Yama Rising - Chapter 467: Lee Jung-sook (3)
Qin Ye’s mind instantly went numb.
What the hell is happening right now?!
Blasphemy! You’re committing blasphemy right now!!!
Even if you can detect my presence, you’re probably only seeing the appearance of the statue, aren’t you?! Don’t you think you’re being far too progressive right now? How can you just start undressing like that… Although I’m n-n-not that fond of you… I c-c-can’t help but take a glance or two if you’re going to indulge in this fetish of yours…
Fortunately, the dark eyes of the statue didn’t betray the wild fluctuations of Qin Ye’s hearts. In fact, he even began to wonder when the last time he saw the body of the opposite sex was. Ten years ago? Twenty years ago? What was on his mind was naturally limited to the scope of seeing it in person, and not the artistic action movies that were so widely proliferated these days.
But a split second later, he instantly shelved all of these unworldly thoughts of his.
Lee Jung-sook’s soft shirt fell off her shoulders and into the cradle of her arms, revealing her white bra within. Whilst provocative, she didn’t look the slightest bit unnatural at all. In fact, it was incredibly seductive especially given how beautiful and elegant she looked.
However, seduction was the last thing on Qin Ye’s mind right now.
It was because he could see that her entire body was covered in words like what Kim Jae-huan had earlier mentioned!
To be more precise, these words were all carved and etched onto her body!
In fact, he could even tell that there were old scars that had been re-carved into her skin in order to prevent them from fading away. Qin Ye simply couldn’t understand why a lady like her had to do something as ruthless as that to herself.
Furthermore, the words etched all over her body were completely incoherent.
There were many arabic numerals interspersed between the words, all of which appeared to be unrelated to the other. For instance, the numbers 16xx were followed immediately with the word “me”.
“There’s more on my thigh. Wanna see?” She smiled faintly. Qin Ye paused for a moment, before he felt his cheeks burn up.
It was like an artwork.
Her body was heavily mutilated, and her otherwise perfect, snow-white skin was now covered with scars. Yet, for some strange reason, he couldn’t help but find these scars no different from the blemishes on a porcelain piece – broken, yet beautiful.
“Xia Jinse?” He finally spoke up, and for the first time, Lee Jung-sook reacted.
She raised her head in astonishment, and her eyes were even slightly damp around the edges. But she immediately shut her eyes and sighed softly, before once again resuming that same, cold disposition of hers from before.
“It’s been ages since I’ve heard that name…” She slowly ran her finger along the scarred shoulders of hers, “A god, then? You have to be one if you know that name… What an unforgettable name that is…”
It’s really her… Qin Ye was filled with emotions. He truly hadn’t expected to encounter under such circumstances the person who was supposed to be the one destined for him.
He felt unprepared.
In fact, it had come without any warning.
The prayer halls were filled with an air of a serendipitous encounter.
No… something’s not right!
His eyes flickered wildly as he astutely caught the crux of the issue.
This can’t be right! If she were indeed Xia Jinse, she couldn’t possibly know that that used to be her name!
After all, anyone who dies after consuming the taisui fungus would lose all memories of their past lives! She would never remember her own name!
Eh… hang on a minute…
He suddenly gasped softly, and then turned his gaze to her body once more.
In particular, he was now staring at the strangely arranged numbers and words. The numbers clearly ran from 16xx through to 18xx and then 19xx…
A terrifying postulation suddenly surfaced on his mind. A lump swelled up on his throat, and he found himself rendered completely speechless.
She… might have… carved everything she’s experienced in the past… onto her own body!
Blade by blade, she screamed in agony as she carved everything onto her skin…
The memories of her previous lives might have vanished, but… her body would never change. Everything that was etched and engraved onto her body would be present in her next life…
She didn’t forget herself.
She still remembers when she was born, and how long she’s lived.
She still knows what she’s been through, who she loved, and who she hated.
In that instant, he couldn’t help but renew his assessment of her.
He now saw a humble soul who was filled with the determination to live on and remember everything in her past lives.
Just then, Lee Jung-sook straightened up and pointed to her heart, where the words Xia Jinse were carved.
That was her true name.
Engraved onto her chest with the gleaming blade of a knife.
Qin Ye sighed softly and shut his eyes.
He couldn’t even begin to fathom what kind of thought must be running through her mind when she was carving her memories onto her body.
“All of my past experiences have been recorded on my body.” Lee Jung-sook once again put on her clothes as though nothing had happened. She had the same expression on her face, but her voice had ostensibly grown somewhat distant and drifty, “From my birth, to the scholar I first fell in love with… through to the founding of modern day Cathay… and until the day I became the queen of the Samsung empire…”
“There was a time when I couldn’t understand who would’ve done something like this to my body. But… I’m smart.” She smiled softly, “There’s a phrase on my body that says – ‘Believe in these words, because they are carved onto you’.”
“Every life I’ve lived, all I’ve loved, and all I’ve hated, are etched onto my body. Nothing can erase the existence of Xia Jinse – not even the heavens.”
After a long time, Qin Ye finally responded, “What do you… wish for?”
“Are you taking pity on me?” Lee Jung-sook chuckled and gently ruffled her hair as she glanced wistfully out the windows, “That’s right… I’m pitiful.”
“But I don’t need to be pitied.”
“I’m doing well now. I can accept that I’ll live longer than others. But if it’s a wish that you’re talking about… I do have one.”
She took a step forward without any form of reverence for the statue of Ksitigarbha and smiled faintly at it, “I wish… to die.”
“I want to die completely and never come back to life again. Can you… do that?”
Qin Ye’s heart was torn. Everyone in the world longed for eternal life. Yet who could’ve thought that one of the few who found it actually sought eternal death?
“Why?” Qin Ye did his best to sound as normal and indifferent as possible.
