Bonus Story 1: We Part Though We Love
It was another quiet night in the capital.
The night-watchman struck the midnight hour yawningly as he went around the small alley behind the prime minister’s estate.
Candlelight flickered on the other side of the short walls surrounding the prime minister’s home. The watchman peered into the yard on tiptoe. The plum forest was still there. Now just past winter, the plum blossoms had fallen off and given way to a few sparse budding leaves. When the wind blew, only dry branches swayed desolately.
A simple house stood inside the plum forest, emitting a soft glow at this time. Rumors had it the prime minister did not care for luxury and that he slept in this modest residence every day.
Baloney! The watchman pursed his lips. What ‘sleeping’? The prime minister obviously stayed up nearly every night. He had been a night-watchman for as long as His Excellency had lived here, and every night, he saw the light left on in the prime minister’s room.
The watchman was even more curious compared to other people. What kind of person was this prime minister anyhow? He clearly had the power to topple the world, being the man who was under one person but over everyone else, yet he preferred to live in such an ordinary abode. Wasn’t he worried someone would try to assassinate him? Or was he so sure of his upright posture that he wasn’t afraid of having crooked shadows? Did he never need to sleep?
And yet, matters concerning the upperclassmen weren’t something a night-watchman like him could fathom to understand. So he continued to yawn while speculating this and that before staggering away.
The watchman wasn’t aware that after he left, the door on that simple log cabin squeaked open. A man hurriedly ran out as if he was chasing after something, but when he got to the empty yard, he suddenly paused in his tracks
He looked around into the emptiness. His body was thinly built, his complexion showing a sickly paleness. He appeared to be in his thirties but half of his hair was already grayed. He would probably fall ill from a chilly night wind.
It was thus a surprise that this man who appeared to be so frail was no other than the prime minister who called all the shots in the imperial court.
Moxi sighed and laughed at himself. “Another dream!”
Spring evenings are cold. He had rushed out of the room dressed in only a thin garment. Standing in the courtyard, he silently gazed at the moon for a while, then all of a sudden softly said, “Why won’t you let me finish my dream even when I’m only dreaming?”
He slowly walked to the plum forest behind the house. A small tombstone stood under a plum tree, on which the words “My wife Sansheng” were deeply engraved. He sat down next to the tombstone. Looking at the red plum blossoms that had fallen off of their branches, he whispered: “Why haven’t you come back to see me? Don’t you miss me? I miss you day and night.”
“I have petitioned to the emperor for the general’s entire clan to receive judgment. You don’t have to be jealous of Shi Qianqian so foolishly anymore, nor do you have to be harassed by them. When I was little, you always said I was too softhearted. You just didn’t know that I’m only softhearted with you. I only don’t know what to do when it’s you.”
“Sansheng, won’t you say something?”
The wind swept across his cheeks, chilling him to the bones.
“Sansheng,” he pleaded, “stop playing hide and seek with Moxi. You know I’m most afraid of not finding you.”
“I’m most afraid of not finding you…”
“How can you hide from me for so long?”
Of course no one was there to answer him, of course no one was there to suddenly jump out from behind the plum tree, and of course no one was there to stare fixedly at him, asking him to wed her.
“Tomorrow, alright? After they are beheaded at the market square, stop being angry and come back to me. I’ll wait for you.” He kept talking to himself, not caring that there was no one answering back.
That night, Moxi spent the night leaning against Sansheng’s tombstone in a thin robe.
The next day when he left court, his vision suddenly grew blurry. The official beside him quickly held out a hand and asked, “Are you feeling unwell, Your Excellency? Your complexion seems quite poor.”
Moxi softly coughed twice and then waved to say he was all right. But after two steps, his coughing increasingly worsened and, for a moment, he could not keep straight. The ministers surrounded him, one asking: “Do we need to report to His Majesty about today’s beheading at noon?” “No need,” Moxi coldly interrupted the man and gave him a glare. He then covered his mouth to muffle his coughs and left by himself.
None of the ministers behind him dared to go on with their concerns.
