The Rise of Phoenixes - Chapter 154
She was truly on the verge of death… death by exhaustion.
Ning Yi quietly agreed, and replied: “There were no faults in our battle1.”
“Yeah.” Feng Zhiwei shut her tired eyes. Her eyelids seemed weighed down by a thousand catties and numberless iron weights. “You infected me with your unluckiness.”
“But I feel that it’s you who infected me.” Ning Yi replied.
Feng Zhiwei had no more strength to bicker and lazily replied, “Oh…”
A small pain pricked her hand as Ning Yi pinched her. “Zhiwei, don’t sleep. Don’t sleep.
Feng Zhiwei smiled silently, and the Ning Yi asked: “Why did you rush back to save me?”
Feng Zhiwei was too tired to reply, but Ning Yi continued pinching her: “Speak! You dare ignored this Prince? Were you really coming to save me, or did you have some other scheme? Why were you trying to trick me to speak that day? What do you know?”
This man was so noisy… Feng Zhiwei used her incredibly dull mind to ponder Ning Yi’s words, but the more she thought the stupider she felt. Finally, she fell into Ning Yi’s arms and murmured: “You ask stupid questions…”
Ning Yi held her and vertigo struck; at first he thought he was just tired, and then he wondered if it was because Feng Zhiwei hit him, then finally he caught a strange fragrance in the air. He stirred, finally understanding.
The Jianghu people were burning poisonous incense!
Feng Zhiwei had been exhausted and succumbed to the poison first, and he had been so worried about Feng Zhiwei and inconvenienced by his blindness that he had not noticed.
All of a sudden, exhaustion filled every pore of his body and the organs felt ripped with pain; he gagged and coughed, the corner of his eyes turning light green.
I’m… I can’t hang on for much longer…
He hugged Feng Zhiwei. Her thin body was curled up in his arms like a child’s; her soft and tender warmth rested against him, but Ning Yi was in no mood to think of charming or seductive thoughts. He just held her tight, waiting for the end.
Perhaps he should be unwilling; all his ambition, all of his plans ending at an abandoned temple in a lonely mountain — how laughable. Yet, as he faced his death, he felt neither regret or unwillingness; finally, there would be peace and quiet; an ending like this was not unacceptable.
His eyes gradually fell shut and he no longer tried to wake Feng Zhiwei; his slender fingers trembled as he brushed them against her lashes.
Sweat beaded against her eyes
As dew on morning blooms;
Flames fell and slept
While rain chuckled near and far.
Quiet strands of mist and fog
Floated through cracks in stone and wood.
In that dying moment, a melody seemed to drift in with the night; a quiet bamboo flute’s farewell.
The clear melody, vast and cold, dreamy and distant, floated down from the high stars, a clarion bright thread that crossed ten thousand miles, traversing mountains of clouds and seas of water to pierce into man’s heart.
A Dream of Mountain and River.
The mountain and water backdropped the dream, and the mountain and river were like a dream. How many care-laden years have passed? How long since lofty sentiments died? Shining spears and the angry breath of armored horses, silver bottles and gold plates — nothing but a life that still turned to dust. Grand plans for thrones fall and are forgotten as the lonely seas rest eternal in the evening wind.
To Ning Yi’s dying mind the bamboo flute seemed to near, growing even clearer, chasing away the mist as if with a god’s hand.
Feng Zhiwei began to stir.
Ning Yi lowered his eyes and gently moved her shoulder: “Zhiwei, wake up. Listen.”
Feng Zhiwei stirred, her eyes closed as she shifted her head to listen to the bamboo flute melody; her shoulders were thin like butterfly wings, and she had clearly lost a lot of weight over the past two days. When her shoulders shifted over Ning Yi’s palm, he could feel the hardness of her bone.
The bamboo flute neared, and it was as if a great power was hidden in that melody as the people outside their door stopped their meditation and burst into panic.
Feng Zhiwei opened her eyes and exchanged a look with Ning Yi, happiness in both of their eyes.
They were still tired beyond belief and powerless, and so they quietly leaned against each other and listened to the flute. The night outside the temple was quiet, and the fire by them had nearly burnt itself out. Ning Yi and Feng Zhiwei sat in the misty, fogged side room, the wetness of the night dewing on their robes.
Suddenly, they felt peace come over them; ten thousand troubles could not touch their mind, and this dream of mountains and rivers could not disturb them. Everything in this world, all the bitterness and hatred, both proud ambition and great mystery — everything could be cast away, traded in that moment for a final laugh before their departure, parting ways with the red dust of mortality.
In that moment, Feng Zhiwei did not notice how close she was, leaning against Ning Yi.
In that moment, Ning Yi forgot his hand upon her shoulder.
The most peaceful moment of their lives came over them and they finally let down their guard.
After a while, Ning Yi spoke quietly: “This melody is clear and nobly unfettered; domineering in desolation. This is not something an ordinary Jianghu character can play.”
Feng Zhiwei murmured in agreement, replying: “A truly fascinating soul.”
They turned to the door, wondering what this person looked like. Suddenly, a long whistle sounded nearby and a voice roared, breaking through the mist and stone, shattering the void like lightning, filling the air around them.
The bamboo melody cut off and no longer neared.
Both of them stirred with shock, and when Ning Yi heard the whistle a deep happiness filled his eyes.
The roar quickly neared and surprised shouts filled the temple. Feng Zhiwei could barely make out the leader’s harsh voice filled with panic as he cried: “Tian Zhan1…”
Before he could finish his words, he cried out miserably and thudded heavily into the side room’s door. The whole temple trembled, and sticky red blood slowly slithered its way underneath the door.
Feng Zhiwei looked down at the snake of blood; the leader of this group was a Kung Fu expert — even at her peak, she was not his opponent, but the person who had just arrived killed him in one exchange.
Tian Zhan? Feng Zhiwei wondered — the Tian Zhan Family? The acknowledged leader of Jianghu, whose family head firmly controlled all sects, both dark and light?
This family was a god-like existence in Jiang Hu, and they could easily panic all these sect experts, but why were they coming to rescue Ning Yi and her? The family was said to be Imperial Kinsmen, but they had never had any connection with the Imperial Court.
And judging by Ning Yi’s reaction, he knew who had come. Who?