“This time he didn’t even untie the ropes for us.”
One ke later, Feng Qianjun and Chen Xing were both trussed up, the ropes running between their neck and their arms, and they were tossed into a corner of a civilian residence. That dog was now circling around Xiang Shu’s feet.
Xiang Shu, holding a dagger, was shaving off his stubble using the water as a mirror. A moment later, he turned around and left for the creek to get more water.
Feng Qianjun said disbelievingly, “He doesn’t remember those things anymore? Why didn’t you say so?”
Chen Xing ’s beliefs had been dealt an even heavier blow, and his mind was a sea of blank white. “I thought… how would I be able to think of that?! Why did he forget it all? Because he’s the Dinghai Pearl?”
Feng Qianjun shouted wildly, “What?! He’s the Dinghai Pearl!?”
Chen Xing: “Xiang…”
Feng Qianjun butted in, “Shh!”
Chen Xing glanced at Feng Qianjun, before flicking his gaze to the direction that Xiang Shu had left in. Feng Qianjun said quietly, “Listen to me! You listen to me, Chen Xing!”
Chen Xing breathed deeply, looking at the ropes on his own body, his expression crumbling.
Feng Qianjun said, “You want to tell him that he has lost his memories? Do you have any sense of whether or not he’ll even accept everything you tell him? Will you tell him about what happened in the past?”
Chen Xing sent a look filled with confusion to Feng Qianjun, shaking his head.
“He wouldn’t even wait for us to finish before he would say that I was making up a story and gag me ba,” Chen Xing replied.
Feng Qianjun said, “Then don’t say anything for now. Let me first think of a way for us to escape our bonds, and then we two can work together to capture him… never mind, you sit here and don’t move ba, I’ll be fine on my own.”
Now, Chen Xing was also slowly approaching clear-headedness, but accompanying that was also desperation. “Can you even detain Xiang Shu? And what happens after you capture him? Will you use force to make him listen to us explain our situation? He would never believe it!”
If Xiang Shu did indeed once have a period of time when he had lost his memories, then perhaps he would doubt what they told him and find opportunities later to verify it. But facing this fellow, who had never had a missing gap of memories, how would he believe them?
“Can you free yourself?” Chen Xing asked quietly.
Feng Qianjun replied, “These ropes cannot restrain me; I’ll just need to spend a little time getting out of them, but I want to observe the situation first.”
What should they do? As Chen Xing was musing, a moment later, Xiang Shu who had gone to the creek to shave his stubble returned, seeming to not have heard Chen Xing and Feng Qianjun’s discussion regarding the Dinghai Pearl. Once again, his handsome visage was revealed, and he began to drink the congee that Feng Qianjun had made. That little dog kept barking to one side, and Xiang Shu shot it a cold look. He then waited a while, until the congee was no longer boiling hot, before ladling out a little under half a bowl and giving that to the dog.
“Leave us a little, xiongdi!” Feng Qianjun said. “We’re starving to death!”
Xiang Shu didn’t say anything as he suspiciously watched Feng Qianjun and Chen Xing. Finally, his gaze landed on Chen Xing’s face. In that instant, that gaze caused Chen Xing to immediately feel that that was clearly him! It was as if, in the span of that single gaze, they had once again reached their tacit agreement like before, but Xiang Shu clearly, really, didn’t remember anymore.
Chen Xing watched that expression of his, of wanting to speak but not saying the words, as if he was unable to control his impulse to say something to Chen Xing.
Feng Qianjun said, “Xiongdi, loosen our bonds for us first, and then we have things to say to you.”
Chen Xing said, “Whatever you want to say, just say it ba.”
Feng Qianjun lowered his voice. “What I’m doing now is to first make him let down his guard and grow less wary before persuading him. This strategy is a little easier, it’s called the art of speech.”
“His ears are very sharp,” Chen Xing said. “At this volume of yours, it’s no different to you speaking right next to his ear.”
When Feng Qianjun thought about it, he realized that was true. He continued, “Xiongdi, let me show you a magic trick, let’s make a bet? You want to bet?”
As usual, Xiang Shu didn’t say anything. He avoided Chen Xing’s gaze, looking at that bowl of congee in front of him, but his heart didn’t seem to be into it. His expression was filled with doubt, as if there were too many things that he didn’t have an answer to.