The minister who was snapped at smiled quite awkwardly. Another who was close to him whispered into his ear and said, “Everyone knows His Excellency had waited so many years for this day. Your words have stirred trouble.”
The man went blue as he looked after the prime minister’s gaunt back drifting further away and let out a sigh of remorse.
By the time Moxi got out of the palace, someone was already waiting with a palanquin. He lifted the curtain and was about to step inside when he noticed a familiar figure. He looked up. So it was the Imperial Reverend.
Feeling a little affected, he couldn’t help but cough twice. These were both overly proud men. Normally, neither bent to greet each other, and yet the Imperial Reverend was approaching Moxi today.
The Imperial Reverend spoke first: “The rest of the clan wasn’t related to that incident. The enmity only involves a few people, why implicate the innocent?”
Moxi coughed terribly. He took a while to calm down, faintly smiling. “Your words are a little too late.”
The Imperial Reverend was silent and then sighed at length. “It was all my fault back then. It was I who sinned, so it should be I who pay.”
Moxi paid him no further attention, lowering himself into his chaise that soon blended into the hustle and bustle of the capital.
The market square. Moxi sat on the sentencing bench looking to the execution grounds. There had once been a tall scaffold here that burned his Sansheng to death.
His life’s only Sansheng.
A chest pain abruptly pricked him. Moxi lowered his head to conceal his expression.
Noon was nearing. He waved. The first batch of prisoners came onto the scaffold. The general had bitten his tongue and killed himself in prison. This group only consisted of his wives, his three sons, and his only daughter – Shi Qianqian.
Moxi covered his mouth coughing for a while. The guard standing next to him looked to the sun and asked whether they should begin the execution. He nodded. The guard raised his hand and had yet to give command when the disheveled woman suddenly shrieked and said, “Moxi! Next life! Next life I will make sure to never like you! I also curse you to an eternal separation from the person you love! You shall never be able to be with her.” Answering her was only a burst of whooping coughs.
The executioner behind Shi Qianqian went over to muffle her mouth. Shi Qianqian desperately struggled as she shouted: “In this life, you punish my clan. If there is a next life, I shall have you kill the person you love with your own hands! You and she will never be together!”
Moxi was incensed by her words. The fury in his eyes terrified the guards by his side.
Moxi suppressed the trembling in his chest. He removed the tablet on the table and threw it onto the ground: “Stirring up a ruckus on the execution grounds is adding another crime to your crimes. Cut across her back!”
Everyone was aghast upon hearing his order.
Shi Qianqian seemed to have gone mad as she laughed to the sky. “You two will never get a good ending! Do you think she will come back? She’s dead! She’s dead!” Moxi fisted his hands in a death grip, his normally gentle and courteous voice at this time was pricklier than ice: “Cut across her back. I want her to watch how her entire clan is exterminated.”
That day, blood spilled over the ground at the market square. The woman’s crying and screaming still echoed in the air after the execution ended, gratingly like the bemoaning of phantoms. In the end, her corpse was hastily wrapped up like everyone else’s, discarded in some parts unknown.
Thereafter, the prime minister’s reputation as the “nice gentleman” ceased to exist.
Moxi fell sick that night, bedridden. The emperor ordered the imperial doctor to check on him. When the diagnoses came out, it was said to be tuberculosis. The entire court was gripped with astonishment.
But the sick one seemed indifferent to it all. He relied on medicines to get through those days of ill health then came right back to court and took care of business as usual. He spoke nothing of it and no one knew to what extent he was sick. He seemed to everyone no different from an ordinary person. None saw him coughing too badly either.
Over time, everyone forgot he had tuberculosis.
It was another long winter.
Plum blossoms flowered splendidly in the yard. Draped in a coat, Moxi stood in front of his log cabin watching the plum forest for a long time. He stood there until it got so dark that one couldn’t see anything before slowly returning to the house and lighting the candle. The awful paleness on his face was illuminated under the candlelight, accompanied by hollow cheeks and dark shadows under his eyes.