“I’ve lived long enough, and I’m also tired of living.” Lee Jung-sook turned around and stared out of the window and into the distant night sky, “You know something? I’ve loved someone in this present lifetime of mine as well.”
“He was a very handsome man. A detective in Daehan.”
“But a mishap happened to him in one of his operations gone wrong, and he was forced to have a leg amputated. At that time, I’d already met his parents, and he’d even proposed to me a week ago.” Her voice was so calm that it sounded as though she were telling the story of another, “As soon as he had his amputation, the first thing he did was to call and inform me.”
“He told me that he’d just gotten one leg amputated. And then…”
Her voice wavered slightly, “He asked me – ‘Do I still have the honor of marrying you?’”
“That was the most moving proposal I’ve ever heard in my entire life.” Her smile was ostensibly laced with complex emotions. It was filled with some measure of retrospection, and also a tinge of helplessness.
Qin Ye listened intently.
He was listening to the encounters of another person who was immortal like he was. He was listening to her recount the most precious moments of her life – fragments of her memories that probably nobody else in the Lee Family ever knew about.
These things were like seashells on the beach – unimpressive as they lay encrusted by the vast sands of memory and time, but brilliant and radiant when one picks them up and inspects them closely.
After a protracted pause of three full minutes, Lee Jung-sook finally continued, “I refused. I definitely refused. I remember telling him this – ‘I won’t spend my life with a man who can’t look after me.’”
“And he was very understanding as well.”
“He didn’t spread rumours, or have his parents condemn me. He didn’t even make a scene at the company. He simply quietly vanished from my life altogether.”
“Later on, I learnt that he got married, and I had someone bring me photographs. He married an average-looking lady, and their marriage looks blissful.”
“I’d give him a substantial sum of money to treat his leg injury every month. That account was directly bound to my phone, and each month, I’d wait patiently to hear of news of the funds being used and depleted. But… the only news I’d received was of the money in the account growing.”
“Then, some years ago, he died.”
“He was only in his fifties when he died. Unfortunately, his leg injury had also afflicted him with a stubborn ailment that he was unable to rid himself of. After his death, I found some way to transfer the untouched account to his parents, together with the access code to the funds.”
The story ended abruptly.
Just like their encounter, it happened without any warning.
Lee Jung-sook’s voice choked up slightly, but then returned to the usual placidity in an instant. Then, she sighed softly and lit up a cigarette.
There wasn’t any smell of nicotine. Instead, there was only the faint scent of orange blossoms.
QIn Ye didn’t say a word either. He fully understood Lee Jung-sook’s concerns. Or rather, he understood Xia Jinse’s concerns. If she married an ordinary person, she could easily have divorced him after a few years. However, if she chose to enter wedlock with a disabled police officer, it would be tantamount to agreeing to bear the hefty responsibility of looking after him for the rest of his life.
It was a responsibility she wasn’t quite willing to assume.
But more importantly, she didn’t want her neighbours spreading rumours that a certain so-and-so was harbouring a demon in their family. Nor did she want to implicate the man’s family in such tiresome incidents.
Thus, she could only shoulder the burden of being called an irresponsible lady and vanish from his life.
“People like me don’t deserve to love.” Her voice was still calm, but Qin Ye could tell that her fingers holding up the cigarette were trembling softly.
“I swore in my life that I would never love anyone again. Incidentally, it was also at that time that I shifted my attention to Samsung. I’ve got today…” A smile crept up the corner of her lips once more, “It’s fun to go toe to toe against others.”
Qin Ye finally responded, “You’ve found release.”
“Not quite. Perhaps it might be more accurate to say that those things have just faded into the recesses of my life.” The night breeze picked up and gently tousled Lee Jung-sook’s hair. She lifted her hand and adjusted her hair softly, “Time is the best medicine. There’s nothing it can’t resolve. This incident happened decades ago. With his death, it’s become a thing of the past.”
The deep wound had now become a scar – one that wouldn’t hurt, so long as one didn’t touch it.
Besides, her body was already covered in scars, so what is one more to add to the count?
“Ah, that’s right. His name is etched onto my neck as well. He used to say that my neck was the sexiest part of my body, so I’d etched his name there in honor of him.” Lee Jung-sook snuffed out the cigarette, “If you know how I can find eternal death, please feel free to reach out to me anytime. After all, time is all I have.”
With that, she put on her suit and plastered a cold expression on her face once more. Then, just as she was about to step back out of the prayer hall, she suddenly turned around once more, “That’s right, how might I address you?”
Having lived for so long, she clearly had no fear or reverence for gods and deities alike.
Shouldn’t I be considered one of the gods as well?
Qin Ye remained silent.
It was only when Lee Jung-sook shook her head and was about to step out of the door that he suddenly spoke up, “King Yanluo.”
“You’re actually the esteemed King Yanluo of Hell?” Lee Jung-sook was obviously startled. But then, she promptly smiled and bowed at the statue, “This humble one has clearly acted with impudence…”
“If you’ve got someone that you wish to look after, you can let me know.”
His words made Lee Jung-sook jerk her head up and stare intently at the statue once more.
Then, for the very first time, she revealed a genuine smile on her face.
“There’s no need.”
“What’s in the past is in the past. Besides, they’re all good people, so I’ve no doubts that they’d do well with their next reincarnation.”
With that, she motioned to take her leave once more.
But Qin Ye’s next statement caused her to pause right where she was.
“Your name isn’t featured in the Book of Life and Death, but I’m aware that this is because those who have consumed the taisui fungus neither age nor die. And, do you know something? You’re not alone.”
His final statement caused Lee Jung-sook to remain completely rooted to the ground.
“There’s another person in Cathay right now.” Qin Ye coughed dryly, “He’s… searching for you. You’d be a good match…”