Finally, he rose and mounted a horse. The little dog looked at Chen Xing, then looked at Xiang Shu. It hesitated for a split second, but it didn’t race up to the horse, instead running over and coming to a stop in front of Chen Xing, barking a few times at Xiang Shu in the distance.
“Jia!” Just like last time, Xiang Shu kicked his horse into motion and left.
Chen Xing: “...”
Feng Qianjun: "..."
Chen Xing: “This time he didn’t even untie the ropes for us.”
Feng Qianjun: “He probably felt that I could get out… what should we do now? Go to Mai City and block his way? Xiang Shu, bring my saber over there, the saber, that, go, go get it.”
This time, Chen Xing also had no more ideas. The little dog began to bite at the ropes on him, while Feng Qianjun laid sideways on the ground, inching forward bit by bit like a caterpillar, starting to move towards the Senluo Saber that had been tossed by the side of the well. As long as he got ahold of the saber, the ropes could be untied.
Chen Xing said, confused and upset, “I’m hungry, let’s eat first ba. Why did it have to be him who forgot?!”
A man’s voice sounded. “Because on the Dinghai Pearl is the leftover dragon energy of Zhuyin.”
The two of them jolted in shock. On the parasol tree by the side of the yard, there was a golden red bird, its wings spread, that turned into a blazing fire, which evolved into the form of a naked man. Right after, the blazing flames around his body gathered around him, draping on his body, turning into a royal robe.
He had a head of red hair like burning flames, and the royal robe looked like a roaring flame under the bright sunlight, but also like the glow of the rising sun. Tied to his belt were two long golden-red tail feathers that trailed against the ground.
That royal robe hung very loose on his shoulders, revealing half of his naked body, showing his white, fine skin and his muscles brimming with power.
“A phoenix?” Feng Qianjun had previously heard of phoenixes, and the embroidery done in gold on this person’s royal robes was indeed a flying fire phoenix! The two of them realized a problem at the same time -- with the Revival of All Magic, the spiritual qi of the heavens and earth had also returned, which also meant that the yao on this earth had also reappeared!
“Wow,” Chen Xing said. “How come you’re wearing this little? It’s a little indecent ba.”
The phoenix: “...”
The moment that Chen Xing saw the phoenix, he couldn’t resist thinking that if it was Xiang Shu wearing this outfit, who knows how much of a commotion he’d cause.
“Don’t offend him,” Feng Qianjun said, increasing the speed of his struggles as he wriggled towards Senluo Wanxiang. “I feel like we’re not opponents for this kind of great yaoguai.”
“No worries,” the phoenix said. “On behalf of you guys reviving all magic, letting Guwang once again be reborn from the flames, this much I can still tolerate.”
This phoenix’s attitude was surprisingly good, and the corners of Chen Xing’s mouth twitched. “When… did you find us… you’re that phoenix!” Chen Xing suddenly remembered; he was the ashes of the phoenix that had been stored in the amber that Lu Ying gave him!
“You’re that one!” Chen Xing said. “It’s you! I always kept you fastened around my waist.”
“There is only one phoenix in this realm.” The phoenix didn’t even look at Feng Qianjun as he walked towards Chen Xing. He blocked the light of the sun, looking down at him from high above, as he said, “And that is Guwang.”
“Ah…” Chen Xing thought for a long while, but he didn’t know what to say. It seemed like this phoenix didn’t have any intention of coming here to trouble him, and though it could be said that he had been sealed away in the amber before, that amber had accompanied him to many places as he traveled the land. In fact, it even had a little bit of familiar closeness.
“Wait a moment,” Chen Xing said. “Why… you said just now, why doesn’t Xiang Shu remember anything anymore?”
The phoenix turned, walking into the sunlight. It then looked at that little dog, which had already backed away in terror behind Chen Xing, curling into a ball. In front of him, normal animals were basically the same as ants.
With a sweep of his robe’s sleeve, golden rays shot out in front of the phoenix’s body, revealing that last scene in his memories in front of the rift of time, before the huge wheel of cause and effect turned back. That time, Chen Xing had already fallen unconscious, and it was only then that he knew that what had recreated Xiang Shu’s body for him, was actually the phoenix rising from the ashes in the essence of flame, after the Revival of All Magic!