Seated in front of a desk, he unrolled a rice paper parchment and slowly sketched a plum tree. After he placed the brush down, he quietly contemplated it and, for whatever reason, picked up the brush and painted again. Soon, a silhouette of a girl with her back turned appeared behind the frosty plum tree. She seemed to be sniffing the plums, immersed in their fragrance. Moxi admired the person in the painting while, at the same time, looking as though he wasn’t seeing anything at all. Reaching out, his fingertips touched the ink that had yet to dry on the rice paper.
Chill traveled from his fingertips to his heart. He squeezed his eyes closed but couldn’t suppress his cough. He abruptly bowed over, spewing a red blot onto the rice paper, its color as brilliant as the plum blossoms growing on the branches.
He fast opened his eyes at the sound of his name. A woman was sitting on the divan and carefully mending his clothes. “Moxi, why have your clothes torn so? Were you bullied? Did you fight back?”
Moxi stared dazedly, afraid to blink.
“Sansheng…” Between the clanging of the watchman’s gong outside the yard, the image flickered and dissolved in the wind.
Moxi got up to run after it, but his body did not listen to him. He fell forward, his sleeves knocking down the candle on the table.
Moxi paid no attention to the rolling candlelight. He couldn’t contain the grief in his heart any second longer. Staring at the place where Sansheng disappeared, he whispered: “Who will stay up to mend my clothes from now on… Sansheng, who will stay up to mend my clothes?”
The flames caught onto the curtains. Watching the fire burn, Moxi did nothing but lightly smile.
The watchman went past the prime minister’s courtyard. He went for two blocks, clanging his gong: “Be careful of fire.” When he rounded the corner, he caught a glimpse of blazing light.
Above the prime minister’s estate, a patch of sky was burning red.
Bonus Story 2: Forevermore (Moxi’s Special Episode)
At the moment Moxi’s soul drifted away from his mortal body, Wuqu Xingjun was already waiting in the air.
“Welcome back, My Lord. His Majesty has prepared a banquet to welcome your return.”
With his memories of the past, the God of War did not feel any joy of returning from his trial. His ears were ringing with Sansheng’s faint voice: “I like it just because I got to meet you.”
Unable to control a sour warmth in his heart, he turned to gaze down the lower realm at a hollow and haggard girl who was holding a bloody ‘Moxi’ sitting on the battlefield. After ruminating for a long time, he asked, “Wuqu, where is Siming?”
Hearing the chill in Moxi’s voice, Wuqu couldn’t but shudder. “Siming… Siming…”
“Never mind, I shall look for her myself.”
Wuqu hadn’t time to plead before he suddenly heard a piercing laughter from the lower realm. The terrifying sound alarmed Wuqu. He looked to Sansheng sighingly: “It’s rare to come across this smart of a spirit in the underworld. It’s unfortunate that she will fall into darkness after this.”
Moxi scowled, his body motionless. Wuqu quickly advised: “Your Lordship, you mustn’t! You mustn’t! This is the lower realm’s matter, we cannot intervene!”
Making Wuqu break out in cold sweat, Moxi gave a slight glance in reply: “Did I say I will intervene?” Then he added: “I merely saw a mortal who is rather fated for divinity and would like to give him some counsel, that’s all.”
Wuqu wiped his perspiration as he watched Moxi ‘counsel’ a human named Chang’an. Wuqu couldn’t but sigh inside. This wasn’t a stone’s love trial; this love trial was clearly here to trial Heaven’s God of War, too.
The loner God of War and the emotionless stone had fallen in love. The world must be coming to an end!
When the spirit of the spiritual being called Sansheng flew away, Wuqu saw Moxi stopping the judge coming from afar and giving him a pair of handcuffs. Even from a distance away, he could sense a circulating divine energy emanating from the handcuffs. Moxi told the judge a few words, to which the judge smiled knowingly.
Wuqu lowered his head in an attempt to look as though he didn’t see anything. But when he saw the judge use them to cuff Sansheng, he couldn’t resist saying: “My Lord, those handcuffs have a very strong divine energy. I don’t think it’s a good idea to use them on her.”
