoms. It was a miniature of Xia Qiu, beautiful and elegant with a trace of pride and determination.

She turned to Ouyang Xiaoleng in anticipation, eager to see the changes in his stone. The stone he picked up was slow to react. Xia Qiu thought it was because he was used to hiding his feelings and even the stone took time to capture his emotions.

After a while, the stone began to change. The black color was washed down gradually by a golden glow which was dotted with white snow; the view corresponded with Xia Qiu’s plum blossoms standing in the snow. He was the snow and the king while she was the only plum flower that could bloom in his arms.

After appreciating each other’s colorful crystal stones, they exchanged a silent look and put them away before walking slowly out of the Forbidden Forest, in the same way as they had entered. After getting the stones, their moods lightened, and the mist didn’t feel as thick as before. Soon, they walked out of the forest successfully.

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