“Guwang made a wish,” the phoenix said, “that whoever caused the spiritual qi of the heavens and earth to return, he would help him do three things. The Dinghai Pearl was not in the causes and effects, so when it shattered, Guwang took charge at the last moment and helped Shulu Kong reconstruct his physical body. For this to be the first granted wish, I imagine you will not reject it either.”
“No,” Chen Xing said, as if he was just waking from a dream. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you so much!”
“If you didn’t do that,” Feng Qianjun said. “Then what would have happened?”
Chen Xing murmured, “Cause and effect have shifted around, but the Dinghai Pearl was not within the causes and effects, so he would have disappeared. Without you guys, if we returned to the present, the Xiang Shu in the prison would have just disappeared!”
The phoenix replied, “Correct, but even if that was the case, the current him is no longer the Dinghai Pearl, but the dragon energy is still coiled around his hunpo. When you all were sent back, Iuppiter who was also not in the causes and effects, used the Luohun Bell to pull away Shulü Kong’s, yours, Feng Qianjun’s, Xiao Shan’s, and Xie An’s memories, using a secret method to protect them, sending them back to the current world, injecting them back into your hunpo. That is why you are able to remember everything that happened before the tides of time turned back.”
Chen Xing finally understood. He asked, “But why hasn’t Xiang Shu remembered yet?”
The phoenix then said, “Memories are born from the power of the hun, but within Shulü Kong’s body, the dragon strength is fighting with that, which causes the memories that have returned within his body to be suppressed. For a while, he will be unable to remember, but I imagine that after a time, after everything has slowly merged together, perhaps he will be able to remember step by step. That will depend on you all.”
Feng Qianjun and Chen Xing looked at each other. Though they had spoken for a long time, in reality their words hadn’t had a large effect.
Chen Xing nodded and said, “Even Zhu Xu also said that he had a feeling that ‘we had known each other before’. Perhaps… I feel like Xiang Shu will be able to remember.”
The phoenix then said, “These are all not important. The reason why Guwang has come is to remind you of the most important thing.”
Feng Qianjun said, “That… Your Majesty, since it’s such an important thing, can you first untie our bonds before saying it?”
The phoenix completely ignored Feng Qianjun, instead saying to Chen Xing, “Though the Dinghai Pearl has been changed because of cause and effect, and magic has already been revived, but just as before, you all cannot make light of things. Just based on fate itself, it will still head towards that same, determined direction, constantly making self-corrections to return to the original track it was on…”
A cold thrill shot through Chen Xing’s heart, and he said, “So Shi Hai is still here, and Chiyou will still revive, and we still need to be careful that three years later, the same things will happen, is that right?”
“That may not be the case,” the phoenix responded, after thinking for a moment. “Logically, if there were no minute variables that changed at all, then indeed, there would be a great possibility that destiny would return to its original course. But first off, Iuppiter has already departed from your life, and Guwang’s rebirth -- these two things are the variables that have changed before everything else. After Iuppiter explained things, he helped you all keep your original memories, and Guwang also helped Shulü Kong by rebuilding his physical form.”
“Ah!” Chen Xing and Feng Qianjun understood at the same time.
If there weren’t any “variables” that the phoenix spoke of, then when the rotating wheel of cause and effect turned and they returned to three years ago, Chen Xing and them would not remember anything regarding Wang Ziye, and they would also have entirely forgotten Xiang Shu’s existence. The situation would then change: he would be unable to find his Protector Martial God, but because of the Revival of All Magic, he would still have the power to defeat Chiyou. Those people perhaps would still die one after another, and in the end Chen Xing would gather up all of the current exorcists in the world to fight back against Chiyou, find the Acala Blade, and borrow the power of the humans and the yao to start a battle with Chiyou.
The final outcome, who would win and who would lose, was still very hard to say.
But as of today, because of the two things that Iuppiter and the phoenix had combined their efforts to accomplish, the situation had once again changed.
“I understand,” Chen Xing replied. “I will be very careful.”
The phoenix siad, “You must put in all of your effort to add variables to the path of cause and effect. When countless variables are gathered together, causing a huge wave that sweeps across the sea of time, only then can the Devil God be truly defeated in battle.”
“Thank you ah,” Feng Qianjun said.