Moxi did not answer him. He stared after the judge leading Sansheng away, a cryptic gleam sparking in his obsidian eyes. Finally, his gaze dropped to his hands, and he suddenly asked, “Wugu, how powerful are the forty-nine celestial bolts?”
Wuqu did not know what Moxi had meant. He incautiously replied: “Just one bolt has the power to shake Heaven and Earth. Forty-nine of them are naturally very powerful.” “Would you ever be willing to suffer those lightning bolts for something?”
Wuqu was quick to shake his head. “It’s a punishment that would take away my life!”
Moxi faintly smiled. He clenched his fists, his soft voice almost whispering: “If I can have Sansheng in exchange, then I wouldn’t mind.” Wuqu didn’t hear him very clearly, but before he could ask Moxi to repeat himself, Moxi was heard saying: “Wuqu, I can’t go to the Celestial Emperor’s banquet anymore. If he really wants to hold a feast for me, he can host my wedding the next time.” At these words, his figure made a flash and vanished without waiting for Wuqu’s reply.
Wuqu stood alone for a long time in the air, wanting desperately to cry but couldn’t force out any tears.
Moxi went one step ahead of Sansheng to see Yanwang. At this time, Yanwang was having a headache over how to deal with Sansheng’s matter. If he were lenient, he would not be following the laws, but if he were severe, it would be too harsh. Moxi stepped into the hall and lightly said three words: “Remove her heart.”
Moxi’s sudden appearance gave Yanwang a start. He hid under the table, stuttering in a shaky voice: “The… the hall’s only gotten its floor re-tiled! Why are you here again?”
“Come out from there,” uttered Moxi, coldly.
The scrawny Yanwang cautiously peeked out from under the table to look at Moxi and pitifully said, “Your Lordship! I don’t want to sentence Sansheng either, but she had unfortunately gone well over the line this time. I… I really can’t do anything about it.”
“Of course she needs to be sentenced,” Moxi said and then added: “Her sentence is to have her heart removed.”
Yanwang dumbly looked at Moxi for a long time before faltering: “Isn’t this… isn’t this a little too light? No matter what, Sansheng has disrupted the order of the universe…”
“This will be fine. If the man upstairs has any rebukes, I shall face them for you. After Sansheng’s heart is removed, you must hand it to me immediately.”
Light footfalls were heard outside Yanwang’s palace. It must be the escorting judge and Sansheng. Moxi hid behind a large column, not forgetting to quietly remind Yanwang: “Find a swift executioner. Do not let her suffer.”
Sansheng walked in behind the judge. Her composed countenance was as it had always been whenever she chatted with Yanwang. When the underworld ruler announced: “Remove her heart,” Sansheng looked at him with a faint smile, knelt down and kowtowed. There were neither words of thanks nor dissatisfaction, only calm acceptance of her punishment.
After they left the hall, White Impermanence asked her, “Do you regret it?”
Hidden behind them, Moxi couldn’t help pausing when he heard this question.
“I have no regrets.”
Moxi gripped his fist, the light in his eyes swirling, as he tried to suppress the impulse to go out and pull her in for a hug. If ‘no regrets’ was her answer, Moxi thought, then they must take care to never have any regrets in the future.
Moxi took Sansheng’s heart from the messenger ghost, carefully held it in his hands, and protected it with his divine energy.
He looked to the distance where he saw Sansheng clutching her chest and slowly crawling into the Sansheng Stone with difficulty. After thousands of years, a rare storm was brewing in his heart which had long been lulled into stillness. A dull pain. He murmured: just bear with it, just bear with it. It’s unclear whether he was telling Sansheng to bear with it or telling himself to bear with it.
Once he was back in Heaven, the first place Moxi went to was the Soul Rinsing Tower.
There was a heavenly treasure on the Soul Rinsing Tower called the Soul Rinser that could cleanse all the souls in this world. Be they demons or ghosts, when their hearts passed through this treasure, their miasma would obliterate and they would immediately become no different from mere mortals.
Moxi raised Sansheng’s heart and placed it before the Soul Rinser. After a slight quiver, the living heart became no different from an ordinary stone. Moxi smiled as he happily took the stone back to Victory Palace.
Words in Heaven spread that the God of War Moxi was becoming increasingly reclusive after returning from his trial. Not only did he decline the Celestial Emperor’s welcoming feast, he stayed all day behind closed doors and even turned away the gods who came to visit, all of whom were good friends of his in the past.
While everyone was busy talking about this deity, lightning suddenly struck Victory Palace. The thunder clapping wasn’t low. Forty-nine lightning bolts fell straight onto the God of War’s palace, shaking so much that half of Heaven rattled thrice. The stunned Celestial Emperor rushed out in the middle of the night. All he saw was that Victory Palace was burning red and that the bloodied God of War was engulfed in fire while clutching something in his hands. His face was bleeding horribly but there was a gentlest smile on his lips.
None had ever seen the God of War looking this way. The gods stared at him. For the time being, no one dared to step forward to lend him a hand.
In the end, Siming Xingjun was the first to react. She led Wuqu to go rescue Moxi from the scorching flames. By the time they saw what Moxi was holding in his hands, Siming couldn’t but gasp: “You… you… you’re trying to help her change her fate.”
When the gods heard Siming’s exclamation, they looked to the thing Moxi was holding. It was Sansheng’s heart. At this time, it had become a mass of shimmering object. Coldness no longer occupied it, and all the miasma was also gone, leaving only an air of awe-spiring divine glory, like that of red plums blossoming in the midst of winter, standing proudly among snow and ice.
The Celestial Emperor’s eyes darkened as he growled: “Nonsense! Changing fate against Heaven’s will is a sin that causes disruption to the world! Do you really think you don’t have to fear Heaven’s retribution just because you’re a god?”
Realization only now dawned on Wuqu. No wonder His Lordship wanted to make Sansheng wear those handcuffs. No wonder he wanted to remove Sansheng’s heart. No wonder he inquired about the forty-nine lightning bolts. It turned out he had long planned for tomorrow.
He handcuffed Sansheng so that divine energy would dispel the dark forces inside of her. He removed her heart and brought it to Heaven so that he could completely change her fate. He was punished by forty-nine lightning bolts for changing Destiny on his own. He had planned everything without letting anyone know, paying the full price by himself.
Moxi quietly put her heart away and said to the Celestial Emperor: “In a few days, I will take a trip to the underworld. Last time you had prepared a welcoming banquet for me but I did not go. This time, please prepare a wedding feast for me. I won’t miss the date.”
The Celestial Emperor gave him a long glare. “You’ve made your life so difficult for that Sansheng Stone. Is she worth it?”
“Even knowing she would lose her soul, she still committed murder for my sake. What’s to prevent me from suffering these trivial forty-nine lightning bolts for her?”
“You are bent on marrying a spirit from the underworld?”
Moxi shook his head: “She is now a fairy.”
The Celestial Emperor sighed: “There are no shortage of better women in Heaven. Why must you insist on loving that stone?”
Moxi suddenly thought of what Sansheng said to White Impermanence last time. He laughed: “I’m left with little choice now that I’ve met her.”
The gods were all silent. The Celestial Emperor gazed at the raging fire in Victory Palace for a long while before finally walking away, leaving only one line: “If that’s what you both want, then let me not be the one standing in your way.”
Moxi dropped his gaze. Even though he was covered in blood, the gods could see an unbridled joy in his smile.
I can finally give you forever.
Bonus Story 3: The Death Of Siming Xingjun
Siming was dead.
Well, not really dead. She just accidentally fell from the Suxian Terrace and went into a deep sleep.
Under the Suxian Terrace was the Jade Pond. Filled inside the Jade Pond was an extremely fragrant yet at the same time extremely intoxicating ten-thousand-year-old wine. Even a god would go to sleep for thousands of years if he happened to have too much to drink.
Not only did Siming Xingjun fall all the way inside, the entire celestial realm knew she was also a landlubber. Once she fell, unless she drank until her eyes popped white, she would never be able to float on her own. For this reason, by the time the gatekeeper found Siming ‘drowning in wine’ and labored to pull her ashore, Siming was already passed out from the wine foam.