“No need to be polite,” the phoenix replied. “Guwang also does not want the yao clan to be controlled by Chiyou, and even less does he want his subjects to become walking corpses.”
Chen Xing nodded and said, “Then what do you plan to do after this?”
The phoenix said, “Guwang has come forth to make good on his word to grant three of your heart’s desires. You have already used up one before, and now there are two left. It must be something within my power to grant, and only after I grant them can I leave with my heart at peace.”
Chen Xing asked, “How about you let us out first, and we can discuss then?”
The phoenix’s brows moved. He snapped his fingers, and with a pa, the ropes on their bodies were burned off, and they were released.
“The second has been resolved,” the phoenix said. ‘The last one, quickly.”
“Wait ah!” Feng Qianjun and Chen Xing protested angrily at the same time.
Chen Xing flexed his wrists, before saying, at the end of his rope, “What kind of attitude is this?”
The phoenix was unmoved by this, and he made a “if you please” gesture as he grew a little impatient.
Chen Xing said, “The second can’t count, I didn’t even phrase it properly.”
The phoenix: “This isn’t something that only counts when you say so.”
Chen Xing said, “Since you’re in such a rush to leave, then why did you even tell me about fulfilling three of my wishes? If you didn’t say anything, no one would know, and as soon as you finished speaking then you would be able to go.”
Feng Qianjun said, “That’s true, if you only said ‘one wish’ then there wouldn’t be a problem either, right?”
The phoenix said, “Guwang doesn’t want to lie to himself.”
Feng Qianjun responded, “Then since you’ve even decided not to lie to yourself, you should properly finish…”
Without waiting for Feng Qianjun to finish speaking, that phoenix lifted a hand. A wave of powerful energy rushed towards Feng Qianjun’s chest, but thankfully Feng Qianjun’s reactions were quick. He instantly turned and dropped to the ground, lying down, as a streak of blazing flame passed right over him, flying into the distance, causing an earth-shaking explosion.
Feng Qianjun: “...”
Chen Xing: “...”
The phoenix then snapped again, and six fireballs circled around Feng Qianjun. With that, he turned politely to Chen Xing, answering, “Say it ba.”
Chen Xing began to think. The phoenix shot another glance to the bound Feng Qianjun, saying, “Guwang doesn’t want to casually kill people. The first person that he kills after being revived should be a little more meaningful than this.”
Chen Xing said, “If you use Feng-dage’s life to strongarm me, then the third request will change into reviving him.”
The phoenix: “...”
The phoenix’s expression underwent a rapid change, and the fireballs disappeared.
But Chen Xing understood something from those actions, and he said, “Can you still revive people now?”
“Only at the instant of death,” the phoenix said coldly, “when I split up my essence of flame and release it, can I recreate a body for a human. As for hunpo, that is not under my control, but thankfully back then, Iuppiter was there. Guwang must remind you that you must treat your own life with respect. If you die in the future, Iuppiter is no longer here, and there will be no way to revive you again.”
“Oh--” Chen Xing seemed to have had a similar thought, and he said sincerely, “So, to revive Xiang Shu, you also had to use up some of your own cultivation. You’re really great, thank you, phoenix.”
The phoenix repeated, “Say it.”
The two of them stared each other down for a long time, and a long period of silence passed.
Chen Xing revealed a grateful smile.
“I really can’t think of anything,” Chen Xing said earnestly. “How about in this period of time, you first travel with us? Maybe after a while, I’ll be able to come up with something.”
Letting a fighter that was right there go just like that, without getting something out of you? You think I’m dumb? Chen Xing thought, I know that there’s no way you’ll help us fight, but you must protect me, otherwise if I die, then this matter of you having to accomplish this last task is also going to go down the drain!
The phoenix watched Chen Xing for a long time before he turned his head, his mouth forming a few curse words. He then turned around again and nodded. “Very good.”
Feng Qianjun understood and shot Chen Xing a thumbs up.
Half a shichen later, Chen Xing found a colorful padded cotton jacket, which he temporarily draped over himself to fend off the chill of the spring.
Their troupe had now become one human, one phoenix, and one dog.
He looked at the vast heavens and great lands all around, feeling the vigorous, lively spiritual qi in this world.
“Nothing from last time counts,” Chen Xing said, full of hope. “We’re going to turn a new page and redo everything, set off!”
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), moon.