After the old doctor checked Siming’s pulse, he surmised her waking up would be a matter of six or seven thousand years later.
Six or seven thousand years for the undying immortals wasn’t a long time. However, Siming managed fates in the three realms as the God of Fate. She was also responsible for writing tribulations for those going through trials. Hers was the most critical out of all the critical positions. The three realms couldn’t have one day without Siming Xingjun, let alone six or seven thousand years.
The gods couldn’t but panic and blame Siming for being careless. Amid the frenzy dismay, a maidservant quietly pointed out that she had seen Siming with Lord Moxi’s new wife, Sansheng, before she fell into the pond. The two of them even appeared to have had a dispute.
Once she said this, everyone went hushed for a moment. You looked at me, I looked at you, but no one dared to stand up and say it aloud.
The God of War was generally a very fair and just god. He was, however, terribly protective of his wife, Sansheng, and no one could dream to say a bad thing about her.
The stiff atmosphere was finally broken at long last by the Crane Fairy who was sent by the Celestial Emperor.
“What are we going to do about this? Will you just let Siming Xingjun lie on the ground? Why haven’t you helped bring her back?! Are the lot of you all blind?” The Crane Fairy yelled at the maidservants standing by the Jade Pond for a length before demanding: “Why is Siming this drunk? When was the last time anyone slipped and fell into the Jade Pond?”
The crowd dithered for a long while. Only the maidservant repeated what she said.
The Crane Fairy gave her words a listen and briefly fell silent. “If that is the case, why not go and confront Sansheng?”
No one moved.
The Crane Fairy growled icily: “Don’t tell me you are all afraid of her?” Then he flapped his sleeves peevishly and left.
The God of War’s palace was surrounded by plum trees in a ten-mile radius. Magic had been used to create a frosty winter where red plum stood proudly in the snow. Ten miles of plum blossoms scented the air with ten miles of fragrance, rendering the God of War’s palace somewhat less solemn and adding some traces of elegance to it.
The Crane Fairy walked through the sea of plum blossoms to enter the God of War’s home. When a maid informed him that the God of War and his wife were enjoying the plum blossoms in the back, he glowered and had the maid lead the way.
Yet to step foot into the back garden, he suddenly heard a woman’s voice speaking: “Moxi, don’t move. I’m almost finished with the drawing. Just let me place a bit of color onto your lips.”
A sigh preceded a man’s deep voice: “Sansheng, what you’re drawing is my back.”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“So how can you see any lips?”
“I can’t,” the woman said as-a-matter-of-factly. “But that doesn’t matter. I want to see your face.”
The Crane Fairy briefly pondered to himself, unable to imagine how horrifying the painting would be if one could see his face even though she was drawing his back. He waited for the maid to send word and then stepped into the main hall.
The scene he saw gave the Crane Fairy a scare. The usually icy and solemn Lord Moxi was holding onto a plum tree at this time. He stood under the red flowers, lifting one as if to savor its soft fragrance. His serene and gentle expression was something the Crane Fairy had never seen before. Not far away, his wife Sansheng, whose appalling face was inked all over, was busy painting on the paper parchment.
Seeing him coming in, she carelessly gave her face two wipes and, in the process, smeared it even more tragically. She placed her brush down and said, “Moxi, welcome your guest.”
The veins on the Crane Fairy’s forehead twitched.
The solemn master of the house actually listened to this woman and unhurriedly came over, saying without a change in his expression: “To what do we owe the honor of your visit today, Crane Fairy?”
The Crane Fairy bowed to Moxi and replied: “My Lord, you may not have heard. Siming Xingjun carelessly slipped and fell into the Jade Pond today. She drank too much wine and is out cold at this time. The doctor said she will stay asleep for at least six or seven millennia.”
Moxi nodded his head: “That’s really too careless of Siming.”
“However, there was a maidservant who saw Lady Sansheng with Siming Xingjun, and that they also seemed to have been in a quarrel.”
Moxi walked over to Sansheng to help her rub the ink from her face with his sleeves while lightly replying: “She must’ve been mistaken. Sansheng has been with me the entire day.” Sansheng grabbed Moxi’s sleeves and buried her face onto his shoulder, rubbing messily. Moxi obviously wouldn’t stop her intimate action; he happily let her dirty his clothes with her careless rubbing.
The Crane Fairy watched the lovey dovey pair for a moment, his mouth twitching into a reluctant smile. “If Your Lordship says so, then the young fairy must’ve seen wrong. My apologies, Lady Sansheng. Goodbye.”
“Please wait,” Moxi suddenly called after the Crane Fairy. “If Siming has to stay asleep for several thousand years, who will take over her position?”
“His Majesty will have his arrangements.”
“Ah yes. Will you relay to His Majesty for me, envoy, that my wife Sansheng is quite fond of reading? She has many great ideas that I’m sure her fate writing won’t be any inferior compared to Siming’s.” Surprise flashed in the Crane Fairy’s eyes. He gave Sansheng a quick glance and then said, “I’ll keep that in mind. I’ll be sure to pass your words to His Majesty.”
After the Crane Fairy went far away, Sansheng raised her head from Moxi’s chest with amusement dancing in her eyes: “I can’t believe it. I can’t believe you’d lie so blatantly just to get out of trouble.”
Moxi ruffled the hair on Sansheng’s forehead and said with a faint smile: “How can you still make fun of me? If you weren’t arguing with her so heatedly, would I have let her trip and fall like that?”
Sansheng sighed: “I feel kind of bad. It was just a small quarrel but I’ve made her sleep for thousands of years.”
Moxi chuckled. “Sansheng, do you really think there’s a god who’s that stupid? With Siming’s ability, how could she have fallen down the Jade Pond from my ploy?”
“She wanted to fall? But why?”
Moxi looked in the direction of the Celestial Emperor’s residence: “I heard that Siming confessed to the Celestial Emperor a few days ago.”
“Siming likes the Celestial Emperor?!” Sansheng asked in shock.
Moxi’s lips smirked into a smile. “You’ll know all these stories in Heaven once you’re here long enough. The Celestial Emperor seemed to have rejected Siming’s confession – it was quite a blow… She’s fairly close to me, so I have some idea about how she feels.”
“How does she feel?”
“Siming’s a girl who loves her freedom. She’s long been sick and tired of her job. She only remains in Heaven because of her feelings for the Celestial Emperor. Now that her hope has shattered, I’m sure she’d want to find a way to leave this post. After thousands of drunken years, the human world would change, and this post would also be replaced by someone else by then. She’ll naturally be freed.”
Sansheng nodded despite being somewhat puzzled. She mulled for a while and then looked up to Moxi: “If Siming dislikes that position so much, then doesn’t that mean there’s nothing good about it? Why do you still want to push me down this minefield?”
Moxi did not speak for a time. “Why were you fighting with Siming?”
At the mention of which, Sansheng became incensed. She left her original question behind. “Moxi, do you still remember Chang’an?” At Moxi’s nod, Sansheng excitedly said, “Today, I saw Siming writing trials for fairies who are ascending to the heavenly realm. I walked over to take a look and happened to see Changan’s name. He has been successful in his cultivation and will soon ascend to immortality.”
“Oh,” Moxi indifferently replied while turning around to look at the painting Sansheng had painted, none too happy to hear her speak to him about another man in so passionate a fashion.
Sansheng paid little attention to Moxi’s dissatisfaction, continuing instead: “This is a good thing, I was also very happy about it. But then Siming told me she had written a love trial for Chang’an wherein Chang’an was to fall in love with an old and dying Bai Jiu and experience a painful unrequited love!”
Moxi nodded, unsurprised. This was exactly something Siming would do.
Sansheng furiously slammed her palm onto the table. “Bai Jiu is our enemy! How could she let Chang’an fall in love with that piece of shit?”
Our, she said this word so naturally that Moxi’s mood lifted. His gaze fell on Sansheng as he warmly asked, “So what do you want?”
“We mustn’t let Bai Jiu have such a yummy treat! Chang’an is such a delectable boy. If someone were to eat him, I’d have to have the first taste…”
A dangerous ray sparked in Moxi’s eyes. Sansheng diverted her eyes and corrected herself: “If someone were to eat him, he’d have to ask me first! And then I remembered that Chang’an has a senior, so I proposed to Siming to let Chang’an and that Changwu kid have a love line. Wouldn’t that have been great? But Siming said that wouldn’t be considered a trial, which was why I ended up arguing with her.” Sansheng sighingly shook her head: “I can’t believe Siming’s mind could turn so fast. She could even come up with that strategy at the same time she was quarreling with me.”
After he pondered for a moment about everything that had happened, Moxi suddenly pointed out the forgotten crux: “What was ultimately decided for Chang’an’s trial?”
Sansheng went quiet for a moment. “The sheet of paper might have been dragged into the Jade Pond with Siming…”
Sighing, Moxi massaged his brow and said, “Ascending to immortality is only supposed to be a minor trial, but you two had now left it to Heaven’s will. If one is able to cross a heavenly trial, he will become immortalized, but should he fail, he will fall into darkness. Sansheng, this joke’s gone a bit too far.”
Dismayed, Sansheng blinked back her tears and asked pitifully: “Moxi, will I be punished?”
Whatever frustration he may have had vanished at that moment under her gaze. Moxi softly chuckled and patted Sansheng’s head: “No, you have me.”
Sansheng had waited for Moxi to say this, but when Moxi really did, she was caught in a stupor. She wiped her tears and poked Moxi’s chest accusingly: “Moxi, if you indulge me like this, I’m going to be spoiled.”
Moxi’s fingertips gently brushed her cheek: “It’s fine for my Sansheng to be spoiled.”
All Sansheng could do was to gaze at Moxi in a trance.
When the muted fragrance of the plum blossoms drifted across her nose, Sansheng suddenly ruined the mood: “Why do you want me to be the God of Fate?”
Moxi blinked, then broke into a smile. “Still won’t let this go, I see. But it is precisely this rock-headed temperament that I love so much.” After muttering to himself, Moxi softly asked his wife: “Sansheng, do you think I’ll be able to see you as my everything from now on?”
Sansheng shook her head.
She had always known Moxi to have his own aspirations and ideals. Nothing could be his everything. But this was the Moxi that she loved. From the very beginning, what she loved was the proud confidence with which he had marched to the Yellow Springs.
“In Jiuchongtian, I have numerous responsibilities as the God of War,” he began. “But Sansheng, you’ve given up the underworld for me. You’ve thrown away everything you knew to come to Heaven. You have nothing now except for me.”
Sansheng mulled over his words and was reminded how much she had had to sacrifice to marry Moxi. Suddenly perceiving her own magnanimity, she patted Moxi’s shoulder, saying: “You have to treat me well, then!”
Both exasperated and amused, Moxi held Sansheng’s hand and continued what he was saying: “But that’s not what I want. With your personality, your life shouldn’t revolve around me. I found Siming’s post for you to firstly allow you to quickly integrate into the circle of the gods and at the same time to gain a foothold in Heaven. Secondly… if and when I’m not around anymore, I want you to live well in this place.”
Sansheng gave Moxi’s words some careful consideration and then said, “You’re right, I really should find something to do. But if one day you were gone, I would definitely accompany you home.”
Moxi ruffled Sansheng’s hair and gently smiled. “Your hair has grown a bit longer again.”
“Really? The water in Heaven must be great for nourishing hair! Before long, I’ll be able to grow tresses even longer than Siming’s.”
“I’m sure you will.”
“Moxi, let’s go visit Siming.”
“Let me see the portrait you painted for me first.”
“Umm… Let’s go visit Siming first.”
“Let’s look at the painting!”
“Moxi, I’m trying to wheedle you!”
“C’mon! Let’s go see Siming.”
Red plum branches swayed in the breeze, infusing the air with a subtle fragrance and lining the smiling faces of the couple in the garden like a beautiful tranquil painting.
-END- (for real this time)